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Prominent Christians, Past & Present

English: The Ten Commandments, illustration fr...

The Ten Commandments, illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By PK Christian Writer

While preparing for Sunday school lessons on the Bible, I gave the children a few examples of noted Christians who did not only believe in the Bible, but excelled in the secular sphere as well.

I later published it online, and to my surprise, someone it shared it on another website as well.

Note that all entries in this article may not be considered “orthodox” Christians. Nevertheless, here is an overview of the influence of the Bible, and ode to people who rightfully were the “salt of the earth:

·         The Bible was the first major book to be printed in the world.

·         The Bible is still the highest selling book in the world.

·         The Bible is translated in more than 2000 languages. Almost 93% of the world’s population read the Bible in their mother tongue!

·         The King James Version has helped to develop the English language as well.

·         Scientists such as Isaac Newton, Galileo, Robert Hoyle, Johannes Kepler, Blaise Pascal, and Copernicus were Bible believers.

·         Famous sportspersons and athletes like Shawn Michaels and Eric Liddell have even preached the Bible.

·         Famous actors like Gregory Peck (Oscar Winner) and Johnny Lever are also known for their devotion to faith.

·         Johann Sebastian Bach and Mozart have a timeless influence on both secular and Church music.

·         Florence Nightingale, a Christian, was the founder of modern nursing.

·         William Wilberforce, an evangelical Christian, led the movement which ended African slavery.

·         Top universities like Oxford, Harvard and Yale were started as religious institutions.

·         Christian missionaries have helped local communities in poor countries immensely. Indeed, it is not a coincidence that education and health care came with arrival of missionaries in the third world

·         Many astronauts on both Apollo 8 and 11 were believing Christians. They read the Bible in space, and even performed Eucharist while orbiting the Moon! Infact, an athiest onboard on Apollo 8 actually filed a lawsuit against Christians reading Genesis in the Spacecraft.

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal...

Eleanor Roosevelt and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Spanish text. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This does not go without saying that adherents of other religions have not contributed in anyway to the development of humanity. Nor do I argue that Christians have never acted in way that has harmed mankind.

But history has shown us one thing: Christianity is a religion of revival. There have been dark periods in Church history, but today the nations influenced by Christianity stand on the forefront of modern civilization.

Most importantly, all major atrocities committed by the Church were stopped by the members of the same faith. Whether it was the slaughter of Jews, war with the Turks, or the burning of innocent women, every time it was the Christians themselves who rose against the evils done in the name of God by their own brethren.

This is one, but not the only one, reason that Christianity still holds some relevance today.

About the Author

Suleman, M. John – I am a writer who creates content for clients (and myself as well). I think, read, and surf a lot, but my strong areas of research and writing include religion, history, literature, and online content creation (especially ghostwriting).


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Rock and Roll in Church

What some people say! – Image via Tumblr

By Verona Raymond

Why do some churches have old time hymns and others have several guitars, drums and other types of instruments that weren’t in churches twenty plus years ago? Are we getting away from what a Christian church should be, and forming something else that maybe isn’t acceptable to God today?

I know some conservative churches that never allow anything but a piano and a church organ for their music. They sing the old time hymns (from when I was a child in church), of which many are still beautiful and really nostalgic.

Other churches allow most any musical instrument. Christian songs by new Christian artists of today are played and sung as well. I’ve got to admit that some of the music that is popular is really beautiful, and touches my heart. One of them is “I can Only Imagine” by MercyMe. It describes what we will feel when we are standing before Jesus someday. It gives me goose bumps every time it’s played! There are many more beautiful Christian songs that are out right now as well.

Do you ever feel the Lord’s presence within you at church when you are singing? According to the Bible, singing and praising the Lord is what he loves for us to do.

Here is a verse from the Bible that talks about David:

David and Saul

David and Saul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. 2 Samuel 6:5

It seems like there was quite a collection of instruments! I don’t recall any drums mentioned in the Bible, but cymbals were mentioned and timbrels which are similar to tambourines. Psalteries were stringed instruments that were made out of a flat wooden box.

I really believe that when you are in church and praising the Lord with singing, it doesn’t matter what style it is as long as you are joyful in doing so. Singing feels good and makes your heart glad that God loves us, and at the same time you are thanking God for all he has done and continues to do. Singing out loud is a perfect release!

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Psalm 98:4

About The Author

Verona Raymond – Living Life with God’s Purpose in Mind

Verona maintains Christian websites filled with uplifting Christian articles and information.

This article may be reprinted freely as long as all links remain active.

http://christianarticles.christianrhapsody.com

Article source: http://www.articlecity.com/articles/religion/article_283.shtml


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Early American Bibles: The First 200 Years of Bible Publishing in the U. S

English: WPA poster-Ephrata : Visit the ancien...

