February 07, 2016

Valentine’s Day - Thoughts on Friendship

Since we are rapidly approaching Valentine’s Day, let’s focus our attention on two appropriate subjects: friendship and love. According to Wikipedia, the font of on-line encyclopedic knowledge, Valentine’s Day is known as Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, a celebration observed on February 14 each year. Celebrated in many countries around the world, St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus.

The day was first associated within Geoffrey Chaucer’s circle of friends as a romantic expression of love in the High Middle Ages (c. 1001–1300 A.D.).  The religious fervor of medieval culture melded nicely with ideas of courtly love. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart", as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady). Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid.

Here are two thoughts (poems or psalms) from Summa 21.

Friendships
If you want to have a friend, then be one.
Start by learning how to be a good friend to yourself.
As my father has said: If you do not like yourself;
Can you truly love someone else?

Friendships are an expression of Love.
“I love you" can be translated as:  "I have you as a friend."

A lasting friendship
Combines the security of mutual confidence
With respect for personal beliefs,
And the attributes that make us unique.

We are more likely to sustain a relationship with a friend who shares our values, and
Belief in a moral faith provides the strongest basis for shared values.

We often strive for things which cannot provide us with lasting happiness.
The objects of our desire are transient in time and space.
Beauty will fade, metal will tarnish, and wood will rot.
Wealth provides an empty vessel for the soul.
But lasting friendships are the joy of life.
To love, and be loved, is forever welcome.

Friendships are created from the essence of the Spiritual.
Lasting friendships are not confined by the limits of space and time.
As my father has said:
“I love those who love me”.
“If you seek to be my friend, you will find me.”


My Spouse
My spouse is my best friend.
Love has united two as one.
We comfort and encourage each other.
We share the joys and sorrows of life.

Two are better than one.
Together we are strong.
In moments of distress;
We share a loving hug.

I will be quick to show my love;
And be steadfast in my devotion.
For as we journey through life,
I will often need the love - of my best friend.

By loving others we express our respect for God’s commandments.

Ron

February 05, 2016

Zealots

Human belief systems extend across a wide spectrum of philosophical vision. Theological views range all the way from people who immerse themselves in the spiritual, to individuals who refuse to believe anything they can not experience with the five human physical senses. Religious practices span the spectrum of emotions from the strict observance of canon, to a rejection of theological belief in any form. The political spectrum includes democracy, socialism, communism, fascism, liberalism, dictatorship, monarchy, and just about any combination of these political systems one can imagine. There are also authoritarian belief systems within science, economics, education, the stock market, and every other human endeavor.

And every system of beliefs has its self appointed zealots.

Zealots typically demonstrate stubborn intellectual inflexibility. Emotion drives reason and limits introspection. Fanatical belief rejects knowledge and logical choice. Sacrosanct opinions are preserved with tenacious passion. Alternative views are avoided or treated with disdain. Zealots believe they are right. Everyone else is wrong.  They can become very defensive when confronted with new concepts or facts that threaten established belief. Argument frequently degenerates into a blind regurgitation of parochial conviction. The greater the challenge of alternative concepts, the more obstinate the proclamation of opinion. Those who don’t believe the preferred theology are adversaries. They must be shunned, belittled, or eliminated.

Let history and current events be our guide. It should not surprise us to discover every religion and every political system has its zealots. These are people who refuse to acknowledge any alternative viewpoint. Zealots are quick to anger, slow to forgive. For extreme zealots, self righteousness conviction infused with passion justifies destructive behavior, lustful murder, and atrocious cruelty.

What is the alternative?

By contrast, those who practice the Christian concepts of love and compassion approach new ideas with a thoughtful, confident, positive and constructive attitude. They know doctrinaire obedience to established belief limits learning and personal growth. An environment of open and friendly discussion is more likely to bring us closer to a mutually beneficial understanding of reality – even when we choose to disagree.

So let us ask ourselves two questions. Is the harmony of love more welcome than the conflict of divisive hatred?  Does the quest for peace demand we come together, trust one another, share our thoughts, and respect constructive discourse?  If so, then let us not be like the zealots. Rather, let us come together with a spirit of compassion. May we use the intelligence God has given us to seek the wisdom of truth together.

Remember the lesson God has taught us.

If we work together,

If we love one another,

We can accomplish great things.


