Integral Theology and Spirituality

Discussion Time:

Integral Perspective of Healing Through the Life Journey

Rev Dr Geoff Cheong

My purpose is to reflect upon the notion of encountering God and the mission of healing from what is being identified as the emerging era of history referred to as the Integral Era. It is one of the great developments in human consciousness recorded in history. Its characteristic is the dominance of the non-dual inter-related perception of all reality. It provides one of the great challenges for humanity and notably theology as humanity continues to understand the globalising world. What I have found of great significance is that it provides such a new context for us to understand our faith. In so doing it elevates the relevance of Raimon Panikkar, for his theology is a profound illustration of integral theology. The heart of this rests in his Cosmotheandric vision capturing the integral perichoretic inter-relational reality of Creator, Creation and Creature. His insights offer the key to integrating the two great cosmologies of our time to create a sacred secularity. I will I intend to create a picture of our encounter with the divine through our experience as creatures within creation. I will argue that healing is a fundamental part of the structure of the evolving creation. I will then develop an understanding that the healing ministry of Jesus is therefore natural for his life was the ultimate revelation of both the divine and creation. I will conclude by speaking of a parish healing ministry reflecting this understanding. I called it Sophia’s Journey.

In the Beginning was the Word…

Dr Beatrice Green

For Christians, the incarnate Word has always been central. Bede Griffiths quotes Eckhart, "God only spoke one word and in that word the whole of creation came into being." How do we understand, "the whole of creation"? Does it include – artificial intelligence? Raimon Panikkar, Griffiths’ contemporary, drew attention to observed superficiality in information media, and scorned the very term AI. Despite the incongruity of the term, can we discern depth there? For Bede Griffiths, the emergence of agriculture and cities caused the division between nature and human enterprise, ushering in the dualistic mindset. However, the new age, he believed, would move beyond pathologies associated with the modern age, and beyond the transitional post-modern age, to inaugurate an integral consciousness, a non-dualist awareness, whereby the life of the Trinity is key. This new consciousness would be an integration of contemplative awareness and awareness of the natural process of evolution. What could this mean in practical terms in our times of a globally interactive humanity? Griffiths esteemed the work of Ken Wilber. Wilber’s integral four-quadrant diagram, AQAL—all quadrants, all lines, all levels—maps the basis for understanding an integral approach. Recently, Steve McIntosh critiqued the 4th lower right quadrant, because, seemingly at odds with the otherwise organic evolutionary processes, it included non-organic artefacts, like information technologies; McIntosh preferred a traditional three-part pattern. McIntosh demonstrates the evolutionary process driven by a natural push and pull dynamic, towards larger life; a 'value gravitation.' Scientist and technologist, Mark Burgess, in Smart Spacetime, 2019, describes the inseparability of time and space - naming this entity “spacetime.” How are these questions and considerations relevant, in terms of God's creative, manifest, and healing Word, for our challenging times?

Mercy in the Making: A Practical Theological Exploration of Seeing and Hearing in Motivating Merciful Action

Jennifer Lewis

In a time of ongoing global crises, the re-prioritizing of mercy as a core exercise of Christian identity takes on new urgency. Questions of how to love our neighbors concretely, consistently, and in ways that embody justice have become topics of everyday conversation, with people around the globe wrestling with what it means to care for and support those within and beyond their communities. At the same time, intentions to show mercy towards one’s neighbors do not always lead to its expression, and in times of crisis and uncertainty, insularity, apathy, and antagonism arise as often as their counterpart. This paper thus engages the question of “how” people become moved to merciful action by examining the roles sight and sound play in cultivating compassion for those who suffer. I claim that seeing and hearing play fundamental roles in fostering compassion and that prioritizing and developing practices of physical and psychological encounter with those who are suffering can move religious communities towards merciful practice towards others. I begin by considering the biblical basis of mercy and its importance and expression in Scripture, arguing that looking and listening are deeply intertwined with God’s mercy towards humanity and ours towards others. I then turn to Basil of Caesarea’s Sermons on Social Justice as a case study for thinking about “how” to move people to mercy. Next, I bring cognitive science research on the relationship between seeing, listening, and compassion into conversation with Basil’s ideas, parsing out how his rhetorical attempts to move people toward mercy align with insights from scientific research. I conclude by reflecting on the tensions related to Basil’s approach and scientific accounts and point to a few implications for Christian communities seeking to make the practice of mercy more central to their lives. *My sincere apologies for the long presentation. I have done it three times already, and my internet connection is currently going in and out. I will try again to upload a shorter version later on and in the meantime appreciate your bearing with me!