Hey Phil....nice to have you back, btw ,
I agree with your statements here. The core of Christianity is indeed Christ. This is a personal, not an institutional, relationship. In realizing that He died for ME...He arose again for ME....He will come again to establish His kingdom for ME ...my very existence is changed. It's almost like being in two different worlds. My flesh has to function and breath on this planet earth. It has to interact with society, make a living, pay the bills, deal with the "world". But the spirit part of me....ah...now there is where I live . "Home" is the spiritual center of my being that's brought about only through Christ and His accomplishment in reconciling me back to God.
I've seen athiests state that being Christian is all about having heaven, having rewards in heaven, living the "good life" in heaven..etc. But that isn't what it is. Being Christian is coming home to that place our spirit longs for from our birth. It's the interaction between me and God and between me and my brothers and sisters in Christ who are connected by the Holy Spirit which is the cord that binds us together. It's moving beyond the illusional depth of "flesh and bone" to the true depth of "spirit and truth". For me, that is "why" Christianity. Jesus Christ has made all this possible and no longer is God "up there" but rather "right here".
BTW, I'm reading Wisdom of the Sadhu by Sadhu Sundar Singh. If ever there was a "wise" man about Christ, he certainly is very close to the top of the mark.
In considering why some may be drawn to Christianity, even if they would not at the same time proclaim the Kerygma and may not have otherwise been initiated into the Sacred Mysteries, I commend to you this particular Jungian view of Christ by Jerry Wright: Christ: A Symbol of the Self . It does not take long to read and is not difficult to understand.
When I first read it, it struck me as a minimalist view of who Jesus was/is, and not a bad one, at least in that regard. Still, for me, it seemed to leave the age old question begging, that being that if Jesus and his very first followers, men and women, were great individuals and great moral teachers, then why, at the same time, were they not either liars or lunatics insofar as the Resurrection Event was concerned? In other words, how could they get almost everything else about human life and human living right while getting both the fact of the Resurrection and the claim that Jesus was God wrong?
At any rate, I can see why existentialists and nonbelievers and analytical psychologists are drawn to the Man and find, in Him, relevance for their own journeys of individuation and integration. For those of us who do believe, who are proclaimers of the Gospel and stewards of the Sacred Mysteries, how might we give prophetic witness to the journey of transformation that transcends individuation processes, that is accompanied by signs and wonders from which the world can draw compelling inferences such as He is Risen! ???
I am new to this board. Just registered today. But was struck by this post, "Why Christianity?", because I have been struggling with this question for quite some time. I am in my early forties. I became Christian when I was 18 years old in an evangelical church with all the experiences of being "born-again" and subsequent training in bible studies, disciple-ship training and so on. I have never been ,though one who can accept doctrines and theology without question. One thing , though ,was quite certain. I believed in the Loving, Absolute God, and believed Christ to be my Savior. However, over the years, and especially beginning mid 30's, I have deviated from believing in the doctrines of trinity, virgin birth, salvation through belief in christ only, and inerrancy of the bible.
I no longer find sunday church services meaningful. I can no longer subscribe to what is being promulgated in my church. I am going through a major revision in my thoughts about God and spirituality. I seriously ask myself, what does it exactly mean to call myself christian. How shall I live? How am I different, as a christian, from people of other religious faith who live more decent, and loving lives. I hope I find myself back to my christian root. But for a time being, I feel lost.
I think the kind of searching you're describing is very healthy and it's usually inevitable. I hope this thread and others on the forum can be helpful to you. You might especially check out the Christian Mysteries forum as I developed it to provide a kind of adult-level update on Christian theology.
Please feel free to share your questions and doubts here.
Before I posted my initial posting, I didn't have time to read all the threads on this topic, but I have had time to do that since. And I found it very helpful. If someone were to ask me whether I am Christian, I'd say, I am. In my heart, what I think I am seeking is to better understand the core beliefs of christian message, is it called the Kergma? Christ the God, his birth, death, and resurrection for my salvation. And I would really like to be able to articulate "Why Christianity" as oppose to any other religion. At the same time, I am of the thought that there may be "salvation" in other religions as well. Someone's explanantion of "Christocentric inclusivism" helped a lot. Was it Johnboy who stated that within christian sect, Roman Catholicism is the most inclusive, and I found that very helpful. As a matter of fact, almost all of my devotional readings since I been on this path of questioning and searchings have been written by catholics. As a matter of fact, I have attended masses a catholic church in my neighborhood. I felt that there was where I was better encountering Christ as oppose to services in my evangelical church. I don't know, maybe I am going somewhere with this.
