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Ecumentalism

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Everything is interconnected, interrelated and interdependent, and we are an integrated part of this whole. As humans we are in a unique position. We are at a crossroads between matter and the all-pervading consciousness of God, between a material form and a spiritual form. As humans our mental concepts can affect, enhance and direct us to a relationship with ourselves, our neighbors, our world, and to our Creator; or they can also be destructive to our welfare. They can disconnect, dissociate and confuse us; or they can expand our consciousness and unify us with all life.

By expressing wholeness and conforming to our nature we express love. Love is expressed in the universe as unity because beings move toward each other communicating with their loved ones internally. It is an expression of God, a kind of echo and is universal.

 

Conservative, fundamental Christian men and women are blocked along the way from the fun by their fears, superstitions and other unseen obstacles. They are afraid to love and be open to love and we can see these same superstitions blocking men and women come from the con in conservative ideaology. Today, we see people forming "me-them" relationships and defining the other person or organization as an unbeliever and themselves as the anoited one. This is done to justify being superior, but it doesn't present the mind with the extraordinary attitude of love.

 

Mystictrek you are right about the good Christians who are starting to see the light and feel the love and leaving the right wing propaganda. The love inside will guide them to love and away from the salesmen selling plots in heaven at the expense of their soul.

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Here's a good website to look thought:

 

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

 

And my favorite Quaker bookstore:

 

http://www.quakerbooks.org/

 

Great, thank you so much!! :)

 

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

 

Haha, that's funny about your Meeting having affiliations with both :) I've heard that programmed Meetings are more common in the Midwest, while traditional unprogrammed Meetings are more typical in the East? I guess it would depend from Meeting to Meeting though :D

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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.

 

Actually, I did understand what you meant, thanks. I know that you meant nothing negative from the term "cobelligerent." What I reject is your refusal to consider non-Christians "allies." I see absolutely no reason not to ally with non-Christians as I know and love many (not to mention that I am a non-Christian in the view of many Christians; and in that case I would like to be considered an ally of the people I know and love who are considered Christians). I try not to draw distinctions between people on the basis of religion - "You're Christian so you're my ally, but you're Jewish so you're just a cobelligerent." I honestly don't know why you feel the need to make this distinction - I really don't think it's at all constructive or helpful in the causes we are teaming up to fight - and that is why I took issue with your statement.

 

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

 

Thank you for acknowledging that. :)

 

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 ....

 

Well, I just finished a course in philosophy, so I know what you're talking about (although I'm not sure why you mentioned Sartre, an atheist?). However, I see nothing in that philosophy - that "leap of faith," that "final" experience - that would keep non-Christians from experiencing it. This is a point on which we simply disagree and I don't really see the point of continuing to debate about it, since we're just sort of repeating the same thing over and over again in different ways.

 

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.

 

I do believe Christ has come in the flesh. But to me that's not an exclusive claim. I personally see Christ as the greatest revelation of God but that's because he speaks to me. To me it doesn't make sense to insist on Christianity as the sole bearer of truth, and a major reason for this is - what about the people that lived before Christ? Or that lived after him and never heard of him? Or that live in cultures where their own religion is embedded in their traditions? I believe God has revealed Himself in many ways and I refuse to put Him in any box, including that of Christianity.

 

Again, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree. :)

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The "leap of faith " requires no reasonable argument or evidence, only some undefinable upper consciousness, trance or something. Since we agree we are to seek reasonable answers, how could anyone abandon us to believe in a leap of faith? Some theologians have been using that term against "fundamentalists", even using 'superstitious', for years, all the while leaping around themselves. It didn't help any when 'fundamentalists' failed to answer real questions with "I don't know, I just believe" and the liberals said "I don't know, just expand your consciousness'. It's the same answer!

Answering questions that way caused an exodus of people searching for the truth. The 'church' failed 'us'. Jesus was still there but 'we' left Him for our independence and affluence mixed with the useless comfort of meaningless 'God' words liberally sprinkled in foriegn religions and pathetic denominations. Some churches are coming to grips with this are are now being proactive on how do we reason with this and the coming generation about the truth of our being, morality, and knowledge.

 

When any philosopher (Sartre, De Sade, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Kopper, Polanyi, et al) speaks a truth he neccessarily needs to be mentioned. In reference to Sartre, he said that the basic philosophic question is that something is there, rather than nothing is there.

