IF I SEEK US
Advice on Intoxication
Unity Church Letter
Thanks for inviting me to Unity church and breakfast earlier today. You and I have been through a lot together and I feel somewhat responsible for having stimulated you to begin your present spiritual journey. For some time now you and I have been wondering about and discussing the potential differences between where I am at and where (in general) the Unity church at 39th is at in our religious or theological concepts.
I feel I am at last in a reasonably good position to articulate the meaningful differences, and I will use the "creed" of Seven Spiritual Beliefs and Practices on the back of the church bulletin as an outline or basis for my discussion and comments. You do remember that I have spent the last several years of my life with the focus and top priority of understanding Jesus and his message from a basis of being attentive, rational, logical and reasonable, and have re-questioned everything, even to the point of verifying his message in the ancient Greek text. With the help of Greek scholars and Greek reference works, I have been "perfecting" my own translation of the four canon Gospels and the Gospel of Thomas.
I think that the Unity people mean well but succumb to two very critical, somewhat technical mistakes when it comes to real theology or understanding the truth that Jesus represented: 1) Lack of good/correct critical word definitions, such as "Spirit", and 2) Somehow denominating the Bible, or even the Gospels, as a priori authoritative or the word of God. Here goes a brief analysis of our differences.
1. Nature of God: God as Spirit is everywhere Present and only Good (Mt 19:17, Jn 4:24). Unity's basic statement, "There is only one presence and one Power in the universe and in my life, God the Good."
Commentary - The word spirit as Jesus used it primarily means 1) attitude and/or the intellectual essence or 2) real meaning of a message or situation. It NEVER means an incorporeal life entity nor mystical presence! Given this definition or distinction, I can agree with this first credo, although I am uncomfortable quoting "proof" texts.
2. Divinity of Man: Jesus discovered his divine "Sonship" (or Christ Self) and taught the divine nature of each person (Jn 10:34-36), capable of even greater works than He (Jn 14:12).
Commentary - First of all the modern concept behind the word "divine" is misplaced. It should be noted that the word 'divine' does not contrast with the word "human" any more than medicine contrasts with health, because "divine" originally meant purifying, correcting, cleansing or healing. I quote one Christian author,
"The word theion translated 'brimstone' is exactly the same word theion which means 'divine'. Sulfur was sacred to the deity among the ancient Greeks; and was used to fumigate, to purify, and to cleanse and to consecrate to the deity; for this purpose they burned it in their incense. In Homer's Iliad (16:228), one is spoken of as purifying a goblet with fire and brimstone. The verb derived from theion is theioo, which means to hallow, to make divine, or to dedicate to a god. (See Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon, 1897 Edition.)
I would just say that I have the spark of God as my true psyche, I am getting in touch with that, and only when I have done so will it be powerfully healing for others. I am just as uncomfortable with the term "Christ" as Jesus was.
Secondly, Jesus taught that, in contrast to all other humans, he came out from the Kingship of the Heavens (his term for empowerment, the state that he and the Father live in). Anyway, I do not disagree with this second credo given my comments, and I intend to do greater things than Jesus did, IN THIS LIFE!
3. Kingdom of heaven: The primary message of Jesus' ministry was that the Kingdom of Heaven can be experienced within us, in the "now" moment (Lk 17:20-21). The state of peace, joy, illumination and oneness can be experienced as we seek first the Kingdom (Mt 6:33).
Commentary - This phrase used by Jesus is always in the plural and should be translated "the kingship of the heavens." This is Jesus' term for empowerment, a state of being completely safe and having dominion over the material universe as he did. It is NEITHER comparable nor compatible with our normal or usual experience of living, just feeling good in our hearts and having peace of mind, nor with being disempowered and physically aging and dying.
4. Prayer and Meditation: Through His example of drawing apart, Jesus taught the importance of prayer and meditation (Mt 6:6-8). It is through prayer that we lift our awareness of Truth. It is through meditation that we experience the Presence of God.
Commentary - It is a rank assumption that Jesus withdrew to meditate or to pray in any kind of way that we are familiar with. A better understanding would be that he withdrew to converse with the unfallen beings to strategize about what to do and to agonize over just what he was willing to do and not do to accomplish the mission. These issues are so complex and subtle as to tax the very hearts and minds of the heavenly host of humans.
5. The Power of Thought: Jesus continually taught that what is inside us (thoughts and feelings) is far more important than our outer acts (Mt 12:35, 15:10, 23:25-26). Unity teaches that the quality of our life (health, prosperity, relationships) is determined by the thoughts and feelings we choose to hold in mind.
Commentary - Jesus continually taught that it is our BELIEFS that engender the thoughts and feelings, and that what we believe is of paramount importance.
6. The Power of Love: The greatest commandment is to love, to love God and everyone, including ourselves (Mt 5:43-44, 22:37-40). Love is expressed in many ways (1 Cor 13). The power of love transforms and dissolves all unlike itself.
Commentary - This is misguided and nothing short of traditional flummery and shallowness. Love CANNOT be commanded or demanded. It can only be inspired. Jesus made it clear that we would love our brothers, but not everyone is a "brother". The passages in the Synoptic Gospels without context are too untrustworthy to use as the basis for such an important issue. To think of loving everyone is just being in denial, and is downright silly and hypocritical. Love comes automatically when we are in unity of purpose, values, and paradigm.
7. Do These Things: Jesus taught that only he who practices His teachings will experience the promise of a transformed life (Mt 7:24-27, Jn 13:17). Knowing about Truth is not enough, it must be applied to daily living.
Commentary - This borders on trying to grow spiritually, something that Jesus taught as being impossible. Spiritual growth and maturity happen through understanding God, who we are, and the inspiration of the elegant vision of the Good News. Not practice, not effort to apply, but through an understanding of self benefit.