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36646RE: [existlist] Re: "Christian" existentialism

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  • Herman B. Triplegood
    Nov 7, 2005
      Christian existentialism, as I see it, is quite relevant because it presents
      us with a challenge that is existentially poignant. This challenge, put
      simply, is: dare to believe. Dare to believe in the resurrection into
      eternal life. There is no question, here, of some kind of gnosis, some kind
      of privileged access to knowledge bequeathed to a body of adepts or
      initiates. When Christ said that he was the resurrection and the life, he
      was not communicating anything like a doctrine or a dogma. He was, in fact,
      challenging his disciples, and others, to embrace this belief,
      existentially, at a level far more basic than the level of a reasoned
      ascertainment of matters of fact. This is the sense in which belief mattered
      for the early Christian, it is the root and grist of the early Christian
      faith, which, historically, over the many centuries that have since ensued,
      has become obscured by battles over doctrine, dogma, orthodoxy, and
      political hegemony.

      To me this is a call to the participation in the transcendent ground of
      Being itself, at an existential level, at the nitty gritty level of daily
      experience. It is a call to the basic facticity, the concrete reality, of
      this human participation in transcendence that we have for the most part
      forgotten in these modern times of anti-transcendentalism. This direct
      experience of the transcendental is an existential fact that, in my opinion,
      we cannot rationally deny. This is where Christian existentialism becomes
      most relevant to our broader discussion of existentialism itself, and to our
      question concerning the ultimate meaning of life. It seems to me that this
      very question, the question concerning the meaning of life, is the
      fundamental question of existentialism. We find this meaning in life's

      The answer that Christian existentialism gives us, in response to the posing
      of this question, is: the purpose of life is the transcendence of death.
      Life finds its meaning in the midst of the challenge of living itself, in
      the face of death, with all of the existential uncertainties that this
      unique juxtaposition necessarily involves. Death is not the challenge that
      existence presents to life. Rather, life is the challenge that existence
      presents in the face of death. What, from this perspective, then, is death?
      Stated most succinctly, I would think that death is basically entropy, the
      tendency for order to break down. Death is the falling apart of order.
      Order, then, arises out of the courage to existence, to truly live a
      meaningful life, even in the face of certain death. Life is the open-ended
      project of the overcoming of such disorder, in the universe, through the
      creative evolution of order that finds its pinnacle in sentient living human
      being capable of participation in, and disclosure of, this transcendent
      ground, and in individual lives, inspired by the challenge to believe. There
      can be no question, at least in my mind, that this ground is not indeed
      divine. It is not immanent, and it is not merely human, or anthropocentric,
      but it does require human participation in its full disclosure in the
      immanence of the field of history where Being unfolds. Whether or not it is
      appropriate to further characterize this transcendent ground as the
      universal creator of order in the universe, I think, is a question we
      cannot, at present, answer, from our limited existential perspective.

      For further thoughts on these matters I would recommend visiting many of the
      works of Eric Voegelin. He communicates these ideas more effectively in his
      writings than I can here with a short post to a discussion list.

      What is the state of mind that has such courage to live in the face of
      death? What does it mean to have an existential faith in universal order, in
      the face of existential chaos? I think this is what is meant, originally, in
      the very early Christian teachings, by the word "grace." It comes from the
      Greek, "charis" literally meaning "gift." When we are graced, we are gifted.
      This notion of grace, and the important part it has played, especially in
      later Protestant thinking, and nowadays, in the more grass roots varieties
      of Christian fellowship that we see, particularly, in the United States, but
      also in Europe, is at the core of the so-called imitation of Christ, the
      imitatio, and its centrality to the message of Christian faith should not be

      Hence, it is with grace, that we calmly and steadfastly model our lives
      after the life of the Christ himself, a human manifestation of divine spirit
      in the world, who taught that eternal life is, indeed, the birthright of all
      human sentient beings. Blessed are the poor, those who are downtrodden,
      whose lives are made wretched by oppression and circumstance, for they will
      inherit this supreme gift. There are no chosen few.

      Gautama Buddha taught that attachment to life, attachment to things, can be
      transcended. But Jesus, one who kept himself in the company of thieves and
      prostitutes, those who are downtrodden, who are poor in spirit, who are the
      ultimate victims of societies that, whether deliberately or not, promote
      their own regressive elements, one who was executed as a common criminal and
      political subversive, he taught that death and despair, hopelessness and
      guilt, can also be transcended by means of grace.

      It should be noted that, in the classic hymn, Amazing Grace, where it is
      said that grace has saved such a wretched human as this, what is not
      deserved here, is not the grace that saves. What is not deserved is the
      wretchedness that such grace removes. The doctrine of original sin, of
      being, at our human core, undeserving of grace, I view to be an injection of
      a regressive element, a Manichean heresy, into the Christian teaching, that
      is utterly foreign to its original hopeful message of resurrection into
      eternal life and its challenge to us to live our lives in a state of divine



      From: existlist@yahoogroups.com [mailto:existlist@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      Of Aija Veldre Beldavs
      Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 6:25 AM
      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [existlist] Re: "Christian" existentialism

      > The point of existentialism is all we know is one we exist and we can
      > make decisions. The ability to make decisiions is at the heart of
      > christianity. the decision to accept of not accept the teachings of
      > chirist.

      imho that is also a conclusion in versions of mature philosophical
      reflections of other traditions that develops individually or
      collectively. very few people, if any, know different religious
      traditions with comparable sufficient depth and experience to be able to
      evaluate their comparative "worth," esp. when context is considered.

      it's easier to work with comparable concrete parts than to compare
      fuzzy bounded wholes.


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