Members of the ecclesia uniting and seeking God’s help in tribulation

In the readings of today we look at the brothers and sisters in Corinth some 2000 years ago.

In Belgium the community has been troubled by persons perhaps wanting to claim to have the right to make foundations and to direct the groups of people wanting to come together under the name of Christ.

Paul the Apostle, Russian icon from first quar...

Paul the Apostle, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We remember how the apostle Paul makes the argument that he has borne witness to the people of Corinth, he has shared the gospel, he has brought them to Christ and showed them the way but that he has to be sad because he only could see division between those who should be united as brethren and sisters in Christ.

The apostle Paul in his 5th letter to the Romans and his first three letters to the Corinths, also talks about the subject of tribulations, those times when we run into problems, or trials.

Those bad experiences are not nice, but we can learn from them. We should make it possible that we can grow from such unpleasant situations. At all times we should show our love to those who are around us and who our worth having us very close to them. Some we perhaps have to leave where they want to stay far away form us, but that is than their own choice. We should and did give our hand to all those who wanted to accept the hand of friendship and of co-operation.

We know, but also others should know, that

…no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.”  He is very clear that “Christ is made the sure foundation; Christ the head and cornerstone.”

The first baptist church of Palo Alto  which seeks to nourish a thoughtful, maturing faith, say they offer all ages opportunities to explore and deepen their faith. They also write:

Even a big ego can give itself over to the foundational significance of Jesus Christ.  Paul clearly sees that he serves a God who is infinitely more than he himself can ever claim to be.

We, who call  ourselves Christians, should be as followers of Christ Jesus, being willing to make all efforts to unite with each other. We should not give any importance or priority if we came to faith by such one or an other one. Our main concern should be to have our community growing, so that many more people could find God, His son and His other children. We should take all efforts to get along with each other. This shall demand sometimes having to put some water in our wine. We must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

From Paul we get to know that already early after Jesus his death that there where disturbing reports brought to the attention of the apostles, about converts fighting among themselves! They were all picking sides, going around saying, “I’m on Paul’s side,” or “I’m for Apollos,” or “Peter is my man,” or “I’m in the Messiah group.” Today not much has been changed. We still can see such situations taking place in several churches. And the Christadelphians, living in this world, are also victim of this human condition. We should be careful and ask if the Messiah has been chopped up in little pieces so we can each have a relic all our own.

Instead of trying to find out who belongs to whom, we should better concentrate on finding ways  to get together in unity, feeling as friends and not competitors. We may ask if there was any of us being baptised in a persons his name. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) Coming together it should be all because we love God and we follow the same Christ.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand. We should be pleased we could get baptised and be taken in a community of brothers and sisters, willing to follow the Nazarene Jew Jeshua, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Having received the baptism in the name of Christ, and not in the name of an other worldly man or organisation, we should be happy we could become children of God in the Body of Christ. We should confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

The apostle Paul tells in more than one letter that we can also have glory, or rejoice when we run into problems. He himself encountered also many problems, but kept the spirit high. For him it was clear it was also about friends, who had to be cheerful, helping each other and keeping things in good repair. Whatever might happen, how bad it may look, we should keep our spirits up. By thinking in harmony we also shall be able to comfort each other and to be the backbone of something which shall be able to grow, no matter how much the outside world can try to deafen it. When we can be agreeable, we shall see that we can do more and can take more than we ever would think.

We should offer ourselves as instruments in the hands of God, and be happy whatever task would be given on us, and for whatever we shall be able to accomplish on our own or even better, together. everything we should do not for our own gain, but for the gain of the Kingdom of God. When we all do that, the God of love and peace will be with us for sure. (2 Corinthians 13:11)

English: Their are thousands of artworks creat...

Their are thousands of artworks created in the art world depicting St Paul. This painting was created by the famous artist called Rembrandt. It hangs on the walls of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Naturally we always shall have to be careful that the right teachings shall be given to all in the community. We should keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that we learned and then use them to make trouble. It will not be bad to take protective measures and to give these people a wide berth. (Romans 16:17) We always should  alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. (Ephesians 4:3)

Every day our focus should be on learning what it means to be a disciple of Christ in today’s world. We also should put aside our own ego.

As the writer of the first baptist church of Palo Alto notices that Paul clearly sees that he serves a God who is infinitely more than he himself can ever claim to be, we should listen to the Voice of God and follow His guidance.

The writer of Sure Foundations (February 23, 2014) says:

Paul was not bereft of ego and in that sense he was as human as any of us.  Still, he was the one who traveled around the known world, risking life and limb to proclaim the good news and build up the community of Christ.  Perhaps he had a right to boast, to call the Corinthians back to his way of following Christ and serving God.

The tent maker Paul, must have known something about the poles and stakes that hold a tent in place.

the foundation, the question is: what is to be built on such a foundation?  Again, Paul is clear.  There is one structure to be built on such a foundation; it is a temple, God’s temple, the one in which God’s Spirit dwells.  What is this temple like, though?  Brian Peterson writes of this text that “…God’s wisdom is the cross of Christ, and Paul’s work was aligned with that foundational reality. True wisdom does not lie in the power, eloquence, social standing, or cultural competition that seemed to enthrall the Corinthian church (or any similar things that enthrall us). A building must fit its foundation, be supported by it and shaped to match it, and Paul wisely built the Corinthian church on Christ crucified as the church’s one foundation (Brian C. Peterson, “Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23,” 2-23-2014, workingpreacher.org).

