More than a Sentence
Exchanges Between Friends
Wendel Krossa (Mar 13)
“The core belief of Christianity nullifies the core message of Jesus”. The core belief of Christianity being that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice for sin. This great contradiction of Christianity ought to be highlighted everywhere. The contradiction centers on this message of unconditional taught and lived by Jesus. Additional points to illustrate- Paul preached Christ crucified-his central message- which showed the centrality of this even in early Christianity.
Christianity in essence is the creation of a supreme condition, the arguably most supreme condition ever created by human minds to nullify unconditional. Yet Christianity still tries to encompass these contradictory themes in one theology. Christians all over the place use the term unconditional love of God (one of the most famous contemporary Evangelicals- the guy who wrote Purpose filled Life or something like that, is in conflict with others over unconditional). They recognize intuitively this theme in Jesus and its value as a humane standard, but then create this horrific contradiction in tying it to the greatest condition ever imagined (infinite sacrifice to appease infinite offense). As you have argued Bob, early Christians got caught up in a message about the man (a payback understanding) instead of focusing on and trying to understand the message of the man.
In all this I see that we are building toward something important in a grand new narrative and we are still just getting started. I feel – let’s get busy getting this out. To liberate from the inner darkness and enslavement that continues in human consciousness. Like that poor woman in Japan trying to make sense of the tragedy and blaming herself and others for being too happy and thereby suffering retribution from God. You can be physically free but still enslaved horribly to such ideas. Let’s go to the very depths of consciousness and liberate there where it impacts life the most. Freeing people from the darkness to see the glory of what Jesus saw. Unconditional- we need nothing to enjoy the full acceptance and love that all are beneficiaries of by just being human. Just treat all others with the same unconditional love.
My own aha moment while walking up Thornhill last month or so was about the courage to challenge all darkness that dims and nullifies this glory of unconditional. To believe this is true and anything that dims it in any way is false and not of God. To stand at the gates of hell and not back down from this grand breakthrough Jesus insight.
Bob Brinsmead (Mar 14)
Agreed – truth often needs to be presented in the context of contrast. This has been my answer in the past to people who suggest I should have not mentioned the negative side. My classic article was the contrast presentation of Justification by Faith in the format of Catholic versus Protestant. One sometimes has to teach by saying, Not that way but this way. So contrast of true and false is often necessary to get the point across – otherwise people put the new wine back into the old wineskins of false religio8us traditions
Bob Brinsmead (Mar 15)
Even if HJ did not teach it, we must still teach it – such is the nature of evolving human consciousness. It is like monotheism which was really a very late development in the time of the prophets. To begin with, Yahweh was a tribal God of the Hebrew people. The Bible records a growing human consciousness. Full racial and gender equality and democratic human rights, with political/economic/religious freedoms are all very recent developments in human consciousness.
We need to look at the fruit of the forms of thinking that fall short of a genuine universalism – we will inevitably become judgmental of all who are regarded as being condemned by God.
Wendell Krossa (Mar 15)
That gets it- it is an inevitable progression in human consciousness. We all sense it is right, true, and therefore even if no one before us had ever taught it, we must. That was the essence of my aha moment going up Thornhill. If we can imagine something better, something better than all the dark ideas that humans have messed with over history, then that imagination of a better reality, that is truth. That is of God. That is love and light. We can stand at the gates of hell with assurance and not back down despite all the religious threat and intimidation. And what actually is, what God is actually about (the Ground of all, the Creator and Sustainer of all, the meaning and truth behind all) is infinitely better than the best that we can imagine. Such is the nature of ultimate realities and transcendent reality.
So if we can get some grasp on unconditional love then we can be sure the actual reality is infinitely better. We are heading in the right direction.
Bob Brinsmead (Mar 15)
Jesus himself did not appeal to authority – not even his own authority. E The truth he spoke carried its own authority – it becomes self-evident to an awakened human consciousness. The power of his teaching was not because of his authority, but in the self-attesting truth of what he said. We don’t quote Jesus because he said it, but what he says finds resonance in our awakened consciousness. As Luther once quipped, “God once spoke to the disobedient prophet through the mouth of an ass.”
Truth is no less truth if it comes out of the mouth of an ass.
After all, many things are ascribed to Jesus, as if “Jesus said” is the end of discussion…and the Jews did the same with Moses said…
It makes no difference even if one can say, “God says…” Abraham heard God say, “Go and kill your son as an offering…” He should have replied, “Get out of here you great Satan…”
Wendell Krossa (Mar 15)
This issue of authority is critical to start a process of liberation from a worldview that no longer is credible. If one believes that a holy book is divinely inspired and “the Word of God”, then it is difficult to question or challenge all that is in that book. It must be taken as ‘truth’ and held and defended as such.
