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Scrawly
07-10-2015, 03:43 PM
This thread was inspired by rob's comment which sparked my reply and idea for this thread:

Quote Originally Posted by robrecht:

There are things in Catholicism that I disagree with, and much with which I agree in Luther's early theology, but it seems to me he went off the deep end rather quickly with his apocalyptic expectations and specific identifications of the Pope and others as figures prophesied in the Book of Revelation.

Quote Originally Posted by Scrawly:

Not to derail the thread - but I have observed similar phenomena, even in my own life, where seemingly the deeper one plunges into theological study and devotion, the seemingly increasingly neurotic, one becomes. Why do you think this is? How ought we guard against this?

So to continue this train of thought - how do we as aspiring authentic Christian's strive for well-roundedness, being productive citizen's engaged in making the world a better place and at the same time remain faithful to biblical teaching that calls for venturing out into the deeper waters (and often against the grain) without going off the deep end into nutbar-ism? For example, I remember one time speaking with my friend over the phone about the activity of Satan, and after the conversation I reached for a tissue and the fluffy white kitten on the Kleenex box looked totally demonic to me. Suffice to say, I didn't sleep that night and the conversation put me on an unhealthy trajectory of neurosis.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6vxUGjeKVk

seanD
07-10-2015, 10:29 PM
Most reformers in history were considered "nutbars," because they were obviously bucking against the accepted religious tide. Our very Lord was considered crazy, even by his own family. And then there are people that really do go off the deep end like Jim Jones. So, the question really is how we distinguish the two? By extinguishing what we consider "nutbarism," we way may be unwittingly stifling the Holy Spirit and thus the next great reformer, or we may be allowing the next great tragedy :shrug:

Spartacus
07-10-2015, 11:44 PM
My own experience is that sound theology is the greatest safeguard of sanity a person could ask for. By this I don't mean that theology is supposed to make one feel good, least of all in the way televangelists suggest, but that a deeper knowledge of theology actually has helped me through a few personal crises.

MaxVel
07-11-2015, 05:37 AM
I think that there are two areas that do seem to be prone to leading people into 'nutbarism' - demonology and eschatology. People who over focus on either seem often to get out of balance. For those in that situation I recommend getting away from the books, videos and suchlike, and doing something for people - help in the church children's program,or serve in the food bank, or mow a neighbour's lawns, or something.

robrecht
07-11-2015, 06:50 AM
In 'religious life' in the Orthodox and Catholic churches (ie, nuns, priests, brothers), there has always been a focus on either community or social action or both as a way to stem the tide of nutbarism (good word). From the beginnings of religious life in the desert, living in some form of community was mandated, even for hermits, and especially the many communities of sisters have done enormous amounts of good work in serving the poor and sick and teaching.

seanD
07-11-2015, 09:46 AM
I think that there are two areas that do seem to be prone to leading people into 'nutbarism' - demonology and eschatology. People who over focus on either seem often to get out of balance. For those in that situation I recommend getting away from the books, videos and suchlike, and doing something for people - help in the church children's program,or serve in the food bank, or mow a neighbour's lawns, or something.

I disagree with demonology. I think the church is a victim of scientific modernism which gives in to pop cultural norms and completely downplays the issue as a result of societal pressure. Much like Genesis creationism, miracles (which are almost nonexistent relative to the ancient times except on very rare occasions), even eschatology. I believe it also explains why the church is basically impotent and in the sorry shape it's in today, particularly in urban areas.

Thoughtful Monk
07-12-2015, 12:36 PM
I think that there are two areas that do seem to be prone to leading people into 'nutbarism' - demonology and eschatology. People who over focus on either seem often to get out of balance. For those in that situation I recommend getting away from the books, videos and suchlike, and doing something for people - help in the church children's program,or serve in the food bank, or mow a neighbour's lawns, or something.

I certainly agree with eschatology. I've known a couple not nuts but so lost in eschatological study they had no connection to the rest of Christianity.

