Swami Snehananda Jyoti
Theology is the knowledge about God. Since God is the object of faith, theology presupposes faith. Faith, hope, and love are the three prime theological virtues. Any theology is sheer speculation and anthropomorphic as God is beyond human understanding. The new theology is built on the good elements of the old theology. The old theology developed according to the needs of the time. For instance, the divine right of kings was developed to protect monarchs; infallibility and primacy were proclaimed to protect the power and authority of popes; the dogmas of immaculate conception and assumption of Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, were defined to show the unique intercessory and mediatory power of Mary in salvation.as well as the importance of virginity and celibacy; the original sin was conceived to indicate the status of fallen humanity through disobedience and sin of first parents and the need for a redeemer; eternal damnation into hell indicates the punishment that altogether cuts out one’s relationship with God due to the gravity of even one mortal sin. The Yahweh (God) of the Old Testament who had Jews as the chosen people was a jealous God who had to evolve to be the God and Father of Christ.
It is important to vigorously examine the old ways, simplify life, and keep only what is essential and good. Most of the concepts of the old theology arose in certain historical contexts, and are not needed for salvation. God does not discriminate against any human being, and does not create a chosen people. God gives what is necessary for life including salvation right from the moment of creation. God has provided the corrective interventions required through prophets, seers, and sages right from the beginning. Human beings cannot ultimately thwart God’s plan. All-loving, compassionate, and merciful God will not subject any of God’s children to eternal condemnation and damnation. Original sin comes only from our ability to choose good and evil because the most precious gift of freedom God has given us. This freedom is what makes us humans. What is construed as original sin is nothing but original limitation only for those who choose evil. In creation it is important to know good and evil through trial and error. For instance, some people have died in the beginning by eating inedible or poisonous mushrooms (toadstools) before distinguishing the good, edible mushrooms. Nobody wanted to die, but it just happened. God has put within us a powerful God’s presence that we can call conscience, and that, once trained, can guide us to do the right thing, and to follow God’s will. Only knowingly abusing or misusing our freedom will get us into evil. There is repentance to correct our ways. Our sincerity will determine the kind of our repentance. Even when we viciously follow our evil ways, God looks for us and wait for us to repent, and return to God and the human family as in the case of the Prodigal Son. It is unthinkable that God will sever our connection with him eternally. There could be some center of purification for any sin (a modified purgatory?) or a chain of re-births until one reaches the level of perfection necessary for release from rebirths.
Divine right of kings is gone. Kings and queens are signs of undeveloped humanity and will be gone forever as humanity develops. The least the power is used, even in a legally constituted authority in a democracy, the better. Paradise on earth truly begins when democracy grows to its perfection. We have this one planet that we need to save it for ourselves and our posterity. We can do it for humanity without the interference of narcissistic, immoral autocrats. They are like Hitler trying to manipulate, exploit, and bend the will of weak, fragile, and undiscerning humanity to their self-centered hedonistic ends
Our Savior, Christ, can be the Model Par Excellence. The Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of God and Christ is also our own spirit, and guides us through our own conscience. The rest can be taken care of by a generous amount of deep faith, hope, and love. Pope is a human being, represents Christ, and is selected for holiness. He does not need infallibility or primacy. He does not need power and pelf. He is the servant of servants in the Kingdom of God. He does not figure in the power structure of this world as he model power, that is holiness, for the Kingdom of God. A pope can also be a woman. It is high time that we dismantle the hierarchical power structure inherited from the Roman Empire after the conversion of Emperor Constantine to Christianity in the fourth century. Men and women can be priests; celibates, married men and women can be priests. Priests coming from among people are not a special class. Their authority comes from within from the spirit of service of the community. They should be chosen for their willingness to serve selflessly and their ability to model God experience. Mary is the mother of historical Jesus, and we venerate her as our own mother as we are brothers and sisters of Jesus. She is not the mother of God or Christ the Logos. We are not sinners but children of God.In the context of this new theology I want to comment briefly, especially, on what is happening with regard to demonic possessions. Many Protestants and Catholics are enamored by demonic possession. Many popular Catholic retreat preachers in Kerala (India), who are priests and lay persons, are ill-trained in theology, and go about “delivering” naïve Catholic followers from the power and sway of Demon (bandhanam). Their worldly eloquence and long-winded preaching stir up and win over unenlightened persons with borderline mental adjustment. They do disservice to the solid teachings of Christ; they themselves need to be delivered from demons. Christ has said that the power of this world has no influence over him (John 14: 30). The consumer culture is the mighty power (demon) that has such controlling influence over humans in the modern age. But the one who truly follows the teachings of Christ does not have to be concerned about any demonic power. A new theology of hope and love will take care of all one’s needs with regard to salvation.