I’m rambling philosophically today, having read a Q&A from Bishop John Spong that seems to succinctly capture much of what I’ve come to think about God. Bishop Spong’s mantra is “to live fully, love wastefully, and be all that one can be” as a response to his experience of God as “the Source of life”, “the Source of love”, and “the Ground of all Being”. Around this core, I wrap my sense of God as that within which we exist each minute—the people and earth and universe around us. I hope you find his conclusions as interesting as I do.
I generally read Bishop Spong in my email, but sometimes also visit his website, where you can signup to receive his weekly Q&A. In a post dated May 16, 2013, you’ll find the Q&A from which I have copied several quotes below.
First, Bishop Spong states, “I seek to escape the theistic definition of God as an external being, supernatural in power, who invades our world periodically in miraculous ways. That definition of God simply no longer translates to a post-Galilean, post-Newtonian and a post-Darwinian world.” This echoes my own initial misgivings with the Roman Catholic tradition, in which I was raised, of an “All loving, all knowing, all powerful” God that can be called upon to intervene in our lives. I never could fathom that such a God would permit war, famine, domestic violence, etc., arguments like “He permits us our free will” notwithstanding.
Bishop Spong acknowledges that none of us can really know God. “Indeed, I think human beings should give up their almost idolatrous attempt to define God at all. We can experience God, but we cannot define God.” This underlies my search for an open and accepting church that is fundamentally non-judgmental. I find it far too difficult to comprehend God for myself to ever presume that I should try to foist my views on others, and I similarly reject others’ attempts to tell me what I should believe.
He follows with a paragraph about his God experience and mantra, concluding, “My mission as a Christian is not ‘to convert the heathen’ as we once asserted, it is rather to assist in the task of helping all people ‘to live fully, to love wastefully and to be all that they are capable of being.’” This also aligns with my own feelings, much as one of my own personal favorites quotes is, “You, like every individual, bring unique wonders which I will always consider and respect.” Trying to look for the good and valuable in everyone and everything I encounter sure makes each day better than the one before!
His Q&A closes with a brief statement of how Christianity fits with his God view. While I find it acceptable, I am glad that it in no way precludes learning similarly from other great figures in history, ranging from Buddha to Ghandi to Martin Luther King, Jr. The truth is, I really should read a lot more by all of them!
In closing, I give thanks for finding the North Congregational United Church of Christ. As a “covenant rather than creedal church”, instead of adhering to some common dogma, they promise to journey together in the search of truth. Officially and proudly wearing the Open and Affirming (OnA) badge, they welcome and value everyone. With ears and eyes always attuned to the world around us, they proclaim, “God is still speaking”. My sincere hope is that each of you also find places, ways, and communities which fit your unique needs in a supportive and challenging manner.