Monday, June 29, 2015

Can Being itself be the Christain God?

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Magritte wrote:
Joe, your God is not simply necessary being - your God is an amalgam of attributes and qualities, over and above necessary being.
For example, you insist that your God is, following Tillich, "not less than personal". But this quality of being not less than personal does not follow from just necessary being. There is nothing about necessary being that requires us to consider it as something more than completely impersonal. And the same follows for all the other attributes of God - that God is loving, and caring, and is capable of having a relationship with man - that God intercedes in history in various ways, that God is just and merciful and so on..

.Meta: you are confused about the implications of necessity. in the sense in whi9ch I use it it means not contingent, it is not a limit on the nature of God.

through his energies (E Orthodox concept) God is immaent and can do contingent things. for example, God did not have to create the world. sure the divine would have a consciousness but he can manifest i9t to us in such a way that we feel we are communicating, whereas if we saw Gods consciousness truly we would not have a clue about it.

there are thinkers and scientists such as Gaswamy who see the basis of reality as mind. there is a connection between love and being. Balthasar says love = being.

that's enough to establish any attribute I see in God

Magritte: Now you may of course say that necessary being is an essential property of God, and I'd agree, given my understanding of your conception of God. But while necessary being may be necessary to your conception of God, it is not sufficient to establish your God, unless you can specify how all the other myriad attributes, qualities and facets of your God follow from necessary being

(1) certainly is. the TS argument and the modal are based upon the concept.

(2) that's a different matter it does not support your original thesis. you said my God is made up of contingencies, now this says can't prove God. two different ideas.

I've written more than enough on this blog to see the folly in this argument.

God as being itself part I

part II

Tillich has been so criticized as "liberal," and clearly he did not believe in theism. Yet there is a very conservative Catholic thinker, friend of JPII, who pushed the being itself i9dea and there is no way Von Balthasar can be said to be non-theist. read my article
Hans Urs Von Balthasar and Being itselfly

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Answering Austin Cline's Arguments against Religious Experience as God Argument

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  This article is a followup to Cline's argument against religious experience as a God argument. He attacks the concept of mystical experience: "Argument from Mysticism: Can Mystics and Mystical Experiences Prove God's Existence?"By

Cline Begins by establishing the idea of a professional mystic.

An important form of the Argument from Religious Experience focuses on the issue of mysticism - it might be called the Argument from Professional Religious Experience. What is claimed is that, throughout time, in various cultures and places, there have existed particular individuals who have somehow had direct, personal experiences with God.
Like the general Argument from Religious Experiences, it is claimed that these experiences should be given the same credence as other experiential claims and should not be rejected out of hand. But unlike the general argument, it is observed that mystics spend a lot of time working on understanding and reaching God - they are professionals, in a sense, and their observations and conclusions should be treated like those of other professionals.[1]

 This is one of the reasons why I think he's been reading my arguments. I don't know of any other argument where it could be said that mystical experience should be given the same credence as ordinary perception, except in a misquote of my Thomas Reid argument. That would be a misunderstanding I don't know of any other arguments that makes such a misunderstanding possible. No one says mystics are professionals. The argument is made that all people have a level of mystical experience, but in various degrees and some very slight. I discuss this in the Trace of God. I carefully distinguish between the kind of navigation enabled and point out that I'm not talking about the kind of five senses perception we have of the world walking down the street, but our emotional ability to cope with the vicissitudes of life. [2]

Cline begins his attack with the false assertion that religoius experiences are all different and incompatible: "How should we respond to this argument? The first thing to note is that, as with general religious experiences reported by others, there is a tremendous amount of variety in the reports by religious mystics over the millennia. Not only are the reports from different religions mutually incompatible, but not even all the reports in a single religious tradition are compatible." That is repeated endlessly but no proof is ever given. In my book the Trace of God I show that Ralph Hood's work with the M scale dispells this myth. The differences are in the names of deity and in the explainations of meaning assigned the experiences. The experiences themselves, when these differences are adjusted for, are remarkably the same.[3] The point is made much better by the man who did the original research, Ralph Hood Jr.[4]

Cline makes the standard assumption that most atheists make, "If they can't all be true, how do we differentiate the incorrect reports from the correct reports?" There are numerous ways with which this has been dealt in modern theology. One of them is Paul Knitter's approach,, which is to say we don't need to differentiate, we know up front that religious experience is relative to truth. It's not false, it's not all true, but it's relative.[5] My own approach is similar. we have an aversion to relativism so I would just say one reality stands behind all the traditions. The differences are the result of cultural constructs, which must be used to filter the experiences since all we have to community through is culture. It's the cultural aspects that make religions different, not the thing behind belief.