Haven't personally met anyone that in demonology so I don't know. I do agree with SeanD that these days, the supernatural tends to get discounted for more material causes. I almost say we need more study of demonology these days.

KingsGambit
07-12-2015, 01:05 PM
I certainly agree with eschatology. I've known a couple not nuts but so lost in eschatological study they had no connection to the rest of Christianity.

Haven't personally met anyone that in demonology so I don't know. I do agree with SeanD that these days, the supernatural tends to get discounted for more material causes. I almost say we need more study of demonology these days.

I'll agree with you and say we need more study of demonology and less rushing to accusations of demons possessing individuals.

hedrick
07-12-2015, 06:30 PM
Remember that Luther was involved in a war where people actually got killed for holding the wrong theology. That might tend to lead to a more radical assessment of the opposition than in today's more genteel climate. Furthermore, if you look at how the Borgia popes actually acted, I don't think it was so out of line for Luther to consider that the Papacy had turned into the anti-Christ. That kind of judgement would not, of course, be appropriate for today's Catholic Church.

I've also wondered whether, somewhat ironically, Luther was pushed that way by the concept of a unified Church. Today we're used to multiple denominations. If we think our current church is wrong, we can create a new denomination or join a different one. But Luther accepted the dominant view that there's only one Church. If the Catholic Church was sufficiently wrong to justify a break, he couldn't just say he was creating a new denomination. He had to take the view that the Catholic hierarchy was non-Christian.

themuzicman
07-13-2015, 08:23 AM
IMHO, one key to keeping yourself sane is to keep "fundamental theology", that which is essential to the Christian faith, distinct from "disputable theology", that which isn't.

So, trinity; incarnation; virgin birth; Christ's death, burial, and resurrection resulting in propitiation; justification/salvation through faith; and bodily resurrection are fundamental. The rest is disputable.

robrecht
07-13-2015, 09:20 AM
Remember that Luther was involved in a war where people actually got killed for holding the wrong theology. That might tend to lead to a more radical assessment of the opposition than in today's more genteel climate. Furthermore, if you look at how the Borgia popes actually acted, I don't think it was so out of line for Luther to consider that the Papacy had turned into the anti-Christ. That kind of judgement would not, of course, be appropriate for today's Catholic Church.

I've also wondered whether, somewhat ironically, Luther was pushed that way by the concept of a unified Church. Today we're used to multiple denominations. If we think our current church is wrong, we can create a new denomination or join a different one. But Luther accepted the dominant view that there's only one Church. If the Catholic Church was sufficiently wrong to justify a break, he couldn't just say he was creating a new denomination. He had to take the view that the Catholic hierarchy was non-Christian.Please don't think that I was defending Borgia popes or capital punishment for theological dissent or opposing theological pluralism in the church(es). I understand that Luther was a man of his times, but there were other men of the times who nonetheless did not make the same identifications of Luther and others with figures prophesied in the book of Revelation with a near expectation of the apocalypse. For a more sober assessment of Luther's theology, the comparison is frequently made between Luther and Erasmus, whose edition of the New Testament Luther used in making his German translation.

hedrick
07-13-2015, 09:56 AM
Please don't think that I was defending Borgia popes or capital punishment for theological dissent or opposing theological pluralism in the church(es). I understand that Luther was a man of his times, but there were other men of the times who nonetheless did not make the same identifications of Luther and others with figures prophesied in the book of Revelation with a near expectation of the apocalypse. For a more sober assessment of Luther's theology, the comparison is frequently made between Luther and Erasmus, whose edition of the New Testament Luther used in making his German translation.

Indeed. However I'm mostly with Luther on this one. Luther seems to have gotten pulled into this at least in part because he was responsible for the welfare of the spiritual welfare of a congregation. Few modern Christians would take the view that a pastor should let his congregation be misled so badly. At least under the assumptions of the time, this would have been a matter of salvation. I'm not sure that Erasmus had that kind of responsibility. If he was actually a pastor, I haven't seen any reference to it.

