By: Fred Plumer
Below is part of my response to a conversation that we are having here at TCPC, between many different people on the subject of God in progressive Christianity. As we finish up the last lessons for the TCPC Children's Curriculum Project, we find that we need to find some language for What or Who is God? And how do we talk to our children about that when, in reality, no one really knows....
"I think that I would word your statement a little differently (Jesus is NOT an incarnation of God). I think we may be talking about degrees here. There is no clear teaching on this issue for Progressives and since we do not have a creed or dogma, I don’t think in my life time there will be such a statement. However many of us who see Jesus as a teacher of a “Way.” That “Way” was offered to those who wanted to manifest “God,” Sacred Unity ( Aramaic for God,) Creative Mystery, The One, etc in their lives as Jesus had done-to experience the Realm of God(Kingdom of God) or Realm of Sacred Unity. When one says that Jesus was the incarnation of God, the implication is that he was something so special that only he (and maybe a few others depending on one’s belief system) can have the same experience. These people become gods to be worshiped. Then we get into the question of how was he different than other humans who had chosen to live their lives in unconditional love, others who manifested God-energy. How much is a saint, how much is a prophet and how much is “God Incarnate?”
Yes, there are those people who develop the desire, the discipline, the practices and the awareness that allows them to see and hear this Creative/Loving energy in all things, in all life. Their lives have been permanently altered and they usually spend the rest of their lives with eyes to see and the ears things the rest of us merely get a glance of now and then. Do we call them God incarnate? Or are there some unique humans who have had such a profound experience of that “Mysterious Realm,” that their lives were never again the same? In short I believe incarnation is a loaded word and implies things that send the wrong message. One that we can even attempt to understand “God” and two that we can decide which one is the actual an incarnation of a God…a God we cannot understand or fathom. I have no problem with the idea that Jesus was unusual in the amount of that “Creative Mystery” that he embodied and manifested. However, I would not want to suggest that this same opportunity was not available to anyone. After all he is quoted as saying that greater things than he did were possible in us.
One caveat. Ken Wilber suggests that every drop of experience has three dimensions—I, we, and it—which provides three very different ways of relating to God: speaking about God in 3rd-person, speaking with God in 2nd-person, and speaking as God in 1st-person. And while these dimensions of the divine can be found in just about any spiritual lineage—Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Islam, etc.—many of these traditions explicitly emphasize only one or two of these perspectives, resulting in one or more important aspects of spirituality often being left out of their conceptions of God.
Each of these faces of God may open into each of the other faces – but the 1st person opens us up to an experience of God as divine lover, before whom I want to surrender. This is the face of God that brings the ego/contracted/small self to its knees and drops us into Ultimate, Unfathomable Mystery - thus helping us not to confuse any of our constructs with ultimate reality.
I am not certain if this will clarify your question but we are trying to understand and “unfathomable Mystery” after all."