Julia and Bob on Unconditional Love
Julia relating her conversation with Bob Brinsmead
I asked Bob some questions about unconditional love. With great animation Bob told the story of the whole sweep of evolving thought from the ancients to now.
Not unconditional with conditions but unconditionally unconditional he said. A scan of the OT by Bob was inspiring. This is a record of emerging consciousness and how it evolved in ancients and specifically the records we have in Judaism. In fact Judaism was pushed from a tribal mentality of our tribal god, (better than other nations gods), into a one monotheistic concept by the Persian Zoroaster, who in his thinking, left one of the first records of monotheistic consciousness. This pushed Judaism and its prophets to re-think their tribal, limited concepts.
Bob scanned the whole OT in minutes with quotes, from early tribal Israelite’s belief in many gods, (one of these the God of Israel), to a growing sense of monotheism, until the prophets declared the God of all nations, “Egypt my son and Syria my child”. Mind blowing stuff for those days, heralding a big change in consciousness. Oneness of God leading to oneness or brotherhood of humanity.
This revelation was followed by the covenant concept. God’s covenant, “you are my child, I will never leave you or forsake you, nothing can pluck you from my hands, past present or future. There is nothing you can do that will break this covenant that I have made with you my children. Hosea used life illustrations to bring this home to Israel. Quoting Isaiah, Ezekiel and the Babylon exile.
Yes, you will make mistakes, you are a child, you will not understand faithfulness; you will fail. In my covenant I give you total freedom; freedom to fail, freedom to fall and get up. Disaster will seem to be overcoming, but this is all for your learning. I am faithful, I will never forget you (a mother might forget her sucking child but not me – I can’t forget). No-conditions, everything will turn out alright in the end. I have called you into being, in that calling is my unbreakable faithfulness, a no-conditions covenant. No small print here, no after-thought or review clause. God’s side of the bargain is not open to review or requiring any negotiation.
Big expansive stuff for the early tribal Israelites. There were only brief glimpses of thought breaking into people’s consciousness. An occasional story reaches us from ancient literature. Then Jesus opened the concept in startling clarity with stories that entered the psyche and worked as leaven. This leaven has been working for 2000 years and slowly awakening. Jesus came as the greatest of the prophets but in the prophetic line of covenant love, in that love was the whole, the whole law fulfilled, the whole of life’s purpose, the kingdom of God on earth, absolutely everything humanity required –, the culmination of all life’s procession.
In love without conditions was God’s justice supplying all need and his relationship faithfulness. He himself signed such a commitment as the birth-right of every human being. God is love, God is light, God is Life and all this the birthright of every child of humanity. In that love is refracted all that can be ever desired; relationships, faithful, light, truth and knowledge; existence with daily sustenance. As Jesus said “Why do you worry”, in the love that is our birthright, that is your authentic nature now and eternally.
The language of God is spoken in paradox. Truth is a paradox, a union and distinction. It is not union or distinction, but union plus distinction. Not one side of the paradox but both sides in balance. Now like light through the spectrum has the splintered colors of the rainbow, or is refracted to laser or infra-red, so love refracted has many applications and qualities. How love is perceived at any-one time by any one person is according to the relationship they are in or applying at the time. As the atom is both energy and matter but according to the relationship of the scientist and the tools applied it is seen as either matter or energy – can’t be seen as both at once but it is both in all circumstances.
So many studies now emerging on the aspect of self-esteem being a determinant of health, quality of life contribution, success in an endeavour, education, even to a healthy immune system. Self-esteem is probably the greatest gift a parent contributes toward bestowing to a child or we contribute to each other. The neuroscientists are telling us that healthy, inclusive community is the greatest fosterer of self-esteem.
A person with self-esteem opens to expression of; unconditional inclusion, non-judgment, embracing lightness of spirit, recognition of human oneness and fostering the great potential in each person.
Robert D Brinsmead
I think it was the Biblical scholar Sanders who pointed out that in the knoine Greek of NT times, the word “nomos” (translated as Law) had the same meaning as “religion” and was so used in that time. In his little book, The Meaning and End of Religion”, William Cantrell Smith points out there is the same basic word used in Persian (Zoroastrian) “dat”, in Hebrew “torah”, in Greek “nomos” and in Latin “religio.”. Paul points out that “nomos” (or “gramma”, “scripture”) was like a pedagogic teacher for minors or for Israel not come of age. It served a purpose, but when one is come of age in the new age of the Spirit, one is not “under” it – he is free to use what is good for him in it, he may even live under it for social reasons to benefit others, or he can discard specific rules and regulations as no longer necessary or appropriate. So it is with religion.
Karl Barth said the gospel was intended to be “the end and abolition of religion,” C.S. Lewis said you could not imagine such an odious word as religion on the lips of Jesus for he was not in that sense a teacher of religion. Bonhoeffer likened religion to circumcision in his famous book “Religionless Christianity”, and Sheehan was the bluntest of all when he said re the teaching of Jesus, “Who needs religion? The Father is here….”
Tillich in a brilliant statement, oft quoted, said religion was the meaning-giving substance of culture, whilst culture in all its forms was the expression of religion. Reflecting on that later he thought he could have used the word “worldview” rather than “religion.”
I would have to admit that in the last 30 or so years I have tended to use the word religion in a negative rather than a positive context – a bit like this bloke who said this about his mother-in law – “She is alright in her place but the only problem is that she ain’t there yet.” But of course, there are positive things that could be said about religion too. It is just that I am not “under it”, meaning that I am not bound to live by it but am also willing to admit good things about it.