This is my response to Tony Jones’ recent #progGOD challenge…
At this point in my life, I’m totally okay with the label “progressive Christian,” though I’m not sure many of my peers would want to include me. From my perspective, Christianity is not a specific set of beliefs or practices, but is a trajectory, a way of being in the world, that was exemplified by Jesus the Christ (and many others throughout history), but also moves beyond Jesus into our own unique situations. That trajectory is the way of love.
Many traditional theologies envision God as the distinct Creator, as some kind of object or person in some way distant from Creation. From this objective distinction are established many other points of difference between Creator and Creation. Many religious believers accept these kinds of distinctions as truisms, as self-evident truths about God and the universe. Of course, Christians have good reasons to do so, with passages like Romans 1 to guide their understanding of God.
Personally, I think this conception of God is a little too Greek. And, the Greeks had quite a problem with seeing the flesh, the material, as an inherently good thing – rather than something to be overcome. The stage was then set for the long history of Christian theology and philosophy. But, what if this entire move was doomed from the start?
What if “incarnation” is not a negative step, a condescension from divinity to humanity, but, rather, what if the only relative understanding of divinity that we can have is “enfleshed”?
We are birthed into the world as flesh, from our mother’s womb. When we die, our physical bodies return “to the dust.” All that we experience is of a material nature. Beyond that is speculation. The divine, the spiritual, is not a separate realm from the physical, but rather is a dimension of the material world.
“The incarnation” is not an historical event that happened. Incarnation is what happens when we love - ourselves, one another and all of “Creation.” In this sense, the entire universe is birthed from and shot through with divinity.
This proposal, of course, causes many problems for many traditional Christian theologies. But, I think it also potentially solves a lot of the problems that have plagued Christianity for 2000 years.
What if the most radically Christian thing that we can do is simply be? To learn to be aware of and enjoy the present, and not waste ourselves in a naive hope of something beyond the material? Or, trying to “recover” something that we feel we lost?
Incarnation happens. Are we paying attention?