Why I am a Christian

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Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 10:15 pm
@lazymon,
"It's not what goes into a man's mouth that makes him unclean, but what comes out." I see Jesus as a the great enemy of dogmatism and self-righteousness. It's true, this same character is also given some ugly lines to speak. But largely the Christ myth is one of forgiveness and radical open-mindedness.

It's our words that make us dirty. And for me, words here are a metaphor for thoughts, attitudes, etc. I feel that Jesus, or at least the Jesus I find worth talking about, as I don't believe there is one correct Jesus, is that man that tried to move a literal religion to a higher sphere. The mere outward obedience of certain arrogant rituals of avoidance and/or purification were not and, in my opinion, are not the essence of religion. Jesus advised folks to pray in secret, as the prominent righteous man was suspect, a wolf in sheep's clothing. How many times does he stress that the essence of the law is love? And yet how often do so-called Christians harp on the letter of a dead law? In my opinion, to regard the Bible as some ultimate authority is idolatrous.

The whole point of the incarnation myth is simple, I think, but for the most part utterly neglected, utterly ignored. God is a man. God is men. God dies sometimes. But God rises again, as the dead are replaced by newborns. The spirit remains. A flame leaps from melting candle to melting candle. True, men didn't create the world. ANd this is the mystery of the "Father," but "I and my Father are one." Man completes the world, gives order and sense to it, or receives the order and sense in it.

I sometimes walk along in good weather are am struck at what a strange paradise this world can be, when one is health and dwelling on some high thought. Existence is a miracle. And yet we forget. And the guy who runs around saying "existence is a miracle" seems questionable. Let's all just smoke a cig n play it cool, right?
 
onetwopi
 
Reply Sun 9 May, 2010 11:12 pm
@CharmingPhlsphr,
CharmingPhlsphr;162273 wrote:
The concept of a "literal" interpretation is too generalized, for the Bible must be read in the context it was written: treating the allegorical as an allegory, metaphorical as a metaphor, historical as a history, etc.

I guess the literal interpretation that you have taken on this thread that I have taken issue with is your literal interpretation of John 14:6, which you have heretofore used to say that Jesus is the only path to God.

CharmingPhlsphr;162273 wrote:
Ultimately, I cannot sway you into believing that the Bible is truth on the basis of divine authority, which is installed in the Word itself (i.e. the Bible is true because it says it is true). It is what it says it is, independently from what one may profess, whether positive or negative, and it does not require us to validate it.


I do believe the Bible is true. What we are debating is interpretations of the Bible (Calvin/Arminius modern-day). Every detail in the Bible does not have to be factually accurate in order for me to understand its truth. In fact, it is incredibly easy, just on casual reading, to discover that the Bible has factual errors/fallacies of which I could rattle off a dozen without too much thought. The Bible wasn't written as a historical textbook; it was written as spiritual inspiration. This explains why it's a pretty crappy historical textbook and an amazing book of spiritual inspiration.

CharmingPhlsphr;162273 wrote:
Part of addressing the "opposition," which I use loosely in this, requires one to consider all options and proceed, much like chess. Before a move is made, the player must observe the opponent's pieces and consider possible moves, then decide accordingly. Sometimes the move is ineffective to the progress of the game.

I don't understand what you're driving at here, but I would rather have a discussion than be an opposition.

Cheers!

---------- Post added 05-09-2010 at 09:19 PM ----------

jeeprs;162258 wrote:
hang on a minute here...I am not talking about 'my religion'. I am talking about "how I see many Christians'. My impression of Christians is that believing is precisely a crutch for them. I haven't said anything about 'my religion' in any of this.


Sorry--poor communication on my part. I am misunderstood. I meant "your" in the general, all-encompassing sense. I agree with your original post. That would be better written as:

If one's religion is merely a crutch, and has just given a pie-in-the-sky hope, but has not impacted one's life: morals, how life is lived ... one is certainly missing the point of Christianity.
 
CharmingPhlsphr
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 08:17 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;162284 wrote:
thanks, I really do appreciate your input. I still have strong Christian roots. However in the environment I grew up in, there was not a real understanding of what I now understand as the transformational aspect of the teaching. This is why I studied Eastern religions. I am glad I did and don't regret it for one moment. It has actually helped me to understand the life and teachings a lot better than I would have.


Not a problem at all. Believe it or not, I actually studied Eastern philosophy before coming to Jesus, which inevitably delved into religion, for Eastern philosophy and religion are most often one and the same. While it was primarily for the purposes of enhancing my knowledge and familiarity with hand-to-hand combat, it became one of the two-fold sources of my past religious beliefs (the other side being Native American mythology). There is certainly much to be gained from studying Eastern thought, but the true faith descends from the Ancient Near East, specifically from the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and, eventually, the Christians.

---------- Post added 05-10-2010 at 09:59 AM ----------

onetwopi;162306 wrote:
I guess the literal interpretation that you have taken on this thread that I have taken issue with is your literal interpretation of John 14:6, which you have heretofore used to say that Jesus is the only path to God.


Let's take a look at the scripture. Initially, I will address the Gospel, but, if necessary, we can take a look at the New Testament as a whole and, then, the Old Testament for related scripture to further build context.

In the immediate context of the passage, Jesus is comforting His disciples, saying, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

Thomas asks, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" To which Jesus responds, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Jesus was very direct and left no room for another interpretation of His meaning. Perhaps, though, this is not enough as is.

Proceeding this, Jesus spoke, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son" (John 3:16-18). While I am quite content with this, I will go further - beyond the Gospel.

The rulers, elders, and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem and had both Peter and John brought before them to inquire as to how or by what authority they were doing what they did, to which Peter, filled with the Spirit, said, "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

onetwopi;162306 wrote:
I do believe the Bible is true. What we are debating is interpretations of the Bible (Calvin/Arminius modern-day). Every detail in the Bible does not have to be factually accurate in order for me to understand its truth. In fact, it is incredibly easy, just on casual reading, to discover that the Bible has factual errors/fallacies of which I could rattle off a dozen without too much thought. The Bible wasn't written as a historical textbook; it was written as spiritual inspiration. This explains why it's a pretty crappy historical textbook and an amazing book of spiritual inspiration.


The Bible consists of numerous books and letters, which were meant to both record history and inspire the chosen to faith and obedience. As for a historical record, the Bible actually shines, but the historical aspect of the text often serves best as a chronological context for the writing to help provide a better understanding of the meaning in that which was meant to inspire. I would encourage you to provide the factual errors/fallacies and then we can continue with this end of the discussion.

onetwopi;162306 wrote:
I don't understand what you're driving at here, but I would rather have a discussion than be an opposition.

Cheers!


Most, if not all, discussions are not unlike the game of chess. Even when there is no hostility, one must both assess the meaning of what is being written and plot out potential outcomes. Philosophers often think this way in the sense of the consequences and weaknesses of their ideas and writings.
 
onetwopi
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 08:32 pm
@CharmingPhlsphr,
CharmingPhlsphr;162382 wrote:
Jesus was very direct and left no room for another interpretation of His meaning. Perhaps, though, this is not enough as is.


CP,
I am afraid we are at an impasse. There is no convincing evidence that Jesus said this. The synoptic gospels do not represent Jesus in this way. This is John's attempt to put Jesus in an apocalyptic light, even though the early, more reliable gospels would not allow us to do this from an historical perspective. Thanks for the conversation.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 09:11 pm
@lazymon,
I agree with onetwopi on that matter. See Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels for an account of the early struggle between the Thomist and Johannine interpretations. Obviously if you are going to build a strong institution it is easier to found it on an unequivocal 'power statement' such as this one.

There is a completely different way of interpreting the meaning of the saying, anyway, which is that the 'I Am' that Jesus refers to is a universal spiritual principle and that by virtue of which any enlightened soul of any place and time comes to the state of blessedness. This is the way that Jesus is understood in some of the Gnostic and Oriental churches. It doesn't detract from his identity at all. It all hinges on the meaning of the word 'only': whether Jesus Christ is the only incarnation of deity, or whether Christ is the only principle by which anyone can be saved (of whichever faith they consider themselves to be.)

Heretical I know. Fortunately, one is allowed to contemplate these ideas nowadays. Thank heavens for the separation of Church and State.

Quote:
Triumphalism is the attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, religion, culture, or social system is superior to and should triumph over all others. Triumphalism is not an articulated doctrine but rather a term that is used to characterize certain attitudes or belief systems by parties such as political commentators and historians.


---------- Post added 05-11-2010 at 01:49 PM ----------

actually there is something I want to add here. I find this discussion quite sensitive, to be honest about it. I am not opposed to Christianity like many are, in fact I would be pleased if my two sons were rather more Christian than they currently are. But I can't really accept Christianity as the only valid religious outlook. Really we are living in a global village nowadays and I think pluralism is a practical necessity.

I wonder if anyone reading ever encountered Father Bede Griffiths. He was a Benedictine monk who lived in India for most of his life. He had a deep and unswerving Christian faith, but had no difficulty in recognizing the innate holiness of the Hindu sages that he lived alongside, and even incorporating many of their insights into his homilies. But he was never anything other than Christian. I saw Father Bede speak shortly before his death in 1992. He was a very inspiring individual.

---------- Post added 05-11-2010 at 01:53 PM ----------

The Bede Griffiths Trust - Home
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2010 09:59 pm
@onetwopi,
onetwopi;162306 wrote:
This explains why it's a pretty crappy historical textbook and an amazing book of spiritual inspiration.

Well said. It's a portable library of some profound little books. And the King James translation is poetry.

---------- Post added 05-10-2010 at 11:01 PM ----------

onetwopi;162306 wrote:

If one's religion is merely a crutch, and has just given a pie-in-the-sky hope, but has not impacted one's life: morals, how life is lived ... one is certainly missing the point of Christianity.


I agree. Living religion is the experience of value. And the experience of value will shape one's life.

---------- Post added 05-10-2010 at 11:06 PM ----------

CharmingPhlsphr;162382 wrote:
He is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."


I feel there is metaphorical truth in this quote, but that a literal interpretation is not the way the go. Surely it's not the contingent shell of "Jesus" that makes for life more abundant. That seems like idolatry to me. I prefer to interpret the quote in another way. Let's say that Christ is a sort of faculty in human beings that might just as well be represented by a Chinese word, or a Russian word, or an Eskimo word. And this faculty is the "kingdom of God that is within you." The stone that the builders rejected is a sublime statement. It hints that we tend to overlook a precious inborn faculty, that can make us happy in a way that our mere idols cannot. I must sincerely object to any excluding interpretation of this line, that makes "salvation" a matter of the right magic word. What's in a name? I think we have to look behind all names. Smile
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 12 May, 2010 03:00 am
@lazymon,
lazymon;160112 wrote:
Christianity is not the only religion that people grow up with. A person's family and friends are way more important to a person's spirituality and "faith" than having a religion. If a person has no companions that act upon their spiritual values, then wouldn't it be harder to conceive faith in anything? I feel I am biting off more than I can chew in writing this but I would like to think that all religions in the world should share a common truth. We should look back on all things we have done and ask our self "is it good?"

I thought it would be a good place to share our testimonies maybe I am wrong for opening a can of worms. I don't want it to be evangelical thread as there is a place for that. We have a responsibility in being humans with the knowledge of good and evil. God was right when trying to protect us from eating that forbidden fruit, but now the deed is done.


Well said. I have looked at this again, after my other posts in this thread, and want to respond in the spirit in which it was written.

First I am not anti-Christian in any way shape or form. Generally on the Forum I stand up for spiritual values and the spiritual aspects of philosophy.

I have a secular orientation in that I am not a member of a religious congregation.

I practice Buddhist meditation and try to live my life along Buddhist guidelines. I don't see a real conflict between the two faiths. I often think that there cannot be a conflict between them even if their outward forms are different. In this, I am not referring to Buddhist temple worship or social religion, but the philosophical principles, the practice of meditation and observance of the Buddhist precepts.

As far as Christianity being 'the only way', I obviously have a problem with that attitude. I understand why, if you are Christian, you really do need to believe that. It is like being married. Once you are married, then you are committed, and you can't 'keep your options open'. But at the end of the day, I believe that the religions point to the truth - but they are not themselves the truth. This is a Buddhist view, and I believe it is a superior view. Untold harm has been done in history in fighting over 'who has the right view'. Nobody has a monopoly on truth, not Christians, Buddhists, nor anyone else.

