I believe there is great potential for finding common ground between all spiritualities, all religions, all people, in the quest for something beyond definition, perhaps what we mean by the Holy Spirit, or the Transcendent, a true spiritual oneness of humanity, a global spiritual interdependence available to everyone, whether or not we believe in God the Creator of all things visible and invisible.
Will this help us address our religious intolerances and divides? I think it could. If we can truly promote a global spiritual awakening this gives us great hope for human flourishing. How do we do this?
Yesterday I wrote of Lennox and Hawking and whether God exists.
Again by happy perchance, on the same day as I bought The God Issue of The New Scientist I picked up a copy of The Times. Now this was a Friday, and I only ever buy a paper on Saturday - mainly for the radio and TV listings for the week ahead!
But here in the Friday Times for March 16th 2012 was the obituary for The Rev Professor John Hick.
This February, with the death of John Hick at the age of 90, we lost one of our greatest and most influential philosophers of religion. His pluralist approach proved provocative, particularly amongst Christian fundamentalists in the States, where over the years he held several teaching posts. He believed in an ultimate ineffable Real, (his generic term for Transcendent Reality) whose universal presence could be felt in a variety of ways, making sense of the variety of forms of religion that have developed around the world. He held that Truth claims about God are really Truth claims about perceptions of God, affected by specific cultures and histories, leading to the claims made by different religions, none of which can therefore claim to know the Absolute Truth. This hits at the heart of the exclusivity of Christianity.
But I think I agree with Hick's point.
It seems to be such a blindingly obvious idea, but isn’t it just possible that when we have our spiritual experiences we are all tapping into the same spirit, higher level of consciousness, transcendence, whatever we may choose to call it? Why then can we not use this spirituality as the common thread that binds and unites all religions? Because, after all, this indefinable global consciousness, soul, spirit, empathy is presumably of the same character whether we are Christian, Muslim, Jains, atheists, agnostics, black, white, Scottish or Zulu or whatever our faith, color or culture?
John Hick clearly thought as much.
My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.
"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden