Please support this ministry.
Page 1 2 
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
On the importance of dogma Login/Join 
posted
Sometime back I posted the following in the midst of a discussion, and thought I'd exerpt it now to give it more emphasis.

Please note that my purpose in doing so is not to suggest that one must consent to and have clarity about Christian dogmas in order to be a follower of Jesus. But as many seem to have a kind of fear and loathing of the very word, I thought it might be helpful to place things in proper perspective. So here goes, with a few comments following:

quote:
The significance of dogma in the spiritual life is that it states what is essential . . . what cannot be neglected without consequences to one's faith. It represents a distillation of the Christian community's discernments through the ages and, hence, expresses something of the way the Spirit has guided the Church in its ongoing journey in faith. Hence, dogma has a role to play in forming faith and even spiritual receptivity. It also has a role to play in setting boundaries, and that seems to be the rub for many.

Dogma is part of the kataphatic dimension of spirituality; it summarizes what we might call the "content" of the faith, using concepts, but often images and analogies as well. In Christianity, we recognize that God is mystery, beyond concepts, etc., but we also affirm revelation-content that is God's communication to us. This revelation has come through the experiences of a people, through individuals, teachings, deeds--especially in the person of Jesus, and our kataphatic tradition includes all of this. Dogma, as I'ved noted, is a summary of this kataphatic content--the most important aspects. Its expression has often been catalyzed by teachings that came to be known as heresies--errant because they led one away from the kind of relationship with God that Christ had come to bring.

Now the big temptation is that, because the kataphatic/exoteric tradition has a "content," it can be passed along, and to view those who grasp this content as being really "religious" or even "spiritual." I think you can see that that's a misuse of dogma--it's dogmatism, which is akin to Phariseeism, which Jesus condemned. The danger, here, is that the dogma-police are ever on the prowl, ready to condemn people who go astray. It seems that's how some view the CDF (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), and that writers like de Mello are a victim of such heavy-handedness. Maybe the CDF is comprised of a bunch of dogmatists (who among us really knows that for sure?), but their role is identifying movements unfaithful to dogma is an important one.

The antidote to dogmatism is not to spurn dogma, however, but to develop the inner, esoteric dimension of religious life to which it intrinsically related and from which its expression arose in the first place. Then one will come to view dogma and other kataphatic content in a different perspective -- as indicating a direction, with boundaries along the safe path. There's value in that, as I hope you can all see. Without this kind of direction, one usually ends up practicing a kind of spiritual ecclecticism, even when they sincerely believe they are being guided by the Spirit. To forsake the discernments of the community expressed in dogma is a perilous thing.
Christianity without dogma is like America without its constitution and bill of rights. Can you immagine someone saying, "All I want is freedom, and I don't need the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and all the many laws the government has passed to tell me how to be free. Within myself, I know what freedom is, and that's all I need." You can imagine what would happen in a community if everyone had this idea. Anarchy would ensue, and we would all find our exercise of freedom diminished.

OK, so there we go. Now I can just point to this thread when people come along and have issues about "dogmas." Smiler
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
<w.c.>
posted
Good for you to start this thread. Although there probably won't be too many takers, at least folks who see it, and read some of it, may be more reflective when they decide to pitch the metaphor assuming everyone will just nod.
 
Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Hence, dogma has a role to play in forming faith and even spiritual receptivity. It also has a role to play in setting boundaries, and that seems to be the rub for many.

I really like the idea of dogma being meant to facilitate spiritual receptivity. I like the sound of that. In my perfect world (yes, I�m at heart an utopiast too! Wink ) all religion would sort of be like those massive Saturn V rockets that were the first booster stage of those old Apollo spacecrafts. Once a certain altitude was achieved, they were jettisoned.

Of course, you might notice that there were (if I remember correctly) three stages to those Apollo rockets. I wonder what the second stage might be analogous to? Cutting church every other week and going to a football game because one didn�t need such intensive training anymore? Well, yes, that�s a bit of a joke, but I wonder if there�s some truth to that for some. No doubt people do move deeper into church-related activities because, frankly, most churches do some of the coolest, most exciting and soul-enhancing stuff. (I have my sources. Big Grin ) But overall, we surely do move out of the need for �Sunday School� and perhaps regular church-going becomes routine, a ritual, rote�something we think we must do but, perhaps, don�t need in the same way we did before and thus church becomes feeling rote, unfulfilling, and perhaps no longer needed.

Come to think of it, and I�m sure the Catholic church, and other churches, through their long knowledge of our need for continuing challenges and education, has many programs and methods for dealing with souls that have, in a sense, gained some altitude and have jettisoned that first stage of rockets. But we humans ain�t necessarily rocket scientists. Big Grin It might not occur to some that, well, it ain�t necessarily a choice between going to church or no religion at all. But some, as I�m sure all of you are much more aware than I am, will choose nothing when church-going seems to no longer make sense and there is this vague feeling for the need for something more.

