Looking back to the hills from the Morgan Burra Road

Allan's Faith

Allan is an 'ordinary bloke' who has the wonderful gift of asking the hard questions. He is not stopped by fear of voicing the unspeakable. It seems to me that what follows is worth reading. The questions he asks and the thoughts he shares, are a real challenge to the insular and fearful of the Faith. He shows there is nothing to fear in the end, for he still has faith, costly as it has been for him. He has also suffered the persecution of the church for daring to be faithful to his experience of God.

The language of expressing faith is important. Much of the traditional church's language is based on Jewish thought forms, customs and expressions. For me these terms have become more than just without meaning; they actually obscure the truth. Being pushed down a path that continually uses and reinforces those terms and even appears to insist on them, for me is the path to death (to Pharisaism, narrowism).

By contrast the freedom to explore my experience of God and to try to put that into meaningful words is liberating. My experience and relationship to God and Jesus begin to take on a new life. No longer do I have to experience God in a secondhand way filtered through the experience and understanding of some expert. Because in that there is a double distortion. Not only does the expert translate their experience and belief into words (which have meaning for them) but then I am expected to either accept their words verbatim or to re-translate them into my thought forms and experience. Either way the process gives a distorted view and leaves me cold and unaffected.

This process of the expert teaching the right way to think about and experience God is like the early Roman church where the priests were those who could read and so their version (and inevitable distortion) of the Bible became the truth for the illiterate masses. As literacy spread with the help of the printing press, a more unhindered access to truth was available for ordinary people. Thus the priesthood of all believers. It seems like the present evangelical-fundamentalist resurgence may be related to that early priestly enclave now replaced by the experts who teach the masses what and how to experience God and the right words and thought forms to express that. Once again we are not to be trusted with understanding and interpreting our own experience of God. Perhaps it is time for a renewal of the priesthood of all believers. Hopefully it will not need a Martin Luther to nail his thesis to the door and find that the only viable way to renewal is to leave (or be thrown out of) the church. What is the new equivalent of the printing press which can not be controlled by the religious establishment?

Jesus is Lord: The term lord seems to be an unsuitable word and thought form. We talk about lording it over others. The lord's relationship to the subjects was one where they existed for him. The reason they obeyed was one of necessity or duty, not one of desire. This does not describe my relationship to Jesus. It does not seem to fit Jesus relating to the rich young man whom he asked to give up his love affair with money. It was not a demand but a choice and the young man felt quite free to refuse the offer. For me Jesus is more like a brother (older) or mentor I could die for my brother, but not for my Lord.

A personal God as Father: Even though I had a good relationship with my father it is a misleading word which obscures the truth. I relate more to God as the ground of all being. It still only gives a glimpse but it is a more exciting path than the dead end one of trying to think of God with a personality tied to appointments and time limitations. A God who belongs in the past with the thought forms of the Jews. A God who once thought it OK to kill the enemy and take his wives and children.

An intervening God: I have not experienced an intervening God. Jesus was either a real man or he was not. He knew the power of healing but it was not through supernatural means. He could calm an epileptic when the disciples could not. We could do it now with medication. Jesus did it through his empathy with people. The more we discover the less room there is for the devil and the supernatural. God does not change. Things happened then in the same way with the same natural laws. Gravity could not be defied then or now. We see some things through different eyes even to Jesus.


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