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Can A New Christianity Be Intellectually Conceived?


sonoman
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Over the course of 30 years since I was put on the Christian path albeit not the traditional one, I've watched intellectual Christians deal with the culmination of 200+ years of New Testament critique that has more or less shattered the New Testament as any sort of reliable historical document about this Jewish man identified as Jesus Christ in Greek. Because I came to Christianity through revelatory experience and not through intellectual choice and because the revelatory experience contained within it the wisdom to see the Bible as a guidebook and not as an idol not to be questioned I've had no real problem reading the New Testament verses for their intrinsic spiritual value and not as confirmation that all the events recorded happened as described. I was content with the story of Jesus Christ as a story, a story recording the brief ministry on earth of a spiritual being.

 

Having found the Talmudic oblique and negative accounts of what I personally believe is the historical Jesus in Yeishu ben Pantera I was content with reading the Gospel accounts as fictions loosely based on Yeishu ben Pantera's running afoul of Jewish authorities perhaps a century before the time of Jesus Christ. The Gospels recorded to my mind that Spirit of Christ which descended to earth between 100 BC and 100 AD, a Spirit that became infused within the life story and teachings of a Jewish man in Palestine around 2000 years ago plus or minus.

 

Although key elements of the Talmudic accounts of Yeishu show up in the Gospels, there Jesus Christ is actually a literary being composed of verses taken from the Septuagint. Even the basic plots of Jesus' brief career as a radical teacher have been taken from the Old Testament. It did not matter to me if this Jesus Christ was the inspired fiction of Mark and Matthew, Luke and John and then Thomas. I accounted these writers as divinely inspired, actually channeling the Spirit of Christ, so I could still find great spiritual wisdom within the fictional Story of Jesus Christ. I had already discounted Paul's type of Christian belief, the vicarious sin atonement type which uses Jesus Christ in the same manner other dying/resurrection godmen were used to purify sinners of their sins. I had another, better because being biologically based, lesson to learn from Jesus' sacrificial death. So again, the Story of Jesus Christ floated easily within my Christian belief system as what it is, a story, a most powerful story that does not really require belief in its historicity to be able to convey the great spiritual lessons God wants humanity to know about.

 

I once briefly joined the Westar Jesus Seminar group looking for more information about the Talmudic accounts but found they knew nothing more than me and weren't really interested. The Talmud was Jewish scholarship territory and Christian scholars were loathe to cross boundaries. (Sorta like here maybe with Progressive Christianity partisans not wanting any contamination from outside sources- :ph34r:). The JS is so like every other organization organized around ideas--they devolve in my opinion to the standard territorial battles between major voices and who knows who's right and who's wrong. I have a feeling Progressive Christianity is also headed in the same direction because it too lacks that fundamental ingredient for the recovery of Christian spiritual authority--no divine revelation, only more and more intellectualization of the traditional material. Having come to God through revelation I of course have my prejudice that this is the only spiritual authentic way to come to God and the Spirit of Christ. I must make a difference between scholarship and inspiration in the root meaning of that word.

 

I think what bothers an intellectual Christian believer about the role of divine revelation is that they're afraid of it. Ideas, yes, but Word of God? or worse, a new Word of God? Please! Let's keep Jesus and the ancients in the books which we can put back into the bookcase when we've learned enough about what they were trying to say. And there's truth to that too because these Word of God books, especially the Abrahamic ones, certainly do not possess any historical track record of imparting divine wisdom or compassion on the masses that have had to learn them. What to do. Well, you know my answer. Like it or not only divine revelation will show the way to recovery of spiritual truth, a spiritual truth of God that does compel compassion and wisdom and after all isn't that what religion is supposed to be all about?

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Stephen,

 

To me an interesting and well written post. I share your view that " divine revelation is the only spiritual authentic way to come to God and the Spirit of Christ" . I am not a stranger to this but by no means am I aware of full knowledge but only glimpses of it into the divine. I do not seek an intellectual relationship with God nor do I place as much importance on what a person says they believe as much as the fruits of their actions. God is ever present in my very being as God is in all whether we are now consciously aware of it or not. For the most part I am never in doubt of this. After a genuine experience how can one be?

