Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Bigggg Question. & no doubt I will want to add a lot -- or perhaps you'll all be able to tell me so much of what this means that I won't feel like anything should be added?
But seriously, we need to talk! This one matters.
Did it matter when a series of church councils laid out an abstract blueprint of precisely what, whom, & how it all related? Was this just a pointless bit of Greek-style metaphysics. Well: Yes, no, didn't touch the Reality of it all but carried a Message whether or not we find that speaking to us.
What are we given to say?
Thanks for all this good information and thought....
It's this sort of thing I was remembering from you at some point "What I think the synoptics agree on is that the crucial words are about 'the Son of Man' coming on the clouds of Heaven. "Christ" or "Messiah"? No -- we may have a popular idiom for "me", ie "this son of Adam" but I'm pretty sure he's referring to the book of Daniel, where a succession of vicious beasts represent the empires which have dominated the world through the time that book was written, and are followed by "one like a Son of Man", ie a human being to govern in a way worthy of humane beings."
I keep being struck that Jesus wanted to identify as "Son of Man," instead of "Son of God". That always struck me as God's perspective....as in: only God would express "being Jesus" as being the son of men. No regular human being would call himself essentially "i was born" -- only God having a turn at being born. But you're saying that this was actually a more common phrase and simply a way of saying "me" or "human being"?
So...in that case, Jesus's most consistent way of identifying himself in all the 4 gospels is "human being".... What in the world are we supposed to make of THAT!?
"He is the center and source of action, not the end-point of thought" (Thomas R. Kelly).
So...in that case, Jesus's most consistent way of identifying himself in all the 4 gospels is "human being".... What in the world are we supposed to make of THAT!?
He may sometimes be referring to Daniel's angelic figure "like a human being" which would be referring to himself as God's intended ruler of the world.
Or sometimes we might have God speaking through Jesus and referring to "This human being."
I don't know how far back the Aramaic idiom goes; Lamsa said it was in common usage where he grew up.
So when God (as Jesus) keeps saying "Everyone, i am human being" our vantage point is that we take that and emphasize that "this shows that this is God saying it."
But wouldn't God be direct if the message was "I am God, not some human being." ?
And since the message has instead been God repeating "I am this human being...."
I think to me it's drawing me into a deeper awareness of the body. We so often feel in our society that our bodies are kind of irrelevant on some level and the real Us is the mind and the spiritual heart. We think we are "in our bodies." This is where I really love Philip Shepherd and his insights about what we're actually doing and the amount of choice we might have over that.
He mentions in this article ("Out of Our Heads" from The Sun magazine, http://philipshepherd.com/the-sun/ ) that:
"...we are stuck in the cranium, unable to open the door to the body and join ITS thinking. The best we can do is put our ear to the imaginary wall separating us from it and "listen to the body," a phrase that means well but actually keeps us in the head, gathering information from the outside. But the body is not outside. The body is you. We are missing the experience of our own being."
Later he goes on to show us more about how "head"-oriented we are in our culture, and how we apply that to our religion too:
"...Washington DC is literally "the head" of the US. We call the pope the "head" of the Roman Catholic Church. We could call him the "heart" of the church, to emphasize that it's an institution based on faith. Or we could call him the "lungs" of the Church, because SPIRIT means "breath." The Church might look to its original model Jesus, who did not live from the head...."
So I just wonder what Jesus-form-of-God is really trying to say to us by drawing us most directly toward him as human being, not even him as personal-God. Do we have untapped grace and divine connection by perhaps realizing God-on-site more physically than we have been prone to do?
I would like to respond to everybody here; but there's so much that I'm reduced to sorting it gradually just for my own sake!
I want to get back to the Church council notion of "The Trinity", what seems mistaken in it and what seems like valuable truth, and why.
They were trying to impose unity, top down; and that to me is a mistake. It may hold an organization together but it makes it the wrong sort of organization, what Stringfellow would have called ~'fallen'. [Which is after all the nature of organizations in a Fallen world.] Whereas Jesus could [reluctantly, probably] accept death and trust our Father to make everything right.
Eventually their creeds evolved into a rigid sort of structure, with precise definitions detailing the relations between its artificially-distinct parts.
But it works poetically -- not meaning 'as pretty words' but as 'metaphor expressing a valid, important analogy between some object or concept and a big, hairy reality.' Which is the way people do their thinking, about anything beyond what a baby can put in its mouth. I mean, people learn how some concrete reality works, then we build on that, rightly or otherwise.
