A voicehearer’s path ~

Archive for the ‘Paulism’ Category

Just say NO!

To Fundamentalism of any stripe. I spent 10 years in the Fundamentalist movement. Pentecostal to be exact, there were many things I loved about the fellowship, and many things I absolutely hated about the positions my fellow “fundies” would take regarding others and and the command to love. I read articles by “fundies” every once in a while, just to remind myself of what I walked away from. One of their most common comments is that every other stance regarding Biblical or other references is that anything that isn’t of their thinking is “watered down”. I have to laugh at that, it’s a painful laugh, but it is definitely a laugh.

I often quote First John, chapter 4, verses 7 & 8 as my favorite verse in the New Testament. {Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He who does not love does not know God.} It is the gospel of compassion that most fundamentalists consider “watered down”. Yet, it is the command to love that is the very hardest command, in any faith, that most humans find to obey. Me included. Genuine love is not for the weak minded, it requires caring about your fellow humans on a level that sees no stranger in an unknown face.

I get frustrated with the constant quoting of Paul’s comments in Romans on sin, that were meant to simply point out our frailties, but are used to hammer others more often than to take a scorching moral inventory of one’s own faults. Yet, I must remind myself that it was Paul that wrote one of the loveliest passages anywhere in sacred writings, i.e. First Corinthians, Chapter 13.

1 Corinthians 13

Love

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

That entire passage speaks to what love requires of each of us who would practice the path of compassion. If you think it’s a watered down, “namby pamby” way to live, try it for a couple of months, it will be anything but easy. When you have lived with that as your goal for many years, it is then you can talk to me about “watered down” scripture.

I do want to point out that Paul went too far in his inventory of sin, making it easy for those who follow most of that list to disparage folks who live alternative lifestyles. He touched on things the original teacher he professes left alone. If your finger is not pointing at yourself with most of that list, you have no right to quote it to others who do not live your way. Romans Chapter 8 begins with “There is no condemnation now, for those who live in Christ Jesus, (or for other faiths, the spirit of compassion) for the law of love has set me free from the law of sin and death.” I am well aware that it is much easier to expound on the “law of sin and death” when working with others than it is to live by the “Law of Love”. Until you can live by the “Law of Love”, to profess that you know God may, indeed, be an exaggeration.

Soldiers of the Cross?

Has it occurred to you that Y’shua never made that correlation? That was a Paulism. Would it surprise you to find that Y’shua probably would shudder at such a title for “His” followers? Remember that to all of the people of Judea soldiers were representatives of Rome. They were often cruel, many times brutal, seldom considerate of other humans in any way. That is so far from the “Path” that Y’shua was teaching that it seems way off key when we celebrate such a position. Now, keep in mind, as I address this glitch in our thinking that the US has never had a “professional” army in the same sense that Rome did. We have professionals, yes, but the bulk of our army is citizens, not mercenaries. There’s a reason for that, and it does indeed go back to the type of people soldiers become in such an atmosphere.

Be that as it may, Y’shua would not have encouraged his followers to emulate soldiers in any way. I am not all that certain I understand why Paul took the church in that direction. Part of the issue may be that Y’shua was calling individuals to a closer relationship with Spirit, while Paul was organizing a flock he hoped would all march to the same tune.

I admire individualism. That cannot survive in a regimented atmosphere. In fact, if you look at the many churches we have all within a few blocks of one another in many cities, you will see that most churches have no give in the fabric of their construction for the individual. When someone has a different vision of Hashem, they almost have to start another church instead of making room in the old fellowship for a different way of seeing things. I remember hearing a preacher once say that if you did not see God the way he saw God, you could not worship at the same altar as he. I didn’t argue, I just left.

But then, here is the point of this musing: does a God that so completely treasures variety that there are so many different flowers, trees, plants, animals, even colors of humans, really want those who follow and obey to be like rubber stamp copies of one another? I doubt it. Even the clouds in the sky do not copy one another exactly. And then there is something else that it seems Y’shua wanted, it was for each of us to mind our relationship with the Almighty, and leave our neighbor’s relationship to God between the neighbor and God. But then, Paul thought it was all right to scold people for doing wicked things when they weren’t even doing them. So the children follow the pied piper, should I be surprised?

A Christian Buddhist ~

I know, you have to seriously wonder if such a category even dares exist. And the painful truth is, not as an orthodox Christian. However, there are several points at which Buddhism and Christianity are so thoroughly alike that one needs to examine the differences as a matter of testing their importance. The results of such an examination might surprise you.

The major difference between Buddhism and Christianity is that Buddhism is a path of disciplined living toward becoming a happier and more fulfilled individual, while Christianity is (ostensibly) about being at the very center, of God’s will in how you live your life.  One Buddhist may believe in Indra, another in no God at all, another in Shiva. There is no contest among them, as Gautama Buddha taught that it was not a relevant issue toward one’s inner peace. Buddha, in fact would not allow his followers to make him into a God in any way. I am not sure that it would actually please him that there are statues of him all over the world. He said he was not a God.

Now, Y’shua may have actually claimed that he was the Son of God, but almost invariably when he is quoted as having said things of this sort, there is following a teaching on the fact that Hashem taught that we were all Sons and Daughters of God. However, his teachings were mostly about finding peace in obedience to the teachings. In other words, by pleasing a Holy God.

Yet, at the heart of both their teachings is only one command or discipline to be practiced. Compassion. This is the sum of the Buddha’s teachings, this is the sum of Y’shua’s teachings. When you realize this one thing, there should be no reason that one cannot be a Buddhist Christian.

The one difference that most orthodox Christians would point out, then, that cannot be overcome is that the churched do not believe in reincarnation. That is pretty basic to Paulist Christianity. And Paulist Christianity is what is practiced in every church I have ever been inside. I am not a Paulist. There were many things he wrote that I find helpful and wonderful, but the man did not even walk at Y’shua’s side, and I will not follow his teachings.

I have no problem with reincarnation, in fact, I believe it actually occurs. Therefore, for me, there is no problem in being a Buddhist Christian.

Tag Cloud