PaulS

Jesus As An Extra Dimensional Being And Confirmation Bias

92 posts in this topic

I feel Jen's frustration here.  This site isn't really what it should be.  But when I started posting in the early 2000s (a little before Jen did), I don't recall it being any different.  I was a Christian humanist (or whatever you want to call it).  I believed in a non-personal God if at all.  I spent most of my energy trying to debunk essential components of Christianity.  And so I fit right in.  This, and people who felt beaten up by traditional Christianity, were the target audience and that hasn't changed.  I changed though.  I had a spiritual awakening that put me at odds with the spirit of this site.  There was a small group of us who raised up issues of spirituality (Jen, myself, Alethia Rivers, and Soma.)  There were many good discussions, but we were always the minority.  Also, there has also almost always been a more traditional Christian who gets treated like a troll here.  Nothing new here.

 

I've attended an all progressive church which at one time posted the eight points on the wall by the sanctuary.  And many of the members share the same atheistic tendencies.  But many were also very spiritual and participated in prayer and meditation groups.  Everybody gets along there for the most part.  No one runs the show really.  I think the frustration for people like me and Jen is that atheists are running the show at a Christian site.  From an outside perspective, it looks like trolls have long since taken over this site.  I know from the inside that that's not a fair characterization, but you have to admit that that's a reasonable conclusion.

 

I've seen members bully on the basis of science and intellect (me included) those who's faith it spiritually, faith-based.  I've been called immature for taking a spiritual approach to faith, and it has been suggested that when I "grow up", I'll see that science is the only answer.  I've been accused of being mentally ill for having spiritual experiences.  This is not in any way in accord with the 8 Points, and it is most certainly keeping spiritual-minded progressive Christians away from what could be a valuable experience within an accepting community.

 

But like I said, it's not like this is new, and there's really no point in fighting it at this point.  I accept that that's who were are here, and I do my best to find meaning here among you.  I hope to be a participant here for many years to come.

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Fatherman,

Getting the balance right is always going to be tricky.  It seems to me that Progressive Christianity's 'dark side' is that many are offended that PC isn't 'Christian' enough.  What PC or this site 'should be' is always subject to the opinion of the person you ask this question of.

Myself, I didn't join this site until about 2011 I think, but if people need to know, I could probably credit this site with being a major influence in helping me not commit suicide at the time, and it wasn't because I had loving people telling me how I needed to understand Jesus and the Bible, but rather because I had people that were prepared to share with me their similar journeys, their understandings of God (usually different than 'Christianity' as I knew it), and the challenges they had gone through being told that they weren't 'okay' with Christianity.  Having the responsibility as one of several Moderators, I myself have to try and put those things aside mostly, but I am only human and it isn't always an easy path.

I hear Jen's frustration too, but at the end of the day, we are an internet forum and that's about it.  We are not in people's homes/bedrooms, we are not in people's churches and other places of worship - we are a website to share/discuss/challenge our thoughts.  This forum is useful for many, but I don't think it should be viewed as the be all and end all of PC.  PC has the 8 points and people are free to take them as seriously or not as they choose.  Sometimes the 8 points may seem to be to the benefit of the atheist, but it is also to the benefit of the most fervent believing Christian too.  We all have opinions and we are all just as free to pronounce/discuss/reject them here as anywhere else.  After all, even the most vehement comment is just pixels, isn't it?  Really, what do we know of the person making the comment or the baggage that they carry?

I don't accept at all that 'trolls' have taken over the site, as most participants here are courteous, contributing, and appreciate Progressive Christianity.  Yes, atheism has some prominence, but atheism in the sense of 'non-theism' rather than a total rejection of any God.  However, those that sit on that side of the fence are welcomed by PC as well (that's not just my opinion but in accordance with the parent website as well).  Should we be saying PC is only for this type of Christian and not that type?  At the end of the day, we are all free to post/discuss/debate/critique any person's views here.  In a safe environment.  Without direct insults or offences to one another.  Without being told we should go somewhere else.  Without being told we are not the 'right' type of Christian to be here.

The behaviours that you mention such as bullying, calling others immature, and telling others to 'grow up' are not what we want here and they should be discouraged, but neither do we want a 'police state' type site where one comment gets you banned or shutdown.  From what I have seen mostly it has been entirely fair - maybe people run with a couple of comments that are less than appropriate, but then they are pulled in by Admin are warned or banned.  There is a degree of tolerance but I don't think it is too lenient.

