Jump to content

The "scandal Of Particularity"


tariki
 Share

Recommended Posts

The Christian claim is that "God became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth". Added to this is the claim that this was a "one off". That it happened "there, then" and nowhere else. This has been called the "scandal of particularity".

 

I think it would be true to say that for Hindu's - for instance - that this is exactly what it is! A "scandal"! The Hindu faith posits many manifestations of God, even if Krishna often takes centre stage - yet even Krishna has incarnated more than once according to the various texts.

 

My specific question is:- What would - or can be - positive about claiming a "once only" event? In contrast - for instance - to the Hindu view? Are there any here who feel that their specific belief in such an event has in fact deepened their faith and spiritual life in ways that perhaps a multiple understanding of incarnation - as per Hinduism - would not have been able to invoke?

 

Please note that I am in no way seeking to stir up any form of controversy or argument. I am sincerely seeking to understand if there is in fact any particular gain seen by others in claiming a "once only" incarnation that took place "there, then".............and never again, or anywhere else!

 

Thank you

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Christian claim is that "God became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth". Added to this is the claim that this was a "one off". That it happened "there, then" and nowhere else. This has been called the "scandal of particularity".

 

I think it would be true to say that for Hindu's - for instance - that this is exactly what it is! A "scandal"! The Hindu faith posits many manifestations of God, even if Krishna often takes centre stage - yet even Krishna has incarnated more than once according to the various texts.

 

My specific question is:- What would - or can be - positive about claiming a "once only" event? In contrast - for instance - to the Hindu view? Are there any here who feel that their specific belief in such an event has in fact deepened their faith and spiritual life in ways that perhaps a multiple understanding of incarnation - as per Hinduism - would not have been able to invoke?

 

Please note that I am in no way seeking to stir up any form of controversy or argument. I am sincerely seeking to understand if there is in fact any particular gain seen by others in claiming a "once only" incarnation that took place "there, then".............and never again, or anywhere else!

 

Thank you

 

Wow! What a good question. I sure hope somebody can provide a good answer. Or I might have to become a Hindu.

 

Or a Unitarian.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tariki,

 

I see nothing overtly positive about such a claim, and it also goes against my own current beliefs / understanding.

 

However, one thing I have also come to recognize is that the human ego is a wily and cunning master. Perhaps to suggest too soon that "we are all God" would short-circuit the path to awakening for some, many or most. To believe that one has recognized what one has not is one of the gravest of spiritual errors, and one of the hardest to dispell.

 

So, I don't really know. What I suspect is that many forms of faith exist as representations of steps in a progression toward a mature awakening. The key for me seems to be to remain open to the mystery of symbol and myth, rather than getting caught up too much in the literal meaning-- but that is a general statement, not meant only for this specific question.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the question.

 

We can change our lives by becoming aware of our unity with an infinite God and the infinite possibilities that await us, but first, every new stage in life requires us to part from the previous one. The people who choose Christianity as the way to expand their consciousness have a big test to pass and that is the superiority complex that is projected by the sales men and women. Childhood gives rise to youth as it develops into adulthood. After a temporary stay our minds expand doing away with ignorance in order to approach God where the only medium between our minds and pure consciousness is our thoughts. As we bring ourselves to a greater consciousness, positive life affirming beliefs are accepted and negative thoughts and problems disappear as we express more love, peace, joy, wisdom and harmony with everything that flows unceasingly from God, but many hesitate to venture into the unknown. Those that follow the ego that their religion is superior, or other paths are inferior are following their ego and others. People tend to cling to the familiar in life, even if they are not happy. That is why Jesus preached with parables because pure consciousness is above reason but not against it, if pure consciousness can first be translated into terms that the mind can grasp people will learn to sense what is expressed. Pure consciousness and Christianity are friends, not enemies so we should be open to new ideas because we can always reject what we consider false and concede to the truth. Yes, some Christians are manipulated and lead astray, but they will find their way because all paths lead to the same place. Being alert to our habitual thought patterns will make us aware to what causes us to think in negative patterns and what causes positive thoughts. The truth will help us to change our negative thoughts into positive ones so we can observe the presence and power of God everywhere and become aware that we are a part of the great unity expressed in pure consciousness or God the Father.

Christian Mysticism

Link to comment
Share on other sites

tariki: My specific question is:- What would - or can be - positive about claiming a "once only" event?

 

I think there is an element of "once only" in every event, including Jesus. There is something irreducible and non-repeatable in every instant, each person, all happenings...this moment, right now, typing these characters on this board...something unique and different and once only.

