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When Are We "saved"?


tariki
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It seems to me that there are two ways of understanding "salvation" within the Christian faith. The first, that we are born "apart" from God, "children of wrath" who need at some time to come to saving faith in Christ and His work on the cross. Until such time comes, we are excluded from the book of life. God is actively seeking to "lead us to Christ" yet we may well choose not to accept, in which case we shall be eternally excluded from His Kingdom

 

The second is that God is "infinite love" and has already forgiven all sin. "Salvation" is coming to the realization that we are already "saved".

 

Maybe I have misrepresented these two understandings. My apologies if I have.

 

I speak as a Pure Land Buddhist who is studying the thought of Shinran, the "founder" of Jodoshinshu (i.e. The True Pure Land Faith). Shinran himself had a belief in the absolute compassion of Amida (Amida as the representation of Reality-as-is, the eternal manifestation of the heart of reality)

 

This is a Pure Land writer speaking of Shinran's thought......."Salvation cannot rest on chance factors. Shinran makes it clear that the completion of the Vow requires nothing from the side of man, including the act of faith. Our residal karmic bondage may influence the point in our experience when we become aware of Amida's compassion, but is not a factor in determining whether or not we actually receive that compassion. We are suggesting that from the standpoint of the Vow all are equally saved even now, despite the presence or absence of the experience of faith itself. The reason for this is that salvation depends on the Vow and not on any finite condition. Someone may ask then what is the point of being religious, if we are saved in any case? However, this question reflects the virtually universal notion that religion is a means to an end. We get the benefit of salvation from being religious. For Shinran, however, religion becomes the way to express gratitude for the compassion that supports all our life. It is not a tool for ego advancement of gaining benefits." (From "Shinran's Vision of Absolute Compassion" by Alfred Bloom)

 

From a Christian perspective, how do others here understand this? What actual difference does it make to our life and faith as to how we understand these two perspectives.

 

(Just a short attempt at explanation, the "Vow" is that made by Amida within mythic time to seek enlightement for the sake of all. It was a condition of the Vow that enlightenment would not be gained unless ALL were equally enlightened. Given that Amida is/was in fact enlightened, it follows that all equally already are. Sorry if this seems a little confusing, but it is a SHORT attempt at explaining a complex teaching! )

 

Thank you

Edited by tariki
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(snip)

The second is that God is "infinite love" and has already forgiven all sin. "Salvation" is coming to the realization that we are already "saved".

(snip)

 

Hi Tariki,

 

May I add a third understanding similiar to the second but slightly different in understanding....

 

God is "infinite love" and in him there is no such thing as sin. "Salvation" is the coming to the realization that we are already saved and complete in Him.

 

There is nothing for God to forgive. Sin is a product of the error in the belief that we are separate and in need of forgiveness. Forgiveness is then a concept that is only necessary as long as we perceive ourselves as separate. Just a view for your consideration.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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Hi Tariki,

 

May I add a third understanding similiar to the second but slightly different in understanding....

 

God is "infinite love" and in him there is no such thing as sin. "Salvation" is the coming to the realization that we are already saved and complete in Him.

 

There is nothing for God to forgive. Sin is a product of the error in the belief that we are separate and in need of forgiveness. Forgiveness is then a concept that is only necessary as long as we perceive ourselves as separate. Just a view for your consideration.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

 

JosephM,

 

Thanks for your interest. Perhaps Christianity, like Buddhism, has as many "understandings" as there are "believers"! Anyway, I do understand the point you are making, which seems to concur with some statement I made on another forum concerning "forgiveness" - that it was in fact a "second-best" in as much as "sin" had been acknowledged in the first place. Without going too much into my own past, for some reason I do find some sort of understanding by pinging back and forth between Pure Land teachings and Christianity. One seems in many ways to illuminate the other.

 

From my own understanding of Pure Land - and practice of it - I often detect a note of "judgement" of others creeping into some Christian understanding when God's love is held to depend upon ones own "decision for Christ". "Faith" itself seems to become "works"! (Inasmuch as we seem to have initiated our own salvation by the "work" of belief) And the full dimension of Grace seems to fall by the wayside. On many forums I note that those "outside" the Christian Faith are held to have "no excuse" in as much as they have chosen "not to accept Christ" etc etc

 

Whatever, my purpose in raising this was to initiate a degree of dialogue and mutual understanding between Christianity and Buddhism (at least, in its Pure Land expression) Perhaps also to truly understand the reality of "grace" and of how a genuine deliverance by it differs in essence from the "way of works" in all its subtle - and not so subtle - varieties!

 

Please understand. There are many within the Pure Land faith who are angered by any sort of attempt to relate it to Christian teaching - similarities are played down almost to the point of extinction and beyond! It is a sensitive issue.

 

Once again, thank you for your interest.

 

Derek

:)

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JosephM,

 

Thanks for your interest. Perhaps Christianity, like Buddhism, has as many "understandings" as there are "believers"!Anyway, I do understand the point you are making, which seems to concur with some statement I made on another forum concerning "forgiveness" - that it was in fact a "second-best" in as much as "sin" had been acknowledged in the first place. Without going too much into my own past, for some reason I do find some sort of understanding by pinging back and forth between Pure Land teachings and Christianity. One seems in many ways to illuminate the other.

 

Tariki,

Yes, there are as many. You make an excellent point. Personally I have found, as you have, that one teaching seems in many ways to illuminate the other.

 

From my own understanding of Pure Land - and practice of it - I often detect a note of "judgement" of others creeping into some Christian understanding when God's love is held to depend upon ones own "decision for Christ". "Faith" itself seems to become "works"! (Inasmuch as we seem to have initiated our own salvation by the "work" of belief) And the full dimension of Grace seems to fall by the wayside. On many forums I note that those "outside" the Christian Faith are held to have "no excuse" in as much as they have chosen "not to accept Christ" etc etc

 

I share the same understanding and perception. However you will find a wide variety of views on this issue among posters in the non progressive section and possibly some here.

 

Whatever, my purpose in raising this was to initiate a degree of dialogue and mutual understanding between Christianity and Buddhism (at least, in its Pure Land expression) Perhaps also to truly understand the reality of "grace" and of how a genuine deliverance by it differs in essence from the "way of works" in all its subtle - and not so subtle - varieties!

 

It seems to me that 'intent' is most important when considering faith/belief and works. In my view, a deep faith in Christ manifests works without actually 'one doing works'. It is as if by grace and is neither a burden or yoke. On the otherhand doing works as a means of salvation is an attempt to purchase that which is free by grace. One results in salvation while the other merely subtly feeds the carnal nature or ego.

 

Please understand. There are many within the Pure Land faith who are angered by any sort of attempt to relate it to Christian teaching - similarities are played down almost to the point of extinction and beyond! It is a sensitive issue.

 

No more than then are those in Christianity that are angered by any attempts to relate to teachings of other religions. Best Wishes on your pursuit Derek.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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This is a great thread. Some people call themselves Christian Buddhist and see both ways as mutually beneficial.

 

I think forgiveness is a technique similar to many Buddhist techniques to stop the mind from suffering. The person who forgives receives the benefit.

 

Someone posted somewhere that sin is the absence of love. I hope I never forget that.

 

I like the idea that we are already saved and enlightened, but just don't know it because of our attachment to suffering, which interfers with love to make us think we are separate. Love is bathing in the light, salvation, grace and joy of unity with everything, which is God the Father.

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JosephM,

 

Thanks for your interest. Perhaps Christianity, like Buddhism, has as many "understandings" as there are "believers"! Anyway, I do understand the point you are making, which seems to concur with some statement I made on another forum concerning "forgiveness" - that it was in fact a "second-best" in as much as "sin" had been acknowledged in the first place. Without going too much into my own past, for some reason I do find some sort of understanding by pinging back and forth between Pure Land teachings and Christianity. One seems in many ways to illuminate the other.

 

From my own understanding of Pure Land - and practice of it - I often detect a note of "judgement" of others creeping into some Christian understanding when God's love is held to depend upon ones own "decision for Christ". "Faith" itself seems to become "works"! (Inasmuch as we seem to have initiated our own salvation by the "work" of belief) And the full dimension of Grace seems to fall by the wayside. On many forums I note that those "outside" the Christian Faith are held to have "no excuse" in as much as they have chosen "not to accept Christ" etc etc

 

Whatever, my purpose in raising this was to initiate a degree of dialogue and mutual understanding between Christianity and Buddhism (at least, in its Pure Land expression) Perhaps also to truly understand the reality of "grace" and of how a genuine deliverance by it differs in essence from the "way of works" in all its subtle - and not so subtle - varieties!

 

Please understand. There are many within the Pure Land faith who are angered by any sort of attempt to relate it to Christian teaching - similarities are played down almost to the point of extinction and beyond! It is a sensitive issue.

 

Once again, thank you for your interest.

 

Derek

:)

 

 

Derek - I think many Christians would agree with the things you are stating you've read... most here would not. I completely agree with you - grace with conditions is not grace, by definition. ;)

 

I think that, politically correct or not, there are many similarities between christianity and buddhism (I'm not familiar with Pure Land in particular). Thich Nhat Hanh and Marcus Borg have both written excellent books comparing Jesus and Buddha. Very interesting and faith affirming to see the same truths at the center of all the major religions.

 

Glad you're on the board! I look forward to "talking" to you!

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I also have great problems with conditionalism, wherein you are "saved"

IF you accept/say/think this or that. Of course, I also have trouble

with the idea that being "saved" is when some nos. of people go

to a physical place called heaven (you can fill in the blanks here with

70 virgins or maybe raisins; yourself at age 30, but perfect and pure

in every way, etc etc). Then again maybe with the word "saved",

or personal salvation, or heck maybe even salvation, just because

it has so darn much baggage.

 

If you took off the baggage, then I like the whole idea of the relationship

of yourself to God, but I also want to take humanity and the planet with me

on this.

 

--des

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I also have great problems with conditionalism, wherein you are "saved"

IF you accept/say/think this or that. Of course, I also have trouble

with the idea that being "saved" is when some nos. of people go

to a physical place called heaven (you can fill in the blanks here with

70 virgins or maybe raisins; yourself at age 30, but perfect and pure

in every way, etc etc). Then again maybe with the word "saved",

or personal salvation, or heck maybe even salvation, just because

it has so darn much baggage.

 

If you took off the baggage, then I like the whole idea of the relationship

of yourself to God, but I also want to take humanity and the planet with me

on this.

 

--des

 

des,

 

I seem to remember somewhere your post about raisins! Personally I would prefer strawberries but perhaps best not to be too picky when it comes to what the divinity is handing out!! Anyway, the "dropping of baggage" is a constant theme in may Buddhist teachings...............

 

"As far back as Chuang-tse we find the story of the old monk who, in despair of knowing enlightenment before he died, went to Lao-tse. On arrival Lao-tse came out to meet him, welcomed him, but told him to leave his followers and his baggage outside the gate, for otherwise he would not be admitted. The old man had no followers, and no baggage, but he understood, went in and found his fulfilment" (From "Ask the Awakened" by Wei Wu Wei)

 

Yes, I agree that much of "religion" seems to involve a "betrayal" of this world for some imagined other. The evolution of Buddhist Pure Land thought has involved this, with the "Pure Land" that "lies to the West", to be "attained at death", gradually becoming - via the thought of those like Shinran - an actual transformation that happens "now" - where the "going forth" and the "return" becomes "one thought moment" that is ultimately beyond the "calculation" of the ego.

 

Just as a further contribution to the theme of this thread , here are some words by the Catholic Trappist monk Thomas Merton (one of my own "heroes"!!) It comes from an essay of his entitled "The Recovery of Paradise.....

 

Speaking of the "innocence" of paradise...."One has to 'wish' for this one realization alone and give up wising for anything else. One has to forget the quest for every other 'good'. One has to devote themselves with their whole heart and soul to the recovery of this 'innocence'. Yet.............this cannot be the work of our own 'self'. It is useless for the 'self' to try to 'purify itself', or for the 'self' to 'make a place in itself' for God. The innocence and purity of heart which belong to paradise are a complete emptiness of self in which all is the work of God, the free and unpredictable expression of His love, the work of grace. In the purity of original innocence, all is done in us but without us. But before we reach that level, we must also learn to work on the other level of 'knowledge' where grace works in us but 'not without us' "

 

Anyway, I must go. I have some shopping to do (perhaps a few strawberries?)

 

Thanks

Derek

:)

 

P.S. To JosephM, Cynthia and Soma..........Sorry, I did not intend to ignore you. I just became involved with the post by Des and ran out of time. Thanks for you comments and interest. Hopefully there will be more to follow. Thanks again!

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tariki,

 

Nice to see you here again.

 

I'm puzzled why you would use fundamentalist terms to characterize Christianity, rather than PC language.

Could you define what the word "saved" signifies to you?

 

The idea of forgiveness might be necessary to those who have done serious harm to others. But I'd say most people seek God from a sense of woundedness or loss.

 

I liked your explanation about Pure Land as an ideal paradise becoming more and more identified with the present -- similar to Jesus' "eternal life" or the kingdom of God being reconceived not as afterlife, but as a possibility attainable in the here and now. (It also reminds me of Star Trek's vision of the future of the planet.)

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tariki,

 

Nice to see you here again.

 

I'm puzzled why you would use fundamentalist terms to characterize Christianity, rather than PC language.

Could you define what the word "saved" signifies to you?

 

The idea of forgiveness might be necessary to those who have done serious harm to others. But I'd say most people seek God from a sense of woundedness or loss.

 

I liked your explanation about Pure Land as an ideal paradise becoming more and more identified with the present -- similar to Jesus' "eternal life" or the kingdom of God being reconceived not as afterlife, but as a possibility attainable in the here and now. (It also reminds me of Star Trek's vision of the future of the planet.)

 

rivanna,

 

Thanks for the greeting. I try not to "characterize" any faith in any definitive way. I suppose the "fundamentalist" terms are familiar to me (and most others) in many ways - and those terms, as foundations, can expand to embrace the various understandings of those who have moved on beyond what could be called a literalist understanding. (I don't seek to demean such literalist understanding- ultimately the embodied expression of genuine compassion seems to embrace people of all faiths and understandings, the literalist/fundamantalist included)

 

"Saved"? Leading on from what I have just said, to live a life that genuinely embodies compassion/love. Yet with no sense of "I", "me" or "mine", no sense of gain or attainment. And for such a lived life to flow spontaneously and creatively at one with the divine source. To live by grace, not by "works". And I always try to steer clear of the word "perfection", which to me is an awful word. What indeed is "perfection"? It would seem to me to be the direct antithesis of what it is to be fundamentally human.

 

"A clearly enlightened person falls in the well. How is this so?" (a traditional Zen Koan)

 

That's about the best I can do! (Apart from having "achieved" the total lack of perfection, I still have far to go!)

 

Why do many seek God? Once again, difficult to characterize in any simple way. Perhaps as many reasons as there are people? I love biographies/autobiographies. Reading of the experiences of others tends to sweep away simple answers. And maybe the ultimate answer is that we are "found" rather than that we have "sought"? "Grace, if thou repent thou can'st not lack. Yet who shall give ye that grace to begin?" (John Donne) Which reminds me of the words of the Pure Land writer Unno, that it is " a necessary step on the path when we realise that self power was, on reflection, the working of Other Power."

 

And yes, the Pure Land is the Here and Now. Which can sound trite. And can be just a "sweet and sentimental" claim. Yet - I hear - the realization of it costs us everything.

 

"Blessed are the poor in spirit"

 

:)

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In the 1920's during what is called the fundamentalist-modernist controversy, one of the champions of the modernist view was Harry Emerson Fosdick. He wrote a wonderful book that I believe everyone who wishes to be called a progressive Christian should read, Christianity and Progress. I was surprised, when I read it, how current it seems to be, despite the fact that it was written three quarters of a century ago. Some details have changed, but the basic principles of the struggle are still the same.

 

Dr. Fosdick also wrote a wonderful hymn "God of Grace and God of Glory" The last verse says something important about salvation

 

Save us from weak resignation

To the evils we deplore

Let the search for Thy salvation

Be our glory evermore.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,

Serving thee Whom we adore,

Serving thee Whom we adore.

