Bridge #3: Church/Christianity

Years ago, when moving to a new city and connecting with a new church, a leader in that church stated, “We are not biblicists.” I had not heard that word before. I had a sense what he meant by that, but certainly not a full idea of what it meant to be a “biblicist” or to not be a “biblicist”. That concept is much clearer today than it has ever been, in my life. I most certainly am not a biblicist!

I think I was a biblicist in the past, for much of my life. Truth was determined by what the Bible said. In earlier church experiences we would spend huge amounts of time and effort in studying the scriptures and hearing God speak through them.

Just a few years back now, as I was visiting with a friend who I knew as a fairly conservative evangelical Christian, I made the statement that I no longer went to the Bible as my first source of truth. “What?” he screeched (pretty much, anyway!!!). It is inconceivable for conservative Christians (“biblicists”) to entertain such a concept. Indeed, for me, in the past, this was inconceivable.

And I have to admit, it has taken me decades to get to this point: past the point of being a biblicist. My development has been painfully slow. I do not learn quickly, I guess. I do believe, and believe very firmly, that it has been God who has gently and slowly, at my own pace, led me to this point of belief. It is God’s Spirit who has led me beyond biblicism.

I use the term “God” here, only because of my past experience. That is how I viewed the divine for most of my life, and it still feels the most natural way to refer to the Spirit dimension. But be aware that my view of “God”, of who God is, of how he/she operates, has changed radically over the years. My former, biblical, view of God is rapidly disappearing. This view is being replaced by my experiences of God, the divine, the spirit realm, the universe.

Although it is very simplistic to say it this way, my view of God has gone from being a mostly intellectual exercise in studying the scriptures to being an experience, a knowing. A few years ago my wife shared with me a video of Carl Jung being interviewed late in his life by a BBC reporter. The reporter asked him, “Dr Jung, people want to know if you still believe in God.” The wise old psychologist was quiet for a bit. His reply was something like this: “Believe. I have trouble with that word. Believe. I know that God is. I know God. I don’t have to believe.”

Wow!! I could immediately identify with that idea. I have experienced the divine; I have experienced the spirit realm. I don’t need to believe. I know!!! And that is so much more powerful and real than any intellectual exercise in understanding God through written documents. Does that make me a “gnostic” Christian? I’m not sure. It’s not a really important question to me. [If you read the “Out of Winkler” section of this blog site, you will understand a little of what I have been through in my journey to arrive at this point in my life.]

It has been an exciting journey to get here. And “arrive” is not the correct term, either. Because I am still walking the walk! I am still on the journey. And I expect I will be for the remainder of my eternal existence. In fact, this journey has me in a bit of a conundrum right now!

When looking back on my life, there were times when I thought I knew pretty much. I thought I had it together. I had answers for most of life’s difficult questions. And especially was this true in the area of faith and theology. Now, I have experienced so much more; I know so much more than I ever did back then; I have grown so much, and am so much farther ahead. And yet, I feel in a way that I know so much less. Thus the “conundrum”! Because a large part of my increasing knowledge includes a vastly increased understanding of just just how much I do not yet know! So while in the past I felt I knew a pretty large percentage of what there was to know, now, though my knowledge is greater, I am aware that what I know and have experienced is just a small percentage of what there is to know (and experience!).

So how does this make me a “bridge” in this area of my life? I feel I have moved beyond orthodox religion and am now a more spiritual person. I have moved beyond a book religion to a personal experience of the divine. I have moved from learning from predecessors (including the biblical writers) to learning first-hand who “God” is, and what the Spirit realm is all about.

I have not turned my back on organized religion. I still value my upbringing in the Church. But I no longer feel a need for Church. I occasionally attend; I am a member of a local congregation in Calgary. But not because I need Church for any sense of “salvation”. I just like the connections. I enjoy the people who are part of my local congregation. I like the pastor (who, by-the-way, knows where I stand on this issue!!).

And I do not know what my place in all this is, or will be. My transitioning to this new position is currently pretty much a private one. And I am very happy for it to be this way. I have quite dramatically switched my view of myself in relation to the divine. But I have no drive to force this view on others. I am content to live my life quietly, contemplating what Spirit might be doing in our world. I seek wisdom from various sources. I pray daily. I listen to what heaven is saying to me personally. But I do not sense any earth-shaking role in helping others make a similar transition. I do not foresee this changing in the future. But I am open to whatever comes. If my being a bridge will help others, I would be very glad and willing. But I don’t know if that will ever occur. We will see!!