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Theology in the Eastern Christian Tradition


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#1 Bonita

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 10:14 AM

TUB tells us that "Christianity contains enough of Jesus' teachings to immortalize it". (195:10.18) I have found plenty of Jesus' teachings in the Eastern tradition and desire to offer a few of my insights with the intent to simply broaden our understanding of the religions of Urantia and to share what is true, good and beautiful within them.


You can achieve the unity of the service of God even while you render such service in accordance with the technique of your own original endowments of mind, body, and soul. p1591:7 141:5.2

You are justified by faith and fellowshipped by grace, not by fear and the self-denial of the flesh, albeit the Father's children who have been born of the spirit are ever and always masters of the self and all that pertains to the desires of the flesh. When you know that you are saved by faith, you have real peace with God. And all who follow in the way of this heavenly peace are destined to be sanctified to the eternal service of the ever-advancing sons of the eternal God. Henceforth, it is not a duty but rather your exalted privilege to cleanse yourselves from all evils of mind and body while you seek for perfection in the love of God. 1610:01

"If, then, my children, you are born of the spirit, you are forever delivered from the self-conscious bondage of a life of self-denial and watchcare over the desires of the flesh, and you are translated into the joyous kingdom of the spirit, whence you spontaneously show forth the fruits of the spirit in your daily lives; and the fruits of the spirit are the essence of the highest type of enjoyable and ennobling self-control, even the heights of terrestrial mortal attainment--true self-mastery." 1610:03

But most valuable of all, your potential of real achievement is the spirit which lives within you, and which will stimulate and inspire your mind to control itself and activate the body if you will release it from the fetters of fear and thus enable your spiritual nature to begin your deliverance from the evils of inaction by the power-presence of living faith. p1437:3 130:6.3

Edited by Bonita, 08 July 2009 - 08:35 AM.


#2 nameless until fused

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 02:47 PM

Adelfo,

Are you referring to the corruptive influence of the Pauline Doctrine - so to speak - that continues to tormet Roman Catholics?

I'm not sure that Greek and Russian Orthodox Christian sects are also not polluted - I am eager to learn more so please carry on!

The atonement doctrine could also be creating even more mischief than Pauline doctrines in attitudes towards the "body" than we have allowed ourselves to consider so far and, granted - I do not hang out on religious sites or in churches - but I have not heard of any "scholarly" study that considers what impact belief in the atonement doctrine has on the health and happiness of a "body"....seems to still be an untouchable "sacred cow" - the atonement doctrine...

#3 Jen

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Posted 28 August 2008 - 11:50 PM

Thank you for opening this thread adelfo. I look foward to learning more.

You say, "The Church Fathers have fostered fear of carnal sin and have perpetuated the practice of viewing the body as the evil temptress always at odds with the soul." Who are the "Church Fathers" you refer too? I understand there was a great diversity of views within the early Christian church, so I am not sure exactly which "Church Fathers" you are talking about.

Edited by Jen, 28 August 2008 - 11:52 PM.


#4 Bonita

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 11:16 AM

From them you will learn to let pressure develop stability and certainty; to be faithful and earnest and, withal, cheerful; to accept challenges without complaint and to face difficulties and uncertainties without fear. They will ask: If you fail, will you rise indomitably to try anew? If you succeed, will you maintain a well-balanced poise—a stabilized and spiritualized attitude—throughout every effort in the long struggle to break the fetters of material inertia, to attain the freedom of spirit existence? 48:6.24

The forgiveness of sin by Deity is the renewal of loyalty relations following a period of the human consciousness of the lapse of such relations as the consequence of conscious rebellion. The forgiveness does not have to be sought, only received as the consciousness of re-establishment of loyalty relations between the creature and the Creator. And all the loyal sons of God are happy, service-loving, and ever-progressive in the Paradise ascent. 985:01

Edited by Bonita, 08 July 2009 - 08:36 AM.


#5 nameless until fused

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 01:26 PM

Just wanted to share something that to me indicates how the KEY themes that are being upstepped by revelation are pretty much present in every Paper - I went to PAGE 48 instead of PAPER 48 - here's what was on PAGE 48 - which is yet another quote you could be using, Adelfo, as you build your case for "orthodox" christian sects like Greek and Russian:

"Thus it is that your detached, sectional, finite, gross, and highly materialistic viewpoint and the limitations inherent in the nature of your being constitute such a handicap that you are unable to see, comprehend, or know the wisdom and kindness of many of the divine acts which to you seem fraught with such crushing cruelty, and which seem to be characterized by such utter indifference to the comfort and welfare, to the planetary happiness and personal prosperity, of your fellow creatures. It is because of the limits of human vision, it is because of your circumscribed understanding and finite comprehension, that you misunderstand the motives, and pervert the purposes, of God. But many things occur on the evolutionary worlds which are not the personal doings of the Universal Father."

So, hopefully, we'll know it when we see it ;)

Just a teensy little thought to float above and around this very interesting study - "give to God what is God's."

#6 Guest_Robert Reno_*

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 03:12 PM

Your sharing this appreciation of the Eastern Orthodox tradition is wonderful adelfo. It is most interesting that this tradition has existed for so long, but has been so overshadowed by the Western Augustinian tradtion. There is a Christian philosopher of religion named John Hick that wrote extensively on the Eastern Orthodox tradition as it pertains to the theory of theodicy, and the difference between the Augustinian and Irenaean tradition. His book Evil and a God of Love is a classic work in the field of philosophy of religion and religious studies, and supports your thesis well. (See Hick on History of Original Sin Doctrine)

The teachings of the Urantia Book are in harmony with the theory of theodicy that Hick presents, which is based within the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

Edited by Robert Reno, 29 August 2008 - 03:37 PM.


#7 Bonita

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 03:53 PM

188:4.9 All this concept of atonement and sacrificial salvation is rooted and grounded in selfishness. Jesus taught that service to one`s fellows is the highest concept of the brotherhood of spirit believers. Salvation should be taken for granted by those who believe in the fatherhood of God. The believer`s chief concern should not be the selfish desire for personal salvation but rather the unselfish urge to love and, therefore, serve one`s fellows even as Jesus loved and served mortal men.

Edited by Bonita, 08 July 2009 - 08:38 AM.


#8 Guest_Robert Reno_*

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 04:52 PM

Interesting factoid about Augustine and his Manichaean connection. Elaine Pagels is a prolific author on the topic of Gnosticism, which is an interesting study in itself. Is she the source you draw upon for the following statement,

Sin is understood more as an illness than a transgression and God is the good physician rather than the harsh judge.


Where does this come from specifically. If you would be so kind as to include the “published source where the quote may be found in context” when quoting material not found in the Urantia Book; it makes the context much easier grasp. Thanks so much for sharing these insights.

Edited by Robert Reno, 29 August 2008 - 05:41 PM.


#9 Bonita

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Posted 29 August 2008 - 08:41 PM

146:3.2 You should never forget that intolerance is the mask covering up the entertainment of secret doubts as to the trueness of one`s belief. No man is at any time disturbed by his neighbor`s attitude when he has perfect confidence in the truth of that which he wholeheartedly believes. Courage is the confidence of thoroughgoing honesty about those things which one professes to believe. Sincere men are unafraid of the critical examination of their true convictions and noble ideals.

Edited by Bonita, 08 July 2009 - 08:42 AM.


#10 Bill Urantia

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 01:12 AM

Adelfo,

As this is a presentation of the Eastern Orthodox traditions, it would be appropriate to indicate when you are posting your own conclusions.

As for the sentence you have in quotations. Those words are not quoted from any one specific source. It is a conclusion I arrived at after reading the Philokalia and various scholars' interpretations of the text.


This will avoid confusion in the minds of those viewing this thread. Also some snippets from the sources which caused you to form this opinion might be of help to those of us who might wish to form our own conclusions.

Bill,
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Read the Urantia Papers. Read them again.

