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Is Christianity Unique?

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Hi all,

I've been looking at threads here on and off for a few weeks now, and Point 2 is one where I have a question to pose. (I don't know if it's already been hashed out here before, if so, my apologies to everyone!)

 

So my thought is this: although there are many roads which lead to the One Creator, and although we know still so little about our Creator while we live in this realm, yet a statement I once read comes to mind: "there are many religions, but only one Gospel."

 

I have to agree with this, as I don't know of any other religion which has as its basis the concept of Redemption. I know that atonement is an old concept which links back to many tribal religions, ie. sacrificing animals and people (esp. children) to the gods in order to appease them.

 

What I am seeing in the Bible today, however, is something different: the fall of one man which led to the "pollution" of all mankind; and the "rise" of one man which led to the sanctification of all. And all we need to do is believe that this was done for us! (And even that faith itself is a gift, therefore no works are involved!)

 

Then comes the need to walk a spiritual path. Jesus said that if we love our God with all our being, and our neighbor as ourselves, we shall SEE LIFE. So there is apparently a spiritual walk as well, just like in other religions.

 

But the redemption of all mankind through the resurrection of one man, this seems unique to me.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Excited to hear from everyone on this,

blessings!

Brian

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Guest billmc

But the redemption of all mankind through the resurrection of one man, this seems unique to me.

Any thoughts?

 

Good question, Brian. As Point 2 says, many PCs would say that there are many ways to God's realm. Although some might interpret this as "heaven", a place you go to when you die, many PCs would probably lean towards God's realm being God's kingdom on earth - a state of personal and social well-being based upon peace through justice, everyone having enough. The prophets had many word-pictures for this, including making war no more and exchanging weapons for farming tools. How is this done, if indeed it can be?

 

As I'm sure you know, people view the death and resurrection of Jesus in many different ways. For instance, biblical universalists feel so strongly that Jesus took all the sins of the world upon him at the cross and paid for all of them, that everyone will eventually acknowledge their forgiveness and bow their knee, confessing Jesus as lord. For them, Jesus has already saved the entire world via his death and resurrection, all that is left is to make that good news known.

 

There are plenty of verses that seem to support this notion, lots of verses that use the word "all" (As all die in Adam, all will live in Christ, etc.). Other Christians get around this by saying that "all" does not mean "all without exception" but "all without distinction". In other words, people will be saved from all different classes, nations, genders, cultures, etc.

 

As a PC who has a humanist bent, I doubt the literalness of the resurrection. I suspect it is the early church's way of saying that they still experienced what they felt was the presence of Jesus among them, especially when they were together. But I don't see Jesus' death and resurrection through the lens that he did everything that needed to be done. For me, I don't see how Jesus' resurrection, even if it was a literal event, totally fixed everything that is wrong with us and our world. I'm not trying to insult Jesus or the sacrifice he made for his cause, but I don't see his death and resurrection as an instanteous or eventual world-fixer. It seems to be that if he really did everything that was necessary, he never would have given his followers the command to go and make a difference.

 

If the redemption of all humanity came through Jesus' resurrection, I would enjoy hearing how that was accomplished. How did it work?

 

Let's see what others have to say.

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One Creator

Gospel

Redemption of all through the death and resurrection of one man

 

Brian

 

I think there is a problem with using the language, vocabulary, and concepts of my version of Christianity to evaluate others' religious practices and beliefs.

 

Others here can discuss whether Redemption is common to any others. My main point is that as soon as we say my religion is unique and start comparing ours to others - at that point we need to recognize our own approach to the plurality of religions

 

Dutch

 

What follows may be to the point of this thread or not. Some notes I used in another place and time:

 

exclusivist: The other religions are false. My religion is the only true religion.

inclusivist: The other religions don't have the whole truth. Everyone else is on a path that leads to my religion.

 

Point 2 seems to be the view of neither an exclusivist or an inclusivist.

phenomenalist pluralist: Let's find out how we are the same deep down.

 

universalist pluralist: We have to put our heads--and our beliefs--together to try to get a more complete picture of God.

 

ontological pluralist: We have to struggle to understand the differences and learn from them. We can't pretend they don't exist. We have to learn to love other people without understanding them.

