Archive for May, 2019

God’s Temple

May 31st, 2019

Meeting Christ Within Us

God’s Temple
Friday, May 31, 2019

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  —1 Corinthians 6:19

I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me. —Galatians 2:20

Phileena Heuertz is a dear friend, member of our Board of Directors, and co-founder of Gravity, a center for contemplative activism. In this excerpt from her book Mindful Silence she reflects on the gift of contemplation.

Kataphatic prayer comes from the Greek kataphatikos, which in essence means “with images or concepts.” . . . This kind of prayer utilizes our faculties for reason, imagination, feelings, and will. We use words, images, and feelings to communicate with the divine. In this sense, God is mediated through our mental and affective capacities.

Apophatic prayer comes from the Greek apophatikos, which essentially means “without images or concepts.” This kind of prayer lets go of reason, imagination, feelings, and will. And in this way, our encounter with God is unmediated. It is a naked mode of prayer—being to being or essence to essence without filtration through the thinking or affective mind. . . .

Apophatic prayer is rooted in the doctrine of the divine indwelling (Luke 17:21; John 7:38, 14:3; Romans 8:10-11; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20; Galatians 2:20). While God is transcendent, God is also immanent, and chooses to dwell within us. Contemplative spirituality helps us realize God’s presence within us.

The word contemplative derives from a root that means to set aside a place of worship or to reserve a cleared space in front of an altar. In Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, a contemplative stance is obvious. The Israelites cleared space for worship with the Ark of the Covenant and finally with their temple. Jesus honored the temple worship of his Jewish tradition but also tried to enlighten his people to realize that sacred buildings, rituals, and rules are meant to bring us into the awareness of the divine presence in us and in all of those around us.

Jesus drew our attention to the doctrine of the divine indwelling in a radical declaration that he himself was the temple (John 2:19). . . . Paul elaborates on Jesus’ teaching of the doctrine of divine indwelling by declaring that not just Jesus’ but our body too is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). How marvelous! The Creator of the universe resides within our being.

But unfortunately, we’re not very well acquainted with God-within. We’ve mastered the theology of God’s transcendence but have failed to embrace God’s immanence. There’s a part of us that doubts our deep connection to this divine love. Contemplative spirituality helps us overcome this disconnect. It’s one thing to have a “personal relationship” with the transcendent Jesus [or Christ]—much like a relationship with a friend or lover. It’s quite another thing to become one with Jesus, by growing familiar with his immanence (John 17:21). It’s from this oneness that enduring love of God and neighbor is possible.

Our Deepest Desire

May 30th, 2019

Meeting Christ Within Us

Our Deepest Desire
Thursday, May 30, 2019

Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire. —Psalm 37:4

One of my favorite mystics is the English anchorite Julian of Norwich (1342–1416). After a serious illness, during which she experienced “shewings” or revelations of Jesus’ love, she wrote about the compassionate, mothering God she had encountered. Today’s meditation is longer as I want to share John Philip Newell’s beautiful summary of Julian’s visions:

She says that Christ is the one who connects us to the “great root” of our being. . . . [1] “God is our mother as truly as God is our father,” she says. [2] We come from the Womb of the Eternal. We are not simply made by God; we are made “of God.” [3] So we encounter the energy of God in our true depths. And we will know the One from whom we have come only to the extent that we know ourselves. God is the “ground” of life. [4] So it is to the very essence of our being that we look for God. . . .

God “is in everything,” writes Julian. [5] God is “nature’s substance,” the very essence of life. [6] So she speaks of “smelling” God, of “swallowing” God in the waters and juices of the earth, of “feeling” God in the human body and the body of creation. [7] . . . Grace is given to save our nature, not to save us from our nature. It is given to free us from the unnaturalness of what we have become and done to one another and to the earth. Grace is given, she says, “to bring nature back to that blessed point from which it came, namely God.” [8] It is given that we may hear again the deepest sounds within us.

