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Thoughts on "What is the Truth?"
A letter to a Christian who has written an article wanting to impress me with an eloquent description of the majesty and glory of the eternal sovereign of the universe:
Great to hear from you. You had sent this article to me before, but I am glad that you sent it again. I have taken another close read of it and have been thinking about it. Here are some of my thoughts.
FOA, let me congratulate you on a splendid article and one that represents you well as an accomplished writer. Well done, and I appreciate that it was published.
IMO there is ever so much to agree with in its content and you are largely preaching to the choir as far as I am concerned. I have never been able to doubt the existence of a creator, an intelligent designer, and consider people that deny such as being in denial or seriously flawed in their thinking or psychology. We are awash in design on all levels of the physical and spiritual universe, and design bespeaks, nay, demands intelligence. Enough said.
However, as much as design and aesthetic production capability portray an intelligent creator, they do not in and of themselves portray this creator as a god worthy of the term. The issue is not whether there is a creator but whether that creator is worthy of being considered god, because the term god is value loaded and should relate to character issues. Your article is NOT so much about the character of god but about the nature of the creator as a majestic person capable of producing great design and beauty.
To analyze a person’s nature you would be concerned with their size, strength, interests, capabilities, etc., even motivations. To analyze a person’s character you would be concerned with higher level or spiritual things that determine the kind and quality of relationships that person can have or is interested in. Of course there is a whole list of virtues—the paramount one being loving—that we all recognize as being necessary to a good character, and it is fashionable today in the more refined and educated modern religious sphere to impute most of these to the character of God. However, if one were to build their concept of the character of god based purely upon the Old Testament writings or other ancient scriptures, one would come up with a somewhat dark, grim and quixotic picture, certainly a schizophrenic one. It is only because of the portrayal of the J-person in the Gospels that we can go much further in composing a palatable portrait of god’s character.
However, I maintain that we have—as the ENTIRE body of religious thinking, including ALL of Christianity—sold the character of god short. We have let other, older, traditional influences affect and even distort and obscure the portrayal of god’s character that was revealed to us by the J-person, his life and his message. I know that this is a stupendous claim but follow the reasoning here.
FOA, let’s look at what the J-person didn’t say, didn’t talk about. He didn’t say one thing about intelligent design or even creation. He did not point us to the awe inspiring majesty of the heavens, of the intricacy and variety of life forms, of the magnificent bonding between and parent and child, or even the mind-blowing wonder of romance culminating in wholesome and joyful sexual consummation. As to beauty, only in reference to the lilies of the field did he imply them as being aesthetically pleasing. No mention of the countless stars and galaxies, no reference to scientific truth or insights, no concern over us believing in a creator.
His concern was entirely over WHAT we believe about the character of god. His claim was that he was the revelation, the paradigm, the truth that goes into the paradigm, and the inspiration to care about it; and that no man comes to an understanding of god except through him. When he used the term translated as “sin”, he used a word that means “wide of the mark in terms of concept or understanding.” He would have exploded with something worse than “Get away from in front of me, Satan” if someone had floated the idea that he had only partially revealed the character of god and the necessary aspects of the paradigm to us, but that the portrayal was later going to need further explanation and refinement by the “apostles.”
What he did not do is portray himself as the majestic sovereign, worthy of undying accolades and attention. What he did not do is to indicate that we should make him numero uno in our lives. Instead he portrayed himself as the person who loves to serve more than being served, and told us the way we are to love him is to love one another. He painted no picture of himself as ruling the heavens throughout all eternity, but indicated that the cross was his “throne”, his seat of power. That was where he had his “parousia”, his coming into public prominence. That is where the true glory and majesty of god was revealed to the whole universe! Not even his former brethren, the unfallen humans—the angels—understood the full implications and ramifications of that event. He told Pilate that his kingship was not of this world, but also indicated that we would have that same “kingship of the heavens.”
He made it abundantly clear that he was a human. He was born as a human, lived as a human, and came back from the grave as a human replete with the scars of his crucifixion. He claimed that we are gods, and that we would do greater things than he has done! Que no?
Finally, he clearly offered us equality. The terms that he used for us are brothers, sisters, sons of god. These are terms of equality, not of inferiors. How could we think that the creator couldn’t/wouldn’t find a way to have relationships with peers instead of settling to have them with underlings? The conclusion here is that the character of the creator is not one oriented to be a king or sovereign to be obeyed or a demander to be served, but to be a lover, friend, and servant. As long as we hang onto the “sovereign” concept of god, the transcendence of god, we are clinging to original sin, and the cosmos, the system instituted by god will not work in perfect harmony and totality.
Emotional love means to be highly motivated to sustain and enhance another person’s life, and tangible love means to contribute to or deliver that sustenance and enhancement. Except for following the instructions of the J-person—something for which I have no evidence has ever been done—we are trapped as victims in this veil of tears, subject to the slings and arrows, the vicissitudes of life. The bottom line is that I find it outrageous that god/the J-person has some chronological or any other kind of agenda that precludes an imminent resolution to the human condition. How can I be impressed with god’s aesthetical majesty when I, my family and friends, and others—all 7 billion of them—are apparently completely at risk of losing our physical, emotional, and psychological well being at any moment, and are inexorably staggering toward decay and the grave? Did not the J-person say that we should hate our lives, and that would lead to living? How can we believe that the god portrayed by the J-person does not have a way to provide even the total package of what we need and want, much less the bottom line of physical vitality and safety? Especially when in the Gospels of John and Thomas the J-person is unequivocal about us not dying. What is wrong with this picture?
In case you are interested, there is nothing wrong with the picture that can be portrayed with rationality, logic and reason based upon the words and deeds of the J-person as witnessed by the two writers, John and Thomas. My hope is that you are not too intoxicated with the traditional paradigm and dogmas, the incessant focus on the symbols, the constant avoidance of the real issues, the relentless looking to the distant future, and the concepts and writings of earthly men to be able engage in a serious way.