In fact, Paul asks a question of First Church, Corinth, that we might well ask ourselves, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”  Do you know?  Can you see it?  Can you feel it?  Can you live into that truth?  For Paul this is a collective “you.”  He means all the Corinthian congregation and he means all of us.  Collectively we are God’s temple in which God’s Spirit lives.  Paradoxically, that is both a heavy and a liberating truth.  It bears all the responsibility of witnessing to heart-felt, soul-deep faith that we are building, here and now, a body to reflect the reign of God on earth.  It may look like foolishness to the rest of the world, but we know that that foolishness of Christ crucified and resurrected is ultimately redemptive of us and the whole creation.  This is cause for both labor and rejoicing.

We not only can rejoice as we look forward to being united with all those who worship only One God and who did accept Jesus as their mediator between God and man. Before Jesus returns to this earth we do have to find solutions to live with each other and to work together with each other. While here on this fallible earth, we can also adopt and live out this Biblical prescription on how to rejoice in our problems, trials and hard times.

We should bear in our heart that tribulations can create opportunities to persevere and to make us stronger. They can help us to learn, and to gain endurance, or perseverance.

” (1)  Therefore, having been declared right by belief, we have peace with Elohim through our Master יהושע {Jehsua} Messiah,  (2)  through whom also we have access by belief into this favour in which we stand, and we exult in the expectation of the esteem of Elohim.  (3)  And not only this, but we also exult in pressures, knowing that pressure works endurance;  (4)  and endurance, approvedness; and approvedness, expectation.” (Romans 5:1-4 The Scriptures 1998+)

We must know that peace with God (v 1) does not necessarily bring peace with man. The actual conditions of life, especially for believers in the midst of a hostile society, are not easy or pleasant, but the knowledge of acceptance with God, of grace constantly supplied, and the prospect of future glory enable believers to exult in the face of sufferings.

“The human mind is naturally given to shallowness and folly and the infantile, characterless pursuit of pleasure and excitement. Very few ever get beyond this stunted stage. Tribulation, if we are rightly exercised by it, forces us to come face to face with the sober realities of life, and intelligently adjust our purposes and characters to them. This is the teaching of the Scripture, and the wholesome experience of any with any sense and maturity. Some run away crying, vainly seeking solace in animal emptiness, and gain nothing from their sorrows. This is tragic” (GVG).

It is useless fretting against what we cannot alter, and therefore a courageous man will bear with it, and a faithful man will see beyond it. wherever we may stand in history of the community, we always should be prepared to continue our way on the right path, laid out in front of us by Jesus Christ. From everything, good and bad, what happens in our community we should learn and continue to look for Christ and his Father? The trials we shall encounter in our lives and in the life of the ecclesia should get us to think about all things and make us more willing to strive to the good cause, getting the perseverance, developing strength of character in us, and having the character strengthening our hope, or our confident expectation of salvation.

If in tribulation we seek God’s help, and endure the unpleasant experience moment by moment in the realization that it cannot last for ever, we will ultimately emerge from it with the knowledge that we did not rest on God’s help in vain, and that we manifested the strength to endure.

“This will lead to hope. Hope in what? In the knowledge that He who sustained us in the past will do so in the future even to the setting up of the Kingdom; and in the realization that as we emerged successfully from one trial so we can from the next, leading to a steady growth of endurance, until the time come when all such experiences will cease. Thus ‘hope maketh not ashamed’, for we shall triumph in spite of trouble, and will respond to the ‘love of God’ that will be revealed in our hearts. Let us then develop the mind of Paul in the face of trouble. Let us view it as a time of testing, in which we can manifest that faith without which ‘we cannot please God’ (Hebrews 11:6), and a period of opportunity in which we are able to demonstrate our unswerving loyalty to Him in face of a challenge. When we do this, we truly ‘fellowship the sufferings of Christ,’ and will reveal an attitude pleasing unto the Father. However, let us be sure that our tribulations are not the result of our own folly: ‘For what glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God’ (1Peter 2:20)” (HPM).

Let us all be well aware that:

” (11)  For no one is able to lay any other foundation except that which is laid, which is יהושע {Jehsua} Messiah.  (12)  And if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  (13)  each one’s work shall be revealed, for the day shall show it up, because it is revealed by fire. And the fire shall prove the work of each one, what sort it is.  (14)  If anyone’s work remains, which he has built on, he shall receive a reward.  (15)  If anyone’s work is burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, but so as through fire.” (1Co 3:11-15 The Scriptures 1998+)

Let us rejoice we are allowed to be part of the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). We should not worry to be laughed at and to be God’s fool, because that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture, He exposes the chicanery of the chic. The Master sees through the smoke screens of the know-it-alls.

