Post-theistic Christianity "Other view"

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by YNOT, May 1, 2006.

  1. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Hi Y, and it is a pleasure to meet you as well! I'm not in disagreement, in fact I bet we are pretty close. I just wonder exactly which 'supernatural cultural trappings' you need to remove?

    I think Spong is great in that he opens the door to many Christians who have come to feel alienated because a literal-factual translation of the Bible just does not compute, in many ways. It does not compute for me either! When I returned to Christianity I found the writings of Marcus Borg and Dominck Crossan. These satisfied my intellect while at the same time thawing my heart. I don't agree with them on every point, but we all grow and change. I've even seen change in Borg's view of Christ from one of his books to another. It might not do the same for you, or for others. Anyone or anything that opens the door to faith is great as far as I am concerned. It's a process. Salvation is a relationship with God and you start wherever you are.

    Peace,
    lunamoth
     
  2. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Hi again, just wanted to respond to this one point. I don't believe in a patriarchal God Who demands our obedieance with threats of damnation, and I am most definitely a Christian and not a 'Christian in exile!' Some TULIPS might think I'm going to hell in a handbasket, but fortunately for me my salvation is not up to them. Nor is yours. Welcome home.

    lunamoth
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    Tulips??

    Look it is safe to be Christian again!!

    ie me thinks we are not alternative...
     
  4. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    Ah, sorry. That was too pointy, and certainly not directed at anyone in particular. But, there is a variety of expression of the Christian faith and what it means to find our salvation in Christ is a unique experience, even when practiced as part of a community, the Body of Christ.

    It's always been safe to be a Christian. :)

    I guess I don't know what it means to be an 'alternative' Christian, and I also don't feel that I'm in any position to say who is a 'true believer.' To me Christianity is defined by the creeds. That is where I start.

    peace, and no offense intended
    lunamoth
     
  5. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Yes lunamoth we are certainly of one mind and heart on this. I don't want to suggest that I was speaking for you when I said that many of us are "believers in exile". I was raised Catholic and I had to go through a long period of deprogramming and atheism before I could "turn the light around" and see that salvation/enlightenment was, and this is IMHO, already under my nose and not a goal to be reached. I think that this was Jesus' good news....that we are already saved! I don't even think there is anything in particular that I need to believe; Jesus' love for his brothers and sisters is something I can experience for myself living right here on Earth.

    The supernatural cultural trappings are a virgin birth, miracles attributed to Jesus, a literal interpretation of the incarnation of God into Jesus, seeing Jesus as the paschal lamb that must atone for our sins, original sin, his body ascending into heaven after being dead for three days and the like. Of course we can view all of this with metaphor in mind. I wish I could do a better job of explaining Spong's point of view as he certainly says it better. I really recommend his book A New Christianity for a New World. I have read a book by Borg...the title escapes me now...I think it was Seeing Jesus Again for the First Time.

    As you said, we all open our own door to faith. Unfortunately, from my own experience, I have rarely been in environments (excluding my own household) where alternative interpretations of any kind were welcome.
    To me, salvation is seeing that the relationship to God is really a relationship with the divine spark that has always existed within me. Divinity, IMHO, has nothing to do with supernatural ideas and everything to do with transcending the limitless capacity of human love. That "divinity" was in Jesus. And it is also the same in you and me. No beliefs necessary. What a liberating relief it is to know this. I think that coming to this understanding of our own "divinity" is truly the "second coming of Christ"! ;)

    With peace and loving-kindness,
    Tony
     
  6. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    Yeah, how did that happen?

    I like it! I hope it lasts.

    Chris
     
  7. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    Gentlemen, do not be confused. It is not my call what is finally appropriate or not for the Christianity forum. I believe my posts are suitable, but I am not a mod in this forum and it is not up to me. I defer to Q and Juan here.

    lunamoth
     
  8. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Hi Tony, just a quick reflection. The above 'cultural trappings' are part and parcel of the Christian faith, IMV. No one can tell you what those things mean to you, but you can't just throw them out because they are challenging. When Jacob met the 'angel' on the riverbank it was not for a tea party.

    2 c,
    luna
     
  9. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Hi luna,

    Thank you for your post. Please don't take my response below as being antagonistic in any way. You articulate your challenges beautifully and I only hope that my feeble answers will mirror your posts in the best way possible.

    I wish to throw out the cultural trappings because I see them as irrelevant to the core of Jesus' message. These supernatural ideas were added on by bishops and other church leaders throughout Christianity's history. They were voted on by committee in the First and Second Councils of Nicea (325 A.D. and later in 787) along with the idea of Jesus being a deity. Therefore, they are an unnecessary (IMV) add-on for me and many others living in this postmodern world. It's kindof like putting legs on a snake. I don't subscribe to New Age philosophy or Esoteric Christianity either. These ideas, to me, are just substituting mysticism in the place of supernaturalism. The Gnostics too were just as capable of creating elaborate cosmologies that have little to do with spirituality....all of these ideas are, to me, just epicycles on top of epicycles.

    If I have to believe in what's found in the Nicene Creed in order to be a Christian, then I guess I'm not a Christian. (This last sentence wasn't directed to you or to anyone else) I care about labels even less though. We have to remember that Jesus wasn't a Christian either. He was, IMV, simply a God-presence that inspired many of the people who were lucky enough to witness his teachings and actions. So was the Buddha. This really is enough for me. These cultural trappings really are part and parcel of the INSTITUTIONS that have gone on to make-up today's Christian faith. I just like to think that if Jesus were here today, he would shrug his shoulders in ambivalence if these add-ons were to all disappear.

    Respectfully yours,
    Tony :)
     
  10. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Kindest Regards, YNOT, welcome to CR!

    Interesting screen name!
    Right now I am leaning heavily towards Luna's observation of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    I have often seen reference to the various Councils held by the Roman Church, most notably the first Council officiated over by Roman Emperor Constantine. I accept there were certain concessions made in the process of gelling a coherant whole for the nation to follow. I am vaguely familiar with the example of Arius and Athanasius (the Arian Controversy) that seemed to be the highlight of that specific Council. So, if you have any specific proof to further elucidate your POV regarding the claim that:
    I would very much like to see it.

    I fail to see the point. Why would not "miracles" and "super-natural" occurances happen? Because somebody with an over-educated mind and little else to contribute says these things are illogical?

    Can't speak for anybody else, but I have seen miracles in my own life, that could not be explained by any rational process. I have seen many times similar occurances in other people's lives. So now, I am to disbelieve in miracles, not because of evidence, but because it is irrational?

    It took a Pagan friend of mine to point out, that to a Creator of (a) universe(s), a virgin pregnancy and birth is child's play. Why would He have trouble making the sun apparently stand still? Why would He have any problem whatsoever doing whatever He deigns to do? Including manipulating formal religious and political structures?

    Are we, miserable little pukes that we all are, the potter, or the clay? Do we make God in our own image, or do we strive to understand Him as He is?

    I'm afraid that what I see so far is just another fragmentation excuse to further divide the institution of Christianity. No matter what we think, or feel, or pretend, or imagine; God is God. The question is, do we see Him for what He really is, or do we continue to paint Him as we desire Him to be? Do we invent a god in our own image to make "him" more palatable and less obsolete? My vote is no, but then, I know I do not speak for everybody. :D
     
  11. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    Suck up!:)

    Chris
     
  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ....whys guy.... ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    Kindest Regards, China Cat!
    Not at all, she was simply telling it like it is.

    As you can see, the thread is here, as so many have expressed interest. Let's see what you do with it...especially with disagreement.

    Do you prove your point(s), or mine? The choice is up to the collective esoteric you(s).
     
  13. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    Bold! I like that.

    Chris
     
  14. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Hi Tony, Your posts do not strike me as antagonistic. This is a discussion, after all. :)

    Well, you probably know I disagree with the above. :) First, the 'cultural trappings' are part of the Person of Jesus the Christ, and Christ was the Message. I second Juan's challenge that you show how these things were 'added on' 'by committee.' Perhaps you also think that the promise of the Holy Spirit Who leads us into all truth is also just cultural baggage? Of course you are entitiled to your views, but in honesty I can't see the difference between what you are proposing as 'non-theistic Christianity' and secular humanism with Jesus as a figurehead. *shrug* What's the point?

    If the point is that you want to congregate with like-minded individuals I think you shall have no problem finding them. You can find lots of people who think as you do. If you want to somehow be 'accepted' by the Christian community I don't think you'd have any problem finding a niche. If you find meaning in the liturgy and sacraments you could attend an Episcopal Church and no one is going to try to nail you down on what you believe about this or that, although you would need to be baptized to take communion. I would think that you would not have a problem with that since the two sacraments 'go together,' if you will, and so you can either accept or reject them together. You could also find community with the liberal Quakers, or Unitarian Universalists. Wil mentioned that he goes to a church called Unity, and I'm sure you could find fellowship there. Anyway, maybe community is not what you are striving for at all, but I'm just trying to figure out what it is you are trying to build with your ecclesi here. :)

    If you're just looking for a forum with like-minded people to chat with, I think you've found it!