Wikipedia says of Erasmus "Erasmus preferred to live the life of an independent scholar and made a conscious effort to avoid any actions or formal ties that might inhibit his freedom of intellect and literary expression." I'm not so sure this is a responsible position to take.

robrecht
07-13-2015, 10:10 AM
Indeed. However I'm mostly with Luther on this one. Luther seems to have gotten pulled into this at least in part because he was responsible for the welfare of the spiritual welfare of a congregation. Few modern Christians would take the view that a pastor should let his congregation be misled so badly. At least under the assumptions of the time, this would have been a matter of salvation. I'm not sure that Erasmus had that kind of responsibility. If he was actually a pastor, I haven't seen any reference to it.

Wikipedia says of Erasmus "Erasmus preferred to live the life of an independent scholar and made a conscious effort to avoid any actions or formal ties that might inhibit his freedom of intellect and literary expression." I'm not so sure this is a responsible position to take.Erasmus was a former priest, but I'm more interested in your support for Luther here. Do you think he was correct in identifying any particular pope or the papacy in general as in some true sense a/the Antichrist?

One Bad Pig
07-13-2015, 10:49 AM
I disagree with demonology. I think the church is a victim of scientific modernism which gives in to pop cultural norms and completely downplays the issue as a result of societal pressure. Much like Genesis creationism, miracles (which are almost nonexistent relative to the ancient times except on very rare occasions), even eschatology. I believe it also explains why the church is basically impotent and in the sorry shape it's in today, particularly in urban areas.
Miracles tend to occur less today because of a general lack of faith. Even Jesus could not perform many miracles in Nazareth due to their lack of faith; why should we expect anything different?

seanD
07-13-2015, 11:47 AM
Miracles tend to occur less today because of a general lack of faith. Even Jesus could not perform many miracles in Nazareth due to their lack of faith; why should we expect anything different?

Exactly.

Scrawly
07-13-2015, 12:31 PM
"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it." (Mark 8:35).

"Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears." (Acts 20:31).

These, and many other biblical admonishments bespeak of radical transformation and radical ways of living. Venturing out into this evil age in the power of the Spirit with the glory of God in view will seemingly result in detachment and disengagement with a large bulk of the way of the world and would perhaps surpass any cult in perceived bizarreness.

A healthy dose of secularism and being consumed with this world seems to prevent the above from happening in the lives of believers. Now, I don't think this is the result of said believer's necessarily loving their lives or loving this evil age, but rather, there is a perceived unspoken assumption that if we literally live as the bible dictates, we will go practically insane and be functioning in a subjective la-la-land with very little objective justification to continue along such a path of resistance; indeed, all those miracle stories in the bible are nice to read and we desperately try and believe them with the best of our abilities, but my goodness, clearly such things don't happen today, and why that is, well, let's not go there...indeed it's far safer to get lost in some theological issue and continue to play little head games so we don't have to deal with this obvious disconnect. Now, I don't mean to speak for all believers with the above, but I think we must honestly ask ourselves, does the above ring true to an extent in my own life?

"when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).

KingsGambit
07-13-2015, 02:06 PM
but rather, there is a perceived unspoken assumption that if we literally live as the bible dictates, we will go practically insane and be functioning in a subjective la-la-land with very little objective justification to continue along such a path of resistance

I'm sorry but I don't understand what you're saying here...

hedrick
07-13-2015, 02:59 PM
Erasmus was a former priest, but I'm more interested in your support for Luther here. Do you think he was correct in identifying any particular pope or the papacy in general as in some true sense a/the Antichrist?

No, but in the 16th Cent context it's not unexpected. You suggested Erasmus as showing an alternative approach. But Erasmus chose not to take any political actions. His writings were, of course, very helpful, but he didn't engage in the way Luther did. I think Luther was right in his basic actions but his rhetoric was over the top by modern standards.

However over-the-top rhetoric seems to be characteristic of many historical periods. Look at the language used by the Ecumenical Councils referring to people whose theology they thought was off. Completely unjustified attacks on the personal integrity of opponents was common until the 20th Cent even for scholars, and it continues today outside communities with a strong commitment to objectivity.

