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  1. Yesterday
  2. Burl

    Heathens! 2

    Issue resolved.
  3. thormas

    Some thoughts on Pluralism

    I don't believe it is made up in our heads. Rather I believe the Word, sounds in our words, calling us to life. This is not 'our' Word and it is not in our head (as if it is our creation): it (for lack of a better way to say it) comes from 'outside' us, and many times makes us uncomfortable, disturbs us and we resist it for it is not easy to be (come) Human. I'm not sure if we need what is typically referred to as information because in our ordinary friendships, love relationships and parenting relationships, we know 'instinctively' that it is the person giving her or himself that is the gift. So too, with an animal, where there is no information, the dog (for example) gives all he is. As does nature: I think through nature, the Word also calls and we can respond. I think the conscious information is when we reflect or what a community (the Jews, Christianity, Islam) reflects on its experience, on it s insights and 'captures' them. Actually, that is what we are now engaged in. I don't have your experience but I have always thought that it is individual and personal and while relationships may look different, the faith response to Love seemingly must be to love (not sure if there is much or any wiggle room theres). If faith means a particular religions expression or belief, I agree there is no 'exclusively true faith.' However, if faith is response to God, the only true faith (i.e. response) is love (actually a love response is the only true (and humanizing) response to friendship, love relationship and as a parent to a child. Given the normal understanding of the words, a human take on God cannot, by definition, be 100% true and still seems exclusive. A concern with 100% truth seems to suggest correct information or knowledge of God (in that none can be 100%). Truth is evident in our lived response; all who love, (don't have but) live Truth. Even with all our differences that you have listed, one necessity is shared, recognized and known: love gives life; we are drawn to it as the flower to the Sun, we thrive when it is given and we are lost when it is withheld. I guess, for the panentheist, energy is in God but God is not that energy; energy cannot be equated to God. However, even the way you phrase it, "God is present in energy" suggests that God is other than energy and thus 'in' it and not it. It is another discussion, but God is not best understood as the first cause but the ontological possibility that there is a cause, that there is (anything). But, the bigger question, for me, is how does energy redeem us, make us Human? I simply mean that if revelation is (as we seem to agree) the God giving himSelf, then he does not give more or less of himself to some. God given himSelf fully to all equally. The human response is different but that is not revelation, it is faith. My point is we cannot say that one is 100% true. How would such a claim even be measured? To say this one is 100% true is a statement of belief. And I didn't say not are true. For me, some Christian insights speak more powerfully to me than others; simply, they make sense or my response is, "well, of course, that makes sense." So, even in Christianity, there are insights and then, there are insights. I don't have time to research all religions and can't go back to my beginning and be born into different ones to try on. Christianity, or at least some of it, speaks to me but I fully recognize that the Buddhist, the Jew, the Muslim, etc, could (hopefully) make the same statements about their insights. And, I suspect the best of the insights of most religions are in agreement. And, some have 'abandoned' religion yet if they love, they know, what I call God. Nothing has proof: not Christianity, not a religion based on your imaginary friend or the religion of no religion. We're all in the same lifeboat. If he was not a 'mere man' then all based on him is for naught - for the simple reason that we, 'mere men and women' would be at a disadvantage: we who are 'mere' cannot magically be not mere! Even the NT describes him as 'growing in wisdom, faith and knowledge." So there is no perfect rather there seems to be a perfecting or a growing to 'perfection' (the perfecting of Humanity by Divinity/Love). And, if a model for us (as I think he is), that model is based on the greatness of his love. I guess God would no more magically transform us, than I, as a parent, would have transformed my daughter: life is a gift, the gift is your's to use (or not), it is your journey, it is your story to write and what loving father would not give that possibility to you? If we were magically transformed, our life would not be ours and, given what we have said revelation and faith are, there would be no self-giving of God in love to us and no need to love, to give ourselves. There would be no need for we would all be magically one; there would be no need for anything. Love is risk, creation is both God's gift and God's risk. The method or the way of salvation is not dependent on knowing Jesus, it is knowing and doing love. This way is 'seen' in and as Jesus for the Christian but the same way is seen differently by others. Somehow Jesus made salvation (wholeness or fulfillment of Human Beings) certain: indeed, it is certain because one like us, a mere man, did it. And thus it is certain: it can be done. To me that great glory is that a man, like other men, like us - in all ways- responded to God (faith), even at death's door, to Live and Be fully Human. He has done it, it is possible, it is certainly possible - now it is ours to do (speaking of Catholics, I still like the end of the mass, where basically they say (after hearing the Word, after being 'nourished' after sharing with their fellows) "now, you - go do it (Go Love and Serve) in the world." There is no hell because, as you said, the Father waits for all time until all the prodigals turn and have life. I agree there is much we don't know but the belief is that the same God who is immanent in humanity (as previously discussed with the example of the Mother), is immanent in all creation, calling it to fulfillment. To me this is not 'behind the scenes' it is 'in the midst' of man, of all creation. I don't believe that religion and science have to be opposed and I, also, have no problem with the concepts you listed. Jesus is not God (as traditionally presented); he is a 'mere man' (see above). He is an enlightened man and, Christians, can say, that he is enlightened (having heard the Word/the Wisdom that is God) and responded in and by his life as Love. Thus his wisdom is God and his love is God. Jesus: divinity in humanity; God in man; true man and true God; Son (1st born) of God. All the titles, properly understood, apply to the 'mere man' in whom 'we see God." Finally, we are fine and I enjoy expressive and personal. All is good, I enjoy the dialogue.
  4. Last week
  5. Iflybyyou

