Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Spirit of Truth

John wrote that Jesus said that the Father would send the Spirit of Truth. Some Christians have written that this Spirit is present in other religions. From Christian premises, this must follow. How could the omnipresent not be everywhere? How could a Spirit of Truth be absent when Truth is sought? How could God willing the salvation of all not work for that salvation where people are? Understandings differ but recognition of a common spirit facilitates dialogue.

In Zen meditation, we are open to the Truth insofar as it manifests to us. It does not usually manifest as a vision of Jesus or the Buddha but nor are such manifestations ruled out a priori.

A believer who can think about his beliefs and discuss them with non-believers on the basis of mutual respect and equality is a philosopher, a "lover of wisdom". In such discussion, it is necessary to: 
state our beliefs and reasons for them;
address hearers who do not share our beliefs;
attend to criticisms and alternative beliefs;
respond to criticisms and disagreements;
be prepared to learn during a discussion or by subsequent research;
not expect to persuade anyone in a single discussion or series of discussions;
be able to summarise an alternative view in terms acceptable to those who hold it;
state reasons for disagreeing with other views and respond to whatever is said in reply.

Such dialogue is impossible with many Christians as a Presbyterian Minister and philosophy graduate acknowledged when I pointed this out. Some Evangelicals are capable only of stating their belief on the assumption that it is true and without stating any reasons for it. Is this a fault in Christianity or just in some Christians? All Christians are not irrational but there is a lot of irrationality in that religion. Disputes about the Trinity etc could be resolved neither empirically nor rationally. They could only be ended by invoking the Spirit, imposing doctrines and condemning "heretics", the antithesis of recognising the Spirit of Truth in different beliefs. John's mystical language about Jesus' Father and the Spirit became a formula to kill for. Because doctrines were formulated irrationally, much adherence to such doctrines remains irrational.

I think there is scope for a myth based on John's words without the later Trinitarian formulation. The Spirit seems to be a distinct being. If there is a Father and a Spirit, then who else might there be? Concepts would have differed if history had diverged. Let imagination be unconfined.


No comments:

Post a Comment