Ultimately I believe our fate is determined by what we do, not by what we believe. What we believe is only important as far as it impacts our actions. If what we believe motivates us to do good, then good results will follow. Every intentional action has consequences. I think the view that we are 'saved' solely by grace and not because of anything we do or omit to do actually encourages fatalism and even irresponsibility. On the other hand, if whatever we do is done to serve God and humanity, then nothing bad can come of it. Motivation is very important, but so also is self-knowledge.

So those are a few of my thoughts on the matter.
 
lazymon
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 03:46 pm
@lazymon,
I am not religious, but I still pray to God whoever he is and I find that reading books like the bible helps me in seeing who he is. It is my hope that there is someone out there that listens! I am not anti-religion.

It is like if my neighbor decides to put up a statue of himself in his front yard I am not going to go out and deface it, but I have a right to laugh at it, take pictures of it and write about it in the newspaper.

I do think that there are still a lot of harmful psychological problems that Christianity imposes on society. For instance, I went to a private Christian school where in the classroom I had to learn all of the "satanic" symbols. Some of the symbols were of other religions such as "yin-yang"(sp?), the star and crescent, and others. Also we were taught that angels were real and that they interact with humans everyday to make unexplainable phenomenon occur. Also my teacher lied to us about an experience he had with a quiji board. The fact that some people will not understand how these things are harmful; shows at least me, that religion especially christianity is corrupt, since these were my own real experiences.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 05:37 pm
@lazymon,
Hey lazymon - good on you for taking a stand and thinking for yourself. I agree that demonizing other religions is ignorant and malicious. Christianity has long done that. (And now atheism does it too.:bigsmile:)

As for angels - this is not only a Christian belief - alll of the old religions believe there are angels.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 07:10 pm
@lazymon,
lazymon wrote:
I am a Christian because it is the religion I grew up with.


I certainly hope that that isn't the reason you're Christian. I'd hope you have a better reason, like, perhaps, that you find Jesus' teachings praiseworthy.

jeeprs wrote:
As for angels - this is not only a Christian belief - alll of the old religions believe there are angels.


Yes, people have long believed in supernatural entities, and it seems even modern day folk are comfortable with these beliefs by defending them with the illogical, psuedo-argument, "Well, prove me wrong". But, of course, the burden of proof is on them, not us. I have noticed that some people are attracted to mysticism, while some are not. It seems ingrained in the personality, a mood even. Very interesting stuff.
 
CharmingPhlsphr
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 08:06 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;164015 wrote:
Hey lazymon - good on you for taking a stand and thinking for yourself. I agree that demonizing other religions is ignorant and malicious. Christianity has long done that. (And now atheism does it too.:bigsmile:)

As for angels - this is not only a Christian belief - alll of the old religions believe there are angels.


Well the "demonizing" does not necessarily fall on the adherents, but the foundations of the particular religion itself. I believe it was Augustine's City of God which asserted that the non-biblical faiths were the products of demonic inspiration, but this is simply reiterating the scripture, which warns against wicked spirits (1Jn 4:1, immediate context referring to physical prophets). Those beliefs which do not honor Jesus as Lord are not of the Spirit and those that do are of the Spirit.

Regarding angels, I find the image of them fascinating! Even more, much of what we recognize as an angelic being comes from Zoroastrian beliefs. The similarities, though, often end at the nature of the angel and, of them all, Christianity and Zoroastrianism are most similar in the sense that the angels are essentially created beings which serve the respective deities of each. In the Native American myths, as well as the countless hunter/agricultural religions through the history of man, the equivalent would be, I suppose, the spirit guides, which are symbolized through both animistic and anthropomorphic means. Buddhism have similar beings who, my studies revealed, years ago, break the cycle of samsara, but have not embraced full nirvana to help people through to nirvana (their name escapes me at the moment). Hinduism has the many avatars, which ultimately boil down to manifestations of the same Brahman. Space and brevity will not allow me to continue down the list, but while there are similarities, they typically end in the fundamental areas.