English: WPA poster-Ephrata : Visit the ancient cloisters of the early German pietists in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author: Ron Davis

The Bible, New Testament, and various books of the Bible were translated into fifteen languages in America by the time of the Civil War. In the first 200 years of Bible publication in America the Bible or New Testament was printed in Algonquin, German, English, Greek, Latin, French, Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Cherokee, and Hawaian, it that chronological order. Scripture portions were translated into three additional Native American languages: the Gospel and the Epistles of John into the Delaware language in 1818; the book of Genesis in 1835 and the Gospels in 1850 into Chippewa; the books of Acts, Romans and Galatians in 1835, and the book of Isaiah in 1839, into Mohawk. Portions of Scripture into Cherokee were begun in 1831, and the New Testament was printed in 1857. The New Testament with Hawaian and English text in parallel columns was also published in 1857.

The most famous and valuable early America Bible, the first Bible printed in America, was in the Natick dialect of the Algonquin language. The Bible was tanslated by John Eliot (1604-1690), a Congregational minister and missionary, and published in Cambridge, Masschusetts for Native Americans. Eliot had graduated from Cambridge University in England and had migrated to America in 1631. The New Testament was published in 1661 and the whole Bible in 1663, having been printed by Marmaduke Johnson (sent over from England) and Samuel Green, with help from an Algonquin. The first book ever printed in America, The Bay Psalm Book, a Psalter, had previously been published in Cambridge in 1640, with the help of John Eliot and Cotton Mather. The book, though frequently reprinted, is now rare. When a copy does come to auction, it brings the highest price of any book printed in Colonial America.

John Eliot saw at least 4000 Native Americans turn to Christ during his thirty years of missionary work. Robert Boyle (1627-1691), the Irish-born chemist and physicist, and formulator of Boyle\’s laws of gases, was a major contributor from England to the Eliot Bible. Because substantial financial support for publication came from England, and because the ‘Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England’ had been organized in England in support of the mission work in Massachusetts, Bibles were sent back to England. Forty copies of the 1661 first edition were sent to London to the Governor of the Commissioners of the New England colonies. Later they were placed in public institutions in England. Darlow and Moule summarize the historic significance of the Eliot Bibles, ‘They constitute the earliest example in history of the translation and printing of the entire Bible in a language as a means of evangelization.’

The first Bible published in America in a modern language was by Christoph Saur (1693-1758). This German Bible was published in Germantown, Pennsylvania, adjacent to Philadelphia. It is essentially a Martin Luther version, but with revisions from the Berleburg Bible (published 1726-1742). Saur was an immigrant from Germany and of pietistic Anabaptist (Brethren) persuasion. He published the Bible in 1743, in a large and heavy quarto. In 1745 and 1755 he published a German New Testament. Saur published these Bibles for fellow German refugees in Pennsylvania, and stressed that ‘for the poor we have no price.’ Saur sent a dozen copies of his 1743 German Bible to Dr. Heirich Luther in Frankfurt, Germany, since Luther had sent the metal type to Saur to print the Bibles. The Bibles sent to Luther are now in public institutions in Germany. In 1940 Edwin Rumball-Petre, in America\’s First Bibles registered 134 copies of this Bible in America, Germany, and England.

Christoph Saur II (1721-1784) published the second Saur Bible in 1763, the first Bible printed in America on American paper. Rumball-Petre located only 125 copies of this edition in public and private collections worldwide. In addition the son printed at least six editions of the German New Testament, the last being in 1775. Finally, in 1776 Christoph Saur II printed the German Bible in an edition of 3000. It has been dubbed the ‘Gun Wad Bible,’ because the Bible pages were supposedly used by American or British soldiers to make gun wads for their rifles, as well as for firewood and horsebedding. In a sad footnote to American history, Christoph Saur II, in 1777, was accused, apparently falsely, of being disloyal to the American colonies. He was arrested, and his property, including the printing press, confiscated. Christoph Saur II, a Brethren elder, was a pacifist, but not a Loyalist. Two of his sons, however, were apparently Loyalists and migrated to Canada after the war. Much of the 1776 edition did not survive; in 1940 only 195 copies of the 1776 German Bible were registered extant. Rumball-Petre registered 454 copies of all three editions (1743, 1763, 1776) of the Saur Bible, the earlier editions being scarcer and more valuable than the 1776 edition. Christoph Saur II also published Psalters in the 18th century.

Samuel Saur, the youngest brother of Christoph Saur II, published Psalters in 1791, 1796, and 1797, the 1796 Psalter likely being the first portion of Scripture published in the South. He developed, according to Isaiah Thomas\’ History of Printing in America, a type making business in Baltimore, S. Sower & Co., which cast type for a small Bible, the ‘First American Diamond Edition,’ published in Baltimore in 1812. Variations on the Saur name are Sauer and Sower, books printed in the English language using the latter spelling.