I would imagine, just from my limited experience, that reading the best works of the various writers, biographers, historians, philosophers, and theologians could make for a good �second stage� to take us where, say, basic doctrine might not (which is not to say that I am unaware that tradition surely has much of this covered already in terms of possibilities of where to go and what to do). But I wonder sometimes whether even things like �tradition� become so equated with the rote-ness of church-going? I wonder if the church structure, hierarchy, and dogma itself aren�t entities that at least some want, or need, to graduate from, in a sense, in order to move onto something else which might help them gain some altitude? I know it would surely work that way for me, even if I had ever taken that seat-of-the-pants rocket ride through regular church-going, which I didn�t. I wonder what that second stage, if any, might be?

Well, whatever we might envision as that second stage, one could easily envision, in the words of T.S. Eliot, what might come from further travels, from gaining so high an altitude that we have dropped even our third stage rockets:

We shall not cease from exploring
And at the end of our exploration
We will return to where we started
And know the place for the first time.


Phil said: The antidote to dogmatism is not to spurn dogma, however, but to develop the inner, esoteric dimension of religious life to which it intrinsically related and from which its expression arose in the first place. Then one will come to view dogma and other kataphatic content in a different perspective -- as indicating a direction, with boundaries along the safe path.

You might then, via the softer and more in-context view that you presented, equate dogma with a gyroscope?

WC said: Although there probably won't be too many takers�

Blast off! Smiler
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Maybe the CDF is comprised of a bunch of dogmatists (who among us really knows that for sure?), but their role is identifying movements unfaithful to dogma is an important one.

The thing I find curious about that, Phil, is that I would think that the discerning of something that is unfaithful to dogma would be a bit of an art. Yes, there are lots of rules and such. But akin to the kind of rulings that, say, Supreme Court Justices have to make, there are just so many facts and so many contingences that you can, quite literally, come up with widely divergent rulings and interpretations, by people of good will, from the same set of facts. And if you consider (well, at least this is the way that I consider it) that the practice of spirituality itself (personally, among individuals) is also very much of an art, what I think we inevitably have is a clash of one person telling another how they should move artfully in the spirit.

And thus, just to give a �con� part of the argument, and with no wish to insult, I can most definitely see why people would cringe at the word �dogma�. But perhaps if your interpretation of dogma were held out more visibly to people, it would be of great help. But in any case, I think that inevitably there will be a tension between institutions and the individuals contained therein, particularly when it comes to such inherently non-material and intangible subject as spirituality. It�s much easier to tell people to drive slower on icy roads. Those who have gone before and ended up in the ditch leave you these words of wisdom. And surely I think a very good spiritual analogy can be extended to this. There are those who have gone before and crashed and burn. But, again, we�re dealing with such personal stuff. What works for one, and is life-enhancing, may have dire consequences for another.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Brad, I think you're right on in suggesting that discernment is an "art." As such, it makes use of more than just the intellect, drawing from intuition and affectivity as well.

To give an example. Let's say it's early Christianity, without much formal doctrine or an institutional church or hierarchy. The Gospel message in all it simplicity is being preached by the apostles and others. Communities are forming around this preaching, people are praying togehter, spiritual gifts (including healing) are being exercised, the Church is growing. Then one day someone comes along and claims Jesus couldn't really have been human because the world of matter is intrinsically evil. Spirit is goodness and light, matter is evil and dark. So Jesus must have just seemed to be human (maybe he was a ghost), and the Gospel tells us how to become spiritual and free ourselves from the snares of material existence. Those who aren't Christian and are familiar with this way of thinking are attracted to this teaching, and are willing to believe in such a Jesus. But the older Christian communities hear it and there's much about it that doesn't seem right. They talk about it, pray about it, and identify the aspects of the new teaching they disagree with. In time, they even give a name to this new teaching -- Gnosticism -- and formally condemn it as heretical. Gnostic Christians are encouraged to reconsider their beliefs in the light of the teaching of the Apostles, who knew the human Jesus, ate with him, saw him cry, suffer, die, etc. Many came around, but Gnostic teachers kept going with their message anyway, even writing alternative "gospels" under the name of certain apostles.

Now that's not just a fantasy; that actually happened in first century Christianity. And situations like that have come along many, many times since. Note that the first response is from the intuitions of faith. "This doesn't sound right." Then there's reflection and consideration of specific issues. Then there's presentation of a corrective to the false teaching, presented by recognized leadership. Then there's formal condemnation of the heresy when/if the false teaching is not renounced. And after all is said and done, a clarification of some kind has taken place, and that's what dogma is about.

