Tag Archives: African American

OUR CALLING IS LIBERATION – COMPLETE FREEDOM IN GOD

The call to spiritual transformation is the call to freedom.

It is a prophetic call heard within the depths of the mind, heart and soul, a calling from God, resonating in our consciousness, in our environment, in each every breath that we breathe and space that we take up.

It is a voice of strength, illuminating us with faith.  It is a voice of deliverance, reminding us of our freedom.  It is a voice of power, anointing us with grace.  It is a voice of divinity, blessing us with love.  It emanates everything that embraces us: the blood in our veins, the cells in our bodies, the vision that we move forward in.

If you listen, you can hear it, feel it, touch it, taste it, dance it, sing it, clap it: an ancestral call to raise us from semi-consciousness to a state where we can see God.

Malidoma Patrice Some teaches us that “ancestors have an intimate and absolutely vital connection with the world of the living.  They are always available to guide, to teach, and to nurture.  They represent one of the pathways between the knowledge of this world and the next. . . . [T]hey embody the guidelines for . . .all that is most valuable about life.”  (Of Water and Spirit  (Putnam: New York, 1994) at p. 9)
If I am still, I can hear them distinctly – not downtrodden as they were in the physical world, but holy and divine.  Their call is one of deliverance.   It is a call heard in the midnight hour, in the rustling of the leaves, in the sip of the living water: a call to Spirit and to Truth.

It is a call that no one can stifle, even those who refuse to hear it. It is a call that is at once collective and individual. In order to recognize our worth as individuals and as a species, we must not merely hear it but respond to it. No matter what our life circumstances may be, we are always free to do so.

Enslaved Africans heard the call, and their survival is a testament to their response. God called on many of our ancestors in a profound way, and great men and women like Nat Turner, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth listened and acted.

Take Sojourner Truth, for example. Her spiritual transformation began when she had a vision that her former “master,” from whom she had escaped, would visit. Truth told her “mistress and master” that her former “master” would come that day and she would leave with him. Her current “owners” were surprised because they had not heard that he would come.

Sojourner Truth took her child and prepared to leave with him. As she approached him, however, she had a more compelling vision: “God revealed himself to her . . . [and showed] that He was all over — that He pervaded the Universe.”

Even though she was physically enslaved, Truth realized that “there was no place, not even in hell, where [God] was not.” When her attention was finally “called to outward things, she observed her `former master’ had left” without her and her child. She walked back into the house, “exclaiming aloud, `Oh, God, I did not know you were so big.’” (Narrative of Sojourner Truth (as told by Sojourner Truth), at 35-36)
God is big indeed–a power too awesome and all- encompassing to even conceptualize. God fills our hearts; embraces our bodies, blesses our souls, lights the sky above our heads, strengthens the earth under our feet. God is the sun and the stars and the moon.

God is the essence of life, in which we live and move and have our being. When we begin to acknowledge that God is awesome and we are made in God’s image and likeness – not a he God but male and female, according to Genesis – we open our consciousness to realize the awesomeness of our own true nature.

Harriet Tubman understood the power of the Divine and trusted in the Presence of God. She escaped enslavement herself and risked being recaptured, beaten, and killed when she returned again and again to help hundreds of Africans escape slavery in this country. Her courage and strength are indicative of her deep faith in the power of God.

During one mission in a bitter snowstorm, she found that the enslaved Africans she intended to help escape were not at their appointed meeting place. With only a tree for shelter, she did not turn back and refuse to wait in the storm. Apparently knowing God would protect her, she stood behind the tree for the entire night in the snowstorm until those she came to help arrived.

The abolitionists who wrote of this account depicted her as an ignorant child instead of a powerful spirit woman and “her people’s” trust of God as naive. But Jesus taught us that we must be childlike–that is unconditional and complete–in our trust to enter the kingdom. Harriet Tubman and many others suffered the indignity and horror of American slavery, yet the tremendous power of God kept them moving toward freedom.

Despite the beatings and other insane acts of violence against the minds and bodies of enslaved Africans in this country, no one could master them as long as they mastered their own consciousness. Even if we appear to be free, we are “slaves” to external conditions if we do not embrace our own self-worth and master our own mind, soul, and spirit.

