The Ground of
Science Mysticism and Experience
2004 What's so amazing about
"What's so amazing
about Grace?". (Editorial)
Keble's hymn: New every morning is the love..
New mercies, each returning day, surround your people as they pray..
The trivial round, the common task, will give us all we ought to ask..
love, these mercies, the trivial round are
the grace of God. Can there be anything in the whole wide
creation which can NOT be the grace of God, the gift of his love?
Unearned grace, freely given, perceived, received through faith. That's
how things are.
The heading of this editorial is the title of a book
by Philip Yancey. He quotes
the words of a counselor: "Many years ago I
was driven to the conclusion that the two major causes of most
emotional problems among evangelical Christians are these: the failure
to understand, receive, and live our God-given unconditional grace and
forgiveness; and the failure to give out that unconditional love,
forgiveness, and grace to other people."
Not only evangelicals, but all people of faith are
tempted to believe that they have to earn the earn
the grace and love of God. Obey the Ten Commandments and a great
many other ones, and God will love you. That's what the
thought, and what too many of us think. Mortal and venial
sins, we know all about them.
Jesus' teaching about the grace
Jesus' teaching could not have been simpler: There
was this wretched young man who had managed to persuade his father to
give him his share of his inheritance in advance. He went overseas and
squandered the lot in wine, women and song. Starving he feels forced to
come home. What contrite apologies, what submissive acts of service,
must he carry out, to avoid total rejection? But what happens? The
father sees him a long way off, brushes the apologies aside, hugs him,
and has a party.
Message: if you want to come to God, just come,
and he will be there to meet you. Countless theologians and
biblical scholars have fashioned much more complex soteriologies. There
may be truth in them. But they should not negate the parable of the
Jesus taught by his actions, what he taught in this
parable. To the thief on the cross, to his "remember me" came the
promise of the grace of paradise. In church we constantly remind
ourselves that Jesus surrounded himself with society's rejects, the
quisling tax gatherer, the terrorist, the harlot, the sick and the
poor, the despised Samaritan, the lepers and so on. Sermons will
continually remind us that it was these failures at rule-keeping who
were open to love and to grace, new every morning.
This fact did
worry St Paul a little: Rom
6:15 What then? shall we
sin, because we are
not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
St Augustine answered that worry with his "Love God
and do what you like.' Of course if you truly love God, you will
love your neighbour. If you perceive and receive the Grace that is new
every morning, the whole of you is likely to be in tune with Him.
seen in the RESURRECTION.
The same transformation
by God's grace
was shown at the resurrection of Jesus. The ordinary men and women who
followed Jesus and fled at his death were astonished to discover that
he was alive again. Their encounters with the risen Jesus galvanised
them into new life themselves, and in turn played a part in changing
Paul wrote For if the dead are not
raised, neither has Christ been raised[1 Cor 15.16] But the dead
are raised, and so is Christ. [See "Afterlife"
seen in PROCESS
This theology is based on the thought of the philosopher A.N.
Whitehead. There is much in this theology to agree or disagree with,
but the key idea is the notion that every moment of time that we
experience is a gift of grace from an immanent and transcendent
God. God speaks to us loud and clear in the present moment. The
question is about how we shall respond. (New every morning is the
GRACE seen in MEANINGFUL
There is a display of the workings
grace in our studies of meaningful coincidence or
synchronicity Of course meaningful coincidence includes answers
to prayer, and spiritual healing, all the ways in which Christians
believe they see the hand of God in their lives. (But you might care to
look at some of the synchronicity
stories again, in October
2003. Do you remember the
story of The Singing Stone?
That can be
found in August
can bring in the physicists
to help us see grace in a different mode:
Firstly David Bohm,
effect writing about a God who is in all through all and above all)
- Space and time [the Explicate Order] might actually
be derived from an even deeper level of objective reality. This reality
he calls the Implicate Order.
- Within the Implicate Order everything is connected, and, in
theory, any individual element could reveal information about every
other element in the universe.
- The Hologram is BohmÂ’s favourite metaphor for
structure of the Implicate Order. "Everything is enfolded into
everything". The totality of the movement of enfoldment and unfoldment
may go immensely beyond what has revealed itself to our observations.