Salvation is not something to have achieved, but something toward which to strive. It is not a matter of making a profession of faith, but a continual goal, and it is the seeking of the salvation that is its achievement, in the end. But we cannot achieve it in resignation to evils.

 

I believe in the reality of sin. I don't believe that one can live a real life and pay attention to that life without having experienced both the sin of others and the sin of themselves. I am not talking about violation of kosher laws or petty sexual taboos, but rather that each of us has knowingly done something that was harmful, either to ourselves or to someone else, and that is sin. Each of us has been harmed by someone else's intentional action. These are sins which we cannot ignore and still claim salvation. Part of the search for salvation is the struggle against evil. What are some of these evils? Dr. Fosdick mentions some of them in other verses of his hymn.

 

Cure Thy children's warring madness,

Bend our pride to Thy control.

Shame our wanton selfish gladness,

Rich in Things and poor in soul.

Grand us wisdom, grant us courage,

Lest we miss Thy kingdom's goal,

Lest we miss Thy kingdom's goal.

 

Set our feet on lofty places,

Gird our lives that they may be,

Armored with all Christ-like graces,

In the fight to set men free.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,

That we fail not man nor Thee,

That we fail not man nor Thee.

There is sin out there (and in me as well), and we are all called to oppose it. Some believe that abortion is a sin. I believe that it is a sin to allow the world to become overpopulated such that the means of population control is starvation and pestilence rather than restraint, which I believe we as a species are mature enough to effect. Some believe that homosexuality is a sin. I believe that it is a sin to deny marriage, a wonderful institution of mutual support when done right, to persons on account of their sexual orientation. Virtually every one says that murder is a sin, and some say we murderers have earned their execution. I say it is sinful to kill someone, even if that someone is a murderer, unless you have no other way of keeping them from murdering again, and that it is especially sinful to derive satisfaction from the execution of any person, no matter how evil that person is percieved to be.

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(snip)

 

Salvation is not something to have achieved, but something toward which to strive. It is not a matter of making a profession of faith, but a continual goal, and it is the seeking of the salvation that is its achievement, in the end. But we cannot achieve it in resignation to evils.

 

(snip)

 

There is sin out there (and in me as well), and we are all called to oppose it. Some believe that abortion is a sin. I believe that it is a sin to allow the world to become overpopulated such that the means of population control is starvation and pestilence rather than restraint, which I believe we as a species are mature enough to effect. Some believe that homosexuality is a sin. I believe that it is a sin to deny marriage, a wonderful institution of mutual support when done right, to persons on account of their sexual orientation. Virtually every one says that murder is a sin, and some say we murderers have earned their execution. I say it is sinful to kill someone, even if that someone is a murderer, unless you have no other way of keeping them from murdering again, and that it is especially sinful to derive satisfaction from the execution of any person, no matter how evil that person is percieved to be.

 

 

Greetings Sterrettc,

 

If salvation is a gift, then why should I yet strive for it? Why should I yet have for a goal that which is already mine? If something is given me, then why should I talk or act as if it were not?

 

No offence meant but I do not see sin 'out there' nor do I see it 'in here'. Perhaps it is as Jesus might have meant that 'evil' and 'sin' is in the eye of the beholder. If I am in Christ who is without sin, how can sin be in me? If I am a new creature in Christ then how can I sin? Am I not to reckon myself indeed dead unto sin but alive unto Christ? If God's infinite mercy forgives all sin, who am I to look and see that which is not there. I see no such thing as 'sin' in you, I only see Christ and while you are yet whole, why should I speak as if it were not true.

 

Just a few thoughts to consider.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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So I guess those who are without sin can cast the first stone……

 

I don’t think you can talk about Christianity without talking about sin. At the same time I think Christians can learn a lot from Buddhists. I have always loved Alan Watts and I think his best work was “The Book; On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are” in which he talks as well as anyone I have heard about the “unitive” experience of the mystic while noting that “language is dualistic” and “this means using the language of analogy, metaphor, and myth”. In sum, Watts says “Nothing so eludes conscious inspection as consciousness itself. This is why the root of consciousness has been called, paradoxically, the unconscious”.

 

So my first response to this thread is that there may be an attempt to use language without alerting the reader to the “analogy, metaphor and myth” which is hopelessly tied to the terms of opposites and giving us the illusion that they are talking about consciousness when in fact they are talking about the unconscious. It would be sending the wrong signal to state that the goal of consciousness is some form of “higher consciousness” since this does not recognize the “root” of unconsciousness. Consciousness is always experienced through an ego and “getting rid of one’s ego is the last resort of invincible egoism” based upon the fallacy that “the ego can toss itself away by a tug at its own bootstraps” (Watts).

 

But of course we are all reading these posts through our senses/being conscious and in doing so we can be aware that this separates us from what we are reading about. Watts talks about living this life with our senses as a “game of black and white”. We get “fooled” in this game because we do not realize “that so called opposites, such as light and darkness, sound and silence, solid and space, on and off, inside and outside, appearing and disappearing, cause and effect, are poles or aspects of the same thing. But we have no word for that thing, save such vague concepts..as God”.

