Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Inter-Blog Dialogue: Part 2- On God's Character

Merriam-Webster defines Dialogue as the following:

2 a: a conversation between two or more persons; also : a similar exchange between a person and something else (as a computer)
b: an
exchange of ideas and opinions
c: a discussion between representatives of parties to a conflict that is aimed at resolution dialogue between loggers and environmentalists

Dialogue by Jean Augagneur]

In relation to the realm of the religious and spiritual we use the first two definition ('a' and 'b') whenever we come across people of different faith, and hopefully never HAVE TO use the 3rd definition ('c'). In a previous post a fellow blogger, Ben, at Discovering God's Holy Plan brought up a few questions as to the nature of my beliefs. A quick answer would be Love, but quick answers are not interesting nor insightful. If we were the Borg or in the Matrix we could plug into our neighbor's thoughts and we would know what they believe, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we are restricted to human language. Ben's response, which is found in the comment section of this previous post, will be in black and mine will be in reddish brown. Part 1 can be found here.

Part 2- On God's Character

And you also said that the bible is an honest attempt by man to explain God. I somewhat disagree with this. If the bible/religious texts are not really God's laws, and it was a bunch of men making this up-- thinking in their heads God was talking (and he really wasn't), then it is nothing short of complete & utter insanity. Yet the character & intelligence of the men as presented (Moses, Jesus, the Prophets, etc) reveal not insanity but very intelligent & honest individuals with exceptional moral character & a deep belief in God. Like CS Lewis said, thinking these people were "good people" or "good moral teachers" is NOT an option. Either we can believe these men are psychopaths who were crazy & heard voices, they were liars who used "God" to deceive people, or they told the absolute truth. Saying they are "good teachers" isn't really an option they left open to us.

Also, you quote Jesus as being a person who influences you. But Jesus didn't teach us to be good people for the heck of it. He told us God himself loves us & is compassionate, and we should be the same towards others because it is the right thing to do, and God dictates this. He wasn't here to teach us to JUST be better people. He was here to reveal God, and he believed in the God of the Bible as presented by the bible, and made some pretty hefty claims. Again, either he is a lunatic, liar, or he told the truth. There is no in-between here. You could maybe say he was a nice psychopath, but he was a psychopath nonetheless.

I am a fan of C.S. Lewis' works, but his Trilemma (liar, lunatic, lord) on the nature of Jesus Christ only works within mainstream Christianity. Outside of Christianity a fourth option appears, Legend. This fourth option states that men created certain legends and sayings about Jesus and attributed it to him years later. But this can only be seen if you read the Bible spiritually and not literally. If you take every word as historically true then this fourth option can not exist. I'm not doubting the existence of Jesus and the Biblical prophets but just their portrayal in the Bible. We have proof (not evidence) that people wrote legends about Jesus in the non-canonical gospels. One quick example is found in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas where Jesus as a boy is making birds out clay on the shore. He is accused of working on the Sabbath so Jesus claps his hands and the birds fly away. I'm sure if you read the history of the Bible's canonization it will say that most non-canonical texts were found to be fraudulent (and one guy was actually said to have been caught in the act). But this does not tell if the stories themselves have any historical truth nor how far back the story goes. These and other stories MAY be true accounts of the life of Christ that were never accepted into the Bible for several reasons but mostly political. I believe that Jesus was indeed a Jewish prophet that came to call his people back to God. The priest were in bed with the oppressors and not only did he teach the people how to resist peacefully but did this while reinterpreting the scriptures.

Also, I really like your analogy about the puzzle pieces of God. I agree that we should all take a critical look at God, religious texts, different theological views, etc. and not be spoonfed a belief system. But the major world religions all believe in the God of the Abraham (Islam, Chrisitanity, Judaism). There are a massive following of 1 of these 3 religions, and without a doubt the God of the bible has the most archeological evidence, eye witness accounts, miracles, and followers than any other God in history. The world population that believes in the God of Abraham is nearly 60%, which equates to almost 4 billion people. The other main religions are Hinduism (which actually believes much of what the monothestic religions teach), and Buddhism which really doesn't emphasize a god.

Not only that but Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all agree on the "Main" theological points (there is a God, he has communicated with man, the 10 commandments, moral law, the prophets, etc). On these topics they almost agree 100%. It is on very small issues they disagree on.

I guess my point is this: If you reject God as presented in the Bible so strongly, and say that God is something different, then what consequence does that have, and how can your God ever be defined? The way I see it, your God at this point has apparently never communicated with us, may be nothing more than a "first cause" or "energy source" who cares nothing about us or does not know us personally, makes no promise of eternal life, makes no promise of a fair judgement of all evil, and has no future consequence if we disobey or reject him, etc.

I believe his character is clouded within the Bible by the writers living at the time because they were at a lower level of consciousness then us. The Israelites were not ready for the New Testament teachings and morals so they continued with their rituals. The Old Testament writers wrote about God with their dated mindset. It's not that God can not be found in the Bible but that his character is packaged within dated human thought and expression. Progression. Christ brought new revelation and interpretation of scripture to those in 1st century Palestine. I can imagine Jesus saying, "forget about rituals and laws just love your fellow man, this is what God wants." What I'm saying is not any more wild then what Christ said: God is Love, forget about what you know about God in a dated text and learn to experience Love. I define God as infinite Love, but as a fallible creature I accept that I may be 100% wrong. It is not about knowing your right or wrong it's about embracing, experiencing, and sharing infinite Love. Humanity needs progression. This does NOT mean we can trash the Bible but that we have to look at it with new eyes.

I believe that Jesus along with many other prophets and spiritual guides have tapped into this "energy source", that I define as God, who continue to remind humanity of these universal morals and teachings we find scattered throughout the world religions. I believe that each religion base their teachings on these universal foundational truths but each expresses these truths in different ways.


welovetea said...

I've been having to think about the nature of God (energy, personal, transcendent, within us, and so on...?), and I'm not sure where I am with this yet. I'm in transit right now on it...

On the one hand, I think it's irrelevant because we have to live our lives based on our interactions with one another, but on the other hand, my recent reading in Islam (a bit of al-Ghazali, the great 12th century theologian/mystic) is reminding me that knowledge has limits and there can be a place for revelation in life.

But I don't know. I really don't know. Still thinking it out...

Eruesso said...

You and I are in the same boat. It is a descriptive term I use on occasion but from a Protestant background is a little unnerving at times. God, as an energy source, seems to be something that needs to be experienced. I use it in relation to those that have communed with the divine in some manner. When Jesus hints at his connection with God ("I and the Father are One" John 10:30 or "My Power, My Power, why have you forsaken me" Gospel of Peter) whether one interprets that as Trinitarian or not, I believe this is the connection back to The Source that mystics attempt to reach.

I have yet to delve deeply into mysticism within the monotheistic faiths, but I find it immensely fascinating.

I guess this is where a mystic would tell us to stop thinking and start experiencing. Thanks for the comment.

Don Rogers said...

Have you read any Matthew Fox? Might be a starting place for Christian creation mysticism.

Eruesso said...

I've heard of the name but never read any of his work. I'll look into it. Thanks again.

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