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Progressive Christology


FredP
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Let me start by migrating from another post re: Spong, which underlines the importance of the topic:

 

Where I have really diverged from Spong is not so much regarding his approach to the Bible, i.e. rejecting the literal/factual interpretation of creation, fall, virgin birth, resurrection, second coming, etc. (on that we agree for the most part). Rather it's that his interpretation gives him (and his readers) so little left to hang on to. Resurrection: Myth or Reality? and Liberating The Gospels do a great job of suggesting how the early Christians expressed their experience of the resurrected Christ in gospel form. But when he attempts to suggest what that experience might have been, the best he can possibly offer, haltingly, barely, is a psychological feeling of powerful love and self-acceptance. Life-changing love and self-acceptance, to be sure; of a sort never before seen, to be sure. All these superlatives and more about Jesus the man. But I personally think there's no way Christianity can possibly survive without Jesus, the Christ, the God-Man; and progressive Christianity has got to find a way to make this statement in a compelling way.

 

This topic includes, but is not limited to:

 

* Is it possible in a progressive context to affirm the divinity of Christ?

* If so, how? Metaphorically, mythically, allegorically, spiritually, literally?

* If not, what do we make of this claim? Can we do without it?

* How does Jesus relate to Christ?

 

As my quote above should make clear, I want to affirm that it is possible, and (in my opinion) crucial, to make the claim of the divinity of Christ strongly as progressive Christians. Furthermore, I think that it can be done without appealing to virgin births and empty tombs -- but at the same time, without reinterpreting it away, to the point that it ceases to mean what it clearly claims that it means.

 

Fire away!

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As I've read and browsed authors (of a liberal bent) that teach a Christianity that has turned Jesus into a very wise and very good man, I get conflicted.

 

The logical, skeptical, brainiac me thinks "I can accept this Jesus. This Jesus, a great man, could have existed. He was a radical Jew attempting to bring reform to his people and his nation. I should follow him, be like him and find meaning in that."

 

But then I wonder "Why bother? There are other figures throughout history, political activists and thinkers, that I am drawn to as well. Is that all Jesus means to me? Is that all Jesus was?"

 

Then I read and browse authors (of a not so liberal bent) that teach Jesus as the son of God or God incarnate, but not in the ways that you might think. These authors (like Yancey, Lewis and McLaren) aren't liberal, but they are not exactly conservative either.

 

The intuitive, receptive, mystical me thinks "I love the idea that God chose to come to Earth in corporeal form to interact with and relate to human beings on our level. Wow! I don't think I can believe that it was to die a sacrificial death for my sins, but I CAN believe that it was to teach humankind the best way to live."

 

However, (imo) this removes Jesus from his Jewish context and who he may have been historically. Does the Bible really teach that Jesus was God incarnate?

 

If Jesus was just a man - Why bother?

 

If Jesus was God incarnate - WOW! - but was he really?

 

I'm coming to find that I'm somewhere in between. Perhaps Jesus was just a man that, by being adopted by God, became divine? I know that the Jewish idea of the messiah or Christ is not this, but perhaps Jesus became "the Christ" not because he was the Jewish messiah, but because he was adopted by God?

 

So yes, I think the divinity of Jesus is very important if Christianity is to survive. I'm just not sure how to go about it. :unsure:

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This topic includes, but is not limited to:

 

* Is it possible in a progressive context to affirm the divinity of Christ?

* If so, how?  Metaphorically, mythically, allegorically, spiritually, literally?

* If not, what do we make of this claim?  Can we do without it?

* How does Jesus relate to Christ?

 

As my quote above should make clear, I want to affirm that it is possible, and (in my opinion) crucial, to make the claim of the divinity of Christ strongly as progressive Christians.  Furthermore, I think that it can be done without appealing to virgin births and empty tombs -- but at the same time, without reinterpreting it away, to the point that it ceases to mean what it clearly claims that it means.

 

Fire away!

 

 

This rocks Fred. Please don't think that i'm not interested if I can't engage this discussion full bore this weekend...which starts for me tonight when we pick up my partners children. I'll steal as much time as I can though...

 

lily

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However, (imo) this removes Jesus from his Jewish context and who he may have been historically. Does the Bible really teach that Jesus was God incarnate?

 

Why removes? Why not adds to? Certainly Jesus wasn't less than who he was historically, in his Jewish context. This is why I tell even my conservative friends to read Crossan! :)

 

I'm coming to find that I'm somewhere in between. Perhaps Jesus was just a man that, by being adopted by God, became divine? I know that the Jewish idea of the messiah or Christ is not this, but perhaps Jesus became "the Christ" not because he was the Jewish messiah, but because he was adopted by God?

 

This is a heresy known as adoptionism. ;) It seems to be the approach of Borg and Spong, among others; who observe (correctly) that the claims to Jesus' divinity begin with post-resurrection vindication in Paul's letters, then go back to the baptism in Mark, back to conception in Matthew and Luke, and finally back to the very beginning in John. Maybe I just like controversy ;) -- or maybe an incarnational progressive Christian is a rare exotic creature -- but I think the move from Paul to John is not only understandable, but theologically necessary. In adoptionism, God says, You weren't mine to begin with, but you are now. With preexistence, we meet the phenomenal claim that God incarnate has been latent, organically if you will, in the physical universe from the moment it came into existence, and before (ontologically of course, as there is no "before time").

 

One of the cornerstones of my claim here is going to be that Jesus is the Cosmos in miniature, and that to read not only the birth stories, but also later Christological history, in this light, is going to reveal some pretty fantastic stuff.

 

But I get ahead of myself. ;)

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Certainly Jesus wasn't less than who he was historically, in his Jewish context.

No, Jesus wasn't less than who he was historically, but in trying to make Jesus God incarnate couldn't we be completely obscurring who Jesus was? Not taking away from, but covering up?

This is a heresy known as adoptionism.  It seems to be the approach of Borg and Spong, among others

I've never picked up on this from Borg, though I'm sure it's there. It's an idea I first consciously noticed when listening to "Early Christianities" from the Teaching Company. The professor mentions the Ebionites and how it was a major belief in their theology.

 

LOL! It is kind of odd to hear term "heresy" come out on a Progressive Christian board. :P

I think the move from Paul to John is not only understandable, but theologically necessary.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for Jesus being God incarnate. Like I said, I really resonate with that idea and I agree that Jesus being divine is theologically necessary. In fact, I think that the writers of the various "books" of the Christian scriptures also knew it was necessary, which is why the view of Jesus changed over time, culminating (so to speak) with the Creeds.

With preexistence, we meet the phenomenal claim that God incarnate has been latent, organically if you will, in the physical universe from the moment it came into existence, and before

See, I like this thought and actually it is Process philosophy that made me rethink the possibility of Jesus being God incarnate, because the Process view of God teaches God as being both infinite and finite, part of the universe and also transcendant, etc ... Process thought helped me grasp the idea of incarnation because it's not the stretch it was for me when I was a supernatural theist.

 

That doesn't, unfortunately, move me past the little voice in my head saying: "That's not who Jesus was! Why don't we just pick various humans and claim they were God incarnate. That's what the Hindus do." <_< (No slam to Hinduism intended.)

 

Tell me more! Teach me! I'm all ears and will be the first person to buy your book. :D

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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With preexistence, we meet the phenomenal claim that God incarnate has been latent, organically if you will, in the physical universe from the moment it came into existence, and before (ontologically of course, as there is no "before time").

 

One of the cornerstones of my claim here is going to be that Jesus is the Cosmos in miniature, and that to read not only the birth stories, but also later Christological history, in this light, is going to reveal some pretty fantastic stuff.

 

But I get ahead of myself. ;)

 

 

Are you saying that latent within and as one with the physical universe God was, is, and shall be? Or are you saying that God incarnate was latent until the birth of Jesus? Is God latent within the physical universe now? nascent? or fully realized in Jesus? Christ? and therefore no longer latent?

 

Also, do you mean "Jesus" is the Cosmos in miniature? Jesus as a man? as the Son of Man? or Jesus as the Christ?

 

Do we mean when we say "God Incarnate" that God in His Fullness dwelled in the body of Jesus? that Jesus WAS God? Or are we saying that Jesus as a man embodied the fullness of God and became immortal or as God?

 

lily

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Yeah, Borg does differentiate between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith or who Jesus became to his followers after his death. But that's not the same thing as the "adoptionism" belief.

 

Hi Fred

Hi Lily

Welcome to the board.

Sorry I didn't say hello earlier. I'm kinda new here myself.

 

This is in my profile and I've probably said it before so sorry but it really does it for me.

 

Borg says that for us Christians, we see in Jesus what God is like, what a life full of God is like.

 

I just don't need to make Jesus more than that or somehow more special than any other human who ever walked the earth. Sure he's special to me, as a Christian. But does he have to be that for everyone on the planet? No. I think Jesus had a "presence" about him. But I think the Dalai Lama does too. Anybody ever read "Good Heart" with the Dalai Lama? It's wonderful.

 

But anyway, back to that idea of the "particularity" of Jesus. (I think that's what this is called in theologian speak. ;))

 

I guess, my thinking goes in the direction of how this contributes to Christian exclusivism and labeling "who's in" and "who's out" so I don't see it going in a beneficial direction. Unless, somebody can give me another scenerio. Yeah, I know about univeralism, etc.

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I just don't need to make Jesus more than that or somehow more special than any other human who ever walked the earth.  Sure he's special to me, as a Christian.  But does he have to be that for everyone on the planet?  No.  I think Jesus had a "presence" about him.  But I think the Dalai Lama does too.  Anybody ever read "Good Heart" with the Dalai Lama?  It's wonderful.

 

 

Hi WindDancer

 

I am drawn to the Ancient Greek conception of the "Hero" or the immortalization of the mortal man, and my thought is that we are going to have difficulty discussing the divinity/humanity of Jesus Christ without *going back* to pre-christian ideas, perhaps especially ancient Greek ideas. (for instance, I believe the "adoptionism heresy" has its roots in Greek thought and tradition; that the Greeks had initiation by adoption) The problem is that I am no biblical or ancient religion scholar and would have to rely, to a large extent, on the more learned on this list to carry this discussion. This is very frustrating because I have so many intuitions regarding this topic that I am ill-equipped to articulate.

 

I'm also seeing that if we are to find common ground in this discussion that we are going to need to establish a worldview. If our worldview is in part, or in full, influenced by a "Spiritualist Worldview", such as found in Gnosticism, then it will be more difficult to envision Jesus, fully man, fully flesh, fully embodying or incarnating God, or God being *in* the creation as God was in Christ Jesus. Our basic understanding of what is possible or not possible concerning Jesus the Christ will depend a great deal on who and what we think God is and who and what we think we are in relationship to God.

 

Whether or not it is important that Jesus the Christ be the *only* begotten Son of God, and therefore unique in all of history, both before or since, or whether He was in fact the "firstborn among many brethren" is what is *at stake* in this discussion, at least to my mind.

 

I'm hoping that Fred will give us orientation.

 

lily

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No, Jesus wasn't less than who he was historically, but in trying to make Jesus God incarnate couldn't we be completely obscurring who Jesus was? Not taking away from, but covering up?

 

Absolutely. That's why historical Jesus scholarship is crucial -- to keep Jesus' life and mission in focus as we continue to do theological extrapolation.

 

I've never picked up on this from Borg, though I'm sure it's there. It's an idea I first consciously noticed when listening to "Early Christianities" from the Teaching Company. The professor mentions the Ebionites and how it was a major belief in their theology.

 

I think it's what Borg seems to be saying, maybe not adoptionism in its technical theological form, but that the Jesus' status is vindicated by the Easter experience.

 

LOL! It is kind of odd to hear term "heresy" come out on a Progressive Christian board.  :P

 

I thought it'd be a kick. ;)

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However, (imo) this removes Jesus from his Jewish context and who he may have been historically. Does the Bible really teach that Jesus was God incarnate?

 

Why removes? Why not adds to? Certainly Jesus wasn't less than who he was historically, in his Jewish context. This is why I tell even my conservative friends to read Crossan! :)

 

I'm coming to find that I'm somewhere in between. Perhaps Jesus was just a man that, by being adopted by God, became divine? I know that the Jewish idea of the messiah or Christ is not this, but perhaps Jesus became "the Christ" not because he was the Jewish messiah, but because he was adopted by God?

 

This is a heresy known as adoptionism. ;) It seems to be the approach of Borg and Spong, among others; who observe (correctly) that the claims to Jesus' divinity begin with post-resurrection vindication in Paul's letters, then go back to the baptism in Mark, back to conception in Matthew and Luke, and finally back to the very beginning in John. Maybe I just like controversy ;) -- or maybe an incarnational progressive Christian is a rare exotic creature -- but I think the move from Paul to John is not only understandable, but theologically necessary. In adoptionism, God says, You weren't mine to begin with, but you are now. With preexistence, we meet the phenomenal claim that God incarnate has been latent, organically if you will, in the physical universe from the moment it came into existence, and before (ontologically of course, as there is no "before time").

 

One of the cornerstones of my claim here is going to be that Jesus is the Cosmos in miniature, and that to read not only the birth stories, but also later Christological history, in this light, is going to reveal some pretty fantastic stuff.

 

But I get ahead of myself. ;)

Interesting point of view. This gets back to the equation of the word as being Christ and both were with God "from the beginning." I like the definition of the Word that Christopher Bamford gives in his book re John Scotus Eriugena:

 

"The Word then is divine consciousness, the seed of consciousness, a supernatural being who thinks without otherness or object...from this power all knowing derives and receives its form...the Word as knowing is a vessel wherein the true meaning of all things are stored. More accurately put it is the infinite origin of the truth containing, as a seed contains the plant, all the meanings constitutive of it...More peculiarly it contains us and we contain it."

 

So as in Romans 10:8: "The Word is near you, on your lips and in your heart."

 

Have a good one, Earl

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Are you saying that latent within and as one with the physical universe God was, is, and shall be? Or are you saying that God incarnate was latent until the birth of Jesus? Is God latent within the physical universe now? nascent? or fully realized in Jesus? Christ? and therefore no longer latent?

Good questions! They are ones I lay in bed thinking about last night as I fell asleep.

 

From a panentheistic point of view, the physical universe IS God and so God has always been latent within it and always will be. Perhaps from time to time God incarnates to nudge us in a particular direction? :unsure: Saying that God only came once definitely makes Christianity exclusive compared to other religions. Is Christianity unique (special) compared to other religions? Does it offer something that others do not? Is exclusivity, when tempered with love, such a bad thing?

Do we mean when we say "God Incarnate" that God in His Fullness dwelled in the body of Jesus? that Jesus WAS God?

I don't see how Jesus could have BEEN God because 1) How would God have resurrected himself? (that's a JW point) and 2) I believe the universe is part of God (in God) and the universe certainly didn't dissappear when Jesus showed up. :blink: So, I'd have to say it was a "partial" incarnation thing. (Not saying that I believe any of this, I'm just pondering out loud.)

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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From a panentheistic point of view, the physical universe IS God and so God has always been latent within it and always will be. Perhaps from time to time God incarnates to nudge us in a particular direction?  :unsure: Saying that God only came once definitely makes Christianity exclusive compared to other religions. Is Christianity unique (special) compared to other religions? Does it offer something that others do not? Is exclusivity, when tempered with love, such a bad thing?

From a panentheistic point of view, the physical universe is NOT God -- that's pantheism -- rather, the physical universe is IN God. (You say that below, so I know you know this already.)

 

I don't see how Jesus could have BEEN God because 1) How would God have resurrected himself? (that's a JW point) and 2) I believe the universe is part of God (in God) and the universe certainly didn't dissappear when Jesus showed up.  :blink:  So, I'd have to say it was a "partial" incarnation thing. (Not saying that I believe any of this, I'm just pondering out loud.)

Your 1st point (and ex-fellow JW's) confuse God beyond Form (Father) with God Incarnate (Son). (I thought Earl's post in "hybrids" relating Christianity to Buddhism was helpful as far as making this distinction in Eastern language.) Traditional Christian theology was well aware that Jesus couldn't have been God in the same way the Father IS; that participation isn't the same as equivalence.

 

Using the image I suggested earlier, that Jesus represents the Cosmos in miniature, my proposal is that Jesus' uniqueness does not lie in the fact that he, as a particular human apart from other humans, discloses God to us; but rather that he in a clear and unique way discloses God's relationship to the entire Cosmos. I'm using a weak sense of unique here -- not as absolutely or logically unique, but to emphasize the radical newness of the disclosure.

Edited by FredP
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From a panentheistic point of view, the physical universe is NOT God -- that's pantheism -- rather, the physical universe is IN God.

 

Poor choice of words. It did come out like pantheism, but that is definitely not what I meant.

 

When I say the universe IS God, I don't mean to imply pantheism. I'm thinking of an analogy of a cell within a body. The cell is IN my body, it is PART of my body, so in a sense it IS me, but I am more than my cell. This is panentheism where the universe "stuff" is made out of God "stuff" (ex Deo?)

 

OR I could look at panetheism from a "mitochondria" point of view, little parasites that exist within me, work for me, and yet are NOT ME. This is panentheism where the universe stuff is not made out of God stuff.. Creation ex nihilo but still within God? Would this be possible?

 

How about creation of the universe as consisting of both God stuff, plus something new (and I don't mean matter, I mean traits or aspects)?

 

Traditional Christian theology was well aware that Jesus couldn't have been God in the same way the Father IS; that participation isn't the same as equivalence.

 

Ah see, that's the problem. I grew up surrounded by Mormons and JW's who don't believe in the Trinity but like to rant against it an awful lot. They build up strawmen in order to tear them down and for me, the strawman God incarnate is all I know. :(

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If it wasn't obvious before, let me first preface by saying I'm neither a theologian nor a great bible scholar. But I'd like to through out a view & see how folks respond re Christology. If in the beginning was the Word & the Word was with God and Bible later equates Word & Christ, perhaps to begin the discussion those terms are roughly equivalent. Jesus variously described himself in various gospel passages (or was claimed to have referred to himself) as the "Way" or the "Door" to the Father. Yet, as Jim Marion rightfully points out in his book, "Putting on the Mind of Christ," "Christ" wasn't Jesus' last name. Perhaps, Jesus meant those terms quite literally: that walking his path/Way gets you to the Father; going through the door he holds open to us gets us to the Father. Perhaps gospel writers could have used the metaphor of a window-that he was a living window through which we could see God's blessings. But I see little to nothing in the Bible that suggests that Jesus was saying the goal of Christianity was to worship Jesus.

 

Perhaps, "Christ" is another name for the potentiality within all sentient creation to realize their literal "God-given" nature. I wrote a bit in another post here re the Word as being such potentiality. It's no accident to me that Christianity is called Christianity not Jesusism. We can debate all we want the nature of Jesus' divinty, but I can think of few if any religions that are named for their founding visionaries. Buddhism is Buddhism not Gautamaism, ("Buddha" meaning one who is awake), Islam is not Mohamedism, etc. They were about the Message, not the Messenger, though obviously how the messenger lived their lives is in itself a message-or Living Word.

 

"Christ" came through to this world through the living channel that was Jesus. Perhaps in various subtle ways Jesus/Christ does indeed hold open the door for us and may even help nudge us over the threshhold. But "Christ" is a Door-Way, we must find our ways to and through to the "Christ-ing" process.

 

May you all have a wonderful Easter, Earl

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I think that "incarnation" is a term applied later to mean that in some way Jesus appeared "special".

 

Fred says:

Traditional Christian theology was well aware that Jesus couldn't have been God in the same way the Father IS; that participation isn't the same as equivalence.

 

Well yes, in fact, the earlier like Mark and Acts don't say Jesus is = to God. (yes I am sure you could find an odd phrase here and there.) That comes about later in John which has been interpreted pretty literally to say that.

 

 

Fred saysL

Using the image I suggested earlier, that Jesus represents the Cosmos in miniature, my proposal is that Jesus' uniqueness does not lie in the fact that he, as a particular human apart from other humans, discloses God to us; but rather that he in a clear and unique way discloses God's relationship to the entire Cosmos. I'm using a weak sense of unique here -- not as absolutely or logically unique, but to emphasize the radical newness of the disclosure.

 

 

You have quite an incisive way of putting things and close to how I would have said it if I was able to word things quite so well.

 

I also feel that we have different "representatives" in other cultures. There are reasons that Buddhism is more accepted in Asia than here (maybe more so recently) and vice versa. Matt Fox talks about the Cosmic Christ-- Christ as "label" to represent what Jesus was, and that essense is available and has been available throughout time and cultures.

