JC and I – a journey with Christ and Beyond

The other day a friend’s daughter asked if I was a Christian. I explained (in words suitable for an intelligent seven year old) that though I worshipped and communed with Christ I did not call myself a Christian, as I felt my relationship with Him was not deep enough. My friend, who knows me very well, empathically interjected – she thought I was indeed a Christian.

It was an odd and unexpected touching moment. Christ and I have danced a very strange dance over the years and to be called a Christian moved me deeply for some reason. As a wee lad in Scotland I was denied the opportunity of Sunday school and thus I developed my own idiosyncratic understanding of Christian religion. This could explain a lot 🙂

Christianity, as no one needs telling, is a very mixed bag and often a very big problem. No one sensible can deny the vast amount of abuse and suffering engendered in the name of Christ or the Churches. Also, many of the tenants of exoteric Christianity range from, on the good side, ‘unskilful presentations of eternal truths’ right over to ‘you want me to believe what?”

For example, on the outer level Christianity starts with a requirement of faith. Most Churches would agree that Christianity is the religion centred on the teachings and life of JC as contained within the New Testament. However, JC’s teachings and the later words about Him/them in the Bible are all based on the assumption that God actually exists. If one does not share this assumption or has had an experience that may be labelled as or stemming from “God”, Christianity leaves one high and dry.

And this is just God, let alone the rest of it: Jesus as the only son of God, the Holy Spirit, sin etc.

Compare this for example, with the starting point of Buddhism, which basically says:

“(1) existence itself, your life, is suffering, (2) yours and everyone’s suffering is caused by wanting things, (3) the end of suffering comes about with the cessation of wanting things, (4) the way to cease wanting is X…dot…dot…dot.”

These are simple, direct teachings that exist on their own, that can be tested and found true or wanting by anyone, without reference to another article of faith, an older Testament, the assumed existence of God etc.

For these and for many, many other reasons I have never formally committed myself to a Church. No matter how I try and swallow it, the exoteric Christian pill will not go down. And these are some of the reasons why, in a post-faith secular society, Christianity continues to crumble whilst Buddhism continues to climb.

However, the western esoteric tradition is essentially Christian in form, feeling and function. There is no other way of cutting it, and for all the Pagans out there, I am sorry, but this is the way it is. The Romans won and they destroyed most European pagan religions as they expanded their Empire(s). Exoteric Christianity came a little later, moved in and made Europe its home. Goodbye Paganism.

There were virtually no Pagan survivals of substance. There were no hidden Witch meetings or Pagans giving each other the nod in Church before scooting home to an evening of hidden celebrations and rustic sex under the hedgerow. We only have to look at the English Reformation and the acts of Henry VIII to see how quickly the religious fabric of a nation can be altered and virtually erased when the supreme authority decides to ‘make it so’.

The bedrock of western consciousness, mysticism and esotericism has for centuries been Christian. Early in my esoteric life I denied this truth, identifying as Pagan. However, as I moved through the esoteric path I, like millions of others focused on Christ and not the religion.

So for many years my relationship with Christ was private and not very deep, and I still cringed when discussing religion with most Christians; we were just not in the same book, let alone the same page. However, in 1992 I was invited to present at a weekend camp on the work of activist, Witch and all around good woman, Starhawk. The camp was run by the Creation Spirituality Network and here I met Christians who were on the same page; some in fact were in the same sentence and more Pagan than the Pagans I knew 🙂

Creation Spirituality has flowered due to the work of Fr Matthew Fox, whose vision of Christianity is so different to what is bandied around in most Churches and schools we can hardly call it the same religion. Naturally this has led to a little friction between Matthew and the Churches. He was investigated for heresy by the now Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger (none was found) and eventually, as he says “given a pink slip by the Pope”. I won’t go into his vision and ideas here; if you’ve not read his books, please do, especially Original Blessing.

So through Creation Spirituality, though the network never held any Christian events, JC and I became a lot closer.

Matthew though, for all his greatness and brilliance, is a visionary, a dreamer, and inspirer of practice, not a teacher of mystical experience. For this I had the good fortune a few years later to come across the works of Neil Douglas-Klotz, particularly his work on the Aramaic Jesus. Now here was something that resonated and drew from the same sources as the western esoteric traditions, that was in essence a modern version of them.

Neil is a mystic, a writer, a dancer, an embodied teacher of the Blessings of the One. If you have not delved into his work, again, please do. If you ever get a chance to Dance the Lord’s Prayer as composed by Neil, you must take it. When we helped to host Neil on his first trip to Perth in the mid 90’s I gained a deep and lasting appreciation of the mystical roots of the Western traditions and their focus through Jesus. My relationship with Him changed, expanded and is still receiving the blessings of that contact with the living Aramaic tradition of Christ.

Having established a deep and mystical connection with Christ my esoteric unfoldment naturally expanded considerably: after all the Inner Order of the Golden Dawn is a Christian Order. Secure in my connection, I ventured out into the real flesh and blood world of Churches.

There is probably not much to say here that has not already been said. One of the saddest moments was my attendance at lunchtime communions at St George’s Anglican Cathedral in Perth. Israel Regardie once complained how his Adept initiation was ruined by an officer reading out the ritual like a shopping list, without feeling or energy. That is good compared to how the Priest and Deacon doled out the Body and Blood of Christ. The liturgy was rushed through, spoken as fast a possible with an obvious desire to get it over with. There was no reverence, no love, and no presence of Christ. I am amazed they continue to bother.

However, the Anglican Communion lived up to its reputation in providing extremes within the same Church. I once attended the most glorious and profound experimental Eucharist with Rev Evan Pederick, consuming the Blessed Sacrament to strains of the Eurthymics, The Miracle of Love, which is of course what it is all about.

