October month of witches and spirits

October month and old religions

This week in many regions of the world attention is given to witch culture and spirits, non-corporeal substances contrasted with the material body. We come in a period when it becomes earlier darker and people love to tell ghost stories and look into the matter of incorporeal or immaterial beings, such as demons or deities. Several people love to come in contact with wandering spirits, daemon sprites, supernatural legendary creatures or ghosts.

The prince thanking the Water sprite, from The Princess Nobody by Andrew Lang

In our regions there came a time (Middle Ages) those who practised the Old Religion and worked with herbs and charms were largely ignored by the church and the Inquisition. After the scourge of the Black Death, witchcraft trials began to increase steadily throughout the 14th and 15th centuries.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the figure of the European witch was interpreted and reinterpreted in numerous ways, depending on the orientations of the scholars involved. They described her (typically) as variously an antisocial practitioner of malevolent magic; as a pro-social healer, midwife, and magician condemned by churches and universities; as a victim of mental illness or of accidental poisoning by mind-altering plants; or as a deliberate user of mind-altering plants who sought a shamanic “soul flight.”

Alleged murders by witchcraft and subsequent trials for witchcraft have not disappeared from the world scene, and the fear of cursing, hexing, and causing death by witchcraft remains very powerful in many nations. Black Magic murders have taken place in different states and times.

But some practices intrigued people and the will to know what happens when a person dies made that those intrigued found enough people who were willing to still their hunger to the unknown. fortune tellers always have found popularity and spiritists found always a groups of interested people to come together in private houses to have a special experience with a medium.

The unknown before and after life and Voodoo

Because of the attractive element of the unknown concerning before and after life, plus about the influences on our health, churches made use of the popular ideas of spirits and healing powers. Even in the 20th and 21st century some faith healing is performed in services conducted by the clergy of Christendom and there are communities which celebrate witch nights and halloween. The Noite Meiga (Witch‘s Night), held the last Saturday of August in the municipality Sarria which stands out in the Camino de Santiago for being the population centre with the largest offering of services, is also quite a spectacle and a grand feast in the so called Roman Catholic country of Italy. In many countries where they had negro slaves the pagan rituals and witchcraft melted into the Catholic traditions.

The spiritual practices and beliefs of those enslaved people from Africa and the Caribbean blended. Voodoo became a fusion of their religions which also incorporated Catholicism. {Voodoo in New Orleans}

In countries like Haiti the official religion along with Roman Catholicism is Voodoo, but they are both so interwoven you may find also in the Catholic Church in Haiti voodoo rites.

“In churches, there’s a lot of syncretism (or the combination of multiple religions),”

says David Vanderpool, a missionary and doctor in Haiti.
Vanderpool is the founder and CEO of LiveBeyond, a faith-based, humanitarian organization bringing medical and maternal health care, clean water, education, orphan care, community development and the gospel of Jesus Christ to the oppressed in Thomazeau, Haiti.

“Voodoo is the culture, the way they think. They view the world through a lens of voodoo, and it colours what they do, what they see. They bring it unwittingly into the church, and see mainstream denominations as no different from voodoo.”

Many do not see that they have elements of satanic worship which can be traced to colonization when the French demanded African slaves convert to Catholicism. Rather than fully converting, the slaves named their idols after saints, and the worship of the demons was incorporated into the church.

“The term voodoo,”

says Encyclopædia Britannica,

“is derived from the word vodun, which denotes a god, or spirit, in the language of the Fon people of Benin (formerly Dahomey).”

The most common depiction of the loa Erzulie Dantor is derived from this variant of the sacred icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa.

In Voodoo they may well tell there is only one god, one Supreme Being who created the universe, and this may link back to the Creator Deity in which the people of Israel also believed. The people who like to practice ‘Voodo art’ say this god elevated earthly beings to spirits known as the Lwa or Loa to run the day to day affairs of the world. It is this taking charge of nature and human nature which is in conflict with Bible teaching. For them there is for instance lwas of the winds, love and fisherman. {Voodoo in New Orleans}

They tell they can be master over demons who actively deceive mankind by means of spiritism, which can involve such things as magic spells, voodoo, and spirit mediums. (Deuteronomy 18:10-13; 2 Chronicles 33:6).

Wanting to get in touch with demons and spirits

This particular time of year many are proud to “get in touch with the demons” directly or through a human medium. This is called spiritism about which the Bible tells us we have to abstain from it. Voodoo, witchcraft, magic, fortune-telling, and inquiring of the dead are all forms of spiritism.

The Bible condemns these things, saying:

“There should not be found in you anyone . . . who employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead. For everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah.”—Deuteronomy 18:10-12.

Among non-Christian religions there are voodoo priests, witch doctors, medicine men, and others who also do healing and incantation; they often employ magic and divination. Some “psychic healers” say that their cures have nothing to do with religion.

Coming closer to for many special days to remember spirits, spiritual beings and the dead many want to convince others that

The spirit world is concerned with each and every one of us.

and say that

Our guardian angels take no pleasure seeing us struggle, since they have all been there before. Even though, they comprehend that most times we need the suffering presented to us. But within the confines of letting us survive and learn from our trials, the spirit world actively guides and helps us {How we are assisted during our Trials by the Spirit World}

In the upcoming writings we shall show that there is no such spirit world and that we are not looked after by a spirit world. We also shall show that there is no such thing as a process of reincarnation, which others may confirm may be complex even after birth.  {How we are assisted during our Trials by the Spirit World}

Communicating spirits

It is not because our spirits (our minds) can communicate directly with other people that they would connect with other non-materialistic beings, called “spirits”. In our dreams, our thinking we certainly may learn a lot, but this does not mean that  during our slumber, we learn many valuable lessons from spirits and would “have various conversations with other spirits”. {How we are assisted during our Trials by the Spirit World}  No body was ever able to retain exact memories of such encounters. But some  awaken with general ideas and feelings, which is only because they are fed by such ideas.

If we search for the answer it will come, not because

The spirit world wishes to supply us with all of the tools and inspirations required to prosper while we live on earth. They fully realize the day-to-day problems we encounter, complications which hinder our ability to absorb the lessons we should learn. {How we are assisted during our Trials by the Spirit World}

It is not the spirit world which gently pushes us to the correct solution, but each person is created in the image of God and has an inner feeling implanted by the Supreme Being. We have to listen to our conscience, that governor of our behaviour, with years of experience in many lives, and perform our deeds with moral clarity.

Pagan Samhain and Halloween

Some people bring as excuse that they are unaware of the pagan origins of Halloween symbols, decorations, and customs, most of which are related to supernatural beings and occult forces. In many places meetings are given and people are called to witness a witch meeting or even a black mass. Thousands of Wiccans (practitioners of witchcraft), who follow ancient Celtic rituals, still call Halloween by the ancient name Samhain and consider it to be the most sacred night of the year.

“Christians ‘don’t realize it, but they’re celebrating our holiday with us. . . . We like it,’”

stated the newspaper USA Today when quoting a professed witch.

In shops we can find all sorts of costumes and in magazines articles about spirits which find their way to many homes.

Christians may not forget that celebrations like Halloween are in conflict with Bible teachings. The Bible warns:

“There must never be anyone among you who . . . practices divination, who is soothsayer, augur or sorcerer, who uses charms, consults ghosts or spirits, or calls up the dead.” (Deuteronomy 18:10, 11, The Jerusalem Bible)

10 There should not be found in you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire,+ anyone who employs divination,+ anyone practicing magic,+ anyone who looks for omens,+ a sorcerer,+ 11 anyone binding others with a spell, anyone who consults a spirit medium+ or a fortune-teller,+ or anyone who inquires of the dead.+ (Deuteronomy 18:10, 11, NWT)

see also

Leviticus 19:31:

31 “‘Do not turn to the spirit mediums,+ and do not consult fortune-tellers+ so as to become unclean by them. I am Jehovah your God.

Galatians 5:19-21:

19 Now the works of the flesh are plainly seen, and they are sexual immorality,*+ uncleanness, brazen conduct,*+ 20 idolatry, spiritism,*+ hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions, sects, 21 envy, drunkenness,+ wild parties,* and things like these.+ I am forewarning you about these things, the same way I already warned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s Kingdom.+

Human Autumn traditions

We are living in this world were there are lots of traditions going on, but that does not mean we do have to take part in those traditional activities or do not have to let others know we do not want to take part in such activities.

From within our heart comes our feeling, which should in accordance to the Will of God. A copper-based alloy may deform in colour and so our being when it has a brazen conduct or “shameless conduct.” We should not be proud of a conduct which is not in line with the teachings of Christ and with the commandments of the Most High Almighty God. We have to cause ourselves and others to move in a certain direction, which is in line with the wishes of God. We do have to comport (oneself) in a specified way which is indicated in the Words of God and which everybody can find. We have to bear or conduct (oneself) in the Christian way, being in agreement, harmony, or conformity with the Word of God.

Mark 7:21, 22: 21 For from inside, out of the heart of men,+ come injurious reasonings, sexual immorality,* thefts, murders, 22 acts of adultery, greed, acts of wickedness, deceit, brazen conduct,* an envious eye, blasphemy, haughtiness, and unreasonableness.

The Bible warns us that people will go away from that Word of God and would prefer to do the things most people do.

Jude 4: My reason is that certain men have slipped in among you who were long ago appointed to this judgment by the Scriptures; they are ungodly men who turn the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for brazen conduct*+ and who prove false to our only owner* and Lord, Jesus Christ.+

Let us take that warning to heart that such people are not real lovers of God but they are ungodly or “wicked men” (UKJV).

They turn the grace of our God into uncontrollable lust and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 4:4 ISV)

We may not make the mercy of God an excuse for profligacy.

Those who like to participate in the October festivities of drinking lots of alcohol [The Oktober Fest: world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and travelling funfair)], witch gatherings, Celtic Autumn meetings, Halloween celebrations, should know that many will follow their licentiousness, following their indulgences and because of them, carrying out every impurity with rapacity, the way of truth will be reviled or blasphemed.

Ephesians 4:19: 19 Having gone past all moral sense, they gave themselves over to brazen conduct*+ to practice every sort of uncleanness with greediness.

2 Peter 2:2: Furthermore, many will follow their brazen conduct,*+ and because of them the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively.+

Reincarnation, spirits and spiritism

Many spiritists believe in reincarnation. One spiritist publication states:

Reincarnation is the only doctrine that measures up to our idea of divine justice; it is the only doctrine that can explain the future and strengthen our hopes.”

Spiritists explain that at death the soul, or “incarnated spirit,” leaves the body—like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. They believe that these spirits are later reincarnated as humans in order to purge sins committed in an earlier life. But there is no recollection of those earlier sins.

“God considered it convenient that a veil be cast over the past,”

says The Gospel According to Spiritism.

“To deny reincarnation is also to deny the words of Christ,”

wrote Allan Kardec. But Jesus never preached incarnation. He knew that for God “reincarnation” is an atrocity and no human being should be busy with this at all. All Christians should see that the Bible tells clearly that at death our life comes to and end and than it is finished with us. Than we shall not be able to think or to do anything.
The sent one from God came to tell that there is hope for the living souls who believe in God and live according His Laws. For him it was clear that he could fulfil the promise made in the Garden of Eden and be the Messiah, bringing grace over mankind. For that reason Jesus taught the resurrection of the dead.

Persons coming out of the dead

During his earthly ministry, the Jewish Nazarene did some spectacular miracles. He also resurrected three people — the son of a widow in Nain, the daughter of the presiding officer of a synagogue, and his close friend Lazarus. (Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 7:11-15; John 11:1-44) They had been in the grave and had come back to life but had nothing to tell about some other world down in the earth or at some other place. Later they died again and their body decayed like any other body shall do when life goes out of it.

The world of the dead may be mysterious for us and many may be attracted to come to know “what is over there”. Some people, like witches may make use of that situation and present others some rites of passage.

In order to assist a soul cross over at the time of death, those of the Wicca (and those not of the Wicca – but other witchcraft traditions) have a number of rituals called “Crossings.” {Rite of Passage}

Witches, covens and their rites

Witch Riding Backwards On A Goat

Witch Riding Backwards On A Goat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The witches their coven or or covan, which is a gathering or community of witches, much like a congregation in Christian parlance, may present in the continuation of the Witch-Cult and may try others to believe certain herbs can give them special powers and with certain rites they also can come in contact with pieces of the soul that went on or could be left behind and which are prevented from passing on to the next level. Many wiccans feel it is their duty to help these spirits when they are able to assist with passage and transition.

According to the U.S. Census, the number of individuals professing to be Wiccans rose from the 8,000 reported in 1990 to 134,000 self-proclaimed witches in 2001. A study released in November 2001 by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York found that the number of adults who subscribe to a pagan religion was more than 140,000. {Wicca;Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained, 2003}

Those who follow Wicca, the craft of the wise, maintain that their faith qualifies as a true pagan religion with its beliefs and practices rooted in the processes of nature. {Wicca;Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained, 2003}

Because of Wicca’s rapid growth, however, some adherents now seek more formal organizational plans and credentialing of leaders (priests and priestesses), a trend resisted by those Witches who hold individual and small-group practice and experience to be primary. Wiccans often identify with a particular “tradition”—a school of teaching or an initiatory lineage—but the boundaries between traditions are loosely drawn, and new traditions are constantly being created. {Wicca; Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, 2001,The Gale Group Inc.}

Estimates of the number of Wiccans in North America in 2000 ranged from 300,000 to the low millions. Sociological studies of Wicca show its followers as tending to be younger and better-educated than the population overall. {Wicca; Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, 2001,The Gale Group Inc.}

Mmanifestations and phenomena

According to some sources wiccans do not believe that there is anything supernatural about the manifestations and phenomena associated with this extrasensory area of the mind, but others play with phenomena which are very curious. For them it are psychic powers which lie dormant in everyone, to a greater or lesser degree, and their disciplines are designed to develop these to the fullest.

Wicca conceives of spirit as part of the universal creative principle, existing as a thought form. In keeping with its transcendental nature, Wicca views spirit as the convenient expression for a certain kind of matter, which is thought to contain a dynamic energy of its own. This energy is capable of being transmitted by means of mental activity and can be used to transmute other forms of energy into matter. {Wicca;Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained, 2003}

Working with the Dead

The covens are usually jointly led by a High Priestess and a High Priest, though some are led by only one or the other. In more recent forms of neopagan witchcraft, covens are sometimes run as democracies with a rotating leadership. In the group all try to get control over the elements, how to “whistle up the wind” and call the rain, etc. {Council Cup} They also set out meals for those who are “gone from this world”.  They have a “Dumb Supper” which is a form of group necromancy where they think

the spirits of the dearly departed are set out a special meal (and a meal for yourself too) and is partaken of in silence in order to commune with our dearly departed. {Necromancy and the Dumb Supper}

In some covens, necromancy rituals are performed for 13 nights in a row to summon the appropriate and correct spirits. {Necromancy and the Dumb Supper}

For the wiccans it is a form of working with the Dead{Necromancy and the Dumb Supper} but according God’s Word the dead do know nothing and can do nothing because they are nothing but dust. The idea that a spirit part of humans survives at death and can communicate with the living in not according to God’s Word.

The death, dead people, wicked people, demons and spirits

Jehovah was the first to speak of death. He warned that Adam and Eve would die if they disobeyed him. (Genesis 2:17) What did that mean? Jehovah explained:

“Dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19)

At death the body disintegrates; it goes back to the dust. Life ceases.

In the Holy Scriptures demons and spirits are mentioned. As an adult, Jesus encountered “wicked spirit creatures”. We are even told that they recognized Jesus and addressed him as the “Son of God.” Jesus likewise knew who they were. They were not spirits of dead humans. Rather, Jesus identified them as “demons,” or unclean spirits, people who were ill in their head, or had a disease. — Matthew 8:29-31; 10:8; Mark 5:8.

When there is spoken of Tartarus it is not a particular location, but a condition. Those whose breath goes out of their body are considered death by the Holy Scriptures. As soon as the brain does not function any more, life is gone out of a person and that person is belonging to the dead. The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around. Even the sick persons or the “possessed” or “demons” can no longer materialize and do not have any power or influence over minds and lives. It are the ideas of people which can continue to hover in the minds of folks. Those ideas can continue to grow in our mind and bring us unto other ideas. But it are not persons or some spiritual beings which do that.

The Bible tells us that

“The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing at all . . . Their love and their hate and their jealousy [all of which they felt while alive] have already perished.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6)

Yes, the Bible teaches that the dead are just that—dead!
They cannot think, act, or even worship God.

“The dead do not praise [God]; nor do any who go down into the silence of death,” says Psalm 115:17.

When the breath goes out of our body we shall not be able to speak any more but also not be able to think or do anything. Everything shall be finished and nobody shall be able to contact us again. Then it is too late for us to do something to others and too late for others to do something for us.

The living and the dead

The living “are conscious”, but dead or not conscious any more. When living on this earth we can do things and shall have to sweat, but once we die it is all finished and we shall not feel anything any more. Having paid for our sins there shall be no need any more to suffer for what we have done wrong and we shall land up were everybody of this world will end, the grave (hell, sheol, sepulchre). Even if we would have lots of money or many titles, we shall not being able to escape death and to become something again.

Genesis 3:19: 19 In the sweat of your face you will eat bread* until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken.+ For dust you are and to dust you will return.”+

Psalm 104:29: 29 When you hide your face, they are disturbed. If you take away their spirit, they die and return to the dust.+

Ecclesiastes 3:20: 20 All are going to the same place.+ They all come from the dust,+ and they all are returning to the dust.+

Ecclesiastes 12:7: Then the dust returns to the earth,+ just as it was, and the spirit* returns to the true God who gave it.+

Job 34:14, 15: 14 If he fixes his attention* on them, If he gathers their spirit and breath to himself,+ 15 All humans* would perish together, And mankind would return to the dust.+

Psalm 146:3, 4: Do not put your trust in princes* Nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation. His spirit* goes out, he returns to the ground;+ On that very day his thoughts perish.+

Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20:19 for there is an outcome* for humans and an outcome for animals; they all have the same outcome.+ As the one dies, so the other dies; and they all have but one spirit.+ So man has no superiority over animals, for everything is futile. 20 All are going to the same place.+ They all come from the dust,+ and they all are returning to the dust.+

For our own welfare

For our own welfare, Jehovah warns us against all forms of spiritism. He loves and cares for people, and he knows that those who get involved with demons or spiritism are bound to suffer.

Jehovah God’s Law to the nation of Israel also said:

“There should not be found in you anyone . . . who consults a spirit medium or . . . inquires of the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

The Bible also states that those who practice spiritism in any of its forms “will not inherit God’s Kingdom.”— Galatians 5:19-21.

Those who believe in god and believe in God His son, Jesus Christ, will have something positive to look forward, but it will not come to them straight ahead when they die. they shall be in the grave feeling and knowing of nothing, like they were before born. But there shall come a time that Jesus shall return to call the living and the dead together, to judge them and to open the gates to the Kingdom of God for all who lived according the Will of God.

+

Preceding articles:

Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience

Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences

Being Religious and Spiritual 6 Romantici, utopists and transcendentalists

Being Religious and Spiritual 7 Transcendence to become one

Science, belief, denial and visibility 2

The Importance of the Prophetic

Autumn traditions for 2014 – 2 Summersend and mansend

Autumn traditions for 2014 – 3 Black Mass, Horror spectacles and pure puritans

Autumn traditions for 2014 – 4 Blasphemy and ridiculing faith in God

Reaction on the worship of devils in the Kingdom of Essex

All Saints’ Day

All Souls’ Day

++

Additional reading:

  1. Religions and Mainliners
  2. 2014 Religion
  3. Bible sayings about God
  4. Human Nature: What does the Bible teach?
  5. Your life the sum total of all your choices
  6. A Living Faith #9 Our Manner of Life
  7. Dying or not
  8. Biblical Ambiguity on Death?
  9. Bible sayings on the situation and place for the dead
  10. What happens when we die?
  11. Ontbinding
  12. Souls and Religions with Nirvana and light
  13. Immortality, eternality – onsterfelijkheid, eeuwigheid
  14. Decomposition, decay – vergaan, afsterven, ontbinding
  15. Where does Satan lives?
  16. What is life?
  17. The business of this life
  18. The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around
  19. Fear and protection
  20. Fragments from the Book of Job #1: chapters 1-12
  21. Fragments from the Book of Job #2: chapters 12-20
  22. Fragments from the Book of Job #3: chapters 21-26
  23. Fragments from the Book of Job #4: chapters 27-31
  24. Fragments from the Book of Job #5: chapters 32-37
  25. Fragments from the Book of Job #6: chapters 38-42
  26. Self inflicted misery #6 Paying by death
  27. The Soul confronted with Death
  28. Phoenicians sacrificed infants
  29. Doctrine and Conduct Cause and Effect
  30. Faith antithesis of rationality
  31. Wishing to do the will of God
  32. This month’s survey question: Heaven and Hell
  33. Sheol, Sheool, Sjeool, Hades, Hell, Grave, Tomb, Sepulchre
  34. Departed Souls Await Judgment
  35. Two states of existence before God
  36. A time for everything
  37. We will all be changed
  38. The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ
  39. The one who makes us well and gives life
  40. Necessity of a revelation of creation 4 Getting understanding by Word of God 2

+++

Further reading:

  1. Witchcraft
  2. Witchcraft in Europe, 1450 to 1789
  3. Wiccan, wicca (masc., “wizard”) and wicce (fem., “witch”)
  4. Witchcraft Trials
  5. How Meditation Changes Our Brains
  6. Where is the great Beyond?
  7. My kind of Halloween!
  8. He who goes to a medium should go with a clean inner life!
  9. Voodoo!
  10. What is Vodou?
  11. Voodoo in New Orleans
  12. Voodoo Queen
  13. Devil’s Seed
  14. Things that went BUMP! in the night in15th century Poland
  15. Really?
  16. Adsense Arbitrage Voodoo Review – Hot Or Not?
  17. Voodoo head dies…
  18. Leader Of Haitian Vodou Religion, Max Beauvoir, Dead At 79
  19. Voodoo practitioners mourn the death of leader Max Beauvoir
  20. Old time relijun
  21. Dispelling the myths of Voodoo
  22. New Orleans Experience – Day One!
  23. The Spooky Cemeteries of South Louisiana
  24. 31 Days of Voodoo at Voodoo Farm
  25. The Left-Hand Path, Magic, and Voodoo
  26. Using Creative Arts to Train Haitian Spiritual Leaders on Therapy for “Crooked” Thoughts
  27. Voodoo in Blue
  28. Walker Wednesday – 30/09/15
  29. Voodoo Village: South Africa
  30. An African Village where Dead Children are Made into Voodoo Dolls
  31. Papa Legba
  32. Hollywood Has Zombies all Wrong
  33. The Dark Side of Grace by M.L. Cooper
  34. Voodoo Village: Haiti
  35. Satanic ‘Zombified’ Religion Making Inroads in United States — Charisma News
  36. Soul food with a Voodoo touch
  37. Dirty Hands and Green Thumbs
  38. The Harley Quinn Voodoo String Doll Key Chain Handmade
  39. Jack Sparrow Voodoo String Doll Key Chain Handmade Pirates
  40. Rudimentary Chucky Voodoo String Doll Keychain
  41. Spiritists: When You Sleep You are Being Assisted in Your Quest to Become a Better Spiritist
  42. NDE’s – What people were told
  43. Bronwen’s Two NDE’s and her discoveries
  44. The Life Beyond the Veil – A book Psychographed by an English Reverend – G. Vale Owen
  45. A Course on How to Give Passes
  46. Why we should gladly suffer through our trials here on earth
  47. Want to know the Other Side of the NDE Judgment Experience – Swedenborg has examples
  48. Divine Providence Constantly Makes Sure We See What is True
  49. Mediumship
  50. Dreams and how the Spirit World Assists Us
  51. Spirit court
  52. Spirits, the Dearly Departed … and Reincarnation
  53. Rite of Passage
  54. Incarnation – Necessary for the Progression of the Spirit
  55. Gold Finch [Carduelis Tristis] Symbolic Meaning
  56. Stories of Spirit…Cleaning House [unwanted spirits activity]
  57. Business or Personal Journalling with the Tarot
  58. Seth Speaks: the eternal validity of the soul
  59. The Fox Sisters
  60. Demons and the Unexplained: Demonic Mysteries
  61. Demons USA: Demons in Everyday Life
  62. End Times Quote: Don’t Hang Around Demons
  63. DEMONS: Don't hang around demons.
  64. Exorcism: 10 Observations on Casting Out Demons
  65. Halloween 2014 Quotes: Halloween is Satanic and Demonic
  66. Our Fractal Nature – physics spinning
  67. “P” Poison Has Its Uses #atozchallenge
  68. Grave Silence #art #horrorweek #horror
  69. Reflections #horror #flashfiction #PEN
  70. A Forgotten Life the conclusion Atom
  71. Part One the domino effect
  72. Part Two Strangers
  73. Regret: ‘The Lives We Live’ A Reality Show – 5th Dismissal
  74. Beneath the Tree #2 #Christmas #children #abuse #poetry
  75. Interesting-stuff
  76. Yom Kippur 5776 ~ The Day of Atonement
  77. Submission
  78. The Commands of Yeshua ~ Part 28
  79. CASTING OUT DEMONS: More are familiar with Hollywood rituals than the Bible.
  80. Exposition on Romans 1
  81. Exposition on Romans 2
  82. Departed Souls Await Judgment
  83. The Soul is Not Dead
  84. The “Living” Word
  85. The Whole Point
  86. Created For Responsibility
  87. No More Me but Thee Lord!

+++

Christianity without the Trinity

Nicene Creed in cyrillic writing

Nicene Creed in cyrillic writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since the Council of Constantinople (381) the concept that God exists as three Persons in one Substance has been affirmed has formed a central part of the Christian confession. Though perhaps neglected in Protestant theology, the modern evangelical movement has given considerable emphasis to the doctrine of the Trinity as fundamental constituent of Christianity. Nevertheless a number of groups, including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christadelphians and the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, have from biblical foundations developed a trinity-less theology. In their book The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound, Sir Anthony Buzzard and Charles Hunting presented the argument that the doctrine of the Trinity is both a misrepresentation of the biblical doctrine of God and a liability that weakens Christianity’s power.[1] The controversy caused by The Myth of God Incarnate opened up to scrutiny the doubts of ‘respectable’ theologians about the ideas surrounding the divinity of Christ.[2]

The question I wish to consider in this article is what would Christianity without the Trinity look like, and is such a Christianity desirable? This can only be a cursory survey of the issues involved nevertheless I hope that this review prompts a reconsideration of the centrality ascribed to the doctrine of the Trinity in Christian theology.

A Platonic Doctrine

English: Diagram of the Holy Trinity based on ...