Ron

January 28, 2016

American Christianity In 2020: The Erosion Of Conviction

In my essay “What Do Americans Believe About The Bible?” I summarized how Americans view the Bible and identified the trends of belief. If we pull together current research on this topic, we can make a judgment of the trends through 2020. It would appear that by 2020, approximately 26 percent of Americans will continue to believe the Bible is the word of god, word for word. This number compares with the 40 percent of Americans who claimed to share this conviction in 1980. About 47 percent of Americans will believe the Bible’s message was inspired by God, or the Bible should not be taken literally, up from 45% in 1980. The percentage of Americans who believe the Bible is a collection of folklore and fables is projected to increase from 10% in 1980 to 23% in 2020. Four or five percent of the respondents usually decline to answer.

Given the unrelenting assault on Christianity by the Liberal Establishment, these projections are probably optimistic. Although an economic depression, or a threat to national security, could encourage Americans to seek a closer bond with Christian theology, the long term cultural trend is to embrace liberal secular beliefs.


By 2020 we can project that roughly 73% of Americans will identify themselves as espousing a Christian theology. But the depth of conviction will decline. At least twelve percent of Americans will embrace the teachings of a secular theology, such as Liberalism. Twenty seven percent of Americans will believe daily prayer is not important, and a final judgment day will never happen. Twenty three percent of Americans will doubt the existence of God, and 34% will no longer have “old fashioned” ideas about family and marriage.

Among Americans who identify themselves as Christians in 2020, 34% will claim they attend church every week, 61% will believe in an all-powerful God, 27% will believe the Bible is totally accurate, and 55% will believe faith is important. Women will be more likely to go to Church than men by more than 4:1.

But these numbers may be optimistic. Christianity is under an unrelenting assault from the proponents of Liberal theology. Whereas in 1980, 1990, 2000 and even 2007 it was socially correct to identify oneself with Christian beliefs, daily prayer, and Bible study, going forward there will be less pressure to do so. If so, we can expect a more pronounced decline in the perceived need to project a Christian identity.

The decline of traditional belief is especially noticeable among Americans 18 to 29 years old. By 2020, 64% of the people in this age group will believe existing theology is irrelevant in the 21st century and – absent any credible alternative - will abandon conventional religious theology. It would appear 41% will doubt the existence of God. On the other hand, given the right message, over 75% would embrace the spiritual. Our desire to understand our place in the Cosmos appears to be a fundamental trait of human character.

And so there is the challenge. How do we create a Christian theology that is relevant to the 21st century American? Should we simply assume that as they age, they will eventually come back to a Christian faith? Statistics suggest many will become “born again”. But is that enough?

What would Christ do?

Would he abandon non-believers? Would he ignore the accumulation of human knowledge? Or would he seek to deliver God’s message in terms that are harmonious with the spiritual yearning of a 21st century population?

Ron


Note 1. Historical data from Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life / U.S. Religious Landscape Survey 2007; Pew American Values Survey 2012; Barna Group  Omnipoll 2011 vs. 1991; and various Gallup polls.



January 20, 2016

What Do Americans Believe About The Bible?

Various polls over the years have tried to identify how Americans view the Bible. Although finding consistent poll data covering multiple years has been a challenge, it would appear one can decipher – in broad terms – a reasonable conclusion. Four respondent classifications have emerged:

1.        There are those who choose to believe the Bible is the word of God, word for word.
2.       Others believe that although there are some human errors in the text of the Bible, the message it delivers was inspired by God. This category also includes those who believe the Bible should not be taken literally.
3.       Some people believe the Bible is a collection of folklore and fables that describe early western human history and philosophy.
4.       A small percentage of respondents don’t know, have no opinion, or refuse to answer.

In the following Table, we can see the trend of these beliefs over time. The data is an approximation of what I found in my research. (Note 1)




1980
1990
2000
2010
2020
The Bible is the word of God, word for word
40%
33%
28%
29%
26%
The Bible’s message was inspired by God, or the Bible should not be taken literally
45%
48%
48%
49%
47%
The Bible is a collection of folklore and fables.
10%
15%
19%
18%
23%
Don’t know, no opinion, refuse to answer
5%
4%
5%
4%
4%


The number of Christians who believe the Bible is the word of God, word for word, appears to track with the number of people who attend Church on a regular basis. Both numbers are declining. Respondents with a college education are less likely to believe the Bible is the word of God (< 20%) than people who have a high school education (>39%), live in the South (>37%), or attend Church on a regular basis (>60%). Young adults 18 – 29 are more apt to be skeptical (27%) than seniors (5%). Evangelical (58%) and historically black (61%) congregations are most likely to believe the Bible is the word of God, word for word, followed by Catholics (33%), mainline protestants (22%), and other Christian groups (27%). 