Cline then presumes to uncover the origin of religious experiences. He is willing to take the mystic's word for it far enough to use that against them, and he draws conclusions form their own words, assuming their methods are similar even though he argues that their experiences are not. What is the explanation? "The usual recipe for these experiences is some sort of deprivation - going without food, water, and often sleep, sitting in the heat of a desert or sweat lodge, isolation from human contact, the repetition of chants or prayer, and even the use of drugs." Several studies contradict this view, the Council of Spiritual Practices states, in speaking of Greely's study, "Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being."[6]

Mystics in the old days tended to belong to ascetic movements and lived in monastic settings in which deprivation was a way of life. That is argument from sign, just becuase some people in these settings have mystical experience does not mean that is the standard cause of mystical experience. Modern studies show this tends not to be the case. Gackenback summarizing several studies shows that  mystical experience can't be compared to mental illness or pathology.

Scientific interest in the mystical experience was broadened with the research on psychoactive drugs. The popular belief was that such drugs mimicked either mystical states and/or schizophrenic ones (reviewed in Lukoff, Zanger & Lu, 1990). Although there is likely some physiological similarity as well as phenomenological recent work has shown clear differences. For instance, Oxman, Rosenberg, Schnurr, Tucker and Gala (1988) analyzed 66 autobiographical accounts of schizophrenia, hallucinogenic drug experiences, and mystical ecstasy as well as 28 control accounts of important personal experiences. They concluded that the: "subjective experiences of schizophrenia, hallucinogenic drug-induced states, and mystical ecstasy are more different from one another than alike" (p. 401).

(Ibid) "Relatedly, Caird (1987) found no relationship between reported mystical experience and neuroticism, psychoticism and lying while Spanos and Moretti (1988) found no relationship between a measure of mystical experience and psychopathology.[7]
Cline asserts the validity of claims such as those made by Michael Presinger who claims to have produced genuine mystical experience by stimulating brain cells.

Dr. Michael Persinger in Canada can produce mystical visions in people with a mechanical device and what people see is heavily influenced even just by the sort of things he has in his office. When he plays music with an Eastern theme, people tend to have Buddhist-type visions. When he hangs crucifixes in the room and plays Christian chants, people have Christian-type visions.
Such claims are exploded by Philosopher John Hick who points out that such researchers use no control to establish the basis of a mystical experience. Thus they are just assuming that anything to do with God is a  real mystical experience. I draw upon the research of Hick and discuss this more fully in chapter six (6) of the Trace of God. [8] Cline asserts that "because there are possible physical and natural explanations for these mystical experiences, and because they can actually be produced at will in very natural ways, it becomes incumbent upon the supporter of mysticism to help us differentiate between the naturally induced experiences and those which allegedly have a supernatural origin." It is possible that the chain of causation stops with the brain chemistry, but it's not likely. That's what the tie breakers are for in chapter seven (7). They show why it's not reasonable to just assume that brain chemistry is the final cause of the experience. It could just as easily be part of God's delivery system that  created into humanity so we can find the Trace of his presence. The tie bakers show why it's more reasonable to think that this is the case. One hint, why is teh experience always positive? How did nature arrange to have a life transforming accident that has no long term debilitating draw backs?

