Defining Christianity


Our subjects cover: animals, religion (Christian, Jewish and others); diet and lifestyle (vegan and vegetarian); and other miscellaneous subjects.

Defining Christianity
Comments by Maynard S. Clark - 28 Oct 2009

I pretty much agree with what Ray Barta said here, though I do think that there are thoughtful viewpoints that WANT to call themselves Christian. I think that, at some point, it's problematic for a person or group or network to claim to be 'Christian' without at least a commitment to believe that there's something valuable about being 'Christian'/

I would NOT accept the minimalism notion of 'being nice' as 'Christian' because, in my opinion, it's TOO minimal. I think that 'Christian' MUST have something to do with Christ - by which I mean the historical Jesus - and at least SOME sense that He is, or He is pivotal for one's core understanding about reality and all that is, including how one ought to be.

I agree with Ray Barta that one can be clear on those distinctive points without being oneself Christian or a Christian.

However, it's not clear to ME that the majority of silent or vocal listmembers have at least that much of a definition of what 'Christian' means, let alone Ray Barta's degree of definition of what 'Christian' is (*which at least is a pretty classical understanding of what 'Christian' is).

To MY way of thinking (and Ray can weigh in here, as can others), it's not only moot but meaningless to claim to be Christian vegetarian or vegetarian Christian without having at least SOME core notion of what being 'Christian' is.

To that point, I object to merely posting action notices OR obsessing ON THIS LIST (AS IT IS NOW NAMED) about how evil other humans are - and indeed they are - without at least struggling to get SOME kind of Christian meaning around the nature and meaning of persons and suffering. I hope we don't, on this list, merely repeat what other ethical vegans are saying without doing SOME kind of 'Christian' analysis. I do NOT see a great deal of that 'Christian' reflection on this particular list, and I don't think that complaining about churchgoers is the same as doing reflection on Christian teachings and the nature and meaning of suffering, and the hope (or lack of hope) in some resolution to the great suffering of most sentient beings in this natural world.

Indeed, even Paul claims that 'the whole Creation groans and travails in pain', and thinking about that moral problem has been a key part of Christian theology for thousands of years - that's two millennia. I hope we do not on this list overlook the key contributions Christian thinkers have made to what seem to be key, core concerns professed by the people ON this list.

Merely complaining is not, in my opinion, very useful when so much reflection has gone on for 2 millennia within the Christian community about the suffering of nature and sentient life.

Indeed, it MAY be true that we cannot do anything about the core problem - being at risk, being vulnerable. Indeed, we DO read in Ecclesiastes that 'time and circumstance happen to them all' (time and chance). Vulnerability is part of physicality. Genetic mutations occur, and sentient beings attack other sentient beings. Not only are there war and disease and genetic failure and aging and worse, but even when we attempt to rush to the aid of others, we are unable to do so sufficiently, and our efforts to aid others are finite and doomed to failure ultimately. We all cry, if we care, and that itself is a philosophical issue that, as I read it, Christian thinkers have tried to address.

I think we'd be more edifying to one another if we DID try to struggle with those issues - in continuity with the faith tradition, and by citing prior efforts struggling with those issues within the Christian faith tradition.

On the other hand, if this IS to be Veg-Humanist - or VHList, so be it, but I'd hope we'd take the serious reflection a little father before as a group we decide that that option is necessary or desirable.