Humm... it seems religion is a lot more fluid. As a Jungian I find this interesting because it shows how religions evolve over time with people, and address different concerns along the way. I don't think the various interpretations of the gospels have much to do with a greater/less accurate view of the events that transpired (or indeed of what was meant by the original authors), but instead reflect the attitudes of present day individuals and what they seek to find in it. In that sense, I find the various interpretations to be reflections of human psychology.
When I was Christian, I was a type of fundamentalist and wanted to know exactly what was meant by the original authors and follow it to the letter. My logic-fixation back then was strong and the issue conflicting interpretations seemed like it could only be overcome by getting to the bottom of the text; the true meaning. But now I see it quite differently... as rationally valid arguments could be made for a variety of different cases and even using the same texts. And in some cases, which interpretation you gravitate to depends on your own temperament and needs.
I wonder, what's your preferred view/ideology Aqua ? Do you see one as being more correct/valid?
I'd written a long, long 'essay' that I've deleted because I couldn't figure out how to do the 'spoiler alert' thing and it was just so long but the short answer is, it's complicated. Right now, I kinda have none/many. The nature of Christianity is such that if you choose it in a sincere way, it becomes THE world view and that was true for me for a long time, but I can't say the same any more. However, Protestantism in all its forms has never been a real option for me, never held any attraction for me and never was very convincing to me. I find its basic dogma on sources 'sola scriptura' self-contradictory and that has always made it impossible for me to believe it. I was Catholic and had the most positive view of Orthodoxy amongst Christian faiths. Right now I'm just trying to be happy, deal with my inner demons using whatever tools I find suitable whichever tradition I find them in. So, I'm doing lots of Buddhist meditation and listening to their teachers quite a bit because I find them best at teaching us how to be with ourselves while Catholicism was best at teaching how to be with others. I still consider myself Christian and will always believe in God and Christ.
“If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.”
"The believer first comes to terms with the transient and ephemeral nature of the material world, and by doing so is gradually able to detach from it, using Ti. This is often described in terms of purifying one's mind or soul. This leaves a void, which can be filled by Fe's flame, in this case taking the form of divine imagery."
One of the differences between Jewish culture and other cultures is the approach to the physical world and "desires of the flesh". Jews believe in the sanctification of this world with all that is physical. The physical world and physical desires are not bad in and of themselves, in fact they are good, but the goal is to see the divinity within the physical and elevate the physical.
So for example, whereas Catholic Priests were told they must refrain from being with a women in order to be holy for god, in Jewish culture everyone, even the holiest of men such as the Temple Priests, had to have a wife, as the sexual act between a man and wife is considered the holiest of all.
And so any detachment from the physical world for the sake of spiritual elevation (which is sometimes required) is only good if it is temporary and viewed as a transition phase. But the approach is always holistic and the goal is always – this and that together in unity. You can't fix the world by running away from it to be a holy person sitting alone on a mountain and meditating, nor does doing so make you holy, as you are actually running away from life. Try being holy while fully engaged with life with all its difficulties and temptations – now there's an achievement..
So to be truly holy, I guess one would have to find a way to unite and integrate both Ti and Fe fully, not downplay Fe's flame by replacing its desire to manifest in this world physically and for the sake of the collective with enjoying personal spiritual experiences and mushy feelings of (imagined?) holiness. That would just be a Ti trick.
"there's something deeply offensive about this. To suggest my own essence is corrupt and has to be done away with, and replaced with the character of someone else more pure."
Yes. Though I find it even more offensive that Christians turned god into a "character".
P.S. God is not a man, a "being", a supernatural force, or any other definition the mind might conjure up for that matter. (Jewish culture is like a Ti-lead, it is here to dismantle the system, and tell you what God is not).
Catholicism and Orthodoxy or all forms of surviving ancient pre-protestant Christianity believe in the goodness of nature too. Even many Protestants do. In fact, gnosticism is a condemned heresy from the earliest centuries precisely because of their view that the body/world were 'bad'. They refused to believe in Christ's incarnation because of this (God could not incarnate as that would be touching what was evil). Celibacy is seen as a sacrifice precisely because marriage is the natural/good/expected order. It is not done because sex is somehow 'bad'. They are very incarnational and believe that grace builds on nature. That view that nature is bad is considered very heretical.
I generally defer to a Tradition's self understanding even though from an external view it may appear differently. Eg one may decide the very existence of asceticism is a way of making nature 'wrong'. But its not always the case. Calvinists believe in a total corruption due to sin but among Protestants in general, this is not a universal view of human nature. And in Catholicism and Orthodoxy it is a condemned heresy to view nature as such. However, they do view nature as being 'broken', 'sick' in some fashion and needing healing/restoration. For example, terms like concupiscence refers to 'natural' (to them unnatural) tendencies to want to do what is bad or to do good only with dificulty. This is not seen as the original state but a form of illness that is healed by grace.
And both have very precise teachings about Divinity that say that we can only 'know' God by knowing what he is not. That's the essence of Divinity's 'otherness'. Essentially they will use different terms to differentiate the Divine essence (who God is in himself) that is beyond human knowledge from the knowledge of God we get from reason/nature (ie, by knowing what God is not). St. Thomas Aquinas provided the theological terms used to describe these things for Catholics while the Eastern Orthodox primarily use the language of St. Gregory Palamas. Other Orthodoxies use their own terms but all make this basic distinction that does not confuse creation with Divinity.
I think a lot of what people think about 'Christianity' in general comes from just one branch that's not the most ancient or numerous and I'm curious why that is. I speculate its because of the dominance of American culture on the world stage.