Diagram of the Holy Trinity based on the Hebrew word רוח “air, wind, spirit” having feminine grammatical gender in the Hebrew language (though in fact in a significant minority of its occurrences in the Hebrew Bible, the word actually has masculine grammatical gender). Could be considered “non-orthodox” by the criteria of the traditional mainstream of Christian doctrine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When theologians write about the doctrine of the Trinity they cite great luminaries like Augustine and Karl Barth, and, occasionally, the Bible.[3] But rarely will one pause to consider the theological pioneers of later Christian doctrine, such as the early apologists. Yet any scholar who deigns to do so will come against the awkward fact that the concept of a triune god is not Christian at all, but has the Platonists as its progenitors.[4] If Justin Martyr held a doctrine of three divine principles (First Apology 13), it is because Middle Platonists like Numenius of Apamea held this doctrine first. And the first thinker to propose three co-ordinate divine members of a trinity was not one of the Cappadocian Fathers[5] but a bitter enemy of Christianity, the Neo-Platonist Porphyry.[6]

The Platonic doctrine of a triune god is an imposition upon Christianity and an imposition that diverts Christianity from its original message and purpose. The simplicity of Christ’s teaching was supplanted by philosophic complexities that are seldom consistently defined. And thus too, the Bible was, in part, supplanted, because where in the Bible can one go to find theological definitions about the Trinity? It is noticeable that the Nicene Creed quotes verbatim from the New Testament regarding almost every aspect of belief except its definitions of the nature and trinity of God, where philosophic terms are supplied instead.[7]

A return to the teaching of Christ and the apostles would necessitate a reversal of the Platonic influence upon Christianity and thus require the revoking of the doctrine of Trinity.

The Role of Christ

In early Christian thought Christ was understood as a mediator. Paul writes ‘there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ’ (1 Tim 2:5). This relationship between to God and Jesus was seen through the role of high priest, Paul describing Christ as ‘making intercession’ for believers (Rom 8:34). Paul does not connect the intercession of Christ to any supposed divinity but to his ascension to the right hand of God. We find the same concept used in Acts when Peter says of Christ ‘God has exalted him to his right hand to be a prince and a saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins’ (Acts 5:31).

The writer to the Hebrews makes this concept his own, repeatedly naming Jesus ‘High Priest’. As with Paul, this intercession is linked to the literal ascension of Jesus from the earth to the right hand of God, ‘passing into the heavens’, as the writer puts it (Heb 4:14). Christ’s entry into the presence of God is described as a high priest entering the Holy of Holies (Heb 9:11-12). And, unequivocally, Christ becomes High Priest, not by intrinsic divinity but by the calling of God (Heb 5:5-6, 10, 6:20).

Other early Christian writers also view Christ has a mediator between God and men. Clement of Rome describes Jesus as ‘High Priest’, saying that he was ‘chosen’ by God (1 Clem 64). Ignatius too uses the term ‘High Priest’ but also describes Christ’s intercession through another figure, saying ‘he is the doorway to the Father’ (Ign.Phil 9). Also see Polycarp’s letter to Smyrna, where he too says Christ is ‘High Priest’ (12).

If Christ is promoted to the Godhead (and the Holy Spirit too), who then intercedes on behalf of believers? Historically, this problem was ‘solved’ by the introduction of a series of other go-betweens, namely the Saints and the clergy. In modern evangelical theology can alternative ‘solution’ has been posited, namely that Christ, whilst ontologically co-equal with the Father, remains subordinate and can thus perform his scripturally defined duties of intercession.[8] Yet this fudge simply results in the conundrum that Jesus is neither fully co-equal, nor fully mediator.

Sola Scriptura

Luther Bible, 1534

Luther Bible, 1534 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw both the invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into the common tongues of the people of Europe. And following almost immediately on the heels of these developments was the emergence of groups that denied the doctrine of the Trinity. The Socinians, the Brüder in Christo and other unitarian groups were founded across Europe, teaching that the Bible alone was authoritative and that the Bible knew nothing of the Trinity. The problem for the Protestants was clear. The Reformation was founded on the principle of sola scriptura, and yet these groups, who also held the principle of sola scriptura, denied the doctrine of the Trinity.

English Protestant theologians wrestled with this problem throughout the seventeenth century. They urged that the believer needs both scripture and reason, and hoped that reason itself would be sufficient to safeguard the Trinity. Catholic theologians pounced upon the dilemma, challenging the Protestants to meet the objections of the Socinians by scripture alone or else return to the Catholic rule of faith.[9] The consequence of these disputes led English Protestants to neglect the doctrine of Trinity, passing over it in silence, a tacit admission that with scripture alone as the rule of faith the Trinity could not be sustained.[10]

Vickers bemoans the demise of the Trinity as the impact of an emphasis on the Trinity as a set of propositions (the immanent Trinity), and urges a return to the invocation of the Trinity in the believer’s encounter with God (the economic Trinity).[11] Yet, as Karl Rahner declares, the economic Trinity is the immanent Trinity; it would make little sense to invoke God as Trinity if that set of propositions cannot be assented to. Given then the failure of Protestant theologians to defend the doctrine of the Trinity by scripture alone, it seems we must either abandon the Trinity or the founding principle of the Reformation, sola scriptura.

Modern evangelicals attempt to hold both sola scriptura and the Trinity, and yet it seems no evangelical can preach about the Trinity without reference to the creeds.[12] Though evangelicals may claim that the bible alone is authoritative, there is implicit in many evangelical writings a retreat to tradition to defend the doctrine of the Trinity.

Interfaith Dialogue

Christianity is oft categorized as one of the three great monotheistic faiths, alongside Judaism and Islam. Yet the Trinitarian conception of monotheism is determinedly different from that of either Jews or Muslims. Inasmuch as the Trinity is three Persons in one Substance, the Trinitarian claim to monotheism is an ontological one. However, viewed from a liturgical perspective it is hard to escape the fact that Trinitarian Christians claim to experience God in plurality, worshipping three Persons as God. This feels very different from the Jewish experience of a uni-personal God, and seems to have more in common with Hinduism’s conception of Brahman.

The upshot of this is that in dialogue with other monotheistic faiths the Trinitarian brings to the table a plural conception of God. However carefully the theologian may define the Trinity ontologically as one God, the bread-and-butter of traditional Christian liturgy is hopelessly poly-personal. Christians may claim to be monotheists but they appear for all world to practice polylatry. This hampers interfaith dialogue (and ultimately evangelism).

The issue is not simply that Christians experience God differently from other faiths, but that they define God differently. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim to adherence to the God of Abraham, and yet the Trinitarian definition of God is simply alien to both Jews and Muslims (and, one must assume, would have been alien to Abraham himself). Therefore Christianity’s most primitive form of evangelism, preaching the coming of Jewish Messiah, is robbed from it by a doctrine that fundamentally alters the conception of the God of Abraham.

The Atonement

One proposition above any other motivates the continued emphasis on the doctrine of the Trinity in modern evangelical theology: that only God could be sufficient substitute to bear the punishment due to mankind. It therefore becomes necessary that Jesus was fully God to bring about the atonement and to question the Trinity is treated as tantamount to denying the salvation of believers.[13] Yet this doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement is a relatively new doctrine; it certainly did not motivate the doctrinal innovations that led to the formulation of the notion of the Trinity.

It is beyond the scope of this article to digress into a full rebuttal of the notion of penal substitutionary atonement but, in brief, there are at least two reasons why Christianity would be better off without such a doctrine.

Firstly, none of the New Testament writers appeal to the idea of a substitute to explain the atoning sacrifice of Christ. The analogy to the brazen serpent speaks of a representative icon (John 3:14-15); the analogy to the Passover lamb speaks of a representative offering (1 Cor 5:7); even the analogy to the Day of Atonement speaks of a representative death (Heb 9:11-14). The recapitulation theory that Paul develops at length (Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:20-22; Phil 2:5-11) knows nothing of a substitutionary death, rather an offering of obedience to God (Rom 5:19). Even the very words of the NT writers presuppose a representative understanding of the Christ’s death, using huper (‘on behalf of’) in preference to anti (‘instead of’) in almost every instance where the death of Christ is described (cf. Luke 22:19-20; John 6:51; Rom 5:6-8; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Cor 5:14; Gal 1:4; Eph 5:2; 1 Thes 5:10; 1 Tim 2:6; Tit 2:14; 1 Pet 2:21; 1 John 3:16).[14]

Secondly, the notion of penal subtitutionary atonement skews our notion of God. The psalms describe a God who does not desire sacrifices (Ps 40:6; 51:16). Hosea states that God prizes mercy above sacrifice (Hos 6:6; cf. Matt 9:13, 12:7). The idea of a God who requires sacrifice as a prerequisite for mercy seems inconsistent with this picture. Rather the biblical concept of forgiveness is one without price or condition; the king in the parable, moved with compassion, writes off the debt of his servant without any requirement of some other source of remittance (Matt 18:22-27). Followers of Christ are instructed to forgive freely; are we then more righteous than God, who only forgives at cost? This notion would seem to annul the very idea of grace and portray God as limited and constricted by the requirements of Justice, unable to act freely upon His compassion. This is not the God of the Bible.

Christianity without the Trinity

Christ Church

Christ Church (Photo credit: Nathan Kavumbura)

There are some that feel that without the doctrines of the Trinity and of the incarnation Christianity is doomed to failure. It is claimed that robbing Christ of his divinity makes his message and mission of null affect, and ultimately leads to a denial of the atonement, the resurrection and miracles in general.[15] Unfortunately in some cases, such as the Unitarians (capital ‘U’), this has been the result, Jesus being treated as just a righteous teacher. However there is no reason why the reductive process of removing the doctrine of the Trinity from Christianity should be a purely negative process. Rather it is, I am arguing, a restoration of the primitive Christian faith.

What, then, would Christianity without the Trinity look like? A unitarian creed might look something like this:

  1. There is one God (Mark 12:32), who is the Creator of all things (Eph 4:6) and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:6; 2 Cor 1:3).
  2. There is one Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 8:6; Eph 4:5), the Son of God (Rom 1:4) born of a virgin (Gal 4:4; Matt 1:23; Luke 1:27f), who lived a sinless life of obedience to God (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:22; Rom 5:19), was crucified and rose the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4). Through his death Christ reconciled man to God (Rom 5:10).
  3. There is one Spirit (1 Cor 12:13; Eph 4:4), the power of God (Luke 1:35), by which God inspired the prophets (2 Pet 1:21) and works miracles (Gal 3:5).

What would Christianity without the Trinity feel like? It would feel more reminiscent of its Jewish roots, more consistent with its claims to monolatry, more reflective of scriptural language, and more intelligible to its adherents.

It has oft been claimed that those who deny the Trinity aren’t real Christians. Yet a ‘Christian’ (Greek christianos) by definition is a follower of Christ, and if this is to be anything more than a nominal title then those who claim to be Christian should follow Christ, in both his teaching and mode of life. Jesus Christ preached the God of Abraham (Matt 22:32) as his Father and as the one true God (John 17:3). Isn’t it time for the teaching of Christians to reflect the teaching of Christ?


[1] A. F. Buzzard & C. F. Hunting, The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound (New York: International Scholars Publications, 1998).

[2] The Myth of God Incarnate (ed. J. Hick; London: SCM Press, 1977).

[3] Cf. M. A. McIntosh, Divine Teaching: An Introduction to Christian Theology (Oxford: Blackwell 2008), 111-178

[4] T. E. Gaston, The Influence of Platonism on the Early Apologists, The Heythrop Journal 50.4 (2009), 573-580.

[5] Pace I. S. Markham, Understanding Christian Doctrine (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008), 76-7.

[6] J. Dillon, ‘Logos and Trinity: Patterns of Platonist Influence on Early Christianity’, in The Philosophy in Christianity, (G. Vesey ed.; Cambridge University Press, 1989).

[7] E.g. “Light of Light, very God of very God”, “being of one substance with the Father”, etc.

[8] R. M. Bowman, Why you should believe in the Trinity (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989), 78-81.

[9] J. E. Vickers, Invocation and Assent: The Making and Remaking of Trinitarian Theology, (Grand Rapinds: Eerdmans, 2008), 69-101.

[10] Vickers, Invocation and Assent, 165-7

[11] Vickers, Invocation and Assent, 191-2

[12] cf. S. Olyott, The Three are One (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 1979), 101-2; N. Gumbel [Alpha Course], Is the Trinity Unbiblical, Unbelievable and Irrelvant? (Eastbourne: Kingsway, 2004), 7;

[13] cf. J. I Packer, Knowing God (Leicester: IVP, 1984)166-170.

[14] The single exception to this rule is Matt 20:28 (cf. Mark 10:45), “to give his life a ransom for (anti) many”.