However, in my cynical moments I am still with that anonymous Bishop who once said that the only good thing about being Anglican was that it didn’t interfere with your religion or your politics.

For a number of years I attended regularly at the Liberal Catholic Church in Perth. Wishing to partake of full sacramental communion, and not wishing to be Confirmed, my options were very limited and the LCC allows anyone who seeks the Blessing of Christ to take communion with them. I enjoyed my time there, the services being very varied. Mostly I attended the small spoken services held early mornings by Fr David. These were very simple, very touching and full of the presence of Christ, due largely to the faith, prayers, inner work and love of Fr David and the few members of the community who attended.

Now the LCC is a particularly funny beast, started largely by and for Theosophists. You can read all about it on the net of course. What I found interesting was the continuing reverence given to one of their former presiding Bishops, C.W. Leadbeater. He was spoken about with utmost veneration and never once was it doubted he was saintly, noble, honest and completely accurate in all his clairvoyant visions. This is despite ample evidence and proof that he was active sexually with young boys under his charge, likely to have been engaged in homosexual sex magic and woefully inaccurate in his predictions and descriptions of the inner side of matter (for example see the Elder Brother). I stopped attending the Church after Fr David left, as it was very hollow without him.

Outside of my little temple the tension between modern esotericism and Christianity is very noticeable. Many contemporary magicians are anti Christian not in any overt Satanic way, but mostly as a reaction to the perceived wrongs of Christianity both on a personal and social level (and as for the Pagans…). Sadly, there is a lot of this reactive force in the western esoteric traditions (and as for the Pagan paths…)

One personal example: there is a brilliant Golden Dawn ritual, the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram which is one of the most effective daily practices in the Western tradition. Over the years I have seen many lives changed, healed and enlarged through this ritual. It is however based on the Jewish and Christian mysteries. Every time I teach it, there is at least one person who has a problem with it, either with asking for Archangelic blessings or the form of the Cross or even saying ‘Amen’ (some Pagans use Aum or ‘Amenti’ – to so avoid staining their precious lips, I guess).

This resistance has resulted in the creation of many ‘Pagan’ lesser pentagram rituals most of which are as near to ritual rubbish as you can get, as they totally miss the point that it is through connection with the Jewish and Christian mysteries the ritual works. Those people who, despite initial problems with Christianity, engage in this ritual often also find their religious outlook broadening and their reactive issues with Christianity falling away. Such is the love of Christ, even for those who don’t actually like Him:)

Esoteric Christianity itself however poses a number of problems. Mostly these centre on the exclusivity of the Christian Revelation. Take for example the point of view espoused by Fr Greg Tillett in his New Age or Old Faith. Now Greg probably has forgotten more about western esotericism and occultism than I know and is reported to hold several magical lineages. However, for him the Christian message is simple:

“Christianity makes a number of exclusive claims: it does not represent itself as one religion among many, as simply a better alternative, let alone an equal option. Jesus declared: No man comes to the Father except by me. One can accept or reject that claim, but the claim is clear and unambiguous.”

What is the non-Christian to do with that? However much I admire the boldness of the statement it remains an issue of concern.

Gareth Knight, one of the wisest Christian magicians around simply declares that Christianity is the best religion, not the only true one, just the best revelation. He is of course comparing Christianity only with other revelations…(as for the Pagans…). Naturally we all think our system is the best (or equal with the best); otherwise we would do something else.

Some Christian occultists go the other way, relegating Christ to another Master among many, but remaining focused on Him as a personal preference.

My own way out of this impasse was found years back when reading about a guy visiting William Blake (don’t ask me for a reference, this was when I was 17 or so, and I remember only this). This guy, a committed Christian, tried to ‘trap’ William by asking straight out if he accepted Jesus Christ as the only Son of God. To which William replied, “Oh, definitely He is. But, then so are you, and so am I”.

This reality, this eternal truth, can only be experienced not discussed. The best and most direct way I know of is extensive meditation on this phrase from St Bonaventure, used in Christian based Golden Dawn Orders the world over:

“God is the circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”.

This meditation also holds the key, along with the Holy Qabalah for the reconciliation of Theistic esotericism such as esoteric Christianity, monist esoteric schools and non-theistic esoteric Buddhism like the Vajrayana. Through this reconciliation Christ is, was and always shall be, and like all, is empty of intrinsic existence. Again experience only here and I am blessed to have received teachings, Christian and Tantric, to help me slowly and stumblingly gain this experience. This mystery is, of course, present in the Eucharist instituted by Christ Himself and re-enacted every day throughout the world 🙂

9 comments

  1. David · May 12, 2008

    “Oh, definitely He is. But, then so are you, and so am I”.
    That has to be the most profound and helpful statement concerning Christs affirmation. Cheers for the read :D, its lit up a few darkened rooms for me :D.

  2. Asher Fryer · May 14, 2008

    I’d really like to make a few points, but it’s late at the moment, so I’ll leave them to later. I would like to say that the ‘problem’ or one of the main issues is the fact that not only do people experience different aspects, but different stages, and from different aspects of Traditions, and that not all those traditions agree….in other words, gentlemen, define your terms. What is Christianity?

    The fact is that only a Christian can tell you that. No one outside of Christ, who doesn’t know what this means, can legitimately comment on the essence of Christianity. But again, what is Christianity? What is the source, criteria, and rule of correct experience? Is it the Bible, plus Tradition? Personal revelation? Mystical experience? Rationality? A combination? The Pope?

