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The Soul Of Christianity


rivanna
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I'd be interested to hear if anyone has read Huston Smith's latest book, The Soul of Christianity (2005).

 

One thing that puzzled or intrigued me--he talks about the tranquillity and cheerfulness of the early Christians, their mutual regard and absence of social barriers, their inner peace and radiance. "What produced this love and joy in these early Christians? It wasn't Jesus' ethical teachings; we have already noted that all of those were already in the literature of his day. It wasn't even the way Jesus had embodied his teachings in his life....Three intolerable burdens had suddenly been lifted from believers' shoulders: the first was fear of death...the second was guilt. The third release was from the confines of the ego. They knew that the human curse is to love and sometimes to love well, but never to love well enough. Now that curse had been dramatically lifted."

 

How that happened, the author doesn't really explain.

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I'd be interested to hear if anyone has read Huston Smith's latest book, The Soul of Christianity (2005).

 

One thing that puzzled or intrigued me--he talks about the tranquillity and cheerfulness of the early Christians, their mutual regard and absence of social barriers, their inner peace and radiance. "What produced this love and joy in these early Christians? It wasn't Jesus' ethical teachings; we have already noted that all of those were already in the literature of his day. It wasn't even the way Jesus had embodied his teachings in his life....Three intolerable burdens had suddenly been lifted from believers' shoulders: the first was fear of death...the second was guilt. The third release was from the confines of the ego. They knew that the human curse is to love and sometimes to love well, but never to love well enough. Now that curse had been dramatically lifted."

 

How that happened, the author doesn't really explain.

 

Hi rivanna,

I haven't read the book but it sounds like you are on to something very insightful. You ask "What produced this love and joy in these early Christians". I would think the same thing that produces it in many but not most Christians today. Back then, new Christians didn't get lost in theology and a NT as there were no printing presses and writings were scare compared to today. People had to depend on the spiritual life and the spirit of God for direct revelation. And in my view, one revelation brings more change than learning or memorizing 1000 versus of writings. It is my present understanding that most Christians miss Jesus's real message. He spoke mostly of the Kingdom of God / Kingdom of Heaven and how it was at hand (present here and now). One can learn all the teachings but never enter into it as the Pharasees and Saducees did. He accused them of shutting up the kingdom of heaven , not enetreing in themselves nor allowing others to enter. (present tense) Only the spirit can enter but the flesh reaps the benefits. His first words recorded when he started preaching according to Matthew 4:17

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Repent (metanoeo) (in Greek) means to think differently for the (basileia) realm of (ouranos) by implication happiness or elevated state is (eggizo) made near or at hand.

 

Note: The kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God are used interchangeably in the New Testament yet are two different words in the Greek. Heaven denotes the elevated state and God denotes Divinity or the source.

 

This was the good news. By thinking differently with such principles that he expounded on such as forgiveness, love and mercy and rejecting those thoughts that opposed them one would become more in tune with the spirit of God or ones source and enters an elevated state where the natural response of the body then experiences, love, joy, peace, health, and no fear of death. Just my take on the subject from personal experience.

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Joseph,

 

That's true isn't it, the early Christian communities grew from the spoken word. Jesus never wrote his teachings down-- even Paul's letters were originally up close and personal.

 

If I understood you, you're saying the kingdom of God idea explains how people suddenly felt they had greater ability to love, as Smith suggests. Perhaps it meant a way of life based on the feeling that we already have enough, not driven by the anxious desire for more.

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Joseph,

 

That's true isn't it, the early Christian communities grew from the spoken word. Jesus never wrote his teachings down-- even Paul's letters were originally up close and personal.

 

If I understood you, you're saying the kingdom of God idea explains how people suddenly felt they had greater ability to love, as Smith suggests. Perhaps it meant a way of life based on the feeling that we already have enough, not driven by the anxious desire for more.

 

Yes rivanna,

 

It seems to me that when the feeling of completeness is experienced, we are not driven by the belief and anxiety that we are lacking something. It also seems to me that when we are in that elevated state no gain or loss is desired or even seems possible.

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