Let me begin by saying a couple of things:
First, I've rewritten this post several times trying not to offend anyone. That isn't going to happen. I've made an effort in this space to reveal the good, bad and ugly. I have no doubt that some folks will read this and find themselves categorizing it in one of the three. So be it.
Second, statements contained herein are mine. They reflect no order, group of people, or anything else of a similar nature.
How can you have issue with Christianity and doing GD style magic, which is *full* of Christian images and ideas?
I can honestly say most of the folks I know in the GD arena come into with some level of Christian baggage. Some of them get stopped cold by any reference to Yahweh, Judaism, Hebrew or Christ-like references. Others, end up seeing some of these things as a cosmic formula devoid of the external religions drawn from the above. Others don't give it much thought at all. Some simply accept truths regardless of where they come from as best they can. I'm in parts of the last three categories.
The few Christians I've seen attempt the work have the same issues with the pagan influences. As far as I can tell, the system displays an equal opportunity when it comes to exposing and rooting out one's biases and pre-conceived notions. Sooner or later, you will be exposed to things you have issues with. If you can't handle having your issues tossed in your face, you shouldn't do this sort of work. As I'm banging on Tipereth's door, dealing with this issue now seems appropriate.
I have some specific issues with Christianity. The only way I can share how I can do GD work while still holding onto those issues to reveal some of them. Prepare to be offended. (cue dramatic music)
1. The concept of original sin. Let me get this right. Some dude listened to a woman who talked to a snake and ate an apple and therefore born thousands of years later, I am condemned as unworthy of God, the Father. So some other guy that has nothing to do with all of that has to get tortured to death. Once that happens and I am grateful for this man's sacrifice (which by logic means I have to approve of his torture), I'm good and I can be with God.
Yes that is a MASSIVE paraphrasing. I get it.
In GD work, at least as I've been taught, the issue isn't so much as original sin but instead we are pure internally. We get dirty due to traumas, perceptual errors and the like. The work is about uncovering who you Are, the divine you. Clean the mud from your glasses and you see the divine within and without.
2. The idea that I can sin against a being so vast a being as"God" in the first place and that sin can be washed away by through the torturous death of another or I am thrown in hell to be torture for all eternity is offensive to me.
I am a good person. Yes, I've made some horrendous mistakes but I've done beautiful things as well. There is nothing I have ever done that deserves being thrown into hell for eternity. Do you know how long eternity is? I am in pain almost every day of my life for the last twenty years with my back. I know what pain is. The idea of being threatened by me "father" with that is offensive. Furthermore, If I have done something that requires retaliation by "God", I will accept that punishment directly. To allow another being to suffer in my stead is immoral. I accept my personal responsibility.
Yes, I realize that eternity concept is not Biblical. I think Satan's hell gets expunged at some point but that isn't the way Christianity has been taught to me by those trying to convert me. Their book is one thing, the actually religion of Christianity picks and chooses from said book. Yes Yes, there are many sects with different viewpoints. I get that.
In GD work, I am not allowed to get away with the idea that someone else will suffer for my screw-ups be that a man, woman or a god. I must face them in some way or another or the powers of the system will cease my advancement.
3. Evangelical work. I know people that do this are not (I hope) thinking this way but when they knock on your door to bring you the 'good news' what is there position and logic beneath their deed? They believe they are going to heaven and you are not. Does anyone else here find that to be rather arrogant? They are basically saying, "I am better than you because I am going to heaven, do everything I do so you can be as good as me. After all, there is only one way to be as wonderful as I am." Get lost.
Now if they said there is only one way to get to Yahweh and not some ultimate and perfect deity, I'd likely have no issue with them but I wouldn't follow them.
In GD work, we are not taught that we have a system that works for everybody. Heck, it often doesn't work for our own members and they go away to do something else. We hope and pray they find what they need. We do not believe that they have no chance of spiritual development and divine experience because they no longer hold to the beliefs and works we do.
There are more similar ideas but you get my point of view enough to see that my perception of GD work and the religion of Christianity are different. I can easily accept the value of one, influenced as it is by Judeo-Christian imagery and truths, while rejecting the actual practice of the religion of Christianity.
