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Toward an Inclusive Dialogue

Sep 06, 1995 09:36 PM
by Arthur Paul Patterson

At 4:56 PM 9/6/95, Brenda S. Tucker wrote:
>Daniel's method of speaking regarding spiritual truths is a method that has
>developed over the years following the life of Christ. It's useful in a
>setting where we sit and listen, hang our head, pray, and maybe sing a
>little. In other words, you are speaking very much like a man in the
>ministry. I also think that you carry this ministry into your meetings with
>people and that this is helpful to your psyche because you are able to feel
>the unity and the spiritual life and in this way you acquire a sense of
>helping and aiding in a great plan.

Art: Brenda, since you have put this on line I felt compelled to add my
voice in contradiction to your encouragement of Daniel. I am a hundred
percent in favour of the the beautiful sentiment that I think motivate your
upbuilding of our new arrival. While I know that he has attack me and it
may look like it is a person matter, I would like to say that Daniel needs
to confronted by his denial of the fundaments of his own self professed
faith. Grace, love and forgiveness are central to the Christian message and
to encourage him in his misguided understandings of how to express that
message to others is to go amiss.

There are just too many power and ego needs being met by Daniel in his
constant haranguing to attribute his fervour to devotion to Christ alone.
If he is a minister at all he is of the ilk of Ian Paisley, Bob Jones,
Iatolah, ect. I think this message not only hurts people who do not share
his faith perspective but hurts those who do share his perspective. The
gospel of Christ is damaged when the tone of it is so strident and
opinionated. Jesus was no milksop and he did attack his enemies but he did
it when he knew them and understood their position. If you look at the
texts Jesus attacked religious hypocrites more than fallen people like the
adulterer or misguided people, or broken people. The humble or weak are not
condemned by Christ only the arrogant and self assured.

In Daniel's post to me he said he would take one tact if I were a
unbeliever and another if I were a believer. This is Scriptural but he had
it wrong, if I were an unbeliever he should leave the judgement to God, at
least according to Paul the Apostle, who said: (in the context of sexual
misconduct) For what have I to do with judging those on the outside? Is it
not for those on the inside that you are to to judge? God will judge those
on the outside. 1 Corinthians 5:12,13. What Paul is saying is that
judgement begins in the Church and the world's judgement is taken care of
by God. That is why I suggest that Daniel stop judging the outsider, if
that is what he considers Theosophists, and move to take stock of the
situation closer to home, starting with himself and his attitudes.

I however to not find an intrinsic contradiction between the teachings of
Theosophy and the normative teachings of the Biblical Tradition. There are
differences and there are ways of interpreting that are unfamiliar to each
other but a respectful dialogue is entirely possible. The central word
here is "repectful".

I would like to hear from other theosophists a brief understanding of how
Theosophy has been approached and reacted to by other faiths including
Christianity. I recall reading that in the early years HPB and others in
the movement encountered Christian intolerance. How did they handle it. I
think the karma wheel has gone around and we have another opportunity to
evaluate how to dialogue with others and what some of the ground rules
ought to be.

Brenda: What theosophists are trying to develop is a method which
incorporates the
>lives and teachings of our eastern brothers. Too many people were taking
>what men from the east said and twisting it to suit their own needs, often
>times misinterpreting and perverting a very beautiful and spiritual message.
>The symbols used in the east are grand and beloved in their own right. If we
>can't communicate successfully with the eastern world, how can we hope to
>continue existence peacefully and without grave error?

Arthur: If I may presume, just a little... I would venture a guess at
Daniel's reply but of course he will make it himself. That is that in
Christ there is no East and West all will bow their knee to Christ either
willingly in this life or unwillingly in the next. I would suggest that the
East has another agenda. The common Western problem has to do with guilt
and anxiety. The East is not the same it stresses suffering and
epistemology. I think that the message that has spiritually evolved in
Christianity especially through Paul and the Protestant Reformation is
geared to sin and anxiety which is answered by the idea of a
"substitutionary atonement" with a legal cast to in in Latin theology. The
questions we are asking today are different and have more in common with
those asked by the East - what is the nature of ultimate reality and how do
I live in relation to that Reality without ignorance and without illusion.
Two different questions, I think equally valid and answerable in different
ways but not contradictory intrinsically.

In order to explore this we must get down to sources and how they are
related. Personal opinions about the other person's ideology will not do.
In biblical terms we must be Bereans those who search the scriptures to see
what is true. So search the writing of Theosophy, not for what is wrong
with them according to your perspective but for what they have in common.
Perhaps the Theosophist who is totally turned off of the evangelical
intolerance perspective might want to see if that attitude is normative in
the biblical text itself, or at least the spirit and evolution of the text
itself. Otherwise we are talking past each other.

I would suggest that we take what Daniel is saying seriously. What is it:
1. That there is only one exclusive path to salvation 2. that this path is
revealed in Jesus Christ as presented in Scripture alone, 3. That
acceptance of the offer of substitutionary atonement is the experiential
means of liberation 4. that all other spiritual attempts to have union or
reconciliation lead to deception and ruin. Very clear set of assumptions.

What are the core assumptions of the Theosophical perspective? After asking
those two questions I would then go on to wonder if the core is actually in
sync with the primary sources of theosophy or the Bible. If there are
requirements of character that are needed to interpret the core

I would also ask what filters (secondary sources) we are viewing the
primary source? How does that effect what we see there. Then I would ask
myself about my current situation and its effect on the way I see
spirituality. Can a first century message be really applicable to a
twentieth century world? If so how is it applied? Same holds true in
Theosophy. What do we think terms like Masters do to a secular humanist or
intellectual in the twentieth centure. Masters sounds pretty paternalistic,
dependent, and not in sync with the collective consciosness of humans
today. Lots to discuss about interpretation and communication there.

Brenda: >I enjoy your messages but don't wish the other members of our
group to lose
>faith in our goals as an international organization. We can't just simply
>ignore the contributions of an eastern world or "save ourselves from
>damnation" by becoming so self-assured that there is only one truth.

Art: I can't say that I enjoy Daniel's posts. They don't make me angry they
make me very deeply sad. I am sad because I know that spiritual
perspectives can greatly enhance humanity and that the message of the Bible
is miscontrued and distorted in a hideous form of intolerance . I guess due
to my love for the tradition and for the primary sources, I find myself
overwhelmed when I see it being gnarled into something so unattractive. I
guess this is how some theosophists must feel when they see the same
intolerance coming up in there circles. I do however enjoy the possibility
inherent in our on line dialogue to move the discussion to a higher level
than polemics into a level of devotion to what binds us, however we define

In my zeal I hope I haven't given the impression of a know it all. I am
asking questions more than providing answers. I hope that I have set a
stage for a deeper dialogue. I do not want to exclude Daniel but I don't
want to forever be grappling with his fundamentalist agenda.

Art Patterson

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