Christian Ethics Course

Christian Ethics Essay.
 
I have taken a few courses from ULC seminary now and this one is probably the most interesting and relevant to me as a Christian.
Reading through the material after printing it off it is safe to say I almost ran my hi-lighter dry.

We as Christians do share a lot of values that the world does.

For example. Where the Bible says not to kill, the non-believers would agree killing is just un-acceptable. This goes for stealing, lying and pretty much any other sin that affects others as much as it does us.
But what about the other commandments?
Adultery. Most people agree they want to live in a monogamous relationship. Christian or not. But then again there are some who have open relationships. Coveting is something people view as being innocent but do not realise the further implications it can have on a persons life. This sin eventually leads to stealing as well as an un-healthy obsession with what one does not have.
As Christians we have left a world of sub-standard and have entered into a world of Gods standard.
Where the world says, “life a good life.” The Bible says, “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
(Romans 12:2)

I found two good web definitions for the word ETHICS.
• ethical motive: motivation based on ideas of right and wrong
• the philosophical study of moral values and rules

What motivates a person to have ethics and what maintains them even in the worst case scenario?

For the Christian it must be the scarlet thread that is weaved through the words of the Bible and is summed up in the words of Matthew 22:37-40

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and foremost commandment. The second is just like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets.”

It was just this morning that I prayed that in the heat of the moment I would do the will of God and love, even at gun point. Under the most brutal circumstances we as Christians have an obligation to lay down our own lives and our own desires and follow the commandment of love.

Picture the worst case scenario in your mind.
Put yourself in that scenario. How do you imagine yourself handling it? Whether it be at work compromising your beliefs or dealing with your lifelong friends who are about to take part in questionable activity for a friends bachelor party. As cheesy as it sounds but I must quote it, “What would Jesus do?”

Psalm 101 is an excellent view of integrity when it comes to his personal ethics which he has obtained through belief in God Almighty. To anyone who is reading this essay, write this Psalm out and memorize it. Make it your prayer.

I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will know no evil.

This Psalmist is saying that even behind closed doors he will keep in mind his values and the fact God is watching him. It is easy to behave yourself when people are watching, but when do you “let your gut hang out?” I am a truck driver. I spend a lot of time alone in a workspace driving around the city I live in driving a really big truck doing deliveries in tight places. Sometimes I get cut off by a car and they hit their brakes and I will vent and have sworn, and for that moment in my heart I let their actions (which by no means depict their overall character) control my emotions and how I view them as a person.

This on my part is a total lack of integrity. In the privacy of the moment I fail to keep in my mind that God is ever present and I have to maintain in my heart to love my neighbour as myself.

I would like to turn the attention of this essay over to the book of Colossians.

The reason I want to take a brief look at this book is because this is what happens when the body becomes disconnected from the head, which in this book the body is the church and the head is Christ.
If we become disconnected we lose contact from the source of our strength and understanding of what is right and wrong. So many Christians think that when they sign on to the Christian life they have an obligation to a list of rules they can somehow keep under their own power and their own will.
This is the furthest thing from the truth. As James 4:7 puts it we are called to a life of submitting to God and resisting the devil through folded hands in prayer.
Not by our strength, not by our might but by Gods spirit. (Zech 3; Psalm 20:7)

What happens when we lose connection with Christ is we are left to our own devices and ideas.
We come up with strange doctrines and ceremonies which are us trying to make physical manifestations of God when he has all along made Himself known by His word through His Son.

When we come up with ceremonies and our own standards of right and wrong we have what Paul called in
Col 2:23 as being “self made religion; self abasement; severe treatment of the body.”
Now that we have been infected with the leaven of the Pharisees (Mark 8:14) we have now become legalists because we are functioning apart from the headship of Christ. Now we are becoming Judge-mentalists.
We are holding others to our un-godly standards of “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (Col 2:21)
Now according to Colossians 2:16 “No one is to act as our judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day.”

I realise I have failed to summarize what I learned entirely throughout the Christian Ethics course but I lack the ability to do so in a short essay. All I can do as a fellow pilgrim tripping over his own feet at time, and I often catch myself sinning against God and man who was made in His likeness I can say who the source of our ethics is and the best advice I can give as a fellow Christian is feed upon the word of God.

I cannot read your bible for you; I cannot say your prayers for you. So many of us are malnourished when it comes to the word of the living God.
A one hour sermon once a week is just not enough to keep us on track. We need bible studies at home with other believers, we need prayer groups and we need our private time alone with God to be jealously guarded against the pressures of work; television and even sometimes our families. We might need to sacrifice an hour of sleep to get into the word of God.
True ethics and a true standard of right and wrong comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. A lot of people do good deeds and leave moral live. But without the actual power of the Holy Spirit which Jesus brings we will not be able to withstand the pressures the world throws at our values.
Besides. What good is virtue if it is not done in the name of the one God?

Remember that whatever good we do does not from any effort on our part but Christ living in us. If you try to live the Christian life you will become so tired and frustrated that you will give up and be of no use to anyone, but rather be heavenly minded, constantly submitting your thoughts and your time to God. Open your heart daily to God through prayer.