 

Anyway, i enjoyed your post but I am not convinced that progressive Christianity is headed in the wrong direction. It is not that one PC may not know that his view is correct or not but rather that it is not worth arguing about. It need not be forced on anyone. Others can receive it by divine revelation also so what great importance should we place on a mans words. He/She may realize that understanding and words and definitions are limited and that all descriptions of the divine are left wanting in words so that the words are only secondary to the experience which is still subjective in nature by definition.

 

Love Joseph

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Who, exactly, is allowed to define divine revelation? Who is not allowed?

 

Myron,

 

I imagine one can ask the person who used it what he/she means by it. To me it means knowlege received directly bypassing the conscious intellect so that it appears without any discerable thought on the part of the receiver as if it was known all along but there is no recollection of a thought process. Kind of like getting an answer without using a formula to figure it out. It is like a 'knowing' that seems to transcend mind yet is witnessed not in series but as a whole. It is like something is downloaded in your mind in an instant without conscious thought for your viewing. That is the best I can do with words from my experience. Thats what it means to me. Perhaps Stephen can tell you what it means to him.

 

Joseph

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Myron,

 

I imagine one can ask the person who used it what he/she means by it. To me it means knowlege received directly bypassing the conscious intellect so that it appears without any discerable thought on the part of the receiver as if it was known all along but there is no recollection of a thought process. Kind of like getting an answer without using a formula to figure it out. It is like a 'knowing' that seems to transcend mind yet is witnessed not in series but as a whole. It is like something is downloaded in your mind in an instant without conscious thought for your viewing. That is the best I can do with words from my experience. Thats what it means to me. Perhaps Stephen can tell you what it means to him.

 

Joseph

 

You have defined intuition, and quite well at that. I am fairly well known here for making the scientific case that we come to life with a fairly large list of innate intuitions built into the structure and function of the human brain.

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You have defined intuition, and quite well at that. I am fairly well known here for making the scientific case that we come to life with a fairly large list of innate intuitions built into the structure and function of the human brain.

 

Myron,

 

Perhaps I have defined what looks like the word intuition and it may have commonalities with revelation. I could not argue effectively either way but in my experience it has been a more dramatic revealing of something not previously known or realized. And since its subject matter relates to spiritual things and God, I have referred to it as divine revelation but I will not be hung up on the word if you see it differently.

 

Love Joseph

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Myron,

 

Perhaps I have defined what looks like the word intuition and it may have commonalities with revelation. I could not argue effectively either way but in my experience it has been a more dramatic revealing of something not previously known or realized. And since its subject matter relates to spiritual things and God, I have referred to it as divine revelation but I will not be hung up on the word if you see it differently.

 

Love Joseph

 

It is entirely possible that the capacity of intuition is the medium of revelation. Jung took a similar stance. I have used this quote before but is worth repeating. One of the most highly regarded sources on philosophy is the "Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy". Under the title "intuition" it states "One can have an intuitive awareness of God". It simply makes this statement and nothing in the form of proof. That is why it is a powerful statement. Intuition comes to consciousness whole and complete. Add this to what you described and we come fairly close in our positions. I have taken the position that science does NOT rule out God or the possibility of revelation. It is not, however, something I have personally experienced so I have to place a certain amount of trust in those who report on them.

 

<edit for spelling>

Edited by JosephM
added NOT per minsocals duplicate post
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Who, exactly, is allowed to define divine revelation? Who is not allowed?

 

This gets to the problem of how to tell a true prophet from a false one. Since visions and revelations do not seem to be controllable events one is really left to Jesus' wisdom: "by their fruits ye shall know them". There is just no other way to make a rational judgment about the revelations people get and share. Deuteronomy wants to set up this life and death division wherein a prophet's predictions must come true for a prophet to be true and a valid vessel of the Word of God but careful study of the Jewish major and minor prophets and even Jesus shows us enough errors in predictions to toss that Deuteronomic hardline into the trash heap of history. So, here I sit with my own load of visions and prophetic revelations and ask those who learn of them, "just be real" and deal with my material as you would coming across any new set of ideas. I cannot demand acceptance because I myself am watching my own life as a prophesy bearer with some degree of distance knowing only too well how I cannot in all good faith say "I am absolutely right" about everything I say 'cause I've got a corner on God's attention. I can only join others in watching what happens. But I do possess enough confidence in my relationship with God to do what God instructs and to do it faithfully because God gives me only good visions to do and the revelations are wonderful. Why not step out and be a point man for God and Their Spirit of Christ? That's my job. Yours is to review whether or not my pointing has led others farther into the pit or or helped others climb out of it. Actions speak louder than words and the fruit must be good otherwise the tree is only worthy of being pulled up by its roots and tossed into the fire.

