Cynthia Bourgeault's Wisdom Jesus


Published on

Published in: Spiritual
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Cynthia Bourgeault's Wisdom Jesus

  1. 1. Shalom Place CommunityCynthia Bourgeaults "The Wisdom Jesus"This topic can be found at: January 2012, 03:32 PMPhilCynthia Bourgeaults "The Wisdom Jesus"Ive only read the first three chapters of this book and dontknow that Ill finish it, and so am posting my notes on itbelow. As you can see, I have some misgivings and am mostlynot enjoying the book.The Christian church has always recognized the wisdom andmystical dimension of Jesuss teachings, which is why they arein our bible. The mistake Bourgeault makes is to considerJesus as primarily a wisdom teacher who came to show us how tobecome as he is through contemplative practices that get usout of our dualistic Ego and established in the nondual (thatword!!!) knowing of the heart. Her Jesus seems to be nodifferent from us, ontologically, even in his relationshipwith the Father. The soteriological dimension of Christscoming and how we are re-connected with God in and through hisdeath, resurrection and gift of the Spirit are minimized, ifnot mocked, in places. So Ive no need to continue readingthis, even though she is very good in places. When I think ofwhat this book might have been . . . Frowner--------My notes: quotes from the book are followed by my comments inparenthases.Chapter One:Re. Thomas: ". . . now largely accepted as an authenticteaching of Jesus."(Largely? Regardless of its dating, its pretty clear that itwasnt one of the "in" books, if it was much known at all.)Re. Jesus and introducing him as a wisdom teacher and why thisis important: " . . . because most of us think we knowsomething about this Jesus already. We dont all agree on whatwe know, of course."(We do know something about Jesus already, and I object tothis implication that there is somehow widespread disagreementabout him. The Christian churches agree on much more than theydisagree about. I object, too, to the subtle insinuation thatshe will somehow, in her book, give us the real deal.)Re. beliefs: "Its the primary way that we approach ourteacher, through what we believe about him."(Belief is more a backdrop, for most, and the common approachis through worship, prayer, and Scripture study. Still,beliefs are important, and bad beliefs are especially harmful 1
  2. 2. to oneself and the world.)Re. Jesus: ". . . Ive been reaffirmed in my sense that Jesuscame first and foremost as a teacher of the path of innertransformation."(Thats not really why Christianity arose as a world religion.Jesus wisdom teaching seemed to be less important after theresurrection than Jesus himself as the way, truth and life.During his life, he was also much sought after as a healer,too, and seemed to spend as much time healing as teaching.Indeed, it seems that Jesus saw himself as the good shepherd,who came to seek and save those who were lost. They are foundthrough his acceptance and loving embrace.)Chapter Two:Re. Christians meditating a la cp and Christian meditation:"For the first four centuries of Christian experience, this isthe way it was done, Christians connected with their livingMaster present in their hearts (the name for this practice wasanamnesis.)"(I dont think the early Christians did cp or anything likethat. There seemed to be more encounter through liturgy,charismatic prayer, verbal prayer.)Re. Pauline writings and Pauls character (written in a spiritof dismissing his emphasis on soteriology): "Privately he wasclearly worried that something in his being was dark anddamaged (he mentions this from time to time in his epistles)."(We do not know that this was Pauls experience prior to hisconversion. Its certainly not apparent that this influencedhis theology. In addition to his soteriological perspective,which is also to be found among other New Testament writersand the early Fathers.)Re. the Eastern Christians emphasizing sophiology more thansoteriology: "The Christians of the East saw things radicallydifferently. Theirs was not a soteriology, but a sophiology."(Actually they do have a very strong soteriology, believing inthe fall, Original Sin, salvation through the cross, etc.)"A sophiological Christianity focuses on the path. Itemphasizes how Jesus is like us, how what he did in himself issomething we are also called to do in ourselves. By contrast,soteriology tends to emphasize how Jesus is different fromus--"begotten, not made," belonging to a higher order ofbeing--and hence uniquely positioned as our mediator."(This can surely be both/and, and I do think the New Testamentand Fathers emphasize soteriology more. Theres very littlefrom these sources suggesting that "what he did in himself issomething we are called to do in ourselves," not without hisgifts of Sacramental presence and Holy Spirit.)"From the Gospel of Thomas and the Nag Hammadi collection ingeneral, from the Syriac liturgies, from the African desertfathers and mothers, from Celtic poetry and Chinese Jesus 2
