Bishop John Shelby Spong ~ June 16, 1931 – September 12, 2021
Bishop Spong provided a much needed place for those of us who did not connect with traditional theology. We love you Bishop Spong. You will be missed! Funeral services will be held at St. Peter’s, Morristown, NJ and at St. Paul’s, Richmond, VA. Dates and times will be announced as soon as they are available

In our own Image

 

All my life, I have been taught by the church that I have been created ‘in the image of God’.   This is one of the fundamental teachings about human beings that has been given to me by the church.

This teaching is first mentioned in the Bible in the first chapter of Genesis;

Then God said, “Let us make Man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing the creeps upon the earth.”  So God created man in his own image; male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:26-27.]

This concept is repeated later in Genesis, apparently giving justification for capital punishment for murder.

Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image.   [Genesis 9:6.]

Even though this ‘likeness’ of humans to God is couched in speaking of a hierarchy of authority or ‘dominion’ in the Genesis 1 quotation, most talk I have experienced in the church about humans being made in God’s image, goes way beyond talk of authority/dominion and concentrates far more on the ‘nature’ and ‘character’ of God and following that, what image we have in us; what we humans are ‘likened’ to.

Building on the church and biblical teachings, the image of God for many churchgoers can mean that humans are endowed with similar qualities of mental, social and moral discernment that are first, considered to be the nature of God. I don’t believe many churchgoers think that humans look like God physically, (and vice-versa) however many ordinary churchgoers do think of God as knowing everything, having the power to do anything, and is perfectly good.   Although many would not actually say it, it could be said that God is envisaged as a perfectly good, exceedingly super human being.

Marcus Borg, when talking about supernatural theism, which I think is the primary and dominant basis on which the whole biblical story is built, states,

Supernatural theism images God as a person-like being. To be sure, God is an exceedingly superlative personlike being, is indeed the Supreme Being. [1]

I have been taught that,

God in God’s self is a relational being. God exists as the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.   God created humanity in God’s image, therefore God created humanity as relational beings as God is relational.   Humanity was created first to relate to God and secondly to relate to one another.

So the more we speak of the nature of God and of God’s attributes and activities, the more we can say about our God ‘likeness’; the more ‘likenesses’ we can assert.

From the Bible, another major characteristic of God is that ‘God is love’. [1 John 4:8]    God is also ‘gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness’. [Exodus 34:6]    So another ‘likeness’ can be contemplated.   Humans are capable of love, having been made in the ‘likeness’ of God, who is love.

Yet another attribute of God comes from the Wisdom of Solomon, an early Christian document used by the early church but not included in the Canon of Scripture.   Wisdom of Solomon 2:23:

For God created man to be immortal and made him to be an image of his own eternity. The righteous, because they are made in the image of God, can rest in the full hope of eternal life.

One could go on, postulating attributes of God and thus enlarging the canvas on which to view our human ‘likenesses’ to God.

However, looking at this issue from the opposite perspective, leads me to my first question.

“Could we say that humans have made God in our image, after our likeness?”

The biblical perspective.

It has been said that the whole Bible is a story about God.    It tells us who God is; what is God’s nature; where God can be found and where God lives; what God has done and how; why God has done what God has done. In God’s relationship with human beings, the Bible is regarded by many as our guidebook for this, particularly from the ‘God side’.

However, just about every time the Bible speaks about God, the authors use anthropomorphisms.  All the Bible is saturated with them.

‘Anthropos’ is the Greek word for ‘man’ or ‘human’.  An anthropomorphism, when speaking of God, is a statement that uses words and concepts, emotions and behaviours which are appropriately used when speaking about human-beings and their activities.  If, when speaking about God, use is made of anthropomorphisms, it seems to me this is the beginning of creating God in our human image.  We talk about humans and then use the same language and comment to speak about God.

In the Bible, anthropomorphisms are used to describe God, the essence, character and nature of God, the activity of God and what prompted God to do what God did. The authors of biblical material have used these anthropomorphic statements to create an image of God that is very human.  When we then say that humans are made in this image, for me, this is a tightly closed circular argument.  I find it unconvincing and unhelpful.

Using the pronoun ‘He’, when referring to God, is obviously an anthropomorphismTechnically, this word refers to only half of humanity, the male half.  I find it interesting that this word, when referring to God, comes under quite a deal of criticism these days, because it identifies God with only males.  I believe such gender specific words should never be used when referring to God.  Using the word ‘His’ is a No-No.

I believe Bruegemann is absolutely correct when he states,

Such ‘anthropomorphic’ portrayals as we have in the text belong to the core of biblical faith and are not incidental footnotes. [2]

There is an abundance of evidence to support his statement.   In my book ‘Starting all over again? Yes or No?’, I have listed 8 human physical features [3] that are mentioned in the Bible as belonging to God.   Fingers, hands, arms, ears, eyes, feet, nostrils and a mouth.   I’m sure there are others.

I have listed in my book, 24 different human activities which are given in the Bible to God. [4]   These include speaking, creating, resting, walking, fighting, killing, listening, blessing, writing, forgiving, going about, wanting to find out, touching, loving, whistling and laughing.   I’m sure there are others.

I have also listed, 12 human emotions/feelings which are given in the Bible to God. [5]   These include love, jealousy, hate, weariness, vengeance, remembering, anger, experiencing delight and changing one’s mind.  Again, I am quite sure there are many more.

The Ten Commandments are a classic example of the biblical use of anthropomorphisms.

When announcing the commandments [Exodus 20:1] God speaks’.

The 1st. Commandment God says that God broughtthe nation out of Egypt. Exodus 20:2. 

The 2nd. Commandment has God ‘saying, “I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity…but showing steadfast love’……”  Exodus 20:5 & 6.

The 3rd. Commandment has God saying that “the Lord will not ‘hold guiltless….”  Exodus 20:7.

The 4th. Commandment has God saying that “the Lord made heaven and earth…. and rested the seventh day…. Therefore the Lord blessed ….

The 5th Commandment has a reward for honouring one’s father and mother ‘in that your days will be long in the land which the Lord gives you.’

The words underlined are all used quite normally when talking about humans and their behaviour.

The story, in Deuteronomy 5, about God giving the commandments, has nearly all the same anthropomorphisms but ends with Moses and the people interacting,

“These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the deep gloom, with a loud voice; and he added no more.   And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me.   And when you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders; and you said, ‘Behold the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire; we have this day seen God speak with man and man still live.  Now therefore why should we die?   For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire, as we have, and has still lived?  Go near, and hear all that the Lord our God will say; and speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’  [Deuteronomy 5:22-27.]

Again, totally saturated with anthropomorphisms about God’s interaction with humans.   We are so used to them that I think most regular churchgoers take little notice.

This text from Deuteronomy certainly suggests that when God ‘speaks’, it is very different to when humans ‘speak’.   However not so for Moses.   There seems to be no difference when God and Moses speak to each other in their conversations.   In fact, that is almost universally the case when God speaks to the Hebrew people, to Moses, other leaders and prophets or anyone else.   When God has conversations with humans, right throughout the Bible, there seems to be no human fear of dying.   The stories are told throughout the Bible as if it is just two human beings having a conversation.

There seems to be a continuous story telling about God doing human things and indeed acting just like a human being.  Does this mean that the Bible writers are creating God in the human image?

One might ask, “Well how else can talk about God?”  Good question, and very difficult to answer, if there is an answer.  I think there is but at this stage I am just stating facts about the content of the Bible.

The whole content of the Bible points me in the direction of humans desperately trying to speak of God in terms that other humans can understand and relate to.    I quote Bruegemann again,

No other mode of theological speech so well touches the human concreteness of faith. [6]

He is speaking about ‘anthropomorphic’ talk.   I agree.  But this may be because it is the only ‘mode of theological speech’ that is continuously used in the Bible, in the church, by church teachers and leaders and also universally used in the weekly congregational church services. We ask God to ‘listen to’ and ‘hear’ our prayers and ‘answer’ us; etc., etc.  Other ‘modes of theological speech’ have not been given a chance to find traction and even blossom.  I think this is because the anthropomorphic ‘mode’ is returned to when things get a bit complex or obscure. This could be because other ‘modes of theological speech’ are more abstract and difficult to understand.

This digestible anthropomorphic image of God, just because it is so human, is most acceptable because it gives an answer to many serious questions.   What is the origin of the universe?   God created it all.   Where did we come from?  God made us in ‘his’ own image.   Who is in control of everything?  God.  What is the purpose of humanity?  To worship God and to live with our neighbours as God has commanded.

When analyzing this talk, I think it is all anthropomorphic, but I think many, if not most ordinary churchgoers accept these answers.

