There are many reasons why I need to put this series of posts to bed, not least of which is there are other ponderings I want to post here! Originally I thought this would be quick. I wanted to respond to the seminar title, which is what I did in Part 1. But that led me to Part 2 with some thoughts on meaning, and what happens when the dominoes start to fall. Finally, in some ways it feels like I need to make some statements about what I believe now.
But it's not that easy.
There's certainly been a change in what I believe. As I've already made clear, I don't believe that those who fail to accept Jesus as their personal saviour will suffer eternal torment and damnation*. And that's a pretty central card to pull. If there's no Hell, then there's no need for someone to save us from that fate. In fact if you take Hell out of the equation a lot of other stuff goes away very quickly. (Think about that for a moment. Remove Hell and reverse engineer your faith and see what happens.) There's been a change in what I believe, and a reorganization or reprioritization of those beliefs. But this is not a rejection of or an opposition to belief. But how I believe, and why I believe... they have also changed.
I still willingly self-identify as a follower of Jesus. (I would use the word Christian, but for a lot of reasons that label has become problematic. At the micro level some of the beliefs I've left behind may disqualify me in the minds of those with a more traditional faith. And at the macro level the word carries to much political baggage to be helpful anyway.)
I believe Jesus is the archetypal human, the prototype for what humanity is destined to become.
My thinking on this has been aided by several thought leaders. As usual, Richard Rohr has said it better:
I believe the Risen Christ is the Symbolic True Self, a Corporate Personality that is offered to history, where matter and spirit finally operate as one, where divine and human are held in one container, where “there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). He is the icon of the whole.
Some will think I am arrogantly talking about being “personally divine” and eagerly dismiss this way of talking about resurrection as heresy, arrogance, or pantheism. The Gospel is much more subtle than that. Jesus’ life and his risen body say instead that the discovery of our own divine DNA is the only, full, and final meaning of being human. The True Self is neither God nor human. The True Self is both at the same time, and both are a total gift—and it takes an essential dying to know that, which Jesus also dramatically exemplified.
And again here:
The clarification and rediscovery of what I am going to call the True Self lays a solid foundation—and a clear initial goal—for all religion. You cannot build any serious spiritual house if you do not first find something solid and foundational to build on—inside yourself. “Like knows like” is the principle. God in you already knows, loves, and serves God in everything else. All you can do is fully jump on board.
I would call that jump consciousness, and I believe the Risen Christ is the icon of full consciousness. In the human mind of Christ, every part of creation knows itself as (1) divinely conceived, (2) beloved of God, (3) crucified, and (4) finally reborn. He carries us across with him, assures us it is okay, and thus models the full journey and final direction of consciousness. That is my major thesis about how Jesus “saves us.”
That's enough for now. I'm sure if you're interested we can generate some good conversation. In Part 2 we talked about the loss of meaning. From what I am coming to understand about who we really are, I gladly release those old identities and beliefs. This is so exciting! I can't really explain that; it's a feeling that must be experienced.
* I actually don't think that anybody believes that. Not really. But that's a conversation for another day.