Nontheistic Christianity

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by wil, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    Your title reminded me of of Russ Belville who identifies as Christian Atheist. You can read his story for yourself but he tells how he loved the Jesus story but did not identify as a Christian so finally he settled for Christian Atheist. It's been a while since I read it so I forget the details.
     
  2. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    I do not dispute the connection between Father and Son. I am suggesting that Man's fallen nature prevents the connection. This is why the Son is necessary; to provide the necessary help for Man to reach his "being" potential making direct contact possible
     
  3. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Except that the Father, did, step into the New Testament, when Jesus was done being baptised, as well as the Holy Spirit, all at once.

    For a moment, we saw all three together in proximity. And lowly man was right there to witness it, hear it, see it.

    One could say that Jesus' behavior allowed the Father to see the earth for a moment of pureness, that hadn't been since the time of Adam...
     
  4. RubySera_Martin

    RubySera_Martin Well-Known Member

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    When I saw your title I was made to think of Christian Atheist, as Russ Belville identifies. It's been a while since read his story, and you can read it for yourself, but if I remember correctly, he was raised Christian and liked the Jesus story but had problems with Christian theology so he settled for Christian Atheist.
     
  5. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    To live like Christ, but not to believe in Christ...interesting.
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I was pondering the term 'anthropomorphism' last night, what it means ... skimming stones across the Tiber ...

    God does not relate to us according to His nature, because His nature is utterly incomprehensible, beyond all categories, all description, all determination ... as the Philosophers said, beyond being.

    He does so according to our nature ... because we carry His imprint (as indeed, does all creation ... that too is Catholic doctrine).

    It is doctrine that man can come to comprehend God by observation of nature, but nature is not all that God is, that would be pantheism (nor is nature what God is, that would be panentheism).

    For us it's axiomatic that God is in things, but God is not the thing, nor is God just the aggregate of things ... as God is beyond-being, God is before-being.

    So I want to know God as God is, not the evidence of God in things.

    +++

    Of course, there is always the tendency to describe God according to ourselves, and that is an erroneous anthropomorphism, but the proper way is to describe ourselves in relation to Him.

    The mystery is that the way to God is through ourselves, in ourselves, not in exterior things; through the soul, not the exterior and phenomenal world, from being to Being, from logoi]/i] to Logos ...

    What more intimate and Immanent method can the Deity offer as a means of Union than in the self? How can one be not-I? Impossible. How can one be not-I and yet in God? More impossible still!

    But ... How can one be I and yet be in God? Impossible ... unless, of course, God wants that I to know Him.

    That's the difference between a Christian deity, and a non-Christian deism.

    If you want non-anthropomorphic Christianity, read the Fathers, read the Schoolmen ... if you want a God you can talk to, read the Mystics.

    I would suggest that what the world seems to want is someone who will listen to their woes, not some abstract entity that has no relation to them and their existence, someone whom they can rely on, believe in ... someone who will love them.

    That's why Christ said and did what He did.

    I'm sure if you wanted abstract and intellectual conceptualism ... He'd have knocked your socks off ... read the Fathers on the nature of being, they blow me away!

    Sorry, I'm getting 'old school' here ... forgive me ... but give us a break! I wish people would make an effort to find out the truth before offering criticism!

    +++

    Of course, there is a confusion of terms here ... it's not 'nontheistic Christianity', it's more accurately 'non-Christian theism'

    And actually, it's just another mode of anthropomorphism.

    Thomas
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    'just' a 'great' teacher? 'why do you call me good?' comes to mind, nothing comes thru me but thru the father. I believe him to have understood he is the expression of G!d.
    I don't buy the woah is me I'm not worthy fallen nature bit. It is a choice, we can step upto the plate and realize or simply complain about what happens to us in 3D
    Another one to add to the list...
    No, I believe in Jesus, I just don't believe in someone creating plagues, steering locusts, and flooding the earth. We are able today to watch Hanah, Ike, etc. form and march across we aren't sitting in Cuba unawares and then suddenly from a calm day our house gets blown away. That is what created the vengeful Bal and Thor and then YHWH experience in my mind. We now know better. But that doesn't sto me from relishing that there is a wonderment of all that binds this together.

    And I agree, Jesus blows me away with the depth of his parables, with the command of forgiving 70x7, of loving your nieghbor and your enemy, of the beatitudes, of loving the lord my G!d with all my heart, my strength and my mind. Taking on the mind of the Christ, dying to my old self daily, seeing the Christ and G!d in others...these are the challenges, the gauntlet I see laid, the windmills I choose to tilt at.

    Now I gotta admit there is an anthropomorphic vision of G!d I have not yet let go of, and that is of sitting in Grandma's lap, nuzzled in, warm and comforted that all is right in the world, no matter what is going on that I percieve as wrong it is solved by a 'there, there my child, in time you'll understand'
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Wil —

    "... amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3)

    I wonder would you scoff so patronisingly at Christ for His naive and sentimental notions of God?

    Thomas
     
  9. earl

    earl ?