A good moral decision begins with your thoughts because your thoughts become your action; your action becomes your habit and your habit becomes your character.
Psalm 119:9 in the amplified Bible puts it as “How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it].”
The way we behave is an outward sign of God working in us to the rest of the world. If we participate in the crude joking at work and if we are a part of the gossip; or whatever type of unethical behavior that the world is known by we will not be the light God has called us to be. Some religions are known by the way they dress or do their hair. How about we as Christians are known by our love and devotion to Christ!?
I used to be in the army and I was as part of the crudeness and ill-behavior as anyone else. One day I said that I was a Christian and people actually laughed at me. That was an indication to me that I was not conforming my life to the word of God and was not living according to the Ethics that Jesus came and taught. His social code really is far and above any other that I have seen in this world.
When we pray for Gods kingdom to come we pray that his righteous rule and reign would be evident in our hearts and lives. Within ourselves as a Christian sub-culture in this world we need to separate ourselves and be a theocracy and show the world that Gods way is the only way to life and peace. A true utopian society that functions in the world, yet we are not of it.

Colin Burgess
(justpray@hotmail.ca)

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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.
As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning, I’ve watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.
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As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Master of Religion

Master Of Religion: Lesson 17-History of the Church III

 The Journeys of Paul: Paul and Barnabas continue their journey and came to Pisida, here they were invited to speak in the synagogue where Paul preached a good sermon. This was the first recorded sermon of Paul. Acts 13: 16-48 versus when Paul preached to the crowd before him.
Paul sermon was very clear about his will from God and that he sent from him to the human race to give them a good news about God words to his people and saving them from destruction of mankind.
Paul traced the promised through the history of Israel, and he spoke of how God had stood beside them in all their trails and tribulations: God had promised not to forsake them, God had promised to send a savior and God did just what he said he would, if anyone doubted that Jesus was that savior, the resurrection was the proof that his or her doubt was mistaken.  The resurrection of Jesus stands at the heart of the gospel. It was something that God did, and doing it God confirmed fulfilled that promise of Salvation.

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The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers and lots of free online sermons for your use. We also have a huge catalog of Universal Life Church materials.  I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning and have loved watching the continual growth of the seminary.
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Comparative Religion Course by Rev. Jan RavenSpirit Franz

What you gained from this Comparative Religion course:  
 
I gained a much better understanding of the complex, yet interconnectedness of the Religions of the world. Though quite diverse in implementation, there appears to be a common thread of etiology.  Religion is truly for man and woman. It is created to fill voids of lack of understanding with comfort, commonality and a sense of purpose, direction and accountability. You may not agree with a particular belief system, yet you need to respect one’s choice regardless.  Hence the need for interfaith pastors.  I believe that Religions are clearly based on cultural environment, i.e. the God’s and Goddesses that correlate to the sentiment and culture of the subjects with whom the are working with. 
 
A people sees God/Goddess in the image of what they know- their culture. Native Americans did not see Spider Woman as Danu for example.   The image of Jesus throughout history has changed so many times, yet never really reflecting what he probably actually looked like-Jewish!
Once you get passed your own world, perhaps through meditation, you can make contact with deity different than what you have grown up believing it to be…. which also opens the way towards cultural understanding. They are inexplicably tied together. 
I also gained a more detailed understanding of how religions have shaped political agenda since the dawn of time. Some moreso than others of course.  Our political landscape in America today is shaped more by religious etiology than not.  (My personal opinion- not what the forefathers had in mind!) Not just in this country, but the world over.  It has been used and unfortunately misused to bring about control and demonization of people, races, cultures and women for thousands of years.  It is quoted and interpreted, misquoted and misinterpreted, re-written to the point of almost creating new text that forward agenda. That saddens me but it is a reality and so very human.  There again, with an eye towards an accurate accounting of history, you able to decipher more truths. 

What you liked best in this course:
I liked the ability to complete it as I could within the confines of my schedule.  I additionally very much enjoyed learning the history of the world through a spiritually based set of glasses. It is a new and eye opening experience. If only people could understand the historical basis of Religion(s), I believe it would open the minds and hearts towards more tolerance.  There is way too much of the “I’m right, this is the only way attitude” which precludes individuals from questioning and growing. I believe it comes from a place of fear – fear of being different, fear of change, fear of not being accepted or being condemned.  History provides an opening of the door of reality and understanding. 

What you liked least about this course.
 I thought the information about Wicca could have been more expansive and complete. There were, what I believe to be, some inaccuracies stated. Nothing major, just little things that a Wiccan would notice. 

How you think these discourses could be improved.
I would simply include more correct and more information generally about Wicca/ Paganism.  Perhaps provide the ability of students to chat online about the course as they study.  I did email Rev., Ann once, but not hear anything in return.  

Additionally, the format. Though being an artist, I do very much enjoy the color and photos/pictures, I would love to see that included but perhaps in a more consistent, simpler fashion. When you print out the pages the fonts change from very small and hard to read to large. Just a bit more simply constructed format for ease of printing without having to save it-and then alter it to print  in a readable fashion. 

Any other comments.
None. 

Would you be interested in taking other courses from Rev. Kythera Ann?
Yes. 




