The God We Never Knew

I just finished reading The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith by Marcus Borg. I have been impressed with his other book, Metting Jesus Again for the First Time, in which he reimagined what Jesus may have been like. In The God We Never Knew, he takes on the even bigger task of revisioning God and the Christian faith based on this “new” vision of God. This is the sort of scholarship I admire in the Christian tradition. The ability to bring out alternative voices and interpretations from scripture and tradition.

He and others like Matthew Fox, Dominic Crossan and John Spong have presented new and exciting ways of thinking about faith that are rooted in the mystical, wisdom tradition and are very relevant for today. While these writers are not universally accepted, they are respected by those who seek a more progressive Christian vision and there is a clear movement in that direction by a large segment of the church. They were all part of the theological environment at the Graduate Theological Union where I studied. They do not work in isolation, but as part of mainline Christianity’s emphasis on educated clergy and intellectual integrity.

The Reformed tradition, which I am a part of, considers itself to be reformed and always reforming. This is important. Otherwise faith can become stale and dead. I would like to see such a progressive reform movement develop within the Radha Krishna devotional movement in the West. So far, this has been slow and dissident voices tend to be squashed or marginalized. I do what I can, but I miss the intellectual collegiality that these Christian reformers share. Therefore, I turn to persons such as these to spark my thinking.

There are many similarities between Christian devotion and Radha Krishna devotion, and I believe the basic essential concepts are transferable because they are somewhat universal.

Borg begins by discussing how we think about God and presents panentheism as an alternative to the distant monarchical model of God. He next goes into imaging God and Jesus, why and how it matters. He then discusses how we can live with God which is the heart of spirituality. This is more a matter of relationship with God rather than following God’s requirements. God is compassionate and God’s grace predominates. I am coming to believe more and more that it is simply a matter of being open to God’s grace. It’s not as difficult or complicated and some would have us think. The “dream of God” or the “kingdom of God” leads to a politics of compassion and thus has consequences for how we conduct ourselves in this life. Borg concludes by asserting that salvation begins in this life as we are liberated from bondage, reconciled with God, enlightened, forgiven and loved just as we are. This is not to negate salvation in the afterlife, but we really have no way of knowing just what that will be like.

I am considering using this book as a model to write my own revisioning of Radha Krishna devotion. I am more attracted to the myth of Radha Krishna than the biblical myth, but I see the need for a major revisioning.

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