Personally, I don;t think you need to 'fight' anything here.  We all have opinions and yours is just as valid as mine.  But so is discussing said opinion.

I too hope you are a participant for years to come as I think your contributions here are invaluable, as all of ours are.

Cheers

Paul

 

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23 minutes ago, PaulS said:

I don't accept at all that 'trolls' have taken over the site, as most participants here are courteous, contributing, and appreciate Progressive Christianity.

To reiterate for clarity's sake, I don't perceive anyone here as being a troll at all.  I think the non-theistic view here is critical in helping people feel like "hey, it's ok for me to question even the very existence of a god in the traditional sense"...which I have at important points in my life.  All of this with the caveat that a person who does find meaning in the notion of a God in the traditional sense feels validated and welcomed here.

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Greetings fatherman and all,

It has always been a pleasure having you here even if for short spurts along your journey. You were a member years before me  as I came in 2006.

A bit off topic but Just a little history for those that are new...

In April of 2009 this site was experiencing some serious problems. The administrator was practically non-existent here for a year and spammers had been eating up our bandwidth, approximately 75 members had their files corrupted and could not log on. The site was in a shambles with criticisms, insults and etiquette that had reached such a low point with complaint after complaint that management was about to officially announce they were shutting down the site and just operating a Facebook page. I had been a member since Aug of 2006 and when i heard of this i placed a call to Fred Plumer, the president of the organization at that time listed as TCPC and agreed to clean up the site and bring some order to it. After an interview and background review Fred and his daughter Deshna agreed to give me administrative rights.

Let me say that being a sentient being in a subjective world it has not been an easy job administering this site or for that matter would it be any site that discusses religion or politics. Even with the appointment of moderators, global and area, decisions have always been difficult as it is very difficult to make decisions concerning others that all might agree with. As a result we have lost some really fine moderators/members such as GeorgeW and Glintofpewter (Dutch) and Mike who moved full-time into Buddhism. Yet we retained some also fine contributors/moderators such as Soma, PaulS, and Tariki who remain to this day. They have helped moderate over 1900 topics and over 28,000 posts since i took the job.

Members move on for various reasons. Some outgrow this site. Some disagree with PC direction. Some prefer to move on to (drama) more lively and heated debates. Some are offended at the diversity of views and the sometimes seeming Buddhist slant of leadership. Others leave when reprimanded for their behavior but are received back with open arms when they return only to sometimes leave again and return multiple times. Others change their belief system and no longer find enough commonality here. Some come to convert others and find we do not tolerate personal attacks when others do not buy in to their view. Some leave for Facebook , social media or other Christian participation. Some find a church that satisfies their needs. Some prefer not to post and merely read the over 44,000 uncensored posts of others in our database. We average between 2-10 viewers on our site at any time.

In all this time NO ONE has been banned or made unwelcome by leadership here except by their own doing. What i mean by this is many but not all that left  have left among other reason , because they were offended by anothers view that we allow,, the direction of TCPC,  leadership decisions or because they weren't allowed to name call, insult , or get personal. Moderation is not easy as tempers will flair in disagreements and words will be said that get more personal than just focusing on debating views. We try to look past many of them because we all at times slip up but when offenders repeat they are issued private warnings. When those are to no avail we use the thread to issue a public warning. When they are ignored we take action such as Moderator approval of posts and in extreme cases a Ban of which we have only had a few here.

I don't think there are any perfect forums and they seem to be diminishing as other social media heats up (such as Facebook). However, basically this is a free site to members that cost hundreds of dollars a year paid now by our parent site and takes many hours of administration and maintenance work. Any benefit you get out of this site is a plus. In fact i believe we are all here for a reason and there is something we need to continue evolving and that thing may not always be pleasant at the time.  Yet, perhaps one could say...  it is ALL good.

Joseph

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JosephM, thanks for all you do.  

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On 4/23/2017 at 6:02 PM, PaulS said:

Moved from progressive Christianity based on possible debate and debatable issues (JosephM)

 

 

 

To the contrary, Christianity makes a lot more sense to me if I remove Jesus' alleged divinity and understand him as a simple (and purely) human being. I would go so far as to say Christianity robbed Jesus of his real identity and replaced it with what *Christianity wanted to promote.

 

*Christianity of the type that promotes Jesus and God as extra dimensional.

