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Due to all this, Rome civilization as gradually coming to an end precisely because of the following factors — oppressive and rapacious government, overambitious general, constant barbarian incursions, an aristocracy grown decadent and effete, religious cross current undermining the imperial authority and military ethos, drastic sustained III. These writings were later compiled; edited and added to the Hebrew Scriptures which later became the Bible and it was from this that the Church gained its authority and the parameter of the evolving Christian worldview came from.
This section tends to focus more on the Christian tradition and how it ruled the formation and development of the world as at the time it emerged. Judaic Monotheism and the Divinization of History Theology and history were inextricably conjoined in the Hebrew vision. Acts of God, and the events of human experience constituted one reality, and the biblical narrative of the Hebrew past was intended rather to reveal its divine logic than to reconstruct an exact historical record.
The Hebrews traced their origin from creation through to the time of their having to make a covenant with God. They also associated the human fate with the decision of God. They believed that if they live righteously, they would inherit the promise land and become a light to all mankind. It was this faith, this hope in the future, this unique historical impulse carried forward by the prophets and compellingly recorded in the poetry and prose of the bible that had sustained the Jewish people for two millennia.
But it was in his death by crucifixion and the fervent belief in his resurrection that the Christian faith came to be recognized and a new understanding of God and humanity came to be established. The Judeo-Christian community came to be formed as God was seen not as a tribal or polis deity among man but the one true Supreme God. As this message was proclaimed far and wide in the Roman Empire, what was born of Israel was Christianity. Classical Elements and the Platonic Inheritance Christianity spread at an astonishing rate from its tiny Galilean nucleus to eventually encompass the Western world.
It was through the effort of Paul, who effectively turned Christianity towards its universal mission. The Judaic religion was mostly a nationalist and separatist in character as Christian Jews opposed the inclusion of non- Jews into the community of faith. While James and Peter for some time required that non-Jews observe the traditional Jewish rules, it was Paul who amidst opposition asserted that the new Christian freedom and hope for salvation was already universally present for Gentiles without the Judaic laws as well as Jews within it. The crushing of the messianic political revolutionary movement led by the zealot party, the capture of Jerusalem by the Roman troops and the destruction of the Jewish Temple 70 A.
D brought about a dispersal of the Christian community and the closest link of the Christian religion to Judaism was severed. From this point thereafter, Christianity was more Hellenistic than a Palestinian phenomenon. So Christianity was therefore decisively molded by its contact with the Greco-Roman culture. As earlier mentioned, the Christian faith was faced and challenged by already existing Greco-Roman culture, the educated class of early Christians rapidly saw the need to integrate the sophisticated philosophical tradition with their religious faith which was for their own satisfaction and help the Greco-Roman in understanding the Christian mystery.
Hence there was a Christianization of platonic principles and philosophy which metamorphosed into a systematic theology, and although that theology was Judeo-Christian in substance, its metaphysical structure was largely platonic such as was advanced by the major theologians of the early church — Justin martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and finally by Augustine. Clement of Alexandria a Christian apologist reasoned with the pagan intellectuals of Alexandria by explaining to them that the world was not a mythological phenomenon full of gods and daimones but was rather a natural world providentially governed by the one Supreme self-subsistent God.
The Christian faith assimilated the mysteries extended to the various pagan deities as well as the Greco-Roman world and consciously or unconsciously absorbed them into the Christian hierarchy. They believed that reason alone was enough to capture divine and cosmic truth but that faith was needed for attainment of the revealed truth. Here faith was the primary means and reason a distant second for comprehending the deeper meaning of things.
Hence truth was therefore approached primarily not through self-determined intellectual inquiry, but through scripture and prayer and faith in the teaching of the church. Christianity thus bequeathed to its members the universality of salvation and the equality of all persons in the sight of God — which was later to become a decisive trait for the formation of the Western character.
A new sense of all human life was taught by Christianity and brought to the pagan world which later influenced the mass culture than the Greek philosophical ethics had. Christianity also turned out to be the guide post for intellectual research and philosophical inquiry was seen by early church as less vital spiritual development. The shadow side of the church was that it became intolerant as it finally gained a hold at the end of the classical era and opposed any teaching it considered pagan. It was the pluralism of classical era that gave way to an emphatically monolithic system — one God, one church, one truth.
The second, being the focus in the present alienation of man and the world from God.
These two sides were both defined by Paul and Augustine, though these views appear separate but are somewhat indissoluble but Tarnas decided to treat them separately for a better understanding. The first, Christ the divine had entered the world and that the redemption of humanity and nature was dawning, Christianity was the fulfillment of the yearning found in the Judaic religion. The Christian experience was an inner transformation based in an awakening to what was already being born within the individual and within the world.
This creates a kind of anticipatory structure in the Christian vision. This tone of religious vision was reinforced by the church in her historical and theological evolution of the second coming and its delay. The church tended to hamper on sin and guilt and the danger or even the likelihood of damnation.
The image of God portrayed was that of a judge now embodied in Christ and the church playing the judicial role in the community of the faithful. The image further projected was a resultant effect of human guilt rather than the removal of that guilt.
The two poles of the Christian vision might not be unrelated as the distinction suggest but to further comprehend this divergent views, a look into how the Christian church evolved both in its self-conception and history, and the pressure of those events, personalities and movements which governed the evolution would be important. The coming of Christ was a break as well as fulfillment of, the Judaic tradition.
This primitive Christian proclamation of redemption was at once mystical, cosmic, and historical. On the one hand, it was an experience of Christ in the human soul and on the other hand, the entire world was being transformed and restored to its divine glory. Hope then became the central theme in Christianity as it was in this attitude that the human person would be able to overcome trials and terror as it looked forward to the fulfillment of a glorious future.