 

Consciousness is experienced through an ego/through the senses that see things as opposites. Yet the most important thing Watts ever says is that one can not get rid of one’s own ego. The best one can do is learn to live life as a “game” where really “nothing exists except God. There seem to be other things than God, but only because he is dreaming them up and making them his disguises to play hide-and-seek with himself. The universe of seemingly separate things is therefore real only for a while, not eternally real, for it comes and goes as the Self hides and seeks itself….my sensation of “I-ness”, of being alive, once came into being without conscious memory or intent, so will arise again and again, as the “central” Self—the IT—appears as the self/other situation in the myriads of pulsating forms… In looking out upon the world, we forget that the world is looking at itself—through our eyes…”

 

So my second response to this thread is that to say that separation, sin and the need for forgiveness is not “real” is true from the perspective of that “unitive” experience that Watts (and others) have pointed towards, but it certainly is not appropriate to say this from the point of view of the conscious ego. In fact, metaphysically the conscious ego is separated and will always be so especially in any attempt by the ego to reach for “higher consciousness”.

 

The problem with egos talking to other egos is that we sometimes reach too high. This is in Christian terms the ultimate sin which does require forgiveness. The problem is that we too often forget, at Tillich would remind us, that we are an ambiguous mixture of ego and God or as Jung would remind us, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness.

 

Watts suggests that the message of Jesus had to do with loving ones enemies which “expresses a condition, not a commandment” (note Tillich understands sin as a “condition” and not specific acts). “The lion lies down with the lamb in paradise, but not on earth—“paradise” being the tacit, off-stage level where, behind the scenes, all conflicting parties recognize their interdependence…”(Watts). We are talking about the “conditions” of existence that can not be overcome by “correct” belief or action. The “unitive” experience of paradise for us is always contrasted with the “down to earth” ego.

 

It seems to me that we live an ambiguous life between earth and paradise. The experience of God is so intoxicating that we often forget that it is filtered through our ego. At times I think we can “forget” our ego and think that our experience of God is “oneness” with God.

 

Salvation then is not an easy concept. To me it has to do with “the end” not being a function of time but instead being an ontological happening where somehow by grace and not by our own will we are shown paradise on earth. I do not think salvation is directly tied to correct belief or correct action but I also think that whatever motivates us to look for correct belief or correct action (again I don’t think that is a function of our will) somehow has something to do with that which saves us. I think the cross has to do with salvation because it points to giving up the power of our will “to win” and giving into whatever power motivates us towards loving our enemies. And that has to do with that “unitive” experience that Watts talks about but also has a lot more to do with the recognition of separation than the denial of separation. Tillich talks about accepting that we are accepted in spite of our separation.

 

My main interest is polity. Polity is tremendously affected by whether one thinks one is in union with God or separated (whether there is sin or not). If one is in union with God the mission of the Church is much different than if one is a mix of the demonic and the divine. It seems to me that both are “true” in an ambiguous way as Tillich talks about. This is why polity is so complicated. So although my interest is polity this discussion makes all of the difference in the world to me as to who will define the nature of Progressive Christianity. Do we listen to those in Unity who preach that you are in fact divine or those Conservatives that preach that you are the devil that is only saved by the atonement? I don’t think the Church should go down either of these paths even though both paths are much easier to follow than the path that we are given.

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If salvation is a gift, then why should I yet strive for it? Why should I yet have for a goal that which is already mine? If something is given me, then why should I talk or act as if it were not?

The striving to do what is right or what is God's will is not in order to obtain salvation but in gratitude for the salvation granted undeserved. Paul wrote "What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it."

 

Having achieved salvation is not a license to do whatever you wish. It is accepting a covenant relationship which comes with the privelege of salvation but comes with duties to strive for a sinless life.

 

No offence meant but I do not see sin 'out there' nor do I see it 'in here'. Perhaps it is as Jesus might have meant that 'evil' and 'sin' is in the eye of the beholder. If I am in Christ who is without sin, how can sin be in me? If I am a new creature in Christ then how can I sin? Am I not to reckon myself indeed dead unto sin but alive unto Christ? If God's infinite mercy forgives all sin, who am I to look and see that which is not there. I see no such thing as 'sin' in you, I only see Christ and while you are yet whole, why should I speak as if it were not true.

How can you deny that there is sin out there? There were 17 thousand murders in the U.S. in 2003 and 93 thousand rapes. If you deny that those were sins, perhaps our definitions of the word are incompatible. Were any of the perpetrators of these crimes Christian? If so, does that make their actions not sinful?

 

I believe in salvation. I believe that my sins have been forgiven, and that I need not live my life in fear of sin. But I don't believe that, having become committed to the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ, I have become perfect and incapable of sinning. The Apostle had good reason to count himself among those who had achieved salvaiton through Christ, and yet he wrote "For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." Like Paul, I will to be sinless, I fail, but I go on in the assurance that I am forgiven and that I do not need to be perfect.

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(snip)

I believe in salvation. I believe that my sins have been forgiven, and that I need not live my life in fear of sin. But I don't believe that, having become committed to the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ, I have become perfect and incapable of sinning. The Apostle had good reason to count himself among those who had achieved salvaiton through Christ, and yet he wrote "For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do." Like Paul, I will to be sinless, I fail, but I go on in the assurance that I am forgiven and that I do not need to be perfect.

 

Hi Sterrettc,

 

If you quote Paul, Why do you stop with verse 19 and not read it all the way through to completion where he says...

 

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

 

In the Greek there is no chapter and verses so one must read until the subject being spoken about is finished. He that is freed from sin is free indeed! Jesus is recorded as commanding you to " be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect" It must be possible if he said it. But perhaps one chooses to associate themselves again with sin and death rather than spirit and life and believe that they do not need to be or indeed can be perfect (whole) in God's eyes. It seems to me those eyes are the only ones to be concerned with.

 

Just some thoughts to consider concerning your post.

