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Ecumentalism

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The challenge to us as People of Faith is not to focus on differences, but to recognize similarities. Faith is not a subject in and of itself to be studied lest we lose sight of the very reason for our Faith. The Light of God Within is the same regardless of what you call yourself or what books you read. We can disagree over words and exchange quotes endlessly, but in the end it must be the Light of God Within that is our motivation in all things and not human constructions, interpretations, words, books, or any other form of second-hand experience with The One. God is within us, all of us, here and now. We need no books, no quotes, no third-party guides or interpretations from experts, no priests, bishops, ministers, hymns, or other such human symbols or representatives to speak to God for us and in our behalf. God is as close to each and every one of us as our own heartbeats and all we have to do is close our eyes, clear away the noise and clutter of our world, and reach out to The Source. God can be experienced by you, by me, by us. It is from that contact, the same contact that Jesus had with God Within, that is truely transformative and can change our lives. This simple Truth needs nothing more than itself.

Edited by Russ

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The challenge to us as People of Faith is not to focus on differences, but to recognize similarities. Faith is not a subject in and of itself to be studied lest we lose sight of the very reason for our Faith. The Light of God Within is the same regardless of what you call yourself or what books you read. We can disagree over words and exchange quotes endlessly, but in the end it must be the Light of God Within that is our motivation in all things and not human constructions, interpretations, words, books, or any other form of second-hand experience with The One. God is within us, all of us, here and now. We need no books, no quotes, no third-party guides or interpretations from experts, no priests, bishops, ministers, hymns, or other such human symbols or representatives to speak to God for us and in our behalf. God is as close to each and every one of us as our own heartbeats and all we have to do is close our eyes, clear away the noise and clutter of our world, and reach out to The Source. God can be experienced by you, by me, by us. It is from that contact, the same contact that Jesus had with God Within, that is truely transformative and can change our lives. This simple Truth needs nothing more than itself.

 

Beautifully written :)

 

You're Quaker, right? I've always thought the Quakers had a beautiful message and a wonderful way of looking at faith. The only problem for me is I don't think I'd be able to handle the silent worship, I'm too restless :lol: But I'm very glad it works for you!

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Russ, nice job. Mckenna I was fortunate to attend a Quaker worship and it was very impressive. You go into the silence, but if compelled to speak, sing or remain silent is a spiritual awakening. People spoke some supported in an inspirational way and some disagreed in an inspirational way. The majority chose silence. It all was a part of the silence inside and out. Russ is the way service is usually conducted? I really like this procedure and found it very beneficial.

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Russ, nice job. Mckenna I was fortunate to attend a Quaker worship and it was very impressive. You go into the silence, but if compelled to speak, sing or remain silent is a spiritual awakening. People spoke some supported in an inspirational way and some disagreed in an inspirational way. The majority chose silence. It all was a part of the silence inside and out. Russ is the way service is usually conducted? I really like this procedure and found it very beneficial.

 

It does sound nice. Perhaps I'd like it more than I think. After all when I pray I normally lapse into silence fairly quickly, without even meaning to. I'll be talking along and suddenly I'll just stop and pray inwardly instead. Anyway, I'd really love to attend a Quaker worship session sometime.

 

I recently read a book by a Quaker...it was called a Quaker Book of Wisdom by Robert Lawrence Smith (here it is on Amazon). It was a quick read and a great introduction to the Quaker mindset, which I find appealing. :)

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The Christian Century reports:

 

“The recently dismissed head of the United Methodist Church’s main ecumenical and interreligious agency says his forced departure was due to disagreements over the body’s future direction….Larry D. Pickens said of his December 5 dismissal as chief executive of the denomination’s General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns….that the action stemmed in part from disagreements between him and some commission members over his support for what he called the ‘social justice dimension’ of ecumenical work. He said the commission often dealt with doctrinal and theological issues. ‘But in my mind, there has to be a social justice aspect for ecumenism to have a real impact,’ added Pickens, the first African American to lead the United Methodist commission.”

 

There is that word “unity” again used as the mission of an ecumenical group. I have no “inside” knowledge of what is going on here, but it seems that some wanted to come together based upon a theological vision and some thought that there was not enough emphasis on social justice.