Rev. Jan RavenSpirit Franz

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Universal Life Church – Mystical Christianity Course

-Rev. Alexander Balla
1. Imagine a Christianity without the influence of original sin and the fall.  If we remove “fall/redemption theology” from Christianity, what is left and what can be put in its place?
The focus would undoubtedly be on the focus that Jesus taught, rather than on constantly living in sin.
2. Explain the connection between the traditional understanding of the Genesis narratives and our ecological concerns for Mother Earth. Why are the two connected?
Traditionally it is the responsibility of all mankind for beginning and perpetuating original sin. In the same way that we sullied our own race, we are now sullying the earth around us; the earth that God presented as a gift to all people.
3. How do you react to the possibility, as theorized by Gregg Braden, that you carry the message “God Eternal within the body” in your genetic code?
This is a beautiful realm where spirituality and science meet and can peacefully coexist. The message of our creation exists within our DNA in our similarities and our genetic oneness with each other.
4. If this “God Code” is common to all humanity, how does it affect your understanding of current issues of world peace and justice?
This proves that we are all one big family. As sad as it is to say it, every family has a tendency towards dysfunction. The human family is no different. Maybe through decades of schooling and global therapy the gaps that divide us can be healed.
5. Become the storyteller of your life and create your own creation mythology. What would your creation story feel, look and sound like?
My story would be relatively short and simple:
In the beginning there was darkness, and this darkness represented nothingness, for nothing had yet come into existence. At the moment of his/her choosing God said “Let there be light!” and light came in the form of energy and matter, which initiated the big bang. The universe had been created and began to boil with eternal and ever expanding possibilities until somewhere in the far flung reaches of this universe a star was born. Rocky and gaseous bodies surrounded this star, which would usher in the advent of all life on a planet whose inhabitants would one day call earth. This God adhered to the laws of scientific creation that he/she gave life to and in so doing, gave life to all creation.


Examples of my work:
www.youtube.com/alexballa89

Work experience:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderballa

Published work/albums:
http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/AlexanderBalla

Comparative Religion

            In this Comparative Religion course, I really liked how it covered a lot of religions that I have not seen covered in other places.  I am used to seeing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam covered but not along with Hindu, Buddhism, Sikh, and others.  I gained a lot of respect of other religious beliefs that other people have and understand more about their religions.  The thing I liked best about this Comparative Religion course is the broad range of topics and religions that were brought up.  The thing I liked the least about this course was that some of the discourse were quite lengthy and took up quite a large chunk of time to get it to print correctly and time to read and understand it.  I would like to see some of the discourses shortened and maybe lengthen some of the other discourses so future students can plan around a more consistent lengthened discourse.  I would very much be intersected in taking other courses by Rev. Kythera-Ann.  Personally, I would like to see a course on Hinduism and on Unitarian Universalism.
            I learned a lot from this course.  One thing that I had always wondered which was in this course was the difference between a sect and a cult.  This course finally gave me an answer to what that was.  I also liked the part on the evolution of religion where the Egyptians started with female gods and leaders until Aryans started moving into Egypt.  Also, I found it interesting on how race, gender, and ethnicity play big parts in religion from where house of worship are to who can be a clergy person in that religion.  I, also, learned about how some of the religions share some of the same stories like about the flood that occurred that Christians know about with Noah’s Ark.  For me, I really loved the parts about the mysticism and esoteric/exoteric part of this class for I am really interested in esoteric teachings.
            I also loved the section about the different titles in different religions.  I did not realize that there were so many different titles and different ways of how to write the person with a certain title.  I did get somewhat confused through the course with the different sections that seemed to new titles.  The flow chart on how different religions come out of other religions was extremely helpful to see.  A lot of the new information in the course was difficult for me to understand at first and required me to reread the discourse.  Since I am Christian, I was very interested in the different branches of Christianity such as Catholicism, Anglican, Protestant, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodoxy.  It was very interesting to see how the different branches practiced Christianity.
            This was a very beneficial class which contains a wealth of information.  Hopefully, there will be a continuation of this class with Comparative Religions Part 2.  I hope that Part 2 goes into more detail about religions that have a smaller membership like Mormonism, Shinto, and Sikh.  I would also like to know more about Hinduism and the different branches of Hinduism.
Rev. Michael Barth

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The Universal Life Church is a comprehensive online seminary where we have classes in Christianity, Wicca, Paganism, two courses in Metaphysics and much more. I have been a proud member of the ULC for many years and the Seminary since its inception.


As a long time member of ULC, Rev. Long created the seminary site to help train our ministers. We also have a huge selection of Universal Life Church  minister supplies. Since being ordained with the Universal Life Church for so many years and it’s Seminary since the beginning, I’ve watch the huge change and growth that has continued to happen.



Try our new free toolbar at: ULC Toolbar
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Universal Life Church – Love is the Answer