By external conditions, I mean the things we can see with the physical eye – the appearance of poverty, the appearance of illness, the appearance of terror. Of course, these things do exist in the material world, but we do not have to be controlled by them. When we realize that God is the movement and momentum underlying all things and that we live, move, and have our being in God, we attain mastery over ourselves.

Sojourner Truth was her own master because she was directly connected with Spirit. Despite her circumstances, she was called to transform herself into a powerful leader when she realized that God is everywhere and bigger than any man-made institution or three-dimensional, time-bound realm.
God moved Sojourner Truth to sojourn for Truth in a manner that would liberate not only herself but other captured Africans. She remains a master teacher of the principle that God is much larger than any beliefs or concepts we might have – larger even than existence as we know it. Her life and the lives of other Africans in this country are a critical example, rarely acknowledged, of how the recognition of God pushes us far beyond even our greatest expectations.

Like Sojourner Truth, Nat Turner, who led a slave revolt in Virginia in 1831, was one of the greatest spiritual masters of his time. He claimed that the “Spirit” spoke to him, saying, “Seek ye the kingdom of Heaven and all things shall be added unto you.” By Spirit, he meant “the Spirit that spoke to the prophets in former days. “ Turner prayed continually for two years “whenever [his] duty would permit – and . . . had the same revelation, which fully confirmed that [he] was ordained for some great purpose in the hands of the Almighty.” (The Confessions of Nat Turner, The Leader of the Late Insurrections in Southampton, Va., As fully and voluntarily made to Thomas R. Gray, Nov. 5, 1831) Turner understood that obedience to the call of God is the source of true freedom.

What do these African American prophets teach us? That when we recognize the presence of God everywhere in our lives and open our consciousness to tap God’s infinite power, we can do more than we could ever imagine – not so much for our personal gain but for the benefit of all humanity, which is where our true worth lies. We are able to taste the sweetness of freedom when we realize that there is no separation between all that we are and all that God Is.

 

COLLATERAL BEAUTY

collateralLast night, I was watching Will Smith’s movie Collateral Beauty, about a man who loses his only child, a daughter who was only six years old, and the pain that he grows through in order to return to himself.  The movie raises the question what is “collateral beauty”?  We always talk about collateral damage, the negative secondary or by-product of an accident, catastrophe or tragedy that brings additional pain, hurt, injury, and suffering.  But we never talk about collateral “beauty,” which is, to me, the ability to see the glass half-full instead of half-empty, the ability to see the presence of God, even in the midst of messiness, turmoil and strife.
collateral2 The movie Collateral Beauty focuses on three attributes, which in many respects reflect mind, body and soul: death, time and love.

Paul would say that we die daily, that in each breath we are given the opportunity to be renewed, to leave the old and begin again.  No matter what we experience, we have the ability to re-invent ourselves.  Even if we have made some transgressions, we can forgive ourselves and start all over again.  Spirit is unconditional love.  That Divine Mind of Absolute Good that we call God is the pure energy of forgiveness, of unconditional grace.  Every breath that we breathe allows us to embrace a new existence.
collateral4The collateral beauty of our challenges is that they allow us to re-start, to re-invent, to re-create, to re-establish who we are – to get rid of the old so that the new can emerge.  In John 8:51, Jesus says “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”   Nothing and no one can destroy the pure presence of Spirit expressing as us.  So we get up from our mats and walk.  We rise like a phoenix from the ashes.  In three days, we find our temples restored.

nature-animation-gif-6It doesn’t matter what or who we are confronted with in the world, nothing or no one is too great for God.  Even what others mean for evil, God means for good.  As the scripture teaches us, the battle is not ours, it is God’s.  No weapon formed against us shall prosper.

Similarly, time is a construct created to attempt to contain our spiritual experiences or physical realities, but they are really without limitation.  Our bodies are more Spirit than flesh.  The collateral by-product of our challenges is that we realize time is only the appearance of limitation.  Proverbs 17:17 says “a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  Our true friend is the timelessness and limitlessness of God.  In God’s time, we are ageless.  In God’s time, we are at the beginning and end of creation.  In God’s time, we are eternally beautiful, and the right time is wherever we are.

rain-in-forest-wallpaperThe collateral beauty of disaster or difficulty is that we can experience the fullness of the perfect divine order of life, realizing that despite appearances, we are in our right space at our right time.

