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Christianity In A Pluralistic World


mcarans
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I think my case one might have been misunderstood: when I said that the young person was at risk of being radicalised, I did not mean that they would not be a Christian, I meant that they might join Islamic State or some extreme group. I certainly don't think that anyone who isn't Christian is a radical.

 

I think that personal testimony and mentorship are positive things to bring to such an individual, but from a practical perspective is that enough? Many of the ideas presented in this discussion are on a level that such an individual might not understand. Can we give a simple counter-narrative or do we just give up?

 

On the subject of labels, I will resort to an analogy. Let's say I tell people I am a fan of the Phoenix Suns basketball team. What if I support all the teams in the Western Conference equally? I certainly have not lied but people would have made the reasonable assumption that the Suns are the only team in the NBA that I support. They would be expecting me to say what I like about that team not what's good about the whole Western Conference. If I started talking about what's great about the Houston Rockets and then the San Antonio Spurs, they would get gradually more confused and wonder whether I am a fan of any team. They might stop listening at that point. It would be better to tell them from the outset that I am a fan of all Western Conference teams.

 

So if we replace the Phoenix Suns with Christianity, what would the Western Conference be? It could be New Age Spirituality, or perhaps Progressive Islam, since Jesus is one of a number of prophets in that religion, but perhaps best would be progressive Bahá'í? I don't know much about Bahá'í, but according to Wikipedia, messengers in that Faith include Abrahamic figures—Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, as well as Indian ones—Krishna,Buddha, and others. Why identify as progressive Christian if progressive Bahá'í would be a more fitting label?

 

Then one could present a picture of progressive Bahá'íism to the people in the two cases I mentioned and that would be much clearer to them than trying to present Christianity as somehow encompassing multiple religions equally (in its most progressive form). Would anyone on this forum be happy to be labelled as progressive Bahá'í rather than progressive Christian? If you prefer the Christian label, why?

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Hi mcarens,

 

I think we have answered all your previous questions though possibly not to your satisfaction. I am moving this thread from progressive Christianity forum to debate and dialog to fit more in line with our guidelines as all respondents do not identify as Progressive Christians and your questions have taken on a different scope..

 

JosephM (as admin)

Edited by JosephM
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I think my case one might have been misunderstood: when I said that the young person was at risk of being radicalised, I did not mean that they would not be a Christian, I meant that they might join Islamic State or some extreme group. I certainly don't think that anyone who isn't Christian is a radical.

 

I think that personal testimony and mentorship are positive things to bring to such an individual, but from a practical perspective is that enough? Many of the ideas presented in this discussion are on a level that such an individual might not understand. Can we give a simple counter-narrative or do we just give up?

 

(snip)

As a general rule, progressive Christianity is not about proselytizing . I don't think anyone here has proposed offering a religion to solve the problem you mention. That is not what Progressive Christianity is about. I don't understand from your last post exactly what you are looking for. Perhaps someone else here is understanding what you are looking for better than i?

 

Joseph

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mcarans,

 

Also you ask... "Would anyone on this forum be happy to be labelled as progressive Bahá'í rather than progressive Christian? If you prefer the Christian label, why?"

 

I think THIS THREAD HERE will answer your question of why by reading what Progressive Christianity means to the people who have responded as Progressive Christians.

 

Joseph

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My apologies Jen, I was under the impression that you thought Christ was literally the son of God.

 

Regarding Mystics ... I like this quote from Joseph Campbell

  • But the ultimate mystical goal is to be united with one's god. With that, duality is transcended and forms disappear. There is nobody there, no god, no you. Your mind, going past all concepts, has dissolved in identification with ground of your own being, because that to which the metaphorical image of your god refers to the ultimate mystery of your own being, which is the mystery of the being of the world as well.
It sort fits my monism (world view)

 

Concerning mysticism. When a mystic reaches a state of formlessness, the possibility of there finding nothing, though that may be the case, is not absolute. This is a state where your shoulds and shouldn'ts fall away.

 

You may believe that you shouldnt find yourself or God, but to reach the formless state, one must surrender all ideas and ego.

 

What i've found is my soul pattern communing with a greater source, God if you will. Egoless and formless. I believe that God can be formless if that's how he chooses to reveal himself, but it's really up to God how he reveals himself.

Edited by fatherman
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Would anyone on this forum be happy to be labelled as progressive Bahá'í rather than progressive Christian? If you prefer the Christian label, why?

 

Mcarans, I hope you don't mind me sharing my views on this. IMO, for me to be a "progressive Baha'i", I would have to give the person of Baha'u'llah and his teachings a fair amount of weight and centrality to my life. I have looked into the Baha'i faith a little, and while I admire some of its approaches to spirituality and unity, I don't find everything there to be progressive or rational. For instance, women cannot serve in the Universal House of Justice. Why? Because Baha'u'llah forbids it. So, in my opinion and as with many religions, its teachings are based in authority (that of Baha'u'llah and his delegated descendants as prophets of God) rather in a search for truth, which, I believe, continues to progressively unfold.

 

Having said that, I don't self-identify as a "progressive Christian" either. Here are my main reasons for not wearing that label:

1. First, Christianity in our Western culture is most often defined against the sin-redemption model of evangelicals or holding to the creeds of the orthodox churches. Neither of these work for me.

2. Second, I'm not a good follower of Jesus as he is portrayed in the gospels and per his stated requirements of what it takes to follow him.

3. Lastly (and please correct me, Joseph or other mods if necessary), I have never found a concise definition here or anywhere else within the Progressive Christianity movement that stipulates exactly what constitutes a progressive Christian i.e. what must be believed, rejected, done, abstained from, etc. It seems to be left up to the individual as to whether they want to self-identify as a progressive Christian. I respect those that do, but I consciously choose not to.

 

However, I cannot deny that Progressive Christianity most closely aligns with my own sense of what it means to be spiritual (experiencing connectedness - to self, to others, to the world, even to what some call God). I have been influenced by such progressive and liberal writers/speakers as Jack Spong, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and others who try to get at the heart of Christianity while saying that it needs to grow and change lest it becomes irrelevant to our culture and future. Christianity is my mother-religion, the religious culture in which I was raised, my native language, so-to-speak. Christianity is my roots, but I don't let it limit my branches. And though I may not self-identify as a "progressive Christian", I find that it helps me with my branches and gives me the room I need to grow.

 

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Science has a profound impact on all aspects of life spreading into our thoughts and culture, transforming paradigms, inspiring and changing our perceptions about the universe and our relationship with it. It is demonstrating that we have many possible outcomes to choose from and it is our observation that makes that choice. Christian mysticism on the other hand, is about developing a direct insightful experience, relationship and communion with the beautiful, reasonable energy of the universe and its awe-inspiring power deep within, calling it God. Science and mysticism offer us the depth to be able to change the direction of our basic concepts and outlook of the world around us by pointing to Infinity and something beyond matter.

 

I like what Joseph Cambell said and his quoted to follow your bliss. I accept the plain label of Christian with all its faults and path to bliss, but instead of viewing the universe from the perspective of Infinity radically changing our thoughts for the better in a whole-world view of unity, observing our finite self in infinity we find Christians looking for a group that they can feel superior to, for example, putting down the Muslims, blaming them for ISIS when we created ISIS when we invaded Iraq. We Christians are following our political leaders to make Muslims bad only demonstrating that we are really not practicing the mind of Christ. After 9/11 we have more people killed from Americans shooting Americans than from terrorism, but we go after Muslims making them the target of our anger and hate. Christianity, my religion needs to lead people to their bliss instead of a superiority complex that makes it easy to manipulate congregations. Authoritarian regimes and countries use this technique because it is effective, the problem is it causes individuals pain and leads them away from their bliss.

 

P.S. I was lost for words reading all the experiences people here have experienced with the death of a loved one and I offer my sincere condolences.

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I am grateful that so many of you have taken the time to provide answers to my questions. They are very helpful to me and I wanted to dig deeper to get to that concise definition that Bill alludes to which would be useful to anyone trying to understand Christianity without being automatically drawn into conservative Christianity with its "easy" answers.

 

I thought it might help to get towards such a definition by comparing to progressive versions of other faiths, for example a progressive Baha'i faith might not take literally certain instructions such as that women cannot serve in the Universal House of Justice. So progressive X, where X is a religion might be defined as applying context to X's religious texts or not taking literally those texts. Then what makes a progressive Christian different to a progressive Baha'i might give the rest of the definition.

 

But perhaps such a simple definition of progressive Christianity is not possible - it is what the individual wants it to be?

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mcarans,

 

I think Bill was correct and i believe that you are gaining a clearer understanding of PC if you have read the 8 points and the thread i referenced that members have written concerning what Progressive Christianity means to them.

 

There is no concise definition that will be accurate for all because it is an individual journey without dogma and precise doctrines.. While Christianity is the base at which most started (the reported teachings of Jesus), many have taken on labels of their choosing. At times we may sound like Buddhists, at times like Hinduism, etc. Labels are not all that important to many on their journey but if you have no problem with the 8 points which are a bit ambiguous, then PC might fit. While we share our views, we never insist one take on a particular view. I am comfortable with that though some are not but that is a choice left to the individual. To some this is a positive and to others it is not.

 

Joseph

 

PS. More including articles can be found concerning PC at our main organization site HERE

Edited by JosephM
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Concerning mysticism. When a mystic reaches a state of formlessness, the possibility of there finding nothing, though that may be the case, is not absolute. This is a state where your shoulds and shouldn'ts fall away.

 

You may believe that you shouldnt find yourself or God, but to reach the formless state, one must surrender all ideas and ego.

 

What i've found is my soul pattern communing with a greater source, God if you will. Egoless and formless. I believe that God can be formless if that's how he chooses to reveal himself, but it's really up to God how he reveals himself.

 

I definitely am not a mystic. So I will let people who are mystics or at least feel they are, tell me what it means.

 

Having said that Joseph Campbell studied and taught comparative myth for forty years or so. So I would say he has some qualifications on the matter.

 

I think Campbell was talking to oneness rather than nothingness.

 

Surrender all ideas of the ego? Perhaps.

 

When you say my soul pattern communing with a greater source this is part of the classical duality the many if not most Christians embrace. If this duality is what mystics aspire to, then it is definitely not path I will walk.

Edited by romansh
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I thank you Jen for your posts and in particular for this nugget: "any major choice we make affects the way the brain wires itself...When we make major choices about our religious or spiritual beliefs, we give instructions to our biological brains to go ahead and start rewiring circuits to support and reinforce our major belief systems." : this why it seems to me that guiding someone who is at the start of a new process of spiritual searching is important to them as once they start down a path, it will be hard for them to back out. I know this from personal experience as I was in my late teenage years a very conservative Christian, who abandoned that baggage and became an equally conservative atheist. A spiritual vacuum lead me to Buddhism and Tolle then not finding what I needed there, back to atheism. Now I am a liberal Christian. I want to help people avoid such a complicated journey if I can.

 

Thank you Joseph for the link to resources. From one of the articles on the main organisation site, there's this link which I found quite helpful regarding labels:

http://www.christianevolution.com/2014/02/should-progressive-christians-called-Jesusists.html

 

Definitely people are free to label themselves how they choose and I understand that coming out with an entirely new label might well be counterproductive. My point is how someone can use a label that will be helpful in explaining what they believe/think to the uninitiated based on choosing an existing religion that fits more closely the beliefs/values he/she has. It seems to me that if a person draws an equal amount of inspiration from Buddha, Krishna and others as from Jesus, then using the term Christian is less helpful when mentoring or giving personal testimony to others than something like progressive Baha'i which covers all those teachers. My impression though from the posts I've read is that some people seem to draw more inspiration from Buddha than Jesus or other teachers as much of what they wrote seems to me to be quite close to Zen Buddhism (at least from my knowledge of it my earlier life and particularly from Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen).

 

For those who are inspired by Buddha, what do you feel are differences (if any) between Zen Buddhism and progressive Christianity?

 

 

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Mcarans, there is a fast-growing segment of our population today who don't hold to any one religious tradition, but synthesize their own spirituality out of many sources. These are know as the SBNRs (spiritual-but-not-religious) or the "Nones". It is a label that is growing. But, as you might expect, it is quite ambiguous.

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I thank you Jen for your posts and in particular for this nugget: "any major choice we make affects the way the brain wires itself...When we make major choices about our religious or spiritual beliefs, we give instructions to our biological brains to go ahead and start rewiring circuits to support and reinforce our major belief systems."

 

What we must also realize is that the wiring of our brains affects the choices we make (major and minor). We somehow see some ephemeral being giving instructions to our brains. To me this makes no sense.

 

At best our brain gives itself instructions and ultimately those instructions are shaped by the environment.

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I thank you Jen for your posts and in particular for this nugget: "any major choice we make affects the way the brain wires itself...When we make major choices about our religious or spiritual beliefs, we give instructions to our biological brains to go ahead and start rewiring circuits to support and reinforce our major belief systems." : this why it seems to me that guiding someone who is at the start of a new process of spiritual searching is important to them as once they start down a path, it will be hard for them to back out. I know this from personal experience as I was in my late teenage years a very conservative Christian, who abandoned that baggage and became an equally conservative atheist. A spiritual vacuum lead me to Buddhism and Tolle then not finding what I needed there, back to atheism. Now I am a liberal Christian. I want to help people avoid such a complicated journey if I can.

 

Thank you Joseph for the link to resources. From one of the articles on the main organisation site, there's this link which I found quite helpful regarding labels:

http://www.christianevolution.com/2014/02/should-progressive-christians-called-Jesusists.html

 

Definitely people are free to label themselves how they choose and I understand that coming out with an entirely new label might well be counterproductive. My point is how someone can use a label that will be helpful in explaining what they believe/think to the uninitiated based on choosing an existing religion that fits more closely the beliefs/values he/she has. It seems to me that if a person draws an equal amount of inspiration from Buddha, Krishna and others as from Jesus, then using the term Christian is less helpful when mentoring or giving personal testimony to others than something like progressive Baha'i which covers all those teachers. My impression though from the posts I've read is that some people seem to draw more inspiration from Buddha than Jesus or other teachers as much of what they wrote seems to me to be quite close to Zen Buddhism (at least from my knowledge of it my earlier life and particularly from Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen).

 

For those who are inspired by Buddha, what do you feel are differences (if any) between Zen Buddhism and progressive Christianity?

 

 

" Now I am a liberal Christian. I want to help people avoid such a complicated journey if I can"

 

I know few people who have had as complicated a journey as me, other than the people on this site! :) I'm not convinced it could have happened any other way. In fact, I would not wish it to. I learned so much from that journey. There could have been no shortcuts for me. What's ironic is that in many ways I found myself right back where I started from when I was a preacher's kid in a Presbyterian church. The difference, though, is that I have a richer understanding of what it all means that I probably wouldn't have had otherwise.

 

A short example. I had no clue what Grace meant, until I was in dire need of it just a few years ago. You don't have to be a Christian to experience grace, btw. Only my life experience could have taught me that. It changed my perspective once again!

 

I'm not sure becoming a Progress Christian or anything else is really a choice. One's perspective is often shifted due to life experiences. It may feel like you read something or someone told you something that really changed your mind, but I wonder if these were simply views that helped you articulate and express what was already in your heart.

 

Now, where I've seen your desire to avoid complicated journeys in action is when someone from an abusive church tradition found that there was something else in the world. Case in point, a good friend of mine was Jehovah's Witness. He was also gay. He came out knowing that it would mean 100% ostricization from the church and his family. When he visited the progressive church I was attending at the time, he was overjoyed to find that there was another way. I don't know his journey, but the shift for him seemed to be dramatic.

 

Would you give up your journey?

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I'm not sure becoming a Progress Christian or anything else is really a choice. One's perspective is often shifted due to life experiences. It may feel like you read something or someone told you something that really changed your mind, but I wonder if these were simply views that helped you articulate and express what was already in your heart.

 

 

Would you give up your journey?

 

I'm not convinced that we really choose our beliefs, Fatherman. What I mean is that I tend to think that life presents experiences to us and we simply find ourselves where we are, believing what we believe. And then, as you have said, we find confirmation bias in others. This doesn't mean that our beliefs can't or don't change. But I don't think any of us wake up one day and say to ourselves, "I think I'll change what I believe today." I think our changing beliefs are due to our changing experiences, growth, and knowledge.

 

I don't know if I would give up my journey, but I wish I had been smarter younger. :blink:

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I'm not convinced that we really choose our beliefs, Fatherman. What I mean is that I tend to think that life presents experiences to us and we simply find ourselves where we are, believing what we believe. And then, as you have said, we find confirmation bias in others. This doesn't mean that our beliefs can't or don't change. But I don't think any of us wake up one day and say to ourselves, "I think I'll change what I believe today." I think our changing beliefs are due to our changing experiences, growth, and knowledge.

 

I don't know if I would give up my journey, but I wish I had been smarter younger. :blink:

 

Smarter when younger. This brings to mind a struggle I had a decade or so, probably still in the archives of this site. It may not apply to you at all. I looked back on my previous views with disdain. I found that I sometimes projected that onto others. That's a little different than the regret, if I'm interpreting you correctly, you feel about not having been being smarter. Perhaps that would have saved you some misery or confusion, or whatever causes you to regret it. At some point I had to come to terms with or perhaps even forgiveness for my previous self. The thought that changed all that for me was "Who am I to say that I won't look back in the future with the same disdain on myself today?" That was humbling for me. It really obliterated my false notion of certainty about what I believe in the present; the notion that I am right. Maybe I am right about something here and now and given my circumstances, but I would bet that I will see it differently in a decade.

