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Who Or What Is An Authority For You?


BillM
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It has been said, within Christianity, that the Protestant Reformation kicked the Pope off the throne of authority and put the Bible in his place.

 

Is there anything or anyone who carries some kind of authority for you in your journey? A certain teacher(s)? Certain writings? A certain community or denomination or religion? A certain worldview? Perhaps your own experiences?

 

PS - By 'authority', I don't mean slavish obedience or above question, I just mean something/someone that you reasonably trust as a guide.

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An authority for me?

 

Some one who can explain aspects of existence in a way that make sense without a lot hand waving with respect to the supernatural. Especially at times a simple I or we don't know is the most accurate statement.

 

Some examples:

Charles Darwin

Susan Blackmore

Joseph Campbell

Stephen Hawking/Leonard Mlodinow

Bruce Hood

Douglas Adams

 

That does not mean I agree with every word they have said/written but I have to think carefully where I might disagree

rom

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I too like Campbell, Darwin and Hawking. However, given I am a person of faith, authorities I read are biblical scholars and historians (Ehrman, Allison, Armstrong and others) whose expertise provides a more realistic understanding of the NT and early Christianity. Even more, I like the theologians like Baum, Hick, Macquarie (and I would include Spong in this group) in particular. I also like when one of these people bring to greater light the ancient theologians, sometimes called Fathers of the Faith. As an example, well before Augustine (4th C CE) and his understanding of the fall of humanity and original sin was Ireneaus (2nd C CE) who believed we were not created perfect and fell but born imperfect and had to achieve our Humanity. From this, theologians can fully acknowledge evolution culminating in man (image of God) and then man's task (a 2nd moment of creation?) to become Truly Human (likeness of God). I like Eckhart (and Fox and other mystics) and my most profound learning was thanks to a college philosophy professor who introduced me to the idea of Being in 1970. I highly value those who have moved from a theistic view of God and those who use process philosophy as a basis on which to articulate their understanding.

 

I have also enjoyed the books of some who don't share my understanding like Sam Harris.

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I am don't hold any person as authority, but I respect that they point the way so I can experience it in someway. I love the scientist and philosophers who convinced me to follow their words and gain some experience, but now I am traveling and not reading so respect the people who allow me to be because they are just being themselves. Nature has also taken my breath away on this trip.

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I pretty much stand by the old adage: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. I think we can only truly know our personal course in retrospect. That sounds obvious, but it requires a good deal of trust in others to allow it to happen. It just happens, because at the time we are in a state of “not-knowing”. The “teachers” can be almost anyone or anything that provide us with a moment of clarity. At least, that’s been my experience.

 

So, during my life I have run in to these teachers, or teachings, when I was ready to hear. I find it still happens today. People or books, or practices I learned from or participated in ten or twenty years ago may not have much relevance now, except that they provided the framework for the next steps in the journey.

 

There is something about trusting in one’s instincts that must be buried in our DNA. Trusting in intuition is an art not practiced much anymore. Each particular entity must know somewhere deep down what it really needs.

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Like Steve, looking back I have had various teachers but at the time I didn't particularly regard them as teachers. And whilst much of what I believed once upon a time no longer holds any authority for me, it was the building blocks for where I am today.

 

I don't have any particular authority or teachers currently that I am aware of as such, although I learn something from everybody and everything I imagine.

 

I think like most of you above, I take things from various places such as the bible, science, other religions outside of Christianity, and other people's experiences in life and maybe try them on or consider them against how I live my life. Obviously Christianity has had a big influence on my life as I lived it for my first 20 or so formative years.

 

Also my 13 years as a police officer (17 years ago) had a big influence on my life and who I am today.

 

I guess we all have our own cultural context too which influences how we live our lives and in my case it is a white anglo-saxon culture in Australia.

Edited by PaulS
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I agree life is a process and we are not at the end of the journey or evolution. I am meeting people who don't speak English and objects that communicate transformation. It is like living in a retreat.

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Let me rephrase

 

an authority is someone or a collection of someones, usually in a book, who can explain a difficult concept simply in a way that makes sense and can be reconciled with the universe.

 

The Bible I am afraid is not an authority.

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Although I don't take the Bible literally or think it is the 'word of God,' it seems that Jesus in the NT, is shown to have made simple, the difficult concept of life and its meaning, by presenting it in a way that makes sense and is understood by others. As for "reconciliation with the universe," if it resonates, is found meaningful and is/was lived by a large % of people, this would seem to be a reconciliation of sorts. However, if one is looking for reconciliation on a grander scale, it would seem that the universe will not be forthcoming in any provable way. Jesus' answer is either, ultimately, right or wrong, will be reconciled or not, but we seemingly will not know "on this side of the grave."

 

Based on the definition offered, it does appear that one can look to the Bible as an authority.

Edited by thormas
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