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Conformity To Christ - Conformity To A Doctrine


skyseeker
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Recently I got an idea that I'd like to see if it's really as fruitful as I first thought.

 

It's about this statement of Jesus Christ:

 

Young's Literal Translation John14:6

 

Jesus saith to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one doth come unto the Father, if not through me;

 

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Normally in regular christianity we see this verse as Christ saying, I am the TRUE way, etc. IE, Jesus is postulating the perfect because He is God, He brings christianity, the new and perfect religion.

 

But let us take this verse in a universalist context. Could it be that what Jesus is saying here is, that every human has a way, a truth and a life, and that Jesus IS these things in everyone?

 

That basically, when we meet Christ we meet our own way that wonderously stands up and says Hello, I am God and you can talk with me? That our truth stands up and says, Hello, I am God and I have always been with you? That our own life stands up before us and says, Hello, I am God, and I have always loved you?

 

We see the specialness of Christ in His crucifixion where we get an idea what God considers more important - that we get forgiven is more important to Jesus than to preserve His innocent life. And we see he specialness of Christ in His resurrection where God displays His unlimited power which says, yes, my love cost my own life, but I am God, I can take all this crap and still remain, "surviving" even destruction and murder and using this happening as a sacrifice that will aid you getting rid of sin.

 

My idea was, Christ has always been with us, a bit like the book of Hebrews says when it states that Jesus was the rock that followed the Israelites through the desert, not just the cloud column that lead them forward.

 

It's like when a pagan indian says to the missionary, I believe in a truth I have learned in my pagan past, that Quetzalcoatl priest we had gave us sacrifices of flowers, and not of hearts like the Tetzcatlipoca priest demanded. And this truth was Christ to these pagan indians, and the missionaries shouldn't have said this is all pagan crap that you have to leave for christianity, but instead they should have said, see, you and your people already got something from Jesus, let's praise God together that He hasn't been only with the jews but also with so many other people.

 

And it's like when a muslim says, I have always watched my ways, since I was a little boy, I saw the light of justice and righteousness and never wanted to be a criminal. At that point the missionary must say, yes, you knew Christ as the way, the way of the best laws and commandments, and you had made the best of what was open to you.

 

And it's like when an old chinese confucian says, I have always known life, I saw myself in the hamsters I played with as a boy, in the flowers that opened themselves in spring when I was walking through the steppe, I knew that life is tough at times when we must work by the sweat of our brow, and that it is sweet at times when we marry and lead into our home the love of our life. And at that point the missionary must say, yes, you knew Christ as the life, life being what it is and impressing all of us similarly and being our light.

 

But in traditional christianity, we don't say these things. We go to pagans, muslims and confucians not with the intent to show them the God that their heart knew in their way, truth and life, we tell them you never knew anything worthwhile and there is a hell so better accept our precious enlightenment.

 

Mother Theresa was known for the statement that she wouldn't require a hindu to become a christian, that it would already mean so much if she could help a hindu be a better hindu, or help a muslim be a better muslim.

 

The thing is, if we view Christ and the way, truth and life through this lens, then christianity doesn't really have doctrine but that instead it offers Christ Himself - the mercy of God and His love. The everything that culminates in the crucified and risen Lord, just like this bad world here also crucifies us frequently and yet God raises us up again soon after.

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KayHarker, in a sense it is like that.

 

I drew the idea from the biblical statement that what the jews experienced in the Old Testament was their school unto Christ. Likewise I think paganism served as the school for the Gentiles. CS Lewis and GK Chesterton wrote about how pagan religions contained myths and stories about gods and heroes doing things very similar to what the bible tells about its people. So in effect God prepared the Gentiles for God just like the jews were prepared. But not perfectly of course. I mean, we believe in a good Christ so if someone follows an evil way, He can say my way was Christ - but he would also have to notice that his walk on his own way was not a good example of walking through life. Whereas other pagans could have said, I did good things, I didn't sell myself short. Again I would use the example from south american paganism - Quetzalcoatl was a relatively good deity and his teachings centered on peace, but Tetzcatlipoca was a bloodthirsty tyrant deity that wanted human sacrifices.

 

The thinking of good and evil remains important, we can't just do whatever comes to us, or we're mistreating OUR way, OUR truth, and OUR life - and in Christ this necessity also has its place when Jesus tells us to love each other and to follow a decent morality as expressed, for example, in the 10 commandments. If we don't do this discerning thinking we're only halfheartedly following our way, we're only halfheartedly seeing the truth, and only halfheartedly living the authentic human life.

