Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Satan and Redemption

As I start to jot down a few thoughts on this post, I feel it is imperative to bring a thought to light: Many Christians (and non-Christians) these days reject the very concept of a Hell, and as such-it would make sense to reject the existence of a Satan.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: I identify as a Christian Universalist, whereas I believe all may find themselves in full unity and communion with God, who is the Holy Light, despite how they live their lives on this "fragile planet Earth, our Island Home" to quote a line from Eucharistic Prayer C of the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Now for some-this may seem to be all tuff fluff, very sugarcoated-and padded, yet for those who were brought up in a traditional brand of Christianity, there may be some specific implications to work out. Specifically:

If all may be redeemed, where does that leave Satan, the master of the fires of Hell?

(Rendition of Satan, from Dante's Inferno)

It is a firm belief of mine that if one believes that God is Love, and Power, and Truth, and Light- that surely, if ones conscious causes us to believe in any sort of hellfire-be that temporary or otherwise (I am against the otherwise firmly, but that's besides the point), that Satan surely will come back into the Holy Land of Light, casting aside the darkness, anger, and hellfire-to fully embrace God as a Child of the Holy Light.

Some may think: Why would The Evil One leave behind the role that is already filled by him? The answer is: Because all will be redeemed and enter the gates of Heaven, including himself. The God of Love, Power, Truth, Light-would never want to condemn any of creation to an eternal state of pain, torture, and outcast-God wants to hold all of creation in embrace, in the warm, compassionate, venerable hands of The Divine. Hellfire may be seen as a purification process-if ones conscious has any use for hellfire at all-to bring one to a greater sense of purity, to then enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

All of Gods creation-was made by God-at the explicit will of God-out of the sheer volume of Love that is expressed from divinity throughout the entirety of creation. There is no need to fear, there is no reason to be afraid, for you are loved-you, and each and every one of God's creations are a Child of the Holy Light.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Alternate Christianity? What is that?

I am often asked by others, whether they are friends, coworkers, family, etc-what exactly "are you"? (They are asking this in reflection of my religion, which can be quite similar yet different from what they are used to hearing/seeing). I could spend half a year discussing different labels that one might apply to me, though recently I have taken to occasionally taking on the umbrella term of "Alternative Christianity". So, what on earth might that be?

A side note: In my observations,  I have not seen this term used extensively before, as simple as it might seem. Does this mean I am seeking to pioneer something? Of course not! 

I tend to label "Alternative Christianity" as the vast and wide spectrum of those who identify (at least relatively) Christian, while being fully inclusive of beliefs and practices which would be found outside of mainline Christian tradition, be it due to simple inconsistencies, all the way to labels as heresy. While it is physically impossible to discuss every single piece of theology and practice that would fall into this vast umbrella term, I will attempt to delve into a few. It should be noted that every individual will not agree with everything found under this umbrella term, and that some may feel certain items should not even belong here.

1. Universalism


Universalism, or "Universal Reconciliation" is the belief that all will be reconciled to God. In more simply terms-we all go to Heaven! There are many different interpretations of this, some stating that this would be all thanks to the atonement through Christ, others less satisfyingly stating "Thats just the way it is". Some adherents of Universalism will tell you that there is no Physical Hell, while others will tell you Hell is a temporary state, a purification process. Universalism has for years-been represented within major Christian denominations by a small minority, and is slowly-becoming more accceptable by a handful of more Left-minded leaders in the Church.

2. No Atonement


Not always clearly visible from the surface, there are many who will reject the concept that Jesus of Nazareth died upon The True Cross to atone for the failures of humanity. Signs of this may be the leaning away from crucifixes in a Catholic-minded setting, the absence of certain words during the celebration of The Holy Eucharist, To some, negating the atonement in the equation of faith can severely alter their faith, while to others it may be a simple change and a modification of a few words.

3. Divine Feminine


Observance of a feminine personality within Christianity is a very touchy subject to some. The Triune God is theologically genderless, yet often due to tradition this is overruled by a masculine observance, due to male dominance in the ruling ages of Christianity, and perhaps the prevalence of female deities within Paganism.

Arguably, the more common of practices dealing with Divine Femininity would be to make alterations to liturgies and devotions involving "God the Father" to sound with a more feminine tone, such as "God the Mother" or more generalize "God the Creator". However, some go beyond this in a different direction.