    Some thoughts on Pluralism

    I agree with the first 4 definitions you gave, albeit very poorly explained by my own attempts to address your concerns, although I still take issue with the idea that everything we know in our personal experience about God in our lives is just made up in our heads and that God doesn't give us that information. Some people, or perhaps most people, need conscious information to feel spiritually enlightened and to feel closer to light and love. One one the reasons I left the Southern Baptist church was that it was dry and overplayed and I didn't feel like God was giving me any individual and personal answers. A lot of people share my spiritual needs. When I made that statement that saving faith is subjective, I meant that each person's relationship with God will look different and that there is no one exclusively true faith, only faiths that meet the person's spiritual needs and bring them closer to God on the basis of meeting that spiritual need. All humans share the same general human nature, but there is vast variation in human personality, cognition, strengths and weaknesses, calling, and orientation, which leaves room for a vastly differing spiritual necessity in each person's path to God. I believe Christianity in its original form is 100% true, but that does not mean that other faiths can't be equally true or have equal amounts of truth in them. I don't really see what's wrong with saying that God is present in energy. Energy is timeless, immaterial, and infinite as God is, and also all pervasive and required for everything in this universe to exist, since matter is simply a form of energy and can be converted back to energy, and energy is essentially what caused the big bang. But that discussion is a completely different topic entirely, so I won't go too deep into that. I don't really get what you mean by everyone getting the same quantity of God's self revelation when God cannot be quantified, meaning that according to how you define revelation, everyone will receive the fullness of God as they can understand and handle it. The quantitative differences are only in the amount of concrete and quantifiable information or outcome gained from the revelation, so if information is simply human reflection, then there is no 'quantity' of revelation. I also have trouble with imagining no religion being true. What then would be the point of being a Christian? I put my trust in the insights of Christianity because I believe they are true. Otherwise I might as well just start my own religion centered upon my imaginary friend from my childhood, or just abandon religion altogether. It would certainly be a lot easier than being faithful to something that has no proof and calling it true. (no condescending tone intended, just sharing my own concerns with a lack of truth in faith) I don't really have a developed view on the incarnation, but I find it impossible to imagine Jesus being a mere man. How could Jesus be a perfect model for living if he was subject to the same character flaws that we are? And even if Jesus was some kind of special man who somehow completed the humanization/deification process before we did, why couldn't God just magically transform us to be like Jesus too. If God has the power to perfect one human being immediately, then he should also be able to do the same for the rest of us, which is also why I take issue with the Catholic doctrine of immaculate conception. If what you say about the soteriological method is true, then anyone who has not seen Jesus is doomed. This is the same logic that exclusivists use when they cite John 14:6 and John 3:16-18. Unless you speak of 'seeing Jesus' as metaphorical rather than requiring people to see the actual Jesus in the pages of scripture, then I can see what you're saying. And yes, you are correct when you say that salvation's certainty is dependent upon free will response, which is what I really meant when I said that Jesus made salvation certain. I was basically implying that somehow, Jesus made it possible for us to respond, which solidifies salvation for those who accept it, and one can also argue that God in his eternal love will keep seeking out the lost until they respond afirmingly to him, which leaves a very real possibility that everyone will turn to him, because he wants none to perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) That would essentially make salvation certain for everyone if everyone does eventually respond to God. I don't really see the problem with God working behind the scenes. There is much we don't know about the universe and what lies beyond the orbit of the rock we currently inhabit. It's equally likely that there is a lot that God has done for humanity that we likewise don't know. your definition of Panentheismis better than I have previously stated. I like to emphasize that science is God's action in the universe rather than being something that God created separate from himself as a way to distinguish myself from Theistic dualists who believe that God constantly interacts with the universe and interferes in the natural course of things supernaturally. That is why I say that energy is God's presence in our universe, because it is the easiest way for me to reconcile God and science . I do not believe that religion and science are fundamentally opposed, and I have no problem with concepts such as evolution, relativity, or any other discovery of modern science. I still don't see the issue with that claim, since Buddhists themselves don't even believe that the Buddha is a deity. He is more equated with an enlightened man or prophet. If your issue is with your perceived inequality in the claims of Christianity and Buddhism, then your concern is merited, but when it comes to Aristotle's law, thereis no logical impossibility with Jesus and Buddha simultaneously being who each religion says they are. equality implies sameness, and looking at the different religions will immediately show that religions have their differences, but religions also have a remarkable amount of things in common. Even in the differences, each religion contributes their own facet of the truth, and frankly, not every religion is valid. Pagan traditions where people Sacrificed children to egotistical Gods don't appear to me to be valid paths to the one true God, and many of the ancient religions, in comparison to more modern and developed traditions, appear to be absurd fabrications that were inspired only by limited human speculation. I find so much beauty and truth when I read Hindu or Muslim texts, but take one look at some of the more idolatry laden religions that offer more to the imaginary objects of faith than to the person believing in the faith, and you will immediately roll your eyes. That is probably why most of those primitive religions are extinct, because they provided absolutely no benefit to a growing humanity in need of a connection with the divine. I read somewhere else in the forum that there needs to be a balance between there is only one way to Rome and all paths lead to Rome, a balance that I wholeheartedly agree with, because the last thing we want is people running around, wasting resources that could go to people in need, and slaughtering living things in the service of a statue of a 3 headed frog (not a real example of an actual religion, I was just poking fun) I was a little bit more expressive and personal with this response, but I do not intend to be mean or condescending. I completely respect your views and I have no problem answering your perfectly justified questions. Just remind me when I get too carried away in expressing my own views, which I can sometimes be very passionate about.
  6. thormas

