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  1. #1
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    Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Owning a business generally puts me in contact with quite a few republicans and quite a few more further to the right. Recently via facebook a video was posted which led me to this image: http://www.mcnaughtonart.com/artwork...rtpiece_id=353 (Since the images are copyrighted, I can't display them here).

    It is a painting of Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence with Presidents and other historical figures in the background amidst the venue of the Capitol.

    Personally, if I were a Christian, I would find this painting distasteful if not offensive. I believe there is sanctity in religion and this painting only obfuscates that sanctity by using Jesus as a political prop. My question: Is this an appropriate use of God's Son?

    Discuss.
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    I kind of like it to be honest. Its a well done painting and the zoom/commentary thing is incredibly well done. Ya, its philosophy is often simple minded and kind of bigoted in its own way but its well done and they guy has talent for composition and technique.

    I'm all for folks representing their views however they like and if they think Jesus is behind the success of the US... well hey thats their thing. I think its a bit loopy but that's fine.

    I find that they do show how reality always goes through a filter in the human mind. This guy clearly has a Jesus filter of some kind. fortunately occasionally a non-Jesus ideal slips through there from time to time according to his commentary.
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by snackboy View Post
    My question: Is this an appropriate use of God's Son?
    God chose the nation of Israel to have a special relationship with him that no other nation enjoyed. He gave them special laws to set them apart from the other nations and gave them a priesthood and system of sacrifices that was intended to be a picture of how Jesus would redeem the world by his death and resurrection. And finally when he sent his son into the world he sent him to Israel.

    He uses other nations to carry out his will. He punished Israel's sins by allowing Babylone to conquer it and then used Persia to put an end to their captivity. But no other nation has ever been God's chosen nation in the same way that Israel was.

    This picture seems to imply that the United States enjoys the same relationship with God that Israel had and so the answer to your question is "no."

    This doesn't mean that God isn't interested in the US or involved in what we are doing. I believe that he used us to help establish the modern state of Israel just as he used Persia to enable the Jews to return after their Babylonian captivity. But we are subject to God's moral laws just as all other nations are and we will be judged if we fail to obey them.

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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    I think the painting is rather pitiable, honestly. Even the descriptions that go along with certain parts of the image. For instance, if you zoom over the Constitution it says "Inspired of God and created by God fearing, patriotic Americans."

    This reflects a certain form of political idolatry, in my opinion, wherein the state has come to supplant God as the pinnacle of our life, hope and faith. This is, in fact, expressed throughout the painting. The figures allied with Satan on the right side of the painting (Jesus's left) are described as being liberal on at least three occasions (the reporter, the professor and the movie producer). This is propaganda not for the cause of Jesus Christ, but for constitutional government and right-wing politics. And whether or not those things are intrinsically good or not is quite irrelevant because the simple fact is that in this painting Christ has been made a servant of the political ideology, instead of the Lord of it, despite claims that the constitution was by his inspiration.

    I was actually having a conversation Sunday night about the efficacy of social movements for affecting true and real change. This was particularly in the context of discussing the effective incentive to self-regulation of the film industry brought about by the Legion of Decency during the Golden Age of Hollywood, specifically how the movement's influence on films led to an easing of the social isolation of Catholics and their assimilation into the society at large. In turn, however (and this is where the connection comes in), this integration (along with other social factors) led to the loss of a cohesive Catholic social identity in the United States. That is, for instance, Catholics began to think of themselves as Americans first and Catholics second. And in modern times, in particular, I think a lot of times it leads to an attitude of Republican first, Christian second, where partisan politics has become a sort of false faith, and it's simply intolerable and things like this only play into that idea. To me, the idea of considering myself an American first and a Catholic second is absurd, for the Church is supposed to be IN the world, but not OF the world.
    "Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." - St. Theresa of Avila

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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by OP
    Personally, if I were a Christian, I would find this painting distasteful if not offensive. I believe there is sanctity in religion and this painting only obfuscates that sanctity by using Jesus as a political prop. My question: Is this an appropriate use of God's Son?
    I don't have a problem with it. It is well done and puts Jesus in a place of Honor and respect.

    What is something in the picture you think Jesus may disagree with?
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    What is something in the picture you think Jesus may disagree with?
    I think there are a few things Jesus might take some issue with.

    1. Strongly relating politics to religion. Jesus was not a political figure, did not advocate for how the governments should run things or what public policy was. Jesus was about individual actions and personal spirit. This painting uses him for a political message which Jesus never espoused.

    2. Jesus would not wear such ostentatious clothes (in my opinion). He intentionally did not have the trappings of wealth and privilege. Gold embroidery is a bit too Vegas for the prince of peace.

    3. Showing soldiers and messages like "peace through strength" are not messages Jesus taught. He taught showing peace through humility.
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Well, the artist behind this painting isn't doing anything really different from any Republican. Is it the best depiction of Christ? No, not in my opinion. But the way he is portrayed isn't much different than most Christian Americans would think.

