Monday, May 24, 2010

More Orthodox than I look... Thoughts on Marcion

I recently posted a paper on the Old Testament and was visited by Beowulf, who identifies as a Marcionite. He had some interesting things to say and after researching my books (Abingdon Dictionary of Living Religions, Justo Gonzalez's The Story of Chrsitianity, and Bart Ehrman's The New Testament) as well as looking at his site and claims, I am finding that I'm much more orthodox than i look. Here's how:

I affirm and intersect with the following historians, all who wrote against Marcion in one way or another:

Irenaeus of Lyons thought that the crown of creation is humanity, and is a free and responsible being. The purpose of our lives is to enjoy an ever-growing communion with our creator, but on the other hand, the human creature is not made from the beginning in is final perfection. Instead, we are guided by God to become the perfect human which is found in Jesus Christ. God's purpose is to make us ever more like the divine, and thus Genesis was no the goal of creation, just it's beginning. so for Irenaeus, there is a fall, but it is a fall upwards.

Clement of Alexandria steps up and mixes the Jewish Law with Gentile Philosophy. he is convinced that there is only one truth since God is one and thus would be the truth and the classical philosophers and prophets were one in the same and were pointing to the ultimate truth of God. the texts have more than one meaning and the literal sense, while important, isn't the only way as the meanings beyond the texts that the truly wise must discover. God cannot be described in human words, only in metaphor and in negative terms, and human language can do no more than point to a reality that is beyond its grasp. pretty post-modern for a dude living around 215 CE huh?

Then up steps Tertullian of Carthage, the heretic hunter and bane of Marcion. he's legalistic and rigid and sets up inflexible doctrines. Anglican Boy would really get a thrill out of this guy's writing cause he's a lawyer, and a really good one at that. so much so that Tertullian despises speculation as he states:
Seek until you find, but once you find, you are to believe. Thereafter, all you have to do is hold to what you have believed. Besides this, you are to believe that there is nothing further to be believed, nor anything else to be sought.
Tertullian and i would not have gotten along. however, he's overwhelming in his case the incarnation stating how a suffering God is one unique to the Judeo-Christian scriptures. we are to seek what God as done and not speculate on what God could do or has in store and we can only do this through the use of the Gospel's and what the Gospels rest on, namely the prophets and the OT. he writes that Jesus and the God of Israel are not only one and the same, but the Christian God is the Jewish God and then resorts to saying how Christians now "own" the OT. i don't like that step, but i do like how informed and knowledgeable Tertullian is of midrash, the Talmud, and the rabbinic literature; not something i see too many church father's having, Marcion included.

In writing against Marcion he askes what good is Marcion's god. The God of the church and the OT made the entire world and all its wonders, whereas Marcion's god has not created a single vegetable.what was Marcion's god doing before the last revelation? Is this love just a quick affair?

thus it is with this type of inflexible logic and mordant irony that Tertullian writes against Marcion, Praxeas, and Demetritus and becomes the "champion of orthodoxy."

then up steps Origen of Alexandria who notes that there are more than one creation story in the bible. he focuses specifically on the two in Genesis, which wasn't really a big deal because the Jewish scholars were writing about this long before Origen gets around to it. the spin he puts on it was that the first creation was purely spiritual, and the second physical. Origen found a God who wants us to return to our spiritual home but yet know the pain and joy of a physical life. in the end, we'll all be reunited in universal reconciliation, since God is love. he even goes as far as to state that even Satan will be saved. there will be judgment, but more in the fact that we must admit that we haven't lived up to our higher ideals, that our potential wasn't fully reached. afterall, Jesus' first call was for us to "repent and believe the kingdom was close at hand." he expounds beautifully on that, where as Marcion had no judgment at all in his theology.