    Some thoughts on Pluralism

    Apologies for the delay,life took over. Revelation and Grace: Revelation is not information, there is no content, instruction or knowledge; revelation is the self-revealing or self-giving of God himSelf. God does not give information; he is what he gives. So too, grace (gift) is not some form of knowledge, any more than human love or friendship is some form of knowledge; it is the giving of self to the other. In love or friendship, the gift the other gives is, first and foremost, his or herself; it is not knowing about, it is knowing. So too, God (see below on ‘content’). Sin: If John is correct when he says that God is Love, then sin, separation from God; sin is separation from Love. Sin is the opposite of Love: it is selfishness or self-centeredness, whereas Love is self-less-ness. Moreover, there is only one sin, the original and ever present sin: selfishness: I lie for me, I steal for me, I covet for me, I dishonor others for me and on and on. God: is necessary for the humanization of man; Love is what makes us truly human. To love is to embody (to incarnate, to make flesh, to give Love a ‘place’to reside) God. Man becomes Human when he does as God does (love) and is what God is (Love). The humanization of man is what the Eastern expression calls the deification of man. And because we sin, this humanization is also salvation: sin, self-centeredness, is overcome/replaced by Love; man is at-one with God. Faith:is the human response to God: (think friendship) God gives himself and if we respond, we give ourselves. Faith is not belief in this or that, faith responds; it is lived. Therefore, it matters not what religion or if man follows any religion, it matters not what he calls God or if he says there is no God: if one loves, they are one with/of God. God is the 'one contact' and the 'defining similarity among humans' is response: love, compassionate concern for others. Revelation:In a love relationship or friendship, we speak and thereby reveal ourselves. And in any real relationship, our words call, challenge, encourage, and even judge the other (and their words do the same) to be more, to become more. Take a Mother with her child: she is constantly speaking to the child: her words call the child to consciousness; the child develops language and a mental life. The child grows as a being because she hears and responds. The words of the Mother can be rather simple: “No!”or “Hot!”which can save the child from being burned by the stove; “Look both ways.” is always helpful and sometimes a lifesaver; “Don’t hit your brother.” is an oldie but goodie; as is, “Be nice to the new student in your class.” Sometimes, even a ‘look’ can speak volumes. The Mother gives herself in and through her words. Her words inform but hers are living words: they call, challenge, encourage, and judge the child and they require/demand a response: if you hear and respond, there is life (sometimes literally); if you don’t, there is a loss, even a loss of self (sometimes literally). But the Mother gives even more: sometimes it is hard to not hit your brother back (really hard depending on the brother), sometimes you don’t want to be nice to the new kid, sometimes it’s hard to accept responsibility, hard to say you’re sorry, hard to be truthful, to not lie – but if you can find the courage to respond to the challenge/call of life, then in that moment, in all the moments of life, we become a bit more as a human being. The Mother does not just utter cold words or give instruction to the child: The Mother gives love and love gives courage, the courage to respond and grow into life. The first, only and essential gift is the Mother giving herself to the child; her words call, challenge, encourage, judge and her love empowers the child to respond. The words (and love) of the Mother are living words: they give life. Yet the Mother does not ‘own’ what she gives because she too needs to receive such words of life and encouragement from others in order to be able to continually respond to life and grow as a being. None of us own what we give and we give more than we have (the Mother, exhausted and sick, can barely care for herself but she still gets up in the middle of the night to be there for the child with night terrors). This description of our words and love matches the biblical description of the Word and the Spirit that is God. They are not merely similar, they are one: we give God in the ordinary, everyday moments of life. Or to reverse it, God gives Self: it is Love (i.e. God) that calls through the Mother and it is Love, in and through the Mother, that gives us the courage to respond to life, gives us the courage to be. This is grace (the gift freely given), this is revelation, this is incarnation; these (creating, calling, loving) are the modes or ways by which God is present and presents himSelf in and through creation. My concern, based on the experience of Christianity, is that revelation understood as content, information or instruction is some ‘thing’ to be coveted, worshipped and stored; it does not truly live. Too often we state that we believe this, that and something else about God because it has been ‘revealed’ to (and set down by) our spiritual ancestors (look at the booming business some have made based on the Book of Revelations). However, what is revealed is Person; what is given is the Living Word that calls us to life and the Courage to Live. Energy: I disagree that "God's energies can accurately be equated with the energy described in physics and cosmology." Simply, energy is something that happens in creation, in the universe, but God is the very possibility of such things, such happenings. God can no more be equated with energy that God can be equated with a rock. Insight: The quality and quantity of revelation is the same, however what may differ are the ‘insights’of different men and women who reflect on and try to say something of that which they believe (and, such insight and understanding ‘evolve’ as man grows in the world). If God is the revelation, then how we see that gift, talk about that gift, and celebrate that gift is ours; it is relative to where the gift 'finds us.' No religion is 100% true for the simple reason that revelation is not divinely delivered knowledge and it is through a glass darkly. Since none are at 100%, Aristotle’s law is not applicable. Paul: We can discuss Paul and how to take his conversion (at another time) but be it a blinding light on the road or a an 'Aha" moment from reading a book for another – it is the same (quality and quantity) God. Progressives: Not all progressives agree on everything (anything?). Jesus: I don't deny incarnation (see above), I just see it from the bottom up, not the top down (just as there is what is called a high and a low Christology). It is not that God incarnated and became flesh in Jesus: rather, the man Jesus incarnated or embodied God/Love in his flesh, in his life. I don’t think it is a mystery how Jesus made salvation (wholeness) possible: Jesus is the one (one of the ones?) who hears and responds fully to the Word/Love that is God; he is True Man (Truly Human) because he is True God (he does and is Love) - even unto death. As God (Word and Love) is incarnate in the Mother; Jesus is the 'fullness' of incarnation; what is subtle, even whispered, in the Mother, is straightforward and clearly heard in Jesus. He is the Word: that shouts from the Mount; that challenges at the Temple; that calls in the parables; that is placed high on the Hill for all to see. Thus to see the Christ is to know God. Finally, salvation is not a 'certainty' unless one responds to God: Jesus has done it, now it’s our turn. As for his impact: sin thrives! Where is the reversal? It waits on us. God: Behind the scenes sounds a little too, how did you put it? Airy-fairy. Panentheism:I am a strong panentheist: unlike pantheism, the universe is not any part of God. All that is has its being in God: "I AM' Is - therefore all may be or has its being. I have found it valuable to move away from a traditional theistic take on God. However I like Macquarie’s Dialectical Theism (panentheism by another name). Buddha:To call Jesus, Son of God (not the biblical understanding but the understanding that has developed in our history), while Buddha is only an enlightened man - is the issue.
  7. Iflybyyou

    Some thoughts on Pluralism

    Quote 1: Grace is given to us freely and openly, through God revealing himself to us. Salvation is from our sin, not from the 'wrath of God' like Substitionary atonement theorists claim, but sin as its own punishment and how it separates us from the Divine and causes us our own distress. In order for this to work, we need something that will help us live a life of loving behavior, and that thing according to essence of orthodox christian teaching is the grace of God himself, which is accomplished by giving us some form of knowledge that will help us accomplish that, in other words, a correct belief or conviction leading to correct behavior. God's grace while offered freely, must be accepted by humanity's free will, because God is not a puppet master who controls or ordains our every act. Also, there is the obvious reality that the individual in question will still sin, which is where point 8 comes in, because salvation is not a one time event, but a path and a process of growth, where a person continues to learn and become a better human being, and I would imagine that this process would continue after death in some form. Quote 2: you are correct about those beliefs not doing much for most Christians in the 21st century, but it apparently did a lot for Christians of the 1st century, which is provides further support for a relativistic view of salvific truth. You also bring up a good point about the oneness and sameness of God. The essential defining similarities between each person's path will be for one thing that God is the one initiating contact. God has many sides to himself, and can be experienced in different ways. The old testament Jews experienced him through reverent awe, the eastern religions experienced him through peace, and many modern day Christians experience him as a tear inspiring love, or an energetic motivation. God can simultaneously relate to people in different ways, but it will never be in a wrathful, fear mongering, or negative way. The major similarity between every experience of God, whether it is impersonal or personal, is that the experience will be positive and bring about change in that person's life for the better. Not every experience with God will be a personal or sentimental one. Some people who are being reached by God won't even call it God, as his presence will be hidden in natural elements, and that was hard for me to imagine at first, because I would personally be spiritually dead without a personal relationship, but I am coming to accept that not everyone needs that personal relationship, and some are content without knowing that God is the one they are putting their faith in and who is changing their life. I take Abraham's story to be metaphorical for his faithfulness, but one thing is for sure, that the Jews did not have Jesus. The problem with exclusivist views is that they claim that Jesus is the only way to God when many of the Old testament saints did not and could not have known about Jesus. The two statements you asked for reconciliation about were phrased in an either or manner, so I was acknowledging that only one could be true, and I was using that for an example of how different standards for salvation are found in the bible, which is contrary to the evangelical view that everyone needs the same level of knowledge to be saved and some people are condemned because they don't have that knowledge. Quote 3: the 'energy and action of God in the world' is a reference to the philosophical work called the 'essence/energy distinction'. Basically God's essence is what he is, and God's energies are something he possesses and uses to create and sustain our world. God's energies can accurately be equated with the energy described in physics and cosmology, which contrary to popular myth, is not a concrete substance that can be quantified. It is the abstract and immaterial force that composes our entire universe, including matter. Basically the essence and energy distinction was created to explain how God could be imperceivable and incomprehensible by nature, yet relate to our reality and experience at the same time. To put it simply, when we see God, we are not seeing his transcendent essence, we are seeing his energies acting in the world. When it comes to revelation, what I am trying to say is not that some will get more revelation than others in the sense that it's unfair, but some people having more knowledge and wisdom than others is just as much of a reality of the 21st century as the idea that we are living in a Pluralistic society. People may have different quantities of revelation, but every person is given the same quality of revelation relative to their needs. Not everyone has a major Pauline experience where Christ blinds them in the middle of the desert in order to reveal something profound, because not everyone needs that. The gracious revelation that a person gets is proportional to what they need to overcome their weakness, and Paul would probably agree that the only reason he was given what he was given was because he could not have changed without such a conversion experience. Not everyone needs to have those kinds of experiences to live the same quality of life as others, so there is no logical reason for God to give such revelation to every person. Just out of curiosity, what is the typical progressive view of revelation? I thought that progressive christianity was pluralistic. Such a position on religion would require either that salvific truth be subjective to a degree, that all religions are referencing the same God with different degrees of truth, or the idea that all religions are not literally true and are just different interpretations of the same divine reality. This model on religious pluralism affirms the former two premises. Not every progressive I've seen denies the incarnation of God. Some are unitarians, while some are Sabellians or trinitarians which take views on the incarnation varying in the degree of its literalism. I don't really see how that is relevant a soteriological model, but if you elaborate on what you mean by bringing the incarnation into your inquiry, I can do my best to address your concerns. What I meant by saying that Jesus is all we need because of finalization of our salvation is that somehow, he made salvation possible. I see Jesus' work not only in his death and resurrection, but also in his life, teachings, and descent to the dead. Everything that Jesus did contributes to the mystery of salvation. Through everything that he did, he made salvation not only a hope, but a certainty, which paints a clear difference between the language of the old testament and the new testament, and his very existence on earth affected the entire world through the ripples effects he introduced into the causal web of the earth. He may even have worked behind the scenes through either incarnation or in spirit to assist humanity, but the bible is not really clear on how atonement works. I do think if I have to choose a theory, it would be that Jesus had an impact on the world that reversed the effects of our sin and continues to do so today until one day humanity is free of sin and the kingdom of God is realized, whatever that may be. Quote 4: yes there is a necessary sameness to our paths, although other than how I explained it in my response to your second quote, it's unclear to me what those