#11 Bonita

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 09:53 AM

89:10.2 sin must be redefined as deliberate disloyalty to Deity. There are degrees of disloyalty: the partial loyalty of indecision; the divided loyalty of confliction; the dying loyalty of indifference; and the death of loyalty exhibited in devotion to godless ideals.

Edited by Bonita, 08 July 2009 - 08:51 AM.


#12 Bill Urantia

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 12:26 PM

Adelfo,

As long as you do not surrender yourself willingly to the enemy, your patient endurance, combined with self-reproach, will suffice for your salvation.


I think there is much truth in the above statement. I believe it implies faith, which leads to salvation.

And, thank you for the clarification.

He who repents rightly does not imagine that it is his own effort that cancels his former sins; but through this effort he makes his peace with God.


And himself, the peace beyond understanding.

Bill,
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Read the Urantia Papers. Read them again.

#13 Guest_Robert Reno_*

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 01:26 PM

Thanks adelfo for the citation. It gives me a chance to investigate further the Eastern Orthodox tradition, although my wife has severally restricted my book budget because of some rather hefty purchases in evo-devo lately ;-(

The following is an interesting question:

What are your conclusions concerning God's mercy toward the sinner? Is he a stern parent who practices tough love? If so, I can agree with that also.


I think it is easy for us as finite mortals to fail to grasp that God's mercy and justice are perfectly integrated in ways that can only exist in a transcendent personality. We being human, end up sometimes seeing a bit of paradox, where in the mind of God there is none. The Urantia Book gives us a rich picture of the nature of evil, sin, and iniquity and how God’s attitude toward these plays out in his finite evolving universe.

When a wise man understands the inner impulses of his fellows, he will love them. And when you love your brother, you have already forgiven him. This capacity to understand man's nature and forgive his apparent wrongdoing is Godlike. If you are wise parents, this is the way you will love and understand your children, even forgive them when transient misunderstanding has apparently separated you. The child, being immature and lacking in the fuller understanding of the depth of the child-father relationship, must frequently feel a sense of guilty separation from a father's full approval, but the true father is never conscious of any such separation. Sin is an experience of creature consciousness; it is not a part of God's consciousness. (1898.4)

God his hardly a “stern parent” in the above description, nor in the parable of the Prodigal Son. But it would be a mistake to think that God does not take a dim view of willful sin. Jesus told his apostles the following:

But Jesus earnestly warned his apostles against the foolishness of the child of God who presumes upon the Father's love. He declared that the heavenly Father is not a lax, loose, or foolishly indulgent parent who is ever ready to condone sin and forgive recklessness. He cautioned his hearers not mistakenly to apply his illustrations of father and son so as to make it appear that God is like some overindulgent and unwise parents who conspire with the foolish of earth to encompass the moral undoing of their thoughtless children, and who are thereby certainly and directly contributing to the delinquency and early demoralization of their own offspring. Said Jesus: "My Father does not indulgently condone those acts and practices of his children which are self-destructive and suicidal to all moral growth and spiritual progress. Such sinful practices are an abomination in the sight of God." (1653.3)

In preaching the gospel of the kingdom, you are simply teaching friendship with God. And this fellowship will appeal alike to men and women in that both will find that which most truly satisfies their characteristic longings and ideals. Tell my children that I am not only tender of their feelings and patient with their frailties, but that I am also ruthless with sin and intolerant of iniquity. I am indeed meek and humble in the presence of my Father, but I am equally and relentlessly inexorable where there is deliberate evildoing and sinful rebellion against the will of my Father in heaven. (1766.5)

There is a universe isolation of that which engages in an act of “deliberate and conscious disdain” of the “laws of spirit, mind, and mater”:

That prayer which is inconsistent with the known and established laws of God is an abomination to the Paradise Deities. If man will not listen to the Gods as they speak to their creation in the laws of spirit, mind, and matter, the very act of such deliberate and conscious disdain by the creature turns the ears of spirit personalities away from hearing the personal petitions of such lawless and disobedient mortals. Jesus quoted to his apostles from the Prophet Zechariah: "But they refused to hearken and pulled away the shoulder and stopped their ears that they should not hear. Yes, they made their hearts adamant like a stone, lest they should hear my law and the words which I sent by my spirit through the prophets; therefore did the results of their evil thinking come as a great wrath upon their guilty heads. And so it came to pass that they cried for mercy, but there was no ear open to hear." And then Jesus quoted the proverb of the wise man who said: "He who turns away his ear from hearing the divine law, even his prayer shall be an abomination." (1638.3)

Further relevant quotes from the UB on evil, sin, and iniquity:

God loves the sinner and hates the sin: such a statement is true philosophically, but God is a transcendent personality, and persons can only love and hate other persons. Sin is not a person. God loves the sinner because he is a personality reality (potentially eternal), while towards sin God strikes no personal attitude, for sin is not a spiritual reality; it is not personal; therefore does only the justice of God take cognizance of its existence. The love of God saves the sinner; the law of God destroys the sin. This attitude of the divine nature would apparently change if the sinner finally identified himself wholly with sin just as the same mortal mind may also fully identify itself with the indwelling spirit Adjuster. Such a sin-identified mortal would then become wholly unspiritual in nature (and therefore personally unreal) and would experience eventual extinction of being. Unreality, even incompleteness of creature nature, cannot exist forever in a progressingly real and increasingly spiritual universe. (41.6)

The Gods neither create evil nor permit sin and rebellion. Potential evil is time-existent in a universe embracing differential levels of perfection meanings and values. Sin is potential in all realms where imperfect beings are endowed with the ability to choose between good and evil. The very conflicting presence of truth and untruth, fact and falsehood, constitutes the potentiality of error. The deliberate choice of evil constitutes sin; the willful rejection of truth is error; the persistent pursuit of sin and error is iniquity. (613.2)

Although conscious and wholehearted identification with evil (sin) is the equivalent of nonexistence (annihilation), there must always intervene between the time of such personal identification with sin and the execution of the penalty--the automatic result of such a willful embrace of evil--a period of time of sufficient length to allow for such an adjudication of such an individual's universe status as will prove entirely satisfactory to all related universe personalities, and which will be so fair and just as to win the approval of the sinner himself. (615.4)

There are many ways of looking at sin, but from the universe philosophic viewpoint sin is the attitude of a personality who is knowingly resisting cosmic reality. Error might be regarded as a misconception or distortion of reality. Evil is a partial realization of, or maladjustment to, universe realities. But sin is a purposeful resistance to divine reality--a conscious choosing to oppose spiritual progress--while iniquity consists in an open and persistent defiance of recognized reality and signifies such a degree of personality disintegration as to border on cosmic insanity. (754.5)

Jesus on Sin:

Sin is the conscious, knowing, and deliberate transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Sin is the measure of unwillingness to be divinely led and spiritually directed. (1660.3)

Jesus taught that sin is not the child of a defective nature but rather the offspring of a knowing mind dominated by an unsubmissive will. Regarding sin, he taught that God has forgiven; that we make such forgiveness personally available by the act of forgiving our fellows. When you forgive your brother in the flesh, you thereby create the capacity in your own soul for the reception of the reality of God's forgiveness of your own misdeeds. (1861.5)

The animal nature--the tendency toward evildoing--may be hereditary, but sin is not transmitted from parent to child. Sin is the act of conscious and deliberate rebellion against the Father's will and the Sons' laws by an individual will creature. (2016.10)

The authors of the Urantia Book went to great length to differentiate evil (error), sin, and iniquity. I suspect they did this because they view it as an important step in the evolution of religious philosophy.

One question that comes to my mind is, if sin is a "spiritual illness," then it seems we cannot attach to it a moral responsiblity, and it would be unjust and unmerciful to hold the creature morally responsible for an "illness" they are not consciously and willfully responsible for inflicting upon themselves? How does this view mesh with the UB and Jesus' statements above?

Edited by Robert Reno, 30 August 2008 - 01:38 PM.