whereas Marcion had a profound dislike towards both Judaism and the material world and thus developed an understanding of Christianity that was both anti-Jewish and anti-material (Gonzalez 61). Jesus had some hidden knowledge or revelation that showed that his God was a God of love whereas the Jewish God was a God of Justice-and arbitrary justice at that. He sought to establish a benevolent God where no acts of genocide, war, or choosing one group over another are attributed to him. just as the fundamentalists decry today, you can't pick and choose, and thus the OT was the word of an inferior god and should not be read nor used as the basis for Christian instruction. Paul and Luke became the core message of Jesus' life; yet even then Marcion rejected or radically reinterpreted the doctrines of creation, incarnation and resurrection; namely Jesus appeared as a grown man during the reign of Tiberius, there is no judgement in his message, and God is absolutely loving and offers free grace. sounds an awful lot like J. Denny Weaver, James Allison, and other adherents to nonviolent atonement.

Marcion may have been onto something, but questions of theodicy are never so easily solved. he seems to miss the "more-than-literal" readings that both Origen and Clement spoke about. he dismisses the incarnation with a docetic model. he is anti-semetic (not that Tertullian or many of the church fathers weren't) but worse, he's anti-material. no love of human emotions or urges has he, he makes Augustine look like a hedonist.

what i read in Beo's writings as well as other "reconstructionist" movements like the Toltec, Gnostic, and Hellenistic writings is a desire to do away with the bad parts of history, and pick out only the good. to say "that wasn't me" and not allow oneself to be implicated in history. but you are. like it or not, if you're white in the US, you're condemned for slavery. if you're male, sexism. if Christian, crusades and "slash-and-burn" fundamentalism. we're not pure. not ever.


 it's no secret that people use all sorts of crap to justify their bad behavior or exploitive practices. God and reason, religion and science are all co-opted to betray our best intentions. 

this is humanity. it's flawed. we're strange and dangerous and we hurt each other. but this is our doing. the desire to hide the nakedness of our greed and our natures in "polite" society on serves to veil the brutal facts of human life from itself. the inevitable hypocrisy which is associated with all collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective humanity an outrage to their conscience.

i think it's in the OT that we get the best insights into the outrage of the human character as well as our surprising redemptive and altruistic intentions. we get stories of resistance and subversive communal living within the limitations of all that it means to be human. of which, Jesus is grounded in and exemplifies. one without the other doesn't work, IMO. 

26 comments:

Anglican Boy said...

I never thought that Marcion would have had some good points. Thanks for the post, I'm a little more open-minded now. I sense your tension as well. You do not like the docetic and
"secret knowledge" part of the idealized view Marcion presents. We cannot or should we try to hide our ugliness. I also like the fact that we shouldn't think we're all ugly too, that we are beautiful creatures at the same time. It is that paradox that I view Jesus calls us to.

beowulf2k8 said...

Marcion's ditheism makes more sense to me than any monotheism because the world was plainly not created by a benevolent being. The mere facts of human experience shows this. Yet we also feel that there is a benevolent God out there even though clearly the world was not created by a benevolent being. That benevolent God cannot be the creator of this harsh world.

Marcion's better God doesn't actually diminish the importance of human beings as you seem to think, but increases it. Whereas our Creator, Yahweh, places no value on human life and commands genocide and speaks of us as worms and dust and as being nothing in his sight, the Better God was willing to die to save us from Yahweh showing that he holds us as infinitely valuable even though he did not create us. Thus, he showed that we are worth more than Yahweh says we are.

Also Marcion's thought is based solidly on Jesus' statement in Matt 7 and Luke 6 that no corrupt tree brings forth good fruit and no good tree brings forth corrupt fruit. Men are not so absolute, even though the 'orthodox' tradition interprets this statement as being about men. Marcion, therefore, interprets it of gods. The corrupt tree is Yahweh who manifestly brings forth corrupt fruit (genocide and so on) and the good tree is the Better God.

beowulf2k8 said...