 

I would argue that the ecumenical world should be dominated not by a discussion of unity, especially theological unity, and the theological goal should be pluralism. This would allow different religious groups to focus effectively on social justice concerns. Such a dynamic seems to have the real potential to bring people together.

Edited by David

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I would argue that the ecumenical world should be dominated not by a discussion of unity, especially theological unity, and the theological goal should be pluralism. This would allow different religious groups to focus effectively on social justice concerns. Such a dynamic seems to have the real potential to bring people together.

 

I agree. I think the most practical aim of ecumenism would be to bring people together over social justice. It's a lot less touchy of a subject, it's easier to bring people together on (without anyone feeling they're giving up some of their values), and it is helpful to the community as a whole, which can further advance ecumenical dialogue.

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I would argue that the ecumenical world should be dominated not by a discussion of unity, especially theological unity, and the theological goal should be pluralism. This would allow different religious groups to focus effectively on social justice concerns. Such a dynamic seems to have the real potential to bring people together.

 

Also, tonight I was watching "A" Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and there was an interview with Jim Wallis (I think it was the episode from last night, 1/22). Interestingly, Wallis expressed pretty much the same sentiment: that our focus should not be on everyone else's religious beliefs but on our mutual moral values (and the moral values he was advocating were social justice, environmental concerns, etc.); and that, in terms of our politicians, our concern should not be whether they are religious, but whether they have, as he put it, a "moral compass." Just thought it was interesting/relevant :)

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The beatitudes are found at Matthew 5: 3-12

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

Blessed are they who mourn,

for they shall be comforted.

 

Blessed are the meek,

for they shall possess the earth.

 

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice,

for they shall be satisfied.

 

Blessed are the merciful,

for they shall obtain mercy.

 

Blessed are the pure of heart,

for they shall see God.

 

Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they shall be called sons of God.

 

Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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The Infinite God is a complicated situation... far beyond the grasp of languages..., which is why it uses intuition.
...I see religion flowing ... from the inside where love springs forth, not from the outside in.
We live in God move and have our being in this One God
...we can grasp the... ungraspable....
I really don't understand the contradictions. God is a situation we can't understand or explain? Is God inside or outside? Grasping the ungraspable? You lost me.

 

It's just so much fun to learn more about God.

This is a most sage comment. Brilliant. Thank you. (Can't find your Lewis quote, though. Help.)

 

Mckenna: If you are not a pluralist, I'm sorry if I misunderstood, but when you quoted Diana Eck, it was implied when she said,"...in a pluralist view, ... we honor the same God..." We abandon morality if we do not decide right from wrong.

 

Our Faith is not from some inexplicable religious experience. We would only be fooling ourselves. It comes from knowing of and understanding an infinite God who is personal with you. That personal God said, Here is my only begotten Son. Because of His sacrifice, neither you nor any fallen "man" need live in guilt. Salvation is yours, believe it because "I" did it for you. If you deny My Son, you will not be Saved. If you follow Jesus, believe it when He said. "No one comes to the Father except by Me."

 

We could go on ad infinitum discussing all these particular issues. Unless we can come to grips with fundamental (don't be frightened by that word!), universal truths then discussing the particulars will be endless. Indeed we all have a world view (philosophy) and we must decide what it is and where it came from.

 

If given a choice between unreasonble and reasonable answers for these truths, and since everyone here appears reasonable, our choice is obvious, we want reasonable, rationally and logically considered, able to be communicated truths neccesary to answer Mans needs sufficiently and to "...speak with all men, religions, philosophies and sciences about those things... ." SOMA.

 

To understand we should know that the three areas of philosophic thought are what they always have been. The area of "Being", the metaphyical neccesity; then of "Man and his dilemma", that is: the moral neccessity. The third area is "epistemology" or, how do we know that we know, our epistemological neccesity.

Biblical Christianity provides the answers to those areas of question...sufficiently.

 

I run a great risk saying this, but here goes; because Biblical Christianity is the only religion which can answer those questions satisfactorily then that does, in fact, make it the superior religion.

 

Before you blast away, find out why I can so brashly say that.

Can you say any other religion can reasonably provide answers to the three areas? And how?

Illogical, unreasonable leaps of faith will not be accepted. Points will not be counted off for spelling.

