I was just posing an argument for its own sake. I dont know where I stand as far as the exclusivist/inclusivist paradigm. Have most definitely thought about Christ's crucifixion as a Universal act that covers all regardless of whether they accept or not. We have theological volumes written on this, and for me, well I'll just wait til I get to the other side or have a direct realization about it, before I take a stand one way or the other.
Hence the reason why I can never belong to a Church who see's something, which has been such a fundamental remembering for me, as a heresy.
The "Body" issue is rather much deeper. Since 5 years old there was a "feeling" that none of this existence is right. Death, atrocities, suffering, etc. I Have since found many others who have had this deep subconscious feeling for earth experience and remembering pre-existence has solidified my own view that "eternally" all the "stuff" I have picked up here on earth, including this body (which gets old and eventually rots away) is not fundamental "me".
The majority of the "crap" of this world comes from ego identification. Even then, using rational thought to function in life, we have the animal/carnal longings of the physical, which many times is at odds with spirituality/Christ/God etc. So we go on fighting this inner battle, and the majority of us lose, even with God's grace(as we see w/ backsliding).
How can it be other than a vehicle for this existence here? When we existed prior to earth we did not have it. When the body dies and we move into the after life, we do not have it. The human body itself, while we can call a miraculous piece of machinery/design/function, is also slow, groggy, limited, short life span, etc. When I speak from pre-existence, that state of Being trumps the human body state in so many ways. Yet as a unit of awareness, you can't experience eating, sex, breathing, etc. Still Give me God & the afterlife anyday over Earth's carnival ride.
I have always felt "not at home" in my own body and with the ego. Having the direct experiences of the Holy Spirit, realizations from studying nonduality coupled with the Dark Night of the Soul, and remembering pre-existence has finally put me at peace with this uneasy feeling that has always been here. I am now reconciled to it all and easily accept and look forward to death, as it is another level of freedom added to those I have received from the Spiritual path.
Well we do sin in the body. If sin has to be payed, then Christ would have to had died in the Body. All throughout scripture and the writings of the saints we have the testimonies of folks fighting the lower carnal body nature, in favor of the higher spiritual nature.
I know I had a say in being born here. I know I was reluctant to come, but seeing that God is part of the picture, well then I hesitantly agreed, but I am still a reluctant servant. I'm here because its the way it is. "Here" is not, nor was it ever, "home." Perhaps there is something to spiritual growth for us being here. But growth can also happen without us being here.
I dont think that way. I am of the reasoning that what-ever God wills, so be it. However, if we take a strictly Westernized fundamentalist dogmatic literal explanation of the Bible, well then its only right to not bring kids into this world, but also to limit others of this.
OT = Be fruitful & multiply
NT = Christ comes and tells his followers to leave everything and follow him. As an addition to that, we find Christ to be celibate. In my own experience, I too find myself happy to be celibate and can even say asexual.
Another thing I wanted to add is that there is so much additional knowledge that exists outside of the Bible. We have Near Death Experiences which tell us a whole bunch of stuff. Yet for the fundamentalists, it is entirely discarded unless the NDE matches up exactly with a Biblical interpretation of truth. Its the same kind of discarding that we saw when some past historical figures dared to say that the world was round or that we are not the center of the Universe, or that the earth revolves around the sun instead of vice versa
We have mystics in other religions experiencing Holy Spirit type experiences, dark nights of the soul, and all of the same transformative experiences that we as "Christian/Catholics" experience.
The whole Christian path, if it could only understand Nondual philosophy, would be transformed by leaps & bounds from the understanding that there is a separation between Awareness & Ego. Instead there is so much regression and psychological problems that occur in the Church that just multiplies people's problems. Its the whole reason behind Catholic priests molesting children.
Celibacy is a spiritual gift, a grace from God. Done on its own it will cause HUGE problems and we see that all throughout the world recently.
With this too, we have children around the world born that clearly remember being somebody else in a previous life. All the 60 minute specials and documentaries on this subject are compelling.
The bottom line is, there are more factors to our faith than "just the Bible". We have a majority view on our faith, but the majority isn't always the correct one. The winners of wars write the history books.
In my own experience, much of what Wilbur has taught, were insights & realizations that came to me from having the Holy Spirit. But again, there is no Christ & Holy Spirit in Wilbur's philosophy. And there is nothing wrong with that because thats exactly what it is, one man's philosophical take on Life, Reality, Truth. Its more trans=personal scientific psychology in its scope, yet there are insights there, like with Nonduality, that are vital for our own walk with Christ.
Moved Reply: Dominicus, I shared on a couple of occasions that I took seriously your experience of pre-existence and even Scriptures that could be used to affirm this. I then pointed out the difference between the simple experience you describe and the doctrine of pre-existianism, which goes beyond what you describe to posit a duality between body and soul that makes of the body simply an accidental vehicle for the soul. In response to this, you wrote:
Note that the Church's teaching doesn't condemn as heresy your "fundamental remembering" experience, only the kind of conclusions about the body that you draw from this.
Nope, that's right. You can't do anything as a pre-existing soul except to be aware. And the advantage of that is . . .?
Your understanding of the body and its relation to soul is deeply flawed, Dominicus, first because what we see as the body is the fallen state of affair. The body we have now is not the kind of body our first parents had, nor is it the kind of body we will have after Christ resurrects us. Christ's resurrection is the first fruit of this new creation; those whom he raises up in glory will forever have a resurrected body as well. Disembodied human souls such as exist after death and before the resurrection at the end time live in a state of metaphysical deficiency. You might think that trumps life in a body, but it's only a temporary situation.
What do you mean, "we do sin in the body"? We sin in our mind, psyche, will, etc. before anything happens in the body. Sin is not of the body; it's a rebellion of the soul that introduced the consequence of illness and death to the body. The lower, Adamic, false self consciousness you speak of is of the soul and its attachment to pleasure, power, etc. The body is not our problem so much as our fallen consciousness, which is only a little higher than that of an animal's.
Christian spirituality does not resolve this issue by trying to awaken a "higher spiritual nature," but by opening one's consciousness to God's gift of the Spirit poured out by Jesus Christ. Christ's Spirit is what lifts us out of our fallenness -- not our realization of some "higher self" or non dual state.
