God As Beloved Other

It is an ancient human religious impulse to go to one’s knees in devotion and gratitude.

Photo © PhotoHamster/iStockPhoto

by Bruce Sanguin

This posting originally appeared on Bruce Sanguin’s blog IfDarwinPrayed.com. Visit his blog for more postings, webinars, and podcasts on Evolutionary Christianity.

I keep running into a theological stumbling block for atheists and progressive Christians alike. Namely, is God personal?

Both camps tend to hear this question as “Is God a person?” Progressives want to dissociate themselves completely from the mythic Old Man In the Sky of the Bible who intervenes episodically to rescue us. (Never mind that there are many other images that tend to get overlooked in this conversation.)

This is also the God that atheists reject, and they get royally pissed when open-minded Christians try to tell them that they reject that God as well. This is not allowed. Real Christians believe in that God, and any other image is just a watered-down attempt to save religion from modernism, but is nothing more than a stop-gap measure. These atheists are quite determined to freeze God at this stage of spiritual intelligence, thus giving them an easy target.

A solution to the problem arises when it’s looked at through an evolutionary lens. Personhood is an astounding cosmic achievement. It took 13.7 billion years to arrive at qualities that we associate with personhood: conscious self-awareness, intentionality, freedom to shape the future, self-sacrificial love, etc. The Originating Source that gave birth to this cosmic adventure cannot be less than that, but is certainly more.

We know that God is Love because when we are functioning from essence, our own hearts overflow with love for all creation. And we feel authentic. We feel as though this is the promise that we are here to realize. We awaken to being the presence of a mysterious Creative Process finding its heart through us.

The Divine Heart cannot be less than all that we associate with “personal,” but is certainly more than anything we can imagine. God is therefore “personal plus,” not “a” person, but infinitely more personal than even this stunning evolutionary achievement we call personhood.

Something in the human heart wants to bow before, express gratitude and surrender to this Beloved Other, this personal plus Font of Blessing, whose own Heart is evolving in, as, and through our own.

It is an ancient human religious impulse to go to one’s knees in devotion and gratitude. This impulse is one of the best ego-busters known to our species, because the one thing our separate and separating self (ego) resists is falling back into Oneness. A devotional stance toward this Beloved meets an authentic need in and of itself, and is also our best strategy for dissolving the illusion of separation.

Of course, God also shows up in 1st person (The Great I Am of the mystics) and 3rd person (The Great It, the impersonal – energy, Great Web, Light). But that’s for another post.

Bruce Sanguin is a minister serving Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver, BC. Bruce is passionate about raising public awareness that there is a form of Christianity beyond the belief-based, biblical literalism that is associated with traditional “church.” His latest book, If Darwin Prayed: Prayers for Evolutionary Mystics, won an IPPY gold medal for best spiritual and inspirational book.

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Categories: Bruce Sanguin, Christian Life, Religion

Author:Wood Lake Publishing

At Wood Lake Publishing we are passionate about supporting and encouraging an emerging form of Christianity, which is rooted in ancient wisdom and attentive to the movement of spirit in our day. Visit us online at woodlakebooks.com


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2 Comments on “God As Beloved Other”

  1. February 3, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Thanks for these reflections on the personal plus, Bruce. I think of the poet Tennyson’s phrase, “Closer ..than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.”

  2. February 22, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    Thanks Susan,

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