    Everyone seems to have an opinion on Christ, and so few have actually met him. I mean this not as a ‘soul’ based idea, an emotional mystical ‘relationship’, but the reality of the death, atonement and resurrection of Christ, and the future kingdom of God. Christianity is NOT primarily (though it includes such things) a mystical ‘tradition’. It is in fact the END of all of these things, and their rebirth in the new world. All the WET and ‘pagan’ reconstructions are doomed, and this is easily established without reference to Christianity. I might add that the ‘exoteric’, and in fact seriously hybrid and compromised versions of Christianity are too.

    How can one justify this? Again, only a Christian can say so. What this means is that, putting aside the debate on criteria, let us assume the following: that only a true member, fully furnished and rooted in Christ, has the right and ability to do so (cf. Thomas Aquinas on Confirmation) This will remain frustrating to those who in arrogance or ignorance remain ‘outside’. God sent his only son: not all will accept. Who do they reject? Themselves. As Christ said, I came not to judge. But the Holy Spirit will do so. Christianity does include, of course, authority, tradition, art, culture, destiny, philosophy, magic, etc but these things are in fact accumulations. The history of the Church is in fact rife with the tension and conflict of the body of Christ in the world.

    The main point I am making is that you cannot hope to find an answer to Christianity, its being and relationship to all outside religions, from an OUTSIDE perspective. You will never truly know if you do not submit to the conditions of Christ, which are in fact not hard or irrational.

    More later…

  3. Peregrin · May 15, 2008

    Thanks for the comments 🙂

    Asher, I look forward to more. There are some immediate questions I want to ask, but will wait until your next comment in case you answer them there. Thanks for the input 🙂

    peregrin

  4. Asher Fryer · May 15, 2008

    Hi Peregrin,
    I’d like to thank you for your description of your personal relationship with Christ. I like it’s balance and honesty. I don’t want to respond to it negatively, because I appreciate this forum. However, there are some things I think are definitely important to note. I hope they answer the questions you were thinking of.

    My Position
    First of all, my own position is, unfortunately, far from being entirely defined in my own mind, due to certain unavoidable conflicts in finding my way back to Christ in this lifetime, with the new challenges of both the modern world and apocalyptic times we live in. However, I can say that I am basically firmly in the camp of Orthodox and Traditional Christianity, appreciating the points of view of genuinely scriptural Protestantism, Orthodox Mysticism and Art, and Liturgical, Sacramental and Hierarchical tradition of the Roman Catholics. I personally have had a very anti-Catholic upbringing, but through my own searching, have come to a completely different point of view. At this point, I’m not an active member officially of any Church. However, I do consider myself a Christian, and in agreement with virtually all of their doctrines, etc. This is both an intellectual and a deeply rooted spirituality which I find both natural and something I have had to fight to uncover. I’m saying all this to put my comments in perspective, and ‘draw a line’ for honesty’s sake. 🙂

    Defining Christianity
    I’d first like to say that the problem of just what Christianity is is not something that cannot be solved, once preliminary criteria are established. Probably one of the main reasons people get put off Christianity, apart from scandalous behaviour of false or immature Christians, is the doctrinal-practical-liturgical issues. I put it like this because they are all intrincately entwined, as the Romans say, Lex orandi lex credendi. The main problem here is quite simply Heresy. Almost every aspect of Christianity is able to be distorted, put out of balance, misunderstood, marginalised or exaggerated. Each sect, confession and tradition does this. Hence the need for an authority and a tradition which is able and justifed to properly unify, understand and teach, and most of all, the Protection and Guidance of the Holy Spirit, this being one of His main ‘responsibilities’. The direction to which this takes one is obvious, if one is honest enough about the need for and inescapability of past experiences, tradition, history, lineage, baggage (!) and the blessing of inheritance. The more a ‘stream’ moves away from this, the harder it is to justify its Christian credentials. It does need to be in communion with Christ. The Vatican II council had some vital points to make in this direction, especially the idea of people who were not Catholic who could be called Christian. The idea implied, at one level, is that the Holy Spirit works with all peoples, and develops them, calls them. This is, in fact, a very old and well established idea, going right back to Genesis and the OT. The main problem in our ‘western’ society is that Protestantism, which is the main carrier of Christianity to our society, has either split into sects, fundamentalists, or wishy washy liberals, all of whom are in danger of losing their way, misguiding and misrepresenting Christ, and downright apostasy. I might add that I think these things are very serious, and only those who deny the spirit or have no experience of it could take it lightly. These are, in fact, things that affect billions of people over thousands of years.

    Buddhism
    You move onto Buddhism and claim that they are in fact easy and simple teachings to verify. I don’t deny this, but like most things, require a pioneer to break through in the collective spirit of mankind in order to enable a door to open for further development. Having said that, Buddhism is actually extremely difficult in its true form, an elite, aryan establishment, and not for commoners, peasants, wordly folk, middle class type, idealists, tyrants or dreamers. It is an elite ‘occupation’, likened by Buddha himself to a virile, warrior type, of active overcoming of the human condition. For a long time only true aryan race bearers of the highest stratum, and definitely not women, were excluded. What Buddhism has become is no different to Christianity, with all its changes, inclucivism, popular forms, and civilisational creation. People often, and with little understanding, claim that it is more open than Christianity. This is utter rubbish. Christianity has always been open to the widest type of people, right from the very beginning, and this was its purpose, all nations being blessed within it. In fact, this was partly the reason it was persecuted. Buddhism was very different, and took a lot longer to develop in this direction, partially from the time and place and race it hailed from, and partly for its reformatory character. The spirit moves, but the flesh (vehicle) is slow. Furthermore, the Four Noble Truths were actually not something you simply ‘came to’, but where part of a much longer journey, a revelation in fact, something that had to be PREPARED for. The experience of one’s mortality, of anicca, and ‘the waters’ of dissolution are not something even 95% of the world are ready for, and Buddhism was well aware of this. Most people today do not come to Buddhism, in its popular western form, and its traditional eastern form, in the way that Buddha did. This is reserved for the Monks, who are in fact the ‘true’ Buddhists, to which other members aspire to. They are ‘equal’ in the sense that one is a higher stage of another.

