(A Summary About God)
Carl Jung offers some profound words of wisdom for the theologian or clergyman who might be searching for the truth and desiring their work to have a responsible affect on the religious views of the people they serve.
What God is in Himself NOBODY KNOWS; at least I don't. Thus it IS BEYOND THE REACH OF MAN TO MAKE VALID STATEMENTS ABOUT THE DIVINE NATURE... I strongly advocate, therefore, a REVISION of our religious formulas with the AID OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INSIGHT... ONLY A THING THAT CHANGES AND EVOLVES, LIVES, but STATIC things mean SPIRITUAL DEATH.
(C.G.Jung, PSYCHOLOGY AND WESTERN RELIGION, tr. R.F.C. Hull, Bollinger Series XX) (Princeton University Press, cl984, pp263, 264 )
In this chapter, we have tried to deliver an Image of God that is psychologically healthy; which is meaningful for our age; blends with the knowledge of our age as best any assumptions about God can blend; and, can be useful and applicable in the everyday lives of the people it serves. We have also stipulated, as any responsible theology should, that mankind's knowledge and assumptions about God are very limited and should never be construed as infallible, Divine Truth, or a single and complete picture of God. Theology must recognize that God's revelation is an ongoing process, which takes into account peoples ability to understand the revelation.
The ideals here expressed have taken into consideration: a variety of faiths and religious beliefs, the consideration of many sciences, the ancient wisdom of our ancestors, the myths and beliefs of aborigines peoples of various cultures, the Judaic/Christian beliefs and doctrines, Eastern religious concepts and philosophies, the natural world we observe, the arts and philosophy from a wide variety of cultures, and inspiration derived from personal experience. All of these things serve to tell us something about the Creative Force to whom we are so drawn. None of these things should be ignored, for they are all part of God's revelation to us.
The intent is not to humanize God, nor to drop Her to our level of existence and understanding; but rather, to make sense of our faith in Him and to harmonize that faith with the beautiful, yet often cruel, wonders of the world around us. As we will state often in this work, the truth here contained is not in what is written, but in what people do with what is written. Words remain words until they produce actions.
One of the more pronounced problems that our present theologies have created is that we have so institutionalized God in the Church that they have removed Her from our everyday reality. Religions are making God easily visible in their sanctuaries, but are often blinding us to His Presence in the natural order of the world around us.
With the present Image of God, we seem to feel a sense of responsibility to worship and pray, but find little motivation to be tolerant towards those who may differ from us, or, act responsibly toward the resources God has provided for all Her creatures. We have little problem grasping God's grandeur, but cannot fathom Her simplicity. Most of the present theological Images of God are ones that tend to remove the Creator from the creation.
If theology is to become responsible to the faithful it serves, as well as the Creative Force it claims to represent: it must convey an Image of God that allows God to be visible in the everyday world. Only with this Image can we have a lasting and useful relationship with God. Only with this Image can God make sense in terms of everyday living; and unless She makes sense, He becomes something "other" and beyond the realm of reality.
Theology must keep foremost in its speculations: that, while God is transcendent of the creation, the creation is of God; therefore, creation must reflect and be in accordance with that from which it proceeds. If the world we see is the work of the Creator, the only logical conclusion one can reach is that, it must reflect the Intellect of the Divine. Once theology allows God to be removed from the realm of everyday reality, or conveys an Image where creation is trivial to the Creator, God becomes nothing more than a superstition or fairytale whose usefulness can only be self-serving.
A prominent psychiatrist of our time writes:
There is clearly a lot of dirty bath water surrounding the REALITY OF GOD. Holy wars, inquisitions, animal sacrifice, Human sacrifice, superstition, stultification, dogmatism, ignorance, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, rigidity, cruelty, book-burning, witch-burning, inhibition, fear, conformity, MORBID GUILT, insanity. The list is almost endless. BUT IS ALL THIS WHAT GOD HAS DONE TO HUMANS OR WHAT HUMANS HAVE DONE TO GOD? It is abundantly evident that belief in God is OFTEN DESTRUCTIVELY DOGMATIC. Is the problem, then, that humans tend to believe in God, or is the problem that HUMANS TEND TO BE DOGMATIC? Any one who has known a died-in-the-wool atheist will know that such an individual can be as dogmatic about unbelief as any believer can be about belief. IS IT BELIEF IN GOD WE NEED TO GET RID OF, OR IS IT DOGMATISM?
