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  1. 1 point
    One of the Lindau gospels.
  2. 1 point
    I think you make a good point Burl - indeed perhaps those two commandments were unnecessary. Well, obviously the author or translator thought they were necessary when they wrote them, but of course a couple of thousand plus years on and such commandments may indeed require questioning. Along with a few of the others I would say that many Christians are stuck on insisting are commands from God and not man. It's even possible the lack of serious contemplation or deeper thought is actually the error of the one who states proudly that they know these are God's commandments. A bit like a beef stew that does seem to have flavour, it's just that the flavour is artificial - not that that bothers the consumer of course.
  3. 1 point
    First in a series of public lectures on this topic by a Jungian psychologist. Not theology, but how the Bible expresses universal human themes and archetypes. If you like Joseph Campbell's wonderful work on mythology this should be right up your alley.
  4. 1 point
    A spin-off from the Theism-thread. Let's make this a thread of it's own for more input on the topic: I would be more welcoming for the idea of re-inventing Christianity, if I saw it work in practice the way it's supposed to work. The reality in practice for kicking God out of the church doesn't seem to live up to the promise. The State Church in my country has pretty much done this, embraced the liberal, moralism-focused, humanistic, downtuned-in-supernatural - version of Christianity, and has done a lot to distance itself from more "judgy" branches of Christianity and yet that has done nothing to help the decline in numbers, the decline has continued steady. Also, a necessary note, we are here talking about a phenomenon that is massive in scale, one that is a (maybe even "the") defining phenomenon of our time in the West, so trying to summarize it to be a result of any one factor risks being a grotesque oversimplification. Historically speaking, social and cultural changes of this scale are always very complex in detail, and tend to have many overlapping dimensions going on simultaneously within them. Personally, I have been interested in the phenomenon and studied it a bit and it seems to me that the standard reaction from Christians, when it's brought up, is the blame game. "It's the other team who's ruining this thing". I think such hijacking of the phenomenon for a propaganda weapon against some other versions of Christianity is not a particularly good approach. The statistical reality seems to be that to much of my dislike - may I add - it actually seems to be the more fundamentalist - leaning branches of Christianity that have survived the process better than the more liberal ones. Historically, The United States decline of Christianity, that seemingly begun in 90's, is a curious phenomenon. In Europe, the churches used to be part of the old order, they were the trusted allies of the monarchies who ruled the continent for centuries, and when Europeans finally kicked the kings down from their thrones, their allies, the churches (perhaps deservedly) got their status damaged in the process too and apparently have never really recovered from the blow. On the other hand, Christianity in the United States never had this problem, due to it's historical lack of state religion, and for a long time it seemed to make an exception in the western world. But, that too is now changing, for reasons which remain a bit of a mystery to me. I have some theories, but they're little more than guesses.
  5. 1 point
    Branching off from our thread on Agnosticism, I've wondered what it would take for me to be a theist again. Back when I was a theist, I was an external theist. In other words, I believed in God because of what the bible said, or what the Church said, or what Christianity said. A good, common definition of a theist is someone who believes in God as a supernatural being who is personally involved in our lives. I believed that way for many years, yet, in hindsight, I found little evidence that God personally loved me or that he listened to and answered my prayers or that he had some kind of great and wonderful plan for my life. In fact, I left theism because the evidence for such a God was so paltry. So what would it take for me to be a theist again? I guess it would have to take mystical theism. I mean, consider the mystics in the bible. God personally appears to Abraham and Moses and speaks to them (according to the biblical record). God personally appears to Jesus, talks to him, answers his prayers. Jesus, who is God in Christendom, personally appears to Saul and speaks to him. Nothing in these theistic accounts is "hearsay." These people claimed to experience the personal, living God. And these experiences changed them. That's what I would need in order to be a theist again. I'm not going to trust in hearsay. If God is truly personal (as theists claim he is), then he should personally appear and speak to me. There should be some evidence that convinces me that he exists and is real, at least as a "person" (or three persons as Christians say he is). I'm 58 now. To date, God is a no-show for me. As a theist, I had to trust the testimonies and experiences of others. No longer. I won't hold to second-hand faith. I tend to believe the adage, "The invisible and the unreal often look pretty much the same."