[15] Cf. Packer, Knowing God, 46+

Please do find to read:

  1. Did the Inspirator exist
  2. God, Creation and the Bible Hope
  3. God of gods
  4. A god between many gods
  5. Only One God
  6. God is One
  7. “Who is The Most High” ? Who is thee Eternal? Who is Yehovah? Who is God?
  8. The Divine name of the Creator
  9. God about His name “יהוה“
  10. Jehovah Yahweh Gods Name
  11. Sayings around God
  12. Attributes of God
  13. One God the Father, a compendium of essays
  14. Some one or something to fear #6 Faith in the Most High
  15. God Helper and Deliverer
  16. God is Spirit
  17. Praise the most High Jehovah God above all
  18. Praise and give thanks to God the Most Highest
  19. Lord or Yahuwah, Yeshua or Yahushua
  20. Yahushua, Yehoshua, Yeshua, Jehoshua of Jeshua
  21. Jesus begotten Son of God #12 Son of God
  22. Seeing Jesus
  23. Jesus Messiah
  24. Christ begotten through the power of the Holy Spirit
  25. Who was Jesus?
  26. Jesus spitting image of his father
  27. Jesus and his God
  28. Is Jesus God?Jesus and His God
  29. Jesus is the Son of God but Not God the Son
  30. How much was Jesus man, and how much was he God?
  31. On the Nature of Christ
  32. Jesus spitting image of his father
  33. Yeshua a man with a special personality
  34. A man with an outstanding personality
  35. Reasons that Jesus was not God
  36. The wrong hero
  37. He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. #1 Creator and His Prophets
  38. Jesus begotten Son of God #5 Apsotle, High Priest and King
  39. Jesus begotten Son of God #13 Pre-existence excluding virginal birth of the Only One Transposed
  40. Jesus begotten Son of God #14 Beloved Preminent Son and Mediator originating in Mary
  41. Jesus begotten Son of God #19 Compromising fact
  42. One Mediator
  43. Nazarene Commentary Luke 3:1, 2 – Factual Data
  44. A fact of History or just a fancy Story
  45. Politics and power first priority #2
  46. Politics and power first priority #3 Elevation of Mary and the Holy Spirit
  47. A promise given in the Garden of Eden
  48. 2 Corinthians 5:19 – God in Christ
  49. Christ Versus the Trinity
  50. Is God a Trinity?
  51. The Trinity – true or false?
  52. The Trinity – the Truth
  53. The Trinity: paganism or Christianity?
  54. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  55. How did the Trinity Doctrine Develop
  56. How did the doctrine of the Trinity arise?
  57. History of the acceptance of a three-in-one God
  58. Questions for those who believe in the Trinity
  59. Altered to fit a Trinity
  60. Preexistence in the Divine purpose and Trinity
  61. The Great Trinity Debate
  62. TD Jakes Breaks Down the Trinity, Addresses Being Called a ‘Heretic’
  63. Compromise and accomodation
  64. Written to recognise the Promised One
  65. Christ begotten through the power of the Holy Spirit
  66. Do not be afraid. Good news because a Saviour has been born
  67. About a man who changed history of humankind
  68. No Other Name (But Jesus)
  69. Doesn’t the name “Immanuel” show that Jesus is God, and therefore proves the Trinity? (Isa. 7:14, Mat. 1:23)
  70. Is Isaiah 9:6′s “Wonderful counselor” related to Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8′s “Immanuel”?
  71. Why does Isaiah 9:6 call Jesus “Mighty God, Everlasting Father”?
  72. In the death of Christ, the son of God, is glorification
  73. One Mediator between God and man
  74. Philippians 1 – 2
  75. Worshipping Jesus
  76. Idolatry or idol worship
  77. People Seeking for God 2 Human interpretations
  78. People Seeking for God 4 Biblical terms
  79. Patriarch Abraham, Muslims, Christians and the son of God
  80. Science and God’s existence
  81. Science, belief, denial and visibility 1
  82. Blackness, nothingness, something, void
  83. Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences
  84. Joseph Priestley To the Point
  85. Hanukkahgiving or Thanksgivvukah
  86. Not all christians are followers of a Greco-Roman culture
  87. Thanksgivukkah and Advent
  88. The professor, God, Faith and the student
  89. Concerning gospelfaith
  90. Creator and Blogger God 7 A Blog of a Book 1 Believing the Blogger
  91. Apologetics (23) – The Hard Questions: Which God? The Exclusivity Issue (7) The Resurrection and Exclusivity
  92. Pluralis Majestatis in the Holy Scriptures
  93. Finding and Understanding Words and Meanings
  94. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #10 Prayer #8 Condition
  95. Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  96. Edward Wightman
  97. Focus on Jehovah’s Witnesses
  98. Book of Mormon (5): God and Jesus
  99. The Book of Mormon: (7) Right First Principles are Essential to Getting it Right
  100. What the Qur’an Says About…(2): Jesus
  101. Creation’s Gospel: (12) The Veiled Glory

+++

Additional reading:

  1. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  2. Trinity: A False Doctrine of a False Church
  3. Part 2) God is not a Trinity
  4. The Trinity: paganism or Christianity?
  5. Unitarianism and the Bible of the Holy Trinity
  6. Trinity: The Truth about Matthew 28:19 & 1 John 5:7
  7. Anyone Who Goes Too Far and Does Not Abide in the Teaching of Christ, Does Not Have God
  8. Is Jesus God?

+++

Also of interest:

  1. Trinity Proof Texts Considered
  2. Unitarianism and the Bible of the Holy Trinity
  3. Can Genuine Christians Be Trinitarian or Non-Trinitarian?
  4. Trinity Doctrine vs Oneness Pentecostalism Doctrine – Berean Perspective Podcast
  5. The Unholy Trinity
  6. The Trinity: A Fundamental of the Faith or a Fable?
  7. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  8. Jesus Christ and God – Some Basic Considerations
  9. The Trinity – A Doctrine Overdue for Extinction
  10. What About Those Who Do Not Know The Name of God?
  11. The Existence of Jesus Christ
  12. The Doctrine Of The Trinity
  13. The Top Ten Most Important Church Councils
  14. Cult or True Religion
  15. Reimagining the Historicity of the Bible
  16. Bishop T. D. Jakes says he now embraces the Trinity Doctrine: T. D. Jakes was interviewed by pastor Mark Driscoll and pastor James MacDonald on January 27, 2012 at Harvest Bible Chapel
  17. TD Jakes Breaks Down the Trinity, Addresses Being Called a ‘Heretic’ By Nicola Menzie
  18. T.D. Jakes is Heretical Concerning Modalism Whether he Believes it or Not
  19. Changed Heart for @StevenFurtick & @BishopJakes: Conviction in The #ElephantRoom. Lessons for dads?
  20. An Elephant Room Roundup
  21. Mark Driscoll And The Mars Hill Churches: When Discipline Becomes Control Becomes … ?
  22. Heretical Modalism and T.D. Jakes Doctrine On the Trinity
  23. The Leader of the Episcopal Church is a Heretic
  24. Critiquing N.T. Wright’s monotheism
  25. God, the Trinity
  26. This Is That – 1
  27. Dwell
  28. A brief visit to the Father of Revolution and Evolution
  29. Who Are You Really Slandering?
  30. On Union with God
  31. By the oaks of Mamre

+++

  • Nineteenth Century Protestant Doctrines of the Trinity (redeemingthetext.wordpress.com)
    The discussion in chapter nineteen of The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity is, in brief form, one of how Enlightenment philosopher-theologians developed innovative ways to discuss the Trinity and their effectiveness leading into the twentieth century.
    +
    Immanuel Kant, a German Idealist continuing the exegesis of the Socinians, saw no need for the doctrine of the Trinity. It was this idea of “necessity” mixed with speculative interpretation that led many like Kant to dismiss it altogether. Questions addressing God’s being, volition, and self-consciousness brought to light some of the supposed weak spots in the Trinitarian doctrine. Not being convinced scripturally of the nature or the necessity of the Trinity, nineteenth-century theologians turned to philosophy to answer their questions. Powell describes it as providing “philosophical answers with expressly Trinitarian features (269).” This move loosened the shackles of theological presuppositions and creedal traditions. Nineteenth-century theology was freed to philosophically construct a new horizon for the doctrine of God. Powell examines four prominent figures to structure his argument.
  • Hans Kung on Trinity Part 2 (presenttruthmn.org)
    This is continued from the previous post on the Trinity. It is taken directly from Hans Kung’s book ‘Christianity: Essence, History and Future’

    All this should have made it clear that according to the New Testament the key quesiton in the doctrine of the Trinity is not the question which is declared an impenetrable ‘mystery’ (mysterium stricte dictum), how three such different entities can be ontologically one, but the christological question how the relationship of Jesus (and consequently also of the Spirit) to God is to be expressed. Here the belief in the one God which Christianity has in common with Judaism and Islam may not be put in question for a moment. There no other God but God! But what is decisive for the dialogue with Jews and Christians in particular is the insight that according to the New Testament the principle of unity is clearly not the one divine ‘nature’ (physis) common to several entities, as people were to think after the ne0-Nicene theology of the fourth century. For the New Testament, as for the Hebrew Bible, the principle of unity is clearly the one God (ho theos: the God = the Father), from whom are all things and to whom are all things.

  • A Theology Big Enough for the Gospel: Reviewing Mike Bird’s Evangelical Theology (marccortez.com)
    despite the fact that Bird mentions the image of God throughout, clearly viewing it as an important topic that has bearing on a range of other issues, he devotes only five pages to it, one of which is just a recitation of the relevant biblical verses. His excursus on infra- vs. supralapsarianism is almost as long! And union with Christ hardly gets any attention at all. In a systematic theology, pages are like currency; what you invest in shows what you value. And I was surprised at a few of the investments.
    +
    Bird affirms a social trinitarian approach, defining the divine persons as “self-aware” beings who are “capable of consciousness” (p. 615), and he even refers to separate consciousnesses in the Trinity (p. 118). Regardless of whether you think social trinitarianism is viable, Bird’s discussion simply fails to deal with the historical and theological objections that can (and have!) been raised. And unfortunately, these aren’t isolated incidents.
  • What’s Old is New Again: The Return of “Biblical Unitarianism” (southernreformation.wordpress.com)
    While I’m used to defending the deity of Christ against the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or fending off Mormon misunderstandings of the doctrine of the Trinity, I never thought I would see professing “conservative evangelicals” who were willing to jettison the central dogma that makes Christianity…Christianity.But it’s happening.

    I can name at least three churches in my immediate area (i.e., within 25 miles of my home) who have either had to turn away prospective new members because they wouldn’t affirm the Nicene formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity, or who have only found out that a new member denied the Trinity after the individual had already been received as a member (in this case, it was kept hidden from the elders).

    What’s more, I know of at least two seminary students (at Presbyterian and Reformed seminaries, no less!) who have informed their professors that they don’t out and out deny the Nicene Creed, but they’re not sure they can affirm it, either.

  • “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” (1peter58.wordpress.com)
    “The Bible says…” The real issue here is that these individuals, and also those that belong to very young churches/institutes, claim for themselves the authority to teach new doctrine, claim for themselves the authority to reject unchanged ancient doctrine. How do you decide when to trust that a doctrine is truly of God? How do you decide what is a false doctrine not of God?
  • Theophany, Epiphany and the Holy Trinity (orthodoxmom3.wordpress.com)
    Giving recognition to the Holy Trinity is an important aspect of the Holy Orthodox Church.  When we pray we make the sign of the cross.  The thumb and first two fingers represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The bringing of these three fingers together signifies that we do not believe in three gods, only ONE GOD.  Everything we do is in the name of the trinity: baptism, forgiveness, marriage, the confession of our faith (Nicene Creed) etc. The Trinity expresses the essence of our faith.  The work of salvation begins with the Father who created the world, is realized by the Son through His death and resurrection, and is completed through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
  • Because the Bible Tells Me So (mackerelsnapperblog.wordpress.com)
    Whenever a Catholic debates the Faith with a non-Catholic — Christian or atheist — the very first argument that often gets brought up is that Catholic teaching contradicts the Scriptures.

    “Catholics believe (X), but (X) isn’t in the Bible”

    First off, let me put this out there and get it over with — Catholics do not believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, which translates to “Scripture alone.” Unlike many Protestant beliefs, Catholics do not accept the Bible as the highest authority on doctrine. This may sound like a heresy to some, but it isn’t. The Church isn’t derived from the Bible. In fact it’s quite the opposite. It is precisely because of the Catholic Church that the Bible even exists

  • Sola Scriptura? (preacheroftruth.com) + > Sola Scriptura?
    Pythagoras is said to have been the earliest outside of Scripture (Isa. 40:22) to contend that the earth is round. He did not make the earth round with his assertions, but identified what already was.  Sir Isaac Newton certainly did not create gravity, but he is credited for our modern understanding of it.  Likewise, the term “sola scriptura” is not found in scripture (similar to terms like “trinity” and “omniscience”), but it was coined during the “Reformation Movement” as part of Martin Luther’s protests against perceived corruptions of the Catholic Church.  It was a “Latin phrase (literally ‘by Scripture alone’) describing the Protestant theological principle that Scripture is the final norm in all judgments of faith and practice.
    +
    Scripture is God-breathed, making one spiritually complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  If Scripture is sufficient, what need is there for anything beyond it?  On what basis would we accept anything more or less than or different from the Bible?  How could fallible man be equal to or co-authorize with the perfect law of the Lord?  Let us accept no substitute or rival to the Bible!
  • (1) The Two Pillars of the Reformation (altruistico.wordpress.com)
    The Protestant Reformation saw the advancement of the Gospel and an understanding of right doctrine that hadn’t been seen since the time of Christ and the Apostles. It drew Christianity out of the dark ages of the faith; a time when the Scripture was forbidden to be read in the language of the people, when superstition reigned, where abominations within the church leadership was a norm, and when a knowledge of the Truth was virtually unknown. But to the glory of God, He rekindled the fire of the Gospel, and it spread like a fire in a barn of hay. The Reformation has given us such a wealth of knowledge of the truth of Christ’s teaching that I personally will never be able to ingest all of.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience

According to a response on “Focus on outward appearances” some people might be confusing religiousness and spirituality with “having good faith in God“, with that God being the Divine Creator of heaven and earth.

spirituality shelf

spirituality shelf (Photo credit: professor megan)

Spirituality, which has not at all its origins in Christianity, is as old as the street, is a striking aspect of our contemporary times and stands in stark contrast to the decline in traditional religious belonging in the West.  Spirituality is about the quality of being spiritual and comes from the Old French “espiritualte, espirituaute”, variants of “spiritualite”, from Late Latin “spiritualitatem” (see spirituality). It was the church in the late 14th century  early 15th century made it to something which only could belong to “the clergy“. For the clergyman it was impossible that an other person than a qualified priest could know something about the spirit, the spiritual or spiritual life. for them spirituality became “ecclesiastical property; things pertaining to the Church“. The seldom-used sense of “fact or condition of being a spirit” is from 1680s.

The spirituality could mean or concern the immaterial, immaterialityincorporeality, otherworldliness, unearthliness. Spirituality can be the condition or quality of being spiritual but also the state or quality of being dedicated to a god or to the God, religion, or spiritual things or values, especially as contrasted with material or temporal ones. It is the involvement in an inner exploration of the meaning of the existence and the relation to the universe. To quote Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary (2nd ed., 1997), spiritualism is an

“attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action,”

Spiritualism in philosophy is a characteristic of any system of thought that affirms the existence of immaterial reality imperceptible to the senses.

English: University library of Nijmegen: Encyc...