similarities might be, at least when it comes to the content of revelation. The only thing an atheistic secular humanist has in common with a christian is their basic views on morality, so maybe that provides the right connection? I have no idea. I think it all goes back to the idea that the necessary sameness in our paths to salvation is that God will always be involved in the revelation given, and we are basically incapable of saving ourselves. That is how God is in the center of it. No matter what difference in the content of each revelation is, if it leads to good fruit and it is true, it will always be from God. The necessary sameness always comes back to God initiating the salvific process through revelation of some sort. I completely agree with the Eastern theology you brought up. Even without salvation, as you had said, we would still need God to reach our full human potential. I have always believed this through a doctrine I called 'conditioning' in other words, this universe is not God's final plan for creation and is pretty much a means to the end. God through this process, teaches us not to make bad choices so that we can reach perfection in our humanity without our free will being overcome. You also have a very interesting view on the reason for Jesus' atonement, and that very well could be a big part of the entirety of at-one-ment thank you for the tip, you are probably right when it comes to using that word, because many people associate it with us needing to pay God back for our sins, when I don't think that was the original intent of the scriptures. I will keep your advice in mind in the future. Quote 5: you hit the nail on the head when it comes to the purpose of evangelism. The point was not to convince anyone to believe in doctrine, it was to share the love of God with others in word and action. I think Evangelicals missed the point with their proselytizing. That's why the early church stressed the urgency of evangelism, because we are taking part in the revelation of God's love, but our sharing that love is not the only means by which God reveals himself to a people, as the truths in religions that have had no contact with Christianity are proof of that. Evangelism is great in the right context, but people also should recognize that not every person who does not get revelation from other human beings will be lost. Evangelism ca be summed up in this quote, "share your faith at all times, and when necessary, use words" i totally agree with God being among us. I find Supernatural Theistic Dualism to be too distant, as well as contrary to scientific discovery. That is why I consider myself a Weak Panentheist, where the universe is not an essential part of God, but it is sustained by God and God is present in all creation. Quote 6: yeah Atheists can see us as airy fairy because each of our spiritual paths are drastically different. The Atheist does not believe his faith is in God, so he tends to view Theists as mystical and out there. I am careful with what about my personal faith to share with them, but occasionally I do have some radical intellectual and spiritual discussions with some very open minded Atheists, and they can be quite uplifting. Quote 7: well in a way people from every religion are anonymous Christians, and it is also true that Christians are anonymous Hindus and Muslims. Religious division is manmade, and thus any attempt to include other religions as members of their religion is quite innocent and well intended. I can see how some people would be offended by such language, which is probably why it should be avoided around more sensitive types. Everyone thinks their religion is true. I would personally rather be called an anonymous member of someone's religion than to be told I am going to their version of hell for being an unenlightened heathen. That's where Christian exclusivity becomes a huge problem and a conflict starter. and yeah that's what I was saying. There is virtually no difference. Inclusivism is a type of pluralism that resolves contradictory religious claims without undermining the truth of one's own religions. Philosophers who distinguish between the two are often talking about the difference between John Hick's Pluralism and other more moderate types of Pluralism, which all seem to be lumped into the category of inclusivism because they don't claim that all faiths are equally true, though they claim that all faiths have truth in them that has salvific value. To me it seems to be a better resolution to the problems Pluralism seems to have when reconciling contradictory differences between the faiths. Even Hinduism which is notably Pluralist upon closer look is bears more resemblances to some of the inclusivist doctrines that lead more towards Pluralism on the Pluralism/exclusivism scale than it bears to Pluralistic theories resembling Hick's theology. Quote 8: yeah now that I think of it, when you define revelation like that, we do all get the same level of revelation from God, and that revelation only differs in the content and amount of information contained within the revelation. I do believe that God loves us all equally, and he will reveal himself to everyone in the way that they need it, and he does not show favoritism in his revelation. I think that's where the misunderstanding was coming from and how you interpreted my reasoning as God showing favoritism. I don't know what you mean when you say you disagree with the law on non-contradiction, because you had just pointed out a contradiction earlier in this quote. Maybe it would help me to further elaborate. The law of non-contradiction is an Aristotelian law and makes up one of the basic principles of reason, which is something that I believe to be essential to a progressive form of Christianity. Otherwise what's the point of believing what we believe? We reject biblical literalism because it contradicts science, secular history, and the oral teachings of Jesus himself. We reject doctrines such as eternal hell, substitutionary atonement, and Calvinism's TULIP because it contradicts the Love of God that we have experienced. We reject the condemnation of the LGBT community because it contradicts a sound, consistent, and intrinsically substantial understanding of morality and inclusion. What sets us apart from our theologically conservative brothers and sisters if we don't embrace logic and reason? And how is the claim Jesus being the son of God and Gautama being the Buddha a contradiction? It would only be a contradiction if both Jesus and the Buddha were sons of God, yet claiming different things. A man in his fallibility can still make a mistake, although it's not surprising that Buddha is called enlightened, since he had a lot of true things to say. When I said that Science and art are both 100% true, I meant when they are interpreted correctly. Fallible men can sometimes skew the data to support their agendas, but that doesn't mean that the data lies. The truth in art is a completely different truth, because it deals with the creation of beauty rather than with hard data. Since these two things deal with completely different areas of truth, they can both be 100% true. and yeah it was good dialogue. I apologize for my delayed and sometimes incomprehensible responses. I am trying to address every question you have the best I can, and sometimes I spend hours just typing up a response
  8. thormas