Those who fall upon the spectrum of Gnosticism will often invoke Sophia, a feminine manifestation of Divine Wisdom, in their practices, worship and lives. The outlook of Sophia can have various interpretations: Sometimes being the female aspects/personality of God of the Trinity, sometimes representing The Holy Spirit, sometimes being a separate deity in Her own right. Regardless of interpretation, Divine Feminine is not only frowned upon, it is often seen as direct blasphemy to those who one might call part of the "far right-wing" on the theological spectrum.

4. Syncretism


Syncretism is the merging or incorporation of some variety of elements of one faith or culture into that of another. A prominent example of this would be the practicing of Buddhist meditation, alongside a Christ-centered lifestyle. Less-widespread would be the observance and practice of forms and/or elements of Paganism-especially Wicca within a Chrstian framework.

Syncreticism often receives its fair share of criticism from all sides involved in the balance, with the most common point to be made is that different faiths are incompatible with one another.

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Adherents of various forms and principles of what could be called "Alternative Christianity" should never be viewed as non-Christian. As God loves all of creation, so should we love one another, striving to be ever-inclusive and compassionate towards one another, open to each others personal interpretations and life choices. Religion, Christian or not, is a path one embarks on through culture, faith, personal convictions, and especially discernment. Whether one identifies as an Anglo-Catholic, Traditionalist Gnostic, Esoteric Christian, Liberal Catholic, ChristoPagan, or any other variety of labels-we are all children of The Light of the Universe, ever united in the same Eternal Love that has existed from the dawn of time.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Christianity: Too stable, too comfortable

---------------Warning: My writings on The Christian Church are of my own personal opinion, and are likely to offend the sensitive of mind. Viewer discretion is advised.---------------


On the day of Pentecost, the Apostles were waiting for something to happen, for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them. They did not know when this would happen, they did not know WHAT would happen, as a result, all they had was the word of their Master, who rose into Heaven just 10 days earlier. That day finally came, and we all know the story-The Holy Spirit descends, in a noise we can only describe as like wind, and dwelled there in the hearts of the faithful. From there, they left the Cenacle, went forth into the world, baptizing all nations in the name of The Father, and of The Son, and of The Holy Spirit.

The Church moved forward. Guided by The Holy Spirit, many came to the faith, they became members of the Church Universal. However, the faith was not super-stable, many martyrs were made, all in defense of the discipleship of Jesus Christ. This all changed when it became "politically-correct" to be a Christian, an occurrence often attributed to Constantine the Great, the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. 

So, that is enough of tidbit history. Christianity becomes more acceptable. Eventually, it becomes what many critics of The Church in its current form (myself included) like to call it: "institutionalized". What the ecclesiastical-uninformed know as being "different religions", it is quite clear that there is much more in common from denomination to denomination, jurisdiction to jurisdiction, church to church. What is the need for separation? I like to point a finger, and push partial blame on Constantine himself. A Christian is a Christian, it matters not whether you are Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Non-denominational, more Esoteric/Alternative, or anything in between.

Within the majority of "first world countries", Christianity has a heavy political status, be it blatantly visible, or veiled behind promises such as "separation of church and state". I believe that politicalism has become a tenet to the mass majority of leaders within the Christian faith. There seems to be too much of an emphasis on the preservation of our glorious cathedrals, a false belief that a parish is a building, rather than the body of faithful that it encompasses. Let us not forget that often times, clergy are looked at by both their parishioners and the public-as having some sort of special "social status", rather than being teachers of their faith. (To view my personal idea of the ordained ministry, particularly within a sacramental concept, read here.

Christianity has become a very normative product, legislation that is being pushed by its supporters, both clergy and lay. To be a member of a Christian Church provides a security that is most often not available to those of other faiths. It is more socially acceptable to affirm a Christ-centered life, as opposed to following the ways of the Jewish, Muslim, Buudhist, or some other faith. Is this not a form of oppression? Is this not religious favoritism? This is all coming from one rather unorthodox person of the faith, so please keep that in mind.