I think it's pretty clear that, for you, your experience of pre-existence and now the non dual state you so enjoy trumps anything the Church or anyone else might say. My hope is that you're still searching for how you might integrate your mind and understanding with some of your experiences, for non dual awareness does need to become integrated. You are not the first to have this experience, nor to ask the kinds of questions you're asking. There's already a very rich body of wisdom in the doctrines of the Church, but you cannot begin with the assumption that your experience trumps any understandings that might be found there.
Where do you get the idea that people here are fundamentalists whose only frame of reference in spiritual matters is the Bible? We talk about psychology, philosophy, metaphysics, other world religions, NDEs, kundalini, chakras, etc. all over this board. And what does that comment about winners of wars have to do with anything? What are you really trying or wanting to say, here?
Moved Reply: [/QUOTE]... The body we have now is not the kind of body our first parents had, nor is it the kind of body we will have after Christ resurrects us. Christ's resurrection is the first fruit of this new creation; those whom he raises up in glory will forever have a resurrected body as well....[/QUOTE]
I was just going to say the same thing in response to that part of D's post about the body. Years ago, I had a profound mystical experience that I rarely share, but would like to tell you about it since it concerns the reception of our Glorified Bodies. It's getting late now, so I'll do it in the next few days and put it in a new thread discussion.
I don't think so. The Earth is home for now precisely because it is the only and best place for our spiritual growth, the best place to grow in knowledge of God.
Of course, most spiritually sensitive people know deep inside that here is not our real home. We were never meant to live in this wretched world!
But I've found growing peace in offering myself to God as a living sacrifice. We don't actually belong to ourselves anyway. We belong to God. As I offer myself fully to God--body, mind, and soul--I find the Earth actually does become more and more my home because God meets me here on Earth. As Bill Johnson has said: Holy Fire falls on sacrifice.
OK, now it's really late...Good night and wishing you Christ's peace!
Its not as simple as that. I had access to only a short memory of pre-existence state. It may be that the source of me (all of us for that matter) are from God, and came from God originally. Others have remembered this or experienced this remembering especially in clinical hypnosis. Its allot deeper than that, but at this point really doesnt matter.
Im not arguing against this. If, after getting the Holy Spirit, we have a new resurrection body or some kind of rebirth body, then it may indeed be that way.
We exist in the body and so we sin in the body. The awareness in us, in one sense is the real us, in another sense is pure and untouched, so it seems. If we study eastern orthodoxy they bring nonduality into the picture as Union w/ God as being our original state in Garden of Edan (which they see as symbolic). Satan tricking us into eating from the tree of knowledge of Good & Evil is the putting on of ego mind which is seeing in divisions (good/evil, right/wrong, etc), all paraphrasing Eastern Orthodoxy itself.
I dont know if I agree here with this. Many of the Mystics & Saints say that the Soul is an inner Spark and is ultimately in one aspect United with God and the other aspect is Individual Awareness. It seems that way to me, as all egoic stuff is what I have picked up here on earth and/or animalistic impulses from the body.
But through Grace, "higher spiritual nature" does become awakened. We all initially came to Christ by our own realization and effort of giving ourselves to Christ. There really are 2 parts to the equation. Even w/ God's gift of Grace many reject it, or trade it in for worldly crap. I know I did. I have even seen people in whom the Holy Spirit starts entering into them through the top of the head, and out of fear, they completely outright reject the most awesome grace.
As for the Nondual state, its just something thats there. Like the foundation of all that is. Some say the Nondual State is God. For me, it did not come about seeking something outside of Christianity. All the Graces bestowed upon me have created a fiery longing in the heart/chest area for Union w/ God. I didn't even understand what this longing was at first.
Eventually, everything I read in the 1st ever nondual book I picked up, was just stating facts. Like life is, people breath, the body dies, babies are born, thoughts are only imagined and not real, etc. The resulting realizations lead to an experiential Nondual state which finally fulfilled the longing in the chest area. It seems that is Union w/ God, and least for me. Are we all headed there? Is this only for the few? These are important questions because everyone is longing, albeit many have misunderstood, for God or being Home. If the nondual state is Absolute, as many famous Mystics & Theologians of our faith say is so, then we come from that, and to that we shall return.
The Church is man-made, fallible, works in representations, and even our holy book are inspired to fallible men. But God himself isn't. To experience God, which the Bible says we can, is direct and cuts right through Church and all that is fallible. What can anyone say in the face of God? More words, concepts, ideas, etc? I remember when Christ came to me in a dream right after I brought one of my best friends to Christ and he got Baptized. Even in the dream, his presence completed shattered everything I ever thought or read about him.
Nondual awareness eventually brings with it a profound nondual Love. In Love's lens, everything eventually becomes integrated & whole. On top of that I'm saying that Life trumps Church, Life is Church. There is only the timeless Now within which we live and have our experience trying to figure things out. I've read 100's of doctrines and been to dozens of Church's and yes I still do feel in my soul that God's direct revelations and direct experience trumps all.
If it wasn't so, it would be like seeing Jesus on the way to Church/Doctrine study and he wants to to embrace & talk, but I tell him, "I can't talk right now Jesus, I have to first go to Church & study doctrine".
Just saying to say as we do have in our midst those types of folks here, and I used to be one too so I know exactly how low leveled those type of folks can be in these matters. The winners of wars remark was just a blanket statement & usually makes fundies re-think their positions. Just a comment.
Moved Reply: All,
Aiyee. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, where am I from (or at)?
I confess to almighty God and you my brothers and sisters … that sometimes when I visit SP I find myself a stranger in a strange land – (as the saying goes).
You yellow-memsters are certainly in a different place than I find myself. And some of you seem (sometimes) to be marching to the beat of a different drummer as well.
I don’t know what you all think of the works of Fr. Hans Von Balthasar and his theological insight. While I have not read many of his works, I did read his book on Prayer. In it, he mentions that we as members of the mystical body (and not its head) contemplate the head, which is Christ, as He intercedes for us before the Father and spearheads His body of believers through the history of salvation. (I couldn’t find the exact quote, but that’s the gist.)
