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The Heart Of Christianity


McKenna
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I'm sure this one has been discussed before, but I am currently reading it and I was wondering how many of you had. Since I presume most of you have, I think it could make for a good discussion. What were your favorite parts of the book? What would you like to discuss in more depth?

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This is a very important book. What I took away from reading it is that we have much more to understand as Christians. When the overall idea of Christianity having a message is put forward, what is that message? This is an interesting question that will bring a geat number of responses. But after reading this book, I understand that message to be a message of Love and Compassion. Good thread...thanks for starting it.

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This is a very important book. What I took away from reading it is that we have much more to understand as Christians. When the overall idea of Christianity having a message is put forward, what is that message? This is an interesting question that will bring a geat number of responses. But after reading this book, I understand that message to be a message of Love and Compassion. Good thread...thanks for starting it.

 

I agree that Christianity's most basic, most important message is that of love of compassion. It should, in my opinion, be what people think of when they hear the word "Christianity." I think we might have some work to do on that one.

 

I'm not very far in the book yet - just a few chapters in - but I do find his writing to be, as always, fascinating.

 

To start us off...how about his basic idea that the focus should not be on "believing in" God but rather "beloving" God? That this was what the focus of Christianity for most of its history was? Do you think this is accurate? Whenever I read that, I'm a little hesitant; I think there was a rather large emphasis placed on believing in God/Jesus for salvation even prior to the Enlightenment...but I'm no historian. Regardless, I do agree that "beloving" God should be the emphasis - that is the Great Commandment, after all.

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I think that early on, christianity was called "the way". I read "I am the way and the truth and the light" not as, "believe intellectually" (yes, clearly Borg's idea!! :P ) but as, " do what I do". I think that the way is radical compassion. Unearned, undeserved, and sometimes, vastly inappropriate compassion - Regardless. Not in any way an easy task, but so very worthwhile.

 

Imagine what the world would be like if all people who proclaim to be christians really did love their neighbor as themselves... on earth as it is in heaven, eh?

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I think that early on, christianity was called "the way". I read "I am the way and the truth and the light" not as, "believe intellectually" (yes, clearly Borg's idea!! :P ) but as, " do what I do". I think that the way is radical compassion. Unearned, undeserved, and sometimes, vastly inappropriate compassion - Regardless. Not in any way an easy task, but so very worthwhile.

 

Imagine what the world would be like if all people who proclaim to be christians really did love their neighbor as themselves... on earth as it is in heaven, eh?

 

I agree completely. I had a great deal of trouble with phrases like that - "I am the way, the truth, and the light" - because I read it on an intellectual, rather than a spiritual, level. Now that I know both the history behind the Gospel of John, and that the Bible can be read metaphorically for its spiritual meanings, that phrase not only makes sense to me, it's actually meaningful!

 

I think you're right. Imagine if all 2 billion Christians (and all the Christians throughout history) were as filled with compassion and love and joy as I imagine the earliest Christians were. I think we'd live in a much different world.

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The core of the Teachings of Jesus, what we can call The Heart of Christianity, is just that: unconditional love and compassion. The quote (inexact) that Borg uses are words attributed to Jesus......'Be compassionate just as God is compassionate'. This points to a deeper Reality that we must reflect upon. Unconditional love and compassion shown to each other by each other is the behavior of the Citizens of the Kingdom of God. This becomes very striking when we think in terms of all of us, you...me....that aggravating old man across the street....even the supposed enemies of the Empire....are all Children of God. We are all made in the image of God...all of us....without exception or asterisks. When we give unconditional love and compassion to each other, we are returning that unconditional compassion and love that God shows to us. Jesus' call was not to behave ourselves and act according to some creed or writings of people. Jesus' call to us is to be Faithful, be Loving, be Compassionate, and carry ourselves as Citizens of the Kingdom of God which he said was near. And that Kingdom is near. God is near. As near as our own breath.

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Hear! Hear! Amen and Amen!

 

Then: The Kingdom of God is as near as we each, individually, allow it to be at any given time. Sometimes (ah.... such times) I remember and allow it to be as close as my breath... sometimes.... well.... uh.... not so much :blink:

 

Remembering seems to be the hard part - inexplicably. Ye olde ego is alive, kicking, and quite distracting!

 

Thanks for the reminders that God is near.... in EVERYONE.... even if I really really really really don't see it. :lol: And, actually, realizing that not seeing God in someone is not about them, but about me. That plank and speck thing again!

 

I love these conversations!

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Thanks for the reminders that God is near.... in EVERYONE.... even if I really really really really don't see it. :lol: And, actually, realizing that not seeing God in someone is not about them, but about me. That plank and speck thing again!

 

The one aspect of our faith journeys that can continuously put tripping hazards in our way is our own 'human-ness'. We feel God's 'upward pull' and try to respond, but also find ourselves getting tangled up in our own personal way of being human and acting out on that, be it behavior, thoughts, unbelief, etc. And this is as it should be. Faith is a journey and we struggle with our own human experiences. After all, are we not Spiritual beings having a human experience? We grow Spiritually within our human-ness and begin to fill it the way that a candle fills darkness with light. As we grow Spiritually, the Light grows brighter. To understand the internal struggle between being human and being Spiritual itself is an indication of growth. That awareness gives us the opportunity to stop and consider others and our own actions and words. I struggle with my own human faults and still continue to rise and fall. If we did not have to wrestle with our own human-ness, we would not be having a human experience and would not be here.

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A few years ago, I very much enjoyed reading Professor Borg’s books. I still recommend them. In the meantime, however, a couple of recent popular books by Professor Gordon Kaufmann have become my favorite books to recommend on Christian experience. These are his recent books on God (In the Beginning . . . Creativity)and Jesus. I don’t recall the title of the second book on the top of my head. Kaufmann’s work is the most consistently interesting work in theology I know. This is my list of his books on a reading list I am constructing:

 

 

 

Kaufman, Gordon D. God, Mystery, Diversity: Christian Theology in a Pluralistic World. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

 

_____. In Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1993.

 

_____. In the Beginning. . .Creativity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004.

 

_____. Relativism, Knowledge, and Faith. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960.

 

A_1_Bibl_Reading_List.doc

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A few years ago, I very much enjoyed reading Professor Borg’s books. I still recommend them. In the meantime, however, a couple of recent popular books by Professor Gordon Kaufmann have become my favorite books to recommend on Christian experience. These are his recent books on God (In the Beginning . . . Creativity)and Jesus. I don’t recall the title of the second book on the top of my head. Kaufmann’s work is the most consistently interesting work in theology I know. This is my list of his books on a reading list I am constructing:

Kaufman, Gordon D. God, Mystery, Diversity: Christian Theology in a Pluralistic World. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

 

_____. In Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1993.

 

_____. In the Beginning. . .Creativity. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004.

 

_____. Relativism, Knowledge, and Faith. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960.

 

Would you say "In the Beginning ... creativity" would be the best of Gordon Kaufmans books to start with or one of the others. thanks Bob ve
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This is a great thread. Many things being commented on here make me want to say the following. Something that came to mind as I was meditating in worship this morning is that "Love, God's Love, means giving to those who have little or nothing to give back." I have an adult daughter going through difficult times right now and it is very nice for me to see this happening for her in her surrounding community. sincerely bob ve

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That's a good way to put it.... it requires a great deal of trust in God to be able to give to people who can't reciprocate - or who can't honor their "debt" to you. That means that you have to believe that there is enough and that you will not be left without what you need.

 

Clearly, in our time and culture, "need" is a whole separate topic :lol::blink:

 

Glad your daughter has a good community! I hope her hard times ease.

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That's a good way to put it.... it requires a great deal of trust in God to be able to give to people who can't reciprocate - or who can't honor their "debt" to you. That means that you have to believe that there is enough and that you will not be left without what you need.

 

Clearly, in our time and culture, "need" is a whole separate topic :lol::blink:

 

Glad your daughter has a good community! I hope her hard times ease.

 

Hi All,

Perhaps you could elaborate on your use of the word "debt". It seems to me that true love is unconditional acceptance and giving from that state entails no "debt" on the receivers part. Otherwise it seems to me it would not be unconditional or true giving.

 

Love and Peace,

JM

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I was agreeing with Bobve - that is true love, or God's love. Much of the giving I see day to day has strings attached in the way of social obligations, expectations, etc. I guess I was referring to social reciprocity - I feed you, then you feed me; invitations, favors, the currency of civilization. :rolleyes:

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Hi Cynthia,

 

Thanks for the clarification. Perhaps in some sense a 'debt' is created in giving in the form of sowing and reaping even if the reaping 'seems' to have no direct connection to the person that received the giving. Just a thought to consider.

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More of a karmic debt? Or actually credit?? :rolleyes:

 

That does seem true - reap what you sow, what goes around, comes around, etc! It's hard to break the idea of payback in some form. Some "reason" to do the right thing whether it is immediate or after death. I intellectually believe in doing the right thing regardless, but the idea of some form of payback is powerful.

 

What do you think???

 

Of course, sometimes, the phrase, "no good deed goes unpunished" seems to hold true too!

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More of a karmic debt? Or actually credit?? :rolleyes:

 

That does seem true - reap what you sow, what goes around, comes around, etc! It's hard to break the idea of payback in some form. Some "reason" to do the right thing whether it is immediate or after death. I intellectually believe in doing the right thing regardless, but the idea of some form of payback is powerful.

 

What do you think???

 

Of course, sometimes, the phrase, "no good deed goes unpunished" seems to hold true too!

 

Hi Cynthia,

 

Yes it seems so.....

 

Perhaps, in a spiritual sense the give and receive is connected as one and the same. It seems to me the reaping is in fact created at the time of the sowing or receiving created in the same instant as the giving yet it appears or manifests in our conceptual concept of time and therefor is sometimes difficult to connect intellectually. Nevertheless, it seems to me karma is embodied as an innate fuction of mind and manifests as the physical body/mind in this existence.

 

Just a thought to consider...

 

Love and Peace,

JM

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...
Great book! My favorite of his until The Last Week with JD Crossan. It's been quite a while since I read it, so start off some thoughts and I'll pull it off the bookshelf for discussion.

 

Great idea!

 

 

I have that book! Couldn't believe that the Public Library actually carried it! I've not read the whole thing but bits and pieces of it. I will eventually read it all. I"ve got several books going at this point...

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