    Some thoughts on Pluralism

    But how is such grace or love given, is it showered on us from on high? If grace is not earned, then is it given to all, correct? What is the one way or another? And what is the revelation? What are we saved from, again how do you think it works and is response necessary or are we saved regardless? Again, what is the revelation, what is revealed? I agree with your definition of faith: response and I agree that there is something relative about all this. However if God is One, if faith is response to that One, the human response can be relative in that it reflects human diversity but is there something that is absolute, essential, necessary and common for all in the response to the One? What I'm saying is that what one believes is relative (what one calls God, for example) but faith, the response to the One God is not relative: there is something that is/must be the same for all in the response of faith. In the 21st C, the acclimation that "Jesus is Lord" or belief that Jesus was raised from the dead, doesn't do much for many, even Christians. And many people would be appalled by a modern day Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to what he believes is God(not to mention what kind of God would make such a demand and would a good man or woman respond to that God?). All I'm saying is that much of this 'instruction' falls on deaf ears, it doesn't speak to many Christians in the 21st C. Now there is something to obedience (to make important to you what is important to another) but the example of Abraham in a world where people terrorize and kill civilians in the name of and in obedience to God, not so much. Not sure if instructions like these does much. You lost me: how can "you need all these things to be saved" be reconciled with 'each person has their own spiritual path to God?' If you need the former then the latter is untrue, correct? What is, where is the energy and action of God in the world? This seems vague. "Differing level of and content of revelation or knowledge to be saved, and every human gets the exact revelation proportional to his or her needs." Revelation is content: what is that content? And what is given by God is not the same for all? The image that comes to mind is a God, in his heaven, doling our limited info to different people.Something seems off about this notion and even the illustration depicts revelation as an instructional manual with the 'necessary' content. This seems to be at odds with a more progressive take on revelation. Then we have to consider Jesus as "God in human form' which is definitely not a progressive take on incarnation or one that would speak to many in the 21st C. As for what is known, the only info on Jesus is the NT and some writings outside the canon. They are there for the reading, there is nothing more. So if we know different things, it is simply a matter of the different things we emphasize. Finally, I can agree that Jesus is all we need - depending on what is meant by that. Atoning is a loaded word, not sure what you meant by 'finalized our salvation' and it seems we can know how his work was a piece with his death. I agree on original sin. I can agree on salvation but recognize there is also a necessary sameness to our unique paths: one Way (but would like to know what you mean when you say God in the center of it). What I'm saying is that even if there were no sin (and thus no need for salvation) God is still necessary (not for merely sustaining us in existence) for us to become truly Human. I believe in Eastern theology it is called 'deification' and the saying is: 'God became man, so man could become God.' God did not need to come into the world, God didn't need to become man - because God was already here, immanent in and with humanity. As Augustine (I believe) said: Jesus brought God where God already was: he just said "look.' Given what man is, given how man becomes, God is necessary for man to become his truest Self and have abundant life. Because there is sin, this 'presence' also enables/empowers us to become Whole (i.e Saved). Man become Human when he is 'at-one (ment)' with God and in that moment, sin (self-centeredness) is overcome, it has been 'replaced' by love (selflessness) and man is Human because he is divine; he does what God is; he does and is Love. For me, God did not become man in Jesus, rather the true glory was that Jesus, a man, 'became' God because of the greatness of his love. Jesus was true Man because he was true God/Love. We only become truly and full Human when we 'incarnate' or embody God, when we give Flesh to Love. In any modern model I suggest you avoid the word atonement or use ti very, very carefully otherwise a contemporary audience will not hear it and actively avoid it. Got it, a good clarification.I think if we believe that God is Love then revelation is always and only the self-revealing, which means the self-giving of God to us. Then the question is how is God given to us, or simply how is love (which is God) given to us? Easy, it is given through and by us; we are the givers, we are the 'flesh' in whom 'the love that is God' is given one to another ('love' is also bodied forth, i.e. given, in the wider creation but it is always incarnate, always given in and through the created order). The 'pagan' in the Good Samaritan is, in that moment, the embodiment of love, it is in him and through him that love is given and 'saves' another. It matters not what he calls what he does, it matters not whether he 'recognizes' the ever-present, immanent God - what matters is that he is 'in the Way.' The man who is left for dead is 'more' - literally saved from death - but the one who loves is also more - because of the greatness of his love. Jesus is the 'fullness' of the self-giving (self-revealing) God.........because, in all circumstances, in word and deed, throughout life and unto death, he is Love. To see him, who is the embodiment of Love, is indeed to see God. There is no direct line from God in his heaven to humans because God is not there; God is not in his heaven. God is immanent (here), ever-present in the midst of creation, in the midst of humanity. He is the Word that calls us to life - in and through the words of man; he is the love that is given one to another so the we have the courage to respond to the word of life and Live. Even if there were no sin, God is the Word in our words, that call us to live; God is the Love in our love, that en-courages us to live, to take up the Way and become and be Human - because we are Love. Man and woman are born to be the sons and daughters of Love. 'Airy fairy?' But I get it. Perhaps this is a caution for us also to not be airy fairy when discussing revelation or any of this stuff with believers either or we risk losing our audience. Well, some Christians and other religious types are definitely exclusive. Yeah, to tell "non-christians (they) are saved by Christ" or are "actually anonymous Christians" does not go over very well and is insulting. We call the way, Christ whereas others know it and name it differently or not at all. What matters, as has been said, it the living of the way. I don't get the difference: pluralism is inclusive. How is it weaker? But it can be interpreted as favoritism. The bigger concern for me is I still get the image of a God in his heaven selectively giving information based on need. If revelation is information, that's one thing. But if revelation is the self-giving of God to man then we're not in Kansas anymore: we're all the same, we are human, therefore we all have the same need: the self same revealing God who calls us and encourages us to be. I think I get what you're after but it comes off as something else, what to me is a favoritism or a selective giving. Plus it misses what revelation (self-giving) actually is and how it works. Although I will admit that some might hear the 'word' more clearly in music, other in art, others in math, some in literature and so on. There is no withholding of revelation (again, unless you think it is information). And, given what revelation is (above), it is ever-present and we always stand in need. To withhold it is to withhold human conversation and love: some people might (sadly) do this, not the God who is Love (for that would be a contradiction). Whenever you talk about 'more or less' revelation it comes off as favoritism. And I disagree on this law of non-contradiction (whose law is that?). But, then again, this depends on one's model, one's definition of revelation and one's understanding of whether God reveals or man perceives (divinely aided inspiration or human insight of the divine). Neither Islam, Christianity or any religion is 100 % accurate; they are human takes on the divine and this is always influenced by our particularly and thus 'selective' (different than saying God is selective and withholds information/revelation). Therefore, we are not talking about 'degrees of revelation.' You've got to see how such an idea would be ignored or attacked, especially by those religions that would be considered to have had revelation withheld. And, there goes inclusivity and pluralism especially since you just name Christianity as the winner: 100% true. Science and art are 100% true?? As Jesus is the Christ, so too Gautama is the Buddha: they still get to the same truth of the Way (even though also seen differently in the details).Of course there is a contradiction since Christianity is again the winner in this scenario: Jesus is God, Buddha is a man, enlightened but a man. I have not had a chance to recheck what I wrote but have to run. Hoped this helps and I enjoyed the dialogue.
  9. thormas

    Heathens! 2

    Perfect! And it finds a way to bring this truth home.
  10. The ability to speak is not necessary but self-consciousness is essential to knowing (which involves words) of Reality.; such knowing has the capacity to deepen living. I agree that fluency in religion or fluency in concepts is unnecessary but, just as the Word in Genesis or John, wakes us to Being, so to words waken and deepen the life of being. There is something special, even something new, when Reality says of itself, when asked, "I AM."
  11. I think you have answered your own question quite well.
  12. In my view, Your body is an energy field. One does not need words or to be fluent in religion or concepts to be awake to Being. The joy of living comes from Being and needs no understanding nor need for questions. Joseph
  13. Iflybyyou

