Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The transition of consciousness of adolescence - Catholic, Protestant and Intuitive Christianity compared

There isn't an agreed word to describe the kind of Christian I am - so I will label it Intuitive Christianity for present purposes - and compare it with what might broadly be called Catholic and Protestant versions. Understand that this is a short post - and what is described are 'ideal types' meant to capture a particular essence of each version. I am talking of ultimates - not of practical living - which will surely be multi-factorial...

The transition between childhood and adulthood takes place at adolescence - and adolescence is the only path from the one to the other. The essence of this transition - from an ultimate and divine perspective - is the transition from Obedience to Freedom.

(Noting that Freedom means something like Agency - i.e. becoming a conscious, actively-autonomous, personally-strategic adult: a source of innate motivation, decision, creativity.)

Obedience roots The Good externally - in some person, institution or social group. The Christian assumption is that these external sources are conduits of God's will.

(As in childhood - the child's role is to know and follow the guidance of parents, family, church, school, social group etc. - and such obedience is 'passive' - it does not require consciousness, and indeed young children are only somewhat conscious.) 

Freedom roots The Good in The Self, internally. The Christian assumption here is that God is within-us - as a deep, true Real Self.

Note that Freedom (that is Agency) is truly Good only if the Real Self is Good. And in practice this is a matter of contention among Christians - because clearly the overall-self is not wholly Good - so some kind of discrimination, definition and distinction concerning the Self is required.

1. The Catholic belief is that the Church (the mystical Church, contrasted with the organisation) is Good, is the conduit of God's will - but the individual is fallen and (in essence) depraved such that for the individual to be Good entails Obedience to the (mystical) Church.

God intervenes to ensure that The Church is and remains the conduit for God's will, and worthy of Obedience. Freedom is mostly about choosing this Obedience.

In practice, therefore, all Men are more-or-less permanently children; so permanent Obedience a necessity. Freedom/ Agency of The Self would be a cruelty; because as individual agents all Men are damned... self-damned by their sin and incapacities.

Freedom is therefore, and necessarily, tightly circumscribed by the overall duty of Obedience.  

2. The Protestant also believes that Men are depraved; but with the capacity to know Good by Obedience to divine revelation, especially as encapsulated in Scripture.

That is, all Men - as autonomous selves - are incapable of Freedom in the ultimate sense of agency rooted in the Self; but all Men have the innate capacity to understand Scripture and choose Obedience to it.

God intervenes to make this understanding of scripture possible; and that the Freedom of choosing to obey Scripture will be under God's will. Freedom is tightly circumscribed by the overall duty of Obedience.

3. My understanding (Intuitive Christianity) is that Freedom/ Agency is our proper, divinely-destined and ultimate goal - here-and-now, in The West; superseding the primacy of Obedience (whether to Church, Scripture or any other external source).

Christianity therefore ought to be rooted in the Real Self and pervasively based upon the Real Self; and Freedom ought not to be constrained to the primal chose of Obedience to Church or Scripture; but this discerning Freedom ought to be incrementally extended to all other matters of primary importance.

This is based upon a conviction that the Real Self is in fact God-within-us; and also distinctive to ourselves alone. In other words, as children of God we inherit God's divinity - but also each child is unique and has an unique destiny within creation.

(There must be a distinction between the true-real-divine Self which is intrinsically Good - and the multiptude of false selves which arise from error, sin, by inculcation, for expedience etc. - which may be good or evil; but are not divine, are often arbitrary and typically transient.) 

We all (potentially) know The Good innately and directly - and the ultimate authority is therefore with, not external; the ultimate value is Freedom to live from the Real Self, not by Obedience to any external source excepting our direct knowing of God.

Therefore, in an ultimate sense, my conviction is that Man - any man, any woman - may attain to salvation and live a life of theosis from-within; without membership of The Church or access to Scripture of other external sources; and, indeed, in an ultimate sense it is proper and best for a Christian's Life to be rooted in n the Freedom of the Real Self, and not in any external source.

In sum: Freedom is a higher (more mature, more adult) value than Obedience. 

External sources may of course be helpful, perhaps very helpful - but here-and-now in The West external sources may also be extremely harmful - the Church may be (usually is) subverted, corrupted and anti-Christian; Scripture, its translation and its interpretation is likewise usually corrupted, distorted, selective, misrepresented - inverted.

Indeed, it is precisely this situation that creates the urgent necessity of an Intuitive Christianity based on the individual and Freedom.

My understanding, therefore, is that Freedom has always been an essential element of Christianity; but in the past Freedom was used to make a single choice of Obedience; of whom or what to serve. In the past Obedience was more important than Freedom.

My contention is that this primal and vital Christian Freedom ought now to be extended to all major and significant aspects of Faith. From now, Freedom is more important than Obedience. That is our divine destiny; if Man is to move from his current spiritual adolescence into adult maturity.