That Christ, our head, at this time in salvation history is looking in the direction of KW and his teachings on spirituality (KW who in honesty, acknowledges he is not a Christian disciple) and that our head is nodding to us as Christians to pursue (some might say ‘mine’) the myriad teachings at the Integral Life Website (imO) is patently whacked.
That Christ or the Holy Spirit (His guide for us) would want us to be tossed about on the winds of every doctrine – at a time when the Christian churches already long battered and bloodied by pluralistic teachings that undermine the gospel and subvert the primacy of Christ -- would be abandoning the guarding of the sheepgate and condoning its being opened to others with false teachings even seemingly plausible, is …. (imO) – patently absurd.
Absurd as it is that some ‘christians’, even entire denominations of ‘christians’, believe that a pro-choice position is in keeping with Christ’s teaching and nature (love) and are zealous in their promulgation of such absurdity (blinded to sin).
In an analogous way, many ‘christians’ are zealous (though blind) for the teachings of false teachers.
Antichrists are having a party and Christians are extending invitations – DUH! And yes … imO, a rationale of being integral or tolerant or intellectually mature or politically correct or third millennial is patently unsupportable.
Scripture clearly says that ‘anyone who is so progressive that he does not remain rooted in the teachings of Christ, does not possess God.’
‘Catholic’ and ‘christian’ politicians sell us out in the political arena, while theologians and various teachers sell us out in spiritual arenas and/or university arenas.
Methinks the Holy Spirit is looking for a few good sheepdogs -- and NOT flashy, diamond wirecutters.
On another note, but relevant to one’s outlook as a Christian, many pride themselves on being rational and not accepting everything that’s taught them (a green meme’s badge of glory).
They have doubts about the validity of absolutes. They need to check everything out. No ‘having the faith of little children’ for them. Doubting Thomas’ forever! I’m from Missouri. I’ll check it out on Wikipedia or Snopes and get back to you.
I realize I am being broad brush here in what I have written above, but the point I want to make relative to absolutes and the absolutes of our Christian faith (and I needed your attention, lol) is this: martyrdom is a hard nut. Christ in the garden knew the reality of what martyrdom would entail, and he was sweating blood, not whistling Dixie.
But …………….. if you think about it ………………..……………. NOBODY is going to accept martyrdom for a ‘could be’ or a ‘maybe’ or a ‘perhaps’.
Only a belief in absolutes, in the absolute authority of GOD revealing, of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God revealing … (and His grace of course)… will get you there.
Some have already apostasized but haven’t realized it as yet. Who do you say He is? How do you hold His teachings, His revelation to mankind?
The church in our times is facing martyrdom via militant Islam in many countries throughout the world – in the middle east (Syria, Iraq, Egypt and others) and the third world nations of Africa (Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and others) and Asia. She is facing undermining from antichrists within and is being assailed by secular humanism, militant homosexuality, pro-choice feminists, and militant atheism from without.
White martyrdom may be an inescapable challenge in America if our secular political and lukewarm religious majority eliminates freedom of religion, and doctors and nurses have to decide between conscience and career.
ImO, the Spirit wants to steel and solidify and prepare the remnant, not confuse or confound it further with whacked and false teachings on cosmic swill, new age discoveries or the commonality of all religions and the necessity to dilute if not abandon the teachings of Christ or the historical Jesus in favor of some global least common feel-good denominator.
The Integral is a valid concept in calculus, but so too, is differentiation. Wisdom tells us which operation applies when.
Still on dial-up, I haven’t had the opportunity as yet to view Phil’s teaching or visit the links provided in the posts. I have the same reservations re Cynthia B. and Fr. Keating’s CO that he had expressed and what their contact with KW has yielded. (Phil mentioned this in his 22 Mar 2:37 PM post).
Years ago, before coming to SP, I had gone to CO retreats and read and enjoyed Fr. Keating’s books. Later, based on CO’s (or some at CO’s) joy with Pannikar, I shied away. But before having left, I purchased Fr. Keating’s and KW’s discussions on the ‘Future of Christianity’. That was my first exposure to KW. As a result, I am on his emailing list and receive ads re his latest topics and seminars. And I have in the past been to his website.
The final Antichrist is conjectured by some authors to be a pseudo-spiritual teacher not unlike KW. That final AC will mislead many.
I used to think such a reality would be difficult to bring about in our day, but when I see how many have embraced pro-choice thinking and are zealous in defending it as God’s will; and have embraced so much of other whacked and clearly contradictory teaching at odds with scripture, it really seems that the father of lies is having a field day – as if he had asked for us – to sift us like wheat, like one who prowls the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Another progressive teaching that is not firmly rooted in the teachings of Christ is that of Unitarians who maintain there is no hell.
Matt 3:12 relates John the Baptist teaching: ‘…but the chaff He will burn in unquenchable fire.” Just think, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth that Christ said would be sent, inspired Matthew to write that passage in his gospel account. And in Matt 4:17 to address the fact that Jesus proclaimed that indeed, we need to “Reform our lives!”
In Matt 7:15-23 one can read of Jesus warning to “Be on guard against false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing.”
In Matt 10:15 one reads of Jesus assuring his apostles that it would go easier for the regions of Sodom and Gomorrah on judgment day, then for any towns that rejected the teachings of the apostles He was sending out.
Matt 13:41 – “The Son of Man will dispatch his angels to collect from the kingdom all who draw others to apostasy and all evildoers. The angels will hurl them into the fiery furnace where they will wail and grind their teeth.”
Just think, the H.S. inspired Matthew to write these things and yet Unitarians inspire folk to dismiss these things.
In Matt 13:49 one again reads of Jesus stating “This is how it will be at the end of the world. Angels will go out and separate the wicked from the just and hurl the wicked into the fiery furnace where they will wail and grind their teeth.”
Matt 25:41 – “Then he will say to those on His left: ‘Out of my sight you condemned, into that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’.”
Jesus never dismissed the reality of hell and judgment; yet, Unitarians do, and do so with abandon. (Aiyee.)
In Matt 25:46 – “These will go off to eternal punishment.”