I have a family who's been going to church all our life. I have had thoughts about exploring catholicism, but i think what about my kids and hus., it became bit complicated. But, I am having a very difficult time attending my church, that's my dilemma. Perhaps, when the kids are out of high school, I could be more free to do so.
Phil, I find your statement about the centrality of christ and his death and resurrection to be a pivotal issue for christianity in affecting one's worldview and one's finding meaning affirming. I need to get back to the basics, and plan to visit this site often as possible. Thanks for all the threads, they are really helpful.
Miryung, I'm glad you've found it helpful. There's been some good sharing and searching on this thread. Thanks for contributing to it.
I am going to Rant in the oppossite direction. I have seen the damage and disconnection eastern has religion caused in many of my friends lives. No I have always been drawn to Western Christianity not as an institution but because it is true. I also am drawn to it because of the balance of western mysticism in characters such as Francis and Benedict. The idea was not to empty oneself into perfect nothingness but to become full of Christ's love and in the case of Benedict live in that balance between mystery and the material world. I do not see this in the East which I would include the wild eye monastics of the desert.
I grew up a Fundamentalist and converted to Catholicism via Anglicanism. But I have been involved in various movements in and outside of the Church. I think the other thing that draws me to Christianity is the qualitative difference between Christianity and world's other religions. Islam, Paganism and the other world religions would not have the charities they do know had it not been for Christianity's infleunce. There would be not equivalent to the modern Hospital today had the Church not done it first, I could go on but we know the Church influenced many fields of study, inquiry, politics, even the United States Constitution is influenced in part by Christian values. I am Christian because it makes sense it is earthy sloppy and human I do not have to empty myself and all that is required is I accept my powerlessness and need for Christ and turn to him his mother and my brothers and sisters and ask for help. I do not need enlightment or the path I need Christ, The Trinity the great three in one.
"The core of Christianity is indeed Christ. This is a personal, not an institutional, relationship."
Yes Terri, I agree with you. Christ for me is the centre gravity of Christianity. I was born in a catholic family and grew up with this belief. When I reach adult age I shifted with the church and begun my own way. I have spent many years in probing those big questions alone: What is the meaning of life? What is Truth? I tried to get an answer by reading many philosophical, religious and political books and then I begun meditate without knowing how to meditate. Lastly I arrived at one point where reality prevailed to me in unexpected way. At this point, in 1998, I encountered mysterious light. You can read a brief description of it in kundalini thread. Between 1998 and now I thought I'm in a spiritual path of East but one significant thing happened in May this year. First my kundalini arose at the base of my spine and right direct after this incidence during my daily meditation time something unexpected and special thing occurred. I encountered Christ together with Maria. Of course not physically but my higher being became very attracted to the image of Christ and Maria and something unusual power poured into my being from the head of Christ. Since then I have a lively contact both with Maria and Christ and through them opened many new gates. Now I began to experience many mysterious things and as the same time began to understand the deep mystery of Christ and the symbols of Catholicism. It is through this mysterious way that I become the follower of Christ. I'm not sure whether I will call myself Christian in its conventional meaning. I have a lively contact with Christ, he leads me, and he fed me with his powerful energy. Attending Mass and following the regulation of church can be helpful for many Christians but for me the lively contact I have with Christ is more than anything else.
Hi I am not Terri but I disagree with your idea that Western Christianity is a just a bunch of regulation and rule. I have the advantage of growing up fundamentalist and being involved in the Charismatic movement and have seen the beautiful masses of high Anglicanism and do not see the regulations you are talking about. What I see is Jesus coming into my heart and ministering to me. It is not some kind of cosmic force that makes me feel God but a Personal God who loves me and died for me so I can live with him in paradise. The message of Christianity is one of powerlessness because we do not deserve Salvation but he offers it to his creation freely. The father who love me no matter. God became man and dwelt among us this central doctrine of Christianity is not symbolism but actually happened Jesus God came down and became like one of us for me the incarnation has always brought me closer to surrender. I love the Jesus of the Church not some concontion I can conjur up in some new age seance or trance.
brjaan, I didn't say western christianity is a bunch of regulation and rule. Please read again what I'm posted. What I wanted to say is I have a personal relationship with Christ but it doesn't mean I'm againist Church. I stated above attending Mass and following the regulation of Church can be important for many people. Who knows it can be important for me one day. So, I have no any concluding statement about it I just simply share my ideas. I believe this is a forum where we can share our ideas freely and I have no any intention to offend anybody.
I apologize I miss read what you posted.
Why is the earth the exact distance from the sun for humans to exist? Why do we have a circular orbit rather than eliptical as the others? Why just the right thickness and content of atmosphere. with an ozone layer for protection? A loving intelligence
behind the design? A ghost in the machine?
