Christ lived 2015 years ago, yet we allow our impression of his life to be formed by a committee of men in Rome 400 years after he died. Perhaps there is merit, now, in an enlightened world to reconsider some prior impressions and interpretations of Christ’s life. Perhaps by being willing to see that others have contemplated his life through a different lens, we can begin to contemplate his message through the lens of modernity, perhaps we then can develop a Christianity that is relevant to our times and offers flexibility on our the path forward; rather than has so often been the case, where religion has foiled or obstructed human progress.
Origen of Alexandria converted to Christianity around 200 AD. I read a description of his interpretation of god. It has it, that god is a concentration of spirit from which souls emanate, one might imagine a wellspring of human spirit genitally bubbling, and each bubble is a human soul and seeks to unite with a human being. This entity that is god exists in perfection and binds the entire universe on a foundation of perfection. Upon death the sole then reunites with the perfection of god and becomes one with the universe.
There is a refreshing absence of threat in this view. It is consistent with the cyclical nature of other phenomena in the natural world that are readily observable. There is the presence here of a harmonious acceptance of my humanity and the absence of contorting doctrines; there is only the unobstructed union with perfection. I can imagine a beautiful child coming into being and being touched by perfection. The child, as it’s life develops will then be exposed to the rigors of life’s existence and upon death be returned to perfection, having lived a life absent the fear of the all mighty and only with love to look forward to. This view finds accord with Jesus as was exemplified by his good works on earth and his innate tolerance and peacefulness.
This view stands in startling contrast to the doctrine of original sin, which has an innocent child labelled a sinner on the assertion that human inclination, the inclination that emanates from divine origins is wrong. Augustine was seriously challenged as a human being and tormented by his own sexuality. Of course he would ascribe ugliness where beauty lives. When I see a child, I see beauty and the opportunity for good things to come. Augustine projected his own angst around human sexuality and turned a beautiful exchange between a man and woman in to a sin. His legacy pervades Christendom’s psyche to this very day, distorting human conduct through the negative conditioning that finds expression in many of the formal Christian institutions, the sin lies in placing evil on a creation of a perfect god and inserting guilt where joy should be. One of the most unfortunate events in the journey of Christianity was the credence given to a sick man.
I would be concerned about leveling this complaint against original sin, save that many in the two institutions that have to manage its legacy share this view. Distorting doctrine is in no way peculiar to original sin or Christianity – it is merely the subject matter I am familiar with, the general sternness by which religion in general has dealt natural human inclination is resulting in much pain and distortion.
With Origen’s Christianity, liberation lives, as a person you're connected to perfection, always present and always accessible. So rather than quaking in fear at a patriarch hijacked by a human being for concern of power, you're in direct connection with the supreme being and able to live life liberated from anthropogenic influence, with the full knowledge that perfection will be the net result of your existence.
In the 400 AD version of events there has been a gross infidelity in the delivery of Christ’s message, as it has been anthropomorphized with his message sullied first and second as his message has been hijacked by political concern. One is hopeful now that in the ambit of the hard won advancements that the enlightenment has given us, we can bring free and open minds to the task of theological contemplations. I dare say, unless the people of Christendom do, the absence of contemporary support due the absence of relevant doctrine in the modern context, will leave Christendom to erode against its own intransigence until it fades to inconsequence; as it has done in much of the “enlightened” world - this would be a loss to us all.