As many of you know, I was born into a family of pastors (great grandpa, grandpa, uncles, dad, etc), and was raised in many different types of churches. I learned from an early age how to talk to God, and experience “His” presence. I also learned about the power of healing and faith. I’m still incredibly grateful for being immersed in the pursuit of God as a kid.
But even from an early age, I was curious about things that most Christians considered taboo: Yoga, yin yangs, qigong, and tai chi. I took karate as a kid, so maybe that helped expose me to different traditions.
Fast forward to when I was 23, where I lost everything and hit rock bottom. Lost my girlfriend, got my car repo’d, got evicted, was almost homeless.
Then with the nudge of my mom, I started pursuing wisdom. Everything I could get my hands on: philosophy, spirituality, theology, etc.
I also chose not to let the church do my thinking for me anymore.
Now in my 30’s, I consider myself interspiritual. I am a Christian, but I’m also a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and Atheist. I do not believe that the Christian god exists. There are certain aspects of Christian theology that I believe are true, but some are not accurate.
I have come to learn that all spiritual traditions can lead to the spirit of God. I affirm the value of Jesus, the Bible, and God, but I also affirm the value of all traditions.
Even as a progressive Christian (if you want to call me that), I do not consider it a good use of my time to endlessly debate the details of Jesus’ life, the interpretation of the Bible, or theology. In my mind, those things are somewhat decided and I have some clarity about them (through a lot of study).
Those concepts have value, but they are merely a stepping stone for where I believe every human – Christian or otherwise – should end up philosophically: In interspirituality. If Christians do not still have a deep spiritual practice or experience with the spirit of God, then endless philosophical debate doesn’t matter.
And actually, if you passionately pursue transcendent spiritual experiences (aka the spirit of God), and how those experiences work, the details of who Jesus really was, how to interpet the Bible, and how to view God, all fall into place.
If you are starting your process of deconstruction, in the middle of it, or at the end, you probably are still experiencing a lot of questions, pain, and confusion.
So how does one deconstruct from the Christian faith, heal from it, still affirm the faith, and experience a deep sense of spiritual fulfillment?
I will share what I’ve learned. Hopefully it will help you gain the same sense of clarity that I have from years of questioning and study.
I don’t do all of this to attack Christianity just for fun-sies. I do this because religion can cause so much destruction, in the form of trauma, bigotry, ignorance, and more. My family has experienced this abuse multiple times. The LGBTQ community and women are a common victim of religious bigotry (with women still not being allowed in church leadership, etc). And the very premise of making everyone believe what you believe, or else unbelievers are going to hell, is at least worth some questioning.
Now, Christians can also be some of the most sincere, kind-hearted, compassionate, giving, and generous people you will ever meet. I still have family that are Christians that I respect enormously.
But as a human race, we have to come to a deeper understanding of the truth. I think I’ve found that truth, and I believe that truth can help transform humanity into a species that is more open-minded, united, compassionate, humble, honest, healed, and critically-minded.
To Understand the Faith, We Have to Look Outside of the Faith
One crucial lesson that I’ve learned in my deconstruction process, is that it’s nearly impossible to understand Christianity accurately, unless we look outside of Christianity. That statement alone might already ruffle your feathers, but bear with me.
Most Christians try feverishly to understand the faith from inside the Christian bubble. But we can’t understand the bubble that we’re in, until we step outside of it, or just pop the damn thing.
I like to say: How do you know your way is the only way, if your way is the only way you know?
But first we have to discover that we’re in a bubble in the first place. Call it tribalism, philosophical silos, or what have you, but most Christians believe what they believe without much question. They don’t see that their beliefs are influenced heavily by where they were born, their family, communities, and friends.
Once you start to question things, you start to see the bubble you’re in.
For me, I started to see my own bubble when people started calling me out for my religious hypocrisy, pointing out discrepancies in the Bible, and flaws in my religious thinking.
I was also taught that faith is all you need. But even with positivity and faith, I still was a fool and failed in life repeatedly. People also died in my life, despite having great faith (I was taught that healing is inevitable if you have enough faith).
And then through my questioning, I started to notice some pretty glaring problems about the Bible itself, when and how it was written, and with Christian theology in general. I have another post goes more in-depth about the reliability of the New Testament, so I won’t go into that here.