 

As humans our mental concepts...can expand our consciousness and unify us with all life

 

I agree with SOMA on the premise that there is unity. The point of disagreement is how. We are unified not by our own concepts, (Humanistic and man-centered), but by our being created by an infinite-personal God (Christian and God-centered). To answer Man's need further, we should realize not just the unity, but the great diversity of creation. For unity without diversity leaves no meaning for freedom, or significance, or morals, or variance since everything is finally boiled down to equality. Unity without diversity ignores love, personal relationships, and a personal-infinite-creator God. Again, only Christianity has the answer.

 

Christianity exposes to the world who God is, no other faith adequately can. Unless another religion claims Christ as having come in the flesh, then yes, incontrovertably, Christianity stands alone as the truth. It doesn't 'hide' Him in a box. I'm not even certain what that means? How does one have the audacity to say "I refuse to put God in a box"? Surely one cannot be of the opinion that one could?

 

Jesus came along at a certain place in time and space history. Those who came before had a different qualification for salvation than we, the Law. Others who never heard of Jesus still have observed what Romans 1:20 says. God is trustworthy. God does reveal himself in many ways, but only as Himself, not as another. He has no reason to deceive.

 

Allow me: If I and a Muslim see a family needing food, we can both feed the family. We are cobelligerents, or to further illustrate, we are 'allied' (rather than 'an ally', which conotes a very broad basis for agreement) at only that one point in space and time. With my being a Christian and his being Muslim, we are not allies, even though we may be 'allied' at that one point in time and space. Neither faith would accept it, the differences are too great. We can be cobelligerents (allied) with even our worst enemies without being allies. There is no dishonor on either party in being cobelligerents. It means we can stand uncompromisingly in our belief. That's one way we share our faith.

 

Christ's claims are the epitomy of undeniable exclusivity. Anything else denies Him for whom He said He was.

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KDavid, We are united in the joy of Our Lord.

 

Psalms 133:1 - A Song of Ascents. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

 

1 Peter 3:8 - Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind.

 

In unity we celebrate diversity. The advantages are:

 

efficient and effective personal and interpersonal communication

team work

increased creativity and innovation

more enhanced problem solving

overall well being.

higher morale.

wider talent pool

satisfaction.

positive community image

 

With these advantages pluralism is not bad, but good.

 

The pluralism in the Bible must be be taken seriously. The different views in it keep us discussing the Bible and keeps us humble, knowing that we do not have a corner on all the truth. Some Christian traditions may emphasize some aspects of our biblical heritage more than others, but they are only partial. The Bible has many diverse viewpoints, we can no longer have the arrogance of claiming we have the whole truth and others do not. We can't wait for others to tell us the answers, the Bible is for discussion, we must actively seek the answers in the Bible. If we do this we will learn, grow and accept others growth too without condemnation. In this way we will be attentive to the Spirit and not the words or laws to put others down. The Bible tell us that no one way of perceiving God is complete and final. It says there is no one understanding of how God relates to us. It is all-inclusive because there is not just one way to be faithful to God. If a person can only worship in one way I would say that person is not worshiping God.

Edited by soma

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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 :)

I’m wondering about that fragile ecumenical bridge. One of my reactions is that this seems to be a bridge based upon principles that could be the mission of any good civic or political organization. Another reaction is that some Progressives may limit expectations within religious groups to these goals designed for ecumenism.

 

This reminds me of my history with the Unitarian Universalists who “on paper” attempt to be perhaps the most “inclusive” religious group in town while almost always being the smallest group in town. I think the UU Principles could be used by ecumenical groups as a “mission statement” for ecumenical dialogue. There is no demand for theological unity. However, the “real” UU world shows a lack of theology within the stated goal of searching for truth. So the goal is a great ecumenical goal but a lousy goal for a religious denomination. Accepting different paths to the top of the mountain is a great ecumenical goal but not offering any path to follow is a lousy goal for a religious denomination.

 

I think there is a tendency in the UU world to be that “generic pluralist” that Diana Eck says is not possible (there can be Christian pluralists, Hindu pluralists,etc but not “generic pluralists”). A “generic pluralist” has nothing to bring to the ecumenical table if those around the religious table already accept pluralism. This can not be the center of a faith journey. The UU world is focused on process. The focus on process can tend towards the “lowest common denominator” of being a good neighbor or the “highest common denominator” of pluralism based upon an understanding of the Divine as One. The UU world has however rejected any theological foundation as being too divisive and is all about process which probably is more political than religious. That is not unimportant. It is important that we learn to be good neighbors, but that is not the foundation of a faith journey. Theological unity should not be the goal for ecumenism but theology is certainly the foundation of any religious community. Ecumenism is probably more political than religious. But a community without theology is not religious and would have no reason to be at the ecumenical table.