Part 2 of Cline's argument

One curious issue with the claim that mystics' experiences of God provide good reasons to believe that God really exists is the question of just how a person can claim to recognize God. What arguments or evidence, without resorting to question begging, can a person use to claim that whatever they experienced is necessarily that of the god they believe in?
Perceptual recognition is something which can merit skepticism even in mundane matters we encounter in everyday life. Consider how easy it can be to make an error in recognition when it comes to the voices or faces or writing styles of people we know very well - but how would we "know" the voice or face or speaking style of "god"?
Michael Martin offers the example of someone claiming to have spoken on the phone with a person who seemed to be the strongest man of County Cork. How on earth could such an identification be made merely on the basis of a voice? Perhaps if the person was an expert on Irish accents at least a small part of the claim could be justified - but only a very small part.
These same problems occur with the claims made that someone has spoken with God or even just "experienced" God. This claim cannot be taken at face value: we need to know what part of this experience justifies the conclusion that it involved "God" - with all of the qualities and attributes alleged for this god, like omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenevolence, etc. - and not an experience of something else, even if it is another supernatural being.
 This could be a good argued if used by someone who understands the concept of mystical experience. In making the argument Cline demonstrates his ignorance. Again he's thinking of it like metting a person, he's reducing God to the level of a thing in creation.  First of as said before, mystical experience is a step up to a higher level of consciousness, it is not like meeting a stranger at a bus stop. It's the big light bulb where you suddenly understand what it's all about. It is beyound words, thoughts or images. It's not "someone has spoken with God;" it's not like speaking with another person. It's like suddenly understanding the meaning of everything.

Here is an example of a mystical experience described by a blogger (Wordgazer) in her review of my book. It's much like an experince described in the book:

I was standing in our tiny back yard behind the kitchen door, under a sky filled with stars. I think it was about 10 or 11 pm.  I was alone. For some reason more stars were showing than usual; maybe some of the street lights were out.  It was very quiet.
I looked up into the stars and thought of God.
And then. . .  
Something indescribable fell away from my ordinary sense of things.  Perhaps it was the careful, reasoned categories I was accustomed to use to frame my thoughts.  I had a sensation of being lifted up and up, though I also knew I was still standing solidly in the night-sweet grass.  Over the horizon the moon swept up; it was a gibbous moon, about two-thirds full.  And I saw. 
Saw that all things were part of a serene and purposeful whole.  Saw that I myself was a valued and necessary part of that whole, as were the trees, the grass, the stars, the moon, and the minuscule flying creatures that brushed my face.  Felt a tender, loving purpose guiding it all towards some unknowable but beautiful end.    
"All is well. All is one.  I am here."
It wasn't a message spoken in words, but an indescribable knowing that was frankly impossible to doubt or question.  I didn't question it.  I breathed quickly, flutteringly-- completely astonished yet completely at ease, completely accepted and accepting. 
Slowly, slowly the feeling faded, drained away.  I was left there in the dark grass again, myself again, and I turned and drifted back through the door and into bed and sleep.
But I have never forgotten, and I have never been the same.  The memory of joy-- joy present in part now and expectant of fullness in time to come, has ever since held in peace the foundations of my soul. [9]

The answer to the overall issue is "we know it's an experience of God because it does what belief in God claims to do., it's like transforming."  Why is that of God? Because that's what religion promises to do in the first place. The reason we have religion at all is because there is a sense of the numinous that gives us a notion of the holy. The historical association between these two ideas, the sense of the holy (which is part of the real experience is the thing experienced) and God, this is the relationship of co-determinant. I discuss this in length for most of chapter two (2) in the book.

A traditional question based upon this dilemma is, "Are you so sure that you can't be fooled and it wasn't Satan who spoke to you?" You don't have to be a believer in God or Satan to recognize the importance of such a question. The point is, no one has offered a sound basis for differentiating between an experience of "god" and of something else entirely.

 I find this argument totally disingenuous. An athiest talking head activley seeking to destoryt he faith of others, totally unfarid to align himself with not only unbleif but mocking and riducule of belief itself, yet he expects someone to seriously disregard life transfomration when it's proved by peer reviewed studies, just becuase he can ask a fearling question that we know he doesn't take seriously himself. There is no way to go back in time and prove that prehistoric man had mystical experience, but we do have reasons to assume they did. Anthropologists dont' just wander about the world thunderstruck and refusing to speculate for fear of getting it wrong. Many anthropological theories that give a reasonable probability to the association bewteen the sense of he numinous and religious bleief and the creation of religion. It's possible these associations go back to the stone age, the at least go back to the early days of human writing. I discuss all of this at length and make the argument fully in chapter two (2). I show there are native rituals that indicate the ancient hunter gatherer people did have such experiences.[10]

The Trace of God provides the chruch with a valuable resource that puts real teeth in argument form experience.

[1] Austin Cline. "Argument from Mysticism:Can Mystics and Mystical Experiences Prove God's Existence?" Online material, no date indicated.
Accessed 7/3/14.

 [2] Joseph Hinman, the Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief. Colorado Springs: Grand Viaduct Publishing, 99.

