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Absolutes, divisions and taking things seriously

Reader comment on item: How Church Attendance Affects American Attitudes toward Israel
in response to reader comment: If you think Judaism is that bad, Christianity is even worse

Submitted by Michael S. (United States), Sep 3, 2014 at 20:56

Hi, Dan. You said two things:

  1. "There are tens of thousands of different denominations and sects, each claiming to be the "true form of Christianity" with their own canon, bible translations, interpretations, doctrines, saints, etc.," and
  2. "How can Jews take Christianity seriously when it is so fragmented and contradictory?"

Statement #1 is true. All those elements apply equally to Jews as well, of course; and I consider Judaism and Christianity to be two sects of the same religion. Muslims are also likewise split among themselves, though they do not, as Christians and Jews do, share the 39 books of the Protestant "Old Testament".

The tendency to split from one another, and to claim to be the "true form" of religion comes from the fact that all three religions uniquely claim that there is only one absolutely holy God, Who is the one Creator and Ruler of the Universe. That makes me wonder why you even asked the question you did (Statement #2). If you accept the fact that there is one and only one Holy God, i. e., if you "take that seriously", then it ought to be obvious why there are so many splits.

If, on the other hand, you think that God accepts pollution of his word, that He is only half-hearted about what he says or what He demands, then yes, it wouldn't make sense for there to be so many splits. The fact that this seems to be the case to you, says more about how you envisage God than it says about Christianity or any other religion.

If I'm correct so far, let me question why you believe that God ought to be more inclusive and accepting of mutually contradictory beliefs. You're apparently a European, a citizen of the same part of the world that spawned great thinkers such as Kopernik, Leibnitz and Einstein. Those men were absolutists: They envisioned a world ruled by absolute, immutable truths, truths which have been handed down to us as the laws of Mathematics and Science. Can you imagine some mathematician starting a school that taught that 2 + 2 = 3? or that E = m C ^3? If someone taught those things, he or she would find themselves isolated from the mainstream of math and science. Even so, the mainstream itself has often been proved wrong; as the "Phlogistan Theory", "Spontaneous Generation" and the "Steady State Universe", all of them once mainstream ideas, have all been found wrong and abandoned over the years.

Belief in an Inerrant, Absolute, Unchanging God is taken seriously by people, for the same reason that scientists and mathematicians believe the universe is governed by absolute, immutable laws: It makes sense to them; it makes things "add up".

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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