We better know exactly where we stand and be pleased with the position God is willing to give us. there should be no bragging about ourself or anyone else. Everything is already ours as a gift. We be should be pleased we can rejoice in the Lord, having assurance in the  hope we all have and which shall not disappoint us. Because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. We should be looking forward to gather in peace and to be privileged to be in union with Christ, when we offered ourselves to be in union with God. (1 Corinthians 3:19-23)

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Additional reading:

  1. A Living Faith #5 Perseverance
  2. A Living Faith #7 Prayer
  3. Reflect on how much idolizing happens
  4. Developing new energy
  5. Kindness
  6. Partakers of the sufferings
  7. Pain and Suffering is inevitable but Misery is optional
  8. Suffering produces perseverance
  9. Your struggles develop your strengths
  10. United people under Christ
  11. Not words of any organisation should bind you, but the Word of God
  12. Make a joyful noise unto Yahweh, rejoice, and sing praise unto Jehovah
  13. Rejoice even though bound to grieve
  14. Gaining Christ, trusting Jehovah

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Find also to read:

  1. Reflect on how much idolizing happens
  2. Sure Foundations (February 23, 2014)
  3. Unity a Sign of Spiritual Maturity
    But unlike with agriculture, to describe another person as mature or immature leaves a lot of wiggle room.  It’s not so easy to say a person is mature because he or she can bear fruit.  Granted, this may be true in a strictly physical sense; we won’t get into that here.  But what about an emotional sense?  Or a spiritual?  Can we ever really say that we’ve become fully emotionally mature as a human being, always and completely able to maintain control over our feelings?  Sometimes I may display a great deal of maturity with respect to controlling my anger, for instance; but the very next day I slip back into an immature loss of temper!
    No, for human beings, the term mature is relative.  At least, it’s relative until the Kingdom of God is fully realized.

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  • Romans 5 (zachscripturestudy.com)
    Paul reminds us that we have a choice; “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) This means that YES Adam and Eve broke a commandment of God, but by them breaking the commandment we were given a Savior to take our sins away from us. Jesus Christ Atoned for our sins, and gave us the free gift of Grace, but we still must choose to accept it. The Book of Mormon helps us to understand this further; “Adam feel that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (Book of Mormon; 2 Nephi 2:25)
  • Godly Friendships (inspirationalchristiansfortoday.com)
    The Apostles of Christ were the foundation stones of His church. Revelation 21:14 speaks of the twelve foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem as having in them the names of the twelve Apostles. These men were important to Jesus. However, what a mix our Savior had in friends and followers. They included: Zealots, fisherman, missionaries, an even a tax collector! They were from different geographic locations and social classes, some were more political and others had more education. When we are true believers of Christ, there is a common bond that overrides profession, education, race, nationality, geographies, linguistics, social class, and economics. We are brothers and sisters and God is our Father.  We are family…. A spiritual family.
  • The Last Thing Is Also the First Thing (normanramsey.wordpress.com)
    We are called in a much more intimate fashion. We are called not only to be saved but to serve and to move forth as a witness and an ambassador of Jesus Christ. When we do that we become very influential and useful in God’s hand. God says we are salt and light. We are justified and free to move and go as God leads us. There is no hindrance that cannot be overcome by the sufficiency of his grace.
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    We are to glorify God and be glorified by God. We are to have unity. We are to have unity and peace between us and God. That is God’s goal: for us to match our steps with God, to walk in the way of peace. We are to walk in constant connectivity with God. We do not do anything except God is doing it.
  • To all the Saints in Christ Jesus (twenty4sevenrhythms.com)
    A bond servant was someone who had earned their freedom, and had the opportunity to no longer be a servant, but because they loved and respected their master so greatly, they would sign a bond saying that they forfeited their freedom to continue to serve their master. That paints a wonderful picture of the type of servants we are in Christ. We forfeit our “freedom” (we all know there is far greater freedom in Christ than not) and desire to serve our master because he first loved us.
  • Corinth and the Jesus Dojo (fbcpaloalto.wordpress.com)
    He encourages that troublesome bunch to understand that everyone will be better off when they realize that Christ provides the sure foundation for the community of faith.  What would a truly Christ-centered church look like?  What would be its worship and its practice?  How would its members care for one another at the same time they serve the wider community?  We hearken back to our theme from a couple of years ago – “Come build a church with soul and spirit, come build a church of flesh and bone…Jesus shall be its sure foundation.  It shall be built by the hand of God.”
  • Everybody Must Have a Head (sonlightdevotional.org)
    Nowadays, all the preachers are Doctor So and So, and Doctor So and So. It means that these people are saying that they are Doctors of the Word of God. When you are sick, you go to a doctor, sure. And there is no problem about being a Doctor of Philosophy, but a Doctor of Theology is an offense before God. Therefore, you don’t call anybody Master. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven (Matthew 23:9). Now, I had a father, and you have a father, and I called him father, but that was my natural father. It wasn’t an offense before God. But if I began to call Brother John, “Father John” or “Father Smith,” then you would know that we are way out of God’s order. So, one of the problems is not only of those who are called Father, but also for those who call them father.
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    At this hour, the Body of Christ is being put in order. Everybody must have a head, and Jesus Christ is the Head of the Body of Christ. When we gather together, we gather together to hear Jesus and we recognize Jesus Christ as the Head. We want to hear what Jesus says. If someone gets up and prophesies in the name of any other name besides Jesus, he is a false prophet.
  • Paul’s Letter to Corinthians (thesanctuaryatcamilla.wordpress.com)
    The apostle Paul was very concerned with the spiritual health of the people of Corinth. Today, aren’t we concerned about the same virtue of our nation, our cities and our people? I am.
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    Divisions: Corinthian society was riddled with competitive individualism which crept over into the church.
  • The Deprived Ones (etsop95.wordpress.com)
    Paul was judged by some in Corinth as being inadequate for the occasion he was called upon to engage (preaching the good news of God). He mentioned that as an apostle he was considered foolish, he was deprived of necessary things like food, water, and sufficient clothing, and that he had no real place to call home (4:9-13). Paul, however, was not going to be thrown off his God-ordained task of preaching and teaching; rather, he used his circumstances in order to serve God, the brethren, and even himself (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
  • Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (stjoeofoblog.wordpress.com)
    That your faith may not be in man’s wisdom. May not originate or spring from human eloquence and wisdom.  Or that your conversion to the faith of Christ may not be ascribed to man’s wisdom, but to the power of God, may be a divine, not a human work.  That which you believe and are convinced of, should be, not the wisdom and knowledge of your teacher, but the power of God who commissioned the teacher, and wrought the miracles.
  • Day 331: 1 Corinthians 1-4; Intro to 1 Corinthians (orcministries.wordpress.com)
    City of Corinth both important and very busy.  With all the hustle and bustle, with many people coming and going, this was also a hotbed for an large amount of idol worship, mostly centered around the pantheon of Greek and Roman gods.  This would have included many temples, most notably he temple of Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love.  The worship that took place in that temple would have likely involved cult prostitutes and sacrifices to idols, as well as other things that the church in Corinth would have to deal with.
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    In the age of denominationalism, where it seems as though the Church itself is divided on so many things, fighting within itself about who is more correct in their doctrines, perhaps we need to be asking ourselves whether Christ is divided or not.  We are all baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and members of one body.  Perhaps it is time that we embrace each other as brothers, accept the diversity of the Church, and understand that we are in agreement about the main things, letting peripheral issues remain just that and serving as ways for us to learn from each other rather than fight against each other.  Paul will circle back to this in chapter three as well.

