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“Journey Epistemology”: Pro or Con within Christian Apologetics?

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by 2PhiloVoid, Jul 12, 2019.

  1. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Kobayashi Maru? What're you even talk'n about?! Supporter

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    Is the Christian life a kind of quest, one that takes us to a destination of certain knowledge at some distinct point in this life, or is it instead meant to be an ongoing but always incomplete experience of the journey itself as we find ourselves--each day we live--traveling to the destination which God will make available to us, a destination still lying outside of what can be fully known by any one of us?

    Is it a Quest for Certainty ... or an Odyssey of Exploration?




    A FURTHER INQUIRY
    :

    In so many ways today, it seems to me that people are refusing to ponder or accept the Gospel of Christ because they view Christianity as a means by which to reach a fantastically definitive spiritual goal in this life. They often tend to view it as an objectively achieved state of being, a blessed life, one that should materialize in such a way so as to enable us to exuberantly and permanently enjoy life in the here-and-now: with health, wealth, knowledge and happiness at our beck and call.

    But what if Christianity, as far as it concerns us within the recesses and folds of our mortally short lives, does not send us on a narrow path for the sake of achieving a clearly discernable goal meant for this life-time? What if the Christian life isn't really-- however heroic it may seem—similar to the climax of The Lord of the Rings stories where victory is gained with empirical certainty over evil forces? Might this alter how we view the essence of Christianity in what it is supposed “to do” for us and what it could do “to us” within our hearts and minds as we each make our way to that last day which we'll all have to eventually face...?

    Perhaps if any of us is to successfully engage our own individual Christian life via a set of Christian beliefs offered by the Church that Christ mysteriously brought fourth into the historical matrix of our shared world, we need to adopt a more fitting view of the purpose of the Christian life, one that expects only to have to follow a Philosophy of Exploration rather than one requiring certain assumptions and expectations about various transcendent propositions which can never fully be captured by logic in the human mind. Such a way of thinking has been proposed, even if in various ways and articulations, by the likes of Pascal, Kierkegaard, Langdon Gilkey, Sarah Coakley, or Rolfe King, among other Christian theologians and philosophers.

    What Pros and Cons come about in your own thoughts about Christianity as a form of exploraton of life? How does an approach to Christian faith involving what King calls a “Journey Epistemology” compare or contrast with how you have thus far understood the nature and purposes of, and ways of reasoning about, the Christian Life?

    :cool:
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019 at 10:19 AM
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  2. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, we keep growing in Jesus. Our growth always is incomplete, in this life.

    As we grow in Jesus, our victory over evil improves . . . I mean, because of how our character makes us more and more immune to how Satanic things and things of this life would effect us the wrong way.

    Jesus in us makes us more and more creative in how we love.

    Well, people like to browbeat the "prosperity gospel". But any of us can have ways of dictating and claiming how we must have things in this life > this is why we argue and complain. Our character can make us able to fool our own selves and not know it. Only Jesus can change us so we are seeing the way love has us seeing, while we are personally guided by God in His peace. Only God's personal guiding is reliable.

    "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful." (Colossians 3:15)

    God's peace is almighty to keep our hearts and minds safe from how this evil world would effect us. So, this is what is needed, really, not only changing our circumstances.

    "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment." (Philippians 1:9)

    God's ways are "past finding out", we have in Romans 11:33. This is good for us, because our own character makes us very limited in how we can see things and understand things. God is so better; so His ways are so better than what we can handle. We need how God changes our nature to be functional in His love; then is when we can do better,

    "to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:19)

    In God's love we know by experiencing, not only intellectually.

    It is like how you can be told every fact about an elephant, but if all you know is walruses, you will be confused, a little at least :)

    But as we grow in God's love and how His love changes our character >

    "then I shall know just as I also am known" > 1 Corinthians 13.

    Well, it depends on what you mean by life.

    Mainly God is focused on changing us to be like Jesus > I now understand that this is His basic focus of Christianity > Romans 8:29 > and of Christian ministry > Colossians 1:28-20.

    So, yes we have exploration, discovering how we become as God changes us to be and love like Jesus, and discovering how our Creator's love makes us creative for loving any and all people.
     
  3. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Kobayashi Maru? What're you even talk'n about?! Supporter

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    Yes, I very much agree with you that growth is an important aspect of our Christian experience once we become Christian, but in terms of how any one of us 'comes to Christ' and stays there, what kind of goals or ends in "knowledge and truth" should we expect to have?

    Some folks seem to make it sound like the act of entering into the Christian faith has simply come because they encountered some kind of certainty of facts that flipped a switch inside their minds. Is this the right way to think about the nature of Christian knowledge as it plays a part in enabling us to 'have faith' in Christ?
     
