Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday and My Personal Theology

Today is Communion Sunday at our church. We serve it the first Sunday of each month and we serve all Christians,  In fact, our tradition is unique in many ways: In the Community of Christ, we put more focus on our distinctive vision of "Restoration Christianity" where continuing revelation through individual and community guidance by the Spirit, sola Spiritus, is primary, rather than scripture or tradition as per the closed canon view of sola scriptura as the Protestants or tradition-led like the Catholics. This is a very similar focus to some of the more inclusive-minded Quakers. We focus on following the Great Commandment of Love as taught by Jesus - to Love God and to love others rather than ways to exclude others from fellowship; therefore, the Community of Christ is non-creedal.

It is the peace of the Kingdom of God  taught by Jesus that we seek, where people live justly with each other, God, and all of creation. The Community of Christ envisions a time when the promise of God’s kingdom will be fulfilled. We have a vision of that kingdom where the name of Jesus is truly honored, where God’s will is done on earth, where the hungry are fed, poverty is alleviated, and people are made whole. By opening our eyes to the unconditional and nonjudgmental love, compassion, mercy, and wisdom that embraces and interconnects all of us, accepting that grace and our interdependence with others, and then extending that love, compassion, and mercy to others no matter their religion, race, gender, sexual preference, politics, etc., we can be guided through the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

I am inclined toward Process Theology myself.

Process theology affirms that God is working in all persons to actualize potentialities. In that sense each religious manifestation is God... working in a unique way to bring out the beautiful and the good. Additionally, process theologians believe scripture and even religion represent human interpretations of the will of God. In this sense pluralism is the expression of the diversity of cultural backgrounds and assumptions that people use to approach God.

C. Robert Mesle, in his book Process Theology, outlines three aspects of process theology.

There is a relational character to the divine which allows God to experience both the joy and suffering of humanity. God suffers... just as those who experience oppression... and God seeks to actualize all positive and beautiful potentials. God must, therefore, be in solidarity with the oppressed and must also work for their liberation. 

God is not omnipotent in the classical sense and so God does not provide support for the status quo, but rather seeks the actualization of the greater good. God exercises relational power and not unilateral control. In this way God cannot instantly end evil and oppression in the world. God works in relational ways to help guide persons. If we listen to that spirit, our lives can be actualized in positive ways.

Process theologians believe God is not omnipotent in the sense of being coercive. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than coercion. Process theologians interpret the classical doctrine of omnipotence as involving force, and suggest instead a forbearance in divine power. "Persuasion" in the causal sense means that God does not exert unilateral control. 

The entire universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot totally control any series of events or any individual, but God influences the creaturely exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. To say it another way, God has a will in everything, but not everything that occurs is God's will.

Because God interacts with the changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.

I know it's not a traditional Christian way of seeing God. But it is the way I experience God in my life. For instance, when my Bob was sick and in the process of dying five years ago, I felt a very real sense of strength which did not come from myself. I managed to get through his death process calmly and it was only after he died that I felt I was on my own...until I needed comfort. Then, once again, I felt God's comforting power..strongly. I had had the same sense of "God with me" when I sat with my stepfather when he died and with my Mom when she died and even with my sister when she died. This experience doesn't just happen at the death of some loved one, it also happens when I need guidance at any time. It's hard to explain but I know God is "with" me in all the good as well as the bad experiences in my life.   

And talk about "grace". I was a firm disciplinarian in rearing my children. I believed in spanking and insisted on structure in my life and also in theirs.  So they should resent me and even dislike me. I was hard to live with. Yet, by the grace of God, (and their grace), they seem to love me anyhow. 

I have even a more unique way of believing. And because of the nature of our church tradition, we have what is called "faithful disagreement". We are not required to agree with everything the corporate church  espouses. If we disagree, that's all right... as long as we don't sow disunity in the body by insisting that everyone see their spiritual journey alike and like ours.

I love my church and cannot even envision belonging to another. The fellowship is rich and the church school classes are interesting. The discussions are wonderful.  

And I have another group I love. It is my Living the Questions group.  It meets twice a month and we watch a video about religion and religious beliefs. Then we discuss what we have heard and seen and later have fellowship and dessert. It is always very stimulating. As soon as we finish with the last episode of the present video, we will begin again with the first one. It is called "Saving Jesus". We have been meeting for at least ten years and  we are a variety of religions. We have three Methodists, one Presbyterian, two Community of Christ,  two agnostics, and one Muslim that belong to the regular group. And then we have a few extras (read guests) from time to time. Most of the time we have twelve or thirteen.   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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