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-11-

(Bringing The Creator Into the Creation )

 

For far too long, theology, quite irresponsibly, has been looking to the Divine at a Divine level - at the expense of removing the Creator from the creation. The religions that are built on present theologies are so preoccupied with a world to come and the preparation for it, they are ignoring the religious responsibilities to the word in which we live. We have so deified Jesus in our Christian theology that we loose sight of his human nature and its purpose. We spend so much effort on the worship of God, the proclamation of Her Word and the assertion of our faith in Him; we loose sight of the simple truths behind so much of the message. Many of our religious concepts encourage magical thinking, whereby, we wait for God to provide miraculous solutions to our human problems.

Our faiths seem to emphasize a world to come, which manifests itself in this world by little more than our declarations of faith. We have also anthropomorphized God to the point where She often seems like a tyrant instead of Divine. The psychology of our Christian beliefs often lead to a God who acts like a dictator, seeing the whole of His creation as merely an insignificant test. Religiously, we have constructed an Image of a God who is more concerned with what we do in our beds than what we do to our planet.

Our, religious logic has us declaring sin in having a baby out of wedlock, but there is no sin in a social structure that allows employers to pay sub-living wages even if the children suffer because of it. We see pornography as a great evil, which brings the wrath of God upon humankind; but, remain somewhat silent about the rape of the earth's land, sea, and air with pollution. Our religions would not tolerate a television station showing an act of copulation, but offer little resistance to the murder and violent acts which pass in our living rooms as entertainment every night of the week. The religious faithful stand in front of abortion clinics declaring the right of the unborn to live; while, they remain indifferent to the intolerable conditions that so many living children are subjected to. Are these things not hypocritical!

Our theologies have led us down a path which tells us of this wonderful world to come where the water is clean, the streets paved with gold, and it is without suffering or pain. They proclaim that God will give all this to us as long as we believe as other men proclaim we should believe.

But what does such a message imply about this world? Doesn't it imply, at least psychologically, that this world is somehow a miserable failure? - That this world is a punishment for some misdeed of some ancient ancestor?

 

Encouraging us to be like greed stricken children, our religions tell us to ask God to take care of us. We are encouraged to pray for peace; but God doesn't make wars, so how can She ensure peace? We pray to God to protect us when we drive, but God doesn't do the speeding, nor control the vehicle, nor think about things other than driving when at the wheel! We ask God to cure us when we are sick, but does God eat the junk foods, does He put us under stress, or does She expose us to dangerous chemicals? Didn't God give us the brains to contribute to our own good health? Didn't She give us the ability to develop medicine so we could cure ourselves? Do we not have the ability to compromise and work out our differences as to avoid wars? Are we not capable of being more responsible behind the wheel to avoid accidents? Don't all these gifts imply that we should PUT FORTH SOME EFFORT before we go running to God for solutions? And doesn't this God given human potential, at least imply, that we have responsibility for the conditions that exist in our life?

Even our present theologies acknowledge that God did not bring sin into the world [we use the definition loosely here]. It is a human endeavor, human responsibility, and a human act. If we create sin, how can we expect God to rid us of it? Psychologically, we can never overcome a fault or problem until we acknowledge and accept responsibility for it. Religious ideals which lead us to believe that our wills are weak, or the devil brings evil into the world, are steering us away from acceptance of our own responsibility; which, has us pleading for forgiveness instead of trying to solve our problems!

There is no argument that religion must offer hope, but it cannot be at the cost of denial. Starving masses of humanity, human exploitation, corruption in business, wars, pollution, destruction of the environment, crime, drug abuse: are all problems created by the social structures of human beings - they are not Divine in their origin. Nor, is there any devil depriving children of food all over the globe; or, filling our air and water with filth; or, starting wars; or, murdering people; or, planting seeds of social decay.