    I take exception to the idea that Christianity is all ‘on faith’ and unable to be tested. Most would disagree with you. Christianity is always put forward as experiental, and strongly encouraged to be tested, studied, and really gone into. My point before is just that: most people criticise from a distance. It simply is not possible to be a Christian in an abstract, detached way. You do not judge Christianity, you come to be judged, in every sense and level. Simple as that. What is more, there is nothing ‘assumed’ about God, history, the bible, etc. There are multitudes of volumes on evidence, should one seriously wish to enquire, both religious and secular, proving otherwise. In fact, most people’s lives and minds are unconsciously informed by the truths of Christian revelation, hence the absurdity, and not a little schizophrenia when they deny it. I think this is partially the reason they are so at odds with it. It is not just ‘culture’ or nurture. But freewill is paramount. But then again, so are consequences, and Christianity, God and the Bible never promise unlimited time. In fact, just the opposite: people everywhere are called to repent, turn away from the devolutionary path they are on, and find the truth, their true, yet hidden, hearts desire. Time is now, and yet is running out. Why is this? Because Christ is not a subjective belief, an absurd idea of a post-Cartesian and relativistic idol worshipping secular world, but a cosmic fact, destined expressly to provide exactly what the human race will need now, and in the immediate future.

    I’d like to say that there is no such thing, to my mind, as Christ without religion. Why? Because Christ IS religion, he is the Religion of all religions, the most explicit revelation of truth ever. The main reason people deny this is not because of a rigorous, life encompassing search after truth, but because of false philosophies, wordly appetites, pesonal subjectivity, and most of all, the depth and grandeur of the vista opening up to them is literally too large to be able to be swallowed. Hence the necessity of regular Eucharist. But that is another story! People thus turn it into whatever they like. This is heresy, and blasphemy. It is condemned by God, the Bible and Christ himself, and thus proves the idolatry of those who would create an image to their fancy. But again: time will tell.

    Finally, I have to say, that the answer is not outside of Christ in a futile, though well motivated search for substance, but to go deeper. Matthew Fox et al are actually quite exoteric. It never ceases to amaze me how people condemn Christianity, then go off and try to find it in some other form. The problem is not necessarily the vehicle (ie: the Church). It is Christ himself. He is the rock which causes offence, and this is strongly emphasised in scripture. This is natural, given human conditioning, the conditions of the war that the Church Militans finds itself in. But it is hardly surprising. One must ask: why do people seek and seek, and when the answer is given, they don’t want it? Do they want something secondary? Or do they like to seek eternally? Or are they simply insincere? Possibly all, or others. The whole point of Christianity is in Christ’s exclusive, total, absolute fulfilling of all of man’s needs and desires, the past, and the future. This is not, I might add, a mystical idea that is found in all other religions, unles it is in the personal, subjective realm, though entirely legitimate. Christianity is NOT an exo-eso religion, though it can be both to whatever ‘stage’ you are at (cf. Frithjof Schuon on this). The truth is that Christianity is actually final, but progressive. As Steiner puts it, we have not yet begun to truly understand it. The best is yet to come. Again, another story, but first things first! 🙂

    I have to say that neither the Anglican nor Liberal Catholic Church are genuinely Orthodox, especially the latter, and in the former, too much infighting, splits, and political corruption and origin has clearly left its mark. On the other hand, genuinely Anglicanism is a vital part of Christianity, with a rich heritage and important part to play today (for example, Grail Christianity, Celtic Christianity, and British-Israel, an movement whose time has yet to come I suspect). Christianity is not a ‘science of the sacraments’, a form of one size fits all white magic, and despite the good intentions and important part played by the LCC, I sincerely disagree that it is in fact entirely of Christ. As David used to say, “we pick up the dregs, scraps”, or something to that effect. Certainly not uncharitable, but not necessarily Christian (remember Christ’s damning words about dogs, dregs, swine, etc?)

    Pagans and Friends
    To be honest, I think that resistance to a word of power like ‘Amen’ shows very little understanding, and not a little bad conscience. Sure, we can get upset by seeming to agree with things that have hurt us in the past, but a word such as this, and all it entails, is so much larger and purer than people admit. The Church has a lot of Karma to carry. But this is the unfair standard people beat it with, and conveniently ignore the same in other pagan religions. Christ did not come to make people perfect all at once. This does not justify those who claim higher standards, of course, but it should be realised people come to Christ precisely because they have flaws, not because its an elitist club of perfectionists.

    Gareth Knight is in fact correct. Christianity is ‘the best’, on whatever level you choose to give. I don’t think any other religion really has been able to achieve what it has, and rightly so, given its author. But this is the important thing to understand: the times are here now when nothing that is not in true communion with Christ will survive. The powers that rule this age are quite real, and easily established to my mind as existing. Through my own path, I have established the vital and, from a spiritual and future destiny point of view, inescapable importance of the work of Christ. I don’t deny the work of others. I just know they do not work with the same issues, and promise the same outcomes, or satisfy the truly human requirements to the same degree. At this point, I’ll state that my main sources of ennlightenment in this area are not in fact mystical Christianity (eg: Boehme, Lectorium Rosicrucianum, ‘Great White Brotherhood’, though they are all brethren) but Anthroposophy. I won’t go into that here, it is not entirely appropriate as it is still a work in progress. However, I will say that this particular ‘angle’ is more than adequate to provide real and modern insight into the extraordinary relevance of Christianity today. I would like to mention some works though:
    1.The Principle of Spiritual Economy (Steiner)
    2.The new spirituality and the Christ experience of the Twentieth Century (Steiner)
    3.Christ and AntiChrist (Tradowsky)
    4.The Encounter with Evil and its overcoming through spiritual science (Prokofieff)
    Of course there are many more, but these are probably essential as an outline.