#14 Bonita

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 01:52 PM

89:10.2 Sin must be redefined as deliberate disloyalty to Deity. There are degrees of disloyalty: the partial loyalty of indecision; the divided loyalty of confliction; the dying loyalty of indifference; and the death of loyalty exhibited in devotion to godless ideals.

89:10.3 The sense or feeling of guilt is the consciousness of the violation of the mores; it is not necessarily sin. There is no real sin in the absence of conscious disloyalty to Deity.

89:10.4 The possibility of the recognition of the sense of guilt is a badge of transcendent distinction for mankind. It does not mark man as mean but rather sets him apart as a creature of potential greatness and ever-ascending glory. Such a sense of unworthiness is the initial stimulus that should lead quickly and surely to those faith conquests which translate the mortal mind to the superb levels of moral nobility, cosmic insight, and spiritual living; thus are all the meanings of human existence changed from the temporal to the eternal, and all values are elevated from the human to the divine.

89:10.5 The confession of sin is a manful repudiation of disloyalty, but it in no wise mitigates the time-space consequences of such disloyalty. But confession—sincere recognition of the nature of sin—is essential to religious growth and spiritual progress.

89:10.6 The forgivenessof sin by Deity is the renewal of loyalty relations following a period of the human consciousness of the lapse of such relations as the consequence of conscious rebellion. The forgiveness does not have to be sought, only received as the consciousness of re-establishment of loyalty relations between the creature and the Creator. And all the loyal sons of God are happy, service-loving, and ever-progressive in the Paradise ascent.

Edited by Bonita, 08 July 2009 - 08:54 AM.


#15 Guest_Robert Reno_*

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 02:19 PM

Thank you for clarifying that you were only using a "metaphor" when you say,

Sin is understood more as an illness than a transgression …


But then, metaphors can be misleading, and in this case, I don't believe the metaphor of sin as an "illness" is substantiated by the teachings of the Urantia Book or Jesus.

The experience of God-consciousness remains the same from generation to generation, but with each advancing epoch in human knowledge the philosophic concept and the theologic definitions of God must change. God-knowingness, religious consciousness, is a universe reality, but no matter how valid (real) religious experience is, it must be willing to subject itself to intelligent criticism and reasonable philosophic interpretation; it must not seek to be a thing apart in the totality of human experience. (69.7)


Jesus and the Urantia Book both clearly associated Sin with "transgression" of God's will. The religious philosophy one espouses will vary depending on the metaphors one uses. It would not make sense to teach, as the Urantia Book does, that evil is the unconscious transgression and sin is the conscious transgression of the divine law, the Father's will, if sin was understood as "more ... an illness than a transgression."

"Evil is the unconscious or unintended transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Evil is likewise the measure of the imperfectness of obedience to the Father's will. (1660.2)

"Sin is the conscious, knowing, and deliberate transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Sin is the measure of unwillingness to be divinely led and spiritually directed. (1660.3)

"Iniquity is the willful, determined, and persistent transgression of the divine law, the Father's will. Iniquity is the measure of the continued rejection of the Father's loving plan of personality survival and the Sons' merciful ministry of salvation.”


The question of the child falling ill and the parents seeking the cure poses what I would call a false dichotomy; either God is seeking to cure his children, or he is a stern judgmental task master. The Urantia Book puts this false dichotomy to rest once and for all in its beautifully unified philosophy of the nature of God and his relationship with creatures, and their unconscious or conscious transgression of divine law, that is taught in the Urantia Book. We are told that "towards sin God strikes no personal attitude, for sin is not a spiritual reality; it is not personal; therefore does only the justice of God take cognizance of its existence." Of course,

The Creators are the very first to attempt to save man from the disastrous results of his foolish transgression of the divine laws. God's love is by nature a fatherly affection; therefore does he sometimes "chasten us for our own profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness." Even during your fiery trials remember that "in all our afflictions he is afflicted with us." (39.2)


It seems that the response of the Father to his creatures is eternally that of a loving Father, and the bestowal of his Creator Son in the likenss of flesh and blood witnesses to the extent the Father will go to win back even his lost children, but when the creature becomes wholly identified with sin, we are told "This attitude of the divine nature would apparently change if the sinner finally identified himself wholly with sin just as the same mortal mind may also fully identify itself with the indwelling spirit Adjuster."

