Alice A. Bailey

From Bethlehem to Calvary

p. 49

Those who see the vision clearly can trace the evidences of this unfolding Plan in

the steady growth of several ideas that are now dominant in the world.    First, God was a far-away, anthropomorphic Deity, unknown and unloved, but regarded with awe and fear, and worshipped as the Deity expressing Himself through the forces of nature. As time elapsed, this distant God drew a little nearer to His people, taking on a more human colouring until, in the Jewish dispensation, we find Him much like ourselves, but still the wrathful, ethical Ruler, and still obeyed and feared.

  He approached still nearer as time went on; and before the advent of Christianity men recognised Him as the beloved Krishna of the Hindu faith, and as the Buddha. Then the Christ came to the West. God Himself was seen incarnate among men. The distant had become the near, and the One Who had been worshipped in awe and wonder could now be known and loved. Today God is coming closer still, and the new age will not only recognise the truth of the past revelations and testify to their validity and their progressive revelation of divinity, but to all this will be added the ultimate revelation of the Presence of God in the human heart, of Christ born in man, and of each human being manifesting, in truth, as a son of God.

p. 187: The world has outlived the thought of a wrathful God who demands a blood sacrifice.

p. 197: The belief in an angry deity, who exacted penalties for all that was done by man against a brother, and who demanded a price for all that was given to man as a product of the natural processes of the earth, is as old as man himself. It has passed through many phases.  The idea of a God Whose nature is love has battled for centuries with the idea of a God Whose nature is wrath. The outstanding contribution of Christ to world progress was His affirmation, through word and example, of the thought that God is love and not a wrathful deity, inflicting jealous retribution. The battle still rages between this ancient belief and the truth of God's love which Christ expressed, and which Shri Krishna also embodied. But the belief in an angry, jealous God is still strongly entrenched. It is rooted in the consciousness of the race, and only today are we slowly beginning to realise a different expression of divinity. Our interpretation of sin and its penalty has been at fault, but the reality of God's love can now be grasped and can thus offset the disastrous doctrine of an angry God Who sent His Son to be the propitiation for the world evil.


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Emergent Church

  • Brian McLaren in Christianity Today, November 2004: The Greco-Roman narrative is directed and determined by a god whom McLaren calls "Theos," who is not that distinct from the Greek Zeus or the Roman Jupiter. ...  "Theos stands above, holding his thunderbolts ready to strike, ready to melt the whole damned thing down to primal lava, ready to set it all on fire to purge all that is imperfect, so only perfect purified being remains."  This is, according to Brian, "conventional Christian theology."
  • Brian McLaren in Christianity Today, November 2004: He sketches a view of God, sometimes seeing God as a "character", one who evolves from less mature (Noah's "ethnic-cleansing" God of "genocide") to more mature (Jesus' Abba and John's God of love). Thus, "the more dominating understanding of God will fade and give way to a more intimate one."  This God comes to maturity in Jesus: "The images of God that most resemble Jesus, whether they originate in the Bible or elsewhere, are the more mature and complete images; the ones less similar to the character of Jesus are the more embryonic and incomplete, even though they may be celebrated for being better than the less complete images they replaced."

  • Brian McLaren in The Great Spirituao Migration, p. 101
    In the aftermath of Jesus and his cross, we should never again define God's sovereignty or supremacy by analogy to the kings of this world who dominate, oppress, subordinate, exploit, scapegoat and marginalise. Instead we have migrated to an entirely new universe, or, as Paul says, 'a new creation' (2 Cor 5:17), in which old ideas of supremacy are subverted.
    If this is true, to follow Jesus is to change one's understanding of God. To accept Jesus and to accept the God Jesus loved is to become an atheist in relation to the Supreme being of violent and dominating power. We are not demoting God to a lower, weaker level; we are rising to a higher and deeper understanding of God as pure light, with no shadow of violence, conquest, exclusion, hostility or hate at all.

  • Brian McLaren in The Great Spirituao Migration, p 101-102
    We might say that two thousand years ago, Jesus inserted into the human imagination a radical new vision of God - non-dominating, non-violent, supreme in service and self-giving. ... Maybe only now, ... are we becomming ready to let Jesus' radical new vision replace the old vision instead of being accommodated within it.

