The Scale of Perfection, Book 2, Part 1 – Chapter 1

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SECTION I: That a Man is the Image of God after the Soul and not after the Body; and how he is restored and reformed thereto that was misshapen by Sin
SECTION II: That Jews and Pagans and also false Christians are not reformed effectually through the virtue of the Passion through their own Faults

These are chapters 1 to 3 of The Scale of Perfection – Book 2 in Middle English:
This chapitle scheweth that a man is seid the image of God aftir the soule and not aftir the bodi.
Hou it nedide to mankynde that oonli thorugh the passioun of oure Lord it schulde be restorid and reformed that was forsaken bi the first synne.
That Jewes and paynymes and also fals Cristene men are not reformed effectuali thorugh vertu of this passioun for here owen defaute.

re: re:

For the record, I did not say you were blind, or imply it. Those were two different posts from two different people.

The part of your post, which is rich with excellent points and ideas, which interests me the most, is where you highlight religion as continent upon history and society, inseparable from empirical or material elements. But what isn't? What human endeavor is not? Technology certainly is not separate, as you pointed out. Science certainly is not separate. The philosophies--which you seemed to dismiss out of hand because the connotations of language change over time--of Plato, Nietzsche, Kant, and uncounted others are likewise contingent upon history and society. Why do you esteem the political and philosophical writings of individuals but dismiss religion or religions as simply finite expressions bound to space and time and therefore inadequate to fixing human problems? It sounds like you're judging religion based on a modern socio-political/philosophical criteria which falls victim to its own analysis, at the precise point where it determines that finite expressions of infinite perception are inadequate expressions demanding redress. This is true, to an extent; some heavyweight somewhere suggested that the one universal constant is change, a paradox--religion of course changes, even if dogmas attempt to prevent that change from happening.

Mysticism is in a sense precisely this--the perception that religion, the forms and manner of religion, its images and persons, its theologies and dogmas, are finite expressions of the infinite, and that to perceive the infinite and to become the infinite you must transcend those limited and limiting doctrines. You might like Huston Smith's "The World's Religions." There's some great stuff about mysticism across religious lines in there. But the monkish orders which you mentioned, the Franciscans and the whatnots--there is no reason to assume that all monks or nuns hid from the world; rather we could say that many of them found the internal world to be more "real" than the overarching political entities which binds human society together.

Finally, you say you've heard many intellectual arguments for Christianity, and find them inadequate. So do I. Christianity is not only an intellectual pursuit. It is an experiential activity, and an existential one. It is necessary to separate what men say is Christianity from the spiritual material presented in Jesus Christ. This means not an unthinking embracing of a particular scriptural canon, a particular Christian orthodoxy or hierarchy, but--an easy task for someone like you--an examination of the historical and philosophical developments which led to the rise of a religion fusing together Judaic theology with Graeco-Roman cosmology and socio-political clout. Christianity is not a set of doctrines from some denomination. Christianity is the suggestion that religion changes, and changes according to the divine impulse which dwells in the part of us that is eternal and immortal, the part that is subject to constant change. I like what you said about situation ethics--and in a sense, you can find the same principle in Pauline epistles. The philosophies of men have not come as far in 2000 years as we sometimes like to think.

Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life;
And these are they which bear witness of me;
And ye will not come to me, that ye may have life. (John 5:39-40)