I also started to notice that the Christians around me were still pretty narrow-minded and judgmental. If Jesus was the only way to God, wouldn’t their lives show better fruit? Why were non-Christians often more loving and non-judgmental?
So yeah, by now I started to notice my bubble in a big way.
Perennial Philosophy, Neurotheology, and Energy Medicine
Over the years, there were 3 massive discoveries that solidified my interspiritual position: the perennial philosophy, neurotheology, and the science of energy medicine.
The perennial philosophy shows that there is a Divine reality that “keeps recurring in different world religions with different metaphors and vocabulary”. This idea that God’s presence is perennial is not new, and is well-examined.
I first started to realize the truth of the perennial philosophy, by forming this simple Socratic syllogism or dialectic (a logical argument):
- God is infinite transcendence and love (1 John 4)
- So when we experience God, we experience infinite transcendence and love
- Other spiritual traditions also speak of experiencing infinite transcendence and love in their practices (through different forms of meditation and prayer)
- So, the spirit of God must be present in all spiritual traditions
Once you become open to this possibility, everything starts to make a lot more sense.
To be clear, all religions do not lead to experiencing God 100% of the time (not even Christianity). But, the deepest mystical, transcendent practices of all religions do lead to experiencing God.
These practices go by different names, but have the same exact ingredients: Boundless awareness, Source energy, infinite presence, nondual awareness, transcendent love, enlightenment, nirvana, yoga (which means union with God), Direct Path, and more. If you look at the words used to describe these transcendent experiences, they are exactly the same.
And neuroscience verifies that fact, showing that all spiritual experiences produce the same effects in the brain. True transcendent experiences in Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and more, all cause one to lose their sense of self, space, and time. All deep spiritual traditions produce selflessness and transcendence (or transcendence of the Self).
“All great spirituality teaches about letting go of what you don’t need and who you are not.”Richard Rohr
The problem is most Christians wouldn’t even consider studying anything outside of Christian literature. And to a point, that’s understandable. Christians get thrown off by the occasional cow worship and caste system in Hinduism, and “statue worship” or food sacrifices in Buddhism.
But Buddhists do not actually worship statues (a commonly held myth by Christians). And Hindu cow worship is not nearly as common as Christians like to believe.
There are even some rituals in Christianity that could be perceived as spiritually dead from the outside looking in, such as baptism and communion. They do not produce some cosmic spiritual effect, but they are metaphors that produce a psychological effect. Some Christians still believe that grape juice turns into Jesus’ blood before you drink communion. But all of these practices are not reflective of Christian spirituality as a whole, or the deep spiritual practices of Christianity.
We can’t make generalized judgments of Hinduism, Buddhism, or even Christianity, based on a small handful of practices. That is the definition of bigotry.
If you look behind the surface, don’t judge so quickly, and actually study these things out, you start to see fingerprints of God in every spiritual tradition.
In many cases, other spiritual traditions have a deeper understanding of how to experience God than Christians do.
“Perennial wisdom isn’t unique to any specific system of thought or belief, but rather a set of teachings common to all of them. Each articulation of perennial wisdom takes on the flavor of the system in which it rests. Mistaking the flavor for the substance leads us to imagine differences where none exist.”Rabbi Rami Shapiro
My teacher friend Keith Kristich has a great explanation about perennial philosophy. A couple great books on this are the Mystic Heart by Wayne Teasdale, and Answering the Contemplative Call by Carl McColman. Even Rupert Spira (in the Vedanta Yoga tradition) does a great job of explaining transcendent spiritual concepts in an interspiritual way.
Energy Medicine & the Supernatural
One of the main reasons that Christians like to think that Jesus is the only way to God, is because of the supernatural miracles of Jesus.
But there are several reasons why Jesus’ abilities aren’t a sign of his absolute divinity.
If you’re familiar with the Lost Years of Jesus, you know that the Bible is absolutely silent about what Jesus did from the age of 13 to 30. A lot can happen in 17 years. But evidence suggests that Jesus actually travelled to India and Nepal to study these supernatural abilities. This could be confirmed by the fact that Jesus wasn’t recorded to perform any miracles until he was 33.