Being Religious and Spiritual 6 Romantici, utopists and transcendentalists

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pan...

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pantocrator; Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the previous chapter we have seen that already in the time of the apostles there where teachers who took the focus on Christ Jesus, the Messiah his offering and our personal relationship to our own person, the people around us, Jesus and the Father of Jesus, the Only One God, away. By concentrating more on the institute of the church and putting dogmatic teachings as the obligatory string for the community, the self-development and the role of free choice became a minor point to the acceptance and following of the church doctrines and ceremonials.

By the years there were many influences of several theologians who at their turn looked at different philosophers. More interested in the retrieving of power, the real spiritual matters were often put aside or forgotten. Though in that world of many fraternities there were also people who were greatly respected and widely sought after masters who went out into the hills to escape the hustle and bustle of society. some took refuge in a shed in the countryside, others took up residence in a cave, far away from the clergy their institutions.

Several devout people wanted to escape the authoritarian church and did find Christ had liberated us instead of bringing new chains in to the world.

There are many spiritual traditions, each of which has its own unique language and concepts concerning the nature of the ultimate, the path that must be followed to experience the ultimate, how spiritual realizations are confirmed, the nature of spiritual enlightenment, and the implications of spiritual understanding for ordinary human life.

Lots of people spend their whole lives trying to become an idealized version of themselves that they want to be or of that what their church pictures them that they should become. Not having a found foundation, this causes many to  rebel against their natural chaotic states. Not finding enough background or trustworthy teaching they put endless amounts of energy into maintaining stability, and trying to mold their lives into an ordered state that they themselves find pleasing. In short, what we’re fighting against isn’t poverty, starvation, instability, unhappiness.  Mostly they are fighting against entropy; the tendency for ordered systems to degrade into a chaotic state. They may have lots of energy but can not centralise it, not able to pattern it or organise it they seem to be lost in their own world of chaotic thinking. They may receive lots of information from their church, magazines, but do not manage to channel it in accordance with what they can find in the Bible or other sacred books.

Most people are taking their life, their very essence, for granted as though it’s some permanent guarantee and all others have to fit to their life. Having to adapt to others seem too awkward.

It are always the others who cause pain and make our experiences so difficult.

do think many who are confronted with the feelings of inadequacy, loss of perspective.
They also consider others talking to them as a nuisance. Many do find it an infringement on the privacy when other question their sayings or their actions. Certainly today lots of people consider it their right to say whatever awful words or to insult others who dare to come too close to their own personality. Not many do want to hear the voices of others, and the least of institutions or of those who seem to represent institutions or organisations. Luckily there might be others who are hearing the voices of the people who question their actions, but some might loose than the essence of what it is they are trying to do.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Español: Ralph Waldo Emers...

Ralph Waldo Emerson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wondering what the self is doing demands the question what it would like to do and why it wants to do what. Whilst our society loves ego tripping the spiritual minded person just wants to strip himself or herself from his/her ego. Trying to get into the deeper self it should not be done from some sort of self passion or love for the ego, because then the person would turn round in circles staying in the dark. Like the American essayist, lecturer, and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wanted to find himself outside the traditional religion that had coursed throughout his family for generations, many today are also looking for the self and a place of the self out of the classical or traditional church. This at a time were other just want to strengthen the feeling of being part of a church which wants to hold to tradition and to the old values they remember from their grand grand parents. They forget that perhaps their ancestors just reacted against the corrupted society and its institutions — particularly organized religion and political parties. Strangely enough are there people like Sarah Paling crying we should return to the values of the Pilgrims and the founders of the United States of America.  As a trinitarian either she overlooks or she does not want to see that it were just those people who fled the European ties of corrupted and false religion. Those who came to settle in the United States tried to find new grounds to start all over again, afresh and liberated from all religious chains, but grounded on the teachings of the book they read regularly. Today there are not many people who really take every day time to read some chapters from the Bible. Some politicians do want to restrict other people and get them to believe the same as they believe. Often they already think that everybody believes in the same god and the same values as they do. Several people want to have their religion to become the state religion — ultimately corrupting the purity of the individual, and that is want the peoeple who fled Europe had felt and would be afraid of finding such a repeating system. The ones who fled Europe had faith that people are at their best when truly “self-reliant” and independent. Today, again as in the time of the gnostics and the church of the 4th and 5th century those who do not want to comply with their believes are considered not to be Christians. Those conservative Christians posing their idea of Christianity onto others are also against the spiritual individu, because that person could be a danger for the group.

But the real spiritual person just wants to become closer to the self and wants to liberate himself or herself from the mass or group. The person looking for spirituality often wants to liberate himself from the person looking for a religion. The spiritual person believes to become at his best when he can be truly “self-reliant” and independent. For them it is also clear that it is only from such real individuals that true community could be formed.

Sensations and perception not necessarily are the basic and most important form of true cognition. The ones who came into the New World had learned to struggle, to battle against all sorts of weather conditions, and got to walk on their own feet, working with their own hands but they also wanted now to speak their own minds.

“A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.” {1837 speech “The American Scholar}

Again there was a reaction against the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. Again people wanted, like some would love to see it again today as well, a form of live where the emotions are again of value in a liberated and radicalised environment. A real spiritual person would love to encounter the inner emotions, because they can be considered as an authentic source of aesthetic experience. In romanticism there was placed such new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe and now with transcendentalism liberal thinkers, “agreeing in nothing but their liberality” {Gura, Philip F. American Transcendentalism: A History. New York: Hill and Wang, 2007: 5. ISBN 0-8090-3477-8} could find unity of willing persons to exchange ideas without having to give up their freedom to think differently than the majority, but recognising where in the differences there were/are also like-minded men and women.

Along with Andrews Norton, William Ellery Channing (April 7, 1780 – October 2, 1842) was the foremost Unitarian preacher in the United States in the early nineteenth century

Rooted in English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Herder and Schleiermacher, and the scepticism of Hume, and the transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kant (and of German Idealism more generally), the transcedentalists movement, intimately familiar with the English Romantics, might have been an American outgrowth of Romanticism. From Unitarianism the transcendentalists took a concern for self-culture, a sense of moral seriousness, a neo-Platonic concept of piety, a tendency toward individualism, a belief in the importance of literature, and an interest in moral reform. They looked to certain Unitarians as mentors, especially the great Boston preacher William Ellery Channing. Theology was in crisis during Channing’s prime. Almost from the beginning there were two warring parties in New England. The Calvinists believed in a jealous God, the depravity of mankind, and the absence of free will. The anti-Calvinists believed in a merciful God, the potential redemption of all mankind, and the existence of free will. As the 19th century proceeded, the fight between the parties sharpened. Channing, after much deliberation, sided with the anti-Calvinists. Channing’s religion and thought were among the chief influences on the New England Transcendentalists, though he never countenanced their views, which he saw as extreme. Transcendentalists came to reject key aspects of the Unitarian worldview, starting with their rational, historical Christian apologetic. Many prominent ministers, reformers, and writers of the 19th century were associated with it, including Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) who was considered the most thought-provoking American cultural leader of the mid-19th century. In Concord he met a prickly young Harvard graduate who became his disciple, friend, and occasional adversary, Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862). Among his close friends were Bronson Alcott (1799–1888), George Ripley, and Theodore Parker (1810–1860).  Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) and Orestes Brownson (1803–1876) also associated with him.

Emerson spoke out against materialism (the belief that material or physical things—not spiritual—are the most important), formal religion, and slavery. Emerson spoke of slavery in the context of the Fugitive Slave Law (1850), saying, in one of his rare bursts of obscenity (foul language), “I will not obey it, by God.”
He believed in a reality and a knowledge that rose above the everyday reality to which Americans were accustomed. He believed in the honesty of the person. He believed in a spiritual universe ruled by a spiritual Oversoul (the basis of all spiritual existence), with which each individual soul should try to connect.