At the University library of Nijmegen a world of knowledge is available to the visitors. With the Encyclopædia Britannica people can start their quest in Spirituality and mind awareness. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

So defined, spiritualism embraces a vast array of highly diversified philosophical views. Most patently, it applies to any philosophy accepting the notion of an infinite, personal God, the immortality of the soul, or the immateriality of the intellect and will. Less obviously, it includes belief in such ideas as finite cosmic forces or a universal mind, provided that they transcend the limits of gross Materialistic interpretation. Spiritualism as such says nothing about matter, the nature of a supreme being or a universal force, or the precise nature of spiritual reality itself. {Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia  Vol IX, p429, 15th edition,1974, 1980}

We may accept that it is the willingness of a person to take the attitude in his or her mind to have a broad sweep in thought, feeling, and practice, all pointing to the inner, subjective world of the spiritual being, the essence of live and the relationship of the human being with its environment, cosmos, plants, animals and different organisms.

It would be totally wrong to base it on an a priori theological standpoint, because it is rooted in the human search, in experimentation, questioning and exploring which existed already long before the theologians where born.

In the very old religions there was already long before Christ interest in the “dharma” meaning the “cosmic law and order” our relation in nature and to each other. The word Dharm means the “path of righteousness”. It is a path many people in the world have sought for through the many ages and it is the path the Creator wants His creation to find. Millions of people wanted to get deeper into their mind and did a quest for finding their own spirit. Spiritualism may be all about that, finding your spirit.

Spiritualism was equated by some Christians wi...

Spiritualism was equated by some Christians with witchcraft. This United States 1865 broadsheet also blamed Spiritualism for causing the Civil War. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The religion Spiritualism, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living is something totally different. In the 19th century tension between the fanciful and the logical was made explicit, though journals denounced spiritualist beliefs in the supernatural, including “the whole business of mediums and seances”. People wanted to see how far they could go in the extremes of human folly, and if it would be possible to come in contact with people who lived previously. At the end of the previous century more Western people came in contact with Buddhism where there is the believe that we reincarnate after we die. such idea makes the people afraid of their present attitude because they know in case they are not behaving well they will reincarnate in a lower being to have a horrible life.

By the years people got convinced they could not escape the same inevitable destiny, of loosing our life. Death is something nobody can escape. We shall all die one day and many do want to know what happens when we die. They want to know if there is an afterlife and how it looks like.

By the end of the 20th Century, many had become dissatisfied with the Christian Church, especially the Roman Catholics, and had found they had many dogmatic teachings which were not in accordance with what was written in their Holy books, the Bible. Because this life did not seem to be able to bring the reasonable answers for the future, and not making them to come to full happiness, the hope to have more opportunities to grow until full happiness could be reached, looked the solution.  Believing in an afterlife for many meant believing in something which makes our lives more meaningful. With the years more people started believing again, like the ancestors in the early times in life after death and renowned spiritual mediums also talk about reincarnation and the existence of spirit world.

Also the branch of Spiritualism developed by Allan Kardec Spiritism, today found mostly in continental Europe and Latin America, especially Brazil, emphasising reincarnation is something totally different than Spirituality where people search for “the sacred“. That special thing which is “set-apart”, “holy” or “sacred” can be broadly defined as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration,

“a transcendent dimension within human experience…discovered in moments in which the individual questions the meaning of personal existence and attempts to place the self within a broader ontological context.” {Saucier 2007.}

Religion may be considered as

“the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.”

like the American psychologist William James (1842–1910) distinguished this personal, experiential element ”spirituality” within religion from the

“theologies, philosophies, and ecclesiastical organizations [that] may secondarily grow up” around the experience ([1902] 1985, p. 31).

Viewing religion broadly as a transcendent and often transforming experience, he left open the form of the experience itself and the devotional object at the centre of that experience. Being religious is being considered to adhere a form of religion. This is not only restricted to the Christian belief like so many think. Shamanists, Hindus, and Muslims may be even more religious than many Christians are. 20th  and 21st century surveys prove many Christians are less religious than people from other religions. Buddhists, Sophrologists, Confucians and other eastern philosophical religions are more religious and much more spiritual than the sec Christian counterparts. For many Christians there is not at all a reason to go deeper in the mind of the self For many Christians spirituality is certainly not the primary and motivating quality of their religion.

Whether the religion in question, is organized or of movement status or mostly individual; and whether it involves God, Allah, the Supreme High Being, the God of gods, Jehovah, Yahweh, other gods or other-than-human guides and spirits, or the centre of the Self, or an almighty Nature or the Almighty Most High, or an Ideal held to be worth living or dying for, it often concerns looking for a special situation of the self, a Nirvana, Cosmic Consciousness, Christ Consciousness, the Void and a spiritual inner, experiential aspect of being not bounded by a specific Christian religion. It is a general region of awareness within which people of all sorts of denominations or religion may experience, not just think about, a higher power, the absolute, with whatever title or name they may be willing to give to that higher substance, or whatever label is used for that which is not an object but which instead forms the undivided ground of all being (Huxley). Spirituality can also refer to actions arising from such spiritual experiences, the human being looking into the matter of the immaterial.

The spirituality is the willingness to come to think about the matters of the universe and to engage one self in practices that heighten the possibility of spiritual experiences. In addition, those who experience spiritual levels of consciousness often feel called to serve, and spiritually rooted service takes many forms.

Spiritual experience can occur at several levels: physical, emotional, cognitive, and transcendent. Spirituality is a quality that can infuse experience in a wide variety of settings. Spiritual experience can be both transcendent and immanent: it can be both an experience of transcending worldly concerns and an intense present-moment perception that the ground of all being permeates all things. The essence of spirituality is an intense aliveness and deep sense of understanding that one intuitively comprehends as having come from a direct, internal link with that mysterious principle which connects all aspects of the universe.

+

To be continued with: Being Religious and Spiritual 2 Religiosity and spiritual life

++

Read also:

  1. Living in faith
  2. Self-development, self-control, meditation, beliefs and spirituality
  3. Religion and spirituality
  4. Theology without spirituality sterile academic exercise
  5. Childish or reasonable ways
  6. Words to push and pull
  7. To mean, to think, outing your opinion, conviction, belief – Menen, mening, overtuiging, opinie, geloof
  8. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands
  9. Making church
  10. Church sent into the world
  11. Women, conservative evangelicals and their counter-offensive
  12. Cosmos creator and human destiny
  13. Immortality, eternality – onsterfelijkheid, eeuwigheid
  14. A concrete picture of what is to come in the future
  15. Happiness is like manna
  16. Happiness an inner state

++

Additional reading:

  1. Is spirituality a passing trend? by Philip Sheldrake
  2. Spiritualism in The Saturday Review and The Princess and The Goblin
  3. Dealing with the inevitable
  4. Possibility of reincarnation?

+++

  • Research For Spirituality (f1mediaconcepts.wordpress.com)
    We asked a range of students what spirituality meant to them. The most popular responses included these phrases: 

    • Rest for your mind
    • Time to think things through.
    • Values and morals.
    • Inner self
    • Mind and soul
    • Sense of freedom and expression.
    • Religious beliefs and having faith in something
    • Ghosts
    • Afterlife

    +
    Another character we look to include is a religious one. We aim to show the religious aspects of spirituality through the means of this character. There are many angles that can be taken on this, but we have chosen to focus on the Christian lifestyle. We feel that this will be the easiest to convey and understand due to the fact that the majority of people in Coventry are of Christian faith  (53.7%) http://www.facts-about-coventry.com/uploaded/documents/Census 2011 Briefing – Religion.pdf (2011 consensus). By applying core values and beliefs of Christian spirituality we will develop the character and a narrative about how they react to outside stimulus. This reaction will also contribute to how we create generic conventions of the Structured reality genre. This is due to the fact that these types of documentaries are structured around drama and conflict. These conflicts will exist between the outside stimulus, other’s values and this character’s values.

  • Spirituality is a way of life (aaaglass.wordpress.com)
    Spirituality is not about a religion. Neither is it about gods and rituals. Spirituality is the ability to see  the spirit of the creator in everything around us , be it a flower or a stone. And then to act and behave accordingly. We come to this earth to live our lives, fulfill the purpose of life as we evolve, learn and teach others through our existence and then move on to another from of life as we go back to our creator. May I am not spiritual as I would like to be. But one thing is certain – I am not a religious. For me Spirituality is a principled way of life; it’s an attitude. There are a dozen attributes to life, to building a positive attitude, embedded in the very word ‘Spirituality’. Let me walk you through each letter of the word ‘spirituality’ (As mentioned in one of  the article of Rajashree Birla published in TOI).
  • Immaterial (lifeontheapex.wordpress.com)
    Just as theism contains a huge number of organized belief systems (and a potentially infinite number of unorganized belief systems), atheism, while not a belief system in itself, includes in its definition a wide variety of beliefs systems as well. A simple lack of belief does not define a philosophy, but once one has rejected theistic systems many secular options become available, including, but not limited to Rationalism, Materialism, Nihilism, Existentialism, Humanism, and secular varieties of Eastern religion such as Buddhism, Taoism, and Jainism.
    +
    Some argue that ‘atheism’ shouldn’t just indicate disbelief in gods and other spiritual entities, but a complete rejection of all things immaterial.
  • What Wishes to Come to Being through You? (agentleinstigator.wordpress.com)
    “By this age, the ego strength necessary for self-examination may have reached a level where it can reflect upon itself, critique itself, and risk altering choices, and thereby values as well.”
    +
    “Only what is experientally true is worthy of a mature spirituality… A mature spirituality will seldom provide us with answers,  and necessarily so, but will instead ask ever-larger questions of us. Larger questions will lead to larger life.”
  • Wealth usually distracts one from a spiritual path (transientreflections.com)
    Wealth and Spiritual / Religious paths rarely mixes due to the fact wealth usually distracts one from a spiritual path.
    +
    the choice is yours alone so I can not tell you which to follow nor fault you on which you choose. It is a God given gift of freewill that gives you the ability and right to choose your own path.
  • Consumerism vs Spirituality (theiamvibration.wordpress.com)
    Consumerism is a general term with different contexts and therefore slightly different meanings. In this context however, it refers to the materialistic lifestyle, concerned with the acquisition of material things through the process purchasing. In other words it is the culture of buying goods and services.
    Spirituality, likewise does not have a single set definition, because it is a culture so universal that it has a translation in every prominent lifestyle. It is the search of a greater purpose, better and healthier living, in faith of ascension to divinity. The pursuits of spirituality are immaterial in objective.
    The two are based essentially on two opposite premise, one material and one immaterial.
  • Spirituality and the Rat Race: can you maintain a spiritual focus in the 9-to-5 world? (findingtheinnerway.com)
    Can a working professional in a high-stress job maintain a consistent spiritual focus—or are the stresses of work incompatible with the contemplative life?
    +
    Everything in modern city life is calculated to keep man from entering into himself and thinking about spiritual things. Even with the best of intentions a spiritual man finds himself exhausted and deadened and debased by the constant noise of machines and loudspeakers, the dead air and the glaring lights of offices and shops.
    +
    There are some people who are perfectly capable of tasting true spiritual peace in an active life but who would go crazy if they had to keep themselves still in absolute solitude and silence for any length of time…what a hopeless thing the spiritual life would be if it could only be lived under ideal conditions.
    +
    Like all things in life, I suppose it’s about balance, about finding the happy medium between the working life and the contemplative life. It’s a fluid situation, with the demands of work ebbing and flowing—but then isn’t finding and defining our purpose in life fluid as well, a constantly moving target?
  • Paul Lenda ~ 9 Ways To Spot A Fake Guru Or Spiritual Teacher (shiftfrequency.com)
    The old paradigm of life-controlling and mind-manipulating belief systems has left many to finally realize they have been living in an artificial reality created by egotistical people on power trips. This has led to a situation where many are wandering, trying to find their own way in a world without many true leaders, and as a result of this, a new market has developed which attempts to showcase answers to those people who have become disillusioned with the old dogmatic systems.
    +
    There’s an influx of ‘enlightened masters of the universe’ pervading the spiritual sphere these days. Gurus and spiritual teachers are popping up left and right. Many of them seem to provide an easy way out of the voids many people feel they have within their lives, and as a result these gurus and teachers make a ridiculously massive amount of money… even earning social ranks akin to being glamorous superstars.
    +
    genuine spiritual teachers and self-growth coaches are often disregarded as being ‘false gurus’ giving out spiritual-sounding nonsense that lacks substance and is unhelpful for a person’s spiritual growth.
  • (#7) Family, Huh, Yeah, What Is It Good For… (bushmansblogi.wordpress.com)
    Our greatest joys and deepest sorrows are most often experienced within the context of family.
    +
    It is in the home where either a spiritual void is discovered or a spiritual direction is initiated. This is seen in experiences that families go through together and how they adapt, as well as in family traditions, and finally, even the absence of spirituality in the home aids children in determining their own beliefs.
    +
    Lack of spirituality in the home contributes in a different way, but nonetheless contributes, to children’s spiritual development. For many, they believe or don’t because their parents did or didn’t. Yet for others, as they mature they begin to recognize the spiritual void felt in their home and they seek out answers. Many children or young adults are introduced to religious matters through school, media, or friends. The lack of spirituality in their home perhaps causes them to desire it more.
  • Deep Within, We Want it All By Brenda Hoffman (renardmoreau.wordpress.com)
    For many there is an additional more personal piece. You wish to recreate some of the glories of past lifetimes. All of you have experienced both depravity, because of religious teachings, and lives with extreme levels of fame and wealth.You are now more interested in your past glories than the religious penitence that marked at least one of your lifetimes. Yet, you will not allow yourself access to the glories and riches you hold dear in this time and place because you are not certain you can achieve your goal – or that you want to.
  • Are Esoteric Teachings Missing from Christianity? (jesusweddingthebook.wordpress.com)
    In my opinion, Christianity is the only tradition that openly celebrates both spiritual paths. I can agree that there is no secret teaching, because both spiritual paths are out in the open for everyone to see. However, by definition, the esoteric teaching is the second leg of the spiritual journey. The esoteric teaching does not have to be “secret” in order to maintain its mystery. The mystery of the esoteric path can only be revealed when the exoteric path or first leg of the spiritual journey is fully completed.
  • Discovering the Truth (cosmicmacduff.wordpress.com)
    for me it has been and is the walking that is important, not any place that I might arrive at or achievement I might accomplish.  I think that I have discovered  a lot since I started, but do not consider myself “enlightened”,  just aware of who  I am.  For me this primary truth, a recognition that there was/is something  more to me (my soul)  than my physical body, is what allowed me and still allows me, to find meaning and purpose in life.
    +
    there is nothing you need outside of yourself.  Everything you need to know about yourself you already know.  Pursuing or walking a spiritual path is the way in which you will re-discover or access the truth about yourself.
  • Artists forge their own spiritual path at Promenade Gallery – Mississauga (allowinglove.wordpress.com)
    “The Art of Conscious Living,” challenges the traditional view of spiritual enlightenment through abstract paintings each coupled with poetic verse.
  • Meditation – Do try it! (trishbarcatta.wordpress.com)
    Some people find it hard to drown everything else out so as to quiet the mind, but you don’t need to do that. You can just gently bring your focus back to what you need to and not be so hard on yourself.
  • How To Begin On The Spiritual Path (anandasingapore.wordpress.com)
    The seeker cannot be confined to a particular religion, rather, he or she must embrace the Divine teachings of all religions, and bow humbly, and revere the saints of all religions, for all saints have attained to Godhood, and making any distinction within the Fundamental Unity of God is contrary to the Divine Path.
    +
    The Same Thought …
    no saint can say anything different from other saints, because the God all saints revere is the same, except that Prophets down the ages have said things in different ways according to the social circumstances of the times.
  • Am I A Religious Person? (elephantjournal.com) + But is it my religion?
    I’ve heard it said that religion is having someone else’s spiritual experience and spirituality is having your own. It’s certainly true that some Buddhists venerate the Buddha or other teachers to such a high degree that they are just having the Buddha’s experience and not their own. I don’t do that. The Buddha warned us against doing that. He said, “Don’t worship me,” and right after his death, people started doing it.