In 1787 German New Testaments were also printed in Pennsylvania by Dunker brethren of the Ephrata Cloister and by a German Lutheran  printer, Michael Billmeyer. Both the Ephrata Brethren and Billmeyer had Saur connections.

German Seventh Day Baptists led by Conrad Beisssel had established the Ephrata Cloister, a Protestant monastic community in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Christoph Saur I had been with Beissel in Ephrata before either man had established a printing business. Saur, in his first year of printing, began work on an 800-page hymnal for Ephrata. The Ephrata Cloister\’s own publishing business began soon after Saur\’s, and between 1745 and 1795, produced over 40 books. In addition to German New Testaments, Psalters, and hymnals, the Cloister published, in German, The Bloody Arena (Martyrs Mirror), the most masive book ever printed in Colonial America. Christoph Saur and Conrad Beissel were the first German-language printers in America, besides Ben Franklin, who had experimented with a German-language periodical.

Ephrata Scripture items are now scarce, and, remarkably, are not listed in O\’ Callaghan\’s meticulous, 19th-century reference book on the Bibles printed in America prior to 1860. The Ephrata imprints are described in books by Oswald Seidensticker (1889) and John Wright (1894). The Ephrata Brethren published New Testaments in 1787 and 1795, and Psalters in 1793 and 1795. The two Testaments and two Psalters are all in different versions. These were all printed in duodecimal (12 mo). The Ephrata 1787 New Testament, Das Ganz Neue Testament unsers Jesus Christi, is according to Oswald Seidensticker ‘not Luther\’s translation, but one originally made in Switzerland.’ Wright\’s Early Bibles in America (3rd edition) illustrates the title page of the 1787 Ephrata Testament, and elaborates on the book, ‘It is printed in bold, clear-faced type, and is a most admirable example of early book-making. It is greatly prized by collectors, and brings a high price.’ A note at the end of the New Testament explains that this version was ‘Formerly printed in Zurich. Basle, as well as Frankfort and Leipsic: now however, at Ephrata, at the expense of the Brethren, in the year 1787.’ Four hymns are also printed at the end of the New Testament. This fairly scarce New Testament is in collections of the University of Bern, Switzerland, the Naturalistes Parisiens (Society), and Goshen College, Indiana among others.

The 1795 Ephrata New Testament lists Salomon Mayer on the title page, as does the 1795 Ephrata Psalter. The 1795 Ephrata Psalter, Das Kleine Davidische Psalterspiel der Linder Zion\’s is the same version as Samuel Saur\’s 1791 and 1797 Psalters. Seidensticker writes of this German Psalter, ‘The American reprint became popular with some Sects, Dunkers, Mennonites, etc, as evidenced by the numerous editions of the book: 1744, 1760, 1764, 1777, 1778, 1781, 1791, 1795, 1797, 1813, 1829.’

Michael Billmeyer (1752-1837), a Lutheran, with his father-in-law Peter Liebert, a Brethren minister, acquired, in 1783, what was usable of the Saur printing eqipment. They established a printing business in Germantown. After about three years, Liebert started a new printing establishment, and Billmeyer became sole proprietor. Billmeyer was a prolific printer of German New Testaments in the Martin Luther version. The Testaments have the following publication dates: 1787, 1795, 1803, 1807, 1808, 1810,1811, 1815, 1819, 1822. These are duodecimals with brass clasps on the leather. The Billmeyer New Testaments, particularly the 19th-century editions, are easier to find than the Saur and Ephrata Scriptures.

Billmeyer also printed Psalters in 1803, 1815, and 1828. The Psalter was widely used by Lutheran churches, but also by other groups. For example, the same Lutheran Psalter printed by Billmeyer  was also published in 1793 by the Ephrata Cloister of Dunker tradition. The Billmeyer Bibles, Psalters and related religious books are in library collections especially where the German heritage is significant.

In 1805 Gottlieb Jungmann in Reading, Pennsylvania printed a German Lutheran quarto. In 1813-14 Rev. Freidrich Goeb, in Somerset, Pennsylvania, printed the first Bible west of the Alleghanies, also a German Lutheran quarto. In 1819 Johann Bar in Lancaster, Pennsylvania printed a massive German folio Bible, the largest book printed in America to that time. The Bar Bible was substantial in both printing and binding.

The Aitken Bible was the first Bible published in English in America. This was shortly after the close of the Revolutionary War. During the War of Independence, Bibles from England were unobtainable, and Congress considered importing them from Holland and Scotland. In the Colonial era, England had banned the printing of the English Bible in America in order to give a monopoly to British publishers licensed by the Crown. Robert Aitken (1734-1802), a Quaker and Scottish immigrant, had been one of five printers who had made bids to Congress to print Bibles. Aitken already published the Congressional Quarterly and owned the largest bookstore in Philadelphia. His publication of the New Testament in English in 1777 had been a financial success so he published reprints of the Testaments in 1778, 1779, and 1781, including a school edition in 1779. In 1782 Aitken published 10,000 copies of the whole Bible, a small duodecimal (just over 5 by 3 inches in size) without pagination and with almost no margins. It was the only Bible ever authorized by Congress, but ruined Aitken financially. He had published the nearly 2,000 page Bible in a large edition, the Revolutionary war soon ended, and better and cheaper imported Bibles became available. Aitken never again published Bibles. In 1940 Rumball-Petre registered 71 copies, and estimated that there were less than 100 extant copies worldwide. These are in either one volume or two, and typically in poor condition. Aitken sent a presentation copy of the 1782 Bible to Oliver Hazard in London England, ‘the frist copy of the first edition.’ It was in two volumes and bound in olive green leather. This Bible is now in the British Museum. Another, almost perfect, copy in original binding, is at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, an important repository of old Bibles and canonical manuscripts.

In 1790, Mathew Carey (1760-1839), an Irish journalist and immigrant, printed, in two volumes, the first

Bible (and first quarto English Bible) in America from the 1763-64 Challoner edition of the Rheims-Douai version. This was printed in smaller numbers (about 470 copies) than any other early American Bible. This was because there were far fewer Catholics than Protestants in early America. John Carroll, the American Catholic superior who had encouraged Carey, estimated a Catholic population of 25,000 out of 3.5 million inhabitants in America in 1785. The Carey Catholic Bible is rarer than either Eliot\’s Bible or Aitken\’s Bible. In 1954 only 35 copies of the Carey Catholic Bible were located. Carey didn\’t publish another Bible for over ten years, but in the first two decades of the nineteenth century he became one of the biggest booksellers, and the most prolific publisher of King James Bibles in America. He also became one of America\’s most prominent and respected printers. He was the first president of a company organized in 1801 in New York that represented American booksellers nationwide.

Saur, Aitken and Carey the first three printers of Bibles in modern languages in America, were from Philadelphia. Another Philadelphian, William Young, printed in 1790, according to bibliographer Margaret Hill, the first American Bible (a duodecimal) that contained the Metrical Psalms of David (Scotch version).

Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) colonial printer, philanthropist and patriot, published the first folio Bible in America in Worcester and Boston in 1791, offering buyers a choice, which included fifty plates of illustrations. He had previously published A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible for children in 1788, with 500 small woodcuts. He published quarto, octavo, and duodecimal Bibles between 1791 and 1798, including the 1797 United States of Columbia Bible. Thomas was editor of the Massachussetts Spy newspaper, and founder of the American Antiquarian Society, which is still active today. He wrote The History of Printing in America in 1810, and pioneered the illustrated Bible in America. Thomas\’ son-in-law Anson Whipple printed the first New Hampshire Bible in Walpole in 1815.

In 1790 Isaac Collins, a Quaker from Trenton, printed the first Bible of New Jersey, a large quarto. Remarkably, he obtained the support not only of Quakers, but of Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Baptist bodies of the state. His family and others meticulously proof read this Bible, and were paid for any errors found in the text. Because of the accurate text, Collin\’s Bible became a standard for later Bible printers.

Hugh Gaine printed the first New Testament in New York in 1790. In 1792 Hodge and Campbell printed, by subscription, the first complete Bible in New York, a folio without pagination. It was an edition of John Brown\’s Self Interpreting Bible. George Washington was the first subscriber.

The first Septuagint translated into English was completed by an American Presbyterian, Charles Thompson, who had been Secretary of the American Congress from 1774 to 1789. The Septuagint was a very early Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) done by Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Africa about 250 years before Christ. The Thompson English Septuagint was printed in four volumes by Jane Aitken, daughter of Robert Aitken. She was likely the first female publisher of a Bible.

The first Greek Testament (12mo) printed in America in 1800 was by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. A New Testament with Greek and Latin in parallel columns was published by John Watts in Philadelphia in 1806. America\’s first Hebrew Bible, based on Van der Hoog\’s 1705 Amsterdam edition, was printed by William Fry and published by Thomas Dobson in Philadelphia in 1814. The first French Testament published in America was in 1810 in Boston; the first French Bible in America was published by the New York Bible Society in 1815. The first New Testament printed in Spanish in the Western hemisphere was in 1819, a duodecimal by the American Bible Society in an edition of 2500. It is today very rare, only a few copies being found in collections. A Catholic Spanish Bible was published by A. Chandler in New York in 1824, and a Catholic Portuguese New Testament was published by the American Bible Society in 1839. The American Bible Society printed bilingual New Testaments with the texts in parallel columns in the 1850\’s: German/English (1854), French/English (1854) Dutch/English (1856), Spanish/English (1856), Hawaian/English (1857), Greek/Latin (1858).