We may argue about the source of temptation, but ultimately the decisions we make are our own; otherwise, we cannot claim free will. Mankind's failings are due to human beings, and when theology implies otherwise than they are shortchanging both their followers and the God that they claim to represent. Salvation is man's responsibility. Until our religious ideals accept this principle, we will continue to walk the wrong paths. Jesus didn't die to earn us forgiveness for our wrongs, he lived to show us how we might do it for ourselves.

Too often, our theological concepts are leading us to a faith that replaces action with words - replaces responsibilities with projections - and replaces reality with fantasy.

In religions of old, people's rituals and prayers were accompanied by actions - thus, God was an active part of the everyday reality. Farmers performed rites and prayers and then planted their crops, or gave thanks and then harvested. Hunters had their rites and then they hunted. People made religious offerings to God or their gods and then did what they needed to do to ensure the actualization of their prayer.

Somewhere along the line we have lost these ideals. In our magical supernatural world, we have lost a correlation between the realm of the Divine and the realm we live in. We expect God to grow the crop, or provide the game, based on our words alone - without ever planting the seeds or going on the hunt. This concept is not taught outright of course, but it is the psychological suggestion, which can be implanted from so many of the existing theological arguments.

There is no question that the revelations do tell us that God is concerned about our welfare and that She helps us in every way that He can. But religious attitudes that imply that God will save us from ourselves are based upon an irresponsible theological concept. There simply is no evidence, religious or otherwise, to support the idea that God would violate His own natural law, or our free will, to save us from what we are most capable of saving ourselves from. Those who continue to preach our salvation in the "blood of our God" are missing the whole point of revelation; especially, of the Gospels. Salvation is in the life of Jesus and its message of Love and Compassion. True hope is in our picking up our cross and bearing it; not in having Jesus do it for us. Love of God is expressed in our attitudes about the gift of life He has given; not in the proclamation of what She has to give. The true devil in humanity is in its ability to cast blame for our shortcomings; instead of, acknowledging and accepting responsibility for them. This projection is often made easier by our existing theologies.

 

Faith has been and should be a catalyst for action; not merely the end unto itself. The "Word" should be that which guides us to improve our reality; not a dogma that excludes from the Kingdom of God. Many of our religions are turning faith into an excuse for indifference, and, the "Word" into a profit making business. Instead of using revelations to help people to be more capable of changing the world, many of our theological concepts have us waiting for miracles to do the job. For two thousand years the Christian theology has affirmed that Jesus will come on a horse riding the clouds to remake the earth; instead of, encouraging their fellowship to make an earth that Jesus would not need to remake. Scripture has never told us that we cannot change the state of our existence. Such concepts come from the minds of theologians like Augustine or Calvin. Unless God intended the affairs of humanity to be in such a sad state, we do have the choice to make things better.

Theology cannot ignore God, but it cannot fulfill its obligation to Her by removing the Creator from the creation and placing Him in a land of Oz where He is the Wizard and the Devil the Witch who control reality. The problems of our nation, and the world for that matter, go beyond accepting faith in Christ. They go beyond issues like abortion or smut. They go beyond our sexual preferences or the prayers in our public schools. And they go beyond what we profess to believe about Jesus' Divine nature.

The evils in our society are rooted in our intolerance. Evil is in a social economic structure that puts profit before human life, in the individuals that put themselves as the highest priority - and, theology must address this truth if it is to be responsible to the faithful and God.

 

It is time that theology encourages us to look for the wonders of God in the natural order; instead of, encouraging our hopes in the supernatural. When we begin to acknowledge the reality of God's presence in what is created, we will ultimately begin to treat those things with more respect. It is no wonder we cannot see the reality of God buried within ourselves, for we cannot see Her majesty in the wonders of our world. It is no wonder there are so many human iniquities, because we often live in denial of our ability to overcome them. So much of our theology has us seeking a God who will magically do for us. But what Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad and many other great prophets have told us; is, to accept responsibility for our own shortcomings and change our hearts accordingly.

Theologically, the best way to approach this is to see the importance and reality of God within the creation itself. If we see this world as being inferior to God, or as a temporary stepping stone to something else that is far better, we are justifying our own lack of responsibility.