Tertullian was a great writer. I love his sarcasm myself, and sometimes I laugh out loud at his turns of phrase. But there is one massive problem with all of Tertullian's arguments against Marcion, and that is that every single one works against 'orthodox' Christianity much better than against Marcion if you analyze it in an unbiased fashion. I used to be an 'orthodox' Christian and there was a time when I was like "Right on Tertullian! Stick it to that heretic!" But eventually I began to realize that Tertullian's arguments are weak. They sound good because he is an energetic writer and he's witty. But wit and actual intelligence clearly do not meet in him.

1) "what was Marcion's god doing before the last revelation? Is this love just a quick affair?"

Tertullian totally opens himself up for the followup: What was Yahweh doing before Jesus? Commanding genocide right and left and horribly torturing the very people (the Jews) that he claims he loves most. What modern evangelicals love to call "redemptive history" is just a long list of Yahweh's atrocities against his own people by constantly sending enemies to kill them off and by subjecting them to the demoralizing position of having to kill off other nations. So Marcion's God was absent prior to revealing himself in Christ. So what? At least he wasn't paving the streets with blood. Tertullian mocks the idea of a sudden Christ coming unannounced, but how much more should a god of genocide suddenly loving all men be mocked. Is such a change really believable in a god who arrogantly asserts "I am Yahweh; I change not!"?

2) "The God of the church and the OT made the entire world and all its wonders, whereas Marcion's god has not created a single vegetable."

First Tertullian does admit later on that the Marcionites teach that their God has made his own world in the 'third heaven.' But ignoring that, Tertullian also records the Marcionite response to the greatness of this world's creation: 'One work is sufficient for our God, that he in his excellent mercy has saved mankind. This is better than the creation of all the locusts.' If Marcion's God can be viewed in a negative light for not creating anything, how much more can Yahweh be viewed in a negative light for creating diseases and all manner of stinging insects and so on. And how do the tormenting plagues of Exodus stack up against the love found in sending Jesus to purchase us from Yahweh by dying for us?

3) "he dismisses the incarnation with a docetic model."

No so. As I already pointed out, he said Jesus had a body in the same way as the angels of Yahweh who visited Abraham and Lot. This is in Against Marcion Book 3 chapter 9. Tertullian refuses to accept the analogy because Marcion has no business using the things of the creator in an analogy if he is going to oppose the creator. But this is just a silly statement by a wicked lawyer. Marcion has every right to make an analogy to the creator's angels if he wants. And the fact that he makes this analogy shows that he believed in a literal incarnation, just in one that did not require birth. As those angels had flesh without being born, so did Jesus.

Now, how does this argument turn back on 'orthodoxy'? If Marcion is a docetist merely for denying that Jesus was born, then so are the 'orthodox' for denying that he was born naturally. Taking a body from virgin birth is as fake and docetic as taking a body without any birth.

Tertullian in fact makes the statement that (quote from memory) "perhaps Marcion will say that Jesus appeared to be born and made a pretence of birth. Well, a pretend birth is no birth at all!"

But Tertullian is right that a pretend birth is no birth at all. Therefore a virgin birth is no birth at all and the 'orthodox' are as much docetists as the Marcionites: they both deny that Jesus had a REAL birth.

beowulf2k8 said...

4) "If Marcion's God redeems us from Yahweh, then he is stealing another's property and is not good."

This is the worst argument. To save a slave from a tyrant master is not good (according to Tertullian) because if you save a slave from a tyrannical master then you are a thief. What you are supposed to do (according to Tertullian) is return runaway slaves to their master. I hope somebody on this blog is an African American, because I'd love to hear a firm denunciation of this kind of stupid logic.

5) "What kind of nut would redeem strangers? You only redeem friends or relatives!"

The fact that the Good God cared enough to save us from our slave-master when he had no obligation to us (since he was not our creator) is precisely what makes him good. The argument that Marcion's God is a weirdo because he wanted to save creations that didn't belong to him is so ridiculously silly. And in the process of making it Tertullian makes Yahweh look like a tyrant (as if the Torah hadn't done that already) because he is implying that Yahweh would not care about creations of another god if they were being tormented (of course not, since he torments his own chosen people the Jews).

beowulf2k8 said...