What Julian hears is that “we are all one.” [9] We have come from God as one, and to God we shall return as one. And any true well-being in our lives will be found not in isolation but in relation. She uses the image of the knot . . . to portray the strands of time and eternity intertwined, of the human and the creaturely inseparably interrelated, of the one and the many forever married. Christ’s soul and our soul are like an everlasting knot. The deeper we move in our own being, the closer we come to Christ. And the closer we come to Christ’s soul, the nearer we move to the heart of one another. In Christ, we hear not foreign sounds but the deepest intimations of the human and the divine intertwined.

And for Julian, the key to hearing what is at the heart of the human soul is to listen to our deepest longings, for “the desire of the soul,” she says, “is the desire of God.” [10] Of course, many of our desires have become infected or overlaid by confusions and distortions, but at the root of our being is the sacred longing for union. It is to this deepest root that Christ leads us. Our soul is made “of God,” as Julian says, so it is grounded in the desires of God. And at the heart of these holy desires is what Julian calls “love-longing.” [11] It is the most sacred and the most natural of yearnings. The deeper we move within the human soul, the closer we come to this divine yearning. And the nearer we come to our true self, “the greater will be our longing.” [12]

How did we ever lose such massive, in-depth wisdom?

Going to the Depths

May 29th, 2019

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Christianity’s foundational belief is always incarnation. Yet Christians in the West have focused on abstract ideas instead of actual transformation into our own incarnate humanity. Now that very humanity has grown tired of disembodied spiritualities that allow no validation or verification in experience. Thus, many religions hide an actual agenda of power and control, obfuscating and distracting us from what is right in front of us. This is exactly what we do when we make the emphasis of Jesus’ Gospel what is “out there” as opposed to what is “in here.”

For example, insisting on a literal belief in the virgin birth of Jesus is very good theological symbolism, but unless it translates into a spirituality of interior poverty, readiness to conceive, and human vulnerability, it is largely a “mere lesson memorized” as Isaiah puts it (29:13). It “saves” no one. Likewise, an intellectual belief that Jesus rose from the dead is a good start, but until you are struck by the realization that the crucified and risen Jesus is a parable about the journey of all humans, and even the universe, it is a rather harmless—if not harmful—belief that will leave you and the world largely unchanged.

Many Westerners today are now reacquiring and accessing more of the skills we need to go into the depths of things—and to find God’s Spirit there. Whether they come through contemplation, psychology, spiritual direction, shadow work, the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs typology, grief and bereavement work, or other models such as Integral Theory or wilderness experience [1], these tools help us to examine and to trust interiority and depth.

One of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life came in 1984 during a journaling retreat in Ohio led by the psychotherapist Ira Progoff (1921–1998). [2] Dr. Progoff guided us as we wrote privately for several days on some very human and ordinary questions. I remember first dialoguing with my own body, dialoguing with roads not taken, dialoguing with concrete memories and persons, dialoguing with my own past decisions, and on and on.

I learned that if the quiet space, the questions themselves, and blank pages had not been put in front of me, I may never have known what was lying within me. Progoff helped me and many others access slow tears and fast prayers, and ultimately intense happiness and gratitude, as I discovered depths within myself that I never knew were there. I still reread some of what I wrote over forty years ago for encouragement and healing. And it all came from within me!

Today we are recovering freedom and permission and the tools to move toward depth. What a shame it would be if we did not use them. The best way out is if we have first gone in. The only way we can trust up is if we have gone down. That has been the underlying assumption of male initiation rites since ancient times but, today, such inner journeys and basic initiation experiences are often considered peripheral to “true religion.”

The Voice of God

May 28th, 2019

Meeting Christ Within Us

The Voice of God
Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Among human beings, who knows what pertains to a person except the spirit of the person that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms. —1 Corinthians 2:11-13

If you can trust and listen to your inner divine image, your whole-making instinct, or your True Self, you will act from your best, largest, kindest, most inclusive self. I would also like to add “your most compassionately dissatisfied self” because the soul’s journey invites us to infinite depth that we can never fully plumb!

