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Adrian Gibb
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Hi Denise, I like your replacement wording, it is flexible enough to include that emphasis of the NT over the OT, which I definitely do hold to. It is an age old debate though, I must admit, whether there is a superceding element within the NT and I certainly understand that there are opinions on both sides. A book that, I guess, falls on my side of the fence on this issue can be found here: Thanks for your thoughts. Would love to hear your three great reforms.
Toggle Commented Jun 25, 2009 on What would be your three great reforms? at Open Path
Hi again Deshna, Yeah it is a tricky question. But it comes down, I guess, your approach to God, well, to theism. One can be a Deist, seeing a creative intelligent design to existence but seeing that figure as being distant and not personal. One can be a pantheist, which I think you would susbcribe to Deshna, where God IS everyone and everything and we, in turn are all God (I should probably say here that I have explored this notion myself and for many reasons decided it is not for me. So, to carry on with the analogy, I have already hopped off the fence, walked in your direction, but decided to head back as it wasn't for me. Just important to say that as I don't think I need to re-evaluate at any point, I have already done, but who knows!). Then there is panentheism, which is the notion that everything is WITHIN God, but not necessarily fully Divine in of itself. The illustration often used is if you place a napkin into a glass of water, the napkin stays a napkin, but it is enveloped by the water. Anyway, I would say I am a mixture of all three of these. Yes, I absolutely see the divine in the Dalai Lama and yes, I truly believe that the divine has been manifested in more than one human, as I have said previously. But, again, for me Jesus takes up a unique place, not an exclusive place, but a unique place, in a metaphysical sense, and that is important to me. I think it is important that there isn't this perception that eventually we who adhere to a metaphysical Jesus will 'get over it', or, to quote Dawkins et al, 'grow up'. For me, and I would say for many others, we have reached this position after many many years searching, exploring all the notions and many of the books already mentioned here, and still have come to this conclusion in our faith journey. I guess what I am saying is this, the fence can be a negative construct, certainly, and part of me does wish for more certainty, but all one needs to do is called it a 'middle way' and it can become quite spiritually comforting. I think I am coming around to this mindset, a progressive Jesus whose teachings are emphasised, but a personal belief in a metaphysical side. Hope this all makes sense, rambled a bit!
Toggle Commented Jun 16, 2009 on Sitting on the Edge of the Fence at Open Path
Hi again, I wont reply in a post but in this comment, so will try and keep it short. To fully appreciate how much an obstacle this fence is I can say categorically that I agree with about 99% of what was said in the above post, yet still cannot and could not hold this to be the extent of my Christian faith. I NEED what I guess I will call the 'metaphysical' Jesus to find, within the Jesus story, that 'oomph' that makes me devote myself to Christianity. I could go on for hours as to why I need that, but for this comment let me just say that without the metaphyisical aspect of Jesus, I doubt I would be a Christian. As many of you who have read my posts will know, I am a passionate progressive, but I am one who has within my faith outlook a metaphysical element. I think what the above post and my comment may show is that there is, perhaps, a divide within the progressive movement between those who see Jesus as a wisdom teacher and nothing else (as powerful as that is), and those who add onto that notion a metaphysical aspect. What concerns me is that many Christians, who may have a progressive mindset and who may passionately hold to all 8 points of TCPC, yet also hold to a metaphysical aspect of Jesus, may perceive within the progressive community either an expressed or implied orthodoxy which rejects this notion. So, what can be done? Perhaps the way to get rid of this fence is to make it a moveable one? Perhaps a simple addition to the first point of TCPC may find a common ground for those progressives with and without a metaphysical aspect? At the moment the first point reads: "By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus." But what if this was changed to: "...we are Christians who have found an approach to God through Jesus. We emphasis the life and teachings of Jesus. Belief in any metaphysical aspects of Jesus is left to the individual." Of course I have no right to foist my own opinions of the points onto anybody else, but perhaps the above wording could be that common ground. Emphasise the wisdom teacher and his message, but allow each individual to have that metaphysical aspect if they so wish. Tony Campolo says we should stop worrying about "pie in the sky when we die by and by" and concentrate on what Jesus wanted us to do. Absolutely! But we all know that Campolo would never reject the metaphysical aspect of Jesus. Anyway, I have raved enough. Any thoughts?
