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Friday, August 19, 2005

Baptism = Circumcision?

Comment by Post Liberal brought up a solid topic whichI reckoned deserve a brand new entry.

He started by saying he may
share the reformed Jewish perpsective that male circumcision is not an absolutely necessary element of their covenant with Yahweh. But it must be acknowledged that, insofar as it's a religion that is traced back to the original Abrahamic covenant, it is tied up with the religion. The female form does not have those roots, and, like veiling, can be seen as a later innovation in some followers of some religions.

My opinion is that the whole issue is centered on Abraham whose very existence is itself a big mystery and I questioned that if that is the case, how could it be sensible for us to submit our life based upon a flimsy fact such as the Abrahamic Covenant?

How do we know there was no miscommunication between Abraham and God or with the relevant authors of Bible as far as circumcision is concerned?

And I further commented my take is that having faith in God doesn’t mean we must have blind faith; and blind faith is certainly not something appeals to people of the information age.

I look at it this way … If Kosher can be abrogated by Paul & company which has rendered Christendom such a huge success in term or population, why can’t an irrelevant ancient practice like circumcision be nullified?

If it is about going against words of God, then Christianity itself should be dissociated from God (I meant El/Yahweh) as the religion has gone against His words in the first place ... sorry for being so direct.

Christianity is the world most populous religion is due to the fact that it (or should I say Paul & Company) dared to break away from the norm (Judaism) and I further commented that it may be hard to put forward something that is seen as going against what is written in the holy books, as this may weaken the faith but then it is not impossible ... Paul & company has done it and I reckoned reformation (or whatever one calls it) must be carried out from time to time in order to stay relevant to the prevailing time.

Put circumcision aside, Post Liberal argued circumcision is just like infant baptism, some would decry it as it's not the same ability to make a personal declaration of faith. And that he would value it having been done with him, because faith is about more than himself as a single unit. There needs to be an awareness of the numinous, transcendent, and relational - expressions of our part in things that go beyond what we can grasp in our own hands.

Well said but I think NO. Baptism is not surgical, neither painful nor permanent, so it is certainly not in the same category as circumcision. I think the question should be whether or not it is okay for parents to make decision pertaining to one’s faith while one is still unable to form an opinion?

While not exactly an issue, I say even this is a highly debatable topic …


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi La Bona,

I agree with Post Liberal, what divided the basics is the teachings of Abraham.

However, about you referring to circumcision being written in Hadiths...Hadiths are treated like the Quran to many Muslims, for they follow 'Mohammed' in idolisation to my belief. I treat Hadiths like history books, I may accept Mohammed as Prophet but there is no need to follow his every act and move. I take him to heart like I do with other Prophets/messengers. And this is where it differentiates between Shia and Sunni Muslims.


7:35 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

I’m glad I delayed a response now, so this can carry on in a new thread. Here goes, in no particular order...

“…how could it be sensible for us to submit our life based upon a flimsy fact such as the Abrahamic Covenant?”

I don’t think it’s about ‘facts’, in a modern historically literal sense. That the stories of Abraham and El/Yahweh are at least in part mythological does not discount tier significance. What many Jews continue to treasure is a narrative of relationship with God, that perhaps has its Genesis with Abraham’s decision to follow God. It’s the meaning therein, and the faith family tree they see themselves a part of, that matters. A story does not need to have happened in a modern sense of the word history, to be full of meaning. It’s not blind faith to value myth and religious story – though it could remain a ‘heresy’ to those who push an enlightenment view of the world.

“If Kosher can be abrogated by Paul & company which has rendered Christendom such a huge success in term or population, why can’t an irrelevant ancient practice like circumcision be nullified?”

With all due respect, I think you may have misunderstood some of St Paul’s approach here. In the letters that’re attributed to him, he puts a great deal of effort and creativity into seeing how he could make the early ‘Jesus movement’, which was essentially Jewish, relevant to a Gentile world. To do this he essentially described the Jewish covenant as remaining valid, though seen in a new light as fulfilled by Jesus. He then went on to describe Jesus as having opened the possibility for Gentiles to enter into covenant with God, to join the same faith family as Jewish people. This grafting was accomplished, in his view, without invalidating the Jewish covenantial religion – or the Gentile approach as not encompassing it. St Paul, as a Jew, took care to point out how meaningful his Jewishness (which included circumcision and Levitical Law) was – most well addressed to his Jewish Christian audience – even as he made it possible to worship God for those who would never be Jewish.

