God’s salesman

Digging deeper: exposing a fool-baiting philosophy of refrigerator magnets and page-a-day calendars.

Norman Vincent Peale

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/10/donald-trump-2016-norman-vincent-peale-213220

How Norman Vincent Peale taught Donald Trump to worship himself: the magnate’s biographer explains the spiritual guide behind his relentless self-confidence. | By WENDA BLAIR

 

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Criticism and controversy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Vincent_Peale


 

Review:

Mitch Horowitz, an award winning journalist, has traced the unseen and largely unknown origins and roots of both Positive thinking and Word/Faith theology in his book One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life,Crown Publishing, (New York, 2014, 338 pages).

 

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The two movements of Positive Thinking and Word Faith in fact are very close relatives; one is ancestor to the other. This invaluable book is a history of all the key players and their roots in nineteenth century New Thought Movement. Horowitz sees the linkage and connects the dots between New Thought, Christian Science, Norman Vincent Peale, New Age thinking, the Law of Attraction and a number of Word Faith teachers. The book’s 14 page index helps enhance the retrieving of names and topics.

Men like Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882) believed and taught that conjuring up mental ideas of a more positive life could fast track us to making it so. Horowitz explains

Positive Thinking:

“The principle of positive thinking is simplicity itself. Picture an outcome, dwell on it in your thoughts and feelings, and unseen agencies – whether metaphysical or psychological – will supposedly come to your aid. Seen in this way, the mind is a causative force….the content of our thoughts influences the nature of our experience, in concrete terms”, (page 4 – 5).

Is there then a mind power that can be controlled and manipulated to create better outcomes? Can our minds alone abolish disease, create wealth and refashion our reality? The author points out that positive affirmations heaped on suffering terminally ill patients can be cruel and thoughtless. It amounts to blaming sufferers for their suffering. Physical pain and the decline of aging cannot be wished away.

Positive Thinking concepts seem to be omnipresent and could be our national anthem. Like a virus it has infected large portions of the church. There is no doubt that many could be happier generally speaking if they had a better frame of mind but there is a limit to what our thoughts and minds can do. Horowitz seems to be for a balanced approach as he takes on the inconsistencies of the New Age and Positive Thinking movements. Howowitz states his approach:

“The outlook of this book is that positive thinking is less than it’s most enthusiastic exponents believe – it is not a psycho-spiritual magic wand or an all encompassing result-making law of life. But it is also a great deal more than what its critic see it as, namely a fool-baiting philosophy of refrigerator magnets and page-a-day calendars”, (pages 10 – 11).

Agree or disagree with the authors overall approach and perspective the value of this book is its detailed history of key figures in the positive thinking orbit as well as their modern day descendants.

In early America people focused on salvation in Christ, the church, godly living, hard work, loving others and service to one’s neighbor. The focus was first vertical and then horizontal. Horowitz traces how that all changed and the focus on the mind and the horizontal was seen as the primary focus. My take is that this leads its adherents and proponents to become totally man centered and not God centered.

As Horowitz traces the history of New Thought he concludes that the modern message of the Prosperity Gospel is simply New Thought repackaged with new technology and new venues. He lists Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and many more. Horowitz traces current Word of Faith teaching back to E. W. Kenyon and details Kenyon’s attendance at a New Thought school. That school was the metaphysical Emerson School, (page 217). The book spends a number of pages on the career of Oral Roberts.

The book delves into the fascinating topic of Neuroplasticity (pages 259, 273-275, 276). Brain studies in this area have shown that ideas and strong thoughts can actually change brain structure and re-route the brain’s “wiring”. In other words from a Christian and biblical perspective positive thinking (unrealistic thinking) could change the brain in such a way as to create strong delusion. Certainly that is frightening food for thought.

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http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wakeupcall/2016/05/norman-vincent-peales-7-life-changing-words/

 

The New Age Peale Factor: (Part 1) Norman Vincent Peale and the Occult

By Warren B. Smith

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The virgin birth, or not.

“Isaiah 7:14 was originally about a “young woman” (alma in Hebrew), not a “virgin.” The Greek translation known as the Septuagint (and abbreviated LXX) mistranslated the Hebrew word as the Greek parthenos, which does mean “virgin,” so the Greek text of Isaiah talks about a virgin even though the Hebrew doesn’t…” – God Didn’t Say That: Bible Translations and Mistranslations https://goddidntsaythat.com/tag/alma/ and https://goddidntsaythat.com/2011/03/23/who-are-you-calling-a-virgin/

” The first issue is the text of Isaiah 7:14. The Hebrew there reads: “an alma … will bear a son and call him `Emmanuel.’” It has long been known that alma does not mean “virgin.” Rather, the Hebrew word applies to any young woman. So the English translation of that line should read along the lines of “a young woman … will bear a son…” (The evidence is widely known and readily available, including in my And God Said.)

