“Christian Libertarianism” Excerpt #1: On The God-Image   2 comments

Authors Note: The following excerpts which come from an incomplete paper earlier in 2011 was designed to respond to the growing Libertarianism that is present in America today as an attempt to create a New Christian Community in America, one that transcended the arguments/issues prevalent in todays world. The concept of the God-Image or in Latin Imago Dei, was a concept I discovered while reading material on Jungian Psychology. In the excerpt to follow today, I speak about the need to transform the American God-Image in order to bring about Truth and Understanding. The excerpt is divided into block quotes and any revisions and commentary are not blocked:

The First Change that I have come to believe needs to be made is to acknowledge the fact that We Need To Change The Words, Both the Semantics and the Pragmatics of the Words we Use in Public Discourse and Private Conversation. To do this requires a new understanding of old concepts that we hold. [Earlier in this Paper] I said that, “I am now currently free of ‘God the Judge’ and now see ‘God the Doctor’ as the new Image of God which I find to be much closer to the original Christian understanding of God.” This showcases my personal history of Understanding the Image of God that I originally and now currently hold in my mind. If we act in a manner that we perceive God as a Judge, than our attitudes and perceptions of others are going to be seen in a Judgmental Context, this in effect leads to how we speak and what we speak, as well as how we act towards others. However should we hold in our minds as seeing God as a Doctor, than our attitudes and perceptions of others are going to be seen in a Medicinal Context, in a word we are all able to acknowledge our sickness of falling short throughout our and anyone else’s day and this in turn reminds us to take compassion on others, whether Christian or not because, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

When I originally wrote this, I had come to reject personally and feel uncomfortable publicly admitting that God was a Judge. However, my peace could not be had and my spiritual development could not be completed unless I was able to integrate the Judicial elements that even the earlier Christian community had accepted as well. Therefore, in re-integrating the God as Judge image back into the framework after accepting God as Doctor image, we can have a new outlook, after all does not a Doctor also make judgments on his patients with regard to diagnosis and treatment? In Hebrews 12: 7-8,11 we read that, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons… Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” So now if we are able to see God the Father first as a Doctor then as a Judge we will be able to appreciate the sufferings and the judgments that God brings upon us.

Let us take a moment and explore this topic further. I said above, “… both the semantics and pragmatics of the words we use in public discourse and private conversation [need to change].” I want to expand on this understanding. Semantics in Linguistics is defined as, “language meaning” or our ability to comprehend what is spoken and Pragmatics in Linguistics is defined as, “Language Use” or how we use language, how something is said. Further Public Discourse and Private Conversation also have various social implications that affect our efforts to communicate. So for example, in a Public Discourse on the internet others are around to witness this talk and chime in with their own ideas and opinions, the fact that groups can form from a discussion often means that people will hold on to their views more tightly so as to seem consistent and not weak in the eyes of their group. The use of language is different, our semantics may become more definitive and our pragmatics may become more group oriented and anxious. However in a Private Discourse on the internet [it could be the very same website] others are not directly involved in the conversation, it becomes a more informal and one-on-one session between two people who have disagreements about any issue, the fact alone that there is no group dynamic means that people will not feel as accountable to holding so tightly to their ideas, because the need to maintain a perception of consistency [around others] is not present rather, consistency is maintained for consistencies own sake. The use of language is now radically different as well; our semantics may become looser or informal while our pragmatics may become more open-ended and individualistic, we are only putting up with each other’s personality now, not a group personality.

I would like to comment here briefly and say that, while not much has changed in my opinion of the above, I would like to point out that I feel as if even without an overt group presence, the presence of our group that we identify with is still part of who we are, therefore the group is present in a more subtle manner, the two debating individuals could act as delegates from each side of the argument.

Another final subtopic I would like to explore is going back to take the time to look at how the words and phrases we speak define how others react towards us and how we will act towards them. Again this goes back to the God Image we hold in our mind, let me start first by saying that the many non-Christians, in particular atheists and agnostics over varying intensity seem to be in rebellion not so much against God but “God the Judge” and to a degree I would say this not unjustifiable, this old image has been used as a means for fear and manipulation for the longest time. The sad fact however seems to be that they have associated the Just and Loving God with a Severe Judgmental God Image and have fallen out completely with the Just and Loving God because of this association. It is my belief that in the 21st Century of Rationalism and Scientific Endeavor it seems more fitting to get to understand and speak from the position of “God the Doctor.” Having said this I want to briefly speak about certain Biblical Words and Phrases we use and how these different God Images lead to different outcomes. To most of us when we hear the words “Repent” – “Sin” – “Judgment” – “Grace” – “Forgiveness” – “Faith” – “Works” – “Fear of God” and so on unless we know the Doctoral God Image, most of us perceive and understand this in the Judicial God Image context. We think that: Sin is Crime or Transgression; Judgment is never ending and severe; Faith is blind and Works are things we better do; Repentance is something we better do; without Grace is complete depravity and evil; and The Fear of God is watered down to but a literal and worldly understanding of Fear.

