Saturday, November 12, 2011

Should words have meanings?

 Ex Cathedra......;))))


PNWReader, who recently paid me the (highly undeserved) complement of making Jason Statham his avatar for me, did not find see what all the fuss was about in my discussing what religions are "Christian" or not. For him, "expressed religious veneration for Jesus Christ" seemed sufficient. He wondered who could have the legitimate claim to be making such decisions; it seemed it was just about self-affirmation and power. And he also wondered what difference it made.

Since I do not know PNWReader personally, I cannot say whether the issue I was discussing is unimportant to him because he has no interest in it, or because he has had bad experience with religious debates, or if he has a general philosophical aversion to strong definitions.

Well, without launching into a dissertation --yes, I know. Thank God!-- I will say that words need to have definitions because otherwise language cannot grasp or communicate ideas and because ideas have consequences.
Let's just take the two groups I was talking about: Mormons and Cathars. Both claim to be Christian. But imagine what kind of church and what kind of world would be promoted by each group, based on their ideas, based on the content of what the title Christian meant to them. Or who the person was whom they named as "Jesus Christ".  What, besides a bare name, gives them common ground in actual content and therefore meaning to their claim?

BTW, it would be hard to deny that both synchronically and diachronically, at least 95% of the Christians in the world hold to the foundational interconnected doctrines of Jesus as the God-Man, and of God as the Three-in-One, the Trinity. 


Are the Jews for Jesus Jews?

If you extrapolate to other fields, even if there is no a priori way to decide who has what kind of standing in a debate and the outcome will always be contested anyway-- and this is the case with almost every item of human interest and discussion --, is it still not important to attempt to give definite meaning to words such as "marriage", "natural", "human person", "citizen", "rights", "man*", "God", etc.?

Ex Cathedra?


Essential to any definition of any kind is exclusion.

*Is Chaz Bono a man?

3 comments:

Trevor said...

"I will say that words need to have definitions because otherwise language cannot grasp or communicate ideas and because ideas have consequences."

Words have definitions, and those words in the definitions have definitions, and so on. Either we are foundationless with infinite regressions or we have an arbitrary (large, but arbitrary) foundation. A better epistemology is to say that we should minimize misunderstanding and deception. That we can achieve. 'Jesus is X' can be tricky, but 'Jesus is not-X' can be very clear.

I so wish, every day, that ideas had consequences. I'd write the word PEACE on my face and walk around all day making the world a better place, because the idea of peace had the consequence of peace. Ideas can have consequences, and I know which consequences I'd prefer them to have, but it doesn't work that way. A lifetime of listening to love songs doesn't make anyone fall in love.

USMaleSF said...

Of course ideas have consequences. But they are not magical; you cannot make them have the consequences you want.

IMHO, "peace" and "love" have helped create the mushy lib Boomer generations blindness to all sorts of real threats and made them "useful idiot" accomplices of their enemies.

PNWReader said...

Jason..er, exCathedra,

"...imagine what kind of church and what kind of world would be promoted by each group, based on their ideas, based on the content of what the title Christian meant to them."

I don't have to imagine. I can just look around at the world as it is. Christianity is not monolithic.

My basis for the question is a conversation I had with a priest after he conducted a mass in Latin in 1992. Upon close questioning, he agreed that the diocese in which he operated had not given permission and, consequently, could/would/should label him heretical or apostate for doing so.

It seems to me that a priest knowingly and willfully violating the direction of those from whom he receives his sacerdotal authority, which authority he claims, is in the same category as Mormons with respect to Christianity. That is, he has defined his Christianity in a way that is outside the RCC.

But then, in 2007 via motu proprio, the pope authorized all priests to perform the Latin rite without diocesan approval.

So, given that set up, was this priest a continuous or discontinuous Christian?

I see the Jews for Jesus question a bit differently. Jewishness can be cultural and ethnic as well as religious. In my one encounter with a congregation of "Christian Jews" (I can't recall what they called themselves formally), they were recognizably Jewish. My purpose there didn't lend itself to doctrinal questions, but it was clear that they were not evangelical.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...