A Jesus Christ Series — Part 5
What is Christianity? What does being a Christian mean? Perhaps more specifically, how does the Christianity I was taught in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod differ from the teachings in Pathwork to which I am so drawn? This blog entry will focus on this latter question and was inspired by my reading of Pathwork Lecture 87 The Next Phase on the Path: Questions and Answers. This lecture was one of six assigned for our next module of the graduate Pathwork class taught by Erena Bramos: Sacred Dimensions of the Pathwork Series II, with Module 1 titled Living In Reality: From the Pursuit of Well-Being to True Liberation.
First, let me share what I was taught as the “right” kind of sermon for a Lutheran pastor to give every Sunday. A good sermon, it was said by pastors and elders alike in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, was one that began with Law, to show us our sins and our unworthiness before God and then ended with Gospel, to tell us good news about how God, in his love, sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for my sins so that, if I place my faith and trust on him and his sacrificial death, I could go to heaven when I die. In addition to having faith in the gospel, our purpose in life was twofold. First we were to spread this wonderful gospel message to everyone we could, and second, out of gratitude, we were to do good works of love and service for anyone in need. To help us in this we were to use God’s means of grace – Word (inerrant bible) and Sacrament (baptism and the Lord’s supper). While I enjoyed the bible, I had a hard time fitting it into this Lutheran framework, along with other rigidly held dogma.
I contrast this with the words of Pathwork. I site the quote that particularly struck me from the aforementioned lecture. (Open quote). This quote includes my commentary. I find the juxtaposition of this quote and the above summary of Christianity as I was taught helpful in understanding why Pathwork so appeals to me and to my Soul and senses whereas the religion of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod did not.
Is my definition of Christianity as I was taught it and how I held onto it correct? Yes, this definition of Christianity is the Christianity of the conservative Lutheran Church Missouri Synod that I grew up in, or is even Fundamentalist Christianity; but I have to ask whether or not there are other broader brands of Christianity that have less narrow definitions of what it means to be a Christian. What is Mystical Christianity and what groups practice this? What are the necessary dogmas (if any) and practices (if any) that make one a Christian? Just yesterday I was reading an article stating that Christianity is the largest religion on the planet with some 2.2 billion Christians, followed by Islam with 1.6 billion Muslims, Hinduism with 1.0 billion Hindus, and Buddhism with 0.5 billion Buddhists. So what is the common denominator that makes these 2.2 billion Christians Christian? And with its prominence of Christ, are Pathworkers in the 2.2 billion?
In any case I am so grateful for the Pathwork lectures that inform my spiritual and psychological growth in a framework that makes sense to my heart, soul, and intellect AND through which I can integrate my Christianity.
So who was or is Jesus Christ, and what was his purpose in his 33 years on planet earth? Pathwork Lecture 19 Jesus Christ gives us a part of the answer from a Pathwork perspective. (Open quote Purpose of Christ’s Incarnation As Jesus on the Earth Plane).
Pathwork Lecture 82 The Conquest of Duality Symbolized in the Life and Death of Jesus, a lecture that was given on Good Friday (March 31, 1961) gives another slant that resonates with me (Open Quote – “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”). Whether or not I read this quote correctly I do not know, but I read it this way. One of our core missions on the earth plane is to come to faith, to come to trust God and God’s love for me no matter what. But in my limitations, in my state of being “merely and utterly human,” I am not capable of this level of perfect trust and perfect faith. I am to come to accept this limitation as well, that I cannot come to fully trust God so long as I am in my human state. And in the end, I cannot accept this limitation, the limitation of not accepting my limitations, either. In short, I, in my humanity, cannot fully accept my humanity!
With my human limitations, in the end I am drawn to the words of Jesus on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Yes, in my human condition I can only feel forsaken by God when I ultimately face suffering and death.
But according to Pathwork Lecture 82 Jesus, in his utterly human state, came to this very same point himself AND did not call down his Divine Powers to keep him from his humanity, from his human doubting. This maintaining of his humanity by doubting that God could be with him and yet allow such suffering and death was Jesus’ gift to me, for in so doing he stayed in his limited humanity through his excruciating death, feeling utterly forsaken by God — and hence so can I.
I can therefore be honest and accept my own humanness, or not, and accept my own inability to claim perfect faith in my hour of pain and death, or not. The fact that I am merely and utterly human and cannot have perfect faith or perfect self-acceptance does not block me from God’s love!
Then in Jesus’ resurrection he showed that his honest doubt while in his state of humanness did not keep him from entering a state of ultimate bliss. That is, Jesus’ honest doubt did not keep him from the love of God! And yet it is not even my trust in his example that counts but rather surrendering to my limitations, to doubt honestly if I honestly doubt. I am never beyond God’s love no matter what, whether I know it or not.
Yes, faith is great, but it is not necessary for salvation, whatever the Mystery of salvation means. I am reminded of Peter Rollin’s book, “Insurrection: To Believe Is Human, To Doubt, Divine.” Yes, whether or not I, in my human state, can accept this Truth, the Truth remains the Truth, and is that I am never beyond God’s love. Now this is what I call the Good News, whether or not I have the capacity to hear it, believe it, or take comfort from it. Over time this Knowing is what I may grow into through spiritual and psychological growth. This is my Soul’s reason for being on this path. This is the Plan of Salvation.
Shared in love, Gary