 

That's what I tried to explain. You can have a way of life that is really not christian in the way the church would like it, but if you walk this way of life honorably and decently, there's Christ in it. And there are christians who follow this Christ in a christian fashion and yet they have less honor and decency in it than, say, a muslim or pagan who rejects to adopt the christian faith.

 

And I think even in very bad people like historical tyrants and cutthroats or such, there is a remnant of the Christ way, truth and life. For example, I thought a lot about Hitler sometimes and that he was an evil man really, but if you go through his history you can find noble things like him caring for his mother and nursing her when she got sick, as a young man. And just like this, there are always remnants of the good even in very evil men, and that also is Christ.

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One thing to keep into account is that the gospel of John was written during the time the early Christians were being kicked out of the synagogues and were trying to create their own communities and separate themselves from Judaism. You can see the progression of this separation from Judaism all throughout the gospels. in Mark's gospel, the earliest of the gospel accounts, Jesus makes very explicitly inclusive statements like that anyone who is not opposed to Jesus is for him. Matthew's gospel reverses the saying to make Jesus sound more exclusive, John has Jesus saying all the Jews are children of the devil, and the final culmination of this exclusivity is in the book of Revelation which portrays Jesus in a very bloodthirsty militaristic style. It must be kept in mind that the gospels should always be read not as a new religion condemning all other religions but as a theological debate between different groups of Judaism trying to find new ways of being Jewish in a post-second temple world.

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I don't think Jesus would have actually said this, at least not the bit excluding non-Jesus followers. And I don't think Jesus died in any sense as an atonement or so that we may be 'forgiven'. But I agree with you that there are many ways to experience a satisfactory life and I think Jesus tried to communicate one such way.

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Hi Paul,

 

about the "atonement", I think of it differently. It has many facets. One was, for example, to put a seal on Jesus' life - this guy lets evil men kill him to preserve His ideal of love. And the resurrection is the message that not even death can ultimately destroy us. And then there's the facet of Jesus throwing the devil out when going on that cross. This pacifistic attitude of God Himself on that cross shows that God rather dies than avenging Himself (Father, forgive them, they know not what they do).

 

And I think the Cross must also be seen as a theater play, in a way. It is teaching us about our ideals, and about real life, and for me the resurrection event is true and historical, giving myself a true hope, and not just for me but for all. Tough reality may look like it is winning often, many times good men were broken and evil laughed. But while evil still exists, good still exists too.

 

Stauffenberg and Bonhoeffer were crucified by the Nazis, but they got resurrected into the german conscience.

 

There are always lights for those who need hope. And personally I really believe in an afterlife where all of this will make even more sense and where the God of love and goodness has really free hands. In this life here we may not have evidence for that, but I believe in it because I know I have to. All of our pain and love and suffering and misery must find its solution some day. And that's what God said is His "duty" even to show us and to convince us about, either here in this life or later after death.

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Skyseeker,

 

If it works for you and doesn't harm another, I have no issue.

 

For me, I don't accept that Jesus meant to die in any way, although he may have been aware of the risk that his preaching was attracting, and so I can't think in terms that 'the cross' was some sort of lesson. I think the whole process was a standard execution of a man that the authorities considered a rabble-rouser and a risk to stability. I think that because of what Jesus' followers thought of him, various interpretations and story-building around his execution rose up. We can take our various interpretations away from the situation and use them how we like to inspire or encourage us, but seeing something from a certain viewpoint doesn't neccessarily make it truth.

 

In relation to eternal life, I have no problem with death destroying me. As far as I am concerned it has done so to billions and billions of others before me. It is a normal process of living. It would be nice to move into a glorious afterlife - I'm just not convinced such exists. And whilst you hope for a 'solution' some day from all of our pain, love, suffering and misery, I begrudgingly accept that any such solution is what we must strive for today, or accept the situation for what it is. One can still accept pain and misery as life experience and thus accept it.

 

Cheers

Paul

 

Just as an aside, I thought I'd mention that I am 1/2 German myself, in that my birth-mother arrived in Australia from Germany in 1966, and in 1968 gave birth to me after falling pregnant to an Australian. I was given up for adoption and raised by an Australian family, but tracked down my birth father and mother (they aren't together) a few years ago. Maybe this explains my penchant for beer!

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Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

John 4:23

 

Jesus worshipped with Spirit and truth so He is the way, but so did Buddha, Mohammid, Krshna, Shiva and anyone who dares to do so. This is a good thread leading to the Spirit. Thanks

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