So 'The Trinity' can serve as the fallen Church's answer to: 'What does God look like?' "Let's see, there's the guy who made the world, the Father. Then there's the Holy Spirit -- and we want to emphasize that that really is God, and is what we're getting this from, and that means we can't make mistakes so nobody should dispute against us. [Oooops! There's that fallen nature at work in something that's otherwise truthful] And then there's Jesus, the Son. We've had pesky folks insisting that he was pure spirit and nothing more, not really a human being. And we've had pesky folks insisting that he was merely a really good human being, inspired and favored by God. We'd like to shut all those folks up [There's that fallen stuff again, sorry! But so it was] so we'll agree: "Jesus is fully God, and Jesus is fully human."
Okay, that put a kink in everybody's abstract logic! But ends up implying: We can't altogether despise the body, because God Himself put his whole being into a human being, accepted our limitations and lived within them, but was still God, every bit of That!
Thank you for bringing P. Shepherd to the discussion. You quoted him:
But the body is not outside. The body is you.
I wonder whether he knows and affirms, through personal experience, consciousness and conscience sustains after the death and decomposition of the body?
If the body is me, is death the decomposing of consciousness and conscience? Am I after the death and decomposition of the body?
I won't speak for Philip Shepherd beyond quoting or speaking of what his words mean to me but would be glad to answer along those lines.
I lean on the conviction that Jesus Christ is Something which longs to be expressed AS each one of us.
In this sense, our body IS our spirit -- manifested.
I find this to be true in the healing work. I have worked with people who felt that "they" couldn't get "their body" to act right and be healthy, when the truth and health on a spiritual level turned out to feel more like "As this manifested being I AM, I hurt." In one way or another....
Dealing with the body as physical grace and need on-site can feel like working with this Presence you mention. For me it feels like God so directly that I have tried to navigate that and make sure that I wasn't worshiping through others instead of with my own direct connection. With my own God connection in place though (and by that I mean just being spiritually centered and grounded in that which carries out all the junk and brings in all the grace)... I still experience working with others physical body health issues as being in the presence of THEIR Christ on-site.
I fully expect that after this body dies (and we have great pains about that transition) we will still have the Spirit, but the Spirit will no longer be manifesting in the form of our body and will have whatever other avenues of "getting to know itself" with God.
What do you think about this? I'm kind of riffing on the topic / exploring it with you.
I fully agree with Forrest's conclusion just above "We can't altogether despise the body, because God Himself put his whole being into a human being, accepted our limitations and lived within them, but was still God, every bit of That!"
The testimony that consciousness and conscience in the Presence of Christ is not anchored in the five senses, thoughts, feelings, desires, perception ... that is, the body and abstract thought and perception ... is not a statement despising the body and the physical world. Such is obfuscation, mischaracterization and misunderstanding. Our bodies are a blessing. The world is a blessing. Life in this body and world is a blessing when consciousness is anchored and conscience informed, in and by, the Presence experienced directly. The mystery of faith in a pure conscience. It is the realm of God on Earth.
What do you base your expectation "that after this (your) body dies ... we still have the Spirit" on?"
I hear and believe in what you say here: "Our bodies are a blessing. The world is a blessing. Life in this body and world is a blessing when consciousness is anchored and conscience informed, in and by, the Presence experienced directly. The mystery of faith in a pure conscience. It is the realm of God on Earth."
I agree with not despising the body (and that you weren't despising yours), but the way most of us live in our bodies, as if they are not filled with living Spirit AS US, is not as full a love of the Divine as I would want for us all to have. I am just speaking of getting to know one of our most obvious senses, actually being present in our whole self as if it's US, not an appendage that we aren't, or that doesn't cooperate with our goals.
This helps us to cooperate with Spirit, which is often nudging us through our bodies, to take care of one thing or another, or watch out for one thing or another, to work with our pain or grief so that it doesn't become more of a problem for us physically, etc. I also find the body itself to be like a fingerprint, so unique and full of specific history, meaning, and road maps of where we've been and where we can go from here.
I don't dispute for a moment your sense of the realm of God. I was speaking of the realm of Christ which I guess for the moment becomes "different" though not really -- I'm referring to the physical world. "Christ has come to teach his people himself". He didn't stay in spirit, he manifested, he brought a body with him, and it suffered with him, and rejoiced with him. Mostly though it just let flow God fully through his life.
I find that a body is always a good place to start with experiencing our own Spirit and what it really needs for healing. This is all US NOW. I don't believe the body will always be such an integral expression of us (after we die) but it is an integral expression of us now / in that Present....
Christ came to planet Earth to work with people who also have bodies and understand through their bodies and don't believe very easily in fully freeing their Spirits. Many of them think that they are that body and that head is the control center...and they don't guess for a moment that the Spirit of divine Wholeness is flowing through their entire self -- and wants to flow MORE!
Many who do know the Spirit don't like to think of it in the same breath as the body, but because of its intimacy to us I find it to be a more helpful "way in" to Spirit than whatever else we come up with . Our minds lie or make up the more comfortable version of things, or are limited in what we can understand, or just don't want to be challenged (ego-level). But the body as a whole doesn't lie and is very intimately subject to God's flow through this being that we are.