Tertullian doesn't claim that Marcion is antisemitic, but rather classes him with the "Jewish error" of believing that the Messiah hadn't come yet and interpreting the Messianic prophecies literally. But since modern writers accuse Marcion of antisemitism, let me say this. As to any claim of Marcion being anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic, you should read Malachi. In Malachi we have the 'prophet' writing against a group of JEWS who say Yahweh doesn't love the Jews (1:2) and who despise Yahweh's name (1:6) and offer lame and blind sacrifices to him out of protest (1:8), who prefer to worship the Angel of the Covenant (3:1) instead of him (a Better God?) and accuse Yahweh of being unjust (2:17). These Jews look a lot like Marcion. They are like Marcionites without the notion of Jesus and the cross. Marcion, therefore, is not anti-Jewish but anti-'orthodox'-Judaism, as these 'heretical' Jews were as well. In fact a strong argument can be made that Marcion was Jewish (Marcionites called their churches Synagogues as I pointed out recently on my blog). I've posted a few posts on my blog about this the last few days, as well as the latest post "The Torah is an anti-Semitic book" in which I point out that the Torah actually commands the extermination of several SEMITIC nations, proving the Torah to positively be anti-Semitic. Marcion was anti-Yahweh, not anti-Semitic. He wanted a certain god to cease to be worshiped, not to wipe out a nation. But the Torah wanted many nations wiped out, and even Semitic ones.

beowulf2k8 said...

"what i read in Beo's writings as well as other 'reconstructionist' movements like the Toltec, Gnostic, and Hellenistic writings is a desire to do away with the bad parts of history, and pick out only the good. to say 'that wasn't me' and not allow oneself to be implicated in history."

Christians get up in the pulpit and say "If only the Jews had finished off the Canaanites like God told them to then there wouldn't be all that trouble in the middle east today."

Chrestians get up in the pulpit and say "If only nobody had attempted genocide back then there wouldn't be all that trouble in the middle east today. But since someone attempted it, there has been never-ending retaliation ever since."

Who has the better approach? I can't be implicated in something that happened before my time (not justly) which is another reason to reject the Torah, i.e. the attempt to implicate me in Adam's "sin." But all of what I say and my reason for being a Marcionite is not an attempt to clear myself of some sort of perceived ancestral guilt (I don't feel any). My reason is because I think a firm stand must be taken against the racist teachings of the Torah. By giving them a free pass you aren't submitting to a guilt you already had (since you didn't have it) but are making yourself guilty by defending such teachings.

And, since Christianity makes no sense (the only God there is dying to appease himself. The only God there is who owns everything dying to purchase us from himself. etc.) it is clear to me that it is a bastardization of Marcionism which clearly came earlier. (That's a separate issue, of course, from whether Marcionism is true or not, because true or not, it is the original and Christianity is just a parody.) But I see no way of believing that 'orthodox' Christianity came first. As the last few posts on my blog have focused on, there is nothing truly Jewish about 'orthodox' Christianity. It views its Jewish roots merely as a string of prophecies that it can twist out of context and force to be about Jesus. Marcionsim has a much clearer Jewish basis, but that basis is in 'heretical' Judaism. Which makes sense! 'Orthodox' groups don't invent new religions. 'Heretical' groups invent new religions. Therefore the idea of 'orthodox' Christianity developing out of 'orthodox' Judaism is impossible. But Marcionism developing out of 'heretical' Judaism is not. You might also want to read Marcion and Luke-Acts by Joseph Tyson which makes a strong case that Marcion's gospel precedes both Luke and Acts. All the evidence points to Marcionism preceding 'orthodox' Christianity. Even if in the end Marcionism turns out to be wrong, it still preceded 'orthodox' Christianity.

beowulf2k8 said...

"i think it's in the OT that we get the best insights into the outrage of the human character as well as our surprising redemptive and altruistic intentions. we get stories of resistance and subversive communal living within the limitations of all that it means to be human. of which, Jesus is grounded in and exemplifies. one without the other doesn't work, IMO."

