Reconciliation #3: Initial Discussion on Christianity and Spiritual Illusion [1/2]   Leave a comment


This Reconciliation attempt will be both difficult and yet intellectually stimulating I believe. In this Initial Reconciliation attempt I will be writing about the Notions of New Age Spirituality and Fundamentalism and try to spot in them elements that I feel are legitimate (in light of all the research throughout the years) and which are cause for concern. This Reconciliation is Initial in the Truest Sense of the word, because, Fundamentalism and New Age beliefs are both on the rise as both have rejected the concepts founded in Classical Christianity, whether knowingly or not. I do believe the New Age and the Fundamentalist to both be extremes and thus illusory as well. Again however, everything has a degree of truth to it and because of that if we work our intellectual muscle long enough we can wrestle out of a worldview nuggets of truth of various sizes and qualities. Throughout this Reconciliation I will post videos and links for further reading, unlike the previous 2 Reconciliation attempts however I will not structure this Reconciliation in the similar fashion.

The Broken Body of Christ: Biblical Literalism and Fundamentalism

Now for those who view my blog, they know by now the I have been vehemently hammering away against the notions of Fundamentalism and Biblical Literalism. This reconciliation will be difficult and it will take more intellectual wrestling in order to spot where the truth lies in this way of thinking and those who live according to this way of thinking. This reconciliation will certainly be initial, it will also certainly be intellectually challenging to convey certain points of agreement or offer clarification. Before going into the reconciliation, the first thing that needs to be put on the table is the complaints. The complaints I had are as follows:

(1) The “Uncomfortability” with Science
(2) The Intellectual Non-Involvement and Spiritual Laziness
(3) Religious Exclusivism
(4) “Relativizing” The Truth

My first complaint is that Fundamentalism is very uncomfortable with Science. The reason, I have discussed several times in the past by now. Fundamentalist feel compelled to divorce themselves from reality because it is not literally expressed in the Bible. This mode or perception toward Religious Text is unwarranted, certainly the Fundamentalist feels threatened and I feel annoyed when Science claims that it has ultimate monopoly on reality. However, unlike the Fundamentalist I do not feel threatened I simply live my life between the healthy tension of the two and have deepened my understanding of the faith because of that. I treat Fr. Robert Barron as if he were my “go to person” but again he expresses a very good point with regards to how I interpret the Bible:

The second complaint stems somewhat from the first complaint and this the lack of intellectual effort, if not pure intellectual dishonesty as well as spiritual laziness. The Fundamentalist must has to go through un-necessary intellectual work in order to show that Biblical Literalism works, especially when we point to the Creation Narrative. However, I as a non-literalist do not feel compelled to go through such intellectual workouts because, science only re-affirms my understanding of the Bible as largely an allegorical body of writings. The other concern I have stems from those Fundamentalist who claim that salvation is instant, such a belief is spiritually dangerous, and it opens the door to sins founded on Pride and Sloth, doesn’t St. Paul tell us that we need to [workout our salvation with fear and trembling]? How can we do that if we think we are already saved by simply confessing Him with our lips yet be far from Him and His Transformative and Therapeutic Love?

Following this issue comes the notions of Religious Exclusivism. There is no hope to the Fundamentalist of seeing prototypes and nuggets of truth in all the legitimate spiritual philosophies and traditions of the world, it is either all Biblical or not. There is indeed this dualism that turns people off to the Faith, but if we understood that God has revealed certain truths to those who seek it throughout the course of human history and in different places as well then we would see that God bestows wisdom to all and wishes to fulfill all wisdom in Christ. My favorite example is, the Heraclitus and Lao Tzu Connection in which Heraclitus establish the Idea of the Logos [Greek for “Word”] and Lao Tzu established the Idea of the Tao, both of these concepts are used in the Greek Writings in the New Testament and the translation from the Greek and English into Chinese and Japanese.

