Religion has been a turn off for many ACoNs* because abuse thrives in Religious Narcia. In a world full of narcissistic parents, false lovers and self-righteous Christians, God has been grossly misrepresented, but rather than let the narcs destroy our faith, we should re-frame God so we can decide for ourselves.
Most ACoNs* crave a relationship with a parent who loves them unconditionally. We’d like to get along and enjoy life with our parents, but most of us have found out by trial and error it’s just not possible. Deep down inside our souls crave to know we are the children of a loving parent who truly loves us. We have heard God is good and that He cares for us, but our emotions about God vary depending upon our earthly parents and whether they lived what they taught or failed to show us unconditional love.
God is misrepresented because he’s invisible. We can have communication with God today, but for the most part we can’t see God or hear an audible voice when He speaks to us. With the exception of reading the Bible, our communication from God is subtle–through our conscience or nature. As a progressive Christian, I believe God speaks to us in three ways through what Dr. Tim Jennings calls the Integrative Evidence Based Approach to God. This evidence comes in three ways—through scripture, through science and through personal experience. If all three of these align, then we can be confident of the truth we have discovered, if only one or two line up, we have less confidence and should be cautious until we have more evidence.
To learn about God in the first place, we must rely on other people who knew Him—this includes the Bible writers who talked to Jesus or had some miraculous experience with God and people today who have had encounters with God that have changed their lives.
Imagine the truth about God is an entire forest of trees. Some people like to pick and choose and many cannot see the whole forest of evidence because they are focused on just a couple of trees. For instance, I grew up in a church that proclaimed to have the truth. The idea was that our doctrines were truth and anyone who didn’t share that same view had no truth. The verse used for this was Isaiah 8:20:
To the law and to the testimony:
if they speak not according to this word,
there is no truth in them.
I was taught this means to have truth people must keep the Bible Sabbath (law) and follow the prophet (testimony). Today I understand Jesus to be the TRUTH and the law of God to be love. While the Ten Commandments reflect that law of love, they are not the original law. Jesus made the law of love clear when he said, “On these two hang all the law and prophets—love to God and love to man” (Matthew 22:40).
There are many prophets—a prophet is simply someone who speaks for God, but Jesus is greater than any prophet. The specific prophet in my church said to look to Jesus and not any person–including herself.
Jesus is the source of truth. Jesus himself said, “I am the TRUTH, the life, the way.”
Religious Narcs don’t like this idea because they like to feel one up and exclusive about their truth and since Jesus is free and accessible to anyone willing to follow him, such people feel viewing Jesus as the truth is too easy. They wish to define their own beliefs as unique–but what or who is more unique than Jesus-the Life giver and Creator of all we see?
When we realize Jesus is TRUTH impersonated, there can be no elite group of people who claim to have special truth. These people miss the forest for the trees. The life of Jesus–his teachings, his love, his sacrifice are the entire forest of truth and while some like to isolate a couple trees, seeking truth through Jesus is not only a lifetime experience, but the WAY and our quest for all eternity. If we become so proud of our truth that we fail to live like Jesus, we don’t know God.
To love another person is to see the face of God.
This is not to say to throw out our doctrines, but they only have value when Jesus is at the center. Throughout the life and teachings of Jesus, we have this amazing opportunity to look TRUTH in the face. Jesus, the way he teaches and loves and touches and cares and heals all people—no matter who they are or what they have done. Jesus is the ultimate truth about God. If some of our doctrines disagree with Jesus, then we are missing some part of His truth. It’s not good enough to settle for a couple trees because someone failed to teach us the truth.
So if we want to know what God thinks of us and what God looks like, we can see Him in the face and character of Jesus. The Father didn’t kill Jesus like some pagan gods supposedly demanded a child sacrifice to appease sin as many falsely believe, but the Father took a risk and gave up his son and entered into the suffering with him.
The TRUTH through Jesus is the only way we humans and the entire universe could see what God is really like–a God who rides a donkey to his own coronation and wears a crown of thorns and gives his life so the rest of us can live forever.
This is the most essential Truth–to see Jesus and the Father and the Spirit as they truly are–a community of beings who are one is hard for us to grasp, but this much we know from Jesus–they are one.
“If you have seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
“The Father and I are one.”
“I will no longer pray the Father for you, because the Father Himself loves you!”
So if you go to church this weekend and someone tells you the Father killed Jesus for a sacrifice to appease sin, you might want to re-frame what that means in the context of the life of Jesus. Allow yourself to research what the early church leaders taught before Constantine mixed the Easter bunny in with child sacrifice to make God look cruel and vindictive. It might surprise you to discover the early church didn’t believe in penal substitution and they didn’t believe in everlasting hell.
Jesus didn’t teach penal substitution and there are very few verses in the Bible to support such a view. And if you understand the word hell in the Bible was Gehenna–a garbage dumb that burned day and night, then you might realize that even if you are the worst of sinners, Jesus will never burn you–not forever or at all. You will simple cease to exist if you refuse his healing.
The God who tells us to love our enemies is not a hypocrite like the narcs, he loves every person with an everlasting love. This means even if you refuse his offer to live in harmony with his love for all eternity, you will not be vindictively burned, but will simply cease to exist.
So many of us have been misled and abused by narcissistic Christians, it’s important for us to know God for ourselves. Perhaps you are confused and bothered by this post. If you are learning things, you’ve never heard before this might be your epiphany like it was mine. You might want to try to re-frame by doing some research on these topics. As the end of this post, I will include some resources.
If all you have time for is reading this one blog, allow me reassure you:
God is not a narcissist.
God is other-centered, not self-centered.
God doesn’t shun us when we don’t do stuff for him.
God doesn’t gaslight us.
God doesn’t lie about us to make himself look good.
God doesn’t send out flying monkeys to coerce us.
God never turns his face away from us.
God is the good parent you’ve always dreamed of having.
This is why the life of Jesus brings such good news–because Jesus shows us how God is love. Jesus came to live among us so we could re-frame all of our original opinions and look fresh into the face of God.
*ACoNs—Adult Children of Narcissists