It is this individuals opinion that Christianity has overstepped its boundaries in the life of the world, it has become more of a political force, rather than a band of disciples of the faith and works of Jesus Christ. We should all take a step back, look at what we really do week-to-week: If the faith is to survive the test of time, the growing indifference toward religion and spirituality-we must put a much smaller emphasis in the material possessions of faith. Money, status, standing, buildings, walls, gold, silver, statues-these are not instrumental to the faith. I cannot number how many times I have seen "Is that allowed?" or "Is that Okay?" or "Is this valid?" to observance of Christian rituals such as baptism, Holy Eucharist, etc-outside of a traditional church building environment. These buildings will not always be here, yet the sacraments are everlasting. To this I say: Have Holy Eucharist outside! Celebrate a Baptism in a river! Pray everywhere, all the time-not just for an hour on Saturdays/Sundays!

As previously said, this is all my own opinion, and most will not agree with me. We are all called to be witnesses of Christ out in the world, to bear testament to Our Lord. This surely is not an experience that is meant to be done in an air conditioned, spacious, controlled environment. Take the faith, serve the Lord, in all manners and ways of life.



Friday, June 20, 2014

A different view on the sacrament of Holy Orders!

The post below is originally from a closed-forum/community I posted on. Due to my proudness of the though I put behind this simple critique, I have decided to share it here. The post begins below.

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I am going to begin this post by pointing out: For anyone who hasn't figured it out yet, I am NOT Orthodox in many ways, a sort of opinion/idea I will present within this post will provide a porthole in how some of my ideas are "out there" in the opinions of many.

So, in the Church Universal, the mass-differing views of Christendom, we have a good amount of different views on offices of ministry. No matter where you go, there will of course be the laity. Yet, we have the occasions where there is the traditional "threefold ministry" observed, there is the "Twofold", and occasionally a single order.

One of my more favorite theological views of the ordained ministry is not the view, outlook of my own, but it influences "My crazy heretical ideas"= The tradition of those of the Latter Day Saints movement. They believe that all apostolic succession was lost and that all of Christendom fell into a state of Great Apostasy during the early church. As a result, the priesthood was lost until it was restored by their prophet, Joseph Smith Jr. The offices the LDS folks ordain their faithful to range based on the denomination and time period, but all usually include a list of 9 or 11 specific ones.

Now, here is an aspect I find strangely...attractive: Most Men (And women in the Community of Christ, the liberal denomination) are ordained to these offices. I actually do not know the theological reasoning for this, yet an understanding my non-mormon theology finds is that perhaps it is because it is a belief that all are called to be holders of Christ's priesthood, to bear a priestly witness throughout life. This is of course in their definition, by the way they do things. All Mormon clergy are non-stipendiary, and being ordained to a certain office does not mean you are necessarily being ordained to serve in a specific leadership position.

(Here it comes)



What if we, Christians who followed a traditional threefold ministry model of deacons, priests, and bishops, followed a similar practice/teaching? And similarly, what stopped us from developing our model of ministry on such a platform, a platform of an open and free priesthood, in a similar model as those of this movement? ( Besides the vastly different theology). A couple of reasons I would argue for such a thing as a "free priesthood" would be:

1. As Christians, many of us affirm that we are called to revolve our lives around The Holy Eucharist. With a free priesthood, the availability of the Most Holy Sacrament would be much more widespread.

2. A free priesthood eliminates a mindset that is found in SOME congregations (particularly what one MAY experience growing up in Rome), that your Pastor is a better person than you, and is able to talk to God better than anyone else, that they have an "in" that you can not have. In some ways, clericalism.

3. Know all those situations where sacraments (such as Holy Unction in nursing homes and shut-ins) are not available because the pastor may be too busy, or otherwise unwilling to visit and administer the sacraments-a member of the congregation who has been granted priestly ordination may be sent to perform the duty.

4. In some ways, from a reformed viewpoint, this would be a fulfillment of the "priesthood of all believers".

5. To reiterate, I firmly believe that all sacraments should be available to all. In this instance, Holy Orders could be viewed as a sacrament of Christian Initiation. Now, many these days are choosing to NOT be confirmed.... and as far as pastoral concerns, its not like they are being denied Holy Eucharist, its their choice. In the instance of Holy Orders, this too would have to be a choice of an individual, one they would make when they come to be of a certain age-perhaps 18, perhaps 21, age of consent, etc. Like baptism and confirmation, there comes Christian formation/training with these steps into a further sacramental life. However, one might argue that it would all have to be done at the level that would go no further than the diocese/bishop, the individual is not seeking to become a Pastor/Chaplain/etc, just to be a recipient of Holy Orders.


Anyway, this is all just the dissection and thoughts of one Christian who likes to think in a very Esoteric mindset. Feel free to critique me. :)

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