America's Founding Spiritual Seeker

Ralph Waldo Emerson's journey From Christianity to Transcendentalism


08/21/2003 03:29:09 PM

ssis is skirting the issues


06/06/2003 01:04:18 PM

Well, sometimes if you churn a circular argument around enough times the person softens up a bit. If there is one thing I try to get through to Christians it is that the religion of Jesus is is really, truly, solely about Love. I feel sometimes like I'm trying to convert them to their own religion. Once in a while they really get the message and it's like they've suddenly remembered Jesus himself. It's lovely.


06/05/2003 09:37:57 AM

Again that smitten attitude of "i am open to you and your beliefs, but you don't think like me so i am going to heaven and you are going to hell." This debate is just going in circles now, time to move on.....


06/04/2003 11:29:33 AM

I appreciate the forum to express our beliefs. The question is "what do you believe". I believe these things with my my mind and my heart. It does not offend me that you have your belief as I hope my belief does not offend you because in the end we will be individually be responsible for our faith or lack thereof. However, it is my belief that the only way to the Father is through the Son. As for the differences between the Greek, Hebrew, and English - I have studied the Word in English and have referenced back to the Greek and Hebrew. The truth remains the truth in any language.


06/03/2003 11:30:57 PM

Ssis, you mistake honest unknowing for open-mindedness. Any theologian who thinks he or she can "prove" God or the afterlife is a crackpot. A few hundred years ago an anonymous English monk wrote a great work of mystical theology which described God as existing within "the cloud of unknowing." God is an object for faith and hope and love. Any theology that requires this dishonest intellectual "belief" mistakes the whole point of belief, which in Christianity is existing in and for Christ as a living reality and not as an object of reasoning and imagining. Again, I'm not *looking* for Christ, I wake up in the morning and he is directly with me, and he so remains at every moment... he doesn't require that name or any other to be his sweet self. Dogmaticism is not the "belief" that you are called to. Also, as I notice you are a very new Beliefnet member, I thought I'd mention it's a-okay to assert and discuss your beliefs but proselytizing is not really allowed outside specific forums.


06/03/2003 03:54:36 PM

How do you explain the differences between the Hebrew text and English text, or even the differences between Bibles ?


06/03/2003 02:28:13 PM

The Bible is God's inspired word. God who created the universe is capable of giving us His word and ensuring its truth throughout the ages.


06/03/2003 01:02:52 PM

The bible may have originaly been the word of God but it was written and has been translated and interpreted by man multiple times through multiple millenia - today it is the word of man about God.


06/03/2003 10:34:33 AM

Edelphi, I think that by trying to keep your mind so open you are closing your heart to the One who can bring you the answers you are searching for. Truly there is a hereafter. God has given us the free will to choose where we spend it. My prayer is that you will open your heart to Jesus and we will fellowship together in Heaven. Peace be unto you.


06/02/2003 07:26:38 PM

Ssis, in equally great love, I disagree, and not without considerable reason. We are both devoted to the same thing; you name it Jesus, I don't particularly feel it requires a name -- but it is Love in the profoundest sense. That Love would turn me away for want of the right password when my open heart is at its feet is unthinkable. When we see each other in the hereafter (supposing there is a hereafter) we can have a good laugh over it, with each our illusions stripped away.


06/02/2003 10:43:45 AM

Edelphi - I tell you these things in great love. The answer to your question is yes - you have to call Jesus - "Jesus - the Son of God." He was not a mere man or just a prophet. He is the precious Son of God. God gave us the Bible to learn about Him. He is the Trinity - the three in one (the Father, the Son - Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit). The Bible contains absolute truth because it is God's word. It tells us that we all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God. It also teaches us that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord because while we were sinners, Christ Jesus died for us. God requires us to confess our sins and believe in Him and claim the salvation that was provided by the sacrifice of his Son. Yes - we have to call upon the name of the Lord - Jesus Christ.


