My inquiry into the history and belief’s of Christianity began here:
James J. O’Donnell does not write hagiography, he narrates the life, times and the thought of Augustine, without the destructive excess baggage of ‘Faith’.
Karl Barth’s commentary on ‘The Epistles to The Romans’ : a record of Paul’s hysterical anti-intellectualism. The Christian obsession with Heretics begins with Paul !
Robert L. Wilken’s ‘The Christians as the Romans Saw Them‘:
Charles Freeman’s ‘The Closing of the Western Mind:The Rise of Faith and The Fall of Reason’ :
Alastair Hannay’s Kierkegaard : A Biography
Jon Stewart”s ‘Søren Kierkegaard: Subjectivity, Irony, & the Crisis of Modernity’
Jon Stewart’s ‘The Cultural Crisis of the Danish Golden Age: Heiberg, Martensen Kierkegaard’.
This essay, in the TLS, about Jonathan Edwards, was the precipitating rhetorical event of my polemic!
Title: Jonathan Edwards: Total depravity and empiricist philosophy
Sub-title: A thinker who was both ‘a nemesis and an avatar’ of the Enlightenment
His preaching, which also had room for beatific visions of redemption, is remembered even now for its darkness and use of terror as a rhetorical strategy. What he insists on, he says in “Sinners”, is that “there is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God. – By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will”. That is, God has absolutely no obligations to us; no action of ours makes any claim on his mercy. As he preaches, Edwards both constructs an argument and directly confronts his auditors. When the “unregenerate” (“you”) face God, he says,
He will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires … Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare. God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath. God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only “laugh and mock”.
Edwards preached the total depravity of human beings, asserting flatly that all of us, including babies and saints, are infested by original sin and deserving of eternal hellfire (“every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place”). And whether we are among the “unregenerate” or the “unconverted” is not up to us, for we cannot in any way redeem ourselves by our own voluntary efforts, all of which are beset by sin: a “disease of the heart”, an irremediable condition of our inmost constitution. Only God’s entirely arbitrary grace, arbitrary in that the likes of us cannot possibly explain why some people receive it and others don’t, can redeem us.
Here is a link to the whole of Jonathan Edwards’ Sermon VI: ‘SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD’ in all its sadistic hatefulness!
One of the great realizations during my ‘Coming Out’ was that I had absolutely no obligation, to celebrate Christmas, or other holidays. While recalling the good and the bad memories , the beautiful music, television and movies, that marks these holidays As a child I wallowed in Christmas kitsch!
But realizing that that was the past, like so much else! In my 76th year I finally confront the fact that that Christmas kitsch is the ‘public relations’ mask for the reality of Jonathan Edwards sadistic hatefulness. Edwards is the ideological ally of Cotton Mather, of the ‘Spectral Evidence’ of The Salem Witch Trials!
(September 14, 2020)
I forgot to post links to two of Martin Luther’s influential Disputations: