Can We Unite With All Our Differences & Peacefully Coexist In the World?

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Amica2, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Possibilities... I feel for ya, (reading the back and forth between Thomas and I), one can sit in the comfort of a church that provides the lines...it benefits many. You may or may not have read that Thomas strayed for a while,.was a searcher and over time found his way home to Catholicism.

    Or our discussions of two theologians Bart Erhman and Jack Spong. Both devouts, both discovered what they deemed troubling info in their studies. One lost his faith and became atheist, the other more devout in his discovery biblical issues.

    I believe without Thomas's time away he would not have the same desire to learn and embrace the Church as he is today...

    Idk what he would say, but I say, search, explore, and don't be surprised if it leads you home.
     
  2. dadmansabode

    dadmansabode New Member

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    It's not an issue of hating (although many do) they do not learn this from Jesus Christ ....
    Christianity teaches that Jesus is the only way to God (Jn 14:6) (not to be compromised) ...
    indeed there will be a melting together of religious ideologies
    as we see the day approaching but it will not be of God ...
    it will indeed be the
    god of this world (which is passing away) inspiring this so-called "unity" ...
    antichrist and the false prophet
    (Rev 13) running side by side < a real bromance :cool:
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  3. possibility

    possibility New Member

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    So are you saying that we should continue to insist that Christianity (ie. whichever denomination you belong to) is the only true religion, because at the end of the day one of us will be proved right, and the rest will be destroyed? That any 'melting together' or unity of religious ideologies would be all the 'wrong' religions, so we should resist any inclination to rethink doctrine, lest we 'compromise' the real deal?
     
  4. dadmansabode

    dadmansabode New Member

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    So are you saying that we should continue to insist that Christianity .... you can insist anything you want
    whichever denomination you belong to .... there is only one Body of Christ
    that Christianity is the only true religion .... Jesus is the only way to God ... religion can save no one
    because at the end of the day one of us will be proved right, and the rest will be destroyed? ....
    God did not send a religion to save you, God sent his only Son
    That any 'melting together' or unity of religious ideologies would be all the 'wrong' religions,
    so we should resist any inclination to rethink doctrine, lest we 'compromise' the real deal?

    Why would you need to "melt religions" when you have Jesus: the way / the truth and the life ?
    If you expecting harmony with mankind, sorry to disappoint you, it ain't gonna happen ... you still have Great Tribulation to attend
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  5. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai

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    Why join an Interfaith forum then?
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Hi Possibility —

    Thanks for the considered response.

    Ah ... um ... yes ... Wil and I have history.

    The answer to that can only be discerned when one has both church doctrine and your particular understanding.

    Being somewhat in the same position myself, whereas in previous times I might have challenged point by point, I find my myself disposed differently these days. Suffice to say I'm sympathetic to your predicament. All I can offer is my own responses to the issues you air.

    LOL. I'm never quite sure how 'like-minded' the community might be! If pushed, I doubt no two people would give the same responses to basic questions of faith, even those you push beyond the the disctums of the childhood catechism.

    Surely, in a Catholic context, the elephant in the congregation has the church's teachings on birth control writ large upon its flanks!

    As an individual, I find it hard to accept the church's teaching that I should surrender entirely to its moral guidance, when it demonstrably fails to live up to its own teaching. Moreso when the teaching seems to depend on legalistic technicalities ... But this is a whole other discussion ... and, before anyone jumps to conclusions, I do not agree with contemporary moral values on the matter either, especially when we broaden the discussion to include abortion and the like.

    I can't comment. I would say it's in the nature of doubt to proliferate, to reinforce initial doubts until it seems implacable. When it reaches the point of fundamental disgreement, I think we have stepped over a boundary.

    Scripture talking of allowing one demon in, and then seven following. Buddhism has a teaching along the same lines. The issue is 'faith' is not a composite thing, or if it is, it's rather like a game of jenga. Slip out one block and then the whole edifice tumbles.

    Bart Ehrman is a case in point. Starts off a fundamentalist Christian, starts to question, ends up an agnostic athiest. It seems to me his particular jenga piece was his belief in the inerrancy of Scripture — not a Catholic belief, I grant you — but once he found one error, everything becomes error.

    It's a baby and bathwater situation.

    You're not alone in that. That's the constant and often unwelcome companion of the seeker.

    That rather depends on what teachings, exactly.

    In the contemporary dialogue, there are two Christs under discussion. One is Christ the man, the champion of the underdog, a moral exemplar among men. The other is Christ the God, Incarnate of the Father, Second Person of the Trinity, the Logos, the Word made flesh.