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I feel we choose our path when we are aware and react to the path someone else chose for us until we are aware. Every human being is on their own journey to self-actualization and inner peace because we are all guided by our own inner voice, our own consciousness that makes the decisions to follow or adjust until we end up in the right place for our being. Therefore, we all have to make life changes regardless of our belief system to allow our mind to go beyond our beliefs and restricted ideas that keep us apart and separate from a direct experience with the living universe. Yes, we draw people and concepts to us that confirm our beliefs, but they also keep us within the restrictions of our opinions, reputation, status, prejudice and judgments. When we overcome the fear of the consequences of our convictions, we can proceed beyond them and will once again have the direct experience of joy, bliss and the immediate awareness of the moment. As a Christian I feel Jesus did not come to create a religion, but to guide us to a direct experience with the Divinity within. The Truth does not care if we believe it or not, it just is absolutely and unconditionally true, we will never be able to understand it with our mind, but we can awaken to it. This might be a lesson that will come and go, but at this time I have chosen it. There is no right or wrong path just different with different lessons so we learn a lesson and move on or stay and learn the same lesson over and over. We are lucky we are changing, evolving because if we aren't we are dead physically.

Edited by soma
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Hi Soma

 

I agree with what you have said here. Our individual paths are only known in retrospect. What seems in each discreet moment in time to have been a series of well thought-out, or compulsive choices, are seen in retrospect as an unconscious, timeless movement toward maturity, or self-actualization. To move away from that natural process, and many do, is destructive. So, perhaps the appropriate lesson is not to get in our own way and let it happen.

 

The hard part, in my opinion, is to resolve the paradox of being and non-being – existence and non-existence. I think this is our main existential problem; the thing that most thoughtful people worry about. It is something very few of us ever resolve, but I’m not sure it is all that important.

 

Steve

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I looked back on my previous views with disdain. I found that I sometimes projected that onto others. That's a little different than the regret, if I'm interpreting you correctly, you feel about not having been being smarter. Perhaps that would have saved you some misery or confusion, or whatever causes you to regret it. At some point I had to come to terms with or perhaps even forgiveness for my previous self. The thought that changed all that for me was "Who am I to say that I won't look back in the future with the same disdain on myself today?" That was humbling for me. It really obliterated my false notion of certainty about what I believe in the present; the notion that I am right. Maybe I am right about something here and now and given my circumstances, but I would bet that I will see it differently in a decade.

 

Wise observation and advice, Fatherman. Perhaps many or most of us make our way here with some kind of baggage. I know that I did. And I know I probably still have quite a bit. That's simply the way life is. Yes, I could wallow in regret and self-pity, but there is no health or growth there. I can't change anything. All I can do is to try to respond to life and my journey today in positive ways. And I can be grateful that everything I have experienced has lead me to this point in my journey, not a bad place to be.

 

I think you're right about the false notion of certainty. I have erroneously interpreted faith, in the past, as certainty. But I no longer see faith that way. Now, I see faith as trust and hope. For me, it doesn't depend upon certainty, although I am certainly in favor of reason and common sense. Like you, I may see things differently later. But I still find compassionate to be key and core to the journey.

 

(Edited for small additions)

Edited by BillM
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I would give up my journey for a shorter one. I cringe at the things I thought in my youth and I regret that I have spent my life serving myself and not God (even during the times I was not atheist).

 

As this has become a long thread, I will move my question about Zen Buddhism into a new one - I hope that's ok. Unfortunately I cannot edit my previous post to remove the question.

Edited by mcarans
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  • 2 weeks later...

The first thing to be aware of, Mcarans, is that there is no "Progressive Christian" orthodoxy. Unlike orthodox Christianity, where everyone professes to believe pretty much the same things, those who find meaning and association with Progressive Christianity tend to be free-thinkers. The Eight Points do indeed describe values that we most likely share, but these are values, not doctrines, not dogmas. So the way Progressive Christians view things is going to vary (sometimes widely) from person to person. No one tells us what to think, not even this website.

