Good Religion

Early on in what we call The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).

Then comes the kicker: “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

What? Where did that come from? “The scribes and the Pharisees” were the keepers of religion as it was known! Without “the scribes and the Pharisees,” where would “the Law or the Prophets” be? In the mind of the people of Jesus’ day, there was no line separating “the scribes and the Pharisees” and “the Law or the Prophets.” It gets better.

For the remainder of the 5th chapter of Matthew, Jesus says, “You have heard it said… But I say unto you,” neatly revising both the Law and the Prophets, and ending chapter 5 with “Be perfect, therefore, as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Talk about setting heads spinning! That Jesus was something! That Jesus was exactly what each of us needs to be!

The people of each of the times that are at hand, need to take the tradition handed to them—whether Judeo/Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Muslim or any of the other traditions—and revise it according to the worldview of the Age in which they live. “You have heard it said, but I say unto you,” does not abolish the Law or the Prophets, but fulfills them—for that Age.

We are always about the business of bringing the Law and the Prophets up to speed in the Age of our living. If people held slaves, or were slaves, in previous Ages, they are not going to have, or be, slaves in our Age! If people of color, and gay people, and women, etc. were disparaged and disenfranchised in previous Ages, they are not going to be so treated in our Age!

In setting the scriptures (of whatever religion) as they have been understood aside, and revising the way they are to be understood, we do not abolish the Law or the Prophets—we fulfill them, and create conditions in each age in which the people are able to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect.

Let me come at this in a different way.

Good religion would connect all the sacred symbols of every faith tradition, and reinterpret them in light of the spirit of the age.

The task of good religion in every age would be upgrading sacred symbols of all faith traditions in each age to stand as doorways to unconscious (So called because we are not conscious of it) reality.

Good religion hands us spirituality without any theology, dogma and doctrine attached.

Good religion hands us spirituality straight from the heart—

From the heart of good religion straight to our heart—

Without any of the embellishments, improvements, alterations and enhancements

That bad religion is so proficient in producing and providing.

I wish we had another word for “spirituality,”

Because it is so encumbered with theological augmentation

That you can’t possibly be a spiritual person without “good theology,”

Which is always the theology of the person examining our theology,

As though what we think is more important than what we know.

Spirituality is knowing that can’t be thought, told, defined or explained as in:

“The Tao that can be said is not the eternal Tao.”

Spirituality is the experience of our connection with the Invisible World—

With the world of unconscious reality,

Unconscious because it is more than can be made conscious,

Except through symbols and metaphors.

We have to talk about the unconscious world of Spirit,

Of Spiritual Reality,

With symbols and metaphors because we cannot say directly

What we know to be so,

Because what we know cannot be said.

So we talk about “the wellspring of living water,”

But it isn’t an actual well,

Or actual water,

And how can water be alive, anyway?

The entire vocabulary of spiritual discourse is such

That you have to know what I mean

Before you can understand what I’m saying,

And without the experience of the Invisible World,

There is nothing that can be said

To enable you to understand

What I’m talking about.

But, that doesn’t keep me from talking.

Jesus said, “Let those with ears to hear, hear!” and talked on.

We talk to those who can hear what we have to say,

and, in so doing, we say what we need to hear.

Growing our way toward being perfect as “our Father in heaven” is perfect.

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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