 

How can you deny that there is sin out there? There were 17 thousand murders in the U.S. in 2003 and 93 thousand rapes. If you deny that those were sins, perhaps our definitions of the word are incompatible. Were any of the perpetrators of these crimes Christian? If so, does that make their actions not sinful?

 

Sin is Biblically defined as a transgression of the law. How can I who am free from the law yet be subject to it? How can I who has been freed from under the law judge those as sinners who commit such acts as you mention? Why would I want to accuse anyone or place them under the law? Know you not that when you accuse another of sin you are accusing yourself? Divine justice, sowing and reaping are spiritual realities to me. Why should I judge anothers servant? It is God's mercy that will prevail. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

 

Just another thought to consider... No more. No less.

Edited by JosephM
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JosephM,

 

I am not sure I am clear about what you are advocating, or what you are saying Paul is advocating. Some of what you say sounds like you are saying that we are free of the law and can do whatever we wish without it being sinful. At other times you seem to be following Pelagius's argument against Augustine. Pelagius asks whether it is possible to live a sinless life, and answers his question that it is possible if God wills it. Then Pelagius cites scripture to claim that God wills it. Now, I am a fan of Pelagius, and think that he was as right as Augustine, but I know that I have not been able to perfect that sinless life, and I agree with Augustine that I may still be saved without achieving that perfection.

 

If we look further in Romans, we see that the Apostle writes in 7.23 of two laws at war with each other. Then in the 8th chapter it becomes clear that Paul still considers submitting to God's law something necessary for pleasing God.

 

Romans 8:5-8 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law-- indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

 

Yes we are free of our bonds, and yes we are spared an unbearable yoke, but that does not mean we do not still owe obedience to our Lord who saved us.

 

Sterrett

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JosephM,

 

I am not sure I am clear about what you are advocating, or what you are saying Paul is advocating. Some of what you say sounds like you are saying that we are free of the law and can do whatever we wish without it being sinful. At other times you seem to be following Pelagius's argument against Augustine. Pelagius asks whether it is possible to live a sinless life, and answers his question that it is possible if God wills it. Then Pelagius cites scripture to claim that God wills it. Now, I am a fan of Pelagius, and think that he was as right as Augustine, but I know that I have not been able to perfect that sinless life, and I agree with Augustine that I may still be saved without achieving that perfection.

 

Hello Sterrett,

 

Thanks for your response. I know nothing of Pelagius or Augustine but I will attempt to clarify that which I seem to be advocating. It is my direct experience through revelation that I am not under the written law. It is also my understanding that that as long as I do not measure others and hold unconditional forgiveness in my heart then I am also not under the unwritten laws which in Pauls days even the Gentiles were under the means while accusing or excusing one another. In effect, we make our own laws whenever we judge another. As Paul wrote in his letters I find I can write also. "All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient" AND "All things are lawful to me, but all things edifieth not". So, yes, I am ABLE as well as you to live a 'sinless life'. It is not a case whether God wills it or not for an individual. It is his revealed will for all to me.

 

If we look further in Romans, we see that the Apostle writes in 7.23 of two laws at war with each other. Then in the 8th chapter it becomes clear that Paul still considers submitting to God's law something necessary for pleasing God.

 

How can one who is dead to the law be subject to the law? If anything, the law was a schoolmaster that led to death. Galatians 3:24-25

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

 

By the law was the knowledge of 'good and evil' (the garden story revealed). It seems to me that he that chooses to live under the law will fall again. Personally, I will choose to remain in Christ and not in bondage to any law.

 

Romans 8:5-8 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law-- indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

 

Yes we are free of our bonds, and yes we are spared an unbearable yoke, but that does not mean we do not still owe obedience to our Lord who saved us.

 

Sterrett

 

Well said...... yet we owe nothing such as obedience for being saved otherwise it would not be a gift. A gift by definition is free of debt regardless of what Paul is recorded as saying. To owe is debt. We live not out of obedience for being saved but out of love which we experience as that which was a free gift and is desired above all the world has to offer. I do not love out of debt or fear, I love because only love is fulfilling and complete and that which I sought through error and the law was not. Just some meat to chew on and contemplate.

 

Love in Christ,

JM

 

edited quote tags

Edited by JosephM
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To Derek (I think), I prefer strawberries too, but I think I was quoting something about the translation of the Koran that says "virgins", might have been raisins!! Of course, imo, it's only good for imagery purposes.

 

I've always liked Fosdick's hymn "God of Grace and God of Glory". It seems to me as if it could have

been written yesterday, and has that old tyme religion feel as well. He wrote an essay, "Shall Fundamentalism win?" which also feels as if it should be written again right now.

 

Maybe it's because I am an ex-Christian Scientist, but I have trouble with any version of reality that denies the reality of sin. OTOH, I don't believe in original sin in the sense of it somehow tied up in our being--

I'd say we all sin though, yet I don't think that is the core of who we are. If I look around the world, I see sin all over the place, yet if I look at people I know and into myself, I see people I know as basically good,

with flaws of course. So it makes me think of something like this: sin is part of the human condition of living

and being in the world but it is not the essential part of the person.

 

My comments about baggage are meant to talk about words having baggage, like sin, salvation, etc. They have meanings that seem to be part of them without anybody even thinking about them. So it wasn't meant the same way as the Buddhist terms, still I think Buddhism has a lot of truths that we in the west seem not

to be very conditioned to pay attention to.

