Friday, January 31, 2014

The Philosophy of Jesus Christ

Unity in diversity.  Out of the many, one.  A statement on every dollar bill in existence "E pluribus unum."  It's the motto on the seal of the United States itself.  This is our starting point, because it's important we understand just what we're looking for in a philosophy. 

When I think about the perfect philosophy, I want it to be beautiful.  It should explain reality accurately and coherently.  It should show justice.  It must be absolutely true (this is the one we skip in modern times because we prefer a buffet style.)  Oh and love would be nice.

And what about practical application? 

There is philosophy of government, economics, ethics, religion and so on.  In the struggle of man kind to survive on this dust ball, what is the primary purpose behind all the philosophies of the world past and present? 

Discovering the unifying thread in the ultimate diversity of cultures and ideas on the planet. 

To date the idea has been to embrace contradictions in ideas, to allow for some sort of unity in diversity.

Unfortunately if person A wants a ham sandwich and person B wants to kill person A, they can't both be right and still survive in harmonious unifying diversity.  Person A goes to get a ham sandwich and is in the process murdered by person B. 

If Jesus Christ teaches that my sins separate me from God, there is one piece of truth.

Then Buddha teaches that there is no god and my desires must be removed, there is another piece of truth.

Obviously they can't both be right.  It doesn't make sense.  One wants the removal of doing wrong, but fully supports doing right, and claims a God governing the universe.  The other wants the removal of all desire, good or bad, and claims no god at all. 

So truth is by it's very nature exclusive.  There is a correct answer, and an incorrect answer.  There is objective truth.  There is a God.  These are things I will not be trying to prove in this piece. 

My desire here is to point out the superior teaching and life philosophies lived and spoken by Jesus Christ.  I won't be comparing the lifestyle of Jesus Christ to other "great teachers" of the various world religions.  Instead I will be comparing the philosophies of Jesus Christ to modern mindsets and ideas on morality, right and wrong, and so on. 

Jesus Christ lived the philosophy of a wider context.  His life was the example of one lived with eyes set on eternity.  He was God become man.  He was the infinite God and maker of all things.  Yet when he lived on Earth, he lived to make the required impact.  He lived not as a God on Earth, but as a humble servant with a set amount of time. 

Much philosophy on Earth is written one could say for a man who is to live forever in his present body.  This is not the case.  The average man or woman will live about 70 years.  If you're very lucky (or unlucky based on your perspective) you'll get 100 years.  It's amazing how that simple fact is ejected entirely from the modern mindset.  Modern man refuses to face the grim facts of history and of his impending expiration date.   We tend to have such an ignorant view on just how limited we are.  We don't want to be limited, so we divorce ourselves from our limits and pretend we are limitless.

What was the essential teaching of Jesus Christ? When asked a similar question, what is the most important commandment, he said:

Luke 10:27 (NIV) He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Love God, love people.  Very simple.  Definitely works in practice too.  

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples in John chapter 13.  He set the example, that if God comes in a human body, God himself, and humbly serves his people, that's the way a Christian should live. Humbly serving.

Luke 22:46 (NIV) "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."

Jesus urged his disciples to pray against temptation.  Yeah, so what?  The "so what" is Jesus knew the problem.  The problem isn't an invading army, a corrupt government, or a depraved media.  The enemy is temptation, the enemy is sin, and the enemy is the forces of evil that manipulate the worldly powers and media corporations.  

In modern psychology and self help, I'm my greatest asset.  Truthfully, I'm my biggest problem. Jesus knew that.  

Luke 15:3-7 (NIV) Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Jesus Christ provides a powerful philosophy of life time and again.  He goes after the lost sheep, leaving the safety of the flock.  This makes no sense mathematically.  But it does make sense morally.  Once I stopped repeatedly turning my nose up at any mention of Christ, and actually read the Bible, I saw it made more sense than what I wanted to see or know.  

GK Chesterton said that the virtues of Christianity are great when packaged together, but the problem is that they don't function well separated.  He suggests in his book "Orthodoxy" that a scientist can be greatly interested in truth, but not at all interested in pity.  A man can love wisdom, but entirely reject compassion.  A religion like New Age can entirely embrace the principle of love but then reject objective truth or reason.  Napoleon or Hitler, a great genius mind, unfettered with morality or love.  Ideals are wonderful things, but we see empirically that they do not function apart from each other.  So we try to find a unity of ideals, a perfect unity of ideals, unity in diversity that functions for the well being of prosperity of mankind.

Gk Chesterton said something absolutely stunning in Orthodoxy, something that applies today in a way that I never realized.  He said that a generation of thinkers and philosophers could stop generations after from thinking and philosophizing by claiming all knowledge as useless.  Orthodoxy was published in 1908.  I realized today that is most certainly happening.  The post-modernists claim everything is relative.  Nothing can be known for certain.  The ultimate religion of atheism at hand.  Don't be fooled, these ideas do pervade the minds of students on college campuses.  All is relative is a dead end for knowledge, it is essentially calling an end to philosophy, knowledge, wisdom of any kind.  Very dangerous.

