Matthew Fox, the well-known Creation Spiritualist, has a new book out entitled A New Reformation (not available on Amazon yet). In it, he lists what he considers 95 "truths" that he thinks the church should return to, or emphasize. They are worth a look, even though they are laregely panentheistic and non-orthodox. Here’s my take on his claims.
What I like:
- God our Mother: God is both Mother and Father (Christians must distinguish between God (masculine and history, liberation and salvation) and Godhead (feminine and mystery, being and non-action) – Very nice.
- God and Science: God loves all of creation and science can help us more deeply penetrate and appreciate the mysteries and wisdom of God in creation. Science is no enemy of true religion.
- Environmentalism: Sustainability is another word for justice, for what is just is sustainable and what is unjust is not – I agree with this, except to say that sometimes in emergency situations, human life might be more important than sustainability. But in long term planning, Itotally agree.
- Sexuality: Sexuality is a sacred act and a spiritual experience, a theophany (revelation of the Divine), a mystical experience. It is holy and deserves to be honored as such.
- Dancing: Dancing, whose root meaning in many indigenous cultures is the same as breath or spirit, is a very ancient and appropriate form in which to pray. – Maybe the fundies who don’t like dancing can loosen up. That reminds me of an old joke. Q: Why don’t baptists have sex standing up? A: They don’t want anyone to see them and think that they are dancing.
- Judging: Evil can happen through every people, every nation, every tribe, and every individual human and so vigilance and self-criticism and institutional criticism are always called for. – I like that he mentions self-criticism and institutional criticism, but not criticizing other individuals. Nice.
- Seminaries: Seminaries as we know them, with their excessive emphasis on left-brain work, often kill and corrupt the mystical soul of the young instead of encouraging the
mysticism and prophetic consciousness that is there. They should be replaced by wisdom schools. I totally agree. This is why many charismatic seminaries emphasize experience with God, not just theology.
- Value of Silence: Inner work is required of us all. Therefore spiritual practices of meditation should be available to all and this helps in calming the reptilian brain. Silence or contemplation and learning to be still can and ought to be taught to all children and adults. I totally agree. Rather than prayer in schools, how about moments of silence – maybe even 10 minutes at a stretch!
- Dark Night of the Soul and Addictions: The Dark Night of the Soul descends on us all and the proper response is not addiction such as shopping, alcohol, drugs, TV, sex or religion but rather to be with the darkness and learn from it. Nice.
What I disagree with:
- Religion v. Spirituality: Religion is not necessary but spirituality is – I agree with this in simple principle, as long as he is not negating the benefits of being involved in spiritual community.
- Original Sin: Original sin is an ultimate expression of a punitive father God and is not a Biblical teaching. But original blessing (goodness and grace) is biblical – I find that both are biblical. To take either side of this paradox and teach it exlusively is heresy.
- God Not Limited to One Avenue: The Holy Spirit works through all cultures and all spiritual traditions and blows “where it wills” and is not the exclusive domain of any one tradition and never has been – this is somewhat ambigous, so people can agree or disagree with it depending on how they interpret it. I certainly agree that God is not limited to our eccliastic structures, our cultural or temporal shifts in values and perspective, nor our understanding. I also agree that God can speak to us through more than just the Xian tradition. However, I certainly do not agree that all faiths are of equal value or are equally true. Some contain outright lies that contradict the nature of God and man.
- Evolution: Fourteen billion years of evolution and unfolding of the universe bespeak the intimate sacredness of all that is – guess he’s not a young earth creationist ;)
- Homosexuality: Since homosexuality is found among 464 species and in 8 percent of any given human population, it is altogether natural for those who are born that way and is a gift from God and nature to the greater community. This argument from nature is not sound, as Jimmy Akin, the Catholic apologist, outlines here. Basically, animals have no moral conscience, and do a lot of things that humans should not do, including eat their young, mate indiscriminately, and rape others of their species.
What do you think?