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©  Wim van den Dungen

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Salvation is adherence to Jesus, called "the Christ", i.e. the anointed Messiah of Israel, the unique Son of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & Moses ; a Divine Person, a Word pre-existent in God, the heavenly Father. The apostles teach humanity is saved through the Incarnation, Death & Resurrection of the Godman Jesus Christ.

Christianity announces the goodness of the Supreme Being (onto-theology & "summum bonum"). God is a "plenum" beyond conditioning. He is both a necessary & a supreme being (cf. Thomas Aquinas : God as "Qui est." & "Ipsum esse."). Creation is a free gift. He flows over in Himself. The Good Father is the unique principle of two other Divine Persons : His Son & the Holy Spirit. One God is thus revealed as a "perichorèse" or "circumincession", an eternal & infinite circular exchange between the Trinity of Divine Persons. Christ saves humanity, either exclusively (for members of His Catholic Church) or inclusively (because Jesus as Son of Man is the unique Son of God). Recent Christian theology tends towards pluralism.


Although Christian philosophy teaches Christ (the Son of God) became human, Christians nevertheless stress this only happened once, namely in the man Jesus. For traditional ascetical theology, the complete recuperation of the "Imago Dei" never leads to the identity of the core of everyman's soul (i.e. the spirit) with God. The complete unity of humanity and Divinity did only take place in the Godman Jesus, and this explains why the Son of God is also understood to be the unique Son of the Heavenly Father. When following Jesus Christ, we become the adopted sons of God (through, with and in His Name).

Christian ethics is largely derived from Jewish & Hellenistic norms. The major difference being its focus on Christ as unique redeemer of humanity and its unique cosmology, situating the Holy Trinity before creation. The incarnation of God in the Godman called "Jesus Christ" is His complete Self-expression ("kenosis"), whereby the mutual relationship of love between both is in Itself a Divine Person : the Holy Spirit. Christ's humanity is without stains (a perfect human nature which naturally does the good). When Christians follow His example in their human relationships, they experience God in every other human being. Hence, Christian ethics focuses on dispositions & actions which enhance human life. By acting humanly, the common good increases.

Evil cannot be part of God. The Semitic concept is rejected, the Platonic embraced. God did not create evil nor does His creation necessitate it. Evil is the outcome of a choice against the order of being (either by spiritual beings and/or by man's natural will). This choice is tolerated by God (not created & not willed) to allow for real freedom, genuine responsibility & moral conscience. Spiritual evil predated the evils caused by humanity. The anti-order of darkness of Lucifer & Satan undermines creation. It does not exist, except in the evil will in which the devil "is frozen". This anti-order is given the status of "anti-Christ". He works against God. Chaos as such does not exist, i.e. is not a positive state of being but an absence or a corruption of it (cf. "privatio boni"). Absolute evil has nothing of its own and can not be characterized, except as an absolute negation of life and an existence in the perverted will. At the end of the Day of Judgement only paradise (absolute good) & hell (absolute evil) remain.

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It is true the great Protestant thinkers introduced a manifold of "new" theologies (also new liturgy & catechism). After the Reformation, the Christian Medieval order was past (cf. the ideal of one, holy empire upon which the imperial style of the church of Rome & Byzantium was based since Constantine). The dangers of the relativity of the sacred symbol = the founder(s) + superstructure being more clearly & critically understood, a "modern" contra-Reformation emerged (cf. the Concily of Trent on the unification & simplification of the Rituals of Catholicism). The results were poor. The linear standardization of the Rituals caused the embroided local practices to feel alienated. It was not the expected return of the Medieval Order.

The values of the Reformation stimulated the reemergence of a pluralism of churches, only seen in the first & second century AD (cf. the Gnostic churches, Montanism, Marcionism, etc of Early Christianity). However, the consequences of recent facts (Q1, Gospel of Thomas, the libraries of Nag Hammadi & Qumrân) go even further than most so-called radical Protestants would like to go. What is left without "scriptura" ? Clearly the discovery of Q1 must have an unwelcome influence on all Christians ? Or not ?

