Thursday, February 28, 2008

Response

Elastico’s comment toWhy I write needs a response.

Religions are not rival parties. They are various types or brands of spirituality, which use various languages to express the reality we call God. Religions offer a variety of images to express this spiritual reality but, at their core, they have a common purpose—to bind or connect humanity with Spirit.
Our ways of imagining Spirit may vary, but we do not have to compete. Trying to best each other only hurts us all. Let’s respect each other’s differences and cooperate for the good of all.

Kathleen’s facts are correct.

Florian is troubled by my inclusive interpretation of Christian doctrine, unfamiliar to him and, to him, wrong. (By the way, I take pains to point out that portrayals of the historical Jesus are educated guesses.)
I’ll let readers decide whether Florian and the more bitter comments of Elastico accurately describe my language and my evidence in God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky, but I urge all to distinguish between dissent and insult, between disagreement and lack of respect.
Jeanette

Monday, February 25, 2008

the "ONLY Son of God"?

I’ll get back to Goddess in the Bible, but first I address Florian’s comments because they state precisely my reason for writing God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky. In one of his many comments, Florian wrote that a core teaching of Christianity
is that Jesus Christ is the unique, divine Son of God. . . . then it makes sense to think of Christian revelation as some sort of 'special' or 'unique' revelation, some 'final' or 'ultimate' revelation of God to humanity.
Here we have it—the belief I take issue with. The evidence in my book comes from researchers within our own tradition, and I urge readers to use my bibliography for extended research of their own.

Hearing “Son of God” applied to Jesus only, the idea attained an absolute meaning for later generations that was never intended by the first Jesus followers who used it (Jesus himself never did). My direct statement that Jesus is not God seems blasphemous to literal believers, but I notice Catholic theologians carefully avoid saying Jesus is God.

The gospel reading yesterday morning was John 4:4-42, the story in which Jesus asks for a drink from a Samaritan woman. Astonished, she exclaims,
You are a Jew. How can you ask me, a Samaritan and a woman, for a drink?
This story beautifully illustrates the Nazarene’s revolutionary acceptance of women. In his homily, Fr. William Skudlarek said no other individual in the gospels has a conversation with Jesus as long as this woman.
After centuries of exclusively male leadership, the Holy Spirit may be at work to shift the Church into a new gear.
But I’ve digressed—back to belief in Jesus’ unique divinity. To the woman’s mention of The Messiah, Jesus declares,
I am he, the one who is speaking to you.
According to Skudlarek,
“In unambiguous terms Jesus reveals himself to this woman as the one who makes known the living God.”
Jesus “makes known” or "reveals" God. Note the difference from Florian’s statement.

The Gospel of John is replete with “I AM” sayings, using the same words the Greek translators use in Exodus 3:14. For two thousand years, Christians have been marinating in language assigning privileged status to our tradition.
Thoughtful Christian educators no longer repeat the exclusive claims, but few dare to challenge them directly because they fear censure. I can do it because I have no status in the Church.

The Christian mystic Meister Eckhart was censured in 1329 for inclusive statements like these:
When the Father begets his Son in me, I am that Son and no other.... Thus, we are all in the Son and are the Son.
The Father gives birth to his Son without cease, and I say more: he gives birth to me his Son and the same Son.
Here is rich spiritual food, best understood when we feel free to substitute this:
She gives birth to me, her Daughter.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Confused Teaching? Or Correction? 2

A new comment has gone up on my older post "Confused Teaching? Or Correction?"

Florian says I'm guilty of discriminating against my own religion by rejecting the exclusive claims of Christianity. He "cannot condone" rejecting orthodoxy while continuing to call oneself Christian. It's not up to Florian to "condone" it. Each of us has to take her or his own moral responsibility.

He is correct in stating that other sons and daughters of God do not claim unique divine status, but incorrect in implying that Jesus of Nazareth did. Belief that Jesus is God grew out of unique historical/cultural developments. The man who actually lived in history never made that claim, as I explain extensively in God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky.

This realization is growing among theologians but continues to be suppressed by the hierarchy.

Florian advises against discarding the claim to Christianity's unique status "so casually." I don't know anyone who has. I and those who respond with excitement to my book spent many hours in agonized reflection and prayer before concluding that the exclusive claims are wrong.
Jeanette