Rather than consuming spiritual gifts for yourself alone, you must receive all words of God so that you can speak them to others tenderly and with subtlety. If any thought feels too harsh, shaming, or diminishing of yourself or others, it is not likely the voice of God but the ego. Why do humans so often presume the exact opposite—that shaming voices are always from God and graced voices are always the imagination? That is a self-defeating (“demonic”?) path.

If something comes toward you with grace and can pass through you and toward others with grace, you can trust it as the voice of God. One holy man who recently came to visit me put it this way: “We must listen to what is supporting us. We must listen to what is encouraging us. We must listen to what is urging us. We must listen to what is alive in us.” I personally was so trained not to trust those voices that I often did not hear the voice of God speaking to me, or what Abraham Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature.”

Yes, a narcissistic person can misuse such advice, but someone genuinely living in love will flourish inside such a dialogue. That is the risk that God takes—and we must take—for the sake of a fruitful relationship with God. It takes so much courage and humility to trust the voice of God within. Mary personifies such trust in her momentous and free “Let it be” to the Archangel Gabriel (Luke 1:38). Don’t you suppose that Gabriel sounded just like her own mind? She never talks about such an angel again.

We must learn how to recognize the positive flow and to distinguish it from the negative resistance within ourselves. It takes years of practice. If a voice comes from accusation and leads to accusation, it is quite simply the voice of the “Accuser,” which is the literal meaning of the biblical word “Satan.” Shaming, accusing, or blaming is simply not how God talks. God is supremely nonviolent. God only cajoles, softens, and invites us into an always bigger field and it is always a unified field.

Meeting Christ Within Us

May 27th, 2019

God With Us
Sunday, May 26, 2019

If God’s Spirit has truly joined our spirit, then we have every reason to trust the deepest movements of our natures. This trust becomes a key for all spirituality. The goal of Christian spirituality is to recognize and respond to the continual interior movements of the Spirit, for the Spirit will always lead us toward greater union with Christ and greater love and service of God and others. —Richard Hauser [1]

In this week’s meditations, I will be focusing on the importance of an inner life, a life grounded in contemplation, a life that searches for the hidden wholeness underneath the passing phenomena, a life that seeks substance instead of simply an endless preoccupation with forms.

The West—and the United States in particular—is fascinated with forms. We like impermanent things, maybe because they can’t nail us down to anything solid or lasting, and we float in an ephemeral and transient world of argumentative ideas. But this preference isn’t bearing substantial fruit. This culture seems to be creating people who are very unsure of themselves, who are grasping in every direction for a momentary sense of identity or importance.

The goal is to get people to a deeper level, to the unified field, or what I like to call “nondual thinking,” where God alone can hold the contradictions together.

When Christians speak of Christ, we are naming an ever-growing encounter, not a fixed package that is all-complete and must be accepted as is. On the inner journey of the soul, we meet a God who interacts with our deepest selves, who grows the person, who allows and forgives mistakes. It is precisely this give-and-take, and knowing there will be give-and-take, that makes God so real as a Lover.

What kind of God would only push from without and never draw from within? Yet this is precisely the one-sided God that many Christians were offered and that much of the world has now rejected. God unfolds our personhood from within through a constant increase in freedom—even freedom to fail. Love cannot happen in any other way. This is why Paul shouts in Galatians, “For freedom Christ has set us free!” (5:1).

God loves you by becoming you, taking your side in the inner dialogue of self-accusation and defense. God loves you by turning your mistakes into grace, by constantly giving you back to yourself in a larger shape. God stands with you, not against you, whenever you are tempted to shame or self-hatred. If your authority figures resorted to threat and punishment, it can be hard to feel or trust this inner give and take. Remember, the only thing that separates you from God is the thought that you are separate from God!

