I have just completed reading John S. Spong’s latest book, Eternal Life: A New Vision. Like James Tabor’s work, Paul and Jesus, it is quite scholarly. Perhaps even more so. It is surely one of the best on origins of religions – and on showing up their ludicrous mythology. His personal story is used to prove it.

Sincere Christians will no doubt be shocked by what follows. Perhaps they need to be shocked! They have carefully carried their Bibles and interpreted the contents literally for nearly 2000 years. By doing so, they have not only had to invent explanations to satisfy literary discrepancies, they have unknowingly also carried the hidden treasure of God’s unconditional acceptance, love, and forgiveness which would have been more likely to be discovered if or when their Bible is read literarily, that is, as literature.

Christians have built an enormously complicated religion, a mythology based on what they claim came straight from God, word for word. And that claim has caused them considerable embarrassment when science has proven otherwise on many occasions. It is long overdue for them to also be embarrassed by many other claims.

“Transcend religion…get beyond it…..this life is not the end of life….enter the realm of eternity by embracing the finite….live fully….love wastefully….be all you can be.”

Almost everything that follows either paraphrases or expresses Spong’s thoughts and his words.

God is in us. We are in God. Eternity is within us.

To fully grasp that, we must first dismiss religion’s primary premises: 1) that God is an outside supernatural being, and 2) that human life is alienated from God and, therefore, needs to be atoned for.

We need to grow out of this perpetual childishness. We need to stop seeing God as our divine parent figure. Instead, we need to see ourselves as part of who God is and part of what God is. And then we need to see that God is part of who we are and part of what we are.

The more deeply human we are and live, the more deeply God becomes identified with our life. How we live is a mirror for others to look into. They see God in our life and they see themselves encouraged to live such a life. Our ethic is for our life to enhance the life of another, not diminish it. Our enhancing ethic is God’s enhancing ethic.

Religion’s ethic alienates and diminishes. It encourages inhuman behavior toward unbelief. It breeds insecurity. Its weapons are guilt and fear of punishment and death for disobedience and unbelief. Even the faithful have hidden worries that their faith may not withstand their coming judgment.

We need to embrace a new vision and learn to speak of the domain of life as being what is truly holy. The rituals and words of religion are not holy. Human life is holy.

We need to break out of our fears that separate us from each other and enter into the meaning of oneness with others and with the universe, the meaning of transcendence and timelessness and moving into eternity. We are connected to more than our minds can yet embrace. Will we evolve into something not yet imagined? Have we always been a component of a greater reality?

In that case, death is merely a natural move into a greater existence which cannot even be imagined in this life. So meanwhile, simply get on with living to the full. Learn to know and love who and what you are in this here-and-now. – Above all, love wastefully!

I think the Galilean Sage figured this out and lived it to the full. Unfortunately, he and his family and followers were treated unjustly for such heresy.

Henry (Hank) Hasse

Published in: on June 12, 2013 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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