‘Eternal punishment’, ‘everlasting fire’, ‘unquenchable fire’, ‘the fiery furnace’, are all descriptors of hell found in the teachings of Christ – teachings in which a Christian is to remain rooted! Teachings on truth revealed to the NT authors by the Holy Spirit requested by the Son to be sent by the Father to lead us all in the fullness of truth.
Mk 9:42-48 speaks of millstones for those who lead others astray and of unquenchable fire and of fire never extinguished.
Christ held these truths as critically important; the Holy Spirit as well; and Matthew Mark, Luke and John, and Peter and Paul. But Unitarians – nope. They wink at the significance of such a reality. They wink at millstones. Who is wiser than a Unitarian?
Not Christ, not the Holy Spirit, nor the inspired authors of NT scripture, nor the many Christian teachers throughout the centuries (prior to the third millennium) nor those inspired by the H.S. to retain said scriptures in the collection of written revelation that comprises the Bible.
Peter writes in 2 Pet2:1-2 “In times past there were false prophets among God’s people, and among you there will be false teachers who smuggle in pernicious heresies … Through them, the true way will be made subject to contempt.”
As Paul counsels in Ephesians 4:14 – “Let us then be children no longer; tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine that originates in human trickery and skill in proposing error.”
If you think about it, if there is no hell then there is no need of salvation. What would one need to be saved from?
If there is no hell, then Jesus’ passion and death was unnecessary in the final analysis – albeit well intentioned of course.
We can deign to give Him an A for effort of course, and even group Him with other religious figures of other faiths – with Buddha, Longnomenanda, Mohammed, Ghandi, whomever one considers a great teacher, maybe even KW even. Maybe with a Santerian’s chicken that gets sacrificed. I mean who’s to say that one’s religion is better than someone else’s, right? How arrogant that would be!
But in the end He was just a well-intentioned maroon whose passion and death while still commemorated by Christians not as yet enlightened, can be considered a noble and dedicated act of a guy who believed what he believed based on the psychology, philosophy and wisdom of his day and the historical times, and geographic locale in which he lived (pre third millennial times one must realize). He was loyal to those beliefs – we can certainly give Him that. We are wonderful and obviously can be magnanimous in this regard. Let's give him an A -- after all it's Holy Thursday.
Ah, but you know – now that I think about it, the trouble is, that religion causes more trouble, more disputes than it’s worth. All one needs is the second great commandment. If we forget the first and all concepts of God – concepts that just cause trouble anyway, then it will be easier to just love our neighbor and abide by the golden rule. That will herald in a global world peace in the third millennium. We can all then focus on being simply and fully human and fully deified. We can reduce our carbon footprints and steward and save this earth that the big bang left us (realizing of course that there is no big banger). Just a Harvey Wallbanger.
Hey, not only can we Occupy Wall Street – we can occupy the Cosmos!! Well of course, we already do – we are all part of the One. Even though some of us (in America … for a while yet) might still remain unenlightened … or even Republican. LOL.
The good news!! -- is that the state will guide us, is ready to guide us, to set our feet on the right path of true justice and of equality for all.
The good news!! -- is that we shall have no king but Ceasar!
That’s the good news for America and all the countries of the world it thinks it can influence in the third millennium …… (some say, ababy-bay).
Holy Thursday 2012 -- a Eucharistic feast.
Oh my! I thought the posts would sort by date, but they didn't. The posting date is listed in the post, however, and this is from Jacques, May 2, 11 am.
Jacques (and a few others), I'm not seeing where the RCC and Orthodox disagree on too many areas, especially in doctrinal areas. This was, essentially, one living tradition until around the turn of the first millennium. The next big turn of the wheel came with Luther in the early 16th C. So let's say for 1,600 years, there was a general consensus among Christians concerning the essentials of Christianity. Since then it's been splitsville, and not just concerning matters of church practice, but more basic issues as well. Meanwhile, the RCC and Orthodox traditions have continued with their ancient witness, attempting to find a language that connects with the ever-changing culture.
Jacques, you sort of give the impression that, even counting the RCC and Orthodox, Christian teaching is all over the place, with many opinions on the most basic issues -- that it's a muddle out there. I think that mischaracterizes the situation. Sure, the RCC and Orthodox "don't agree on everything," but that hardly points to the kind of relativism and pluralism that you seem to be implying. You seem to be requiring complete agreement on all matters for the RCC and Orthodox traditions to be worthy of your affiliation. And so you choose to belong to . . . a Protestant community, a Vineyard Movement church.
Now no offense intended, here, Jacques, but I'm wondering how, with all your studies, you chose that protestant group instead of a RCC or Orthodox tradition, both of which trace to the time of Christ. Even the Anglican church is doctrinally closer than Vineyard Movement. What gives, here? Even though you do consider yourself to be more open the older traditions, the fact is that you chose one that has no formal connection with them. How does Vineyard Movement Church resolve for you the doctrinal ambiguity and grayness you keep referring to?
My two cents on Vineyard compared to the RCC--
I was a member of Vineyard Church for about eight years. The last year or more of that stretch, I went to both Vineyard and Christ the King Catholic Church rather consistently. Weird, but I went to 8:30 am Mass at Catholic Church and then drove 10 minutes south to make the later service at Vineyard. People from Vineyard thought it was "cool" or interesting that I choose to attend both services. Some of them even sympathized with my 'dual citizenship.' Reactions from my Catholic friends was more like, "Say what?! You must be a bit confused."
Back to the point, when I joined Vineyard, it wasn't their doctrine that I cared about. I didn't care how much they were or were not connected to the tradition. I didn't care about tradition. Most people at Vineyard don't, I'd guess. It was the vibrant, creative, down-to-earth services that drew me. The pastor, Ken, brought the Bible alive and made many ideas and verses relevant to our ordinary lives. Ken is truly anointed to preach God's Word; he is a deep, mystical soul. I was drawn to Vineyard partly because I liked the rock-and-rolly music. People are so relaxed they can come in wearing ripped up jeans and holding a coffee in their hands. I was introduced to the gifts of the Spirit, and mentored by very loving, dedicated prayer ministers. I learned about laying on of hands and praying for the sick. I learned through Vineyard that one can pray to God as if He is truly a loving Father. That was totally new to me. I read about the founder of Vineyard, John Wimber, who is famous for suggesting the church was a place where "everbody gets to play," meaning that lay people are called to operate in the gifts of the Spirit every bit as much as church leaders. Of course, there's limits to that, but that's another issue.
Vineyard is a place where single moms are nurtured and cared for. They have a homeless ministry, youth ministry, men's & women's groups, etc. They are into loving sinners and being sympathetic to those who feel judged and rejected by traditional churches. They are centered on Jesus' love and the Bible. The pastors that I knew at Vineyard are every bit as much dedicated to loving God and laying down their lives as anyone I've ever met.
But when I got invited to a Carmelite prayer group at Christ the King, I realized I had to commit to the Roman Catholic Church. I soon thereafter left Vineyard altogether through a collusion of multiple factors. When I began receiving the Eucharist (almost) daily and taking confession seriously, I felt like I rounded a corner on my spiritual journey toward and with God, my Father. As much as I loved the people at Vineyard Church, the stability and depth I experienced through the Eucharist was undeniable! It just didn't make sense to split my time and attention anymore when I had discovered Christ Jesus fed me His own Body. Yes, He was alive and nurtured me through Vineyard, but for me, it was clear that season was over, and a new one begun. Reading the Carmelites Saints felt like home to me; the RCC felt like my true home.
When I look back, Vineyard down-played sin and the need for repentance. In my opinion, the absence of the Sacrament of Confession is a gaping disaster for those churches. They do teach the importance of repentance, to some extent, as in through talking to a spiritual leader or talking directly to God. But IMO, that is again, lacking in depth and maturity offered through the Sacrament of Confession. I work with Protestant and Catholic patients. My Catholic patients get it that they are being held accountable to living holy lives. It is a given in their lives that they are called to grow in virtue and repent of sin. They know Confession is a Sacrament that is deeply healing and necessary for their spiritual growth. My protestant patients just don't have that means of healing and freedom to the same extent; they don't have that language. I recall praying for a guy at Vineyard when I was on the prayer ministry team. He casually shared that he was sleeping with some married woman. I just couldn't believe that he fully expected me to pat him on the head, bless him, and send him on his way. I was at Vineyard gathering one night and a new person approached me. It was her very first night there. For some strange reason, I was compelled to ask her "Do you live with anybody?" She looked shocked and said yes, she was living with her boyfriend and wondered if Vineyard would accept her for such behavior. What do you say? Of course Vineyard will accept you: that's the point, they accept all. Isn't that what Jesus would do? In a sense, yes, but...Don't get me wrong, Vineyard was not exactly 'soft on sin,' BUT the need to welcome and love the sinner seemed to me to trump the explicit call for holiness emphasized by the RCC.
When I began to study the RCC, I realized that doctrine was important to me. But it took years of bringing together various aspects of myself into union--beliefs, values, my sense of purpose, and what I wanted my sons to know about our living God. I realize Vineyard was a good 'starter' church for me. I don't mean that in a derogatory way as many wonderful, mature Christians populate Vineyard. Vineyard was like a net that was thrown to 'catch' me swimming in the water. The RCC has been like the final fishing line reeling me into God's heart (pardon the awkward metaphor).
And in all the years I was at Vineyard, not one of the leaders ever said a word about abortion, what I feel is the greatest crime against humanity and worst evil of our day. Although they claim to be pro-life, I only heard one tangential mention of abortion when the pastor once said something like, "Well if women had more money, they would be more likely to keep their babies." Or something like that, insinuating that abortion was mostly a financial issue for the poor. No. If a church doesn't take a stand against abortion, forget it. They are a colossal failure in the area of social justice if they can't see that killing the unborn by the thousands every day is offensive to God. Although I did find a sermon by a Vineyard pastor out west somewhere who spoke out about abortion quite powerfully. I was so happy; I even posted it on my FB in hopes that it might get my Vineyard friends inspired. Here at my local Vineyard, they are more 'left-leaning' and into environmental stewardship, being green. Which is nice...but...what's really important...? That's what we have to figure out for ourselves, don't we?This message has been edited. Last edited by: Shasha,
Thanks for sharing about your experience with Vineyard, Shasha. It's easy to understand how that kind of vitality and hospitality would attract, not to mention the strong emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit. Would that all Christian communities evidenced such an abundance of life and outreach.
I was just ribbing Jacques (as I hope he knows) about his choice of affiliations, given the zillions of acres of electrons we've spent discussing doctrine, early church history, etc. Jacques gives the impression that doctrinal issues are something of a muddle, which does, in a way, leave one free to pick one's church affiliation without concern for "right doctrine," if I may be so bold as to use such a politically incorrect term.
In the end, for me, too, doctrine and the Sacraments trump even a vibrant community life, although (happily) the Catholic parish I belong to is very much alive. I appreciate, too, your remarks about abortion. It does seem that most mainline Protestant churches don't give this issue much priority attention, and I think that's a mistake.
Shasha, Phil, and Pop-pop----
I have a question regarding the role of Confession in Catholicism. I've been reading at Catholic Answers Forums for about a year and half, and though I haven't asked this particular question there myself, it's come up a number of times and developed into some very, very long threads.
In the non-Catholic churches of my experience, confession is seen as being for the health of the person confessing.It's done corporately but also offered privately. We consider it to help a person look squarely at their sin, bring it out into the light, and hear that it's forgiven.
So, anyway,according to what I've learned at CAF and other Catholic sources, they have said that a Catholic must confess in Confession all the mortal sins they remember, or those sins are not forgiven by God in most cases. An exception to that rule would be in a case where the person has "perfect contrition", which is considered (by the CAF staff and posters) to be very rare.
I don't know if I'm making much sense here in trying to point out where I'm puzzled. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I had always taken confession along the lines of "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath", IOW that confession is good and was made for us for our benefit, but that a person would still be forgiven through confession to God directly.What I've heard now, many times at CAF and through other sources, is that a Catholic will not be forgiven by God unless they ----1:Confess all remembered mortal sins to their priest ( the ordinary means of absolution); or 2:Have perfect contrition, which they say is very rare, along with a desire to attend Confession as soon as possible.