    I really don’t think the Dharma of the Buddha is a religion—at least not as I practice it.
    +
    we’ve all heard people say, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” I’ve always thought that was a little weird, but it’s probably relatively accurate.
    +
    I believe in spiritual awakening. If I have a religion, maybe spiritual awakening is what it should be called.
    +

    So I’m Told God Isn’t a Buddhist!
    In the East, there was a more pragmatic approach in dealing with reality as it presented itself. Taoism and Buddhism in particular face the real illusions of the mind with philosophies rooted in the nature of man—always geared towards finding harmony.
    +

    To define Buddhahood or Buddha as God is an impossibility as Buddhism teaches self-reliance and that every being is given the opportunity to awaken. Yet, since Buddhahood exists in all things, it really depends on how you define God. God has so many definitions, understandings and misunderstandings. And, tellingly, the gods of Buddhism must ultimately die.

    The core of religious belief is the understanding of a spiritual way to inhabit the world. Whether one uses terms such as God, Buddha, Jesus Christ or Krishna, does not change the intent. The tree is still the tree. The bird is still the bird. If you jump into a lake, you will still get wet!

  • Daily Teaching for Wednesday, November 27th (bishopcraig.com)
    Thankfulness is a practice that acknowledges that we really cannot possibly control everything that happens to us. It is therefore an expression of humility, one of the most important spiritual virtues.
    +
    Daily Teaching for Wednesday, December 4th
    Every generation believes that their children’s generation is something of a lost cause. The difference is that this time my generation just might be right.
  • Simply Being With Nothing to Be: A Commentary (edoshonin.com)
    Renunciation of unskilful attitudes and behaviours is therefore a prerequisite for entry onto the spiritual path. Many people believe that spiritual renunciation means forgetting about the world and everything we know. However, this represents a mistaken understanding because rather than forgetting about or turning one’s back on the world, true spiritual renunciation means completely surrendering oneself to, and becoming fully immersed in, the world. In order to surrender ourselves to the world we have to let go of all our attachments and all our aversions. We have to let go of hope and fear. If we harbour hopes then we leave ourselves exposed to suffering. Hope means that we are not content with the present moment and that we wish to try and change it. However, the only way to really change the present moment is to immerse ourselves fully in it – hope stops us from doing this. If we have hope, then we automatically have fear. We are fearful that our hopes will not be realized. Many people think that in order to be happy they need hope. But this kind of happiness is very conditional and is reliant upon the presence of external factors.
  • Gyo-shin-ki Evolution (gyoshinki.wordpress.com)
    We all spend a great deal of time learning techniques.
    +
    Our techniques are a utility to learning how to interact with the current situation with unified body, speech and mind. Without a deep exploration beyond the shapes, the forms and techniques are fundamentally worthless for the purpose of the art – realization and manifestation of truth.

Catholicism, Anabaptism and Crisis of Christianity

Coming to an end

Christianity, as most people living in the industrialised countries have known it, is according to some in its final death throes. We can not deny that almost all denominations in those countries where most people do love the money, have witnessed dramatic reductions not only in church attendance but also in membership numbers and fewer converts are entering the faith than at any time in its history.

According a Greensboro, North Carolina native in an ever-changing and progressively postmodern world it is becoming increasingly difficult for western Christians to engage the wider culture in a meaningful way.  He writes:

Much of this dilemma can be attributed to the plurality of denominations and traditions indebted to the old and dying Christendom system which had dominated western society for centuries.  As Christendom has withered, Christianity has increasingly been pushed into the margins civilization.  We are entering the age of post-Christendom.  Although the coming era is replete with uncertainty it is also abundant in opportunity.

Danger for the grip of the Roman Church

Through the ages several organisations tried to get more people in their grip. The Roman Catholic Church in the early centuries of this common era succeeded to have her organisation grow enormously, though the way how they did it was not always very lovingly or like their ‘example’ Jesus would have done. For a long time the church tried to control and dominate the world and even took care that people would not be able to study the Holy Scriptures themselves.

The renaissance put fire in the spirits of the people who got so much hunger for knowledge they where willing to look everywhere and were willing to discuss many things with each other, prepared to feed each-other freely. The why and how was something man intrigued from the beginning, but by the possibility to get ideas of other on printed material it became much easier to look into the needs and possibilities of the own spiritual life. They also found out, to the dislike of the church, that Bible study was the best tool to enrich the spirit or soul.

Bischof Ulfilas erklärt den Goten das Evangelium.jpg

Ulfilas, or Gothic Wulfila: little wolf (also Ulphilas. Orphila) explaining the Gospels to the Goths in the 4th century CE.

 

As Christianity spread to the borders of the Roman empire, translations had been made, like in the third century Armenia where the first official Christian nation set a pole in the ground, having  Mesrop, Bishop of Armenia (390-439), creating an Armenian alphabet so the Bible could be translated into the language of his people.
Ulfilas who spoke Greek and Latin as well as Gothic and devised the Gothic alphabet, became an able missionary to the barbarian tribes and offered his his translation in Germanic language of the fourth century. Ulfilas organized the Gothic church and was its spiritual head for forty years. At this time the Goths had no written language, so Ulfilas devised an alphabet so he could begin to translate the Bible for them.

The Cyrillic alphabet, developed by two brothers who were missionaries to the Slavic people in the ninth century could bring a further advancement in Bible reading. Cyril and Methodius continue to be highly revered among the Slavic peoples today, not only for bringing Christianity to the people, but for creating the literary language of the Slavs.

Call to read the Bible

At the European continent even the educated, however, rarely saw an entire Bible. Bibles were very rare, large, expensive, and usually in 2-3 volumes. Sometimes the wealthy would have translations of the Psalms or the Gospels. During the crusades the books of Kings (the Sepher M’lakhim), with its history of warfare and fighting, became popular, and crusaders sometimes had personal copies of these sections of the Old Testament.

The Catholic church did not mind that many people could not read and that their teachings were brought to the general public in many imaginative ways like interpreting the religious books through mystery plays performed at festivals or the carvings and stained glass windows of cathedrals or in church music and great art.

In Flanders, France and Germany lived stubborn people eager to get to know things, but also finding that they should bring the message of Jesus to as much people as possible. Peter Waldo and his followers, called the Waldensians were among the first to demand Bible study by the common people. Heaving those sacred words spread under common people was not to the liking of the hierarchic clergy. The church authorities feared that the Bible in the hands of the uneducated would only produce heretical departures from official church doctrine. For sure they were aware that people also would find out where the teachings of their church would not coincide with the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.

Light in the Dark days for those wanting to hear God’s Word

Having translations of the Scripture was often banned by the church, and many were punished for having a Bible in their own language. These were dark days! As the Hebrew prophet said, there had come a famine for hearing the words of the Most High Master Creator God.

“See, days are coming,” declares the Master יהוה {Jehovah}, “that I shall send a hunger in the land, not a hunger for bread, nor a thirst for water, but for hearing the Words of יהוה. (Amos 8:11 The Scriptures 1998+)

Though God took care that darkness could not stay in the land of those who wanted to know.  After a thousand years of medieval darkness the Word of God could return with help of the magnificent printing press with movable type Johannes Gutenberg had invented. This greatly increased the speed of printing books. But because such an easy spreading of the Word of God looked like a sword going around in the wild for the Catholic Church. The illumination of the Word of God changed the hearts and minds and the motivations of the people who heard.

Disparities unmasked

Roman Forum and surroundings

Roman Forum and surroundings (Photo credit: KayYen)

By having the opportunity to see the Words of God black on white made that more people became appalled to see the obvious disparities between what they saw in the Bible and what was being practised by the Church of Rome. The selling of indulgences by the church, supposedly securing the release of loved ones from Purgatory, was the last straw for Luther. Protesting this outrage, and numerous other grievances he nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg Cathedral. This sparked off a religious conflagration with the Roman Church in Germany. With Duke Ferdinand of Saxony and other German princes coming to his aid Luther avoided being taken into custody by the Roman church where he most certainly would have been burned as a heretic. Indeed, during the previous century in 1415 this had happened to a faithful priest in Bohemia, John Hus. Luther’s stand at the German city of Worms was historic. It was a defining moment for the church. And it led western Christendom into the Reformation. That re-thinking of what was to be concluded from the reading of the Bible made that many different ideas brought people in different camps, making their own churches.

Central Europe was to become a battlefield of ideas and so called religious people all fighting in the name of God.From the scriptures the Bible-searchers or Bible-students had come to believe that Jesus was the one to follow and not so much the Church which called it self the Universal Catholic Church. For many believers in the Word of God, Christianity was a matter of personal faith, not national or church sponsored citizenship. Nor was it about which church or cathedral they belonged to. For them it was also clear that they did not need such a huge construction as church building to worship God. Many eyes were opened by reading the Bible. As such they became to see that believe and faith was all about a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ and a personal faith walked out with him daily. Some of them were also convinced that a faith in Christ Jesus had to be fulfilled in following Jesus his teachings and following the examples the apostles gave in the early centuries after Christ.

Evangelical movement

With the possibility of having a cheaper and easier reproduction than the work of the scribes the Scriptures could reach the common man which had an enormous impact on European and English history. The Reformation led to the evangelical movement. Unfortunately its politicization led to a great tragedy. The awful 30 Years War wrecked Germany. It was left in such a ruined state that it would not recover for 200 years out of which the Anabaptist movement came which could be called the ”bakermat’ or cradle of the many Biblestudentgroups or Bible Student movement like the non-trinitarian Baptists, Millennialist Restorationist Christians, Brethren, Brothers in Christ or Christadelphians, Thomasites, International Biblestudents, Russellites, Associated Bible Students, or Independent Bible Students, Dawn Bible Students, Jehovah’s witnesses and others. Many of those denominations still existing today payng their taxes to the governing powers but not willing to take oaths of allegiance with the political or ecclesiastical princes, whoever they might be. In following the Master teacher Christ they also would not take up arms with or against any army coming into their valleys, whether they were Protestant, Catholic, Muslim or pagan.

For their stand in the peace of Jesus Christ they were bitterly persecuted from both sides. Millions of Anabaptists and other non-trinitarians, being called sacrilegious, irreverent, profane, blasphemous, wicked, sinful, unholy, iconoclastic, ungodly, impiousheretics, died at the hands of Catholic and Protestant powers alike. In Vilvoorde, in Flemish Brabant, near Brussels (the present capital of the European Union) thousands found their life ended by so called Christians because they only wanted to adhere to One and Only One God, following the teachings of Jesus Christ. They continued to die for over 200 years. This story has not been told. It has been cut out of the history books. From these determined Christian separatists came the peace loving Amish, Hutterites, and Mennonites along with the Brethren and some primitive Baptists of the free church tradition. They remember this history. Most Christians don’t.

More important to follow the Words of the Bible

These people who found it more important to follow the Holy Scriptures instead of organisations and rejected the sword, were still full of Christian zeal. But they had given up on a church that had corrupted itself by going to bed with the state. They would prefer to go to their secret Christian meetings, even if they were under the constant threat of being arrested. If an Anabaptist met another on the pathway they would challenge him with the scripture,

“You cannot serve two masters”.

If the other man was an Anabaptist he would smile and reply,

“You cannot serve God and mammon”.