God Speaks

Monday, May 27, 2019

In a time when everything was being swept away, when “the whole world is becoming a giant concentration camp,” [Etty Hillesum] felt one must hold fast to what endures—the encounter with God at the depths of one’s own soul and in other people. —Robert Ellsberg [1]

To follow their own paths to wholeness, both Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung (1875–1961) and Jewish Auschwitz victim Etty Hillesum (1914–1943) trusted in and hearkened to the voice of God in their deepest Selves. Many educated and sophisticated people are not willing to submit to indirect, subversive, and intuitive knowing, which is probably why they rely far too much on external law and behavior to achieve their spiritual purposes. They know nothing else that feels objective and solid. Intuitive truth, that inner whole-making instinct, just feels too much like our own thoughts and feelings, and most of us are not willing to call this “God,” even when that voice prompts us toward compassion instead of hatred, forgiveness instead of resentment, generosity instead of stinginess, bigness instead of pettiness.

But think about it: If the incarnation is true, then of course God speaks to us through our own thoughts! When accusers called Joan of Arc (1412–1431) the victim of her own imagination, she is frequently credited with this brilliant reply: “How else would God speak to me?”

The inner voice so honored by Hillesum and Jung is experienced as the deepest and usually hidden self, where most of us do not go. It truly does speak at a level “beneath” rational consciousness, a place where only the humble—or the trained—know how to go.

Late in his life, Jung wrote, “In my case Pilgrim’s Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am.” [2] Jung, a supposed unbeliever, knew that any authentic God experience takes a lot of humble, honest, and patient seeking.

This is where embracing the Christ Mystery becomes utterly practical. Without the mediation of Christ, we will be tempted to overplay the distance and the distinction between God and humanity. But because of the incarnation, the supernatural is forever embedded in the natural, making the very distinction false. How good is that? This is why mystics like Hillesum, Jung, Augustine, Teresa of Ávila, Thomas Merton, and many others seem to equate the discovery of their own souls with the very discovery of God. It takes much of our life, much lived experience, to trust and allow such a process. But when it comes, it will feel like a calm and humble ability to quietly trust yourself and trust God at the same time. Isn’t that what we all want?

Summary of Last Week

When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake up from their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. (Sunday)

I believe all of history has been the age of the Spirit. Creation just keeps unfolding. (Monday)

The Holy Spirit shows up as the central and healing power of absolute newness and healing in our relationship with everything else. (Tuesday)

The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to reveal to us the truth of our being so that the way of our being can match it. —Wm. Paul Young (Wednesday)

We continually experience the Holy Spirit as both a divine counterpart to whom we call, and a divine presence in which we call—as the space we live in.—Jürgen Moltmann (Thursday)

The goal of the spiritual life is to allow the Spirit of Christ to influence all our activity, prayer as well as service. Our role in this process is to provide conditions in our lives to enable us to live in tune with [Christ’s] Spirit. —Richard Hauser (Friday)

Living In The Spirit

May 24th, 2019

Indwelling Spirit

Living in the Spirit
Friday, May 24, 2019

In very real ways, soul, consciousness, love, and the Holy Spirit are one and the same. Each of these point to something that is larger than the individual, shared with God, ubiquitous, and even eternal—and then revealed through us! Holiness does not mean people are psychologically or morally perfect (a common confusion), but that they are capable of seeing and enjoying things in a much more “whole” and compassionate way, even if they sometimes fail at it themselves. [1]

Today I share again from the late Jesuit priest and professor Richard Hauser:

The goal of the spiritual life is to allow the Spirit of Christ to influence all our activity, prayer as well as service. Our role in this process is to provide conditions in our lives to enable us to live in tune with [Christ’s] Spirit. Our effort is not a self-conscious striving to fill ourselves with the important Christian virtues; it is more getting out of the way and allowing [Christ’s] Spirit to transform all our activities. Christ will do the rest. His Spirit has joined ours and will never abandon us.