Gyroscope! Yeah. Big Grin
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
I pointed out a baby to my husband today and asked whether he thought it was amazing how God chose to be born as He was?
He then asked me why God had to be born as a human, and why He didn't just show up as a mysterious 'man' from nowhere and show He was God by appearing as He promises to do when He comes again.
I started to talk about fulfilling scripture, but Andrew (my husband) stopped me again and asked why God, being omniscient, didn't have the scriptures different.
Why did Jesus have to go through birth and life as a human before dying on the cross? I said I thought it was so that we knew He'd suffered as we suffer, but again Andrew asked me if God is omniscient, then doesn't he already know how we suffer?
I found these really difficult, but I still think its so that we know He's been through what we go through?
I think this belongs on this thread as its fundamental to Christian faith and part of dogma.
Any answers?
Thanks
FrancesB
 
Posts: 59 | Location: UK | Registered: 23 November 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Virya108 /Pauline
posted Hide Post
I have a feeling you started this thread as bait for me Phil..nibble,nibble Big Grin but that could just be my inner Sister Newage Naricisst talking.

I will post more about it in time...but my first thought on it, from the way you explained it above, and which I think Brad gets at in his more rational, linear, lovely way.... is this:
I think there is a real 'spiritual danger" for dogma to create a more "static" concept of the meaning of Jesus's message, his life and even the Church community local at worldwide, I feel it was meatn to be more "dynamic" an unfolding natural process or continuining revelation. LIFE is after all a constantly changing dynamic process.

Amma says religion is there to prepare the soul to get out and do it's thing, and very much needed for that reason..(that's a paraphrase of course,,and I don't want to mis-quote her..I'll see if I can find her exact words)....Anyway, my experience, as observed at CTK and even in my TM and dance community, or in the Amma community, is that while they serve a wonderful service for mutual growth and support, and SERVICE to others...It can also create a place to hide from fears... I find now that it doesn't matter where I go, I always attract the person(s) I need, .community is there, everywhere and it is a function of, and directly proportional to our own inner connection to Spirit..the kingdom really is inside us! And we can trust it completly..

Some of the AMMA devotees (many who are Christian) tell stories of their travels to India that just blow my mind. It's scary to go to a third world..totally jars all our notions of security, and expectatons.Especially India.
But their experiences demonstrate how much having a resonance with Amma, or Jesus...being filled with grace, or even the grace and light from a more formless expression of God gained by living fully and in accordance with Buddhist principles..for example..All it should ultimatley align us with support of Nature.. What and who we need shows up,..And even more so as we begin to allign more with our souls purpose...our dharma, which may be completely other then more tradtional concepts of 'mininstery." In fact trying to fit into them, for me anyway, would have made me miss my path...at least my particular, more colorful version, as it would have taken some form. And I love it, now that it is all srarting to make sense.. And strangely it was the abuse that made me leave the Church...so I see it as a blessing in disquise. Yet it seems the fruits of my journey, you seem to feel are some illusion that have no place in Catholic dogma..which to me would go against scripture...the prodigal daughter returns, which is a very different story then that of the prodigal son !!!.. mythically speaking anyway. They didn't write that one back then though because women and the feminine psyche were very oppressed, and unfortunatley in many people it still is.. But not in me, te he te he...
And I am 100% sure that a big part of my purpose is to see tell that story in a myriad of many mythical ways, on behalf of liberating it in others..because for me...it truly is the holy grail...It's no accident this theme is showing up in books,movies etc...It's real ..and it'll have many different faces,expressions, extremes in polarity but that IS the story being told..if you look around at what's happening on the planet.

I wouldn't be so 'cock' sure if I hadn't gotten a clear message 3x's in association with 3 different perosn many consider 'great souls'. And sems to me that Jesus is tellin' Sista Pauline to talk about it! ..He's sayin' ,..You go girl, Celebrate it, Play with it! You earned it! Be bigger than life with it..because that's what my personal resurection needs to look like for ME, and for others I think too
My inner contemplation on theresurrection is, if we don't find our personal version(s) of the resurection somewhere within us, than we're not really walking our talk. The life of many women and the feminine psyche in men, is still being used, abused and manupulaed by the maculine psyche, addiction is but one of it's dark forms. When something is oppressed, it resorts to unconscious forms of manipulation, and the more that light is consciously brought to that, the more it heals..So the bolder I can be with it, the better, imo..
And I see a connection to all the earth tragedies here too. ..because we are all so ONE...Univereally, we are being called to move more deeply into our hearts, Nature is demanding we be more in our hearts.

It seems to me that new Gospels could and maybe should have continued to be written over the ages, all the time, every day, if we're truly feeling the presence of God in our life.

There's little miracles everywhere ! Wink

Peace, Love Joy, Virya
 
Posts: 197 | Location: Austin,Texas | Registered: 18 March 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
I�ve been thinking about all you said, Phil. That�s an interesting scenario and, as you said, a true one.

The decisive question that occurred to me, Phil, is to define our relationship to an institution. I dare say that I�m not the only one who has a seemingly instinctive discomfort with the conformity that is enforced, one way or another, by organized religion (while noting that, at least these days, Christianity is very much a free choice). And surely dogma plays a key role in determining when any type of disciplinary or coercive action is determined to be required.