These people's bodies in Jesus's time (and all of our bodies too) grapple with the truth in many ways -- often through the physical manifestation of whatever tensions we hold in our spirits / souls, whatever injuries come to us, whatever information or experience or genes we inherited from our parents, whatever hurts we have and whatever grief we haven't let go of, whatever awkwardness we feel about the world and our place in it.... We are filled with these opportunities to look to the divine on-site showing up as this area of difficulty in our lives, and lean into it and see where letting go will take us.
I see that I had previously said:
"I fully expect that after this body dies (and we have great pains about that transition) we will still have the Spirit, but the Spirit will no longer be manifesting in the form of our body and will have whatever other avenues of "getting to know itself" with God."
I don't feel able to say anything helpful to sum up what I'm basing this expectation on, beyond just saying "scripture and experience". We are all divine flow....I feel very clear on that. But we have come here and that flow has created our bodies and our hearts and our minds and then we have Jesus saying "I'm here in a body too! I'm a Son of Man!" I just find that whole thing rather interesting.
The model we've been given is the man 'Jesus', a man living some actual life which we've been told much about -- But much of what we're told is confusing, contradictory, jammed into a context that neither makes historical sense nor fits the Judaism that God formed as the setting for his birth. I've found it a real puzzle: "Why was he out there saying and doing these particular things? And as I've read, I've found 1) That no book so far can make a tidy package of this man, and 2) That most all of such reading deepens my understanding of him, even books that entirely miss or ignore historical plausibility in one way or another. So in that spirit, I'm quoting Deepak Chopra [a rather uneven source...]:
"Revelation was Jesus' primary means of communication. The disciples ask a question, and Jesus answers as God would. Jesus' mind was God's mind. Jesus didn't have to interpret anything; he was guided by pure truth. Needless to say, he provides a daunting model. Can we really expect our own thoughts to come directly from God?"
Now that is a very yogic interpretation, because yogic practice, if it's done right, is intended to bring a person to that kind of unity with God. But I think he's hit on what it was that people saw in Jesus' first embodiment, what it is that made many of his contemporaries and many of us since say: "That's God talking!"
It is also, I would say, what led early Friends to dismiss any distinction between 'the Light' and 'Christ' -- this awareness of "God in" themselves and in the man called 'Jesus'. God is God so how much sense does it make to dispute about the packaging?
James Schultz says "I think we can start with 'Christ' being that of God that dwells with man and at least in some cases in man," and that seems to fit that 'Early Friends' sense of things. That is, they saw 'Christ' as something distinct from a person, something that's 'within' each person and might or might actually rule there. George Fox's metaphor of Christ being 'in prison' in some people describes what we'd call 'a bad man', the kind of person who might make our friend James uncertain whether God really lives in there!
And that question is well worth discussing, except that I need to leave this for now...
After waiting for a better way to say this, I realize I don't need to do any better than Rabbi Smelke of Nicholsburg, as quoted by Stephen Mitchell in The Enlightened Mind:
A disciple asked Rabbi Smelke, "We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourself. How can I do this if my neighbor has wronged me?
The rabbi answered, "You must understand these words correctly. Love your neighbor like something which you yourself are. For all souls are one. Each is a spark from the original soul, and this soul is wholly inherent in all souls, just as your soul is in all members of your body. It may happen that your hand makes a mistake and hits you. But would you then take a stick and punish your hand because it lacked understanding, and so increase your pain? It is the same if your neighbor, who is of one soul with you, wrongs you because he does not understand. If you punish him, you only hurt yourself."
The disciple asked, "But if I see a man who is wicked before God, how can I love him?
Rabbi Smelke said, "Don't you know that the original soul came out of the essence of God, and that every human soul is a part of God? And will you have no mercy on Him, when you see that one of His holy sparks has been lost in a maze, and is almost stifled?"
What an interesting context you bring up, David.
It brings to mind that this "spirit of Christ" as I understand it is (in my view) embodied in this one case in the man Jesus, but is Divine Spirit and even one that is on some level given to all. I find that said Spirit is a very specific and very empowering thing, and in some ways a very separate thing: You don't end up reeking of it unless you seek it out (and then keep seeking, as a relationship)... but I don't believe that it has only existed by the name "Jesus Christ". I feel clear that it can appear in any faith and is more about where the person's spirit is at in relation to the Divine. It's an uncompromising (and loving) truth of our Spirit, but not calling us all to relate to it in the same way!
I have definitely been prone to thinking that before Jesus was born people still all had Holy Spirit.... instead of seeing Jesus Christ's life as the first hand-off of this Spirit within people.