As the evangelical left flocked together at the Wild Goose Festival, many benefited from the uproarious-yet-helpful intellectual history by Phyllis Tickle regarding Constantine, birth control, and the postmodern socio-theological predicament (that’s the best phrase I came up for it—I’m open for suggestions on a tidier dictum). Other wild goslings, on the other hand, bore witness to some intellectually suspect lessons. And I don’t mean the hilariously cultish Book of Urantia booth.
I refer to Alexander Shaia’s “Enlarging the Prayer of Easter.” In reference to the Easter celebration, the “spiritual guide” and psychology Ph.D. asserted, “The primary conception was not DNA and empty tombs but coming to the table to experience present resurrection of God’s enlivening grace.” He continued, “The Gospel is the critical now. It’s not about a person who lived in the past…Christianity is primarily the religion of now…Faith is present-moment action.” “Our way of the cross is ours,” not Christ’s. He believed, “Creating a path of transformation is the first step on becoming a Christian.” In reference to the Eucharist, Shaia mystically intoned, “The two bodies of Christ gaze upon each other…We see the Christ who weds within us light and dark.” It was here that Carl Jung’s influence on Dr. Shaia became apparent.
Continuing in his Jungian and progressive modes, the presenter counseled, “Nicodemus is that natural law person in our life—a pastor, beloved writer, parent—who told us something twenty years ago that we’re still holding on to today, even in the face of when God is obviously doing something new.”
Perhaps Shaia’s reservations about the past excuse his questionable historical assertions. He believed the big novelty about Christianity was that, formerly, religion was a tribal affair, where a particular nation believed in the privilege of a bloodline. Such and such people is superior since they (unlike their enemies) are somehow descendents or spawn of the gods. Religion before Christianity portrayed certain groups as within a divine bloodline. Shaia called this a “religion of scarcity.” Christianity, on the other hand, shines as a “pan-tribal community.” Tribes, Shaia revealed, are more than just blood: they can be political affiliations, denominational traditions, and of course sexual orientations. The darkened, primitive, and (since supposedly older) wrong conception of spirituality stood as the norm within the Roman empire. “Rome is a kinder-looking Nazism, and the emperor a nicer looking Hitler,” he contended, “Rome was the most barbaric regime up to that time.” [I’m sure that at least the Assyrians would have something to say to that….] He even (quite falsely) taught that Rome “immediately cut down new religions when they’d crop up.”
I’m not generally one to chuck out a Bible verse and leave. But the blatant falsities of this workshop frustrate me as a history major so much, I will succumb to that whim. I will point to one of my favorites as found in Isaiah: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” Christianity is most definitely not a mere “religion of now.”