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The Trinity


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Guest billmc

I heard Bishop John Shelby Spong (a fellow Episcopalian) put it this way: "If horses had gods, they would look like horses." :)

 

As we humans are the highest lifeforms that we know (objectively), we ascribe human characteristics to God or the Sacred or the More which we experience subjectively. I don't think we can help it. Usually, our best relationships are familial, so God becomes father/mother. We become God's children. There is, IMO, nothing wrong with this kind of anthropomorphism as long as we don't take it too literally. I often speak to God as a person, but I doubt he has ears. And I try to listen to God in my life, but I doubt a microphone would pick up his voice. :D

 

I appreciate what the doctrine of the Trinity points to, that we meet God in a variety of "persons" or, possibly, in different faces. But I struggled with how, if Jesus was God, God could die, or be born, or be made sin, or have limited knowledge, or pray to himself. This never made much sense to me, but I confessed belief in the doctrine for many years because I was told I couldn't be a Christian without believing in the Trinity.

 

On the other hand, C2G, I do experience God in a variety of persons and faces, many of them here on this forum and in my churches. So, if pressed in that direction, I would have to expand my theology from Trinitarian to poly-arian where I have encountered God in many people who have blessed or affected my life in a positive way. But most Christians wouldn't be too happy to hear me describe God this way (which is, again, anthropomorphic), so I just say that I believe that God is one and can be experienced in unlimited ways.

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I may be a cradle to grave Episcopalian, but I agree with you that God can be found many places with many faces. I don't think he is just embodied in the Trinity. Sometimes I have difficulty recognizing his face though and I struggle with that. I keep hoping I will do a better job of recognizing him. What is the phrase attributed to Christ? As you do it to the least of these, you do it to me? Isn't that a recognition that God can be found everywhere? and isn't that what is behind one of the points of Progressive Christianity? God is in us all so as progressive Christians we need to open our minds and our hearts. Sorry, I'm badly paraphrasing all of this.

 

Btw, I came to this forum via Bishop Spong's newsletter that made mention of it. I'm glad I did!

Oh, what does C2G mean? I have not seen that before.

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Guest billmc

What is the phrase attributed to Christ? As you do it to the least of these, you do it to me? Isn't that a recognition that God can be found everywhere?

 

And the kicker in Jesus' story about that is those he's addressing didn't even recognize that they were doing it "unto him." They asked, "Lord, when did we...?" This, to me, shows us that we meet and minister to the divine even though we may not be consciously aware of it.

 

Btw, I came to this forum via Bishop Spong's newsletter that made mention of it. I'm glad I did!

 

We are, too! We have a whole section for those who are migrating from Jack's old forum to the one here.

 

Oh, what does C2G mean? I have not seen that before.

 

Sorry, Cradle to Grave, I was being lazy and abbreviated your handle here. I'll use the full title from now on. But my spelling is usually attroc...attrosh...atrosh...really bad.

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I heard Bishop John Shelby Spong (a fellow Episcopalian) put it this way: "If horses had gods, they would look like horses." :)

 

I have read this said as well. And, it makes sense except for those religions in which the gods are not anthropomorphic like animists, Hindus, etc. I suppose their horses would have humans, cows, apple trees and the like as gods.

 

George

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The Word is the seed in which all vibrations are contained because it is the source of everything in creation and is spoken in the silence of pure consciousness. In my mind the pure consciousness is God the Father. The Word is pure consciousness revealing itself in vibration as the ‘pure I' feeling. From this Word or vibration all things are born and without vibration or‘pure I' feeling nothing can exist without this feeling of existence. Each one of us is also a Word within the One Word. We are children of God and are the sons or daughters of God just like Jesus. There is one collective ‘pure I' feeling and there are individual ‘pure I' feelings in each one of us. The collective ‘pure I' feeling is the personal concept of God that I usually call the Father. The ‘individual I' feelings are our own intimate relationship with that Father/Mother/Pure Consciousness. I feel Jesus is just like us except he is one with the pure consciousness, just like we are, but he knows it. He is my guide on the spiritual journey to no-where because we are already there. Pure consciousness is all around us so Jesus is in the physical with Buddha, Krishna, Mohamed and Shiva to help us remove the barriers that separate us. This Word within a Word can be referred to as the microcosm within the macrocosm each containing all the qualities of the other. That is why we can say we are made in the image and likeness of God.

