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Finding Faith

My bishop and I have been talking.  Well writing is more like it.  Anyone who knows me, knows I am not much of a phone person.  I prefer face to face, then if not face to face then in writing.  I am odd that way.

So we have been talking about religion.  Both of us would describe ourselves as universalists.  We believe that all people will eventually achieve a life changing revelation knowledge of God, which we call gnosis.  But we have also talked about our journeys.  We both come from fundamentalist backgrounds with all its mixed baggage.  In our lives we have also witnessed and even been a part of what Ramakrishna describes of digging many shallow wells.  We follow whim in our exploration of religions but not digging too deep.  His deep love is Sethianism (often called a type of Gnosticism) and I the Thomasine path.  However we both felt that we were directed to something more.  We needed a foundation to keep us grounded and from bouncing all around.  For him as well as for me, it has been Christianity.  I have been reluctant to call myself a Christian and really wrestled with it.

So if you will indulge me, would you allow me a moment to explain what I mean by my affirming that I am a Christian?

I follow Jesus Christ.  I believe in Jesus Christ.  He is my life, my love, my guide and teacher.  His words are life to me.  I find that when I see Jesus I see the face of God.  My faith is utterly linked with him and really.. I can say probably always has been.  I have never been able to escape that - try as I might at times.  I believe that God is our Father, and that Jesus is the son of God (just as we are all sons and daughters of God).  I believe he came to earth with a mission and that was as an elder brother helping his confused and lost little brothers and sisters remember who our Father is, who our Mother is (the Holy Spirit) and who we are as sons and daughters of God.  To remember our birthright and return home.

What this means is that I often talk the same language as many Christians.  I have a personal relationship with the Lord.  I love and adore Jesus.  However at the same time many Christians would not count me as one of them for several reasons.  I accept and follow the Gospel of Thomas first and foremost.  It is where the bulk of my theology and worldview come from.  It resonates with me in a way no other sacred writing does.  The Jewish Scriptures and the New Testament I also see as scripture but in a literal way.  I see them as writings of a community in an evolving understanding of God.  I see in the New Testament at times a moving from the teaching of Jesus to more beliefs about him.  With the Gospel of Thomas it is pretty much all teachings with almost no narrative.  It is his teachings that are life giving to me and I find a greater purity of teaching within the Gospel of Thomas.  I don't really have a belief or disbelief in things like the virgin birth, the resurrection or his miracles.  I don't feel the need to affirm nor deny the Trinity.  I find God as my Father and the Holy Spirit as my Mother.  Jesus is the Son who reaches out to bring us home.  He is a savior. But the beliefs in articles of faith really just don't figure into living the Christian life.  So on the virgin birth etc..I am an agnostic.

Then there is the afterlife.  I became convinced of reincarnation after reading the scientist Ian Stevenson's work as well as the work of those who studied under him.  Then I came across the later Thomasine writings that spoke of reincarnation.  From there I went and found others in the early church who believed in it.  I believe that upon death, those united with God will awaken to full union with God, and those not will enjoy another life upon which they can secure a foundation with God.  Life is a school and all of us are of different grade levels.  Some are seniors while others of us are still in elementary.  It is not so much a punishment but an time of growing in the lessons of Gnosis.  To me this is much more just than the doctrine of an eternal hell, but again it will alienate from many more "orthodox" brothers and sisters.

Even so, I have come to accept I am a disciple of Jesus.  I find life in his words.  Here I stand, I can do no other.

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