Unfortunately, the Septuagint — the highly influential ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament — got the translation wrong here, translating the Hebrew alma as the Greek parthenos, which (probably) did mean “virgin.” It was an easy mistake to make, because most young women back then were virgins, and most virgins were young women. It would be like translating “teenager” as “high-school student” in a society where most teenagers were in fact in high school.

Based on this mistranslation, though, most modern translations — going back to the KJV and including the recently published NIV — translate “a virgin … will bear a son” here. (The NIV has a footnote, “or young woman.”)The new NAB (“NABRE”) is a notable exception. That version now has, “the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel.” Their choice to go with “young woman” reflects the correct understanding of the original Hebrew (though I do have problems with their phrasing of the rest of the line). –

Joel M. Hoffman

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology/2016/03/six-problems-with-the-virgin-birth-biblical-and-historical-perspective/

“Most scholars agree that ‘virgin’ is probably a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for young woman.” – Giles Frazer

Christianity and Hellenistic philosophy

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_Hellenistic_philosophy

“Christianity and Hellenistic philosophies experienced complex interactions during the first to the fourth centuries.

“As Christianity spread throughout the Hellenic world, an increasing number of church leaders were educated in Greek philosophy. The dominant philosophical traditions of the Greco-Roman world then were Stoicism, Platonism, and Epicureanism. Stoicism and, particularly, Platonism were readily incorporated into Christian ethics and Christian theology.

Christian assimilation of Hellenic philosophy was anticipated by Philo and other Greek-speaking Alexandrian Jews. Philo’s blend of Judaism, Platonism, and Stoicism strongly influenced Christian Alexandrian writers like Origen and Clement of Alexandria, as well as, in the Latin world, Ambrose of Milan.

One early Christian writer of the 2nd and early 3rd century, Clement of Alexandria, demonstrated Greek thought in writing,

“Philosophy has been given to the Greeks as their own kind of Covenant, their foundation for the philosophy of Christ … the philosophy of the Greeks … contains the basic elements of that genuine and perfect knowledge which is higher than human … even upon those spiritual objects.” (Miscellanies 6. 8)

The Church historian Eusebius suggested, essentially, in his preparation for the Gospelthat Greek philosophy, although in his view derivative, was concordant with Hebrew notions. Augustine of Hippo, who ultimately systematized Christian philosophy, wrote in the 4th and early 5th century,..

It was not until the fusion of Platonic and Aristotelian theology with Christianity that the concepts of strict omnipotence, omniscience, or benevolence became commonplace. The Platonic Theory of Forms had an enormous influence on Hellenic Christian views of God…

Hellenic Christians and their medieval successors then applied this Form-based philosophy to the Christian God. Philosophers took all the things that they considered good, Power, Love, Knowledge and Size, and posited that God was “infinite” in all these respects. They then concluded that God was omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and omnibenevolent. Since God was perfect, any change would make him less than perfect, so they asserted that God was unchanging, or immutable.

Anselm of Canterbury, a priest, monk, and philosopher defined God as the “Being than which no greater can be conceived.” Almost 200 years later, Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologiae, article 3, wrote succinctly: “By ‘God’, however, we mean some infinite good”.

With the establishment of the formal church, the development of creeds and formal theology, this view of God as Omni-Everything became nearly universal in the Christian World.”

-Wikipedia


 

https://ehrmanblog.org/really-stories-of-jesus-virgin-birth/


Bart D. Ehrman

Jesus Before The Gospels: How The Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, And Invented Their Stories Of The Savior

“…Paul gives no indication of knowing about a virgin birth; he certainly knew James I think, and if there was a tradition at that point, it seems that he would have been told about it. That makes me think that the tradition originated after Paul’s day. And after Mark’s. (Bart Ehrmann blog letter)

Paul creates a virgin birth dilemma for Christians. Paul is the earliest textual witness to Christianity, yet he never once mentioned a virgin birth. Quite the contrary in fact. We have to address the fact Paul wrote that Jesus was “born of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3). If this is to be taken literally, then Jesus was born from David’s genetic line through natural conception. To be born of David’s *seed* (sperma in Greek) “according to the flesh” makes that clear. Furthermore, it’s quite peculiar that the only mentions of Jesus’ birth by Paul (Rom. 1:3 and Gal. 4) conspicuously omits even a hint of the virgin birth or the suggestion that Jesus’ conception and birth was anything but natural.”

(Letter to Bart Ehrmann)

John Dominic Crossan’s

https://slate.com/human-interest/2005/12/what-if-mary-wasn-t-a-virgin.htmla

 

The evil of incoherence

100 days of gibberish – Trump has weaponised nonsense
US President Donald Trump:

 

“Well he said, you’ll be the greatest president in the history of, but you know what, I’ll take that also, but that you could be. But he said, will be the greatest president but I would also accept the other. In other words, if you do your job, but I accept that. Then I watched him interviewed and it was like he never even was here. It’s incredible. I watched him interviewed a week later and it’s like he was never in my office. And you can even say that.”

