Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How Christian Theology encourages Moral Relativism

THE ORIGIN OF MORAL RELATIVISM

For the first time in over half a century, the Pope of the Catholic Church has decided to resign.  Although the Pope has publicly cited health as a reason, I can't but help think that there is another reason: disappointment. Disappointment that the Catholic Church is becoming less influential in the daily lives of everyday Catholics.  Disappointment concerning the influence of "moral relativism" in secular society.  Disappointment that many Catholics have left their church. Plus, probably private disappointment concerning the outcome of a private political power struggle concerning the Vatican bank, over which some suspect Pope John Paul I was assassinated in 1978.  But the outstanding issue for the Pope is probably what is most dear to him: theology, and the opposition of moral relativism to that theology. Moral relativism states that there is no moral standard, but that it depends on one person's point of view as to whether something is right or not.  But while it is easy for the Catholic Church to point the finger at secular liberalism, lets examine why the Western world is becoming increasingly secular in the first place.  Because I think the western world has become secular due to the underlying central theology of the Catholic Church. Which is very ironic, as the church is opposed to secular relativism.  But lets look at the theology, to see how the underlying theology actually encourages moral relativism. It is highly ironic, but I think it happens to be very true. The Catholic Church can't fight against moral relativism as it will not admit fault with its theology.

But I do not just want to focus on the Catholic Church, but also the Protestant Church. Because unknown to most, the underlying theology of the Catholic and Protestant church is basically the same! The difference is that the Protestants rejected the Pope's authority and other extraneous traditions, such as prayers to the saints.  But if you look at the main theological points, there is no difference whatsoever whether one is Catholic or Protestant. Theologians know this, which is why there can be ecumenical dialogue between the two churches.  Emanuel Swedenborg took a deep look at the theological differences between the Catholics and Protestants, and found that they were basically the same. He summarized his points in a little work entitled Summary Exposition (also known as Brief Exposition).  He did this to point out why it was necessary for a new Christian Church, one that rejected the old false foundations.

So what are the main theological points of the Catholic and Protestant churches, as summarized by Swedenborg?  They are as follows:
1. That there is a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead.
2. That all have original sin from Adam.
3. Imputation of merit from Jesus Christ.
4. Justification by faith alone.
To show that these are the same theological tenets between the Catholic and Protestant churches, Swedenborg goes point by point through the decrees of the Council of Trent, and the Formulae Concordiae of the Protestant churches. So I am not going to repeat that here. The one difference is on point 4: whereas the Catholic church adjoin good works to faith, Protestants state that good works are "spontaneous" through no self effort.  So lets examine why standard Christian theology helps encourage moral relativism in secular society:

A BELIEF IN MANY GODS IS A BELIEF IN NO GOD

All Christians will maintain that Christianity is monotheistic.  But ask any one of them: explain what the Trinity means.  Most will say a "mystery" and leave it at that.  But if pressed, one of them told me: there is one person here, one person there, and another person there.  Three persons one God does not make.  The interior belief of Christianity is one of three gods. This will never be admitted, because even the Athanasian Creed itself states that it is not permissable to speak of three gods.  So while there is three, the creed states that one must only admit "one". So while in the mind there are three persons of beings, many Christians will call it one God with their mouth, even though it isn't. What is in the mind does not agree with what the mouth says.

So as a result, a belief in many gods is a belief in no God. And this results in a belief in "Naturalism": that Nature somehow spawned nature. If there is no God, there is no life after death.  If there is no God, and no life after death, then good and evil does not matter.  Its all a point of view.  Or, what most people take it to mean, its what you can get away with for self-gain while appearing to be good. With no God, humans will place their own self ego in its place. Egotism, self-centeredness, and individualism become all important. Thus the proliferation of "self-help" and making one self "happy".

ORIGINAL SIN IS FATALISTIC AND DEFEATING

Since we all have "original sin" from one parent Adam, there is nothing we can do about it so we might as well give up.  And another problem: science has shown man existed long before 6,000 years ago. So there's this foundational belief that disagrees with scientific fact.

IMPUTATION OF MERIT FROM JESUS CHRIST

Not only is "original sin" fatalistic and defeating, but the theology of "imputation of merit" means that Christ's merit is transferred to us, through no self effort. So all you have to do is believe.  That's it.  And all of a sudden you are worthy of heaven, no matter what your life is like, right?

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE

This goes hand in hand with the previous tenet. Most people take "faith" as synonymous with "belief".  Although Catholics adjoin works to faith, Protestants do not, stating that works somehow arise as a byproduct of belief.  Man's will is nothing, good works will somehow "spontaneously" appear through no self-effort. You don't do anything, God does.

So I will ask the Church, why is society becoming increasingly secular and morally relativistic?  It is simple: YOU, THE OLD CHURCH, ARE TELLING EVERYONE TO BE MORALLY RELATIVISTIC. And that, my friend, is why the old Christian Church has become dead and irrelevant to modern society. Ouch. That's not a message the church wants to hear.

The problem is, certain theological beliefs may look good on paper. But put into practice?  Well, things then may become morally relativistic when one puts a false teaching into practice. And when put into practice, the teaching itself will begin to become irrelevant, as people have a tendency to align their beliefs with the way they live.