I guess I'm somewhere in between on this one.  If we're talking about Christianity as defined by tradition, then yes the divinity of Christ is important in the sense that his actions as a divine being had tremendous spiritual impact on the world...as tradition dictates...and much of the scripture.  It's a matter of how much of Jesus story has to be true in order to compel you to identify as a Christian.  For some the Beatitudes, love, forgiveness,  and social justice message is enough.  For others, he has to be the son of God, redeemer of the world, and personal savior or he's nothing worth mentioning.

For me, Jesus is a bit of a mystery.  I don't always agree with his recorded words.  I often wonder if his disciples/gospel writers even understood who is was or what he was teaching.  In my prayer conversations with Jesus, I ask who he is in relationship to me and why did he choose to die the way he did.  More mysteries.  I'm comfortable with mysteries at this point in my life.  I don't have to know what truly happened, what it means entirely, how it works.  What matters to me about Jesus is that he moves me in ways that no other person has.  I can't explain why, but it makes me want to be a disciple.

His extra dimension to me is that his presence transcends time and place to be made manifest in my life here and now.  I don't know if that's divinity or not. 

 

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Ok.  I just reread my post up there about this site and issues I've encountered and it sounded super harsh.  Not my intention.  This site is a wonderful place, but like any place it has its issues and so do I.  No harm intended.  This site "should" be whatever it happens to be and whatever people need it to be.

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Posted (edited)

fatherman,

You were part of this site well before me but I, for one, would welcome those discussions on spirituality - with the benefit of, perhaps, some further experience/reading/insight and in dialogue with some old and new members. 

I don't really care where a person stands on the continuum of faith as I have best friends who range from committed Catholics to progressive Christians and from atheist (not theists) to atheists (no God) to agnostics to other faith expressions.   

Edited by thormas
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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, fatherman said:

To the contrary, Christianity makes a lot more sense to me if I remove Jesus' alleged divinity and understand him as a simple (and purely) human being. I would go so far as to say Christianity robbed Jesus of his real identity and replaced it with what *Christianity wanted to promote.

 

 

3 hours ago, fatherman said:

For me, Jesus is a bit of a mystery.  I don't always agree with his recorded words.  I often wonder if his disciples/gospel writers even understood who is was or what he was teaching.  In my prayer conversations with Jesus, I ask who he is in relationship to me and why did he choose to die the way he did.  More mysteries.  I'm comfortable with mysteries at this point in my life.  I don't have to know what truly happened, what it means entirely, how it works.  What matters to me about Jesus is that he moves me in ways that no other person has.  I can't explain why, but it makes me want to be a disciple.

His extra dimension to me is that his presence transcends time and place to be made manifest in my life here and now.  I don't know if that's divinity or not. 

I don't accept that the early Christian movement robbed Jesus of his real identity. It seems it must be remembered that these people, were destroyed with his crucifixion and, then, with the experience of his resurrection (no matter how you understand it, it appears indisputable that they had some experience or insight), they tried to make sense of what this meant, who he was, what it all meant for them. They, like most fallible humans (and like we on this site), did their best and all we know of Jesus is because of the Christian movement. In spite of the quest (including the Jesus Seminar) for his authentic words and actions, it is all part and parcel and, I suspect, ultimately inseparable from the Christian movement. There is no Jesus beyond the Christian recollection and faith profession of his meaning for them. I do agree that even later generations 'buried' Jesus under more and more doctrines but I still allow that, for the most part, these were people of faith (I know some seemed more interested in power) who tried to 'marry' their faith with the dominant philosophical system of their day (for examples Nicaea) to understand, explain (and, yes, protect) their 'Christian' faith. Was it a question of what Christianity wanted to promote? No, rather, it was the best effort of people of faith (Origin, Ireaneus, Augustine, Aquinas and on and on) to explain and profess that faith. I think Christianity got 'lost' when those in charge did not (could not?) let new world-views and new philosophical systems help to present anew this shared faith. In these cases, the 'need' to protect and defend took precedence over explanation and profession (of faith).

I allow that his disciples understood Jesus, each, according to their gifts (intellect, insight, knowledge, etc,) and I do believe they were (tried to be) faithful to their 'teacher' but there was an inevitable movement from the message (of Jesus) to the messenger himself (Jesus). Christianity is the story of a group trying to explain and share their experience of the man, Jesus, who they believed provided insight into Reality or Being or God and by which they could be more and in which, they could know Life, Reality, God.   

I think the 'trick' and the responsibility now, for those who value Christianity,  is to try to explain this insight into Reality/God/Meaning, that was offered by and through Jesus, with their world view, in their philosophical and thought systems for each new generation. 

