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Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2003 8:59 pm +0000
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It is in relation to the following passages in Paper 195 that I wrote the following essay.

9. Christianity’s Problem

195:9.1 Do not overlook the value of your spiritual heritage, the river of truth running down through the centuries, even to the barren times of a materialistic and secular age. In all your worthy efforts to rid yourselves of the superstitious creeds of past ages, make sure that you hold fast the eternal truth. But be patient! when the present superstition revolt is over, the truths of Jesus’ gospel will persist gloriously to illuminate a new and better way.

195:9.2 But paganized and socialized Christianity stands in need of new contact with the uncompromised teachings of Jesus; it languishes for lack of a new vision of the Master’s life on earth. A new and fuller revelation of the religion of Jesus is destined to conquer an empire of materialistic secularism and to overthrow a world sway of mechanistic naturalism. Urantia is now quivering on the very brink of one of its most amazing and enthralling epochs of social readjustment, moral quickening, and spiritual enlightenment.

195:9.3 The teachings of Jesus, even though greatly modified, survived the mystery cults of their birthtime, the ignorance and superstition of the dark ages, and are even now slowly triumphing over the materialism, mechanism, and secularism of the twentieth century. And such times of great testing and threatened defeat are always times of great revelation.

195:9.4 Religion does need new leaders, spiritual men and women who will dare to depend solely on Jesus and his incomparable teachings. If Christianity persists in neglecting its spiritual mission while it continues to busy itself with social and material problems, the spiritual renaissance must await the coming of these new teachers of Jesus’ religion who will be exclusively devoted to the spiritual regeneration of men. And then will these spirit-born souls quickly supply the leadership and inspiration requisite for the social, moral, economic, and political reorganization of the world.

195:9.5 The modern age will refuse to accept a religion which is inconsistent with facts and out of harmony with its highest conceptions of truth, beauty, and goodness. The hour is striking for a rediscovery of the true and original foundations of present-day distorted and compromised Christianity — the real life and teachings of Jesus.

195:9.6 Primitive man lived a life of superstitious bondage to religious fear. Modern, civilized men dread the thought of falling under the dominance of strong religious convictions. Thinking man has always feared to be held by a religion. When a strong and moving religion threatens to dominate him, he invariably tries to rationalize, traditionalize, and institutionalize it, thereby hoping to gain control of it. By such procedure, even a revealed religion becomes man-made and man-dominated. Modern men and women of intelligence evade the religion of Jesus because of their fears of what it will do to them — and with them. And all such fears are well founded. The religion of Jesus does, indeed, dominate and transform its believers, demanding that men dedicate their lives to seeking for a knowledge of the will of the Father in heaven and requiring that the energies of living be consecrated to the unselfish service of the brotherhood of man.

195:9.7 Selfish men and women simply will not pay such a price for even the greatest spiritual treasure ever offered mortal man. Only when man has become sufficiently disillusioned by the sorrowful disappointments attendant upon the foolish and deceptive pursuits of selfishness, and subsequent to the discovery of the barrenness of formalized religion, will he be disposed to turn wholeheartedly to the gospel of the kingdom, the religion of Jesus of Nazareth.

195:9.8 The world needs more firsthand religion. Even Christianity — the best of the religions of the twentieth century — is not only a religion about Jesus, but it is so largely one which men experience secondhand. They take their religion wholly as handed down by their accepted religious teachers. What an awakening the world would experience if it could only see Jesus as he really lived on earth and know, firsthand, his life-giving teachings! Descriptive words of things beautiful cannot thrill like the sight thereof, neither can creedal words inspire men’s souls like the experience of knowing the presence of God. But expectant faith will ever keep the hope-door of man’s soul open for the entrance of the eternal spiritual realities of the divine values of the worlds beyond.

195:9.9 Christianity has dared to lower its ideals before the challenge of human greed, war-madness, and the lust for power; but the religion of Jesus stands as the unsullied and transcendent spiritual summons, calling to the best there is in man to rise above all these legacies of animal evolution and, by grace, attain the moral heights of true human destiny.

195:9.10 Christianity is threatened by slow death from formalism, overorganization, intellectualism, and other nonspiritual trends. The modern Christian church is not such a brotherhood of dynamic believers as Jesus commissioned continuously to effect the spiritual transformation of successive generations of mankind.