 

When I lived in India, I saw the Hindus worshiping one God in many forms. They saw God in their wives, husbands, sons, sun, daughters, animals and others. I feel Jesus was teaching the same thing at a different time in a different culture.

 

To complete the Trinity, God the Father is the ocean of Pure Consciousness we the Sons are in, The Holy Ghost I see similar to Mother Nature as the one who gives quality or vibration to the Pure Consciousness, which is without vibration. Therefore the Word of God is one sound vibrating in a cosmic orchestra. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three words, but they are also one Word. I feel this is similar to three notes in music making one chord, a universe or uni-vibration. I think it is just an explanation to explain our relationship to no-thing.

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The Word is the seed in which all vibrations are contained because it is the source of everything in creation and is spoken in the silence of pure consciousness. In my mind the pure consciousness is God the Father. The Word is pure consciousness revealing itself in vibration as the 'pure I' feeling. From this Word or vibration all things are born and without vibration or'pure I' feeling nothing can exist without this feeling of existence. Each one of us is also a Word within the One Word. We are children of God and are the sons or daughters of God just like Jesus. There is one collective 'pure I' feeling and there are individual 'pure I' feelings in each one of us. The collective 'pure I' feeling is the personal concept of God that I usually call the Father. The 'individual I' feelings are our own intimate relationship with that Father/Mother/Pure Consciousness. I feel Jesus is just like us except he is one with the pure consciousness, just like we are, but he knows it. He is my guide on the spiritual journey to no-where because we are already there. Pure consciousness is all around us so Jesus is in the physical with Buddha, Krishna, Mohamed and Shiva to help us remove the barriers that separate us. This Word within a Word can be referred to as the microcosm within the macrocosm each containing all the qualities of the other. That is why we can say we are made in the image and likeness of God.

 

When I lived in India, I saw the Hindus worshiping one God in many forms. They saw God in their wives, husbands, sons, sun, daughters, animals and others. I feel Jesus was teaching the same thing at a different time in a different culture.

 

To complete the Trinity, God the Father is the ocean of Pure Consciousness we the Sons are in, The Holy Ghost I see similar to Mother Nature as the one who gives quality or vibration to the Pure Consciousness, which is without vibration. Therefore the Word of God is one sound vibrating in a cosmic orchestra. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are three words, but they are also one Word. I feel this is similar to three notes in music making one chord, a universe or uni-vibration. I think it is just an explanation to explain our relationship to no-thing.

 

That sounds like Om. The universal sound which certainly has vibration.

Edited by Mike
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billmc, that's one of the most well expressed impressions of what the "Divine Logos" is/means that I've encountered.

 

It is my opinion that Christianity lost a critical piece of understanding when the Greek "LOGOS" (Divine Logos vs logos used in ordinary sense)was interpreted simply as "The Word", which then was further perverted so as to be identified as simply the written word of the accepted Christian scriptures.

To study and understand what the Greek term "LOGOS", Divine Logos, meant, opens up an entirely different understanding of what was meant when in the Gospel of John, Christ was identified as being the LOGOS, Divine Logos, universal Divine Word, that was made flesh to walk among men, in the man Jesus.

 

To say Jesus WAS/IS The LOGOS, the Divine Logos, or Word, creates a whole slew of problems, since the man Jesus has a clearly defined and limited period of existence...conception, gestation, birth, life as a man.....while The LOGOS is eternal, pre-existed creation with God, as God. What is lost is that what John was actually saying was that this man, Jesus, was the fullest manifestation of The LOGOS in a man that is possible.

 

If one is familiar with the principles of Individuation process in Jungian psychological theory, the "Christing" of the man Jesus might be seen as the appearance of the Ego-Self Axis both as it emerges within any individual as micro-event that is personal, and as the Macro-event for the collective of humanity, that sets the pattern (Jesus as first-bron among many) for the micro-event in the individual.