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This gets to the problem of how to tell a true prophet from a false one. Since visions and revelations do not seem to be controllable events one is really left to Jesus' wisdom: "by their fruits ye shall know them". There is just no other way to make a rational judgment about the revelations people get and share. Deuteronomy wants to set up this life and death division wherein a prophet's predictions must come true for a prophet to be true and a valid vessel of the Word of God but careful study of the Jewish major and minor prophets and even Jesus shows us enough errors in predictions to toss that Deuteronomic hardline into the trash heap of history. So, here I sit with my own load of visions and prophetic revelations and ask those who learn of them, "just be real" and deal with my material as you would coming across any new set of ideas. I cannot demand acceptance because I myself am watching my own life as a prophesy bearer with some degree of distance knowing only too well how I cannot in all good faith say "I am absolutely right" about everything I say 'cause I've got a corner on God's attention. I can only join others in watching what happens. But I do possess enough confidence in my relationship with God to do what God instructs and to do it faithfully because God gives me only good visions to do and the revelations are wonderful. Why not step out and be a point man for God and Their Spirit of Christ? That's my job. Yours is to review whether or not my pointing has led others farther into the pit or or helped others climb out of it. Actions speak louder than words and the fruit must be good otherwise the tree is only worthy of being pulled up by its roots and tossed into the fire.

 

I am very, very sorry but I don't find your ideas all that new. When they have a familar ring to them, I can look them up in my library and find the source fairly quickly. Human nature is far to diverse for there to be "one solution" or one prophetic message that suits all. This was the point of the "teaching moment" at my church this morning, the sermon, and Adult Suday School lesson. The Wisdom of God provides for diversity in a Creation that is not yet complete. Simply put, the "job" of the "prophet" has been turned over to the individual. We are all prophets.

 

I'll ask you this. Is Creation complete? Or, is it in process? I say Creation is in process and not ended.

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I am very, very sorry but I don't find your ideas all that new. When they have a familar ring to them, I can look them up in my library and find the source fairly quickly. Human nature is far to diverse for there to be "one solution" or one prophetic message that suits all. This was the point of the "teaching moment" at my church this morning, the sermon, and Adult Suday School lesson. The Wisdom of God provides for diversity in a Creation that is not yet complete. Simply put, the "job" of the "prophet" has been turned over to the individual. We are all prophets.

 

I'll ask you this. Is Creation complete? Or, is it in process? I say Creation is in process and not ended.

 

It's oddly true that people can read my material and make comments like you have suggesting that such things as the Story of Paxcalibur are a dime a dozen and that everyone knows about the incarnation of the Spirit of Christ as Christ Josephine/White Buffalo Calf Woman. And all Christians know about how the Gospels teach Christians to identify God as the Great Spirit of Humanity, that Yahweh was not God Most High, that the Gospels were channeled visions of their writers, that Abraham was derived from Brahma, that there is no such thing as "free will", that Creation is both completed from beginning to end and yet still in process, yes, all these concepts are regular fare in your understanding of Christianity.

 

Last 2 sentences deleted - Censored by JosephM

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I feel in the Christian mystical awareness of the immediate consciousness, one can derive pleasure from the objects around one because one gets the glow of victory of the soul over the ego paart of the mind. Life at this moment overcomes death and good overcomes evil in a mystical sensuality. There is an immediate feeling of happiness with an aura of victory or success because love dominates over hate, pleasure over pain, and peace over agitation. This revelation comes as a new revelation of truth.

Our unit consciousness or soul is a resident in a beautifully designed mind and a well-constructed physical body. In our worldly consciousness our mind only knows the outside of the home, the veneer of the body. If the ego continually directs the mind to the outside, the senses continually run around and about in service of the ego as it forgets the inner altar and the home of the soul. If the manipulation is long, the altar of pure spirit gets covered with the cobwebs of ignorance so in time it becomes hard for the mind to enjoy the peace and joy of the Spirit. Tearing ourselves away from our self-created destiny, we can regain peace in the midst of our many activities if we direct our mind to the center of our being, our soul and God's pure consciousness.

