God's Revelation is the Physics of Spirituality
The title of this section shall be the fundamental definition of God's Revelation as is being presented in this text.
Just as mathematics act as symbolisms for the processes of reality for the physicist, the Divine Revelations are the symbols by which we can form the equations that help us understand the meaning of life. While the equations of physics help us to understand the physical reality all around us, the Inspiration of God helps us to understand the abstract reality of living. Physics helps to make our physical lives better through the application of the knowledge of its symbolism; and likewise, revelation can help us to be better people if we learn to utilize its symbolism. In God's Inspiration are the symbols which can help us bridge the gaps between our differences; help us enhance the creation of which we are a part; and help us move forward in a positive way, at both an individual and collective level, to solve many of the problems which confront us.
In addressing the equations of revelations, it is important for us to see that just as the physicist cannot ignore the macrocosm to make the microcosm work, we cannot ignore the totality of revelation and expect to get proper results. It seems like the wider we make our search - the more clear the equations become. Too often, theology becomes irresponsible when it refuses to examine the whole picture of God's Revelations. We cannot exclude the inspiration to other peoples if we are going to get the equations right. We cannot loose sight of the ideal that God has spoken to all Her children, and that becomes the totality of humankind. The late Joseph Campbell, responding to Bill Moyers' questioning about being alive; said,
Read myths. They teach you that you can turn inward, and you begin to get the message of the symbols. READ OTHER PEOPLE'S MYTHS, NOT THOSE OF YOUR OWN RELIGION, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts - but IF YOU READ OTHER ONES, YOU BEGIN TO GET THE MESSAGE. MYTH HELPS YOU PUT YOUR MIND IN TOUCH WITH THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING ALIVE, IT TELLS YOU WHAT THE EXPERIENCE IS.
(Joseph Campbell, THE POWER OF MYTH, Doubleday, 1988, p6)
Once we approach Revelation through symbolism, we find the same messages expressed over and over in a wide variety of ways. Today's world offers us the communication, the understanding and the ability to examine the Inspiration of God as a whole, like never before. It is time for theologians to look at this big perspective instead of trying to harness an Image of a God who cannot be harnessed. We no longer live in tribes, or are predominantly one religion; rather, today's world forces us to accept our differences like never before. If we truly "seek", we will find that God's Revelation is truly universal in the message it strives to deliver. God does not play favorites with His children and, no one religious concept can legitimately claim the truth of God. No one inspirational book (such as the Bible) can claim to be God's only word! Such concepts only lead to a self-righteous judgement of those who may differ from us. Such concepts lead to a conclusion that God plays favorites with Her children.
Now, before going on, we need to clarify what God's Revelation means as we are applying it in this text. Simply put, it is God's Inspiration among us. God's advice if you will. It becomes a simple manual by which life takes on a fuller meaning and purpose; which a responsible theology postulates, originates from the Creator of life. Above all, the metaphors given in revelations have much more to do with living than dying!
They [myths] are the world's dreams. They are archetypal dreams and DEAL WITH GREAT HUMAN PROBLEMS. I know when I come to these thresholds now. The myth tells me about it, how to respond to certain cries of disappointment or delight or failure or success. THE MYTHS TELL ME WHERE I IN.
In a Responsible Theology, the Revelation of God cannot be an eternal and unchanging dogma. Inspiration becomes the manual that helps us deal with the eternal change; therefore, it can change as we change. It is approached differently as our understanding of the realities around us change. Its wisdom deals with living and the birth of the future, which we experience in our eternal now.
Revelation is not God's written word, nor Her decrees; it is God's advice on how to best utilize the gift of life that He has given. It is not free from error for it is always filtered through human intelligence and bias, no more than the physicist equations can claim infallibility. Science become truth only when we see the results of its claims manifested in our reality; otherwise, it is merely theory. Religious truth is the same.
We also need to recognize that Revelation is also culturally and individually oriented; by that we mean, it is usually given in a manner that people can understand and relate to their everyday surroundings.
Now, just as there are many ways to say things in different languages, there are many ways by which God can reveal Her inspiration to man. And language is not the only way man expresses his ideas; we can also do it through music, art, dance and so on - and if this be true for us, why not for God? The responsible theologian must recognize that God's Inspiration can come in a wide variety of ways, and express itself in a wide variety of symbols. People like Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and many others, recognized the universal messages contained in the Sacred texts of religions, the myths, and the literature of mankind.