    I know this is not directed at me, but I'll reiterate that the Nicene Creed is where I start and I do not like the game of 'who's a real Christian.'
    That's right--He was a Jew!
    And this is where we part ways theologically, but not in our fellowship as far as I'm concerned.:)
    Well, my own opinion is that Christ would recognize the Christ Spirit in the Buddha (as my Buddhist friends cringe at my words), and in the founders of the other world religions devoted to love and peace. Christ is here today, and I'm sure you're right that He's more concerned with our actions than the specifics of our beliefs.

    I am far from being a scholarly or eloquent writer or Christian apologist (you might want to check out some posts by Thomas for those qualities). I just give my own thoughts about these matters. I'm happy to see your contributions to the CR forum and hope you remain for continued respectful discussion.

    cheers,
    lunamoth
     
  15. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    Not at all. Just following the COC my friend. :D

    lunamoth
     
  16. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    Wow, I go off for a weekend to Myrtle Beach (and to a friend's wedding), and when I get back - what a pleasant surprise! :)


    It's so nice to see a thread like this, and all the discussion that's taking place. Here are two things that occurred to me during my trip. One was the lyrics to `My God,' by Jethro Tull. I was on a Tull kick and listened to a lot, driving about 12 hours in the last few days. In honor of this thread, I had to crank up this song again. Here are the lyrics; let's see how they fit in:
    "My God"

    People -- what have you done --
    locked Him in His golden cage.
    Made Him bend to your religion --
    Him resurrected from the grave.
    He is the god of nothing --
    if that's all that you can see.
    You are the god of everything --
    He's inside you and me.

    So lean upon Him gently
    and don't call on Him to save you
    from your social graces
    and the sins you used to waive.
    The bloody Church of England --
    in chains of history --
    requests your earthly presence at
    the vicarage for tea.
    And the graven image you-know-who --
    with His plastic crucifix --
    he's got him fixed --
    confuses me as to who and where and why --
    as to how he gets his kicks.
    Confessing to the endless sin --
    the endless whining sounds.
    You'll be praying till next Thursday to
    all the gods that you can count.

    (I took the liberty of highlighting the one line which pretty well sums things up for me ... ) As for context, I know little about the religious background of the individual band members, but given the lyrics, it wouldn't be hard to guess. My own is Lutheran, and for about 13 years, I got a fairly typical upbringing what with Sunday School, the church service, and various extracurricular activities (like Vacation Bible School, Easter Egg hunts, etc.) which so many of us are familiar with. And so far, though I know nothing of Spong (I keep thinking of Dr. Spock the baby guy) ... I like what I'm seeing!

    And the other thing that hit me, on the way down actually, was something that I saw posted earlier. I made several notes as I travelled, and this one is worth sharing:

    Every one of us has got a little bit of God within him. This fragment of the Whole, or Divine Spark of Life, is both God and our Inmost Self, at the same time ... for these two are identical. Yet this is not a strictly singular Being, nor is it the only Divine Son and Father.

    Part of this reminds me of what the earliest Pastor of our church once said during a sermon, when describing our relationship to Christ. I might have been a baby of some several months, so I do not remember this ... but my mother told me about this a few years ago, and it has been with me ever since. That pastor described us all, as "little Christs." :)

    So that is probably my inspiration for the above. St. Paul's term, Christ in you, the Hope of Glory, only goes to support my belief and understanding, but that is not where I get my faith. I rely upon my own intuition, and certainly I don't insist that another single soul see things the way I do, yet sometimes ... I just wonder, is all this not obvious??? :confused: (And a part of me thinks that, in our natural state - if we are in tune with ourselves and with each other, yes, it is obvious ;) ).

    As for my beliefs about the existence of many such Beings as this "G-d" (of Whom we are a part, and IN Whom we live and move and have our Being), that is something I have come to in studying the existence of the Seven Elohim, as they are referred to in Jewish scriptures, or the Seven Spirits before the Throne, of Revelation. EVERY religious teaching admits of these Seven, and the Christian Jehovah/YHWH (aka `God the Father') can be shown as identical with the Archangel Michael (although Catholics would argue this point, and understandably so ... I just point out one school of thought).