Universal Life church
Essay by Mara Fonseca
‘Love is the Answer’
As I have meditated deeply on what captured my soul’s and heart’s interest in the twenty lessons in a Course in Metaphysics – Everyday Miracles, I recall one particular question and response that I asked and received from Dr. Loretta Siani:
Dear Loretta:
In a weekly sermon from Brother Daniel on Beliefs, he says:
“…I really don’t want to deal with you or your situation because unfortunately like many thousands of instant ministers they labor under the delusion that miracles happen…”
I found the above statement to be a quite thought-provoking quagmire, especially after reading (and enjoying I might add) your various lessons on the medium of miracles.
His comment made me reflect deeply on who I am and what my belief system is. I am the vessel of ‘change to prosperity’ through acquiring inner peace and understanding of the laws of the universe. I also believe in the power of prayer, for it focuses me on the concept of ‘Prosperity Programming.’ (Prosperity Programming – a term used in Shakti Gawain’s book ‘Creative Visualization’ that means having the understanding, or consciously taking the point of view, that the universe is totally abundant. Everything you need or want is here for the asking; you only need to believe that it is so, to truly desire it, and to be willing to accept it, in order to have whatever you wish.
My question to you is thus:
Is it our belief in miracles that makes them happen, or is it our shift in perception when ‘miracles’ happen that changes our belief system?”
Dr. Siani’s response to my question was:
“It isn’t our belief in miracles that makes them happen. It’s our belief in Love and our ongoing faith that Love will prevail…”
Dr. Siani’s response not only answered my question, it also provided me with the tool for continued inner reflection, transformation, and confirmed resolution:
~ Love is the Answer.
~ When we believe in Love, anything is possible.
I have also experienced in my life that the greatest miracles occur when there has been a change in heart. When I love unconditionally and pray for that which will change my perception and bring more compassion, understanding and patience into my heart, a ‘miracle’ happens.
The ‘miracle’ that occurs is that when I open up my heart and believe that Love will prevail a true healing occurs. I no longer carry fear in my heart, for I know that I am a vessel of ‘prosperity’. I am a child of God. I no longer ask for circumstances to be changed in my life, but rather to ask that my perception of my circumstances change. I look at each challenge as a blessing in disguise, and to pray that I will become a better person in the end. I pray for forgiveness and that others may forgive any trespasses I have committed against them. I do not look behind me at what has happened or before me at what has yet to happen. I live in the moment, trusting that Love will prevail.
In summation, this to me is at the core of how miracles happen: When we believe in Love, anything is possible. Love is the Answer. All we need to do is BELIEVE. Ask in LOVE and thou Shall Receive in LOVE. This has been the greatest challenge, lesson, and teaching that I have received in this course and the course of my life. For this, I am eternally grateful.
In closing, I would like to share a poem that expresses my essay ‘in a nutshell’. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I do:
Essential Love
You have come here to remember love,
and as you heal,
you come to be a light that
others see and follow.
They see, reflected in you,
the light of their own forgotten self,
and in seeing this,
they too can heal and be healed.
When you join with the universe.
you see yourself in all things
and all things in yourself.
This is love in its highest form –
pure and unconditional.
It has no motive,
and it seeks nothing.
This is the Essential Love,
awaiting eternally for you to
embrace it so that
you might be embraced.
Love is the guiding light,
Love is You.
–Patricia Easton Graves

 

Comparative Religion

                                                         Essay On Comparative Religion
Sheila A Shaffer

In this course I have gained more insight into other religions than I have had before.I have gained as a result of this course more respect for other religions along with a better understanding of how and why others choose to follow the religion that they do.I learned that  each religion has their own unique practices, their own unique beliefs, but with these differences comes similarities.For example The Golden Rule, Peace,and Seek Within. I have learned that  religion has always been a controversial subject.People are always fighting the differences than they are accepting the similarities.It seems that man will always need some sort of religion to guide them and to help them.I have learned a bit more what I can do as a person to help stop the hate and the fear by helping to educate others. I learned alot on how religion has affected our lives. I have learned  how religion based on geographical location has led to different conflicts.I have learned how media and superstition has affected religion. I have learned how religion regulates and controls society.I have learned just how complex the bible really is. I am a wiccan and didn’t really consider all of that but the course has put a lot of things in perspective for me .I have also learned the difference between Esoteric and Mystical. And for me I think that was the most interesting part of the course.I learned the difference between prayer and meditation and contemplation and how each play its own part.I learned about the use of symbols in religion and how important they are and the various types and meanings of each.
What I liked about the course was all the suggested reading and activities included I love to read anything to do with religion as I find it all very interesting and there is a treasure of information to be found if you follow the suggested reading .Another of my favorite parts of the lesson was the little bit that was there on Confucius . “Zilu (an impetuous disciple of Confucius) asked how one should serve ghosts and spirits. The Master said, “Till you have learned to serve men, how can you serve ghosts?” Zilu then ventured upon a question about the dead. The Master said, “Till you know about the living, how are you to know about the dead?” To me that rings true even to this day.I liked the use of pictures in this course it brings it to life not just straight text but adding visual to it breaking it up a bit making it more interesting and easier to look at all together as a whole.I like the fact the course is fairly simple to follow and is very well laid out.
I think maybe a glossary of terms could have been added more as a reference point than anything else, but I honestly can not think of anything that could have been added to improve upon this course.
I would gladly take any other course done by Rev Kythera, she has made this a very enjoyable course and very informative.

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The  ULC, run by Rev. Long, has created a chaplaincy program to help train our ministers. We also have a huge catalog of minister supplies.  I’ve been ordained with the Universal Life Church for many years and am proud to have started the Seminary.
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Historical Jesus by Ernest Kayorie

Final Essay
Search for the Historical Jesus
Submitted by Ernest Kayorie

The search for the Historical Jesus course has been a delightful review/romp through the various theories surrounding this controversial subject.  The instructor takes you through the various theories surrounding the search beginning with Reimarus and his school of thought and ending with current theories which have recently found fresh food for thought on the subject. The instructor’s expansion of ideas about Jesus’ kingdom theories and his approach to his role as a way shower and messenger is carefully explained to show how each could be a viable explanation of Jesus’ role on the world scene.

