Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A New Kind of Christianity: The Pluralism Question

For me, the New Kind of Christianity is the old kind of Christianity that Jesus demonstrated before the Church took over the Christian identity and used it to control people within and conquer "others." Divide and conquer has been the working motto of ego man throughout the Christian Church.

What would the world be like if humans minds had been able to really “get” Jesus’ message of universal Oneness?

The very word religion means to tie or bind together again: To tie or bind us to the source of our being, and to tie or bind us to all creation in the ONENESS that we were and are created in. However, humans in our foolishness seemed to miss the whole point of Jesus’ mystical teachings of Oneness. I appreciated Brian McLaren’s recital of some Christian crimes against humanity. We have really missed the mark. And until we take the “log our of our own eye, how can be possibly remove anyone else’s splinter.”
How do we take the log that sees separation out of our eye?

Jesus was a mystic. He knew his Oneness with the Source of his being, God. He spoke out of his experience of ONENESS, yet, as McLaren notes, Jesus’ message was not understood by his own disciples, let along the church. So Jesus’s message of love and peace and oneness has become a message of fear and hate and separation. I think that may have something to do with young people not wanting to be a part of the separation mindset in churches, inherited as McLaren explains from the Greco-Roman mindset. McLaren writes about the Greco-Roman mind as the imperialist mind which is "anxious, paranoid, domineering, and at all-out war" against any “other” which seems or is deemed different.
Does Christianity need to ask forgiveness and give reparations for its many acts of brutality and aggression? What would that look like?

Interestingly, Jesus’ message of Oneness and Love is very similar to the messages of many of the world’s religions.
 Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.- Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Deuteronomy 6.4

 Say, He is God, the One! God, the eternally Besought of all!
He neither begets nor was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him. -Islam. Qur'an 112

 He is the one God, hidden in all beings, all-pervading, the Self within all beings, watching over all works, dwelling in all beings, the witness, the perceiver, the only one, free from qualities. - Hinduism. Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.11

 The sage clasps the Primal Unity, Testing by it everything under heaven. -Taoism. Tao Te Ching 22

 Absolute truth is indestructible. Being indestructible, it is eternal. Being eternal, it is self-existent. Being self-existent, it is infinite. Being infinite, it is vast and deep. Being vast and deep, it is transcendental and intelligent. It is because it is vast and deep that it contains all existence. It is because it is transcendental and intelligent that it embraces all existence. It is because it is infinite and eternal that it fulfills or perfects all existence. In vastness and depth it is like the Earth. In transcendental intelligence it is like Heaven. Infinite and eternal, it is the Infinite itself. Such being the nature of absolute truth, it manifests itself without being seen; it produces effects without motion; it accomplishes its ends without action. -Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 26
 When appearances and names are put away and all discrimination ceases, that which remains is the true and essential nature of things and, as nothing can be predicated as to the nature of essence, is called the "Suchness" of Reality. This universal, undifferentiated, inscrutable Suchness is the only Reality, but it is variously characterized as Truth, Mind-essence, Transcendental Intelligence, Perfection of Wisdom, etc. This Dharma of the imagelessness of the Essence-nature of Ultimate Reality is the Dharma which has been proclaimed by all the Buddhas, and when all things are understood in full agreement with it, one is in possession of Perfect Knowledge. -Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra

 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. -Christianity. Bible, 1 Corinthians 12.4-7

If we find the Oneness of the Truth in other religions of the world, does that remove the log from our eye and bring us into the mystical truth of Oneness, so that the Kingdom of Heaven on earth becomes our experience?


  1. Hey Jan,
    Great post! Appreciate all the quotes.
    In your last question when you are asking about finding the "Oneness of the Truth in other religions of the world" do you use the word "find" to mean acknowledge? And if so, what does acknowledgment of Oneness look like? What sort of praxis derives from it?

  2. Hi Angelina, Great question! I think that their are many levels at which we can find the Oneness of Truth in the religions of the world. At an intellectual level, the golden rule is a good place to begin, since at their essence, all religions that I am aware of teach some from of loving your neighbor as yourself. However, at an mystical and experiencial level, experiences of the divine are very similar, regardless of the religious label. For me that is the core of religious teaching: Experience the divine for yourself and you will find the Oneness of all that is.

  3. Jan,

    I love your comments, as they do bridge the gap of where Christianity is currently, and where it should be going. To some extent, Christianity should apologize for some of its atrocities, but more importantly, there is a need to address the evangelical aspect that destroys the culture of others. I'm all up for bringing people to God, but can we do it without destroying history, culture, and society? I think so :) Thanks for your post!

  4. Jan,
    Great post. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I agree that we find Oneness by experiencing the divine...but in doing so we should expect that we will enevitably be changed. I also agree with Jon to some extent. We Christians need to repent and move toward reconciliation with one another and with others. The University Project here at Claremont does call for the "golden rule" approach to other religions. We need learn from one another. God is so much more than our boxes will hold!

  5. Jan, I share your sense that we are now rediscovering something that was a part of Jesus' presence and ministry, but something that was lost or obscured in the subsequent age. Yours is a very optimistic post; it suggests that "theology after Google" may involve significant retrieval, and not just a new fad... -- Philip Clayton