A spiritual person should look for those values, trying to be honest to himself in the first place, choosing for those thing he really believes in because he does understands them; and not choosing for dogma’s because others accept them and by not accepting them he would not be able to be part of that group or community. Going to search in one self the person should also try to come over or to deal with human losses and failings. In such essays as “Compensation” and “Experience,” Emmerson tried to suggest how to deal with human losses and failings and in such pieces as “Self-reliance,” “Spiritual Laws,” “Nature,” “The Poet,” and “The Over-soul,” he explained the inborn goodness of man, the joys of nature and their spiritual significance, and a universal god (a god that exists everywhere and belongs to all).

English: A collage of photographs from K Stree...

A collage of photographs from K Street and Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary Schools in Fresno, CA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Various organizations and periodicals gave the Unitarian and transcendental movement shape. The earliest was the so-called “Transcendental Club” (1836–1840), an informal group that met to discuss intellectual and religious topics; also important was the “Saturday Club,” organized much later (1854). Many transcendentalists participated in the utopian communities of Brook Farm (1841–1848; located in West Roxbury, Massachusetts), founded by George Ripley (1802–1880) and his wife, Sophia Dana Ripley (1803–1861), and the short-lived Fruitlands (1843–1844; located in Harvard, Massachusetts), founded by Alcott. A number of transcendentalist ministers established experimental churches to give their religious ideas institutional form. The most important of these churches were three in Boston: Orestes Brownson’s Society for Christian Union and Progress (1836–1841); the Church of the Disciples (founded 1841), pastored by James Freeman Clarke (1810–1888); and Theodore Parker’s Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society (founded 1845–1846). The most famous transcendentalist magazine was the Dial (1840–1844), edited by Fuller and then by Emerson; other major periodicals associated with the movement included the Boston Quarterly Review (1838–1842), edited by Brownson, and the Massachusetts Quarterly Review (1847–1850), edited by Parker. {Dictionary of American History, 2003}

But also in Europe in the 21st century we still can see such a romantic movement going on, or should we perhaps say more an utopist movement like the one political or social reformer, visionary preacher and idealist Marcus Ampe is still dreaming of. He may not be influenced by Asian religions, but the thoughts and ideas he would love to realise are similar as in many of those and older traditions and religions, but very founded on the Torah, the Old and the New Testament, which he considers the most complete guide for the community. For him it is clear that without going into the inner-self, not being in the clear with the self, a person can not come into the clear with God. Those who have (moral)qualms or who did not yet have come to terms with themselves, loving themselves, shall not be able to love others and shall have it difficult to come in front of Christ, loving him and loving his Father, the only One God. Those who have not seen the light in themselves often want to find light in elements of nature and by doing so will create different gods. This can be clearly seen in the writings on many blogs about God and religion. To come to Biblical Truth, people should study the Bible, look at it from the way of thinking in the periods it was written and in the manner of speaking it was written.

The transcendentalists varied in their interpretations of the practical aims of will. Some among the group linked it with utopian social change; Brownson connected it with early socialism, while others considered it an exclusively individualist and idealist project. Emerson believed the latter. In his 1842 lecture “The Transcendentalist“, Emerson suggested that the goal of a purely transcendental outlook on life was impossible to attain in practice:

You will see by this sketch that there is no such thing as a transcendental party; that there is no pure transcendentalist; that we know of no one but prophets and heralds of such a philosophy; that all who by strong bias of nature have leaned to the spiritual side in doctrine, have stopped short of their goal. We have had many harbingers and forerunners; but of a purely spiritual life, history has afforded no example. I mean, we have yet no man who has leaned entirely on his character, and eaten angels’ food; who, trusting to his sentiments, found life made of miracles; who, working for universal aims, found himself fed, he knew not how; clothed, sheltered, and weaponed, he knew not how, and yet it was done by his own hands. …Shall we say, then, that transcendentalism is the Saturnalia or excess of Faith; the presentiment of a faith proper to man in his integrity, excessive only when his imperfect obedience hinders the satisfaction of his wish.

Many churches do not like to have their members to go to deep in their self and questioning the church or community, because this would be seen as a doubting the community and the church as institution. Many churches  or religions impede on the individual coming to individual spiritual development. Any form of religious dogma should be abolished and church should be able to trust on the choice God makes, because it is Him Who calls. The traditional church got afraid that ordinary people could get a simple belief in human moral, in godly and brotherly love and according to the clergy and theologians the common person would not be able to understand the Bible, but that would mean they say God did not make His Words clear for everybody, so He would have not have given everybody the same chance to be saved. God, Who is a God of order and clarity made His Word clear enough for those who are willing to read it and to think about it. In each individual is enough potential and intuitive capacity for discovering spiritual truth. Divinity or having a Godlike character or the state of being divine, lays in man, who is created in the image of God, and nature, and so true religion means seeking the divine in oneself and one’s surroundings. Inward experience was seen as the ultimate path to spiritual satisfaction, and thus the Transcendentalists cultivated a lifestyle that encouraged contemplation, communing with nature, continuing education, and creative expression. Many kept regular journals, which they considered invaluable tools in the process of self-examination.

