"Have You Ever Unlearned Anything?"
“A succession of words does not have only one meaning, but men strive to assign only a simple meaning to the sequence of words, in order to have an unambiguous language… What you call “knowledge” is an attempt to impose something comprehensible on life… The word becomes your God, since it protects you from the possibilities of interpretation… I’ve spent many years with the process of unlearning. Have you ever unlearned anything?”
Some Christians ground their faith in the words and works of Jesus, as reflected in the Great Commandment, the discourses, the parables, and the Sermon on the Mount. These teachings are central to the perennial philosophy, and they are consistent with the mystic vision that God is in everyone and everything.
Some Christians ground their faith in how others interpret the words and works of Jesus, citing doctrines such as the trinity or original sin or atonement or justification by faith. These doctrines are not central to the perennial philosophy, as they are particular, and they are not consistent with the mystic vision that God is in everyone and everything, as they assume that original sin created a cosmic rift between Creator and creature.
Almost nothing in Christian doctrine is absolute or constant or original or uniform, and early Christians struggled to understand who Jesus was and what His teachings meant.
God never said that He was three persons, and Jesus never said that He was God, but Christians developed these doctrines over time. In the third century, Tertullian first proposed that God was three persons, and in the fourth century, the ecumencial councils developed the doctrine of the Trinity.
Different denominations embrace different beliefs, specific beliefs develop over time, accepted beliefs are decided at ecumenical councils or decreed by religious leaders, and dissenting beliefs are resolved through acquiescence or punishment or schism.
Would you change your behavior towards people of other religions, if you thought that they shared the same core beliefs and worshiped the same God?
Would you change your behavior towards leaders of your own religion, if you thought that their doctrines were largely produced by human reflection, rather than divine revelation?
Would you change your behavior towards other people, if you thought (like the mystics) that God is in everyone and everything and that we are all connected?
Have you ever unlearned anything?