I failed to impart a more positive definition of the above concepts in light of my progress of understanding of Christian Theology and wish to give that now. As I have said again and again, Biblical reading ought to trace itself back to the ancient language from which it sprung, and not be understood in constantly revised and edited English language which fails to convey certain points.

Rather then seeing, Repentance as “something we better do!” We need to understand repentance as the Philokalic Tradition suggests we view it as which is, a Change of Mind or Change of Intellect, even more precisely the Fundamental Change of Ones Being towards God, not just merely ones rational mind (which we associate Intellect with Reason in the West today). Repentance is not solely sorrow, contrition, or regret.

Rather then seeing, Sin as “a Crime or Transgression” in the purely Courtroom perspective we ought to be able to view it as meaning a failure, more precisely a failure to hit the mark, a straying off the path, or even more profoundly as a failure to achieve the potential by which was one created. In spiritual parlance it is closely related to the concepts of Illusion.

Rather then seeing, Judgment as “never ending and severe,” we ought to think of it more as something we impose on ourselves in light of the Reality of God’s Love. Furthermore there are two kinds of Judgment that which serves as a correction to God’s Adopted Children which I discussed in my commentary to the first block quote earlier, while the other is reserved for those who are the enemies of God, there judgment is to let them continue to live in their sinfulness and let there sinfulness undo them. However, even if they are undone, in God’s Wisdom this may allow them to repent.

Rather then seeing, Grace as “something that allows you to no longer be depraved and evil” we should first understand that man is not completely depraved and evil as the Protestant and Augustinian influenced Christian thinkers believe, but admit with all honesty that, according to Eastern Christian thought, Humanity is inherently Good since it still possesses a conscience. However, due to our sinful situation, we are prone to make mistakes and that our sinfulness could flee us if we are to allow ourselves to be receptive to the Grace of God.

Rather then seeing, Faith as “Blind” we should understand Faith as an Intuition to something that has come into our lives. As what is written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church Faith is the adequate response to, “the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company.” (Part One, Section 3, Chapter 3:142). Through Faith, one submits ones will and intellect to the Living God.

Rather then seeing, Fear of God as a “watered down, literal, and worldly understanding of fear” but rather, a pure fear (Psalms 62:5) one that transcends the worldly understanding. To imagine if you will standing in front of a living entity that is filled with Truth, Love, and Beauty that surpasses all your highest expectations. The Fear of God then, is something that wells up inside of you in light of such a description, knowing all to well your own sins and your condition.

Rather then seeing, Works as “something you better do” understand that, works are something you do in response to your faith. It was written by St. Diadochos of Photiki regarding Spiritual Knowledge which can be found in Volume One of the Philokalia that, “Faith without works and Works without Faith will both alike be condemned, for he who has faith must offer to the Lord the faith which shows itself in Actions. Our father Abraham would not have been counted righteous because of his faith had he not offered its fruit, his son.”

And Rather then seeing, Salvation as being released from a courtroom environment or something that happens upon confessing Christ as Lord with ones lips that involves little work on our part. Learn to see Salvation as something that is Existential, an Ontological shift that we never knew before could be had. Understand that the Salvation, is Theosis, to become God’s by Adoption through Grace and that this path of becoming is just that, something eternal, something done for the rest of our time on earth and forever in the hereafter, something done at this moment.

When we speak from the position of seeing the God Image as Judicial and Harsh, then we become fearful and compelled by fear; fear becomes the ultimate tool of control, slavery, and death. The Freedom of being freed by Christ, is not seen to us if we perceive God as a Harsh Judge however and our interactions become dominated by fear, but fear is not the aims of the Christian God because it is written that, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”(2Tim1:7). And likewise it was said that, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”(1Jhn4:18). Therefore, as you keep in mind all those who are not Christian today let me ask you, when we look at society today who do we believe is out to aid us for our own benefit, a doctor or a judge? In today’s world, people are naturally more inclined to believe that a doctor is a specialist whose purpose is to look out for your health interests and most doctors are a lot more personable and sincere in comparison to a judge who must act impersonally and with a degree of severity even, in order to uphold a law or statute. Now I have taken the time yes to considerably knock down an old God Image that most hold, but there is a time and a place for each of them to be seen and the right context will only be seen if one is mature enough to see it, God as I said earlier is both Just and Loving, and these qualities each belong to the respective God Images that I have been discussing.

I have written earlier in the commentary that I was unwilling to give much credence to the God as Judge, God Image. Here you see the furthest extent at the time in which I was willing to admit that God as Judge ought to be re-integrated, therefore in the present I have come to a more fuller re-integration which you saw in my commentary to the first block above.

