Is Christianity a custom fit religion?


I’ve been noticing more and more that people speak of Christianity, specifically coming to Christ, as a “journey” rather than a lifestyle that is adopted. The problem is that the term “journey” today might mean something different than it did in the past.

In ancient Christianity the idea of “theosis” was prevalent. The idea that we must begin to move towards being like God in all things except being and identity. Since that can sometimes be confused with pantheism (which the teaching of theosis is not pantheistic at all, but can be confused as such), we have used different terms over the years to describe the act of theosis. We use sanctification, Christ-like, Godly, and other terms to indicate that we are becoming more like Christ. In this way, Christianity is a journey and one where different people will be on different levels of their journey. Some of them might grow closer to Christ through engaging in music or paintings. Others might grow through books. But even though the style of our growth might be subjective, historically the journey required fidelity to Christ and His teachings.

Lately, however, the word “journey” is merely code for, “What I like in a religion.” I heard someone the other day say that he was looking for a religion that fit him. He really liked what some Christians had to offer, especially from a local church that met at a bar on Sunday nights. He said he felt that he wouldn’t have to change too much, just change his plans on Sunday nights to attend.

This is the Christianity that we’ve been breeding for some time now. We have built a custom-fit religion that doesn’t require us to change either how we act or how we think (or both). We like a religion that conforms to our culture rather than having to conform to the religion. This is one reason that the “institutional” church is facing such a backlash right now; we’re constantly told that Christianity is a relationship and not a religion. We’re told that the relationship exists, but the rules are man-made. Even those who are part of the institution of the Church tend to distance themselves away from the institution and attempt to look more “journey-friendly” than anything else. We all know of “big box” churches that tower above the landscape that when you walk it they just feel more contemporary. The stage is set up in a professional manner, the preacher will wear a polo shirt with jeans or, if he’s younger, shorts. They use terms like “small group” and “discussion group,” even if there is little discussion occurring. Regardless, no matter how much such churches may try to appear to be laid back and rule free, they still have rules, regulations, and doctrines that members must adhere to in order to be active in the church.

An unforeseen consequence of such anti-establishment thinking, however, has been the erosion of all standards and all doctrines. For so long we’ve railed against rules and conformity to a system that the younger generation has begin to move away from the rules that we did keep and the doctrines we viewed as essential. We have created a very individualistic faith, but Christianity is the furthest thing from individualistic. How have we made a communal faith individualistic? We’ve eradicated the necessity for people to conform and instead now we expect the church to conform to the people. Continue reading

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Damascene Cosmology – On the Mutability of Nature


First Sub-Premise – “If they are mutable, then they are created”

Before explaining how things that are mutable are also created, we should first seek to understand what it means to change or be mutable. To change means to change in one’s nature or being, that is, to get better or worse. A rock can be bigger or smaller. One rock might be bigger than the other. A beast can beget another beast, so that within the nature of the beast there is the ability to multiply. For instance, two rabbits can form another rabbit so there are three rabbits. Within the nature of “rabbit” we then see the ability to change; today there might be 3 rabbits, tomorrow there might be 300 rabbits, and the day after there might be 150 rabbits.

Change also occurs to free-will creatures. A human can become more or less good. They can embark on actions that cause them to have a greater moral standing or a lower moral standing. They can also increase and decrease in wisdom. The same stands true for angels who can also make free-will choices to be good or bad and who can also increase or decrease in wisdom. This shows that both physical (animals) and non-physical (rational) entities can be subject to change in some form.

Regardless of the type of change, the key factor in change is movement. If two rabbits become three rabbits, then there was a movement that caused the third rabbit to come about. Thus, a movement caused the change.  With free will creatures who become wiser, it is their desire to become wise that can cause the change in their wisdom. For non-sentient creatures, there is something else that causes them to move.

The implications of movement causing change would indicate that objects that change are not eternal. For instance, if x moves y, then y cannot be eternal. The reason is the chance indicates that y is not perfect; in some way it multiplied, it increased, it decreased, it became better, and so on. An example is if Peter taught Paul that it was morally wrong to steal. In this case, Paul was moved by Peter and increased in his moral knowledge and became more moral. Such knowledge and morality were not inherent within Paul’s existence to begin with. If Paul existed for eternity, then we must wonder how he would ever obtain the knowledge that Peter taught him or why Paul did not have said knowledge to begin with.

For the naturalist, the idea that mutable items indicate a creation is problematic. The reason is that energy, which is said to be eternal, is quite mutable. Energy comes in different degrees and can take different forms. The energy released from a car accident is smaller than the energy released from an atomic bomb. Matter is also found in different forms and degrees (there is more matter in you than in an ant).

If it is true that what is mutable is created, then naturalism lacks a proper standing. Naturalism would be untenable as all material elements are complex and therefore subject to change. The only way a naturalist can avoid the conclusion that God is the unmoved mover is to claim that an infinite regress is possible. Continue reading