There was innovation and continuity – it was only later that the Gentile Church seems to have renounced any Jewish basis (which found it’s most terrible amnesia in anti-Semitism).

I’ll come back to that little baptism remark later, this’ll be enough for now methinks.

8:08 AM  
Blogger La Bona said...

Thanks Sara for the information that Shia Muslims do not try to live like Prophet Mohammad. Good on the Shias.

And thanks to Post Liberal.

“What many Jews continue to treasure is a narrative of relationship with God”

You got it. This is the message I tried to send to the Christians: Bible may be the best reference on earth but faith itself is far bigger subject …

As for “you may have misunderstood some of St Paul’s approach … make the early ‘Jesus movement’, which was essentially Jewish, relevant to a Gentile world”

What did I miss out?

Didn’t St Paul ‘repackage’ the Jesus’ “Jewish” faith to accommodate the Gentiles and as a result, gave birth to a ‘new’ faith which is based upon Jesus instead of El/Yahweh?

Honestly, I think Christianity should just forget about all the stories and or books prior to the birth of Christ. My logic is Christianity is all about Jesus and that its faithful believe Jesus himself is the Lord. Most significant of all is the fact that Christians never live like Jews ie. no Kosher, no circumcise etc. So why bother to have the Jewish ‘link’?

I see El/Yahweh as a non-issue here because God (Jesus) has come to save us in human form and hence the ‘establishing personal relationship with God’ concept which in my opinion is nothing Jewish.

Doing away with the Jewish bit also offer another advantage to Christianity as this will render Christianity a truly contemporary religion that is free from myth and fairy tales such as the Abrahamic Covenant.

What do you think?

10:47 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

“What do you think?”

I think what you write is interesting, and often sympathetic. But you'll find that I've got a certain propensity to argue - it's late and I'm tired ;)

"What did I miss out?"

Namely this. That in your desire to, rightly, point out what a revolution St Paul and his 'school' occurred within what became Christianity - based on their vision of Jesus - you're really missing out on the continuity.

Jesus Christ was, even in the gospel accounts, an utterly Jewish figure. His message, gospel, life, the whole person that he was - all this was bound up in his time and place. It would make no sense at all, apart from in the context of the narratives that he and his people lived with and carried amongst them. His great mission statement (Luke 4.18-19), recorded in one of the gospel accounts, is from the prophetic book of Isaiah. The Lord's Prayer was common currency at the time, as was the 'golden rule'. All this is negated if you try too hard to shore him off - to take Jesus out of his Judaism. It's the Marcionite dream, and it's just daydreaming. To "just forget about all the stories and or books prior to the birth of Christ" is a violent act of denial that seems to prefer amnesia about what it is that our religion came out of - as a Jewish sect, part of which preferred to renounce it's family ties.

There isn't any real essence of Jewish Christianity these days simply because people misused St Paul so abundantly. Eventually those who were followers of Jesus and who kept the Law alive were disenfranchised to such an extent that Christianity became gentile per say - and over time that was seen as the norm. Whatever the rights and wrongs, it's not possible to completely - or even notably - divorce Christianity and (especially) the Jesus we confess as Lord from Judaism.

Nor can we claim that we're contemporary because of a principled denial of Jewish myth and story. For it wasn't a renunciation that allowed St Paul to innovate and allow non Jews to become Jews by essence (that is, to find life in the God that thus far had been a principally Jewish divinity). The act of innovation was a demonstration of the capacity of this gospel to be lived in every people across the world - including (of course) his own Jewish people. St Paul made great efforts to talk up his background - his cultic Judaism was something to celebrate, given extra umph by finding Jesus.

"I think the question should be whether or not it is okay for parents to make decision pertaining to one’s faith while one is still unable to form an opinion?"

I think it would be a good idea to question the very notion of 'forming an opinion' as the norm for credibility, and humaneness, in religion. I would question that this is the sum of our concerns for how to assess involvement in religion. Words like 'mystery' can serve as a hiding place for a multitude of abuses, but I'd like to be able to use it in a positive sense. There are many things in life that we don't understand, there are many times we rely on others. It's because of this that I would advise against condemning religious practices that involve people under a certain age, or - for that matter- of a certain intellectual of critical capacity. What constitutes abusive practice might be moot to some extent, but I'd like to see this decoupled from an apparent total ban on doing things before one can fully 'understand' them. I don't understand all of life, should I stop taking part now on the basis that not everything is chosen or controlled by me?