 

dialectical pluralist: Let's talk. I won't always think the same thoughts. Maybe one day we will have more in common. Maybe not.

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Since Redemption with a capital R is a Christian concept I think the question needs to restated in more general terms if I want to make inquiries into other religions:

 

Do some other religions/cultures have a story about a hero/heroine who, perhaps with divine aid, accomplishes extraordinary, even self sacrificing, acts which saved the tribe, the nation?

 

Do this acts restore a right relationship with the spirit or divine powers?

 

I think the answer is yes, there are other religions and cultures which have this kind of story.

 

Christians have a particular vocabulary for talking about their hero, Jesus, but the idea is not unique, I think.

 

Dutch

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Guest billmc

Interesting thoughts, Dutch. Your posts made me consider that, yes, I think Christianity is unique (because as far as I know, it is the only major religion where our "leader" was executed by the leading government and religious authorities), but I don't think it is exclusive. Christians claim that they see the revelation of God in the life of Jesus. But that doesn't mean that he is the only revelation of God. In fact, through a certain understanding, each of us should be revelations of God to each other and to the world.

 

So claiming that Christianity is unique doesn't make it superior.

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Bill,

 

Thanks for pushing back on my over reaching in the first postings. I think I am saying two things.

 

But the redemption of all mankind through the resurrection of one man, this seems unique to me.

In response to this observation by Brian you described a variety of interpretations of Jesus's death and resurrection. These interpretations depend on the needs of believers in their time. Early Christians, revealing an anti-Semitic bent, emphasized that it was the Jews that killed Jesus. When I was growing up, in a Constantinian era in which the church's role was to create "good citizens", the emphasis was on the my personal responsibility in the crucifixion of Christ and my obligation to correct any unruly behavior. Today the church is often at the forefront of the social justice movement so the emphasis is on Jesus's death at the hand of authorities, both ecclesiastical and governmental. The stories of our faith seem to be reshaped for our needs in our time.

 

The faith stories of any religion are important for they carry the truth of the faith but the truth they carry is malleable and multilayered. And they are important part of what outsiders see. They are one of the surfaces of our faith. I would use both phenomenological and ontological to describe my approach to the plurality of religions. I don't think that a Hindi worships Ganeshi and that Christians hold their truths of this time in the stories of someone killed by the authorities makes either religion unique. These uniqueness is superficial and are often affected by other cultures and religions - and by the pressures of our time. The important differences in religions is in the depths - in how each religion responds to the problems of persecution, struggle, mortality, and how to live together. Similar to the ocean, the waves are what we see, but it is in the depths of the ocean that we find how those ways are created. I think each religion has different structure and creates in us different ways of being. I think we do seek to find similarities in our different beliefs but that there are different frameworks and worldviews in the depths of our religions.

 

I think that is where I am going.

 

Dutch

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Hi guys,

just wanted to clarify a couple of thoughts on my original post. Here are the elements which I believe to be unique to Christianity as I understand it today:

 

-The concept of God sacrificing Himself to reconcile all mankind to Himself,

 

-The justification of all souls by God through His own sacrifice, not by man's efforts,

 

-Liberation (salvation) through simply believing the above.

 

 

Now Jesus also taught good/righteous behavior, and we are called to these things as well. However, they are realized by Him in us, and is a result of trusting in His Love and care for all mankind. As it is written, "it is the goodness of God that leadeth thee to repentance." Love, not threatening, brings repentance.

 

Brian

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Guest billmc

In response to this observation by Brian you described a variety of interpretations of Jesus's death and resurrection. The stories of our faith seem to be reshaped for our needs in our time. The faith stories of any religion are important for they carry the truth of the faith but the truth they carry is malleable and multilayered.

 

That seems to be very true to me also, Dutch. We find in our faith what we need. If we didn't, we wouldn't hold to that faith. I don't need the same "Jesus" now as I did in my youth, functionally. I'm more concerned about how to live wisely with whatever time I have left than I am with how to escape the world. And I think this "multilayered-ness" is true of the Bible also. People find what they need or want there.

 

 

Similar to the ocean, the waves are what we see, but it is in the depths of the ocean that we find how those ways are created.

