Thursday 22 June 2023

The paradox of history in Christianity

Christianity is a religion rooted in history - it depends on the reality that Jesus was born, died, resurrected, ascended - and necessarily in some place and time. 

Although what Jesus does not, it seems to me, hinge upon him being born in any particular place or time - these things must have-happened, and during human history. 

Therefore; Christianity cannot be - as apparently Buddhism is (at least, to Western scholars) - almost indifferent to whether any particular Buddha ever existed at all any actual point of history. Or whether that Buddha is instead 'merely' a vehicle for education, a story pointing at truth, the symbolic exemplification of a particular teaching. 

Yet, although Jesus must be historical; on the other hand he should not be primarily historical. 

It is a snare when Christians become so fixed upon the historical aspects of Christianity; that they become slaves to the academic historical disciplines - comparative study of ancient languages, the study of ancient texts, archaeology etc. 

This is not a solid basis for faith - as evidenced  by the fact that Christian churches have declined and collapsed over the past couple of centuries, while Christian scholarship has waxed, and accumulated vast amounts of contextual evidence and interpretative sophistication.

Christianity (it seems to me) needs to be rooted in personal interaction between the individual and Jesus Christ. 

This means that a Christianity that depends on academic historical knowledge is at second-hand - just as a Christianity rooted in obedience to a church is secondhand, or a Christianity rooted in adherence to tradition is secondhand... 

This despite the potentially great value of such secondary supports and knowledge-bases. The root needs to be personal.  

What we seem to end-up-with is the 'paradox' that Christianity cannot be derived from any kind of "history", but neither can Christianity be something essentially symbolic - that is, subjectively-created, like a poem. 

But paradox indicates that we have asked the wrong question, or made false assumptions. In this case we have assumed a too-restricted understanding of knowledge sources, and of history. 

We have conflated the secondary social and the primary personal... 

Conflated the business of attaining and enforcing scholarly consensus by agreeing upon a limited and simplified models and approved methods, by professional training and accreditation etc (all of which social institutions and mechanisms can-be, and have-been, corrupted to anti-Christian aims)... 

And we are mixing-this-up with the qualitatively different matter of achieving a strong, adequately true and accurate, and sufficiently-stable, personal faith that we may live-by.


In other words; the paradox of history in Christianity points us at the need to consider an altogether other form of knowing the past - a different way of getting historical knowledge that is neither symbolic nor academic. 

It is a way of knowing that is 'objective' in the sense that it regards the history of Jesus as real, happening in a real place and time; and also 'subjective' in the sense that this knowledge is derived from personal - and spiritual - ways of knowing. 

In sum: I think we each need to seek whatever historical knowledge is necessary, primarily by personal endeavor and from the guidance of the Holy Ghost - by direct-knowing, mind-to-mind. 

Often by formulating our own ideas (using whatever sources we regard as authoritative, and we can discover and grasp sufficiently) - and seeking for intuitive divine endorsement of those ideas. 

This is, of course, a trial-and-error process - since it depends on our own capacities and is affected by our own motivations. Nonetheless; if we are genuinely seeking the truth, we will (by living personal interaction with the Holy Ghost, by the divine within each of us) be guided through our own errors; will zig-zag to sufficient truth for our purposes



William Wright (WW) said...

It is a perilous path you have charted for yourself, I think, and you may need more than luck to get where you want to go following it.

I believe there are many Beings interacting with the minds of Men today, many of which would be flattered in having you think of them as the Holy Ghost. The dangerous ones are the ones that want us to keep thinking of them in that way, leading us down all sorts of strange roads. While both they and we might be currently happy with the arrangement, nevertheless such an interaction is to our detriment.

Are errors of the kind and scale we find ourselves in at present self-correcting without some kind of divine intervention? I believe no. One need only look to the Mormons, a culture I grew up in, to see your philosophy codified at all levels of their beliefs... from the hierarchy ("The prophet cannot lead us astray - God would not let him") to their views on personal revelation and guidance from the Holy Ghost. There are some of the best, if not the best, people I know among that group (if forced to choose, I would still throw my lot in with them), with some of the best intentions, and their own experience and experiments over a considerable period of time should be enough to demonstrate this is a fraught path.