Edited by thormas
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To me, Christianity has one mystery that i can relate to . Paul spoke of it in his letter to the Colossians.

Col 1:26-27 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

To me the mystery is not that Jesus is God nor is it to worship the man Jesus of Nazareth who is reportedly showed us a way to have this 'smearing together with God " (annointing) which is Christ. Whether Jesus existed or not , i believe he did but it doesn't matter, because the story of his life and teaching remain and can be tested and are not limited to any single religion or person for that matter. Yes, to me, Christ in me is my hope of the presence (glory) of God which i can experience now even though it is most difficult or impossible to define in words. The authenticity of the complete story of Jesus and all of his reported teachings as reported in the Bible, in my view, cannot be verified but can mostly be tested by application. ie: if his teachings on forgiveness work in your life then what does it even matter who said them? Whats important to me is what brings one closer to Christ or the realized connection we that are drawn to appear to seek. 

To me, i found an approach to God/the Sacred/the Unity of all life through some of the reported teachings of Jesus and to me that life is hid in Christ which to me is Christianity. Another might see it different. To another it might be another religion using different words but the same life that i represent by the name Christ[ianity]. But if any seem contentious with that, i am attached to no such label. It seems to me that ones life and behavior speaks more accurately than any label is capable of.

Just musing,

Joseph

 

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5 hours ago, thormas said:

fatherman,

You were part of this site well before me but I, for one, would welcome those discussions on spirituality - with the benefit of, perhaps, some further experience/reading/insight and in dialogue with some old and new members. 

I don't really care where a person stands on the continuum of faith as I have best friends who range from committed Catholics to progressive Christians and from atheist (not theists) to atheists (no God) to agnostics to other faith expressions.   

I have a topic in mind for the near future, Spiritual Health, which I would love to unpack with you and the rest.

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Nice job on the site, Joseph.  I like it...not as busy looking...a bit more sedate I think.  It's a thankless job but we are all appreciative!

Steve

 

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Posted (edited)

15 hours ago, JosephM said:

To me the mystery is not that Jesus is God nor is it to worship the man Jesus of Nazareth who is reportedly showed us a way to have this 'smearing together with God " (annointing) which is Christ. Whether Jesus existed or not , i believe he did but it doesn't matter, because the story of his life and teaching remain and can be tested and are not limited to any single religion or person for that matter. Yes, to me, Christ in me is my hope of the presence (glory) of God which i can experience now even though it is most difficult or impossible to define in words. The authenticity of the complete story of Jesus and all of his reported teachings as reported in the Bible, in my view, cannot be verified but can mostly be tested by application. ie: if his teachings on forgiveness work in your life then what does it even matter who said them? Whats important to me is what brings one closer to Christ or the realized connection we that are drawn to appear to seek. 

To me, i found an approach to God/the Sacred/the Unity of all life through some of the reported teachings of Jesus and to me that life is hid in Christ which to me is Christianity. Another might see it different. To another it might be another religion using different words but the same life that i represent by the name Christ[ianity]. But if any seem contentious with that, i am attached to no such label. It seems to me that ones life and behavior speaks more accurately than any label is capable of.

I agree that Jesus should not be worshipped and I agree that Jesus is not God (as traditionally, theistically understood, from the top (Divinity) down (humanity). 

I do believe he existed, and that it matters, because, although the "story of his life and teaching remain and can be tested" Christianity believes that the test can indeed be met by others because it was met by Jesus; it was shown to be a real possibility. I also agree that it is "not limited to any single religion or person for that matter" and the test can be said to have been met (passed) by others.

I also agree that his teachings cannot be verified but can be tried or applied in one's life. This to me is incarnation: when one applies the teaching or the Way of Jesus (of say love and forgiveness), he/she is giving flesh (embodying) or making actual that Way and, thereby, is becoming the Christ or a Truly Human Being. This is exactly what Jesus did: he made  the way of God (Love) live in himself, in his 'flesh.'

Incarnation of the Sacred/Love enables (empowers) us to become truly Human. We become Human by incarnating (by manifesting) Divinity. Therefore, we should not worship Christ, we should be Christ (that is true worship, the only worship necessary for Wholeness).

In Christianity, because Jesus is believed to have done this, he is called the First Born Son and we are invited to actualize (Maslow) and also become the Sons & Daughters of Reality. In some Christian circles this is considered adoptionist: Jesus is not God to begin with, rather he is 'adopted' by God later in his life and we too can be adopted by God. I disagree and believe this is shortsighted. Man is a process, existing in time and space, and it takes time to become himself; man (including Jesus) does not begin with his being complete. And, second, if we are 'part' of Being, then from our first moment we are, the 'natural' children' of Being/the Sacred. We were never adopted, we were never other, because there is no other. 