For God has chosen man as the vessel of his image, in which his divine essence could be most fully incarnate. So, pains, sufferings and devastation could be seen as part of the great art of bringing Christ forth into the world and the evolution of the new humanity that would be fulfilled in the future. Dualistic Christianity The exultant element in Christianity that salvation lays in the future was not to be misinterpreted license for moral decadence.
Here we see Paul trying to warn the early Christians not to become irresponsible but rather they should still work towards the redemption and salvation that lay in the future. In essence, there should be a balance between personal salvation and community salvation.
Thus Paul taught a partial dualism in the present to affirm a greater cosmic unity in the future, lest a premature claim or redemption now preclude the greater salvation of the world later. The Synoptic Gospel therefore encouraged hope that the sufferings undergone is for a time as salvation is near. Paradoxically, this dualism was enhanced and given a different significance in the Johannine Gospel as John tried to show that the salvation at the end of history was already being actualized in the wake of the resurrection.
But the Gnostics and the Neoplatonist stream within the Christian theology supported and amplified the mystical and ontological dualism. The larger mainstream Christian tradition which had anticipated the second coming as the necessary solution accepts that the mediating role would be fulfilled by the ongoing sacramental church. It was this general trend that encouraged the other side of the Christian vision, the character of which in the long- run would significantly redefine primitive Christian message.
Since the second coming did not happen as expected especially after Augustine, salvation was seen in less dramatic historical and collective terms but more as church- mediated process that could occur only through the institutional sacrament, and could be fulfilled only when the soul left behind the physical world and entered celestial state. The struggle over evil became paramount thus making the authoritative activity of God and the church mandatory. This made Christian traditions in the West lose its exultant unitary conception only to become static, circumscribed, and dualistic.
Yet the church was perceived as defensively against the world in which it existed, or rather with which it was forced to coexist. Hence dualism becomes absolute because of the schism in the universe between God and man, and between the present life in this world and a future life in the spiritual world and only the church could bridge the gap.
Thus the divine command for unswerving obedience tended to outweigh the divine out pouring of reconciliatory love. This love was nonetheless experienced as a numinous presence drawing forward the Jewish nation to fulfillment in its various and constantly evolving forms. This in turn did not remove the fact that God was vengeful to anyone who disobeyed the law and commandment but that God was by nature merciful and judgmental. Paul, John and Augustine expressed a peculiar mixture of the mystical and juridical in their writings, and the Christian religion of which they were principal shapers reflected those divergent tendencies.
Thus the Christian hope and faith coexist with Christian guilt and fear.
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Further Contraries and the Augustinian Legacy Matter and Spirit The inner conflict in Christianity was especially prominent in its attitudes towards the physical world and the physical body, became an ambivalence that Christianity never entirely resolved. The Christian redemptive understanding gave new meaning to the original Hebrew view of man as created body and soul in the image of God, conception parallel to the later Neoplatonic idea of man as a microcosm of the divine but with Judaism, body and soul was seen as an integrated unit of vital power.
But there exist an opposing view; nature in later Christianity was perceived as corrupt and finite and it needed to be overcome. Only man was capable of salvation and in man, only his soul was redeemable.
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Neoplatonist Christian theologians helped influence the shift of the notion of the natural world and the redemption of the whole man from early Judeo-Christian view. While the platonic element in Christianity overcame the divine- human dualism by conceiving of man as directly participating in the divine archetype; it simultaneously encouraged a different dualism between body and spirit.
Platonism gave an emphatic philosophical justification to the potential spirit-matter dualism in Christianity. The heresies that arose during the medieval era brought about the theological development that was needed to counter them but these heresies aided in the further development of the Christian dogmas. The cultural situation of the time and the understanding that the world was ruled by Satan and the Christian trust in a world ruled by providence was juxtaposed with the Christian fear of the world.
There was also the stressed need for spiritual purity so celibacy was seen as the ideal state and marriage a necessary allowance for cupidity so that sex can be kept within defined boundaries but communal and charitable forms of love were instead emphasized. Sin was not so much mere carnality as it was the perverse elevation over God of that which, good in itself in proper measure, was rightly subordinate to God.
This he also achieved through the medium of his extra-ordinary compelling writings. In discussing love, he explains that love of God can only thrive if the human person conquers the love of self and the flesh. He further states that it was the love of the flesh that brought about the fall of man and subsequent evil in the world. Though Augustine had denied that man had any role to play his own salvation and was for that reason damned, because God had already selected only a few.
He saw little possibility for any genuine historical progress in this world because of the seeming prevalence of evil and sin and taught that: all true progress was necessarily spiritual and transcended this world and its negative fate. In other words, divine providence and spiritual salvation were the ultimate factors in human existence and that secular history with its passing values and general negative progress had no significance. The penetration of Christianity by Neoplatonism both augmented and explained the mystical and interior element of the Christian revelation.
Law and Grace The Mosaic Law was for the Jews, their pillar of existential solidity, that which morally ordered their lives and retained them in good relation to God. Early Christians believed that there is a contrasting view about the law; the law was made for man and was fulfilled in the love of God.
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For Paul, the law was no longer the binding authority, because the true end of the law and Christ. The Gospels concern with interpersonal ethics was a dominant element in the Christian outlook, but its character seemed open to both interpretations moral restriction and divinely graced freedom. Here there was more emphasis on the commandment of love over law. Athens and Jerusalem The question of purity and integrity of the Christian belief and how these should be preserved was another source of concern for the church.
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