It might be helpful if we were up-front about how dogma is often perceived negatively, even if these perceptions aren�t accurate or not accurate all of the time. Surely some perceive dogma as simply a means to control for reasons that have little or nothing to do with spirituality and everything to do with protecting power, reputations, or institutions. And we might assume that, at least in the case of today�s much more enlightened Catholic Church, that the number of layers of bureaucracy may function like the checks and balances of our democracy. Inertia is built-in. This makes it both harder for those to use dogma for purposes other than the honest keeping of the faith as best one can know that faith and, of course, harder to correct institutional flaws, as recent history possibly has show, particularly here in America. And, of course, it doesn�t hurt at all that the Church is no longer in the business of church and state. In fact, this could be the decisive point and one that probably has been good for both people and churches. It freed the church from areas not associated with its core function, unless we believe that there is no legitimate authority or life apart from the church, a la Islam and, of course, that�s not the case with Christianity.

If I�m reading you correctly, then in general, Churches decide on dogma so that the faith can remain uncorrupted. And this is important because, in this case, Catholics believe that the Church plays an integral function and is an entity worthy of maintaining in its own right, which means that there will therefore be conflicts in which people lose and the institution of the Church wins. That�s the nature of any institution, of course. They all flex and change to some extent, but if, for example, we passed a constitutional amendment banning the right to vote we would no longer be, by definition, a democracy. We would be something else, but we would no longer be a democracy. So some discernment (everyone hopes a very wise one) has been made, and continues to be made, that the role of the Church is a vital one and that sometimes, therefore, people�s ideas will lose out to the ideas that are encoded by the process by which they are decided now.

Which now, believe it or not, connects me back to my original point about how we relate to the church.

Dogma exists ultimately for the purpose of instruction and guidance, correct? It surely can be, and has been, misused. But the point would be that its purpose is NOT, in principal, to bully people and to maintain Church authority just for some bishop�s sake, or even some Pope�s sake, but for our sake because the Church is meant to guide souls to God and keep them there. And if so, then a �greater good� aspects kicks in. It�s a delicate balance then always for wise and discerning people to use their power to maintain the Church for the purpose of maintaining the Church for the purpose of God and people, and not to maintain it for any reason not so Holy.

And so then we come back to (getting there, I think) how we relate to that Church. Because Churches exist to guide and instruct, they are involved in teaching, and dogma plays a role in determining what is taught. Any sort of teaching is a process forming, transforming, and deforming. It�s all a matter of perspective. If teaching doesn�t have the power to do any or all of these, then the teaching is of little use. It wouldn�t be teaching by definition. A young child who does not know how to write is �formed� so that he or she can do so. It�s not a skill he or she would likely ever stumble up on his or her own. Any teaching, of course, once absorbed, then transforms us. And, inevitably, teaching also de-forms. We are bent from what we used to be into something new. We could think of it is changing some of the less healthy forms we might have (a fingernail chewer, for instance) and with loving instruction and care of the right type, have that form of behavior deformed into something healthier.

This is all a long, and admittedly, convoluted way to get to the point that all control is not bad. Control is necessary and needed for our growth. That is why, ultimately, how we relate to a church and how it relates to us is crucial. A certain amount of trust and submission must be given to a church by an individual in hopes that they will be formed, transformed, and deformed as needed into new life. And the church, because of its powers, which are necessarily tricky (at least I think so) to maintain and use authentically because it is built in that protecting the Church for the Church�s sake is a necessary and good thing, must keep as its goal the formation of an authentic, independent, and elevated individual, potentially free, light, and spirited enough to, at least in theory, not need the Church any more. Any attitude less than this would seem to necessarily lead to dogma becoming a tool for a kind of control not related to the forming and saving of souls.

I think how one relates to the Church, and how the Church relates to the people is therefore of paramount and decisive importance. And the facilitator to a good relationship is open, honest, and sincere communication. I would think the challenges, then, for maintaining an uncorrupted church or Church are absolutely enormous, for information is power, and historically (in any walk of life) those with power like to hold onto it and thus information, and necessarily therefore communication, are not as open, honest, and sincere as they should be. And to think, therefore, that the Church has lasted 2000 years and is getting better (as are we humans�compared to, say, 2000 years ago), I could perhaps be persuaded that the Church indeed is given a bit of a Divine hand up. I really don�t see how it could have stayed alive otherwise. Coercion alone I don�t think could account for it. Hell scare-tactics (as I see it) alone couldn�t account for it. And it has survived its share of dubious Popes and such.

I sure hope that those in charge of Dogma are fully aware of even half of the dynamics at play in why and how they come to some of the decisions they do. It would seem to be an enormous responsibility.

On the other side of the coin, I do believe that until recently, most types of government were pretty much authoritarian in nature. There wasn�t the kind of appreciation for �diversity� and open opposition to orthodoxy (religious, political, or whatever) that we are so used to now. But given our rather successful model of government called democracy, one wonders if factions such as Gnostics could survive just fine, thank you, right along with the �orthodox� as we know them now, and right along with several other strains as well, all in a Church organized around more democratic principles rather than authoritarian ones.

