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"An Overview of Integral Congregational Ministry"

Last post 07-31-2007, 8:46 AM by twlmt. 1 replies.
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  •  03-08-2007, 10:35 AM 20259

    "An Overview of Integral Congregational Ministry"

    By Greg Johanson & John Forman
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  •  07-31-2007, 8:46 AM 26659 in reply to 20259

    • twlmt is not online. Last active: 08-06-2007, 9:01 AM twlmt
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    Re: "An Overview of Integral Congregational Ministry"

    Hello,

    I would like to know if there are any existing denominations within Christianity that are pursuing the possibility of a truly liberal, modern Gnostic Christian congregation. By that, I mean several things, including:

    1) A Christian congregation willing to explore the "miraculous" aspects of the Jesus story as symbolic depictions of transcendental truths, rather than actual historical events.

    2) A Christian congregation not mired in traditional Christian theology (i.e., Jesus was the unique "Son of God" in some way the rest of us are not, Jesus came to die for our sins and save us from eternal damnation, etc.), much of which theology it seems was developed and added by the Roman church long after Jesus’ death, and which was most likely not something Jesus taught or claimed about himself.

    3) A Christian congregation willing to explore the direct first-hand experience of God or Spirit from 1st, and 2nd, and 3rd person perspectives:

    1st Person – God or Spirit as none other than my own deepest nature, my own deepest "I Am-ness" beyond the individual ego, as the Great I, the I-I, the Witness. (Most typically found in Eastern contemplative traditions.)  Every Christian denomination I've explored to date would consider this full 1st person experience of "I am the Divine." or "I am God." to be heretical.

    2nd Person – God or Spirit as a great "other," a Great Thou to whom surrender, and gratitude, and ecstatic release is the only appropriate response. (Most often found in Western Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions.)

    3rd Person – God or Spirit as the Great It, or Great Web of Life, the Great Perfection of Existence itself, the Is-Ness, the Thus-ness, the very Such-ness of this and every moment. (Often found in both Eastern and Native Shamanic traditions, as well as modern science.)

    4) A Christian congregation that would not find heretical ideas such as:

    Jesus was a person, just like us (and no more or less a son or daughter of God than any of the rest of us are), who realized his Christ nature. The fact that he realized his Christ nature and lived from fully realized Christ Consciousness is what made the great spiritual leader that he was.

    We all have the exact same Christ nature that Jesus had.

    The point of Jesus’ life and teaching is to help us each realize our own Christ nature, just as he did, and just as fully as he did (much the same as Buddhists practice to realize their inherent "Buddha nature").

    I know about Father Thomas Keating and Centering Prayer, and I’ve tried reading St. Teresa of Avila and Meister Eckhart, but in these kinds of texts I feel like I’m slogging knee deep through traditional Christian theological mud to get to occasional transcendent pearls that show up every once in awhile.

    On the other hand, when I read things like Freke & Gandy’s "Jesus and the Lost Goddess," I find something I never thought I would – a version of transcendent or gnostic Christianity that is every bit as beautiful (and maybe even more so) as Taoism and the other Eastern contemplative traditions. I gave up on Christianity some time ago, because traditional Christian theology and literalness no longer rang true for me. But since finding this modern-day Gnostic view of Christianity, I long for a Christian congregation liberal and progressive enough to be built on:

    1) A Gnostic Christian symbolism such as that found in Freke & Gandy’s book, and

    2) An actual contemplative practice gleaned from the best of contemplative traditions East and West, addressing God or Spirit in all three aspects – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person.

    I’m wondering if any existing Christian denomination is liberal and open enough to move beyond traditional and literal orthodox Christian theology and understanding to explore a truly Gnostic Christianity.

    Thanks, Teresa

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