But for me, this ignores ‘the mystery’ that underlies absolutely everything.

I think this is gradually changing and I can’t wait for that to accelerate.   I say “Bring it on!”  As Marcus Borg states in his book “The God We Never Knew”

As the twentieth century and the second Christian millennium draw to a close, an older way of understanding Christianity that nourished (and sometimes haunted) the lives of millions of people for over a thousand years has ceased to be persuasive to many in our time. More specifically, over the last thirty to forty years, an older way of thinking about God (and the Bible, Jesus, and Christianity itself) has ceased to be compelling to many

It is important to realise that when stating that humans are ‘made in the image or likeness of God’, our starting point is to accept that God and humans are separate and distinct.    ‘Likeness’ can only be a quality when the two different ‘things’ are being compared.   They need to be separate and distinct.

This leads me to my second question.

“As a follower of Jesus, do I have to believe that God and humans are distinct and separate?”

If the answer is ‘Yes’ then this creates a theological ‘dualism’ of God/Humanity and leads to the idea of God being ‘outside’ or ‘away’ and that God and humans not being united.  This also leads to the creation of space for the ‘supernatural’ to operate, to have influence and even control.

Matthew Fox comments on this question by saying,

 ‘C.G.Jung has written that there are two ways to lose your soul.  One of these is to worship a god outside you.’  If he is correct, then a lot of churchgoers in the West have been losing their souls for generations to the extent that they have attended religious events where prayer is addressed to a god outside.   The idea that God is ‘out there’ is probably the ultimate dualism, divorcing as it does God and humanity and reducing religion to a childish state of pleasing or pleading with a God ‘out there’.  All theism sets up a model paradigm of people here and God out there.  All theisms are about subject/object relationships* to God. [7]

* ‘Subject/object relationships’ can exist only if there are two separate, distinct partners in the relationship.

Recently in my home congregation, the lay person who was leading us in a congregational prayer, used the word ‘plead’ when petitioning God about the many needs and afflictions of humanity.   I don’t wish to criticise that person because, as well as the rest of us regular churchgoers, that person has been fed Sunday school images of God on a continuous basis with, it seems, little effort to move beyond them.  This is not good enough for me.

In our congregation there are more than half a dozen, and I add to that number, who refuse to join in saying the so-called Lord’s Prayer.  It beings and ends with 1st. Century concepts, to which many of us can no longer relate.  ‘Our Father, which art in heaven’.  ‘They will be done on Earth as it is in heaven’.   ‘Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever’.  And it all addresses a distant god, ‘out there’.

For me it is worse when it is introduced with, ‘Let us pray the prayer that Jesus taught us’.  That may instil some sort of connection to Jesus, but the Jesus Seminar, a group of about 150 academics, biblical scholars and lay leaders of the church, in the late 20th Century, came to a common mind that only ‘Our Father’, the first two words of the prayer, could be traced back to the historical Jesus. [8] These were the only words of the prayer they could confidently say reflect the mind of Jesus and that he probably said them.   For me, so much for ‘Jesus taught us’.

Returning to dualisms, I state in my book,

I acknowledge that we live amid untold dualisms, often understood as complementary or contrasting opposites; inside and outside, up and down, black and white, wet and dry, object and subject, brittle and soft, and so on.  Almost everything is understood in terms of contrast and/or separateness.   All these dualisms, if that is an appropriate description, are fundamental to my understanding of reality.  [9]

Fox refers to the God/human dualism and goes on to state that this leads to the idea that God is ‘outside’; that ‘people are here and God out there’.

He then presents an alternative, a bit later in the same chapter quoted above,

What is the solution to the killing of God and the losing of human soul?  It is our moving from theism to panentheism.  Now panentheism is not pantheism.  Pantheism, which is a declared heresy because it robs God of transcendence, states that everything is God and God is everything. … Panentheism, on the other hand, is altogether orthodox and very fit for orthopraxis as well, for it slips in the little Greek word ‘en’ and thus means, ‘God is in everything and everything is in God.’   This experience of the presence of God in our depth … in all the blessings and suffering of life is a mystical understanding of God. [10]

Being a ‘mystical understanding of God’, it is not the easiest to understand or explain.    Maybe we can’t.   I try to give some sort of explanation in my book, when I speak of panentheism in terms of God Beyond, God Within and God Between. [10]   In my understanding of panentheism there is no separation or distinctiveness between God and humanity.   Humanity as well as everything else is in God and God is in everything.   God could be thought of as the inherent spiritual, and Yes, the Divine dimension of humanity and everything else.  This is totally inclusive.   God cannot be separated from anything.

