This was a challenging course that provoked much inner thought. It is near impossible to know what to pick for this discussion. Perhaps one of the most interesting lessons was that on different spiritual philosophies. Here we learn of stoicism that played an important role in defining much of Christianity.
The stoics believed there was no higher God than reason, a direct challenge to Christianity so it was interesting to uncover why stoicism was such an important tenet for Christianity. Stoicism says that everything may be understood through reason, and the Christians equated reason with God, so all things can be understood through God. This is a very profound statement. In spiritual development, to achieve true growth we must seek reason, we must understand concepts and understand God. The stoical Christian tenet says effectively that true understanding comes through connecting with God.
This leads to the crucial statement of the lesson "understanding what influences us makes us better ministers". This is certainly true. To be able to act as a minister for others we need a true understanding ourselves – an understanding that must act on all levels. How can we lead others when we are searching in the dark ourselves. This does not mean that one must achieve perfection to minister, but it does mean that we need to understand the means for working towards perfection. Here, stoicism progresses to give revelations – that God is energy (and therefore part of everything as with the divine spark I discussed in the paganism essay) and that the way to oneness with god is to accept this existence and therefore god, exactly as it is.
The next key point of the lesson is that the bible is not the only source of Christian ethics and it goes on to show the key philosophical thinkers who shaped Christianity such as Saint Augustine. This gave rise to many of the concepts that have been accepted as Christian truth, coming from God, when they were not. These include pre-destination, the idea that only the chosen may go to heaven, and it was this that powered the inquisition and the burning times. This lesson shows one of the key points of the whole course, that spiritualism involves questioning, that nothing should be taken on trust, and that with an inquiring mind we can come to true understanding.
Again, an excellent course and I thank the creator for the wisdom it contained.
Rev. Sue Bellworthy
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