 

Having said this, there are a great many UU people with solid religious foundations that may end up in the UU world because there is no other place to go. Depending on the UU group however they may be frustrated by the predominance of the political/process discussion and the lack of religious experience. Certainly, they are handicapped in any ecumenical discussion because they can only really speak for themselves after the process or “bridge” is established. Many persons who call themselves Progressive Christians may hope for no more than good process so they can speak for themselves. I think those people should take a good look at the world of UU and then start to think of different ways of “being together” so we can contribute religious content as well as political process to the ecumenical dialogue. I would hope that Progressive Christians would internally develop a progressive theological foundation and then ecumenically work for that "highest common denominator" of pluralism based upon an understanding of the Divine as One.

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...we must actively seek the answers in the Bible.

 

 

To be specific on the word 'pluralism'. Do you intend it to mean that: there is more than one kind of ultimate reality; or, more than one independent spiritual entity (dualism as opposed to monism)? Or, the concept of diverse autonomous ethnic or religious groups participating to develop their own culture within the confines of a common civilization?

 

In any case, I'd like to address "diverse viewpoints". While there certainly was a diversity of individuals, their viewpoints all pointed in very a non-diverse way. It is because of this we may seek, and find, answers from the Bible. If the viewpoints went in all directions, no answers could be possible. We presumably agree the Bible provides answers. In other words, the truth. If it holds the truth we may have confidence in its reliability. If it's reliable, we can depend on its propositional statements. If its propositions are dependable we can trust it. If it is trustworthy, we can believe it. Therefore, we can have that final experience that can be communicated, rationally discussed, and based on God's written propositional communication to us, and on the finished work of Jesus Christ in actual history.

 

Some believe, beginning with our own viewpoint, each of us drawing a circle to encompass all thoughts of life and life itself, not departing from the hard logic of antithesis, believing on our own, rationalistically, that a finite people could find a unity within the total of complexity (diversity), an adequate explanation for the whole of reality. Each person drawing a circle. Each circle destroyed by the next. It was before the 1800's, philosophers concluded, they were not going to find a unified, rationalistic, circle in which they could live. So, they shifted the meaning of truth to pragmatic relativism. Discarding absolute truths and hard logic, everything was now a 'synthesis' (Hegel). That was a forerunner to dialectical thinking, crucial to Marxism. Well, since this synthesis could not be arrived at by reason. Another shift was required. Kierkegaard (1813-1855) led to the concept of the total separation of the rational and faith ( the leap of faith). Modern existential thinking, theological and secular, was born.

---------------------------

I am convinced many have had a true experience. For sure something certainly happened. Since God created a real external world that exists, and us to experience it, we will. An experience with the reality of the real external world and the uniqueness of man. Because God created man that way, in His own image, to be able to experience the real world and our uniqueness. The experience is of something which exists, it is not nothing, nor is it God. But the world God made. They may have, for a fleeting moment, touched the existence of the true personality in their love, but it is not God. It is the objective reality of the God created world, the way He wanted you to experience it and know who He is.

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Christianity exposes to the world who God is, no other faith adequately can. Unless another religion claims Christ as having come in the flesh, then yes, incontrovertably, Christianity stands alone as the truth. It doesn't 'hide' Him in a box. I'm not even certain what that means? How does one have the audacity to say "I refuse to put God in a box"? Surely one cannot be of the opinion that one could?

 

I think you know what I meant. I didn't mean I could literally put God into a box. I meant that I try to avoid turning my beliefs into reality. In other words I can stick labels onto my experiences of God and such but I try never to confine God to those labels. I have to always remember that God is bigger than my experiences and bigger than my words. That's one reason why I don't want to limit God to any certain religion.

 

Jesus came along at a certain place in time and space history. Those who came before had a different qualification for salvation than we, the Law. Others who never heard of Jesus still have observed what Romans 1:20 says. God is trustworthy. God does reveal himself in many ways, but only as Himself, not as another. He has no reason to deceive.