In other words the value in the OT is in pointing out all its bad features not in accepting it as God's word. Right? Well then you agree with Marcion. Jesus didn't just accept the Torah as God's word either. He said "you have heard it said an eye for an eye but I say turn the other cheek." So, you are right that Jesus without the OT makes no sense. But a Jesus who accepts the OT as the infallible word of God also makes no sense and contradicts what we know about him. It also makes no sense that Jesus after directly contradicting the Torah on at least three points would say "think not I have come to destroy the Law" especially since he says elsewhere "the Law was until John." If the Law was until John, then it was already destroyed, right? So then, by a simple analysis we find that "think not I have come to destroy the Torah" was a Catholic interpolation. Jesus was destroying the Torah, or at least affirming a destruction that John had already completed since "the Torah was until John." So, there is no way to deny that Marcion's doctrine came before the 'orthodox' doctrine and is more representative of Jesus. Nor does the silly argument that Marcion just threw the OT completely away hold up, since if he had done that, who would his villain be? How could Yahweh be the villain if people were forbidden to read the stories in the Torah that prove Yahweh to be the villain? Soon enough the villain would cease to exist, and then what would be the point of Jesus' death if there was no villain to appease?

beowulf2k8 said...

"then up steps Origen of Alexandria who notes that there are more than one creation story in the bible. he focuses specifically on the two in Genesis, which wasn't really a big deal because the Jewish scholars were writing about this long before Origen gets around to it."

Origen was a Gnostic pretending to be 'orthodox' as best he could and we have to remember that he was found out and condemned by just about every Catholic council as a Gnostic and therefore what little of his writings have survived have been sanitized. In Gnosticism the first creation story is of the higher God making a spiritual realm and the second is of the lower god, the Demiurge, attempting to copy it but failing. That's why in creation story 1 God (who is not called Yahweh but only Elohim) says everything is "very good." But in creation story 2 the first thing Yahweh says is "it is not good that man should be alone" acknowledging his failure to make a perfect copy of the higher realm. For in creation story 1 it is said God made man male and female, meaning that the same individual was both male and female (per Philo and others). But in story 2 Yahweh makes an imperfect copy of male only and then realizes his mistake "it is not good for man to be alone" and corrects it by making woman out of his rib.

"Origen found a God who wants us to return to our spiritual home but yet know the pain and joy of a physical life."

Again, Gnostic. That's the whole Gnostic idea of unformed spiritual seed being sent into this world for formation. The reason the Higher God allowed the Demiurge to make an imperfect copy of the spiritual world was so he could use it for spiritual formation of the unformed seed.

This is the sort of gnostic stuff that Marcion lacked in his theology making him not really Gnostic. (But who knows really how accurate Tertullian is on this point, since he messed the next one up so bad.)

"Marcion had no judgment at all in his theology."

This is a clear exaggeration on Tertullian's part since Tertullian when he discusses Marcion's Romans does say Marcion left in a lot of the passages about judgment. And it just isn't believable that Marcion would have no judgment in his theology when he was such a moralist. I am certain that like modern Calvinists, Tertullian just equated the OT genocides so strongly with judgment against sin (which they are not, they ARE sin not judgment against sin) that he saw any attack on the OT genocides as an attack on the notion that God judges sin.

Luke said...

Beo: as i said, questions of theodicy are never so easily solved. your reading and Marcion's reading do not even touch the rich Rabbinic tradition, midrash, or even Christian tradition of the OT and rests on the literal level. the world's a tough place, there's suffering, but there is also grace and redemption.

Luke said...

"Marcion's ditheism makes more sense to me than any monotheism because the world was plainly not created by a benevolent being."

Who says faith, God, or existence are supposed to make sense?

All this reeks of the worst type of religion which is "the world would be a lot better if I were in charge." you're not. you can do the best you can with what comes your way.

Luke said...

