Poor doctrine must be helped by grace. Even so grace on its own is not as life-giving as grace and truth.
‘His mercies never fail. They are new every morning’ Lam 3.23 NIV. Let’s not be among those who love to say ‘God never changes’ in order to justify their own stagnation. There’s a variety of conservatism that conserves what it valuable. Then there is another kind that hoards useless stuff. I was talking to Joe once whose main word was ‘no.’ She used ‘no’ twelve times in three minutes. Don’t inhibit life. Christ is never an inhibitor of life. He is the Door to infinite life. A life of inhibition indicates a false christ.
THE WAY WE THINK
Should we come from a strong legalistic background, our thought patterns will tend to the mechanical and positional – even if we are well educated. Our epistemology (what we think of as knowledge) will tend to the mechanical and concrete.
We may laud diversity yet have difficulty coping with mystery and paradox, which is a problem, since our relationship with God is very much mystery and paradox. Why? The source of our being is the trinity and the glory of our life is the person of Jesus in us. To be living from an ideology is to have missed the mark by a long way and to live from a fundamentalism is to live narrow and stultified life.
“The epistemological dualism underlying fundamentalism cuts off the revelation of God in the Bible from God himself and his continuous self-giving through Christ and in the Spirit, so that the bible is treated as a self-contained corpus of divine truths in propositional form endowed with an infallibility of statement which provides the justification felt to be needed for the rigid framework of belief within which fundamentalism barricades itself.” (3) The seed-bed of fundamentalism is the legalism of the law.
Fundamentalism is a variety of stagnation that stultifies God and turns Believers into statues needing to be set free by Aslan. It is anti-personal because it is the ‘the letter that kills’ made into faith – of a kind.
MIND OF LIFE
Those who rejoice in ‘wonder’ are more at one with the limitless life that is God, than those who see things in dichotomies and compartments – because they have more affinity with life as a person. I had a friend in high school who became annoyed at a piece of science fiction that was required reading in our short story book for that year. He became a surgeon which did not improve His ability to cope with imagination and ambiguity. Visit a surgeon to get your tonsils removed but steer clear of them as theologians!
My friend was annoyed because it was so ‘outside’ the realm of ‘proper science.’ Nothing surpasses the mind of Christ. It is never religious, never congealed and is necessary for discerning flakes and nutters posing as leaders in politics and the church.
Worship and Godliness require us to be comfortable with mystery, ambiguity and to live in grace.
My old school chum never rose above a ‘religious’ experience and a mechanical one at that. He was captured in a world view that could only handle certainty – not mystery – therefore not God and ultimately not himself.
The other blessing that enables us to understand the mystery of God and His relational nature is suffering. When our world collapses we are well positioned to examine our assumptions and go on the lookout for new foundations.
“Up to that point, it’s merely mental belief systems, mouthing off orthodoxies that mean very little, even to the person themselves. They’d never think of criticizing these feeble beliefs because they’re all they have, and some will hang on even more tightly because they don’t have any inner experience to ground their beliefs—which is often true of most overstatements and rigorously affirmed beliefs.” (1). There’s nothing like a spot of suffering of some kind to shake us free from our favourite inanities.
GRIPPING OUR STUFF
Clinging to unfounded beliefs is a very common coping mechanism to retain ‘our religion’ when ‘religion’ is all we have. Our religion may contain a taint of Christ but in no way could it be described as Christ our life. More accurately this religion is our life with Christ added. Christ our life need not take place in holy orders or in a monkish mentality. Our vocation is our life and the sacrament is us incarnated with God our setting. Adam and Eve had a Sabbath life of fellowship with God. So do you. You and your life is woven into Father’s life in the person of His Son. The trinity is woven into your life. You are the expression of Christ.
This is a life in which we and God are woven together in our being as we weave the new creation Kingdom of God. There no compartments here. No segments. This is the life that is God’s life and ours as sons. The life in which we live, move and have our being.
Unless we agree that we are interwoven with the trinity our religion is little more than notions – just a fabric of ideas and a string-bag of abstractions. But it’s more than this in the reality that is Christ. By agreeing that Jesus has drawn us into His life, we are anchored to the One Reality of the universe. We and Father are one. Jesus is both our Brother and the Son of God. There is a human being on the throne of the universe sharing authority with Father and Holy Spirit. You are in Him.
ROOTED IN GOD
There is no sacred and secular in the Kingdom of God. In the new testament the reality is Christ in you, Christ as you, Christ in us all. Christ through the sons of God as the new creation hope of the earth.
We are not one because we have the Holy Spirit. We are one because Jesus declared separation finished at the cross. Holy days and holy places preserve the illusion that we can live a kingdom life that is not totally blended with every-day reality. But we and Father are one in every way. Our role is to extend the oneness of God to all creation. But this comes not from positions or verbal assertions or any aspect of the letter. It is the effulgence of a state of being in which we, God and the creation are one.
As Rohr assures us, “Such an empathetic plunge into solidarity with God and humanity can never proceed from mere theological theory; it has been seen by many saints AS A VOCATION, an invitation, and even a privilege.” (2) The letter kills not because it is poisonous. It kills because it is UN-LIFE.
UNION WITH GOD is the privilege that is already ours and which we are invited to believe: ‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20. This is your new covenant inheritance.
(1) Rohr, Richard. The Divine Dance: The Trinity and your transformation (Kindle Locations 2374-2377). SPCK. Kindle Edition.