Sub-traditions : Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Christian Affiliations ...

Criticism of Christianity :

§ 1/+ The sayings gospel Q is the main historical source of the narrative compositions of the synoptics (Mark, Matthew & Luke). In Q1, the earliest and purest layer of the sayings, the word "Christ" does not occur. Analysis of the frequency of the words used in Q1 shows that "be", "do", "My" and "Elohîm" are often used. Jesus is portrayed as the Son of Man who "has nowhere to lay His head" (Lc.9:58). His teaching is summarized by the first saying of Q1 : "How fortunate are the poor ; they have the "Kingdom of Elohîm." Nevertheless, the nomenclature of the Hellenized Jews who believed Jesus was the "anointed one" ("christos") -the so-called "church of Jerusalem (& Antioch)"- became, together with the gentiles, the standard. Paul enlarged the use of this christic appellation by coining many new phrases such as to exist "in Christ", or assimilating those of earlier authors (Philo's "circumcision of the heart"). This major centralizing authority interprets the descent of the Holy Spirit in an exclusive way (suggesting that realization through Jesus is for an elected selection of disciples working behind closed doors). In Q1 no "prima Petri", no eucharist, no liturgy ! 

§ 2/- Christianity has three pillars : scripture, faith & tradition. The history of most so-called "holy" scriptures is difficult to trace. As soon as a collection of texts is presented as a complete, monolithic belief in the manifestation of the Divine, deconstruction becomes destructive if one is unable to find enough clear-cut historical evidence to back the foundational themes & their major spirito-conceptual tools. In the case of Christianity, it seems a lot of it was manmade and drew from earlier sources. The teachings of what is now called "the historical Jesus" have not been understood or implemented. Roman Catholicism -thanks to the centrists- introduced the gospel of the God Christ Jesus, with all the imperial Roman pump of upper classes of the 4th century. A theological pretence implemented "de manu militari". In this way, the good news of the gospel from Jesus, the Son of Man, was side-tracked.

"We shall see that Christianity eventually adopted the 'shadow' version of Platonism, which led inevitably to an emphasis on the logical order and to the complete and devastating neglect of actuality. Thus actuality has not been seen to have a movement and an entelechy of its own, and consequently no compromise with the incompleteness and limitations of actuality has been effected. This fact alone is responsible for the shortcomings of Christianity."
Feibleman, J. : Christianity, Communism and the Ideal Society, 1904, chapter III, my italics.

§ 3/- Besides the problem of the historical authenticity of Christianity, many internal contradictions paralyze the truthful missionary intent. As soon as dogmatic statements are countered by reasonable arguments, an unfruitful distinction between knowledge and faith is made (between "nature" and "grace"). Most, if not all, physical claims of the Christian churches have been refuted by modern science. Contemporary Christian fundamentalists still cling to the historical value of the narrative gospels. Hence, they are unable to change enough to adapt to the needs of the current situation of humanity.

"En effet, le Verbe de Dieu, par qui tout a été fait, s'est lui-même fait chair, afin que, homme véritable, il sauve tous les hommes et récapitule toutes choses en lui. Le Seigneur est la fin de l'histoire humaine, le point vers lequel convergent les désirs de l'histoire et de la civilisation, le centre du genre humain, la joie de tous les coeurs et la plénitude de leurs aspirations."
2e Concile du Vatican : Gaudium et Spes, 1965, n°45.

2001 : The Jubilee of the Historical Jesus ?

Recent scholarly research suggests actual Christianity to be the religion about Jesus Christ instead of the spirituality apparent in the sayings of Jesus. Moreover, only about 20% of what is proposed by Christianity in the New Testament is considered by liberal scholars to be definitive. The Jesus discovered in Q & The Gospel of Thomas is the authentic, solitary Jesus of history. He has been called a Buddhist, a Gnostic, a Cynic, a magician, et j'en passe. Who was this historical Jesus unwrapped by science ? A philosopher, a mystic ... the Son of Man, the Word of God ?

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initiated : 6 IV 2000 - last update : 31 XII 2012 - version n°35