For the last few weeks I’ve been gathering my thoughts (and my courage) to write a post/article titled something like “Towards a grown up God.” An article which I’m sure is going to anger a lot of folks, but I feel its something that has needed to be said for a long time.
What I’ve been trying to formulate and to, I hope, articulate is that it is about time that we begin to have a grown up view of God, Jesus, other religious. That we need to shed the fear based, superstitious form of religion that is still believed and practiced by way too many folks here in the 21st century (Mostly and loudly by those on the “religuous right.”) We need to kill off the form of “Christianity” (and I use the term loosely) that uses words written 2,000+ years ago to deny basic rights to our LGBT brothers and sisters. We need to shed the same mentality that brought us the Salem witch trials, denies evolution and generally is just afraid of science, and progress in general, and enter into modern times.
How we need to re-evaluate and redefine just what God is, away from the anthropomorphic, capricious, sometimes abusive father up in the clouds who is supposed to intervene in the world, and stop catastrophes, and if HE doesn’t, then clearly HE doesn’t exist. How we need to do the same with Jesus, go beyond the “supernatural,” two dimensional cardboard superhero version that most of us grew up with, which has become an amalgamation of scripture and popular culture mythology and more than likely bares little resemblance to the true person (and not just in terms of physical appearance.)
How we need to get beyond a Christianity that is largely a death cult focusing on worshiping Jesus, and instead become one focused on LIVING HIS TEACHINGS about charity, love, forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion.
And that we need to shift the level of contemporary Christian discourse away from, for example, whether or not Katy Perry’s performance at the Superbowl would be ” complete maximum evil.” As I wrote on Superbowl Sunday, “…No wonder we can’t have an open dialogue and learn from our Islamic brothers or sisters, or any religion for that matter, or even from other denominations… or solve any of the problems on this planet because this is what fills the airwaves, and the heads of Christians in this country…When are we going to stop wasting time with outmoded superstitious drivel like this?”
And also how we have to quit hiding behind and giving tacit support to the churches and ministers and institutions that promote and foster intolerance of other people and other faith expressions. As I’ve been more vocal in my support of marriage equality I’ve been sadden by the number of friends and acquaintances who have said “well my church believes, or my pastor says, ‘x’,” and seem to accept that (whether they admit it or not) as their own worldwiew.
One of the things I’ve talked a lot about lately is how If we truly call ourselves “Christians” then we need to stop quoting and throwing the Old Testament around, especially to hurt one another, because Jesus said in a sense that he came to replace the old laws with a new commandment “That we love one another.” And the same goes for the books Acts through Revelation, that perhaps they should be jettisoned as well; that to truly follow in the footsteps of Jesus, then our lessons on living and loving are to be found in the 4 Gospels (and perhaps others that have been left out for various largely political reasons) only.
Probably my greatest theological hero, Bishop John Shelby Spong once suggested that just as we wouldn’t try to learn surgery from a 2,000 year old medical treatise, nor should we try to make moral/spiritual decisions based on one either. Especially when those decisions cause harm to others.
I’ve said for decades that the Bible did not arrive in our hands etched it stone, that it was written by man, edited by man, and compiled by man, and contains every foible and fear of man in it. I’ve said that it was an impassioned example of man attempting to “fathom the unfathomable” the nature of the universe, and our place it it, but it was a product of the times, and the level of sophistication of the men who wrote it. And compared to (most) of us today, those people were superstitious; When it thundered or a natural catastrophe occurred the gods/God was clearly angry at us. When a person suffered from what we would now recognize as schizophrenia, they were clearly “possessed by Demons,” and when man in his infinite capacity to be inhumane to each other did something not nice to his fellow humans, we created a Devil, a “fallen angel” to blame for leading us astray.
I’ve said for a long time that we really need to re-evaluate the role of the bible in Christian life. Possibly even having the courage to jettison the material that harms, and no longer serves us… and admit that some of it never served God to begin with, but was put in there to cause fear, to control, and to justify selfish acts. And we need to look seriously at those scriptures that we know were historically left out of cannon for various reasons. And we also need to look at other spiritual material, both old and new, and perhaps incorporate those into our spiritual practices, we already do anyway, so let’s uplift their status.
Or, as I said earlier, let us make the TRUE Christian Bible, the guidebook of how to live, only the 4 Gospels that actually contain the teachings OF Jesus.
Now I’m sure John Pavlovitz in this excellent blogpost I stumbled upon this morning would not go as far as me in this regard, but he does bring up some very salient points about the how we should treat it. Please check it out, and let him know what you thought of it.
And keep an eye out and an open heart for the “Grownup God” blog post. It’s something bubbling up inside of me, coming through a bit at a time. I know when the time is right it will explode out of me in a blast of words. So be prepared. LOL.
You’ve heard that phrase before.
You’ve read it on bumper stickers.
You may have even said it a time or two.
It’s an odd little religious mantra that perfectly captures the strange, often paradoxical relationship we modern Christians have with our mysterious ancient text:
Many of us have made The Bible the central pillar of our faith, while not really knowing what it actually says. (especially not the earlier, weirder stuff).
We’ll claim without question that it is filled with words “from the very mouth of God”, and yet we can’t really be bothered to crack it open all that often, (and then, definitely not the earlier, weirder stuff).
We want it to be the clear, consistent, unquestioned, unfiltered voice of Truth in all matters, but to do that, we often have to avoid, discard, or talk around a…
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