Faith Development #2 - The Living God


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In the second of our series on faith development at Cafechurch Melbourne ( , based largely on John J Shea's book "Finding God Again", we talk about the transformation of our ideas of God from those of the Superego God to the Living God, a God as Thou, God of Love, God of Mystery, God of Freedom and God of Community.

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Faith Development #2 - The Living God

  1. 1. Caféchurch 17/9/13 passage Faith Development 2 of 3 (or so)
  2. 2. Introduction This is the second in a series of sessions about faith development – becoming adults. This week, we move from thinking about the limited (and limiting) ideas of God of our adolescence, and think about the idea of the Living God.
  3. 3. A Contradiction in Caféchurch One of the odd things about Caféchurch is that we give you a lot of information – but the purpose of that information is to explain why extra information is not going to help. What is needed is not more facts, but a whole new way of thinking
  4. 4. Holy Cross Caféchurch 17/9/13 John 3:13-17
  5. 5. No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
  6. 6. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
  7. 7. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
  8. 8. ‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
  9. 9. A Question In light of this passage, give me one word which describes God
  10. 10. Summary • Jesus is someone who reaches beyond the boundaries of us and them, and incarnates God’s love to outsiders, outcasts, and skeptics. • Jesus has a truly adult faith, and an “unfettered” image of God
  11. 11. The soul is one’s true spirit and, like God, it is a spirit too slippery to capture. The uniqueness of the soul shows itself most whenever someone seriously elects a path of psychospiritual growth for the remainder of his or her lifetime. It is as if psychopathology of the ego is like mud, and the more it gets cleared away, the more the soul underneath will shine forth in glory, in a distinct pattern of glorious colour that can be found nowhere else on earth.14 And while I am certain that God creates a human soul differently each and every time, this doesn’t mean there are no unanswerable questions. Nonetheless, however mysterious, the process of soul creation is individualized. The uniqueness of individual persons is undeniable (except at peril to your own soul) and cannot be explained by mere psychology or biology. Peck, M. Scott (2011-10-31). The Road Less Travelled And Beyond
  12. 12. Main Resource for Tonight • Finding God Again, John J Shea (any uncited references are from this book) You may also want to read: • Paradox: The Spiritual Path to Transformation Tickerhoof, B • The Road Less Travelled And Beyond Peck, M S • Stages of Faith, Fowler, J
  13. 13. Spiritual Adulthood “…the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve” Mark 10:45 • Do you ever think that what the world needs is not more technical fixes and tinkering around the edges, but a change of consciousness? • Do you ever think that’s what you need? • That’s what we are talking about tonight.
  14. 14. The Superego God “In our early development, superego images of God – as a parent-like, all- powerful, all-knowing, all- loving deity who is also controlling, rule-issuing, judgemental, guilt-evoking, and at times terrifying, are hard to avoid.… There comes a time when… this God becomes too narrow, or too rigid, or too unreal, or too inadequate to continue holding our trust.”
  15. 15. Characteristics of the Superego God The superego God is a: • Supreme Being • God of Law • God of Belief • God of Dependency and Control • God of the Group
  16. 16. Supreme Being • “This God… is a ‘God who is simply “a being” among other beings, part of a series of beings, an “object” which can be discovered and demonstrated’” • “Throughout the whole time of its tenure… this Supreme Being promises security from harm and evil – on condition that we can stand in proper relation to it and respect its authority”
  17. 17. God of Law • “Morality and religion go together. The God of Law is a God of Obedience because the essence of morality consists of carrying out all the commands the God of Law imposes…. The promise of security of the God of Law is often enormously reassuring to us.” • “An implacable judge who has impossible and rigid standards”
  18. 18. God of Belief • “The God of Belief becomes the God of Orthodoxy. The right beliefs easily become the essence of religion and, therefore, the adolescing self possesses the Superego God by holding the right beliefs…. The task of the believer involves, at most, the mastery of objective doctrine and teaching.” • Along with the doctrines, a strong emotional component
  19. 19. God of Dependency and Control • “the God of Dependency and Control provides all the things that the adolescing self needs for its growth and development, while… [it] seems to leave little room to the adolescing self for any use of its own power and authority” • “…promises to protect us from the pain of inner struggle and from having to make responsible life choices, on condition, of course, that we surrender any serious striving toward real freedom or autonomy.”
  20. 20. God of the Group • “The place where the Superego God lives, moves, and has its being is the in the group… the authority of the God of the Group lies with certain individuals who apparently are directly appointed for this task by the Supreme Being. Only those who have this authority can speak, and only those who have this authority can be heard.”
  21. 21. The Living God The Living God is: • God as Thou • God of Love • God of Mystery • God of Freedom • God of Community
  22. 22. God as Thou “the experience of salvation… In the presence of a God as Thou, the adult self can be just as it is” “We find ourselves in a mutual indwelling with a God as Thou… and… we experience a synergy or shared interactive energy, an empowerment in God that makes us more our own integral process. This empowerment expands us and moves us more deeply into the reality of the God as Thou”
  23. 23. God of Love “The God of Love is in the law and beyond the law at the same time. Morality is now understood as a relationship with the God of Love” Transformation results in a response of more love and care for others and an increase in respect for the demands of justice.
  24. 24. God of Mystery “The God of Mystery pints to ‘a reality which is experienced by whose inexhaustible depths and breadth our powers can never encompass. Understanding that there is no adequate understanding of God is somehow a more adequate understanding of God.”
  25. 25. God of Freedom “As our relationship with the God of Freedom unfolds, what seems to arise is a living paradox. We surrender to a God who invites us to be free, and often our full realization of the freedom comes from the surrendering…. In this surrendering, nothing really important is lost…. We experience… an empowerment in God that makes us even more our own integral process.”
  26. 26. God of Community “In our relationship with the God of Community, what seems to arise is a living paradox. We have our personal experience of God by sharing this experiencing with others, and in fact, we can only have this experiencing of God for ourselves when we are able to find this experiencing in others.” This is “a God who invites a diversity of adult selves to come together in some greater unity.”
  27. 27. The Movement From The God of the Superego to the Living God Superego -> Living God • Supreme Being -> God as Thou • God of Law -> God of Love • God of Belief -> God of Mystery • God of Dependency and Control -> God of Freedom • God of the Group -> God of Community
  28. 28. Transformation “The ambivalent feeling and the conflict are transformed… Now we seem to feel a kind of hopeful anticipation as the promise of security is transformed into the experience of salvation” “The goal of life is transformation, the total reconfiguration of the self and all of life into a new and dynamic relationship with and presence to God.” (Tickerhoof)
  29. 29. Salvation All these experiencings of the Living God resonate in the feeling and depth of the adult self is an experience of salvation. “That is to say, it is an experience of healing or of the adult self being brought into some greater wholeness. Salvation is experienced as being without condition. In the presence of the [Living God], the adult self can be just as it is.”
  30. 30. A Useful Definition of Paradox “Paradox is the harmonizing of two opposing experiences or aspects of an expreience that in themselves are irreconcilable but, through another force acting upon them at a crucial moment, are created into a new or transformed reality.” (Tickerhoof)
  31. 31. Paradox and the Living God God as Thou • “External” God transcends external/internal God of Love • God is both in the law, and beyond it God of Mystery • The God who can be known is no God at all God of Freedom • In our surrendering, we become truly free God of Community • We can only have our personal experience of God by sharing this experience with others