• Wayfarer
    5.1k
    If you've read Eckhart, you'll be familiar then with most translations describing this attachment to God as being a kind of sinking into him. That is, we're sinking back into the primordial waters that is God's creative love.Buxtebuddha

    There’s a Franciscan monk, Father Richard Rohr, who is a popular speaker and author on these topics. The book I have of his on the subject is called ‘Falling Upwards’, and it’s very much about this kind of idea.
  • Cavacava
    2k

    You appear to be suggesting that slavery is good if one is a slave to the right person or thing. Strange, as I remember you being on the "tear down any 'Confederate' statue" boat because they represented slavery, presumably.

    Paul is expressing slavery to Christ as a way of being in Christ, not by shackles, whips, or physical force but in a free act of the will. Your OP asked if belief was necessary for salvation. The Bible's description of what happened to Paul on his way to Damascus suggests that the Lord can choose his own instruments.

    The Lord replied to Paul (2 Cor 12:9)
    "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"

    This is what I find fascinating about Paul, this conception of infinite power in powerlessness.

    Physical, forced labor as part of an economic system built on a slave class is immoral. Being a willing slave to one's conception of God is very different kind of slavery. There are few slaves that choose to become or remain slaves, unlike Paul who freely made this choice. It is a radical move for one who previously persecuted Christians.
  • Buxtebuddha
    1.4k
    Sorry, I hope that I wasn’t wrong, and that you’re not being ironic. In either case, apologies if any are called for.Wayfarer

    I was jokin' with you, X-)

    There’s a Franciscan monk, Father Richard Rohr, who is a popular speaker and author on these topics. The book I have of his on the subject is called ‘Falling Upwards’, and it’s very much about this kind of idea.Wayfarer

    I'll look him up, thanks.
  • Agustino
    9.4k
    The difference is that in one case (Christian grace) it is a gift from an agent (God) to the subject; in the other case, it is a precondition that is not offered by an agent. In Buddhism (as far as I know) there is no mind guiding or attracting people towards 'salvation' -- it is a result of personal effort + necessary preconditions. Therefore, it is quite unlike Christian grace in that it does not require external conscious help by an agent.Mariner
    Also on this point, there is a conflation between salvation on the Christian worldview which is given by grace and salvation on the Buddhist worldview which is actually what Christians know as theosis or deification (which is not given by grace).

    I guess Buddhists would take the equivalent of Christian salvation to be encountering the Dhamma or Buddha-nature.

    Regardless, I feel that the most significant & incompatible difference between Christianity and Buddhism lies on the topic of reincarnation.
  • tim wood
    323
    I used Christianity and Buddhism as examples with the assumption that readers would understand what religious belief and salvation mean in those contexts.Buxtebuddha
    If you're arguing that Christians and Buddhists - the respective faithfuls - both understand and mean the same things when they hear about or talk about belief and salvation within their faiths, I can assure you that is not the case.

    If you mean that somewhere within the main texts of either of these faiths there is a clear and complete explanation of what belief and salvation are, that also is simply not the case.

    That alone make most discussions of particular beliefs or salvation an exercise in nonsense. The invitation to define is simply an invitation to ground the discussion somewhere.
  • Buxtebuddha
    1.4k
    If you're arguing that Christians and Buddhists - the respective faithfuls - both understand and mean the same things when they hear about or talk about belief and salvation within their faiths, I can assure you that is not the case.tim wood

    I've never argued that. Read my posts again.

    If you mean that somewhere within the main texts of either of these faiths there is a clear and complete explanation of what belief and salvation are, that also is simply not the case.tim wood

    Oh really? How about you support that claim.

    That alone make most discussions of particular beliefs or salvation an exercise in nonsense. The invitation to define is simply an invitation to ground the discussion somewhere.tim wood

    Why are you even here, then? I think the thread has done some good, seeing as it is now four pages in.
  • sime
    157
    I don't see any reason to suppose that a person's self-reported beliefs when narrowly considered as a form of verbal-behaviour are qualitatively different from, or prior to, any other form of behaviour that is correlated to their holding of those beliefs. The cognitive therapist's working principle that the verbal behaviours of a patient represent the causal origin or explanans of the subject's broader behaviours seems sorely misguided to me.

    Self-reported beliefs more often than not, chase the environmentally reinforced behaviours associated with them along with the psychological needs of the individual, while the self-reported spiritual salvation of the manic-depressive can instantaneously change to existential despair with only the passing of a cloud over the sun.
  • BlueBanana
    493
    What counts as a belief? If one believes in a single, omnipotent god but calls them by a different name, does he believe in the God? What if one believes in a god that he calls God (and with every title used by christians), the description of whom fully matches the christians' God, but they claim they do not believe in the christian God?