The trends are reasonably clear. Approximately 50% of the American population will continue to believe the Bible’s message was inspired by God, or should not be taken literally. The number of Americans who choose to believe the Bible is the word of God, word for word, will decline below 30%. Unless the Christian community re-characterizes its Bible theology, the number of Americans who essentially reject the inspiration of the Bible will increase above 20%.

Over the years I have learned it is useless to counter statistical trends. All we can do is influence their direction. We know educated populations tend to be more skeptical of the Bible’s infallibility. We know our children are being taught the liberal point of view on all Christian subjects, including the credibility of the Bible. Therein is our challenge. Since these statistical trends suggest most Americans are willing to agree the Bible was inspired by God that should be the focus of the Christian community. Within this context the perceived inconsistencies, errors, and conflicts within the text become largely irrelevant because they are the product of human endeavor. We know human authors will make mistakes as they try to find the words to adequately describe their revelation.

The wisdom of God’s message to us remains inviolate and universal. God’s values have never changed. Even the atheist and agnostic can be moved by their moral significance. Focusing our thoughts on God’s message to humanity encourages a productive, constructive and positive approach to understanding our relationship with the spiritual that can be expressed in contemporary terms.

Just a thought.


Ron

Note 1: Data from various studies by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and the Gallup Poll.

January 13, 2016

Faith and Government

A guest piece by Mark Borowski

Faith and reason, morality and liberty, are to me an intricately intertwined, symbiotic actually. The two enhance one another. Without faith, human liberty is not typically anchored in morality. Mature faith can provide the moral foundation upon which the self-realization of liberty is achieved. Without faith, liberty has a tendency to get off course, and head in a direction of moral anarchy and relativism.

Decent people are guided by conscience, and do no harm to others. And while this is in many cases an instinctive understanding of right and wrong, the Judeo-Christian precepts of faith tend to lead a balanced person to lead a life that respects the wellbeing of his fellow men.

Regardless of our faith tradition, I think we can understand the basic tenets of Judeo-Christian faith lift man up to be a contributor to the progress and fulfillment of humanity in general. Where there is no such theological-philosophical foundation, moral self-actualization, while not out of reach, is in my mind made much more challenging.

A few quotes from the founders of American democracy effectively illustrate my point:

“It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. – Patrick Henry

The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Where, some say, is the king of America? I'll tell you, friend, He reigns above. – Thomas Paine

Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants. – William Penn

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. – John Adams

For my own part, I sincerely esteem it (the Constitution) a system which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests. – Alexander Hamilton, 1787 after the Constitutional Convention.”
Here are a few more quotes indicating the Founders' deep understanding of what I was talking about, and why the answer to this problem lies not in liberty alone, but conjoined with faith. This does not mean I think we need to advocate some sort of theocracy, or that someone cannot be agnostic or atheist if they so choose. It simply indicates they also felt this not only important, but pivotal to the nation's moral fiber, lawfulness, and general welfare.

Personally, I think their awareness of, and taking into account, human frailty and our propensity for evil are mitigated by our grounding in faith was quite astounding, and a key factor in the birth of the nation. I could not agree more. We ignore their wisdom at our peril, as instances such as Sandy Hook, Aurora, and Columbine make crystal clear, not to mention the divorce rate, entertainment licentiousness, millions of abortions, etc., etc.

