A Small Part of the Journey
Comments by: Bob Brinsmead on his spiritual journey
I came to a point in the 1980’s where the traditional God of my religious Christian traditions disappeared from my radar. The search to understand God through the recognized means of Bible, church and Christian theology no longer worked to reveal God. God had become, as Karen Armstong’s History of God showed, incomprehensible, unimaginable, unthinkable, inscrutable, indescribable, and even unpronounceable – reminding me of the first Russian to fly in space quipping, “We did not find God anywhere!” God was not discoverable by scaling up to heaven, not found in books, creeds, mystic contemplation, rituals, religious traditions. I wrote at the time that many people would be better off if they got this God off their backs and even out of their hearts. What to do then? Go and join the human race! Then it dawned on me in a powerful way that this is the only means through which God is revealed anyway. God gave only one image of himself – man and woman made in the image and likeness of God. God was to be seen only in the arena of human existence, ordinary humans serving and caring for one another in the very ordinary things of human existence. It is only by experiencing human love in this messy arena of human life that we somehow get the clue that God is love, and so on. Les Miserables got it right when it said, “He who loves another has seen the face of God.” In this context, familiar passages of the Bible take on a whole new impact. Eg. Jesus: “Leave your gift, your religious exercise or ritual at the altar, but go find your brother and the remove all those barriers that separates him from your caring concern ….” “Inasmuch as you do it to the least of these…you do it to me.” All this throws a new light on the meaning of an Incarnation, of God being revealed in human flesh, and certainly not just a special kind of immaculate human flesh of a sinless man who did not become human as the by-product of human sexuality in the same way as the rest of us become human…. as if God needed a disinfected stick of a sexless, sinless man as the only means of reaching us. What a hoot this Christian theology is!
Now when I arrived at this point of recognizing that all we could know about the unsearchable Mystery was to be found by fully engaging the human situation, by really loving this image of the Unknowable God given to us in common humanity – I was then ready to make another amazing discovery – This revelation of God as present in humanity had to embrace all of humanity. I had to broaden my view of ”special” revelation. I only had to reflect on the amazing human progress and advances in human consciousness that had been made in my lifetime as well as all the improvements of the human condition. I considered all the advances in racial equality in the US, South Africa and Australia, for instance. Then there have been all the advances made in gender equality, workers’ equality. There have been advances in medicine, communications and other technologies that have improved the human condition. There have been advances made in human freedom whether in speech, religion, politics. There have been a worldwide ferment of ideas to improve the human condition. Now where have all these improvements and advances come from? It is very evident that no one group of people have had a monopoly in the cause of improving the human condition. Not even in ethics and morality? Human consciousness had clearly become more developed and sensitive to issues of animal welfare, environmental protection and enhancement, and the evils of war and its collateral damage. It is clear therefore that God must be at work among all peoples without discrimination, and if we can see that this as true in our day, it must have been just as true in every age. There is evidence of “inspiration” in Hindu scripture as in Judeo-Christian scripture. God was not only active for the benefit of humanity through one special tribe on earth as if they were the sole custodians of God’s truth. God was at work revealing truth to the Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, the Indians and Chinese no less than God was speaking to the Jews and the Christians. If God is Love and Light, then anywhere love is being expressed and anywhere there is human enlightment of any kind, there we may find the divine influence of the infinite Mystery behind the entire drama of life.