  3. 3. sutras the same sophiological message emerges. Yes, saysJesus, as I am, you, too, can and must become. I will be hereto help you. But you must do the work yourself."(I object to this whole idea of considering these sources ason the same level as the Gospels and writings of the fathers.There is, here, too, a kind of Pelagianism at work.)"Gnosis is a perfectly acceptable New Testament word: theapostle Paul uses it repeatedly to describe the intimateexperience of knowing and being known in Christ."(Yes indeed! There is a strong mystical under-current inPauls writing. Good that she recognizes this. Obviously,then, Pauls soteriology and mysticism can co-exist. But shehas just dissed Pauls emphasis on soteriology!)(Re. Jesus teachings not being prophetic.) "His message wasnot one of repentance and return to the covenant. Rather, hestayed close to the perennial ground of wisdom: thetransformation of human consciousness."(Jesus certainly did preach repentance, metanoia. Repentanceand transformation go hand-in-hand. For Jesus, metanoia had amoral dimension as well -- a turning away from a life of sin.)Chapter ThreeBegins with a story about a "well-known Souther Baptisttheologian" who stated ("in a broad Texas drawl" no less) thathis whole Sunday school training could be summarized as:"Jesus is nice, and he wants us to be nice, too."(Umm, was he talking to little kids? Is this supposed to be acomment on Southern Baptist beliefs, which I know to be muchmeatier. Listen to sermons by Charles Stanley or Adrian Rogerson the net if you have time; theyre very good. Makes a nicefoil for this chapter.)"One of the most important books to appear in recent years iscalled "Putting on the Mind of Christ," by a man named JimMarion. . . ."(JB reviewed this book briefly awhile back and found seriousproblems with it. I tried reading it years ago and couldntget very far as it was a kind of Wilberian version ofChristianity. Jim Marion and I also had an extensivediscussion on this board about his book, "Death of the MythicGod." See my review of it on There are seriousproblems with his approach, but it does resonate with CBsneo-gnostic spirituality.)"While he (Jesus) does indeed claim that the Father and I areone (John 10:30)--a statement so blasphemous to Jewish earsthat it nearly gets him stoned--he does not see this as anexclusive privilege but something shared by all human beings."(In the same sense that Jesus and the Father are one in Being?Thats not been the Churchs understanding. We are not onewith the Father in the same manner as Jesus was.)"There is no separation between humans and God because of this 3
  4. 4. mutual interabiding which expresses the indivisible reality ofdivine love."(This sentence follows the above and is a good description ofa person living by the Spirit, as was Jesus, of course, but itobfuscates the ontological meaning of Jesuss "the Father andI are One.")"Love your neighbor as yourself--as a continuation of yourvery own being. Its a complete seeing that your neighbor isyou. There are not two individuals out there, one seeking tobetter herself at the price of the other, or to extend charityto the other; there are simply two cells of the one greatLife."(Well, at least there are "two" cells. But its sheer nonsenseto say that there are no individuals, or that love is arecognition of my neighbor "as" myself. That might be a kindof empathy or compassion, but love thoroughly recognizes andappreciates the other as "other," not as some extension ofme.)(Re. her section on the Ego as dualistic operating system. Onegets the impression that she considers this some huge mistake-- an evolutionary error, perhaps, but definitely aninfliction.)"There is no small self, no egoic being, no thing thatsseparated from everything else that has insides and outsides,that has experiences. All these impressions are simply afunction of an operating system that has to divide the worldup into bits and pieces in order to perceive it."(So why, then, would God and nature inflict such an illusorymechanism on the human race? Of course, she is correct in thatthe Ego is not an absolute center of reality, and is embeddedin the Self and intended to function as the agent of Self-actualization. Its perceptions of separate things are notillusory except insofar as it fails to conceptually orattentionally understand them as parts of an interdependentwhole, and this is indeed a problem. But the problem is notthe perception of duality so much as the failure to perceivethe broader web of existence. It is our false selfconditioning that prevents us from doing so, and theconsequent interior shame, fear and resentment that locks usin on ourselves. )"His (Jesuss) whole mission can fundamentally be seen astrying to push, ease, shock, and wheedle people beyond thelimited analytic intellect of their egoic operating systeminto the vast realm of mind where they will discover theresources they need to live in fearlessness, coherence, andcompassion--or in other words, as true human beings."