Why are there 333 specific messianic prophecies
fulfilled in detail in the life of the historical Jesus? What are the mathematical probabilities of even a few of them coming to pass hundreds of years in the future?
How did the cannon of scripture come into existence and how was it preserved so meticulously
that only .5% differential can be found in the manuscripts?
Isn't it interesting that Koina Greek, arguably the most precise language for transmitting this truth and the Roman roads just happened to be in place to spread the word? Coincidence?
Why are there 30,000 archaelogical sites which do not contradict the record of people, places and things in the bible?
How come the evolutionists are very squirmy and em-bare-assed by the absence of transitional forms and the irreducible complexity of the human cell. Could time and chance produce something like this in 6 billion years or any amount of time?
A few things to chew on, but I really feel that it comes down to faith rather than intellect. First I believed because it answered my deepest needs and longings for truth, meaning, beauty and forgiveness, especially forgiveness
Plus,I get all these brothers and sisters from every walk of life.
caritas and veritas,
That's the question I'm currently wrestling with. I have narrowed down my choices to Christianity or Sufism. Someone convice me, quick!
There is nothing like Christ's and the Blessed Mother's love, so intimate, close, and of a different quality than sufism. I want to be a Christian, so badly, but not belong to a church! Is that possible. Probably not.
So I turn to Islam, which was the religion I was born into, I feel the impersonal love of sufism, as different from Christ. Christ and the Blessed Mother do not bring the ecstatic quality that I percive in sufism, but something so special, so close to my heart; I can only call it poverty of spirit, or humility. This is the ground of being as I see it...but why can't I just be with Christ; do I have to be baptized and all that Sorry about my whining...but I'm really praying for guidance and recieving none, just blessingful grace, but nothing more.
So these are my two choices at present. And believe me, I wouldn't have chosen Christianity if I hadn't felt the poverty aspect which is utterly unique and indefinable.
Asher, keep reading and searching. Go through the material on the Christian Mysteries forum to learn more about Christianity and how Christ has dealt with the brokenness of the human race. Join a study group in a Church or read up on what baptism is, what the Church is, how baptism initiates one into the life of the Church, why being a member of a Christian community has always been considered an essential aspect of Christianity.
Somewhere in all of this, one should evaluate the truth claims among the world religions. Do you really believe what Islam teaches? Do you believe the Christian message? Do not go where you do not sense the truth leading. In the end, it is the truth that sets us free.
Adult conversions are a process and can take a long time, especially for the intellectual type.
My sponsor/spiritual director and I went to work on a woman for five years. She was smart and complicated and the whole thing took about five years. I was really giving up and at the end of my rope when one day she said she had become a Christian. Hope I never go through that again, but I would.
If you become a Christian mystic with an interest in Sufi practice as well, then you could be a conduit to many who share your backround. Many will no doubt be thrust into the harvest.
I would recommend a former Muslim apologist,
but I can't think of one at the moment. Try a websearch on Chritian/Islam/apologetics/dialogue and see what you come up with...
Christianity has always been a religion for the outcast and the failure. The self sufficient need not apply. My best qualification and what recommends me most is my history of rebellion,
pride, sloth, envy, greed, fear, guilt, shame,
lust and gluttony. I begin with the knowledge of my wretchedness and despair and then I am willing to listen to the Master's solution.
I like this very much:
Christianity has always been a religion for the outcast and the failure. The self sufficient need not apply.
Very nicely put. This brings to mind the "Fools for Christ's sake" those who lived the unitive life and sought suffering to get rid of the traces of egotism that still existed. It also brings to mind the story of Brother Masseo, in "The Little Flowers of St. Francis" Masseo was always rapt in prayer and Francis asked him to give a sermon. Masseo was shy, though, and of a contemplative temperment, and resisted following Francis's plea to him. Finally Francis commanded him for the love of rule of obedience to proceed to the pulpit and give the sermon naked. Masseo did just that to peoples laughter, jeers. Francis in the meanwhile reprimended himself for asking this of Masseo so he too stripped and went to the sermon and partook the humiliation. But when the people heard Francis' words, like doves from his lips, all were rapt in awe, as the story goes.
Christianity has always has this emphasis on suffering for the love of God, for humiliation, and most importantly, for humility and poverty of spirit.
Phil thank you for your advice. I will visit some churches and read more, and also explore other possibilities.