I wish Luther hadn't done that, but it's unfair to criticize him.

robrecht
07-13-2015, 04:05 PM
No, but in the 16th Cent context it's not unexpected. You suggested Erasmus as showing an alternative approach. But Erasmus chose not to take any political actions. His writings were, of course, very helpful, but he didn't engage in the way Luther did. I think Luther was right in his basic actions but his rhetoric was over the top by modern standards.

However over-the-top rhetoric seems to be characteristic of many historical periods. Look at the language used by the Ecumenical Councils referring to people whose theology they thought was off. Completely unjustified attacks on the personal integrity of opponents was common until the 20th Cent even for scholars, and it continues today outside communities with a strong commitment to objectivity.

I wish Luther hadn't done that, but it's unfair to criticize him.Do you think Luther's identification of the pope and others as the antichrist or other figures from the book of Revelation was merely rhetorical and did not represent his actual beliefs?

rogue06
07-13-2015, 05:21 PM
Do you think Luther's identification of the pope and others as the antichrist or other figures from the book of Revelation was merely rhetorical and did not represent his actual beliefs?
Luther was hardly unique in this, many of the Protestant reformers such as John Calvin and John Knox readily identified the Roman Papacy as being the Antichrist but AFAICT Catholic apologists of the time repaid that rhetoric in kind and identified Martin Luther as the Antichrist and "the Beast" of Revelation and said that Calvin was the false prophet.

hedrick
07-13-2015, 05:24 PM
Do you think Luther's identification of the pope and others as the antichrist or other figures from the book of Revelation was merely rhetorical and did not represent his actual beliefs?

Of course he did. In some sense he wasn't even wrong. It was someone sitting at the head of the Church whose goals were very different from Christ's. And heaven knows there are plenty of Christians today who think events less serious than those in his time indicate the coming of the end times. I'm sure they believe it too.

robrecht
07-13-2015, 06:55 PM
Luther was hardly unique in this, many of the Protestant reformers such as John Calvin and John Knox readily identified the Roman Papacy as being the Antichrist but AFAICT Catholic apologists of the time repaid that rhetoric in kind and identified Martin Luther as the Antichrist and "the Beast" of Revelation and said that Calvin was the false prophet.Good point. So it was not just rhetoric but Luther's, Calvin's and Knox's actual beliefs; is that what you're saying? I know many Catholics believed Luther and the reformers to be truly evil and the tool of Satan, but did they generally believe that they were living in the end times on account of Luther's and Calvin's appearance as the Antichrist and false prophet?

robrecht
07-13-2015, 06:58 PM
Of course he did. In some sense he wasn't even wrong. It was someone sitting at the head of the Church whose goals were very different from Christ's. And heaven knows there are plenty of Christians today who think events less serious than those in his time indicate the coming of the end times. I'm sure they believe it too.He certainly was not wrong about many evils in the church, including among the popes and hierarchy, etc, but he was wrong about this being a sign of the end times. I don't know if many Catholics also went down this apocalyptic road.

hedrick
07-13-2015, 07:23 PM
You might find this interesting: http://ww.bibelschule.info/streaming/Winfried-Vogel---The-Eschatological-Theology-of-Martin-Luther---Part-1_21898.pdf
Or this: http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/05/luthers-battle-at-end-of-world.html
It wasn't just inflated rhetoric. It was a part of his theology. He thought in terms that today we might call "spiritual warfare." Think of "A Mighty Fortress." I think he meant those words a lot more literally than most modern Protestants who sing the hymn.

It's certainly not my viewpoint, but it's a traditional Christian approach. In a period that still remembered three popes anathematizing each other, popes in conflict with councils, and unprecedented corruption in the Church, it's easy to see why someone might find it attractive.

