Christian Idealism

Let’s see if I can make this summary in only four parts.

A. The reality of our experience is not of “an outside world” and “an inside world” but of a world where we can’t change things and a world where we can change things.

Experience of things we can affect and things we can’t affect has a problem, though: we may be mistaken about those categories. The mistake of things we can or can’t affect is limited by the feedback of our own thoughts, which will try to mirror our experience back to us consistently with our thoughts, regardless of whether those experiences are of the word of God in the world, or of our own rebellious will.
The rebellion has a cheering section, which wants us to will the wrong things and think about them, promising us excitement, pleasure, and power.
Christians have another cheering section, the Holy Ghost, who perfects our experience of the words of God, both in creation and in his words. Our ability to perceive is limited, so we see things in different places at different times, rather than in the direct experience of the one time that is all time and the one place that is all places (though the problems of the quantum world become much easier with that perspective). The Holy Ghost perfects our prayers as we try to communicate to God, who in Jesus suffered as we do and who is the truth, and the way, and the life. God wants to know us as we really are, being redeemed by that righteousness and perfected by that spirit, rather than by the list of excuses and despair generated by our sins, so that he can receive the honor and glory that each of us in our own way can give to him, free from the limits of our diseased wills and thoughts. We are to trust and thank God.

B. We have the illusion that we are independent of God by the exercise of our own wills, when the reality is that God has granted us everything that we have including the free will to turn away from him and try to put ourselves at the center of our lives. That reality involves our need to turn toward him and away from our own diseased wills and consequent sins, both the important omissions (see Matthew 25:14-46), and the soul and community warping sins of commission. God communicates to us by our experience of his words in creation, by his words in the Bible, and by his gifts to us of problems and pains. God values his words, and has promised they will be preserved.

C. When we submit ourselves to our creator, we have resources we wouldn’t have without him. God tries our hearts, usually in the form of problems or pains, to show us who we really are. Note, we don’t need to talk about our problems, set goals, make plans, take meetings, consider logistics and support. We need to focus on God, confess our sins, accept his gifts to us, thank him for his help, and praise him for his majesty and generosity. God will make ways for us to do good. All we need to do is walk in them.

D. Finally, we come to the role of feelings. They are an inaccurate guide, but useful in one other way. When we are thinking thoughts God approves of, we feel great. When we are trapped in our own rebellion, we feel lousy, down, and anxious. When we feel the latter, it is time to re-orient, pray, praise God, and rely on him to solve our problems and pains, make a way for us to do good, a way to walk in him. Through God, we have access to peace, love, and wisdom. Without him, we flounder.

If you want access to that other cheering section, by the way, it is very simple. More simple than you may be ready for, but here goes. Sit down. Put your hands together. Say, and mean, these words:

Thank you, God, for loving me, and for sending your Son to die for my sins. I sincerely repent of my sins, and receive Christ as my personal savior. Now, as your child, I turn my entire life over to you. Amen.

Find a good church, one that uses an adult bible, rather than an “easy to read” children's bible. The King James Bible is available inexpensively, uses the same text that has been in use since Antioch began copying and translating texts in Acts, and get a short dictionary with the words you don't use often (costs about fifty cents). We tend to learn how to be going Christians by being around other Christians.

UPDATE: In response to the sarcastic email on the "gift" of problems and pains, I remind you that one of the central tenets of Christianity is that we are improved by suffering, and that it has important lessons for us. We are not exempt from suffering by being Christians, and in God's love: after all, Jesus Christ, his beloved son, suffered on the cross, and we are told that we, too, will have to take up our crosses. When we suffer righteously, we imitate God, and there is no higher calling.


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