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if you find the westar institute interesting ....

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
If you consider yourself a liberal or progressive Christian and find the ideas of the Westar Institute interesting, you might want to check out Tom Harpur's website. He is a former Anglican priest, Rhodes Scholar and a well respected Canadian journalist (amongst other things). I have read many of his books (they are, in my mind, just plain wonderful) and his ideas (which seem to be evolving in an interesting fashion) are similar to what you might find at the Westar Institute. He is Canadian and I don't seem to see his name mentioned as much as others like John Spong, etc. I'm including his website. You might want to check it out. He has some great articles, a bio and some useful links on the site as well.

post #2 of 6
Sounds interesting... I think I'm going to have to read his book when it comes out! Thanks for the link!
post #3 of 6

I had not heard of the Westar Institute. Nor of this author. But I really enjoyed your link to the quotes from Tom Harpur and Alvin Kuhn! It is just the kind of conclusion I am reaching about esoteric Christiainity and the meanings of the allegories in world religions in general.

You're right, it is similar to Spong and also to Freke/Gandy in The Jesus Mysteries.

Anyone who considers themselves a student of world religions, a believer in "everything," or a mystic, or a liberal Christian, should enjoy this site. I wish I could quote the whole page here.

A couple of quotes from Kuhn, (1880-1963):

The entire body of scripture must now be transfigured in our consciousness with the light which it was designed first to conceal, then to reveal. The task now confronting modern intelligence is to throw off the blinders of a shallow realism that have obscured mystical vision, and to awaken the long-stifled faculties of insight into noumenal verities. It will inaugurate finally a re-enlightenment and transfiguration of human society.

The early Church itself for some time was so steeped in the spirit of esotericism that it instituted a graded system of instruction, even to the point of conducting Lesser Mysteries and Greater Mysteries. Direct and significant testimony that that doctrine was interpreted at two distinct levels is found in a statement of Synesius, Bishop of Alexandria in the fourth century: “In my capacity as bishop of the Church, I shall continue to disseminate the fables of our religion; but in my private capacity I shall remain a philosopher to the end.”

dado should like this one:

The Sermon on the Mount was composed of material long embodied in the literature of Judaism. The Talmud, Mishna, or Midraish Haggadah of the Jews long antecedent to the first century contained passages often matching in exact words such elements of the ‘Sermon’ as the following: to look on a woman to lust after her is to commit adultery; you will be dealt with according to the measure of your dealings with others; one must first pluck the beam from one’s own eye before seeing the mote in the neighbour’s eye...[etc., etc.] An objective comparison of the ethical code taught in the school of the famed Rabbi Hillel in Jesus’ own time reveals that its spiritual morality is equal in purity and idealism to the ethics of the great “Sermon” itself.

Christianity started as Gnosticism, became vitiated by the introduction of exoteric elements and proceeded along the track of that course of literalization and historicization which made it acceptable to all the ignorant and repellent to the intelligent. Endless controversy arose between the leaders of the two trends and it appears Paul was arrayed against Peter. If it was not Paul, the subjective esotericist against Peter, the objective exotericist, it was at least Pauline spirituality against Petrine literalism. As has been so often admitted by scholars, Paul preached the Gospel of the immanent Christ; Peter stood for the fact and message of a personal Jesus. The resolution of the controversy in favour of the Petrine party was fateful for the whole future of Christianity and the West
post #4 of 6
one more tidbit (right in line with my thinking. So nice to know I am not alone, or crazy):

Christian antipathy to Paganism is ungrateful, since it derives every element of its theology, ritual and symbolism, along with its sacred scriptures, from that source; it reconstructed its entire dogma over the model of Pagan, that is, of Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy.

The 15th chapter of I Corinthians marks the highest point of spiritual sublimity reached in the New Testament. Its oracular grandeur should have lifted the body of Christian theology far above the mists of controversy that overhang it over the question of the physical resurrection. But the later formulators of orthodox theology looked askance at Paul and classed him as a heretic... Paul’s was cosmic Christianity. It was symbolized in terms of Platonic Gnosticism, the flower of Greek rational mysticism. Orphic Paganism glows throughout that 15th chapter of Corinthians. The sublimest chapter in the Christian Bible is clearly Pagan philosophy.
post #5 of 6
Wow, Tuesday! Thanks so much for the link! I read the 7 Principles of Cosmic Spirituality and those principles pretty much sum up my own views. I will peruse the links, too!
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
HI everyone! I'm so glad you found this information helpful. Yesterday, I saw a copy of Tom Harpur's Pagan Christ book in a store - the book seemed typical of his style - very interesting and thoughtfully written. If you haven't read any of Harpur's book, I would suggest checking out your local library or bookstore. He is obviously a very intelligent person and scholarly in his research and writing but what I enjoy most is his manner - he writes in such a thoughtful, honest and kind manner - I just feel peaceful when I read his books. I've yet to see him speak in person and hope to one day!!!
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