 

I love this metaphor. I wish I could experience the depths more than I do. I tend to focus so much on the waves. Nevertheless, metaphorically, I trust that God is the Lord of both.

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This story may be familiar I only saw it recently -

During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death. The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. What's the rumpus about? he asked, and heard that his colleagues were discussing Christianity's unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, Oh, that's easy. It's grace.

 

Maybe redemption as a free gift is the unique feature, as Brian suggested. Other religions exhort us to reach up to God through our own efforts, Christianity is the only faith where God reaches down to us with unconditional love. Not a system of dos and donts but a relationship to God through Christ.

 

This makes sense to me, but as Dutch pointed out about language grace might mean exactly the same concept to a Buddhist as to a Christian. Other spiritual paths may well bring about the same results in terms of your state of mind and outward actions.

 

For me, I don't see how Jesus' resurrection, even if it was a literal event, totally fixed everything that is wrong with us and our world

True, but that was never the claim wasnt it rather that because of Jesus everyone would go to heaven? universal salvation, which can neither be proved or disproved.

 

Most of all, I agree that uniqueness doesnt mean superiority the spokes on the wheel all connect to the same center.

Edited by rivanna

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Guest billmc

As it is written, "it is the goodness of God that leadeth thee to repentance." Love, not threatening, brings repentance.

 

I find this to be true, Brian. In fact, it was the goodness of Christians that drew me to God and probably what still keeps me there to some extent.

 

However, the word "sacrifice" is a loaded term for many PCs. As you know from reading here, there are a WIDE range of views. This is a good thing. We are not so much trying to own the truth here as we are trying to know one another and appreciate the God that we find in each other. But the word "sacrifice" has been so overused both in the Bible and in contemporary Christianity to point to a judicial, legalistic transaction to rectify something within God's character that it makes some PCs wince at the term. As the 8 Points say, most PCs are more concerned with practices and experiences than they are with "beliefs" or "believing", even when it is as simply, supposedly, as something like God's sacrifice in order to redeem mankind.

 

I grew up with a form of Christianity where Jesus was worshipped for what he did, but not really followed. He was thought to be so unique that he couldn't be imitated. And his sacrifice was thought to be so powerful or effectual that nothing from our lives could add to it; in fact, to try to add to it was an insult to the cross. But as the years passed and I read the Bible more, I came to see that God has called us into cooperation with him in what some people call "new creation" or the "kingdom of God." I don't think that Christianity has done everything it should do when its only goal is to repeat like a mantra what Jesus did in his sacrifice. It's my thesis that we are called to actually live as he did, given our own culture, to try to make a difference in our world. This goes beyond a "simple gospel" which focuses only on Jesus' death and resurrection to a "full gospel" that includes caring for the poor, the oppressed, seeking justice, and standing against anything that diminishes the worth of humans or our world. When Jesus opens the scroll in the synagogue at the inaugerration of his ministry, he doesn't mention his sacrifice. Instead, he talks of, yes, redemption, but it is about making people whole through the "goodness of God", not about dying in their place to satisfy some inner dilema that God has.

 

So while the goodness of God can be seen in Jesus' sacrifice, it can also be seen in his good works. And I think we can balance the two - having both good works and a self-sacrificing lifestyles. This is, of course, just my opinion, and as Dutch wisely says, we often find in Jesus or our religion what we think we need most.

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All, thanks for raising the level of conversation, I was thinking that I had been pointlessly argumentative. And Bill, from other posts, I know that Jesus's being killed by ecclesiastical and governmental authorities is an important understanding of the Story for where you feel you are being led. I do not want to be disrespectful of that.

 

Because of my work schedule today was the first time I have attended church in months. It felt like home: I know the stories and the songs and my church's particular style; I know the people and the people know me. Community. New members joined the church; the questions regarding Jesus as Lord and Savior seem to crumble for me but the questions concerning community still ring true.

 

What has been written into the Gospel of Jesus often reflects our needs :( , whether it is a persecuted people who need the promise of heavenly afterlife and restoration of the balance of justice or an empire that needs good citizens, and these overlays seem similar to the stories we already know, perhaps from some universal consciousness or from cultures around us.

