Statesboro, GA, USA
Fair question, Stephanos, although I don't believe you have asked me that question before.
Perhaps not in those exact words. But in a thread of yours called "Christians What Do You Think", I asked you the following questions, along similar lines:
"... what about the distinction between communicating truth out of love, versus communicating it out of spite?"
"Is the problem always with the "truth" or with the spirit behind the announcement thereof?"
I don't believe it is a maliciousness in certain cases of christians who believe their way is the only way, although I have witnessed it before.
That's all I wanted to hear you say. Because if you can concede that there are exceptions, you are admitting that the problem is seperate from the "fundamentalism" which may agitate it. My point all along is that any strongly held belief, religious or not, may be used as an excuse to be mean, and to do wrong.
I would like to believe in most cases it is more like a haughty and snooty conceitedness:
"we are right and tsk, tsk for all of you other non-believers of our God, for your fate is a terrible one."
"haughty and snooty conceitedness" may be irksome and worthy of criticism, but it's a far cry from the kind of violence you mentioned at the beginning of this thread. Besides, isn't it obvious that the attitude of arrogance can attend (or not attend) any particular ideology?
I'm not saying that beliefs are unimportant, but simply that intellectual belief alone is not enough to guarantee good behavior.
That is where, I believe, many christians make the mistake of judging others.
Aren't you conflating "judging others" with holding to absolute beliefs? There is little doubt that Jesus taught absolutes, and yet he also said "judge not."
Til this day, I can't understand how the christian majority can believe that it is "their way or the highway" when the Bible does not teach that, except that those people come "under the spell" of christian leaders.
Are seriously suggesting that Jesus, and the early apostles did not teach that salvation is exclusively found through Christ? I am not one who doesn't see problems with overly "wooden" interpretations. But this case illustrates the difference between taking the Biblical text on it's own terms, and making it so elastic, as to mean anything one wants.
"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 13:6)
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2)
Don't you think it would be easier, and more respectable, to say "I don't agree with what the Bible says", rather than to suggest that it really doesn't say these kinds of things?
Lastly, getting back to the subject at hand, I will point out an irony. The Pope is a prime example of the kind of person you tend to downplay ... a peaceful person who holds to religious absolutes. And the only criticism you had for him was that he is unable to bring about peace. But that's not the same thing as saying his beliefs lead to more violence. Those are two different arguments.