(N.Scott Peck, THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED, Simon & Schuster, cl978, p222)
Time and time again, the danger with any theological speculation is in its dogmatism. From psychological damage to actual persecution: the idea that men can speak with absolute authority about the Divine is always at the root. In truth, God needs no man to speak for Him, nor could any human do so.
Even these speculations about the Divine can be no more dogmatic, or construed as any more scientific, than any other. About all we can say about the Image of God here contained, as compared to others, is that we have drawn on a diverse analysis of many faiths to reach our conclusions. Under the assumption that God's inspiration is to all peoples in their ability to understand Him, we have speculated that all religious ideals must hold the same profound principles at some level. The most common thread we can see in the revelations about the Divine is the Paradoxical Nature of God. And in those same books, when it comes humanity, the clear message is the universal brotherhood of mankind, which is made in the Image (or part of) its Maker.
While the concept of God may not be alien to our intellect, our intellectual understanding of Him is not possible because of the limitations of our perception. Too often, we tend to view God as if He were simply another being; when in fact, She is Being Itself. Our love of God makes us want to humanize Her so that we can express our affection. But man is in God's Image, and we can never reduce the complexity of what God "Is" to mere terms of human expression. Our personal experience is but a pinprick in the fabric of the eternal cosmos, and the totality of all our human intellect combined amounts to even less when it comes to the Divine.
The Theologian Paul Tillich tells us:
The truth of something is that level of its being, the knowledge of which prevents WRONG EXPECTATIONS and consequent DISAPPOINTMENTS. Truth, therefore, is the essence of things as well as the COGNITIVE ACT in which their essence is grasped.
(SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, 'Reason And
There are two points to be made about this definition in relationship to theological truth, especially when it is addressing the Nature of God.
The first is that no theology should dangle false expectations, which can bring disappointment to the faithful. God will provide comfort for the here and now for those who choose to see Her in a manner that is consistent with His Will and their ability. Of this, we can rest assured.
People who offer us God's reward, or proclaim, "God will take care of us in a particular way," or promise God's blessings for our contributions - are all overstepping their authority. We cannot even know what is truly in the heart or mind of another individual, yet alone, what is in the perception of God. Therefore, to make such claims can often lead to an expectation from God that may never come to pass which could ultimately lead to an alienation from God on the part of a believer.
Leading souls to disillusionment is not what theology or religion should be about. Even if it is only a slight risk, it becomes one the representative of God should not be willing to take. Theology needs to approach the Divine in a way that is positive for the individual; not in a manner that simply makes it appealing or helps one avoid personal responsibility. Those claiming to represent God must always look at the possible psychological consequences of their teachings and must carefully avoid making promises, or threats, in the name of God.
Secondly, reality is the truth, and reality is paradox. Therefore, we must conclude the Essence of truth, which is God, must be paradox. Paradox defined as opposition coming together as a constant. God was, is and will be - changing, yet unchanging - one, yet more than one - the beginning and the end, single, yet diverse, Creator and creation: all contained in the constant that is Being Itself! TO RECOGNIZE REALITY AS THE TRUE MIRACLE, as GOD'S POWER MANIFESTED, is to see God in the fullest expression that is possible from a human perspective. It is to encourage psychologically, an appreciation for life in a religious sense that cannot be equaled in religious ideals that emphasize the transcendent power of God. It is to encourage the individual to act from a sense of love and appreciation for what God has already given; rather than, motivate them by looking to what God has to give. To see God in reality is to shift our emphasis from words of faith and praise to deeds of compassion and responsibility.
To see the creation as the power of God is to see the miracle that is ever present with us.
In dealing with the Image of God, responsible theology will strive to present such an Image in a manner that helps people take charge, be responsible, attain self-awareness and experience love. It needs to avoid images, which instill magical thinking; such as, ‘God will take care of that as long as I believe.’ Or causes projections; like, ‘The devil is the cause of all evil, or, 'it was the will of God or the work of the devil.’ And responsible theology must strive to avoid ideals, which lead to intolerance or self-righteousness; concepts like, ‘we alone are God's chosen and true faith'. And finally, responsible theology needs to avoid instilling fear or guilt, which motivates people with thoughts like: ‘I'll be punished or rewarded for this or that act.’
Religion needs to motivate men to act for the love of God, not act in the interest of selfish pursuits such as reward. We should not encourage people to give by telling them they will receive a ten-fold reward. The motivation for acting good should be because it is the right thing to do - not out of a fear of being punished or in looking for some eternal reward. Responsible theology needs to encourage trust in God, not dependence upon Her. It needs to foster a love of God, not proclaim God's benevolence, for this is self evident in being itself.
While not intended in such a manner, too many of our religious teachings encourage feelings of fear, guilt, blame, dependence, magical thinking, projection and avoidance - this in a society which already thrives upon such things. Religion needs to provide a balance for these forces if it is ever to make a real difference in our world. Religion should be firmly planted in the reality of this earth, and then it can truly offer hope. Religion must never be an opiate; instead, it should help us deal with the cold realities we often face in life. It should not make us dependent upon God, but make us strong so that God can work through us. True faith is trust in God, not the submission to the doctrines of men.
If we look to history and see
the influence that the Buddha made on
We cannot be spiritually responsible to God if we are not responsible to each other. We cannot lock God in our churches, or place Her off in heaven and expect God to have an affect on the everyday realities of our world. When we ask what is wrong with our societies, we might do well to examine our beliefs and their relevance to our world.
The way we view God will affect what we are, for the subconscious Image we have of Him is the image we will strive to present of ourselves. The first lesson of Genesis is that we want to be God like. Our violent, punitive, and judgmental Image of God is beginning to fail in our society. The reality of our belief structures is beginning to show in the mainstream of our reality. Could it be possible that the violent Image we hold of God just might in some way be contributing to the violent nature of our society?
We can learn a lesson from
Genesis about the way that we search for the Image of God in which we were
created. When we strive to find this Image the easy way ( by
eating an apple) using ego consciousness alone, we are doomed to cast ourselves
In the story of Adam and Eve, we see that they tried the easy way to become godlike. The serpent told them if they ate from the Tree of Knowledge they would become equal to God, as if somehow God was simply knowledge. But God transcended knowledge, and in their quest, they ended up losing sight, not only of God but also of their own paradise.
We toddy are losing sight of God's paradise by using our knowledge to try to conceptualize God into a neat little package. But there is no human packaging, which can house the likes of Almighty God, and until we realize this, we are doomed to continue the mistakes of our first parents.
In order to feel the Image of God in which we were made; we must eat of the fruit of many trees. Until we taste the fruits of love, wisdom, mercy, justice, equality, compassion, unity, tolerance, and all of its opposition we will not have "experienced" the Divine; which ultimately is the only way we can truly know Her. Until we experience God in the immensity of Her diversity and the paradox there contained, we can never really know Him. Until we see God in the reality of what is, our faith only acts as a blindfold to the wonder of what God truly is! Until our faith helps us to see the reality of the God within, we will be at a loss in ever seeing Him all around us.
So what Image could a responsible theology strive to present? And what might be the psychological possibilities of such an Image?
The paradox here contained becomes a good start. It allows us to accept the aspects of God, which transcends us, and at the same time, enables us to see God in the reality of our world - despite the duality to the creation. This Paradox can be symbolized by the Father who Is the Singularity from which all things proceed. Such a Father allows us to harmonize all the opposition that passes before us every day. It teaches us that we need to work to harmonize all that we do, because creation is a delicate balance which our Eastern brothers refer to as the "yin" and the "yang". It also helps us to see: "that to each season there is a purpose."
And while this Paradox helps us see God in reality, we can still retain the mystery, the awe, and the transcendence of Being Itself. In the paradoxical Father, we see a Force that is so supreme that it becomes a singularity, which can bind an opposition into a single harmonious reality. We have an Image that binds together all the forces of the universe into an Essence of power that can give it existence.
Now, if we add diversity to our Divine Image, we will come to respect the uniqueness of every individual thing that shares being with us. Christ becomes visible in the Son, because God is incarnate in reality, for without the Essence of Being there can be no being. Therefore, all, which exists, exists of the same Source of which it must be a part. In Paradox, God can be one and separate, yet, still be manifested in the diversity of Her creation. In Paradox, more than one Image can represent God!
A diverse Image can help us to: accept each other - to listen to each other - to respect each other - to learn from each other - to give to each other. Ultimately, we may learn to live in peace and harmony in our individuality in a manner that enhances life for all. In this manner, the Christian Ideal that Christ is in all men can truly manifest itself.
And if each of us strived religiously as individuals, to be a messiah to the best of our ability, we could transform life in this world. If we used our individuality, our diversity, according to the guidelines of love as postulated by Jesus (in the same manner we have chosen to share our intellectual knowledge); our societies would be far more advanced, far more orderly, and much more peaceful than they are now. If our emotional skills were at the level of our intellectual and technological skills, one could only imagine the potential!