  • Brian McLaren in The Great Spirituao Migration, p. 104, 111:

    • God 1.0 ... [was] a God of loving faithfulness who would take care of you

    • God 2.0 ... wanted you to be nice and polite,

    • God 3.0 ... [was] the God of rules and fair play whose job was to reward the rule-keepers and punish the rule-breakers.

    • God 4.0 ... [was] a God of affection, fidelity, forgiveness and family but only for people from our religion, ethnicity or tribe.

    • We need God 5.0 to emerge, a God of the inclusive we, the God not just of us but of all of us. ... not just to all humanity, but to all living things, and not just to all living things, but to all the planetary ecosystems in which we share. We need to migrate to a grown-up God, ...

  •  Brian McLaren in The Great Spirituao Migration, p. 117: And while all this has been going on, from Taizé in France to Iona in Scotland to retreat centres around the world, thousands of Christians across denominations have been rediscovering the contemplative and monastic traditions. These spiritual seekers have, with the help of contemplatives and mystics, embraced a vision of God that is bigger and deeper than God 4.0: a God of unfathomable compassion who can be encountered through spiritual practices and silent solitude, not just through words and arguments and longer words and hotter arguments.
    And if that weren't enough, the vibrant voices of feminist theologicans around the world - ... Diana Butler Bass, ... and others -have been making invaluable contributions, proclaiming a God beyond patriarchy, a God beyond domination, a God beyond modernity and its technologically enhanced violence, a God 5.0. They have been joined by gay theologicans who discovered that even though God 4.0 had no room for them, God 5.0 welcomed them to the table - not just to receive, but to serve and lead withtheir unique and precious gifts.

  • Brian McLaren in The Great Spirituao Migration, p. 129-134:

    • p. 129: One author, however, seemed to lead in a post-conservative and post-liberal direction: C. S. Lewis. ... he opened the way for us to bring imagination and literary sensibilities to the text, letting the Bible speak to us in a post-critical way.

    • p. 129: With C. S. Lewis serving as a kind of gateway into the uper right area of the matrix, we discovered more and more scholars who read the Bible with their critical, post-critical and literary skills and sensibilities intact - from N. T. Wright to Walter Wink to John Dominic Crossan, ...

    • p. 130-131: they saw revelation arising like sparks in the interplay of passage and passage, story and story, statement and counterstatement, over time. For them, Scripture wasn't univocal; instead, God's manifold wisdom emerged in the multiplicity of biblical voices. It was a conversation rather than a legal constitution, an art gallery rather than a single painting. In the presence of these scholars and teachers who read the Bible with literary sensibilities and with critical and post-critical or integral understanding, I felt a new freedom. I felt that I was given permission to migrate from the limited universe of the conventional, exclusive and often violent Supreme Being to the ever-expanding universe of a more awesome and wonderful God, all while keeping my Bible firmly in hand.
      In that space, I could allow the Bible to show me a succession of understandings of God. I could see tension between these understandings as contractions, giving birth to not just a new understanding of God, but more: to a new experience of God as the holy Spirit of justice, joy and peace, present in Christ, in my own life, in human justice and kindness, and in all creation. ... But repeatedly, insistently, from Genesis to Revelation, the exclusive-we God is challenged, and a grander vision of an infinitely compassionate, generous and gracious God rises into view, ...

    • p. 132: God, in the traditional view, possesses a reservoir of infinite wrath that must be vented on all who are not perfect.

    • p. 132-133: Jesus deconstructs the conventional concept of a Supreme Being who is capable of murder, genocide or geocide. ... Jesus reveals a generous God, a God in profound solidarity with all creation.

    • p. 133: We can't receive the liberating vision of God and the life offered by Jesus if we lock ourselves in the lower left zone of the matrix we've considered in this chapter. [Innocent/Literal: The Bible is accepted without question as authorative; objective and factual meanings are favoured.]

  • Brian McLaren in The Great Spirituao Migration, p. 210: The old way of life centered in the temple, with all its assumptions about a violent God needing appeasement, can now be left behind, the New Testament teaches us.

  • Brian McLaren in The Great Spirituao Migration, p. 211: God was ready to call people on a great spiritual migration from a static organised religion to a movement-building organising religion, from buildings to bodies, we might say, from temples to people, from stone to flesh, from inertia to momentum.