06/01/2003 12:36:18 PM

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NASB) He has [Gen 1:31] made everything [Lit beautiful] appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man [Job 5:9; Eccl 7:23; 8:17; Rom 11:33] will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. (courtesy


05/30/2003 06:39:43 PM

Ssis, you never responded to this question when I raised it below, so I'll raise it again. Do you really think it necessary to call Jesus "Jesus" in order to find him, or do you believe in his existence enough to grant that he still exists to someone who calls him by another name, or no name, and can be approached by such a person? And here's another question for you, what's the operative thing to believe, that Jesus performed sundry miracles, died on the cross, was resurrected, ascended bodily to heaven, etc, or that Christ washes his followers clean of sins by the consuming fire of his love? And yes, I am asking these things specifically because I think your brand of literalism is a profound distraction from the underlying truths represented in Christianity.


05/30/2003 06:08:05 PM

To believe in God without believing in Jesus is to deny God. Jesus was the Son of God but he was also part of the Trinity (the three in one)- the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. To deny Jesus is to deny God. Without God we are lost. Thank God for being our creator and our Savior and bless all those who read and believe.


05/30/2003 04:45:34 PM

What a load of crap. Blind leading blind in a dark room to nowhere. This self impotant thinking leads to the lack of responsibility that has lead to the Jerry Springer trailor park crowd. Do your own thing, peace man.


05/30/2003 12:42:40 PM

I think all religions start off meaning well, but then when so many man-made'laws' are developed, they become narrow-minded and self-rightous.At least they provide a path to knowing about God. But there comes a time when it's important to question all these rules and dispense with all the negativity that surrounds them. Most people, however, don't have the ability to think (truly) for themselves, and must 'follow the rules'!!


05/30/2003 08:59:03 AM

The message from Emerson is that we need to look inward and to realize we are all holy. The message I want to leave is from Allan Wolf Leg, a Blackfoot and Roman Catholic: "The heritage, the philosophies, the message that came from God through nature to the Indian people, these are the same as what Jesus Christ means to Christians. God came through Jesus Christ and his disciples to the people just as he came through his agents in nature to the Indian people. The latter is called paganism...yet there is no difference. It is the same God." or a statement made by Frank Fools Crow, "God is the sum of the energy...He exists in everything - so that it can justifiably be said that each of us ism in a sense, a part of God."


05/29/2003 06:37:56 PM

That's the bad (ie, spiritually unhelpful) thing about the idea of heaven as something off in the future after we die. First of all it encourages self-interest, as opposed to serving God out of love without expectation of reward. Second of all it encourages neglect of the world. To me, religion ought not to be world-renouncing, it should encourage us to make a loving relationship with the world (or, God as we see him in the world) an extreme priority. Not something secondary in importance to eventually being rewarded. And as I said, I (and many fine theological minds) regard "eternity" as being present in each moment, not as literal immortality, and the experience of "heaven" as identical to the union with God which we can achieve in this lifetime. God is "outside the categories of being and nonbeing" and therefore so is the specific location of heaven (or hell).


05/29/2003 06:25:07 PM

I think you have it backwards. If we help the Earth and others then we recieve at-one-ment with God. you see how you can't argue. Buddah was also the son of God. and I am the daughter and so are you and so is every living cell in this earth. There is nothing to save you from except your own narrow views on religions.


05/29/2003 06:01:19 PM

It breaks my heart to see you refer to Jesus as a "prophet". Jesus was the Son of God. The greatest gift that God could give us. Yes there were many prophets that foretold of His birth as there are many that are anticipating His return. God gave us the earth and we have a responsibility to take care of it but we also have a greater responsibility to take care of our souls and to witness to others so they may receive salvation. If we get our lives right with God (atonement through Jesus)then we can meet the challenges of life such as saving our ecology, wildlife, and the physical safety of our fellowman. These things are in the present. We need to take care of the present, but also prepare for the hereafter. Peace be with you.