 

There is also something similar, common and shared about this moment and every event, including Jesus.

 

I think this brings us to the ancient dynamic between what is particular and what is universal. Perhaps there is something scandalous whenever we neglect one for the other?

 

Still, I think the real scandal regarding Jesus is not the claim of "once only"...but the notion that what is most sacred and holy has been nailed to the Cross of Imperial execution: that God has chosen an occupied people, far removed from political power or cultural prominence, former slaves with a terribly imperfect past full of terror, grief and fear, but always nurturing an idefatigable hope that God would liberate the oppressed of the earth....

 

THE scandal is that God did not come as the warrior soldier willing and able to decimate entire armies, a general over the Emperor's forces, controlling the riches of an Empire, demanding allegiences and casting fear into the hearts of friends and foes, using the threat and use of violence to liberate....but, instead, came as the Prince of Peace, telling his friends to love their enemies, turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, give up their cloak as well as their coat, and be willing to take up their own Cross...

 

THE scandal is a Cross in all of its brutal illegitimacy and violent horror: and the demand that those who follow in the Way of Jesus must somehow participate in that cruel show of despotic force.

 

I'm not sure if there is anything positive about this, but I do think it shows the particularity of the Way of Jesus: a Way that radically confronts the systems of oppression and violence through healing, feeding and a love that transcends all boundaries and borders. Perhaps, the scandal involves us, the Christians in this world who claim discipleship but have no sign of where we have chosen to carry our Cross; but, on the contrary, willfully participate in the crucifiction of life's outcast, unacceptable, undesirable, illegitimate, and sinful.

 

The scandal is a message of radical hospitality and grace being perverted into apology for Empire and theological justification for opulence and utter disregard for those most vulnerable in the world.

 

 

tariki: In contrast - for instance - to the Hindu view?

 

I think this requires more clarification, because I don't think there is any such thing as "the Hindu view", but instead, many many views throughout the religions of India.

 

And, I think the Cross is a direct challenge to all of these views in India, and all religions, and especially Christians. I think there is a kind of distinct particularity in the Cross, and I think it confronts every religion with what is ultimately important and questions what are all of us willing to sacrifice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am reading an amazing book called VIOLENCE UNVEILED by Gil Bailie. He claims that the crucifixion puts an end to sacred violence and establishes a new life of radical empathy for all victims. He defines myth as hiding the truth from us for the common good. He believes the Gospel unveils this lie and allows us to overcome our "need" for violence and our practice of sacrificing victims in order to bring about or maintain stability.

 

So, I guess I would have to say that Jesus did accomplish something in a spectacular way which no one had accomplished before him. To believe in his resurrection is to believe in the power of a new life which is a total break from the systems of sacred violence which still haunt the planet. It's a breakthrough of both historical and cosmological dimensions. We are still trying to figure out how to put this new life into practice in the global village. People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr have hepled us figure it out but we still have a lot of work to do before the great gift of God in Jesus Christ is fully unwrapped.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the responses. Dissident Heart, I think you raised a relevant point by speaking of the relationship between the "particular" and the "universal". Perhaps that the Universal must always express itself as the particular - this touches the heart of the Buddhist vision. (In the symbolism of my own Pure Land faith, the colour gold expresses the undifferentiated nature of enlightenment, while the lotus flower reveals the distinctive "suchness" of each particular; and the Pure Land is a place of infinite golden lotus flowers) I do take the point that perhaps the particular nature of the Christian understanding of God requires a particular expression, and is best served by doing so. God as the small and insignificant human being - by the standards and judgements of this world! - finally facing crucifiction under the powers that be........A once and only event that concentrates the mind.

 

Eventually such claims and teachings do express themselves in the particular "flavour" of Christianity. From my own understanding, no matter the great divergences and different expressions within the Christian Faith, there is still perhaps a distinct "colour" - or "flavour" - that permeates them all. This is true of all Faiths. (I seem to remember Alan Watts once remarking that there would eventually be a way of making and drinking tea that would be definitively "Christian"...........corresponding to the Japanese Tea Ceremony that is an expression of the Buddhist Faith) The Trappist monk Thomas Merton draws similarities between the Tea Ceremony and the Eucharist, that all who participate must first put off (as far as possible) their artificial social and external persona and enter in their simplicity into the oneness of the communion. He speaks of a ceremony that "does not manifest a spirit of individualism, withdrawal, and separation, but rather of communality and convergence".

 

I suppose this brings as back - in a way - to the "particular" and the "universal". In his essay "From Pilgrimage to Crusade" Thomas Merton - again! - refers to the task that faces us all and says that "if we can voyage to the ends of the earth and there find ourselves in the aborigine who most differs from ourselves, we will have made a fruitful pilgimage." Fruitful indeed!!

 

Thanks

Derek

 

P.S. Regarding clarification of my use of the term "Hindu view", I was only referring back to the particular view expressed in the previous paragraph of my post. I agree, "Hinduism" is a bit of an umbrella term that covers a great diversity!

Edited by tariki
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Christian claim is that "God became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth". Added to this is the claim that this was a "one off". That it happened "there, then" and nowhere else. This has been called the "scandal of particularity".

 

I think it would be true to say that for Hindu's - for instance - that this is exactly what it is! A "scandal"! The Hindu faith posits many manifestations of God, even if Krishna often takes centre stage - yet even Krishna has incarnated more than once according to the various texts.

 

Hello, Derek, Jesus here. Jen read your question to me, and here are my thoughts. You must always remember that individual human beings make many claims that have no basis in Divine truth. Over the centuries, a great many individuals have made the claim that I, Jesus, was God made flesh this one time only. A "one of", as you say. But I, Jesus, made no such claim, nor, indeed, would I have made such a claim. There are no avatars. None. Nor have there ever been.

 

There are, instead, individual human beings -- female, male, young, old, healthy, infirm -- who have used all the gifts given to them by God the Mother and God the Father, and who have become so fully in tune with the songs of their own divine souls that they radiate a powerful sense of peace and love. This option always has been and always will be open to every single person on the planet -- female, male, young, old, healthy, infirm. This option goes by many different names. Some call it enlightenment. Some call it salvation. Some call it maturity. However, what remains universally true, no matter what religion you first call your home, is that "the enlightenment option" can only attained by those who harness their free will and use it every day to make the most loving choices possible.

 

I, Jesus, learned to use my free will to yoke my biology to my soul. With a great deal of time, effort, and loving guidance from our Mother and Father, I finally managed to get my act together as a human being, and live in a state of peace henceforth. For those who wish to understand the Divine truth as it really is, I, Jesus, am a mentor. Nothing more. Not an avatar. Not a "one-of" incarnation of God. Just a human being who lived the Way.

 

As for incarnation, it is certainly done from time to time, though most quantum beings (also called souls and/or angels) incarnate only once as human beings. As it happens, I lived one life before I lived my life as Jesus. I was a man (not Adam), and suffice it to say that I did not meet my divine potential in that life. I thought I was smarter than God. Yep. It was that bad. So I went Home, thought about what I'd done, and said, "######, I can do better than that. Mother and Father, I'd like to try incarnating again, and this time I'd like to try harder to hear what you're actually saying to me. I'd like to see what it feels like to try with all my might to combine my biological mind with my angelic heart. How about it?"

 

Three thousand years afterwards, I got my wish, and found myself living in an outpost city of the nascent Roman Empire. And then I went and did something stupid, and said something along the lines of "I'll be back." Be careful what you wish for . . .

 

Love Jesus

November 26, 2006

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I've never understood the traditional notion of God walking in the guise of Jesus. So this makes perfect sense to me. I've gotten into a few debates in the past by pointing out that Jesus saying "I and the Father are one" did not imply "I and God are the same entity." If so, Jesus would not have had that moment on the cross when he ostensibly cried out to God-that implies non-identity. To me Jeus' story is more inspiring as "doable" to the rest of us temporary mortals as wo/man searching and sacrificing (the false self) to find God then God sacrificing to find wo/man. Of course, accepting that version might really upset the established Christian applecart. Speaking of which, for you Sylvia Brown fans out there, I see she has a new book out all about "channeled" info re the "real" Jesus from the other side which takes this point of view. In fact takes the view Jesus didn't even die on the cross. Take care, earl

Link to comment
Share on other sites

tariki,

 

It seems this forum takes as a "given" that there are many paths to the one God, that Christianity is only one gateway. I'd say it's probable that God has been embodied or revealed in many men and women through the ages. There's nothing to be gained by claiming exclusiveness, in any faith.

 

Someone wrote that we should each seek to live more deeply into our own faith tradition, whatever it is (maybe Thomas Merton?!)

 

Huston Smith points out a parallel to the empty tomb of Jesus: Buddha's closest disciple Ananda went to pay reverence to Mahakashyapa at his meditation cave, and found the stone that blocked the entrance had been rolled away.

 

The uniqueness I associate with Christianity is the resurrection, rather than incarnation, though perhaps they mean the same. Personally, without my belief in the resurrection I would not consider myself a Christian, but everyone has a different approach. Still it was never a case of choosing Christianity because of some claim to uniqueness. Faith is not a rational decision, is it? Each of us bonds to a faith on an emotional/spiritual level rather than an intellectual/analytical level. For me it has been a long slow (ongoing!)process of identifying with gospel narratives and other parts of the bible, along with being around people who reflect and apply those principles in daily life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Derek: I do take the point that perhaps the particular nature of the Christian understanding of God requires a particular expression, and is best served by doing so. God as the small and insignificant human being - by the standards and judgements of this world! - finally facing crucifiction under the powers that be........A once and only event that concentrates the mind.

 

I'm interested in what you see the as the point of focus with the Crucified: on what, exactly, are we to concentrate? I think it has something to do with the cruelty and injustice of life: a stark reminder that the weak are often abused, tortured, disappeared and murdered...and that terrible forces of powerful destructiveness often run roughshod over our family, friends, our values, homes, communities, our planet. I think it demands a response: who is Crucified in your world...and what are you doing about it...are you one of the Crucifiers...or one of the Crucified?

 

I think this is the kind of particularity that will probably offend everyone....the Cross is offensive.

 

Derek: The Trappist monk Thomas Merton draws similarities between the Tea Ceremony and the Eucharist, that all who participate must first put off (as far as possible) their artificial social and external persona and enter in their simplicity into the oneness of the communion. He speaks of a ceremony that "does not manifest a spirit of individualism, withdrawal, and separation, but rather of communality and convergence".

 

I like this description of the Eucharist: not an escape into individual salvation, but engaging community through loving relationship...forging an authenticity that sheds the false self of social status and personal prestige.

 

I think Crossan's notion of the Eucharist as a kind of Table Fellowship that radically challenged the dominant notions of in-group/out-group, purity codes, and social hierarchy....a kind of revolutionary solidarity of the outcast and insider all at once...is a powerful interpretation alongside Merton's.

 

 

Derek: I suppose this brings as back - in a way - to the "particular" and the "universal". In his essay "From Pilgrimage to Crusade" Thomas Merton - again! - refers to the task that faces us all and says that "if we can voyage to the ends of the earth and there find ourselves in the aborigine who most differs from ourselves, we will have made a fruitful pilgimage." Fruitful indeed!!

 

No doubt so much of Christian exceptionalism has been a journey to transform the aboriginal world into our own image: performing far more Crucifictions than celebrating Resurrections.

 

Try replacing the word aborigine in Merton's statement with Crucified...what difference does it make? Better, replace the word aborigine with Executioner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another way that I understand the once and only incarnation and resurrection is that there is only one of us and there is only now, not then. It is always Now!

 

The Jesus of history is significant, of course, but the Cosmic Christ Event is what's happening Now! These days, I like to call our moment of history the great evolutionary leap forward, a cosmic happening where we all become one in Christ taking place somehow within the confines of history.

 

In the Bible and in Christian doctrine, it is important to say that there is only one baptism. This means one baptism ... not one baptism in each life ... but one baptism. So the Christ Event of unconditional love and unlimited love and uniting love is happening right now in the one mind which God gives to you and me. We are connected. The boundaries we encounter in our day to day life are temporary. The mind of Christ is the greater reality which we realize as we detach from our ego boundaries. This is a painful process which can only happen successfully through a purifying spiritual discipline.

 

I'm searching for the right words to state this belief and would love your help.

 

I can't say enough about the book Alan Watts wrote called MYTH AND RITUAL IN CHRISTIANITY. He shows how Christianity has both revealed the great truth of mysticism, the perennial philosophy, and seriously missed the truth in important ways as well. I guess that's why he left Christianity behind and became a Buddhist.

 

I think Progressive Christianity is working on correcting the errors of our tradition so that Christianity becomes completely identified with the truth of the perennial philosophy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another way that I understand the once and only incarnation and resurrection is that there is only one of us and there is only now, not then. It is always Now!

 

I agree with the quote above. I would explain it another way.

 

God is not separate from anything; He is the Life of our life, the Reality within our own reality and the Soul within our being. Our union with God can be witnessed in our minds starting with the replication of the union between Christ consciousness and pure consciousness. This is the bringing of our own minds and wills into agreement with Christ consciousness, a consciousness where we experience pure consciousness and get submerged in the loving will of God. It starts us on a journey toward a new consciousness where Christ consciousness purifies the mind so it becomes free, not worried and unattached because it doesn’t want its own way, but the Lord’s way. Christ said, “Lord let Thy Will be done.”

 

It is diffeicult to describe

 

Christian Mysticism

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with the quote above. I would explain it another way.

 

God is not separate from anything; He is the Life of our life, the Reality within our own reality and the Soul within our being. Our union with God can be witnessed in our minds starting with the replication of the union between Christ consciousness and pure consciousness. This is the bringing of our own minds and wills into agreement with Christ consciousness, a consciousness where we experience pure consciousness and get submerged in the loving will of God. It starts us on a journey toward a new consciousness where Christ consciousness purifies the mind so it becomes free, not worried and unattached because it doesn’t want its own way, but the Lord’s way. Christ said, “Lord let Thy Will be done.”

 

It is diffeicult to describe

 

Christian Mysticism

 

Thanks Soma,

 

But my problem is this:

 

I can go into New Age language and accept it. I think that's your language and I respect it immensely.

 

I can go into traditional Christian language and accept it. I respect this language immensely.

 

But a bridge between the 2 seems to be lacking. I think Progressive Christianity is building the bridge or maybe just designing the bridge at this point. We have a long way to go. Until the bridge is built, we have to take the ferry!

 

I can't resist seeing a political connection. Most Liberals don't go to church or seldom go to church. Most Conservatives do go to church and go often. I believe most Liberals believe in Christ but don't feel comfortable with traditional language. They are far more comfortable in all kinds of New Age situations and are learning the New Age language. If Progressive Christianity can build the bridge which eventually brings about a real integration of traditional Christian language and New Age language, then Liberals will go back to church in waves! There are isolated situations now where this is happening.

 

As you can see at my website, this is a project dear to my heart.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mystictrec, I agree with your observations on Church and language. Language is restricting or can be. It can also be used as a tool. Your web site is a great tool of communication. Maybe, that is why we find great comfort with silence because pure thought has less restrictions. I write most likely in New Age Language, but I try to use Christian terminology. I find myself relating symbols to new words that have a broader connotation. My goal is to give our Christian brothers and sisters a glimpse of a spiritual experience intellectually so they strive and experience the Lord Jesus Christ within their being.

 

Christianity has the symbols to start this journey inward, but many times words interpret the symbols in a different light that make Our Lord an object to be worshiped and not experienced. Jesus is a great guide to our inner soul and he directs people with his parrables. He didn't use scientific method because at that time is was not prevalant. Today, those symbols are still guiding us inward, but the words limit and sometimes confuse the journey. I wrote my book "Evolution of Consciousness" to broaden the Christian perspective and make Christianity inclusive and not exclusive, but I feel more success with my workshops on Christian Mysticism because I can experince the silence with the audience after inellectually discussing it using different words from Christianity, science, philosophy and psychology.

 

My hope is that Progressive Christianity will bridge the gap because most churches are not open to new ideas because they are trying to grow the congregation in a bussiness sense. The individual spiritual experience is not encouraged as much as I would like to see in the churches. They are doing a great service and some dis-service to the people, but I think the contemplative side can add another dimension to the church to open the doors of the mind to God and all things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He shows how Christianity has both revealed the great truth of mysticism, the perennial philosophy, and seriously missed the truth in important ways as well. I guess that's why he left Christianity behind and became a Buddhist.

 

I think Progressive Christianity is working on correcting the errors of our tradition so that Christianity becomes completely identified with the truth of the perennial philosophy.

 

As a buddhist, I can't say I'm convinced that buddhism gets it any better. As a Christian, I can't say that Christianity gets all of it right, either. With toes in both pools, what I see is that Christianity gets some of it right and expresses certain things better than Buddhism does, and vice versa. There are many, many unhappily fundamentalist Buddhists out there-- literalism is not something that the Abrahamic religions have cornered the market on.

 

Okay, from this perspective I'd say that:

 

1) I agree with you about what Progressive Christianity seems to be moving toward... but I'd expect much resistance from just about all sides as it moves forward. Growth is painful and people resist it.

 

2) As far as the crucifixion goes, my own take is that it serves as a reminder that only in a 100% surrender to our own humanity and all the suffering that it entails-- and a willingness to locate the divine within that humanity-- will the kingdom of heaven be found. I don't think this divinity is unique to one man who lived 2000 years ago. I think his life serves as the example to which all of us can aspire.

 

In buddhism I have been taught that suffering and death are inevitable parts of our human condition. Much buddhist practice centers on accepting and embracing these truths, because (it's believed) we create much suffering for ourselves by a reliance on fantasies of security and immortality. What I haven't been taught much of in buddhism is a kindness-to-self in the midst of our own suffering. Christianity does mercy (and absolution) hand over fist better than Buddhism ever will.

 

Sometimes, in the midst of our pain, we need to remember to treat ourselves with kindness. It goes without saying that we need to remember to treat others this way. Where we often fall short is with a lack of mercy, for ourselves and others. It is the strength of this mercy that keeps me involved in the Christian church.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mystictrec, I agree with your observations on Church and language. Language is restricting or can be. It can also be used as a tool. Your web site is a great tool of communication. Maybe, that is why we find great comfort with silence because pure thought has less restrictions. I write most likely in New Age Language, but I try to use Christian terminology. I find myself relating symbols to new words that have a broader connotation. My goal is to give our Christian brothers and sisters a glimpse of a spiritual experience intellectually so they strive and experience the Lord Jesus Christ within their being.

 

Christianity has the symbols to start this journey inward, but many times words interpret the symbols in a different light that make Our Lord an object to be worshiped and not experienced. Jesus is a great guide to our inner soul and he directs people with his parrables. He didn't use scientific method because at that time is was not prevalant. Today, those symbols are still guiding us inward, but the words limit and sometimes confuse the journey. I wrote my book "Evolution of Consciousness" to broaden the Christian perspective and make Christianity inclusive and not exclusive, but I feel more success with my workshops on Christian Mysticism because I can experince the silence with the audience after inellectually discussing it using different words from Christianity, science, philosophy and psychology.

 

My hope is that Progressive Christianity will bridge the gap because most churches are not open to new ideas because they are trying to grow the congregation in a bussiness sense. The individual spiritual experience is not encouraged as much as I would like to see in the churches. They are doing a great service and some dis-service to the people, but I think the contemplative side can add another dimension to the church to open the doors of the mind to God and all things.

 

Amen!

 

As a buddhist, I can't say I'm convinced that buddhism gets it any better. As a Christian, I can't say that Christianity gets all of it right, either. With toes in both pools, what I see is that Christianity gets some of it right and expresses certain things better than Buddhism does, and vice versa. There are many, many unhappily fundamentalist Buddhists out there-- literalism is not something that the Abrahamic religions have cornered the market on.

 

Okay, from this perspective I'd say that:

 

1) I agree with you about what Progressive Christianity seems to be moving toward... but I'd expect much resistance from just about all sides as it moves forward. Growth is painful and people resist it.

 

2) As far as the crucifixion goes, my own take is that it serves as a reminder that only in a 100% surrender to our own humanity and all the suffering that it entails-- and a willingness to locate the divine within that humanity-- will the kingdom of heaven be found. I don't think this divinity is unique to one man who lived 2000 years ago. I think his life serves as the example to which all of us can aspire.

 

In buddhism I have been taught that suffering and death are inevitable parts of our human condition. Much buddhist practice centers on accepting and embracing these truths, because (it's believed) we create much suffering for ourselves by a reliance on fantasies of security and immortality. What I haven't been taught much of in buddhism is a kindness-to-self in the midst of our own suffering. Christianity does mercy (and absolution) hand over fist better than Buddhism ever will.

 

Sometimes, in the midst of our pain, we need to remember to treat ourselves with kindness. It goes without saying that we need to remember to treat others this way. Where we often fall short is with a lack of mercy, for ourselves and others. It is the strength of this mercy that keeps me involved in the Christian church.

 

Amen!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

>>My specific question is:- What would - or can be - positive about claiming a "once only" event? In contrast - for instance - to the Hindu view?<<

 

Very good question. Generally speaking there are three generally accepted positions out there regarding this. (And I admit that I have problems with this categorization, but it’s all the buzz.) The “exclusivists” and “inclusivists” would argue for the once and only approach. “Pluralists” argue for multiple, culturally relative approach. I will present what is more akin to the inclusivist approach here.

 

As I see it, one’s “truth” is one’s measuring stick for right and wrong in this world. If one were to say that Jesus is the once and only incarnation of God (the ultimate measure), then that would mean that his person and work are the definitive measure for justice in this world at all times and all places.