 

The perverting of "Jesus the Christ", a descriptive term applied to the anointing process that was the signficance to the life of the man Jesus, to "Jesus Christ", as if "Christ" is simply part of Jesus' name, has further concealed much of significance to those that would seek to understand this "Christian" phenomenon.

 

Jenell

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To say Jesus WAS/IS The LOGOS, the Divine Logos, or Word, creates a whole slew of problems, since the man Jesus has a clearly defined and limited period of existence...conception, gestation, birth, life as a man.....while The LOGOS is eternal, pre-existed creation with God, as God. What is lost is that what John was actually saying was that this man, Jesus, was the fullest manifestation of The LOGOS in a man that is possible

 

Several theologians (starting with Athanasius waaay back in the day) agreed with your concern, stating it as "the infinite cannot be contained by the finite" (I apologize for not having the Latin handy :) ). One needs to make a distinction between the incarnation of the Word, and the Word itself. The former was Jesus of Nazareth, a human being who also was divine (the theologians who made this argument were fine with the Nicene & Chalcedonian Creeds). The latter is the second, reconciling person of the Trinity. In this view, the Trinity could be boiled down to 3 words, it would be creation (Father), reconciliation (Son), and inspiration (Spirit). We are moved by the Holy Ghost and the gift of faith to be within Christ, and in being within Christ we are then adopted as children of God.

 

I find this, personally, to be a compelling view of things, but that's me, and I'm sure people disagree. One of the strongest supporters of this Chistology was Calvin, which I find amusing because this is a much more "mystical" view of things than is often associated with Calvinism (insert long, sad rant about roads not taken).

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Nick wrote: One of the strongest supporters of this Chistology was Calvin, which I find amusing because this is a much more "mystical" view of things than is often associated with Calvinism (insert long, sad rant about roads not taken).

Something I was introduced to in context of my Religous Studies courses was how the actual ideas both Luther and Calvin expressed underwent signficiant changes in what later followers that actually formulated protestant and reformed theology and doctrine. The instructor gave some specfic points for demonstration, but I don't remember them all and its one of those things I might 'get around to' look into further some day....maybe.

 

But one point I do recall is that pertaining to the distinction and/or separation between the "sacred" and the "profane", which merely mean common and ordinary, btw, not as we use it now to mean something ugly, or the "sacred" and "secular." As I recall, both Luther and Calvin objected to the Catholic traditions that had created, perpetuated, and institutionalized those distinctions. The Catholic traditions had pretty much desgnated anything originating within, involving service within and to, the institutionalized Church, as "sacred", of being in the presence of the Holy altar, VS the secular....effectively having evolved the meaning sanctioned and approved and under the direction of the institutional church, and all esle otherwise as "secular', and "profane."

 

Yet those that later drew upon both Luther and Calvin managed very quickly to restore such a "sacred vs secular", spiritual VS worldly, as meaning really nothing more than what is "religious" and what is not "religious."

To those indoctrinated into religious traditions drawing from classic Calvinism, the often expressed faith position of many as "spiritual but not relgious" is entirely unfathomable...they just cannot grasp such an idea that represennts a disconnect of "spiritual" from "religious." To some of those I know, being "spiritual" is about going to church, serving the church (as in their congregation, ministry, etc) in some religious activity, maybe some reading their bible, watching TBN, and listening to KSJB Christian radio in their homes and cars.

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Please forgive me for extracting something from a Buddhist writer here, but I think it has resonance with some of the themes being discussed, particularly the issue of God's 'self-disclosure', and just what the status of Trinity and the many embodiments of God are. Are we merely making God in our image, or is there more to it than that? Buddhist scholar Reginald Ray writes this with regard to Tibetan deities and religious ritual. The article, appropriately entitled "On the Importance of Relating to Unseen Beings," might be worth reading in its entirety as it beautifully touches not only Buddhist philosophy but religious philosophy in general.

