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Ian Lawton has been growing God Pods for over 20 years now, helping people and organizations uncover the seed of divinity within and grow from the inside out. Or as he says in his Twitter profile, he is a "Spiritual teacher of inner wisdom, divine love, deeper consciousness, oneness, peace, and abundance."
Ian is an author and lectures internationally on contemporary spirituality, technology and change. He has been blogging and writing daily affirmations for several years and teaches regularly at C3 Exchange in West Michigan which is an independent, inclusive spiritual community.
Ian has also launched an online community with his wife Meg ―Soulseeds―that offers resources and services for people of all faiths and no faith.
In this course, we will take a look at all of the different ideas about God and sort out our own, probing deeply while having fun!
Let's check out some of our favorite Big Ideas from this week's class:
Big Idea #1: Transcendence vs. Immanence
We can see God as being transcendent and we can also see Her as being immanent.
The word transcendence points to the qualities of God that are beyond us, that do not depend on us. This is the unknowable God, the God of mystery that fills us with fear, the great unchanging Absolute.
Immanence on the other hand points toward the God who is near, personal, comforting, present. This God makes us feel that we are a part of Him, that He is fused with our own spirit.
The Judeo-Christian tradition teaches that these two aspects of God are present at the same time.
Jesus is a great example of both of these aspects, being both divine and human, both transcendent and immanent.
Big Idea #2: Pantheism and Panentheism
The worldview of pantheism teaches that everything that exists in the universe is an expression of the divine. There is no “otherness” to God. God is all we can know and there is nothing more than God in the universe, the universe is God.
Panentheism, on the other hand, believes that everything is in God. While God contains everything, She is more than the sum of those parts. If God is the ocean, we are the fish. The fish are part of the ocean, but the ocean is more than the fish.
Big Idea #3: Post-WWII Theology
World War II had a profound impact on modern theology. It didn’t make sense for people that God had the power to affect change and did nothing as so many people were killed. Many people began to question all of their previous notions of the Divine.
The War was also followed by a huge economic boon. The easier life that came with this boon made people question whether an interventionist God was necessary at all.
The theologian Paul Tillich, for example, argued that we should live as if there were no God at all. This meant that human beings had to take complete responsibility for the kind of world they created. In the eyes of many theologians, the immanent was more important than the transcendent, we were the ones who had to make the Divine manifest in the world.
An amazing story that demonstrates this vision of the immanent was told by Elie Wiesel.
There were three men hung in the concentration camp. The two older men died right away. But the body of the younger one continued to writhe and struggle for over half an hour as the Jewish prisoners were forced to watch. A woman standing behind Mr. Wiesel kept whispering, “But where is God?”
As he looked upon the tortured, hanging young man, a voice came to Mr. Wiesel. Loudly and clearly it said, “I am right there,” indicating the man being executed.
The horrors of the Second World War paved the way for new conceptions of the Divine that we continue to struggle with today.
Other Cool Stuff:
Click here to join our community site where you can discuss the ideas you learn in this class with your classmates!
We hope you enjoyed and see you in Week 5!
-The en*theos Team