 

--des

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(snip)

Maybe it's because I am an ex-Christian Scientist, but I have trouble with any version of reality that denies the reality of sin. OTOH, I don't believe in original sin in the sense of it somehow tied up in our being--

I'd say we all sin though, yet I don't think that is the core of who we are. If I look around the world, I see sin all over the place, yet if I look at people I know and into myself, I see people I know as basically good,

with flaws of course. So it makes me think of something like this: sin is part of the human condition of living

and being in the world but it is not the essential part of the person.

 

(snip)

--des

 

Hello des,

 

I hope you don't mind but I find your statements here interesting. If I am perceiving accurately you say OTOH you "don't believe in original sin in the sense of it being tied up in our being" yet later at the end you say "sin is part of the human condition of living and being in the world". It sounds to me as if it (sin) then is in a sense "tied up in our being" in the world. Perhaps I am not understanding your words?

 

Also you say that you have trouble with any version of reality that denies the reality of sin. I can relate to that but only when I look at reality as a concept or perception of mind. Sin is most often defined as "a transgression of religious or moral law especially when deliberate" (dictionary) If one reckons he is free from religious or moral law then there can be no transgression in his reality nor can sin be imputed. Who defines religious or moral law? Society, the church? It is all perception and changes with time and societal dogmas. When I strip perception of its coloring, no sin is seen; Only the face of Christ. Wherefore then is sin, except in the eye (mind) of the beholder. Agreement by the masses is hypnotic and strong but where is its basis except in the minds of men.

 

Just some related thoughts, I thought might be of interest.

 

Love in Christ

JM

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Ok, Joseph, fair enough questions. Perhaps what I should have said was that sin is tied to our relationship to society. Suppose you took a neurologically/psychologically normal infant and were able to rear him or her in an atmosphere of complete love and understanding. Where that child would see no evil etc., I think the child would grow up sinless. Too bad my experiment could never be done to test this out.* So I guess what I was trying to say so clumsily was that sin is tied to our existence in the world as we know it. It means that somehow sin is related to our community or lack of community with each other.

 

Original sin, in contrast, puts the development of sin inside the person. That's why in their eyes the person needs to be saved. The person is inherently sinful/ born in sin. I do not buy that view point.

 

Yet we do see time and time again, where society has corrupted and transformed people in a negative direction. Take Nazi Germany. Suppose you had taken each German citizen, not directly involved in the actual Final Solution, and taken them to see what was actually going on. Do you think they would have been individually horrified?? I do. (In fact, you get an idea from their immediate ancestors view of Nazism.)

Yet as a group they were somehow coopted to participate in some degree in this act. Another example would be child soldiers who have committed atrocities in many African countries. If you had taken those

same kids and reared them in a Western country, say adopted them out, to Western families or more stable African homes, they would be playing baseball or soccer-- not killing. The kids were coopted as soldiers and turned into killing machines.

 

Well there are Biblical definitions of sin, that go on and on about wearing mixed fibers to committing adultery. I'm not sure I can take seriously all Biblical definitions of sin. I guess I am defining sin as an act.

Therefore, unless you want to get into the idea of acts being perceptual states, which I can't.

 

Anyway, some sins are all sins regardless of where you are: murder for instance, while others may be more culturally based. For instance, in some societies polygamy is the norm and is moral-- what if there are not enough of one sex or another to actually have genetic variability, and others we might consider it

immoral as it seems to favor one gender over another. I have heard of the definition of sin as the basic

word sense of "missing the mark". In that case, it is between you and God. I believe that is not purely physical either, but I don't care for the metaphyical "ether" either. Maybe that's just my bias. Actions of "minds" have consequences, take the Nazis for instance.

 

I think perhaps I am speaking more of ethics as existing within the realm of society, but some things are always bad where ever you are.

 

 

*I am not arguing the "Noble Savage" argument. We know that even what we term "primitive" societies are quite complex, and in some cases have their share of blood shed, etc. Perhaps I am saying the more pure

the society would be the better the human. The only examples of this is when things go wrong the other way, and there is more chaos, arguably people are worse (more violence, murder, looting, rape, etc.)--

just look at Iraq. But we could never do the opposite and have a "perfect society". Still I don't think that we

are all so hopelessly sinful and "wretched" that the only way we shouldn't end up in a fiery pit is because of Jesus's sacrifice on the cross.

 

 

--des

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Ok, Joseph, fair enough questions. Perhaps what I should have said was that sin is tied to our relationship to society. Suppose you took a neurologically/psychologically normal infant and were able to rear him or her in an atmosphere of complete love and understanding. Where that child would see no evil etc., I think the child would grow up sinless. Too bad my experiment could never be done to test this out.* So I guess what I was trying to say so clumsily was that sin is tied to our existence in the world as we know it. It means that somehow sin is related to our community or lack of community with each other.

 

des,

 

Thanks for your clarification

 

Original sin, in contrast, puts the development of sin inside the person. That's why in their eyes the person needs to be saved. The person is inherently sinful/ born in sin. I do not buy that view point.

 

Following your reasoning where does the 'carnal nature' come in to play? Were we not born into this world with a flesh nature that included the lust of the eyes? the lust of the flesh? the pride of life?

Mind you, I am not advocating sin of any kind wheteher original or not but if one sees sin as real, then is not the carnal nature real? Then must one not also see the carnal nature I describe as being born into as a creature of the flesh?

 

Yet we do see time and time again, where society has corrupted and transformed people in a negative direction. Take Nazi Germany. Suppose you had taken each German citizen, not directly involved in the actual Final Solution, and taken them to see what was actually going on. Do you think they would have been individually horrified?? I do. (In fact, you get an idea from their immediate ancestors view of Nazism.)