 

I never said God deceived. I just don't think you or anybody else has a monopoly on what revelations of God are true (and yes, I know you never claimed this, at least not directly). I don't know why the Hebrew and Christian scriptures should be trusted as true Revelations of God but not, for example, the Hindu scriptures. For myself, I really don't know what can be considered a "true" Revelation and so I choose to simply try to respect others' beliefs and search for the Revelations that speak to me.

 

Allow me: If I and a Muslim see a family needing food, we can both feed the family. We are cobelligerents, or to further illustrate, we are 'allied' (rather than 'an ally', which conotes a very broad basis for agreement) at only that one point in space and time. With my being a Christian and his being Muslim, we are not allies, even though we may be 'allied' at that one point in time and space. Neither faith would accept it, the differences are too great. We can be cobelligerents (allied) with even our worst enemies without being allies. There is no dishonor on either party in being cobelligerents. It means we can stand uncompromisingly in our belief. That's one way we share our faith.

 

Okay, whatever. It's just semantics I suppose.

 

Christ's claims are the epitomy of undeniable exclusivity. Anything else denies Him for whom He said He was.

 

I guess that depends on one's readings of Scripture. You, I assume, read the Gospels as recording exactly what Jesus said and did. I read them as recording things that Jesus said and did as well as things that were indicative of the early community's experiences of him and thus not necessarily factual, though still true in a metaphorical sense. I think the Gospel of John in particular is not meant to be a historical record but rather a record of how the early Church experienced Jesus.

 

Anyway, I don't really want to get into an argument about interpretation of Scripture (at least not on this thread), but I just wanted to explain my POV.

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I’m wondering about that fragile ecumenical bridge. One of my reactions is that this seems to be a bridge based upon principles that could be the mission of any good civic or political organization. Another reaction is that some Progressives may limit expectations within religious groups to these goals designed for ecumenism.

 

This reminds me of my history with the Unitarian Universalists who “on paper” attempt to be perhaps the most “inclusive” religious group in town while almost always being the smallest group in town. I think the UU Principles could be used by ecumenical groups as a “mission statement” for ecumenical dialogue. There is no demand for theological unity. However, the “real” UU world shows a lack of theology within the stated goal of searching for truth. So the goal is a great ecumenical goal but a lousy goal for a religious denomination. Accepting different paths to the top of the mountain is a great ecumenical goal but not offering any path to follow is a lousy goal for a religious denomination.

 

I think there is a tendency in the UU world to be that “generic pluralist” that Diana Eck says is not possible (there can be Christian pluralists, Hindu pluralists,etc but not “generic pluralists”). A “generic pluralist” has nothing to bring to the ecumenical table if those around the religious table already accept pluralism. This can not be the center of a faith journey. The UU world is focused on process. The focus on process can tend towards the “lowest common denominator” of being a good neighbor or the “highest common denominator” of pluralism based upon an understanding of the Divine as One. The UU world has however rejected any theological foundation as being too divisive and is all about process which probably is more political than religious. That is not unimportant. It is important that we learn to be good neighbors, but that is not the foundation of a faith journey. Theological unity should not be the goal for ecumenism but theology is certainly the foundation of any religious community. Ecumenism is probably more political than religious. But a community without theology is not religious and would have no reason to be at the ecumenical table.

 

As someone who attends a UU church, I know what you mean. There is almost too much pluralism - to the point that at many churches (such as mine) the minister is hesitant to talk about God, even in an inclusive sense. I like the idea of UU but I think when you throw even the God-concept out the window as "too divisive" (as you put it) you really do lose the basis for theology and sort of wind up not really satisfying anyone's spiritual needs.

 

Having said this, there are a great many UU people with solid religious foundations that may end up in the UU world because there is no other place to go. Depending on the UU group however they may be frustrated by the predominance of the political/process discussion and the lack of religious experience. Certainly, they are handicapped in any ecumenical discussion because they can only really speak for themselves after the process or “bridge” is established.

 

That describes me exactly :) I am a bit frustrated with what I see as little real spirituality. I'm moving next fall and when I get to my new location I'm going to look around for a liberal/progressive Christian church, where at least I know God will be mentioned!!

 

Many persons who call themselves Progressive Christians may hope for no more than good process so they can speak for themselves. I think those people should take a good look at the world of UU and then start to think of different ways of “being together” so we can contribute religious content as well as political process to the ecumenical dialogue. I would hope that Progressive Christians would internally develop a progressive theological foundation and then ecumenically work for that "highest common denominator" of pluralism based upon an understanding of the Divine as One.

