Ask a Fundamentalist Christian to define his belief system. More than likely you’ll get some sort of descriptive formula that describes a supposed plan that was figured out from scripture. You might also hear that God has revealed such a plan to man for his eternal salvation and that conformity to that plan is the hinge that connects eternal happiness in God to man’s highest aspirations.
Ask a mystical Christian to define his religion and most easily the answer will be that the kingdom of God is within you, “the Father and I are one, and so are you.”
Like trying to grasp and hold onto pudding, formula-based religious Christians do not seem to understand the impossibility of possessing God. For such believers, possessing God is not distinguished from any sense of God as the source of how we experience the mystery of life. Through the mechanics of living by creeds, religious Christians are focused on fixed forms of thought rather than any state of mind. For these humans God is a concept made real only by somehow grasping God; or believing imaginatively that you can and are grasping a connection to God as a function of something called “faith.”
As Watts wrote,
…man is frightened of this living, ungraspable mystery, and is always trying to have it securely boxed up in some philosophical, ethical, theological, or psychological formula, where its vitality is destroyed …
In trying to hold God in one fixed form, we exclude him from all others, and, so far as our apprehension of him is concerned, “devitalize” him in the one that we hold. We lose his immanence because we try to grasp and draw down his transcendence.
To both greater and lesser degrees, Fundamentalist Christians seem to be formula-based and tend to form and commit themselves to performance-based theologies. Such thinking then become the basis of congregations founded as a means of establishing communities in which conformity is equated to spirituality.
Life, however, is neither formulaic and nor does it recognize and reward performance-based behavior. Life is spontaneous. God is spontaneous. Awareness of most specific aspects of life ebb and flow within our consciousness according to our attention spans and attentiveness itself to the whimsical nature of promptings, hunches and impulses.
We have no established legitimate formulas for how to deal with promptings, hunches and impulses. Yet most of the actual decision-making and behavioral mechanics of being alive do not occur but in the absence of formulaic response.
Why then must religion and our relationship to the source of our being proceed with the pretense that there is a God, that God has a plan, that God has revealed a plan and only through such a plan with it’s imagined theological speculations can we bridge the perceptual physical gap between God in his abode of existence and man in his mortality?
Christians, in living “fundamentally” by formula seem to demonstrate a kind of insecure pride as well as a fear of living spontaneously with the ever-present mystery of God. The only way to cope with that insecure pride and fear is to become spiritually and intellectually rigid, trusting more in a dogma than in any real mystical awareness of the something-more-ness that surrounds our every breath.
Fundamentalist Christians imagine that they dwell within a spiritual but earthly congregational monarchy that is governed supernaturally by a king in heaven. The king is essentially not much more than an immeasurable superior and glorified human-like being linked in some genetic (we are children of God) way to humanity.
The earliest historical mystic Christians sought out – despite fierce and dogmatic objections and rejections by fundamentalist Church Fathers – the experience of God without the predetermined and literal kindergarten notions espoused by religious formula. Very little, if any, of that formula ever fits the reality of mystical experience.
Fundamentlist formula, complete with its “plan” and performance based “should’s,” tends to obliterate any sense of union with God that leads to a palpable awareness of being one with God; part and parcel of the reality of God.
Is it not more attractive to be mystically connected with God through the Spirit than to live constantly concerned about performance?
Is it not more attractive to live by the Spirit of spontaneous consciousness of God that is punctuated by promptings, hunches and impulses; that has nothing to do with notions of commandments, obedience, participation and constant eligibility reviews regarding personal worthiness and performance?
This greater attractiveness is more real than any imagined theological circumstance that can not be proven, validated nor justified. This is the weakness most dramatically demonstrated by the early Catholic notions of Original Sin and the subsequently massive mountain of theologies devoted to a concept of sin, atonement and forgiveness.
None of the concepts are now nor have they ever been literally real in a supernatural, let alone spiritual, sense.
Only in the mind’s eye’s of an early priesthood did such weeds sprout and grow to immaturity.
Only in the mind’s eyes of subsequent fundamentally literalist Christians who resisted the mystics among them could greater weeds in larger fields be imaginatively planted.
Ultimately, fundamentalist Christianity is an imagined environment where a score-keeping God who is external to the humanity created rules as a monarch with biases, with wrath and with judgmental thinking.
Ultimately, mystics – Christian or otherwise – know more powerfully and with deeper love, the reality of a non-judgmental source that exists without wrath or bias – and to whom the mystic spontaneously senses belonging.
And in that regard, any estimate of fundamentalist Christianity as a superior form of spiritual belief is a false notion. It is nothing more than religion based on supernatural separation between God and humanity.