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Over the course of 30 years since I was put on the Christian path albeit not the traditional one, I've watched intellectual Christians deal with the culmination of 200+ years of New Testament critique that has more or less shattered the New Testament as any sort of reliable historical document about this Jewish man identified as Jesus Christ in Greek. Because I came to Christianity through revelatory experience and not through intellectual choice and because the revelatory experience contained within it the wisdom to see the Bible as a guidebook and not as an idol not to be questioned I've had no real problem reading the New Testament verses for their intrinsic spiritual value and not as confirmation that all the events recorded happened as described. I was content with the story of Jesus Christ as a story, a story recording the brief ministry on earth of a spiritual being.

 

Having found the Talmudic oblique and negative accounts of what I personally believe is the historical Jesus in Yeishu ben Pantera I was content with reading the Gospel accounts as fictions loosely based on Yeishu ben Pantera's running afoul of Jewish authorities perhaps a century before the time of Jesus Christ. The Gospels recorded to my mind that Spirit of Christ which descended to earth between 100 BC and 100 AD, a Spirit that became infused within the life story and teachings of a Jewish man in Palestine around 2000 years ago plus or minus.

 

Although key elements of the Talmudic accounts of Yeishu show up in the Gospels, there Jesus Christ is actually a literary being composed of verses taken from the Septuagint. Even the basic plots of Jesus' brief career as a radical teacher have been taken from the Old Testament. It did not matter to me if this Jesus Christ was the inspired fiction of Mark and Matthew, Luke and John and then Thomas. I accounted these writers as divinely inspired, actually channeling the Spirit of Christ, so I could still find great spiritual wisdom within the fictional Story of Jesus Christ. I had already discounted Paul's type of Christian belief, the vicarious sin atonement type which uses Jesus Christ in the same manner other dying/resurrection godmen were used to purify sinners of their sins. I had another, better because being biologically based, lesson to learn from Jesus' sacrificial death. So again, the Story of Jesus Christ floated easily within my Christian belief system as what it is, a story, a most powerful story that does not really require belief in its historicity to be able to convey the great spiritual lessons God wants humanity to know about.

 

I'd agree with you there, for the most part.

 

I once briefly joined the Westar Jesus Seminar group looking for more information about the Talmudic accounts but found they knew nothing more than me and weren't really interested. The Talmud was Jewish scholarship territory and Christian scholars were loathe to cross boundaries. (Sorta like here maybe with Progressive Christianity partisans not wanting any contamination from outside sources- :ph34r:). The JS is so like every other organization organized around ideas--they devolve in my opinion to the standard territorial battles between major voices and who knows who's right and who's wrong. I have a feeling Progressive Christianity is also headed in the same direction because it too lacks that fundamental ingredient for the recovery of Christian spiritual authority--no divine revelation, only more and more intellectualization of the traditional material. Having come to God through revelation I of course have my prejudice that this is the only spiritual authentic way to come to God and the Spirit of Christ. I must make a difference between scholarship and inspiration in the root meaning of that word.

 

I think what bothers an intellectual Christian believer about the role of divine revelation is that they're afraid of it. Ideas, yes, but Word of God? or worse, a new Word of God? Please! Let's keep Jesus and the ancients in the books which we can put back into the bookcase when we've learned enough about what they were trying to say. And there's truth to that too because these Word of God books, especially the Abrahamic ones, certainly do not possess any historical track record of imparting divine wisdom or compassion on the masses that have had to learn them. What to do. Well, you know my answer. Like it or not only divine revelation will show the way to recovery of spiritual truth, a spiritual truth of God that does compel compassion and wisdom and after all isn't that what religion is supposed to be all about?

 

I'm not sure Progressive Christianity entirely rejects divine revelation. I guess it depends on what you mean. If you mean in the form of books, then yes, I think most PCs would say that there is no book out there today that can be called "God's Divine Revelation to Mankind." Yet I think many PCs look to the person of Jesus as a form of divine revelation; and nature/Creation as well. Some may even believe that individuals can receive revelations, though with the condition that nobody has to buy into anyone else's "personal revelation." So I don't think your criticism is entirely fair.

 

But, it is a fair critique to ask where our guidance comes from if we don't have a shared divine mandate in the form of Scripture - which many religions do. If this is your question I have no problem with your criticism as I think it is an appropriate one and a good question to ask of the Progressive movement.

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Myron,

 

Perhaps I have defined what looks like the word intuition and it may have commonalities with revelation. I could not argue effectively either way but in my experience it has been a more dramatic revealing of something not previously known or realized. And since its subject matter relates to spiritual things and God, I have referred to it as divine revelation but I will not be hung up on the word if you see it differently.

 

Love Joseph

 

Joseph,

 

Great scientific discoveries have been made through intuition. Many scientists admit this. One day "something not previously known" presents itself to consciousness whole and complete. What you call divine revelation is simply the same process in the domain of the spiritual. The problem people sense in my view is that the evidence would suggest that intuition could never be solely "Christian". In science, these discoveries often fall outside any known paradigm. All of a sudden, scientists who thought the universe was made up of visible matter and energy have discovered that a very large part of the universe is made up of "dark" matter and "dark" energy. All they can do is prove it exists, but they have no clue as to what it is. Will some scientist discover the theory intuitively or will it be worked out through dillegent research. History says both.

 

I have known many prople who claim divine revelation. One day it dawned on me that few of them agreed with each other. Eventually I realized that I had no problem with their claims of revelation from God if the revelations were truly new ideas (of which there are very, very few). The only solution, as I see it, is to take a pluralistic perpective. If a group wishes to consider said revelation, fine. If not, well thats how prophesy has always worked.

 

I also agree with Whitehead when he states that many ideas surface before they have relevance and many old ideas hang on past their usefulness. In any case, I have moved to a wholly different view of the problem much closer to Process Theology where intuition plays harmoniously with all of our human capacities including emotion and reason.

 

P.S. When I found the Progressive community and the Eight Points I discovered I no longer had the need to base my own experience on intellect. In my church we talk about the Jesus Seminar as a resource more than as an authority, and so on. But the focus is not really on theology but our own inquiry towards a new understanding of Christianity in relation to both our own lives and the functioning of communities. Different emphasis. Notice how the word "community" weaves its way through the Eight Points.

Edited by minsocal
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Minsocal,

 

I would tend to agree with you that "The problem people sense in my view is that the evidence would suggest that intuition could never be solely "Christian". "

That statement would seem to be most obvious to me even if you used the word revelation instead of intuition. In my view, No single religion holds a claim on either word.

 

Love Joseph

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I thought that Minsocal and I had a great discussion about intuition in the thread entitled “Intuitive Moral Intuition And Emotions” which can be found in the Debate area. I posted this within that thread:

 

“Jung states: “It is only through the psyche that we can establish that God acts upon us, but we are unable to distinguish whether these actions emanate from God or from the unconscious. We can not tell whether God and the unconscious are two different entities. Both are border-line concepts for transcendental contents. But empirically it can be established, with a sufficient degree of probability, that there is in the unconscious an archetype of wholeness which manifests itself spontaneously in dreams, etc., and a tendency, independent of the conscious will, to relate other archetypes to this centre”(Answer to Job).

 

The major problem for the psyche is to come to grips with the collective unconscious by making it conscious. Tillich would agree with Jung that “the psychotherapist has more to say on these matters than the theologian, who has remained caught in his archaic figures of speech”. Tillich, as an existentialist, would agree that “It is only through the psyche that we can establish that God acts upon us”. Tillich would however attempt to do what Jung does not do and attempt to tell the difference between God and the unconscious.

 

I do not think that Jung’s question is properly framed (We can not tell whether God and the unconscious are two different entities). This implies that God is an entity and I think that Tillich would deny that. Fundamentally the collective unconscious seems to be contained within history whereas Tillich’s Being would be “in” history, but not “contained”. Jung may be open to what sounds a lot like Tillich when he concludes in the “Answer to Job”: “the enlightened person remains what he is, and is never more than his own limited ego before the One who dwells within him, whose form has no knowable boundaries, who encompasses him on all sides, fathomless as the abysms of the earth and vast as the sky”.

 

I think that Tillich recognized the “border-line concepts for transcendental contents”. It was because theology was stuck with “archaic figures of speech” that Tillich created a new language, a language that has inspired Spong among others.”

