The title and matter of this book "The God who experiences Humanity" may be startling, provocative, and possibly puzzling to some! No other title could adequately reflect the implications of the book's theme. It is startling: because opposed to our usual preoccupation with what we term "our" spiritual experiences; provocative: because critical of orthodox Christian beliefs; puzzling: because no matter how precise and scholarly our words about the Ultimate are, we can never catch it totally in our concepts. Nevertheless, these can be sufficiently in touch with the reality of God/Spirit, that, with faith, they are strong enough to live in and by! So, with that recognition this book attempts to speak about God\Spirit.
"God/Spirit" is the title given the Ultimate Divinity throughout this book. The traditional term "God" can mean different things to different people, as does the term "Spirit". The use of "God/Spirit" combines Divinity with Divinity's nature - SPIRIT!
It is not an exhaustive, systematic, treatise. As simply as possible, it offers some reflections upon one main theme: God as Spirit. Any such attempt is limited by the nature of Spirit. But it has to be made, and indicate how our inherited mode of thinking has prevented that fuller truth from gripping mind and spirit with its inclusiveness, inexhaustible wonder and meaning!
It is not a new concept, but is a new look at the identity of God as Spirit. It is built partly upon the intimations of the Divine contained in the religions of the world. The fact and prevalence of a religious apprehension, belief, and practice expressed in diverse ways throughout the history of humanity, indicates some sense of transcendence, or divinity, herein identified as Spirit. However, it is built primarily upon what is regarded as Christianity, with its source in the New Testament Scriptures and its insights into the nature of God through the Person and Teaching of Jesus Christ.
But it is the writings of Nels F. S. Ferré, particularly "The Universal Word" that are the inspiration for this attempt at a new approach to the nature of Divinity. (1) Whereas Ferré wrote of his "The Universal Word" as being ra pioneering thrust", and "rough and partial", this present work is merely a small signpost to that pioneering road yet to be travelled!
His writings, together with some works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, have challenged and changed the writer's perception of God, and given clearer insights into God's nature.
Those insights reveal the Nature of God to be:
2. FATHER (or Personal); and
These are combined in a wonderful sentence by Nels F. S. Ferré, thus: "God is the Personal Spirit of Love."(1)
So this book talks of God as SPIRIT. "Well," it will be said, "What's so new about that? That's how we do talk about Him!" But is it?
One finds in Christian theology that this aspect of Spirit is apparently ignored, or discussed in substantive terms. We appear to have developed our Christian theologies without really considering the deep significance of the New Testament categories of God as Spirit, Love, and Father (or, as personal). From these categories Ferré provides a very acute perception of God as Spirit.
Of course, we have long held the concept of God as Spirit. But how have we defined "Spirit"? If we continue to think of Spirit in terms of "being" or as ra being" or entity, we are being held to substantive terms to express spirit, which is illogical. Spirit just IS! And this "IS-ness" of spirit is the ground clue to this book. It looks at "Spirituality", which is a term given to a great range of personal, spiritual experience. This experience varies, but is usually believed to be an encounter with God, or some equivalent, and usually couched in "being" or materialistic terms.
When this happens, we miss the essence of Spirit who/which is nowhere and nothing, but everywhere and everything in some sense or senses! But, in this inclusive, multi-dimensional, active Love of God/Spirit, I believe He/It accepts the approach of each individual from where they are in theological understanding and faith, and encouragingly awaits their growth in trust and fuller understanding.
However, the contention of this book is that humankind is falling short of a deeper, awareness of the inclusive inescapability of God/Spirit because of traditional approaches to God as "Being". The hope behind this book is that it may lead to a rediscovery of the insights of Nels F. S. Ferré, who, amid much else, stressed the vital importance of recognising the ULTIMACY of Spirit. The implications of that stress lead to the conclusion that life is not only, or merely, OUR experience of God, but God/Spirit's inclusive immediacy, and thus, His experiencing us!
What a discourse this should open for all! What will its acceptance reveal about our traditions, our theologies, the Divinity of Christ, the Christian Church and its problems of decline, and especially other faiths? And vitally, what can such discourse reveal about God/Spirit's relation to each individual?
Further, what may it reveal about our many complex problems and issues, such as morality, homosexuality, the genetic revolution, aids, racial and other unfair discriminations? What will it reveal about the created world, the preservation of the environment and energy, the undeveloped and deprived countries, war and violence, the human society as a whole? The list is endless, and this generation faces a tremendous task in tackling these problems and issues. What will a new grasp of the Immediacy and Ultimacy of God/Spirit mean to people? It could change their outlook upon so many aspects of existence!
The reality of God/Spirit’s inevitability in all creation, especially in humanity, make religious thinking and living no longer an option, as currently held by many.
Sadly, this book may shock many, particularly those with long-held, cherished Christian or other beliefs. That is regretted, but to those who are totally disenchanted with current Christian or other religious presentations, or those with a lingering attachment to the Christian or other faiths, and their ideals, but find it difficult to accept their doctrinal statements, this book may offer hope!
Changes will take time, for this book confronts and challenges deeply-rooted religious attitudes, both Christian and other. When I presented an article for a Christian Ministry magazine, on "The God who experiences us!" the Editor introduced it by this jocular statement "You may not be God, but you are probably putting God up the roller-coaster, over the hill, down in the dumps and through the wringer! Kevin Moran looks at a relationship that is by no means one-way traffic........”
That Editor was right in one phrase in that jocular comment - the spiritual relationship with God is more than a one-way traffic, namely, ours with God! It is also, firstly and more importantly, God/Spirit's prior and total relationship with humanity! This book is about THAT relationship!