A digression into my lyrics, which can be sung to traditional hymn or contemporary tunes. They are on this subject.   I have listed a couple. (AHB and TiS refer to Australian hymnbooks.)

 

God Beyond, Within, Between

Tune St Magnus AHB 32, 196, 301, 574 and TiS 116, 378, 770

God is beyond, within, between;

The now and what has been;

God in the future and before;

The ever wondrous ‘More’.

 

God is beyond gods we create,

Ev’n those we venerate.

God is beyond what is beyond,

But still our hearts respond.

 

God is within, the force we know

In all life’s ebb and flow,

In God we live and move and be,

And touch and taste and see.

 

And God we know is in between,

Involved but still unseen,

When fostering in you and me

A rich community.

 

God is within to sanctify;

Beyond to glorify;

God is between to unify;

Of this we testify.

 

God Beyond, Within, Between.

Tune ‘How great Thou art.’ TiS 155.

There are no words by which we catch the myst’ry;

Yet still we sing, we praise and we adore;

There are no words in which we hold the history

Of all creation. We just stand in awe.

God is beyond our wildest fantasies;

God is beyond, yet we respond.

God is beyond exotic ecstasies;

God is beyond, and we respond.

 

Within our souls, the stirrings of our spirit

Prompt us to try to make all conflict cease;

Within our souls we’re conscious of the merit

Of gentleness, of love, of grace and peace.

God is within to share our human need;

God is within; rejoice therein.

God is within; our life is blest indeed;

God is within; we rest therein.

 

When love is shared and people show compassion,

As Jesus did, once there in Galilee,

When love is shared and given without ration

We show how fully human we can be.

God is between, involved in all events;

God is between, although unseen.

God is between involved in every sense;

God is between, and yet unseen.

 

God is beyond, within, between – not absent;

Not far away, not on some lofty throne;

God is beyond, within, between so constant;

No gulf to bridge to some angelic zone.

This is Good News; we know that we belong;

For God is love; for God is love.

This is Good News, the everlasting song;

For God is love. Yes! God is love.  

 

There are more in my published volumes of ‘Singing a New Song’ and also on my website.

In Australia there have been some attempts to move beyond anthropomorphic language and the dualism of God/Human situation.

A group of progressive Christians in Canberra, ACT, has produced a statement, ‘The Canberra Affirmation’, of common understandings which continue to shape their lives.  They produced this affirmation in November 2008

As progressive Christians in the 21st century, we are uncomfortable with rigid statements of belief as we recognize our understandings are shaped by life experiences within cultural and environmental contexts. Yet, there are some common understandings which continue to shape our lives, both individually and in community with others. These we seek to affirm and celebrate:

  1. We celebrate that our lives are continually evolving in a web of relationships: continuous with historical humans and their societies; with other forms of life; and with the ‘creativity’ present at the origins of the universe. Over billions of years this ‘creativity’ – the coming into being of the new and the novel – has undergone countless transformations, and we and all other life forms are its emerging products. Thus, we are called to live in community, respecting all human beings, all life forms, our planet and universe.
  2. We affirm there is a presentness in the midst of our lives, sensed as both within and beyond ourselves, which can transform our experiences of this earth and each other. Various imaginative ideas have been used to describe this presentness: ‘God’, ‘sacred’, ‘love’, ‘Spirit of Life’. We recognize all attempts at understanding and   attributing meaning are shaped by prevailing thoughts and culture. Ultimately our response can only be as awe-inspiring mystery beyond the limits of our ability to understand our world and ourselves.

Some might say these are too intellectual, but I find them very helpful and a serious departure from dualistic fundamentals and anthropomorphic language.   There are 4 other statements in the Canberra Affirmation, dealing with Jesus, the Bible, diversity and social equality.  All these I find equally helpful.

 

A retired Uniting Church of Australia ordained minister, Dr. Francis Mancab, in his book ‘Energy for a better life’, has 23 statements of faith.   I have personally found these statements both instructive and helpful.  For me, they clearly point to the significant differences between what I now believe and the dualism of God/Humanity and the anthropomorphic speech used in the church and the Bible.   For me, his statements are energising statements.   The first few statements speak of God.

