By George A. Boyd © 2021
Q: There appears to be widely varying ideas of what it means to be a Christian and what is the aim of the church. Are there some common themes that these different varieties of Christian faith share?
A: At the core of Christian religious life is a recognition of changes in character that take place as the result of the ministry of the church and the work of the Holy Spirit within the human heart. These appear to fall into three major stages: the sinner stage, the conversion and traditional religious stage, and the mystical stage.
In the sinner stage, the ego is dominant and resists the influence of other people, rebels against authority, and rejects religion. Some of the markers of this stage include:
- Violence towards others, acting out hatred
- Hating others
- Blaming others
- Justifying oneself
At the conversion and traditional religious stage, the individual gains the conviction that he or she has followed the wrong path, and has gone astray. There is a turning to God and a new willingness to change. This character change transforms the individual’s behavior, beliefs, values, and identity. Identity shifts from ego to the Moon Soul or Christ Child nucleus of identity. This character change appears to follow several steps, which ultimately leads to leadership roles in his or her congregation.
- Telling the truth to oneself about what one has done
- Confession to others about what one has done
- Repentance, deciding not to act that way anymore
- Choosing to live a new life
- Living according to new values
- Living a more virtuous and prosperous life as a result of living these new values
- Teaching these principles to others
- Anointing to play a role in the church: pastor, priest, prophet, evangelist, or a church leadership position
In the mystic stage, the individual becomes absorbed in an inner journey of prayer and meditation, which ultimately moves the Moon Soul into the Presence of God. This stage of the journey occurs over a long period of time.
- Opening the gate to the mysteries, which might appear as Pandora’s box, a closed door, or a sealed entrance to an ancient temple
- Entry into the life of revelation and inspiration
- Sanctification and drawing closer to God
- Anointing as a saint
In Christianity, this inner change comes about as a result of turning towards God and allowing Jesus Christ to minister the Light to reform character and inculcate a new way of living. This inner change appears to be the common theme among different denominations.
In other religious traditions, there is a similar re-orientation from an ego-centered life to relationship with the Divine, as God can be known in that faith. The religious faithful in these other religious groups learns to live by new precepts and adopts new values, beliefs, and behavior—similar to what happens in Christianity.
We suggest you study these different markers of these stages of character reformation and sanctification that occurs in the Christian tradition—or other spiritual tradition to which you belong— and notice to what degree this process has occurred in you.
Those who wish to learn more about the dynamics underlying the transformation religion can effect in human values, belief, and behavior, you may enjoy our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing?