INTP as I am, I have sometimes wondered just how I-ish your INTJ is? Are you a social introvert? Or are you an E/INTJ, perhaps?
Looking past this rather transparent and shameless self-promotion to acknowledge some truth in what you say, let me assuage your worries: Most of his readers watch Oprah an hour each day. And many, Dr. Phil, also.
Well, if they're watching Oprah . . .
Re. E/INTJ -- I have lots of solitude and silence in my life, which is necessary for my mental/spiritual health. Discussions such as we have on this board are about as extraverted as I get, except among the company of friends and family (typical for introverts). The E and I do balance out more through the years, however; I have noticed that.
JB, there's more stuff on the table now than we'll ever be able to work through, so I'll just pick a few topics that I consider most relevant to this thread.
Sort of a continuum of experiences . . . mostly-natural-graced on the one end and strongly-supernatural on the other. I can go along with that, and I believe Arraj would be fine with it, too. He does acknowledge that enlightenment is a kind of experience of God, but would reserve the use of "supernatural grace" to reference experiences which communicate the transformative and charismatic gifts of the Spirit. "By their fruits" has always been the defining criterion - - e.g., Gal. 5. And, to be sure, we do see the fruits of the Spirit at work in other religions.
Is it ever "unthematic" anywhere?
But my response to this is that if we can account for an experience through dynamics of "natural grace" (practice of detachment, awareness, virtue, moderation, vipassana meditation, eightfold path, etc.), then why bring in supernatural grace? It's not to say that the Holy Spirit hasn't been supporting and encouraging this along the way, as I think the Spirit is delighted when we strive for such authenticity.
Because justification and sanctification are not the same thing. Granted, they go together, but one can be saved without going very far down the road to sanctification. Again, to affirm this is not to deny the reality of theosis outside of Christianity; obviously, that does go on.
JB, maybe it would help to hear you say more about what you think supernatural grace is, and what it accomplishes in us. A few relevant quotes from the Catholic Encyclopedia that make sense to me:
- from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06701a.htm
In short, supernatural grace is the infusion of Trinitarian life into the soul to make of us adopted children of God who are able to know and love God as Christ does. It also moves us to form communities of love, and gifts us marvelously to love one another with a new power and wisdom. When we see signs of this, I think we can speak of supernatural grace being at work; when we don't, there's little point in affirming that such grace is present or at work.
Where does that leave us with Eckhart Tolle?
- - -
I'll be involved in a workshop until Sunday and so will not be online much during the next few days. Y'all have at it, however. . .
Addenda: JB, one final thought before I plunge into my workshop. Inclusivist Christology takes its cues from the teaching on "baptism by desire," which has always assumed that, given the opportunity for explicit faith and Baptism, one would gladly do so. The most obvious example would be in one who has learned about the Gospel and would like to be baptized, but has no opportunity to do so. Beyond this, one can assume a wide range of obstacles to explicit faith/Baptism, from ignorance of the Gospel to the poor example of Christians to insensitive evangelical endeavors and so forth. And so we should, really, be slow to judge whether another is resisting explicit faith/Baptism out of sinful obstinacy, or for other, more excusable, reasons.
Worthy of consideration, here, is the fact that, after 2,000 years of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, etc. remain as religions more or less resistant to coming over to the Christian side. Islam and Hinduism, in particular, seem to be well-innoculated. While I do not espouse exclusivist notions of salvation and damnation, neither do I ascribe to a broad understanding of inclusivism/anonymous Christians. One need be more than a "good person" to be justified, and secular humanists in the U.S. who reject explicit faith because of silly straw-man defenses about televangelists and what not will have some serious explaining to do to the Almighty, in my view. Same goes for people in other religions and teachers like Eckhart Tolle, whose notion of Christ seems more a projection of Tolle than the Person we meet in the Gospel (especially John's). If they truly are living a "baptism of desire" and reject explicit faith/Baptism, that's a very serious matter.
OK, now I've really got to go.
JB et al, check out: http://innerexplorations.com/c...mortext/philtheo.htm
My weekend started early because of Ike. RE: supernatural grace, we're close enough in overall thrust, seems to me, so, since I'm presently preoccupied with some other studies, I'm going to give this thread a rest for a bit.