While it is true that it is not the Universal Father that abandons his finite children, but rather they who abandon him by fully embracing sin, it is not equally true that once the finite creature becomes fully indentified with sin and therefore becomes iniquitous, and hence unreal personally, that the Father continues to strike an attitude of love toward such an unreal being. God's love is cognoscente of the person (personal reality), but once that person becomes wholly identified with sin they become personally unreal, and hence only God’s justice takes cognoscente of the sin, which is eventually isolated and annihilated in the eventuated extinction of such a wholly sin identified being.

Edited by Fellow Reader, 29 September 2008 - 11:26 AM.


#16 Bill Martin

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 02:20 PM

I would observe that it is impressive that the Eastern Orthodoxy recieved as much of the truth of the Master's teachings as they did from the decent through time of the Pauline Doctrines about what Jesus taught. Comparing what we know now, from study of the Papers and comparing to what Eastern scholars of the time believed is interesting. What i would like to know is if the Eastern tradition is closer to Jesus' teachings than the Roman branch of Christianity, or if such a comparison is possible.
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Posted 30 August 2008 - 03:35 PM

What i would like to know is if the Eastern tradition is closer to Jesus' teachings than the Roman branch of Christianity, or if such a comparison is possible.


Comparison is possible, but it is not a simple black and white issue. In some respects, such as those noted by adelfo already, the Eastern tradition is closer to Jesus' teachings. But the Western branch of Christianity does have a view of the goodness of God's creation:

The Goodness of the Created Order

For Augustine, as for the Neo-Platonists, God is the ultimate of being and goodness. He is both the perfect good and the infinite beauty, and the eternal, immutable, and supremely real Being. He has created 'out of nothing' all that exists other than Himself. As the work of omnipotent Goodness, unhindered by any recalcitrant material or opposing influence, the created world is wholly good. It is a richly varied good, one aspect of whose value is precisely its ordered variety. As such it contains innumerable different kinds of creature, some higher and some lower in the scale of being. 'To some He communicated a more ample, to others a more limited existence, and thus arranged the natures of beings in ranks.' (Hick 2007: 43-44)

(....) Thus the created universe is an immensely abundant and variegated realm of forms of existence, each having its appropriate place in the hierarchy of being. The qualitatively fuller and richer a creature's nature, the higher it stands in the scale. But -- and in this Augustine diverges significantly from Plotinus -- there is here no Neo-Platonic descent from the goodness of pure being to the evil of matter. On the contrary, the whole creation including the material world, is good; it is also, however, because it lacks the immutability of its Creator, capable of being corrupted. But there is no level of being, however humble, which is, as such, evil. To be an inferior creature, low down in the scale of being, is not to be evil, but only to be a lesser good. (Hick 2007: 44)

(....) Here, then, is a central theme of Augustine's thought; the whole creation is good; .... So Augustine rejects the ancient Platonic, Neo-Platonic, Gnostic, and Manichaean prejudice against matter and lays the foundation for a Christian naturalism that rejoices in this world, and instead of fleeing from it as a snare to the soul, seeks to use it and share it in gratitude to God for His bountiful goodness. (Hick 2007: 45)

-- Hick, John . Evil and the God of Love. Reissued ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan; 2007; c1966 pp. 43-45.


It is in Augustine's attempt to explain the origin of evil, sin, and iniquity entering the world that his theology takes a wrong turn in my view.

Edited by Robert Reno, 31 August 2008 - 11:23 AM.


#18 nameless until fused

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 03:42 PM

What i would like to know is if the Eastern tradition is closer to Jesus' teachings than the Roman branch of Christianity, or if such a comparison is possible.



I don't think it is possible to piece together enough "scholarly" works to make such a comparison because, at best, you would really only have the writings and opinions of a few individuals and not of the whole.