When we talk of myth here, we are not talking of an untruth, but of a tale that symbolically expresses a truth which can be manifested. John Romer says its nicely:
Clearly we have traveled a long way from modern history, and we have arrived at quite another world [Book of Genesis] and one with its own logic and its own wisdom; it is a world of MYTH, and there is much of this in the Book of Genesis. MYTH, that is, in the proper sense of the word, NOT, as in the common modern misusage of falsehood. BUT A SACRED TALE. A TALE WHOSE PURPOSES ARE PASSED WITH THE STORY'S TELLING AS PRECISELY AND AS UNCONSCIOUSLY AS BABIES LEARN THE GRAMMAR OF THEIR MOTHER TONGUE. Myths differ from history, that mere continuum of events, IN THAT THEY ARE CAREFULLY DESIGNED: and it is these designs that bold the myth's real meaning. And these are seldom simple moral stories, but deal with the deepest issues of the day.
(John Romer, TESTAMENT, Henry Holt & co., 1988, p33)
So when we talk of the inspiration of God, we are talking of it in terms of myth no matter what form it may take. The reality is: men could not understand God if She communicated with us directly. For example, God could not have spoken to the people of the Old Testament of the realities of creation, they simply could not have understood the science we just begin to understand today. Instead, She let them know He created, as She did the Native Americans, the Hindus, many of the pagans, and so on. What the creation equations really tell us, is, that there is something greater than us to which we owe our existence; that there is purpose to such existence; and that at some level the Creative Something feels that we are very special.
If our theological approach to Revelation is to be responsible, we need to recognize that the Revelations of God come through our unconscious mind in the form of inspirations which are expressed in symbols to which our conscious can relate. But in order for this to help us, we need to recognize the deeper message behind the inspiration; thinking about it and searching it for the treasure it holds. Ann and Barry Ulanov express this concept nicely in their work "Religion and the Unconscious":
Scripture positively trembles with its understanding of this side of man [a sixth sense] and the depths and the heights to which he can reach if he heeds it, but its LANGUAGE IS DIRECTED TO A HEARING AND A SEEING THAT HAD ALREADY MOVED INWARDS AND TO A CIVILIZATION THAT EXPECTED ITS TRUTHS TO COME BY SYMBOL AND METAPHOR AND COULD AND WOULD INSPECT EVERY SURFACE FOR ITS SACRAMENTAL SHADOWS TO FIND THE REVELATION OF SUBSTANCE HIDDEN IN THEN.
(pp 215, 216)
Jung recognized the psychological existence of what we are claiming to be the Inspiration of God:
The fact is that certain ideas exist almost everywhere and at all times, and THEY CAN SPONTANEOUSLY CREATE THEMSELVES quite apart from the migration and tradition. They are not made by the individual, but THEY RATHER HAPPEN. THEY EVEN FORCE THEMSELVES UPON THE INDIVIDUAL'S CONSCIOUSNESS. This is not a platonic philosophy but empirical psychology.
(C.G.Jung, PSYCHOLOGY AND RELIGION, Yale University Press, 1938, p4)
In fact, any symbolic approach to scripture or myth will reveal profound psychological Concepts in times that never heard of psychology, yet alone, understood it. In reality, the psychologist can learn as much from the myths of revelations as the theologian or clergyman can. The intent of God's Inspiration is to help us improve. If we are to move on, we must accept that any human being is capable of receiving God's Inspiration, as all of the creation is in fact united with the Creator. We need to accept the participation of God in the creation which She ordained.
Another area responsible theology needs to rethink has to do with the concept that God's Inspiration to man has ended, or, that we somehow have all the information needed to be the best we can be. Such conclusions have no basis in logic, nor, can they be applied to inspirations already received.
If we consider the Bible as Inspiration, there is simply no logical rationalization to accept the premise that this Biblical process has ended. The fact is: the writing of the Bible took place over many centuries, so the more logical conclusion is that its refinement could still taking place. It cannot be argued that this book was completed with Jesus, for there are many books written after his death, and it was several centuries before the book, as we have come to know it, was compiled. It would make no sense, nor, would it be fair, that God would talk to generation after generation for thousands of years and then suddenly remain silent to this generation.