 

Having said that, I don't put much stock in Rowan Williams' take on the exclusiveness of Christ. I realize that John's community and the early church felt a need for Jesus to be "the only way to God" for them. I suspect that Christianity might not have survived unless it held to such exclusivism -- for that time. But our time is not theirs and vice versa. Human knowledge, even spiritual knowledge, has continued over the last 2000 years. So I no longer see the teachings of the bible or even of Jesus to be "the final world" on anything. I want to remain open to further growth and I can't do that if I think that everything there is to know was disseminated 2000 years ago. As the UCC says, "God is still speaking..." or "Don't put a period where God has placed a comma." The apostle Paul believed it was God's final word that women can't be pastors or teach men. Look at how many women are pastors in mainline churches now. It is, IMO, the Spirit, not the letter of the law, that leads us forward into new truth.

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We have learned to allow other people’s views, especially the negative ones to bring about change in our life when we need to shape our own life as human beings. Our society, religion, teachers and parents tell us that life should be a certain way by putting limits on everything we do physically, mentally and spiritually when there are no limits in Eternity. My fellow Christians use the Bible to shut down and bring to an end spiritual consideration when it is a means to open spiritual reflection. The following quote was attributed to Isaac Newton just before he died, “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” We Christians read the Bible as a Holy Book, but many instead of taking it in, digesting and contemplating the material, we spit it at others to show superiority, authority and dominance. Bishop Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, a South African opponent of apartheid said, “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said "Let us pray." We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.” Instead of using the Bible to take advantage of people and close their minds, we need to let people and science advance and progress to expand and deepen the mind in order to go beyond it to a spiritual experience and a desire for more.

 

In John 14 in the larger context Jesus is giving his farewell discourse to his disciples. He answers Thomas’ question about the way to where he is going (his Father’s house) by saying: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." This phrase has been used to get people to worship the image of Jesus without thinking. I think Jesus is identifying with the experience of Eternity through a pure consciousness, being one with the Father which is beyond words so he is saying I am the way to the experience, through pure consciousness.

 

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13

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I have picked certain passages from Rowan Williams's talk which seem to me to be particularly relevant. They don't seem to conflict with the posts from BillM and Soma. Would these be regarded as compatible with PC?

 

What the New Testament does not say is, 'unless you hold the following propositions to be true there is no life for you'...

If we're speaking about the action of God through the Son and the Spirit to bring about a relationship to the Father then clearly how that is culturally expressed – the words and the forms that it finds – are not of themselves what make a difference...

God has made us to learn in dialogue. And to say that I have learned from a Buddhist or a Muslim about God or humanity is not to compromise where I began. Because the infinite truth that is in the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit is not a matter which can be exhausted by one set of formulae or one set of practices...

 

And does our belief in uniqueness or finality commit us to saying that there is no hope for those outside the family of faith – whether someone of another faith or of no faith? We Christians are very reluctant sometimes to leave things to God to sort out. We have often a vague feeling that God hasn't read the proper books. And sometimes we feel rather protective towards him and make sure that he knows the right policy. I find – speaking for myself – that I'm very content to let God be the judge of how anyone outside the visible family of faith is related to Jesus or is turned towards the Father. There are lives – and we've all encountered them – marked by some of those things I would say are central to the Gospel and for which the person involved has no words. There are lives in which you can say, 'what is going on there has so Christ-like an aura about it, that I would be very foolish to say it has nothing to do with the act of God through the Son and the Spirit.' And yet the person may say, 'I'm a loyal Muslim; I'm an Agnostic; I have no idea what you're talking about when you talk about Jesus'. I am, as I say, content that God should decide what is going on.

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The main teachings of Jesus are love and the Divinity within, but we Christians seem to choose the path of least resistance and project Christianity through a superiority complex that we are right, have all the anwsers and everyone else is wrong. Mcarans, I like the tone of your last post. If we are looking for a way to identify with Christianity it is simple, love and the Divinity within. The institution sells Christianity as the only true path, religion and I think it only cheapens the church. We Christians need to stop trying to convert anyone and just try to follow the teachings of Christ which is a hard road if we are sincere. I see no problem helping a Moslim, Hindu or Atheist become true to their faith as it will bring them to the truth. As a Christian I have chosen Jesus as my master of wisdom, but I can also learn wisdom from others making me an even more devout Christian.

 

While resting in the Divinity within we make acquaintance with true generosity, tranquility, peace, and happiness before returning to our body and mind where we gain an insight into the impermanence on the physical level. A spiritual vacation helps us to take in pure consciousness and bath in its light, a sense of well-being and calm before returning to the material plane. Peace is not something we wish for or can find outside of ourselves because it comes from within; therefore we can choose to be in peace no matter what is happening outside. We can make a peace sign, but not with a clenched fist so we need peace and with the spiritual practice of resting in the soul where we gravitate towards harmony and serenity as enjoyment.

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