I see God in my life, despite the appearances of difficulties.  I rise above the fray to position myself in the divine flow of Spirit expressing through me.  The collateral beauty is the strength that Spirit expresses in this lift above pain, above disappointment, above betrayal, above fear into the realm of absolute good.

springtimeCollateral beauty is more difficult to see because we are distracted from seeing the good everywhere present, the birth of Spirit all around us, the widow’s oil that keeps pouring, the baskets of fish and bread left over.  The Psalmist says (27:4) One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”

Collateral beauty is our first step to finding the temple within.  The temple is love.

The letters of John leave a prophetic message: love is God.

rainbow3So even when we are blinded by the events and transgressions of the world, through their impact, we are given a new vision: one that allows us to see God in every word, every breath, every event, and every circumstance.

I can complain forever.  I can fear without ceasing.  I can stop creating.  I can worry about what others say.  I can cross over into a boundary of unhappiness so restrictive that I can stop living, like Will Smith’s character did.  He retreated into a world of pain and misery.

sunsetOr I can step out into the sunlight of a new day, a day that I have never seen before.  I can release the baggage of yesterday.  I can climb a new mountain and cross the waters of new faith, realizing that this, too, shall pass, but more importantly, that this – whatever this is, is the blessing of collateral beauty: a small crack in the universe, where I can see God.

 

 

FINDING SPACE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

We are looking outside for the sacred space that is not in the world but is in us.  We are worried about manna that never stops falling.  We are obsessed with what others think when that is none of our business.  We are afraid of evil when love is the only power that there is.

Love is the kingdom that the Book of Luke teaches us to seek, when Jesus says “do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear . . . .  your Father knows that you need them.  But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”  (Luke 12:22, 30-31)  The problem is that many of us are waiting for a man named Jesus and a Father that is not in the flesh but is in the soul.

love20

Where is the soul?   Both within us and without.  It is the pure consciousness of love that we live, move and have our being in.  (Acts 17:28)  Jesus said it even better: He said, “I am in the Father and you are in me and I am in you.”  (John 14:20) In this kingdom of absolute good, we are immediately healed in the realization that we are always well.  This shift in consciousness is immediate when we surrender to the presence and power of God as our souls.

light21Luke 17:20-21 says “ Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed,  nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.’”  The kingdom of God is everywhere you are because the soul is everywhere you are.

In Consciousness Transformed, Joel Goldsmith said “You can never find the kingdom of God until you have entered into the awareness of your own Soul. ”

water-2Joel says “God is the divine being of you, your very life, your very Soul, the Self of you.”

This great mystic of all times said “God is spirit and the kingdom of God is within you, not in holy mountains or holy temples or merely in holy teachers. You must find God at the center of your being and experience God there.”  (Joel S. Goldsmith, Consciousness Transformed)

img_5929Our resurrection comes with rising from the dead of complacency, the dead of fear, the dead of regret, the dead of worry, the dead of shame, the dead of the appearances of things.  “The goal is releasing the Soul from the tomb of human existence, more especially the tomb of the human mind. In your periods of introspection or contemplation check to see to what extent you are imprisoned in your mind and body. ” (Joel S. Goldsmith, Consciousness Transformed)

Our resurrection is here and now as the rebirth of our re-connection with the soul, that has never left nor forsaken us.  We have simply forgotten where, who and what we are.  We are the vehicle of the kingdom of God, and we carry that vehicle in our souls.

img_5978The soul is always waiting to align us with the favor that is everywhere present.  Albert Einstein illustrated the pure potential of life with a simple equation: E = mc2, demonstrating that energy and matter are so fundamentally related that they are one and the same. Essentially, his work showed that matter and energy are completely interchangeable.  We are gods, as Jesus said, given the power of pure potential.  In this realm of pure potential, all else is added.  Our good is already there, already here.

love21Walt Disney carried Mickey around in his pocket in the appearances of poverty and despair, failing to realize that a mere mouse would manifest millions.  Connecting with the soul, finding space in the kingdom within is endless abundance, infinite prosperity filled with love, gratitude and grace that will bless us past, present and future.

