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Switch to Forum Live View The Four Spiritual Awes
10 years ago  ::  Jan 12, 2008 - 11:11PM #1
Posts: 153
I found this article on The Center for Progressive Christianity website ( and I think it presents a useful simplified presentation of progressive Christianity for the general public. What do y'all think?


Four Spiritual Awes

They are still in circulation, all these years later. I remember young, earnest, long-haired converts to Christianity passing out these tracts at the beach when I was a teenager in Santa Cruz, California. The Four Spiritual Laws were created by Campus Crusade for Christ, an evangelical group, as a way of boiling the religion down to a simple formula: 1.) God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life. 2.) Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life. 3.) Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life. 4.) We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives.

There are serious flaws in these "Spiritual Laws". They present a negative view of human nature, and a chauvinistic, dogmatic kind of religion. They beg questions that the tract can’t answer. If "man" is so sinful and separated from God, how can "man" know anything of God through Jesus, either? If God has a plan for your life, why hasn’t God shown it to you already? Does it make any sense to claim that Jesus is the only way to God, when clearly so many other people have found God through other religions?

There must be equally simple ways to express a humbler, kinder Christianity. So I offer an alternative:

The Four Spiritual Awes

1.) Awe for freedom. God’s awesome love enables you to choose your life’s plan for yourself. Through prayerful communion with God, and in soulful service to others, trust that you will find the meaning and purpose of your existence.

2.) Awe for divinity. You are born in the awesome image of God, who is love. Your failings are reminders to return to your divine nature which, like all people, you so easily forget.

3.) Awe for the journey. There are many paths that can help you remember your divine nature, and following Jesus Christ is one of them. The path of Jesus can be hard; it’s not easy to love even your enemies, as he did. But it is an awesome challenge that is supremely worth your life.

What Did Jesus Say?

Just look at these well-known passages:

          * The Great Commandment:  We are to love God and love our neighbor.  (Mt. 22:35-40, Mk. 12:28-34, Lk. 10:25-28.)

          * The Sermon on the Mount:  He tells us how to treat each other, to be reconciled, to love even our enemies.  And those who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do God’s will -- not those who call Jesus “Lord.”  (Mt. 5-7; see also Lk. 6:17-49.)

          * The Great Judgment:  Those who are going to heaven are those who fed the hungry, welcomed a stranger, and visited the sick and imprisoned.  “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”  (Mt. 25:35-40.)

Jesus taught us how to live, not what to believe.  To try to accept this message, to try to live it, was to accept God’s messenger, and was to accept God.

The First Rule of Christian Belief

(1)  A belief is appropriate for Christians if it is consistent with the Great Commandment taught by Jesus, and with Jesus’ central role in our faith.

The Second Rule of Christian Belief

Many people would add to this.  They want to require that we believe certain things about Jesus.  But before anyone can require that we believe something to be considered Christian, it has to pass our Second Rule of Christian belief:

(2)  A certain belief about Jesus can only be necessary for Christians, if it is necessary for following his teachings, with Jesus as our guide or focus.

To recognize Jesus’ authority (accept Jesus as Lord and Savior), we have to take three steps:

First, to seriously confront his teaching. We are called to love God and love our neighbor.

Second, to decide that Jesus was right -- this love of God and neighbor is the most important thing.

Then, third, we have to decide that we will try to live that way -- with Jesus as our focus, our compass. This is what makes us Christians -- the decision to follow him, to make him function as the Christ in our lives.

4.) Awe for growth. Both individually and collectively, God calls us to ever-more awesome expressions of compassion and spiritual awareness.

The one thing I’ve always admired about the original "Four Spiritual Laws" tract is its circle diagram illustrating the principle of putting God at the center of our lives. The tract showed a circle with the word SELF emblazoned in the middle, with a little cross next to the circle. The next image is of a circle with a big cross in it, with the word "self" in smaller letters next to it inside the circle. The message: put Christ at the center of your life, instead of your self, and you’ll experience a better life on this earth and salvation in the next.

I’d draw the diagram somewhat differently than the original one in the tract. I'd replace the cross image with the word "God". This might serve as a straightforward description of the common goal of all the world’s great religions. We are most human, most divine, and most fulfilled when we empty ourselves of our selves and let God be at our center, overwhelming us with awe and compassion.

There are more spiritual awes than four, I’m sure. But perhaps these are enough to get us started on the path to discovering the rest of them! … tual-.html

(I added the section for the Rules of Christian belief and Recognizing Jesus' authority under "Awe for the Journey" from a section of the Common Sense Christianity website by C. Randloph Ross as it seemed to complete this article.)
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