05/29/2003 05:30:23 PM

Like the poor people of africa that had all those missionaries come and tell them what they HAD to believe. People that had been running their own lives just fine for thousands of years. I believe its just another way for people to make others feel guilty to get some money in the name of yet another prophet. (YES THERE HAVE BEEN MANY PROPHETS) So please stop cramming Jesus down people's throats. No one will listen when forced. I know he himself would tell you to just be nice and accept everyone for who they are. There are many paths to God. We are not premolded to believe just one. That is what makes this earth and it's different cultures so beautiful. For all those new born christians the best advice I can give you is TRAVEL. Travel as far and wide as you can. You will open your heart alot more when you see how beautiful other religions can be. praise JAH, ALLAH, KRISHNA, JEHOVA, YAHWEH, THE UNIVERSE, or THE SOURCE. For we are all one but of many colors.


05/29/2003 05:30:05 PM

I am very sad that we are still thinking of BELIEVING IN JESUS so radically. I am sorry but in my heart I know that to believe in Jesus only means to "DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE DONE UNTO YOU". It is a teaching not a religion. Just because some people do not accept him as their salvation does NOT mean that they will not be saved. Be saved from what??? Don't you see that your beliefs are already making you prejudiced to all other people and religions, some of which are thousands of years older than the BIBLE??? To be saved means to save this planet, save a soul that needs your help, save the animals, the people of Iraq...ect. Stop worrying so much about saving souls and Jesus and wake up to reality. The earth needs us to save it more than your soul needs to be saved. I feel that all that Jesus talk is very selfish to other peoples beliefs and feelings.


05/29/2003 05:28:20 PM

It sounds to me like Emerson honored his own mind, his own doubts and questions - and dared to forge ahead, instead of trying to shush his mind out of fear of Biblegod. Good for Emerson! I wish more people had the courage to follow their own thinking that way.


05/29/2003 05:09:59 PM

Jesus taught about rejecting the things of lust, dust and rust - and he also taught that if we bring forth what is within us that what we bring forth will set us free. Because it generally directs people away from "God" - religion surely must be avoided by all "seekers"? And surely we must all loose the perceptions contained in religions and in our minds and come to our senses in order to find "God"? We must have the minds of infants? What a wonderful article - Beliefnet thank you so much.


05/29/2003 04:59:32 PM

Anyone who considers themselves a seeker of truth would be well served reading a collection of Emerson's writings. Even if you don't agree with all of his conclusions, his thought processes and ideas, particularly for that time, are remarkable. An aside... For some of you folks, no pun intended, but JESUS! Give it a rest. Being threatened by every idea that isn't already in your head illustrates a lack of confidence in your own position. Just because people may have an original thought they didn't think about 2,000 years ago doesn't mean they are in league with the devil or going to hell. Spiritual and intellectual development didn't come to a screeching halt after Revelations was written. If your mind is so closed it will not allow the input of any information it doesn't already contain, there's no sense in worrying about salvation - you're already dead.


05/29/2003 04:59:27 PM

"How can we be so conceited as to think that all of God... can be contained within ONE book, ONE religion, ONE way to worship?" How can we be so conceited as to think there is ONLY one God, or that there is EVEN a God; or if there is, that there is actually some kind of existence beyond death?


05/29/2003 04:40:30 PM

Um, forgive the gratuitous overuse of "obviously" in the below entry. ;-)


05/29/2003 04:40:01 PM

Sometimes loss of a loved one changes or breaks ones spirit grief can be a stronghold the devil can use. But when a person causes others to turn fron Jesus that is a real tradgedy. Im our lives what we believe about Jesus will determine where we spend eternity, It is the most important decision of our lives for all eternity. Choose this day who you will serve GoD or man.


05/29/2003 04:36:12 PM

Oleo, I don't know the first thing about Chapman so obviously I don't know either. And the politics of releasing people early because they've reformed is obviously not a simple thing. And obviously I agree that no one ought to get a free ticket simply for believing particular things, to me the operative idea is that because the nature of God is infinitely loving and forgiving, it is up to the believer to accept that love and forgiveness into his/her heart and be transformed by it. On some level Christianity actually makes a lot of sense, but that's not necessarily the level on which it's typically understood... incidentally, if heaven is located in "eternity" it is worth remembering that eternity is fully present in every moment. Nearness to God IS heaven...


