Went to church today (I still have to go because of my kids) and I continue to be amazed at how church is helping me in this spiritual revolution I'm having. It's hard to explain in just a few words but I will try. Part of what I'm going through is deconstructing much of what I've learned about Christianity. Yet at the same time, even though the deconstruction isn't complete, I'm starting the “rebuilding” simultaneously. I beginning to hear things through new ears, understand things from a different perspective. It's like, it's the same information but I'm getting it through a whole new prism. And I'm understanding it differently.
Today in church the pastor kept talking about getting our strength from God. You know, we don't have to "try so hard" but we have to depend on God. Let HIM do it, etc. And the pastor keeps pointing to the rafters.
And I'm struggling with this because I'm not sure that's the way it works. I'm not sure God is "some guy" up there in heaven. But then it dawns on me, I don't have to know or decide right now who or what God is, and neither do I have to understand if my pastor really got it right. Because what I do understand is that this is very much related to what Tolle is teaching (along with spiritual teachers throughout history) -- about letting go of the ego or the egoic mind, i.e. the SELF.
It's what Jesus taught and it's what the Buddha taught. And it's what my pastor is trying to teach, albeit all wrapped up in Christianese. It's about this lifelong journey of learning to not be so attached to the self -- or rather as Tolle explains, the "false self." The ego.
So I can sit and listen to my pastor teach about "letting go and letting God" and I can understand it to mean that my attachment to my self - what I think, what I feel, what I think I know - is not doing me any favors and that if I will only open up and ask, the universe will guide me and give me what I need.
I'm spouting what sounds like nonsense here. But in some way it makes sense to me; like I'm seeing all kinds of truth at once, and while it's a big jumbled mess in my mind, it also somehow makes sense.
At least it's allowing me to get something good out of being in church, and that's a real gift.
Another example: I have come to disbelieve in atonement theology. I no longer believe Christ came to die for us. I believe Christ came to teach us, and to connect us with God. Christianity teaches that Christ's purpose was to die but I reject that and believe that Christ's purpose was to live—and to teach us to live. To me, atonement theology minimizes Jesus's life on earth, as if it was all just incidental to the reason he really came—to die.
In addition, I cannot believe in a God who requires the torture and mutilation of an innocent individual to satisfy his need for justice. I just can’t believe in that God. To me, atonement theology says that God is/was not powerful enough to simply wipe the slate clean, extend grace and offer forgiveness just because he wants to. Why would a good God require the horrible death of a man in order to extend grace and forgiveness? That's a vengeful, bloodthirsty God if you ask me. I don't buy it. So, here I am, no longer believing in atonement theology. Which leaves me in a precarious position. Why did Jesus die such a horrid death, and what does it all mean?
Well, he died as a consequence of his teachings. What he was teaching was so impossible for the establishment to accept that they killed him for it. People were responsible for his death, not some cosmic plan of God.
But guess what? I can still say and believe that Jesus died for me and for all people. How can I say that? Because he believed his message of God's love and grace was so important, so powerful, so life-changing and world-changing, that he needed to share it, even though he knew he risked being killed. He died because he shared his message of love with the world!
And that means he shared it with me. And that means he was willing to go to his death so that I, and people all around the world, could understand that there is a God (a Divine Presence? a Force? a Universe?) that is good. So that we could understand that the way to live life—and the way to enlightenment—is through love and grace and forgiveness.
(Honestly, how did it ever make sense to anyone that love and grace and forgiveness could only be attained through violence and torture??? How could a God of love require such a thing? In my mind, there’s no possible way it could be true. You can’t have God being “good” and also being this violent and bloodthirsty being.)
So here I am rejecting atonement yet still being able to accept Jesus as somewhat of a savior for me, because it was his courageous teaching that literally changed the world. And it was so important, he was willing to die for it.
That is so cool. And those are just a couple examples of how my thinking is evolving.