The Holy Ghost indeed seems to have a critical role to play in our journey. Jesus' words in John 16, if assumed accurate, suggest a few of the jobs he will be sent to do. Coupled with a view that the servant that Jesus promises to send to those at Bountiful in the last days is likely also the Holy Ghost, one can piece together a more concrete idea of who this Being is and why they will be sent to do what they will do (I know your view is that the Holy Ghost is Jesus, but this isn't correct - though they will act as if they were Jesus, bearing his name and acting with his authority).

What we need is more correct history of Jesus, not less. Our current history and understanding is based on many lies, so no wonder Christian scholarship is unable to lead anyone out of this mess.

The Holy Ghost will possess and bring records which contain the stories containing true history. These stories will remind the righteous of their good works and the words and promises of Jesus to them. They will also condemn the wicked for their previous and ongoing unbelief of Jesus, and ultimately judge and put an end to Satan's rule on this earth (all things mentioned in John 16).

Others will work with the Holy Ghost in bringing these stories into reality, and as Abinadi teaches King Noah in the Book of Mormon, how beautiful on the mountains shall their feet be in publishing these stories.

For added trivia - why not - the Holy Ghost is likely the same Being that Joseph Smith identified in his Alphabet and Grammar of the Egyptian Language as Jah-ni hah or Ja-ho-e-oop. One who is authorized to execute judgment on behalf of the King, being sent to Earth from Heaven. (Very) brief mention as a definition of sorts for this individual in link below:

Bruce Charlton said...

@WW - "It is a perilous path you have charted for yourself"

Oh, come come! - what path is Not perilous in this actual world of 2023 -- where the leaders of All the major churches are resolutely, with consistency and determination, leading their flocks away-from Christianity, salvation, theosis, goodness, harmony with creation -- and towards ever greater convergence with the demonic totalitarian global System?

(The latest, but only the latest, is to enlist All the major Western churches into de facto open-ended support of a demonically-administered world war; directed towards the physical/ metal/ spiritual destruction, dismemberment, and dissipation of the one-and-only actively-Christian/ Christian-reviving-and-growing nation in the entire world! That's a Clue to the Western "Christian" churches Real agenda.)

There is no safe path that can be shown us by any particular group of Men - certainly not those with historical expertise!

Therefore, we are far better to take personal responsibility for these matters - far better than always seeking for someone else to whose doctrines we can submit, whose instructions we can obey.

God is the creator, wholly-good, our loving parent/s - surely He *will* ensure that the means of salvation are available to every one of his children who desire it? We can depend on it.

When we err, and stumble - which we will, of course - He will show us our mistake (assuming we want to know) - and repentance is always open.

Somehow (and he has many, many means) He Will Do It - and the rest is up to us.

This is not difficult nor esoteric - it is just a direct consequence of the nature of God and His relationship with each of us!

The Real Buddha said...

Buddhism can't be what they claim. They have an absurd belief that there is no self which hinges on a historical Buddha really having taught it; if Buddha is not historical but there is reincarnation then there is a soul that transmigrates (even with him being histoeical there would be but logically with him being fake its easier to see); the idea that there is reincarnation with no soul to reincarnate hinges on an actual historical man actually becoming omniscient to know that (lol) and thus hinges on his historical existence. It also hinges on certainty that their scriptures have come down to us pure and not been interpolated with antisoul nihilism. In other words the no soul doctrine is clearly false as its the first interpolation Mara would do.

Bruce Charlton said...

@TRB - I'm not an expert by any means; but I don't think the way you reason would be at all the way Buddhists reason (I mean Buddhist intellectuals). To put it the other way around - the Christian idea of history (and of Time) is not universal. True! - but not universal.