Joe Dispenza teaches that “[w]hen you are in a state of gratitude, you transmit a signal into the field that an event has already occurred. ”  With the sheer energy of thanking the universe for the changes that we desire to take place, we energize the ethers of divine creation to manifest.  We change our lives when we realize that nothing can prevent our good from taking shape: neither body, nor time, nor environment.   Join us on Mondays, starting February 6, 2017, as we study Dr. Dispenza’s book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself,  8 PM  EST (Spiritmuv Conference Line 218-936-4986/ Pass Code 48201). You can purchase it on Amazon Kindle.

In the realm of the soul, also known as the  kingdom of God,    we are in the space of gratitude, but also in the sacred space of clairvoyance, prophecy, vision, divine intelligence, knowing as well as unknowing, the divine space of simply being.  This is the space that we belong in, not one in which there is hatred, lack or envy, but a space of power, where there is the whole being of God expressing as us.
love120Today I envision myself as the whole being of God: without boundaries, limitations, or doubts.  In this kingdom, I see my soul, beautiful, loving and powerful.  Everything that celebrates me as a full expression of God is here.  I am free.  I do the work of God with brilliance, integrity, joy, and light.

GIVING THANKS FOR THE DIVINE WITHIN: GOD AS INDIVIDUAL BEING


img_5609-2This is from a previous class on the teachings of Joel Goldsmith.
Joel GoldsmithThis was taken from the 7th Section of Joel’s book
Living by Grace and from
“Evaluating Your Spiritual Progress”  which is in
the end of the 6th Section.
Joel Goldsmith 2

Join us as we listen to the divine within.

The music is several different versions of Amazing Grace by Ladysmith Black Mambazo,
Walela and a piano solo called Amazing Grace.
Please help us support these artists by purchasing
this powerful meditation music on i-Tunes.

GOD ALONE

Rev Loving listening to SpiritJoel Goldsmith wrote that the “answer, the solution to all problems, is the realized Christ . . . . Christ risen in our consciousness, Christ raised up from the tomb through meditation.”  He says that we should devote one meditation period alone each day to God: “God alone.”

In this period of God alone, we center ourselves in God and ask for We lovednothing.  This is the ultimate communion – to just be in God’s presence, to just sit in the kingdom, to just be a witness to the activity of Christ in our minds, light in our bodies, and grace in our souls.

Circle of PrayerIn the kingdom, we can trace our steps backward from the far country with the assurance that our deliverance is eternal and find ourselves, once again covered in the best robes of salvation.

In the kingdom, we return the garden that gives without ceasing.  We see the fruit that has always been hanging. We realize that it was never eaten, that even when it is plucked, its branches remain low for our reach.  Our fruit remains fresh in the awareness that there is neither good nor evil, only God alone.

Spiritmuv Prayer Circle 3God is a Brown Girl Too 2010 Retreat 073Here, in the heart of God, I see Moses.  He never died.  He simply became that which truth is and always will be.  He had no need to enter that which he already was.  This is the space of sacred breath and gentle silence.

I sit on the edge of nothingness into not one – but thousands, millions, infinite meditations that do nothing but listen.

Just one breath breathing into another is holier than a song.  This is where we find ourselves in the loving embrace of Jesus’ eyes as he carried our cross.  I will never leave you nor forsake you, he said.  I will send the Holy Spirit to be your teacher, counselor and guide.

The Holy Spirit is neither Christian, nor Muslim, nor Hindu, nor Jew but is that vast intersection of all faiths, struggling for expression when all they have to do is listen.

I AM THE ONLY FREEDOM THAT YOU NEED: Self-Empowerment Call

gbgt2

This audio tape is an excerpt from the studied chapter “I AM THE ONLY FREEDOM THAT YOU NEED,” from the book God is a Brown Girl Too can be purchased on Amazon:    Listen by clicking the link.

Interview Nov 2013

We will continue our Saturday calls on January 10, 2015, from 9:30 to 10 :30 A.M. — Call 567-314-3648/ pass code 48201.