  4. LaBèlla

    LaBèlla Well-Known Member

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    I have never given thought to heaven. You’ll never see it mentioned in my posts. I’m engrossed in the purpose I’ve been given and its unfolding. The journey is everything.

    Perhaps my appreciation for Maslow and the hierarchy he created makes it easier for me to welcome the changes and seasons of growth. I’m not sprinting ahead to the rapture or anything along those lines. I’m focused on the lessons He presents with each step and where they’re leading me in my person.

    I encountered few examples of faith I wanted to mimic. And that was as an agnostic. They were lacking joy and peace and many of the things the bible speaks of. What sane person would covet that?

    The joy of the Lord is our strength. Misery and complaints won’t attract anything but the same. Our lives should bear witness in such a way that onlookers scratch their head in wonder. They don’t know the source of the difference but they sense it nonetheless. A holy beacon. That’s my aim.

    I am blessed and highly favored. But the manifestation of those blessings and favor are God’s domain. They may not exhibit themselves in the ways I expect or wish. But nevertheless they’re ever flowing. I can’t deny it.

    I love my life. There are mornings I wake up and pinch myself and say within, “You’re too much.” And He knows that purpose is my fuel. But another believer may need an epic or something else to inspire them.

    Pleasing Him brings me joy. But that’s how He fashioned me. Yielding is a strength and He’s able to use that for His glory in the mission and companion He has in mind. Both point back to Him.

    I’m not focused on Satan. He has enough people mesmerized and distracted without adding my name to the roll. What matters more is what God is doing through me in light of his meddling. I dwell on how I’ve overcome the obstacles he laid. Not what he’s planning next. He’s always up to something.

    First natural then spiritual. I can’t reach anyone if I’m floating in the clouds. They’ll think I’m mad. I need every day situations communicated through simple language you don’t need an MDIV to grasp.

    So I talk about my health and the challenges which led to healing and restoration. I mention my search for God that traversed many faiths that I can articulate with ease. And tell them how I reached the end of my rope and encountered Him in that space. Or I share the purpose I’ve been given and how it connects with the things I valued as a child I never expected to pursue for a living.

    That’s a discussion they can understand. It isn’t mystical. But the ‘they’ in the example is beyond strangers, family and friends. It’s me too.

    I’m walking out John 10:10 every day. And life is sweet. This life is sweet. I can’t speak for the one to come. I’m not there yet. :)
     
  5. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Kobayashi Maru? What're you even talk'n about?! Supporter

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    There's much in what you say which resonates with me, LaBèlla! Your own perceptions and experiences seem to fall within the parameters of one who follows the Lord wherever He may lead, grasping at what He gives along the way, but knowing that we haven't yet arrived to where He will be taking us.

    The only thing I'm wondering is: why are there so many who seem to think that to "enter" into the Christian Life requires an epistemology involving logical certainty before they can (or even should) push forward into the vastness of the Realm? Is the bona-fide glee we may experience while on our own journey toward Christ enough to help them see the fuller nature of what it is to come to a state of belief and faith? If not, what might this mean for Christian Apologetics? :cool:
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
  6. LaBèlla

    LaBèlla Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the kind words. Some posts write themselves and that one flowed. That’s Him writing through me. I give Him the credit. :)

    I don’t know and I can’t attribute my feelings and behavior to specialness or upbringing. As a child, I had an innate desire for God. It wasn’t due to church attendance, bible study, or discipleship. It was something beyond that.

    We attended a Catholic church once per week. But my hunger could not be sated. I’d read through the monthly missalette in a few days and be frustrated there was nothing else to chew on. I was given a bible by a priest and would devour it at home. Often when I should be sleeping. But I wasn’t daunted by the fatigue I faced the next day. I wanted more.

    The wisdom books were my favorite. I read them again and again. Soaking up the knowledge. It would serve me well later on. I was never a devout Catholic. My intimacy was with God. It wasn’t reliant on rituals or intermediaries. Just me and Him. That’s all.

    In my spare time I enjoyed visiting the priests for religious discussion and spent weekends with my aunt. She had a close relationship with God. I never complained when we attended religious events or watched programming. And she had the bible on tape. I loved it!

    The pattern continued in high school. We shared a campus with a convent and I visited them often. I had an appreciation for holy things and the life associated with that. But I reached a point where Christianity was not feeding what I sought within.

    I began looking for Him in other places. I searched and searched until I exhausted myself and nearly gave up. I arrived at a synagogue in tatters and spiritually worn. It was the last resort. And my saving grace. I found my way to God and Christ through the guidance of His Spirit.

    I don’t want to attribute my perspective to anyone but Him. Or give credit where it isn’t due. I’ve endured a great deal beyond the homecoming to reside in His bosom as I do now. My experiences haven’t made me bitter or filled me with self-recrimination or regret.

    I see pain as an architect for my betterment. I cannot transmute without shedding what exists and that involves discomfort, uncertainty and sacrifice. Clinging only makes the process harder. With every release I move closer to God. Why would I fight it?

    Years ago, I read these words by Gibran and he echoed my spirit. I’ve returned to them many times and they’ve served their purpose and I’ve moved to the next lesson. I’ll share both.

    Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
    And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
    And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields. And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief...

    The sufferance is purposeful and for a time. The willingness to undergo the process refashions our mind and heart. We cannot handle our cross unless we see its weight as a blessing and welcome it upon our shoulders. By doing so we learn to be content in all situations as Paul did.

    As I write these words a familiar poem comes to mind. It articulates the second lesson well.

    From the beginning of my life
    I have been looking for your face
    but today I have seen it

    Today I have seen
    the charm, the beauty, and
    the unfathomable grace
    of the face that I have been looking for

    Today I have found you
    and those who laughed and scorned me yesterday
    are sorry they were not looking as I did...

    I am resting in His presence. Having found the Beloved I sought. Nothing satisfies or compares to what He’s done and who He is. I love Him.

    You would probably expect my calling is ministry or something in the church but it isn’t. If I permitted ego or preference to guide me I’d miss the mark. My decrease means more of Him and that’s my aim.

    We are His tapestries. The effervescence of all that is Him is emblazoned on oue person. If we walked in the fullness of that reality there would be little needed for apologetics. The world would bear witness to His existence through you and I instead. :)
     
  7. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Keep learning all we can. Trust God to guide us in this. Learning His word is a lifelong activity. We trust Him to guide us.

    But I think there are basics >

    Our basic calling includes to always submit to how our Father personally rules each of us in His own peace > Colossians 3:15.

    And we have how we are called to relate with other children of God > Ephesians 4:2.

    And seek to please God, however He corrects and matures us > 2 Corinthians 2:14-15.

    And actively seek God to correct us so we share with Him in His own holiness in His love's "peaceable fruit of righteousness" > Hebrews 12:4-14.

    Anything in the Bible can help with this, somehow. And God is our example, of how to be and how to love any and all people > including >

    "And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." (Ephesians 5:2)

    All this is good basics to know, while we are looking into anything. And, of course, these mean for us to personally submit to God, all the time, in order for God to have us do all He means. And He can guide each of us about what and how much to get into detail.
     
  8. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Thanks for your edifying posts here and elsewhere, LaBella. What would you say is your calling?
     
  9. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There needs to be activity which results. I have gotten into some detail, about this, in Post #7, above. So, no, just knowing new things is not enough.

    In becoming a Christian, a person does come to believe in things of God's word. But, also, the person is brought by God to trust in Jesus. This is quite an experience . . . not only of changing ideas, but we have come to personally trust Jesus for all He has done for us, on Calvary, and in trusting Him we trust Him to change us so we love God the way God wants and love one another as His family while also caring with hope for any and all evil people of this world. His word provides various details about this.

    And so, of course, every new child of God and all the rest of us need to keep actively seeking how our Heavenly Father personally corrects each of us, so we become the way He wants us to be in our nature and so we are submissive to Him, better and better all the time, while we personally care for and are ready to share in love with any and all people.

    And we keep seeking Him to guide us about practical things He wants us to do . . . in sharing with Him >

    "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)

    So, this is the basic practical meaning of any correct beliefs and callings of service. God is personal, then, with each of His children, constantly active in us. We do not stop at just knowing, then, to say the least :)

    "'Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.'" (Matthew 11:28-30)

    Oh yes > I think it helps to know that our personality problems are because of sin . . . not being how love would have us become in our character. Various feelings and thinking and emotions are because our selfish character makes us weak so we are available to them, instead of first always submitting to God in His peace and caring for any and all people.

    Our first reaction, then, needs to be caring for people in prayer, versus being mainly concerned about ourselves and reacting > our Apostle Paul says what we need to do > "first of all" > 1 Timothy 2:1-4 < praying for any and all people.

    This is an act of appreciation of how we are with Him in His peace, and we seek Him to do this in any and all other people, too.

    And we are being changed into the image of Jesus > Romans 8:29 < this is, of course, what God is doing in us. We experience this, in His love > 1 John 4:17. So, much of God's word is saying what God is doing. So, it is not only what we know, but what we are experiencing and expecting God in us to keep on doing.