"But a Jesus who accepts the OT as the infallible word of God also makes no sense and contradicts what we know about him. It also makes no sense that Jesus after directly contradicting the Torah"

and i don't: NT either for that matter. that's all your argument rests on is this assumption. inspired by God, not written by.

and BTW,where did "If Marcion's God redeems us from Yahweh, then he is stealing another's property and is not good." because that wasn't my argument and is a red herring.

Anglican Boy said...

I will attempt to be nice and will probably fail, but here is my two cents.

All of this is really bad history and exegesis of the texts. Source Criticism would help here " That's why in creation story 1 God (who is not called Yahweh but only Elohim) says everything is "very good." But in creation story 2 the first thing Yahweh says is "it is not good that man should be alone" acknowledging his failure to make a perfect copy of the higher realm. " to know how and why multiple traditions are slammed together in the Bible and God has many names.

Coming from a fundamentalist background, Beowulf, you may not have heard about this, but this is old hat to the mainline traditions and especially the Anglican tradition, going back to the foundation. Have we done a bad job on getting the message out, yes. What we have here is a fundamental disagreement on what the Bible is, how it was put together, and how best to move forward with it. I do not view your path as valid historically or personally. You do not view my path as valid either but your shoddy history is no excuse. I hope what you have works for you but it makes no sense to me.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it... why the history lesson?

Sabio Lantz said...

(1) Concerning Irenaeus. Could you contrast this to Marcion's view on the issue. Did Marcion say we are born perfect?

(2) Concerning Alexandria. Then if truth is one, he should have mixed in Greek mythology, Babylonian mythology, Egyptian philosophy ect....
I don't think the logic holds. Marcion says that under it all Yahweh was cruel and selfish. Marcion was decerning and said I won't just throw anything together and say, "Yeah, it is all truth. It is all cool!"

(3) Concerning Tertulian: A suffering God is not unique to Christianity. (and it isn't in Judaism, is it)?
Anyway, so you don't like Tertullian and disagree but you are trying to like him????

Luke, your essay shows me that you WANT to agree with these church fathers, but your logic shows me you don't.

But I may be mistaken.

Sabio Lantz said...

@ Luke

"Who says faith, God or existence are suppose to make sense?"
-- Luke


Cheap shot !

All this reeks of the worst type of religion ..."
-- Luke


If he was a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Shinto, who you tell him his religion stinks?

Can you imagine how ironic this sounds to me? (not that it matters)

Sabio Lantz said...

Sorry, typo.
Please correct to:

If Beowulf were a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Shinto, would you tell him his religion stinks? Or do you just save that for Christian heretics like Mormons, Adventists and Marcionites?

beowulf2k8 said...

"Beo: as i said, questions of theodicy are never so easily solved. your reading and Marcion's reading do not even touch the rich Rabbinic tradition, midrash, or even Christian tradition of the OT and rests on the literal level. the world's a tough place, there's suffering, but there is also grace and redemption."

The 'orthodox' Christian tradition has no real theodicy. Basically it just says "God is the most powerful being in the universe so he can do whatever the hell he wants and we have to consider it good even when its evil." I don't know about the rabbinic tradition but it is probably similar.

If by the Christian tradition, you mean liberal Christianity that says the OT is essentially mostly manmade and evolved through natural social pressures, etc. well then I guess the idea would be that Yahweh didn't command any of the genocides and so on but that the Jewish writers just blamed it on him. Perhaps you could go that route, but where does that leave the basis of Christianity? What is it based on if the OT isn't true? If you have to align yourself with 'orthodox' and yet don't even believe the OT is from God, then you've got nothing and might as well be a Deist.

Now Deism is the only theodicy besides Marcionism that has any chance of satisfying. That God just made the world and then went on vacation and he never revealed himself to us except in our instinctual knowledge of good and evil...well, it works. And then hopefully he will perform some kind of judgement. Deism is OK as a theodicy. But "God is the most powerful being so he can do whatever he wants and even when its bad you have to pretend its good" (any monotheistic religion's theodicy aside from Deism) is just evil nonsense.