Toggle Commented Jun 16, 2009 on Sitting on the Edge of the Fence at Open Path
Hi Fred, Been associated with TCPC for a while now but first direct contact with you I think, so this is a treat. I am reading 'The Third Jesus' at the moment and a similar point is made as the one you make above. It posits the theory that Christianity has been distracted away from the central message and teaching of Christ, that is, a reaching of god-consiousness and truly loving others, by concentrating too much on the divinity and meta-physical aspects of the Jesus story. I find myself well and truly on the fence! I absolutely agree that there needs to be a shift in how one lives a 'christian' life, what that entails, and the egalitarian principles you mentioned above is a perfect example of what that shift needs to be. As Tony Campolo often points out, there are over two thousand scriptures relating to caring for the poor, let's concentrate on what Jesus wanted us to do! I also strongly adhere to the notion that the great commandment and the golden rule should be the lens through which all other aspects of the NT are viewed, including the life of Jesus. My issues arise over the notion of 'demoting', or 'freeing' Jesus so that he may be simply worshipped as a wisdom teacher. The issue I have with this is an absolutely personal one, but perhaps others feels the same way. I respect and validate other wisdom traditions enough that, to be honest, if Jesus was 'just' another wisdom teacher, I doubt very much I would be a Christian. I have said this in another post, I would almost certainly be a Buddhist, maybe a Hindu, because I think the wisdom teaching and contemplative exploration of a relationship with the limitless divine is done far more beautifully and with less contradictions in these faiths than in the christian version. What makes the christian position viable for me is, yes, the wisdom teaching, yes the golden rule and the great commandment, but at a crucial level what makes it viable is that I truly believe that Jesus was, and I guess is, the fullest revelation of the limitless divine. In other words, the Divine showed itself in the form of Jesus, more than other teachers, before or since. Now I am a passionate pluralist, I do not believe that Jesus is the 'only' way, I believe strongly that other faiths can reach the divine. But, for me, Jesus needs to have that special place, that unique position. As I often say, I believe there are many paths to the divine, but for me Jesus is the highway! This is just my take on it and, yep, I guess I am on the fence.
Toggle Commented Jun 13, 2009 on I Wonder Why at Open Path
Hi JRL, I agree with everything you say above. Indeed, my point was that for exclusivist Christians to say there IS an obligation could be considered to be flawed, not only via the basic concepts of inclusiveness and compassion, but also by the Trinitarian position. As most exlusivist Christians tend to be also Trinitarian, it is an interesting paradox to pursue. You are absolutely right that the Church is a human creation, as I said in the above post, the Christian church, along with all faiths, are human beings attempting to interpret and cope with an interaction with that great mystery that is the Limitless Divine. For me, (leaving aside the interesting intellectual exercise of seeing how the Trinity affects pluralism), whether non-christians, whether non-theists even, recognise Jesus as co-terminus (great word by the way) with the Divine is irrelevant. My belief is that Jesus IS a part of that mystery, bound up in it, over and above the Christian or any other faith. Hence my attitude, when people of ANY faith interact with the Divine, I belive they are, knowingly or not, interacting with Jesus (again, that does NOT mean the Christian church). This is merely a personal epiphany of course, but one which I find quite comforting. I should say too, that one could mount a similar argument to say that when one interacts with the divine, no matter what faith, one is interacting with Buddha! However, as I have stated in a previous post, for me, Jesus was the ultimate revelation of the Divine, and Buddhism, it follows, has a groovy touch of Jesus within it.
Toggle Commented Jun 5, 2009 on The Trinitarian Paradox at Open Path
Hi Janet, Will definitely check it out. Adrian
Toggle Commented Jun 5, 2009 on When does the ice break? at Open Path
Hi everyone, Thanks for the responses. I think it only fair that I should say where I come from on this issue. For me the ice would have broken, well, let us say severely cracked, at point four. For me, and this is purely a personal thing of course, a bodily recurrection of Christ is essential for my Christian faith. As progressive as I am, I need that. But the ice would have truly broken, like the above post, in the final points. For me, my faith in Christ is not based upon his central message (as powerful as this is and as representative of Christ as this is) and his mystical contemplative link with the divine or god-consciousness, as a book I am reading at the moment puts it. This same book states that Jesus should be considered to be someone worthy of worship, but not any more worthy than say Buddha or the Vedic sages. I have a problem with this not because I disrespect the above faiths. On the contrary, I have a problem with this because I respect them too much! In all honesty, if all I wished to achieve in my faith (of course, this is no small thing) is an enlightened connection to a god-consciousness that is maybe/maybe not centred within human cognisance and not beyond it, I would, quite frankly, become a Buddhist. They go about this process and I think achieve this in a far more beautiful and less contrary way than Christianity often does. The reason I am NOT a Buddhist, and remain a Christian, alebit a progressive one (!), is that I truly believe that the figure of Yeshua, of Jesus, WAS extraordinary, beyond anything before or after, who conquered death, taught us how to live and die, and was a direct link to the Divine. And when Paul (and let's face it, there is a lot to be mad at Paul about but...)says that if you don't believe Christ rose again you may as well forget it (paraphrasing), I tend to agree. I am open, however, to Borg's stance, that one can suspend one's judgment on whether the Resurrection happened and still be a Christian. I see a lot of sense in that. But to reject the notion, as beautiful as Bishop Spong's idea of a spiritual resurrection is, that is pretty much, for me, where the ice would break. Having said all of that, I should say that when I speak of being a 'Christian' I am speaking of being an adherent of Christ, and not necessarily an adherent of the doctrine and dogma of the Christian Church! Again, would love to hear any responses and the point at which the ice would break for you, if at all.
Toggle Commented Jun 1, 2009 on When does the ice break? at Open Path