    Every bite of God's word means this > how God in us has us doing all He means by His word. Every bite of God's word has His love meaning, and can somehow feed us how to love.
     
  10. LaBèlla

    LaBèlla Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the kind words. I’m happy to share. Our calling isn’t one dimensional. It’s more like a kaleidoscope God fits together to form a specific outcome. A car has many parts and our calling does as well.

    As for my calling, as a child I love dressing dolls, decorating dollhouses and putting my own toys together. You may recall more than a few required elbow grease. I always wanted to do it myself.

    In my adolescence dolls morphed into fashion and beauty and etiquette joined the fray. I made a skirt during summer camp and recall touring my high school and staring at the home economics room. I was drawn to it but didn’t know why.

    I contemplated taking a sewing class but I didn’t. Two years later I was at another school enrolled in a fashion design program. But I couldn’t sketch and moved over to healthcare instead.

    In my mid-twenties I developed an interest in pictures. I frequented a chat room and had a knack for selecting really nice images. Over time I became interested in photography and learned to shoot. I’m self-taught.

    By this time I was Martha Stewart’s twin and had cultivated cooking, homemaking and decorating skills. And I had a growing interest in crafts and gardening too.

    When He revealed my purpose was design I was a little surprised. But as I recollected my interests and how deftly they fit into His mission I was shocked. Then I remembered my childhood and realized He’d brought me full circle. And was guiding me to the path of design all along.

    I’m His fashion ambassador and my focus is clothing, accessories and home decor. I’ll have an opportunity to influence many through my work and lifestyle.

    My passion for DIY as a child wasn’t wasted. I’m enrolled in a woodworking class at present. We’re building a custom cutting table and sewing desk on casters for my future studio.

    I had no idea the class was in my neighborhood and I’ve been here over 20 years. Most classes focus on group projects but he’s different. He’s retiring at the end of the year.

    I’m taking sewing classes and have a digital subscription that provides access to additional courses. There are no surprises with God. He ordains our steps. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
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  11. zippy2006

    zippy2006 Dragonsworn

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    Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. :)
     
  12. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Kobayashi Maru? What're you even talk'n about?! Supporter

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    I must say, those are some very constructive and diverse paths on which to explore your gifts, potential and perceptions of God's "in-working" within your own life. Perhaps this can give the rest of us some additional insight as we think about it all in tandem with what I've proposed in the OP. (Much appreciated!)
     
  13. LaBèlla

    LaBèlla Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the kind sentiments. Life is a flow chart. If we keep this in mind we’ll be less resistant to the pivots and unexpected turns He brings. :)
     
  14. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    Classical Christian theology and apologetics tends to set up the first scenario and sees the second as "weak", because it opens the possibility that the journey might lead some place other than orthodoxy- right thinking. There's alot of grey area there, and the whole apologetic enterprise has typically avoided that.

    Langdon Gilckey started out as a liberal Protestant, then became shocked by the horrors human beings could do to one another and lost faith in liberal Protestantism, then ended up adopting an interfaith perspective years later. No definitive destination there, that I see. I doubt he would pass the classical orthodoxy test, based on what little I've read from him.
     
  15. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Kobayashi Maru? What're you even talk'n about?! Supporter

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    .....well, that's just the thing: while I'm sure we can all say we have our favorite influences and theologians, I'm not saying one should 'stop' with Langdon Gilkey. To do so would be to, in a kind of way, end up at a "destination." I for one advocate perusing the WIDE Landscape of Christianity as it flows historically within and without all Trinitarian Christian traditions.

    So, a spiritual pilgrim could, for instance, come upon, read, and take in some interesting things to consider from the writings of Gilkey; it's just that I'd think that that person would need to "get back on the road" at some point since there are other places and scenic views to check out as one journeys along the Narrow Path. ;)

    I mean, some people stop with Luther or Calvin or Augustine or someone like Gilkey or Tillich, and I'd advise against doing so ... for the sake of an ever growing, dynamic faith in Christ as we move and live in this life. Ultimately, it seems sensible that in various places we should expect to find a variety of those Christians, both men and women, who help us in some way to reconsider the foundational meanings underlying our Christian faith, meanings which are found in the personages of the 1st century Church and the New Testament writers.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019 at 6:08 PM
  16. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    I think Gilkey was onto something, though I had sort of a very different journey... raised a nominal liberal Protestant, then I became a "none", then a Buddhist, then after a foray into various churches (mostly because I felt, "I need to give my roots a fair consideration"), feeling a bit burned out and overwhelmed (particularly I am troubled by the environmental crisis and how complicit many aspects of the western religious worldview are in it). Now I'm trying to integrate everything. And I am encountering Gilkey and I'm finding he is a very, very deep and profound thinker and I find it hard just to say "nahh... he's got it wrong". He takes Buddhism, for instance, very seriously, much more seriously than the typical Christian apologist, who simply doesn't understand the philosophy/religion in any depth.
     