Finally, I find it an irony that in our culture we live in a time of relativistic indifference, and this is something that Fundamentalism shares in common with the New Age believers as well. How so in the terms of Fundamentalism? Consider the various Protestant Sects and Non-denominational churches in existence today, each one claims to have The Truth and all the others do not understand or have the Full Truth, it is “this pastor” or “that pastor” that has the Full Revelation of God on his side. In terms of a religion which believes in One Objective Transcendental Truth, this is very dangerous because this Truth was supposed to be used to solve the problem of Multiplicity in the World, but now has been used to further propagate said Multiplicity. As I said, I find it an Irony that we live in a time of Relativistic Indifference, in which we all have the Truth and everything is simply Politically Correct so as to not hurt any feelings. To have the reality of the One Objective Transcendental Truth, would cause one not to become apathetic but inspired, animated, and full with conviction! Unfortunately, in this case said conviction becomes a blind over-zealotry that leads more to close-minded thoughts and behaviors.

To me the greatest strength that I see from the Fundamentalist is their strong sense of Faith and Strong Desire to Follow God. Could anything be greater then this? However, the tragedy is that this faith is misinformed and thus misapplied. Now does this mean that God cannot work through them? No, it does not mean this, in fact written in the Catechism of the Catholic Church it is made clear that,

“The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, . . . subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines” – #870

Therefore, although fundamentalism is the watering down of tradition, they are still part of the tradition even if they are in dispute and certainly even if they do wrong. Wrong has been done by many people under the guise of religion for a long time now, however that should not mean that we discount religion and God for the faults of men. Therefore, the Fundamentalist would come to the full realization and flowering of their Faith and ardent desire for God if they were to look deeper and seek both transformation and a deepening of their faith. Insofar as they do this, they move away from the milk and onto the meat of the Tradition.

Also I have been informed by individuals who are not Catholic or Orthodox and it is to their credit as well that I am where I am today with regards to the opinions that I have surrounding politics, economics, psychology, spirituality, philosophy and social change. Clearly people like Dr. Ron Paul, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr; Carl Jung, and Christopher Hall have allowed me to come to a wider awareness of the world and life around me.

Dr. Ron Paul is a congressman from Texas, who believes in a Limited, Strict Constitutional Government with Individual Liberty for all. His religious background is that of Christian Baptist. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr; the great civil rights leader and social shaper of the 60’s who used non-violence was a member of the Progressive National Baptist Convention. Carl Jung an early and still influential psychotherapist that informs my view (in part) on things pertaining to Religion and Psychology, a man who also dared to rise above the rather limited and bleak perspectives of Freud was a Reformed Swiss Protestant background that certainly played an influence in life. Finally, author Christopher A. Hall wrote many books concerning early Christianity that further informed me of my own religious heritage and yet he was not of that Heritage rather he was of Protestant background. Certainly how can I disagree with a person who can make a speech like this, just because he is not of the same Tradition as me?

So I hope that you can see that, just because someone is of a more watered-down part of the tradition it does not mean that they are entirely without the loving grace of God. Growing up I to was a fundamentalist for a short time in my life, I heard the phrase “End Times” and viewed the EndTimes Ministry Website because I became increasingly aware of how bad the world was at that time and thought it was going to end. I also watched, the “Left Behind” Series to further reinforce my beliefs. I read the entire New Testament and certain books of the Old Testament and yet I did not feel compelled to be so literal in my reading of it. I debated with atheists in the same fashion that others debated though too. I was turned off to the Church largely because the education I received was so poor. Eventually this lead though to me coming out of Fundamentalism and going deeper to understand the Faith.

However, my experience of Fundamentalism (or Proto-Fundamentalism) did not end from there. In college I ran into someone who had common ground with me and he introduced me to good people, at a time when I was more so filled with cynicism and negativity. His friends were good people, there was a sense of Virtue and Grace that was present with them that to this day I still seek, the title for such a sense of belonging was called “Fellowship” and there was a high sense of Principle. Sure we were all at or about the same age with different beliefs on the same issue, yet that did not stop us from being friends, hanging out and being on good terms with them. Unfortunately, I have yet to see them for a while again and I pray that I maybe reunited with them and them reunited with me one day again, because they were good people overall. I mean no one is perfect but they were good people.


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