When religion is driven underground - like Russian Orthodox in the USSR - it became a "living faith" so right then and there that makes it more like the religion OF Jesus.

And we'll never know how they "lived" their religion during the underground years. We do know how they died with their boots on while living it (or so one could speculate that they had their boots on ;) ).

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Posted 30 August 2008 - 04:06 PM

Hick draws amply upon both past and recent historical documents available to make these comparison's; the following is one example:

The various other elements of Christian doctrine--the idea of the Fall presupposed by the traditional atonement theories ... They are not absolute and eternal truths but optional conceptualities which have proved useful to those whose formation they have influenced, but not generally to others.... (Hick 1993: 132)

Christian interpretations of all these major themes vary from one historical epoch to another, and in a given epoch from one region to another, and within a given region, from one group to another, and within a given group often from one individual to another. Amidst all these variations it is worth remembering that the Christian dialogue with other world faiths has so far been largely based within the western or Latin development of Christianity embodied in the Roman and Reformed churches. But in the rather different eastern or Greek development, embodied in the Orthodox churches, there are some interestingly different approaches. This is true, for example, of the understanding of salvation. Whereas in western Christianity salvation has generally been understood by means of a transactional model, according to which the death of Christ cancelled a debt or penalty of some kind, in eastern Christianity it has been predominantly understood by means of a transformational model, according to which men and women are gradually changed under the influence of divine grace on their path towards 'deification'--not that they literally become God but that they are transformed into what Irenaeus called the finite likeness of God.... [my italics] (Hick, John. Disputed Questions. New Haven: Yale University Press; 1993; c1993 pp. 128-133.)

It was in Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 202), Bishop of Lyons and author, in response to Gnosticism, of the Church's first systematic theology, that there comes clearly to light the point of view that was to characterize the Greek as distinct from the Latin Fathers. Irenaeus distinguishes between the image (είκών) of God and the likeness (όμοίωσις) of God in man. The 'imagio', which resides in man's bodily form, apparently represents his nature as an intelligent creature capable of fellowship with his Maker, whilst the 'likeness' represents man's final perfecting by the Holy Spirit. For 'the man is rendered spiritual and perfect because of the outpouring of the Spirit, and this is he who was made in the image and likeness of God. But if the Spirit be wanting to the soul, he who is such is indeed of an animal nature, and being left carnal, shall be an imperfect being, possessing indeed the image [of God] in his formation, but not receiving the likeness through the Spirit.' This distinction can, I think, not unfairly be presented in more contemporary terms by saying that man's basic nature, in distinction from other animals, is that of a personal being endowed with moral freedom and responsibility. This is the divine είκών in him; he is made as person in the image of God. But man, the finite personal creature capable of personal relationship with his Maker, is as yet only potentially the perfected being whom God is seeking to produce. He is only at the beginning of a process of growth and development in God's continuing providence, which is to culminate in the finite 'likeness' of God. Thus whilst the image of God is man's nature as personal, the divine likeness will be a quality of personal existence which reflects finitely the life of the Creator Himself. (Hick 1977: 211-212, Evil and the God of Love)


Urantia mortals can hardly hope to be perfect in the infinite sense, but it is entirely possible for human beings, starting out as they do on this planet, to attain the supernal and divine goal which the infinite God has set for mortal man; and when they do achieve this destiny, they will, in all that pertains to self-realization and mind attainment, be just as replete in their sphere of divine perfection as God himself is in his sphere of infinity and eternity. Such perfection may not be universal in the material sense, unlimited in intellectual grasp, or final in spiritual experience, but it is final and complete in all finite aspects of divinity of will, perfection of personality motivation, and God-consciousness. (22.2)