The solution is not an end to knowledge.  Unity in diversity is in fact already found.  It had been found before I was born.  I could just not see it or get on board with it.

Christianity is the perfect binding of all great principles in the perfect amounts.

There is great mercy and forgiveness in the Cross of Jesus Christ.  The clean slate, the fresh start, for whosoever might receive it.

There is great justice in the punishment of sin.  When we see on the news a pedophile or rapist who is thrown into prison, most if not all rejoice in their heart that justice was done.  When one is murdered, the victim receives at least a measure of justice when the murderer is sentenced to prison or death.  Justice is an ideal we love seen done to those who commit crimes around us, yet when it comes to ourselves we demand unconditional forgiveness.  It's the philosophy of Jesus Christ, of the Bible, that cuts through these obvious contradictions in modern thought.

There is great love in the God who calls us by name.  A God who pursues humanity as it flees from him.

There is great pity and compassion in the God who comes to Earth to save his people.  Free will has it's draw backs, but those are the rules, that is the set up. 

There is great beauty in the stars and the sunsets and the green forests and blue oceans crafted by the architect of all life.

There is incredible rational law and mathematical genius in the workings of the universe and the laws that govern it's functions.  Built by the genius mind of our maker.

I could go on and on.  It all comes together.

Christianity is willing to face the hard truth about the planet.  The idea that pervades universities is that somehow, everything is getting better.  Despite the evidence.  Mention the two world wars, and they get a little nervous.  Or Africa.  Mention the conflict in the middle east.  Start to talk about all the corruption just beneath the surface.. oh boy, now we're in trouble. 

The Bible says that the Earth is a broken creation destined for renewal by the architect of all life.

The Bible says man kind is beset by sin and lawlessness of all kind. 

The Bible says there is an enemy, an evil one who seeks to draw man into all manner of evil and away from God.

The empirical, historical evidence is powerful on this topic.  As much as any secular atheist or new ager wants to claim how wonderfully loving humans are, and how things are getting better everyday, the evidence points in the opposite direction.

Ironically the view of many New Age mystics is that the problem of evil and death and hatred will all go away by ignoring them. 

And more ironically still, the Christian is so often labeled by the culture as the ignorant simpleton, refusing to see the truths of science and progress right in front of them.  The Christian is pictured as the fool with his hands over his eyes, when in fact the opposite seems to so often be true.  Just one of many generalizations and stereotypes placed on Christians.

There is a generalization for every topic from religion to war, and the truth in the facts behind such generalizations rarely match with the table talk.

History is where I found so much hidden truth.  And books, imagine that.  Instead of believing a generalization, read a book, and suddenly it's seeming quite to the contrary. 

It's just incredible.  The kind of lies that pervade every level of culture, thinking, even science, literature, and places like philosophy and even the classroom itself.

But I'm a child of the American middle class suburbs.  All the debates and philosophical discussions really had little bearing on my life.  But you know what did?  Materialism.  The heartless tyranny of the bureaucratic red light green light of modern American living.  The awful evil of the chase for wealth and prestige, the esteem of neighbors and friends.  Such was my nightmare growing up. 

Materialism is possibly the most limiting and imprisoning of all philosophies I could imagine. Probably because I've experienced it first hand.

When anything but tangible evidence is dismissed and skeptically shunned, one is limited to the bottom line, the profit engine of society, the get rich quick self help tapes, the stern talking to's, the indiscriminate 9 to 5 chain gang lifestyle.

For me Christianity was the shattering of a lie, a glass house prison where everyone was telling me what you see is what you get! Work, school, job, marriage, make money, die. For me, it was the most liberating and freeing moment of my life. Because while materialism had all the benefits of rationally appearing to be true, it was at the same time the most diabolical lie, by exclusion. The elephant in the room was God. Everything in my head was screaming foul, but at the desk, whether school desk or work desk, they could shame me and describe with such precision the bottom line of materialism, the profit motive, that I felt guilty for even asking why.

But while they claimed to explain 99.99% of everything with daily materialism, they had in fact missed 99.99% while explaining the 00.01% with horrifying precision.

The religion of the American suburbs had really conformed itself to practical materialism as I grew up. You'd go to the church an hour on Sunday to play holier-than-thou. It was a sort of get together to act as if for a while. It was great for networking clients and job connections in the city. It was tradition, you know. A sort of vacant ceremonial religiosity conformed entirely to the will of a self-serving material job-oriented populous.

Do you understand the damage in that? Not only is the entire mindset around the child about wealth and personal merit, but the only true escape hatch from that organized insanity appears at face value to be yet another dead end!

Christianity is not the dead end it is so often made out to be. The lies about Christianity are as pervasive as the lies on any other subject in modern thought. Probably more so. The mainstream media sees only the evil Christianity does, and never magnifies the good.

Christ is hidden in plain sight today. That is a fact. It is the great agonizing fact. The lies in this country are incredibly powerful. The distractions are devastating. The addictions and compulsions extensive. It's amazing anyone survives it at all. In that, is the mercy of God, who draws us to his son.