On to the Christian Deity...
As a Pagan, I see gods as having all the aspects of humans. I can also see them as terrible violent things. I do not pretend that Pan is the white washed version of the Victorians. His lore establishes him as sexually violent, a rapist. I've experienced Pan and I can tell you that calling him Scary Harry fits just fine. Pan also has his more social acceptable good points.
Should I encounter a spirit that refers to Pan as Lord or the All God, I'm going to ask questions. Those answers could tell me that they spirit is so close to Pan that it can see nothing else. This is sort of a spiritual version of the blind men and the elephant story. Knowing which end of the 'elephant' this spirit is perceiving would be handy information. So, dear spirit, Pan is Lord of what exactly? (note: I'd like not ask that of Pan directly. I like my head having what passes as a rational thought from time to time.)
To not question a spirit thoroughly is a mistake. I've made that in the past too many times. When you are in a bit of awe as I am with the Helpful Deity, it is really easy to forget that questions need to be asked and answered to one's satisfaction.
There are many pagan deities that have a violent side and a kind side and a wise side and and and. They are as complex as humans and even more unfathomable. No pagan would be offended by a mage determining which aspect of a god/goddess he's come across or that a particular spirit is endorsing.
I've experienced deity. I've experienced immanent deity. I am here to tell you that if god doesn't want you to do something, a god can make you well aware of its point of view. I'm not saying you can't resist it. Maybe you can. Maybe you can't. However, you will have no question as to what it wants.
Yet, in the name of Christ the right wing ideologues preach, gather money and power with mean-spirited divisive speech. Where is Christ stopping this? Yet, in the name of the Prince of Peace crusades are waged and tortures committed. Where did Christ stop this? In his name, many are indoctrinated with guilt and horrible self-esteem issues (remember you deserve eternal punishment just for being you). Where does Christ stop this?
Oh but you say pagan gods are no better. Likely true but Mars is a god of war and violence. No one pretends he is something else.
A god can make his displeasure known. Jesus chooses not to. I lay the 'sins' of a priest upon the god supporting said priest in his work. RO has a great argument against that line of thought. I couldn't do it justice. I'm sure Jason and others can argue that point as well. I am sure they can out logic me on the issue. However, it is how I feel and why I am not a supporter of Jesus Christ.
All that being said, I realize that there may be aspects of Christ that supports these things and a more transcendent form that is truly all his believers say he is and much more. Still, I think it is prudent to be sure which one is dealing with.
Some time ago, I posted that Taphthartharath taught me how some of my logic is poisoned. Predisposed to the ultra-negative and taking leaps and hops towards that conclusion. I can see that in this post. Maybe some day I will get over some of that. That is part of my work.
How do you reconcile that with your issues, or do you see those issues as something the GD work is helping you work out?
My viewpoint of GD work has changed over the years but my constant theme has been that it is as much if not more about spiritual development as it is about magick. My current view of spiritual development is one of unity. Within that view, one eventually has to reconcile and unite with everything. Therefore, GD or not, my viewpoint and attitude towards the work will in some way reconcile me with Christianity. However, it may do so in a way that RO and others do not approve. Frankly, I do not seek the approval of others in my work. Nor do I seek agreement. Nor do I seek to maintain one position just because I've held it in the past. Anything could happen with my viewpoint on Christianity and/or Christ (which are not 100% the same). My GD training will aid in some way with that process. I just have no idea how. These conversations/posts are just a reflection of an issue that needs dealt with. It has been my experience that one sees the reflections long before it is actually time to deal with it.
If my viewpoint on Christianity makes my friends deem me unwise, so be it. I've never claimed wisdom. I will let the folly of making such claims by statement or inference with others. For it is a given rule, that we're all fools that need to have a little sin, right? (One bonus point for the first reader to tell me who I stole that line from.)
So, I am now officially done with this topic for the time being. Rip me up on your blogs if you like. Rip me up on the comments. I will do my best not to respond to most of it. However, I will if someone has a legit question like the one Patrick posted.