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About Matthew

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  1. Hi Romansh - thanks again really good questions, these are all things I've thought about but I'm not sure I can give a definite answer! 1) Christian values - you're absolutely right that I have to make a choice as to what constitutes true Christian values. Anyone who identifies as a Christian has to do that. Myself I take the view that commands like 'love your neighbour as yourself' or 'Do unto others as you would have them do to you' are the most fundamental commands, and other individual commands should be interpreted in the light of these fundamental commands. This seems to resonate with the teaching of the New Testament, when Paul says 'For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbour as yourself." ' Gal 5:14; cf Romans 13:10 and when Jesus (reportedly) said 'So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets' Matt 7:12. This approach also resonates with my own moral sense and the moral sense of a great many other people, i.e. that the essence of morality is not harming others, or (more positively) showing compassion to others. So it seems a reasonable and coherent approach to take. 2) Historical Jesus or mythical Christ? I think I would say I'm thinking primarily of the 'portrait' of Jesus in the New Testament, in Matthew Mark and Luke especially but to some extent John - rather than the literal historical Jesus. I think Thormas was saying the same thing, "the writings and prior oral traditions provide the Christian movements 'memory' and understanding of Jesus (and thus God). What we have is all that there is in a very real sense." But I think New Testament scholars have been generally agreed that Jesus practised table fellowship with marginalised groups and in this way offended the religious establishment, and to this extent the later potrayals of Jesus are not sheer distortions of who he really was and what he really did. 3) My understanding of the supernatural, I think I was saying that my own feelings about the Source may possibly be a clue to the supernatural or they may be a purely natural phenomenon, but I cannot tell which. I do think this is a purely agnostic and sceptical approach, I wasn't saying anything about whether the supernatural really exists or is a coherent concept. It may not be coherent, but I wouldn't say that the supernatural is a contradiction in terms. I don't think the concept of the supernatural implies a formal contradiction. But empirically or scientifically it is highly problematic to say anything about the supernatural.
  2. Hi Romansh thank you - really good questions. I consider myself a Christian because I try to follow the moral teaching and example of Jesus, and also because I attend a Christian church and participate in Christian rites. I realise for many being a Christian should also mean believing certain doctrines or supernatural truths as well, but I've come to realise I want to identify as a Christian because I follow Christian values and belong to a Christian community. These values can also be held by humanists or people of other religions, and I hope the essence of my values would also resonate with progressive Muslims, Hindus etc. But these people of other faiths would express these same values through different symbol systems so they could rightly say 'I am progressive Muslim etc.' rather than progressive Christian. I would love to understand my feelings about the 'Source' etc., but for me the most important thing to recognise is that they are subjective feelings and so can't give me any assurance of objective truth. They may be a clue to a real supernatural reality but as mere 'feelings' they could also be subject to naturalistic, psychological explanations for all I know.
  3. Hi Romansh - just seen your post after writing mine! I think I'm probably a resident sceptic too. An agnostic certainly - but I still would like to see myself as a Progressive Christian. I'd agree that I can't see any evidence for an intelligence guiding the universe unfolding, but I would still like to believe in the Source or God as a powerful symbol.
  4. Hi - thanks for your replies to my question on the Source etc. I do find these ideas really compelling and attractive, and I think they've been expressed really well. Another expression I heard in a song was the "Universal Consciousness Divine", - a phrase which I think brings these ideas together. I have always had a really deep feeling of beauty and mystery which hints at something like the Source, a deep mysterious unity behind and underneath everything, that behind the shifting changing appearances there is the One, unchanging Light and Life Source. I guess the sceptic in me asks how we can know if this is really true, or if the Source really exists? This is why I prefer to regard it as a symbol or metaphor, a metaphor for the wholeness and unity we all yearn for and should strive towards. But I definitely respect the belief in a literal Source, because I do feel it.
  5. Thanks Soma - that clarifies things for me a bit, but I guess I would think of the 'infinite/ totality' as also symbol and not just those other words you use. From yours and other posts, I'm getting the idea of a literal all-encompassing spiritual reality called e.g. 'the Source', 'the Infinite', 'the spirit that exists in all' etc., as something already given which we need to open ourselves to - and I'm not sure what to make of this. I firmly believe that we need to strive for wholeness in ourselves and others, and the world we live in. Wholeness is something we need to create by our own actions and words - but not as something already given. If we're talking about the same thing - if the 'Source' is a poetic way of speaking about the wholeness we can and should achieve through our own actions - then I'm fully in agreement. But if the Source is a literally existing reality, the actual belief of a religious / Christian mysticism - then I would ask how do we know it exists? Hope that makes sense.
  6. Hello all, I think maybe there is such a thing as spiritual progress or regress, although we shouldn't think about it as something we can clearly 'measure'. I think there may be two ways of understanding 'spirituality': One is: there exists an invisible world or realities and persons which hold power over this visible world and with which we can enter into a relationship. In this first sense 'spiritual' means being closely concerned with this other, invisible world (e.g. God, the angels, the devil, heaven, hell etc.). The other way of understanding 'spiritual' is being concerned with what is inward and genuine as opposed to what is external and superficial. External and superficial is things like material possessions, fame, power over others, looking good etc. Inward and genuine means honesty, humility, selflessness, true friendship and real appreciation of art and beauty. Being spiritual in the second sense is, I believe, far more important than being spiritual in the first sense. Soma - love what you wrote in the 11.41 post. I'm curious whether what you call higher dimensions or the ocean of pure consciousness or what TomAllyn calls the 'Source' - is this something you believe in literally or is it a symbol?
  7. Matthew

    Hello My Name Is Matthew

    All, thank you for your welcoming comments :-) , I certainly feel from reading the 8 points and the discussions so far that this is a really good place for me to be. Looking forward to getting involved in the discussions!
  8. Hello - my name is Matthew and I am a Church of England Christian. For many years I have been deeply influenced by critical thought, and this has left me very uncertain about most of the things I once believed as a Christian. But I still believe firmly in Christian values and in following the moral teaching of Jesus and St. Paul. I have come to think that these things are the most important things about being a Christian, that how you live is much more important than what you believe. I have come to this forum because I often feel lonely at my local church, as no-one else there seems to think as I do. I'm hoping to get the opportunity to discuss issues with like-minded Christians - whilst also respecting different opinions and beliefs.