(Well-said, but the means by which He accomplishes this is notso much by encouraging contemplative practice that we mightbecome as he is so much as by bringing us into his ownconsciousness through the gift of the Spirit. Thats what thegood news is about, and is why Christianity spread throughoutthe world.)This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil, 08 January 4
  5. 5. 2012 04:48 PM08 January 2012, 04:20 PMDerekThanks, Phil. You saved me $9.99! I dont think Id enjoy thebook, either. From what youve told us, she likes to makebroad claims ("now largely accepted," "this is the way it wasdone") based on selective use of evidence followed byunwarranted generalizations.Lets just take one point. I looked up what Maurice Casey(Jesus of Nazareth: An independent historians account of hislife and teaching ) had to say about the Gospel of Thomas. Herelegates it to an appendix of his book on the grounds thatits of little use to the historian trying to reconstruct thehistorical Jesus. He concludes that it grew over time,beginning with authentic sayings of Jesus, but thenincorporating material suggestive of second-century SyriacChristianity. Thats a long way from CBs assertion that theGospel of Thomas is "now largely accepted as an authenticteaching of Jesus." quote: Originally posted by Phil: When I think of what this book might have been . . .FrownerYes indeed.08 January 2012, 09:27 PMShashaPhil,I watched a video clip interview with C.B. She talked aboutJesus being special insofar as he was enlightened to theone-ness consciousness, like you and me can be thoughthat was his big gift to the world.Sounded much like Tolle, et al non-dualists.Pah--L-E-E-E-Z!09 January 2012, 07:13 AMDerek quote: Originally posted by Shasha: I watched a video clip interview with C.B. She talkedabout Jesus being special insofar as he was enlightened tothe one-ness consciousness, like you and me can be too...asthough that was his big gift to the world.Did you mean this one, Shasha? (Fast forward to 1341" to getto the relevant bit.)09 January 2012, 09:06 AM 5
  6. 6. ShashaYou nailed it, Derek! Thats exactly the piece I was referringto.What she is suggesting is that finding the "Divine" is findingnon-dual consciousness, as presumably she has. Here we goagain...!(Of course, reading her books directly is more important tounderstanding her full take, but my eyes cant handle too muchreading so I resort to video/ audio teachings.)Notice the hostess of the show ends with pitting the realteachings of Jesus, as an enlightened master, against thetraumatizing destructive Church created later. CBsteachings seem to set up this kind of conclusion, mostunfortunately!09 January 2012, 09:58 AMPhilHey, nice work embedding that video clip, Derek. SmilerI dont know that you can draw too much of a conclusion abouther approach from that clip, however. Jesus surely was anenlightened teacher, as she noted, and probably the first thatpart of the world had seen. But what does this mean,especially when the term "nonduality" is used to characterizehis enlightenment? There can be no doubt that his primaryfocus was on doing the will of the Father, and that hisspirituality was deeply influenced by Jewish theism.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil, 09 January2012 02:12 PM10 January 2012, 10:11 PMjohnboy.philotheaSo many, both East & West, tend to get epistemology wrong (permy take on things, anyway). So, in recent years, when I gospelunking for spiritual treasures, I have learned to wear ahermeneutical hard hat to avoid gouging my empirical/logicalhead on erroneous propositional stalactites and thickexistential boots to avoid stubbing my Gospel-ready toes onheterodox axiological stalagmites.Human value-realizations, in general, and where religion isconcerned, especially, are not primarily realized throughexercises like formal propositional logic and conceptual map-making. This means that, if we get one or more premises wrong,all value will not be lost and our edifice of faith will notcome tumbling down (such as from the removal of somefoundational epistemic cornerstone).Instead, our realization of values is much more informal, alot more like a simple combination of love and common sense,which grows from our actively engaged participatoryimaginations. These imaginations are like our hometownknowledge, something we know backward and forward but cannotalways easily articulate, for example, such as when we try invain to help some out of town visitor with directions. 6