Enjoy our other websites uplifting a consciousness of grace at http://www.spiritmuvmeditation.com (we are on over 700 days of a meditation challenge); http://www.spiritmuvvideo.com (we post videos for our Miracle Minute Meditation, as well as our Metaphysical Bible Journey); http://www.spiritmuvblog.com (where we continue to uplift our community of growth in consciousness); http://www.myrtletreepress.webs.com (our publishing website); and http://www.spiritmuv.com (our main website).

 

 

DANCE WITH A NEW FREEDOM

 DANCE 13she wishes she could tell you the beginning so that you would realize the end
is the glory of a song
and a dance
with heart and meaning,

the poetry of creation
always leading back to itself.

DANCE 10

DANCE 3

Eric Butterworth was one of the great mystics of your time.  He taught many Brown Girls and left many books and tapes as a lasting legacy.  Before he made his transition, he was in a wheelchair.  His voice had become so weak that those around him hung on to his every word.  One of the last things that he said at a retreat in upstate New York was “I have no theology, I dance.”

“I have no theology, I dance”  means that you DANCE 5move with the Holy Spirit,  move with the wisdom that there is no separation between all that you are and all that I am.  You flow, you live, you laugh, you sing, you dance with a new understanding that you are unlimited in the Spirit, regardless of the appearances of the flesh.  You are Spirit in movement.

DANCE 2You are not a religion, you are divine truth. You are constantly re-defining yourself because there is no limit to Spirit.  In John 14:12, Jesus said, he who believes in me will do the works that I do also; and greater works than these will he do.  When you dance in the Spirit, you realize that if things are not going the way that you want them to go; if you are not satisfied with the direction your life has taken; if you don’t like the experiences that manifest in your life – you have the power to change them.

DANCE 7When you dance in the Spirit, you know that if patterns of negativity keep showing up in your life – such as disharmony, loneliness, pain, physical discomfort, financial insecurity, lack, worry, doubt – you can change them. You can wake up from your self-limiting thought and you can experience the ceaseless flow of good – and turn your life around.  You can dance.

DANCE 8When you dance in the Spirit, you shake the dust off your feet.  You bless the people who are not in accord with your greatest good, who do not support you and do Spirit calls you to do.  You dance in the joy of infinite possibility.  You dance in the hope that you can create, grow, plant, deliver, empower, ignite, vote, rap, sing, write, dig, teach, sell, envision, tap, rescue, develop, uncover, realize something in your life that will heal the world of hatred, of doubt, of lack, of limitation.

DANCE 11The Psalmist says in the 8th Psalm, the 6th Verse, you have given him power over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet. You dance.  No matter how unimportant, how trivial, how average, how unattractive, how old, how overweight, how unnecessary, how disabled you may seem to you, the dance that you do could not be done in quite the same way – without you doing it.  You dance in the realization that you are my unique melody sung once – only once as you – one melody of Spirit singing itself into the continuum; and the music of the spheres would not be complete without your voice.

DANCE 12 You dance in the truth that Spirit moves through you. You have something wonderful to offer life, which can only be created as you.  When King David brought the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David, which to the Israelites was the ark where God was kept, David danced before the Lord with all his might.  This mighty king made up his mind right then that he would tap dance, break dance, cabbage patch – clap his hands and stomp his feet – that he would gladly be a dancing fool – not just for a wooden Ark but for the Spirit that dwelt within him.

DANCE 6Throw away your crutches – whatever shape they may take.  Get up from beside your pools of Bethesda.  Touch the hem of my beloved Jesus’ garment.  Rise up like Lazarus.  Run the race and don’t get weary.  Renew your course with a new strength, a new power and a new victory.  There really is nothing, absolutely nothing that can hold you back.  So press forward not just to win the prize but to dance – all the way to the finished line.

 

This is an excerpt from the book God is a Brown Girl Too, which can be purchased on amazon.com.  It is a book where God speaks to us from the kingdom within, which is and always will be uniquely us.  Read and imagine God speaking to you, in the image and likeness of all that you are.

RECEIVE THE RICHES OF MY UNIVERSE: Self-Empowerment Call


Listen to our Saturday call here from Sept. 6, 2014.

GBGII page 24Now that we are dedicated to posting these, we will improve on the sound quality.