    Some thoughts on Pluralism

    I will be glad to answer all your questions 1. Grace is simply God's love given to us despite of whatever we have done. It contrasts to the punitive picture of God where every immoral act deserves retribution. Grace is not earned, it is given to us freely by the generosity and love of God. Grace saving us means God is saving us through his initiative, which we respond to (also known as the doctrine of Synergism) and in one way or another, God gives grace to every human being, because he will not hold saving revelation from anyone 2. Faith is not an intellectual belief in anything specific, although it can take that form. Faith in its most basic definition is responding to God's revelation through acceptance and action, whether that revelation is an intuition or a intellectually believed fact, and what a person's faith looks like is as stated in the above post, relative. The scriptures I am referring to are the ones where figures such as Paul and Peter give instructions to people in order to be saved. One says "believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord" and the other says "believe that Christ was raised from the dead" There is also a mention somewhere in Hebrews that Abraham was saved by obeying God's instructions. We could take that to mean that you need all those things to be saved and that each example had unstated beliefs in the others things, or we could take it to mean that each person had their own spiritual path of faith that led them to God. 3. I do not remember where I said that God is unknowable. He is knowable in a certain sense. We cannot possibly know or comprehend him in his fullness, but we know him by his energy and action in our world. And when I mean that saving faith is relative, I mean that differing humans need a differing level of and content of revelation or knowledge to be saved,and every human gets the exact revelation proportional to his or her needs. To illustrate what I need, if one person is 500 feet from the mountain and the other person is 500 miles from the mountain, and the mountain contained the supplies necessary for both people to live, the first person would only need to know how to use climbing equipment, while the other would need to know how to build a plane to get there. Conversely, if two people were at the same distance from the mountain, but one had climbing equipment and the other had a jetpack, each would need to learn their respective means of getting to the top of that mountain. Even with Jesus being God in human form, people know differing things about him, and nobody knows everything about him now. I take the orthodox assertions that 'Jesus is all we need to be saved' to mean that Jesus' atoning work is ultimately what finalized our salvation and that his work was an essential part of it somehow. 4. Salvation is for all most definitely, but each individual has his own unique path to salvation which has God in the center of it. We are all connected in a web of humanity, so in a sense, we are being saved from the bad influence of other's choices too, which is what I think was truly meant by the doctrine of original sin, not that we inherited a sinful nature or deserve punishment for Adam's sin. That being said, we would still need God even if we didn't need salvation, we would just need him for different reasons. One example is that God is the one who sustains life, meaning we are contingent and would not exist without him. I suppose that could be stated as 'salvation from non-existence', but the salvation mentioned in the scriptures that is connected with the concept of atonement generally is connected in some way to suffering caused by evil or sin. 5. Instruction in practice could look like anything from a detailed covenant (eg: the jews) to a subtle call of the heart in which the person in question may not even know it is God (eg: the pagan guy in the parable of the good samaritan) I use the term instructions loosely, because i am not envisioning a manual that falls from heaven, but at the very least, it is a self revelation of God, whatever that looks like. This does not mean that the person has to call God by the same name as we do, or even think that the revelation is even coming from a God at all. Only the person themselves can know their own path, which also means that Christians should not judge others as not being 'Christian' or 'saved' when they have no idea what the condition of that person's heart is. 6. Atheists and agnostics very much can be saved, their revelation will just be a lot less 'airy fairy' in their words than the religious types. They will call the revelation of God by names such as 'Conscience', 'Science', and 'reason'. This thought went back even to the early church I believe, with church leaders speculating on what Socrate's relationship with God would look like, although I forgot where I found it. An atheist who is faithful to his understanding of logic, science, and secular morality, if that be all he needs in his individual path, can and will be saved by that faithfulness. 7. After further thought, I think that my model is probably more inclusivistic, but tbh, I have know idea why philosophers distinguish between the two. There is basically no difference, except inclusivists typically use fluffy language such as "non-christians are saved by Christ" and "virtuous non-christians are actually anonymous Christians" to describe their viewpouint, which ultimately reaches the same exact conclusion that Pluralistic models do but by different means. One wikipedia article actually referred to inclusivism as a type of Pluralism. I think that inclusivism could actually be a weaker Pluralism itself. 8. I don't really believe it's favoritism, because God is giving each and every person exactly what they need. God often withholds revelation from people sometimes because they aren't ready, they don't need it at the time, or maybe the revelation would hurt them in that circumstance more than harm them. Some religions receiving more revelation than others is not any religion being favored more than another, it's simply God giving revelation accordingly. It also is literally the only way to make sense of religion without violating the law of non-contradiction. If Islam were 100% true, that would also mean that Christianity could not simultaneously be 100% true, and if Judaism were 100% true, then Islam could not be 100% true. The conflicting truth claims make it impossible for each religion to be viewed as having the same degree of revelation, but that doesn't mean we should give up on the pure logic of God being a loving God and not refusing to relate to those outside of just one religion. And also, just because Christianity is 100% true, doesn't mean that other religions can't have truth claims that Christianity has missed. Science and art are both 100% true, but are radically different disciplines. A real life example of truth that could be in other religions and not in Christianity is that Gautama is the Buddha. There is not a contradiction in claiming that Jesus was God, and that this man Gautama was an enlightened man with prophetic truth about the universe. there is also no contradiction between Buddhist meditative practices and catholic hymns. Furthermore, Secular humanism is what discovered the theory of Evolution. That was never stated anywhere in church doctrine. i hope my answers satisfied your curiosities, and btw, I acknowledge that God is genderless and could be seen as male or female, but I am used to calling him with a male prefix because of my upbringing.
  14. thormas

    Some thoughts on Pluralism

    Questions abound, but they are not meant to cause offense, merely to tweek out more information or have you look anew at your model: 1. What is meant by salvation is by grace? How do you understand grace, how do we get it? 2. What is meant by faith in God? Is faith merely saying, "I believe" or something more? And, if more, what? Which scriptures? 3. God or the Godhead, the Father is unknowable but isn't the Christian belief that 'something' of God is known in the man, Jesus? And, if so, and if what is known in/through Jesus is the only thing necessary for salvation (or becoming fully Human0, why is any other knowledge of God necessary? What needs to be know for salvation is relative to what? If we're all human beings and salvation or wholeness is our becoming Whole, the Image of God, Truly Human, isn't what is needed the same for all 9even though it might be called by different names)? 4. Salvation from our own bad choices: is salvation merely for the individual or do you envision salvation for all? And, a question I always like to ask: if we were not corrupt, if we didn't make bad choices, would God still have 'incarnated" or, would God still be needed by us - and if so, how? 5. Revelation as instruction? Do you envision God supplying some 'thing' (i.e instructions) for us? and, if so, how do you make this palatable for 21st C people? What does faith in instructional revelation look like? 6. Revelation and faith suggest relationship, how can the atheist or the agnostic be in a relationship if they don't believe there is (a) God to relate to? and, without that relationship, is there revelation, is there faith, can there be salvation? 7. How does it differ from inclusivity? Why is inclusivity bad or wrong in its own right? Plus, Christianity (at least some expressions) is aware that revelation is not exclusive to Christianity; it is inclusive. 8. 'Content' of divine revelation? But the dissimilar amount given to Christianity is at odds with Christianity not being the exclusive source of that content that others don't have. We are back to exclusivity. More seems superior and I would think some people would, rightly, be pissed at God: he is playing favorites. Again, lots of questions but I like the initiative.
  15. thormas

