Okay, you might say, but if I didn’t quite dig deep enough to understand the core of the foundation you’ve laid here, what exactly is it you are trying to say, and what makes it so different from the Christianity I find in church every Sunday?
Excellent question! First, the foundation of all Christian moral activity in the world is love. Not the love that appears in popular movies or trashy novels, but the love of God as he reveals to us in others and in Jesus Christ. This love is so deep and so viscerally understood as unconditional in all of us, that I feel safe claiming that God is not only love, but unconditional love. This is not to say that unconditional love is clear in scripture, but rather that unconditional love is clear within each of us. We know what is true and right about God, and when anything other than unconditional love occurs, we know that something isn’t right about it.
If God is unconditional love, there are some basic assumptions that the church has made about original sin, and about sin and general that don’t quite fit that paradigm. For instance, why would a God who loves unconditionally create a world, and indeed His children, so that they were temporarily perfect, only to live the remainder of their existence regretting and mourning that they could never be again? This seems well outside of the realm of love, let alone unconditional love.
What story does fit then? That is the first three entries of this blog, the story of how God loved us so much that He created a world in which we could choose to reject Him. When we did so, He honored that choice, but we, in defense, blamed Him, and created a story which blames Him. There is plenty of historical proof, indeed history itself, that those who survive will blame those who cannot or will not refute the blame. Ancient humans were no different.
This idea that we are unfit, horrible, depraved, wrong, broken, etc. beings has drilled into our brains for so long that we have forgotten what it means to be beloved, exalted, chosen, anointed, and blessed. We have come to believe that we are so disgusting that nothing can save us; not ourselves, apparently not even God, despite what scripture says to the contrary, because we continue to act as if God has done nothing for us, not forgiven us, not claimed us, and not created us. Are you beginning to see how these things are in contest with each other?
One last point before I move onto the next difference. If God is as powerful as we can possibly imagine. As graceful, good, perfect, and just; why do we have such a hard time accepting that maybe; just maybe, he created us in an image that He can be proud of, from the beginning, and for eternity? Proud does not mean happy with, it does not mean approving of; it means proud of our ability to choose, love, laugh, and live. Yes, we can make mistakes, yes we can hurt others, but if we were incapable of doing these things, would we be any better than furniture? Don’t you think God knows all of this? And yet still, here we are, in the world, being loved, no matter what we do. Reality should trump imagination. The reality is, this is who we are, loved. Once we can accept this our perception of life changes, the nature of scripture changes, and who God is changes. You are perfectly imperfect, exactly as God made you, and that is very good.
Well, that sounds all nice and comforting there, emotional even, but what about scripture? Surely you can see there is an angry God, killing God, threatening God, etc. This is where the story of Job comes in, and what it was trying to say, and what it tells us about the ancient Hebrew way of life…