Mathew Carey, Isaiah Thomas, and other commercial publishers could only compete with the non-profit Bible societies by going to more expensive, illustrated Bibles. The first stereotyped Bible in America was printed in 1812 by the Philadelphia Bible Society with plates imported from England. The U.S. and England were at war, but cooperated in this Bible publication effort. Stereotype printing greatly increased the availability of Bibles in America over the next decades. The American Bible Society, established in 1816 in New York, was, by the Civil War, publishing over a million Bibles a year. Its first Bible was printed in New York in 1816 by E & J White.

Noah Webster (1758-1843) published a revision of the King James Bible in 1833 in New Haven, Connecticut. He updated antiquated vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation. He, unfortunately, removed words which he considered offensive. The octavo Webster Bible was not a financial success, the King James Version being popular.

Harper Brothers produced (1843-46) the most extravagant Bible ever produced in America. Harper\’s expenses amounted to over $20,000, a large amount for the nineteenth century. The Illuminated Bible was embellished with 1,600 engravings by J. A. Adams, mostly from original drawings by the American artist J. G. Chapman. The first electrotype from woodcuts had been done in in America by Adams in 1841, enabling the making of this Bible. A reprint of the Harper Bible was printed in 1859.

Isaac Leeser (1806-1868), from Prussia, was a leading Jewish Rabbi, and foremost Jewish scholar in America. In 1846, he published, in five volumes, the Pentateuch in Hebrew and English, titled The Law of God. In 1849 he published the Hebrew Bible with points (vowels). In 1853 he published The Twenty-four Books of the Holy Scriptures, an English translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Leeser spent fifteen years in preparation for this work, the only English work consulted being Bagster\’s Bible, a King James edition.

Leeser\’s Philadelphia contemporary was Francis P. Kenrick, who produced, from the Latin Vulgate, the first Catholic translation of the Bible in America. It was published in six volumes between 1849 and 1862. The four Gospels came out in 1849, the rest of the New Testament in 1851, and a complete one-volume New Testament in 1862. Kenrick published the Old Testament in four sections: The Psalms, Books of Wisdom, and Canticle of Canticles in 1857; Job and the Prophets in 1859; The Pentateuch in 1860; The Historical Books in 1860. Kenrick became the Archbishop of Baltimore. He died in 1863 before he would complete a revision of the whole Bible for publication in a single volume. The Kenrick Bible never became an official Catholic version.

The first 200 years of American Bible publication in America (1660-1860) have been explored. The importance of the early American Bibles historically is being more widely recognized. Some of these Bibles, particularly the Eliot, Saur, Aitken, and Thompson Bibles, are highlighted in exhibits around America from a collection of Bibles and manuscripts assembled by the Steve Green family, founders of Hobby Lobby. The Green Collection contains over 40,000 Bibles and manuscripts, the world\’s largest private collection. The collection is to be permanently housed in a museum in Washington, D. C.

Works Cited:

Darlow, T. H., and H. F. Moule. Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scriptures in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society. 4 volumes. London: British and Foreign Bible Society; New York: American Bible Society, 1903-1911.

Herbert, A. S. Historical Catalogue of Printed Editions of the English Bible 1525-1961. London: British and Foreign Bible Society; New York: American Bible Society, 1968.

Hills, Margaret T. The English Bible in America 1777-1957. New York: American Bible Society and The New York Public Library, 1961.

O\’ Callaghan, Edmund Bailey. A List of Editions of the Holy Scriptures and Parts Thereof Printed in America Previous to 1860. Albany, New York: Munsell and Rowland, 1861 (Detroit: Gail Research Company, 1966).

Rumball-Petre, Edwin A. R. America\’s First Bibles with a Census of 555 Extant Bibles. Portland, Maine: Southworth Anthoensen Press, 1940.

______________. Rare Bibles. New York: Philip Duschnes, 1963.

Seidensticker, Oswald. The First Century of German Printing in America 1728-1830. Philadelphia: Schaefer and Noradi, 1893 (New York: Krause Reprint Corporation, 1966).

Simms, P. Marion. The Bible in America. New York: Wilson-Erickson, 1936.

Thomas, Isaiah. The History of Printing in America. 2nd edition. Edited by Marcus A. McCorison. New York: Weathervane Books, 1970.

Wright, Rev. John. Early Bibles of America. New York: Thomas Whittaker, 3rd edition, 1894 (Mansfield Centre, Connecticut: Martino Publishing, 2004).

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/christianity-articles/early-american-bibles-the-first-200-years-of-bible-publishing-in-the-u-s-6642602.html

About the Author

Physician whose passion is glorifying God in living a world Christian lifestyle. Involved in mission mobilization and community health evangelism. Supports pro-life issues and opposes ongoing genocides . What does the Lord require of me but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God (paraphrasing the Bible prophet Amos).


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Krishna, Buddha and Christ: The same or different? (Part 5)

The Holy Spirit as a dove in the Annunciation ...

The Holy Spirit as a dove in the Annunciation by Rubens, 1628 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Final Word on Violence

In Christian mysticism, peaceful living and spiritual growth go hand in hand. As the believer increases in perfection and becomes closer to God the soul usually experiences an overall increase in heavenly graces.

The ideal Christian washes not just the outside but the inside of the proverbial cup to receive the pure waters of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 23:26). In this metaphor the cup represents the self, the soul, and the person who ultimately is bound for heaven.

So Christian mysticism never justifies violence but rather, gentleness and humility.

One might object to this claim by citing Joan of Arc, her inner voices apparently coming from God and urging her to lead the French army into battle. But it was the Catholic Church which eventually canonized St. Joan. The New Testament Gospels, themselves, never condone violence.

God or no God?

As noted earlier, religion can get complicated. Whenever one forwards a given assertion, an exception usually arises. On the issue of violence, we might point out the notion of the Just War and, for the matter, the bellicose Old Testament which Catholics embrace as originating in God. Having said that, the New Testament and Buddhist ideals about non-violence clearly differ in the sense that Buddhists do not believe in an ultimate, omnipotent, omniscient and eternal God, while Christians obviously do.

To repeat, Buddhists do not believe in God. Instead, Buddhists normally contextualize the idea of God saying “God” is just another cultural idea to surpass on the road to Nirvana, a journey involving the belief in reincarnation.

In Christianity, however, an unselfish love of one’s enemies arises from inviting the living presence of God to dwell in one’s heart. Happiness isn’t just inside, as so many non-Christians (and even some Christian pop singers) say. Rather, happiness is having a good relationship with God, who ultimately exists beyond the self but also immanent.

Unlike Buddhism, Christian salvation cannot entirely rely on one’s own contemplative efforts because God, and not oneself, is seen as the source of all goodness and being. Some see this ultimate dependence on God as a weakness but from a Christian perspective it’s just the way things are. One can only go so far through one’s own initiative. And that, for many Christians, is a significant limitation for Buddhists and for any New Age thinker who thinks they can reach the highest high through their own efforts.

To complicate things, Buddhism does speak of compassionate and intervening bodhisattvas who dispense graces to seekers along the way. But these exalted beings are not regarded as God. A monotheistic God is never present in Buddhism and at some point even bodhisattvas must be surpassed to enter into the nothingness/fullness of Nirvana, a place where the apparently illusory idea of individuality also vanishes.

Granted, some Christian mystics do talk about losing the self in a boundless ocean of God’s love, but God never disappears from the picture. And it’s doubtful that Christian mystics are advocating a complete loss of individuality. Instead, their metaphors seem more like happy fish in a boundless, beautiful ocean instead of the more Asian notion of drops of water dissolving in the sea.

Heaven and Hell

The Buddhist perception of heaven and hell is related to a discussion about violence and non-violence. Hell isn’t eternal for Buddhists. It’s more like a stopover in a lousy hotel room where one eventually checks out. Likewise with heaven. Heaven is described as a sort of ‘spiritual health spa’ enjoyed between lifetimes. So the reincarnating soul eventually departs from heaven to become fully enlightened. In fact, in Buddhism one encounters numerous heavens and hells before attaining full enlightenment.

Upon attaining enlightenment, Buddhists say the soul realizes it, itself, doesn’t exist. And at this point, even the idea of past lives becomes illusory. After all, how can you have a past life if you never existed?

These are interesting philosophical ideas but a Christian hoping to reach everlasting heaven might wonder if the Buddhist heavens could be astral realms and not heaven as understood within Christianity.

Since Buddhist hells are not eternal, they perhaps would be closer to the Catholic notion of purgatory because for Christians hell is eternal. Nor is the Christian hell a mere way-station or, for that matter, trendy or humorous Hollywood fantasy as portrayed in movies and video games. “See you in hell!“¹

For the vast majority of Christians, hell is just hell, forever and ever. And when it comes to the opposite, namely paradise, the Christian understanding of grace as a living presence that guides believers to everlasting heaven is relativized and absent in Buddhism. True, different Buddhist schools speak of emptiness, fullness and enlightenment. And they mention transitional grace and temporary heavens and hells. But Buddhist do not believe in everlasting heaven and hell as articulated within Christianity. So it stands to reason that the graces that Buddhists speak of are not the same thing that Christians talk about.