If religion is going to serve God and help advance humanity it must be rooted in reality; not in superstition or fantasy. It is not what we say we believe that counts, but what we do with the faith we profess. It is the responsibility of theology to encourage a faith in action so that people do not simply pay God "lip service" by professing their beliefs.

In a time so filled with heartbreak and pain, theology should not be encouraging people to find God in Grottos, crying paintings, or in so many of the magical ways it fosters. We need to see God in the faces of every man woman and child. We need to see God in the majesty of His creation. We need to see God in the Mother Earth. We need to find God in our own hearts. This is where a responsible theology will lead people through its speculations and interpretations.

 

Our ancient ancestors saw the sun coming up in the morning as an act of God or the gods. They saw the rains and seasons, death and rebirth, stars and rainbows, and all the wonders of nature as signs of the power, love and reality of God. God participated in His creation, and the religious beliefs were interwoven with the reality of the world in which they lived.

We now understand how the world works to a great extent, and because of this we choose to blind ourselves to the miracle of WHY it works. Science may contribute to our attitude by claiming to be able to explain everything. But, religion has an even greater fault because they lessen the importance of God's creation by emphasizing a world of the supernatural. Often, they cannot harmonize 'what is' with their beliefs, so they make the natural mundane and less important to the Almighty. They make the miracles of everyday life, of the workings of the universe, insignificant through their literalization of the great supernatural wonders God works in their revelations or through Divine promises of better worlds to come.

 

We can proclaim what we want about our faiths, but the truth is our religious ideals are nothing but verbal platitudes. Rich Christian countries ignore, and even exploit, the poor and underprivileged of third world nations as well as the plights of their own peoples. Medicine is a commodity with a much greater emphasis on the profit it can generate than on the people it can help. Business has become a world where deception is much more the rule than the exception. Social economic structures are often unfair, rewarding excessively at the top levels, while often paying sub-standard to the people who make those excesses possible. And human masses are looking more and more to the "buck" for their fulfillment, very often out of the sheer necessity that life brings to bear. The society is ridden with drug abuse, both legal and illegal; with crime, deception, poverty, and ignorance - all, while our clergymen proclaim God's wondrous paradise to come if only we believe. We raise money to proclaim the so-called "word of God" over our airwaves; but, where is the justice, honesty, equality, mercy, and love that is expressed in that "word" in the reality of our world? Where are the ideals of Jesus in the societies that claim to be Christian? These are the attributes that theology should be about!

What responsible theology must do, is: recognize that the world of our reality is the world of the supernatural as we are experiencing it - in the here and now. We have to recognize that this world is God's miracle incarnate, and we are part of that miracle. Until we open our eyes and see the spirit of God in our reality, we will never have the incentive to be responsible in our use of the world, or, have the incentive to overcome the injustices in our societies!

Theology needs to serve humanity by helping us improve the human condition in the here and now, at the level of the individual as well as the collective. Its message needs to concern itself with the reality of living to a greater degree than its pronouncements about the world to come. We need to stop telling people what God is going to do for them and concentrate on what it is we can do for God in the life that we live - not because of Her reward, but because of our love!

In looking to revelations, we need to develop theological concepts that allow God to be active in our everyday lives in the modern world. We need to look at scripture for ideals which foster a faith that helps us to deal with social, economic, environmental, and everyday problems.

Inspiration that comes from God should be useful. God's revelations will help us to move forward in a positive manner, lead us to brotherhood and peace, be effective in addressing the problems we face everyday, and above all be about living the life that we have been given. Just like any good parent, God is plugging for Her children. But, like that good parent, He wants us to be able to stand on our own two feet. We will never grow up and reach our full potential until we are willing to accept responsibility for ourselves. Until we face the fact that we can be better than we are. Until we realize that because we are God's creatures we have the ability to reach the perfection which God has given us to reach. God most certainly extends His help, but we must do the work.

 

NEXT-12-A Summary of Practical Theology     

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