  7. 7. This is why we can so often find ourselves positivelyresonating with others evaluative posits, with theirpractical approaches, with their moral sentiments, with theirspiritual aspirations, with their social inclinations, withtheir cultural affinities, with their aesthetic sensibilitiesand even with their political prescriptions, only tootherwise, even perhaps much later, discover that we differprofoundly regarding their religious apologetics!Because both life, in general, and religion, in particular,are far more common sensical, pragmatic and existential thanformally logical, our religious argument will be grounded inwhat I like to call an existential disjunctive or a livingas if and its so-called philosophy will best be expressedthrough a life well-lived and much less so through anyconceptual formulations. This is to suggest that it makes alot more sense when it comes to religion to, as the clichegoes, do as I do and not as I say because, the fact of thematter is, I have found very few people who can offer a fullycoherent apologetic for their deepest existential orientationseven though I have encountered very many who are, otherwiseand apparently, living lives so very lovingly, so very well!It is precisely because of our immersion in dualistic thinkingand problem-solving that we provide such miserablyreductionistic accounts of the richly textured, heavenly-contoured depth dimensions of our unfathomable humanexperience as imago Dei! Only story-telling, lyrics, song andkoan can even begin to convey the full participatoryconstellation of human belonging, desiring, behaving andbelieving! Whether encountering another in person or as anauthor, then, I am very much interested in what manner ofcommunity they participate, what constellation of desires,practices and beliefs they gaze at, all of this taken as awhole, and find that this will always be much more informativeregarding my discernment of their actual existentialorientation than any particular practice or belief of theirsotherwise considered out of context. (Concretely, for example,do they practice the sacraments? value Eucharist? engageliturgical prayer? kataphatic devotion? communal discernment?pray the Credo? value science, philosophy & culture? live themoral life? affirm community?) This is not to diminish anyerrors of theirs that I might encounter but it is to suggestthat it is worthwhile investigating whether or not that erroris located in their existential living out of the mystery or,rather, in their inartful accounting of same. This is also tosuggest that there is a wealth of wisdom to be mined from ourencounters with others of all traditions.A lot of names have been mentioned along with Bourgeaults -Rohr, Keating, Barnhart, Marion, Roberts, Panikkar, Tolle,Wilber and others. Im not going to wholesale endorse ordefend anyones entire approach but will critique one elementat a time. Consistent with what I have said above, though, Ican tell you that I have mined GREAT VALUE from these authors,some more than others, some less. I have found, at times, 7
  8. 8. that, in some ways, certain authors get hypercritical of theWest while over-romanticizing the East. Many others do justthe opposite. Our first clues will ordinarily involve somefalse-dichotomy, either-or thinking, all or nothingapproaches, categorical dismissals or uncritical defenses.Another clue will involve failures of nuance, category errors,poor definitions, no disambiguations, talking past one anotherand such. Hence, the mission statement of my present thread atphilothea.netMy primary interest has been that of epistemology or how it isthat we know what it is that we imagine we know. For my part,I subscribe to an integral, holistic epistemology that aspiresto give each moment in every human value-realization movementits proper (not necessarily equal!) emphasis. Easier said thandone. Hence my suggested correction of Wilbers aq | al withmy aq | al | at or all quadrants | all levels | alt the time (kairos not chronos). This is also how we correct either anundue emphasis on either dualistic or nondual approaches. Butbeyond these concerns of epistemology, both properlyconsidered and properly articulated, there is MUCH torecommend, in my view, in the approach of those who pursueinter-faith and inter-religious dialogue and reconciliation. Iresonate with the overall thrust of these visionaries even asI offer my corrections (whether epistemological, metaphysicalor theological). These efforts are relatively new and thestate of the art is immature. It is important, then, that wegive everyone a fair