THE REVELATION OF THE NEW CHURCH

Justification by faith alone, and a belief in a trinity of three person, destroys the two essentials of religion: that there is one God, and that one must live by His commandments. If you live a good life, you will go to heaven. Those who are evil will be condemned.  The Bible says this over and over and over again: everyone will be judged according to their works. And in everything you do, your true intentions will be known. Your conscience will be laid bare before God. A belief in one God, and living according to conscience, are two universals that many know who do not belong to any church or religion. This is because there is a hidden influx of God's spirit into every human soul.

The problem is, the theology of the old Christian church has become corrupt, where there is no one God, and one's deeds have become irrelevant. Is this what Jesus taught?  No.

THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD, AND JESUS IS THAT GOD IN HUMAN FORM

The human born to the virgin Mary is not a separate being from the Father.  The human is God in human form. The human itself is the Son of God, who was born in time, not from eternity:

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us."
Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works." (John 14:8-10)
And yes, Jesus prayed to the Father as another person. But He did this as he was initially born in an imperfect human body, and could experience temptation. Temptation can only be experienced when one is in a state of humanity, where one is in a state separate from the Divine itself. He has to grow as any other human would. But eventually, He overcame all temptation, to the point where He made his very human body Divine. That is why he rose from the dead. That his imperfect human was transformed into a Divine Human, is shown by this statement of Jesus after the resurrection, before He ascended into heaven:

All power has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matt. 28:18)
Was power transferred from one being to another being? No!  God made His very human Divine. In this way, man became God and God became man.  All in one Divine Being. The true trinity is in one person: the Divine itself, the Divine Human, and the Divine Proceeding, which is God's spirit proceeding from His body. There is no such thing as three divine persons.

WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR DEEDS

We are responsible for the deeds we choose to commit.  It is upon this principle upon which all the laws of society are based upon.  This responsibility is a spiritual one: as a rational being, we are responsible for the deeds you choose or choose not to do. Those who choose good, become in conjunction with God, those who commit evil, separate themselves from Him.  Although one must acknowledge one self as sinful, that acknowledgment is the first step: one must acknowledge one's specific sins, and then turn away from them. If we do nothing about it, our confession is but lip service.

Although we are responsible for the deeds we commit, we are not responsible for the nature we inherit from our parents.  There are certain aspects of our self that we have inherited which we cannot change.  In the New Church, there is no one person that was Adam, "Adam" is symbolic of the first church that existed on this earth, which had direct revelation from heaven.  Long before evolution and genetics became known scientific facts, Swedenborg talked about the difference between what we do by choice, and what we inherit from our parents. We are only responsible for what we do by choice. When born, we are born into the love of self, and we must withdraw from that essential love, which is evil, towards a love of God and others through a life of service. It is the love of self which is the foundation of all evil. And no one wants to call their own love of self evil: it is a very hard thing to admit.

CONJUNCTION WITH GOD IS THROUGH GOOD AND TRUTH

It is through living by God's commandments that there is conjunction with God.  Many churches will say that as Jesus "fulfilled the law" there is no need to follow the law of good and evil.  But this is not only a gross misinterpretation of scripture, it is a big falsehood.  For in the Christian dispensation, the Jewish ritualistic laws were prophetically fulfilled, where it is no longer necessary to keep them.  The ten commandments remain intact as God's covenant between God and man.  Inasmuch as we follow these commandments, inasmuch there is conjunction with God. And even though we do it, still we should acknowledge that all that good originates from God alone. That is the nature of the covenant, for it allows for God to live in us through His spirit.

This conjunction between God and man is spiritual in nature.  The reason He had to come in human form is that at that time, this spiritual conjunction began to be broken.  As He became man, and as a man He became God, this conjunction is direct and through Him alone.  This conjunction is through active participation, and it is gradual.  There is no such thing as instantaneous salvation: it is a life long process. And it continues to eternity. We cannot believe in one way, and live in another manner.  The merit of someone who is just is not transferred to another through some unknown theological process.

FAITH ALONE DOES NOT SAVE

Faith alone, or what is the same in Protestant theology, belief alone, does not save. So at least on this point, traditional Catholic theology is more correct than the Protestant version:

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe --- and tremble! (James 2:19) 
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. (Matt. 7:24-27) 
When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'"Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'"Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?'Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matt. 25:31-46)


SO WHY DID THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH BECOME CORRUPT?

All religions, without exception, become corrupt over time.  And the tendency is from monotheism towards polytheism.  Different aspects of God, when revealed, become distorted and man begins to create distinct personal beings as the most simplistic manner of explanation. Moreover, portions of scripture have been interpreted in a very literal manner. When I was explaining to someone how the doctrine of a trinity of three persons is false at its very core, he just could not believe how God could allow centuries of tradition to be so false.  But He doesn't - religious leaders suppress the revelations. But the reason why it is allowed is that God has given man freedom - even freedom when it comes to religion.  Thus God did not stop Adam & Eve from sinning in the Garden of Eden. Nor did he stop the Jewish people from worshiping a golden calf while He revealed the 10 commandments to Moses.  So you can forget centuries of tradition. If a million people say and believe something that is wrong, it is still wrong. Majority does not rule the truth. There are still Jews today that still expect the coming of a Messiah - not realizing this happened 2,000 years ago.  Likewise, there are many Christians who do not know that Jesus has come again in a Second Coming - but this time in vision, where He revealed the spiritual sense of scripture.  This is the true Second Coming - a coming in the Word of God, whose spiritual sense has been revealed out of heaven. But to accept that means to accept the theological falsehoods of the present church.  These falsehoods must be exposed and brought to light, before the church of the New Jerusalem can become a reality.


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