The following is an excerpt from the studied chapter; the book God is a Brown Girl Too can be purchased on Amazon:

“Each one of you is a unique seed, endowed with the power to attract what and who you need for your growth. each one of you has the power of choice in a universe abundant with divine ideas. You have the power to choose a consciousness of abundance, one  in which you can manifest the good that you desire . . .”

This power of choice liberates us from comparison.  We are not limited to a few divine expressions but to the unlimited good that the universe expresses as us. So we should not compare ourselves to others, loathing in fear and jealousy because we believe in lack.  We cannot worry about what others say or think, limiting ourselves in the marginalization and degradation of people who have not yet attained a spiritual vision.  We have to be committed to the absolute good of our own divine calling.

Listen.

Rev Cecilia Exlains God is a Brown Girl Too

 

Enjoy our other websites uplifting a consciousness of grace at http://www.spiritmuvmeditation.com (we are on over 700 days of a meditation challenge); http://www.spiritmuvvideo.com (we post videos for our Miracle Minute Meditation, as well as our Metaphysical Bible Journey); http://www.spiritmuvblog.com (where we continue to uplift our community of growth in consciousness); http://www.myrtletreepress.webs.com (our publishing website); and http://www.spiritmuv.com (our main website).

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO LEARN TO UNLEARN – PART 1

Cecilia July 4 2012 HeadshotEach Saturday, we devote ourselves to reading and discussing God is a Brown Girl Too on our “Self-Empowerment Call” from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM, at 567-314-3648, Pass Code 48201.

One of the things that we often discuss is what we have to un-learn.  The truth is that many of us have no idea why we believe what we do.  We do not know the history of our indoctrination nor do we question it.

The following is the first of several excerpts from papers that I have written about theology which serve as the foundation for God is a Brown Girl Too.   We were born as depraved sinners; we were taught to believe that we are powerless, even though Jesus Christ taught that the kingdom is in us; that the Holy Spirit is in us; that the Father is in us; and that He is in us.

a-soul-sings-to-her-mother1

The following is an excerpt from  African American Spiritual Traditions,
which was written in May 2004.  It discusses why some people fail to believe that the power of God is within them.

THE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EASTERN AND WESTERN ANCIENT UNDERSTANDINGS OF THE ROLES OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT

Although the formal division of the Church into separate Eastern (Greece and the Near East) and Western (Western Europe) churches occurred in 1054 in the Great Schism between Rome and Constantinople, there had been a growing division in the way these two churches or theologies understood the role of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for hundreds of years.

On the one hand, the East practiced the same theology that  Christ gave to the Apostles and that the Apostles gave to the early church fathers.  The East was also influenced by the Egyptian desert fathers[1], who practiced rigid asceticism to combat their physical passion in order to enhance their Oneness with God.

A

Western churches, on the other hand, were largely influenced by Augustine of Hippo, and to a lesser extent, Tertullian.   A1

Augustine, who was born in Africa though said to be a Roman citizen, has been called one of the greatest theologians of Western Christianity.  Their Fourth Century writings had little influence in the East, largely because they were written in Latin as opposed to Greek.[2]    (See Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, “Eastern Orthodoxy”, http://en.www.wikipedia.org )

Eastern theologians relied more on Greek philosophers, borrowing their language to explain Christian doctrine.  Significant differences between Western and Eastern ancient understandings of the roles of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are reflected in their understanding of (A) the “origin and procession of the Holy Spirit”, and (B) the “specific work of the Spirit in God’s plan of creation and salvation”.[3]

  1. The Origin and Procession of the Holy Spirit

The early Christian Church was troubled by disagreement over the nature and relationship of the Trinity.   The West saw the Holy Spirit as proceeding – and therefore originating — from both the Father and the Son, subordinate to neither.  The East saw the Holy Spirit as proceeding or originating from the Father alone.   According to the East, the Father alone brought forth the Holy Spirit; and the Son sent the Holy Spirit as the indwelling paraclete.

The Nicene Creed, established in 325 AD to conform Christian belief, is one of the key documents setting forth this fundamental difference in perception.  It, in part, sets forth:

“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father . . .”