“The precepts of philosophy, and of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. He [Jesus] pushed his scrutinizes into the heart of man, erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head. – Thomas Jefferson

[T]he cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness . . . inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric. Whatever makes men good Christians makes them good citizens. – Daniel Webster

Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet. – Robert Winthrop, early Speaker of the U.S. House

I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands. – Thomas Jefferson, President, Signer of the Declaration

In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses. – James McHenry, Signer of the Constitution

Without the restraints of religion and social worship, men become savages. – Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration

Love to God and love to man is the substance of religion; when these prevail, civil laws will have little to do. – John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration

Human legislators can undertake only to prescribe the actions of men: they acknowledge their inability to govern and direct the sentiments of the heart. . . . It is one of the greatest marks of Divine favor . . . that The Legislator gave them rules not only of action but for the government of the heart. – John Quincy Adams

If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instruction and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity. – Daniel Webster”

And if above are not enough to convince some that humans are much more than the lower animals that act only out of instinct rather than higher reasoning (with a few exceptions), here is another one from John Quincy Adams to close with:

“To a man of liberal education, the study of history is not only useful, and important, but altogether indispensable, and with regard to the history contained in the Bible…it is not so much praiseworthy to be acquainted with as it is shameful to be ignorant of it.”-John Quincy Adams


Regards,
Mark Borowski

January 08, 2016

About Innocence

We humans are born innocent. We have, at birth, the rudimentary capabilities of an infant’s nerve and brain system. By the age of two, most of us are well on our way to developing the second and third level intellect that will guide our interaction with life. We learn as we grow. Every contact with the natural universe is a learning experience. The extent and nature of our education defines the strength of our knowledge and the limits of our wisdom. From these multiple experiences we acquire our awareness of self, our patterns of behavior, our adopted values, and our ability to interact with others. If we love, it is because we have experienced the warmth of compassion. If we hate, it is because we have experienced the indifference of isolation.

We naturally want to love. We are taught to hate.

Ron

December 16, 2015

The Birth of Jesus

Ignatius writes in his letter to the Ephesians
"our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God,
conceived in the womb by Mary,
of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost.”

Interpreting History

It is amazing.  Curious.  Jesus is one of the most important humans ever to walk on the face of our planet, yet nobody seems to have had the presence of mind to write down the dates of his birth, ministry or death. Although there are many historical and Biblical references to his life and work, there are only vague references to tell us when these events occurred.

It is therefore impossible to establish accurate dates for the birth, ministry and death of either John the Baptist or Jesus. Biblical references are subject to interpretation, and the Roman historian Flavius Josephus – who does mention both men in his texts – may have been more interested in the narrative he was writing than accurate historical information. Apparently John and Jesus were born sometime between 6 and 4 B.C. (Before Christ, Before the Christian era). It would appear John was born sometime in March or April. Jesus was born about six months later in September or October. John started his ministry between 26 and 28 A.D. (Anno Domini, in the Year of Our Lord). Jesus began his ministry between 27 and 29 A.D. John was imprisoned in the spring, and beheaded in August, of 29 A.D. Based on the Hebrew rituals that occurred at the time of his death, it could be argued that Jesus was crucified in either 30 or 33 A.D. It should be noted the popular date of birth we observe for Jesus, December 25, was established by the Catholic Church in 336 A.D. (Julian calendar) in order to replace a pagan Roman holiday (Saturnalia) with a Christian holiday. Ironically, this is also the date when Romans gave tributes to the Sun God. Another interesting irony: it is possible Jesus was actually conceived on December 25.

To further confuse the date issues, we should note the calculation of years and months in the Hebrew calendar does not match the calculation of these time spans in the Julian (old Christian) calendar; the Hebrew New Year may have actually started between the birth of John (in March) and the Birth of Jesus (in September); and finally, there is no year zero.

So, what can we do? In the absence of better information, we can establish a reasonable, logical, and credible time line that may, or may not, be entirely accurate, but does give us a way to lay out the events that shaped the lives of these two men. The dates are an interesting way to visualize history, but in the final analysis what matters to us is that both men existed and both men had an incredible influence on human history.

Jesus was born in 5 B.C.

So here goes. Tradition tells us our Christian calendar starts on the date Jesus was born. That would be at the beginning of the first year A.D. (There is no year zero). But the date of his birth was accidentally miscalculated when Dionysius Exiguus developed a new calendar in the 6th century A.D. Dionysius naturally wanted to use the year Jesus was born at the beginning of year 1 A.D. He knew Jesus was born in the last days of Herod the Great, the pro-Roman Jewish King of the State where Jesus was born. Dionysius Exiguus calculated his date for the birth of Jesus using the existing Roman and Hebrew calendars. He counted backward to the death of Herod to establish the date Jesus was born. Unfortunately, the dating algorithms of the Hebrew calendar were different from those used to calculate dates for the Roman calendar. These led him to miscalculate the date that Herod died. We now know it was, with corrections, 5 B.C.