  6. 1 point
    Praying for the sick and going to doctor is not what I meant by supernatural-free theistic practice. That would be a perfect mix of both, natural life and pursuit for supernatural, the ideal way imho. I've met lots of Christians who don't believe that God heals, and don't pray for it. Just for an example. But again, I live in a rather secular place, so I might be biased to think that Christians generally are more rationalists than they globally speaking might be. Now that I think of it, maybe there is not a fundamental distinction, but rather the difference is in intensity. Or in the level of expectation in how much God is supposed to be interested in interventions. Let's take another example from our conversations earlier and use the trinity - doctrine as an example. Supernatural-including version of practice would be there to assume that God will somehow give a mystic understanding of it through faith. Therefore the fact that the doctrine on the surface-level is somewhat irrational, wouldn't be a problem, if there were a path to find a spiritual, mystical knowledge of this seemingly irrational doctrine. A supernatural free version would either 1) confess it as a blind faith - kind of a thing, it just is so without any explanation or 2) would seek to correct the seeming irrationality of it by ditching the doctrine. In my opinion, if all supernatural interventionism is rejected, faith becomes a rather authoritarian concept where things are just believed because someone says so and that's it. I find mysticism to be much more satisfying version of religion, the one I find most worthy of practicing. In mysticism, things that make little rational sense can be often understood in spirit, through personal revelation, kind of as a series of mini-enlightenments. It's neither blind faith on authority, nor figuring religion out rationally. It's just playing on an alternative playfield. I can accept that I don't understand some things I believe in with my brain, but mysticism provides me with an an alternative way, to seek to understand them through personal spiritual revelation.
  7. 1 point
    That was the point ... even today people like Spong are taken as atheists as they do not have a literal belief. Did Spong and others start off with a literal belief? Is this metaphorical interpretation a post hoc belief? Was it for you? Personally I never had a literal Christian belief. Yes we all are to some degree indoctrinated in our beliefs ... I cannot choose to be a Buddhist at least not in this moment. But because of the new insights and better education fewer people have this desire for faith. It is difficult to be indoctrinated into faith when those around you are faithless. At university very few of my associates were religious and if they were it did not show. At work (in a science and engineering type world) there were fewer religious people so it was more difficult to pick up this religion meme. And finally they are not my points ... Those points were a distillation of what some religious scholars/investigators believe we can reliably ascribe to Jesus. There are a large handful. You can find the complete list here.
  8. 1 point
    This. I don't think that this is the stance of Christianity, but I do think that it is the truth to which Jesus pointed. God's Presence doesn't descend from the sky. Rather, it is in each of us. Being spiritual doesn't mean being above the world in order to escape it. Rather, it means going deeper into the world to connect, love and transform it. God is not found in temples, books, or institutions. Rather, God is discovered, recognized, and celebrated in each other. Namaste.
  9. 1 point
    Not sure how we would measure the present "poor spiritual state" with the same poor state in past eras. Even in Biblical times, you have the people of Israel who again an again and again and again lose faith and create 'false' gods to worship - yet good people still existed and the 'miracles' occurred. And consider Jesus: he was rejected by all - except a small group of disciples and followers (and many ran in his hour of need); talk about a poor spiritual state, yet for Christianity, it resulted in the greatest miracle. So too in any age, there is a mixture of those lost, those who deliberately go another way and good people. On this reckoning, if there was 'supernatural activity' in some of those ages, that activity should be present in any age. One wonders, then, if there was ever such supernatural activity as recorded in the bible. The paradox (and the wisdom) of Christianity is that the spiritual (or God) is not found in another dimension and not found above and beyond the natural: the spiritual is not found in the super-natural. Jesus proclaims the treasure found in the beginning of his public mission: "Behold, the Kingdom of God. " The Jews and Jesus believed that God would establish his Kingdom here, 'this world' would be (become) The Kingdom of God. The paradox of Christianity is that the supernatural is in the natural; it is in the natural that one finds the 'supernatural.' For Christianity, God's is incarnate; he is only found with us (Emmanuel).
  10. 1 point
    In the NT, it seems like the standard communication method is "feeling something in ones spirit", visions and dreams, though. Like f.e. Peter on the roof having the animal vision, or Paul seeing a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come over etc. The quotes make my posts look much longer than they actually are I am dealing with a similar conflict myself. The God I know through experience and intuitions etc. seems to be much more of a peaceful, understanding and a nice guy than the God of the Bible, especially the OT one. On the other hand, especially teachings of Paul and some teachings of Jesus heavily resonate with me. So, I am caught in-between of Christianity and something else that I can't quite define. I have tried other religions, it doesn't work, too much of the Bible is indeed my religion and I lose that if I try any other approach. Right now I feel like I'm too Christian to be anything else, but not Christian enough to be a proper Christian either.
  11. 1 point
    Joseph recently posted Living with Uncertainty and I could not help identify this as a form of agnosticism. Anyway being of an agnostic persuasion made, it made sense or most of it, I think. Here is a quote from Bertrand Russell a poster boy for atheism (and agnosticism) which parallels Joseph's line of thought. Perhaps the quote is a bit more aggressive than Joseph's “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” and another from Russell I think nobody should be certain of anything. If you’re certain, you’re certainly wrong because nothing deserves certainty. So one ought to hold all one’s beliefs with a certain element of doubt, and one ought to be able to act vigorously in spite of the doubt…. One has in practical life to act upon probabilities, and what I should look to philosophy to do is to encourage people to act with vigor without complete certainty. Now I personally would not call uncertainty,God, Love or Being.