The Anabaptists resolved to keep their little church pure in devotion to Christ. They were weary of seeing the hideous mixture of the cross and the sword played out before their eyes year after weary year. The sword had been stained with Christian blood. To their mind it had become a despised and shameful thing. It no longer had the sacred power of chivalry it once held over them. They had seen its dark side. It had come to the point where they were going to turn their back on politics and make the peaceful preaching of the Gospel their prime concern come what may. At this time the first missionary outreaches were organized. The Mennonites, the Baptists, the Brethren and many other Christian groups began to send out missionaries beyond European shores. A new era in Christian missions had begun.{The Puritans, by Gavin Finley}

Into the waters

Those who set out sailing aboard the Mayflower during the fall of 1620 and the later pioneers who build up the ‘New World’ we know today as the United States of America, had got enough time crossing the ocean to discuss with others the Bible and faith-matters and believed in the Judeo-Christian values.

Today the descendants are now in the driver’s seat of global power and played a vital role, which could be in danger now by China becoming bigger. But those progenies of searchers for the truth who were also called to bring God’s grace and God’s shalom into this world became also blinded by denominational dogmas and by the fun of the world. In the country where evangelicals became the majority those Christians took more and more the same dogmatic teachings as the earlier Roman Catholic Church and started using the Word of God less and less in their church services. Several even only use just some phrases in their shouting in front of mega churches, performing a show, hoping to catch as many spectators  and as much money as possible.

A 15th-century Mass

As the years went by, those studying the Holy Scriptures grew smaller and the ones claiming to be evangelist went less out to preach to others, preferring only to go to a Sunday service or mass when they wanted to make time for it or on special days, more connected to holdays which took on many heathen elements, like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, All-Saints a.o.. They also started to react fierce and went with violence against those who prefer to humbly keep to the Word of God. Those who witnessed on the streets where laughed at, and many jokes were told about those who came to witness at the door. The spreading of the Word of God from door to door dropped off. With it non-trinitarians their urge to attract others to their teachings diminished, except for the Jehovah Witnesses which strongly continued their assignment to spread the Good News of the coming Kingdom.

Global responsibility to preach in biting climate

Lots of people forgot that the Christian Gospel is destined to be preached to all nations. (Matthew28:18-20) Most of them are satisfied with their church visit now and then and not having to be bothered by reading the Bible daily or having to discuss Biblical writings. At first those Bible students in the 19th century got people interested in God and made that churches grew. The age was host to a variety of religious and philosophical thinkers. with a.o. Joseph Smith, Jr. and Brigham Young, founders of Mormonism, and Ellen White religious author and co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The new media in the 20th century made those churches grow even more, but by the amount of entertainment increasing the amount of serious churchgoers decreased.

Gavin Finley MD of Endtime Pilgrim organisation writes:

Christians are having trouble remembering their global responsibilities both politically and spiritually. This is truly unfortunate. Because it happens to be the gateway into their destiny.

A spirit of acquisitive materialism has grasped many Americans by the heart. Even Christians are being led away from the Highway of holiness. Their church ministers are even helping them to set up their own, often narcissistic, ‘purpose driven life’. They are scarcely aware that epic global events are even now beginning to unfold before their eyes. Great dramas of biblical proportions lie up ahead. And these coming events will certainly affect them!

Many people liked first of all to find a religion which could suit as many people as possible. Jesuit theologian Father Jacques Dupuis, at the 2003 interfaith congress “The Future of God” said:

“The religion of the future will be a general converging of religions in a universal Christ that will satisfy all … In the end, it is hoped that the Christian will become a better Christian and each Hindu a better Hindu.”

Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul are convinced that:

“The Christ has no religious barriers in His consciousness. It matters not to Him of what faith a man may call himself.”

“He [‘the Christ’] inaugurated the new era and … the new world religion began to take form. The word ‘religion’ concerns relationship …”

“The day is dawning when all religions win [sic] be regarded as emanating from one great spiritual source; all will be seen as unitedly providing the one root out of which the universal world religion will inevitably emerge. Then there will be neither Christian nor heathen, neither Jew nor Gentile, but simply one great body of believers, gathered out of all the current religions.”

No wonder by such thinking that the religious people who love traditions are eager to take on new festivals and funny things which can brighten up their lives, but bring them further from the truth and the Will of God. Many coming up for their own modernised denomination are often not aware that they could be offending the God of Israel as they journey on.

Rick Warren may said:

“I could take you today to a million villages … they got a church. Or they got a synagogue. They got something. They got a house of worship. The church is the biggest organization in the world…. And I came up with a thing called the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. When Jesus sent the disciples out, he said, ‘When you go into a village, you find the man of peace.’ Now this person doesn’t have to be a Christian…. You find the person of peace, and then you begin to do the P.E.A.C.E. Plan … Now why am I telling this to you? Because we’re going public with it this next year in 2006…. And I believe it will change the world.”

but the Church of God is totally something different than the church of men. For us it should be the most important priority to belong to the Church of God and not to the favoured church of men. It is high time to react to the changing times while living faithfully, communally, and missionally in a world that grows increasingly indifferent and even hostile towards what Christianity should be.

In his book The Naked Anabaptist, Stuart Murray offers seven core convictions of “stripped down” Anabaptism.  Not exhaustive nor entirely unique to Anabaptism they could provide a helpful focus for understanding what the Anabaptist tradition offers to the wider Church.

The one to follow

Our example, teacher, friend, redeemer Jesus Christ, the focal point of God’s revelation, should be the one who as Christians should follow. We should remember what God said about this Nazarene Jew and what this young man said about his heavenly Father, his relationship with the Most High and with others.  We are committed to a Jesus-centered approach to the Bible, and to the community of faith as the primary context in which we read the Bible and discern and apply its implications for discipleship.

Western culture slowly emerging from the Christendom era

In Forks in the Narrow Road is said that Western culture is slowly emerging from the Christendom era, when church and state jointly presided over a society in which almost all were assumed to be Christian. But that is a typical American point of view, because there are stronger religions in the East where more unity in the group can be found than by Christians.

Whatever its positive contributions on values and institutions, Christendom seriously distorted the gospel, marginalized Jesus, and has left the churches ill equipped for mission in a post-Christendom culture.  As we reflect on this, we are committed to learning from the experience and perspectives of movements such as Anabaptism that rejected standard Christendom assumptions and pursued alternative ways of thinking and behaving.

Consumerism and peace

Today people want to have a higher place than somebody else in the community. Consumerism rules the world. The rule of division and dominion hold sway in this world of heartburning, where jealousy is encouraged. People cheer when somebody can come in the picture with something special and many idols are worshipped like gods. Some churches in the United States even say it is a gift of God to receive higher positions in life and to get more money, when people will give enough tithing or many offerings in their church. Status, wealth, and force are put in the picture and framed as only possible when people take care much of their church and are willing to give enough to their pastor or minister. Such frequent association of the church with status, wealth, and force is inappropriate for followers of Jesus and damages our witness.  We are committed to exploring ways of being good news to the poor, powerless, and persecuted, aware that such discipleship may attract opposition, resulting in suffering and sometimes ultimately martyrdom. Americans nor others simply cannot ignore the call here. They cannot sit around and do nothing while the world descends into nuclear anarchy and destruction. They must do what they can to further the cause of peace and security in the world. They can support their country by showing their Christian attitude and getting people to understand the Word of God, supporting Gospel and humanitarian missions overseas as well.

Churches are called to be committed communities of discipleship and mission, places of friendship, mutual accountability, and multivoiced worship.  As we eat together, sharing bread and wine, we sustain hope as we seek God’s kingdom together.  We are committed to nurturing and developing such churches, in which young and old are valued, leadership is consultative, roles are related to gifts rather than gender, and baptism is for believers.

This adult baptism is an important sign for the people around us. It may not be the end-mark, like it is for many contemporary believers, but should be a beginning on the road to the Kingdom of God. It should also be a mark of being “under God”, confirming one is willing to give himself totally to the Divine Creator. Following Christ and wanting to become like him, also being “under Christ” one is charged with bringing God’s just peace upon earth. This may not always be possible in the midst of a raging of nations against Israel and against the coming Messiah. But where it is not possible to bring a political peace then Christians have another arena in which to work. In the Spirit of grace the Gospel outreach in the local areas and overseas missions brings peace to individual hearts one soul at a time. And the coming Kingdom of Messiah will bring the “peace on earth” that men of good will have always longed for.

Peace is at the heart of the gospel.  As followers of Jesus in a divided and violent world, we are committed to finding nonviolent alternatives and to learning how to make peace between individuals, within and among churches, in society, and between nations.

With the idea of non-violence, sharing the love of Christ and the love of God, those loving the Word of God should show their love for that Word and their admiration for Christ and his Father to the world. Graciously, God will be prepared to come closer to those who love Him and will be willing to give them helpful tools for finding their way. Many may have no idea where they are going and may perhaps not see the road ahead of them. Nobody can know for certain where it will end, except that we may be sure that one day Christ Jesus will come back to this earth to judge the living and the dead, and then it will be too late to change of course. It is now and today that we have to stay on tangent and work on our spiritual life.

The course to steer

Lots of people are following their denomination without looking deep in their heart and into the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. They may think they are following God’s Will, but do not really check it with the Guide God has given the world. Some may know that they perhaps do not follow or live according the Will and the commandments of God. They may wonder if the believe that the desire to please him or Him does in fact pleases God the Father. Real Christians should hope that they will never do anything against the commandments of Christ and nothing against the commandments of God.

Dixie Building

Dixie Building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unfortunately, it appears that many American Christians are unaware of their sacred calling. Lots of them shout high with their so called Judean Christian values, but they do not see they went far away of those rules and values themselves. Many are drifting off into forgetfulness. They are not interested in America’s peace role in the world. And they are also ignoring the call of the Great Commission. The Gospel is not supposed to stay just in Main Street, USA. American evangelicals have a responsibility to take the Good News into all the world. The Christian Church is a global company. In fact it went global on the day it began 2,000 years ago. It went global on the Day of Pentecost.

Since that day when the apostles became gifted with the Spirit, and could much more than they ever thought they could accomplish, by the Power of God. But already in their time the people wanting to follow Christ also wanted to follow their own ideas, and false teachings soon crept in. By the years we found that a group wanted to exclude themselves from the other followers of the Way, by declaring themselves the only one true Universal Catholic Church. It took many centuries before Protestants came in the picture to, in their turn, also make many divisions and subdivisions, creating many churches or countless denominations torn asunder by harsh wars of words and weapons.  The religious world could find in that Christian world many groups and individuals claiming exclusive access to the “truth.”

It’s a reality that is not only saddening and confusing but scary.  Terrifying questions creep into the mind.

“How can I be sure I am actually following the truth?  What if they’re right and I’m wrong?  Am I believing a lie?  Am I some kind of heretic?  Am I going to hell?  Is my faith real if I have doubts?  Who is God really? “

We would advice you to have a look at the only place which can bring full answers. But to see the right answer you should have to be strong enough to put all the things you have previously learned aside. It is a matter of daring to put away dogmatic teachings, by that we mean, not returning to come back to those things they told you just to believe because we can not understand it, for example the immaculate conception, the pre-existence of Christ, the godhead of Christ, the Trinity and some other human church teachings. By daring to tackle the Word like the scribes and Bible-translators made it accessible for us to read it in our own language or in a language we can understand, to take it like it is written black on white, taking the words for what they mean, we shall be able to find the Truth.

A Book available for everyone to get insight

Bible

Bible (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Going through the Holy Scriptures from beginning to end may bring you in a terrifying state to be in, suddenly having your eyes opened and seeing where your denomination might have gone wrong.

This is especially true if the deep seeded roots of the faith you grew up with are the ones you begin to question.  It’s stressful, painful, and extremely difficult.  It feels as if you’re toeing the edge of the narrow road peering off a cliff of uncertainty.  But there’s good news.  You’re still on the narrow road.  In 1st Peter we read, “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith.”  Trials of the mind and spirit are just as real as trials of the body.

knows also a North Carolina native that grew up in a family of school teachers and is currently pursuing a M.A. in Teaching at Kennesaw State University.

He may have a B.A. in Biblical Studies and can be (should be) proud of it, but people should know that God does not want everybody going to a Biblical college to understand God His Word. He provided enough words to get insight in Who God is and what He wants from us. We do not need a special university course to get to know God. We also should not follow blindly those who have a theology degree. People have too much trusted those educated people who went on to study more the philosophy than the Word of God.

By following the more popular but wrong ideas the church has gone astray and made people confused so much that they started loosing interest and by seeing what all those preachers said and did, they also lost trust in them and left church.

Current travail of the institutional Church may also bring a positive note

Many view this as a negative trend and in some respects perhaps it is. On the other hand, we firmly believe that something highly positive and creative can be birthed out of the current travail of the institutional Church.

Robin Meyer speaks clearly regarding the current situation of the church and its seeming inability or unwillingness to feed those very people who are so spiritually hungry.

There is a deep hunger for wisdom in our time, but the church offers up little more than sugary nostalgia with a dash of fear. There is a yearning for redemption, healing, and wholeness that is palpable, a shift in human consciousness that is widely recognized – except, it seems, in most churches.

Mick Turner in The Death of Sunday Christianity writes:

Strangely, we have come to a moment in human history when the message of the Sermon on the Mount could indeed save us, but it can no longer be heard above the din of dueling doctrines.
Consider this: there is not a single word in that sermon about what to believe, only words about what to do. It is a behavioral manifesto, not a propositional one. Yet three centuries later, when the Nicene Creed became the official oath of Christendom, there was not a single word in it about what to do, only words about what to believe!

Doctrine can do no more than guide our thoughts in one direction or another. It has no transformative power of its own, however. Today’s church is by and large an impotent institution and the sooner we get our minds around that salient fact the better. Only when we confront the reality of the situation the postmodern church finds itself in can we begin to make plans for any kind of effective, beneficial, transformational, and lasting change. Until we come to grips with the enormity of our problems, we are only whistling in the wind.

Therefore let us put away all doctrine and go to the main source, the Book of books, the Word of God which is handed over by the many men of God, prophets, kings of Israel, apostles and scribes.

