Some more thoughts on being a bridge in the church/christianity area:
I want to make it clear that I have not turned my back on the Bible. I stated that I have not turned my back on organized religion, but this may not have been clear regarding Christianity’s holy scriptures, the Bible. I still value the ancient writings. I still go to them on occasion. But what I am saying is that the Bible is not the first place I go when I search for truth.
I believe that I am holding the biblical writings closer to the way they were intended to be viewed, not in the way the Church has proclaimed they should be viewed. They are stories, stories of people trying to make sense of the divine. They are inspired (although from a purely biblical point-of-view the inspiration can really only be applied to the Old Testament!).
Much of the way the Bible has been proclaimed by Church has been in order to strengthen Church’s hold on peoples’ lives. If “salvation” can only be gained through Church’s involvement, then Church grows in importance. If however, people come to see that knowledge and experience of the divine can be achieved without the help of Church, then Church diminishes in importance in society. Therefore we can be assured Church will fight to the bitter end the sorts of views I am espousing.
Some of the shifts in belief this has led to in my experience are as follows:
- There is no judgement! God does not judge. And therefore we are not to judge–ourselves or others! This is huge! Especially in the conservative circles in which I have spent most of my life. Rather than judgement, the divine realm teaches. God wants us to progress in our spiritual life. “Judgement” implies failure or success. Not in heaven! Rather, there is evaluation. Did that particular decision result in growth? Or did it set you back? We incarnate in order to learn certain lessons. At the end of each life we take a look and see how we did with those lessons. Did the accomplishment of a particular task lead us to moving on to the next step in our spiritual growth? Did a not-so-successful lesson mean we will have to learn that particular lesson in another life? It is not so much a “do-over” as it is a learning environment. We are shown our past life in a completely, overwhelmingly loving way how we did. And we get to participate in the evaluation and decisions about what needs to be done next.
- The entire question which obsesses Church and its people is that of redemption. Church teaches that Jesus “died for our sins”. His death and resurrection was for our salvation. This entire area of doctrine I leave to others to discern! I don’t know the answers. I believe that Jesus was probably an historical figure. And likely was crucified. But the whole dying for our sins bit I have serious questions about. That doctrine seems entirely too, too close to what I mentioned above–a way for Church to have power over peoples’ lives. There are exalted beings in the Spirit realm. Of that I have no doubt. I’ve met some of them. And I believe Jesus was one of these. But certainly not the only one. If he has some preeminent position above all other spirit beings, I concede could be possible; of the higher levels of heaven I have limited knowledge. But I know Jesus is up there among the most powerful and wise beings in the divine realms. He still speaks today. To many of his followers.
- Regarding the written scriptures, one more point: whenever spiritual messages, God’s “word” if you will, get written down, it is almost impossible to continue to hear God speak. This has happened over and over again throughout history. Consider the Jewish scriptures. For several centuries, over many generations, God spoke through wise beings usually called prophets. If you read the Hebrew scriptures, these prophets were often very dynamic and interesting people. They proclaimed the messages of heaven to the people. Mostly these messages were transmitted orally through multiple retellings of the stories. When these got written down, roughly around 500 years before the time of Jesus, the dynamic, personal, exciting messages largely ceased. By the time Jesus lived on earth God’s word was largely discerned through a study of the written-down record of what he had spoken many years earlier. Then consider the Christian writings, the “new” testament. Jesus lived a few decades on earth; he gathered some followers. They told and retold the stories they had learned from Jesus and had experienced through sharing life with him. Again, as these original followers began to die off, their followers decided they needed to preserve these stories. So anywhere from 30 to 70 years after the time of Jesus, and the following two to three centuries many accounts were written down and circulated among groups of followers. There were incredibly diverse interpretations of what and who Jesus was. But at some point around 300 years following Jesus’ time on earth, Church leaders held conferences to decide which of the these writings were to be preserved as a record of the history of Church. The writings they rejected were largely destroyed, in order to present a unified picture of who Jesus was and who his followers were and were to be like. In the period following, in which we still live, nothing was permitted to be added to these writings. The Bible, as it came to be called, was complete. All of our messages from the divine were to be discerned through studying the scriptures. Do you see the pattern? They followed almost precisely the pattern of their Jewish forebears. After writing down the scriptures, direct messages from God ceased. Heaven became silent. It fell to study, discussion, proclamation, arguing, etc, to determine what God says.
In my personal journey with God I have moved beyond the need for Church and its doctrines. I will listen to God’s word wherever and through whomever I encounter it.