In many ways Luther was the last great medieval theologian. His worldview was quite different than mine, which is formed by the Enlightenment. He saw the world as a place where God and Satan were active in everyday affairs. The Papacy wasn't just the victim of normal human sin, but represented Satan's attack and on the Church, and at least a temporary victory. You can make a good argument that parts of the NT take a similar view. He was obviously wrong about the End coming soon. But for people whose outlook is a bit more supernatural than mine, it doesn't invalidate the concept that the corruptioin and heresy in the Church represented Satan's activity. In this context, one might describe the Pope as the anti-Christ, although not the anti-Christ of the End. In that context, Luther might have been wrong about chronology, but not about what was really going on.

This approach is alive and well in today's Church. Just look at the number of people who are talking about the moral destruction of the West, and seeing this as the apostasy foreseen in the NT, with the end swiftly coming.

MaxVel
07-14-2015, 12:56 AM
IMHO, one key to keeping yourself sane is to keep "fundamental theology", that which is essential to the Christian faith, distinct from "disputable theology", that which isn't.

So, trinity; incarnation; virgin birth; Christ's death, burial, and resurrection resulting in propitiation; justification/salvation through faith; and bodily resurrection are fundamental. The rest is disputable.

That's good advice.


Although we might end up getting crazy over what the fundamentals are.... :yes:

seanD
07-14-2015, 07:36 AM
IMHO, one key to keeping yourself sane is to keep "fundamental theology", that which is essential to the Christian faith, distinct from "disputable theology", that which isn't.

So, trinity; incarnation; virgin birth; Christ's death, burial, and resurrection resulting in propitiation; justification/salvation through faith; and bodily resurrection are fundamental. The rest is disputable.

If those are the fundamentals then I don't get why some Christians around here use the term "fundie" so disparagingly to describe other Christians not of their ilk.

robrecht
07-14-2015, 09:09 AM
IMHO, one key to keeping yourself sane is to keep "fundamental theology", that which is essential to the Christian faith, distinct from "disputable theology", that which isn't.

So, trinity; incarnation; virgin birth; Christ's death, burial, and resurrection resulting in propitiation; justification/salvation through faith; and bodily resurrection are fundamental. The rest is disputable.
If those are the fundamentals then I don't get why some Christians around here use the term "fundie" so disparagingly to describe other Christians not of their ilk.At least in Catholic and some larger academic theological circles, fundamental theology is not merely a list of the fundamentals (which is the origin of the initially positive connotation of the term 'Fundamentalism'), but rather a matter of genuine theological inquiry and debate over how some fundamental theological concepts, eg, revelation, should best be understood theologically. There is plenty of room for disagreement and debate about how these fundamental concepts should best be understood. To continue with the example of revelation, is it best understood as propositional, ie, literal statements taken from the bible or church councils, or personal, ie, Jesus Christ is the supreme personal revelation of who God is as human, acting within human history, to whom the scriptures and counciliar statements attest within a human historical context.

seanD
07-14-2015, 10:04 AM
I think the fundamentals may be much broader than those general beliefs. I doubt there are very many churches out there that would disagree with those fundamentals (with the possible exception of the virgin birth), so something needs to explain why the church is waning and, most notably, why divine manifestations, supernatural interactions and revelations aren't at all on par with the church of the first century.

robrecht
07-14-2015, 10:18 AM
You might find this interesting: http://ww.bibelschule.info/streaming/Winfried-Vogel---The-Eschatological-Theology-of-Martin-Luther---Part-1_21898.pdf
Or this: http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/05/luthers-battle-at-end-of-world.html
It wasn't just inflated rhetoric. It was a part of his theology. He thought in terms that today we might call "spiritual warfare." Think of "A Mighty Fortress." I think he meant those words a lot more literally than most modern Protestants who sing the hymn.

It's certainly not my viewpoint, but it's a traditional Christian approach. In a period that still remembered three popes anathematizing each other, popes in conflict with councils, and unprecedented corruption in the Church, it's easy to see why someone might find it attractive.