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David, (I love this, sounds like I am writing to myself—which may very well be),

 

Your concerns are wide and deep. I am not sure that any response in this kind of medium can do them justice--certainly not within the topic here of ecumenism.

 

My response “on topic” is first that I doubt that we would go to the same Sunday School class and the tension between us is because we tend towards the “opposite ends of the spectrum” within Christianity. As Diana Eck points out there is more similarity between our counterparts within other religions than there is between us. This makes any attempt at ecumenical discussion between some Christians more difficult than between Christians and other faith traditions.

 

I am fascinated by your interest in epistemology. Diana Eck notes that beneath many (most?) theological divisions one will find the epistemological problem. Many discussions never realize that the point of disagreement is not so much what you believe but how you know what you think you know. Basically I would argue that if you can not agree on how you know what you think you know it is frustrating to discuss anything. You will see that some will try to play the game of trying to assume an epistemology and attempt to show why a position is “wrong” by the “way you know what you think you know”. I see some Progressives that attempt to “prove” a point by Biblical authority even though they do not accept that epistemological method in the same way as the person they are talking to. I do not see that as helpful. That is why I make it a rule never to argue with a fundamentalist and I see no hope for an ecumenical bridge between fundamentalists and progressives.

 

Anyway, my main response to you now is that I would suggest that you start a new topic and attempt to limit that topic as much as possible while still speaking to your wide and deep concerns. I would be interested in a topic related to epistemology. You will find others who will respond more to morality or metaphysics. I would just ask that you review the prior discussions that have taken place within this message board and see if your concerns have been discussed already (this does not mean that you can not discuss them again with your own viewpoint).

 

Good luck on your spiritual journey,

 

David

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DavidK, The Bible to me is a Holy Book a guide to know oneself and God. I don't see it as a law book so it can be thrown at people. God is not a genie that can be put in one book so only certain people can believe that their religion is superior and everyone else's is inferior. I find that disturbing because "The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going." --Proverbs 14:15 (KJV). Does this make you feel superior that God is with you and everyone else is wrong. I know people have told you this a thousand times and you believe it that your idea is correct and everyone else's is wrong, but "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise." --Proverbs 12:15 (KJV) Learn from everything.

 

It is hard to love with a superior attitude. "Let all that you do be done in love." --1 Corinthians 16:14 (RSV)

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I'm still not sure what DavidK's primary interest may be but if it has to do with Biblical authority I would again suggest looking at prior discussions. For instance, look at "Blinded by Belief" which I think is an excellent exchange started by JosephM.

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Mckenna: If you are not a pluralist, I'm sorry if I misunderstood, but when you quoted Diana Eck, it was implied when she said,"...in a pluralist view, ... we honor the same God..." We abandon morality if we do not decide right from wrong.

 

I don't know if I'm not a pluralist. I think there are a lot of definitions of pluralism floating around this thread so I'm not sure whether I am or not. I believe exactly what I stated above; that I don't think all religions can be factually "right" but that doesn't stop them from providing genuine experiences IMHO.

 

Our Faith is not from some inexplicable religious experience. We would only be fooling ourselves.

 

My faith comes from what I deem religious experiences. And I could be fooling myself. I'm okay with that possibility. I understand that you're not and I'm not trying to convert you to my way of thinking. I'm just trying to explain my POV.

 

It comes from knowing of and understanding an infinite God who is personal with you. That personal God said, Here is my only begotten Son. Because of His sacrifice, neither you nor any fallen "man" need live in guilt. Salvation is yours, believe it because "I" did it for you. If you deny My Son, you will not be Saved. If you follow Jesus, believe it when He said. "No one comes to the Father except by Me."

 

Those are your beliefs; I disagree. But this is not the right thread for theological disagreements :)

 

We could go on ad infinitum discussing all these particular issues. Unless we can come to grips with fundamental (don't be frightened by that word!), universal truths then discussing the particulars will be endless. Indeed we all have a world view (philosophy) and we must decide what it is and where it came from.

 

Yes, and I don't believe any single human being can possibly "come to grips" with universal truths. I don't think the whole of an infinite truth can be grasped by a finite mind. Which is exactly why I believe as I do (see the story about the elephant, above).

