by The Reverend Sandra Pfortmiller, NST
Originally printed in the March 2004 National Spiritualist Summit
“Do Spiritualists believe in Jesus? Are you Christians?” These are questions often asked by traditional Christians when first encountering Spiritualism. I heard one person answer, “Yes, we have based our teachings on the teachings of Jesus—Love, Law and Light.” That was probably a good answer for an opener so the person did not close their mind to our beliefs before they knew anything about them. Jesus was indeed a Wayshower and those people who are working to be Christ-like could be defined as Christians in a general type of definition.
Of course, there is so very much more, so many great inspired thoughts and minds in the various religions and teachings that have contributed to Spiritualism’s Philosophy. In addition to the truths brought by Jesus, we study and work to incorporate into our lives the truths taught by other great minds throughout the history of humanity: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Moses, Buddha, Emerson, Swedenborg, and more modern thinkers such as Andrew Jackson Davis, Emma Hardinge Britten, Gandhi, Ernest Holmes, Corrine Heline, Gary Zukav, Terry Cole- Whittaker, Louise L. Hay, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Caroline Myss, Marianne Williamson, Sai Baba or the Dali Lama to name just a few of my favorite leading thinkers. Each time we hear, read or discuss the belief of another, it should challenge our beliefs so that we are continually growing toward truth.
This concept is something that Spiritualism encourages for we stress growth and an ever expanding awareness. We know that the evolution of each soul follows a spiritual principle or Natural Law. We are really a universal philosophy that seeks to develop the consciousness of oneness with Infinite Intelligence; the understanding that we are spirit now and that all that the Universal Source has created will never be destroyed, thus life is continuous.
Once I heard someone say, “I want to be whatever religion God is!” Interesting thought, for God is everywhere, in all things, therefore, God is in all religions. Truth is found in each belief system. If we try a brief, limited description of our God-concept it would include: Love, Light, Law, Life, Eternal, Goodness, Peace, Expansion, Spirit, Soul, Matter, Principle, Truth, Infinite Intelligence, Divine Mind, Nature, Reality, Universal Force, Originator or Absolute. The religion that works to include many of the Divine attributes is indeed a blessing to its congregation. Some may say that these explanatory words are more Eastern Tao, or Buddhism, or even Judaism than Christian. Interestingly most of the words came from a dictionary and a synonym finder.
A lot of religious groups are stifled with dogmas and creeds, layers of meaning, paradoxes, fear, the Devil, Eternal Damnation, complicated rules and closed thinking. These are not parallel to the descriptive words for God. This has caused many to have no religious affiliation at all. In a discussion of Christianity compared to Spiritualism, it was mentioned that the religious organization would grow faster if we just incorporated some of the Christian ideas, for after all there were about 160 million Christians, so if we just changed our philosophy in some ways we might have the opportunity to attract more numbers. “What would it look like to be Christian Spiritualists?” I asked.
Their response was, “Just a couple of things like to accept vicarious atonement, or Jesus as your Savior; and accept the triune God, or Father, Son and Holy Spirit. People could still believe in continuous life and spirit communication, and in phenomenon.”
My response was a Christian Spiritualist is a misnomer for the beliefs are quite different. How would one view the Devil, sin, damnation? Spiritualism believes in One Source manifesting in and through all creation, growth, lessons and continuous progression. There is a great difference between the personal Father God versus Infinite Intelligence, a Living Spirit, the One Source, the Absolute Cause. How can Natural Law be depended upon when the Christian God of the Bible does not always follow it? What about individual responsibility if we put our transgressions onto Jesus? Does Christianity take into account our inner Divinity? What about the original sin concept of Christianity? Spiritualism believes we are all born with the spark of Divine Energy. How could the Christian view of Heaven and Hell relate to the Spiritualist view of an ever progressive Spirit World? Spiritualists believe that Heaven and Hell are states of mind, and we do not believe in an actual place called Hell, in damnation, in a devil or Satan for we affirm that Infinite Intelligence is All Good, All Light, All Creation, so to create a destructive force would be to divide Itself. How would a Christian Spiritualist respond to spirit guides and helpers if they believe everything flows through Jesus?