The spiritual minded person should seek to cultivate the capacity to do good in themselves and others.

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Preceding articles:

Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience

Being Religious and Spiritual 2 Religiosity and spiritual life

Being Religious and Spiritual 3 Philosophers, Avicennism and the spiritual

Being Religious and Spiritual 4 Philosophical, religious and spiritual people

Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences

Next: Being Religious and Spiritual 7 Transcendence to become one

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Please do read also:

  1. Only One God
  2. God of gods
  3. God is One
  4. Jesus spitting image of his father
  5. Jesus begotten Son of God #8 Found Divinely Created not Incarnated
  6. Jesus begotten Son of God #9 Two millennia ago conceived or begotten
  7. Jesus begotten Son of God #18 Believing in inhuman or human person
  8. Yeshua a man with a special personality
  9. Reasons that Jesus was not God
  10. Not bounded by labels but liberated in Christ
  11. It is a free will choice
  12. A Living Faith #2 State of your faith
  13. Hellenistic influences
  14. The early days of Christianity: Politics and power first priority #1
  15. Politics and power first priority #2
  16. Foundation to go the distance
  17. Re-Creating Community
  18. Leaving the Old World to find better pastures
  19. The imaginational war against Christmas
  20. Nativity scene of the birth of the Bill of Rights
  21. More-Letter-Words
  22. God doesn’t call the qualified
  23. Can we not do what Jesus did?

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Also interesting to read:

  1. The Hermit
  2. Post 4: Entropy pt. 1
  3. Post 5: Sacrifice
  4. Why I chose Emerson

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English: Ralph_Waldo_Emerson_1940_Issue-3c.jpg...

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1940 ssue-3c.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Rewriting History – The History of America Mega-Conference: Part Three, “Religious Liberalism” And Those Magnificent Mathers (homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com)
    Eidsmoe spoke warmly of early Americans who celebrated Christianity. The Constitutional Convention, he claimed, had mostly Christians in attendance and involved God in their work. He dismissed the deist Founding Fathers in attendance as “outliers”. He discussed the message of 18th century preacher George Whitfield, who did much to unite Americans under a common faith, he claimed.Eidsmoe also smiled upon Benjamin Franklin for praising Christian preaching and social endeavors, suggesting that the Founding Father appreciated Christianity. However, I found his portrait of Franklin to lack nuance. While Franklin did celebrate the Puritan virtues of his upbringing and respect preachers such as George Whitefield, he also referred to himself as a Deist in his 1771 autobiography, embraced Enlightenment ideas, endorsed religious pluralism, and spent time at a London Unitarian congregation.
  • Transcendentalism (womenshistory.answers.com)
    Transcendentalists made a distinction between true reason and a merely analytic understanding. They believed that subjective intuition was at least as reliable a source of truth as empirical investigation. They wanted to base their religion and philosophy on principles that were not related to the physical senses. Transcendentalists were familiar with the ideas of the English Romantics. The movement is sometimes described as a slightly later, American version of Romanticism.
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    What is transcendentalism?
  • “Unitarian Universalism” and “Unity” Churches – similarities and differences (ironicschmoozer.wordpress.com)
    Unitarian Universalism (UUism) has been more of an institution-based movement from the beginning, while Unity has been more of a message-based movement, with an extensive publishing outreach that touches people beyond its churches.  Of note is Unity’s “Daily Word” devotional booklet.
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    Both UUism and Unity affirm goodness in everyone and divine love for all.  Both have a diversity of concepts of the divine in their literature and in their congregations.  However, there are very few UUs who like terms like Father or Lord, and Unity is often comfortable with it.
    UUs include many self-describe Religious Humanists–who are atheists or agnostics and don’t respond to God language.  Most UUs, especially Humanists, disagree with the idea that there is a soul separate from the body.
  • 140/365: When “Spiritual but Not Religious” Is Not Enough (makethreesixtyfive.wordpress.com)
    I had chosen not to be confirmed as a junior high student, and my relationship with the church was tentative, though it provided me with such a network of safety, joy, and service.
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    Lillian explain what I have always known: that faith might be personal, but the community of faith is the most important, valuable part of the church. She writes, “Church is a school for sinners, not a club for saints.” In the end, my sin has always been in my faith, in my disbelief. With all things that you are supposed to “just know”, I have struggled: love, faith, life choices. But Lillian says, “I pitch my tent in the field of mystery, and have yet to nail it down,” which I think is a perfect analogy for the journey I’m on now, in all parts of my life, but particularly with spirituality.
  • Spiritual Fathers (krclynn.org)
    calling earthly men “spiritual fathers”.  I hear these words from the mouths of so many carelessly and I always flinch at the sound of it.  Are we to have mentors and people that we look up to in the church to point us to Christ?  Absolutely!  Do we need men and women of God to give us words of direction and minister to us when we face problems in different areas of our life?  Absolutely!  The problem is that the term “spiritual father” is not found in scripture nor is it supported.
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    Did we forget that Jesus is the head of the church and the chief apostle?  Did we forget that God qualified Jesus as a perfect High Priest, and He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him – Hebrews 5:9.  Although there are more mature Christians than us and have more knowledge of scripture than we do, No Person has no more holiness than the average Christian and is not entitled to be called “these exaggerated names.”
  • Pop culture and spirituality without religion (christiantoday.com)
    Pop artists are fond of provocative religious imagery, but Ted Turnau says that should not be surprising for Christians and rather than getting offended, they should be looking for ways to come alongside today’s secularised pop stars to help them use such religious imagery appropriately.
  • Want to Argue About Creeds? I Don’t (theresauuco.wordpress.com)
    Unitarian Universalists are fond of saying that we believe in “deeds not creeds.”  Almost every Sunday I start the worship service by welcoming visitors telling them that we value diversity of all types. Our congregations include people who self-identify as Christians, Pagans,  Humanists, Agnostics, Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Spiritualists, and pretty much everything else.  I say that what matters most is how we treat other people and how we care for this planet of ours.  That is another way of saying “deeds not creeds.” Our faith tradition has a long history of respect for the individual right of conscience.  Believe whatever makes sense to you about God and what happens after we die, but let’s see if we can get together and try to make our own lives and this world a better place.  We can discuss differing theological beliefs. I love hearing what others believe about the big issues, and I like to talk about my own, always evolving, sense of the universe and what this life of ours is all about.  Arguing is pointless, however, and generally serves to increase the distance between people rather than bring them closer together.
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    Unitarian Universalism is changing and we will keep changing; change is in our DNA.  We were formed from the merger of two Christian denominations, both of which date back to the 1700′s in this country.  That history is still part of us, but I don’t think many of our religious ancestors would necessarily recognize us today.  We brought in science and humanism, incorporated wisdom from other  world religions and from the earth centered traditions.  The Transcendentalist also had a huge impact. For those of us who believe in God, revelation is definitely not sealed.  For those of us who believe in the human spirit, change is simply part of life.
  • Is Yoga New Agey? (elephantjournal.com)

