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The Way, or the pre eminence of Grace

Time again for a waffle as I sip my coffee.

It is sometimes claimed that Christianity is the way of God's Grace, while all other religions are only man-made, basically self-power, people seeking to earn salvation by "works"; false ways.

This is simply not true. All of our world's Faith Traditions deal with the interplay of the transitory and the eternal, the inter-play of Grace and Works, of self-power and Other Power. Of the scope of effort.

As some attempt at evidence, two quotes from Traditions other than Christianity:-

"By God's grace alone is God to be grasped. All else is false, all else is vanity." (Guru Nanak of the Sikh Faith)

"They who have known God have known also this one certainty; that it was God's grace that led them to it, and framed them in readiness for it, and prepared their heart and mind for it; and it was God alone who lifted them to that embrace." (Swami Abhayananda of the Hindu faith)

Moving on, in the interplay of self-power and Other Power there is the necessary step when we recognise that what we might first of all believed to have been self-power, our own choice and decision, was in fact the work of Other Power. That Grace is not an "offer" to be received or rejected, but is rather the very fabric of Reality - to be [i]recognised[/i], never earned or attained. The [b]causal basis[/b] of salvation/enlightenment is Grace, not any decision we might have made.

One of the great Christian mystics, Meister Eckhart, once said:- "They do Him wrong who only know God in one particular way. They end with the way rather than God."

When offering such words for thought and reflection, some have been known to throw back the well known NT verse:- "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me." Spoken by Jesus.

There is a branch of Christian thought concerned with interpretation of the Biblical text. Hermeneutics. Some claim that the Spirit guides the true believer in their interpretation. Which often leads to those who believe vastly different things each claiming to be the "true" Christian..... 馃榾

As I see it, the actual import of Eckhart's words can be related with the words of Jesus by a simple application of hermaneutics. A way of understanding, of interpretation, that is NOT "new age", NOT a "turning away from what has always been taught" - NOT any other claim made by a certain kind of Biblical Fundamentalist. It is rather an understanding that has been held throughout the twenty centuries of the Christian Faith.

The One who speaks is the Eternal Logos. The Universal Christ. Otherwise known as the Tao, Brahman, Buddha Nature. "Truth is one, sages know it by various names".

Well, I am no sage, but I get the drift.....馃榾

What of human freedom? Freedom is found not in our choices, but in the reception of grace, where we become "one" with the [i]radical freedom[/i] of God (or Reality-as-is) Freedom itself is Grace. Finite human beings are not burdened with deciding their eternal destiny by the cards dealt them by the apparent chance of time and space, but by the very nature of Reality.

Therefore the only viable "theology" is Universalism. All are chosen. And why not? Why would anyone wish to argue? To hold onto their "specialness"? To hold onto their "decision" as the causal basis of their salvation - in effect, a way of [b][i]works[/i][/b].

To look around our world and not see sheep and goats, us and them, but only ever to see others "chosen" like ourselves, others we are called to love [i]as ourselves[/i] - not to [i]convert[/i], not to try to change into mirror images of ourselves to justify our own beliefs.

Just to finish, a few words from a literary essayist speaking of the works of the poet T S Eliot, which in parts illuminates some of what I have said:-

[i]Eliot feels no compunction in alluding to the Bhagavad Gita in one section of the poem and Dante's Paradiso in the next. He neither asserts the rightness nor wrongness of one set of doctrines in relation to the other, nor does he try to reconcile them. Instead, he claims that prior to the differentiation of various religious paths, there is a universal substratum called Word (logos) of which religions are concretions. This logos is an object both of belief and disbelief. It is an object of belief in that, without prior belief in the logos, any subsequent religious belief is incoherent. It is an object of disbelief in that belief in it is empty, the positive content of actual belief is fully invested in religious doctrine.


Ending, it seems to me that much religion broadcast here on SW is in essence Jesusianity. Not Christianity. And should anyone feel compelled to say that Jesus WAS the Christ as some sort of rebuttal of what has been said, then they haven't really understood a word..

Thank you

May true Dharma continue.
No blame. Be kind. Love everything.
I believe in a Creator. Singular. More than infinite is wasteful.

I think religions spring from an encounter with the Creator, however that is defined. By the nature of man, those genuine encounters, physical or otherwise, gather followers seeking The Truth. Shortly thereafter, clever politicians realize it's a source of power and control and set about constructing a framework and a priesthood by means of which that power and control can be exerted and channeled.

None of it is necessary to faith. The design of religion is to confer comfort and lessen argument. Fat, happy and quiet. Ideal.

It saddens me that people of faith so often meet encounters with other people of faith with "My way or no way."

I don't know what God looks like but I'm pretty sure it's the same God others worship. In their way.
@Mamapolo2016 "Fat, happy and quiet" I like it!

Thomas Merton from his "Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander":-

[i]The more I am able to affirm others, to say 'yes' to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone.

I will be a better Catholic, not if I can refute every shade of Protestantism, but if I can affirm the truth in it and still go further.

So, too, with the Muslims, the Hindu's, the Buddhists, etc. This does not mean syncretism, indifferentism, the vapid and careless friendliness that accepts everything by thinking of nothing. There is much that one cannot 'affirm' and 'accept,' but first one must say 'yes' where one really can."[/i]
@TelegramSam Exactly. We should be inclusive instead of building fences.

Churches in the conglomerate sense are rapidly imploding. Maybe then we can re-admit the Creator.
Grace has a few meanings. In the Bible Grace is the act of God taking our sins on his own shoulders and saving us from hell,
"For by Grace you are saved, through faith and not of yourself, it is a gift from God."
@Carazaa Thank you for your testimony.
Sure, it is in opposition to your truth but thank you for not deleting it 馃檹
@Carazaa Hello again, if understood, what you have called "my truth" actually embraces your own. Yours excludes all but your own.

All the best.

(I will not respond again. Thank you.)

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