 

I quote this because when one is talking about revelation or intuition it is important to know whether one agrees with the statement that “It is only through the psyche that we can establish that God acts upon us”. To me that is the difference between what I have tried to call “direct dictation” and revelation. It is the essence of the difference between saying “I heard God say” and saying “God said”. In addition, I think that “direct dictation” requires a theology that sees God as “an entity” and as I noted above I think that is where Tillich is particularly helpful. Those who ask whether “God exists as an entity” are asking the wrong question. How one sees revelation starts with whether you ask this question or not.

 

A similar point can be made as to whether Jesus, now dead, is "an entity" or a part of our collective unconsious. Of course this is where problems with the trinity begin. Tillich would suggest that although God can be seen as "in" history but not "contained" by history Jesus can not be seen that way. Jesus is not God.

Edited by David
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Perhaps my definition of “entity” would be helpful. “Entity” implies existence in particular. It implies a person or being that is self contained. It is independent. It implies a particularness that can be separated from what it is not. It is a being rather than the “ground of being”. I’m sure that others may be able to provide a better description.

 

Can anyone name a theologian that has been associated with Progressive Christianity that would say that God is an entity?

Edited by David
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I couldn't speak to your question about Progressive Christian theologians, but I relate to both God and Jesus as spiritual entities, probably because of my upbringing in mainstream Christianity. The Holy Spirit seems to me to be a religious term for "collective unconscious." I can relate to the ideas of Harold Kushner, who sees God as a force for good and love in the world, but I know I still crave the relationship with an entity.

 

I belive a reformed Christianity can be intellectually conceived, and that our understanding of God continues to grow as a whole. The problem is that each of us intellectually conceive of it through our own windows of our life journey, so the way I might reform Christianity might not work for you. If we can conceive of something "new" that meets the faith needs of a large group, then the issue is for that group to come together and spread the message. I see that as one of the roles of www.tcpc.org.

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I’m not as sure as I thought I once was that TCPC is concerned about the content of a Progressive Christian theology. I am starting to think that it is all about process (this is not an either/or, just an attempt to focus). To the extent that this is true, then they will join the UU world where Progressives come together not based upon theological content but based upon good process (which obviously includes concerns like the UU commitment to justice, etc).

 

I am interested in seeing if we are moving to any theological consensus to see if we can avoid the UU alternative. Having said that I certainly would not suggest that there is much agreement out there right now. I was thinking that “God is not an entity” may be something to agree on but I’ve been wrong before.

 

It seems to me that one way to see if there is any movement to consensus is to look at what the theologians are saying. I respect the right you have to your own theology and this is a good place for people to come to express their own thinking. I have just always been more interested in the “group dynamic” than the individual.

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A similar point can be made as to whether Jesus, now dead, is "an entity" or a part of our collective unconsious. Of course this is where problems with the trinity begin. Tillich would suggest that although God can be seen as "in" history but not "contained" by history Jesus can not be seen that way. Jesus is not God.

 

I feel our intellect, imagination and intuition are vital to the understanding that Jesus is alive in consciousness, which I call Christ Consciousness. The three i's above point in the direction of God's pure consciousness so God ceases to be an object and becomes an actual experience. This is where the formless becomes visible and the pure consciousness of God becomes expressed in the unit consciousness of an individual in the form of revelation. We appreciate the teachings of sacred scriptures because they inspire us to rise and go beyond the mind-body-consciousness. The revelations our intellect, imagination, and intuition absorb inspires us to become one with divine harmony and cosmic progression.

 

Modern revelations of Truth are in complete harmony with the Truth in spiritual scriptures. They come from the same source. Spiritual scriptures and the words from recent revelations enhance and clarify each other. They help us to translate, comprehend, and apply the knowledge in the ancient scriptures.

 

When one leaves, God visits and leaves behind revelations.

Edited by soma
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I feel our intellect, imagination and intuition are vital to the understanding that Jesus is alive in consciousness, which I call Christ Consciousness. The three i's above point in the direction of God's pure consciousness so God ceases to be an object and becomes an actual experience. This is where the formless becomes visible and the pure consciousness of God becomes expressed in the unit consciousness of an individual in the form of revelation. We appreciate the teachings of sacred scriptures because they inspire us to rise and go beyond the mind-body-consciousness. The revelations our intellect, imagination, and intuition absorb inspires us to become one with divine harmony and cosmic progression.