 

So, let’s take an example: the crucifixion. Jesus was apprehended, condemned, and executed. According to Matthew, if he wanted to preserve his own life, he could have called down the power of heaven and destroy his enemies. But he does not do this. Instead, he refuses to give into the evil of violence by participating in that way, even though it means his own death, and indeed the continuation of suffering by his people at the hands of the Romans. What might this mean for us if he is the “once and only” manifestation of God.

 

It means that his way of being in the world is the ultimate expression of divinity. Anything that doesn’t measure up to his way of being is less divine, and therefore errant (maybe even evil). Therefore, to raise the sword in any circumstance is to “sin” against God and the divine way as eternally revealed in Jesus. This leads many to a strict form of pacifism.

 

Meanwhile, let’s say that another religion advocates violence in certain circumstances. A while back, I heard a Wiccan advocate this based on his experience of the divine. For argument’s sake, let’s assume that this is an accepted part of the Wiccan tradition.

 

So, we have to “truths.” One says that violence is never appropriate. The other says that sometimes it is. Which is correct? From the inclusivist point of view, any other divine revelation is deficient inasmuch as it doesn’t conform to the image of Jesus, who is the once and only (therefore definitive, or normative) image of God. According to the inclusivist, then, while the Wiccan truth might be correct (holy) in many respects, on this it is deficient and leads people into error (or sin). Therefore, pacifistic nonviolence trumps conditional violence, because Christianity trumps Wicca.

 

To help understand this position better, I want to juxtapose it with a more pluralistic view. A pluralist is likely to say that revelation is contextual, and therefore the Wiccan truth is just as divine as the Christian truth. Therefore, in this case, it may be appropriate for Wiccans to engage in conditional violence, but not for Christians who’s truth binds them to nonviolence. This is where things get problematic for pluralists.

 

Pluralists, with their emphasis on dialogue and relativity, have a hard time saying much of anything about significant affairs in this world. It’s great to have a personal spirituality that “works for you,” but what happens when others are involved. When we look at segregation in the South, for example, who’s to say that it isn’t “right for them” as a society? Jesus can’t necessarily be a referent, because Jesus isn’t a universal measure. So, the non-universalization of truth makes is easy to apply personally, but difficult to impose on a society.

 

So, in many respects, for the inclusivists, what is at stake is a universal concept of justice that can be applied to all places and at all times. If we think of God as being the standard for justice, and if we think that God was incarnate in a specific time and place, that event reveals for us the very standard that we seek. That event becomes for us the “high ground” from which we can critique other religions and our society. So, when Christianity releases the supremacy of that event, it loses its prophetic voice.

 

*sound of 2 cents falling into the can*

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hello Xian,

 

To respond to one sentence--"Anything that doesn't measure up to Jesus' way of being is less divine, and therefore errant, maybe even evil" -- that seems to jump from one extreme to another, a conclusion that is not really supported. It's not part of Christ's teachings or example, IMHO.

 

Aren't we all pluralists on this forum? I kind of assumed we are.

 

Bush & company supposedly base their stubborn "crusader" policy in Iraq, on a belief system that could be called inclusivist, perhaps exclusivist, correct? A view that's been used to justify and prolong misguided war.

 

Interesting that you close with the Voltaire quote--"Whatever you do, crush the infamous thing, and love those who love you."

The infamous thing is superstition...does this relate to your point here?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hello Xian,

 

To respond to one sentence--"Anything that doesn't measure up to Jesus' way of being is less divine, and therefore errant, maybe even evil" -- that seems to jump from one extreme to another, a conclusion that is not really supported. It's not part of Christ's teachings or example, IMHO.

 

Aren't we all pluralists on this forum? I kind of assumed we are.

 

Bush & company supposedly base their stubborn "crusader" policy in Iraq, on a belief system that could be called inclusivist, perhaps exclusivist, correct? A view that's been used to justify and prolong misguided war.

 

Interesting that you close with the Voltaire quote--"Whatever you do, crush the infamous thing, and love those who love you."

The infamous thing is superstition...does this relate to your point here?

 

Hello Rivanna,

 

Very good points. I, personally, am not an inclusivist. I was just answering the original question as best I could from the perspective of those who hold to the "once and only" belief.

I

And though I haven't been around a while, if I recall correctly there were those in the past on here who were not pluralists. But I might be thinking of another board. :)

 

My primary issue with the inclusivist perspective has to do with a willingness to engage the world imperialistically with one's mind. Just because one believes something to be true, does not make it necessarily so (except for that person). A pluralist perspective is, IMO, much more open to greater truth as it recognizes that finite beings can never fully comprehend the Infinite.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm just going to do some thinking out loud here since this topic is very important.