 

--des

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Yet, as Jim Marion rightfully points out in his book, "Putting on the Mind of Christ," "Christ" wasn't Jesus' last name ... It's no accident to me that Christianity is called Christianity not Jesusism.

Hmmm.

 

The word Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah. The Hebrew word Messiah means Anointed One. All annointed kings in Israel were then "Messiahs".

 

In what way did the early followers of Jesus consider him anointed? WHY did they consider him anointed? Was it that Jesus taught unique ideas and SO THEN the early followers gave him the title of "annointed one"? Can we seperate the fact that Jesus is the person who was considered annointed by the early Christians from the idea of annointing itself?

 

I don't know what I'm trying to say. :blink: I really appreciate Matt Fox's Cosmic Christ and the idea that we too can become Christs but I don't know that that is what the early Christians meant by "Christ".

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Aletheia says:

I don't know what I'm trying to say. :blink: I really appreciate Matt Fox's Cosmic Christ and the idea that we too can become Christs but I don't know that that is what the early Christians meant by "Christ".

 

It's pretty hard, maybe impossible to know exactly what the early Christians thought. Prob. safe to say many different things! Some got adopted into church hierachical thought and some did not. Some became heresies. Even the gospels show vastly different thinking from Mark (I think?) having Jesus say "Don't call me good". To John saying "I AM the way the truth the life". (Of course that could be a Jesus koan...). To all the texts that didn't make it in the final drafts, to whatever never got written down.

 

One thing I do like about Spong is the way he puts "well something happened" and it had a big impact...

 

As for Matt Fox's comments about Cosmic Christ:

Does he really say this? (that we can become Christs) I think potential (we all have the innermost potential to be) vs what we actually are is pretty different. So I don't actually think we can.

 

But as to what the early Christians thought, well they would never have worded it like that would they. It is such a 20th C wording. Would they have understood something exactly in that sense, I don't think so, as I think how we see things and understand things is intimately tied up in our culture, times, sciences (the universe was a black curve over their heads), etc. But the idea that the "we are all sons (and daughters of God)" is expressed. Since they quote that in every single Christian Science service I prob. know that one by heart. OTOH I don't tend to take that quote quite so literally, as it goes on to say that "when he shall appear we shall be like him"... So who perhaps the understanding is quite a different one.

 

 

--des

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Oops. Bad sentence structure again. Dang me! ;)

 

I meant that I like many of the ideas that have been put forth as to what the word Christ means.

 

I like 1) The idea put forth by Matthew Fox about the Cosmic Christ.

 

I like 2) The idea that earl mentioned that Christ could mean the potentiality that exists within all of us.

 

Two different ideas. LOL. :lol:

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Aletheia says:

I don't know what I'm trying to say.  :blink:  I really appreciate Matt Fox's Cosmic Christ and the idea that we too can become Christs but I don't know that that is what the early Christians meant by "Christ".

 

des wrote: As for Matt Fox's comments about Cosmic Christ:

Does he really say this? (that we can become Christs) I think potential (we all have the innermost potential to be) vs what we actually are is pretty different. So I don't actually think we can.

 

 

To me, the whole Christian message breaks down if we CANNOT become Christs, or Anointed Ones. There would be no movement, no development, no evolution of the Christian *experience* without it. "Christ in you the hope of glory" would be meaningless. Jesus would go from "the firstborn among many brethren" to "the only begotten Son of God" and I could go back to the Baptist Church on Sundays, "once saved, always saved" and await heaven when I die and do my best to be "good" in the meantime.

 

But if Jesus demonstrated IN HIS humanity the role or purpose OF humanity in God and if this can be expressed through the word "mediation" then we are called to be in relationship with God in the same manner in which Jesus was in relationship with God - as Anointed Sons of God - Mediators of Gods Will.

 

I believe that humanity is pivotal in the unfolding of Gods purpose; that we are not being acted upon so much as acted through, and if we do not embrace our calling in God, which is "Christ in you the hope of glory", then the "whole creation groans awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God" in vain.

 

lily

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Ok, Lily I'm with you there. I just think that the term "to be Christs" is rather grandeous or something. To follow Christ, now that is more doable (though still difficult). And yes, I believe we are called on to have the same relationship. We may miss it, we prob. will miss it. But if we don't act it is a meaningless sort of belief, imo.