In many ways Luther was the last great medieval theologian. His worldview was quite different than mine, which is formed by the Enlightenment. He saw the world as a place where God and Satan were active in everyday affairs. The Papacy wasn't just the victim of normal human sin, but represented Satan's attack and on the Church, and at least a temporary victory. You can make a good argument that parts of the NT take a similar view. He was obviously wrong about the End coming soon. But for people whose outlook is a bit more supernatural than mine, it doesn't invalidate the concept that the corruptioin and heresy in the Church represented Satan's activity. In this context, one might describe the Pope as the anti-Christ, although not the anti-Christ of the End. In that context, Luther might have been wrong about chronology, but not about what was really going on.

This approach is alive and well in today's Church. Just look at the number of people who are talking about the moral destruction of the West, and seeing this as the apostasy foreseen in the NT, with the end swiftly coming.Thanks for the links, I read them last night and now see that you subsequently added to your post. I understand this perspective and pretty much agree with you. Except I don't think a good argument can be made that parts of the New Testament were addressing the papacy as Satan's attack on the church. I think the papacy actually developed much more slowly, 'though some of the roots of this later development can be seen in Matthew's gospel, but there these roots of what would eventually become the papacy are seen positively.

rogue06
07-14-2015, 10:34 AM
Good point. So it was not just rhetoric but Luther's, Calvin's and Knox's actual beliefs; is that what you're saying? I know many Catholics believed Luther and the reformers to be truly evil and the tool of Satan, but did they generally believe that they were living in the end times on account of Luther's and Calvin's appearance as the Antichrist and false prophet?
Perhaps a mixture of both. If the Seven Day Adventist historian LeRoy Edwin Froom is correct referring to the pope as the Antichrist was something that had been going on for centuries in central Europe. He cites, for instance, the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, Austria Eberhard II von Truchsees as saying at a synod of bishops held at Regensburg, Germany around 1240 that the people of his day were "accustomed" to calling the pope Antichrist.

And I think many of the Catholics indeed thought that the Reformers were evidence of the coming of the End Times in that in their view they were sundering the body of Christ.

robrecht
07-14-2015, 10:47 AM
Perhaps a mixture of both. If the Seven Day Adventist historian LeRoy Edwin Froom is correct referring to the pope as the Antichrist was something that had been going on for centuries in central Europe. He cites, for instance, the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, Austria Eberhard II von Truchsees as saying at a synod of bishops held at Regensburg, Germany around 1240 that the people of his day were "accustomed" to calling the pope Antichrist.

And I think many of the Catholics indeed thought that the Reformers were evidence of the coming of the End Times in that in their view they were sundering the body of Christ.Can you provide any names of Catholics contemporary to Luther or the Counter-reformation who referred to Luther and the other reformers as evidence of an imminent apocalypse? I am not saying you're wrong, but I have never heard of this and would like to learn more if it represents a substantial number of people who advocated this view.

rogue06
07-14-2015, 10:50 AM
Can you provide any names of Catholics contemporary to Luther or the Counter-reformation who referred to Luther and the other reformers as evidence of an imminent apocalypse? I am not saying you're wrong, but I have never heard of this and would like to learn more if it represents a substantial number of people who advocated this view.
Was going from memory but have a book or two in storage that brings up what was being said by both sides.

Scrawly
07-14-2015, 01:27 PM
I'm sorry but I don't understand what you're saying here...

Oh I was basically just pointing out that I think many believers in our modern society tend to reject the more extreme commands of the Bible in favor of a therapeutic view of God simply because they perceive that God doesn't actually involve himself in a tangible, objective manner. They play it safe, in other words - "I believe, naturally". They therefore categorize the believers who actively try and hear the voice of God and pursue the gift of miracles while evangelizing everywhere they go as "nutbars".

KingsGambit
07-14-2015, 02:00 PM
Oh I was basically just pointing out that I think many believers in our modern society tend to reject the more extreme commands of the Bible in favor of a therapeutic view of God simply because they perceive that God doesn't actually involve himself in a tangible, objective manner. They play it safe, in other words - "I believe, naturally". They therefore categorize the believers who actively try and hear the voice of God and pursue the gift of miracles while evangelizing everywhere they go as "nutbars".

Ah, okay.