 [3] Ralph Hood Jr. “The Common Core Thesis in the Study of Mysticism.” In Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion.  Patrick Mcnamara ed. West Port CT: Prager Publications, 2006, 119-235.

[5]Paul Knitter, No Other Name? A Critical Survey of Christian Attitudes Towards the World Religions. London: SCM Press, 1985.see introduction.

[6] Council on Spiritual Practices, "States of Unitive Consciousness." website,
accessed 7/3/14.
CSP statement about their own nature and mission:
The Council on Spiritual Practices is a collaboration among spiritual guides, experts in the behavioral and biomedical sciences, and scholars of religion, dedicated to making direct experience of the sacred more available to more people. There is evidence that such encounters can have profound benefits for those who experience them, for their neighbors, and for the world.
CSP has a twofold mission: to identify and develop approaches to primary religious experience that can be used safely and effectively, and to help individuals and spiritual communities bring the insights, grace, and joy that arise from direct perception of the divine into their daily lives.
[7] Jayne Gackenback. Transpersonal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integration (this paper was published on her own website, spirit watch, 1992)
accessed 7/2/14

[8] John Hick quoted by Hinman in The Trace of God...op cit, 363-264.

[9] Wordgazer, "Book Recomendation: The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman," Wordgazer's Words blog,May 31, 2014.
accessed 8/7/14

[10] Hinman, The Trace...op cit., 67-81.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Christianity and Other Faiths

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I have been assuming that experience of God is at a subliminal level. Since we all experience it that way we can experience it and not even know. Thus to talk about the inklings of ideas of God that we get and about any actual known experiences we have, we must filter that through cultural constructs. The reason is obvious, becuase culture is langue and it's through the constructs of culture that we interpret the world. God is beyond our understanding. Even those who experience God directly and so powerfully that they know it is real, are still confronted with a phenomenon of which they cannot speak directly. To make sense of it and to communicate it to others we must filter it through constructs. That means that our understanding of God is largely metaphor.

Given this framework I've come to a slow conclusion over the last couple of decades that the same reality stands behind all faiths. That doesn't mean that I see Krishna or Bhudda as Jesus, but it does mean that I see God as the motivating instigator of religion as a whole and of belief in God in particular. I see God as working in all cultures. I see God as having interaction with all faiths, but not filling the blanks as other gods. I see a basis for this in the Bible.

Paul said "To those who through persistance seek glory, honor and immortality he will give eternal life.But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the good and follow evil there will be wrath and anger...first for the Jew and then for the gentile; but glory honor and peace for everyone who does good. For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will perish apart form the law and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

Indeed when Gentiles who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirement of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences bearing witness and their hearts now accusing, now even defending them..." (Romans 2:7-15).[1] New American Standard and other translations say "their hearts accusing, now excusing them..." Most Christians are afraid of this conclusion and they down play this verse. Often Evangelicals will come back and say "he makes it clear in the next passage that no one can really follow the law on their hearts." Well, if they can't, than they can't. But if they can, and do, than God will excuse them. God knows the heart, we do not. The verse clearly opens the door to the possibility of salvation (although by Jesus) thorugh a de facto arrangement in which one is seeking the good without knowing the object one is seeking (Jesus). In other words, it is possible that people in other cultures who follow the moral law written on the heart know Jesus de facto even if they don't know him overtly. Paul backs up this conclusion in Acts 17:22-30 [2] Paul goes to Athens as is asked by the Athenian philosophers to explain his ideas to them.

These were pagan followers of another religion. Paul stood up and said to them, "Men of Athens, I see that in every way you are very religious for as I walked around and observed your objects of worship I even found an alter with this inscription 'TO AN UNKOWN GOD' Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you."He basically says that they are worshiping God, they just don't know who he is. That's why he says "I will make it known to you." He doesn't say "you have the wrong idea completely." Most Evangelicals dismiss this as a neat rhetorical trick. But if we assume that Paul would not lie or distort his beliefs for the sake of cheap tricks, we must consider that he did not say "you are all a bunch of pagans and you are going to hell!" He essentially told them, "God is working in your culture, you do know God, but you don't know who God is. You seek him, without knowing the one you seek. He goes on,(v27)"God did this [created humanity and scattered them into different cultures] so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out and find him though he is not far form each one of us." This implies that God not only wants to work in other cultures, but that it is actually his paln to do things in this way. Perhaps through a diversity of insights we might come to know God better. Perhaps it means that through spreading the Gospel people would come to contemplate better the meaning of God's love.

