You’re probably wondering, doesn’t he mean “In the beginning”? Actually, no, he doesn’t.
And you’ve probably heard the adage, don’t discuss politics or religion. This is going to be one down, one to go. Let’s start with religion.
I consider myself very spiritual, and I consider myself a Christian, just not very religious. To me, religion is an organized set of rules defined by men to govern how people who support that religion should live and act. That sounds like a club, not necessarily a connection to a higher power. Notice that I said, “people who support that religion.” One of my problems with religion is that sometimes people who support a religion expect everyone to follow that religion. In some areas of the world or interpretations of a particular religion, the penalty for not following those rules is death.
I should consider myself fortunate that I was raised in a time and a place where doubt or even disagreement with the predominant religion of your location did not render you headless. My family belonged to the United Methodist Church in our town until about my eighth-grade year. I refused to walk down front with all the other kids my age when it “was time to join the church” (5th or 6th grade). I just wasn’t convinced that it was something I believed yet.
Since my mother’s parents raised her as a Presbyterian, in my 8th-grade year, my parents joined with about six other couples in starting a Presbyterian Church in town. I did get actively involved in that all through high school.
When I was in Sunday School, the gentleman who taught our class intensely believed in teaching us about other religions. As a result, we made many trips to different churches throughout the area: a Jewish synagogue, the Catholic church, the Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church, the Episcopal church, and we went to a Quaker Meeting. And then we would discuss everything we saw and heard.
In college, I went through the typical agnostic period that so many of us do, I’m sure. But that never stopped me from inquiring about other religions and what other people believed. After God reached out to me and brought me back many years later, I continued the trend of exploring other religions. When the Jehovah’s Witnesses came, I invited them in and visited their church. When the Mormons came, they came every Tuesday night for about four months. They brought videos, we talked, and they left me a Book of Mormon. I went to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once. For those of you who don’t know, they’re the Mormons.
I went to the Unitarian Universalist church for about 6 months until I realized that whatever you believed, they believed.
And I have a solid logical bent, being a Chemistry major for the first half of my college years, so things have to make sense to me too. In no small measure, my Spiritual Faith is based on science, as I’ll explain shortly.
Add to all that my list of some of my favorite spiritual writers:
- Neale Donald Walsh, author of the Conversations with God series.
- Bart Ehrman, is a leading scholar in religious studies.
- Reza Aslan, is probably best known for his book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.
- John Dominic Crossan is a significant scholar in historical Jesus research.
- Paramahansa Yogananda was an Indian yogi and guru who brought meditation through his writings, notably Autobiography of a Yogi, to the western world.
So, with all that background, I will attempt to explain the title because it probably comes closest, with some explanation, to form the basis of my accumulated beliefs. You don’t have to believe anything I say or think; I reserve the right to believe it, as you have the right to believe what you wish.
However, you do not have the right to impose your beliefs on me or anyone else or bring harm to anyone because they do not share your views.
What I Believe and Why
The Big Bang Theory suggests that the Universe (Everything, with a capital “E”) is expanding from one microscopically small central origin point that roughly 13.8 billion years ago exploded, giving rise to all matter and energy.
Note that number, 13.8 billion years. It’s Time, and while humanity measures Time, God is eternal, so He (I’ll stick with the grammatical convention of referring to God as masculine here, although God is simply Spirit.) has always existed. When we say “before” something, we’re referring to Time, but God existed before Time.
In Conversations with God, Walsh suggests a more faith-based telling of that origin that makes sense to me compared to the Big Bang Theory.
God, as Spirit, had no way of identifying Himself, nothing to compare with Himself. Spirit was and is everywhere. I define God as Love, and the Energy of Love is everywhere.
Einstein also taught us that energy and matter are related. Quantum physics is changing and confirming Einstein’s theories and shows that particles can be connected across vast distances (like the Universe). Don’t get wrapped up in the precise details here. My only point about this is that we are all connected to God all the time because we contain the same Spirit as God.