 

It certainly is a challenge to put these things into words!

 

 

--des

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it is interesting to think about what "christ" meant then and now - if it was a term used for the kings of the jewish people, did it have any more than a political reference in Jesus time - when the gospels were written, did the references to Jesus as the christ mean he was going to free us from Rome or had the early church already begun dealing with the deeper meanings that we are discussing here? - is "you are the christ" in the gospels the same as "you are the one who is going to free us from the man?" or is it "you are the prototype in all future person's relationships with the ultimate?" or somewhere in between?

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I've created a monster!!

 

WindDancer: You brought up the "scandal of the particular," which is something that a Progressive approach to Christology really need to reckon with. Does this entail Christian exclusivity? I've been very strongly convinced by various writers of a more mystical bent, and then again recently by Borg, that "I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me" (Jn 14.6) is not a claim about the exclusivity of Jesus or of the Christian religion, but rather that Jesus reveals the Universal Way. There is no "we're in; you're out" type of group membership identity, but the recognition that the Christ is a universal, eternal phenomenon -- The Way, not just a way. I can't see any philosophical or theological reason why the Eternal Way shouldn't manifest multiple times, in multiple situations -- in fact, it would seem that the One desires to manifest in a near infinite diversity of ways. And yet, what we see in Jesus and a few others like him, is not merely a meandering, groping drive for the One in some situation or other, but a clear, transparent, unobstructed view of God's nature -- above all (and here is where I diverge from the Jesus Seminar folk), in the voluntary laying aside of his human nature on the cross -- the great act of faith.

 

This is where "see how it's done," as it were. We must, of course, all carry our crosses in this way; indeed this death is our life. THIS is the Way. I AM the Way. (I offer this to our conservative brothers and sisters who claim that the progressive Way is too nice and too easy. I actually think it's quite a lot more difficult, even though it's not my point to devise a more difficult spiritual path.)

 

On that note, have a Blessed Easter (which of course, lasts 50 more days)! Alleluia!

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I also feel that we have different "representatives" in other cultures. There are reasons that Buddhism is more accepted in Asia than here (maybe more so recently) and vice versa. Matt Fox talks about the Cosmic Christ-- Christ as "label" to represent what Jesus was, and that essense is available and has been available throughout time and cultures.

Absolutely, but I'm a little uncomfortable saying that we have this Christ idea in our heads, and we label it when we see it. Christ always comes to shatter our concepts and expectations, and does so in many cultures, situations, and guises. The stone the builders (intellectual architects, perhaps?) rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

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Aletheia:

I don't know what I'm trying to say.  I really appreciate Matt Fox's Cosmic Christ and the idea that we too can become Christs but I don't know that that is what the early Christians meant by "Christ".

des: As for Matt Fox's comments about Cosmic Christ:

Does he really say this? (that we can become Christs) I think potential (we all have the innermost potential to be) vs what we actually are is pretty different. So I don't actually think we can.

cunninglily: To me, the whole Christian message breaks down if we CANNOT become Christs, or Anointed Ones. There would be no movement, no development, no evolution of the Christian *experience* without it. "Christ in you the hope of glory" would be meaningless. Jesus would go from "the firstborn among many brethren" to "the only begotten Son of God" and I could go back to the Baptist Church on Sundays, "once saved, always saved" and await heaven when I die and do my best to be "good" in the meantime.

Good thread!

 

I likewise really like Fox's treatment of the Cosmic Christ idea. What I get out of Fox is that the Truth is more, not less, than the literalizations of it. Knowing that Fox is well acquainted with mysticism East and West (Eckhart in particular), the idea that we are to become Christs is not at all foreign to where he's coming from. (This teaching is explicit in Eastern theology, if only implicit in the West.) Lily also points to many of the Pauline texts that can certainly be read this way, though it never occured to me to do so when I myself was a Baptist. Now, I find it hard to read them any other way.

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Fred - Good stuff on Jesus being the way. So where you diverge from the Jesus Seminar is in believing that Jesus became God when he died on the cross? Is that what you mean by "laying aside his human nature"? And are you saying that experience is/was unique to Jesus?

 

Blessed Easter to you too, Fred.

"Christ the Lord is risen today, A-lle-lu-ia!"

I love that hymn.

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