In our scenario, John was born in the month of March of 5 B.C. Based on the way we calculate the Gregorian calendar, Jesus was born in September of 5 B.C. According to the Hebrew calendar, however, Jesus may have been born after the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah in 4 B.C. For purposes of simplicity, let’s use the Gregorian calendar dates.

Jesus was baptized in 27 A.D.

He would have been 30. John the Baptist had begun his own Ministry in 26 A.D. and by the time Jesus went to see him at the Jordan river, John had already accumulated a number of apostles and followers. John knew Jesus because they were cousins. Over the prior 3 years the two men had pursued the study of religious beliefs and it is not unreasonable to assume they had exchanged ideas about the theology they wanted to pursue. As Jesus walked toward him down the gentle slope to the river, John immediately recognized Jesus was destined to have a significant ministry. John believed Jesus had become the Messiah, the savior of mankind described in ancient prophesies. The baptism occurred in the Jordan River where a shallow ford permits travelers on the road between Jerusalem and Amman to cross the river.

Jesus began his own Ministry in March of that same year, 27 A.D. (dated from the time he arrived in Capernaum).

Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D.

When word of John’s beheading reached Jesus in late 29 A.D., he was at the peak of his public work. But Jesus knew his own Ministry would soon be over. He was encountering the same opposition that had ended John’s work. Thereafter, Jesus spent more personal time with his disciples in order to prepare them for their own individual ministries. Jesus brought his Ministry to a close with his entry into Jerusalem in 30 A.D. When he died, Jesus was 33.

There has been much debate about these dates. There is a line of thought, for example, that Jesus died in 33 A.D. But there is a problem with this conclusion: Neither the Biblical nor the historical records reveal reliable dates. Mark, Matthew, Luke and John were written to present a narrative of personalities, events and doctrine from the viewpoint of the respective authors. The timeline was less important than the story. In like manner, the only other records of this period and place we have reflect the cultural perspective of the author.

Both John and Jesus would have been characterized as rebels. Think about it: They were critical of government power, and frequently censured religious behavior. This was an era when challenges to established authority were regarded as a way to commit suicide. It is unlikely their activities would have been allowed to go on for more than two or three years. John was arrested because he had the audacity to denounce Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Perea and Galilee, for the ruler’s adulterous and incestuous marriage with Herodias, wife of his half-brother Philip. Although it is apparent the Romans were not particularly worried about and Jesus, the priests who ran the affairs of the temples were furious. Jesus was more popular, and drew larger crowds. Not only was he challenging temple authority, he was even criticizing institutional morality. His demise came when he triumphantly rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. For temple priests, that had to be the last straw. It would appear John’s ministry lasted about 34 months before he was imprisoned. Jesus was active about 35 months before he was arrested.

But in the final analysis, we should not be overly concerned about the chronology of his life.  Why? Think about it. Jesus brought us a message that is timeless. His resurrection is about everlasting life. If we do not know the exact dates, perhaps it is because God wants us to focus our thoughts on the significance of what Jesus is teaching. Not a point in time and space.
.

November 25, 2015

The Birth of Jesus: The Adoption Thesis

His Connection With God

We can choose to believe the story of a virgin birth. Nagging questions aside, it is a beautiful and inspiring story. However, there is an alternative theory of how Jesus became divine. Called the adoption thesis, it tells us Jesus became so close to God, the Holy Spirit felt compelled to “adopt” him as a son. It is both a credible and natural explanation of his life. We must remember, the term “begotten son”, which implies physical fatherhood, was an invention of early Church fathers. Jesus never said he was the son of God in the physical sense. Instead he made the point God is our spiritual father (who art in heaven), and the creator of all life. In addition, although the gospels tell us Jesus frequently prayed to his father, indicating Jesus had a deeply spiritual relationship with God, that does not tell us if Jesus was physically divine from birth, or acquired divinity as an adult. If anything, it would appear to prove that a very human Jesus was able to establish a conscious connection with God – and that is the essence of his divinity.

The New Testament fails to describe anything about the life of Jesus from the time he was 12 or 13 to the beginning of his ministry at age ~ 30. Called the unknown years, the silent years, or the missing years, there has been considerable speculation about what happened to him during this period. Did he travel? Did he work in another country? Did he study other religions? Or was he, as the Bible appears to tell us, a simple carpenter all his adult life? And if this is the case, what were the events that changed this ordinary carpenter into God’s passionate messenger?