    Emerson, one of the foremost minds of 19th century America, was himself heavily influenced by Vedanta, the spiritual teachings of Hinduism, which originated in India. With regard to the concept of karma, for example, he wrote, “You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong.”

    Ralph Waldo was a transcendentalist who read the Bhagavad Gita and considered himself a yogi. (Albeit his lineage was more jnana than hatha; more about knowledge and wisdom than breath and movement.)

    The “new” doesn’t refer to time but rather new as opposed to established Western societal beliefs. The “age” refers to the Aquarian Age (as in, ‘this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.’)

  • Can You Be Spiritual and Not Religious? (drcindysimpson.com)
    “I’m spiritual but not religious.”  I hear and read this many times.  What does this phrase mean? For people who do research in the area of religion and spirituality, however, separating the two is very difficult, if not impossible.  For millennia the word religious had about the same meaning as the word spiritual.Today religion is popularly labeled as the doctrine and beliefs of a group.  Spirituality, on the other hand, is individualized and only concerns itself with the relationship of that person to the sacred or transcendent (Koenig, 2005, pp. 44-45). Yet current research finds that at least 74% of people do not make a distinction between religion and spirituality.  How then can we best define the relationship between the two?
  • Transcendentalism vs. Puritanism: The Enduring Relevance of Competing Ideologies in Modern American Society (theiridescentbubble.com)
    Transcendentalism and Puritanism share an enduring relativity embedded in modern American individualism. Transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau espoused the tenants of a quasi-religion governed by individuality and nature while Puritans like Jonathan Edwards, though influenced by the academics of free thinking, knelt at the altar of altruism governed by an angry God. While we indeed have deep roots within Puritanism as a nation, we are equally influenced by the individualism that is Transcendentalism. In reflecting upon the condition of modern American society, it seems clear that the divisions that separate these two distinct ideologies, their seeds planted during the time of our foundation, still frame the divisions we face as a collective people today.
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    the exploration of the core tenants of Transcendentalism sheds the greatest light on that which differentiates it from its Puritan opposition.  It is a form of philosophical idealism that calls upon the individual to rise above the animalistic impulses in life, as well as the cultural restrictions imposed upon the individual.  In Transcendentalism, God is a life force found in everything which negates the necessity of churches or holy places.  God is found in both nature and human nature; he is a “light” in everyone.  As a rule, one must ruminate over and nourish the inner light to keep it alive and healthy.  Everyone is in possession of intuition or an inherent understanding of right and wrong but culture and society tend to corrupt the intuition.  To actualize the authority of our intuition, we must learn, think, and reflect.  Further, neither our past nor our future should limit the present.  We must live close to nature because it is our greatest teacher and our connection to God.  Individualism is that the very heart of Transcendentalism and self-empowerment is borne of the defiance of social conventions – even God is not the ultimate authority.  To the Transcendentalist, evil is not the opposite of good, it is simply the absence of good, but good is thought to be more powerful.  Finally, all things are encompassed and contained by the Oversoul, which has spiritual power.