 

That makes sense to me.

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In any case, I'd like to address "diverse viewpoints". While there certainly was a diversity of individuals, their viewpoints all pointed in very a non-diverse way.

 

I disagree. What about the wisdom traditions? Job + Ecclesiastes vs. Proverbs? Or the priestly tradition (with its emphasis on cleanliness and purity) vs. the prophetic tradition (with its emphasis on caring for the poor)?

 

I see diverse viewpoints in the Bible. And I see that as one of its strengths! :)

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That describes me exactly :) I am a bit frustrated with what I see as little real spirituality. I'm moving next fall and when I get to my new location I'm going to look around for a liberal/progressive Christian church, where at least I know God will be mentioned!!

I also am planning to eventually move in part based upon the ability to go to church. In the meantime I am stuck in the California valley "bible belt". I hope we are a part of the "demand" that will increase the "supply" of progressive churches. I forgot you were UU but then I saw again your John Murray quote. I graduated from Starr King but really took most of my course work elsewhere on holy hill. I will always be UU "in part" and hope that my criticisms are accepted as coming from someone who has been blessed by much within the UU world.

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In the effort to bring Christians into ecumenical unity:

I hope I didn't step on any toes with the 'box'. I tried phrasing it to describe my not understanding what was meant. And understanding even less after, "I try to avoid turning my beliefs into reality." I am straining to understand your language. Help me here; it sounds as if God is only a construct of our collective imagination.

Hinduism is pantheism and cannot stand up to rational scrutiny.

How do those books not point toward a personal-infinite God and our relationship with Him. Do those traditions not point to an infinite-personal God?

Semantics is the study of meanings.

 

In your search for true revelation, consider the following:

 

In modern theology and to modern man, the very concept of a propositional revelation or the Christian's view of infallability, or sin and guilt, in any real moral sense is meaningless. But there's 2 ways to consider propositional (objective declaration or statement) revelation and infallability. The first to consider is our presupposition and whether or not it is proper and adequate.

 

The Christian presupposition is that there was a personal beginning for all things; someone has been there, made all the rest, and he was big enough (infinite).

Now if that's the case, everything else would be limited in contrast. But suppose this limited thing he made was on his own wave length, say-in his own image- then there would be an infinite, non-created Personal and a limited-created personal. Based on this, the personality of the limited, created personal would be explained.

Based on the same presupposition, why couldn't the non-created Personal communicate to the created personal if he wished? And of course the non-created, infinite, Personal could not exhaust himself in his communication to the finite, created personal.

 

Two things:

1. Because the communication is not exhaustive does not mean it is not true, unless the non-created Personal is a liar. The communication between created personals would not have to be qualitatively any different.

2. If the non-created Personal cared for the created personal, it would not be unexpected for him to tell the created personal things of a propositional nature; otherwise, being finite, the created personal would have many things he would not know if he had to begin with himself.

 

In this case, there is no reason why the non-created Personal could communicate vaguely true things, but could not communicate propositional truth concerning the world around the created personal. We'll call that science. Or why he could not communicate propositional truth about the sequence that followed his making everything. Call it history. The communication would not be exhaustive, but there is no reason it would not be true.

If the non-created Personal wished to pass these communications through individual created personalities so they could write the exact things the non-created Personal wanted whether in religious truth or the cosmos or history, it would be pretty hard to make an absolute and say he could not, or would not!

 

Next: The verbalized communication.

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DavidK

 

I hope this is not your attempt at epistemology. I also wish that you would start another subject since I do not see how this relates to ecumenism.

 

But just briefly: You seem to be attempting to claim something “objective” and “non-created” based upon a “super being” that created. There is no epistemological basis to support a division between the “created” and the “uncreated”. Liberals/Progressives declared such a “super being” dead some time ago. Perhaps you did not get the Time magazine.

 

The “objective/subjective” epistemological discussion is more complicated but your epistemology appears to be a deductive approach starting with an incorrect assumption (the presence of an “uncreated’ super being). If that is the case our discussion obviously is not going to be very long. Again, however if you want to talk epistemology please start a new subject.