 

Yet grace may be the enduring distinction, and certainly one that brings wholeness.

 

 

Just flotsam on the waves

Dutch

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Guest billmc
Yet grace may be the enduring distinction, and certainly one that brings wholeness.

 

Perhaps, especially if properly understood or maybe if backed up with beneficent actions.

 

You know, I often feel strange saying some of the things I say here on this forum because, truth be known, the good people here at TCPC aren’t associated with or like the kind of Christianity that I grew up with. If I’d been exposed to this side of Christianity when I was young, I might not be so reactionary now. History is history and while I try not to live there, it is sometimes helpful to remember past mistakes so that we don’t repeat them. Much of who I am is shaped by my past, for better or worse. But I know that many of my posts are metaphorically “preaching to the choir.” I’m not in conflict with anyone here on this forum, though there are a couple of posters that I simply don’t interact with because they do represent the kind of Christianity that I find so damaging, not only to myself, but to the popular notions of God and Jesus and even grace.

 

In my upbringing, though grace was taught to be “God’s unmerited favor”, grace was actually earned through belief. One could not receive God’s grace until after one assented to a certain set of beliefs. Grace, in this vein, is a reward. If you believed the right things, God gave you grace. If you didn’t, God withheld his grace. If you received Jesus, you received grace. If you didn’t receive Jesus, you didn’t receive grace. Despite the language, grace was certainly not “unmerited.”

 

So, yes, I bristle a bit when I hear that Christianity is the only religion that offers grace to people. To me, grace that has a requirement is not grace. To me, grace is all of life, just the fact that we are here and can experience love and connection – with God and with each other.

 

Probably all Christians claim to believe in and experience grace. “Amazing Grace” is the most well-known song in Christianity. But when outsiders of our religion describe Christianity, the words “grace” or “graceful” or “full of grace” are seldom descriptors. Why is that? If Christianity really is all about God’s amazing grace, why doesn’t the world think of Christianity as a religion full of grace?

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"If Christianity really is all about God’s amazing grace, why doesn’t the world think of Christianity as a religion full of grace?"

 

Maybe because of this:

 

Eph. 2:4-5--

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"

 

I remember being in a Bible study group at my university years ago. Most in the group were charismatic types.

The question put to me one night was (and they knew what they wanted me to say, it's just that I reponded differently..): "Brian, what are we saved by?" And I said, "grace." And they said "NO, by faith."

 

I didn't want to argue, although I could feel the hate towards me. You know that feeling, when you say something you're not "supposed to" say, then when you do, you get those looks?

Well, these were Bible-bashing charismatic types, and they wanted nothing to do with the message of grace. These are the ones with big voices and megaphones, and the public only hears them, when they should be hearing the message of G-R-A-C-E. (And if I had told those charismatics that I truly believed that all men (and women!) are already saved through Christ, they'dve had me for dinner!!)

 

You see, the message preached by so many groups today is,"yes, God loves you, BUT..." Now is that the immense, beyond-comprehension-type of Love that Paul preached of? Or is that man's wimpy love, with a baseball bat behind it?

 

Blessings to all here,

Brian

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Guest billmc

So, A Higher Way, would it fair or accurate to state your opinion thus:

 

1. God created humans perfect.

2. Humans fell into sin, which separated them from God, and thereby condemned themselves to hell.

3. The only way for the sin barrier between God and man to be removed was by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus.

4. Jesus’ death and resurrection has, therefore, redeemed all of humanity from going to hell so that eventually everyone will go to heaven.

 

Is this your understanding, with perhaps some small modifications? Do I see your big picture clearly?

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Hi Billmc,

Well, what I believe today is simply where I'm at today, but sometimes things change along the way. I do think that what we believe has an effect on our lives in a real practical sense. If we believe in an angry God, we become angry too. If we believe in a God who loves all His creatures, we learn that love, too.

 

To me, today, I see things like this:

 

1) God made man, but not perfect, just good. But He knew man would fall and arranged things accordingly so that there would be freedom, but a safety net, too. This was already done from the creation.

2) Man did fall, as God expected. No surprises or "plan B" here.

