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Joseph Wolpert: Classical Christianity and Unity

The Problem

The question though is, "Do these theories actually offer a reasonable explanation as to how Jesus saves?" And this leads us back to our previous discussion on Christology - "If salvation can come only through the divine and the divinity of Jesus is affirmed - Has orthodoxy really explained how Jesus can be both fully human and divine?"

The church seems to be basing its arguments syllogistically trying to hold to scripture and tradition. The argument seems to go something like this - "We believe that Jesus is the redeemer. The redeemer must be divine. Therefore, Jesus is divine".

Or, only the creator can redeem humanity and the world. The "logos" is the creative agency of God. Therefore, Jesus is the "logos" made flesh.

The church, in its final analysis says to its members "These are mysteries - accept them on faith". But many people today have great difficulty doing so because of modern humanity's insistence on "reason". And many Christians do not give the same authority to scripture and tradition as many clerics do.

So, are there reasonable and plausible explanations to our Christological and Soteriological questions?

Alfred North Whitehead once suggested that "Christianity has always been a religion looking for a metaphysic". (Whitehead, p 50) This doesn't mean that there has not been an ongoing attempt to provide "metaphysical" explanations for Christian doctrine and dogma. Of course there has. But whether they have been adequate or not is another question.

What is the criteria for an adequate metaphysic in these matters? How has the Church failed to meet the criteria? How does Unity meet it?

The criteria is twofold:

1. You must first begin with the nature of Being before addressing the Christological and Soteriological questions. The rubric of Classical Christian theology is and has been "salvation" and the tendency has been to adjust the metaphysics to suit the understanding of salvation. Salvation should be consistent with one's understanding of "Being".

The ground of Being in church thought has shifted from time to time. In Roman Catholicism, Platonism provided the essential metaphysics until the Scholasticism of the Late Middle Ages replaced it with Aristotelianism. The early Protestant Reformation was fundamentally Cartesian in its metaphysic.

Today, in Protestantism there is not a universal metaphysic. There are Kantians, Hegelians, Cartesians, followers of Whitehead, etc.

2. An adequate metaphysics has to relate Christology and Soteriology to nature and the functioning of Human Consciousness. For this to take place, there must be a structure or model of conscousness that includes the function and operations of the mind, and takes into account all of the ways in which we receive data or information.

The position taken in this study is that an adequate metaphysic did not come on the scene until the last half of the nineteenth century with the inauguration of the "New Thought Movement" in this country and the subsequent founding of the "Unity Movement" by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.