It has been impressed on me lately that what is most significant about Christianity is that it is a religion that connects the human and the divine "in Christ." I know we've said that in one way or another on this and other threads, but I think it needs to be stated explicitly. It is this Christic dimension that not only enables the human to connect with God, but to do so in a manner that forms human nature to incarnate God as Jesus did. IOW, when we say that Jesus saved the human race, we mean that he has provided, in his own person, a means for re-forming human nature so that we may live life more abundantly (Jn. 10, 10) as fully human beings, saved from the power of sin, alive in the Spirit he gives us.
Maybe the critical issue among the world religions, then, is not which one can best assist the human in contacting the divine; let's concede for the sake of argument that they all do this in some manner. Maybe the distinguishing issue is what happens to human beings after they have contacted the divine. What kind of morality, spirituality, intellectual formation, etc. enable this ongoing contact in a manner that truly develops human nature . . . human culture . . . creation? Every religious tradition has responses to this question; even those traditions which maintain that such formation is unimportant are answering it in the negative. When examined in the light of these questions, the differences among the world religions (on the whole) are most obvious.
(continuing the thought developed above . . .)
When regarding the other world religions, I do not think we can say that God has given Himself more to one than another, or withheld Himself more from some than others. God, being Love, is always giving Himself to all as fully as they are capable of receiving Him. So the differences between the world religions have nothing to do with God, but of the manner of receptivity emphasized in the various religions.
In Christ, God finds the most perfect receptacle for His Love; the Son possesses the fullness of divine openness, receptivity and reciprocity. We, in Christ, are made able to be and do the same through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts.
So we are back to the point that what is unique about Christianity is that it connects the human and divine "in Christ." It is this Christic dimension that enables human beings to receive God in a manner different from the way Guatama, the Hindu sages, Moses, Mohammed, etc. came to know God.
There's a lot of discussion on this thread concerning the pros and cons of Christianity, with several people pointing out how Christianity lost its credibility with them because of the inquistions, crusades, brutal tactics of missionaries, and so forth. Please do not respond to those issues on that thread, but feel free to quote it as part of your discussion on this one.
- - -
I have several brief responses to those who maintain that Christianity has no credibility because of some dark aspects of its history:
1. These do not characterize the history of Christianity, on the whole.
2. Often, the problems cited are done without consideration of proper context, with misinformation and wildly exaggerated claims made.
3. The behaviors and tactics being brought up are generally quite at odds with the teachings of Christ and even the Church! This makes it difficult to indict Christianity per se.
4. The problems/excesses were usually corrected by the Church itself in response to criticisms by Saints, mystics, prophets and theologians.
5. On the whole, Christianity has had a very positive influence on human history.
Quite frankly, I don't understand this rejection of Christianity and Church membership today because of injustices committed in the 12th C., or even earlier! That's as silly as not living in Germany because the Nazis ruled there in the 1930s-40s. I'm certainly not saying that there are no problems at all in the Church of the 21st Century, but it's a very big Church we have, encompassing a wide range of spiritualities and theologies. Find where you belong and be happy there. It's practically impossible to be a Christian outside the Church; in fact, that's pretty much an oxymoron.
- replying to a few points from daylia on this thread.
When celibacy and chastity are freely chosen as a lifestyle, with Joy and Love for the highest good of all (including oneself) � then yes! I can certainly vouch for the fact that it is a most wonderful, healthy, truly empowering (and certainly energy-efficient) way to live!
However, when this lifestyle is FORCED through laws (religious or otherwise) upon an entire population of individuals who may or may not be ready for it, then it can and often does become a breeding ground for shame, guilt, misery, repression and all manner of perversions (like pedophilia). . .
I am not sure what you mean, here. Celibacy isn't forced on anyone. If people don't want to be celibate, they can marry. Who are these "entire populations of individuals" that are being forced to be celibate?
Do you have any research to back your implication that celibacy leads to perversions like pedophilia? I've never heard that one. In fact, lots of pedophiles are married.
He has the best and simplest explanation of the Trinity (not just the Christian Trinity but all the other Three-fold understandings of the Divine I've encountered to date, such as the Maiden/Mother/Crone of the Goddess traditions, the Father/Mother/Child of Egypt (Isis/Osiris/Horus) etc.
God (Creator, Jehovah, E'O, Manitou, Wakan Tanka, etc) can be all three in one person because God can have male characteristics, female characteristics, then have other characteristics that goes beyond understanding.
Now we start having layers of misunderstanding. I was initially replying to Sagan's flippant questions about three Gods in one person and now some are trying to actually explain how this can be so. Again, and for the record, the Christian teaching is three persons in one God! If Sagan is going to ridicule, then he ought at least be more precise.
I don�t think Two Bears was being hysterical just because he mentioned healing the sick and casting out demons!