Yet as a group they were somehow coopted to participate in some degree in this act. Another example would be child soldiers who have committed atrocities in many African countries. If you had taken those

same kids and reared them in a Western country, say adopted them out, to Western families or more stable African homes, they would be playing baseball or soccer-- not killing. The kids were coopted as soldiers and turned into killing machines.

 

I am sorry I cannot find the word 'coopted' in any dictionary to understand your meaning. But it seems to me in your last part that whether the kids were playing baseball or out killing, the nature that could do either remains with them. Many of our 'good' young baseball playing kids are brought to Iraq and put behind modern electronic devices that turn them into killing machines also without a thought of what they are in reality doing. Recognizing that this potential nature is inside all of us seems to me to be key to breaking free of it. I see in myself the potential to create every horrific act ever committed by mankind and it is by seeing this that I am able to love and forgive unconditionally all those who have. Until one clearly sees this nature of separation he was born into he will merely use rationalization and the hypnotics of mass agreement to justify actions. When the nature is truely recognized as part of being a human being and its CAUSE is found(nothing in this world is causing anything!), the door to freedom will stand open.

 

Well there are Biblical definitions of sin, that go on and on about wearing mixed fibers to committing adultery. I'm not sure I can take seriously all Biblical definitions of sin. I guess I am defining sin as an act.

Therefore, unless you want to get into the idea of acts being perceptual states, which I can't.

 

This is another most interesting statement des. If sin is an act then we can go backwards and define all the acts that are sin. Sounds like the law, doesn't it? Will we put ourselves under the law again? How can sin be an act? An act for the most part has to begin as a thought first. Is it a sin when commited in the heasrt before the act? If sin is an act then Jesus sinned when he worked on the Sabbath day? I think not! If sin is an act then circumstances do not matter. If sin exists as real then it cannot but be the spiritual intent behind the act. And if sin exists then it can only be whatsoever is not of Faith. (knowing) And what is knowing but to be One with the Knower (God) and then all that is contrary to knowing is sin. All that re-enforces separation is of the carnal nature and all that unifies is the Christ nature. Only one nature is really 'real'. The other is illusory. Guess which one is which? That which nature you serve is your master. Only one master is real, the other is a construct of mind. Does sin exist? Only in the mind of the believer whose foot yet remains in 'hell'. (No offence meant to anyone as these words are used as metaphors and allegory)

 

 

(snip)

 

Love in Christ,

JM

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Well carnal nature doesn't have to be bad, does it. You can express carnal nature in a

loving mutual relationship or you can express it going off and screwing everybody on a

whim. It's behavior that counts. I think, sadly, Christianity has made such harmless things

as masturbation sinful because they are admitting that we are beings with a sexual nature.

I just don't buy that sexuality is sinful in and of itself.

 

Might have spelled "coopted wrong, but I can't imagine how else to spell it. Spell check

is no help, and perhaps it isn't a real word. I understand it to be when other forces (outside

the individual) work to take the individual and change them in a way that they might not

otherwise take if they acted in their own interests.

 

It's true that children can be made into soldiers, but I don't think it is any kind of natural

process that you would just take children put guns in their hands and you have a little

army. You take these children, damage them by exposing them to violence, poverty,

deprivation, and probably abuse, and THEN you get soldiers. I don't think you could

take loved children and hand them weapons and make them soldiers. Once in awhile

a kid will take a weapon and shoot someone with it (indeed there are many accidental

shootings) but they aren't an army. So I don't believe the "potential" is in the child. I

think the potential is formed perhaps even brainwashed. Of course, you can go back

and say that the people who brainwashed or otherwise manipulated these kids at some

point chose this evil action, but they themselves were also formed/shaped by their environment,

even though they had a more active part in choosing the behavior. So I guess I would

say that evil is complex, and rarely caused by a single thing (like lying entirely inside the

person). Perhaps I am not even entirely convinced of a completely free will idea of this.

 

No I don't think Jesus sinned healing on the Sabbath, as it was never a sin in the first

place. That act, is a completely good act. Ok, I would say that the circumstances matter

to an extent. If you run over someone unintentionallly, you killed someone, but

becasue you didn't mean to, it is not the same as going out and shooting them. Now

suppose you drive drunk, is that the same. I'd say we are getting closer, but it is still

not quite the same as shooting in cold blood. So I would never say circumstances don't matter.

But what about thinking about shooting someone, si that the same. I think a lot of people have

violent thoughts, that they never act on. They might play violent video games. I dont' think

this is quite the same as doing. I know Jesus argued this. ("If you think in your heart...)

But I think if someone had just THOUGHT about crucifiying Jesus and never acted on it, no one

would have ever heard of any of Jesus' ideas. (If they were Jesus')

 

For the whole illusionary nature of the world or evil in the world, I'd ahve to ask "where

did this illusion come from?"

 

 

--des

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Thanks for your response des,

 

I believe I have a somewhat clearer understanding of where you are coming from.

 

For the whole illusionary nature of the world or evil in the world, I'd ahve to ask "where

did this illusion come from?"

 

It seems to me it came from that part of the created mind that was curious and made the choice to think of itself as separate from God. (Mind is not located in the body per se) However, I cannot really say for sure as I have not yet remembered when this event in illusory time took place nor have I conscious knowledge of the event at this time. I assume that answer is presently not important to my journey. It seems to me that it is represented in the garden story which of course is not literal and if you deem it important I am certain God will provide you a more complete answer personally if you ask in Faith.

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