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Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Fellowship Of The Mystery: video and art

The fellowship of the mystery is how, in the 1st century, Paul of Tarsus describes the mystical / spiritual relationship that is the experience of the one enlightened by the knowledge of Christ.

For many Christ is the icon of the Christian faith. For me Christ is the icon of the Christian faith but more specifically Christ represents the source of all that is. I appeal to the works of another 1st century enlightened one, the writer of the Gospel of John, as seconding that idea.  In the opening verses of John, Christ is described as Logos.  Logos is translated as the 'Word' of God. 

Logos, however, is more than speech or simple language or the simple telling of a story.  In the meaning of the word Logos, chosen to describe the characteristics of Christ, there is more importantly the sense of a primordial intelligence which organizes creates and sustains existence and by so doing represents the key to understanding ones own place in the expanse of reality itself.  This needs to be understood clearly in order to catch a glimpse of what it means to enter into the fellowship of the mystery.  Without this knowledge being paramount I would not consider the Christian faith as holding meaning for me.

Here is the working definition of Logos which is the basis of faith in Christ because it reveals his eternal divine nature. provides the following introduction to the meaning of Logos.

"The word λόγος (logos) in the prologue of John's Gospel is a word with a very interesting history in ancient theological writings. It is translated 'Word' in English versions, but this translation does not express everything that the term would have suggested to ancient readers.

For the benefit of students, on this page I have reproduced discussions of the term λόγος by four New Testament scholars: Marvin Vincent, Frederic Godet, Hugh Mackintosh, and John Campbell. Vincent, whose explanation I think will be found most helpful, briefly explains what the word meant in the context of theological discourse in the milieu of Hellenistic Judaism (especially after Philo), and he argues that John "used the term Logos with an intent to facilitate the passage from the current theories of his time to the pure gospel which he proclaimed." Godet and Mackintosh are largely in agreement with Vincent, and Campbell also agrees, though he evidently does not share the others' high view of Scripture. After these excerpts I add Wilhelm Nestle’s more general discussion of the philosophy of Philo from his revision of Zeller’s Outlines of the History of Greek Philosophy.

My own opinion is that the contemporary Hellenistic understanding of logos in theological contexts (esp. in Philo) should not be discounted by those who wish to understand John's meaning. The contrasts between Philo and John, which the scholars here want to emphasize, should not obscure the fact that John is using a word which was already full of meaning for Jewish readers in his day. When he asserts that the logos became flesh he is indeed saying something that was never dreamt of by Philo or the Greek philosophers; but in all other respects it is their logos — the cosmic Mediator between God and the world, who is the personification of God's Truth and Wisdom — that John is referring to when he asserts that Christ is its incarnation.


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By conceiving of Christ as the cosmic intelligence, beginning and sustainer of the universe in which all of reality is comprised a sense of true mystery and hope appears spontaneously.  Furthermore a sense of the kind intention of the source of our existence accompanies this knowledge.  In this way it does seem right to say that God did LOVE the world. In this way Christ IS the 'Light of the World'.

Jesus described the fellowship of the mystery in the Gospel of John.  Let me set the scene for you.  It was in the evening and Jesus and his disciples were walking and talking together about the Kingdom and his soon departure. His disciples had no idea through his entire sojourn with them what it was he had been trying to teach them.  But he left the following words for them to consider after his death.  You can read them in John 17:

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

You may have noticed this is not the usual approach to understanding the spiritual nature of the relationship with Christ. Most explanations of the faith involve putting together bible texts which are designed to get the listener to be overcome with guilt and confess to a capital crime and then agree that Jesus was killed on his or her behalf to keep them from burning in hell.  If you agree to this state of affairs you are said to be 'saved'.

I didn't receive any lasting relief from that doctrine after decades of practice.  Frankly I have never done anything so bad I needed to be executed for. So having an innocent man get executed on my behalf just did not make sense.  It seemed like overkill to me.

Understanding Christ as the divine organizing principle of the universe and ourselves united since before birth by the predetermined will of God indelibly one with Christ as a basic truth of reality is much more assuring and meaningful to me. I've been called a heretic for my faith. But it's this faith or none, this makes sense to me.

What Jesus was teaching was about the Kingdom of God which as it turns out to be is an introduction to the spiritual nature of reality in general. We can think this way because Paul describes Christ as the sum of all spiritual knowledge in whom all things consist and are held together.  That sounds like Logos, doesn't it?

What stands out in my mind is that Jesus claims he was incarnated for the purpose of dispensing information about the Kingdom of God.  This means he came to dispense consciousness transforming information concerning ultimate reality which Jesus, in his teaching, always contrasted with mundane everyday reality. 

Ordinarily science and spiritually are seen to be by their various protagonists as mutually exclusive. I was blown away to discover that the new breakthroughs in physics and consciousness research present to the mind a state of affairs that readily accepts the spiritual notion of unity in Christ and that such a unity is reflected in reality itself.  I first encountered this new paradigm in the lectures of physicist Tom Campbell and immediately understood how agreeable this knowledge is with the knowledge of the meaning of Christ as Logos. (Note I have not heard Mr. Campbell make the same connections I did so do not attribute my ideas to him.) I simply found his ideas as complementary to the notion of Logos. Whether you have a spiritual or merely physical interest in the nature of reality Campbell's work is always edifying.

The heart of the Gospel of the Kingdom proclamation had as it's purpose revealing the unity of all that is represented by Christ as Logos. It is this unity which is described in the Gospel of the Kingdom.  In effect it is another way of thinking about oneself as well as another way of regarding the spiritual nature of life and reality in general.

By engaging ones consciousness with the knowledge of Christ as the 'light of the world' whose words are said to be 'spirit and life' one can encounter all kinds of calamity and endure it all. But let's be clear. Any redemptive power in the Gospel of the Kingdom resides in it's ability to communicate the reality of Logos to your understanding.

There is a story told about Jesus and his disciples.  Jesus and three of the disciples were caught in the middle of a storm and the disciples feared they would drown.  They asked Jesus to save them.  But they had to wake him up first. He was sound asleep in the midst of the gale.

Well Jesus wasn't all that pleased with being woken up as he had been working hard and needed the rest.  What did he say to his frightened disciples?  His words to them were:  "Where is your faith?"  I find this significant because faith is an attribute of consciousness, and consciousness is the fundamental matrix of reality.  If the disciples had understood, as the enlightened One, Christ, understood, they would have realized no matter what happened they were secure. For those who have the 'mind of Christ' to die and cease to exist is similar to the act of changing ones clothes.

This line of thinking only makes sense if one begins with the premise that reality has consciousness as its foundation.

Fare thee well.

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A practitioner of the art of living with the intent of learning how to die without fear.