hearing and the benefit of the doubt. Itis true enough that we must avoid any facile syncretism,insidious indifferentism or false irenicism. But it is equallytrue that we recognize and affirm the truth, beauty, goodnessand love found in others approaches, even while critiquingany errors, for there is but One Author and Gift-Giver, Wholavishes such gifts and does not hold back.To the point regarding Bourgeault, then, as I mentioned on theother thread, she does appear to present a false choicebetween soteriology and sophiology. But this isnt fatal for,while her critique of the sophiological tradition in the Westsomewhat misses its mark from a theoretical perspective (itsin our core teachings and tradition), it is, in my view,otherwise pretty much spot-on from a practical perspective (asper Merton, too many are being merely socialized, too fewfully engaging transformation). Personally, I am much lessinterested in the evidential questions and answers regardingJesus celibacy, whether drawn from exegetical interpretations(Bourgeault) or literal data-based descriptions (Brown), andmuch more interested in why anyone imagines that it wouldchange the meaning of Jesus life or overturn any essentialteachings of the apostolic tradition. Also, Bourgeault is NOTpresenting a false dichotomy between celibate and noncelibatespirituality but is clearly speaking to elements in ourtradition that have perversely over-emphasized the former. AsI wrote on my own thread: In the rather narrow issue underconsideration (i.e. the gender and sex part of the Jesus Path), our Christian faithful writ large have a pretty darned goodsense of how those realities should or should not be 8
  9. 9. approached when it comes to church disciplines, moraldoctrines and formative spiritualities. I find Bourgeaultscritique spot-on and her general sensibilities in that regardpositively refreshing! Again, whatever one may think of herimaginal interpretations regarding Mary Magdalene and Jesus,the far more important question is WHY does it rankle thisperson or that? Some have better objections than others, to besure, but there is no kidding ourselves regarding thedysfunction arising (and persisting) in manifold and multiformways regarding sex and gender in some elements of ourtradition?!!!My main point is, I reckon, that the values woven into thefabric of anyones spiritual, religious, theological &philosophical garments will not wholly unravel from a fewheterodox threads or pulls of propositional inconsistency;even though human beings do not always properly don theirformal epistemic attire, this does not mean that they willnecessarily also be axiologically naked.Bourgeault-related EXCERPTS from thread:For Bourgeault, both gnosis and sophia imply an integral,participational knowledge carried in ones entire being towardthe end of transformation of ones entire being. She pointsout that the Oneness that Jesus talks about is --- NOT thatoneness often implied in the Eastern sense regarding anequivalency of being (a robust intra-objective identity) but,rather --- that of mutual indwelling. Once more, the thrust isepistemic and not ontological as she teases out thedistinctions between those aspects of our consciousness thatdo or do not differentiate.As long as one engages transformation (which I broadlyconceive in terms of theology, Christology, pneumatology andhuman anthropology) integrally and holistically (along withsoteriology, ecclesiology & eschatology), as did Lonergan, forexample, that makes good sense to me. Discussions regardingover- and under-emphases can also be useful. It even helps todiscuss matters of primacy but we must take care to point outwhether we mean it in an ordinal or cardinal sense, in otherwords, does it indicate merely the first in a series or intime or first in importance or in value?There is likely a case that can always be made against this orthat approach to Christianity vis a vis matters of relativeemphasis. To the extent that sophiology, as inherentlyintegral and holistic, would include soteriology, it wouldmake little sense to me to ask which is more important. Whilea case CAN be made against many whove overemphasized both thesoteriological and epistemically dualistic, Bourgeaultsquestion, Savior or Life-Giver? and juxtaposition, soteriologyor sophiology?, DO present false dichotomies, in my view.Her explication of sophiology was helpful. To the extent thatfoils can be useful, the proper foil for her, as I see it,would have been this or that overemphasis on soteriology and 9