    Whaddup

    Well, this is a depressing note. I still read Spong's site occasionally with its new contributors and the program seems both diverse and active. Plus the points still resonate.
  16. theism has two general meanings …. pertaining to a god (any flavour thereof) and pertaining to a personal god. It is the context that allows us to differentiate between the two.
  17. thormas

    Whaddup

    Actually, I have to agree with Hicks here. If one does not accept that divine revelation is information then, revelation is the self-revealing, the self-giving of God to creation (so subtle it is typically missed, though indispensable to our humanization). In such an understanding then faith is the human response to that self giving: religions are individuals in tribes, communities who have an 'insights' into or 'perceive 'something More" of' that is spoken of, written about, celebrated because it resonates with the group and makes sense of life (for them). I never thought of Hicks in terms of meta-religion simply because of his inclusivity. Actually, if there is only the (One) Way, it presents itself or is 'seen' (a bit) differently to us, those who are the same and yet different from one another. So the One Way is 'many' and it, ultimately, matters not what it is called, what name the various human 'tribes' give it, as long as it is taken and lived. If, as you said earlier, love or compassionate concern are taught by most religions, then, it seems, the only question is: does love give life, does love affirm life, does love create life. If it does, then it seems the the 'stuff' of life is love and the failsafe to this 'truth' is ever-present.
  18. I get your point for panentheism but a modifier makes a minor change or adjustment, so to say panentheism means we exist in a theistic God, modifies or changes (one's understanding of) panentheism - which although containing the word theism, suggests something different than the external, supreme being who intervenes via miracles in creation. Now, if someone modifies what they mean by theism, as Macquarie does (Dialectical theism) then it is, as Macquarie says, another name for panentheism. Given the typical understanding of theism (above), panentheism presents a different take on God. Well, as Paula Fredriksen says in her book on Paul, "in antiquity, "monotheism" is a species of polytheism." It seems evident that there is an evolution in religious thought but, again, I also get the idea of prophetic revolutions. Probably not an either/or. However, Jesus was not a "severe deviation" from Judaism. Concerning 'other divine entities' Augustine in the City of God says, the difference is how they are named: "Christians call these gods 'demons'; Pagans call these demons, gods."
  19. So excuse me if I ask a question (cynical or otherwise) … can we have rational beliefs? When choose a belief was it done rationally? I would have thought if I could defend a belief with evidence, that would count as rational. Of course our evidence might not be terribly strong, or that our premises are built on sand. By being (highly) subjective does not mean we can't collectively glean some so called objectivity. But then objectivity and subjectivity are not what the seem either.
  20. Theistic is not a modifier, it is part of the word. Panen-THEISTIC. A specific type of theism. I think most religions are prophetic revolutions, not gradualist evolutions. Akenaton, Buddha, Muhummad, Zoroaster, Moses, Jesus - all were severe deviations from the status quo. I do not know of a henotheistic religion. I think somebody made that one up for a dissertation. Demons, Bodhisatvas, angels &c should not be classed with gods. They refer to non-material, but god created beings. As for the mosquitos, they suck. Thank God for autumn.
  21. Burl

    Whaddup

    Honestly, the Progressive Christianity site content is unrelated to this small group. Now that Bishop Spong is no longer active I don't see the movement developing critical mass. I suggest continuing your personal journey and not getting too deep into those points.
  22. Iflybyyou

    Whaddup

    Yeah I appreciate his contributions, and the fact that he was basically the father of modern pluralistic philosophy cannot be ignored, there is still much work to be done. And yeah some people actually criticize this man for proposing a new meta-religion that simply takes an inclusivistic attitude towards the world's religions, kinda like a version of Relativistic inclusvism. I personally don't find much fault in his ideas, except that he seems to water down the religions as simply being cultural perceptions of an unknowable reality rather than acknowledging and appreciating the religions for what they are.
  23. Iflybyyou

    Some thoughts on Pluralism

    In the short period of time in my walk with Christ that I have been open to Pluralistic belief, I have found this to be one of the most interesting topics in Christian Theology. I have checked out various models, and they all seem to be interesting, yet can be a bit too speculative, paradoxical, and dissatisfying. I have come up with my own paradigm on Pluralism, and I was looking for some feedback on it, how well it measures up with point 2, and maybe some ways to improve it. Here is how my model works. First of all, this model affirms that there is only one God, and also affirms that salvation is by grace through faith in God, as the scriptures teach, but instead of saying that God is unknowable and all religions are merely interpretations of the same God , this model focuses on the idea of epistemology and the content of one's faith. In other words, what one needs to know about God, or believe about God in order to be saved is essentially relative. This model takes the view that salvation is not from guilt, but from our own corruption and bad choices, thus taking more of a moral influence view of atonement than a Substitutionary or satisfactionary one. Thus faith in God is whatever an individual needs to overcome evil and live a life of love. How this works is that God's grace is defined as the revelation and instruction of God needed for a person to live a life of love, and faith is responding to that revelation by accepting it openly and acting on it. This means that the 'rightness' of a person's faith depends not on any specific religion, but instead on the person's individual needs. I think this model is a good model because 1: it affirms all paths that lead to love and doesn't require saving faith to be a personal relationship (eg: religions who don't believe in a personal God can also benefit from God's grace and experience enlightenment and change in their life without having an explicitly personal relationship) 2: it differs from inclusivism by affirming that there is divine revelation that Christianity has not been aware of that people can be saved through in other religions 3: it acknowledges religious differences and their benefits without undermining the fundamental unity or compatibility required for a good Pluralistic model 4: it affirms that Christianity in its most basic message is 100% true, but not the exclusive source of truth or salvation. 5: it explains why there has been a dissimilar amount and content of divine revelation throughout history without viewing God as neglecting certain people more than others and without viewing any loving religion as superior or inferior to another. 6: certain verses in scripture can be compared to support this view (eg: Abraham and the OT saints did not have to believe in Christ when the new testament seeps with the admonishment to believe in Christ, and different people were given different instructions on what to believe about Christ to be saved) Let me know what you guys think.
  24. thormas

    Whaddup

    Derek, John Hick is the man; he was a great theologian. Christianity is a universal religion but I have not heard Hick associated with meta-religion (of course I guess it depends on how such a 'religion' is understood). I am off to the doctor but look forward to your model.
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