Christian Doctrines Christianity

Excerpt from Tom Harpur’s For Christ’s Sake”

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Con­clu­sion Regard­ing Chris­t­ian Doc­trinesTom Harpur, For Christ’s Sake, pp. 124 – 125

I am well aware that in ques­tion­ing ortho­dox teach­ing — the dog­mas of the Trin­i­ty and the God­head of Jesus, the divine ori­gins of priest­ly castes, the neces­si­ty of a pyra­mid-shaped hier­ar­chy, the the­o­ry of Atone­ment, the infal­li­bil­i­ty of the New Tes­ta­ment doc­u­ments, and Chris­tian­i­ty’s abso­lutist claim to be the only true way to God –I may be denounced as hereti­cal. I can only point out that it is impos­si­ble to prove” from the Bible that Jesus Christ was com­mit­ted to any such doc­trines him­self ; nor did the ear­li­est dis­ci­ples hold them all to be true. To state it blunt­ly, if these creedal tenets are con­sid­ered the sole cri­te­ria, then, as I said at the out­set, Jesus was not a Chris­t­ian. It is obvi­ous from our sources that — inso­far as we can talk about his reli­gion — Jesus remained a prac­tis­ing Jew all his days ; he was a devout son of the covenant”. The reli­gion about Jesus, which devel­oped lat­er, was what became ortho­dox Chris­tian­i­ty. It is my con­vic­tion that this devel­op­ment end­ed in a seri­ous dis­tor­tion of who he was and what he came to do. The ear­li­est Chris­tians, schol­ars agree, con­fessed but one sim­ple creed : Jesus is Lord (or Jesus Christ is Lord). This did not mean Jesus is God” — they knew bet­ter — but Jesus is mas­ter of my life ; I owe my obe­di­ence to his teach­ing about God, his exam­ple, his way.” That is pre­cise­ly what being a Chris­t­ian means to me. So I cling to my mem­ber­ship with­in the Chris­t­ian fold, what­ev­er some may say. As Jesus once taught, we must not judge oth­ers lest we our­selves be judged. This kind of dis­ci­ple­ship judges none to be heretics, none to be out­side God’s plan of whole­ness or sal­va­tion” for human­i­ty. It lies whol­ly open to the vision of God’s truth in all the world’s great reli­gions and to His light” in the life of every per­son. It stands firm­ly on the sav­ing of Jesus that belong­ing to the King­dom is not a mat­ter of pious­ly using the right” words or rit­u­als, but of humbly seek­ing to do the will of God.

The tor­ments and divi­sions the world suf­fers today are in scan­dalous mea­sure the result, how­ev­er unwit­ting, of the intol­er­ance and self-right­eous­ness of man-made ortho­dox Chris­t­ian posi­tions. This book is a plea to let these go, to hear him, and to fol­low him afresh in that new­ness of life” which is always wrought by love — for Christ’s sake.

Jesus said : This is my com­mand­ment, that you love one anoth­er, as I have loved you. Greater love has no man [per­son] than this that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you keep my com­mand­ments.” (John 15:12 – 14)Endmark

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