The search for a better representation of this important figure is a worthy journey and the only one that makes any sense.  If we can determine who this individual was and how he viewed himself and his role, we might better appreciate his message of simplicity. His strong sense of mission and his insistence on establishing the kingdom of God was a message of timely import.  He stated over and over again that the kingdom was within and not an earthly one that was hoped for by many.

The otherworldly persona placed on him and his role has been the product of other’s thoughts and philosophies under the guise of divine interpretation and is not wholly associated with his message.  When historians and theologians create their own divine messenger, it is easy to attribute and manipulate what they thought was stated.  The Jesus/God that was created was the product of Jewish thought intermingled with Greek metaphysics.  There is no scarcity of documentation attesting to the existence of  the God/man Jesus.   The solidification of those theories eventually became a reality as a result of the   decrees issued by the various Church councils.   On the political side, all of this to insure that the emerging administrative church could take its place as an heir to the Roman Empire.  On the spiritual side, the Fathers  (theologians, philosophers et al.) of this organization were sincerely earnest in their quests to understand the divine nature of Jesus/God’s message and messenger.  They endeavored to interpret doctrine and dogma in the best possible way for the Church and its followers.

The major challenge begins when one realizes that the subjects are on two different levels.  The Fathers of the Church were dealing with their own conception of their deity or at least the one that came to be accepted as the “true” god.  The search for the historical Jesus is a search for a “real” human being who had hopes, aspirations, ideals and  a sense of mission or not.  The human Jesus is the one that people can identify with as opposed to some “created” superhuman giant.

The value of the search is important because the closer we get to valid possibilities, the better we can appreciate those possibilities.  This seems to be the only way to proceed because of the scarcity of first hand documentation.  Jesus apparently did not write his teachings down but relied on oral transmission of his message to others and seemingly left it to their discretion to relate what was said and meant.

Historical research has a tendency to rely too heavily on its own definition of historical fact.  Much of what we know of our own historical past is based on tradition and also fictionalized versions of those individuals we deem as great personages.  The same situation applies to the individual we know as Jesus. The translation of apocryphal writings, some very fictionalized, present a very human Jesus.  They present stories of his mother’s life and his childhood.  They relate stories of his family life and how he was viewed by his peers and neighbors.  Again no one person has played on the imagination of the world as has this person.  The more we have a chance to know and experience Jesus, the easier it will be  to make an informed decision about his mission and how it can influence our lives.  Millions of individuals look to the New Testament  as their leader and guide without questioning the authenticity of the writings.   Many do not question anything relating to “accepted” scriptures not realizing that the canon of those scriptures was the result of a decision made by men and sanctioned by an organization.  They were the result oftentimes of decisions motivated by bitterness and jealousies and petty rivalries.

This writer finds that the search for the historical Jesus is a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself and finds that delving into that search is both exciting and informative.

The role of the academic community devoted to finding the historical Jesus beginning with  Hermann Reimarus’ investigations (1778/old quest), and continuing today with the Jesus seminar groups has brought to the forefront the necessity of finding out who the human Jesus was. The recently formed Jesus Project continues the search with promised results that will be as varied as previous attempts no doubt.

Prior to these endeavors, it seems that the existence of a historical/human Jesus had become irrelevant.  Who needs to be concerned with humanness when we have a divine being to emulate?   As was pointed out in the course, quite simply human and divine…they were the same or at least they were explained as how that could be. The years of establishing that fact was the result of the first seven Church councils and since that time, little alteration has been necessary.  As time progressed and the farther we got from that fact, the need to reacquaint ourselves with the source became evident.  There is ample evidence that suggests that each culture who claim to be Christian see their founder in their own light.  In this case, people are not interested in the Jesus of history but prefer to “worship” their own conception of Jesus even if that conception is exaggerated or totally distorted.  As an example, some Christians find the fact that Jesus was Jewish to be an affront to their beliefs.  They prefer their “god” to be like them.

The value of the search for the Jesus of history forces us to confront falsehood and study this popular figure  for what he was, namely a Jewish man from the Middle East who was responsible for relating a message that could change lives for the better.  The simplicity of that message is astonishing and will remain so despite the efforts of so many to destroy it, albeit in good faith.  The value of the various quests definitely lies in the fact of seeing this person as everything from a social revolutionary to a wandering peasant sage to a disillusioned teacher who was ushering in a new age.  The search will go on under the guise of different theories with different names but the importance lies in the fact that the search continues.  Seen in this vein, it seems that the search for a valid explanation of who the historical Jesus was is a separate study from what has been the search for our own cosmic significance.

The quest for the historical Jesus has transitioned to a quest for the Cosmic Christ.  The search for the Cosmic Christ has become the quest of modern man in search for his own destiny.  It is the time for our return to our beginnings and the realization of who we truly are and if Jesus can bring that about in our lives then it’s good to have someone or something to rely on until we find enough confidence to realize that we have to learn to stand on our own.   Was it not said by Jesus through the gospels that “whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, he will perform even greater works.”    Was this an allusion to the fact that we have inherited the right to become like the “Christed” one that he represented?  Paul, in his letter to the Galatians refers to this progression  when he says that “I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me”  (Gal. 2:20)  and again “I must go through the pain of giving birth to you all over again, until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19)

As studies progress towards that inevitable conclusion with the pioneering works of Teihard De Chardin and Matthew Fox and many notable members of the scientific/religious  community (the list goes on and on), we can conclude that the journey continues.