    I'm a little more interested in theophilus's assertion that America was God's tool for the creation of the modern state of Israel. Can you elaborate on that? Though perhaps it would be better to start another thread with the explanation.
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by Kairker View Post
    I'm a little more interested in theophilus's assertion that America was God's tool for the creation of the modern state of Israel. Can you elaborate on that? Though perhaps it would be better to start another thread with the explanation.
    I don't think I have enough to say on the subject to justify starting a new thread. I just meant that when Israel was established the United States recognized it immediately and has given it support since. Of course other nations have had a part in establishing it too so we aren't the only ones God used.

    If you want to find out more about this subject here is a good place:

    http://www.arielm.org/dcs/pdf/mbs189m.pdf

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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    I view the art as more political than religious.

    The declaration of independence clearly states that we are all "endowed by our creator". The founders had strong beliefs that what they were doing was morally right in the eye of God.

    Historically, many americans believe in Divine providence.

    As for the iconogrpahy, I much prefer Orthodox Christian iconography from the middle east, greece, the balkans and russia.

    The piece in question is a modern american take on christian iconography in that it is artwork designed to be "read". In orthodoxy icons are "written" not painted.
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
    The declaration of independence clearly states that we are all "endowed by our creator". The founders had strong beliefs that what they were doing was morally right in the eye of God.
    I think it's important to note that many of the founders were not Christian. They were Deists, Quakers, and others.

    Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration, was a Deist, and was fiercely opposed by the fundamentalist clergymen of his day for his anti-Christian statements. In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson said, "There is not one redeeming feature in our superstition of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites" [1]

    The founders were as opposed to religious tyranny as they were to political tyranny. The modern efforts to cast the founders as Christians is an absurd notion to anyone who bothers reading the founders' writings or study the history of the time.

    The moral code that the founders were using was not religious in nature, but came from the writings of guys like Thomas Paine, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes. Locke, in his treatises on government, is the original source for Jefferson's phrasing of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," except that when Locke wrote it, he wrote of the natural rights of all men to life, liberty, and property.

    So, while the founders may have believed in a god, it most certainly wasn't the Christian god and they definitely weren't using Christian morals and didn't subscribe to Christian dogma.

    [1] http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...till/myth.html

  12. #11
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by wakko View Post
    I think it's important to note that many of the founders were not Christian. They were Deists, Quakers, and others.

    Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration, was a Deist, and was fiercely opposed by the fundamentalist clergymen of his day for his anti-Christian statements. In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson said, "There is not one redeeming feature in our superstition of Christianity. It has made one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites" [1]

    The founders were as opposed to religious tyranny as they were to political tyranny. The modern efforts to cast the founders as Christians is an absurd notion to anyone who bothers reading the founders' writings or study the history of the time.

    The moral code that the founders were using was not religious in nature, but came from the writings of guys like Thomas Paine, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes. Locke, in his treatises on government, is the original source for Jefferson's phrasing of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," except that when Locke wrote it, he wrote of the natural rights of all men to life, liberty, and property.

    So, while the founders may have believed in a god, it most certainly wasn't the Christian god and they definitely weren't using Christian morals and didn't subscribe to Christian dogma.

    [1] http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...till/myth.html
    I was not aware that the Continental Congress opened every day with a "Deist" prayer led by a "Deist" clergyman.

    I'll have to grab my white out and pen and go edit all references otherwise at my local Library. I'll also need to let my Quaker friends know they are not Christians after all. Thanks for the history and religion lesson.
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    First, it's a very interesting portrait. However, I don't think it's should be accepted as "true and accurate", not because of the individual portrayals themselves, but because it attempts to definitively claim that Christ would favour one political institution over another. Or would approve of a political document (ie. US Constitution) over other documents (perhaps Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or UN Charter etc.) or Christ would favour one individual (ex. Pres. Reagan) over other individuals (ie. Pres. Clinton, lawyers, Hollywood producers, and professors).

    Jesus never advocated using the state as an agency to fulfill the important teachings that he taught about. In fact, many on the conservative right even argued alongside myself in another thread pertaining to whether Christ was a socialist. Many of those same individuals argued that Christ was not a socialist because he didn't advocate any political theory; Christ separated one's duty to the state, and one's duty to his/her fellow neighbours. It is through our own ability as private individuals (and not through our occupations as public servants) to bring about the desired social changes that Jesus taught about. So I wouldn't accept many of those same members to delight in the (supposed) 'truthfulness' of this portrayal. Claiming Jesus would be for or against the Constitution, or would favour one country over every (or any) other is baseless.

    This potrait is indicative of a form of American Exceptionalism that I tend to take issue with.