It does not seem possible to tailor Spiritualist teachings to fit the teachings of Christianity, or the reverse without loosing basic concepts. Someone else commented, “Trying to be a Christian Spiritualist is like hedging your bets, so that you have a foot in both religions in case one is right and the other wrong.” Christianity promotes a difficult choice. Either Jesus was resurrected to take away the sins of humanity and you have faith that this is so, or your life is in vain and you will burn in hell for all eternity. This is definitely not Spiritualism.
We believe there is great power of mind and each person is encouraged to examine their beliefs, explore other beliefs and then take their conclusions into their prayer times and meditations. Spiritualists are taught to question the realities that are presented to them and test the concept within to determine truth. A. J. Davis gave us the “Magic Staff” rule, teaching us to keep an even, open mind. The Spirit of the Universe is in everything and communicates with us in many ways, expanding and inspiring. We are spirit now, a soul with a physical body residing on the Earth Plane to attain knowledge and understanding. Spiritualism affirms that the life we live today will affect the life we experience tomorrow, both in the physical world and in the Spiritual World.
Religion that is true cannot be put into a closed box. This is something that Jesus taught. In John 14:10 he said he believed it was the Father within him, and not he himself, that did the works. That each should know that the Father-God is accessible to them as well, if they have faith. In John 14:12, he suggested that we might do all the things he had done, and even greater, if we had faith. We should not worship the example, but strive to follow it, to become closer to the Divine Principle, to strive to sense the unity with Infinite Intelligence, to practice in our daily lives the examples of the avatars that show a way to Love and Light.
NSAC Spiritualism has basic beliefs, but our box has open ends for new truths to arrive and incorrect ideas to exit. Much of our Philosophy came from our spirit teachers and the information was received from mediums in the trance and inspirational states. The trance information from Andrew Jackson Davis, from the Fox sisters and from the mediums of the past and present are like a giant cross-communication information system. Truths received in England, Europe, Asia or the Northern Hemisphere become confirmation when translated, read and researched, for they are the same understanding. Spiritualism then tests what has been given, striving to see how the awareness fits into daily life and that it may be depended upon as a truth. We believe Universal Principle or Natural Law always guides us to right action.
An individual who has never received a paranormal event or spiritual message may say the Spirit World is a figment of our hopes and imagination. Yet, someone who has had a Near-Death Experience (NDE), an After-Death Experience (ADE), astral traveled into the next realm, or, someone who has received a spirit greeting that is so evidential that it takes away all doubt, will reply that for them life beyond the physical has been proven. A Spiritualist believes as strongly in the afterlife as they do in the fact that on this globe the sun comes up in the morning and sets in the evening. We know that we can and do communicate with these eternal souls through mediumship, telepathy, dreams and meditation.
Spiritualism is a philosophy of positive thinking—as one thinks within, so it is done unto them. We put our trust in the Love and Power of God—or we let go and let God, knowing that Infinite Intelligence is all Love, bringing the highest and best to our lives every moment. This belief helps us to accept life as it comes or as it goes by. As we release our load we become lighter or enlightened. There is a wonderful bumper sticker which says, “Let Go or Be Dragged!” This of course may be applied to items of the physical world, but it also relates to ideas, past beliefs, old behaviors, opinions, prejudices, attitudes, self-concepts, moods, grudges, selfish agendas and relationships. We grow as we are open to truth.
We are triune—body, soul and spirit. The soul is the intermediate principle between the physical body and the spirit, which helps to slow down the fast vibrations of the spirit, or the God Spark, so the physical awareness can communicate with the higher awareness of Spirit.
The followers of each religion feel theirs is the pathway to God, Allah or Infinite Intelligence. When deciding what direction your religious understanding will take, look and listen for inner inspiration, then honor and trust your guidance from within. Grant integrity to other religions for their beliefs guide them to a higher consciousness and even though all religions do not teach the same message, we might remember there is one Source and many paths to find the truths of Divine Principle. Let us praise our differences and enjoy our likenesses for humanity is really one.