‘Sixteen times during the interview, which took place in the Oval Office, Trump’s speech is recorded as “unintelligible”, either because he was mumbling like a weirdo or because an aide was talking over him and didn’t want to be quoted in the interview – both of which, the Toronto Star notes, are “highly unusual”. Highly unusual is our normal now. Whether or not Trump is capable of calculation (and, judging by his largely noun-free syntax in this interview, it’s debatable), his rhetorical style, untethered from both meaning and reality, serves his agenda well. Language is where we find common ground, where we define ourselves and teach others how to treat us, where we name problems so we can see and fight them. There’s a reason why social justice movements care about things such as pronouns and racial slurs and calling a Nazi a Nazi and saying “abortion” out loud – it’s the same reason why rightwingers, Trumpists in particular, are so eager to cast language as a frivolous abstraction and any critique as “political correctness”. Without language, there is no accountability, no standard of truth. If Trump never says anything concrete, he never has to do anything concrete. If Trump never makes a statement of commitment, Trump supporters never have to confront what they really voted for. If his promises are vague to the point of opacity, Trump cannot be criticised for breaking them. If every sloppy lie (ie: “Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower … This is McCarthyism!”) can be explained away as a “generality” or “just a joke” because of “quotes”, then he can literally say anything with impunity. Trump can rend immigrant families in the name of “heart”, destroy healthcare in the name of “life”, purge minority voters in the name of “justice”, and roll back women’s autonomy in the name of “freedom”. The constitution? Probably sarcastic. There are “quotes” all over that thing!’


 

Donald Trump’s strange speaking style, as explained by linguists

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.vox.com/platform/amp/2016/8/18/12423688/donald-trump-speech-style-explained-by-linguists

US President Donald Trump:

Look, having nuclear — my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, okay, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart — you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, okay, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world — it’s true! — but when you’re a conservative Republican they try — oh, do they do a number — that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune — you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged — but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me — it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right — who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners — now it used to be three, now it’s four — but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years — but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.”

The Failure of Christian Love in the Holocaust.

What were the psychological factors that went into Christian violence, absence, silence and overall abject failure of love during the Holocaust?

By Andrew Tix

‘”What must I do to inherit eternal life?,” Jesus once was asked. A discussion followed, in which the two “great commandments” were affirmed: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“Put simply, the history of Holocaust testifies to a glaring failure of Christian love.”

“And who is my neighbor?,” asked the questioner. Jesus answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story, Jesus demonstrates that being well-educated in religion or having a reputation for being religious do not necessarily translate into love of neighbor. Rather, love is expressed when we have mercy on someone in need, even if that person differs in belief, race, or social class (Luke 10:25-37).

The Christian Response to the Holocaust

Reflecting on the behavior of Christians during the Holocaust, Stephen Smith, co-founder and Director of the Beth Shalom Holocaust Memorial Centre in the United Kingdom, offered an alternative parable.

“There was once a man going about his business, trying to live out his life peacefully and without offence to those around him. One day as he went about his life, a group of men set upon him. They robbed him and they stripped him and they left him on the side of the road for dead. Presently, along came an educated, God-fearing and good man; a man known for his generosity and charity. He saw the man who had been beaten and robbed, but he crossed over the road and carried on his way. Shortly, along came a priest, a well-respected man of wisdom and of learning. Seeing his neighbor in distress, he too crossed over to the other side; after all, he would not be seen helping a Jew. And so the Jew lay in the gutter waiting for the Good Samaritan.

But there was no Good Samaritan.

Not this time.”

Read the complete essay at

https://cct.biola.edu/failure-christian-love-holocaust/


 

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AFTER
THE HOLOCAUST By KENNETH CRACKNELL

“Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the little faces of children whose bodies I saw
turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith for
ever.
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence which deprived me, for
all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those mountains
which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams into
dust.”

‘These words from Elie Wiesel will, I hope, be instantly recognized. They capture the experience of the victims of the most appalling
ideology in a century of godless ideologies. The Jewish writer Arthur Cohen calls the Holocaust a Tremendum, an ultimate experience. 3 For Christian
theology the Shoah 4 represents the most serious challenge to its fundamental doctrine of a loving and caring God. But other serious questionings of Christianity arise from the Shoah. There is the obscene fact that the ideology of the ‘Final Solution’ was produced within a culture that had been Christian for fifteen centuries. Because of this the whole Western Church is under judgement. Two elements of this condemnation come to mind at once. There is the churches’ share in creating and
sustaining anti-Semitic feelings throughout Europe. We shall say more about this. But the Shoah also revealed the acquiescence of western Christianity in a culture of death and destruction. Not enough attention has been given to the
ease with which Christians, Catholics and Protestants alike, assented to the ideology of Nazism. Many of them apparently believed its teaching and practices were merely extensions of Christian civilization. The massive
support of both Protestant and Catholic Churches for Hitler puts into question the theory that most ordinary Germans were compelled by the brutality of Nazism to do things repellent to their Christian sensibilities. The Tremendum
demands of Christians that they reflect on their relationship to western culture.’

37cracknell