In any case, it does mean that God is working in other cultures, and that God is in the hearts of all people drawing them to himself. Of their worship of idols, Paul said "in past times God overlooked such ignorance but now he commands all people everywhere to repent" (v30). Now what can this mean? God never overlooks idolatry or paganism, in the OT he's always commanding the Israelite to wipe them out and expressly forbidding idolatry. It means that on an individual basis when God judges the hearts of people, he looks at their desire to seek him, to seek the good. That their status as individuals in a pagan culture does not negate the good they have done, and their ignorance of idolotry does not discount their desire to seek the good or the truth. IT means that they are following Jesus if they live in the moral life, even though they follow him as something unknown to them. IT also means that all of us should come into the truth, we should seek to know God fully, and when we do that we find that it is Jesus all along.

One thing this might change is our understanding of the chruch. It was the theologian Cyprian (200-258) who said there is no salvation outside the chruch. This doctrine is called extra ecclesiam. He was born in Carthage around 200. He was made Bishop of Carthage in 248, died in 258. [3] In his most important work, "De unitate ecclesiae."  he states: "He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother; . . . he who gathereth elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ" (vi.); "nor is there any other home to believers but the one Church" (ix.).[4] Cyprian should not come across as a bad guy even though he makes this exclusivity statement. For one thing he favored reinstating (after suitable intervals of probation and penance) those who fell away under persecution recognizing the extreme hardship they were under. He also faced sickness in order to stay in the city and care for plague victims. He was falsely accused and put to death by the very chruch which he so ardently defended.[5]

This is in the third century. Christianity had been going for a long time before this formal declaration that there is no salvation outside the chruch. Of course this doesn't mean they had not been saying it here and there all along. Yet they were pretty far removed from the understanding of Paul who way back there in the late 50s of the first century was telling the Greeks they already knew God but needed to know more about him. Not only had a lot happened, Christianity became a religion prosecuted religion of martyrdom, but also thoroughly gentile so that the perspective of Judaism was forgotten. Jews reject idols but they did not see pagans as damned merely for being who they were. Modern Jews still largely hold to that preservative.

One problem with extra ecclesiam is I'm a protestant! That began as a Catholic doctrine, when the split came with the east the Roman Catholics continued the idea, it's a Roman catholic notions. Though many protestants passionately accept the Father's as gospel the teachings of the Apostolic fathers became the teachings of the Catholics and are acted upon as though they exclude protestants. At least before Vatican II. While I am passionately defending extra ecclesiam a bunch of Catholics are looking at me and saying "but you are outside the chruch yourself!" So I have to re think this busienss of the nature of the chruch. First of all I have have to see the chruch as the tool, not the point of the mission. It is Christ's mission not the church's mission. As Motlmann says "The Mission has a chruch."[6] I also no longer see the church as the agent of salvation. Membership in the chruch is not what saves us. It maybe valid, it may be necessary but it's not the saving agent. Christ's atoning sacrifice is what creates the ground upon which forgiveness is possible. The chruch just preaches the message.

We find in the OT there were priests and prophets of God who were not connected with Israel, thus they were outside what was the chruch of that time. Balaam of Balaam's Donkey,(numbers 22:21-29) was called a prophet and was told to prophesy against the Israelites. 

Numbers 22:
 And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. Then he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River[a] in the land of the sons of his people,[b] to call him, saying: “Look, a people has come from Egypt. See, they cover the face of the earth, and are settling next to me! Therefore please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”
When he sees the angel and gets it right that he's suppossed to say waht God tells him he says: 38 “Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.” He doesn't say say "what God is this? what angle is this." He is already known as a spiritual person who could curse Israel, he already knows God and knows about God's angels. So there is evidence of spiritually and following of God outside the "chruch" of that day. We have a similar phenomenon with Melchizedek. He is called a priest of God most high, before Israel exists. In 14 Genesis He is introduced as King of Salem, and in Hebrews he is he is said to be a type of Christ and placed into Israel as bearer of an order of Priesthood through which Jesus' own high priesthood is reconned. (Heberws 7).