There is thus to be found in Irenaeus the outline of an approach to the problem of evil which stands in important respects in contrast to the Augustinian type of theodicy. Instead of the doctrine that man was created finitely perfect and then incomprehensibly destroyed his own perfection and plunged into sin and misery, Irenaeus suggests that man was created as an imperfect, immature creature who was to undergo moral development and growth and finally be brought to the perfection intended for him by his Maker. Instead of the fall of Adam being presented, as in the Augustinian tradition, as an utterly malignant and catastrophic event, completely disrupting God's plan, Irenaeus pictures it as something that occurred in the childhood of the race, an understandable lapse due to weakness and immaturity rather than an adult crime full of malice and pregnant with perpetual guilt. And instead of the Augustinian view of life's trials as a divine punishment for Adam's sin, Irenaeus sees our world of mingled good and evil as a divinely appointed environment for man's development towards the perfection that represents the fulfillment of God's good purpose for him. (Hick 1977: 214-215)


The Urantia Book's theory of theodicy (i.e., the problem of the origin and nature of evil, sin, and iniquity, and suffering in the world) is very similar to the Greek Eastern Orthodox view, it seems.

[T]he basic Irenaen conception of man as a creature made initially in the 'image' of God and gradually being brought through his own free response into the divine 'likeness', this creative process ... has continued to operate in the minds of theologians of the Orthodox Church down to the present day. A developmental or teleological view of man is evident, for example, in the work of the Orthodox thinker whose writings are most familiar to the West, Nicholas Berdyaev. Another leading contemporary Orthodox theologian, Paul Evdokimov, expounding the conception of man that prevails within his tradition, writes:

Creation in the biblical sense is like a grain of wheat which brings forth a hundred-fold and never stops developing: 'My Father works until now, and I work also'. Creation is the Alpha moving towards the Omega, and indeed the Omega is already contained within it. This makes every moment of time very definitely eschatological; it opens out into and is judged by its ultimate fulfilment. The Messiah is called tsemach [seed], and the very notion of the Messiah derives from the Pleroma. Creation demands incarnation, which in turn finds its consummation in the parousia of the Kingdom. Time is built into the structure of the created world, which means that the world is 'unfinished', 'embryonic', so as to further and direct that synergy of the divine power and human power until the Day of the Lord wherein the seed attains its final fruition. (Hick 1977: 217-218)

-- Hick, John. Evil and the God of Love. Reissued ed. New York: PALGRAVE MACMILLAN; 2007; c1966 pp. 217-218.


Sounds a lot like the "Evolutional--self-expansive and creature-identified Deity."

Edited by Robert Reno, 06 September 2008 - 07:53 PM.


#20 nameless until fused

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 03:25 PM

Thanks for the quote NUF. It's all about perspective, isn't it? One of the beauties of the growth of spiritual insight and revelation, personal and generational, is the ability to gain a cosmic perspective in which the cosmos is discovered to be friendly and good. I remember the first time I read in the UB that the atonement doctrine is basically selfish. It took me a while to put that in proper perspective and see it from a cosmic viewpoint rather than a human one.


I think that the "selfishness" that attached itself to a ritual happened over time with the atonement doctrine. Page 716 - First Human Family - "....Very early the Andonic peoples formed the habit of refraining from eating the flesh of the animal of tribal veneration. Presently, in order more suitably to impress the minds of their youths, they evolved a ceremony of reverence which was carried out about the body of one of those venerated animals; and still later on, this primitive performance developed into the more elaborate sacrificial ceremonies of their descendants. And this is the origin of sacrifices as a part of worship. This idea was elaborated by Moses in the Hebrew ritual and was preserved, in principle, by the Apostle Paul as the doctrine of atonement for sin by "shedding of blood".

As Spock would say, "Fascinating."

It is fascinating how the UPapers present Andon and Fonta - Page 717 - "...And this is the recital of the most heroic and fascinating chapter in all the history of Urantia, the story of the evolution, life struggles, death, and eternal survival of the unique parents of all mankind."

Just speculating, but we'll probably need our MORONtia time to catch up on who the heroes (from a cosmic viewpoint) were who lived among us since The Urantia Book arrived in 1934 since, just like the atonement doctrine, nothing has changed since Andon and Fonta in regards to who's story gets told...and how much of it remains "true".

Edited by nameless until fused, 31 August 2008 - 03:45 PM.





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