Sunday 18 January 2015

Sacrifice and Worship in terms of a personal universe

It is a key aspect of Christianity and several other religions that revelation informs us that the universe is ultimately personal. That is: the most important thing in reality is relationships (first with God/ gods, second with other people).

This is the exact opposite of the hard-line 'Gaian' spiritual view that people are nothing-more-than a destructive infestation of the planet/ universe - therefore it could be a good outcome if the earth survived as a biosphere, but all people were eliminated from it.


Much has been written over the past couple of centuries about Man projecting his own attributes onto God - as being the complete explanation for belief in personal deity.

Like all effective arguments, there is some truth in this one. God may be correctly acknowledged to exist, yet the understanding of his nature, his attributes may be false: indeed I think this has been the usual situation.

That is, the usual error throughout history has not been in denying the reality of God, but in misunderstanding God - and that is where projection came in.


In daily life, we often observe that people assume that other people are like themselves; so a person who plots and conspires will see plots and conspiracies all around him - and so on.

So, a person who  himself lives in a social world where leaders demand sacrifices and abasement and in general 'mindless grovelling obedience' from subjects, will see God as having these attributes; especially if he himself would want such things from his subjects. 

Indeed, there have been many Fathers who treat their children as their subjects. God is seen as a King more than as a Father - or, more accurately, as a bad King who exploits his subjects; rather than God as a Good King who is Father to the Nation and who loves all His children.


If we see the universe ruled by a loving Father who wants us, as individuals, to grow to be more like himself - tyrannical behaviour does not make sense - except as an expedient concession to societies and individuals who simply cannot envisage anything being otherwise.


Yet, if we can imagine ourselves as a truly, wholly loving Father; we can ask whether (or why?) we would want such behaviours from our own children - on the assumption that we want our children to grow-up; grow-up to become autonomous, wise, free, loving friends - on as much the same level as ourselves as possible.

Our guidance on these matters comes from the revelations of scripture - which in the Old Testament show God struggling with very imperfect societies and people - and quite often being attributed the motives of a tyrant (i.e. being attributed the motives of demanding bloody sacrifice and abasing worship). But then we have the example of Jesus - who is a picture of His Father, and explicitly claims to complete and replace previous revelations - doing nothing of the kind. But in contrast working at the level of (what might be termed) friendship rather than tyranny.


Jesus is presumably showing us, in his own behaviour, that it was a mistake - it still is a mistake - for God's children to regard their Father like an earthly tyrant who demands sacrifice and abasing worship and abject obedience because he is primarily motivated by Power not Love; that this is an insult to God's love, an insult to His deepest motivations; and indeed it works to thwart God's deepest hopes for us.

Of course, our loving Father forgives us for this dreadful way in which we (His own children) attribute to Him all kinds of our own limitations and faults - by far the worst of which is our deficiency in Love.

But it is a sin for us to do this, and it is something that needs His forgiveness; and it is something that at some time or another we will have-to understand as mistaken and wicked, and that we will have-to repent.


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