3) Jesus was the "opposite" of Adam, and undid the curse. As all fell, now all are justified.

4) As all are justified, some are also receiving the gift of faith to believe in that justification, and this brings them Life and freedom from sin in this realm as well as in the future. In other words, just believing that God could be "that good" is what sends you into the Life realm now.

 

 

In case someone wants to ask, "can we all just keep on sinning then?" I say, if it's in your heart to sin, go ahead. But when you come to feel the Christlife in you, you'll never want to go back.

 

I'd love to hear from all of you now!..

Blessings to all,

Brian

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Guest billmc

Hi Brian. Thanks for sharing this with me. As your byline says, "Doctrines can kill" and sometimes it is helpful to get past the doctrinal trees to see the theological forest. :) So your response helped me to see where you are now and how you see the forest. It's a good and gracious forest to see. :)

 

Regards,

billmc

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Hi again Billmc,

I have seen many times how the message of Christ has pushed people away rather than draw them closer to God.

I think the question to ask is, if the love of God for man is SOOO great and SOOO amazing and SOOOO wonderful, then why is God always portrayed as an angry old man??

Perhaps the message of universal salvation already completed, is a message which will help build bridges in the world instead of burning them, as we see so often happens. I see a lot of arguing and aggression between "unbelievers" and "Christians" on the Internet, it's incredible. And many times, it's the "Christians" who are most spiteful. There's something really wrong in Christendom, maybe ever since the beginning, but today is no exception.

What bothers me, is that they "hijack" the God who is precious to me, and who I truly feel is Love, and they use Him to attack people.

 

Brian

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Guest billmc

I have seen many times how the message of Christ has pushed people away rather than draw them closer to God.

 

That's the interesting thing, Brian, Christians don't always agree on what the "message of Christ" was/is. The most vocal part of Christianity thinks that Jesus' message is "turn-or-burn", they believe that Jesus' main mission was to warn people to escape hell or God's wrath. I don't think that was his message, but I'm in the minority. IMO, the "message" that the most vocal part of Christianity repeats loudly and ad nauseum comes from Paul, not from Jesus. If my supposition is true, then it is no wonder that they put out the wrong "message."

 

I think the question to ask is, if the love of God for man is SOOO great and SOOO amazing and SOOOO wonderful, then why is God always portrayed as an angry old man??

 

Well, I think you partially answered this in your previous post - that people become like the image of God they hold to. Someone once said that we become like what we worship. If we worship a God who must punish sin, who has wrath for his enemies, who thinks of everyone as different and less holy from himself, then we can tend to become that way ourselves.

 

There's something really wrong in Christendom, maybe ever since the beginning, but today is no exception.

 

That's true. But we are still here and have to make the best of it, discerning what parts of Christendom still have value and are transforming, and what parts need to be shelved or buried because they no longer speak to us or our culture. But we need to be humble in acknowledging that none of us has it completely right. And perhaps that's the point: the goal is not to be right but to be loving.

 

What bothers me, is that they "hijack" the God who is precious to me, and who I truly feel is Love, and they use Him to attack people.

 

Believe me, I know exactly what you mean. If you read my story, you would know. But all of us have different conceptions of God. Some progressive Christians probably do lean towards a kind of universal salvation because they believe that nothing can ultimately separate us from that which we call God. And some might be more "biblical universalists" citing many of the scriptural passages that seem to support the idea that Jesus' sacrifice was so effectual that it ontologically put everyone in the right with God whether they know it or not.

 

Speaking only for myself, I'm kind of agnostic on the issue because just as you feel that God is misrepresented and misunderstood, I feel that salvation is also. To me, salvation is not about changing one's post-death destination, but about finding wholeness and restoration of relationship in this life, with God and with others. As much as I value Jesus' death and the new life that his resurrection represents, I don't view my salvation as something that is accomplished in or for me without my active participation in it. And, for me, biblical universalists still speak from the paradigm that God was/is separate from humanity until Jesus' death "fixed" something inside God, allowing God to interact and intervene with mankind. My view of God is not quite so theistic as that, as I see God as the source of love, life, and being itself. Or, as Paul put it, "in him we live and move and have our being." So I see Jesus' sacrifice, not as changing God's mind about us, but as an effort to change our minds about God.

