That is to say, the believers in the church picture themselves as in a plight from which they need rescue. For whatever reason , they have been distanced from God and need to be saved.
Basic Beliefs of Christianity
The agent of that redemption is Jesus Christ. It is possible that through the centuries the vast majority of believers have not used the term essence to describe the central focus of their faith. The term is itself of Greek origin and thus represents only one part of the tradition, one element in the terms that have gone into making up Christianity.
Essence refers to those qualities that give something its identity and are at the centre of what makes that thing different from everything else. To Greek philosophers it meant something intrinsic to and inherent in a thing or category of things, which gave it its character and thus separated it from everything of different character. Thus, Jesus Christ belongs to the essential character of Christianity and gives it a unique identity.
If most people are not concerned with defining the essence of Christianity, in practice they must come to terms with what the word essence implies. Whether they are engaged in being saved or redeemed on the one hand, or thinking and speaking about that redemption, its agent, and its meaning on the other, they are concentrating on the essence of their experience.
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Those who have concentrated from within the faith tradition have also helped to give it its identity. It is not possible to speak of the essence of a historical tradition without referring to how its ideal qualities have been discussed through the ages. Yet one can take up the separate subjects of essence and identity in sequence, being always aware of how they interrelate.
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5 Beliefs That Set Fundamentalist Christians Apart From Other Denominations
Thank you for your feedback. Introduction The church and its history The essence and identity of Christianity Historical views of the essence Early views Medieval and Reformation views Modern views The question of Christian identity The history of Christianity The primitive church The relation of the early church to late Judaism The relation of the early church to the career and intentions of Jesus The Gentile mission and St.
Marty John Hick Lawrence E. Sullivan …See All Contributors. The church and its history The essence and identity of Christianity At its most basic, Christianity is the faith tradition that focuses on the figure of Jesus Christ.
Start Your Free Trial Today. Load Next Page. Let us say that the human race possesses a concrete or existential unity in regard to the life of grace, and our dialogue partners may be more advanced in that life than we are, even if, according to their own belief system, they do not formally admit the existence of God. There is an actual existential pluralism in which people take widely divergent and even conceptually incompatible paths, and arrive at this final goal of union with God.
The first principle cannot be taken out of its concrete existential realm and be automatically translated into some sort of many paths, one reality theory of irreducible pluralism in which what we believe doesn't really matter.
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Even though all women and men are destined to the same goal and are concretely achieving that goal according to the means they have available to them, this does not mean that all doctrinal systems or spiritual paths are equivalent. A doctrine of the non-existence of the personal self, or the non-existence of God, is not automatically equivalent to a doctrine of the existence of the self and God.
The two may be equivalent if we dig deep enough, but we have to dig in order to find out. Or they may point to different experiences based on different facets of reality, or one or both of them may be partially wrong or poorly formulated. What we believe and how we articulate those beliefs is important. If we hold firm to both of these principles, the way is open for deep dialogue. With the first principle we avoid the unspoken, or even unconscious fear that the people of the other tradition are somehow fundamentally alien to us.
With the second principle, we avoid a facile spirit of dialogue which hesitates to confront real doctrinal differences for fear it will somehow offend our dialogue partners. Do you agree with these principles and how they are expressed? As a Christian minister and student of Buddhism for many years, I found the two principals to be very wonderfully and helpfully stated. I would add the following: Focus on our individual self, or non-self sometimes omits the understanding of salvation or enlightenment on a social or even cosmic dimension, ie. Grounded in this corporate understanding of grace and enlightenment, it seems to me that here we must say that what G-d does in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is unique and necessary.
12 Basic Principles for Faith and Work
And that without this loving intervention, ultimate salvation and the many smaller humankind milestone ones, would not be possible. While agreeing with Principal One, Christians must hold to the "scandal of particularity" that is Jesus the Risen Lord and not some vague " Christ-consciousness" that smooshes the dialogue into a facile solution as the author accurately points out. Perhaps what our partners want to hear about from us is this Jesus and this Gospel as we come to the delightful discovery of common ground!