  10. 10. not, rather, soteriology per se. Also, in citing such anoveremphasis, it does seem that her indictment of the West wasmuch too broad. Within Western Christianity, there has existeda constant tradition of sophiological teaching, in the earlyfathers & mothers, in medieval doctors, mystics & mendicants,in esoteric and minority reports, in our religious orders andconsecrated vocations, in our saints and unheralded layanawim, in our contemplative and apostolic, cenobitic,monastic, eremitic and prophetic traditions. So, the coreteaching has always been there as have practical supports andapproaches to robustly transformative realizations. So, theindictment doesnt stick in that regard. On the other hand, asMerton observed and lamented, our churches have been much moreabout the mere tasks of socialization (part of the journey toauthenticity, to be sure) and much less effective, it seems,in fostering transformation (coming closer to completing thejourney vis a vis True Self realization and moving beyond themoral, social and practical to the robustly relational &intimate). In that regard, the indictment sticks fairly well?Witness the political polarization of our Christian country asso often grounded in shallow, fundamentalistic religiousapologetics.There is a difference in suggesting that "from the startChristianity has gotten the Jesus path slightly wrong" and inbelieving that "the apostolic tradition that emerged was adistortion of Jesus teaching and the meaning of his life?"that celibacy is an essential requirement of the ascetic pathbut not the kenotic path? As far as Jesus physical celibacyis concerned, Bourgeault is correct, we just dont know.And it helps to be clear when we say nondual whether we mean,as you said, nondual mystical experience or nondual epistemicapproach. Keating says that, when Christians hear identitythey best translate that as intimacy, consistent with whatBourgeault meant in her distinction between an equivalency ofbeing and an indwelling. Also, as Arraj pointed out, it is amistake to impose Western metaphysical concepts on Easternphenomenal experiences because the East isnt really doingontology; its more vague than all that. A nondual mysticismof the self gifts one with ascetical, practical & moral take-aways; it refers to neither metaphysical nor theologicalrealities, only to an impersonal, existential experience. Inother words, its religious but not theological; itsascetical, practical and moral but not metaphysical orcreedal. The inter-subjective union of the Christian traditionis actually prayer-related, as is mystical contemplation. Non-dual mysticism belongs to an entirely different category andwould not in any way be properly considered in competitionwith or as a substitute for anything taught by either thehistorical Jesus or our Jesus of faith. So, while one cancertainly ask what place such a meditative discipline may ormay not have had in the Gospels, I personally dont see howthe answer would provide us any normative theological take-aways or even practical ascetical insights.11 January 2012, 12:16 AM 10
  11. 11. johnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by Phil: "While he (Jesus) does indeed claim that the Father and Iare one (John 10:30)--a statement so blasphemous to Jewishears that it nearly gets him stoned--he does not see this asan exclusive privilege but something shared by all humanbeings." (In the same sense that Jesus and the Father are one inBeing? Thats not been the Churchs understanding. We are notone with the Father in the same manner as Jesus was.) "There is no separation between humans and God because ofthis mutual interabiding which expresses the indivisiblereality of divine love." (This sentence follows the above and is a good descriptionof a person living by the Spirit, as was Jesus, of course, butit obfuscates the ontological meaning of Jesuss "the Fatherand I are One.")While most of the Church Fathers did interpret that verse inan ontological sense, there are reasonable minority views thatreceived this verse moreso in terms of sharing a design orplan . It is doubtful any Jews, including Jesus, were doingmetaphysics, in general, much less using a substance ontologyof being/essence, in particular. This is not to deny thetraditions ontological affirmations, only to suggest thatthey neednt rest solely on this verse. Furthermore, if onechanges ones root metaphor to process, then newinterpretations arise, even of the concept being. To wit,check out Joe Brackens Process Philosophy and TrinitarianTheology. quote: The second theologian to be considered is Heribert Mühlen,a Roman Catholic who has published two works on the Trinity inrecent years: Der heilige Geist als Person and DieVeränderlichkeit Gottes als Horizont einer zukünftigenChristologie. Only the second will be considered here. Takingnote of the altered world-consciousness of human beings inthis century, according to which Being is to be understood instrictly interpersonal terms, Mühlen suggests, first of all,that the classical expression homoousios, as applied to theSon’s relationship to the Father, does not necessarily meanthat the Son is of the same substance as the Father but onlythat he is of equal being (gleichseiendlich) with the Father(VG 13). Accordingly, the way is now open to conceive thebeing of both the Father and the Son as the being or realityof a community. In fact, says Mühlen, Scripture itself impliesthat the union between Father and Son is not really a physicalunion within a single substance but rather a moral unionwithin a community (e.g., John 10:30: "The Father and I are 11