    Regarding the first, the most ardent athiest finds no problem. Indeed any humanist with a sense of altruism would assert the most famous and fundamental Christian maxim: 'Love thy neighbour', but that does not make him/her a Christian, and s/he would and do rigorously defend themselves against that claim by arguing, quite rightly, that the principle is universal — it's there in the most ancient texts, it's there in Egypt about 1500 years before Christ, it's there in Jewish Levitical law. It's there in every time and place.

    And subsequently there are many who self-identify with the human Christ in accepting the humanism but dismissing the mystical Christ as superstition, ignorance or what have you, or at best regarding the texts as a metaphorical narrative expressing some kind of psychospiritual symbolism that has itself been shaped according to a single or multiple other-than-doctrinal ideologies.

    This Christ seems to me to be 'the Christ of the critical minimum' — 'what's the least I have to assent to and still call myself a Christian?' and, it would seem, not a lot. The Golden Rule would suffice for many.

    Well I am sorry, but I cannot agree with that. Were that the case, Christianity would have vanished somewhere in the second century. The New Testament would never have been written, or rather, the canonical books would be buried among so many other books as to render the message as essentially 'whatever you will' and thus, in the end, meaningless.

    While it is true that Christ argues vehemently against Pharisaical legalism and a heartless expression of God's Law, and I argue this within the context of my own tradition this pharisaism is still evident — that is a flaw of human nature, not of the tradition as such.

    Christ argued, with conviction and indeed vehemance, against those who challenged His identity. It caused the Jews to regard Him as a blasphemer and they sought to stone Him more than once, it was the root of His self-declaration before Pilate and His self-belief and self-identity led to His crucifixion. Indeed, it is summed up in stark and startling fashion by Saul of Tarsus when, whatever happened on the road to Damascus, his interpretation of his epiphany was the phrase 'why does thou persecute me?'

    Personally, I rather think it does ... without it we're just talking ethics.

    It depends on who's 'God' we're talking about. Strip all the God-stuff out of Scripture and what are we left with? Where do we get our ideas of God from? These are the questions I pose to myself. And too often I find it's a God who accommodates Himself to my particular disposition.

    God to me is very much God other than myself. A mystery in every sense of the word. When I strip out all the 'boundaries' and 'limitations' defined in doctrine, the particular Christian mystical elements, then it seems to me I'm left with a rather anodyne God that can't be anything more than the projection of my own human ideals, not so much a God as the deification of my hopes and ideals and notions of 'being' and 'consciousness' that, even there, defines God within the context of myself, the God of the best of every human quality, and in the end there is no actual God at all, just idealised man.
     
  7. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai

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    Jolly good discussion this. I tend to gloss over longer post, my attention span not being what it use to be, but this one I find most enjoyable, not to mention insightful.
     
  8. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai

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    Nothing to elaborate on. Thomas' very well thought out post speaks for itself. This is interfaith discussion at it's finest. Politely addressing the concerns of a fellow forum member without preaching, proselytizing or shoving scripture down anyone's throat.
     
    wil, StevePame and Thomas like this.
  9. possibility

    possibility New Member

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    Thank you Thomas for your response.

    There is a lot to process, and I find my thoughts on God to be vastly different from yours, which should make for some interesting discussions. It may take time for me to adjust to a more respectful dialogue than I've been used to of late, so bear with me if I slip up on occasion or get too defensive. Old habits die hard.

    For now I'll make a few comments.

    Only two Christs under discussion in contemporary dialogue might be oversimplifying it just a tad, in my opinion. If I dispute Christ's identity as 'incarnate of the father' and 'second person of the trinity' (neither of which he claimed to be), I believe I can still describe him as 'one with God', 'the logos' and 'the word made flesh' without contradicting myself. This places me somewhere in the middle, doesn't it? I must admit that I don't experience 'faith' as jenga or even an all-or-nothing sense of solid ground, but a journey of courage and hope through the process of 'not knowing' towards a clearer understanding. It was not so much doubt that set me adrift, therefore, but a faith that doesn't quite fit.

    As for Jesus' self-identity, I think that the words he had to use in order to best communicate or illustrate his relationship with or connection to the 'God' of his subjective experience were always going to be misinterpreted at that time as blasphemy. That is a crucial part of the story - one that I think Jesus himself needed time to process. Early on he attempts to hide his identity as the Christ, to avoid crowds and to evade those who sought to stone him to death. It isn't until his friend Lazarus dies and he manages to raise him after three days (after risking his own life by returning to Judea) that he seems to fully understand or accept the task given to him, and he then goes confidently into Jerusalem to meet his death.

    I see other instances downplayed throughout the Gospels that subtly reveal a very human Jesus, dealing with fear, anger, despair and pain by seeking guidance from God as spirit, and summoning the courage to process these emotions without harming his connection to those around him.