It does not seem probable his god/man status could be kept a secret for 30 years through all the adventures of childhood, the challenges of being a pre-teen, growing up as a teenager, and then becoming a recognized member of the community. Are we to believe he was oblivious to the lure of hormone driven sex or the temptation to use his celestial powers in a fit of human frustration? Or is it more logical Jesus lived the life of a mortal boy, grew up to be a man, matured intellectually, gained in wisdom, and then developed a very close relationship with God?

We do not acquire the passion of personal commitment as the result of a sterile intellectual exercise. A genuine compassion for others is seldom the result of an indifferent analysis of human circumstances. We become passionate about our mission and compassionate in our understanding of human character by experiencing both in our one-on-one encounters with family, friends, and community. If we are the sum of all our experiences, then our attitudes and energies will be shaped by our participation in this thing we call human life.

God had a simple objective. He wanted to create a man who would carry His message to humanity. By guiding and watching over Jesus throughout his childhood and adult life, God brought forth a man of vision and integrity.  We can believe Jesus was both passionate about his mission and compassionate toward others because he led a very human life with all its joys, sorrows, triumphs, and tragedies. His ministry was that of a man who had experienced the breadth of human life. He had an absolute empathy for the people of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. He became the man who would carry God’s message to humanity.

If a loving God adopts Jesus the man and brings him back to life through the miracle of resurrection, then one cannot deny the truth and resounding power of his message. It proves there is a path to heaven for ordinary mortals. This is the essential message of Jesus Christ. He was a mortal, a human who was able to establish a deeply spiritual conscious connection with God, was subsequently adopted by a loving God, became divine by the will of God, and died for us because he wanted to prove resurrection is possible for worthy souls. Let us thank him for his sacrifice.

The Connection        

We will never know if God caused Mary to become pregnant or if Jesus was simply a man who developed an extraordinary relationship with God. Whether by birth or adoption, we do know God regarded Jesus as his son. God made Jesus his messenger to humanity, and gave him unusual powers. Jesus became an independent, charismatic, passionate and very intelligent man who was comfortable in almost any gathering. His disciples obviously viewed him as a leader. He had a strong and commanding persona. His demeanor, teaching, and beliefs obviously placed him next to God.

We can choose to believe divinity is not a physical attribute. Being divine, or becoming divine, does not alter human DNA, modify a chromosome, or change the structure of a cell. Divinity does not require super-human or extra-human physical characteristics. Divinity is created by establishing a deeply spiritual conscious connection with God. The core conscious self becomes one with the consciousness and awareness that is God. It is a living dynamic relationship.

In Chapter 2, Consciousness and Connection, we examined how it is possible to make this connection. When God wants to establish a spiritual relationship with us, it is through the activity of our core consciousness. When God the Holy Father created his relationship with Jesus, he established a connection the depth of which surpasses anything any other human has ever experienced. It is this bond that makes Jesus divine.

We can choose to believe God created
a consciousness connection with Jesus,
and made him divine.

We may also choose to believe
God nurtured this connection
with the man he wanted to call his Son.

Jesus clearly wanted to bring us closer to the God he loved. Jesus urged us to follow him to God’s Kingdom. We should follow his counsel.

Whether one chooses to believe the traditional story of a virgin birth, or feels more comfortable with the adoption thesis, we know there is only one God, a remarkable divine person, who reveals himself in many ways, including as father, son and Holy Spirit. When Jesus ascended to the Kingdom of God for the last time, he became one with the Holy Spirit in both form and intellect. Thereafter, Jesus was God and God was Jesus.

Think of it this way. When a mighty river flows through the plains and into the ocean, the water of the river intermixes with the water of the ocean. Eventually, the water of the ocean cannot be distinguished from the water of the river. The river has become the ocean.  
But Jesus is not lost to us. As many have experienced, one can summon the presence of Jesus in human form through earnest prayer. The Holy Unity is able to reveal itself as Jesus, a prophet, a deceased friend or relative, a respected person, and even as a spiritual force whose presence we are able to sense but not see. We need only to seek a spiritual union with the divine. God will respond with wisdom, love and compassion.

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