Platform of Ideas
A guide to major themes in Theology
Times change, kingdoms rise and fall, but a book written over thousands of years still holds true, burning as a torch that reveals the truth of our existence and the story in which we live. For this reason, the Bible has been at the center of my work for nearly a decade, not as a theologian or a historian, but as an artist. The source material of my work is the source of life itself, the great river that cannot run dry.
I am an artist. As a sacred individual made in the image of a Creator God, I, too, create.
My calling is to follow Christ and create art along the way. That is what I have done in Theology; I drew near to the Spirit living within me and wrote about what I found. My method of expressing those findings are what make up the five books called Theology. The work is bold and authoritative, not from an academic or theological standing, but from the standing of a man who stood before the Maker of heaven and earth. I entered the depths of my heart and mind and spirit and returned to speak in the native tongue called symbolism.
You can take the ideas or leave them.
Every individual is made in the image of God. Because of our origins, we bear rights that cannot be taken away or granted by governments. Anyone who holds this truth cannot be controlled or diminished by a state. Throughout history, communism and collectivism have demanded man to be nothing and forfeit his mind and labor to the state. For the man who knows who he is and where he came from, this is an impossibility.
Our worth as individuals is rooted in our sacred origin, nothing else. The reason genocide, racism, and other collectivist outcomes are evil is because we must ignore the truth of each man’s origins to enact such atrocities. The opposite of sacred individualism is collectivism – the intentional de-individualizing of God’s image bearers. To take away the face of the individual man is to take away the face of God in him.
The New Spectrum
Politically, most people think of a left/right spectrum. On the far left is communism (Stalin), and on the far right is fascism (Hitler). I reject this spectrum outright and think it is the primary source of our current political strife.
To me, a more helpful spectrum is bookended by collectivism and sacred individualism. Collectivists group people under the guise of helping them or empowering them. Through ignorance or intentional evil, the outcome always diminishes the people who have been grouped. Hitler thought of Jews in a collective, not as individuals. Racists think of people of a different race as a collective. Stalin thought of Soviet citizens as a collective. Any genocide throughout history is based on collecting people in a group and crushing them. Those who wish to group you wish to kill you.
We should not live under a false spectrum in which there is no truth. Under the current left/right spectrum with Stalin on one end and Hitler on the other, there is no truth to pursue. We are constantly wavering based on the issue of the day. Instead, let us live under a spectrum where truth is possible to pursue, and where good and evil can be distinguished clearly.
Each of us carries the fire of the Creator within us. That fire guides us through all we do and calls us into the mystery. This is what we would also understand as the Spirit – the guiding power of God in our lives, the intuition we cannot ignore, the dreams we are given, the force that speaks to us in symbolism and metaphor. As we trust and act in accordance with the spark, the spark grows stronger in our lives and empowers us to serve the purposes of God in supernatural ways.
Remembrance and Amnesia
Belief begins with remembrance of our sacred origins as images of God. Yet, the masses live with amnesia. They don’t remember who they actually are. For those who remember, they understand the power living inside of them. Amnesia at the individual level is the root of addiction, depression, suicide, and a wasted life without true purpose. At the societal level, amnesia is the root of collectivism, racism, genocide, trafficking, and any other evil committed against our brothers and sisters.
Order and Chaos
As carriers of the image we are called to speak order into the void, just as God did at the outset of creation. This has implications for everything in our lives – from how we keep our homes to how we structure our days. Order is freedom. The order we institute in our lives and our communities is a reflection of God, who created the machinations of a complex universe. Amnesiacs are purveyors of chaos. They seek to destroy society and disorient our minds. They tear apart rather than building up. They dismantle with no desire to rebuild. One day, God will order the chaos that reigns in our world.
Photine, or the Woman at the Well
The Samaritan woman who Jesus speaks to at the well eventually came to be known as Photine, (or Photina) in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions. She is a fascinating figure whose story embodies so many of the other themes presented here. Jesus broke through the collectivist thinking of His day and age by speaking to her. The Jews, including the disciples who traversed the nation next to Jesus, considered Samaritans to be less. They thought of them as one thing, a collective worthy of scorn, rather than individual creations of God. The interaction at Jacob’s well reveals what great authority Christ has over time by discussing her five husbands, but more importantly showed His disciples that collectivist thinking would no longer exist in His kingdom. He could have judged her on multiple fronts – that she was a woman, a Samaritan, a five-time divorcee. Instead, He offers her living water and shifts the paradigm in the minds of His disciples. She goes on to become, arguably, the first missionary by returning to her city and speaking to them of what she experienced.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus references an Hour that binds Him to His purpose on earth. As the story progresses, we discover the Hour is His predetermined death – not simply that He would die, but that He would die in a specific time and circumstance. I believe some of us are also bound by an “Hour” in our own lives – a defining moment that will present itself to us and require tremendous courage and sacrifice. Every Hour in this sense requires the death of one life and the beginning of another. Yours is coming, as is mine. To reject such an Hour is to reject the specific purpose for which you were made. We can only become truly courageous when we realize time is not moving the direction we think.
