Saturday, 30 March 2019

The modern condition and a direct and personal approach to Romantic Christianity

As an alternative way of conceptualising Romantic Christianity, from that summarised earlier today; there is an approach based on the modern condition and the need for a direct and personal (unmediated) kind of Christianity.

The modern condition is that the Christian tradition is distorted and destroyed, and over-complexified, and layered-upon by so much disinformation; all to such an extent that a typical individual has no way of discovering (short of a prolonged and strenuous quest) what Christianity actually is.

In effect - actual, detectable, accessible Christianity might as well not exist for all the help it is to becoming a Christian. Indeed, it is likely that the culturally dominant 'Christianity' does a great deal more harm than good, in terms of understanding real Christianity.

Assuming (as I do) that this actual world is well 'designed' by God for its purpose - is indeed 'tailored' to the specific needs of you and I and each other person - then the possibility arises that modern Man must become a Christian primarily from his own personal experience. And that God has made this possible for everyone.

In other words, that the kind of Christian we are called to become, is the kind of Christian that a person might become in response to a very simple personal yearning having a direct encounter with the divine.

For Christians, this encounter needs to be one that will lead us to love, believe and follow Jesus through (biological) death and into everlasting Heavenly life beyond.

This means that we ought to be able to learn this from some kind of directly experienced encounter with reality - this encounter would need to be sufficient in and of itself, because the likelihood is that any cultural Christianity would not help, but on the contrary would confuse or contradict it.

This would also mean that the direct experience of knowledge of Jesus would need to be self-validating. (Because culture would not validate it, there could be no cultural 'evidence' for our experience - thus the experience would need to stand-alone and without further 'proof').

This, then, is another 'definition' of Romantic Christianity: that Christianity which any individual could attain to for himself and unaided.


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

It's hard to see how such a *specific* religion, rooted in love of a particular historical figure rather than in theological abstractions, could be attained without information provided by others. "How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?"

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Well, that is exactly the 'problem'. And traditionally Christianity requires exactly this kind of 'information provided by others'.

But - by my understanding of the Fourth Gospel, it seems wise to assume that traditional Christianity is enormously over-elaborated, and often wrongly-centred.

What Jesus was actually teaching was very simple indeed - and might be known wordlessly; or might be felt rather than known.

And Jesus himself said that such things could be learned directly, from the Holy Ghost. Guidance by the Holy Ghost is easy to imagine in terms of making choices, discernments - but harder to imagine in terms of learning the core elements of Christianity; in particular the person of Jesus.

What I suppose is that the key is to know Jesus, as a person. This could be imagined as an encounter in a vision or dream (as described in the Bible); or it could be imagined as an encounter with what-lies-behind dreams and visions. The person then would need to recognise that there was a divine person who was saviour.

The other elements are divine version of family relations. One can imagine that these are innate - and even when an individual had never experienced a good family life, I think we can realise that he has an inbuilt knowledge of what he yearns-for.

In general, I could draw an analogy with instincts. People don't seem to have much problem in conceptualising in built instinctive knowledge (indeed it is a necessary biological assumption). And instincts can be pretty complex.

But instincts are unconscious and not chosen - so to complete the analogy we would need to become explicitly aware of the instinct (conceptually aware of its essence, not necessarily its name or full scope), and choose to activate the instinct.

In another sense, we could say that it has long been recognised that some people are - even as children - natural and spontaneous 'Christians'; and this idea is to become such a natural Christian then to be a conscious of its nature, and to choose it.

Indeed, it is probably that case that we already know what we need to know, in the sense that it is already present to us and in our minds in an unconscious and automatic/ instinctive way; and what we need to do is become aware of it, and to choose it. This may be relatively simple and possible - but it may be very difficult to articulate and communicate such knowledge (just as it is difficult to A&C love).