I read Jim's article with interest. He wrote: "We cannot expect a computer to cross the threshold to the spiritual." I agree. We cannot even expect a computer to cross the threshold to the biosemiotic or an ecological rationality!
I'm not surprised . . . figured this all along. ;0
Re. Ike -- looks like La. was spared the brunt of the damage, but my brother tells me that refinery capacity has been seriously impaired. Better tank up now; higher gas prices are coming.
Sure, I'll clarify this.
The simplest distinction between natural grace and supernatural grace is this: Natural grace is the gift of life, itself, the act of creation, which is inherently good. Supernatural grace, then, is ANYTHING gifted over and above natural grace.
Hence, when I wrote this --- The question is whether this communication involves 1) only the gratuitous gifting of creation and life 2) with only their merely natural expressions of human wisdom and aspiration, 3) only preparing human beings to hear the gospel (preparatio evangelii), or, whether other religions and their associated God encounters 4) also result from God�s special activity within history and are thus 5) also concrete expressions of God�s supernatural grace to those who follow these religious paths. --- items #1-3 correspond to natural grace and items #4 & 5 represent supernatural grace.
Now, one could make a list of the various classically understood grace gifts, office gifts, service gifts, charisms, and fruits of the Spirit, and see how they present or not in any other tradition or not. Above all, of course, we are looking for a generous self-giving to one's neighbour, that truly kenotic self-emptying that goes beyond nature.
You ask basically the same question as the Pope did in the pneumatological year: Even now, during this pneumatological year, it is fitting to pause and consider in what sense and in what ways the Holy Spirit is present in humanity's religious quest and in the various experiences and traditions that express it.
And among other answers, he gave this response, which broadly considers other religions: At their origins we often find founders who, with the help of God's Spirit, achieved a deeper religious experience. Handed on to others, this experience took form in the doctrines, rites and precepts of the various religions. The Pope continues: The Holy Spirit is not only present in other religions through authentic expressions of prayer. "The Spirit's presence and activity", as I wrote in the Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, "affect not only individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions." we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of coming into contact, in a way known to God, with the paschal mystery" (Gaudium et spes, n. 22). This possibility is achieved through sincere, inward adherence to the Truth, generous self-giving to one's neighbour and the search for the Absolute inspired by the Spirit of God. A ray of the divine Wisdom is also shown through the fulfilment of the precepts and practices that conform to the moral law and to authentic religious sense. Precisely by virtue of the Spirit's presence and action, the good elements found in the various religions mysteriously prepare hearts to receive the full revelation of God in Christ.
As for something, in particular, like vipassana meditation, it is usually practiced within a given context in various of the Buddhist approaches or branches and will involve contemplation of their teachings (like the Four Noble truths and practice of the Eightfold Path) which are clearly oriented toward such virtue as merciful compassion, which goes beyond mere moral goodness. In an isolated sense, as a meditative technique and cultivation of awareness and ordinary virtue, it speaks of nothing more than a natural flowering. However, within the context of other doctrines, rites and precepts and as oriented to authentic wisdom and self-giving love, it bears witness, in my view, to the Spirit's presence and action. It doesn't really make sense to me to affirm supernatural grace in the origins and practices of these traditions, in general, but not seeing it at work in this or that rite, practice, precept or doctrine, in particular, again, especially considering something as central to these traditions as enlightenment, broadly conceived and widely valued, itself, truly transformative.
Where does it leave Tolle?
In my view, supernaturally graced, in many ways. When mercy, compassion and self-emptying love hit the stage, in any form or measure, one can be sure that we have gone beyond natural goodness toward authentic transformation?
That all makes sense, JB. I mentioned above somewhere that wherever we see evidence of the fruits of the Spirit, we ought to give the Spirit credit for producing them.
Nevertheless, I struggle with the notion of "implicit faith" (and, we'd have to add, "implicit sanctification") when the opportunity for explicit faith becomes present, but is rejected. That was the context for my question about "where does that leave Eckhart Tolle?" It's a serious thing to reject explicit Christian faith, especially if one is holding oneself out as a spiritual teacher and using the Gospel to make one's points. But only God can judge in this matter, of course.
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