195:9.11 So-called Christianity has become a social and cultural movement as well as a religious belief and practice. The stream of modern Christianity drains many an ancient pagan swamp and many a barbarian morass; many olden cultural watersheds drain into this present-day cultural stream as well as the high Galilean tablelands which are supposed to be its exclusive source.

What is a Christian?

The dictionary informs us that a Christian is a person who follows or adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The term "Christian" derives from the Greek word Christós meaning Christ. Christos is a Greek translation of the Biblical Hebrew term mashiach, meaning messiah. Though the Hebrews had several concepts of the one they called the Messiah, Christians have accepted the term as referring to Jesus. The meaning they place on it is the “anointed one”, the one anointed by God to save the world from its sins.

From Wikipedia: “There are many important differences of interpretation and opinion of the Bible and sacred tradition on which Christianity is based. Because of these irreconcilable differences in theology and a lack of consensus on the core tenets of Christianity, Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and Evangelicals often deny that members of certain other branches are Christians.”

The basic tenants of Christianity are as follows.

- God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit are the source and substance of all things. God created the heavens and the earth and mankind.
- Adam and Eve were the first humans and when they sinned, all mankind was doomed to sin as well. This sinfulness could only be corrected by the blood sacrifice of a pure and perfect being.
- Jesus was just such a perfect person. Jesus is the Son of God.
- Jesus’ death paid the price required by God to redeem mankind and therefore each man or woman from his or her sinful state and allow for salvation.
- Repentance of our sins and acceptance of Jesus as our savior enables our ascent to heaven upon our death.
- Hell is reserved for those who refuse this salvation.
- The Apostle Peter was given the “keys” to the kingdom by Jesus, and thus, the organized church was founded upon this authority.
- All of this is recorded in the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word.
- Jesus has promised to return to this planet and we will see the new Heaven and new Earth at that time.

As reflected above, many, many interpretations of these tenants are expressed as vital in one denomination or another but very few denominations agree with each other on the actual meaning and importance of each of these issues.

Christianity statistics worldwide –

50% Catholic: Latin (Roman) Church, Eastern Catholic Churches

37% Protestant: Anglican, Lutheran, Methodists, Presbyterian and other ecclesiastical denominations; Included in this grouping are Baptist churches, Adventist, Reformed churches, Pentecostal, and other evangelical denominations.

12% Orthodoxy: Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East.

1% Other Christian traditions: incl. Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unitarians and all of Nondenominational Christianity.

By 1910 approximately 38% of the world population considered themselves Christian. As of 2010, that percentage had dropped to 36%. While this fluctuation does not, in itself, signal a retreat from Christianity by the world’s population, it does represent a lack of progressive growth in the number of believers. During the last 100 years, an age when Christian missionaries and messages from every denomination and by every conceivable communication method are flooding the world, the percentage of believers has remained flat or receded slightly. I find that curious. Could it be that the message is falling on deaf ears? Or is it that the message is not the real message; that the reality of Jesus’ message is something altogether different than what we are taught?

There is simply no way within human terminology to explain the reality of our awareness of spirit without using the idea of experience. The intellectual capacity of mankind does not have a functional process that effectively identifies spirit reality. While it is true that the consciousness of this reality is identified as spirit by the mind of man, the actual experience and therefore awareness of the reality of spirit is not derived from thought. It is derived from God. And here is the great divide in religion.

Human beings learn to know things and as they do they grow in their appreciation of them. We read, watch TV, listen to others, see the world around us and so on and in doing this we interact with reality and learn to appreciate what we interact with. Sometimes we don’t like what we see but that is exactly the point. We are able to evaluate our surroundings.

But spirit reality is from a different dimension. We don’t see, hear, taste, touch or feel it within our physical consciousness. The spirit dimension must be appreciated in order to be experienced. We must, as the Bible says, believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. In other words, we have to trust that he is there BEFORE we will be able to identify his reality.

So very plainly, earthly and material things must be known and understood before we learn to appreciate them. Spiritual things must be willingly anticipated and appreciated in order to know the experience of their reality. The first process moves us outward from ourselves and the second moves inward toward the deepest parts of our beings. Because of this, the fullness of life is a process of both inhaling and exhaling. We must do both.

Here is the great confusion of religion. The historical facts of the experiences of individuals who realized this duality of process have been crystallized into what we call belief systems. These belief systems are all, more or less, unable to teach us to practice the process of reality appreciation simply because they ignore the process and concentrate on the facts. So, instead of expanding the pool of true spiritual followers, they merely accumulate “believers” who are taught to think that they are focused properly on the facts of the past.