    For what it's worth, the 'identity' of Christianity (based as it is on its points of difference from 'other' faiths) and the identity or example of the Christ are worlds apart in my book. Yes, Christianity would probably have vanished as you say without this insistence on defining, confining and solidifying the experience of the Christ into words, traditions, rituals, symbols and doctrines, and to wish it hadn't happened this way is futile. It is, as you say, a flaw of human nature. But to cling to these flawed foundations as a lifeline I feel is equally futile.

    Can I also say a big thank you to wil, too, for mentioning Spong - I feel very much at home in his 12 points of reform.
     
  10. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Then I would ask to to explain...

    'One with God' can be used across a broad range of meaning, from the ontological to poetic to the the sentimental.

    If you use the term 'logos' or 'words' then you're on trickier ground, and I assume you'll be redefining those terms, especially logos, as they are heavily weighted in the Christian theological lexicon.

    Do you? I am honestly surprised. I find Our Lord's humanity quite explicitly stated.

    I'm not sure what lies between these two futilities ...
     
  11. possibility

    possibility New Member

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    'Logos', according to my understanding of it, refers to a form of outward or tangible expression for an internal or abstract understanding. The original Greek word 'logos' meant ground, expectation or proportion as well as plea, opinion, account, reason, speech, word or discourse. Logos later became a more technical term for the facts and figures, or logic, that supports a speaker's topic. Early translators of the Gospel struggled to find a word sufficient to replace John's use of logos in Latin, and later in English. Both verbum and 'word' are understood to be insufficient, and point to Philo's distinction between logos prophorikos ('the uttered word') and logos endiathetos ('the word remaining within'): the idea that logos consists of both the words expressed and the fullness of what is meant or internally understood, and that the two are not always fully aligned, if ever.

    In my opinion, what the experiences of the OT (often in uttered and then in written word by its human authors) attempted to communicate about the nature of humanity's relationship with God is more perfectly expressed in the life, death and 'resurrection' of Jesus - not in the words of the gospel, but in the logos: what is 'uttered' as well as what is meant. In this respect, I see Jesus - the 'logos incarnate' or 'made flesh' - to be the closest possible expression we have of our relationship with God.


    Speaking of 'the word remaining within' - please excuse my misplaced comma. It was not his humanity that I found to be subtle, but his struggle with anger, despair, fear and pain. I see these as exclusively human emotions based on how our self awareness processes or makes sense of physiological responses that are tied to our evolutionary instincts. I also see them as the point where we often turn away from God and towards 'sin'. When these emotions are attributed to Jesus, what I think readers sometimes overlook is that he struggled with them, as any human would. As Christians we like to see Jesus as perfect, and this view very easily shifts from him not giving in to temptation to him being unable to be tempted at all. But he lashed out in anger, wept at the death of a friend, feared for his life and felt abandoned by his God at the darkest and most significant moment in his life. This, for me, is not a man 'without sin', but then I guess it depends on how defined your idea of 'sin' is.

    For me, either his divinity or the familiarity of his human struggle loses credibility here, because it doesn't seem possible, particularly at these points in his life, to hold both as true simultaneously. It wasn't until I had the courage to explore my faith without the divinity of Jesus that this became clearer to me. The way I see it, it was what Jesus did next at these specific moments, not who he was, that kept him from crossing that imaginary line we label 'sin'. That was the key, for me.


    No-one is, and that's the point. The nature of religion is to construct an illusion of certainty - a solid foundation, walls and ceiling, if you will. The nature of faith is to accept that we cannot know for certain, but to nevertheless continue moving towards or seeking a closer or deeper understanding. Faith to me is a journey, not a position. It comes from opening doors, not closing them.

    I haven't closed any door on the divinity of Jesus, or on the resurrection being a physical occurrence. I certainly don't see them as essential 'foundations' to my faith, but I'm not here to convince anyone that I know anything - only to share my own experiences of God, faith, spirituality and how I understand them. And I'm not going to pretend there is solid ground under my feet anymore, or anywhere nearby.

    That we disagree on so many points is important to me. Because my faith is no longer grounded in a religion, it exists only in the sharing of my experiences, my personal 'logos', as it were. What I currently understand to be the truth and what I utter are also often world's apart, but it is only in the utterance, and in learning through the very different experiences and logos of others, that I can make any real headway on my journey of faith.

    I just wanted to point out that I think the possibility of abrahamic faiths peacefully co-existing is there - if we're willing to keep the 'doors' between them wide open, or better yet, recognise that there is no door, no foundation, no walls and no ceiling. Only faith. And regardless of what our own experiences have led us to believe, we are all on the same journey - albeit from so many different directions.

    So when we encounter each other, I think we can choose to either build a temple/church or a bridge.
     

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