A-3The First Council of Constantinople adopted a revised version of the 325 AD creed in 381 AD, which was the last time that Catholic and Orthodox communions would agree on a Credo.  The phrase “and the Son”, which is the filioque in Latin, was added to the Nicene Creed at Synod of Toledo in Spain in 447 AD,[4] so that it read the Holy Spirit “who proceeds from the Father and the Son.”

West v East

Augustine of Hippo wrote that “the Holy Spirit is neither of the Father alone nor the Son but of both” – stressing their “unity.”  His view was if Spirit proceeded from both the Father and the Son,[5] then the work of the Holy Spirit collapsed into that of the Son.

But in John 15:26 (“when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me”), Jesus Christ  tells us that the Spirit proceeds from the Father – a scripture that the East constantly adduce in their criticism of the filioque clause of the West.

Father

The East follows the Johnanine doctrine closely, which distinguishes between the generation of the son (John 1:14 — and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; John 3:16 —for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; and Luke 3:22 — and the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from Heaven which said “You are my Beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” ) and the procession of the Spirit.

A-4

“Athanasius and the Cappadocians [Gregory of Nyssa, his older brother St. Basil or Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus] emphasized the participation of all three hypostases in all divine activity as a consequence and condition of their unity of essence.”  Systematic Theology, at 271 (citations omitted).   The Apostle John saw the Holy Spirit as the “other advocate” or paraclete who the Father will send in the name of Jesus or whom Jesus will send after exaltation by the Father (John 16:7 – “if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you”).

John 16 7

Consistent with John, the Eastern view was that the Holy Spirit issued from God the Father, through Jesus the Christ, so that God-Jesus Christ-Holy Spirit are viewed as three divine and unique hypostases.  The  Spirit proceeded from the Father through the Son and was perfected in the Holy Spirit.  Gregory of Nyssa, the younger brother of St. Basil, explained this procession as “three torches burning”, with each transmitting fire to the next; the Son being used as an instrument of the Father.  St. Basil believed God created through the Son and perfected through the Holy Spirit.

2.  The Specific Work of the Spirit in Creation and Salvation

The “original sin” was allegedly inherited at the creation of humanity from the Fall of Adam and Eve.  The West believes that after the Fall, humanity needed a savior to restore their right relationship with God.  Thus, Jesus Christ is the savior to restore humanity from sin. The East, however, believe that the “original sin” was not inherited but salvation is an ongoing process of improvement and healing for humanity  as a whole, all of which has been damaged or “tainted” by the Fall.

adam

Under early Western theological thought, the only way for a wretched and depraved humanity to receive the salvation of the Holy Spirit from the sin that was its so-called birth right was through the church.  To the West, only the church and the Bishop had the ability to dispense the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch even wrote in one of his famous letters that “You should all follow the Bishop as Jesus did the Father.”    There was no individual anointing by the Holy Spirit as that could lead to heresy and confusion.  The West wanted full control; so there was only the anointing of the church.  In other words, to get the Holy Ghost, you had to go to church.  To speak in tongues, you had to go to church.  To receive the gift of prophecy, you had to be in church.

Eastern theologians, however, viewed spirituality as an individual experience.  This was likely inspired by the Egyptian desert fathers’ practice of rigid asceticism and control over themselves as individuals.  For example,  Gregory of Nazianzen, one of the Cappadocian Fathers, was concerned that the Holy Spirit not be suppressed.  Similarly, Gregory of Nyssa believed that our experience of the Holy Spirit is based, in part, on our Free Will to move from “Glory to Glory” and that the Kingdom of God is within us.  Macarius said that no part of the soul is covered with darkness; all of the soul is covered in spiritual light.

In the East, Gregory, Chrysostom and Macarius espoused the general view that we were made in the image of God.  The so-called original sin was just a taint.  Moreover, it was the result of humanity’s ability to exercise its God-given free will.  Chrysostom believed that evil was not a part of human nature, even though we may have a tendency to exercise our will to do what appears pleasurable but may be evil.  Despite the fact that the Fall tarnished the image of God (a result of “moral negligence”), God’s purpose is to restore humans to their original pristine perfection.  Athanasius described this concept of theosis:  “The Son of God became man that we night become God.” 