    I do have other, less nit-picky thoughts to contribute as well (although I do believe the former question to be both relevant and interesting topic for discussion - not that it wouldn't be kind of nit-picky however). The Bible doesn't say that belief in God or Jesus is what brings the salvation, and that is all invented by theologians. However, as Luther said, it's not the good deeds that bring it either. Instead I believe the true path to salvation to be belief in Jesus' words, regardless of whether one has ever heard them or believes to agree with them. Jesus thought love and kindness, and being a loving and kind person is what saves a person through God's mercy.
  • BlueBanana
    493
    But of course what we think it means would be even more important, since if we get it wrong, we might go to hell...?Noble Dust

    Yes, but that would mean you chose to go to Hell. Hell isn't a physical place but rather a state of being (at least according to some), the state of mind of being away from God's love. If you understand the God's word in some way, and decide you agree with the morals that interpretation implies, and then God's will is actually something that contradicts those believes, it would mean you wouldn't choose those views.

    Let's hypothetically think that violent extremist fundamentalists were right. That would mean that God would want you to kill heretics, raped women would be responsible for getting raped and would be sinners, being gay would be a sin, etc. You wouldn't want the love of a being like that. Then you would go to Hell, which would mean being a loving, happy person.
  • BlueBanana
    493
    Regardless, I feel that the most significant & incompatible difference between Christianity and Buddhism lies on the topic of reincarnation.Agustino

    Does christianity really contradict reincarnation though? If reincarnation is thought of as a phenomenon involving the metaphysics of mind and taken apart from religious supernaturalism, there's no contradiction in my opinion. (Most) christians do already accept the reincarnation of the body anyway, in the form of the atoms of the body becoming ground and then parts of other living organisms, involving humans.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.7k
    Oh come on! Rotting in the ground and becoming skunk cabbage isn't reincarnation -- its recycling.

    Reincarnation would seem to be precluded by the Christian belief in the resurrection of the specific body which once was a man, as stated in the creeds, "I believe in the resurrection of the body". Within Christian theology, we are born once, live, and die -- and will be raised from the dead at some future time. Let's not get into how a dead body recycled a hundred times over is going to be raised from the dead -- that would be God's problem, not ours.

    Supposing that Christianity countenances reincarnation is like saying Buddhism countenances the single resurrection of the body. As far as I know, it doesn't.

    Religions arise in various cultures to answer ultimate questions, but that doesn't mean that they end up overlapping all over the place. A Jew, a Buddhist, a Zoroastrian, and a Christian each have a unique take on life and death, and whatever--if anything--happens after death.

    Some not-very-well-informed Christians would like to import reincarnation, I think -- beats me why they would want to do that. Personally, I think once is enough.
  • BlueBanana
    493
    Oh come on! Rotting in the ground and becoming skunk cabbage isn't reincarnation -- its recycling.Bitter Crank

    Well that's just the matter of deining the terms. Buddhists believe that the parts of the soul become new souls after death, not that a specific person's soul is reincarnated in a new body and it's the exact same personality and soul. That process is very similar to what is scientifically proven to happen with physical bodies.

    Reincarnation would seem to be precluded by the Christian belief in the resurrection of the specific body which once was a man, as stated in the creeds, "I believe in the resurrection of the body". Within Christian theology, we are born once, live, and die -- and will be raised from the dead at some future time.Bitter Crank

    I don't say that's incorrect, but they do also believe in the results of scientific research. By saying that christians believe in the reincarnation of the body, I was referring to that, not the resurrection of the final judgement day. Similarly while they do believe that (obviously) the soul/mind is resurrected with the body (although I guess some believe in a zombie version of apocalypse), it's not told by the dogma of the church what happens inbetween. The substance of which the soul consists could be "recycled", and like how you referred to the reincarnation of the body as recycling, not even aknowledging it as reincarnation, christians wouldn't see the reincarnation of soul being reincarnation or a religion-related thing, just referring to it as, for exampe, recycling.
  • Wayfarer
    5.1k
    I feel that the most significant & incompatible difference between Christianity and Buddhism lies on the topic of reincarnation.Agustino

    One of the reasons I couldn't accept the articles in the Nicene Creed was the doctrine of the 'resurrection of the body'. There seemed to be a belief that at some point in the distant future, all of those who had once lived would then be 'resurrected' - their bodies would be restored and they would live again. At the time I was a child, so I didn't ask about the details, and they weren't ever explained to me, but that seemed to be the gist, and I found it impossible to believe (along with the second coming).