Scrupulosity is a problem for numerous posters at CAF, because they truly worry if they've made a good Confession, but it's not just those who suffer from scrupulosity who say my above #1 and #2 about the role of Confession.
What I'm trying to ask is---do I have the role of Confession in Catholicism understood correctly? If I do, what is the reason for this teaching?
I second the thanks for sharing about vineyard Shasha. I love pastor Ken's approach to Christianity and I listen to his sermon podcast every week.
Many of the positive aspects you spoke about are the same reasons I'm part of my vineyard.
The truth is that I feel no major commitment to the vineyard movement over the rest of Christianity. The primary reason I'm part of this fellowship is because we have a long relationship with the church and after returning to South Africa it was the first church we visited. I was feeling unsure as to whether I was wasting my time or whether God wanted me to commit to this fellowship - during the worship and in the midst of my feeling this way the Holy Spirit fell powerfully on me and I felt God saying that this was the right place for now. And thus far I've seen why...I'm playing an active part in a body of believers for the first time in ages, I'm using my gifts and talents to play my part in the body, I'm growing and stretching myself in ways that I haven't before and I'm connecting with God more often than I have in a while (though I've had on and off relationships with various bodies over the years).
I think the "problem" Phil is that your take on the Orthodox is in keeping with the rest of the RCC's take on the Eastern Orthodox. The RCC finds little difference between itself and Orthodoxy but this is not the way the Orthodox feel about the issue (though I'm sure you'll find plenty of exceptions and visa verca).
This Wikipedia Article offers a very short section on RC issues with Orthodoxy but shows a long list of issues from the Orthodox side. When I was considering Orthodoxy I listened to many Orthodox apologists and they certainly didn't seem to feel that all was good on both sides of the debate. Sure, RC is the closest relative of EO, but the Orthodox still feel there position is the superior one.
Now I know that you feel that the RC church has a greater argument for antiquity over the EO, but I could provide many Orthodox website and scholars who disagree. The East and the West were always distinct, culturally and theologically...the distance between the two areas meant that differences of opinion and emphasis developed in the different areas. TRUE, their differences were at first minimal, but as time stretched out, so the differences grew until eventually in 1056 neither side could accept the other as ORTHODOX AND CATHOLIC.
So, to me, it appears, that what happened was a development of thought, practice and theology. And that both RC and EO had changed and developed since the time of Christ (note I'm not saying they were corrupted or that they fell away from the truth [as some Protestants would like to say]), but simply that there was change and development. Now if both bodies changed and developed then neither can prove that those changes were infallible moves of the HOLY SPIRIT as it guided and protected the church from error.
Rather, it would seem that just as we have changes and developments (unfortunately unhindered by anything) in Protestantism, so there were similar changes and developments in RC and EO - so while I love and respect the tradition, I do not see it as infallible and that is why I remain Protestant.
I remain Protestant, though I definitely identify with the Great Emergence or Emergent Christianity over traditional Protestantism - This "NEW REFORMATION" seems to be a move of the Spirit that is moving the Protestant church beyond it's PROTESTING identity and encouraging it to reconnect with the historical traditions of the church, reconnect with the mystical and spiritual traditions of the church, reconnect with Liturgy and Sacrament, reconnect with RC and EO and yet not necessarily become either RC or EO. This move seems to be encouraging the removal of the splintering effect of the Protestant reformation by allowing for greater disparity and difference withing the ONE Emerging Christianity, a Polydoxy along the lines of JB's discussions. Where this will go, nobody yet knows, but I'm hopeful that it will move from one level of glory to another until the Spirit covers the earth as the waters cover the seas.
Ariel, it's always better to go to the direct sources regarding the kinds of questions you're asking.
Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...28Catholic_Church%29 has some good info.
I don't know if your questions will be conclusively answered there, so if not, please post follow-ups. It is my understanding that God can and does forgive all sins if one is repentant of them. Confession is a celebration and reassurance of this forgiveness as well as a reconciliation with the Church.
Well, Jacques, you were doing OK until you got to the part about proving that divergences on one side or the other were "infallible moves of the HOLY SPIRIT."
But, OK, I'll take up the challenge!
1. Could you show me any evidence prior to 500 A.D. of a body of bishops or Church Council teaching any of the beliefs that the Orthodox eventually came to hold as distinct from the RCC tradition?
2. Could you show any evidence that the body that eventually called itself Orthodox rejected the authority of the Pope prior to 500 A.D. or even later?
3. Can you show any evidence that RCC doctrine following the schism was at odds with what the Church professed prior to 300 A.D., or 400, 500, 600, etc.?
I like some aspects of what you're calling Emergent Christianity. Of course, if this movement is really open to the Spirit, then one option ought to be reconciling with the Catholic Church, right? If not, then it's just another Protestant movement, though more broad-based and tolerant.
Thanks for the CCC and wiki links. I read the first one and just skimmed the wiki article for now, but it looks interesting.
In the CCC, it's 1452 and 1453 where I'm getting (from CAF) what I summarized as #1 and #2 in my earlier post. After I read the wiki article, if that still does not answer my question, I'll post those parts of the CCC in the hope that we can look at them together.
Phil, regarding your post to Jacques---
There are some very knowledgeable Orthodox posters at CAF, and I have seen them provide some pretty convincing evidence of #2 in particular. I doubt I can find the relevant threads again at CAF, though I'll briefly give it a try sometime.
I don't want to import any heated arguments from CAF to here, but I do mean to say that the Orthodox posters have given good evidence to support their beliefs. And I realize it's pretty useless of me to say that if I can't remember how to find those discussions again.
Ariel, regarding my point #2, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...f_the_Bishop_of_Rome
That should help to clear some things up, I hope. The article does a nice job of tracing the divergence between the leadership of Rome and Constantinople. The schism developed gradually, beginning in the 4th C., with the Orthodox still recognizing the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils that met up to 787 A.D.
I wonder what the point of bringing up Orthodox vs. RCC again and again and again is all about, however? Is this to supposedly legitimize some notion about Catholic teachings being unstable and untrustworthy? This disagreements between Catholics and Orthodox in matters of theological doctrine are minor in comparison with our differences with most Protestant traditions (not to mention their differences with one another).
