I grew up Christian, and followed it all my life. I still WANT to call myself Christian, but I am hesitant because, over the years, I have come to believe some things which SOME, but not all, Christian denominations would consider heresy. So, I usually call myself a Christian Mystic, or a Cabalist, or a Qabalist (C = Christian, Q = Jewish, Kabbalist, Ya, it IS confusing). But let’s back up a bit.
I was raised as a very liberal Christian in the United Church of Christ, throughout my childhood. In my college years through my 14 years of marriage, I experimented with MANY different churches from right-wing fundamentalist groups, Episcopal, and Lutheran denominations, through independent, Spirit-filled non-denominational churches, to Pentecostal. After that, there were questions remaining which were not satisfied by the standard Christian answers. Examples include the ubiquitous “predestination vs. free will”, the trouble with the existence of evil in the world, and especially how one could possibly be separated from a God who is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere present) (all of these are standard beliefs of Christian Orthodoxy).
I started studying the Qabalah, which led me to a “Western Mystery School” which I later joined. During that time I also occasionally attended Unity Church of Christianity, which I immediately loved, and felt at home there, for reasons I did not fully understand at the time. One very noticeable difference is Unity’s use of “Mother-Father God” in its services, equally acknowledging both the masculine and feminine aspects of God, which are greatly downplayed in the “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” trinity. I learned an alternative way to interpret Biblical scriptures, which led me to answers to many of my nagging religious beliefs. The written scripture can be interpreted in about as many ways as there are people who read them, and plenty of people have twisted them to their own selfish ends. For millennia, there has been an “oral tradition” passed down from teacher to student, along with the written scriptures; past down even up to today. Jesus taught this tradition to his disciples, in secret, and spoke in parables publically, for the rest. This oral tradition is the one provided in the Western Mystery Schools and provides the ancient wisdom which enables the student to more correctly understand and interpret the Bible, and other scriptures. Anyway, that covers the last 15 years of my life.
Throughout this time, I had acquired a slightly altered set of beliefs about “Life, the Universe, and Everything”, although my beliefs regarding Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, have stayed pretty much the same. So, because of this, I became somewhat hesitant to call myself “Christian”, only because I did not want to mislead anyone (I am very honest like that). An example of one of the “sticky” areas of theology would be my chosen belief in some form of pantheism, which is considered heresy by many Christian denominations. More about that shortly.
Recently, I have visited the main website for Unity Church of Christianity, or just “Unity”. I read about their theological beliefs, and they made a lot of sense to me, and surprisingly and cheerfully matched very nicely the set of beliefs that I deemed most likely to be true. It is not my intention to discuss all my beliefs in this short post, but I will use something close to pantheism as one example. I will hopefully be discussing other beliefs which I hold, in future posts. I will share with you two short selections from Unity’s FAQ and related pages. I will also include the web addresses of these selections if you would like to read more about it.
Quoting from this website:
“What are Unity’s basic teachings?
We encourage you to explore and apply Unity teachings based on your own spiritual understanding. We believe this spiritual understanding is enhanced through reflective prayer and meditation. The five basic ideas that make up the Unity belief system are: 1) God is the source and creator of all. There is no other enduring power. God is good and present everywhere. 2) We are spiritual beings, created in God’s image. The spirit of God lives within each person; therefore, all people are inherently good. 3) We create our life experiences through our way of thinking. 4) There is power in affirmative prayer, which we believe increases our connection to God. 5) Knowledge of these spiritual principles is not enough. We must live them.”
Regarding a version of what I identify as being similar to pantheism (I could always be wrong about this since I am not a trained theologian):
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4 RSV).
I am trying to understand Oneness—what exactly it means and what it doesn’t mean.
Oneness is an awesome thing to try to understand! Like the very concept of God, Oneness is greater than any attempt to define it. This is the first statement in the passage known to Jews as the Shema, the cornerstone of their faith and their relationship to the Divine. Deuteronomy is constructed as three final statements from Moses to the people he had led through the wilderness. At that time—and for many centuries after—the Israelites were involved with people and tribes who believed in a number of different gods, with different responsibilities and areas of concern. This is a huge statement of distinction from all other beliefs around them. One God, and one only. The characteristics of that God are omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. So not only is their God one God, their God is truly all that is—the infinite, eternal Allness that includes everything. Today we understand that there can, by very definition, be no separation from that divine Allness. Jesus, among others, taught that worshipping God as a distant Source is not enough. We must recognize God everywhere around us, and within us, and acting as us. There is nothing that is not a part of the divine Allness.
When “I” read the portions of scripture that say something like “We are within God, and God is within us”, this is how I interpret it. This idea comes as a result of many years of meditating on its meaning (don’t think I sat there for years just thinking about that one piece, I also had a life to live). I believe that God is composed of the entire Universe, every tiny particle of it is a particle of God. Plus, God is ALSO everything that is NOT a part of the physical Universe (pantheism++). God is existence itself. There is nothing but God; absolutely nothing but God; it is impossible for anything to exist outside of God.
The feeling or impression that somehow we are separate from God is nothing more than an illusion, it is not real, it is a false belief, a delusion. The impression that we have a separate personality is an illusion. Our personality is one of the myriad personalities of God, and the ultimate “purpose” is to consciously reunite each and every piece with the “Source” so there is no longer any illusion that we are somehow separate beings (to achieve the perfection of UNITY). We are tiny pieces of God, always connected to the Whole. Every thought we think is a God thought, and every particle of our being is a God particle. God is the doer of every deed that is done, the speaker of every word which is said. This concept of illusion (or magic) is somewhat along the lines of “Maya” of the Hindu Upanishads, and also of Buddhism also, but both are not exactly the same.
I believe this whole idea of “One God, and Only God” is very similar if not identical to pantheism (pantheism++). Whew!!! That was a lot to take in! And that is just ONE of many beliefs.
What all this is leading up to is this: if MY theology is very close to that of Unity, which identifies as Christian, then maybe I can continue to identify as Christian too! Studying the ancient esoteric wisdom of Israel is not incompatible with all forms of Christianity, but does provide a different vantage point from which to interpret all of the scriptures. This wisdom can be equally applied to the scriptures of any major religion, not just Christianity. This knowledge has led me to focus on all the similarities between religions and eliminate many of the differences as I realize we are all worshipping the very SAME deity, the One, and Only True God, the perfect Unity (the God, not the church).
So that is the thought I will leave you with today. Please comment and let me know what you think about this post. As always, thank you for reading!