 

Christian History – ULC

 ULC Seminary Master of Christian History Paper
                            Lesson 9
1.    Who were apologists and polemicists and how did they respectively approach their task of defending the Christian faith through writing? What was the difference in approach between the Eastern and Western apologists?
Answer:
The apologists were Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-A.D. 165), Aristides of (A.D. 140-A.D. 150), Tatian of (A.D. 110- A.D. 180), Athenagoras of A.D. 177, Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 180), Tertullian (A.D. 160-A.D. 225), Minucius Felix (A.D. 200), and Cyprian (A.D. 200-c. A.D. 258); While the polemicists were Irenaeus, Pantaenus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen.
    These two groups wrote to and for the leaders of the Roman government or to the internal heretics hoping to bring them back to the truth of Holy Scripture.
    The apologists used the pagan written form of the dialogue and the legal form of the apologia. By so doing, the apologists confronted a hostile Roman government which they tried to win over with their written arguments. They tried to convince the powers that be that Christianity did not deserve persecution. They had a positive and negative side to their writing. The negative part was to condemn the false charges of atheism, cannibalism, incest, and antisocial behavior that were made by their pagan neighbors and writers such as Celsus. The positive part was the elevating of Christianity as superior to Judaism, pagan religion, and state worship.
      These apologies, as these writings were called, made logical appeals to the pagan leaders and in the process made an intelligent understanding of Christianity; and they removed legal shortcomings from it. They showed that the false charges made against Christianity were unwarranted. Christianity had a right to civil tolerance under Roman law.
      The apologists were writing as philosophers, not theologians. They emphasized that Christianity was the oldest religion and philosophy because the Pentateuch dated way before the Trojan Wars, and what truths that were in Greek philosophy were in fact borrowed from Christianity or Judaism. The apologists made much of the pure life, death, and resurrection of Christ, Christ’s miracles, and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ which proved Christianity is the highest philosophy. These writers were already learned in Greek philosophy before accepting Christianity. They used Greek philosophy as a tool to bring people to Christ. They used the New Testament more than the apostolic fathers did.
While the polemicists directed their attentions to the condemnation of internal heresy; Those polemicists of the late 2nd-early 3rd centuries A.D. sought to condemn the false doctrines of heretics. The Eastern and Western Churches had different approaches to confronting heresy and formulating theologically sound Christian truth. The Eastern Church used speculative theology and thought through things metaphysically. The Western Church was concerned with problems in church polity and sound practical solutions to problems in this area.
      Unlike the apologists (as converts from paganism) who addressed the external threats of persecution from the Roman state, the polemicists (as ones with a Christian cultural background) addressed internal heresies that were threatening the internal peace, purity, and unity of the Christian church. Unlike the apologists who heavily emphasized the Old Testament, the polemicists heavily emphasized the New Testament as source for Christian doctrine. The polemicists condemned through argument false doctrines. This was different from the apologists who explained Christianity to pagan culture and rulers.
The difference in approach between the Eastern and Western apologists are evidenced in the thyme of their different writing.
Example, the Eastern apologists like Aristides (A.D. 140-A.D. 150) who offered an apology to Emperor Antoninus Pius. The first fourteen chapters presented Christian worship as superior to Chaldean, Egyptian, Greek, and Jewish worship. The last three chapters offer a clear view of early Christian customs and morals. And Justin Martyr (c. A.D. 100-A.D. 165) the greatest apologist of the 2nd century A.D. who later started a Christian school in Rome. Not long after A.D. 150, he (Justin Martyr) wrote his First Apology to Emperor Antoninus Pius and his adopted sons. He urged the Roman emperors in this writing to look at the charges made against Christians (chapters 1-3) and to free them from punishment if they were innocent. Christians were proved not to be atheists or idolaters (chapters 4-13). The heart of the work (chapters 14-60) involves a discussion of the morals, dogmas, and Foundation of Christianity. Christ’s superior life and morality had been foretold in the Old Testament. Demons were the cause of error and persecution. The last chapters (chapters 61-67) explained Christian worship. Justin Martyr proved that Christians were blameless and should be free of persecution.
Within his Second Apology he (Justin Martyr) cited cruelty and injustice toward Christians; he pointed out while comparing Christ to Socrates that goodness in people was the result of Christ.
Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho attempted to convince Jews of the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. He allegorized Holy Scripture and emphasized prophecy.
Tatian (c. A.D. 110-c. A.D. 180), in his writing, wrote Address to the Greeks after the mid 2nd century A.D. It condemned Greek pretensions to cultural superiority in the form of an apology. This was addressed to a whole people, the Greeks. Christianity was superior to Greek religion and philosophy, and it should be given a fair shake. The second part (chapters 5-30) deals with comparing Christian teaching with Greek mythology and philosophy. In the next part (chapters 31-41) Christianity was shown to be older than Greek thought and religion because Moses predated the Trojan Wars. He also gave a unique explanation of the Greek statuary that he had seen in Rome (chapters 33-34). Tatian also compiled the Diatessaron which was the earliest harmony of the Gospels.
    Athenagoras (Around A.D. 177) in his own writing wrote Supplication for the Christians. The beginning chapters laid out the charges against Christianity. He next condemned the charge of atheism by showing that the pagan deities are just human creations (chapters 4-30). Those pagan deities were guilty of the same immoral acts as their human worshipers (chapters 31-34). Since Christians are not guilty of incest or eating their children in sacrificial feasts (chapters 35-36), the Roman emperor should grant clemency.
      Theophilus of Antioch wrote Apology to Autolycus presented as logical argument.  In his first book, Theophilus considered the nature and superiority of God. In the second book, he compared the weaknesses of pagan religion to Christianity. In the final book, he treated the objections of Autolycus to Christianity. He was the first to use the word trias when writing about the Trinity.
While the Western apologists were concerned more about the distinctions and finality of Christianity than the similarities with pagan religions and philosophies; Tertullian (c. A.D. 160-A.D. 225) has rational Latin mind and he was dedicated to the creation of a sound Western theology and the demise of all false philosophies and paganism that were opposed to Christianity.
      Tertullian’s Apology was directed to the Roman governor of his province. He condemned the old charges against Christians and maintained that they were loyal citizens of the Roman Empire. He wrote that persecution was a failure because the Christian church always grew in spite of the persecution. Evidencing his legal education, he stated that the state was persecuting the Christian church on uncertain legal pretexts because the doctrines and morals of Christians were higher and nobler than their pagan neighbors.
     Around A.D. 200 Minucius Felix wrote a dialogue called Octavius. This was an apology intended to win over his pagan friend Caecilius to Christianity.
2.    Who was the greatest apologist? Who was the greatest polemicist?
Answer:
Justin Martyr was the greatest of the apologists, and Irenaeus was the greatest of the polemicists.

3.    What were the two polemical schools of Christian thought and what were their respective approaches to formulating Christian theology?
Answer:
The two polemical schools of Christian thought were the Alexandrian School and the Carthaginian School.
Their respective approaches to formulating Christian theology were as follows:
The Alexandrian School: this was a school founded in Alexandria Around A.D. 185 to teach catechism (the doctrines of Christianity) to new pagan converts.  The leaders of this school wanted to create a systematic Christian theology by using philosophy. These men had been trained in classical literature and philosophy, and they thought that these things could be used to form Christian theology.
Rather than stressing a historical-grammatical Biblical hermeneutic, they came up with an allegorical hermeneutic that has arguably harmed Christianity ever since that time. This hermeneutic is founded on the idea that Scripture has more than one meaning. Using the analogy of a human being’s body, soul, and spirit, they maintained that Scripture had a literal, historical meaning that correlated with the human body; a secret moral meaning that correlated with the soul; and a deeper spiritual meaning that only the more spiritually advanced Christian could grasp. This hermeneutic was used by Philo, the Alexandrian Jew, who attempted to join Judaism with Greek philosophy. Instead of being concerned with the intent of the author and his audience when Scripture was written and its practical application to present situations, this school always sought hidden meanings. This hermeneutic has arguably done much harm to sound Biblical hermeneutics, and it has arguably led to weird and most of the time unscriptural theological notions.
      Clement one of the leader of the school wanted to be a Christian philosopher. His knowledge of Greek philosophy could be used to see that Christianity was the great and final philosophy. He knew well Greek pagan literature, and he quoted around five hundred authors in his writings.
      In his writing called Protrepticus, or Address to the Greeks, that he wrote in about A.D. 190, Clement showed the superiority of Christianity as the true philosophy so that the pagans might choose to accept it. In Paidagogos, or the Tutor, he treated morals for young Christians. Christ is the true teacher who has given rules for the Christian life. In Stromata, or Miscellanies, Clement revealed his knowledge of the pagan literature of his day. Book I reveals Christianity as true knowledge and the Christian as the true Gnostic. He believed that Greek philosophy borrowed the truth it had from the Old Testament, and this was a preparation for the Good News. Book II revealed Christian morality to be superior to pagan morality. Book III dealt with Christian marriage. Books VII and VIII, possibly the most interesting, revealed the development of the Christian’s religious life.
      Clement of Alexandria preferred Greek knowledge, but Scripture came first for him and ideally for every Christian. Yet since all truth comes from God, truth that did exist in Greek knowledge should be used for God’s service.
Clement’s student and successor as leader of this school was Origen (c. A.D. 185-A.D. 254).  Origen was so capable and well educated that in A.D. 202 or A.D. 203, at age eighteen, he was selected as Clement’s successor as leader of this school, a post he held until A.D. 231.
Origen could be likened to Augustine in the scope of his work. The earliest beginnings of textual criticism of the Scriptures could go back to the Hexapla wherein several Hebrew and Greek versions of the Old Testament were arranged in parallel columns. In this writing, Origen wanted to establish a Scripture text that Christians can be confident that it is indeed a correct representation of the original Scripture text. This textual interest led him to do more exegetical writing than any other person before the Reformation. Against Celsus was Origen’s statement and a response to the charges made by the Platonist Celsus against Christians in the latter’s writing True Discourse. Origen responded to Celsus’ accusations concerning the irrationality of Christians and the lack of apparent historical foundations for Christianity by stressing the change in behavior that Christianity fosters as opposed to paganism; the open-minded investigations of truth by Christians; and the purity and influence both of Christ, the leader of the Christians, and Christ’s followers.
      Origen’s greatest writing was De Principiis (A.D. 230. This writing was the first Christian treatise of systematic theology. In the fourth book, Origen refined his allegorical hermeneutics which has arguably done much damage to the hermeneutics of Scripture. Origen viewed Christ as “eternally generated” by the Father. Christ was subordinate to the Father. He also believed in the preexistence of the soul, the final restoration of all spirits, and Christ’s death as a ransom to Satan. Origen rejected a physical resurrection.
The Carthaginian School: The Carthaginian School mentality was more concerned with practical involving church polity and doctrines relating to the church rather than speculative theology. This difference can be seen in contrasting the writings of Origen with the writings of Tertullian and Cyprian of North Africa.