I normally value the fathers and use them as precedents but I have to take Paul's preservative over that of the Church fathers, especially such a late father as third century. I can't accept a rigid exclusive view that would condemn other traditions and culture just for being who they are.  It would be totally unjust if God condemned people just becuase they take their own culture seriously. We have to take our own culture seriously, what else do we have? Why should be accept a foreign culture merely becasue they say "we are the right way?" How can we expect them to be any different. 

Yet there are considerations that have come to concern me.

The three major considerations:

(1) Passages about idolatry

Exodus 20:3-6 ESV / 290 helpful votes

“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

1 John 5:21 ESV / 145 helpful votes

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Jonah 2:8 ESV / 135 helpful votes

Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.

Colossians 3:5 ESV / 130 helpful votes

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Psalm 16:4 ESV / 83 helpful votes

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.

numerous others.

(2) Warning not to preach any other Gospel

Galations 1:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

(3) false prophets lead one away to other gods.

Deuteronomy 18:20 ESV / 48 helpful votes

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’

It might bear reiterating: I am not saying that other gods are actually god.I may have expressed myself badly at times on message boards, but that's no excuse. We must continue to be clear. I say "all gods point to God." Point to does not mean they are God. Krishna is not Jesus. I am not saying Brahmin is the creator God of the universes. I am saying that all people have an innate sense of the true creator God and they are seeking God and they have a concept of God, however flawed or inaccurate all our concepts are. The direction in which they point is toward the true God but that does not mean that the specific personage of which they conceive is actually the true thing. I don't worship otehr gods nor do I encourage other to do so. I do appreciate and admire other faiths, and I study other faiths. I only study them with an understanding that aspects of their view might point in the right direction but for me Jesus is it. I'm not studying other faiths becuase I'm shopping for a new faith. Nor do I read them to put them down or to compare them unfavorably to my own. It just has to do with being a scholar.

I find value in the perspectives without worshiping other gods or abandoning my own faith. There is some comparison bewteen the talk of sowing and reaping in the OT, view of Karma in Hinduism and talk to balance and the Tao in Taoism. I'm not accessing that to obtain salvation through good Karma or through the Tao.

The question about the Gospel, what constitutes "another Gospel" I find is the most crucial question. That statement goes with the theology in the book of Galatians. It's a theology contains a social aspect and it counters racism, sexism, and preaches equality and social action.[7] He gives a short summary of the Gospel just before the statement about another Gospel so there's no doubt what he's calling the  Gospel: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. This corresponds to Peter's understanding in Acts: "for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). I don't say there is any other name. If I one who follows the true nature of the good, the creator God and seeks the right, is defacto follow Jesus even though he may not know it's Jesus he's following, that is not the same as saying that he's saved by another name. It's saying he saved in spite of antoehr name.

The Gospel I responded to and was born again by was more a presence than a theology. I  was responding to a real presence that I actually felt and a prayer that was answered immediately, a miracle before my very eyes.[8] I understood little theology but what I did understand was that Jesus would change my life from inside, by reigniting some aspect of my spiritual being, through his love, or the sake of his love and not in exchange for anything I could do or as a reward for anything I achieved. I knew it had something to do with Jesus death on the cross and his resurrection. I could not have explained it then as I can now.

I genuinely respect other faiths because they are indicative of who people are. Faiths are different because they are filtered through culture, and culture is what makes us who we are, either directly or indirectly. Even in rebellion against our culture we are being shaped by it. All faiths point to the one reality behind them all but this s not a licensee to worship "other gods." Once we know Jesus we know God. That doesn't mean that people of other faiths are seeking turth, that they aren't imbued with truth, that they don't follow Jesus without realizing that's who he is.


[1](Romans 2:7-15).

[2] Acts 17:22-30

[3]"Cyprian," Wikipedia,
accessed 5/13/14.

[4] Ibid.

[5] James E. Keifer, "Cyprian of Carthage, Bishop and Martyr." Bibliographical sketches of Memorable Christians of the Past. Online source:
accessed 5/13/14.

[6] I hope the reader will forgive me but I don't know where that quotation is found. I think it might be in Jurgen Motlmann's The Crucified God. I remember it from class notes in seminary (Perkins: SMU). 

[7] Metacrock, "Women and Christity: Netiehr male nor female." Doxa: Christian Thought i the 21st century. On line resource.
accessed 5/13/14

[8] see page 2 of my testimony: chriatianity other faiths