Conclusion

This brief comparison indicates that the scriptures and beliefs emerging from Krishna, Buddha and Christ have points of similarity but are not equivalent. As we’ve seen, the Mahabharata speaks of peace but in the Gita Krishna emphasizes holy warfare. By way of contrast, Christ, as part of the Holy Trinity is said to be co-equal with God and the Holy Spirit and, rather than engage in violence, is willing to sacrifice himself on a cross. While non-Christians may see this as misguided and some Buddhists (like D. T. Suzuki) say it’s “distasteful,” for Christians it is the ultimate point. This world is not it, and fighting and killing for material gain is not the way to get to eternal happiness.

We’ve also seen in the above that the Buddha doesn’t believe in God, and Buddhists say that the Buddhist nirvana surpasses the Christian understanding of heaven and hell.

The Hindu Krishna and the Buddha each speak of many lifetimes and associated opportunities for salvation through reincarnation, whereas the Christ of the Gospels entreats disciples to get it right the first time because (presumably) there is no such thing as reincarnation.

To overlook these and other differences may be well-intentioned but it’s also imprecise. And it’s doubtful that a fuzzy, misinformed belief in religious homogeneity will contribute to meaningful dialogue and genuine interfaith harmony. Promising commonalities can be discerned among today’s faith groups, but it will take clear and honest thinking for humanity to walk peacefully into the 21st century and beyond.

¹ http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SeeYouInHell

© Michael Clark

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Krishna, Buddha and Christ: The same or different? (Part 4)

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

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War and Peace

When interpreted literally, the Gita says Arjuna shouldn’t be upset because his killing is in accord with God’s will. If Arjuna detaches himself from his feelings bad karma will not arise from his violence.

Most Hindus would probably say Arjuna’s not angry on the battlefield. If anything, he’s initially reluctant, almost like a Hamlet who just can’t muster up the gumption to act.

Ultimately, Arjuna does his duty for God, fulfilling his dharma as a kshatriya, a member of the warrior caste. That is, he kills, making the Gita and the New Testament present two remarkably different pictures.

God (as Krishna) in the Gita exhorts Arjuna to engage in violence while God (as Jesus) in the New Testament says that merely thinking murderous thoughts is tantamount to being a murderer worthy of hellfire. In other words, Jesus says don’t even consider violence (1 John 3:15).

But the New Testament goes even further. It calls upon believers to love their enemies, turn the other cheek and pray for those who persecute them.

Because the New Testament doesn’t subscribe to the belief in reincarnation, Christians ideally should try their best to lead good lives, here and now—and not in ten, twenty or a hundred lifetimes down the road.

There’s a difference in both emphasis and direction between these two texts that’s hard to overlook. The Gita affords violence a sort of mythic grandeur, obscuring the harsh realities of blood, guts, pain and death with lofty prose and untenable metaphysical rationalizations, while the New Testament clearly directs believers away from violence.

For Jesus Christ — at least, the Jesus of the New Testament — violence among human beings is unacceptable.

Copyright © Michael Clark.

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Krishna, Buddha and Christ: The same or different? (Part 3)

English: Resurrection of Christ

Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Another Inconvenient Truth

Although the religions of Krishna, Buddha and Christ each allow for the idea of the Just War, they arguably differ.

Let’s look at Christianity first. Christians generally put more stock in the New Testament (NT) than the Old Testament (OT). The NT advocates turning the other cheek and loving one’s enemies while the often spiteful and bellicose OT speaks of gaining “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

Christian theologians say that the OT and NT inform one another. And Jesus Christ is often said to be present in the OT. But the NT is also taken as the fulfillment of the somewhat imperfect OT, as embodied in the person, teachings and living example of Jesus.

True, the Christian Bible consists of both the OT and NT, and, as mentioned, the OT has its fair share of nasty bits. But from the OT to the NT there’s a clear and definite movement away from violence to peace, from tribal retribution to the global message of selfless service.

This worldwide message of “peace above all” is universal. Christians unanimously agree that anyone can convert to Christianity. By way of contrast, some Hindus maintain that one must be born a Hindu—that is, for some Hindus true conversion for non-Hindus is not possible, a stance that seems tantamount to racism and hardly a universal message for mankind to unite in peace.

While some public figures like to gloss over this obvious difference between Christianity and some Hindu fundamentalists, it cannot be denied. And mere platitudes that obscure the issue aren’t going to change this inconvenient truth.

© Michael Clark

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Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up!

Redondo Beach Jesus Man with Van

Redondo Beach Jesus Man with Van: Marshall Astor

by Anagarika Eddie Rock

“Follow not what wise men say, follow instead in their footsteps.” (Old Zen Saying). Meaning that in order to reach the levels of elevated consciousness that these wise men achieved, you must live the life that they did, or, “Follow in their footsteps” in order to reach those lofty plateaus. Only reading and following their words doesn‘t work.

If you look, not necessarily at what Christ said but the life that he led as depicted in the Bible – He was not a family man. Nor was He a businessman, or a politician, or nationalistic. All of that Old Testament stuff; procreation, obedience, commandments is for a different audience, an audience that was not capable of understanding for themselves and had to be told what to do by an authority figure.