05/29/2003 04:06:57 PM

MaCara I think you may have misunderstood my point which was more of a question as to is it truly acceptance if one walks around with the attitude of "you can think what you want but your going to hell if you don't think like me" ? edelphi I do agree with you in rehabilitation over punishment in a mjority of cases - honestly I do not know enough about Chapman personaly to know if he should be released from prison at this point. I guess I'm just thinking it doesn't seem right that a person should get a free ticket just for being Christian. And maybe one does not receive such a reward but as many believe and as it has been presented to me that as long as you accept Jesus you go to heaven regardless of your actions and I just find that hard to swallow.


05/29/2003 03:41:58 PM

God is a wonderful and loving Father. Jesus Christ bridges the guff that was created by our sins giving us access to the Father. This is not something I am repeating because I have been taught these things. It is what I know in my heart to be true. Without the atonement of sin I would be lost forever and I would be destined for Hell. Thank God that Jesus paid the price for my sin. As for Mark David Chapman, I do not believe he should be released from prison because we are subject to the laws of society. If he has truly be saved by the blood of Jesus, he will be spared from Hell and damnation. God gives us forgiveness for our sins but that doesn't mean there won't be consequences in this life from our sin. There is no "cheap" way to heaven. The ultimate price was paid by Jesus.


05/29/2003 03:33:12 PM

I think it's possible for someone to be caring while still having flaws that keep them from the perfect standard of love. My point was that Ssis wasn't trying to be mean even if she WAS being smug and threatening, and I forgive her and I think God forgives her. As to Mr Chapman, I think it is altogether possible for people to *change profoundly,* and that if that happens, then that is the best possible outcome for the justice system and we should consider reintigrating them into the community. I believe in rehabilitation rather than punishment/vengeance (I think God does too for that matter).


05/29/2003 03:16:31 PM

The absolute best form of evangelization is to behave as an example of what you truly believe. There is no smugness there because even believers have questions and doubts from time to time.


05/29/2003 02:33:13 PM

Is it really caring to go through life with the smug attitude that one can think what you want and and still be appreciated, but you're not christian so you are going to hell. If the goal is to save our souls I don't think this is the best approach, although I don't know what would be, or if there is one. But, if people only begin practicing the religion out of fears of eternal damnation then is that really them at all ? For example the man who murdered John Lennon, Mark David Chapman states that he has been saved by God and should be released. Should we just accept this. What if it is just a cheap way to heaven ? Like, Emerson I believe that it is our actions and the truth in our souls.


05/29/2003 02:18:34 PM

She's trying to save our souls, Oleo. We should be grateful she cares. :-) God loves absolutely despite all our wrongness. And to truly experience that is to have your illusions burned out of you, and to be more humbled than one could ever be by blame or threats of damnation. And that's my gut response to the hellfire and damnation school of Christian evangelization.


05/29/2003 01:43:56 PM

"As for anyone on the plant who has never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, I believe they would be subject to the law of God" What does this mean ? That they will go to hell ? That seems bizzare if that is the case. ssis, did you read the opening article to this discussion about Emerson, because you seem to be missing the point. You are rattling off statements I've heard 100 times, blanket Christian cliches. This concerns me because I feel you are just regurgitating what has been taught to you. I'm all about being open to other's religions and beliefs but these thoughts just don't seem like your own. If they are I apologize for the assumption. I think the main point Emerson was trying to make is that if your religion is what is the truth for you then go for it, but if it's not the truth then it is not you and not real for you. So I guess basicly I'm just quesitoning how much of what you are saying is you and how much of it is just you repeating what other have told you to believe.


05/29/2003 01:33:56 PM

Jesus did not come to the world to condenm it, but rather through Him we would be saved. If a person, man or woman, (by the way - I am a woman) accepts Jesus Christ then they will strive to live like Him. They will try to resist the temptation of sin. Everyone is human and will fail at times, but that is where repentance comes in. You turn from your sinful way and ask God for forgiveness. We can approach His throne and ask for forgiveness because of the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. As for anyone on the plant who has never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, I believe they would be subject to the law of God. Once the gospel has been taught and accepted, Jesus provides the grace of God.


05/29/2003 01:31:01 PM

oleo, I think you are absolutely correct in your thinking. I myself am a "practicing" Roman Catholic. I also know that I must keep practicing until I get it right! If we as human beings think we can actually confine God to suit ourselves then perhaps we're just deluded.


05/29/2003 01:27:02 PM

How can we be so conceited as to think that all of God can be contained within ONE book, ONE religion, ONE way to worship? God is so vast and great, we do God a great disservice to make anyone believe that they are wrong next to what we "know" to be true. How can we know? God has revealed him/herself in many ways to many peoples. But many truths are clear, and they are the ones found in ALL religions: Be good to and for each other, Do your best, love God and all that was created, respect life.


05/29/2003 01:25:56 PM

edelphi - that is what i've always sort of thought - i don't know if this is exactly what you mean but I see the "truth" in many religions. I think depending on the culture people have different needs to help them understand the world around them... basicly I think they're all right in their own way and to fully appreciate life you have to keep you heart, mind and senses open to it all...


05/29/2003 01:23:01 PM

ssis, Obviously that is patently untrue as non-Christians have found the very same transcendent peace through their own religious paths. If you feel so certain about Jesus, consider the notion that the sincere seeker can find him and surrender to him just as surely by calling him something else. A rose by any other name... True religiosity is simply not about believing certain dogmas. It is about the heart.


05/29/2003 01:19:51 PM

MaCara that is what I am thinking...I don't know a ton about religion which is honestly why I am asking these questions of ssis. It seems to me as Emerson discovered, after studiously studying religion that it is our actions and our inner hearts that really count.


05/29/2003 01:16:52 PM

This is the part that bothers me most about Christianity. The fact that as long as you accept Jesus you are acceptable for heaven, regardless of your actions. Yet, you can be the most charitable, open minded, loving, accepting person in the world but if you practiced the wrong religion you are going to hell. It just seems to me that based on the other teachings I've read of Jesus that our action and the way we treat eachother are the most significant. Another question, could it be possible that God created multiple religious leaders, like Buddha so that multiple cultures could follow His way. Also, what is an individual is never made aware of Christianity ? Do they go to hell to, or should I say face "concequences" as that sounds so much nicer.


05/29/2003 01:13:40 PM

oleo, IF anyone would believe what ssis said, then I guess more than half of the population of our planet (women) would be damned to eternal hell fire! The whole notion that God would not include and invite everyone to everlasting life is silly!


05/29/2003 01:03:50 PM

I believe the Bible to be God's holy word - old and new testament. I don't devalue anyone's search for God; however, I do believe that the only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ because it is written in God's word. In the Bible, Jesus teaches us that anyone who denies him before man, He will also deny before the Father. If any religous leader or any "good" person denies Christ, I do believe that the consequenses are clear.


05/29/2003 12:41:28 PM

This is an interesting point and leads me to a question that no one ever seems to want to give me a straight answer on. If the only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ then does that mean that folks like the Dali Lama, Ghandi, etc are going to hell ?? Also I have a bit of an issue with you puting the word religion in quotes therefor devaluing all other beliefs but your own. I'm guessing this is representative of the that you consider your religion to be the only religion that is correct and others to be little more then fairy tales. If I'm wrong let me know.


05/29/2003 12:25:22 PM

There are many people who will find "religion" in their lifetime. They will immerse themselves in the activities of religion and maybe content in doing so. However, they will not find true peace until they find the only one that can provide true peace through salvation. That one is Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light - no man come to the Father except by Jesus. When you find Jesus you can then approach the throne of God and have the close relationship for which you have been searching.


05/29/2003 12:19:38 PM

wolfiepa I agree with you - one has to do what is true for them, not what some books says. However, if what the book says is true to you then follow it. A person can call themselves Christian, Hindu, whatever but how we live is what matters. Just because one can rattle off a bunch of religious characters does not bring them closer to God - it's what you feel deep down. Think what you want and if those thoughts happen to match a religion then go for it. Wolfiepa, you speak for me too.


05/29/2003 10:12:13 AM

I just realized that it is not an argument over which path is best, it is in the personal, full immersion into the religious experience, wherever, that opens oneself to a closer walk. Some religions will work for some people and not work for others. Some seem to be a block to religious experience to some people, and a bridge for others. It's not the language that we use (aka religion) but the actual use of that language to commune with the Divine, that matters most. Find the place that resonates, then dig as deeply as you can, without attachment to what others think, or to any idea of "have to because..." This is what Emerson said, and what he lived, for himself. He happened to find that place outside of an established church and that was right for him. As I honor each person's right and responsibility to do it for him/herself.


05/29/2003 10:05:26 AM

rbethell, I am a (nominally atheist) ex-Catholic who recently discovered St. Augustine and John of the Cross and was moved not only by the depth of their experience which tend to closely mirror my own, but the similarity of their idea of God to the Tao and other concepts I am more readily able to believe. Apophatic/contemplative prayer resembles Zen practice very much. I would not be the first to suggest that mysticism is subversive of dogmaticism, or that the apophatic experience of God transcends religions and defies ideology. My own feeling is that if you go as deep as possible into any religion (or even atheism) you come out the other side, discovering that there is still only the sublime reality.


05/29/2003 09:43:37 AM

Quoth wolfiepa: "As a former Catholic, I can tell you that pursuing a particular religion does not get you closer. Instead, it sets you further away. "Following a particular dogma requires you to give up your own truth and adopt another that may or may not agree with yours." Not necessarily, W. It's entirely possible that one may find a religion that *matches* one's own spirituality, that suits one just fine, and thereby comes *closer* to the Divine. Septegram


05/29/2003 09:32:39 AM

There are only three things: 1. Talk to God. Catholics do novenas, Sufis dance, Moslems pray five times a day facing Mecca, Buddhists meditate, Hindus chant mantras. Find your way...and do it consistently. 2. Listen to God. Pay attention. If you do #1, He/She will answer. 3. Follow the Guidance you receive. This is the fulfillment of all spiritual practice. If you want a Friend, be a Friend.


05/29/2003 08:13:55 AM

Wolfiepa: I can assure you that you do speak only for you. Following a religion to its fullest expression has rewards you can't erase with glib comments. A Catholic who immerses his or her self fully in their religion, following the spirituality and contemplative technique of St. Francis, Therese of Lisieux, or John of the Cross would get very close to God indeed. I imagine there is no shortage of Sufi mystics who believe that it is in the embracing of the fullness of their philosophy, that true universality of spirit is achieved.


05/29/2003 05:41:15 AM

Astral, As a former Catholic, I can tell you that pursuing a particular religion does not get you closer. Instead, it sets you further away. Following a particular dogma requires you to give up your own truth and adopt another that may or may not agree with yours. After I decided to leave the Church and strike out on my own and started to meditate, that I felt closer to God. I needed to seek out my own truth about that divine intelligence. So how do you know you are getting closer even thought you are wandering through the galaxy? Easy, you look at all creation and realize everything you see, hear, feel and touch is as it supposed to be. And relinquish you need to control everything around you. Lastly, you also realize that you are eternal and that death is not something to fear. Once you feel the connection to God and others, your life will never be the same. Peace, Mikhail


05/28/2003 10:45:00 PM

/anyone know how to post in bold and italics?/


05/28/2003 10:14:25 PM

I think it has to do with knowing, with being aware, w/o mental processing. I guess I picture this possibility as this: you know it when you know it. But, from books I've read, perhaps you no longer know 'it' once you give it a label. Do I agree? Not sure.... but, to reverse the question, how do you really know you're measuring your spiritual progress by pursuing a given tradition and getting closer to its tenants?


05/28/2003 09:52:05 PM

How does anyone measure their spiritual progress but through pursuing a given tradition, and getting closer to that traditions tenets? Emerson seems to better than any New Ager who just decides to strike out on their own and find out what they find out--if you're just wandering around the galaxy, how do you know if you're getting closer?