 

If given a choice between unreasonble and reasonable answers for these truths, and since everyone here appears reasonable, our choice is obvious, we want reasonable, rationally and logically considered, able to be communicated truths neccesary to answer Mans needs sufficiently and to "...speak with all men, religions, philosophies and sciences about those things... ." SOMA.

 

Of course we want reasonable answers.

 

To understand we should know that the three areas of philosophic thought are what they always have been. The area of "Being", the metaphyical neccesity; then of "Man and his dilemma", that is: the moral neccessity. The third area is "epistemology" or, how do we know that we know, our epistemological neccesity.

Biblical Christianity provides the answers to those areas of question...sufficiently.

 

I run a great risk saying this, but here goes; because Biblical Christianity is the only religion which can answer those questions satisfactorily then that does, in fact, make it the superior religion.

 

I don't know how to "find out why you can so brashly say that" as you commanded me to do below. But needless to say I disagree with you. For one thing I'm not sure any religion really answers the question of epistemology sufficiently (including Christianity). As for meeting the first two criteria I think most religions do a pretty decent job (i.e. Buddhism).

 

Before you blast away, find out why I can so brashly say that.

Can you say any other religion can reasonably provide answers to the three areas? And how?

Illogical, unreasonable leaps of faith will not be accepted. Points will not be counted off for spelling.

 

I'm sorry if you thought I was "blasting away" at you. I really wasn't trying to go on a rant or anything, I just needed a lot of space to explain my views.

 

Though now I'm slightly irritated because I feel you're being condescending. But that's okay, perhaps I came off as condescending earlier, and if so, I apologize.

 

Anyway, I answered your question above. It's not a sufficient answer but maybe you could first explain how your version of Christianity meets all of those requirements. But we are so far off topic...this should probably be addressed in other threads.

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I was reading Wikipedia's article on Hans Kung earlier and I found this. I thought it would be an interesting addition to our discussion on ecumenism and partnership between religions.

 

From the Wikipedia article:

 

Drafted initially by Dr. Hans Küng, in cooperation with the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions staff and Trustees and experts drawing on many of the world's religious and spiritual traditions, Towards a Global Ethic: An Initial Declaration identifies four essential affirmations as shared principles essential to a global ethic.

 

1. Commitment to a culture of non-violence and respect for life

2. Commitment to a culture of solidarity and a just economic order

3. Commitment to a culture of tolerance and a life of truthfulness

4. Commitment to a culture of equal rights and partnership between men and women

 

This Declaration was signed at the Parliament of the World's Religions gathering in 1993 by more than 200 leaders from 40+ different faith traditions and spiritual communities. Since 1993 it has been signed by thousands more leaders and individuals around the world. As such, it established a common ground for people of faith to agree and to cooperate for the good of all.

 

Thoughts? :)

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Thank you for this. Maybe a fragile ecumenical bridge between fundamentalists and progressives? (although equality between women and men may be an issue for some fundamentalists?)

Edited by David

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Thank you for this. Maybe a fragile ecumenical bridge between fundamentalists and progressives? (although equality between women and men may be an issue for some fundamentalists?)

 

Well, obviously fundamentalists and progressives are pretty far apart on the theological spectrum and often the political spectrum as well, so they would interpret the above ideals pretty differently...but I do think that a statement such as this could become the basis for such a bridge, yes. It would take a lot of time, patience, and dialogue to work from there in terms of interpretation. But I think it would be worth it :)

Edited by McKenna

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Some have suggested other threads, and perhaps they are correct for a full theological discussion.

 

The reason I picked this thread was not necessarily to dig too deeply into Christian Philosophy, but to discuss the difficulty ECUMENISM will be. Based on some of the earlier posts, where one seems to claim all faiths may actaully be worshipping the same god but only by different means, while other posts disagree.

Quarrels among churches, among countries, religions and wars would end because we would see that there is only one God uniting us all.
SOMA, Jan 16

I would argue that the ecumenical world should be dominated not by a discussion of unity...especially theological unity...
David, Jan 22.

 

I agree with David. (It does sound like I'm talking to myself) But to move that forward, we must realize there is NO theological unity among the world's religions. This is the crux of the problem. Some Christians have a difficult enough time reaching theological unity (see TCPC posts: "ecumentalism") without trying to reach unity with other religions!

