At the beginning of our story, I'm all for "heart" or direct divine guidance, and he's all for the unchanging standard of the Bible. But as our story progresses--and as our discussion series progressed last month--you could see both sides expanding to include some of the other's conviction: me because I realized how susceptible we humans are to mistaking ego for revelation, and Bishop Thomas because my concession of that freed him to focus more on the mature spiritual stages in which we have wholly incorporated the scriptures into our way of being. Indeed, I came to see that most of my peers absorbed the Judeo-Christian ethic so thoroughly in childhood that they don't appreciate how much it still does serve as a "standard" against which they measure their intuitions.
"You call it Holy Spirit, we call it Spirit," said Rev. Trish Hall, minister of my other church, The Celebration Center for Spiritual Living."
One Standard, Two Answers
From Chapter 27 of "The Bishop and the Seeker," we read how I challenged Bishop T about a situation in which I seemed to be getting divine guidance that contradicted scripture. A friend was in the hospital, but I got a feeling that I didn't have to go visit her that day.
"Scripture tells us we should fulfill other responsibilities," he said.
"Ah. So you're saying a decision to go could be supported by scripture, and a decision not to go could also be supported by scripture?" I asked.
"Yes, it depends on the situation." he said.
"But suppose I didn't have other responsibilities that evening. I just had a feeling my friend didn't need me--perhaps because she had other visitors or was being discharged. Shouldn't Spirit be able to communicate to us new information like that that isn't in the scriptures?"
"You can take that attitude," he said. "But you may be wrong."
And THAT was a major "aha" for me. When I follow my inner knowing, I risk the possibility of being wrong. If I follow the pre-set standard and things don't work out, its not my responsibility. So how responsible am I willing to be?
Overcoming "the World"
"But what about the affect of the world on us?" asked one participant. And that made me realize that both our traditions, Christianity and New Thought metaphysics, share a passion to overcome the influence of "the world" of public opinion. Personally, I was lucky that my mother taught me, "Never follow the world, most people are boobs." But of course, that left me prone to judgment which may be just as difficult to overcome.
Several people asked at the end of the evening if we could continue the discussion informally, which I will be happy to do. Just let us know if you'd like to sit in.
|All My Ministers|
My favorite photo of the series:
Me between Rev. Trish Hall of Celebration Center, and my co-author Bishop Thomas.