    Quote Originally Posted by wakko View Post
    I think it's important to note that many of the founders were not Christian. They were Deists, Quakers, and others.

    ...

    So, while the founders may have believed in a god, it most certainly wasn't the Christian god and they definitely weren't using Christian morals and didn't subscribe to Christian dogma.

    [1] http://www.infidels.org/library/mode...till/myth.html
    One thing we have to clarify is that we cannot authoritatively use the phrase "founding fathers" in relation to their religious affiliations and group them all together to say either "The Founding Fathers believed in X", or "The Founding Fathers disbelieved in X." It's an inaccurate and misleading portrayal of their actual beliefs. The founding fathers did not all collectively believe or disbelieve in the same thing concerning spiritual faith. They had their own individual beliefs. Thus to say that "while the founders may have believe in a god, it most certainly wasn't the Christian god..." is very much inaccurate because many of them believed in the Christian God, thus you cannot categorize all of the founding fathers and make a claim towards their belief system (or lack thereof). You must say "some believed in x" or "a certain amount of founding fathers disbelieved in x." Some were deists, others were anti-clerical. But it's much more accurate to say that "most of the founding fathers were Christian", then to say that "the founding fathers were/weren't Christian.

    It's important to note:
    Lambert (2003) has examined the religious affiliations and beliefs of the Founders. Some of the 1787 delegates had no affiliation. The others were Protestants except for three Roman Catholics: C. Carroll, D. Carroll, and Fitzsimons. Among the Protestant delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 28 were Church of England (Episcopalian, after the Revolutionary War was won), eight were Presbyterians, seven were Congregationalists, two were Lutherans, two were Dutch Reformed, and two were Methodists, the total number being 49. Some of the more prominent Founding Fathers were anti-clerical or vocal about their opposition to organized religion, such as Thomas Jefferson (who created the "Jefferson Bible"), and Benjamin Franklin. However, other notable founders, such as Patrick Henry, were strong proponents of traditional religion. Several of the Founding Fathers considered themselves to be deists or held beliefs very similar to those of deists. [LINK]
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  14. #13
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by SIG
    I think there are a few things Jesus might take some issue with.

    1. Strongly relating politics to religion. Jesus was not a political figure, did not advocate for how the governments should run things or what public policy was. Jesus was about individual actions and personal spirit. This painting uses him for a political message which Jesus never espoused.
    Well, I can't disagree with that so much. But as Christians we have to play a role in politics, and in so doing Jesus does indirectly.

    Quote Originally Posted by SIG
    2. Jesus would not wear such ostentatious clothes (in my opinion). He intentionally did not have the trappings of wealth and privilege. Gold embroidery is a bit too Vegas for the prince of peace.
    I disagree, and the artists explains why he did that. It supposed to represent Jesus as the risen King, not as the man crucified lord that was on earth.

    Quote Originally Posted by SIG
    3. Showing soldiers and messages like "peace through strength" are not messages Jesus taught. He taught showing peace through humility.
    True, But it is Peace that is the goal. Also, God does judge nations through nations. So I don't agree that he would have a problem with that.

    The message is that our highest goal is Peace, and the political side of it is that strength bring about more peace than national weakness. As you said, Jesus stayed out of politics but that doesn't make the message ANTI Jesus.


    I think as a whole the picture is simply an aggregation of the values Christians have. Directly endorsed by Jesus? Yes, and no. We feel we get our values from Christ, so when we value something it is indirectly endorsed by God as long as it is in line with the values.

    So while I do see the point that Jesus wouldn't have taken a political stance on some things, that doesn't mean those stances are in contradiction with what Christ taught.
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Well, I can't disagree with that so much. But as Christians we have to play a role in politics, and in so doing Jesus does indirectly.
    But shouldn't we play a role in politics as citizens and not necessarily our religious background. Sure, religion can help determine your positions on certain issues, but we must remember that not all people share the same religion and should be respectful.

    I ask this Mindtrap: In the Constitution and subsequent amendments, what tenets exactly are specific to Christianity as found in the Bible?
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by SNACK
    But shouldn't we play a role in politics as citizens and not necessarily our religious background. Sure, religion can help determine your positions on certain issues, but we must remember that not all people share the same religion and should be respectful.
    Well, Christ lives in me, so I don't know how to separate that.
    Truth is, I don't respect them for their beliefs, I respect them because of my beliefs. That being they MUST be free to chose.

    Quote Originally Posted by SNACK
    I ask this Mindtrap: In the Constitution and subsequent amendments, what tenets exactly are specific to Christianity as found in the Bible?
    It is the ideas behind the constitution. That all men are created equal. That we have certain rights that come from God.