 

We Christians may be fighting exactly the same cause as non-christians (injustice, hunger, et al), but that does not make us allies. At these specific points it makes us "cobelligerants", not allies. We cannot align ourselves with any religion built on a non-christian base. We must realize the difference. We are not an ally in any such camp. We alone stand with Jesus Christ as His Church. That is the true revolution to this world, to all who have turned away from God and His propostional truth.

 

So, if I seem to be saying the same thing as a non-christian, understand I am a cobelligerent on that subject, but I am no ally. One more time, We must never forget that it is only a passing cobelligerancy and not an alliance. If this be "pluralism", I can live with it. Diana Eck misses this point altogether. Or, to use someone elses analogy, If the ocean were True Christian philosophy, (Diana Eck) would barely have the bottom of her feet wet.

 

Your "...equality between women and men may be an issue for some fundamentalists." begs an explanation. More than the progressives elite image of a fundamental snake handler spittin' tobacco while beatin' his wife and havin' sex with his own children conjours up.

 

Another thread is in the works involving all three basic philosophical questions, including the third of epistemology.

 

Soma: Love IS the superior attitude, and God has it. He does not find it hard to love because of His attitude. Since we have been created in the image of God we may have the superior attitude of love, too.

 

How does one follow a guidebook without believing its do's and don'ts? (read: its law) Don't throw it at anyone, but likewise don't throw it out. Considering all the "guidebooks" may be correct and the Bible is only one among many is precisely what Proverbs 14:15 warns us about.

Setting up a false premise to use the other quote from the Bible (Proverbs 12:15) is equally weak. God is a personal God. He is interested in telling you of His desire to be with you in a one to one relationship. I never meant to infer in any way my own superiority, only God's. The Bible, it does claim superiority. All you need to do is merely take God for His word, in His guidebook, the Holy one you claim. The turning point may be when you stop seeking the God YOU want and start seeking the God who IS. Anything else is idolotry. I pray what we speak together may be a dialogue from which God is revealed. I claim no superiority for myself, but God's salvation gift is.

 

Romans 1:20; " For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

 

Mckenna: I am not asking you to believe what I say on my own merit, it will truly be faulty. If one cannot articulate an experience, how can one expect to rely on it at the price of their very soul? We are to rely on God, a personal daily encounter, not an unrepeatable, indescribable "spiritual" experience. Read the Bible and see what it actually says. If then you don't believe the Bible then move on, for you disbelieve the propositional basis for anything Christian. By reading it, I am confident you'll arrive at realizations (and even more questions), you'll be thrilled, you'll cry, you'll learn, you'll know God is speaking to you and you to Him. You'll have the truth to stand on.

 

Cynthia: Christianity will be abused by fallen Man. But, Christianity is different. It is built on the truth, God's son: Jesus. Christianity is the worship of Him, the truth, the life, the way. We can never improve it, because it is already perfect, and we are not (ergo; the abuse) Believe and accept the relationship with God that He is providing for you, through His gift to you, faith in Jesus Christ.

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We Christians may be fighting exactly the same cause as non-christians (injustice, hunger, et al), but that does not make us allies. At these specific points it makes us "cobelligerants", not allies. We cannot align ourselves with any religion built on a non-christian base. We must realize the difference. We are not an ally in any such camp. We alone stand with Jesus Christ as His Church. That is the true revolution to this world, to all who have turned away from God and His propostional truth.

 

So, if I seem to be saying the same thing as a non-christian, understand I am a cobelligerent on that subject, but I am no ally. One more time, We must never forget that it is only a passing cobelligerancy and not an alliance.

 

We can't even be allies with non-Christians??

 

Wow. How can we possibly love our enemies if we can't even consider our friends to be allies?

 

So I guess the next time I volunteer somewhere with my non-religious brother and/or Buddhist mother I should consider them "co-belligerents" rather than allies.

 

Come on. Seriously. The world has enough problems without people refusing to call each other "allies" when they're working on the exact same cause.