Gradually we become more and more sensitive to the movements of Christ’s Spirit in our own hearts; simultaneously we grow in sensitivity to the movement of his Spirit in others. Subtly our vision of the world changes. We begin seeing everything in relationship to Christ and the Father, and so we carry on a continual dialog with them. Without really trying, we find ourselves fulfilling Paul’s injunction to the Ephesians to “pray always.” It becomes clearer and clearer what Paul was trying to express when he exclaimed to the Galatians that “I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Before his conversion, [Paul] had not known this power. Now the reality of the new life he had received through the Spirit of Christ so overwhelmed him that it seemed as though everything he treasured flowed from this life, as, indeed, it did. He can only pray for his people that they may receive this same life from the Spirit and so know Christ and his love. [2]

Read Paul’s beautiful prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21:

That is why I kneel before Abba God, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. And I pray that God, out of the riches of divine glory, will strengthen you inwardly with power through the working of the Spirit. May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, will be able to grasp fully the breadth, length, height and depth of Christ’s love and, with all God’s holy ones, experience this love that surpasses all understanding, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. To God—whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine—to God be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end! Amen.

God Outpouring

May 23rd, 2019

Indwelling Spirit

God Outpouring
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Love flows from God into [humans]
Like a bird
Who rivers the air
Without moving her wings.
. . . Thus we move in [God’s] world
One in body and soul, . . .
Though outwardly separate in form.
As the Source strikes the note,
Humanity sings—
The Holy Spirit is our harpist,
And all strings
Which are touched in Love
Must sound.
—Mechthild of Magdeburg (1207–c. 1282/1294) [1]

Protestant theologian Jürgen Moltmann grew up in a secular home in Hamburg, Germany, and was drafted into the German army at age eighteen to fight in World War II. As a prisoner of war, he began reading the Bible and encountered God in the midst of suffering. Moltmann’s theology is hopeful and practical. Here are some of his thoughts on the Spirit:

We continually experience the Holy Spirit as both a divine counterpart to whom we call, and a divine presence in which we call—as the space we live in. There is nothing extraordinary about this. As children we experienced our mothers as both too—as a presence surrounding us and a counterpart calling us. The response to the plea for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit’s coming and remaining, its outpouring and its indwelling. . . .

The astonishing thing is that here the Holy Spirit is seen not just as a divine Person but as a divine element too. The Spirit is “sent” and “comes” like a tempest; it spreads itself out over all living things, like the waters of a flood, pervading everything. If the Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit and the special presence of God, then when God’s Spirit is poured out, “all flesh” will be deified. All mortal flesh will be filled with the eternal life of God, for what comes from God is divine and eternal like God. . . .

In “the outpouring of God’s Spirit,” God opens [God’s self] and becomes what the mystic and poet Mechthild of Magdeburg calls “the outpouring and flowing Godhead.” In the source, the river and the lake, the quality of water is the same, but its flow is graduated. The transition from the Spirit itself to the Spirit’s many different energies . . . is as fluid as an emanation. The divine becomes the all-embracing presence in which what is human—indeed everything that lives—can develop fruitfully and live eternally.

May 22nd, 2019

Indwelling Spirit

A Constant Grace
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to reveal to us the truth of our being so that the way of our being can match it. —Wm. Paul Young [1]

The love in you—which is the Spirit in you—always somehow says yes. (See 2 Corinthians 1:20.) Love is not something you do; love is something you are. It is your True Self. Love is where you came from and love is where you’re going. It’s not something you can buy. It’s not something you can attain. It’s the presence of God within you, called the Holy Spirit or what some theologians name uncreated grace.

You can’t manufacture this by any right conduct, dear reader. You can’t make God love you one ounce more than God already loves you right now. You can go to church every day for the rest of your life. God isn’t going to love you any more than God loves you right now.

You cannot make God love you any less, either—not an ounce less. Do the most terrible thing and God wouldn’t love you less. You cannot change the Divine mind about you! The flow is constant, total, and 100 percent toward your life. God is for you.