    Jesus MUST hold the constitution for the constitution to be valid. Otherwise it is simply laws created by man, and can be dismissed by the next person who comes along. If God does not uphold the const then why should I obey it?
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    The message is that our highest goal is Peace, and the political side of it is that strength bring about more peace than national weakness. As you said, Jesus stayed out of politics but that doesn't make the message ANTI Jesus.
    Personally I think you and the artist are on that account selling Jesus short. He repeatedly admonished people not to fight or hold animosity towards others. A Christian who follows his direct and explicit teaching should not be lifting a gun against any one, even their oppressors.
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Well, Christ lives in me, so I don't know how to separate that.
    Truth is, I don't respect them for their beliefs, I respect them because of my beliefs. That being they MUST be free to chose.
    Right. So if you believe that, they why do you impose your views onto the founding of our great country. How about Buddha or Mohammed holding the Declaration? How would you feel? Included or excluded?

    It is the ideas behind the constitution. That all men are created equal. That we have certain rights that come from God.

    Jesus MUST hold the constitution for the constitution to be valid. Otherwise it is simply laws created by man, and can be dismissed by the next person who comes along. If God does not uphold the const then why should I obey it?
    You didn't answer the question. In the Constitution and subsequent amendments, what tenets exactly are specific to Christianity as found in the Bible?

    How is the equality of man a tenet of Christianity? What are the certain rights obtained from God that in the Constitution?
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by SNACKBOY
    Right. So if you believe that, they why do you impose your views onto the founding of our great country
    Because it was the product of other people who Christ had a great influence on.

    Quote Originally Posted by SNACKBOY
    How about Buddha or Mohammed holding the Declaration? How would you feel? Included or excluded?
    I don't really care who else says they uphold the const. .. I would love to see Mohammed doing it

    Quote Originally Posted by SCAKBOY
    What are the certain rights obtained from God that in the Constitution?
    first, as to the question you ask. I simply don't know enough about other religions to say what tenents are not in them.

    My best guess is.
    "we hold these truths ..." Not part of the const, but are the foundation of it, and a foundation that can be found in Christianity.
    What other religion holds that all men are created equal?


    If there is something in the Conts that was influenced by the bible... it would be our voting system. Based on the way Moses had representatives
    for the Israelite. I'm not sure that is "specific" to Christianity. I don't know enough about other religions to say that. But, assume for a moment that "created equal" and the structure of gov were found in another religion.
    Does if follow that it was based on or influenced by those religions, when Christianity was the major religion of the nation?

    Also, I would have to object to other religions holding up the const in order for your question to have a real point IMO. Which I do not.
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    My best guess is.
    "we hold these truths ..." Not part of the const, but are the foundation of it, and a foundation that can be found in Christianity.
    What other religion holds that all men are created equal?


    If there is something in the Conts that was influenced by the bible... it would be our voting system. Based on the way Moses had representatives
    for the Israelite. I'm not sure that is "specific" to Christianity. I don't know enough about other religions to say that. But, assume for a moment that "created equal" and the structure of gov were found in another religion.
    Does if follow that it was based on or influenced by those religions, when Christianity was the major religion of the nation?
    Specifcally Mindtrap, what tenet, doctrine, verse and/or book holds that All Men are Created Equal? In fact, doesn't the Bible condone slavery:

    Slaves are to be submissive to their masters in everything, and to be well-pleasing, not talking back. Titus 2:9

    Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters will all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. 1 Peter 2:18


    The Bible may hold that all men are equal before God, but that paradigm, according to the Bible (via above verses), doesn't seem to apply to here on Earth.

    I am asking you to support your claim that all men are created equal is founded in Christianity. Thus far, you haven't done so.
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    Re: Jesus holding the Declaration of Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by snackboy View Post
    I am asking you to support your claim that all men are created equal is founded in Christianity. Thus far, you haven't done so.
    I don't think it CAN be done, at least not the extent that the Bible teaches equality in any consistent way. The Bible has been used to support the propagation and continuation of slavery in these very United States, as well as the continued suppression of women's rights. Now it's being used to keep the gays at bay.

    Now, you can say that perhaps the Bible was misinterpreted in the past, but then that begs the question of the Bible's efficacy as a communication tool in the first place, and it goes on to underline the fact that it's really just a load of made-up, bronze-age comic-book nonsense sprinkled with the occasional truth (such as Egypt being a real place) which gives it only the slightest air of reputability, if any at all.

    The only reason these "misinterpretations" are "coming to light" right now is because people are doing more thinking than they were in the past. In the past, slavery was the PROMINENT Biblical supported view. In the past, women being unequal was the PROMINENT Biblical supported view. In the present, homosexuality being immoral is the PROMINENT Biblical supported view.

    So it's not the doctrine that's changed. It's people's views on morality and civil rights that have changed, and the Bible is being conspicuously and constantly retrofitted via shifting interpretations to fit the modern Enlightenment's views.

    People are now moral to precisely the extent that they're NOT religious.

 

 
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