  17. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Kobayashi Maru? What're you even talk'n about?! Supporter

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    Yep. You got that right ...which is why he's on my list in the OP. ^_^

    Honestly, I very much understand where you're coming from, minus any firmly grounded experience with being a "none." I was also raised in a very nominal and somewhat liberal semi-Protestant household. We never read the Bible, but I can still say that since age 17 my own spiritual journey has been more or less a philosophically inclined roller-coaster ride, with a quick high, upside down spin through existential crises a few times and then through a long but fast low roll through the Christian faith, and somewhere in all of this has been my discovery of Gilkey. Like you said, he is profound, and at one point I saw that atheist Michael Shermer referred to Gilkey as one of the few theologians whom he actually respected, which kind of surprised me. I'm glad to hear that he's providing you with some useful considerations over which to contemplate during your own journey. I guess we might say that he's indirectly providing some folks like you and me with something approximating another form of Christian Apologetics, however indirect that may seem to be. At least that's how I kind of think of it.

    So, do you feel that your spiritual travels thus far would be likened to a specific quest or, instead, to a concerted exploration?
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019 at 6:07 PM
  18. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    Deep philosophical or spiritual questions have always had a grip on me, the idea of "Why?", and I've never been happy with easy answers, and I became disillusioned with the world at a young age. On the Enneagram, I'm a 4, which puts me in the likes of Thomas Merton or St. Therese of Lisieux (both reckoned to also be type 4's).

    Right now my stance is alot like Gilkey's, in that I think Christianity and Buddhism both have compelling worldviews. I wouldn't want to abandon some themes in Judaism and Christianity, and it's interesting to see how some Christian ideas have possibly influenced Buddhism (such as an emphasis on social engagement). So at best, I'm much like Gilkey and have a foot in both worlds. But as I've been learning more and more, that's not too uncommon for people raised in a North American context.

    I watched an old Buddhist-Christian dialogue from around 2000 on Youtube last week and I particularly found the Rev. Susan Postal's disclosure of her own spiritual journey enlightening (no pun intended). Unlike her, though, I did interact with the more "heart" aspects of Buddhism. It's understandable how, in the practice of a contemplative tradition like Zen, one can feel compelled to return to ones roots. But I'm not sure that means you should accept it all as a package deal. I admire her living with the ambiguity, instead of looking for a premature resolution.

     
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  19. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Kobayashi Maru? What're you even talk'n about?! Supporter

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    Sure, I personally don't accept it as a "package deal," and since I do intend to try to keep this specific thread within the bounds of Christian Apologetics, then I'd have to say that our appropriation of Buddhism would have to be countenanced in a way that can be said to enliven and bolster our faith in Jesus Christ. If it doesn't, then we would no longer be merely "exploring" while on the Narrow Path (by which, in the context of Christian Apologetics, I would mean following Christ and not simply walking as Siddhartha might have recommended in a more purely philosophical "way.")

    So, if Buddhism is to count here as a form of Christian exploration for the benefit of growing faith, how might this be done, FD? I mean, there may be a limit to just how "George Lucas-y" we may think it best to go. [....note: I realize that the video you've provided may go far toward answering this question, but being that it's 3 hours long or so, it may be some time before I encounter such info from the Rev. Susan Postal. ;)]
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019 at 7:44 AM
  20. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

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    Well, I'm not an uncritical follower of Buddhism or the Buddha, for sure. I don't believe that is healthy. The Zen approach of "If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him", being fitting advice here. To become bound up in slavish dogmatism is incorrect in any meaningful exploration, and exploration is "beginner's mind".

    I intend to do some reading and personal exploration of contemplative prayer and centering prayer, because I don't want to overlook anything. The Methodist theologian John Cobb pointed out that in following Christ we should not be overly concerned if it takes us to places where we forgo Christianity, or at least, Christianity as it has traditionally been conceived.

    I also intend to read a book by Bernadette Roberts, a former Catholic nun who wrote about an unusual mystical experience she had years ago after experiencing years of contemplation (some Catholics believe that people can be naturally gifted with this ability). She was unable to articulate it in Christian terms, so she went to a library and read about the Buddha's enlightenment and the concept of anatman (no-self), and that was the best analogy she could make.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2019 at 10:20 AM
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