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Old 10-08-2001, 10:41 PM   #11
Pantera
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Quote:
Originally posted by Photocrat:
<STRONG>Care to clarify further?</STRONG>
Actually I wasn't trying to argue for or against the theory that Christianity began life as a mystery cult (it's not an area I know much about), just being curious and asking a question about the reliability of our sources. So I'm not quite sure what you want me to clarify.
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Old 10-08-2001, 11:01 PM   #12
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Originally posted by Amos:
<STRONG>

Since our sexuality is an illusion it is created in the stand off between the positive and negative gender identity. This identity is generated from sexual taboos and thus it is impossible to conceive mystery cults without sexual taboos. If this does not mean that they did not have orgys, the fact that they did have orgys means that orgies were not the norm and hence sexual taboos were in place to make room for orgies.

Amos</STRONG>
Which makes them popular, because they're forbidden (just look at the one internet business making money...).

So I still want to know why, if Christianity copied these cults, it did not copy one rather successful feature. I mean, the whole *point* of copying other cults was to gain popularity, so I don't see how they could pass up an obvious means of advancement if that was their motive...

So tell me again how this all works out?
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Old 10-08-2001, 11:07 PM   #13
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Originally posted by Pantera:
<STRONG>

Actually I wasn't trying to argue for or against the theory that Christianity began life as a mystery cult (it's not an area I know much about), just being curious and asking a question about the reliability of our sources. So I'm not quite sure what you want me to clarify.</STRONG>
Sorry--that question sounded rhetorical.

Shall we just say that I don't put much stock into this theory? :] Yet, sadly, there have been "skeptics" uncritically rehashing things straight out of, say, Achyra S' writings.
[Yup, that's the one who doesn't document her sources very well (someone's highschool paper, "a writer," etc.) & said something to the effect that "space aliens sent her to destroy Christianity" -- ranks right up there with "The World's 12 Crucified Saviors" which even this very site does not rate highly in its review :]
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Old 10-09-2001, 04:43 AM   #14
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Originally posted by Photocrat:
<STRONG>

Sorry--that question sounded rhetorical.

Shall we just say that I don't put much stock into this theory? :] Yet, sadly, there have been "skeptics" uncritically rehashing things straight out of, say, Achyra S' writings.
</STRONG>
Yes, skeptics are human too.

As far as I know, there isn't enough evidence on the sex issue to make a definitive statement. On one hand we have the accusations of the enemies of Christianity, on the other hand we have Paul. I believe some gnostic groups were into sex -- remember the passage from GosPhilip or GosMary where Jesus kisses Mary M full on the lips. So some early Christians were possibly into sex.

Your problem, Photocrat, is that by "early Christians" you really mean "proto-orthodox" christians, which were one small part of the diversity of early Christianity. This is a common mode of thought among Christians here, and reminds me forcibly of the failure to embrace critical scholarship on early Christianity, sort of like Achyra S.

Michael
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Old 10-09-2001, 04:55 AM   #15
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Your problem, Photocrat, is that by "early Christians" you really mean "proto-orthodox" christians, which were one small part of the diversity of early Christianity.
Michael,

While critical scholarship has, in common with Christians from year dot, been aware of many non-orthodox early groups, I am interested to see where the discovery that the orthodox were a 'small part' comes from. For that matter, I'd be interested to know which critical (and up to date) scholars make this claim.

Yours most curious

Bede

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Old 10-09-2001, 07:18 AM   #16
Vorkosigan
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Originally posted by Bede:
<STRONG>

Michael,

While critical scholarship has, in common with Christians from year dot, been aware of many non-orthodox early groups, I am interested to see where the discovery that the orthodox were a 'small part' comes from. For that matter, I'd be interested to know which critical (and up to date) scholars make this claim.

Yours most curious

Bede

Bede's Library - faith and reason</STRONG>
"Small part" in terms of being one out of many beliefs, not overall population. Forgive my lack of specificity.

However, as far as population, I'll give you Ehrman's comment from his Intro:

"Some [scholars] think that the proto-orthodox beliefs were original to Christianity, other maintain that they developed over time. Some scholars claim that the proto-orthodox had always been the majority throughout Christendom, others think that other forms of Christianity were predominant in many parts of the Mediterranean." p. 7

I know of no way to settle the population question, but it is clear that proto-orthodoxy was only one of many ancient Christian beliefs.