By representing diversity as the Son, we see that the true message of the Gospels is Messiah ship. Jesus set the example according to his standards, leaving us the message that we may set standards for ourselves. Salvation is in the emulation of Jesus as best we can emulate him in the reality of our everyday lives. We can all contribute, we can all bear a cross (make sacrifices of ourselves) to one degree or another. God became incarnate in the actions of Jesus, and Jesus lives on every time we act according to the law of love.
The Singularity (The Father), The Diversity (The Son), is possible because of the power of God's Spirit - LOVE! Here we have the third aspect of the Trinity and the power that allows Being to Be.
This element added to the Image of God allows us to balance and harmonize all the opposition we are confronted with. It is an element that each of us can experience and share. Through it, we can come to recognize the oneness that each of us shares with our Creator, thus, recognizing God in ourselves as well as others.
When we come to recognize Love in the Image of God, combined with Diversity and Oneness, we will recognize the very Power of God that is within us and all around us. Love can unite. Love can ease suffering. Love can build and create. Love can harmonize. The Power of Love In the Spirit of God which Jesus demonstrated; this type of love, becomes the greatest tool mankind possesses to solve any of their problems.
The Image of God that responsible theology should present will refrain from limiting, or un-limiting, God in any manner. In this manner, we can avoid men claiming to speak for God. Neither shall it ever declare God's judgement or Her Will, but encourage people to find out what God Wills for them. It needs to recognize the concept that God has no problem communicating His Will to any person willing to listen. Religion needs to encourage people to listen to God, instead of drowning out the Divine Voice with the voices of men.
We need an Image of God whereby we recognize God in the reality of Her Creation. In this manner, we become motivated to contribute by our responsible actions in that Creation. Instead of promising God's reward, our religions need to emphasize the glorious blessings God has already bestowed upon us. We need to see the miracle, the glory and the paradise, that God has already placed us in, learning how to better utilize and share those gifts to all men. Until we learn to appreciate what God has already given, we cannot possibly be worthy of anything more. When we learn to see the Creator in the Creation, then, we will see the wondrous glory of God! When we learn to see God in our fellow man, we will then be able to look into God's face.
The Image of God presented by a responsible theology will help us to see the beauty, love, compassion, generosity, and harmony of the Creator. This Image should be presented in a manner that comforts people and lessens their fears without giving false hopes or making promises on behalf of God. The Image should help us overcome our greed, bringing us together in a manner where we truly realize that "ALL" men and women, no matter what their state of being, are in fact equal as children of God. It should cause us to ask what are we doing to contribute to another for the love of God; instead of asking, what is God going to give to us? This ideal should help us to realize that when human beings suffer, God suffers. That what we do to the people around us, we are in fact doing to God. We need to begin to emphasize the sacredness of human beings and the planet earth to the same degree as we have of our churches and shrines. Responsible theology will help people to see that indifference to the plights of others is in fact a sin of selfishness - perhaps the greatest among men!
And today more than ever, we need an Image of God that motivates us as men to make this earth the best possible place we can make it - simply, because we love God. What better homage, worship, expression of love, or offering: could we make to God that could say more, than our treatment of Her creation? We need to balance the "profit motive," with a "love of the Creation motive" which could lead us to using our intellects to conserve and share the wondrous resources that God has in fact given to all men.
We need to see the Father of love, The Creator from which all things proceed. We need to recognize the Son of love, the Christ, which is the presence of God in Her diversity and the interdependence by which it thrives. And we need to see the Spirit of Love so that we may draw upon it to live in harmony and participate in life to its fullest. This is an Image of the Trinity, which can be inclusive of all men, even those who may deny God's existence, for God's Kingdom could never be exclusive.
Is this the only theological Image that can work?
Probably not, for there are many symbols and there are many ways in which the diversity of God can be expressed. But if theology is to be responsible, and religion serving the needs of men as well as God, the symbols must translate into a meaningful part of everyday existence and be visible in the actions of those who profess to believe. Above all, our faith should be moving us in a direction of responsible action without condemning others. If we do not see God in all men, then we are not seeing God.
The challenge that religion, and the theologies they are based upon, face in the next millennium is to make the reality of God relevant to the reality of the world we know and understand. If faith is to continue to play any positive role in the affairs of men, it must be harmonious with the understanding that men have of their, surroundings. And if religion is going to help us solve the many social and economic problems we have in today's world, it must shift the onus from God to one of the personal responsibility that God allows us to have.
Responsible theology must shift the emphasis from the "limitations of men," stressing the potential which God has empowered us with. With God, all things are truly possible, but She needs our cooperation, faith in our own abilities, and the willingness to carry our unique and individual cross. We must always strive to remember: God's truth is not in what is said, but in the reality of what is done.
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