Do you think Jesus was wrong about casting out demons etc?
More misunderstandings. He didn't say that and I wasn't objecting to that, but to the accusation that Christians today don't know about, care about, do about, etc. what Jesus said and did. All very misinformed and judgmental -- so much so as to render discussion impossible.
On Campbell, cannibalism, and Eucharist:
Phil, you asked why I accept Campbell�s explanation of the origins of the ritual of the Eucharist more readily than the catechism put forth by the Church. Well, you probaly won't like this, but it�s because Campbell doesn�t present himself as an unquestionable authority, or give me dubious-sounding explanations I have to accept on faith alone. Faith alone is very shaky ground, at least for me! For that reason, I�ve learned to make it a point NOT to �believe� much of anything at all these days! I don�t have to take Campbell on faith, and what he says makes more sense, is historically valid and resonates with Truth, to me.
Campbell doesn't present himself as an unquestionable authority? Really? Whatever . . .
But, fwiw, neither does the Catholic Magisterium, which is about as authoritative as you get in Christianity. That's right, you CAN question; no one ever said you couldn't. That doesn't mean they don't have a teaching they present and uphold, nor that there hasn't been some lousy pedagogy at times. Just because Sister Mary Rosary said it's irreverent to question doesn't mean that's the official position of the Church. So go ahead and question, and seek the answers. You're actually doing that on this forum; it's implicit in many of your posts. And I hope you're seeing that there are answers and responses, including to the point about cannibalism. If you read my response on this and still think Joseph Campbell makes more sense, well there you go . . . But it's not because I insisted that you take things on faith alone. We really don't practice cannibalism in Christianity, but believe whatever you wish. If you think Campbell makes more sense than Christian teaching on this point, that's really just your opinion and is based just as much on faith as anything a Christian would articulate about the Eucharist. You also have no greater claim on Truth here than the Christian . . . only agreement with Campbell's characteristically cynical view of Christian teaching and practice.
One more point on this topic: Christianity didn't develop its practice of celebrating Eucharist from pagan rituals of cannibalism, as you're implying (I don't think Campbell says that either, fwiw). The celebration of Eucharist was a development from the Jewish Seder meal, celebrated each Passover since around 1,200 B.C., in which a sacrificial lamb was ritually prepared and eaten in remembrance of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt and the blood of the lamb that saved their first-born from the angel of death. The first Eucharist took place during that meal, and its continuance was modeled after it.
A previous message refered to the atrocities committed against native people by Christian missionaries. When you combine this with Christian-backed wars, religious persecution and millions of other Christian-instigated injustices, it raises the question of whether Jesus' mission to bring peace to the world resulted in miserable failure.
Welcome, George. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to post.
You write of millions of other Christian-instigated injustices. Maybe just a tad overstated?
It's important to make a distinction between the Christian message and how it's been lived. Granted, there's supposed to be a connection, but not necessarily so. Sometimes things have been (and still are being) done in the name of Christianity that are merely justifications for other agendae -- often political in nature.
Also, one must ask if these blemishes on Christian history are definitive, or the exception. I would say the latter; my guess is you wouldn't, correct?
That's a great concern and eloquently spoken.
Thank you Phil for your interesting response.
That is true that most religions have their blemishes. However, Jesus makes extremely ambitious claims regarding his goals for mankind. Among these is creating peace on earth, and instilling tollerance among believers. I think we can all agree that this has not come to pass.
The point was made that this has been caused by flaws among man, rather than the prophit. However, Jesus was well aware of man's flaws. It seems unreasonable that Jesus would not have been more responsive to these faults and taken them into account when he made his proclaimations.
True -- one must not interpret the misdeeds of a few Christians as a judgement on the entire Christian religion. However, how many wars, genocides, and other injustices are permissable before it reflects on Christianity? When there have been hundreds of violent struggles between people professing faith to an identical bible and faith, it makes you wonder Jesus actually intended his word to be "divine."
However, how many wars, genocides, and other injustices are permissable before it reflects on Christianity?
I'm confused here. When was the last time a war was fought in the name of Christianity? Aside from the Crusades, which were about reclaiming the holy land and checking the spread of Islam, what other wars were perpetrated in the name of Christianity?
Genocides in the name of Christianity? Name one. I don't know of any.
However, Jesus was well aware of man's flaws. It seems unreasonable that Jesus would not have been more responsive to these faults and taken them into account when he made his proclaimations.
With all due respect, George, you don't seem to know much about Christianity. If you don't think the crucifixion, resurrection, and gift of the Spirit deal with human faults and the empowerment of the human spirit, then what can one say?
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