The artist has a special role to play as an imitator of the Maker. Whether through music, painting, or any other medium, the artist embodies Genesis 1:1 while looking at the empty page. What should she make? Why should she make it? As reflections of God we are called to make as He made. Creation enters into the void and the universe is ordered, the great machinations of His mind become evident in what He makes. The artist should treat work the same. A work of art should point the audience towards what is most true about themselves and about God. They should be pointed towards the light that lives within them.
Instead, what is so often passed off as art is intended to create chaos rather than order. Chaos is the anti-God. Art meant to disorient our minds is a reflection of evil.
The reason the world is still spinning is because God is still speaking. He has not gone quietly into observance. Every word He speaks is a new creation. The universe is expanding (literally) with every word He speaks, and new stars are spread across the great beyond. As He speaks, we speak. Every word that comes out of our mouths also forms a new creation. If we speak slanders and lies, slanders and lies enter the world. If we speak hope and truth, hope and truth enter the world. I refer to this as Perpetual Creation. God spoke us into being, and we speak truth to a neighbor. That truth takes root in the neighbor’s mind, and they take action based upon that truth. That action has an effect, and so on. Creation begets creation, and what we do and say determines whether that creation will be order or chaos, good or evil.
The night skies remind us of God’s great love. God promises Abraham and Ishmael that their descendants will be as numerous as the stars. He is still speaking stars into the expanding skies. God is long-suffering for all to know him. As long as the universe exists, and we exist in the universe, the universe will continue to expand.
Mind, Body, Soul | Father, Son, Spirit
Our own makeup as individuals is reflective of the Trinity. The mind is the architect of our lives, the body the physical representation on earth, the soul the connection to the great mysteries of His love. At every level of our lives, we are carrying His image.
Marriage and Family
The marriage between a man and a woman is primarily a metaphor of Christ and His church. This is the reason Christians should detest divorce. Divorce is often presented as a breaking of a promise made before God. This is indeed true, but a surface-level understanding. What is more accurate is that divorce is the breaking of the metaphor designed to speak in our native tongue (symbolism). The married couple tells a story we struggle to remember. To publicly break the metaphor in half indicates the story is not true. Of course, there are exceptions to this "rule". Marriages that are not intentionally representing Christ and the Church are simply civil unions under the state, and do not have the same responsibilities. A healthy and loving marriage bears symbolic power.
The Corridor of Time
Time is not moving in a straight line. God moves through time all the time so all may come to know Him. They will recognize their Maker, they will remember, in the same way the thief on the cross does nothing but recognize the reality of who Jesus is. Jesus says the thief is saved. No conversion. No acts of charity or obedience. God is moving within the corridors of time not to condemn the world, but to save the world.
True conversion is exceedingly rare. Paul is converted on the road to Damascus. Photine is converted at the well. Certainly some in our modern age experience dramatic conversions. Typically, these individuals have skills or relationships in a place where God desires to use them immediately. They enter a moment and their lives are forever changed. However, for the vast majority of believers, “conversion” looks more like belief and obedience over a lifetime. There is no grand conversion moment – rather, there is a slow and sustained commitment to Christ. The life of the follower is one of endurance. So many have false conversion experiences and then spend the rest of their lives trying to recreate it. The modern church in the west has been built on these false conversion experiences (emotion, at the expense of symbolism), where guilt-ridden teenagers are presented with a conversion opportunity and a year later are not followers of Christ. Sustained obedience is the mark of the follower.
This is a mythical road I have created that people walk to return to Him. A mix of Latin and Spanish, the rough translation is Road to Return. The cost for walking the road is death. You will see references to Via Volver throughout Theology. Jesus tells us that the road is narrow and few will find it. I don't believe the road is narrow because so few are allowed to walk it. Rather, the road is narrow because so few are willing to walk it. What good would it be to build a five-lane highway in the middle of Antarctica?
Stones and Eyes
You have to trade your stones for eyes to see. This idea originates with the blind man in the Gospel of John, but the image is carried through all of the books. Once you see, you cannot unsee. You must trade everything you have accumulated in your life in order to receive life.
- Craig Cunningham