Tuesday, November 13, 2007

First and Second Corinthians


First Corinthians is considered one of the great written classics of Christian spirituality. It begins, in chapter 2, with correcting the "errors" in the church.
There is a warning against factionalism, against "following men."

Spiritual people are encouraged to agree with each other, not because of centralized dogma or doctrine, but because they all receive from the same Source, and God wants peace, not disputations and disagreements. The church was factionalizing, fragmenting due to human selfstyled "leaders," each getting a following. This is analogous to the formation of cults, in which people receive "new understandings," and break away from, and disagree with, all others. But "Christ" (God, Love) should be the only "leader."! Even Paul did not want people to follow him. God's message
is not intellectual. From that view, it looks "foolish."

The Gospel was rejected by the Jews because it did not have the "proper authority." God does not use merely human wisdom. The "Holy Spirit" teaches spiritual people directly.

We are God's "living building." It is built upon Christ (God, Love). No human leader is to be followed, but you are to follow only the "Word" of God. This is not only the Bible, but the living Word, which is God Itself. (Jn. 1:1) Christians should avoid intimate association with people who are openly sinning. Our bodies are the temple of God. We should not abuse them through fornication.

Both marriage and the single state are acceptable to the Lord of Love. Paul implores Christians to support his ministry via charitable giving. Yet he refused to be "hired" for "payment." As the people of Love (God), we are unified through Communion.

Next, Paul supplies the famous and important principle, "All things are lawful." That is, everything which does not resist or destroy Love is not forbidden by God. Next, Paul betrays some chauvinism no doubt picked up during his days as a Pharisee, and commands that women symbolically cover their heads when praying. Paul then gives advice re the ceremony of Communion (Eucharist). Paul then examines the famous analogy of the Church as a "body," unified although it contains many "parts." God gives spiritual gifts and Love-gifts. This is where we find the famous "Canticle of Love," in First Corinthians chapter thirteen. Paul also has much to say about "glossolalia," or speaking in foreign languages. Again, Paul's old bigotry slips through into his words, and he prohibits women to teach in the public church. Paul closes with what has been called the "Gospel of the Resurrection," in chapter fifteen. He says that everyone who has a physical body also has a spiritual one designed for "heaven" (perfect Mindworld of Love). The "resurrection" is a fundamental tenet of true spirituality, and is associated with several other important ideas. As we reflect the nature of "dusty" man, Adam, so we must also reflect the nature of heavenly Spirit, Christ. We will not all die; some of us will be "translated" into our heavenly bodies.

2 Corinthians summary

The truth is only hidden from those who do not hear the call to believe
The weakness of the suffering apostle demonstrates the glory of god which
we will share in the resurrection (4:7-5:10)
the apostle is even willing to suffer to bring people to Christ (6:1-13;
Holiness is separation from the "world" (material order]. (6:14-7:1),
possibly non-Pauline]
Against the "super-apostles" (chapters 10-13)
Do not be led astray by their flattery (11:1-6)
True sign of an apostle is God’s power manifested in suffering and
weakness (11:16-12:13)

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