 

Setting up a false premise to use the other quote from the Bible (Proverbs 12:15) is equally weak. God is a personal God. He is interested in telling you of His desire to be with you in a one to one relationship. I never meant to infer in any way my own superiority, only God's. The Bible, it does claim superiority. All you need to do is merely take God for His word, in His guidebook, the Holy one you claim. The turning point may be when you stop seeking the God YOU want and start seeking the God who IS. Anything else is idolotry. I pray what we speak together may be a dialogue from which God is revealed. I claim no superiority for myself, but God's salvation gift is.

 

Romans 1:20; " For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

 

Mckenna: I am not asking you to believe what I say on my own merit, it will truly be faulty. If one cannot articulate an experience, how can one expect to rely on it at the price of their very soul? We are to rely on God, a personal daily encounter, not an unrepeatable, indescribable "spiritual" experience. Read the Bible and see what it actually says. If then you don't believe the Bible then move on, for you disbelieve the propositional basis for anything Christian. By reading it, I am confident you'll arrive at realizations (and even more questions), you'll be thrilled, you'll cry, you'll learn, you'll know God is speaking to you and you to Him. You'll have the truth to stand on.

 

You are making an awful lot of assumptions here. I'm pretty sure everyone here has attempted to seek the God Who Is. Just because not everyone comes up with the same answers as you doesn't mean they haven't made an honest effort. That's just plain insulting.

 

I have read the Bible (though admittedly not yet in its entirety), and furthermore I have on several occasions thrown myself on my knees near tears asking God to please reveal to me if He is in fact the God described by conservative Christians, because believe it or not I'm human and I'd love to have that certainty. But the Bible has never given me easy answers, and neither has God those times when I've prayed like that. The times I have heard from God are when I simply focused on my gratitude to Him for the people in my life that I love so much, when I've sat outside admiring His Creation, and when I've focused on some of the words attributed to Jesus, including the Lord's Prayer. And that is why I believe as I do. My beliefs have been shaped by my experiences and I believe God has met me exactly where I needed Him to. Please respect that.

 

I don't think I have shown anything but respect for your point of view. Please let me know if I have insulted you. I ask that you show everyone here the same amount of respect by not insinuating that we have not made a humble, honest attempt to know God.

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Why are people attracted to arrogant, fundamental Christianity and its authoritarian superiority, not a true, loving, spiritual practice? I would say because they do not have to think or make choices, all they have to do is obey and discredit. It is the law of the cult, not the grace of Our Lord. The escape from responsibility comes with all the answers, but no questions. It’s admirable that people here rebel against the tone of us vs. them because it comes from a longing for the most sacred heart of Jesus, relating in peace and compassion to anyone or anything in need. DavidK we don't need control and closed minded fear. We have faith, love and personal relationships with God. My advice is stop believing and thinking of the fear and superiority others feed you and concentrate or contemplate on your personal relationship with Our Lord. Preaching doctrinal militancy is not Christian.

 

2 Corinthians 13:14 "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all."

 

Colossians 3:12 "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;"

 

"..the reason for loving God is God Himself; and the measure of love due to Him is immeasurable…"

 

Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God

 

Unity is based on friendship and love, it is seeking the good of others. Religion is a sharing in the love that the Father gives us through the Son and the Holy Spirit. I suggest finding love with God inorder to learn to love others.

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Beautifully written :)

 

You're Quaker, right? I've always thought the Quakers had a beautiful message and a wonderful way of looking at faith. The only problem for me is I don't think I'd be able to handle the silent worship, I'm too restless :lol: But I'm very glad it works for you!

 

My decision to sit with the Quakers was a hard one and it took a good year or so of introspection. I was a member of the United Methodist Church, but had social differences that I felt were in conflict with my own understandings. My pastor was very supportive and knew that I was searching for a place to Spiritually anchor myself. I finally decided the Quaker Faith & Practice mirrors my own most closely, and that's important for me. The silent worship of the Meetings that I attend is the safest and sanist part of my week. I get to clear my head and be with God, meditate, or just look out of the window at the trees outlined against the sky simply being at peace with myself. There are no distractions, no noises...just a group of Believers who come together every Sunday in order to sit and Believe together for awhile. I often leave Meeting feeling very peaceful, as if I have been reassured. I need that. :)

Edited by Russ

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I am happy that silent communion with God is real and constant throughout the Quaker family. It is natural that God is all embracing, moving, blissful and unrestricted so the path to a genuine relationship with God is freedom, a moment-to-moment responsibility and an intuitive communion with Him/Her. We can meddle, tinker and mean well, but to break up old patterns of thought and behavior, we need to open ourselves to new possibilities. With the highest exercise of our intellect we know the purpose of our existence and can proceed to live intelligently according to it, if we direct our physical and mental activities to God

 

No wonder the Quakers have a peaceful smile and demeanor.