I speak in Christian terms, but I, too, do not attach priority to any label. And I agree "that one's life and behavior speaks more accurately" and is our true measure.

Edited by thormas
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Posted (edited)

On 6/2/2017 at 3:16 PM, fatherman said:

What matters to me about Jesus is that he moves me in ways that no other person has.  I can't explain why, but it makes me want to be a disciple.

 

I can't conceive of the notion of being a Christian without Jesus as a divine figure.  I'm not into nailing down divinity too tightly (I am still a bit of a mystic at heart), but I think a basic idea of divinity is ultimate significance and ultimate meaning.   Divinity is a political and social claim, as much as a spiritual or metaphysical claim.  Indeed, that is exactly how the Jewish and Greek listeners in Jesus day would have understood his divinity.  

 

And Christianity is unapologetically particular in this respect in insisting that God's ultimate self-revelation is in a person.  We are particular, concrete beings, after all- we are individual persons (at least that's how we think of ourselves in western culture, for the most part).  How can God truly relate to us in any other way than the particular?   So, I'm unapologetically in the "Jesus fan club".  If other people find peace and a meaningful life elsewhere other than in Jesus, that's great for them... but I don't see that as particularly "Christian".  Being a Christian is more than simply having morals or "being the best you possible". (Indeed, the Lutheran in me shudders at the idea of morality and the Gospel being confused).

 

For me a great deal of my growth away from mysticism and vaguery happened due to realizing that western Christian tradition was not all bad, that it wasn't so broken, that the 60's was not the "Year Zero" of a brave new world.  So I learned to appreciate the received western Christian tradition for its fruits in the focus on objectivity, justice, and the dignity of the individual.

Edited by FireDragon76
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8 minutes ago, FireDragon76 said:

I can't conceive of the notion of being a Christian without Jesus as a divine figure.  I'm not into nailing down divinity too tightly (I am still a bit of a mystic at heart), but I think a basic idea of divinity is ultimate significance and ultimate meaning.   Divinity is a political and social claim, as much as a spiritual or metaphysical claim.  Indeed, that is exactly how the Jewish and Greek listeners in Jesus day would have understood his divinity.  God is where "the buck stops".

 

And Christianity is unapologetically particular in this respect in insisting that God's ultimate self-revelation is in a person.  We are particular, concrete beings, after all- we are individual persons (at least that's how we think of ourselves in western culture, for the most part).  How can God truly relate to us in any other way than the particular?   So, I'm unapologetically in the "Jesus fan club".  If other people find peace and a meaningful life elsewhere other than in Jesus, that's great for them... but I don't see that as particularly "Christian".  Being a Christian is more than simply having morals or "being the best you possible". (Indeed, the Lutheran in me shudders at the idea of morality and the Gospel being confused).

 

For me a great deal of my growth away from mysticism and vaguery happened due to realizing that western Christian tradition was not all bad, that it wasn't so broken, that the 60's was not the "Year Zero" of a brave new world.  So I learned to appreciate the received western Christian tradition for its fruits in the focus on objectivity, justice, and the dignity of the individual. 

Paradoxically, perhaps, my own journey away from "vaguery" and towards objectivity, was found and completed within the "mystical", even the "no-self" of Buddism.  Maybe, as Thomas Merton saw, the "true self" ( of whatever Tradition or Faith) and the self we often identify with, particularly in the Western Tradition, are two different things. 

Whatever, goodbye to all my readers. :)

 

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, tariki said:

 

 

Merton was drawing alot from Suzuki's take on Buddhism in trying to find analogies to speak to modern people.  But in doing so, at times he has trouble speaking in a uniquely Christian way.  It's sort of like how Paul Tillich's theology at times has little to do with the traditional symbols of the Christian faith, and more to do with existentialism.

 

During Lent I made a practice of reading some Christian mystics, particularly Julian of Norwich.  I found this lecture by Jonathan Freuhwirth, an Episcopalian and former monk, especially helpful in integrating the mystical/experiential and evangelical sides of the Christian faith.  The dialectic is not between "true self / false self", but more like between suffering and compassion, expressed in Christianity as a dialectic between sin and grace.

 

Edited by FireDragon76
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I have marked the vid to watch later.

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