    In the time since, I have wondered about Christian views of eschatology (what happens to the soul after death). There was a 'doctrine of limbo' which was supposed to account for what happens to un-baptised infants, but I understand that it has been deprecated. But I find the whole picture of what 'the afterlife' means, especially for the billions of people outside the fold of orthodoxy, impossible to grasp.

    Whereas, the understanding of the 'round of birth and death' seems naturalistic. Every individual birth is one in a sequence of the development of consciousness. What is done in this life, creates causes that then come to fruition in other lives. Actually, in the early Buddhist texts, very little detail of the processes is given; it is baldly stated that beings will be re-born in one of the six realms in the next life on account of their actions. But liberation from the round of birth-and-death is just that - liberation from it, not being reborn in heaven; heavenly realms exist, inhabited by celestial beings, but they are not eternal, as nothing is. This is represented by the depiction of the Buddha as being outside the circle of birth and death in depictions of the Wheel of Becoming.

    In Buddhism (as far as I know) there is no mind guiding or attracting people towards 'salvation' -- it is a result of personal effort + necessary preconditions.Mariner

    Pure Land Buddhism, which is hugely popular in East Asia, is very similar to Christianity in that respect. It is founded on faith in the Buddha Amitabha - 'amita' meaning 'immeasurable' - who is a celestial being who has pledged to save all beings who have faith in him and repeat his name. It has hard to convey the feeling of what these religions are like in a Forum post but they are very similar to Christianity in their emphasis on faith. I suppose they're a 'devotional' form of Buddhism, as distinct from the rather more 'gnostic' forms that are commonly encountered through Tibetan and Zen. But I've also found that grace is fundamental to Buddhism (surprisingly, perhaps.)

    Does Christianity really contradict reincarnation though?BlueBanana

    In the early Christian era, there were beliefs in 'metempsychosis' which is an old Greek term equivalent to re-incarnation; Pythagoreans definitely believed in it. It is suggested that the Church Fathers, Origen, subscribed to such a belief, although his language about it is highly ambiguous. In any case, in one of the early Church councils, belief in the 'pre-existence of souls', which is the belief that the soul exists before it becomes attached to a body, was declared 'anathema', i.e. formally declared a heresy or unacceptable belief. Since then, none of the Roman or Greek-speaking Churches accept any form of reincarnation. The only place it is found in the Christian world is in heretical Gnostic sects, such as the Cathars, who were fiercely persecuted by the Catholic Church in medieval times.
  • Agustino
    9.4k
    In the early Christian era, there were beliefs in 'metempsychosis' which is an old Greek term equivalent to re-incarnation.Wayfarer
    Not amongst Christians though - at least the vast majority.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.7k
    ... so I didn't ask about the details, and they weren't ever explained to meWayfarer

    That's because there are no details.

    I would have to reread the Gospels again (and try to do so in a "de novo" frame of mind), but it doesn't seem to me that the resurrection of bodies was upper-most in Jesus' preaching. It doesn't seem to me that life ever-lasting was either. Which makes sense, because (again recollecting) it doesn't seem to me that the Jewish tradition on which Jesus stood was all that concerned with those issues either.

    My own belief is that one could fully satisfy the demands of the last judgement (as described in Matthew 25:31-46) without expecting to exist after death, and without expecting one's body to be raised from the dead. Of course, if one was to be present at the last judgement, one would have to still be alive, sort of, but... well... be that as it may... mumble, mumble, now on to the next item in the syllabus.
  • Wayfarer
    5.1k
    It doesn't seem to me that life ever-lasting was either.Bitter Crank

    I think Life, capital L, or Eternal Life, is the central teaching of the Gospel - Life being 'entering the Kingdom', which is radically transfigured state of being whereby all fear of death and sense of ego-centred existence has been extinguished. Nowadays this is weakly preserved as 'belief in Heaven' but I think if one actually encountered the living Jesus, he would set you straight in no uncertain terms.

    Actually that leads well to an article on Maverick Philosopher's blog Joshua Royce and the Paradox of Revelation. Royce was an American philosopher in the 'Golden Age' of American philosophy (other notables including Peirce and James). Comments are by the blog author (Bill Vallicella). It is directly concerned with the theme of the OP so I will quote it at length:

    There are tough questions about the possibility and the actuality of divine revelation. An examination of some ideas of the neglected philosopher Josiah Royce (1855-1916) from the Golden Age of American philosophy will help us clarify some of the issues and problems. One such problem is this: How can one know in a given case that ...divine revelation is genuine?