In the Hindu Yoga tradition, it was reportedly quite common for yogis to have supernatural abilities, including levitation, invisibility, healing, and more (as evidenced by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali). The Buddha himself was also apparently able to levitate and become invisible. Thomas Aquinas was also able to levitate.
If it is possible for a human being to have these abilities (which I believe it is), it seems obvious that Jesus wasn’t the only one with remarkable abilities.
We also know the incredible power of the placebo effect. Dr. Joe Dispenza has many healings happen in his seminars and workshops, all of which happen (by his own admission) through the placebo effect.
And we have control over this placebo effect through the power of faith. It turns out, faith really does heal both ourselves and others, but it doesn’t need to be a religious faith. Human consciousness itself affects and influences reality, and that is a gift that is available to all humans (not just Christians).
Combine this with the fact that there are various healing arts being practiced in hospitals and other mainstream places, you can start to paint a more accurate picture of who Jesus was. Reiki is being practice in hospitals, and qigong is also a powerful healing practice.
This all means that healing and miracles are available to everyone, because those “miracles” are based on energy. If we learn to cultivate and direct our energy, we will be able to do miraculous things. There is actually a lot of solid science to this fact.
All of this also means that God itself is energy. Based on energy medicine, the science of evolution, how electromagnetic energy works, and neurotheology (mentioned earlier), it is fairly clear to our experience of “God” is actually just a transcendent psychological state, possibly powered by infinite universal energy (or conscious energy).
God is a state where our highest consciousness and awareness exists (and where we experience our highest sense of peace, love, joy, and wisdom), but people have misinterpreted that experience as an all-knowing, omnipresent creator that has human characteristics (wrath, etc). In fact, this is just our innate, divine wisdom that is animated by a quantum, electromagnetic, chemical, and potentially intelligent universe.
Now to clarify, I do believe that this universal energy might have some intelligence to it (as Dr. Joe Dispenza and Dr. Amit Goswami posit), which means there could be a cosmic designer.
This could be confirmed by the existence of DNA, which is literally intelligent code (or programming) that is embedded in our bodies. To me, programming implies a programmer, even if that programming developed over time through evolution. Which means evolution could have been programmed to develop consciousness over time. But I could be wrong.
So what does that make Jesus? In my opinion, I believe that makes Jesus a spiritually talented individual, who learned more supernatural abilities in the Hindu Yoga tradition, and brought those abilities as proof of his Messiahship to a Jewish culture that desperately needed a Messiah under Roman occupation.
Jesus himself said “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. Based on this and more, I believe that to interpret Jesus as being necessary for eternal salvation for all people, or else they go to hell, is a mistake. Even his original Greek mentioning of hell in the New Testament gospels (gehenna), was talking about a flaming dump outside of Jerusalem, not literal eternal hellfire. Is it too far-fetched to believe that Jesus was speaking in metaphor, yet again?
So because of all that and more, I think that Jesus’ life and words were severely misinterpreted (which really was par for the course for his disciples, wasn’t it?). His disciples were a pretty dense bunch.
Jesus pointed us to the spiritual potentials that are available to all of us, in all traditions. He pointed me to the spirit of God, and I’m forever grateful for that.
Now you know how Christianity fits into the bigger spiritual and scientific picture. Now you have freedom to choose whatever path is best for your growth and healing.
Want to stay in the Christian tradition? Great. You can now honor Jesus, the Bible, and God, in a way that is more open-minded, and respectful of other traditions. You can have a deep spiritual experience with what Christians call God, but with the knowledge that other traditions lead to that same experience.
And if you want to explore other traditions, you can do that too – knowing that all traditions have the same transcendent ingredients.
I have found great satisfaction in the path of exploring all traditions. It’s really quite fascinating.
We now have access to all the world’s greatest ancient traditions, and there are incredible modern writers that elucidate that wisdom in a clear, practical way. Namely, Rupert Spira in the Hindu Direct Path / Advaita Vedanta Yoga tradition, Thomas Keating in the Christian contemplative prayer tradition, and many great teachers in the Buddhist tradition (such as Pema Chödrön, Thích Nhất Hạnh and Jack Kornfield).
Whichever way you choose, may the Divine (and critical thinking) always guide your path! As a result of these perennial truths, may there be greater levels of unity, love, peace, prosperity, and wisdom for the human race!