8:34 PM  
Blogger postliberal said...

ps. If I might intrude on what you & Sara said (apologies in advance for being cheeky).

I think it’s possible to be critically engaged with a ’holy figure’ and still revere them. But then I do have a certain propensity to devotion at shrines! There are many Muslims who find devotion possible in relation to Muhammad, and associated saints. But they’re often amongst the most moderate and open peoples - hardliners often shun any really embodied personification of the holy, and would rather it stripped to words.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting Post Liberal,

It really depends on how sees faith as. I know Christians who follow the life of Jesus in his acts, talking, lifestyle. Yet, it really depends on the person....do we have to follow a faithful man to be closer to God? Can we not have to follow important figures or devote ourselves at shrines? It matters how one thinks of getting close to God means as this is what faith is about, and the elements needed to get yourself to a heavenly after life.

I question what you said PostLiberal though. The Muslims who find devotion in relation to Mohammed don't seem to be the most moderates at all unles you were signifying a different idea. The ones who try to BE LIKE Mohammed an worse is what makes their nations backward for it is like 'idolising'. The ones who respect Mohammed are the ones who follow his Message. His Message was the revealing of the Quran which has little to do with the life of Mohammed PBUH. Not the Hadith.

Hope Im making sense.

Sara. Cheers.

8:12 AM  
Blogger postliberal said...

Yeah, that makes sense. Perhaps this is mostly a matter of different perceptions - and I shall bow to your inevitabley greater span of experience here. I reckon it's most about how a figure - particularly the prophet Muhammed - is perceived by someone, as a basis for faith.

There are some, that we might call fundamentalists, who have a very misguided view of society, religion, and personification of the ideals of thier religion. It's a worrying approach that assumes we can reconstitute a past expression of Islam (in this case the first generation of Muhammed and his converts) in the contemporary world as a whole unit. The expression he and his immediate followers lived was in a certain specific paradigm - and trying to impose it on others now is simply an abuse. And a denial of Al-lah's dynamic involement in the creative lives of people through time.

Others would try and be more effasive, in seeking to make them figures in which we can make sense of our lives. To have devotion to Muhammed, or a Muslim saintly figure, is perhaps best seen as trying to live one's own life in such a way as to make thier most virtuous aspects a reality in our time and place. Seeing them as living revelations, demonstrating the very best that people can achive in the light of the divine - which, if we trace the patterns of our own stories in relation to thier narratives, might be worked out anew. It takes a little more effort and creative freedom to be able to work this out, and won't appeal to those who wish to have a list of timeless right rules, but I would suggest it's needed if we're to sit at the feet of those who've been able to see God - without turning them into scourges of variety.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Sagar said...

That's quite an eye-opener. Thanks a lot La Bona for the efforts you have taken to bring forth this. Keep posting similar informative & useful articles. Btw, thanks for visitng my blog on health & fitness. Keep visitng and commenting on the posts. Your suggestions are welcome.



5:38 AM  
Blogger La Bona said...

Just got back after a 'gruesome' weekend ... Thanks you all for the comments, I think we have a serious topic here, so I'd post a new entry based upon it later. Meanwhile, I am going to post an entry from the stockpile ...

9:42 AM  

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WARNING: Blind obsession with prophecy can be perilous or even fatal, reader discretion is advised! Submitted to God as His worldly Activist on a non-exclusive basis since June 15, 2005 1:00 am ET. “La Bona” is a professional name inspired by God; it means "The Righteous", “The Virtuous” or simply “The Good” in Esperanto (a neutral international language). DivineTalk® is an Open Commentary Forum dedicated to God for His Children to engage in dialogue, discourse and debate on laws, standards and values on morality, lifestyle, ethics, business and just about anything else related to their life. God enlightened to have His Words improvised and updated with the prevailing circumstances so that the divine guidance, dogma and policy will evolve with time and stay relevant to His Children in the very era they live in as the way forward. La Bona is a Truth Seeker, Myth Buster, Freedom Fighter, Cyber Activist, Liberal Animal, Good Samaritan, Messiah Wannabe and in order to serve His Children of diverse backgrounds, La Bona is motivated and aim to eventually multitask as Divine Representative, Contemporary Prophet, Celestial Executive, Deity Clairvoyant, Holy Spiritualist ...

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