 

Nevertheless, yes, I would concur 100% that a more compassionate view of God is needed in our day and time. And I think that view is most convincing when others see it in our lives.

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Brian,

 

This might be getting slightly away from your original topic, but I’d be interested to hear how you interpret universal salvation or whose version you prefer. It has always rung true for me.

 

When I wrote earlier “because of Jesus everyone would go to heaven” what I meant was, Jesus showed us that God’s love and forgiveness had been there all along. Christ's death was on behalf of mankind, but not suffering in our place – no blood price or punishment was required. Jesus revealed God’s love as it had always been; a tender parent, not a harsh judge. God longs for reconciliation with each of us, like the father of the prodigal son. The way I understand it, everyone returns to God in the long run; there never was any hell except as it exists on earth.

 

The whole paradigm of Adam vs Christ seems misleading to me. The Eden story is about God giving us free will, “original sin” was a later interpretation and not biblical.

 

One thing I’m not clear about, is whether universalism holds that everyone prior to Jesus was also in heaven. That seems far more plausible to me than a division of before and after.

 

About the argument you referred to, faith or grace -- seems like “wrangling over words” meaning the same thing. Grace is a free gift, but we do have to accept it, open it – it takes trust to receive it, and that trust could be called faith. It’s all one process.

 

Perhaps this process is available to all religions and only the narratives are different. I’d like to think so.

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Rivanna,

Jesus showed us that God’s love and forgiveness had been there all along.
I agree with you on this. The "angry God of the OT" that people talk about may simply be an "inferior revelation" of Him and His nature. The "highest revelation" must be Love.

I was just reading a thread regarding when Jesus rebuked his disciples and told them that they "knew not what spirit they were of," because it seems that their intention was to destroy, whereas His is to save. When it comes down to it, we should ask: "Since Jesus said, I came to save the world, did He succeed?" For most Christians today, the HONEST answer is NO. And the implication here is that they serve a God who has failed.

But I don't believe that God is a failure.

It's simply that they still don't have any revelation of the Goodness of God. Yes, they may have the baptism in the Holy Ghost, speak in tongues, etc. But honestly, I don't know how they can, and yet still not see the immense LOVE of God for His creation.

 

Christ's death was on behalf of mankind, but not suffering in our place – no blood price or punishment was required. Jesus revealed God’s love as it had always been; a tender parent, not a harsh judge. God longs for reconciliation with each of us, like the father of the prodigal son.

The word "remission" has many meanings in the websters dictionary, and one of these is "to restore to a former status or condition." This definition is maybe closest to how I see the death of Jesus Christ today.

 

Most universalists will probably say that, yes, even those before the appearance of Jesus are saved, as Jesus mentioned "preaching to those in prison," possibly in reference to those who died before Him. (What a "revival" that would be!) :rolleyes:

 

My understanding of Adam vs. Christ is like this: God put all mankind into Adam in order to put them all in Christ later.

As far as faith vs. grace, to me they are different: grace is the salvation and Life which God has put all of mankind into through Christ, whether we like it or not.

Faith is believing that God is, and that He has loved us this much. Faith is a gift which some of us, perhaps you and I, have. But many have not yet received this gift, and they will at the right time.

 

Perhaps this process is available to all religions and only the narratives are different. I’d like to think so.

Could be. We read in so many places in the Bible where we will be judged by what we do. The trend today though is to say that "faith is all that's necessary" and thereby forego any righteous works. My feeling is that God requires faith, but that it must have works or it will be of no value.

 

Ours is a religion of "reconciliation." Unfortunately, so many today are not trying so much to reconcile as to judge and condemn. (I'm obviously not referring to anyone on this site; there are sites however where Christ gets a very bad rep, and that angers me.)

 

 

Blessings,

brian

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a higher way, It is nice to see you are in love with God. God impels seeking through love, not fear and your are seeking. When one sees everything as God, one falls in love with everything, everyone and God Himself.A time will come when you will be attacked, don't be angry be happy where you are, and where the attacker is because you have the opportunity to love under very difficult conditions.