    Finally, in regards to your ‘key’ that links theistic and monistic points of view, I would have to say that this is true, but only in one respect, and that is to the ‘sphere’ of the Father. Christians accept the nature of God in Christ as Trinitarian, and such comparisons, though surprisingly accurate, are way out of their league when it comes to the reality and implications of both the Incarnation and the work of the Holy Spirit. I say this while being well aware of the idea of ‘Christ consciousness’ and the Holy Spirit working in creation, Kundalini, and other such ideas. I don’t necessarily deny them, but these ideas still exist outside the specific core realities and doctrines that go to make up ‘the truth once delivered unto the saints’.

    Conclusion
    Christianity is a living creation, and the sole stewards of it are those who are communion in SPIRIT and TRUTH with Christ. Specifically, there are many orders, but the term and idea of ‘the saints’ is well established in my mind as being fundamental. However, there are other sanctioned terms, such as Melchizedekan priesthood, Great White Brotherhood, Israel, etc. I would say that to the extent they affirm the literal, cosmic, sacramental, historical, mystical and spiritual scientific reality and PRIORITY of Christ, they are in Christ. What is more, the reality of the Kingdom of God as present and coming is vital to understand and accept, or to be precise, prepare for.

    Thanks for listening!

  5. caspian · May 18, 2008

    Good journal, Peregrin. I agree with most statements here, but can’t help but think that I’m probably one of those people that in many cases is not even “reading the same book” as you are 😛

    Anyway, I was going to post some arguments/comments here but Mr. Asher has pretty much summed everything up a lot more eloquently then I ever could. Kudos to you, good sir.

  6. Peregrin · May 19, 2008

    Hi there Asher, Caspian and everyone.

    Asher, thanks for your expansive and informative response to the post. Just few points of my own – not dealing with the whole of your comments, much of which I agree with.

    I have no problems with negative responses to posts; I am accustomed to dealing with the immaturity of magicians, witches and pagans, which you could not match, so go for it 

    I am yet to be convinced by scripture, prophecy, myth or simply looking around me (which is the strongest point) that we are actually in apocalyptic times. To make this assumption – which many faiths and traditions do not even have a concept of – is one of worldviews I was referring to that many Christians (and others) create and build a whole platform of belief and theology upon.

    Buddhism. My comments on Buddhism and Christianity refer to the form that is available now to contemporary westerners. I have not enough history to comment on the points you make. My point is only that to the average secular layperson, who has not any self-defined experience of divinity, investigation by the Buddhist principles or similar appear easier than investigation by opening oneself to the presence of Christ, who I know is always there. The main problem however, is the detritus promoted by ‘immature Christians’ that surrounds the Christian message.

    I agree Christianity is experiential. My point is that unless one has an experience, and is raised in this secular (basically anti-divine) culture, one cannot easily be opened to the Christian message via its teachings – largely based on that wonderous mass of scripture we call the Bible. I have seen this in many secular people – they look for something to grasp onto, something to test. Christianity often fails in providing this other than in providing (1) scripture (2) teaching based on scripture, (3) personal experiences via anecdotes of Christians, (4) or a call to faith.

    The volumes of evidence you mention are not always useful for a person seeking to have the experience of the divine. They are not an experience, only a record of some. They do not provide a simple self referential test that does not first rely on the existence of God and Christ.

    Please if I am wrong tell me. Give me the URL of a Christian website that gives a simple teaching leads on to the experience of Christ without faith, the Bible or an assumption that Christ/God exists.

    The Liberal Catholic Church. I agree with your statements, mostly, and if I had to align myself with any Christian tradition it would be one of the Eastern Orthodoxies. The LCC provided a structure and a vehicle for myself through its services, that is all.

    However, with respect, I do think there is a problem with labelling some Churches as not fully ‘of Christ’ and at the same time declaring Christianity ‘the best’. This, in the hands of unwise folk, leads to so many Churches believing they alone are the ones to be saved. This belief is also a hidden dogma in many Churches that are outwardly more inclusive. I am not clear from what you say if you yourself think that only certain of the people calling themselves Christians will in fact ‘be saved’ or reap the reward of the correct cleaving to Christ, and the rest of us…will not… or will…? … well Hell is always there as an option, eh ?

    For the unwise (which I am sure you, Asher are not), the ultimate outcome of this kind of thinking is depicted in that old joke about the Quaker couple. The old Quaker gentleman is shaking his head at the state of the world and says to his wife, “All the world is mad, but me and thee” He pauses for a while and continues, “…and sometimes I wonder about thee!”

    Maybe it’s just the unenlightened part of me, but I am always nervous when someone who is raised in a Christian culture or church declares Christianity the best religion, as I am when a Buddhist does the same. For me, it would be like me declaring English as the ‘best’ language. Or male as the best sex. Or white as the best race. Or heterosexuality as the best sexuality. Whatever “I am” I do not, cannot assume, to be best as that is what my ego naturally wants to believe.