 

David

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In the effort to bring Christians into ecumenical unity:

I hope I didn't step on any toes with the 'box'. I tried phrasing it to describe my not understanding what was meant. And understanding even less after, "I try to avoid turning my beliefs into reality." I am straining to understand your language. Help me here; it sounds as if God is only a construct of our collective imagination.

 

No, I don't believe He is, which is exactly my point. I guess I'm not describing it very well. What I'm trying to say is that I have concepts about God, and these concepts help me to understand and relate to God, but there's no reason for me to absolutize my concepts and pretend that they are actually descriptive of the whole reality of God. That is what I mean when I say that God is bigger than my experiences and bigger than my words.

 

How do those books not point toward a personal-infinite God and our relationship with Him. Do those traditions not point to an infinite-personal God?

 

Well, I never said they disagreed about that. ??? I have no clue what your point is.

 

Semantics is the study of meanings.

 

Okay...

 

If the non-created Personal wished to pass these communications through individual created personalities so they could write the exact things the non-created Personal wanted whether in religious truth or the cosmos or history, it would be pretty hard to make an absolute and say he could not, or would not!

 

Have you heard me say absolutely that He could not or would not?? I merely have no reason to believe one claim of Revelation over any other, other than what is confirmed by my own experiences, and even then I have no reason to absolutize my experiences, as I stated above. Thus, while I do not believe, for example, that the Book of Mormon is a true Revelation of God, because my experiences have taught me otherwise, I have no way to prove that it is not and thus I must respect the Mormon faith. Which I think I stated a long time ago.

 

I really feel like I'm just saying the same thing over and over again... :unsure:

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I also am planning to eventually move in part based upon the ability to go to church. In the meantime I am stuck in the California valley "bible belt". I hope we are a part of the "demand" that will increase the "supply" of progressive churches. I forgot you were UU but then I saw again your John Murray quote. I graduated from Starr King but really took most of my course work elsewhere on holy hill. I will always be UU "in part" and hope that my criticisms are accepted as coming from someone who has been blessed by much within the UU world.

 

Oh I hope you don't think you offended me! Absolutely not, I definitely understand where you're coming from, and I'm in the same boat (although I've been a UU for a much shorter time than you have, if you went to a UU seminary!! I've only attended a UU church for a little over 2 years :)) - I love UU, and it will always have a place in my heart, but I may at this point be ready to move on (it'll depend what the churches are like where I move to), because I really need someplace that will feed my soul a bit more.

 

Anyway, this was a bit of a tangent, but I agree with you about the problems with UU's version of ecumenism. :D

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David:

Time did ask the question in 1966 (yes, I read it. I saw it when it hit the stands). I don't recall that it ever used the term "super-being". That is probably an individual 'interpretation'.

I don't believe there has ever been any 'ecumenical' agreement that God is dead, since it comes from such an reasonable position. Although it may seem reasonable when the church (not Church) had such a hand in misrepresenting Christianity by not discussing legitimate questions. The contemporary churches still do not adequately answer questions the way current generations can understand. They're still discussing issues from 50 years ago the current generations have no memory of.

 

I was presenting a presupposition under the assumption you believed in God. From there the Christian presuppositions would be reasonable.

Now I know a personal-infinite God or a propositional revelation or the Christian's view of infallability, or sin and guilt, in any real moral sense is meaningless to you.

How do your presuppositions differ? Could we find an ecumenical 'common ground' in those?

Not believing in God would generally bash any hope of ecumenism in the Christian community, even though you posted that you assumed a religious content was essential for the ecumental effort.

 

Soma believes everything is God. Mckenna seems to know God exists as well as Cynthia. Russ thinks God exists even though he believes trying to understand your faith may actually cause you to lose it.

 

DAVID, Jan 26.

... a community without theology is not religious and would have no reason to be at the ecumenical table.
...so we can contribute religious content as well as political process to the ecumenical dialogue.

 

Based, on these quotes are there any reasons reaching for a unified theological position cannot be discussed here? If there is no unified Christian position shall we have to abandon ecumenalism? If we can unify, should we consider evangelism instead?

 

Mckenna: :unsure: You and I seem have a lot in common in the journey toward God. It's tough trying to put into one liners my love toward anyone opening their heart the way you do. I understand your desire to communicate your love and demonstrate compassion toward others in their individual need. Sometimes (a lot of times) I can be too literal and that can frustrate even the most angelic of personalities. You've been kind in being persistent with me. I thank you as you teach me to really make an effort to be more compassionate.

