The more I live the more I believe that growth happens with the disruption, change and even death of what were once closely held beliefs and world views. Beliefs that have become rigid and unchanging result in diminishing life, vitality, joy, and love. Eventually, a rigid world view becomes judgmental, intransigent, condemning of other’s positions and worse.
When we stop our spiritual growth, we stagnate and begin to die. The spirit lives in the in-finite; when we put our beliefs in a box we are looking for finite solutions, we’re trying to understand multi-dimensional worlds from the confines of our little four-dimensional perspective. (Read “Dimensions”) It’s worse than if you tried to measure the speed of light with a tape measure and a stopwatch. ¹
Spiritual growth is dependent on learning and experiencing “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard” 1 Corinthians2:9-10
Jesus tells the disciples, “There is so much more I would like to say to you, but it’s more than you can grasp at this moment. But when the truth-giving Spirit comes, he will unveil the reality of every truth within you.” ²
To understand God even a little bit, the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of truth – must be welcomed, invited and involved.
A rigid belief system becomes dogmatic, meaning that we begin to live by a set of rules and regulations rather than as a result of a dynamic relationship with a living God. Not only is dogmatic crystallization a problem for individuals, but also for groups and civilizations.
The ancient world predating Abraham consisted of a rigid construct based largely on mythical beliefs of a reality whereby humanity lived at the pleasure of a variety of angry and demanding gods. Although we tend to lump all the books of the Old Testament as descriptive of one homogeneous religion and culture, it is actually a document of a journey from a pagan, mythology-based reality to a more enlightened world view. As an example, after Abraham, child sacrifice was replaced with animal sacrifice. The mythical selfish gods were replaced with a supreme creator with plans for our wellbeing, and so on.
Jesus tells us that these Old Testament writings were meant to make the way for his coming and a new world view but men had perverted it into a dogmatic system that was in its turn resisting growth and transition. The Old Testament, it turns out was supposed to not only reveal the Creator-God better than had the mythological constructs of the ancient world, but to point to Jesus and a whole new way, new reality, and above all, to forgiveness, grace, mercy, humility, and love among many other revolutionary concepts. ³
Finally, just because some item of doctrine is preached from ten thousand pulpits doesn’t necessarily make it Gospel truth. For instance, does God really torture anyone that hasn’t prayed the salvation prayer- whichever one your church subscribes to? Is anyone damned to eternity because he or she hasn’t been confirmed by a priest or received last rights? Is anyone damned because they never heard about Jesus? Well, you get the idea. Start by reading the scriptures, but not just a few carefully chosen verses. What do the early church fathers say? They were closer to the source of it all. Most of all, don’t worry, God is a merciful father and he’s not going to damn you for not having perfect theology. He loves it when we want to know him better, but certainly, he isn’t going to blame us for not knowing the TRUTH about all things. I’m most suspicious about religious sects – Christian or otherwise – who tell you that only those of their group have the inside scoop that will save them and only them from damnation.
The absolute truth – sometimes referred to as “all truth” in the Bible – is unknowable in its totality because of how we are made. An AM radio can’t “know” what FM frequencies are being broadcast. The Bible gives us glimpses, and the Holy Spirit gives access to a bit more: “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard… For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10.
Searches all things… sounds like a cosmic search engine doesn’t it? All we need to do is align ourselves, tune ourselves with the Holy Spirit.
¹ By the way, the speed of light changes relative to the observer and therefore is elastic and not a constant. The speed of light seems to be a very foundational factor used in the makeup of our world and used to be considered a constant. However, with the discovery of the sub-atomic particles and quantum physics, we have transitioned into a world that behaves more like the spiritual world than the physical world. In other words, God’s world transcends analysis by our limited minds. Only the spirit can reveal “all truth”.
² John 16:12-13 The Passion Translation
³ Read the Sermon on the Mount: it is his “manifesto”. This is the nitty-gritty ways of the kingdom out of Jesus’ mouth! It is the most trustworthy glimpse we have into the heart of God. Matthew chapters 5 to 7.