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My decision to sit with the Quakers was a hard one and it took a good year or so of introspection. I was a member of the United Methodist Church, but had social differences that I felt were in conflict with my own understandings. My pastor was very supportive and knew that I was searching for a place to Spiritually anchor myself. I finally decided the Quaker Faith & Practice mirrors my own most closely, and that's important for me. The silent worship of the Meetings that I attend is the safest and sanist part of my week. I get to clear my head and be with God, meditate, or just look out of the window at the trees outlined against the sky simply being at peace with myself. There are no distractions, no noises...just a group of Believers who come together every Sunday in order to sit and Believe together for awhile. I often leave Meeting feeling very peaceful, as if I have been reassured. I need that. :)

 

Thats so great, Russ :) I'm so glad you've found a community that makes you feel so renewed!! :) :) It's great that you were able to follow your heart and find the place that really suited you the best.

 

The Quaker philosophy and outlook really does appeal to me...I definitely should check out a Meeting sometime. Do you know of any good websites where I could find a Meeting near me? :)

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Thats so great, Russ :) I'm so glad you've found a community that makes you feel so renewed!! :) :) It's great that you were able to follow your heart and find the place that really suited you the best. The Quaker philosophy and outlook really does appeal to me...I definitely should check out a Meeting sometime. Do you know of any good websites where I could find a Meeting near me? :)

 

Here's a good website to look thought:

 

http://www.quakerinfo.com/index.shtml

 

And my favorite Quaker bookstore:

 

http://www.quakerbooks.org/

 

There are a few different streams amongst Quakers that have histories based upon disagreements that resulted in splits. The two main groups are the Friends United Meeting and the Friends Geneneral Conference. The FUM have mostly 'programmed' meetings consisting of hymns, music, sermons, etc. and resemble Protestant services. The FGC consists of mostly 'unprogrammed' meetings of silent worship. Of course, affiliation with one or the other doesn't neccessarily indicate the type of worship...My Meeting is affiliated with both organizations and follows the silent worship tradition. So, go figure. :D

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Why are people attracted to arrogant, fundamental Christianity and its authoritarian superiority, not a true, loving, spiritual practice? I would say because they do not have to think or make choices, all they have to do is obey and discredit. It is the law of the cult, not the grace of Our Lord. The escape from responsibility comes with all the answers, but no questions. It’s admirable that people here rebel against the tone of us vs. them because it comes from a longing for the most sacred heart of Jesus, relating in peace and compassion to anyone or anything in need. DavidK we don't need control and closed minded fear. We have faith, love and personal relationships with God. My advice is stop believing and thinking of the fear and superiority others feed you and concentrate or contemplate on your personal relationship with Our Lord. Preaching doctrinal militancy is not Christian.

 

Dear SOMA,

 

There is, of course, a lot of truth in what you have said here. I might have totally agreed with you at one time.

 

But I think the appeal of "arrogant, fundamental Christianity" goes deeper than that.

 

I think it's a spell cast by the "world ruler" or the Domination System" as Walter Wink describes it so well. A good summary of Wink's amazing scholarship on the principalites and powers is at http://www.bridges-across.org/ba/vr_confront.htm

 

People under this spell have found a lot of fellowship and joy and meaning in the community of "arrogant, fundamental Christianity" but are still, down deep, pragmatic and kind and gentle people.

 

This morning there is great hope in America and on the planet as the GOP electorate has said NO to the plutocracy of both the Rigid Ideology camp and the Religious Right. I believe deep in my heart that the spell has been broken.

 

We have been a sick nation in need of healing. The growing power of the Religious Right is a symptom but not the cause of our sickness. It goes deeper than that.

 

The GOP electorate has rejected both the Religious Right and rigid ideology. This is really Good News for America and for the planet.