The New Testament, which according to the Gnostic Gospels (conveniently excluded in the few hand-picked Gospels of the Catholic Church that originated Christianity) portrays Christ as leading a simple life and trying to show us how to find peace within. And that we are all Sons of God.

But contemporary Christians do not follow in Christ’s footsteps. Instead, they take selective, self-serving quotes out of the Old Testament that supports their thirst for accumulations of material and psychological things, and open the floodgates to acquisition, ambition, wealth and accumulation.

Old Testament views proclaim the accumulation of stuff as a spiritual pursuit, where just the opposite is true. Accumulations, whether they be large screen TVs, large families, large beliefs, stock portfolios, or large egos, are a burden on the human mind. Accumulation does nothing but induce fear into a mind that is naturally fear free.

I believe that Christ knew and understood this perfectly and tried to indicate by His life how to live, which is simply. But when one conveniently uses the Old Testament (old consciousness without personal insight) to justify their desires, and only uses the New Testament (new consciousness with personal insight), to justify their belief that whatever they do is excused by their faith in Christ, then you have a situation where they are not following in the footsteps of their teacher.

The old argument is that Christ was not here to teach, but simply here to save us. Therefore, we can do pretty much as we please. That’s very convenient, and that’s fine if that is what you want to believe, but I posit that if you look at a life filled with accumulations, including the accumulation of material things, strong opinions, unyielding spiritual views and the super egos that result, you will find a deep level of stress and unhappiness cloaked in a deluded, trance-like belief that all is happiness.

This is Old Testament consciousness with no insight. This is delusion compared to the enlightening ideas of the New testament, according to the Gnostic Gospels. I think that Christ knew that desires and attachments to things that we accumulate eventually cause disappointment and unhappiness, and tried to show us another avenue by the way he lived His life.

The religious wars that have resulted from tight, unyielding views have been anything other than happiness. And the current atmosphere of hatred between Christians, Moslems and Jews, openly expounded upon in the media, will only lead to a nuclear war.

Then we all lose. And I’ll just bet that the religious chicken hawks that are now squawking behind their safe computers that this conflict is our destiny as prophesized in the Bible will be the first to pee their pants when the mushroom clouds rise above their neighborhoods! There is a concept and a reality about proclaiming the desire to join God in heaven!

For Christ’s sake! Christ was trying to teach peace! Don’t you get it? In absence of material things, of strong opinions, of unyielding spiritual views and super egos . . . is love! Yes! Love cannot happen until those other things go away! You cannot love your neighbor as long as you have strong opinions and unyielding views, because you will try to persuade the poor chap to believe your way. Only then will you love your neighbors; when they give in and you can control them.

You know, Christian monks and nuns (not priests and preachers) understand this; they live a life of poverty A Buddhist monk or nun, when they take on the robes, give away their families, careers, relationships and possessions in trade of three simple robes and a begging bowl. Why? Because they understand, at a very deep level, what it’s all about, and it’s all about letting go. This was what Christ was trying to teach us – letting go!

Letting go of everything is the true happiness. This is the basis of true generosity and loving you neighbor – which is a complete happiness that we, as human beings, can achieve because when we hold onto our material things, strong opinions, unyielding spiritual views and the super egos, we are always afraid that things will change. And in fact; everything does change. Material things come and go, our opinions will be challenged endlessly, our spiritual views will change as we mature, and our super egos will diminish as we age and experience the realities of life.

When we hold tight to these things, even such things as nationalism, politics, and religion, we become tight inside; our hearts become cramped, fearful of someone challenging us, another country, another religion, another political view or party.

And we become fearful, which leads to hatred and anger. We become uncertain because deep inside, beyond a conscious level, we really are uncertain about whether or not our opinions are true.

It’s easy for us to give away things that we have no use for anymore, old clothes or old appliances, but not as easy with things that we still treasure.

Only when we no longer treasure the values of the Old Testament which bring us conflict, and discover the real meaning of the New testament, which brings peace, can we throw away those old values without a second thought.

If we can live a simple life, just enough to get by on, we will naturally begin to see the needs of others, and we will help them. And after we have enough money to live modestly, we begin to take care of the needs of others.

And as we relinquish all the stuff that we once thought made us happy but instead made us fearful, angry and hateful, we find ourselves slowly becoming really Christ-like in our actions and lifestyle. We become loving and generous instead of confrontational, striving and ambitious.

This is true generosity, where we follow our hearts and not our heads. This is the true happiness.

Anagarika eddie is a meditation teacher at the Dhammabucha Rocksprings Meditation Retreat Sanctuary www.dhammarocksprings.org and author of A Year to Enlightenment. His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Thervada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.

Article Source: Amazines.com

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