  12. 12. one"). Like Moltmann, Mühlen then presents the Spirit as thepersonified bond of love between the Father and the Son, whoat the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross is breathed forthupon the world to unite human beings with one another and withthe triune God (VG 23-24, 33-36).11 January 2012, 01:20 AMjohnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by Phil: Re. Jesus and introducing himas a wisdom teacher and why this is important: " . . . becausemost of us think we know something about this Jesus already.We dont all agree on what we know, of course." (We do know something about Jesus already, and I object tothis implication that there is somehow widespread disagreementabout him. The Christian churches agree on much more than theydisagree about. I object, too, to the subtle insinuation thatshe will somehow, in her book, give us the real deal.) Re. beliefs: "Its the primary way that we approach ourteacher, through what we believe about him." (Belief is more a backdrop, for most, and the commonapproach is through worship, prayer, and Scripture study.Still, beliefs are important, and bad beliefs are especiallyharmful to oneself and the world.) Re. Jesus: ". . . Ive been reaffirmed in my sense thatJesus came first and foremost as a teacher of the path ofinner transformation." (Thats not really why Christianity arose as a worldreligion. Jesus wisdom teaching seemed to be less importantafter the resurrection than Jesus himself as the way, truthand life. During his life, he was also much sought after as ahealer, too, and seemed to spend as much time healing asteaching. Indeed, it seems that Jesus saw himself as the goodshepherd, who came to seek and save those who were lost. Theyare found through his acceptance and loving embrace.)These are some good points. I will add another excerpt of minefrom our thread: quote: I resonate most with Luke Timothy Johnson and N.T. Wrightbut would not so narrowly categorize them as Jesus the Saviortheorists. I think they both very well articulate a much morerobustly integral Christology, as I tried to articulate,myself, in my opening post, where I offered a FivefoldChristology/Pneumatology : If we look through a Lukan prism,we might see a fivefold Christology, which recognizes thatChrist came to orient, sanctify, empower, heal and save us. AsLuke’s narrative continues in Acts, we see the Spiritcontinuing this divine work. 12
  13. 13. Considering Bourgeaults work as a whole, including herpriesthood, Im certain shed not object to your above-contextualization of belief.Your observation that bad beliefs are especially harmful tooneself and the world is certainly true but those bad beliefsdo differ in nature and of course present in degrees of harm.To your point, for example, Stanley Jaki made a compellingcase that science was stillborn in certain cultures! On theother hand, some disagreements regarding ascetical disciplinesand meditative practices and their practical implicationsremain unresolved and good peer reviewed research is needed.Since Centering Prayer keeps getting a mention, folks may wantto dig deeper. For example, Google the syntax: +"centeringprayer" +complementary and alternative medicine and seePastoral Psychology Volume 59, Number 3, 305-329, DOI:10.1007/s11089-009-0225-7. Other research is being done at theCalifornia Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, as wellas in chemotherapy settings, for depression relapseprevention, in post traumatic stress disorder and even usingbrain tomography. And Jim Arraj left us this gift.11 January 2012, 01:49 AMjohnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by PhilFrownerRe. Jesus teachings notbeing prophetic.) "His message was not one of repentance andreturn to the covenant. Rather, he stayed close to theperennial ground of wisdom: the transformation of humanconsciousness." (Jesus certainly did preach repentance, metanoia.Repentance and transformation go hand-in-hand. For Jesus,metanoia had a moral dimension as well -- a turning away froma life of sin.)But morality is not what differentiates the Christian brand inthe marketplace. It is not the value-added take-away above andbeyond the (old) covenant. The New Covenant