  1. Faith is an energy – a positive forward-moving energy – long before it is a raft of beliefs or creeds.
  2. Our God is a human construction arising out of an evolution of thought – an evolution of conceptions of God from earliest times to the present.
  3. ‘God’ is the focus of our search for that sublimity beyond the banal, for the spiritual significance beyond the physicality and metallisation of human experience. This focus provokes us to explore the heights of human possibilities and discover the strengths in human anxiety and pain.

Again, some might say these are too intellectual, but I find them very helpful and a serious departure from the biblical God/Humanity dualism and anthropomorphic language.

Michael Morwood comes to the ‘issue of God’ from a different angle.  He links into the massive amount of new scientific information we now have about our universe.  Speaking of our past concepts that are still taught in many places by many people in the church, he states,

 We learned that God knows everything, controls everything that happens, watches over us, hears our prayers and will answer them if we pray hard enough.  We were told that God lives in a place called heaven but is also everywhere.  Although we heard that God is everywhere we understood that God was really in heaven.  .…  Unlike our childhood belief in Father Christmas, the deeply embedded beliefs we had about God were something we tended not to question as we grew older. [12]

He continues,

We today, continue our human search for meaning and understanding of reality.   We continue to experience a sense of Mystery at the heart of everything.  However, our starting point is vastly different from that of past generations.  As progressive thinkers we consciously choose to base our deliberations on contemporary knowledge of the cosmos and our planet’s place in it.

Scientists estimate there are billions of galaxies in our universe, and each contains billions of stars. Visualise that if you can.

Astrophysicists also tell us that galaxies like the Milky Way could contain billions of earth sized planets.  In the grand schema of galaxies, stars and planets, planet Earth rates as little more than a speck of cosmic dust. [13]

Morwood quotes Gregory of Nyssa of the 4th Century when he states,

For when one considers the universe, can anyone be so simple-minded as to not believe that the Divine is present in everything, pervading, embracing and penetrating it?

Just one more of my lyrics.

God is mystery

Tune Laast Uns Erfreuen AHB 3, 42, 87, 276 TiS 72, 100, 150, 360

God in all galaxies beyond,

Yet in our hearts and we respond;

God of mystery shares our history;

God is the gentle breeze that blows;

In every creature as it grows;

God gives glory to our story;

God of mystery shares our history;

Alleluia.

 

God is beyond our wildest dreams,

Quite out of reach it almost seems;

God of mystery shares our history;

Yet we all know of God within,

Facing each day as we begin;

God in hiding, yet abiding;

God of mystery shares our history;

Alleluia.

 

God is the sacredness of life;

Meets us in all our peace and strife;

God of mystery shares our history;

God shares with us our human mess,

Feeling each joy and every stress;

God of trying; God in crying;

God of mystery shares our history;

Alleluia.

 

In God we live and move and be;

In God we find our destiny;

God of mystery shares our history;

God is the love that fills our soul:

God is the love that makes us whole;

God gives glory to our story;

God of mystery shares our history;

Alleluia.

Joining Morwood in this side of the discussion, recently I saw a picture in the Sydney Morning Herald, of the ‘Butterfly Nebula’.   It really did look like a sort of butterfly, with red, green, yellow and blue colours missed throughout.  Absolutely beautiful.  Actually, it was a picture of a nebula, consisting of millions of stars!  The caption underneath read, ‘Hubble’s photo of the Butterfly Nebula, which has a wing-span of three light years.’ [14]

3 light years doesn’t sound all that far but it measures 30,000,000,000,000, or 30 trillion kilometres.  (See the maths below, if you wish.)  Quite a ‘wing span’.  A rather big butterfly!

In the article below the picture, it explained that the Hubble telescope, circling the Earth, is controlled from the earth, 550 kilometres below.

‘The Hubble telescope completes a full lap of the Earth in a little over half an hour.   It has been quietly and almost faultlessly doing this for 30 years, sending images back to the ground, of distant galaxies, of stars dying and being horn.’  It is ‘capable of capturing data from more than 13 billion *light years* away …’  [15]

Going around the Earth for more than 30 years means it has completed well over 500,000 orbits of the Earth.  Quite a few!

