Christianity is Inexhaustible

     In his post  "The Limits of Solzhenitsyn's Concept of the Line Separating Good and Evil" Francis Berger writes: "Many Christians view judgement as the Achilles' heel of their faith."  

    The post itself is well worth reading because of the importance of the questions it examines, which is examining Solzhenitsyn's famous quote: 

"Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart - and through all human hearts.

    in the light of how there really can be sides in a spiritual war.  I am not going to examine this, but another train of thought that reading the post took me on: 

    Bruce Charlton has written about how Christianity is a strange religion compared to other religions in what it promises.  It is also strange in its teachings in that Christians are on the one hand enjoined to refrain from judging rashly, yet human beings must make judgments throughout life.  And there are many other difficulties like this.  Are the difficulties things that we should just dismiss because they can be manipulated to sow the seeds of doubt?  Or should we think through these issues precisely so that we can understand our faith better? 

      Then, after thinking about that, I remembered this quote from John Fitzgerald's post "The Marble of Exchange:"

"It shows to me just how far Christianity still has to go before it can become the religion it is truly capable of being. In a sense it hasn't done anything very much yet. So much of it is still latent, still in a state of potential, raw and undeveloped. And this should give us both cause for concern and grounds for real hope.

    In other words, Christianity can continue to develop.  Christianity isn't a Red Queen religion, where most of the energy is spent trying to avoid defects.  Christianity can always develop.  We can always go deeper in our understanding of Christianity because we can always go deeper in  our understanding of Christ.  Bonald quotes G.K. Chesterton who says:  

    "Now what we have really got to hammer into the heads of all these people, somehow, is that a thinking man can think himself deeper and deeper into Catholicism, but not deeper and deeper into difficulties about Catholicism.  We have got to make them see that conversion is the beginning of an active, fruitful, progressive, and even adventurous life of the intellect."

But Christianity not only is inexhaustible in depth, but also "horizontally."  Christianity can always accommodate new individuality because to be Christian is not to lose individuality but to bring it into something bigger.  

One example would be in the conversation of Jesus with the Samaritan woman (John 4:20-26) when the woman says: 

"Our fathers adored on this mountain, and you say, that at Jerusalem is the place where men must adore."

and Jesus replied

     "Jesus saith to her: Woman, believe me, that the hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, not in Jerusalem, adore the Father.  You adore that which you know not: we adore that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him.  God is a spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth.  The woman saith to him: I know that the Messias cometh (who is called Christ); therefore, when he is come, he will tell us all things.  Jesus saith to her: I am he, who am speaking with thee."

    I believe that among the earliest Christians, there were both Jews and Samaritans.  And I also believe that in becoming Christians they were able to overcome their differences.  But they were able to do so not by falling below them, by caring so little about their people that being a Jew or Samaritan didn't matter, but by going above their differences.  By becoming part of something bigger.  They still were Jews and Samaritans but were also Christians.

    Paul said something similar when he said (Galatians 3:26-29): 

"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise."

2 comments:

  1. I am not well-versed in Steiner. Most of what I know I have drawn from blogs like yours. Having said that, I am very drawn to Steiner's concept of the need for a shift in human consciousness. I'm not sure if you are familiar with Berdyaev, but I find his ideas on the three religious epochs and the "Eighth Day of Creation" to be particularly prescient and pressing. In a nutshell, Berdyaev believes that Christianity is still in the process of developing. Two religious epochs have occurred. The third will mark the culmination of Christianity's true purpose, which, according to Berdyaev, will be the revelation of creation - the revelation of God in man and man in God. More specifically, man will finally understand and begin to utilize the true powers of his latent divinity.

    Simply put, I agree with the idea you have developed here.

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  2. I have certainly found Christianity to be inexhaustible - especially in the direction of simplicity. I keep finding that - after months of thinking - the answer which I settle-upon is one that would be obvious to a child. That, of course, is the difficulty.

    For example it took many years before I felt I could understand the distinction between good and evil, and the answer that eventually satisfied me - that they are 'sides' in a conflict, and good or evil a matter of taking sides, is the way a child would think of things ("whose side are you on").

    Or, that God is defined essentially in terms of being the creator; which is obvious - but most adult Christians go on to pile on more attributes that make the definition lees, rather than more, comprehensible and precise.

    What did Jesus do? And why is Jesus essential? are other questions where I was not happy with the 'standard answers' and needed to clarify matters.

    How does free will work - what does it even mean? That one was a big and vital puzzle for me. The answer led me a long way into metaphysics.

    Of course, every such solution leads to another problem - if good and evil are taking sides, what is the difference between the sides? If God is creator, then what is creation? etc.

    Thus I am continually trying to clarify my understanding - and this is itself (for me) a reason for the inexhaustibility of Christianity.

    All this is quite spontaneous for me, the most interesting thing in the world! although of zero interest to most people.

    Probably each person has a somewhat different and inexhaustible way into and through Christianity; or, more exactly, the Christian life/ life as a Christian.

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