Jesus spent his whole ministry period trying to get his followers to learn the difference. He taught breathing in and he taught breathing out. He specifically spoke against simply following the religious practices of the past. This is not to demean the religions of our fathers. But once our religions become so crystallized that they refuse to allow the real spiritual experiences of the practicers of the present in favor of the experiences of the past, they quickly die. Spiritual experience is the source of living truth. At least that is what Jesus taught, and what he did.

If we as followers of Jesus do not commit to practice the process of spiritual growth we will not experience the reality of this truth. The process is a simple one but the practice of it takes each individual’s entire commitment of willpower. That is why it is so hard to realize. The hard part is us. The easy part is God. So those who focus on trying to know God but refrain from the self-determined practice of identifying their own blockages remain stagnant and begin to crystallize in their own beliefs. They do this even if they continue to learn and study the great books of religion including the revelations of God. It is this process of personally exposing our inner life to the review of both our own identification and God’s simultaneously, that creates our openness to receive his acceptance of us and it is that acceptance that is our experience. And we can’t expose ourselves to our conscious awareness of God’s review of us unless we participate in this practice of self-identification.

The process is the generator of our experiences in spiritual reality. It is a simple four step process. First we identify our own interference, next we choose to accept that it is this interference that is keeping us from knowing God and we decide to stop interfering which is part three. When we actually decide to stop interfering, and make the commitment to accept the process as real, the path becomes clear to us. The path is actually revealed to us by the spirit reality within our minds and we experience a realization of the fact of our conscious change in reality appreciation. So in the simplest terms, we identify, we repent, we seek forgiveness, and we experience that forgiveness. The process is personal, not social. This process is repeated over and over and over thousands and thousands of times in a person’s life. Gradually we accumulate an active consciousness of the experience of spirit and by doing so, grow in the grace and knowledge of God. Church is where we go to share this process with others who do it. So as our Master teacher said, wherever two or more are gathered, I am there in the midst. He meant this as an actual event, not merely a feeling or a vague influence.

Humans are the culprits of our own ignorant state of awareness. It is our fear of coming clean with ourselves and God that keeps us from spiritual success. When we live by that fear we tend to marginalize the value of the actual experience and concentrate on the facts we accept as historical truth and the religious philosophies of men, which we call doctrine. We build a kingdom based on tradition in the place of real living spiritual truth. Kingdoms of tradition lift up those who study traditions and make prophets and saints of those who went before. Further we establish hierarchies of authority to protect the institutional traditions from examination by reality. Lastly, we argue and fight those who actually hear the voice of God, calling them heretics and lunatics. Jesus was right when he called the Pharisees dead men. The priests of today’s organized religions are as well.

Jesus, the very Son of God, is not to be taken so lightly. He laid out a plan for us to follow that we would learn to experience his Father’s Kingdom, as he called it. His Father’s Kingdom is also known as reality. God is the source and substance of real. The more real we become the more spiritual we are and, likewise, the less spiritual we are the less real. There is not a substitute for this process. God created it and the longer we refuse to practice it the greater the depravity of our civilizations. Eventually, we will tire so completely of living in our own filth that we will actually seek God, and then we will only discover what I have said here is true. Life is actually quite simple; not easy but simple. Jesus’ path is easy and his yoke is light but it is our reluctance to live his way that causes us so much agony. Christians want to blame Satan and in a sense there is truth to that but Satan was merely the epitome of selfishness. His position in the administration of universe affairs was such that his selfishness caused great disruption and confusion for us, but we are not enlightened in our quest by placing blame on him for our problems. We are responsible for our own issues. Until we take that responsibility seriously we will wallow in our own confusion and despair.

Many of us tend to want to believe but are reluctant to act on our belief and discover the reality of the process. We must break that habit. Reality must become our religion. Our Heavenly Father created all reality. Christianity must become real. Currently it is merely theoretical. And as with any theoretical practice it expects little, if any, real change in its adherents while it allows all who assent to believe whatever version of doctrine it produces, to continue to live as rebels of the very God they supposedly believe in.

This must end.

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Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:00 pm +0000
Posts: 662
Location: Savannah GA
Nicely said Jim... I don't believe that Christianity will be come real until is has to. There are still throngs of materialists posing as religionists to carry it along. There will be more, not less circling of the wagons, more mega-churches and more belief in material possessions as a "sign" of God's favor. The accoutrements of man may change but our basic nature remains much the same.

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