I do believe in god. And I do believe that he can and does make all things happen for the good. And so I think it would not be chaos nor destructive division that would reign should the CDF be closed down tomorrow. I think we are all pulled toward the same end. And I think very often it is our very insistence on maintaining a certain type and character of order that impedes, rather than facilitates, this pull to god. I think people are ready for something like that, especially in this day and age. Something a little looser, a little more democratic. Offhand, I wonder if there are writings in the Gospels that would support an interpretation like this, Phil?
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
. . . Sister Newage Naricisst . . .

"You're so vain . . . you probably think this thread is about you . . . you're soo vain, you prob'ly think this thread is about you, 'bout you, 'bout you. . " Big Grin

Not really, though, Sr. N. Lots of people have questions and hangups about dogmas, usually because they've been beaten up by dogmatists or they perceive it contributing to stasis, as you noted. That's a danger, all right, but only if one latches onto a particular way of explaining a dogma. Take the example I gave above, which resulted in condemning certain gnostic movements in Christianity in the process of affirming that Jesus really was human (interesting how the first heresy was that he was mostly divine rather than the other way around, which came later with the Arians). The dogmatic affirmation ensuing was that Jesus was true God and true man. That's it. And most dogmas are likewise very simple affirmations. It's when one tries to use philosophy or theology to explain how it can be that Jesus is both human and divine that the trouble starts. What many don't know is that, while the Church judges various explanations on their worthiness, she doesn't equate the explanation with the dogma. So it could be at one time that the explanation from Greek philosophy emphasizing a hypostatic union between the human and divine nature in Christ is the going pedagogy, one isn't really required to assent to that explanation. One can say, "Well, I guess that's an OK way of understanding things, but I think there must be a better way. Meanwhile, I do believe Jesus was both human and divine, but I don't quite know how to explain it." And that's OK. If we keep in mind the distinction between a dogmatic affirmation and the different ways the dogma can be elaborated, it can be helpful.

That said, I'm not sure how a kind of stasis could set in for believing the dogma of the incarnation, nor any of the others. They're all thoroughly pregnant with mystery. I'm also not sure what dogmas you think could be repressive of the feminine. Maybe you could say more about that.

- - -

Frances, we already have a thread on omniscience going on this forum. Check it out and see if you find something helpful there.

- - -

Brad, you're clicking on all 8 cylinders on this one. Smiler Your point about how amazing it is that the Church has lasted as long as it has, despite all its problems and the potential for deterioration is one that many have noted as well. We do believe the Holy Spirit has a hand in all this.

I sure hope that those in charge of Dogma are fully aware of even half of the dynamics at play in why and how they come to some of the decisions they do. It would seem to be an enormous responsibility.

Actually, this "charge" belongs to the entire Church -- the full body of believers. The hierarchy have a critical role to play in the discernment of truth and error, but the sense of the faithful contributes to their discernment. You can't really have a hierarchy over and against the sense of the faithful, although this has happened at times, and some would argue even rather recently re. the birth control and women ordination issues. Generally, it takes time for these kinds of frictions to work themselves out.

And I think very often it is our very insistence on maintaining a certain type and character of order that impedes, rather than facilitates, this pull to god. I think people are ready for something like that, especially in this day and age. Something a little looser, a little more democratic. Offhand, I wonder if there are writings in the Gospels that would support an interpretation like this, Phil?

Sure. The Church could be structured in a wide variety of ways. The various offices of priest, bishop, pope, etc. would have to be maintained, but a more democratic process of choosing them could be used. We haven't always done things the way we do now; in fact, there were times in the past when the people chose their own leaders ann", en priests married, for example.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
He then asked me why God had to be born as a human, and why He didn't just show up as a mysterious 'man' from nowhere and show He was God by appearing as He promises to do when He comes again.

Well, I think that�s sort of a no-win situation for God � or anyone, FrancesB. By necessity, our actions in this material world are finite. That�s the way physical reality appears to be built. So if, say, God were preparing to go to some formal affair, he, just like us, would have to decide whether to wear the blue or the gray suit, the black or the gray socks, the blue or the red tie. You can�t relate to us physical humans in our physical world via normal ways and be everywhere and everything all at once. You have to be something or another, a baby or an old man. So, I suppose, no matter how God would appear on earth in a physical human form, it would always have to be one thing and not another.

I started to talk about fulfilling scripture, but Andrew (my husband) stopped me again and asked why God, being omniscient, didn't have the scriptures different.

Same thing, I think. You can�t have an infinite-sized book in a finite-sized galaxy. For God (or anyone) to satisfy a gainsayer in this regard he would somehow have to write all possible options for scriptural variety in a book, and that book would therefore be of infinite length and therefore of infinite size and therefore wouldn�t fit in this universe.

Why did Jesus have to go through birth and life as a human before dying on the cross? I said I thought it was so that we knew He'd suffered as we suffer, but again Andrew asked me if God is omniscient, then doesn't he already know how we suffer?