 

This: "...it would be pretty hard to make an absolute and say he could not, or would not!" was making a declarative point and was not about anything you may have said.

 

I only want to communicate that there is reasonble explanation for how you can know your concepts of God are based on truth, an abolute truth. You know there is a God, and He wants you to know why you know. Let's reason it out together.

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DavidK

 

Apparently I’m not going to get you to move this to a separate subject. It’s like trying to move liberals which is like herding cats.

 

From an epistemological point of view I wanted you to see that all of your logic and reason is deductively based upon a very major assumption that theologically has been challenged for quite some time. Your response is typical from the fundamentalist side. You have assumed that since I do not agree with your definition of God that I do not have any position in Christianity. I reject that. It is an illogical position. You can not define God based upon no epistemological basis and then say that you know that I have no position.

 

From an ecumenical point of view you have taken the “exclusivist” position as described by Diana Eck. I think that many liberals/progressives take the “inclusivist” position and would respond to you that you are included in the oneness of God but you just don’t see it yet. I think from an ecumenical point of view that pluralism is a better alternative. However, it is very hard for an “exclusivist” to say on the one hand that they have the only correct vision of God and at the same time say that God is beyond anyone’s full comprehension and therefore it is possible to have a wide variety of visions (the pluralist position). So it really is up to you how to limit ecumenism. As I stated before we can do much in the name of Christianity if we accept pluralism. However, if you exclude me then we will try to do the best we can without you.

 

David

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I certainly know the challenges. But, how do challenges to a theology necessarily invalidate it? Are you challenging the idea of an infinite-Personal God? (that does not mean one just for me that excludes everyone else, but a God who created everything and is personal and has character and is big enough). If that's the challenge, with what do you counter?

 

IF God is a Personal God, the presuppositions I expounded upon must be considered reasonable? If he is not a personal God, then of course, they would not. Where do you position yourself?

 

I would very much like to hear from you in more specific terms of who/what you think God is and what presuppositions you hold that would explain man and his aspirations, morality, and meaning. How do you explain man's nobility and yet his cruelty? How does existence exist? Can man fight injustice without fighting God? Why? How do we determine right from wrong? In epistemology the greatest problem is in what area? What gives meaning to all the individual things we see in the world (all the particular bits)? Are we machines, or just one bit in the whole with no meaning or freedom? Why not? Do you agree or disagree that whatever is is right? Why? Do you believe Christ came in the flesh? Why or why not?

 

Do you consider these questions 'fundamentalist'? I can neither agree nor disagree with your definition of God. I have no idea what is. I know we agree about herding cats! No one will answer my earlier questons about intuition or pluralism. (posts #50 & 57)

 

I hear criticisms but 'where's the beef?'

 

 

 

k

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As I noted before David, your concerns are wide and deep. I really do wish you well as you continue to work out your spiritual journey. I admire you for coming here to a progressive place and attempting to communicate.

 

I do not want to “invalidate” your theology. I did want to challenge your epistemology as it relates to your theology. Certainly if one agrees with your definition of God then you appear to have the ability to make reasonable deductive conclusions. However that is like saying that if one believes in Santa Claus then one can reasonably expect to see presents at Christmas.

 

I really do not want to get into a whole theological discussion with you. Others are better at doing progressive theology. Marcus Borg comes pretty close to my thinking. And I would recommend that everyone look for FredP postings on this message board (where are you FredP?). My main interests are ecclesiology and epistemology. Maybe others will want to speak to your theological questions.

 

If you want to explore epistemology more could you consider starting a new conversation thread?

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Mckenna: :unsure: You and I seem have a lot in common in the journey toward God. It's tough trying to put into one liners my love toward anyone opening their heart the way you do. I understand your desire to communicate your love and demonstrate compassion toward others in their individual need. Sometimes (a lot of times) I can be too literal and that can frustrate even the most angelic of personalities. You've been kind in being persistent with me. I thank you as you teach me to really make an effort to be more compassionate.

 

Aw, now I feel bad, because I was beginning to get frustrated as well. Thank you for the kind words. I apologize for getting exasperated (it's something I need to work on) and I wish you the best. God bless!

 

This: "...it would be pretty hard to make an absolute and say he could not, or would not!" was making a declarative point and was not about anything you may have said.

 

:( I apologize for leaping to conclusions and reading you incorrectly!

 

Apparently I’m not going to get you to move this to a separate subject. It’s like trying to move liberals which is like herding cats.