 

Modern revelations of Truth are in complete harmony with the Truth in spiritual scriptures. They come from the same source. Spiritual scriptures and the words from recent revelations enhance and clarify each other. They help us to translate, comprehend, and apply the knowledge in the ancient scriptures.

 

When one leaves, God visits and leaves behind revelations.

Thank you. In Borg's terms there is a difference between the historical Jesus and the Christ. With that clarification then I think Tillich would agee with you if I understand what you are saying.

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Yes, I think great spiritual teachers come at different times and communicate to different cultures in different languages, but they are all pointing to the same source. The problem is when people follow the finger and not what it is pointing to. When people see the source the battle is over, the problem is staying on the path to the source. Thank God every path leads towards the goal.

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I’m not as sure as I thought I once was that TCPC is concerned about the content of a Progressive Christian theology. I am starting to think that it is all about process (this is not an either/or, just an attempt to focus). To the extent that this is true, then they will join the UU world where Progressives come together not based upon theological content but based upon good process (which obviously includes concerns like the UU commitment to justice, etc).

 

I am interested in seeing if we are moving to any theological consensus to see if we can avoid the UU alternative. Having said that I certainly would not suggest that there is much agreement out there right now. I was thinking that “God is not an entity” may be something to agree on but I’ve been wrong before.

 

It seems to me that one way to see if there is any movement to consensus is to look at what the theologians are saying. I respect the right you have to your own theology and this is a good place for people to come to express their own thinking. I have just always been more interested in the “group dynamic” than the individual.

 

David,

 

I would like to find out what we have in common as well. And it is not that I am closed to what the theologians are saying. How does believing "God is not an entity" affect your life, that of others, and the world as a whole? Please help me understand what difference it makes if one in the group relates to God as an entity and another as Christ Consciousness. It probably reflects an immature belief on my part. The most obvious difference I can think of is that it would affect our language in talking about God, but it would not necessarily affect our response to God. However, the teachings of Jesus point to some of those "deeper" ideas from the other thread you have called God (examples you used were forgiveness, compassion, and gratefulness if I remember correctly).

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On the question of whether we see God as an entity or not.....

 

Entity

1. Something that exists as a particular and discrete unit: 2. The fact of existence; being.3. The existence of something considered apart from its properties.

 

Personally, I do not see how God could exist as apart or as a discrete unit. In my experience God and creation are one. To me, God is indivisible and complete without parts. Also, to me the Self cannot exist apart from God. This is of course a non-dual subjective experience view. If one sees himself as form, then both the world and God will also appear to have form and be separate. Yet in experienceing the divine, one is formless and the world, the soul and God seem to appear as one reality. One can argue which is real, but what use is it? In that state there is no argument and one loses all beliefs either of unity or duality and of oneself as separate.

 

Just a view to consider.

 

Joseph

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Janet,

People like Borg and Spong have answered your question from a theological point of view much better than I could do so I will not attempt to do that. From a personal point of view my faith journey pretty much has followed a cultural faith journey beginning with the death of god movement and right through the post modern deconstruction movement. So for me and for what I see as our current cultural situation the God as described by Borg and Spong shows me a vision of something I can get evangelical about. I think the “world as a whole” needs to hear this “good news”. I’m not sure exactly how that can be done but I’m trying to figure it out. If you mean that both of our “responses” to God would mean the same things such as forgiveness, compassion and gratefulness then to some extent I would agree with you. However, in talking with people who still think of God as an entity I find that there are differences that prevent us from “doing Church” together (although as you note we share the same concerns about forgiveness,etc). The God as an entity is “worshiped” in a different way and it seems to me that is just one example of how the “response” to God would be different. But I have good relationships with people who think of God as an entity. I hope that relationships like that can continue even though we have major theological disagreements.

David

Edited by David
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Janet,

 

I know you didn't ask me but ....

I just wanted to say that to me it makes no difference whether you consider God an entity or not. I will do church (whatever that is) with you anytime. We share the love of God and this space together and I would break bread and wine in Jesus name with you anytime. Besides we know that "by calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who know that the way we behave toward one another and toward other people is the fullest expression of what we believe." It seems to me that whether I say God is an entity or not an entity changes nothing in your or my relationship to God but only in the way we look at it as individuals.

 

Love Joseph

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