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NeoNote — There is no "Judeo-Christian faith."

There is no "Judeo-Christian faith."

You're talking about disparate groups that range from Orthodox Jews to Mormons to Christian Scientists and every possible variation in between.

Their arguments among each other lead to pluralism, the American religious virtue that no one wants to talk about. No, it's always how only their particular sect is enlightened and humble enough to show the way to peace and prosperity. Which is why they think they should be "in charge." Everyone else only exists on their sufferance. Well, that's not how it has worked.

The only thing that unites them is their willingness to live and let live so long as others let them do the same. And I have news for you, they didn't get that from their holy writings.

Case in point and an overlooked example in this day and age.

For centuries, Jews were only tolerated in "Christian" nations as long as they had something the rulers wanted.

Another case in point. How many Christian monarchs waged war on each other "officially" in the name of Christianity?

Before you tell me that doesn't matter, I'll remind you of all the Bible that you routinely ignore today, including the explicit and detailed instructions on slavery.

Trade did more for pluralism and religious freedom than anything else. In fact, I just read a piece that discussed using commerce as an alternative to outrage. No matter what the flowery words, no matter what the justification, practical economics does more than religion. If you're lucky, religion and faith may point the way. But real tolerance and freedom lies in trade.

If your faith works for you and makes you a better person, more power to you. If it inspires you, great. But raising one faith above all others and demanding that everyone else submit is not freedom.

No, but that isn't the point.

I believe that the measure of a man can be found in the lives he touches. Vice or virtue is not in the label, but in the words, actions, and choices of the individual.

If you are going to claim enlightenment in the name of your faith, you'd better damn well accept the sins as well.

Recently on another site, I was discussing the actions of Christians and the American government towards the Amerindians. From the late nineteenth century after the Civil War, the American government set out to eradicate various tribes and cultures. From the 1890s to the 1930s, if was Official Policy®. Some parts didn't change until well into the 1970s (Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975), other parts didn't change until the 1990s.

The treatment of Hawaiian culture and language is another example. The push to suppress was led by Christian missionaries, something that still isn't widely acknowledged in this day and age.

I don't want to hear about the virtues of Christianity. Tell me about the good men and women who live their faith instead of spouting seldom-remembered verses from dusty books.

No, trade didn't do it all. But trade did do it better. And the great thing about it, over time trade improves things. Literally everything from technology to infrastructure to racial attitudes. Once you start making allowances for the other guy's thoughts and feelings, it's only a short step, hop, and skip to the ethic of reciprocity. The free market is still the only thing humanity has developed with a feedback loop and improvement bias built in.

I wouldn't write off China just yet. I still think that in the long run Hong Kong is going to be rightfully called The City That Ate A Country.

"Live and let live" didn't originate with Christianity and it certainly didn't originate with Judaism. More to the point (grins), Christians themselves didn't follow that idea consistently until the later half of the 20th. Even there, I have to credit trade more than faith.

Personally I prefer the original motto, E pluribus unum.

Where it originates isn't important unless you wish to establish the primacy of your faith over all others. It was Constantine's choice, to shift from one faith among many to one faith above all. The problem with making faith political is that it takes individual choice out of the equation. Faith becomes just another duty imposed by the state on it's subjects.

So for a moment, let me ask which is more important? To have "Judeo-Christianity" acknowledged as the paramount faith and The One True Way? Or just accept that how we treat each other surpasses the label?

But trade was the foundation of Greece and Rome. Trade is what turned the U.S. into a super-power.

You didn't answer the question though. Which is more important, the label or the deed? Which should be cherished?

See, this is the thing. Leaving aside the issue that not all (or even most) Jews agree with the premise "Judeo-Christian," if you claim morality and ethics set "Judeo-Christianity" apart, then you have to acknowledge all the bad and downright evil things that have been done. The Bible is not history, but history is full of terrible deeds done in the name of Christianity. I've pointed out some, such as the treatment of Amerindicans.

There's already situational ethics and multiple quagmires. Number three of the Decalogue prohibits graven images. That pretty much eliminates all crucifixes, Ten Commandment monuments, and by a strict interpretation any physical crosses entirely. And that greatest hits list puts that above honoring your parents.

Even sticking to the NT is problematical. Whole libraries have been published to deal with some of the issues. For example, if one questions if Paul is really a true apostle, doesn't that raise serious questions about his (supposed) writings? And then you have the interpretations and translations of the interpretations.

Christianity has done some magnificent things, but it has also done some draconian things. There's nothing to raise Christianity's history over a dozen other faiths except it's tolerance. And that came despite the intramural conflicts. If you look closely (and with the single exception of ending the slave trade), the good things that Christianity has done have had their roots in trade. Religion is the justification after the fact.

We do disagree. I don't think "Judeo-Christian" or "Judeo-Christianity" is a thing. If it had been Western Civilization, I probably wouldn't have said anything.

Ah, this is going to be one of those.

Yes, I picked two "extreme" versions of Christianity. I could have just as easily picked the Catholics and the Methodists. My point from the first is that there isn't a "pure" form of "Judeo-Christianity" and that label draws false equivalences between sects that have very little to do with each other.

Even if you eliminate the Essenes, sectarianism predates the "historical Jesus." There is no one thread that links Judaism and Christianity. Christianity picks and chooses which parts of Judaism it uses and leaves the rest in the trash bin. From the very beginning, Christianity has also been marked by sectarianism. Christian rulers have also ruthlessly suppressed the sects they could not control.

But let's return to the assumption that Christianity is THE successor to Judaism and is therefore entitled to proclaim what is true.

For our purposes here, there are three significant differences between Christianity and Judaism. First are the textual differences. There are books in the Torah that are not part of Christian canon, and of course the entire New Testament (any version) is not found in Jewish law. Second is the Christian assertion of Jesus as the Messiah (leaving aside the question of if he existed). And finally the Christian announcement there is a new covenant that replaces Jews as G*D's chosen people.

Taken together, these differences reduce Judaism from a living faith to a curious relic that exists only because Christians sometimes find it interesting. Why in the World would devout Jews be part of that?

Of course there are many more differences than those I listed. But the underlying assumption of "Judeo-Christian" thought is that men and women have moved on from Judaism because it is less important than Christianity. "Judeo-Christianity" claims to honor Judaism all while diminishing it's contributions. "Judeo-Christianity" is a one-sided exchange that treats Judaism as a second class source, occasionally tolerated but seldom valued on it's own merits.

Well, this is embarrassing. It's not very often I make two mistakes in row. It's my own fault for not double checking my memory. I forgot that The Twelve are broken into separate books in the Christian OT.

Still, the order and emphasis changes the meaning. So there are textual differences beyond the NT.

If the Christian view of the new covenant includes all peoples including the ones who didn't choose it, then yeah, everyone got shoehorned in there. This assumption is one thing that really annoys non-Christians, not only are Christians presuming to speak for us but we get no choice in the matter.

Bible verses don't impress me.

“If that "Living Word" exists, it has to be in the hearts and souls of those people who have really embraced it. It's not in a dusty book. The verses don't matter except to show you the way. Tell me what lives behind those printed words. Tell me how you turned your sacrifice into a blessing.”
NeoNotes are the selected comments that I made on other boards, in email, or in response to articles where I could not respond directly.

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