I Am A Christian

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I Am A Christian

Post  SyntheticSylence on Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:19 am

Just what it says on the tin.

'Ello everybody! Best I get to the explaining.

I hold to the Nicene Creed (which I believe should cover all of the bases). But I think greater description is in order given what else is written on this site. I hold to all of the traditional tenets of Christianity, including many beliefs that are over a thousand years old. But these are not represented in the arguments that are apparently knocking down "Christianity" that I have seen.

First, I would like to define as close as possible what I mean when I say "God." I believe in the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I believe that God is being. This is not to say that I am a pantheist. I believe God is the source of all being, and that his essence is his existence. This places him outside of existence as we would perceive it to be, because we are not true being. We are becoming. All things were created by God, including existence itself, and all things are suspended from God. All things, therefore, participate in God.

I also believe that God is love. This is not to say that when I or someone else loves some one or some thing that God is present. But it is to say that God can be described by the concept of love. God acts out of love, creation itself is an outpouring of the love of God. This is why creation is said to be "good." Evil does not come from God, and God has nothing to do with evil. Evil is just that, it is a nothing. It is ontologically parasitical. It has no essential existence, it is only corruption.

I also believe in the Trinity. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the source of all things, the Son proceeds from the Father and is the Word, Logos. That is, when God says "let there be light" or whatever, he is working through the Son. The Holy Spirit remains on this earth in a real way with the Church. While they are three persons, they hold one unity. This mystery is very important as it shows at the highest ontological level there is difference. And that this difference is peaceful coexistence. Therefore, true ontology is an ontology of peace.

I believe that the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. The Word was Jesus Christ, an historical figure in a particular time. I believe that the Gospel accounts attest to this, and to outright reject them is bad historical scholarship. I believe that theologically, one can only work through them. Attempts to get beyond the Gospels will fail, Christ will only become what you want him to become. This is the great danger of the faith, for what Christ brought was not only salvation, but a radical re-imagining of what it is to be human. The full implications of Christ's teachings have yet to be realized. Because what he taught was the true love of God, and how we should live in that love. He taught this through his parables, and he taught this through his actions.

The great action of Christ, from which all history must now be read, is his Crucifixion and death on the cross. Followed by his triumphal Resurrection. There are different views of this monumental (and, frankly, monstrous) event. I have always been taught the Christus Victor, Satisfaction, and Moral Example views. But I don't see why they should all be conflicting. Here is what I know, in the Atonement Christ defeats death. He defeats death, and all of the powers on earth. This is the spiritual reality. But furthermore, it provides an exclamation mark on his teachings. That through death we will have everlasting life. That nothing can overcome the gates of heaven.

Heaven is not a place I expect to go to. I expect that when I die I will either decay and rot in the ground, or spiritually be lifted up in some place to wait it out. But I believe in the Resurrection of the Body. And this means that I believe that in the Eschaton, Christ will return as King in judgment. And he will set up his rule on this earth, and all things will be made new. The dead shall be raised to be judged. And live in the presence of God, our purpose fulfilled.

I figure that's a good enough summation. Though there are definitely more details. Christianity is complicated, and difficult. Though, I suppose that's only because we make it so. But even more than that, it's ridiculous. It's foolish. It's dumb. It's like a bad fanfic. I mean, God is made out to be a moron. The love that is described in the New Testament, the love we are supposed to show. Agape. Is a ticket to our death. It is true what the scripture says that the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. And that the wisdom of God appears foolish to the world.

So why do I, a rather rational person I would hope, believe in something as flat out bonkers like this?

Because it's beautiful.

Now, if you're empirically minded your brain probably just exploded. But also, if you're empirically minded you're not going to get very far into this God stuff anyway. Empiricism has nothing to do with God. We are in a philosophical realm, but Christianly speaking we are also above that. We are in a theological realm. We are now in the realm of the heart, and we are in the realm of the good, true, and the beautiful.

It clicks. As I said, God is love. And if God is as I have roughly sketched he must be relational. Not only in himself (or herself, really, itself) but also with all of creation. I do not hear voices in my head. I have not seen a special sign. I have not witnessed a miracle. The only sign I know is the sign of Jonah, and the sign of nature's beauty. But I have felt the tugging of my heartstrings. And I long for the sweet embrace of the divine.

It reminds me of Kierkegaard. In Sickness Unto Death he writes as Anti-Climacus. He laughs at the theologians and pastors who think they can prove God, which he thinks defeats the point. He compares it to having a lover. Does anyone try to prove they have a lover? Do you walk up to someone and say, "I've fallen in love!"
"I don't believe you!"
"Ah, but my love must have an uncaused cause!" Or "Ah, but I can conceive of something that cannot be loved more, my lover must exist!"

That's stupid.

You show a picture and brag about how beautiful he or she is. And so it is with Christianity.

But why Christianity in particular? Because it is particularly beautiful. The words of the Gospel ring true, and not only that, the ring with an unworldly truthfulness. They are things I wouldn't expect a human to say. They are things I wouldn't expect to come out of 1st Century Palestine, let alone 20th Century America. And all the proof required happened on a Sunday morning in Jerusalem.

And there is one final thing I should stress. Christianity puts all things in a new light. I presume Christianity much like other people may presume the Enlightenment project. In other words, the Trinity is as foundational to me as, say, the universal applicability of reason. It is through this lens I see the world. It is through this lens I question the world. And it is through this lens all things make sense. I think it explains things better than materialism or what have you. I think everyone has a little sliver of the truth, and I don't think I have it all. But I do believe Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. Truth isn't a thing, it's a person.

Christianity is a way of living. Science is a method of learning empirical facts about the physical universe. These are not mutually exclusive, and I accept the findings of science. I feel kinda dirty having to say this because I don't think it really matters. But since I know this will come up, I accept whatever science has to say about the origin of man. It doesn't change the Gospel at all.

So to end on a polemical note, I grieve for the ignorance of others. I grieve for those who blind themselves into thinking that they can perceive objective truth of all things, that they have the method that will unlock all mysteries. For those who hold steadfast to the myth that they stand on neutral, solid, ground. And finally, for those who have diluted themselves into believing that love is mere chemical reactions, that the mind is nothing more than an accident, and that Being is not a gift, but a given.
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Re: I Am A Christian

Post  Clint on Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:29 am

G'day SyntheticSylence!

Well what can I say... Very poetic introduction!

Welcome to the Truth-Saves.com forums :-)
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Re: I Am A Christian

Post  SyntheticSylence on Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:09 am

Heh, thanks. I didn't mean to, but when discussing theology I can't help it. Theology makes life poetry.
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