John Wesley said that “no man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace which he hath.”  Spirit — under this Eastern perspective —  could not be confined to the church.  This is consistent with the way Spirit moved in the lives of the nineteenth century African American women.  The church was not receptive to them, but they still received the glory of God, the salvation of Jesus Christ, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Sin was always projected on to brown skinned women everywhere; they were condemned, ridiculed, raped, oppressed, ostracized, sexually exploited, physically abused, mentally tortured – and needed to understand the Truth, that they are glorious, beloved, sacred daughters of God, blessed by Her Love and Her Grace.  As Sojourner Truth said, God is an ocean of Love and we move in Him like Fish in the Sea.

Sojourner

The Western perception of the Holy Spirit  produced a negative anthropological stance.  If everyone was a depraved sinner, tarnished forever from the fall of Adam and Eve, then the black woman, one of the most despised creatures – by white men, white women and black men worldwide – would be at the very bottom of depravity and sin.  The irony of this is that Eve, the oldest bones found in Africa, said to be the mother of all civilization had to be black.  According to the Discovery Channel’s documentary on Eve, all people were born from her; their pigmentation changed over time.  Nevertheless, under the Western Church rigid view of sin, Eve and her children can never be fully saved from their sins, except through Jesus for which there is no perfect salvation.

Those who attend church based on the Western school of thought, perceive themselves as sinners, who can never be saved.  They call on Jesus as their Savior, but look to the hereafter as the only way to experience true happiness.

The East has a more positive anthropological stance.   If the Fall is perceived as merely a taint or “moral negligence”, a sin for which we were acquitted when Jesus the Christ died upon the cross and was resurrected, we can redeem ourselves with the aid of the Holy Spirit, by baptism and rebirth, by the teachings of Jesus the Christ, and by the grace of God Our Father.

In John 14:12, Jesus said “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”   If we believe that we can attain the stature of the Christ, we can do so without the church, without the bishop, without the pastor, or the preacher, or the congregation of so-called saints.  Jesus Christ taught at the temple, but he did not worship at church.

Jesus said, in John 10:34-35, “it is not written in your law, I said, ye are Gods.”

Paul said “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.”

A more positive theology opens up the depraved sinner’s consciousness to the realization that she is not depraved, nor a sinner, nor worthless – but the worthy mother of civilization and co-creator of all things.

She has a specific work to do to restore humanity’s divine image;  she is capable of unfolding her perfection;  salvation is hers.

(Part 2 will be added next week.  References are below. )

[1] These anchorites or hermits sometimes led a life of prayer deep in the desert, spending time in prayer and meditation while denying themselves of food and sleep (e.g., Anthony, eating a few crumbs every second day, while walled up in a fort; he received visitations from angels, demons, wild animals, and other apparitions).  Dorotheus lived 6o years in a cave, sleeping while sitting up.  Macarius stood upright through the entire period of Lent.  Syrian ascetics were known to place themselves in holes; one slept in a hollowed-out log full of thorns and stones.  Some took off all of their clothes and grazed on herbs and grass like animals.  The Syrian stylites spent their lives praying at the top of tall stone pillars (e.g., Simeon lived 40 years atop a 50 foot stone pillar).  Not all anchorites were men; many were women!  (Lange, Stuart, “Searching for Intimacy with the Desert Fathers”, Reality Magazine, Issue 40.)

[2] All branches of Eastern Orthodoxy trace a continuous apostolic succession back to the five early centers of Christianity: Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople. The Western tradition is largely seen as Catholicism and Protestantism (e.g., the Roman Catholic Church).

[3] Quotes without citations are taken from Dr. Anne Rebecca Elliott’s dissertation, African American Women’s Understanding off the Spirit: Ancient Eastern Pneumatological Influences (1998).

[4] The dispute over the filioque clause and the manner of its adoption helped lead to the great schism 600 years later.

[5]  The “result”, however is “not in keeping with the witness of the scripture.”  Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology  (1991),  at 317.  In fact, Western theology is now reaching a consensus that the filioque is “uncanonical” and the “Augustinian doctrine of the procession of the Spirit from the Father is an inappropriate formulation.”  Id. at 318 and n. 181.