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Hi Soma,

It's nice to be here, obviously all here feel some type of drawing to God, and it's good to see and confront different ideas, etc.

There's so much we all don't understand, and it's exciting to come across different experiences and understandings.

For example, the other day I read a LONG thread about salvation-of-all thinking, and one person shared his understanding that all men before Christ were naturally "more barbarian," since they HAD no possibility of having the Christlife at that time. So the accounts in the OT, which seem so barbaric, do indeed reflect a different reality.

Maybe it's true, maybe not. I do know that the CORE message of God within man didn't start with Christ, but goes back to at least Deuteronomy, where God tells the people that the word is "in their hearts."

 

Another thing I've been reflecting on lately is this: ever notice how God makes rules, then rejoices in breaking them? This to me seems to be one of the basic lessons that anyone, believer or not, can glean from reading the gospels.

 

Blessings to you,

brian

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"their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us" is part of this point. Seems illogical to me. If they contradict each other, then one is true and the other isn't, even if we can't be sure which is which. Socrates laid this out very well in a dialog called Theatetus.

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Guest billmc

"their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us" is part of this point. Seems illogical to me. If they contradict each other, then one is true and the other isn't, even if we can't be sure which is which. Socrates laid this out very well in a dialog called Theatetus.

 

John, welcome to the forum at TCPC! I'm glad you found us! If you'd like, we do have an introduction section where you can share a little about yourself with our community here, but no pressure, okay? :)

 

I certainly don't speak for all Progressive Christians or for TCPC or this forum in any capacity. I'm just another poster, like you. But here is how I would explain this:

 

This point is pointing towards something it calls "God's Realm". Jesus, in the gospels, calls this "the kingdom of God" or "the kingdom of heaven" (mainly in Matthew). Theologians and Christians have discussed and debated about this realm or kingdom for 2000 years. But I think it is safe to say that most concepts of God's realm include traits of compassion, peace, goodwill, justice, well-being, unity, and community. But all of these traits are not the "sole property" or "soul property" of Christianity or Christians alone. Many other cultures and religions endeavor to lead people or their followers to these same traits, but often through different images, icons, liturgies, rituals, meditations, and practices. Nevertheless, what they are endeavoring to do is to point to the same characteristics that Christians recognize in the term "the kingdom of God" or God's realm.

 

IMO, I don't think that this point is saying that every culture and religion points to the same thing. That would be a foolish statement to make, given how harmful and evil some cultures and religions can occasionally be. But for the ones who point to the traits seen in God's realm, we can say that as long as what they are striving for is the same thing (a realization of God's realm on earth), their methods, rituals, liturgies, etc. are true for them. Their particular "path" leads to the same thing that we call God's realm, even if they don't call it that. It is, IMO, an "a rose by any other name..." thing.

 

I'm a Christian, a strange one, but still a Christian. But I would recognize the path of Buddhism as true for the Buddhist as long as it leads the Buddhist to live out the same character we find in the kingdom of God. That's what this point means to me and how I would interpret it. Perhaps others will chime in with their views of this point.

 

Again, welcome to the forum at TCPC! I hope you enjoy your stay here and contribute to the conversation.

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"their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us" is part of this point. Seems illogical to me. If they contradict each other, then one is true and the other isn't, even if we can't be sure which is which. Socrates laid this out very well in a dialog called Theatetus.

 

Hi John,

 

I think this conversation would best fit in a new thread. And as Bill suggested, feel free to introduce yourself here on the forum. Welcome.

 

I would agree that it is illogical, were everything placed on a level playing field with well specified syntax, as in an objective, rigorous science. But meaning is subjective, as are words, knowledge, and ultimately, reality itself (at least as it is experienced and reasoned about). The mystery of reality is multifaceted. As Dogen once wrote, when one side is darkened, the other is illuminated. Or as Paul said, we see through a glass darkly. Once we admit the incomplete nature of our systems, there is room in reality for more than one concept of what is true, because truth is not merely an idea.

 

By your reference to Socrates, or perhaps more truthfully, Plato, you bring to mind the Western dualistic perspective of either-or, of binary thinking. Perhaps this way of thinking is not universally useful.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike

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