Mick Turner continues:

Over the course of the centuries since Christ walked the earth, we have gone about domesticating Jesus and his mission. In the process of doing so, we have lost something very important – in fact, the very source of the church’s life. By taming Jesus and toning down the revolutionary character of what he is calling for, we have lost contact with the vine. And the Master told us quite clearly what happens when such a thing occurs. Branches die when they are severed from the vine.

Many may have settled for a weak-kneed, timid imposter of a church.

At the heart of the church is a fabrication, a weak-kneed imposter of a Saviour that is a far cry from the revolutionary firebrand that set his world ablaze 2,000 years ago. Instead of the radical, world-changing Jesus, we have settled for a much safer version – a version that, in the words of Brian McLaren, is a:

…..popular and domesticated Jesus, who has become little more than a chrome-plated hood ornament on the guzzling Hummer of Western civilization…

When in much of the church today, the metaphors speak of individual salvation and the specific promises that accompany it and do not give attention to the discipleship as transformation through an alternative community and reversal of conventional wisdom, it is no wonder people do not feel the urge to belong to a group of believers any more. Nor reason of brotherhood is given any more. the whole world is focussed on individuality and personal richness, not of spiritual wealth but material wealth. The first followers of Jesus trusted Jesus enough to become instruments of radical change and where even prepared to leave worldly goods behind to go out into the world and to preach the Word of God.

Today, worshippers of Christ agree to believe things about him in order to receive the benefits promised by the institution, not by Jesus….

Robin Meyers says:

Christianity as a belief system requires nothing but acquiescence. Christianity as a way of life, as a path to follow, requires a second birth, the conquest of ego, and new eyes with which to see the world.

According to some the church as we have known it, both in terms of actual numbers and cultural impact, is dead. It would be nice to see that the era of “Christendom” is over and that the world of “Christianity” may blossom again. Old forms of a tradition should be removed so that room can be given for something new and refreshing to be created or better to be recreated. Perhaps we may face a new reform of the Reformation movement. The sooner we come to grips with this reality, the sooner we can get on with the business of birthing its successor.

Frost, an Australian Christian writer and professor, sounds a more positive tone when he says:

….there are other voices that express real hope – not in the reconstitution of Christendom, but in the idea that the end of this epoch actually spells the beginning of a new flowering of Christianity. The death of Christendom removes the final props that have supported the culturally respectable, mainstream, suburban version of Christianity. This is a Christianity expressed by the “Sunday Christian” phenomenon wherein church attendance has very little effect on the lifestyles or values or priorities expressed from Monday to Saturday. This version of Christianity is a façade, a method for practitioners to appear like fine, upstanding citizens without allowing the claims and teachings of Jesus to bite very hard in everyday life. With the death of Christendom the game is up. There’s less and less reason for such upstanding citizens to join with the Christian community for the sake of respectability or acceptance. The church in fewer and fewer situations represents the best vehicle for public service or citizenship, leaving only the faithful behind to rediscover the Christian experience as it was intended: a radical, subversive, compassionate community of followers of Jesus.

Real Christianity is one that should go deep into the bones. It is a believe which forms the character and show others that its faith is alive, kicking and working, because a faith without works is dead. (James 2:26)

Finding a path to meet other believers in Christ

We can only hope that those who flee the traditional churches and might be disillusioned with Christianity and the church would find ways not to loose their interest in the Word of God. We express our hope that they shall not be disillusioned about God or about Jesus, or at least would like to see that they can come on the path of not letting Christendom and church put false ideas about God in front of them.

We should set ourselves apart from the traditional world and keep firm in our faith in only One God. Refused to participate in pagan ceremonies we may look strange and even be dubbed as atheists. Though it is much better not to fear human beings but to fear God and to keep to His Commandments. When we have to abstain from much of the community life — the pagan festivals, the public amusements which to Christians were shot through and through with pagan beliefs, practices, and immoralities — we may be derided as haters of the human race. But at the end of times, we do know, all be judged according to their deeds. By Christ all in the world can be saved, but to be able to go through the small gate and to enter the Kingdom of God,each individual shall have to proof he or she is worthy to enter that Kingdom of God where world-peace shall be for ever.
Let make sure that we can be partakers of that eternal pleasure and follow the lessons presented in the Holy Scriptures to ‘set us apart‘ or to make us ‘holy‘.

+

Please do find to read:

  1. The Word being a quality or aspect of God Himself
  2. For those who have not the rudiments of an historical sense
  3. Compromise and accomodation
  4. Preexistence in the Divine purpose and Trinity
  5. How did the Trinity Doctrine Develop 
  6. Altered to fit a Trinity
  7. Should You Believe in the Trinity?
  8. First Century of Christianity
  9. Derided as haters of the human race
  10. Position and power
  11. Minimizing the power of God’s Force the Holy Spirit
  12. Raising digression
  13. Hellenistic influences
  14. Politics and power first priority #1
  15. Politics and power first priority #2
  16. Politics and power first priority #3 Elevation of Mary and the Holy Spirit
  17. Gutenberg’s presses, bible translators, reformation and the emergence of pilgrim separatists and English puritans during the 1500’s
  18. Gateway Films classic “God’s Outlaw”, a biography of the English Bible translator William Tyndale.
  19. Men of faith
  20. Migrants to the West #1
  21. Migrants to the West #2
  22. Migrants to the West #3
  23. Migrants to the West #4
  24. Migrants to the West #5
  25. Migrants to the West #6
  26. Migrants to the West #7
  27. Migrants to the West #8
  28. Migrants to the West #9
  29. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #1 Christian Reform
  30. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #2 Roots of Jewishness
  31. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #3 Of the earth or of God
  32. Built on or Belonging to Jewish tradition #4 Mozaic and Noachide laws
  33. Looking to the East and the West for Truth
  34. Materialism, would be life, and aspirations
  35. Who Are Jehovah’s Witnesses?
  36. The History of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Part 1) as presented by the Jehovah Witnesses themselves
  37. The History of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Part 2) as presented by the Jehovah Witnesses themselves
  38. Why You Can Trust the Biblical Gospels
  39. The Bible Really Is God’s Inspired Word
  40. Bible Word of God, inspired and infallible
  41. Teaching Holy Scriptures in Schools
  42. Separation of church and state
  43. Manifests for believers #3 Catholic versus Protestant
  44. Christian values and voting not just a game
  45. Palestine, Israel, God’s people and democracy
  46. Faith related boycotts
  47. Right to be in the surroundings
  48. Today’s Puritans and America’s role as global peacemaker
  49. Re-Creating Community
  50. Community of believers
  51. Mission From the Margins: Anabaptism and the Crisis of Christianity
  52. Catholic Church’s demise – Roman Catholic Church Being Deconstructed – Declared Criminal
  53. The Death of Sunday Christianity
  54. Disillusioned with Christianity and the church
  55. Christianity gone haywire, and going down
  56. Bumpy road to success
  57. Victims and Seekers of Peace
  58. Things That Must Shortly Take Place
  59. Not all christians are followers of a Greco-Roman culture
  60. One Mediator between God and man
  61. Our relationship with God, Jesus and each other
  62. Follower of Jesus part of a cult or a Christian
  63. Salvation, trust and action in Jesus #3 as a Christian
  64. United people under Christ
  65. Life is too precious
  66. Slave for people and God
  67. Discipleship way of life on the narrow way to everlasting life
  68. The Involvement of true discipleship
  69. Observing the commandments and becoming doers of the Word
  70. Brothers in Christ
  71. Faith and works
  72. The Ecclesia in the churchsystem

++

Additional reading in Dutch:

  1. Eerste Eeuw van het Christendom (en daarop volgende hoofdstukken) (and other chapters in Dutch on Bible Students about the history of Christianity)
  2. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #1 Abraham de aartsvader
  3. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #2 Broeders
  4. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #3 De Weg
  5. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #4 Volgelingen van Jezus
  6. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #5 Apologeten
  7. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #6 Constantijn de Grote
  8. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #7 Afstandelijken, donatisten en arianisten
  9. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #8 Concilie van Constantinopel
  10. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #9 Controverse betreft doop
  11. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #10 De Inquisitie
  12. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #11 Vredelievende waarheidzoekers
  13. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #12 Anabaptisten
  14. Broeders en Zusters in Christus door de eeuwen heen #13 Hutterieten of Hutteriaanse Broeders, Boheemse Broeders en Broederschap van eenheid

+++

  • TGC and Anabaptism – What Do We Do With It? (abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com)
    While I agree it’s really encouraging to have a group of fellow Christians come out and say that, even in disagreement, they are willing to listen and learn from those with whom they disagree, it is our response to that revelation that gets to me.  I hear a lot of Anabaptists basically stating, perhaps not in so many words, “glad they finally see the light”.  And suddenly, it hits me: we’re just as guilty as they are.
  • The Church at the Intersection of Anabaptism and Evangelicalism (pietistschoolman.com)
    I’ve known many evangelicals who find something reinvigorating about the Anabaptist impulse, and it’s generally because (like Boyd) they’ve grown disenchanted by the fusion of faith and politics; searching for a Christ who is Victor but not warlike, they read John Howard Yoder and decide to try on Anabaptism.
    +
    After describing the nature of these “house churches,” Boyd affirms that it is possible to reconcile the Anabaptist understanding of ecclesiology with the evangelical phenomenon of the megachurch:

    …we don’t have to chose between embracing the church as community, on the one hand, and holding a large weekend gathering, on the other. There’s nothing intrinsically anti-kingdom about large gatherings. After all, large crowds flocked to Jesus, and the early Christians in Jerusalem met in large groups in “Solomon’s porch” (Acts 5:16-19). The key, however, is to always remind people that the primary expression of church is not the large group, but the smaller communities that come together in houses to share life, study the word, worship and minister together.

  • Christianity vs. Catholicism (briegonda.wordpress.com)
    One of the main things that I find myself explaining is the difference between Christianity and Catholicism. Is there really a define difference? The answer is yes. Being a Christian my entire life has allowed me to explore the differences and it has allowed me to have a not-so-close-minded view.Many people ask me if I’m very religious and I think this is one of the most evident differences. Catholicism focuses on strict guidelines such as confession and they use those guidelines to determine the level of religion. In Christianity, however, religion isn’t as guideline oriented. A relationship with God is the most recognized determining factor. So to answer the question of if I’m very religious, I would say, no. I have a strong relationship with God.
  • The Marketing Of Catholicism (mundabor.wordpress.com)
    One of the main concerns of the Church in the last 50 years – and I mean, even from good, orthodox priests and laymen – seems to be to make the message of Christianity attractive, or easy to digest, or such that it would appear an improvement in one’s quality of life. The idea seems to be that the world out there lures souls with the promise of fun and joy, and a list of prohibitions isn’t really the best way to attract people to give Christianity their serious consideration.
  • Catholicism: change and continuity (jessicahof.wordpress.com)
    Nothing in what I have written convicts, or even implies, that those who disagreed with John XXIII were dinosaurs or fuddie-duddies, and in thinking that the Church needed to come to terms with the modern world, John XXIII was no aligning himself with either liberalism or conservatism; he was seeking to take the mind of the church on the challenges facing it.  The idea that had it not taken place, ordinary Catholics in the pew would have somehow been hermetically-sealed off from the changes taking place in Western society in the sixties and seventies is fanciful. The Anglican and Protestant churches had no Vatican II, and what quiavideruntoculi says about vocations in the Catholic Church was true there too. All churches in the West were hit by the cultural revolution of the sixties and seventies; it would not have mattered whether there had been a Vatican II or not, Catholics would have been as exposed to these changes as those Christians in churches which had no Vatican II.
  • Lunchtime Conversations: Post-Christendom (lcileeds.wordpress.com)
    The end of Christendom where the Christian story was known and the church was central invites Christians in western culture to embrace marginality and discover fresh ways of being church and engaging in mission. While the transition from modernity to postmodernity has received a huge amount of attention the shift from Christendom to post-Christendom has not yet been fully explored.
  • Announcing a New Issue of The Covenant Quarterly on Pietism (pietistschoolman.com)
    revivalists have taken the Pietist emphasis on regeneration, or new birth, and featured it as the focus of evangelism and missionary work. While numbers of converts can be an encouraging feature, when the threshold experience becomes the focus of the evangelist or the missionary or the pastor or the parent, the genius of Pietism is profaned. Pietism was not a conversion movement in the sense of initial decision but an inward renewal movement in the sense of discipleship. Its aim was complete conversion from the inside out.
  • thoughts on the death of the Church (emwartick.wordpress.com)
    The Church is dying.  It’s terminally ill.  Perhaps it’s already dead.

    Or so I’ve heard.  I’ve heard it from professors, from church leaders, from sociologists.  Attendance is dwindling, buildings are closing, and members are getting older.  There are “not enough” 20-somethings, families with children, ethnic minorities, people who tithe, fill-in-the-blank.  Expectations are too high or too low or too vague or too specific and this, I am told, is killing the Church.

  • Wicked Popes! (christianspooksite.wordpress.com)
    Papal power was maintained by the Inquisition. The Inquisition, called the “Holy Office,” was instituted by Pope Innocent III, and perfected under the second following Pope, Gregory IX. It was the “Church Court for Detection and Punishment of Heretics.” Under it, everyone was required to inform against Heretics. Anyone suspected, was liable to torture, without knowing the name of his accuser. The proceedings were secret. The Inquisitor pronounced sentence, and the victim was turned over to Civil Authorities to be imprisoned for life — or to be burned! The victim’s property was confiscated, and divided between the Church and the State.
  • Rethinking Scripture (garretmenges.wordpress.com)
    A brief survey of the history of the LXX raises some questions about the way we view Scripture today. For example, is the LXX inspired Scripture even though it’s a translation of a more original textual tradition? If not, then are the fragments that have made it into our NT inspired? Were the scribes who translated Isaiah, for example, quickly taken up in the Spirit while contemplating how to translate the Hebrew word for “young woman” only to have the Spirit leave them shortly after the translation of that single verse?