Sunday 17 April 2022

How can I know it is true? Simple, existential validation of Christianity

How does a person know "Christianity is true"?

I was reading of a famous person who rejected the Christianity of his childhood because (to summarize) he experienced it as a vast list of things that must be believed and must be done just-so - reject one, and you are not a Christian. 

Yet, the 'liberal Christian' response of relaxing, removing, and reversing more-and-more items from that vast list - has proved to be a disaster in every respect; leading to the assimilation of churches into mainstream leftist (hence, ultimately evil-motivated) politics. 

A different response to the problem was 'mystical' whereby the Christian would assert an incommunicable belief based upon religious experiences. Essentially saying: "I am a Christian, but I will not say what that means or implies - because mystical knowledge is ineffable, hence cannot and should not be expressed". 

This strategy has demonstrated that, in the first place, it does not make someone a Christian (it cannot say why there is anything necessary about the person of Jesus Christ); and experience has shown that such attempted at total-spirituality or complete unworldliness has proved itself radically-unable to provide the clarity and courage needed to discern and resist the waxing evil in this world - as it infiltrates and pervades ever more of our lives. 

Paradoxically, the assertion of complete indifference to This World, and the attempt to become wholly-detached from worldly concerns, supplies no reason to resist assimilation to the ideas and behaviours of This World... To the modern mind; 'mysticism' means that one "might as well" go along with the core, dominant, and coerced ideologies of 2022 - and that is exactly what happens, in practice.   

On this Easter morning; the question recurs as to how some supposed events of two thousand years ago can be known as true; and known in such a way as to provide a sufficiently solid and personally-compelling foundation from which to think, speak and choose truly. 

It seems to me that most attempts to achieve this by asking for acceptance of external truths - whether truths from a church, scholarship, or in ritual, scripture, theology or any other social and complex discourse - have all foundered and failed; have proved themselves inadequate.

I have concluded that what is required is an existential knowledge of 'Christian reality'. By which I mean that (for a strong and discerning faith) we each must attain a conviction that is rooted in the apprehension of our own Being in direct contact with the divine Being of Jesus Christ.

Of course, a Christian must have a contextual metaphysical belief in God and creation, and this will surely be of too great a complexity and difficulty to be apprehended all-at-once. 

But Christianity seems at its heart to be saying that there is a simple way though all such complexity by the person of Jesus Christ - who is eternal and who has a living and direct, here-and-now relationship with anyone who seeks it (this immediate and personal relationship being what is meant by the Holy Ghost).

What this means is that it is possible - for any person, now or at any time - to have a direct knowledge of whatever is needed for Christian faith; and that this knowledge comes in the form of a contact-in-thinking between 'the self' of Jesus Christ and 'the self' of individual Christians.

By 'direct' I mean that it is not mediated by any perceptions, or by language - but may be understood as two distinct beings and persons that 'share thoughts' - so there is no gap between them. 

So, the idea of mystical knowledge as being ineffable, inexpressible etc is an 'abstract' (impersonal) distortion of this 'solid' fact of two actual personal Beings that (here, now) know each other, and know that they know. 

And in this knowing of persons; we are able to attain the solidity and conviction needed to underpin whatever discernment and guidance we require in our daily living in this world.   

Such a basis can be called intuition or various other names; but what makes it distinctively Christian is when it happens between one of ourselves and the spirit of Jesus Christ. 

The great thing about this is that is renders time and history irrelevant - because it is immediate. It bypasses the complex and controversial edifices of social-discourse; it removes the uncertainties of language and interpretation. Yet at the same time it avoid the problem of incomprehensible and uncompelling abstraction - of great soaring schemata with no place for our-selves - to which most 'mysticism' is prone.   

Of course; such knowledge is not much use for communicating truths to other people! Indeed, it implies that the saving truths cannot be communicated to other people - beyond general indications of what is being aimed-at, and what kind of thing might be expected as a result. 

Furthermore, such knowledge is only satisfactory and compelling while it is happening - after which it becomes 'just a memory' - at least so far as this mortal life is concerned... 

But, Jesus's central message is (as may be confirmed) that there is also an immortal and resurrected life which may be attained by 'following' him; and from that perspective is more than memory. 

Thus, existential validation of Christianity by direct knowing is Not to be confused with the kind of permanent transformative change promised by 'enlightenment'. To know, here and now, in our mortal body, is Not (by intent or possibility) to be transformed into a higher, more spiritual, more divine entity.

We may transform and improve as people - but we may not. Transformation is not the essence of what Jesus came to do for us.  

Instead we are here in this mortal life to learn; and that learning is meant For our immortal life - will be retained for that purpose, and not be forgotten by our true selves. 

Because that is its purpose; mortal life will continue to bring us learning-experiences - including problems and failures, diseases and disabilities - and the intent is that we will continue to learn for as long as we live. 

Mostly, we are meant to work things our for ourselves; but sometimes we need guidance - and guidance is available - existential guidance which is neither internal not external but both, simultaneously. 

1 comment:

Iain M said...

John 3:8 'The wind bloweth ... thou hearest the sound ... but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.'

It is quite impossible to fathom what this really means or even express it in words. That would be an attempt by nature to describe how the supernatural works would it not? The passage itself acknowledges that difficulty. No man knows where the wind has blown in from. But he can hear it clearly enough. However, the deeper point is surely that he does not need to know. He does not need to understand the technicalities. In other words, it is being kept deliberately simple.

This supports what you say about the 'simple way through all complexity by the person of Jesus Christ.' Indeed, it surely must be kept simple if it is (as it is) an imperative.

As you say, all the external sources described seem proven inadequate to the current time. There are (there can be) no substitutes and no mediators. The relationship is direct or it is not the necessary relationship.

I might add, while the start of that relationship becomes part of time, that is, a man's history and memory, its happening was real and cannot subsequently be made unreal.