natural theology

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The major religion of the western world, its founder being Jesus Christ. This religion, and Western philosophical traditions, mutually influencing each other, account for the peculiar characteristics of Western culture, including its ideal of progress, its doctrine of temporal passage, its ethical meliorism, and the development of science and technology. Reese ,90

In the two thousand years since its origin, Christianity has appeared in many forms. At one extreme we have the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), a tightly managed organization whose headquarters is an independent nation, Vatican City. Through a global hierarchy, it serves the religious needs and tries to control the religious views of about a billion people. Catholic Church - Wikipedia

At the other end of the spectrum is the cloud of individuals, with no formal allegiance to any church, who guide their lives by the Christian ideal: love of God and love of neighbour ):

'Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?' Jesus said, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: you must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.' Matthew 22:35-40

The literary foundation of Christianity is the Bible and the works of the 'Fathers of the Church'. Christianity grew from Judaism. The authors of the New Testament exposition of Christianity framed it as the fulfillment of the Jewish Old Testament. The rather remote and lonely God of the Old Testament became human in the person of Jesus. Jesus revealed that there were in fact three persons in the divinity. He also explained in great detail the divine plan for humanity. Minge Patrologia Latina, Minge Patrologia Graeca

Three hundred years after its foundation, Christianity had become the dominant religion in the Roman Empire, and began to formalize its beliefs in the form of Creeds. As time went by, the Church became more deeply involved in government, so that doctrinal matters became political. In 1054 the Christian Church split into Eastern and Western branches over the words 'and the Son' ('Filioque' ) in the Nicene Creed.

The Western (Roman) Church split again over its political and economic roles, an event comprising the 'Protestant Reformation' and the 'Counter Reformation'. The Protestant Reformation is considered to have begun with the publication, by Martin Luther, of 95 theses concerning errors and abuses in the Roman Church. The principal event of the Counter Reformation was the Council of Trent (1545-1563) held by the Roman Church to respond to the Protestants. Friedenthal.

The Council acted against many of the abuses in the Church and arrived at comprehensive definitions of Christian doctrine. Many Catholics returned to the reformed Church. Unfortunately some of the Council's definitions were repugnant to the Protestant reformers, and the Council failed to heal the schism between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.

In recent decades an 'Ecumenical Movement' has sprung up which attempting to heal the differences between the Christian Churches. Progress has been slow, possibly because the dominant Roman Catholic Church is convinced of its own supremacy, and finds it hard to see Christian unity as anything other than unity under a Catholic umbrella. Goosen.

Christianity is based on a set of ancient miraculous and mysterious events that are far from the normal way of the Universe. Christianity 2.x, to the contrary, is based on the normal function of the Universe, that is the normal life of God. The God of natural religion is the Universe itself which includes all of us, all our thoughts and experiences and and all our religions and political organizations. Christianity is but one of these, but its huge size and longevity make it a convenient starting point for the expansion of our ideas from particular religions to the natural religion that embraces us all.

Christianity is based on an unverifiable set of alleged miracles and wonders that are far from the normal way of the Universe. This coupling between Christianity and reality is very tenuous.

My task here is to revise Christianity so that instead of viewing God through a pinhole of ancient literature, it rests on the whole spectrum of human experience . The scientifically based religious ideas resulting from this work I would like to call christianity 2.o.

(revised 13 July 2014)


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Further reading


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Friedenthal, Richard, Luther, Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1970 Jacket: At midday on 21 October 1517, Luther launched the Reformation by nailing his 'ninety-five theses' against Papal indulgences to the door of the Schlosskirche at Wittenberg. The world has yet to come to terms with the issues he raised. . . . In this new biography Richard Friedenthal portrays the living human figure behind the accretions of pious and hostile legend. . . . Interwoven with the story of Luther's life is an intricate picture of Europe as a whole undergoing the agony of the Reformation, with centuries old beliefs and customs being turned upside-down in a chaos of furious religious controversy, social upheaval and constant clashes between bishops and princelings, imperial troops and mercenaries. . . .' 
Goosen, Gideon, Bringing Churches Together: An Introduction to Ecumenism, E J Dwyer 1993 Jacket: 'A down-to-earth book on ecumenism. ... Polemic themes are not avoided, but they are treated with full candour, evenhandedness and hope. The invitation is to participate in the thrill of the ecumenical movement.' Emilio Castro, General Secretary, World Council of Churches (1985-92)back
Jones, Alexander (ed), The Jerusalem Bible, Darton Longman and Todd 1966 Editor's Foreword: '. . . The Bible . . . is of its nature a written charter guaranteed (as Christians believe) by the Spirit of God, crystallised in antiquity, never to be changed . . . . This present volume is the English equivalent of [La Bible de Jerusalem] . . . an entirely faithful version of the ancient texts which, in doubntful points, preserves the text established and (for the most part) the interpretation adopted by the French scholars in the light of the most recent researches in the fields of history, archaeology and literary criticism.' (v-vi) 
Migne, J P , Patrologiae cursus completus. Series graeca. (vols 1-166), 1857-87 The Patrologia Graeca includes the printed works of Greek Christian writers down to the Council of Florence (1438-39back
Migne, J-P, Patrologiae cursus completus. Series latina. (vols 1-221), 1844-82 The Patrologia Latina comprises the works of the Church Fathers from Tertullian in 200 AD to the death of Pope Innocent III in 1216.back
Noble, David F, The Religion of Technology: The Divinity of Man and the Spirit of Invention, Penguin Books 1999 Introduction: 'It is the aim of this book to demonstrate that the present enchantment with things technological ... is rooted in religious myths and ancient imaginings. Although today's technologists, in their sober pursuit of utility, power and profit, seem to set society's standard for rationality ... their true inspiration lies elsewhere, in an enduring, other-worldly quest for transcendence and salvation.'  
Reese, William L, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion: Eastern and Western Thought, Humanities Press/Harvester Press 1996 'The present volume ... has many encyclopedic features, including analyses of the thought of all major philosophers and religious leaders. ... One of the key features of the volume is the extent of its cross references. ... The reader is thus encouraged to undertake his own explorations of the themes, movements and thinkers important in philosophy and religion.'  
Catholic Church - Wikipedia Roman Catholic Church - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ''The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity. The Catholic Church is among the oldest institutions in the world and has played a prominent role in the history of Western civilisation.' back
Christianity - Wikipedia Christianity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Christianity (from the Ancient Greek word Χριστός, Khristos, "Christ", literally "anointed one") is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings. Adherents of the Christian faith are known as Christians.' back
Council of Trent - Wikipedia Council of Trent - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The Council of Trent (Latin: Concilium Tridentinum) was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. . . . The council issued condemnations on what it defined as Protestant heresies and defined Church teachings in the areas of Scripture and Tradition, Original Sin, Justification, Sacraments, the Eucharist in Holy Mass and the veneration of saints. It issued numerous reform decrees.' back
Decree Concerning Original Sin Paul III - Council of Trent '1. If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice in which he had been constituted, and through the offense of that prevarication incurred the wrath and indignation of God, and thus death with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam through that offense of prevarication was changed in body and soul for the worse, let him be anathema.' back
Ecumenism - Wikipedia Ecumenism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Ecumenism or oecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice. Within this particular context, the term ecumenism refers to the idea of a Christian unity in the literal meaning: that there should be a single Christian Church.' back
Filioque - Wikipedia Filioque - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Filioque (. . . Latin for "and (from) the Son", is a phrase found in the form of Nicene Creed in use in the Latin Church. It is not present in the Greek text of the Nicene Creed as originally formulated at the First Council of Constantinople, which says only that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father" . . . Together with papal primacy, differences over this doctrine have been and remain the primary causes of schism between the Western and Eastern Orthodox churches. The Filioque has been an ongoing source of conflict between the East and West, contributing to the East-West Schism of 1054 and proving an obstacle to attempts to reunify the two sides.' back
Genesis Genesis, from the Holy Bible, King James Version from the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library back
Historical Jesus - Wikipedia Historical Jesus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The term historical Jesus refers to scholarly reconstructions of the 1st-century figure Jesus of Nazareth. These reconstructions are based upon historical methods including critical analysis of gospel texts as the primary source for his biography, along with consideration of the historical and cultural context in which he lived.' back
J. P. Migne Patrologia Graeca Index 'This page lists the authors of Patrologia Graeca, without the actual texts, some of them to be found online in various web sites. Links refer to select online resources, regardless of PG. Feel free to suggest more.' back
Jacques-Paul Migne Patrologia Latina Database 'The Patrologia Latina Database is an electronic version of the first edition of Jacques-Paul Migne's Patrologia Latina, published between 1844 and 1855, and the four volumes of indexes published between 1862 and 1865. The Patrologia Latina comprises the works of the Church Fathers from Tertullian in 200 AD to the death of Pope Innocent III in 1216. The Patrologia Latina Database contains the complete Patrologia Latina, including all prefatory material, original texts, critical apparatus and indexes. Migne's column numbers, essential references for scholars, are also included. back
Matthew Matthew 1: NIV The Gospel according to Matthew back
New Testament - Wikipedia New Testament - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The New Testament (Koine Greek: Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Hē Kainḕ Diathḗkē) is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament.

Unlike the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, of which Christians hold different views, the contents of the New Testament deal explicitly with 1st century Christianity, although both the Old and New Testament are regarded, together, as Sacred Scripture. The New Testament has therefore (in whole or in part) frequently accompanied the spread of Christianity around the world, and both reflects and serves as a source for Christian theology.' back

Old Testament - Wikipedia Old Testament - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Note: Judaism uses the term Tanakh to refer to its canon of the Masoretic Text. In academic circles, the more neutral term, Hebrew Bible, is commonly used to refer to these common Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity.

The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism. The number of these writings varies markedly between denominations, Protestants accepting only the Rabbinic canon but dividing it into 39 books, while Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, Coptic and Ethiopian churches recognise a considerably larger collection derived from the ancient Septuagint.' back

Original sin - Wikipedia Original sin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'Original sin, sometimes called ancestral sin, is, according to a doctrine proposed in Christian theology, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred to as a "sin nature," to something as drastic as total depravity or automatic guilt by all humans through collective guilt. Those who uphold this doctrine look to the teaching of Paul the Apostle in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22 for its scriptural base, and see it as perhaps implied in an Old Testament passage Psalm 51:5.' back
Protestant Reformation - Wikipedia Protestant Reformation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to ("protested") the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led to the creation of new national Protestant churches. The Reformation was precipitated by earlier events within Europe, such as the Black Death and the Western Schism, which eroded people's faith in the Roman Catholic Church. This, as well as many other factors, contributed to the growth of lay criticism in the church and the creation of Protestantism.' back
Second Vatican Council - Wikipedia Second Vatican Council - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 'The Second Vatican Council (also known as Vatican II) addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on 8 December 1965.' back is maintained by The Theology Company Proprietary Limited ACN 097 887 075 ABN 74 097 887 075 Copyright 2000-2014 © Jeffrey Nicholls