    Regardless, the Ancient of Days, though worthy of our utmost Respect, Admiration, Praise and Awe ... is not a Being sitting around drumming his fingers as he ogles us from his cloud top throne, demanding adulation and obeisances. You see, here is one belief which I would drain with my bathwater, and FAST!!! As the line in the song indicates, and as Christ Jesus said, He is the God of Everything, He's inside you and me ("I and my Father are One"). And so this is why I believe ... by pure logic and the rules of basic mathematics, that as Christed Jesus represented the true Advance-Guard, having attained before us what we all shall attain in time, so by the same logic, even God the Father is actually a Being, like us, just way, way ahead of the game. Again, to each his or her own, yet sometimes - I cannot help but wonder - why aren't these things just obvious to everyone? Hey, all I can do is shrug. :eek:

    But there, also, if one looks, is ample reason why I do not think that there is only one approach, even for "all true Christians." After all, as you have said, lunamoth, it is by our actions, how we live our lives, and the way we treat each other that God knows us best.

    In Love and Light,

    taijasi
     
  17. Bandit

    Bandit Well-Known Member

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity "Gnostic View"

    my dad believes each of these 7 spirits of God are 7 distinct entities that make up one God. i dont believe like that & neither does my church but he sure does. i am not sure how he ever came up with that because he was raised under the same leadership i was. LOL (freethinking i guess)
    we argued that one night til we we got mad at each other & then laughed our gutts out afterward. i love my dad. he is good man to study with.

    i also agree there are some awesome paradoxes in the scriptures to see with the angel of the Lord, God & Jesus. :)
     
  18. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    I see the value of many of the trappings of religions...again it sets the space...not for all but for many...and that in itself is wonderful.

    While you may not need them, and see them as irrelevent...we should still honor that of others... Jesus sat down and doodled in the sand to contemplate once...was that required? or was it beneficial to change the tone, set the space? Do we need large cathedrals and temples to G-d, does G-d care I think not....but do I get goosebumps, do I feel the energy when I walk thru those doors...

    Taking that away is like telling a baseball player, when he goes up to the plate, all he has to do is focus on the pitcher, and when the ball comes swing....no need for your rituals, don't beat your cleats with the bat, swing, stagger, adjust yourself, spit, look, twist.(or cross yourself)..all those things that make you comfortable are not required... I know there is a better analogy out there, just didn't come up with it...
     
  19. YNOT

    YNOT Zen philosopher

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    Hello juantoo3,

    It is a pleasure to meet you. I appreciate your taking the time to respond to my post. I do want to begin by stating that these are my honest opinions and I am certainly not insisting that others see it my way. I don't know how I could make another person think what I think anyway....I can only discuss things and see how they proceed. In the process, others may learn something and be changed...I know for sure that I will learn something and perhaps be changed as well.

    Talking about the Council of Nicea is a tall order. It would perhaps be better to direct you to Wikipedia where it refers to how 1800 bishops came together to try to form a consensus on what eventually became official church doctrine. I'm sure that we can all agree that the amalgamation of Christian beliefs that we know today was refined over the centuries and, in many cases, the claims became more and more fantastic. To state in a few sentences why this happened would be utterly impossible as I would have to explain the psychology, sociology, politics, scandal, intrigue, fears, prejudice and confusion of tens of generations of people over two millenia...it's just not possible. What I can say is that today's scientific understanding cannot attest to the validity of these supernatural claims.

    I want to repeat that I'm not saying that any other Christian interpretations are wrong. I'm just saying that I don't know why my POV MUST be rejected as false...especially if I'm questioning the validity of certain supernatural claims while living in 2006.

    I have no problem sitting in a Methodist service and interpreting the hymns, and scripture-readings metaphorically. I don't look around the pews and wish that everyone "saw the light" and took a contextual view of the Church's history. I sincerely think, though, that the Church is going through a crisis of faith that could (maybe not in the short term) result in many believers being left without a living faith that can operate in today's postmodern world. I agree that John Shelby Spong is attempting to overturn a lot of supporting pillars of today's Christian church. What I see him doing though is removing wobbly supports so that new and stronger ones can be put in their place. Otherwise, it will probably crumble and leave the important parts of the church, the open space for the community to enter, in shambles.

    Peace and loving-kindness,
    Tony
     
  20. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Re: Post-theistic Christianity

    A crisis is an opportunity, but I must say I don't see any crisis. :) IMV yes, the Church evolves and people like Spong, and Dobson, play their parts in the process by creating the tension and disequilbrium in which the Holy Spirit moves. The KOG is not created by one person or even one person who generates a large following. The KOG is all around us and we participate in it when we follow the love commandments. If old edifices crumble and leave just the shining light of the Way, that will be fine with me. But I do believe that the scaffold of religious thought created by the work of the Spirit interacting with we mere humans over the past millenia is indeed a trustworthy way to grow toward God. But sure, you can't climb a ladder you don't think will hold you. God in His mercy provides other paths.

    2 c,
    lunamoth
     

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