Michael

[ October 09, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]
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Old 10-09-2001, 08:37 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Photocrat:
<STRONG>

So, ummmm, they ate together & had special services for the members? Bread & wine doesn't sound far removed from what we ate in France, way back when... Would that make some french free-thought organizations "mystery cults"? I'm sure someone must've held invite-only meals somewhere & served bread and wine ...</STRONG>

I'm pretty sure I stated this in my last post, but I don't feel like rereading it. So I will make sure you understand it now in this post.

They didn't just eat bread and wine. They had a "service" where praying and discussions of faith occured, and then, after that, those who had been initiated (baptized) got up, went into the CLOSED OFF BACK ROOM, where no one else who had been baptized could go, and supposedly (according to Christian sources) ate the bread and drank the wine. (According to the Roman sources, they had orgies back there). You can't get any more clear cut than that. These mystery religions were called that because they offered initiates something special, something which others wouldn't know or understand until they were initiated as well.
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Old 10-09-2001, 08:57 PM   #18
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Originally posted by P_Brian_Bateman:
<STRONG> I'm pretty sure I stated this in my last post, but I don't feel like rereading it. So I will make sure you understand it now in this post.

They didn't just eat bread and wine. They had a "service" where praying and discussions of faith occured, and then, after that, those who had been initiated (baptized) got up, went into the CLOSED OFF BACK ROOM, where no one else who had been baptized could go, and supposedly (according to Christian sources) ate the bread and drank the wine. (According to the Roman sources, they had orgies back there). You can't get any more clear cut than that. These mystery religions were called that because they offered initiates something special, something which others wouldn't know or understand until they were initiated as well.</STRONG>
In the usage of the time, mystery =~ secret. Right here, after someone has proven themselves skeptical enough, you have private borads for them. "Community of reason" and all that.

I wouldn't be in the least surprised to find somewhere where a group of skeptics had a meal together & discussed their atheism after a larger meeting. The "law of large numbers" rates that as a virtual certainty.

My question, again, is -- does that make them a "mystery cult"? It's one of your primary qualifications so far. I think the bigger hang-up is using "cult" to describe a non-religion. If memory serves, they were just called mysteries at the time. In any event, dictionary.com tells me that one of the definitions of cult is:

" 1. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest."

I think that skepticism can qualify as an intellectual interest. The "Community of Reason" and the like are both exclusive and devoted to your, fairly esoteric intellectual pursuits.

Basically, it's a matter of perspective. I can justify calling you a "mystery cult" just as much as you can early Christianity. How do I know if you're having orgies back there, or just discussing Hume? Are the distinctions relevant?

Moreover, I believe that it should be easy to establish that you adopted some of these things to be a secular copy of religion (well, the activities designed to form a social clique that was not a church, but following your example, we're separating the reasoning given for it from the results thereof ... Ergo, the Secular Web is a mystery cult which copied pre-existant religious traditions into its own framework :]
Normally, I would consider this reductio ad absurdam, but ... :]
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Old 10-09-2001, 08:59 PM   #19
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Originally posted by turtonm:
<STRONG>I know of no way to settle the population question.
[ October 09, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]</STRONG>
Then how do you justify the claim? It's like saying that I know of no reasonable way for the Incans to have copied the Egyptians in their pyramids, but they must've found some way...
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Old 10-09-2001, 09:06 PM   #20
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Photocrat, I will make myself even more clearer now.

Christianity was a mystery cult in the beginning stages of its lifetime.

It was a cult because it was a somewhat small religious group(Christianity didn't grow much at all until after it became the Roman religion), and its practices were centered around a charismatic figure (the word,"charasmatic", in contrast sometimes to common usage, used to, and in this case, means someone who is somehow divinely inspired). The religion of Christianity was a minority one at the time period, and thus, it perfectly matches the definition of a cult. Of course, I'm not meaning cult in a pejorative way. I'm using the religious/sociological definition of cult.

Now here is where I think you misunderstood me. Christianity is a mystery religion because once you became bapitzed, you were CHANGED! Unless you had converted, you didn't recieve the new character change that resulted. I'm not meaning to put this in a Gnostic sense, but Christianity, like the other mystery cults, offered its iniatives a change of some sort. The mental character of the converts was changed. Their way of thinking was hidden to those that hadn't converted. And this process was all the more mystified by the early Christiain practice of having the converts (those who were baptized) perform the practice of the Euchararist behind closed doors.

I don't consider it an insult to Christians, or an attack on their beliefs to call their early predecessors members of a mystery cult. Therefore, this is a purely factual argument for me. And I don't understand why someone would object to Christianity being called a mystery cult in its early stages UNLESS they had factual reasons to think other wise.

[ October 09, 2001: Message edited by: P_Brian_Bateman ]
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