  12. 1 point
    I too believe Christianity 'overstepped' when trying to come to terms with the divinity/humanity of Jesus. I think it was a human effort gone wrong; I think believers, Church leaders and thinkers were trying to 'capture' or say something about this man in whom they 'experienced' God and lost their way. They were limited by their worldview, by Greek philosophy and by the desire to head off what they seriously thought was wrong opinion. However, harm was done, yet one wonders if Christianity would have made any impact if not for them. I agree that the theophany is and continues to be a stumbling block yet many theologians and thinkers have moved to the ideas that we 'are born to be' the manifestations or embodiments of Divinity. And realizing and living out this reality would/could be incredibly transformative. As to the idea of God doing something about suffering and death in the world, I accept that the latter is inevitable since we are mortal. It is the former, especially the undeserved tragic suffering (cf. Wendy Farley) that is the issue for many. Following others but especially influenced by Farley, I believe she has hit on something important and I believe you have hit on it too: Love which created and by its very nature must 'step back' is immanent, impacting creation. However, that Love must be incarnated or embodied in and through humanity to heal (very broadly understood) and effect a change in the 'undeserved tragic suffering' that robs us of our 'humanity' before death takes us. Source will follow soon.
  13. 1 point
    My son was "warned" at his place of employment that the end was nigh. I've lived long enough to see this kind of thing come around and around every few years. In fact, when I was very young, the film "A Thief in the Night" (about the rapture) scared the dickens out of me, so much so that I questioned my salvation and rightness with God for quite a while. As PaulS pointed out, even Jesus taught that he would return in his generation to establish the kingdom of God on earth. So far, he is still a "no show". Personally, I have no need or use for fear-based religion and, perhaps like you, Joseph, I would simply wait for the steam to run out. To me, there is no sense in arguing with those caught up in end-of-the-world scenarios or fear-based faith. Fear is seldom rational. To me, if/when the end does come, it will be due to our own short-sightedness as human beings or due to the natural course of nature (our sun becoming a red giant). I no longer fear or expect God's intervention.
  14. 1 point
    Over the last three or so years, I've noticed an alarming trend with religious social conservatives in the internet; these people have begun to adapt increasingly anti-democratic ideals and narratives, and seem to have found their new global hero in Russian president Vladimir Putin. At first this seemed to me like a random fringe phenomenon, but especially with Americans (where there are particularly lots of religious social conservatives) this seems to be on it's way to become the new mainstream of social conservatism. Lately also media has begun to pay more attention to this, which has convinced me that this is happening for real, and it's not just my bad luck of running into this Putin-conservatism. My thoughts on what is happening with religious conservatives: 1) The repeated losses at culture wars are taking their toll. Whenever the religious social conservatives have tried to push the culture backwards in the democratic world, they have usually failed in the end. I believe that this repeated losing has alienated religious conservatives, not just from the mainstream culture, but from the ideals of democracy as it seems to favor their perceived enemies. Why would they continue loving democracy, since it seems to place secular and liberal ideals at power? By contrast, when the conservatives look at Russia, where the cultural clock has been seemingly successfully turned backwards (feminist protesters at church are jailed, gay activism has been banned, even beating ones wife has become less of a serious crime and so on), they realize that conservatism can win, just not in a democratic context. This is actually a centuries old European idea made new; The church wanting a Christian king to rule a nation, in order to keep the nation Christian. 2) The massive information - and critical thinking - vacuum created by anti-intellectualism and anti-journalism by social conservatives has effectively made the whole group intellectually helpless sitting ducks for ruthless propaganda efforts, like the ones taken in recent years by Russian government. Conservative anti-intellectualist efforts have left the group as a whole with no way of sorting the credible news from mere propaganda and thus, they will end up believing the propaganda of Putin's Russia being the promised land of religious conservatism. Not unlike the western workers of the old world believed Soviet Union being the mythical paradise of the working class. Thoughts? Observations?
  15. 1 point
    Obviously the Bible is considered Christianity's 'Holy Book' and many Christians believe it is either directly communicated by God to man, or they think it is 'inspired' by God. Most Christians believe the Bible to be, at the very least, a guide book towards what God wants and interpret variously the messages within this library of books as messages from God. Recent comments on another thread about the Bible expressing key elements about God's relationship with man, as though this Book is the only one that speaks for this man/God relationship, reminded me of this pic. To think that of the millions of years that mankind has existed, that one collection of books from a very limited geographical and cultural perspective somehow holds the key to the universe, is hard for me to accept. Every place and culture referred to in the bible fits within this little red circle and was written within a time frame of no more than 1000 years. I can't help but think that if it wasn't for the Romans taking Christianity on and then colonising the world, Christianity may well have died the death of so many other religions from so many of these other countries. In my country, Aboriginal people lived some 50,000 years without any knowledge of the Bible or believing of a God like that in the Hebrew bible. It seems to me that if God really did inspire the Bible, then he left some very big gaps concerning the history and 99% of the population of the world.
  16. 1 point
    Tom, the Catholic monk Thomas Merton once said that a "saint" is not so much one who has reached a certain level of sanctity, but more that they always see something to love in others.
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