    Also, logically…why? If Christianity is the best, why would I be so lucky to be surrounded by it, and not an atheist communist, a Thai girl, an Apacahe 800 years ago? How do I deserve this, and they not? All religions are about connecting with mystery, just as languages are about communication. I cannot find it in me to somehow label one as ‘the best’ and if I did, I just could not choose the one I was raised in.

    That said to continue to use the language analogy; there are forms of English which are degenerations, corruptions that serve limited purposes – like SMS shortcuts, which I deplore being used out of their original context. Similarly, I believe there are corruptions of spirituality that serve the lower ego concerns of founders and adherents. However, I do not class any of the great faiths as these – though all obviously have their own corruptions within them.

    Thanks for all the thoughts…great thinking about it all 

    PS: as for the Pagans…

  7. Asher Fryer · May 29, 2008

    Hi Peregrin,
    this is a quick reply but I hope it makes sense. I place my thoughts after you comments for clarity.

    Hi there Asher, Caspian and everyone.
    Asher, thanks for your expansive and informative response to the post. Just few points of my own – not dealing with the whole of your comments, much of which I agree with.
    I have no problems with negative responses to posts; I am accustomed to dealing with the immaturity of magicians, witches and pagans, which you could not match, so go for it 
    I am yet to be convinced by scripture, prophecy, myth or simply looking around me (which is the strongest point) that we are actually in apocalyptic times. To make this assumption – which many faiths and traditions do not even have a concept of – is one of worldviews I was referring to that many Christians (and others) create and build a whole platform of belief and theology upon.

    My Answer
    There are many reasons to think that we are in an apocalyptic time, both in its negative, destructive sense, and in its revealing, illuminating sense. This can be seen from secular evidence such as crime, mental health, changes in culture and values, destruction of environment, nature, virtue, true traditions, false ideologies, etc. From a scriptural and/or traditional perspective, you can add demonic forces, false idols, anti-God ideas, splits and divisions within mankind, nature, etc. All the main religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Aryan, Hindu, Northern-Tuetonic, and quite a few of those who are not) have elements and direct doctrines which affirm this. Christianity is absolutely right to build a platform upon this idea: it is true. It is very clear also that those who do not seek, do not find, and are thereby self deceived and “perishing” with the degenerative last cycles of this age.

    Buddhism. My comments on Buddhism and Christianity refer to the form that is available now to contemporary westerners. I have not enough history to comment on the points you make. My point is only that to the average secular layperson, who has not any self-defined experience of divinity, investigation by the Buddhist principles or similar appear easier than investigation by opening oneself to the presence of Christ, who I know is always there. The main problem however, is the detritus promoted by ‘immature Christians’ that surrounds the Christian message.

    My Answer
    The Average secular layperson still has access to a huge amount of cultural and educational resources, from which to work from. There are countless stories of people learning from one element in their life, art, science, education, career etc which lead them to God. As for ‘self defined’ experience of divinity, there is no such thing for two reasons: (1) at the early stages, people do not have the maturity nor experience nor learning to do such a thing, and this idea is clearly found in your own Mystery tradition (2) Divinity is not carved up by our mind, all traditions and disciplines move in the opposite direction: allowing God to define him/her/itself to us, constantly growing into such a thing, never presuming to keep God in a box. Investingation of Buddhist principles are actually much harder than investigation of sin. Sin is obvious, but Buddhism presupposes a great deal of discipline, searching and ideas about reality that are not only not self evident (they are OCCULT) but engender a real inner battle and resistence to actually receiving and experiencing them. Hence the need for preparation. Furthermore, Buddhism relies on an Eastern idea of reality and cosmos which is horribly watered down and corrupted in the west, the new age movement being a typical case of false buddhism. Again, it seems obvious for the most part that people in the west who are raised with an unconscious link to much that is Christian, should first of all turn to their own resources, which in my opinion is not only the wise thing to do, but also easier and just as ‘justified’ as turning outside. The riches of Christ are much greater than Buddhism. This is not to say that I disagree with a healthy interest and respect for other traditions, providing they are still pure.
    Finally, to say that “Christ is always there” is a problem to my mind. First of all, I don’t agree that what you are referring to is necessarily Christ, as your position vis a vis Christianity is at odds with its revealed content and significance, and secondly, because you cannot logically presume to say such a thing without some education regarding it. Even if Christ is there for all, he is not necessarily visible to our dusty and cluttered lives/mind. Your position is, philosophically speaking, “begging the question”.

    I agree Christianity is experiential. My point is that unless one has an experience, and is raised in this secular (basically anti-divine) culture, one cannot easily be opened to the Christian message via its teachings – largely based on that wonderous mass of scripture we call the Bible. I have seen this in many secular people – they look for something to grasp onto, something to test. Christianity often fails in providing this other than in providing (1) scripture (2) teaching based on scripture, (3) personal experiences via anecdotes of Christians, (4) or a call to faith.

    My Answer
    I disagree. History disagrees. How else are you to be opened to Christianity without its teachings? Even if Christ, God, Mary, a Saint or Archangel or any being worked within your life, clarification and wisdom would require a sincere opening of His Word, and this would reveal an absolute necessity for hearing, studying and obeying its requirements. Moreover, the Bible is a divine book, absolutely unified (one) and not a ‘mass’. There is nothing human about it, despite the barrage of false accusations ‘higher criticism’ (completely devoid of learning, real experience, and spiritual wisdom) and secular arrogance have launched at it. The nature of the Bible’s evidence, cosmology, symbols, wisdom, prophecy, history, expericnes, insight, etc are undeniably of God. Of course, to prove this to oneself one would have to go into it, and I admit this is not easy. But neither is initiation in the Golden Dawn…or anything worthwhile. I fail to understand your stance regarding an experience of Christianity ‘other’ than through its main, proven and divinely ordained and legitimate channels. This is justified in all other traditions, religions and initiatic orders, not to mention all secular arts and sciences, why not here?Finally, these elements you mention (faith, anecdotes, etc) are vital, necessary and genuinely human, part of a vast array of signposts and learning curves, depending on what you are looking into. Faith will always be a combination of learning, tradition, justified communal tradition, authority and collective experience, personal intimate pilgrimage and direct intstigation and education through the Holy Spirit, for those God works with. Again, these legitimate ways are found in other religions and secular pursuits.