We can’t diminish God’s love for us. What we can do, however, is learn how to believe it, receive it, trust it, allow it, and celebrate it, accepting Trinity’s whirling invitation to join in the cosmic dance.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c. 1090–1153) wrote, “Inasmuch as the soul becomes unlike God, so it becomes unlike itself.” [2] Bernard has, of course, come to the same thing I’m trying to say here: the pattern within the Trinity is the same as the pattern in all creation. And when you return to this same pattern, the flow will be identical.

Catherine LaCugna (1952–1997) ended her giant theological tome God for Us with this one simple sentence:

The very nature of God, therefore, is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature on this earth. [3]

That’s God’s job description. That’s what it’s all about. And the only thing that can keep you out of this divine dance is fear or self-hatred. What would happen in your life—right now—if you fully accepted what God has created?

Suddenly, this is a very safe universe. You have nothing to be afraid of. God is for you. God is leaping toward you! God is on your side, honestly more than you are on your own.

Indwelling Spirit

May 20th, 2019

Week Twenty-onenull

Implanted Hope

Sunday, May 19, 2019

God for us, we call you Father.
God alongside us, we call you Jesus.
God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.
You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us and even me.
Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.
We can only see who you are in what is.
We ask for such perfect seeing—
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

In the Divine Spirit—God within us, already promised, often with different words, by the Hebrew prophets, as in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Isaiah 11:2—God takes on an indwelling character. The unnamable I AM becomes writ large on our hearts, revealing the “down and in” divine characteristic present since the beginning of time. Let’s call the Holy Spirit Implanted Hope. 

Theologian Jack Levison points out that there are many meanings for the Hebrew word ruach and the Greek pneuma: “The original Hebrew and Greek words for ‘spirit’ were used to convey concepts as diverse as a breath, a breeze, a powerful gale, an angel, a demon, the heart and soul of a human being, and the divine presence itself.” [1] For me, what seems most significant is that Spirit is the divine indwelling in creation. As God promises Ezekiel, “I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live.” (See Ezekiel 37:9-14.) 

Without God as Holy Spirit, there’s no inner momentum, élan vital, or aliveness to heal our wounds. When the Spirit is alive in people, they wake upfrom their mechanical thinking and enter the realm of co-creative power. As in Ezekiel’s vision, the water flows from ankles to knees to waist to neck as the New Earth is hydrated. (See Ezekiel 47:1-12.) Like Pinocchio, we move from wooden to real. We transform from hurt people hurting other people to wounded healers healing others. Not just as individuals but as shapers of history that keeps moving forward through the Spirit’s power.

The Indwelling Spirit is this ability of humanity to keep going, to keep recovering from its wounds, to keep hoping. One thing we love so much about young children is their indomitable hope, curiosity, and desire to grow. They fall down, and soon they’re all grins again. Another generation is going to try again to live life to the fullest. But all too often, by the time they’re sixty they don’t smile so much, and we ask, “What happened between six and sixty?” I see it as loss of Spirit, because if you trust that the Holy Spirit is alive within you, you will keep on, despite every setback.

The Age of Spirit
Monday, May 20, 2019

The Holy Spirit is sent to the entire universe and since creation has been transforming [the universe], carrying it toward the final resurrection. . . . The same Spirit renews humanity. . . . This new humanity must move all nations, each in accordance with its diversity. The Spirit unites without imposing uniformity. —José Comblin [1]

From medieval times to the Great Awakening and other periods of religious revival, Christians have eagerly anticipated an age of the Spirit. But I believe all of history has been the age of the Spirit. Creation just keeps unfolding (see Romans 8:19-25). The evolution of stars, species, and consciousness has never stopped since the very beginning. In fact, we now know that the universe is still expanding. But our hierarchical, masculine-without-feminine, and static notion of God did not allow many to see this.