Now let us consider a phrase that many agnostics and atheists of varying levels of intensity used to justify their bitter hatred or simple dislike of Religion overall and Christianity in particular, keeping in mind that most Christians still maintain pre-dominantly the God Image of a Harsh and Judgmental God. The phrase that I am going to use is: “If you do not accept Jesus Christ, you are going to hell forever because of your complete sinfulness and depravity.” On the outset of this phrase you are either glad you accepted him or you are (like me and most others) turned off by such talk. Let’s keep in mind most people who are agnostics and atheists were more likely than not Christians as children and even teenagers too [albeit raised by parents who most likely had the Judicial God Image pre-dominantly instilled in their mind as well] because of this they already knew what would happen if they left the Church and Christ, therefore they do not need to be reminded again. However let’s look at that disgusting phrase that turns so many people off:

Not much has changed in my perspective and opinions expressed in this part of the excerpt. The phrase that I used is one which you might hear from a more Augustinian influenced Christian, particularly of the Christian West of the Roman or Protestant denomination. Let us now view each of these excerpts.

“If you do not accept Jesus Christ…”
This first part is something noticeable enough for me to comment on. The first thing to comment on is the simple fact that you are speaking in the negative, “If you do NOT do this…” this is a threatening remark, and for people who are already estranged enough from God, this will put them on the defensive even more and make that gap even bigger between them and God. They’ll hold even tighter to their current worldview and become more combative toward you. Now granted in social psychology it is shown that people tend to have attitude changes if they stand to lose something rather than gain something even more, but this needs to be done in a positive context, you must be able to speak in the positive when keeping this in mind. Also keep in mind when you make threats, you threaten their freedom to choose and in defiance of those threats they will do whatever they can to re-establish autonomy on their own freedom to choose, they may go as extreme as to hold an opposing viewpoint that is the polar opposite of yours.

Not much has changed here I am in general agreement still with what I am speaking about. I would like to just add further that, this desire to re-establish autonomy on their own freedom to choose, does not stem from a true act of free will but rather I have come to believe is simply done in anger and spite. This goes back to an [earlier post] about the illusion of being Self-Sufficient, if we were able to surrender such prideful/egocentric notions we would be more open and receptive to understanding. This negative phrasing in todays world is such that in turns people off and in todays society we must be wiling to admit that such threats to ones individual autonomy are not going to go far. Rather we we ought to speak in a more positive phrasing, because it is true that, If You DO Accept Jesus Christ You Will Have Even More Freedom then You Think You Have Right Now.

“…you are going to hell forever…”
This second part is also noticeable enough for me to comment on as well. Not only are you threatening people off the bat, you are making promises regarding the metaphysical some place where no one can make promises save Christ himself who has domain, this makes you look like a joke. Let us keep in mind with our society today people want pleasure some crave it more so than others, and because of that you need to know their lifestyle choices that they made, it does not have to be all of them but a sample to paint a portrait would be nice. If the portrait shows a person who is more pleasure-seeking than others, it makes no sense of making promises of pain, but to discuss the pleasures of being in the Presence of the Lord. If someone else’s portrait shows a person who is more stoic or just less pleasure-seeking then it still does not make sense to make promises of pain, but to discuss once again the pleasures of resting in the Lord or if they are Stoic enough, to talk about the benefits of the Virtues.

Again my opinions have not changed here much either. As an addendum however, we must understand that there are three kinds of people who do good acts: (1) Those who do it out of fear of punishment, which is still a Love that is a work in progress. (2) Those who do good because it makes them feel good, which is better then the first but still not the highest of Love. (3) Finally those who do the Good out of Love of God and not desiring anything in return, this is the highest and Perfect Love. In our world today, it seems that the first kind has lost its power and many do feel that it is disproportionate to the Notions of a Loving God, therefore we must speak from the latter 2 positions as well.

“… Because of your complete sinfulness and depravity.”
This is the last part overall that I need to comment on. Again understand we are talking about people who have either once been Christians or who have never been Christians because they can’t stand them or whatever reason, most if not close to virtually all however think and hold the Judicial God Image and are repulsed by it. So by this time, you have threatened them right off the bat, you have made promises of pain, and now to sum it up you have called this person a disgusting and vile criminal that is completely devoid of anything good in their being, this is what they are hearing because of the Judicial God Image that they more often than not hold in their minds eye. You might not even need to say “God will Judge You,” all you will need to say is, “You’ll go to Hell because you rejected God in your life” and this will set off a negative reaction that will cause them to hold even tighter to their opposing view, because of the constant associations between society, personal experiences, and “informed” opinion on the issue of God and seeing God solely as Judge, and a harsh one at that. Clearly this phrasing of words needs to stop because they are a poor choice of words in our contemporary society and we need to learn sooner rather than latter, the words that we need to speak and how to speak them and it starts with changing the God Image from a predominantly Judicial outlook to a Medicinal Outlook.

Again I am not in disagreement with this block quote because I feel like as if Protestant and an over-emphasis of Augustinian thought has made such an understanding as this possible for me to offer commentary to in the first place.

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Posted August 12, 2011 by jimbo9889 in The Objectives

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