      Tertullian (c. A.D. 160-A.D. 225) wrote well on many subjects though he did do it many times in an intolerant way. He wrote apologies, and he wrote about practicalities. In special pamphlets he stressed simplicity of dress and ornament for women and begged Christians to separate themselves from pagan amusements, immorality, and idolatry. Tertullian’s greatest work was as a theologian. He started Latin theology, and he was the first to state the theology of the Trinity and to make use of that term to describe that doctrine. This was done in Against Praxeas (chapters 2-3) which was written around A.D. 215. He probably stressed a distinction between the persons of the Father and the Son. In De Anima, he considered the soul. He stressed the traducian doctrine of the transmission of the soul from the parents to the child in the reproductive process. In Of Baptism, he greatly stressed the sacramental ordinance of baptism. He felt sins committed after baptism were mortal sins, and he opposed infant baptism.
      Cyprian (c. A.D. 200-c. A.D. 258) received a good education in law and rhetoric. He became a successful teacher of rhetoric, but he was not satisfied in his soul until he became a Christian around A.D. 246. Around A.D. 248 be became bishop of Carthage, the office he held until his martyrdom around A.D. 258. He was good at organization and administration. He rejected the claims of Stephen, bishop of Rome, to supremacy over all bishops.

      Cyprian looked up to Tertullian as his master, but as Jerome tells Cyprian was calm whereas Tertullian was passionate. Cyprian’s greatest writing was De Unitate Catholicae Ecclesiae, (chapter 4), which was addressed to the schismatic followers of Novatian. Cyprian made a clear distinction between bishop and elder and stressed the bishop as the core of unity in the Christian church and the sure insurance against schism. He did not advocate the supremacy of Peter’s episcopal in Rome, but he did advocate the preeminence of honor of Peter in drawing the line of apostolic succession down through the early history of the Christian church. Just like Tertullian did with the doctrine of the Trinity, Cyprian gave the earliest expression of the doctrines of apostolic succession and the primacy of honor of the Roman bishop in the Christian church.

      Cyprian viewed clergy as sacrificing priests in offering up Christ’s body and blood in the sacramental ordinance of the Holy Eucharist.

Thanks,
Yours in Him,
Ikpenwa, Chizoba Gabriel

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Many people get ordained through the ULC as a means to become wedding officiants, but also to study through our online seminary. If you need minister supplies or online ceremonies, we have a wide selection to choose from, as well as a place for spiritual articles and spiritual bookmarks. Visit our FB Page at ULC Seminary.
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.

Paganism

Comments of the Paganism Course

by Rev Daniel S. Irwin

The course on Paganism was informative and enlightening.  Paganism…ancient religions and new religions created from the old.  I particularly liked the historical perspective, the link with the old, the respect for different viewpoints.  Respect for different viewpoints in that, no matter the ‘path’ one chooses to follow, it can be “all good”.

I, myself, have always had a healthy respect for the old religions/beliefs, particularly those originating in Europe.  Some modern day groups have revived the old religions/cultures showing that these beliefs are not just thrown away but actually are roots to one’s heritage.

The lessons devoted to listing Pagan gods and helpers was exceptionally thorough for there are many gods, many beliefs.  Yes, as I remarked, there are many paths that one my follow as a pagan with a pantheon of deities and cultures.  The importance of ritual, sacred places and sacred spaces is stressed and noted for the binding power which each would exert over the group.  These are the things which give us value, teach, and create a religious sense of ‘home’, as well as, enrich our spiritual being.

The in depth coverage of celebrations and sabbats was, as the rest of the course, enlightening and full of information which one would be hard pressed to find and piece together one’s self.  Some of these sacred days I was aware of and have participated in the ceremonies…particularly the solstices.  The lessons on sacred symbols and runes was, like wise, an in depth coverage of aspects of paganism.

The many pagan views/beliefs of/concerning ‘afterlife’ are as many and varied as the distinctive pagan religions themselves.  From an anthropological viewpoint, much can be learned about a culture or religion in the way they view life beyond death, the manner in which their dead are treated/regarded, and the rites and rituals performed in benefit for the dead and the living.

This course on Paganism was a twenty weeks of positive, informative lessons.  I would recommend this course to anyone who would wish to further their knowledge of Paganism.  After all, not every one is a member of, what is considered, the ‘main stream’ religions.  Nor should one who is a Pagan be regarded as an eccentric fool.  The world is full of different beliefs, different religions…all valid, all sacred to their followers.  Respect is due to all.   

  
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Many people get ordained through the Universal Life Church as a means to become wedding officiants, but also to study through our online seminary. If you need minister supplies or online ceremonies, we have a wide selection to choose from, as well as a place for spiritual articles and spiritual bookmarks. If you need any assistance in any area of your ministry, please feel free to contact amy@ulcseminary.org and we’ll give you all the help we can. Visit our FB Page at ULC Seminary.
As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church for many years and it’s Seminary since its inception, I’ve had the privilege of watching the Seminary grow.