Monday, November 24, 2008

Mysticism?

It seems that truly pondering God inexorably leads to mysticism. (Which I describe as thought and experience outside the sanctioned walls of dogma.) And here's why: God is by almost all religious revelation, (Jewish, Christian, Hindu, etc.) defined as being beyond our understanding and categories. But paradoxically, religion is all about understanding and categories. To have an organized religion requires definitions. God IS this. God IS NOT that. So to follow the logic that God transcends our understanding, categories and definitions, means we have to leave the walls of our religious context.
I feel like this is what is happening to me whether I want it or not. I feel like I would have to be disingenuous to keep my definition of God if it contradicts The definition of God as One Who Transcends. I mean, aren’t all our dogmas and doctrines based on our faith in a specific revelation(s) of the nature and definition of God? Yet we contradict them all if we simultaneously hold to the conviction that God cannot be fully revealed or defined by our finite minds in our finite experience.
I suppose the traditional answer to this is that what has been revealed is 100% accurate as it pertains to its designated context. So the idea that God is love applies perfectly when taken in a specific context. God hates Esau is perfect revelation within its context. God saves those with faith. God saves those who feed the poor and cloth the naked. God is eternal. God creates from nothing. God creates good and evil. God humbles the proud. All these revelations feed our doctrine and our attempt to synthesize them drives Christian theology. But problems arise when the contexts overlap, or apparently universal statements contradict specific examples.
It’s in these crevices of uncertainty where an utterly transcendent God is most clear. All our best attempts at grappling with the bewildering complexity of the books of scripture and nature fail on some level or another and we are left with “paradoxes”. This fancy theological term for contradiction are the cracks through which we can peer through the walls of theology to catch the slightest glimpse of One that cannot be fully seen or comprehended. These walls give us comfort, security and identity. I wonder how terrifying it is to step outside of them to try to grapple with God in a wider context.
I guess that’s what I’ve been trying to do lately as I’ve been studying other religions and philosophies to see if they have concepts that can be helpful to me as I’m trying to understand reality and the idea of God. If God does transcend, it seems likely to me that various thinkers have grasped bits of Him that I and my tradition have not. Is this mysticism? Is it heresy? Is it the spiritual buffet that my evangelical world has so decried? I don’t know.

Let me clarify something though. What I am not saying is this: “Christianity is inferior, and I am on a search for a superior religion.” It’s more like: “Let’s see if other cultures and times have read the book of nature with different presuppositions that granted them a clearer picture of this or that character of God.” Perhaps the idea that God put all His eggs into one basket (Christianity) is a little presumptuous. Perhaps Aslan is less tame then we Christians would like Him to be.

1 Comments:

Blogger SavageSoto said...

Ive been thinking about this alot actually.

I think the least that can be said is that there is a little truth and commonality to all beliefs/religion

11:13 AM  

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