Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. He is seen as the divine Son of God and savior of humanity. God is viewed as Triune in nature, the third element being The Holy Spirit, which is seen as the moving force of God. According to the Gospels of Mathew and Luke, Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary and is the Divine Son of God. Jesus began as a man and evolved to a union with the Father that established his identity of divinity. To some, this may represent more than resurrection from man’s worldly beliefs to something more spiritual and in fact, represent the possibility of achieving a true Oneness with God. The Christian Faith generally considers Jesus as an intercessor, a link between mortal men and God the Father and as such, is held up as an ideal to seek.
Christianity, Judaism and Islam share many historical accounts and beliefs, which include the existence of Noah, Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist and Christ but differ in the question of the divinity of Jesus and the significance of others who followed.
The main tenant of Christianity is forgiveness, both of others and ourselves. Essentially, Jesus Christ symbolically died for our “sins”. This is the basis of the concept of forgiveness and it’s meaning is quite profound. It means that whatever perceived wrong that has occurred, is already “forgiven” and so we are asked to acknowledge that as we witness and perceive those wrongs. Obviously, some wrongs we see are so egregious that they are seemingly impossible to forgive and yet, Jesus is said to have done this as evidenced in the quote ascribed to him, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do” as he was being crucified.
Evolvement of modern Christianity.
There are different versions of the Bible used today that include the King James Version, the American King James version and the Christian Standard Bible. They differ in how language is translated for meaning in different languages at different times. There are common threads among them but some with relatively significant differences not necessarily related to Doctrine. Much of the Bible was not written during the time of Jesus. A good deal of the current concept of Christianity was developed centuries after the death of Jesus, much of it influenced by events and beliefs at the time.
Four ecumenical Councils (a conference of dignitaries and experts worldwide, to settle matters of Church Doctrine and practice) occurred between 325 AD and 449 AD. These Councils settled on definitions of a number of different beliefs within Christianity including the divinity of Jesus and specific wording that related to what we now understand Christianity to represent. There was widespread disagreement about many of these things by the Egyptian, Armenian, Roman and Eastern Church in Constantinople.
For example, Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD and 449 Ad. to reconcile differences in Christian beliefs in the then known world, primarily between the Christian Church of Alexandria Egypt and the Church in Rome headed by the Pope. Many hundreds of delegates from across the Roman Empire were called including those as far away as Britain. The question of the divinity of Jesus was addressed resulting in the Nicene Creed, which is a statement of core beliefs. The Council established a date for Easter issued decrees against clerics loaning money with interest, the proper method for consecrating Bishops. The requirement of celibacy of priests was discussed but not agreed upon.
What is now known as the Nicene Creed was amended with significant changes in important wording both added and subtracted by three subsequent councils, the last in 451AD. The major determination of the first Council in 325 AD was that Jesus had two natures; essentially both mortal and divine. As late as 1995, a determination of The Holy Spirit being of the Father and the Son both was addressed, the final determination being the removal of the Son as co-creating it. Thus the current conception of God as triune in nature, represented by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Today the Catholic Church recites the Apostles Creed, which is a shortened version of the Nicene Creed as part of its Sunday Mass as follows:
The Apostles Creed (Current ecumenical version)
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
The metaphysical interpretation of parables
Despite the centuries long evolution of the Christian faith, there is a common thread that has endured over time. Jesus is said to have spoken in parables whose meaning was sometimes not even understood by the Disciples at the time. Interestingly enough, those parables seem to have endured over time. Each parable is a story about every day events that are meant to teach a truth or answer a question. While simple in story, they are deep in meaning. It has been said that these parables were designed to reveal mysteries to those who believe and conceal those truths to those who would not hear. There are metaphysical interpretations of the Bible; it’s parables and the significance of the characters in it. While difficult to say what the intended message was when written, metaphysical interpretations of the Bible are viewed by many as the greatest treasures of wisdom it provides. Two examples follow,
The Parable of the Grain of Wheat. John 12:24-26
Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.
This parable is seen as being about resurrection and the Kingdom of God. The idea that dead seeds are resurrected to grow into grain illustrates the importance of leaving an old worldview and being reborn with another, stronger more virtuous one. It is also a metaphor for Jesus own death, burial in the tomb and resurrection.
The Parable about Lot and his wife
Another example of a metaphysical interpretation occurs in the story of Lot and his wife who were told to leave Sodom and Gomorrah and “look not behind thee” in the Book of Genesis 19. Lot’s wife did look back and was turned into a “pillar of salt”. Salt is a preservative and the idea is that by looking back on the past we not only preserve it but also become frozen in time, unable to experience a present and a future. Obviously in that condition, we are unable to interact with Spirit.
The concept of resurrection is central to Christianity. It means that we can always start anew. Some denominations believe that Christ died for our sins and that there is no hell per se, for non-believers. Forgiveness can be viewed from the standpoint of resurrection as well. Through forgiveness, the perceived trespasser is not damned to being a certain way forever. That person has the opportunity to redirect their energy toward love assuming it was not there to begin with.
That leads to another central point in Christianity. Some argue that we are born with sin that must be removed and others believe we are born good in the image of God but go astray. In either case, we are offered a choice to chose a new path and resurrect our original goodness or simply to chose to change into goodness.
The history of Christianity is complex and clearly, men have changed the theology over the centuries. However, the fundamental aspect of love and forgiveness remains, along with the wisdom of insight provided by the Bible. We are asked to chose a way of living and seeing things separate from man’s point of view developed in this physical world. The goal is to transcend a value system of values based on material things and personal judgment into a Spiritual view based on principles that all related to love on one level or another.