As reported in last week’s blog post, the people in my Charting the Twenty-First-Century Reformation class and I are combatting the anthropomorphization of God (giving him human qualities) by renaming this power or force Creation or the Ground of All Being or Higher Power.
This creates a huge problem for the institutional church, which has built its theology on the ancient model of a flat, three-tiered earth with God living in a mansion above it.
Here are the issues. First, God is not an anthropomorphic being. It’s a power or force in the universe that is almost beyond human comprehension. Second, Jesus was not the son of this god who sat above the sky. Jesus was totally human, though a very special one. Third, Jesus was conceived by a man and a woman, just like we were. The Incarnation and Trinitarian theology should be relegated to history books. Above all, senseless Trinitarian Sunday sermons should be eliminated.
Another absurd idea that needs to be shelved is the Immaculate Conception, which states that since Jesus was sinless, his mom couldn’t have had any original sin when she gave birth, or it would have rubbed off on Jesus. The church’s answer to this dilemma was to invent a new fairy tale called the Immaculate Conception (or is it the Immaculate Deception?) that made Mary sinless and the fourth member of the Trinity.
Oops! That created a new problem. Mary’s mother, Anne, had original sin, which would have contaminated Mary when she was born. The church added Anne to the list of perfect people, and this silly thinking continued ad nauseum through generations of Jesus’s ancestors, maybe all the way back to Eve.
Original sin is another controlling methodology of the church, which claims that when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they became bad and started a civilization in which everyone is born bad. What an awful idea! But the church loves original sin because it can tell people that they can become good through blind obedience.
Paul also loved that concept, so he invented a theory stating that Jesus’s execution, thanks to his Father’s brilliant plan, paid for our sins. What a cruel father, and what a morbid idea! It too needs to go into the church’s history books as another bad idea and the waste of a nice Jewish man.
I believe in original goodness—that every person is born good. Unfortunately, we have free will and occasionally choose badly. (I know I do.) However, Jesus has a solution for correcting bad choices. It’s called agape. (See the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11–31.)
I believe that the miracles of Jesus are metaphors, not stories of defying natural law. Neither Jesus nor any other human can walk on water, make high-quality wine out of tap water, or raise the dead. To me, the greatest miracle Jesus performs is the transforming our lives to be the very best they can be. What a gift and miracle!
With Jesus’s demotion, we can now scrap the outrageous idea of a Second Coming. If we recognize the vastness of the universe, we have to ask how such a crazy notion could even happen. Where would Jesus be coming from, and where would he go? Remember—if Jesus had ascended in the year 33 CE, he would still be in orbit.
Which Jesus do you like? The fantasy one or the human one?
Image courtesy of Scott (CC BY-SA 2.0)