 

The deities are more properly said to be aspects of one’s own innate mind, or reflexes of one’s awareness. For example, the buddhas, although apparently objectively existing beings, are fundamentally nothing other than our own enlightened nature. The protectors are representations of the wrathful and uncompromising energy of our own awareness. And the gurus are objectifications of the teaching and guiding principle as it exists within each of us. In a similar manner, the various samsaric spirits and demons may be seen as embodiments of peripheral states of one’s own mind. These apparently externally existent beings, then, are false bifurcations of the primordial nondual awareness that lies at the basis of all experience.

 

So far, so good; but here is the really critical point: it is not only the beings of the unseen world that have this status, but all of the phenomena of duality. In the Tibetan view, ourselves, other people, trees, mountains and clouds—indeed all of the phenomena of the entire so-called internal and external universe—are nothing other than false objectifications and solidifications of nondual awareness.

 

To say this is not, however, to discount their external and “objective” existence within the relative world of apparent duality. The samsaric beings of the six realms, as well as the Buddhist deities existing in the state of nirvana, initially make themselves known to us ordinary, unenlightened people as external, objectively existing beings. In fact, on this level, they can appear as significantly more real, vivid and powerful than the ordinary physical universe that surrounds us. On one level, then, such beings certainly do exist and are important co-inhabitants of our cosmos. Thus to say that they are aspects of mind is not to deny their existence on the relative level. Nor does it obviate our responsibility to deal with them and relate to them on their own level and as they present themselves to us.

 

What, then, does it mean to say that these unseen beings are all aspects of mind? It means simply that the way we experience and conceive of them has to do with our own psychology and level of awareness. Ultimately, the apparent duality of subject and object is not given in reality. It is a structure that we, out of fear and ignorance, impose on the world. When we see the phenomenal world truly as it is, we realize a level of being that precedes the subject-object split. This is the true nature of “experience,” “awareness,” or “nondual mind,” understood at this point as interchangeable categories. When Tibetans say that the spirits, gods and deities are aspects of mind and nothing other than mind, they mean it in this sense, that their fundamental nature—as indeed the nature of all phenomena—is nondual awareness.

Edited by Mike
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To those indoctrinated into religious traditions drawing from classic Calvinism, the often expressed faith position of many as "spiritual but not relgious" is entirely unfathomable...they just cannot grasp such an idea that represents a disconnect of "spiritual" from "religious." To some of those I know, being "spiritual" is about going to church, serving the church (as in their congregation, ministry, etc) in some religious activity, maybe some reading their bible, watching TBN, and listening to KSJB Christian radio in their homes and cars.

 

While your religious studies instructor was pointing out a real difference, this (sadly?) is a point of agreement between Calvin & his followers: Calvin would have written a very long and angry letter to someone opposing the idea that the spiritual and the religious were different things. For Calvin, the Spirit moves you through the gift of faith which brings you within Christ which leads to God the Father adopting you as his child. He also defines the church as the body of Christ. For Calvin, to be spiritual meant that you would actively be participating in church and "organized" religion. Despite his many attacks on the Roman Catholic Church, he was a huge fan of organized (Christian) religion in general.

 

IMO, one of the problems is the slogan of Sola Scriptura, by scripture alone, which the Reformers used as an effective rallying cry against what they saw as the corrupt excesses of the Catholic Church. The problem is it's an impossible positive principle that denies the need or value of human tradition (at least in the dramatic forms the early Reformation enjoyed). I suspect that what your instructor discuss as re-developing the sacred was the later Reformed Church building up an institutional tradition and claiming it was legitimate.

 

That said, I don't know as much about Luther and the Lutherans as I am beginning to about Calvin and the Calvinists. It's really a fascinating historical debate about how ideas travel through time, and what is the difference between intellectual content & method. It's also off topic (which seems to be an increasingly important issue around here, which will be a good thing after I get used to it :) )

 

Bringing this back to the Trinity again, I doubt equating the body of Christ with the visible church is necessary, nor that belonging to a particular organized denomination is necessary to be within Christ. I suspect that Calvin would call me a Libertine or something because of this :D

Edited by Nick the Nevermet
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