"and BTW,where did "If Marcion's God redeems us from Yahweh, then he is stealing another's property and is not good." because that wasn't my argument and is a red herring."

That's an argument Tertullian made that you didn't mention. Its not a "red herring." I was just showing Tertullian didn't do as great a job as you say he did.

beowulf2k8 said...

"...rests on the literal level"

You can make a worthwhile allegory out of God commanding men to commit genocide? You can spin that in a positive direction with a figurative misinterpretation? No. You are just blowing smoke. Allegory can't fix your problem. With such a story only the literal level matters because there clearly cannot be a figurative level. Besides that, only elitist snob think that texts always have some figurative level that only they are smart enough to understand. Is what you really hate about Marcionism is that it isn't elitist? It doesn't require a specialized priestly caste. It allows women to minister. It requires no special ceremonialism. It is a religion even a homeless man could adopt. But 'orthodox' Christianity cannot be adopted by the common man since he isn't smart enough to understand all the fancy philosophical jargon and the metaphysical abstractions about the Trinity and so on and the endless debates on free will and of course he could never understand the allegorical meanings that are hidden in the text that aren't really there.

Sabio Lantz said...

Who is Sillier?

@ Luke

In comparative religious studies, anthropological case studies abound which show a common phenomena found in many religions:

"Cults" have predictions and explanations that are taken very literally (indeed the originators preach it literally) but then the predictions don't prove true. THEN the cult members splinter but the surviving groups have skillfully re-interpreted the predictions in metaphoric ways.

This happens time and again among humans. And we have many modern examples. Thus, I think Beowulf is pointing at something real in terms of phenomena, though of course, I won't agree with his alternative myths.

So who is sillier, the guy busy re-interpreting, using "Narrative Theology" or the guy who scraps the old made-up stuff and just makes up something else ? ? ? ? ?

I imagine you have to disagree, but you get my point, right?

Luke said...

"Why the history lesson?"

to show where i'm coming from and what i affirm. these notions up until Tertullian, i'm with 100%. Marcion does not go this route. instead he expects that since there is suffering and a general awfulness in the world, it must have been made by a "bad" god, or a deficient one. i don't think that, i think that creation is a process and it's no where finished yet.

that also answer's Sabio's question of Irenaeus. but here's the big one: "so you don't like Tertullian and disagree but you are trying to like him????"

like all of these guys, i see their limitations, their faults, and their biases. i agree more with Tertullian than Marcion, that's where i stand. Beo can believe whatever he wants, but i draw the line when it's called deficient.

"If he was a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Shinto, who you tell him his religion stinks?"

you didn't read the second half of the statement: All this reeks of the worst type of religion which is "the world would be a lot better if I were in charge." if the Buddhist, Muslim or Shinto said that, then yes, i would say that stinks. just as i would say it stinks if it were fundamentalist "convert-or-be-killed" style too. i believe you would agree.

here's my point: i like the OT, i like the NT. i even like many of the things the church fathers had to say, even the non-orthodox guys like Marcion. i like how concerned he was with the violence he saw. i like how rational he was in his approach to theology and theodicy. his heart was in the right place and i think many Jewish people would be happy with christians leaving their text well enough alone.

what i don't like is how he goes about explaining and side-stepping theodicy: it doesn't make sense to me. if it makes sense to Beo, fantastic. i just don't see it that way. i am an intellectual snob, Beo is right there, i come from Jesuit and Congregationalist stock after-all.

P.D. said...

Interesting discussion and I am going to add my thoughts on it. I was sent this site by "Anglican Boy " as I am his pastor and he wanted my thoughts here. I hope that is okay.

I will start off by saying that beowulf2k8 is right that Christianity has come to be defined in largely imperialistic ways. If the majority of human engagement with Christianity has seen it as an imperial narrative, do we simply dimiss the conclusion that it is an imperial religion? Or do we repent of such Christianity? Those are two questions I see being raised in beowulf2k8's arguments.