Back to the Big Bang. God decided at some point to focus all (or some or most?) of His Energy at one focal point until it exploded, yielding matter and energy exploding in all directions. Over time, this expanding Universe created galaxies, stars, planets, etc.
This is all well and good, but so far, there was nothing animated about what God created. Whether through evolution or God becoming bored with rocks and fire, when it was time, the spark of life came forward and created humankind, in His image, the Spirit of God.
As a kid, I wondered how God could hear everyone’s prayers and know what we all wanted. I know now that God is in all life, all inanimate objects, everywhere, all the time. If we recognize that, block out all the distractions, and listen for that still small voice, whether it’s a voice or not, we can understand it because it’s part of us, and we are part of God.
The God that existed before the Big Bang.
Where are we now?
God, the omnipotent, eternal Spirit of Love, created the Big Bang to manifest as other than merely Spirit. God is now not only Spirit but all matter and all energy, meaning that all things are always connected to, and part of, God.
You may or may not share this belief, in which case, I say, fine. You’re entitled to your view, as I am to mine, but let’s not go nuts over the disagreement. That’s how we got Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Presbyterians, Catholics, Russian and Greek Orthodox, Lutherans, Methodists, Quakers, Episcopalians, C of E, Amish, Mennonites, and between 4,000 and 10,000 world religions as of May 2022.
Since I’ve already said that I believe the Creator (God) to be the Spirit of Love, I can’t imagine that our Highest Power (God) desires of us either animal or human sacrifice to prove our devotion or humility. (Again, as in the previous post, I’ll stick with the grammatical convention of referring to God as masculine here, although God is simply Spirit.) As a loving Creator, he merely wants us to connect with Him and share His Spiritual Love via our spiritual and physical forms to all the Universe since we are all part of God.
As Jesus said, “Love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
I believe any other rules, rituals, traditions, etc., are human-made religious add-ons to help humankind feel comfortable and remember why they believe what they believe. I also hear a lot about religious “community” as having value. I suppose that associating with like-minded people helps maintain the belief system (religion), but it also becomes a trap. It’s too easy to only follow the rituals or any other rote action without giving a thought to God as to why we do these things. God is Spirit and not easily found in the din of today’s world. It takes effort to drown out the environmental noise and distractions to find that spark within where God resides. I know this because I have been unsuccessful so many times. But I also know that it’s possible.
Many are the messengers of our loving Creator, and many are the rules that humanity has created (interpreted) to define Him in ways that are satisfactory to particular like minds. But simply put, wouldn’t a loving Creator send a loving messenger to deliver only one underlying message: “Love one another.” Consider what this world would be like if everyone just followed that message.
There would be no crime, no war. Everyone would help everyone else. What need would there be for any rules breaking down particular types of crimes? Why would nations need to invade or steal if assistance was freely given?
Am I naive? Or just hopeful? It makes more sense to me than anything else, so why not? Because really, nothing else is working here. Religions have started wars and killed neighbors over disagreements.
Regarding Jesus’ divinity, some still question it, but I can think of no other Faith or religion that inspired people as it did for the 11 remaining apostles:
- who knew Him best,
- walked with Him daily,
- traveled the world to spread His message of Love and
- swear to have seen and touched Him after His death and resurrection,
to die for what He taught them. That’s a pretty compelling argument favoring not only teachings but His divinity.
Nonetheless, what we believe, we believe. I try to have some facts to back up my faith, but isn’t that a silly thing to say? The very essence of faith is belief without proof. And yet, I choose to believe that which makes sense to me.
In many of my varied readings, at some point, Jesus embodied the Christ Spirit, or Christ Consciousness.
… there are those non-traditionalists who look at Jesus’ “divine nature” more in terms of his becoming conscious of, thus expressing strongly, the Christ Spirit (the Logos as Pneuma) within. They view that all of us have the potential, the ability to manifest this Christ Spirit within — to embody the “Christ.”
While indeed not a biblical scholar nor an expert, I find this a perfectly acceptable explanation of Jesus as Man and Jesus as Divine and even gives me more hope in my ability to connect with our Creator in the same way.