It would seem more likely, that God continues to communicate through the human heart in the same manner that She has done for thousands of years. His inspiration would remain in all the forms that it has already occurred. The difference is not in God's communication, it is in our willingness to look for and accept such communications. Until we accept that men can misconstrued what God has inspired, we will remain more attuned to the voices of men interpreting than the true Inspiration of God.
The responsible theology of the next century needs to learn to recognize the symbolism and avoid the literalism of revelations if we are to manifest the truth of its content. if we stop and think about it: God could communicate with us in no other way than through symbolism. If God talked with us directly, we probably could not understand what She was saying to us because His Intellect would be to far beyond us. Just as we tell our children stories to convey moral points of view, because of their limited ability to understand, why should we envision God to do anything less?
Let us use an example to illustrate our point. Assuming that our perceptions of the creation of the universe are somewhat correct, how would God have explained that process to the author of Genesis? Would that individual have understood the concept of the Big Bang, or the expansion of the galaxies, or the evolutionary processes of genetic engineering? In order for God to explain creation as it happened, She would have had to give very in depth details about phenomena that the author of Genesis would have had no idea existed. What would such have accomplished?
Instead, if we look at Genesis as a metaphor or symbol that gives us some basic information about reality at a level which could be understood by the author; we can then form an equation of sorts which tells us something about our reality. At one level Genesis tells us that God is the Creator of all things and that such is not a chance happening. It tells us that egotism and selfishness (eating the fruit to be Godlike) will lead us away from the paradise we were placed in. It tells us that God walks in Her garden, making Him an active participant in creation. It tells us that we are accountable for what we do to one another. And as the book continues a whole hosts of other universal messages can become apparent.
As the foolish argue over the scientific realities of Genesis, the wise will look to it for its message of living. They will compare it to other creation myths and will quickly see, that not only man, but all of the life in this world is of the same substance - a point that science would not dispute. In such myth, which John Romer defines as sacred stories rather than untruths, God provided answers to satisfy the curiosity of the people of another age with inspiration they could use to guide them in their everyday lives. Above all, the inspiration always served to make God a intricate part of the everyday reality of the people it served; something literalism thwarts.
And for any human being to think that God's power is somehow limited because God may have chosen to create all we see in a manner such as the Big Bang, is pure foolishness. The existence of something from nothing is a miracle that only happened once that we know of. It offers God the same majesty no matter how He might have chosen to bring it about. Seven days, or seven billion years - it makes no difference. The power of the Creator is just as awesome either way. If we encourage, or we need to believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis for our faith in God to survive, our faith in God is indeed weak.
If we take the surface of every great religion of the world, we will find in most of them a core of universal values that are consistent. These would include: the universal brotherhood of mankind, treating others as we wish to be treated, and the necessity of balance and harmony if we are to survive with nature and one another. There are also themes of personal responsibility as well as individual worth and guidance as to ways in which we might improve ourselves. Such things are presented in a diverse manner so that they might be individualized and help all God's children no matter what their background. Responsible Theology must help us to see truth as individuals in the manner God intended; instead of declaring God's truth in their words.
Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, gave us the inspiration to live God's truth. They encouraged us to make the truth in the reality of what we live. They encouraged us to seek out what God may be saying to us. They never intended to be worshipped or have their words used to declare truths that cannot be declared. The Ultimate Truth becomes what we live, having little to do with what we say.
As we talked about when we discussed truth, revelations are not truths as understood in a literal sense. They become truth only in the utilization of the inspiration to help us improve our state of being. Just as in math there may be two ways to arrive at the answer to the same problem, there may be more than one way to arrive at the truth of the message contained in inspiration. The answer is what becomes true or false. If the religion breeds hatred, than its theology is false. If a theology tends to remove the Creator from the creation it defies its own ability to bring truth to reality in the world. If theology sets itself up to speak for Almighty God they repeat the sin of Adam, for the truth of God is not consumed from without; it is born from within us. Revelation is not truth to be declared, but the catalyst from which truth might be born.
The Inspiration of God is the Creator advising the creation. It is up to us to use such advice wisely. Ralph Emerson said it nicely in his "Journals":
MY OWN MIND IS THE DIRECT REVELATION WHICH I HAVE FROM GOD AND FAR LEAST LIABLE TO MISTAKE IN TELLING HIS WILL OF ANY REVELATION.
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