I really like that question from your husband. It shows a searching imagination, I think, and quite a healthy skepticism. I�m still wrestling with this whole issue myself, but not in those exact terms. My answer at this point would be that it is in the very nature of life in our material existence to consume and be consumed (and I�m not sticking a value judgment on that at this point). But if life is headed somewhere (and I think it is), then a certain amount or kind of �Glory�, for lack of a better term, needs to symbolically be realized. It�s as if it were necessary for something to run counter to the way things are, in terms of the very way things happen here in our physical world, and thus to balance it all.

It seems that life works this way on the smallest of scales � or any scales. There are positive and negative charges to atomic particles. There are hot things and cold things. Such balance is everywhere we look, as are the balances in such odd, but true things as, needing to lose one�s life to gain it. And so if one were to look at existence itself in its entirety, one could see that there is nothing in existence itself to balance existence. It breaks the mold we see everywhere else. And as we learn from science, this generally just can�t be. The universe has a certain order to it. In physics, for example, for every particle there is an anti-particle of opposite charge, and when physicists run across a new particle in one their particle accelerators, they can, with the greatest of confidence, pencil in the existence of the anti-particle even if it didn�t show up in the experiment. It�s just something that has to be.

And so if one looks at the universe in total (this sort of dog-eat-dog physical universe), then it becomes absolutely a necessity that it also have a �paired� particle. But, remember, we�re talking about a very large scale here. We�re talking everything, not just individual particles. We are thus talking about something the pairs and compliments the very nature of reality itself, and that includes all that is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. And thus I would purport that Christ represents a pairing to our physical world and the nature of that would, of course, be highly spiritual and Transcendent. And because we ourselves are not god, but still are made by god and thus, at least in my opinion, at least have divinity sprinkled on us to some extent, we would expect the complimentary to this universe to be, well, the compliment, the opposite: All god, but with some human thrown in as well. We�re all human with some god thrown in. And that�s how I see my totally unorthodox view of the nature and reason for Christ. Oh, and forgot to mention another reason that I think He is and came is to necessarily bridge our spiritual growth so that we can grow to heights we could never reach on our own. We might notice that all things in the universe are supported to grow and evolve. It would make sense that our spirit would also need a growth medium. Buy physical reality alone doesn�t appear to provide that.

Sorry for the long, convoluted thinking, FrancesB. I was just sort of sketching that out for my own satisfaction. Long answers like that are rarely of much use. But I find them useful to get to shorter, clearer answers. And I�m trying to think of a good one right now, and one that your husband, who is perhaps a bit like me, might buy. Wink If one can believe that the universe was created by love and for love, and that our one and only purpose here is to develop love, than what could be more astonishingly complimentary, opposite, breathtaking, and balancing than a sinless person, of divine attributes (for the reasons I stated above, I think) willingly going to an agonizing death for reasons of love and thus forever shaping our actions (which god can also make work for the good anyway) toward the divine, toward love. Of course, this only makes sense in an evolutionary universe where development, for whatever reason, is considered necessary for the proper and optimum creation of love. If development was not an integral part than catalysts would not be needed. And so why Jesus, why then, why there? Maybe that gets us back to the first question. It had to be sometime, someplace and somebody.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Why did Jesus have to go through birth and life as a human before dying on the cross?

Speaking of Jesus, FrancesB, have you ever been wronged, and wronged quite badly, while you were in the middle of doing something that was so lovingly right? And have you ever had this happen when, for some strange reason, you bore little or no ill-will toward your tormentor, you just sort of felt sympathy or compassion for someone that was so obviously twisted and in pain?

I've had minor experiences such as that. Very minor. And when it happens it seems to generate a rip in the whole space-time continuum�at least that's the best description I can think of. Things are just affected inside of me and around me. Something seems to shift in the cosmos. And that's just when that happens to some dirty, crummy, messed-up, minor little human. Imagine the effect if that were to happen to a really good person.

That's all. Back to dogma. Wink
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Not much time to post today (typical male: late Christmas shopping! Wink ).

Frances, I'll take up the general spirit of your questions, as I think they are related to dogma.

The incarnation means that God became human. God could have just popped in as a "mysterious man," but that's not really becoming human: it's appearing as human. To become a human, you have to be conceived, born, raised as a child, teen, young adult, etc.

I'm not sure how omniscience complicates things; it only means that God knows all that is to be known. We don't know exactly what that means -- if, for example, God knows what we will decide. At any rate, this wouldn't necessarily apply to Christ if we believe that his human consciousness set certain limits on what he could experience of his divine consciousness (at least before the resurrection). Also, knowing what will happen doesn't give one any kind of "pass" from inevitable pains. I can know, for example, that a root canal will make things better for my aching tooth and that all shall be well with this tooth in due time, but that doesn't take away the anxiety and pain of going through the root canal. Very remote analogy to the crucifixion and resurrection, but you get my drift, I'm sure.

Sounds like you and your husband have some good discussions. Invite him here with his questions; that would be great.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
We haven't always done things the way we do now; in fact, there were times in the past when the people chose their own leaders...

I didn't know that. That sounds pretty cool. Sounds like they were pleasantly a bit ahead of their time.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
quote:
If one can believe that the universe was created by love and for love, and that our one and only purpose here is to develop love, than what could be more astonishingly complimentary, opposite, breathtaking, and balancing than a sinless person, of divine attributes (for the reasons I stated above, I think) willingly going to an agonizing death for reasons of love and thus forever shaping our actions (which god can also make work for the good anyway) toward the divine, toward love.
Brad, I really like that. Smiler

I hadn't thought about balance in this context. That's a great idea. I've been teaching chemistry to 12 year olds this year (I'm a psychologist - how did this happen?!) and we're starting to look at balancing equations next term, so that's an idea that I'm definately going to work with! The problems they've had with imagining an atom and subatomic particles (I've just taught atomic structure to them) are similar to the ones I have imagining God with all his attributes. One child kept saying but if we got the biggest microscope we could ever build would we see an atom then? It makes me think of the exploratory space probes we've launched and how cool it would be if God peered in to the lens with one eye and said "Boo!" (I like Farside humour) Big Grin
BTW I don't find your thinking long and convoluted - quite the contrary. If you did fire off short, snappy answers it wouldn't contribute much to the discussion. Have you ever tried to have conversation with someone who says "Yes", "No" or simply shrugs their shoulders? Roll Eyes

quote:
What many don't know is that, while the Church judges various explanations on their worthiness, she doesn't equate the explanation with the dogma. So it could be at one time that the explanation from Greek philosophy emphasizing a hypostatic union between the human and divine nature in Christ is the going pedagogy, one isn't really required to assent to that explanation.
Phil,
Carl Jung said - in another context - "I don't believe. I know." And regarding Christian dogma, that's how I feel. However, I have also assumed that I should be able to explain what I know - Oh the arrogance of a littel(sp)education! Red Face
FrancesB
 
Posts: 59 | Location: UK | Registered: 23 November 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Have you ever tried to have conversation with someone who says "Yes", "No" or simply shrugs their shoulders?

Yes.


Big Grin

An early �Merry Christmas� to you, FrancesB. And I found that story about the child who wanted to build a really big microscope quite charming. Surely that has to be one of the rewards that attract some to, and keeps them in, the challenging profession of teaching. My hat is definitely off to you.
 
Posts: 5413 | Location: Washington State | Registered: 21 September 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Hello all,

I am new here and this title attracted me. I think that the biggest danger in religious dogma is the tendency for those who follow a particular dogma are often tempted to judge and condemn those who follow a different religious dogma while regarding themselves as good and right. This has been the basis of much bloodshed throughout history. Perhaps this is why the word dogma frightens people so much. Apparently sometimes barking dogmas do bite. Wink
Jim
 
Posts: 11 | Location: traveler | Registered: 22 May 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Hi Jim and welcome Smiler

I had no idea this topic existed until I saw your post. How could it ever have slipped past me Big Grin

I laugh a lot at myself and the things that I do. I recommend this gift to everyone. Laughter relaxes the whole body, brings joy to your heart, and lifts your spirits. Most of us are way to serious about everything, so laughter is such a blessing, and to be able to laugh at yourself is like a free therapy session with a shrink.

I like the quote by Allen.

Looking forward to more of your sharing with us.
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
OOps, I made an error. I thought this thread was about healing laughter, sorry you guys. I did not flip out, but now for sure will I start a thread entitled "Healing laughter". Hope I did not confuse anyone Big Grin
 
Posts: 571 | Location: Oregon | Registered: 20 June 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Jim, I agree with your point about the dangers of a judgmental dogmatism. Apparently sometimes barking dogmas do bite. Yes indeed! Smiler

What I would say, however, is that the problem in such cases isn't "that" there are dogmas so much as that they are being misused. After all, in Christian dogmatic teaching, at least, God is understood to be loving, and Christian moral teaching insists on charity/agape as the highest ideal to strive for. So it would seem that dogmatic Christians are convicted by their own dogmas, which would be a worthwhile function of dogmas, no? Wink