 

Some Buddhists say: "If you see the Buddha on the road, kill it!"

 

Is it totally heretical for Christians to say the same thing about Christ?

 

I don't think so.

 

Paul says: "Christ is the All in All." Luke says: "The Kingdom of God is within you." So, when Christ is something else, something other, then we miss the reality of the presence of divinity within us. Isn't this what the sacrament of Baptism proclaims? We become united with Christ, one with God. Oh, a part of us remains outside this divinity for sure, but a big part of us is united with God in Baptism. Baptism is the initiating step of the process of awakening to our true divine state.

 

Like Jim R, I find that A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is a fantastic bridge between the universal message of mysticism or the perennial philosophy (PP) and the particular narrative of Christianity. In Myth and Ritual in Christianity, Alan Watts describes Christianity as a beautiful path to God but with a few significant problems which keep it from fully expressing the perennial philosophy. I believe that ACIM solves these problems. Alan Watts became a Buddhist (he was an Episcopal priest) because he came to believe that Buddhism was closer to the PP than Christianity. He might have been able to stay Christian had he been able to read ACIM.

 

ACIM says that the Son of God is all of humanity. What Jesus did and still does is the atonement, the mind transformation which brings us into a total awareness (awakening) of our natural divine state so distorted by the ego and the false belief in separation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Mystictrek. After years of yoga,martial arts, qi gong, and various meditation techniques, I was ready to leave the Christian fold.Because of my study of ACIM Christianity and the Bible took on a whole new meaning. There is no doubt in my mind that I am in Christianity and active in my faith today because of my ACIM study. it gave me a mystical inner path that led to a fuller realization of God and my Self, as His creation.

 

ACIM relates very easily to what Progressive Christian thinkers and writers like Fox, Borg, and Spong are saying. Other thinkers like Neil Donald Walsh, Wayne Dwyer, nad Depak Chopra are also sending very similar spiritual and philosophical messages. Marianne Williamson is a well known ACIM proponent.

 

I am not proselytizing, for ACIM is not a religion. (I don't thinkMystictrek is proselytizing either)If your spiritualiy is mssing something though, ACIM might be worth looking into. Many people "do the course" and never leave their faith. Some were not religious before the course and remain not religious after. I have got to warn you, though, many find it tough and incomprehensable. After about a year of study, it just opened up for me.

 

I was a practicing Christian for years while doing Buddhist and Indian style meditation techniques. There was just something incongruent about it. ACIM as a mystical path blends perfectly with a progressive Christian faith.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

re: original post

 

1. I personally don't feel Christianity is inherently strengthened via a notion of a one time, in one place incarnation.

I have a bit of an adoptionist notion about Jesus' growing into and becoming so close to God relationionally, that

metaphorically speaking, He and God "as one" (i.e. were/are as tight as two peas on a pod).

I also have a bit of a semi-perenialist/semi-triumphalist view such that I feel that Jesus was AN incarnation of the Cosmic Christ.

 

2. Here's some links to other discussions of the scandal of particularity - including another Christian forum which folks might enjoy learning about:

 

Catalyst: Contemporary Evangelical PerspectivesTHE SCANDAL OF CHRISTIAN SALVATION AND RELIGIOUS PLURALISM ... Hence, while Pluralists err by removing the particularity of the scandal, Exclusivists err by ...

catalystresources.org/issues/233brewer.html -

 

r204stq2How does it give rise in each to a "scandal of particularity"? (Essay V, J4). QUESTIONS ON CHRISTIANITY. Be familiar with the following terms and names; ...

www.aarweb.org/syllabus/syllabi/c/cannon/r204stq2.htm -

 

Just Wondering: The Scandal of ParticularityThe Scandal of Particularity. Newbigin, in his theology of election, ... discover the truth about christianity through reading historical accounts of Christ ...

hepburnmusings.blogspot.com/2006/06/scandal-of-particularity.html -

 

Pascal: The First Modern ChristianChristianity’s scandal is not just itself (though it is that as well, ... the century to follow than what has become known as the "scandal of particularity. ...

www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9908/articles/oakes.html -

 

[PDF] The Scandal of Artistic Particularity:File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML

between Christianity’s “scandal of particularity” and Islam’s desire to be. universal in scope. I believe further that this is linked to Islam’s

 

see www.google.com "scandal of particularity" to see more in more detail

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service