 

Both camps, the Religious Right and the Rigid Ideologists, are in turmoil as they see their era of domination come to an end. Obviously, a Democratic victory in November would be a knock out blow over both camps but McCain, a centrist and a pragmatist would be still be a huge change. The CheneyBushRove plutocratic era is over!

 

Other plutocrats will still find many ways to thwart the will of the people in the new era which has now begun but at least one of the beasts has been slain. I am talking about demons, the principalities and powers, the "world ruler." (see John 12:31)

 

If Romney somehow wins next Tuesday and somehow wins in November, then forget everything I just said. Romney is CheneyBushRove all dressed up as an olympic god! He is down but not out. The Domination System is still hoping he can win but is now turning to McCain and both tempting him and intimidating him. Read Luke 4:1-13. The plutocrats are also using these tried and true practices of those who would keep their privileged status in tact on Clinton & Obama.

 

IOW, those of us who are on the side of God's “new heaven and new earth” (see Revelation 21:1-4) have our work cut out for us no matter who wins in November. But we can still celebrate the victory of love and justice which we have already won over those demons which gave us CheneyBushRove.

 

love, john + www.abundancetrek.com & www.abundancetrek.com/blog + "The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, humankind will have discovered fire." -- Teilhard de Chardin

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Soma:

... fundamental Christianity and its authoritarian superiority,...

 

You've got authoritarian and authoritative confused. Please, be careful. It reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live skit with Gilda Radner (Roseanne Roseannadanna). She'd take off on a tangent completely disconnected from the subject at hand. Hilarious!

 

When you say "intuition", do you mean: coming to direct knowledge or certainty without reasoning. Or do you mean; immediate cognizance and conviction without rational thought; or, the power or faculty to attaining direct knowledge or cognition without rational thought and inference; or a leap of faith?

 

McKenna: I hoped you would understand what I meant when I said "cobelligerents" as opposed to "allies". I realize there may be some confusion. "Cobelligerent" is not a negative term. It is to mean we can cooperate on a specific cause. But, since we (differing faiths) have different foundational bases for our position, even if we agree on the position, we cannot be considered an ally. I hope you might take this opportunity to do a search on each word. It should relieve your concerns.

 

Your personal search for God is seen by God. He will not turn away from those who seek Him.

The experiences, to which I refer, is used by some to mean a "final" experience; that is, an experience so big that it gives you a "certainty and hope of meaning" but one that requires a leap of faith, separated from the rational, with no way to communicate its content to yourself or others; an irrational optimism with a rational pessimism. I know that is confusing. I'm trying to summerize what can be a long philosophical study from Aquinas to Sartre to Rousseau to Kant to ....

 

We know there is something wonderful about Man; we are made in the image of God. Man has value because of who we were originally. There is hope.

 

Ask yourself this intellectual question; whether Christ has come in the flesh. This is a question of reason not emotion. It is really two questions: whether Christ had an existence before incarnation and whether the incarnation took place.

 

The New Testament itself advises we strain through the grid of reasoning everything that comes through our minds. It is time for the church of Jesus Christ, as a true revolutionary force, to insist that there is truth, and it is possible that we can know it.

 

Mystictrek: Both American political parties are abandoning the Christian basis for our laws and existence. The Left abandoned it nearly 80 years ago while the Right took a decade or two longer. Now the only thing Christian in either one is just a vague memory. The 1970's Silent Majority's majority are now no longer believing Christians. So, the problem becomes: If our citizens are not given the material affluence they consider to be their "right", there will be much pressure to form some elite or totalitarian gov't, which the Left is poised to present.

 

And you're fooling no one when you intimate the plutocrats only inhabit the Repub's. The list on both sides is long.

 

Our job as Christians is to insure Christianity not be identified as either Democrat nor Republican, Liberal nor Conservative.(remember: allies/ cobelligerents) We should not allow Christianity to be caught in that trap.

 

Now "...arrogant, fundamental christianity,..." ? Fundamentally, fundamental Christianity cannot be arrogant. You may find individuals arrogant, and you may even find some groups arrogant; but fundamental Christianity is not. No organization can run from them, but to broadstroke orthodox Christians based on edited media accounts and bad experiences, the shame is on you. Release your fear and hatred of your fellow man. Where's the love? Put the "fun" back in fundamental!

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