*Light year*.  What is a light year?   It is a measure of distance.  Difficult to imagine but light travels through space and a very high speed. It travels at 186,000 miles per second or 300,000 kilometres per second.   Fairly fast!   So how far does light travel in a year? To calculate this we need to find out how many seconds there are in a year and then multiply it by 300,000, to find the distance in kilometres.  That means 60 (seconds in a minute) times 60 (minutes in an hour) times 24 (hours in a day) times 365 (days in a year) times 300.000. There are 8760 hours in a year and 31,536,000 seconds in a year.  Multiply that by 300,000 kilometres for each second and the distance of ONE light year comes to approximately 10 trillion kilometres; 10,000,000,000,000 kilometres.   I hope I have the maths right!

To be more precise, one light year in distance, is 9.5 trillion kilometres; 9,460,080,000,000 kilometres!

Taking all this into account, if the Hubble telescope takes photos of stars, galaxies and nebula that are 13 billion light years away, that is about 130 billion trillion kilometres away.  130,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilometres is quite a distance!!!

If you can get your mind around it. (I can’t. For me it is just a very, very, very long distance!) This means that if a photo is taken of something that is a 13 billion light years away, that photo depicts the object as it was 13 billion years ago, because light takes a long, long time to get to the camera.   So, we are looking at a photo of something as it was a long way into the past.

If this is all too much, I appreciate where you are at.  I feel that way myself!

However, we must grow up!   We must leave behind the ideas given to us as children, in Sunday school, and take seriously new information and concepts we have about reality, the universe, humanity and God.

Put negatively, I believe I have been taught things by the church that are hopelessly out of date and should be discarded.  It is my experience that the church refuses to change and thus I am still taught these things today.    I believe I have been misguided in three different ways

  1. I have been taught about a god that created humans in god’s image.
  2. I have been taught that God and the universe, including me, are distinct from separate.
  3. I have been taught the Genesis story of the beginnings of the universe, built on Hebrew, pre-scientific understandings.

I need to embrace different ideas and concepts.   So, I have changed.

  1. We have created God in our human image by all our anthropomorphic talk, supposedly solving much of the Mystery that underlies everything. We need to use other categories with which to approach the Mystery.  Maybe we should stop using the word ‘God’ altogether, as Michael Morwood suggests, and use other words and phrases like ‘Ground of Being’ or ‘Presentness’ or ‘the Present, pervading, embracing, penetrating, inherent Mystery’ or maybe ‘The Divine Mystery’.
  2. We need a theology which unites God and Humanity. Panentheism does this for me.
  3. We need a new and different story of our origins. There are a few that are already present.  One such story includes estimates and 21st Century concepts.
  • The Big Bang occurred about 13.7 billion years ago. In a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second our universe underwent a gigantic growth spurt, the Big Bang, which shaped its structure as we see it today.
  • The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and our Sun about 4,6 billion.
  • Humans, as we look like and act today, have lived on the Earth for 200,000 to 300,000 years.
  • Evolution, a process active in our universe, is a never-ending process which always moves towards that which is more complex. What is in the past has helped forge what exists now and what exists now will have a significant influence on what evolves in the future.
  • Everything is connected. The carbon atoms that are part of my makeup, within me, are billions of years old and came in being at the explosion of stars.   I am made of star-dust.  I have evolved from previous forms of life.
  • When I die, these atoms, as well as all the other atoms and molecules that form me, will continue to be part of the universe and contribute to it in a different way.

Of course, a lot more could be added to this particular story.

Let the church adopt this new story and treat the Genesis stories as giving some wisdom, but coming from 3000 years ago, long before having the knowledge we have now.

We have created God in our own image and this god is ‘out there’.   What a tragedy.   We can and must do better!

 

[1] Marcus Borg The Heart of Christianity   65

[2] Walter Bruegemann  The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 1   803

[3] George Stuart  Starting all over again?  Yes or No?   28

[4] Ibid   28 – 29

[5] Ibid   29

[6] Walter Bruegemann The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 1   803

[7] Matthew Fox  Original Blessing   At the beginning of his chapter entitled Panentheism

[8] Funk  The five Gospels   148 – 150

[9] George Stuart  Starting all over again? Yes or No?   97

[10] Matthew Fox  Original Blessing   At the beginning of his chapter entitled Panentheism

[11] George Stuart  Starting all over again? Yes or No?   40 – 56

[12] Michael Morwood  Prayers for Progressive Christians   15

[13] Ibid  18 – 19

[14] Sydney Morning Herald 19th July 2021   14

[15] Ibid   14

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