Given the dangers of dogmatism and the violence that can be justified accordingly, some have advocated that we are better off without dogmas . . . that Jesus didn't come to teach anything as dogmas . . . that non-judgmental acceptance of anyone's opinions or perspectives is "more Christian" than holding to dogmatic convictions. While acknowledging the pitfalls of dogmatism, I would counter that there is a "content" to divine revelation, to which some beliefs and opinions are more congruent than others. And so we are moved, inevitably, to some kinds of positive affirmations which are held in contra-distinction to others . . . i.e., to convictions, then, eventualy to dogmas.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
I see your point Phil. I guess the trick is finding the dogma that is right for you. My problem is that I still have not found a religion that I can completely accept all of it's beliefs. Most people seem to adopt a group that they mostly agree with and then try to justify or make true the beliefs that they are not quite sure about or just adopt all of the beliefs of the church that they were raised with. One thing I am sure about is that there is only one truth and it never changes. It is the same truth that Christ realized and that he said that we will eventually know. I try to focus on the words of Christ and follow his example of spending time every day in silent prayer and meditation. The kingdom of God is indeed within. In the words of James Allen, "He who loves the truth, who desires and seeks wisdom, will be much alone. He will seek the fullest, clearest revelation of himself. He will avoid the haunts of frivolity and noise, and will go where the sweet, tender voice of the spirit of truth speaks within him and can be heard."
Jim
 
Posts: 11 | Location: traveler | Registered: 22 May 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
quote:
It seems that's how some view the CDF (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith),.....
Truth is the way things are, not the way we think they are or wish they could be. All of us stand humbled in the presence of truth.
The truth needs no defense, but rather is our defender, our Rock.


Doctrine, on the other hand, is not �the Truth.� Doctrine is our best approximation of the truth. It is what we have decided to teach and therefore doctrine is man made. No human being, nor any church, can claim to have discovered perfect truth. As long as we are human, we can make mistakes, and it is patently wrong not to acknowledge our fallibility in our doctrines. The number of changes we have had to make in our teachings over time is witness to our imperfection and fallibility in doctrine.


http://www.borntowin.net/essays.aspx?eid=40


http://www.abcog.org/ntsab.htm - Doctrines, Creeds and Dogma (just click and listen)
 
Posts: 218 | Registered: 03 November 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Hi. I once heard it said that a Christian will ask you about your beliefs, but a Hindu will ask you to sit down and share with him your experience of God. I have a deep and profound abiding love for Jesus. But now, I also find great inspiration for a little Hindu religious teacher named Ammachi. In my own mind, she walks the walk and talks the talk.

It continually amazes me the amount of ink Christians spill on apologetics, trying to explain, intellectually, the meaning of christ's humanity, the meaning of his divinity, and how they are related (just as an example). Was he a divine person (as if we really know what a "divine person" is) or a human person. I think we fail, at least in my own mind, to understand that the nature of religious language, even dogmatic statements, are more akin to being the poetry of human experience as opposed to some objective scientific statment about reality. As far as I can tell, whether you are a Christian, Hindu, or Muslim, only sectarianism, intolerance, and division seems to come with insistance on right beliefs when it comes to religion. We are so concerned about getting it right when it comes to belief, that we too often forget about how to love.

Devinath
 
Posts: 40 | Location: stevens point, wisconsin | Registered: 16 July 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Welcome Devinath. I think you make a good point about obsession with right beliefs, which is how I understand dogmatism. That sort of thing kills, and Jesus didn't have much use for it, condemning it as part of what we would now call phariseeism.

That said, one can appreciate the importance of dogma without being a dogmatist, just as one can appreciate the importance of moralist without being a judgmental moralist. Dogma does help to form one's perspective and receptivity. I like the analogy of the "finger pointing to the moon" and have spoken of dogma in that way. The finger is not the moon, but you're not likely to see the moon if you don't look at where it's pointing.
 
Posts: 7539 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 09 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
<w.c.>
posted
Devinath:

We've been over and over this issue so much, so you're not likely to get a great deal of response from long-standing forum members. Phil can point you to previous threads where these things were discused, or perhaps he'll take it up with you at length.

I'll just say this much: You are probably oversimplifying Buddhism and Hinduism; both have steep philosophical systems, just as Christianity is rich in mysticism.

As for Ammachi . . . well, it's nice to get a hug, isn't it? But how do you know she "walks the walk and talks the talk?" Maybe she does, but you seem to be hanging your hat on just having a feeling about her, whether having been in her presence or not. And I'm assuming you know little about her from extended contact, which most of us would require, via friendship, before saying anything with confidence about another person's moral character. There are not a few gurus out there who draw many people to them based upon the good feeling they generate, and then end up being un-ethical, or even abusive. And so treating the use of reason and more careful intellectual examination of religious faith as antagonistic to mysticism can result in a kind of naivete that has gotten many well-wishers hurt.

I'm guessing you wouldn't advocate that. Wink
 
Reply With QuoteReport This Post
posted Hide Post
Welcome devinath, and namaste! Smiler

I like her and her ideas, and may yet become a devotee of sorts. Several have mentioned her from time to time. She has a good message, IMO.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mata_Amritanandamayi


Rather synchronous of you to post this now, as I am reading Gandhi and Yogananda and Kriyananda, who was seeking this experience post WWII and having read Merton's Seven Story Mountain and Autobiography of a Yogi, decided to go with Yoga.

Anyway, I'll see your Ammachi and raise you a Therese Neuman. Wink

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therese_Neumann

caritas, mm <*))))><
 
Posts: 2559 | Registered: 14 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata Page 1 2