History keeps moving forward with ever-new creativity. Admittedly, this movement is accompanied by much push back. Just look at what’s happened in the last century! The immense advances in consciousness, science, technology, and awareness are astounding, despite all the horrible wars and injustice, both personal and systemic. While I don’t want to diminish how much we still have to do to create an equitable world, it’s become almost impossible for privileged folks to deny the ongoing marginalization of people of color, gender diverse individuals, the poor, and those with disabilities.

Theologian Jürgen Moltmann (b. 1926) writes:

In the experience of the Spirit a new community of rich and poor, the educated and the uneducated comes into being. The Spirit of God is no respecter of social distinctions; it puts an end to them. All Spirit-impelled revival movements in the history of Christianity have taken note of these social revolutionary elements in the experience of the Spirit and have spread them. They became a danger to the patriarchy, the men’s church and the slave-owners. [2]

The Holy Spirit never gives up on us. Scripture’s arc reveals the salvation of history and all creation, and not merely of individuals. Divine covenants are with the people collectively—the “house” and the future. Individuals like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, David, and Esther are only the instruments and the mediators. Each individual is caught up in the salvific sweep of history, almost in spite of herself or himself, as YHWH shows mercy to Israel and their descendants forever (see, for example, Genesis 13:15; Exodus 32:13).

The Spirit is like a homing device put inside of us, and all creation, too. For all of our ignorance and mistakes, there is in everything this deep, internal dignity convinced of its own value. This divine indwelling keeps insisting, “I am what I am seeking!” This is surely what Jesus means when he says that all true prayers are already assured of their answer (see Matthew 7:7-8 and 1 John 5:14-15).

It’s God in you that loves God; it’s God through you that recognizes God elsewhere; it’s God for you that assures you that you are finally and forever okay.  This is Trinitarian spirituality, which buttresses you on every side. This is what it means to live inside the Trinitarian flow. And it is all now, and not just later. You are already home free!

Trinitarian Revolution

May 17th, 2019

Trinity: Part 2

Trinitarian Revolution
Friday, May 17, 2019

I think we are in the beginnings of a Trinitarian Revolution. History has so long operated with a static and imperial image of God—as a Supreme Monarch and Critical Spectator living in splendid isolation from what he (and God is exclusively envisioned as male in this model) created. His love is perceived as unstable, whimsical, and preferential.

Humans become like the God we worship. So it’s important that our God is good and life-giving. That’s why we desperately need a worldwide paradigm shift in Christian consciousness regarding how we perceive and relate to God. This shift has been subtly yet profoundly underway for some time, hiding in plain sight. In order to come together in politics and religion, to take seriously new scientific findings in biology and quantum physics, and for our species and our planet to even survive we must reclaim Relationship as the foundation and ground of everything.

In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn popularized the phrase “paradigm shift.” [1] Kuhn said that paradigm shifts become necessary when the plausibility structure of the previous paradigm becomes so full of holes and patchwork “fixes” that a complete overhaul, which once looked utterly threatening, now appears as a lifeline.

I believe we’re at precisely such a moment when it comes to our image of God. Instead of the idea of the Trinity being a theological conundrum, it could well end up being the answer to Western religion’s basic problem.

God has forever redefined power in the Trinity! God’s power comes through powerlessness and humility. The Christian God is much more properly called all-vulnerable than almighty, which we should have suspected and intuited by the shocking metaphor “Lamb of God” found throughout the New Testament.

Unfortunately, for the vast majority, God is still “the man upstairs,” a substantive noun more than an active verb. In my opinion, this misunderstanding is partly responsible for the quick expansion of practical atheism and agnosticism we see in the West today. Rational and sincere people wonder, “If God is almighty and all-loving, then why is there so much suffering in the world?” But once you experience God as all-vulnerable, then perhaps God stands in solidarity with all pain and suffering in the universe, allowing us to be participants in our own healing. This does not make sense to the logical mind, but to the awakened soul it somehow does.

Let the Trinitarian Revolution take root!