    The volumes of evidence you mention are not always useful for a person seeking to have the experience of the divine. They are not an experience, only a record of some. They do not provide a simple self referential test that does not first rely on the existence of God and Christ.

    My Answer
    First of all, the experience of the Divine is not a given, except at a level we are usually unconscious of. Volumes of evidence could just as easily be substituted for a long and fruitful development of feeling, thought and will in a spiritual, contemplative and artistic manner. These are not the only aspects of course. The point is that these volumes are part of it all, and not the only way to prove something. What is more, those personal accounts and collective accounts and divine relations ARE an experience, and if honest and insightful and true, provide a massive aid in the way for candidates for baptism. These ‘volumes’ are to be found in areas least thought of as Christian as well, such as science, art, philosophy, history, and alien cultures. Finally, in terms of Revelation, these records are eternal, transcending past, present and future, and are in fact a mirror of enlightenment for our own often confused ideas about ourselves, which experiences to gain and seek, and their meaning. They are not simply a dry record, and only an inactive faith and outsider (aka non-initiated) view could consider them as such.
    As for first relying on the existence of God, there are many ways to prove that to oneself, from a simple voice of conscience to the elegance of the ontological argument. However, I think you will find it hard to prove that Buddhism, or any other way, doesn’t also presume, assume and grant many experiences, ideas, etc that at first might seem wrong, alien or unproven. Buddhism in particular has a whole range of cosmology and symbols that are clearly not simply for the curious onlooker, but only for the serious seeker, and assumes a certain state of mind and position which could only be called ‘given’. Just as the Christian relies upon (whether through upbringing, seeking or revelation) the existence of God, so does the Buddhist rely upon the necessity of using the mind, of the nature of the universe, of the whole manifest realm of Hinduism that Buddha assumed and was taught. There is no difference.

    Please if I am wrong tell me. Give me the URL of a Christian website that gives a simple teaching leads on to the experience of Christ without faith, the Bible or an assumption that Christ/God exists.

    My Answer
    None such exist that are orthodox. You are asking for an impossibility, like a bath without getting wet. The false versions of Christianity that claim as much are not Christian, and bring no fruits that true Christianity does. They simply are not the same thing.

    However, with respect, I do think there is a problem with labelling some Churches as not fully ‘of Christ’ and at the same time declaring Christianity ‘the best’. This, in the hands of unwise folk, leads to so many Churches believing they alone are the ones to be saved. This belief is also a hidden dogma in many Churches that are outwardly more inclusive. I am not clear from what you say if you yourself think that only certain of the people calling themselves Christians will in fact ‘be saved’ or reap the reward of the correct cleaving to Christ, and the rest of us…will not… or will…? … well Hell is always there as an option, eh ?

    My Answer
    IN other words, you think it unwise to have a mindset that discerns between right and wrong, good and bad, and true and false. This is not wisdom! I find it hard to believe you can deny this reality to Christianity that we would use in virtually every day things, in all manner of ways. What is more, the fact that something can be misused is no argument against it, and if you know you Christianity and Buddhism, this sort of thinking (the argument that no none would believe or understand, that it would cause more misery than liberation) is precisely what both Christ and the Buddha had to overcome in their respective temptations and tests.
    In terms of what I think, both from the Bible, reality, experience and contemplation, I think it obvious that many people will remain, for what period of time I don’t know exactly, in illusion, sin, death, slavery (mental, spiritual and material) and will actually fight against Christ and God, as they are now. This is not hard to imagine. Will they go to Hell? In the sense that Hell (actually Gehinnom in Hebrew and Gehenna in Greek) mean a dung pile, a place of rotting refuse, on the cosmic garbage heap of recycling, yes they will. This is found both in normal experience in the natural, and with people’s lives, as well as firmly stated in Scripture, and most Eastern relgions I can think of, including Theosophy (ie: the end result of black magic, the recycling of the Monad, the lost soul, etc).

    For the unwise (which I am sure you, Asher are not), the ultimate outcome of this kind of thinking is depicted in that old joke about the Quaker couple. The old Quaker gentleman is shaking his head at the state of the world and says to his wife, “All the world is mad, but me and thee” He pauses for a while and continues, “…and sometimes I wonder about thee!”

    My Answer
    Don’t be too quick! I’m much more of a fool most of the time. 🙂 I like the story about a couple who were being introduced to Heaven and its celestial streets and buildings, and at the end of the road they were told to tiptoe past a grey, curtain’s drawn building. “Shhhh” said the angel, “that’s the (insert denomination)…they think they’re the only one’s here”. heh-heh!

    Maybe it’s just the unenlightened part of me, but I am always nervous when someone who is raised in a Christian culture or church declares Christianity the best religion, as I am when a Buddhist does the same. For me, it would be like me declaring English as the ‘best’ language. Or male as the best sex. Or white as the best race. Or heterosexuality as the best sexuality. Whatever “I am” I do not, cannot assume, to be best as that is what my ego naturally wants to believe.

    My Answer
    For sure, ego is a problem. But again, the truth is the truth. It wouldn’t make a different to the reality and existence of the truth if egotistical people exist. God doesn’t cease to exist because we misrepresent him. What is more, the assumption that people applaud the religion of their birth, although logical and fairly easily proven, is not always the case, and far from true in a growing number of cases today, due to the pressures and criticisms of the surrounding world. As far as maturity, quality, heritage, lineage, symbolic depth and openess to transcendence, there is a good case for affirming the superiority of many traditions, languages, and cultures over others. I don’t care for PC or supposed racism, which is more a case of denial than standing for justice in many cases. Australian white people are far more cultured, intelligent and godly than any Australian aboriginal, a European has access to greater traditions, history and accomplisments than an African, and so on. There is nothing racist about this, though it is potentially so. It is important to affirm truth and higher things even if they cause offence to our communist, secular, and left wing brethren (may their heads by struck from their shoulders, :). Oh, and regarding heterosexuality, yes it is the best sexuality. It is the most natural, the one ordained by God, and in terms of one of its main purposes, reproduction, is OBVIOUSLY superior to any other perversions of such a holy act. Finally, you seem to be assuming a lot to think that any affirmation of the ego is necessarily wrong, something I suspect comes from your eastern understanding of the ego. The ego, even in its wounded state, is still the highest creation of God, it is the child of God, creation of the Logos, and lamb of God. Without it, no truth exists, no life, no relationship, nothing. I don’t know what the Buddha was aiming at, but it is a blatent absurdity and contradiction to think he was aiming at destruction of the ego. I understand him and those traditions to be seeking either a transcendental self, a ‘selfless’ self, (which is very Christian also) and/or a being which is prebirth. Christianity however, both due to its pioneering form in the Israelites, its western movement and destiny (referring to the hardening and physicalisation of the ego) and its promise of an earthly paradise, and resurrection of the Flesh, salvation of the Soul, and emphasis on personal relationships, has a very profound, foundational and intimate understanding of the Self as real and beloved, something to be cherished and developed on all levels. The point of all this is that for the ego to assume and affirm something is, in its naturally good state (to the degree it hasn’t been harmed) actually an act of truth, and necessarily correct. Good instincts, conscience, and intuition are all entwined with the ego. It is simply doing it an injustice to presume it is NECESSARILY wrong because it is an ego. If you mean the fallen, wounded, isolated and proud ego, well then, one would be correct, but one also would be incorrect and guilty of ideological blindness if one assumed that all people are like this. This is a typical modernist and socialist error, seeing only what they are themselves, and then undermining it, their own position, and causing more trouble. They simply have no understanding that not all people are the same, and not all people are people, as they understand it.

    Also, logically…why? If Christianity is the best, why would I be so lucky to be surrounded by it, and not an atheist communist, a Thai girl, an Apacahe 800 years ago? How do I deserve this, and they not? All religions are about connecting with mystery, just as languages are about communication. I cannot find it in me to somehow label one as ‘the best’ and if I did, I just could not choose the one I was raised in.

    My Answer
    Of course, I would have to be a prophet, exact clairvoyant or something else to explain why someone is in their life, but I see no reason to doubt destiny, reincarnation and karma as fruitful areas to explore. I don’t see there is any real problem in assigning people to races and traditions, for not only do most have access to much that is enough for a lifetime, but given the right motives and persistance, you can reach out further, and guidance from higher powers is always available. I have faith in the order of things. Getting back to the argument, first of all, these traditions (Apache, Thai, etc) are all part of the one truth, and have a lot to go on; secondly we are all part of a race, time, culture, and must work within it, and do our bit, find our place, and this is normally not impossible for most; thirdly, environment is pressure, not necessarily fate; fourthly, Christianity is not a given, or an ATM. Whether you are in it by birth or not, and I might note, just like all Initiations, you only at best have the potential. You must do something more. Christianity is an opportunity at the beginning; fifthly, the times and seasons God’s plan works with are all intricate and work according to his pleasure, and given a bit of study of such things it is not hard to see why our small complaints are way out of their depths; sixthly, a very good reason people are born into their time and place is that we are all part of a particular point of development; those who have developed further will either go further up their specific arrangements and opportunity or go somewhere else; seventhly, to a degree, we are all slaves of fate, time and chance. This is a price of freedom, and a challenge to our survival and stimulus in many areas. I believe all things lead to Christ (on different levels) and thus both in an individual’s life and the life and destiny of nations, they come to Christ. Finally, if it is a legitimate question to ask why one is in a certain environment, one can also ask why not? And one can also simply feel grateful for such a magnificant opportunity. I don’t believe in beating the privelaged simply because they are so, unless they misuse it. That is simply subversive communism and hatred of mankind, quality, lineage, nobility and heritage. In a word, it is Misanthropic. Privelage is their to be lived up to, not denied and attacked as if it is something unjustified. The myopic view of a mass driven ideology is not reality, and cuts at the branch it sits on I’m afraid. We all have our place, to a degree, and this is for our safety and growth as much as it is a test and challenge. There is nothing random about it, as any true spiritual seeker will find on their own journey.

  8. incompleteinfinity · April 11, 2009

    Father David did you say…. from the Liberal Catholic Community Church??? What a lovely man! I met him about 16 years ago (if it’s the same one you mentioned) at Murdoch uni…. around the time the Sunday Times ran a sordid story on him hoping to sell a few more papers that weekend! I met him in one of my theology classess and gave him a lift somewhere the very Friday before the media tried to (and may well have done) destroy him! He was the most lovely man…. and someone who just had a sense and presence that he cared about PEOPLE!

  9. Peregrin · April 12, 2009

    Hi, yes the same man, and I agree completely with your estimation 🙂

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