There is also Jacques' reference to infallible moves of the HOLY SPIRIT, which is a rather strange phrase, and one that I'm sure has little relation to what Catholics believe about infallibility. Maybe you all want to discuss that as well? I'm guessing there's a lot of misunderstanding about that one. It has more to do with preserving the integrity of belief and Christian unity than with not-making-mistakes. The significance of the charism of Magisterial leadership (including the similar leadership of the bishops of the Orthodox traditions) can be easily recognized by noting what happens when its importance is denied -- e.g., the 30,000 plus Protestant sects.
Not at all, Phil. If that's the sense you're getting, I'm glad you said something so I can tell you myself that no such motive even occurred to me---even as an undercurrent---and I don't see anything like that at play in Jacques, either, though he'll have to answer for himself.
I brought it up because it really is confusing. I feel stable and at peace in my church. I had no idea---absolutely no idea---till less than two years ago that Catholicism believes Protestants should become Catholics, or that Orthodoxy believes both Catholics and Protestants are following aberrant, heretical teaching. Maybe it's hard for you to relate to this since you didn't grow up in an evangelical church, but since there's no such notion as a single "One True Church" among evangelicals, the idea that both Catholicism and Orthodoxy claim to be the one true church founded by Christ was a surprise to me, to say the least. Now I see two Churches, each claiming a title I never even heard of before the information age, and it's confusing. Both sides make good points, and both sides sometimes proof text. There are very learned people among all three kinds of Christianity who are honest and knowledgeable scholars, yet they interpret the historical record differently from each other. Some people might say there must be some underlying psychological motive, some intellectual dishonesty, some attachment, some character flaw, or some ignorance that causes the the other side to disagree in their interpretation of plain, clear facts. I don't believe that's the case though. I've seen very, very knowledgeable people at CAF---a very even-handed Episcopalian church history professor among them---unable to agree on interpretations of history.
I'm kind of tired of the discussions about who is right, which Church is closest to what Jesus wanted for us Christians, and who needs to "see the light". I'm tired of subtle or strong pressure to convert or "reconcile". I spoke about the Orthodox claims simply because I agree with Jacques question: "Which Church?". I don't see any clear answer to that question, despite honestly trying to learn if their was an answer. I'm staying where I am. I thank God for my church, and I wish the same for everybody else in their respective churches.
Phil and Jacques--
Regarding the "30,000" Protestant sects, that's been discussed extensively at CAF. The manner used to come with that number has to be understood as it was meant by the person who came up with the idea of trying to number all the churches. He counted nearly identical churches as distinct based on a few factors, geography among them, so he was not counting sects. At the end of the thread every time this has come up at CAF that I've seen, even the thread starter ends up admitting that the number of supposed churches is very misleading.
Thanks for your replies, Ariel. I was addressing my remarks about bringing up Catholic vs. Orthodox again and again more to Jacques than to you. This strikes me as odd in that I've always wanted Shalomplace to be ecumenical in focus and have never, ever promoted any kind of "one true Church" message here. If people want to discuss differences in Christian beliefs, that's fine. But I don't find the "one true Church" bit helpful at all in that regard.
I'm Catholic because I was raised that way and because our teachings, practices, and history go back to the earliest days of Christianity. We believe nothing that conflicts with Scripture (contrary to many Protestants' assertions) and nothing that we profess today is at odds with the doctrines of early Church councils. The matter of Apostolic succession is also important, and I realize the Orthodox can lay claim to this as well, as do the Anglicans.
What I do object to is the implication of a significant disparity and plurality of beliefs between Catholics and Orthodox Christians -- as though this all casts doubt on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in leading the Church to understand the meaning of Christ. Whatever the differences between Catholics and the Orthodox, it's clear that we do agree on the basics and essentials of Christian doctrine, including the teachings of the first seven ecumenical councils. That's a lot! (Fwiw, most Protestants agree with those teachings as well; would that we could all remember that.) The divergences in understanding and practice between the Orthodox and RCC came mostly later, and were influenced as much by culture and politics as theology. That includes the growing status of the papacy through the centuries, though I would make a distinction between such and the doctrine of infallibility.
Anyway . . . how many Protestant sects are there? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...istian_denominations Quite a few, it seems.
I'm still reading, Phil. Thanks for the response.
Let me start by saying that I truly respect and admire your strong faith both in the Lord Jesus and in His Church. I also deeply respect your ecumenical spirit and your desire to reach out to all Christians with resources for spiritual growth and development.
I have no desire to be divisive or to attack your Roman Catholic Faith.
What is happening here is that some of our discussions begin touching on issues that are very important to me, but that I am also seriously torn over in terms of resolution. I desire deeply to be following TRUTH. I try to listen carefully to truth claims and try earnestly to seek God as I listen. I think Ariel hit the nail on the head when she stated:
This is exactly how I feel - though I've wrestled with it for about 10 years now. I can understand why these things are not important for you, but for a Protestant it goes right down to our reason for existing at all.
I’ve come to a place where I no longer agree with the Reformation rallying cries of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide…there is a lot more to Christianity than these simple statements. I had to wrestle deeply with whether the Reformation was even desired by God in the first place. And yet I see many fruits and gifts of the Spirit resulting from the Reformation…both wheat and tares were part of the package. Of course this only confuses me more. Why did the charismatic renewal start in Protestantism and not in the RC or EO churches, why does the Holy Spirit even work in Protestant denominations at all if it would be more helpful to show clearly that the RC church is the keeper of Apostolic Faith.
Then I look at the historical growth and development of Christianity in the EAST and WEST and it causes doubt as to whether there really was a singular tradition or whether perhaps different people had different opinions on what the church was, and what it was becoming. While all honest and humble parties tried hard to remain within certain parameters of Orthodoxy, the ideas about God and His Church were just too broad to “keep everything in the box”.
Eventually these differences caused tension and strain on the unity, and schisms happened. What one wants is for there to be a clear hero and a clear villain in each schism, but perhaps each time there is neither. Perhaps each time both parties failed to see that they were looking through a glass darkly and that unity could overcome through an extension of grace to cover both opinions.
(And just so you understand the high importance I place on these issues I have just taken a break from writing to take a walk and pray that God would lead me to the Catholic Church if RC holds a greater Truth than what I currently hold – my intention is not to argue or cause division, I really just want to follow the Lord Jesus wherever He leads me.)
Coming back to your questions, I will have to do some study and get back to you, and I have to be honest, I’m not very hopeful I’ll be able to come back with anything significant…far smarter people than I have disagreed about these things for far longer than either of us has been alive…that is a big part of the problem, isn’t it? But none the less, study is my life and so I’ll dig in and see what I can come up with…who knows, perhaps I’ll be Roman Catholic at the end of this, or perhaps you’ll be Protestant or maybe we might even both join the Eastern Orthodox
I hope I’ve made myself a little clearer through this post, I’m sorry if my continued discussion of the topic causes you unhappiness, that is really not my intention as I love shalomplace, and I love what you do here…I’m just a confused Christian looking for community and discussion . My discussion of this topic comes 100% from my own struggle with it, and not at all from you coming across as trying to convert people to Catholicism or denigrating Protestantism – you have always been generous and inviting.
And again, it was not my intention to say RC or EO or anybody for that matter is wrong or in error or unsaved. But this paragraph of yours does speak to the heart of my issues. If we are all right in some way, all following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, all in agreement with the basic realities affirmed by the seven councils etc. then perhaps those things which separate us are not that important to God or to the future of the Church. But this leaves us still with doctrines and practices that may or may not be of issue to God. Which is kind of what I’ve been saying, that we might wish for a generous Orthodoxy, a Polydoxy that overcomes the walls we’ve placed between us and others…I suppose your work here at shalomplace is just such a thing…however, it doesn’t necessarily help anybody in trying to understand or determine whether one group is holding to a truer vision than another…perhaps when we don’t use these sorts of realities to divide us then it won’t matter anyway.
Jacques, Ariel and everyone else: why don't we give this "one true Church" bit a rest. I know there are Catholics and Orthodox who harp on this, but I'm sure you're aware, too, that there are large groups of Protestants who aren't quite convinced that Catholics are really Christians, saved, etc. I don't find those kinds of topics to be edifying or helpful.
We can discuss doctrines without the "true Church" or "who is saved?" context, however. So, for example, one of the things that's always confused me about the "Sola Scriptura" approach is that those who profess this obviously resort to the declarations of the early Church councils concerning the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, and other issues. One can find these kinds of doctrines strongly implied in Scripture, but not sufficiently so to have prevented a number of heresies from emerging in the early Church. Arianism, for example, was very popular toward the end of the 3rd Century, and it was a denial of Christ's divinity. Arius used Scripture to make his case, and large numbers of believers -- even bishops -- were convinced. The ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 rejected Arianism and gave us the Nicean Creed, which many Protestant groups hold to. My point, here, is that even those Protestant groups that emphasize Sola Scriptura resort to clarifications of early Church councils in many matters of doctrine.
Sola Scriptura Protestants also reject the some of the affirmations of the early Church Councils as well, however, which is rather baffling, in many ways. E.g., the doctrine of Mary as the Mother of God (Theotokos), which was defined at the Council of Ephesus in 431. RCC and EO Christians affirm this, but Protestants do not because it's not in the Scriptures.
The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is another area where Sola Scriptura Protestants diverge from early Christianity, including Luther's teachings -- yes, he believed int he Real Presence, and thought that Scripture supported this belief.
One could give other examples. My point, here, is that it is Magisterial teaching -- not Scripture alone -- that accounts for the degree of unity that still does exist between the Catholic and Protestant traditions. What we hold in common is what we can affirm from Scripture alone and what was clarified about Scripture from early Councils. Where the Catholic and Protestant traditions differ is largely concerning doctrines where Protestants have rejected Magisterial clarifications and gone off on their own to articulate their own doctrinal nuances.
As noted above, we are in agreement with many of the affirmations of the early Councils, but not all. There's enough there to form a core of beliefs shared by Catholic and Protestant traditions that help to identify them all as Christian. Still, there are significant differences, and from where I sit in my knowledge of theology and church history, I'm willing to say that the Spirit's gift to us for clarifying doctrine is the Magisterium. Yes, I understand that the RCC and EO have some disagreements, but I don't think any of them concern very serious issues (though I do know some of the EO sites present them as earth-shakingly important).
So I have no hope of a "polydox" future for Christianity if the Magisterium is not given its rightful position of preserving the integrity of Christian beliefs. What would be the alternative? Scripture scholars? Democratic voting procedures for believers? Theologians? Can you spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r!
Those are valid concerns. I'm heading out the door in a few minutes, but briefly....
Most Protestants do affirm the Theotokos title for Mary, though rarely by the Greek term. We aren't real Nestorians by a long shot, though that accusation is sometimes made. Also, from reading in the non-Catholic religions forum at CAF, I can say that Catholics often misunderstand what Sola Scriptura means from a Protestant perspective. I don't know exactly what you mean by it, but just as there's a bunch of misunderstanding by Protestants towards Catholicism, the reverse is also true.
Ariel, I think Wikipedia has a nice summary of what I've understood Sola scriptura to mean:
As I noted above, however, I see Protestants accepting clarifications of doctrine from early Church Councils -- a body of teaching that Catholics call Sacred Tradition. They also reject some teachings of early Councils as well because they don't see evidence of the doctrine in Scripture.
I know that the reformers affirmed Mary as Mother of God. I don't think today's evangelicals and Fundamentalists accept this, however, and that's a very large group in Protestantism.
I can't say how fundamentalists view the doctrine of Mary as the Theotokos, but I've yet to see an evangelical deny it. I found a good article in First Things from the Southern Baptist Timothy George about evangelicals and Mary as Theotokos, but my tablet is saying there are security problems with the site so I don't want to post it here. I'll see if I can find another source for the article tomorrow.
Anyway, I wanted to add that I agree with you somewhat about the lack of a Magisterial-type leadership being a problem in the Protestant world.....although that allowance of diversity is, IMO, also one of the strengths. It's not an issue to be dismissed at any rate, and I do view Catholicism and Orthodoxy together as sort of flagships of Christianity navigating through the centuries.
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