    1. Concern for Salvation as Essential to Religion. It is very difficult to define religion, in the sense of setting forth necessary and sufficient conditions for the correct application of the term, but I agree with Royce's view that an essential characteristic of anything worth calling religion is a concern for the salvation of man. Religious objects are those that help show the way to salvation. The central postulate of religion is that "man needs to be saved." Saved from what? ". . . from some vast and universal burden, of imperfection, of unreasonableness, of evil, of misery, of fate, of unworthiness, or of sin." In an earlier post on Simone Weil I spoke of generic wretchedness [the equivalent of the Buddhist 'dukkha']. It is that which we need salvation from.

    2. The Need for Salvation. "Man is an infinitely needy creature." But the need for salvation, for those who feel it, is paramount among human needs. The need for salvation depends on two simpler ideas:

    a) There is a paramount end or aim of human life relative to which other aims are vain.

    b) Man as he now is, or naturally is, is in danger of missing his highest aim, his highest good.

    To hold that man needs salvation is to hold both of (a) and (b). I would put it like this. The religious person perceives our present life, or our natural life, as radically deficient, deficient from the root (radix) up, as fundamentally unsatisfactory; he feels it to be, not a mere condition, but a predicament; it strikes him as vain or empty if taken as an end in itself; he sees himself as homo viator, as a wayfarer or pilgrim treading a via dolorosa (path of sorrows) through a vale that cannot possibly be a final and fitting resting place; he senses or glimpses from time to time the possibility of a Higher Life; he feels himself in danger of missing out on this Higher Life of true happiness. If this doesn't strike a chord in you, then I suggest you do not have a religious disposition. Some people don't, and it cannot be helped. One cannot discuss religion with them, for it cannot be real to them. It is not, for them, what William James in "The Will to Believe" calls a "living option," let alone a "forced" or "momentous" one.

    3. Religious Insight. Royce defines religious insight as ". . . insight into the need and into the way of salvation." No one can take religion seriously who has not felt the need for salvation. But we need religious insight to show that we really need it, and to show the way to it.

    4. Royce's Question. He asks: What are the sources of religious insight? What are the sources of insight into the need and into the way of salvation? Many will point to divine revelation through a scripture or through a church as the principal source of religious insight. But at this juncture Royce discerns a paradox that he calls the religious paradox, or the paradox of revelation.

    It's (4) which is most relevant to the OP but I think this is a useful clarification of the whole question.
  • Thorongil
    2.6k
    Too bad we can't know that.Buxtebuddha

    But we can gain some intimation of that by looking at God's purported revelation.

    This means that you think belief is required for salvation, and that one must choose one sort of salvation over another, ya?Buxtebuddha

    I still don't know exactly what you're packing into the word "belief." Perhaps your concern is that if salvation is possible or a future reality for one, then it makes little difference in terms of attaining it whether one believes in the possibility of salvation or not or whether one believes in one specific formulation of salvation than another. My reply would be that there are presumably reasons for believing that salvation is possible, such that one needn't just believe in its possibility credulously. I happen to think there are. I would also reply by saying that perhaps there are reasons for salvation in some sense depending on what we believe and what we do in this life. In other words, universalism with respect to salvation may be false.
  • Thorongil
    2.6k
    If eternity, then no, all seriousness (assuming that means profound philosophical notions, the gravity of the human condition, etc?) would not be done away with; they would be subsumed and brought to fruition through the outbreak of the finite into the infinite, into eternity, regardless of the actions of individuals. Maybe?Noble Dust

    I think "seriousness" could refer to what we believe and how we act. If these have no transcendent significance, as it were, then there is no reason not to commit suicide.

    And what about silliness, by the way?Noble Dust

    Pardon?
  • Steve
    8
    Christianity like many things is best understood in hindsight. When you have the answers and know the truth, the Bible makes complete sense. Because much of scripture has been misunderstood you won’t make the right conclusions based on what you learn at Sunday School.

    To answer your question, you have to know what to believe and what you are being saved from.
  • Buxtebuddha
    1.4k
    When you have the answers and know the truth, the Bible makes complete sense.Steve

    Can one ever have the answers or know the truth, though?

    Because much of scripture has been misunderstood you won’t make the right conclusions based on what you learn at Sunday School.Steve

    How might I make the right conclusions, then?

    To answer your question, you have to know what to believe and what you are being saved from.Steve

    I think Christianity provides a pretty straightforward framework for know what to believe and knowing what salvation entails. Do you disagree? If so, why?
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