 

This made me laugh! Having spent a lot of time with liberals (and cats!) and being one myself (a liberal, not a cat :lol: ) I definitely know what you mean :D

 

I think this made my day :)

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It's a fascinating exercise to ask questions regarding ones faith and I certainly enjoy the contrarian side in a debate. Many struggle with the positions I may take as they work out their defenses, finding out why they believe as they do and becoming strong enough to change when the truth cannot be avoided. I try to encourage people to reason out their faith to find answers they can actually live with by helping them understand the world they actually occupy.

 

Borg is prolific, but he's an easy mark and fredP will neither fail to be an interesting encounter.

If you've the strength, I may challenge you on an epistemological thread! (This is one corraled cat, does that make me liberal or fundamental?)

 

------------------

To conclude, ponder this:

Ecumenism will be a tough sell. Many faithful to their faith will never stand still for a universal ecumenical movement which they feel compromises their beliefs. It seems too many in the world's ecumenical movement have articulated a compromise (can't we all just get along?) that would establish a pseudo 'one world religion'. Should Christians reasonably avoid this movement... or not?

 

 

John 7:24; "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."

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I would very much like to hear from you in more specific terms of who/what you think God is and what presuppositions you hold that would explain man and his aspirations, morality, and meaning. How do you explain man's nobility and yet his cruelty? How does existence exist? Can man fight injustice without fighting God? Why? How do we determine right from wrong? In epistemology the greatest problem is in what area? What gives meaning to all the individual things we see in the world (all the particular bits)? Are we machines, or just one bit in the whole with no meaning or freedom? Why not? Do you agree or disagree that whatever is is right? Why? Do you believe Christ came in the flesh? Why or why not?

 

Wow. What a list of questions.

 

Many of these questions have been raised before and the archives of this forum provides many wonderful thoughts. I don't know where to begin. Please try to narrow down your quest. Which question is really important right now in your spiritual journey?

 

That famous Rilke quote comes to mind: "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." -- Rainer Maria Rilke

 

love, john + www.abundancetrek.com & www.abundancetrek.com/blog + "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind." -- Albert Einstein

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Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.- Rilke

 

Well? This seems to be what I can't live with.

 

I seek the answers, reasonable answers, logical and rational, to explain the universe, man, and knowledge of the truth as it really is, not... ignoring it! I run toward the answers, not away. For how can I live without answers? Blind faith?

A leap into the inexplicable apart from the real world of real answers offers no comfort or peace. My soul cannot rest without truth and the knowledge of it.

 

Pick a question. How do you explain the problem of existence, of being; including the existence of man?

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While at my Worship Meeting last Sunday, a Friend rose and spoke of beliefs and the spectrum of beliefs. This theme of understanding diversity brings many of us into a place where we struggle with human condition of wanting to be correct, wanting to be 'right', even if it means that someone else is 'wrong'. When People of Faith come to such a place in thought, it is helpful for us to look at ourselves and our motivations in relationship to our also being Children of God. What does God see? Children of God bickering like little children over something that isn't of any real importance. 'My religion is true and correct', says Billy. 'No! Only WE know the one true God!' shouts Mary. Old religion is of human origin and construction, stories and legends, moral fables and sayings of wisdom. They are a map but not the destination. When The Truth of God Within is clearly understood, the old religion and its creeds, hymns, sermons, morality speeches, political lobbying, and support for that which is not born of God's Love become irrelevant. The Truth is that we are of God and with God. We have, each and every one of us, the Light of God within us. We no longer need third-party managers of beliefs to broker God's Love, Mercy, Grace, and Forgiveness. God can be felt, seen, touched, and spoken with simply by looking inside ourselves and listening and feeling...not by arguing, lecturing, fighting, and shouting like schoolchildren in a playground. God is here and now...what Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God is at Hand. Here and now...with us and within us...forever and for all time. :)

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Beautiful thoughts Russ! I so agree.

 

DavidK - I think that Russ' thoughts give good answer to your quest. Sometimes in the quest for knowledge and understanding (been there!! :lol: ) we lose track of what we really want. God is ineffable, you'll never fully understand the nature of the universe - sorry!!! ;) I think that stepping back from the need to know and taking a season for experience may be helpful.

 

Look in the Apocrypha - Second Esdras - it was very helpful to me at a similar point.

 

Godspeed :rolleyes:

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