Friday 20 January 2023

The simplicity of Christianity, the rejection of complexity and oneness alike; and the possibility of valid discernment

In the past Christianity - or more exactly 'being a Christian' - has often become extremely complex. 

Often so complex that ordinary people could not get it all and had to rely on experts (pastors, priests, theologians etc.). 

Often, indeed, so complex that no single person could learn it, nor hold it all in mind; and it required long documentation, professional education, and sub-committees of specialized experts who subdivided the subject into manageable chunks. 

Yet, there are places in the New Testament where it seems clear that someone could become a Christian in an moment, on the basis of extremely little and very simple information as to what this entailed. 

Of course; from that point - being a Christian might then mean submitting to some authoritative expert or group with respect to living in terms of a complex lifestyle and set of observances. 

Or perhaps not always - it isn't absolutely clear. Maybe it was originally intended that 'following Jesus' was cognitively very simple indeed; and the guidance of the Holy Ghost was not meant to be captured in scores/ hundred/ thousands of doctrines, laws, practices, mandatory and exclusional practices...

However it then was; I find myself increasingly convinced that Christianity Now, in 2023, is meant to be simple - not complex; because then it can be followed by discernment, with clarity and assurance, by individuals - each of whom has taken final-responsibility for his own salvation and spiritual development. 

Christianity is about binary (hence simple) choices; in a world where the mainstream secular world pretends that things are so complex that only (officially-accredited) experts can inform us what is good, true and beautiful - and what (therefore) we ought to do. 

On the other side; the mainstream-approved spirituality of oneness asserts that the highest wisdom is to see through duality and recognize that ultimately every-thing is one-thing; and nothing really matters except to go beyond the illusion of duality. In different word: we ought to stop discerning...

Stop all discerning except to reject all distinctions and divisions - including good v evil, truth v lies, beauty v ugliness, and coherence v incoherence). 

(i.e. The single allowable discernment is that all is one; and anything else is wrong, spiritually harmful, and should be shunned.)

It seems everybody important and influential is agreed that duality and binary choices are wrong; either because they are too-simple, or not-simple-enough. 

But my understanding is that Christianity and Christian life boils-down to exactly such prohibited simple, binary choices; and that is how we ought to know the world

We should see the whole of this inconceivably complicated world as a spiritual war between two sides, between which we can and must choose - and this choice is made possible to every individual person, in every relevant circumstance (relevant to the fate of our own soul) by understanding the matter in the correct way; which is simple and dichotomous.  

Complexity and oneness are thus equally the enemy of Christian discernment. 



Lady Mermaid said...

I wonder if God has allowed the collapse of organized churches to rebuild a unified Church in spirit. The splintering into various denominations and arguing over complex and abstract theology has done more damage to the faith than any outside force. The late Pope Benedict XVI stated that the church would have to become much smaller and essentially start over focusing on Christ.

Bruce Charlton said...

@LM - The question has not yet been answered as to whether it is possible that the human institution of a church can be inclusive of real Christians, while also rejecting not-Christians (including subversive fake Christians); because both inclusion and exclusion seem to be necessary for survival.

Most long lasting churches have been very excluding; and this is what creates splintering. Whereas churches that try to embrace all types of Christian have been too vague and insufficiently motivating; and easily become worldly.

It may be that a unified church in spirit can exist in spirit - but not materially.