We call this totality by the name "holomovement". This is the
"fundamental ground of all matter" The holomovement is ground for both
life and matter." from
a summary of BohmÂ’s Gnosis, by Beatrix Morrell.
Mansfield, a physicist, has this to say about
coincidence, which in effect is GRACE.
- "even the most physical of experiences, whether mountains
or microbes, are thoughts within a larger mind that simultaneously
unfolds the experiencing ego as a thought complex within it." [p.129]
- "Quantum mechanics teaches that the universe is non-locally
connected and we participate in its definition."[p.136]
- "Destroying the false belief in inherent existence is the
prerequisite for recognizing the world as sacred" [p.144]
- "Since mind projects our world image, then as long as we
stay in the image we will never know the projector Â– the
- "synchronistic experiences . . . are a numinous expression
of transcendent meaning that unfolds in both the inner and outer
worlds. Synchronicity is soul-making; a revelation of the cosmic self
or soul as meaning, an instruction through acausally connected events
in both in the inner and the outer worlds. If we have the inner eyes to
see, the self is providing us with both the necessary experience and
meaning required for our transformation, our individuation."[p.199] Synchronicity,
Science and Soul-making
writes [arguably about the grace of dying
to self and rising with Christ]:
- Synchronicities have opened a window onto a creative source
of infinite potential, the wellspring of the universe itself. They have
shown how mind and matter are not distinct, separate aspects of nature,
but arise in a deeper order of reality. Synchronicities suggest that we
can renew our contact with that creative and unconditioned source which
is the origin not only of ourselves but also of all reality. By dying
to the self and its mechanical reactive responses to nature, it becomes
possible to engage in an active transformation and gain access to
unlimited ranges of energy. In this way, body and consciousness,
individual and society, mind and matter may come to achieve their
GRACE seen as the HOLY SPIRIT ( See August
Inspection of the August issue will suggest that Grace and the
Spirit are not different. Both imply the action of a loving creative
God self-expressing in our lives.
In the December 2003 issue we seemed to
imply that St Paul ignored the Jerusalem church and relied on the grace
of his vision of Christ :
- St Paul:
Let me tell you my
brothers, that the gospel I preach is not of human origin. I did not
receive it from any man, nor did anyone teach it to me. It was Christ
himself who revealed it to me... But God in his grace
chose me before I
was born... when he decided to reveal his Son to me... I did not go to
anyone for advice, nor did I go to Jerusalem to see those who were
apostles before me. Instead I went at once into Arabia, and then I
returned to Damascus. It was three years later that I went to
Jerusalem to obtain information from Peter, and I stayed with him for
two weeks... What I write is true. God knows I am not lying!
[From Gal. 1.11-19
TEV And see article in
Dec. '03 "After Damascus"]
- But further consideration
remind us that Paul was no tabula
rasa, no unwritten upon page, when Christ revealed
himself. As Paul says:
Circumcised the eighth
day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the
Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Phil 3:5
Bohm's "everything folded into everything" reminds us that
from every possible direction, and in Paul's case he cannot be thought
of apart from a lifetime's experiences, his Latin, his Greek, his
Hebrew, and probably Aramaic, the whole Hebraic, Graeco-Roman culture
in which he lived. And on awareness special grace he laboured much to
make sense of the Damascus light in terms of what he already knew.
C. Lilley in The Centre of the
Cyclone [p.119] describes ways of looking at grace.
- One way, he suggests, is to say that we don't have to
understand how things work. There is a Them who run the universe and
me, and they do the job assigned to Them by Those above Them. I can
listen to them, and ask them, and they will hear me, and help me. This
way of looking is the way of those who believe in guardian angels,
advanced spirits of higher realms. Even from the physicist's holistic
point of view there may or may not be such entities. But we may note
that in this view, there is some kind of split between Them and me.
- Lilley describes a fourth way of regarding this apparent
guidance, where we say "Thou art me, they are me, they, thou and I are
one. They love thee, love me, love the one. The one loves them, loves
us. The one is Love." [His second and third ways are intermediate
between the first and fourth..]