is suitable tomoral ends, of course, but its concerns go beyond same. Jesusessentially value-added teachings werent moral, although Hedid not do away with the Old Covenant. But prophetic teachingis more broadly conceived to include testimony to thetestament , new or old, hence included the Good News regardingan even higher law, love. So, clearly, Jesus had a propheticrole and we are baptized priests, prophets and kings after ourHigh Priest, King of Kings and Jesus Ο προφητης!11 January 2012, 01:57 AMjohnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by Phil: (Re. her section on the Ego asdualistic operating system. One gets the impression that sheconsiders this some huge mistake -- an evolutionary error, 13
  14. 14. perhaps, but definitely an infliction.) "There is no small self, no egoic being, no thing thatsseparated from everything else that has insides and outsides,that has experiences. All these impressions are simply afunction of an operating system that has to divide the worldup into bits and pieces in order to perceive it." (So why, then, would God and nature inflict such anillusory mechanism on the human race? Of course, she iscorrect in that the Ego is not an absolute center of reality,and is embedded in the Self and intended to function as theagent of Self-actualization. Its perceptions of separatethings are not illusory except insofar as it fails toconceptually or attentionally understand them as parts of aninterdependent whole, and this is indeed a problem. But theproblem is not the perception of duality so much as thefailure to perceive the broader web of existence. It is ourfalse self conditioning that prevents us from doing so, andthe consequent interior shame, fear and resentment that locksus in on ourselves. )Talk about a great place to introduce our distinctions? God,self, ego, other, false self, inter-subjective intimacy,intra-objective identity and so on. At the same time, we dontreally want to turn this into a theodicy question? Why indeed,necessarily finite in principle, did we have to be so dangradically finite in so many ways?11 January 2012, 02:24 AMjohnboy.philothea quote: Originally posted by Phil: Re. the Eastern Christiansemphasizing sophiology more than soteriology: "The Christiansof the East saw things radically differently. Theirs was not asoteriology, but a sophiology." (Actually they do have a very strong soteriology,believing in the fall, Original Sin, salvation through thecross, etc.)Even within the West, soteriology is variously conceived suchas by minority reports in our tradition which did not see theIncarnation as being occasioned in response to some humanfelix culpa but, instead, built into the ontological cardsfrom the cosmic get-go. Not all would view Original Sin interms of some literal Fall or ontological rupture between usand God located in the past but as each persons experience ofthe consequences of their own personal sin plus the sins ofothers plus our radical finitude, which is caught up in ateleological striving oriented toward the future. Natural evilis experienced as part of the cosmic groaning in the great actof giving birth rather than as some punishment visited on usdue to our ancestors failings. The theodicy question, whichresults from too much onto-theology and trying to prove toomuch about Gods indeterminate nature and analogical 14
  15. 15. attributes , gets transformed for us Scotists into What are wegoing to do about it? How are we going to respond? What returnshall we make? from the age-old preoccupation with Why so muchsuffering if God is all powerful and all good and all knowing?It is that last poorly-conceived question that gave rise toall the metaphysical speculation and theological machinationand substitutionary atonement models. This view of soteriologyis, in fact, one major locus for the difference between East &West. quote: Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholicism have asubstantively different soteriology; this is sometimes citedas the core difference between Eastern and WesternChristianity. Salvation is not seen as legal release, buttransformation of the human nature itself in the Son taking onhuman nature. In contrast to other forms of Christianity, theOrthodox tend to use the word "expiation" with regard to whatis accomplished in the sacrificial act. In Orthodox theology,expiation is an act of offering that seeks to change the onemaking the offering. The Greek word that is translated bothinto propitiation and expiation is "hilasmos" which means "tomake acceptable and enable one to draw close to God". Thus theOrthodox emphasis would be that Christ died, not to appease anangry and vindictive Father, or to avert the wrath of God, butto change people so that they may become more like God (seeTheosis ). [33] 15