As always, peace and love in the Lord Jesus.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 08:53 pm
@CharmingPhlsphr,
CharmingPhlsphr;164050 wrote:
Well the "demonizing" does not necessarily fall on the adherents, but the foundations of the particular religion itself. I believe it was Augustine's City of God which asserted that the non-biblical faiths were the products of demonic inspiration, but this is simply reiterating the scripture, which warns against wicked spirits (1Jn 4:1, immediate context referring to physical prophets). Those beliefs which do not honor Jesus as Lord are not of the Spirit and those that do are of the Spirit.

Regarding angels, I find the image of them fascinating! Even more, much of what we recognize as an angelic being comes from Zoroastrian beliefs. The similarities, though, often end at the nature of the angel and, of them all, Christianity and Zoroastrianism are most similar in the sense that the angels are essentially created beings which serve the respective deities of each. In the Native American myths, as well as the countless hunter/agricultural religions through the history of man, the equivalent would be, I suppose, the spirit guides, which are symbolized through both animistic and anthropomorphic means. Buddhism have similar beings who, my studies revealed, years ago, break the cycle of samsara, but have not embraced full nirvana to help people through to nirvana (their name escapes me at the moment). Hinduism has the many avatars, which ultimately boil down to manifestations of the same Brahman. Space and brevity will not allow me to continue down the list, but while there are similarities, they typically end in the fundamental areas.

As always, peace and love in the Lord Jesus.


>(their name escapes me at the moment) - Bodhisattvas, 'wisdom-beings'.

As regards Biblical and Augustinian injunctions against other faiths, a little historical context is useful. In ancient times - in fact any time, up until very recently - religion was so much part of life that nobody thought of it as 'religion' at all. There were layers of religious belief, starting with tribal and village deities, and also local and regional Gods. For example there was the cult of Baal - the monuments at Baalbeck in the Becca Valley is a remainder; Asura, Osiris, virginity cults, cattle gods, sun gods, sea gods, and a profusion of others. I think this was very much the context within which the Christian sought to differentiate 'the true God' from the various endemic belief systems which sorrounded him or her.

The Buddhist teaching is something completely different to any of the above. This is not the place to go into how and why it is different. However from what I can see, many Chistians, especially those who are not well educated, more or less lump Buddha in with Baal and Osiris as 'a pagan idol'. Islamic fundamentalism does the same; hence the lamentable destruction of the magnificent Buddhist monuments in Afghanistan a few years back.

Here is another interesting thing to consider. As we know, a considerable part of Christian doctrine is created from an amalgam of Hebrew spirituality with Greek, especially Platonist, philosophy, which has produced Augustinian Christianity. However imagine if by accident of history, Christianity had early on encountered the Buddhist scriptures, instead of the Greek philosophers. I personally feel that there is considerably more common ground between the teaching of Jesus in the gospels, and the teaching of Buddha in the Pali Nikayas, that there is between either of them and Plato. Indeed there has been a fertile and interesting process of inter-religious dialog between the two faiths since the Jesuit Missionaries were sent to China in the 16th Century. And indeed a discrete cultural movement has developed which amounts to Buddhist Catholicism, largely inspired by the works of Thomas Merton, but others as well. Despite the many differences in doctrine and belief, and especially in regards to monastic discipline, Buddhists and Catholics have found that they often get along famously. See for example Catholic bishops mourn famous Buddhist monk | UCA News

---------- Post added 05-14-2010 at 01:11 PM ----------

There is another fascinating, and much older, aspect to Christian-Buddhist dialog. Check out The Jesus Sutras.
 
prothero
 
Reply Fri 14 May, 2010 02:07 pm
@lazymon,
Well I usually say doctrine divides and faith unites.
To feed the hungry, shelter the poor, heal the sick and comfort the afflicted is the Christian directive. And by your works, you shall be known, and your faith revealed.
All the major religious traditions of the world could agree on compassion and empathy as the moral directive (to see the other as self).
Claims of exclusive truth, exclusive access to god, exclusive rights to salvation and an afterlife are generally not helpful and I would say not the best part of the Christian history and tradition or that of any other faith.
 
mark noble
 
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 01:05 pm
@Priceless,
lazymon;160112 wrote:
we should be proud of it..

Hi Lazymon,
Have you read the book of proverbs?
"Pride" is a sin - according to.
In my eyes, it is a soul-destroying factor also. Only the proud are shameful, for pride and prejudice walk hand-in-hand...Always.
Have a great day, my friend.
Mark...
 
 

 
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