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    As usual Thomas, I actually found myself more in agreement with you than in disagreement. Again, being one who favors the experiential over doctrinal, I look to experiential evidence. For one who puts a lot of stock in near death experiences, one has to consider one of the relatively common experiences-the meeting with an ineffable "being" of Light with incomprehensible sentience and compassion/love. It is experienced by those that have as "outside" of themselves relating to them personally. Now, is that "God?" Who knows? But it does suggest to me that "transcendent" (as in transcending our typically limited sense of self and bodily existence) reality does seem to relate to others as a "personal being." No doubt it is but 1 face of God. At the same time, it also reminds me of the Tibetan Buddhist notion of near death experiences-that that may represent one's meeting with the "Clear Light" of one's own intrinsic mind which they believe that, if one can meet with full openness and recognition of it being one and the same with one's "essence," one than proceeds to enlightenment. Perhaps both views are correct which to me would be a form of panentheism. earl
     
  10. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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  11. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Earl —

    It's a very, very nuanced difference in Christian theism, pantheism, and panentheism ... 'God is in things, but it is not the thing it is in' ... or more precisely, I suppose, 'God is in things, but God-in-Itself is other than the things it is in' ... does that make sense?

    Part of 'tradition' is that the experiential matches the doctrinal ... does not what one knows/who one is determine the experience? I don't thing we can say 'experience' is pure in that regard ... just surmising as I respond ...

    I can see that, but there are paradigmatic differences ... it's how we understand 'essence' I suppose. As I've been banging on, in the Christian Tradition, ousia — a nature, or an essence, cannot of itself be other than itself ... so 'transcendance' implies beyond itself, but a nature can corrupt and thus it's own truth is obscured, but then such a nature cannot be divine by definition, as the divine is beyond corruption, beyond forms and ultimately beyond nature ...

    Thomas
     
  12. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi DT Strain —

    Read your review. Interesting ... but sadly, some of the conclusions of the author makes regarding Christianity seem a rehash of presuppositions, of weak or non-existent research, and they same-old same-old errors trotted out with regard to Christian doctrine.

    Here as elsewhere, critics of Christianity seem to take the most naive and simplistic expression of doctrine as their benchmark ... put these points before a theologian and I'm afraid they'd be dismissed as lightweight opinionising.

    I'm no expert, but I can list the immediate errors if you like.

    Thomas
     
  13. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Wil,

    Surprisingly, it sounds like you and I are in complete agreement on these two points:

    (1) It sounds like you are saying Jesus was a great human who achieved enlightenment, then taught, just like Guatama Buddha did. (I call such great teachers Adepts.) Some people think the Adept Jesus was at about the same level as the Adept Gautama Buddha. Some people also say that the Earth has had several Buddhas, and that the Adept Jesus will be the next Buddha after Gautama. This makes a lot of sense to me, and fits into my belief system nicely (if it is true).

    (2) I believe in something called the Absolute, which is quite different than the anthropomorphized God of the Bible. According to my belief system, such attributes as getting angry (the Christian God gets angry, which causes me to not believe in Him) are not associated with the Absolute.

    Again, it sounds like we agree on these points, and I am glad that we have achieved a type of 'synchronicity' on these two points.
     
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Nick –

    Actually that's a common misconception with regard to Christianity, to do with the interpretation of Sacred Scripture. The link takes you to a useful resource for getting to grips with the Catholic concept of Biblical hermeneutics, if you're interested.

    Thomas
     
  15. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Thomas,

    First of all, I want to thank you for not insulting me, as you have done in the past.

    You said,

    "Actually that's a common misconception with regard to Christianity...."

    Oh really? Let's take a look:

    14 The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." 16 To the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." 17 And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return." 20 The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them. 22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" -- 23 therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:14-24

    http://www.bibleontheweb.com/Bible.asp

    The cursing of animals? Placing emnity between men and women? Multiplying the pain of all women's childbirth? Cursing the ground people walk on? Causing thorns and thistles to appear as a kind of punishment? Being driven out of the Garden of Eden?

    I need no links to 'interpret' this for me. God got mad. No, He got downright vindictive. I believe in no such God.
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Actually a less laborious, although perhaps less rewarding avenue, is to observe the distinction between apophatic and cataphatic theology in the Christian Tradition.

    Thomas
     
  17. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Thomas,

    I want to thank you again for not insulting me. Does this mean you no longer think I have the brain-power of a horse?
     
  18. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I'd say there were/are/will be a number of humans who attain various levels of Christ Consciouness, I believe it just below the surface for all of us. And yes Earl, one can see the light without a NDE.
    I see no naivite there Thomas. I agree completely, I just don't need no sprinkles of water to become converted. Look neither high nor low tis in your midst.
     
  19. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    Thanks - Please do Thomas :)

    -Daniel
     
  20. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Wil,

    We agree again!

    [​IMG]

    You said,

    "I believe it just below the surface for all of us."

    --> This is a big reason why I do not believe in a God 'over there' who hurls lightening bolts at us and curses the ground we walk on. In my opinion, what we are looking is within, not without. This 'thing' that we are looking for which is within is what some people call Buddha-nature.

    "...various levels of Christ Consciouness...."

    --> I believe there is a huge number of such levels. To refer back to the comparison of the Adept Jesus and the Adept Gautama Buddha, I believe the Adept Jesus is one level below the Adept Gautama, in a type of hierarchy.
     

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