Christianity has been a religion of Empire. It has legitimized the exploitation of creation and the subjugation of peoples. A Gospel that was meant to challenge Empire has become the Gospel OF Empire. But this wasn't always the case.

It is good to note that at the time of Marcion, Tertullian and such, this had not happened yet. To say that Tertullian is imperial misses the larger narrative and assumes imperial notions which are implicit in beowulf2k8's writings. Explicit is the claim that Marcion came before "orthodox" Christianity and thus is right. Not so. Marcion was a catalyst for people like Clement, Tertullian, and Origen to get together and write against him, of which later imperial minded people picked up on and used as justification until the Marcionite churches fizzled out in the early fifth century.

It is unfair is to make assertions that Marcion was or was not anti-Jewish because we don't have enough of his writings to say one way or another. You can make Marcion out to be the hero any which way you split him, just like you could Praxeus, Aurallia, or any other of the "early heretics" as they are so labeled. One can do this simply because we have so little of their source material, whereas we have gobs of the others. I do believe Luke is right on his assertion of how reconstructionist movements work and have an inherent idealism built within it.

All this to say that I respect someone more who is within the tradition and struggling with it, seeing the short-comings, affirming the wisdom within and struggling with both. I think that being busy seeing how these stories were originally told, getting the facts on them, and then seeing how they fit to today's context is much more fulfilling than the guy who scraps it because the guy who scraps it is subject to the same pitfalls that has come before.

Pastors are students of history just as they are students of social context and community relations. What drives me crazy is the assertion that God's revelation has stopped back in the first century or so. This is the nit-picky detailed stuff that Biblical Scholars really focus on, and it is an important venture but it is not core. There is also the continued revelation of the church and the Holy Spirit working within the various communities and their traditions that inspire through these stories, and I feel that is just as important and the most overlooked part of secular and non-Christian critics.

I'm sure beowulf2k8 is a great person and his or her faith really works and causes him or her to be a better person. That is great. It is, however, outside of our tradition and experience for better or worse. Peace be with you, and thank you for considering these words.

Luke said...

good considerations P.D.

thanks for stopping by!

beowulf2k8 said...

"Explicit is the claim that Marcion came before 'orthodox' Christianity and thus is right. Not so. Marcion was a catalyst for people like Clement, Tertullian, and Origen to get together and write against him, of which later imperial minded people picked up on and used as justification until the Marcionite churches fizzled out in the early fifth century."

Everyone you mention is post-Marcion. Even by the most 'orthodox' and thus late dating for Marcion, Marcion was dead by 160. Ireneaus wasn't even writing contemporaneously with him, Ireneaus' Against Heresies being from 180. Tertullian is from 208+. Origen is like 250. Clement of Alexandria was born in 150 so he wasn't active as a churchmen in Marcion's day, being only 10 at the time of Marcion's death. The only possible contemporary to Marcion is Justin Martyr who about 150 writes that Marcion is still alive and still teaching. But this "still alive and still teaching" implies that Marcion had started his ministry much earlier than Justin had! In short, it can never be demonstrated that 'orthodoxy' preceded Marcion, because it is simply impossible.

Sabio Lantz said...

good point beowulf

Luke said...

Beo, you're right. nor do i think it's all that important who came first. Apostolic succession isn't at the top of my list of concerns. i may have much more to learn from Marcion in the coming years. but right now, he's way down the list on a very long reading list. i can't read those whom i want to read! Reinhold Neibuhr being my main main right now, and i'm not even a 1/4 of the way through Moral Man!

Stephan Huller said...

I am just scouring the web looking to enlighten idiotic conversations about Marcion. I have uncovered that the great Protestant New Testament scholar Adolf Hilgenfeld argued that Marcion was a form of the name Mark:

http://stephanhuller.blogspot.com/2010/06/hilgenfelds-explanation-of-name-marcion.html

If you look at the post that follows I show that there are no examples of people named 'Marcion' before Marcion the heretic. The point is that this has to be an artificially created 'heretical boogeyman' created by someone in Rome in the third century.

Just thought I'd pass it along.