I remember back in the late 70 to early 80s the questioning that began around issues of inspiration and fallibility. Even the pointing out of small errors and inconsistencies, this all helped to loosen the grip of authority on consciousness and to liberate one to begin challenging all sorts of things that one had once believed to be infallible truth.
It would be interesting to distil this process and package it and….well, sell it.
Wendell Krossa (Mar 16)
This contrast thing is also well done in several of the main HJ parables- the contrast of the older brother with the wild child younger bro. And in the full shift guys versus the short shift guys in the vineyard story. These other actors are vital to the point of these stories. To provide contrast.
And in response to the Christian argument that unconditional is not used anywhere in Scripture- there is a consistency in how HJ used this throughout his precepts, parables and personal treatment of others. It is a clearly detectable strain all through pointing to this obvious outcome of unconditional treatment. This is true despite the distorting contexts of payback.
Ellen Townsend (Mar 19)
So, Guys, I also agree with “unconditional” as a goal, as a philosophy, as something needful to preach and to be understood. In the meantime, we still live in this world,
where ‘older brother’ gets drunk at the wedding reception of ‘younger brother’. Drunken ‘older brother’ accidentally drops his plate of food into the punch bowl, and totally upsets the wedding cake onto the floor.
We might love him unconditionally, but there are real-life conditions placed on his presence at future family gatherings. Welcome to this world wherein we find ourselves, loved, yes, unconditionally by the great God, yet still trapped (in fleshly habitats) in a world where drunken ‘older brother ‘ has to be physically restrained to keep him from driving his car, which can kill somebody if he is allowed to drive. He protests loudly as the (formerly) happy couple exits the celebration that was supposed to be memorable… Okay, fit this real-world possibility into the unconditional philosophy.
Bob Brinsmead (Mar 19)
It’s called “tough love”, Ellen. A great Aboriginal Australian leader, Noel Pearson, crusades against a handout mentality that destroys indigenous communities and condemns them to welfare dependency. He advocates a new order of “tough love” toward indigenous Australians. The concepts of tough, discipline, personal responsibility etc. are not inimical to love.
Wendell Krossa (Mar 19)
This is the fun part. This is where human creativity and hope and ingenuity come into play. There is darkness and stupidity and carelessness and even intentional cruelty all round. But we live as creatures of meaning, seeking meaning in something bigger than ourselves and our lives. We live by ideals that inspire us to seek something better. That lead us to take crazy risks and make hard choices (not just in wrestling with the imperfection of others, but also our own).
So no, this does not mean the abandonment of common sense. We are obligated to protect one another from irresponsibility all around. And from inevitable imperfection and mistake and misjudgement. This too is love. It doesn’t get crushed in the daily mundane round with all that is real-life imperfection. And it has to do things at times that don’t feel good, may not feel loving, but are in the best interests of others.
We just had a situation where a beautiful young lady (finalist in the Canadian Idol singing competition) finally married her boyfriend (high-school sweethearts, but about 27 years old now). She was about three months pregnant at the wedding. Her father is a controlling monster who never liked the boyfriend and tried to prevent them dating. Made her life hell. So she spent years sneaking around behind his back. In a nasty, spiteful final blow he refused to attend her recent wedding. This embarrassed her mother who had to go alone and explain it all to the family of the boy. A mess all around on what should have been a special day for the daughter. What the Dad would have done if he had known she was pregnant, well, we can only wonder. I joked to my wife that when she gives birth 5-6 months after the wedding, she can tell the Dad that people nowadays have shorter pregnancies as time is more valuable and people are more efficient.
Ah, such is real life. And now what in future? How does she deal with that sick father?
Once, when talking with the daughter, I encouraged her to just get on with her life, despite the Dad’s obstruction. Go ahead and make your decisions and do not let him hold you back. She will wrestle with such things as what does forgiveness mean in her situation. And other things.
Unconditional is not something that sits above all this as impractical and not applicable. It lives right in such situations and is intensely a part of people’s inner responses and outer responses to those all around that cause so much misery to others. It takes responsible action to protect oneself and others from the harm others might cause. I see no contradiction or conflict here of real life with a critically important human value.
Look at how Katy Hutchison applied unconditional (her natural response) to a much worse real life situation. That was intensely practical and applicable.