A Seraphic Manifesto

A Look toward a Renewed Christianity

Friday, March 25, 2005
The Day the Annunciation occurred on Good Friday


PREAMBLE

Dear children of Noah, the Word has come to you, and is codified into unspoken, unwritten and oft sited laws of tradition.  These traditions reflected both all that is good and unjust among our people.  In every age since the rise of civilization, new traditions are born and old traditions return to dust; however, some live side-by-side in conflict until the accorded time when one shall triumph over the other.  Under these conditions, it must be understood that revolution is a matter of the heart, not of the mind or of the body politic.  It is then, through the truth, that we, as rational beings, unite in the order of honorable civilization to open the doors of freedom, equality, and prosperity to the whole of humankind, without exception or traditional bias.

The highest of all moral acts is, then to pursue the freedom, equality and prosperity of all humankind through organization, rhetoric, non-violent protest, or law.  Morality by necessity of the truth must be defined as anything that has merit and worth to all humankind, neglecting no minority out of callousness, bias, or defect of reason.

For this purpose, and to this end, we, as sovereign, rational beings, have set out on this course of action so the very light of reason may be shown onto the world of faith and theology.  In time past, Descartes proved to us the existence of God, and then Hume tore down blinded Descartes’ world.  Finally, Nietzsche learned the truth, but neither he nor Bonhoeffer who followed, truly understood what the costly truth meant to the world at large.  Here is the truth they learned:  God is dead, and we have killed him.  What is it for us as mere mortals to say that we have killed God?

Since the fourth century throughout the Protestant reformation, the church has been hammering the nails of lies and half-truths into God’s coffin.  These nails are the bias and concept of morality that were written into the omnipresent dogmas that plague the Body of Christ, and scourge the body politic.  The cultural reality of the Christian faith is that of first century Judaism: Apart from this foundation, the faith becomes impotent and lost in the ennui of its own teaching and bias.  Starting in the third century AD, the church began to overturn the beliefs and truths that the early church father’s possessed.  By the time the canon of scripture had been so compiled, many books that the earliest church fathers and even those books the apostles had sited verbatim were cast to the side like refuse by the wisdom of the attendees at those church councils.  Corruption invaded the very heart of the church, turning it again into a den of thieves.

By the time Martin Luther began the mixed blessing of the reformation, the church itself was actually selling salvation.  Unfortunately, Martin Luther’s zeal for reformation in the church sparked a Protestant fervor that sweep throughout Europe.  Groups and even nations broke away from the church for increasingly frivolous reasons.  Both the proper and abusive use of this reformative spirit continues even unto today, when there exist so many varieties of Christianity that the word has lost all meaning.

The vast majority of these groups claim an exclusive stranglehold on God.  While some rays of light do exist, the Body of Christ is best known for its brutal inquisitions and harsh biases then for the Gospel that we are suppose to proclaim.  The churches have used God to enslave races, and to set them free; to justify racism, and to enlighten the minds of the people; to oppress women, and to empower their movement; to slander homosexuals, and to console them.  Not regarding the words of their own scriptures which proclaim:  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28).” 

No God could be on both sides of all of these issues.  It is in these inane arguments that have stolen from God any since of reality, and have, by the very confusion that they spawn, shrouded the pure, holy face of God, and has killed him: meaning that the very idea of God has lost all relevance to daily life.  There are also misperceptions of science, which have added to the entombment of God from society.

The Church struggles to stand in an age when knowledge has expanded, making it is no longer possible for us to believe that God excluded the majority of the world from revelation, or that the small ring around the Mediterranean constitutes the whole earth.

The Gospel has become lost in the archaic images of a pre-Newtonian faith.

The answer cannot be found in dogmatic blindness to science and history, neither can it be found in abandoning all of the images of faith.

For the Church must learn the lesson of its own impermanence, or be lost to ages as an antiquated curiosity.

In these days of confusion when hubris has replaced humility and politics has replaced faith in many of the Christian churches, the call from our Lord to St Francis of Assisi can be heard clearly once again:  “Go forth and rebuild my church.”

Like St Francis before us, we must rebuild a crumbling Church, while still bearing the marks of Christ within us.

We have not lost our love for Christ, but the churches have failed to grow in the truth, choosing to stand still rather than reform their old systems.

The Church has left many believers in exile, no longer able to call a church home


DECLARATION OF PURPOSE

As Believers in exile, we will no longer wander alone, finding few cities of refuge in which we may renew our strength.

We have not entered the wastelands of our own accord; our hope was always to awake the churches to their losses.

Waiting is no longer a viable action, if the church will not develop and grow, then we must accept this desert exile as our new home; no longer looking for a way back, but instead a way forward.

Here in this exile, we will build our Abbey, like the desert fathers before us, turning the wastelands in to a fertile homeland in which our faith may grow.

Religion is merely the vehicle of faith in which one travels down the road to Enlightenment and Illumination, and through which we understand Salvation.

This vehicle is constructed from the received tradition of the apostles and the proper interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

Remember always that religion is a means not an end.


DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES

The heart of all three Abrahamic faiths is that the world is liable to forget the Divine, and that through repentance (teshuvah) the world may be restored to God (tikkun).

Centering our faith on the need to remember the Holy, we proclaim the Oneness and Unity of Ehyeh asher Ehyeh, the ground (Yesh) and abyss (Ayin) of all being, who created and sustains the worlds by its mere presence.  May these truths ever be upon our lips, the first thought in waking and the last before rest, the call to worship and the resounding bell of mindfulness:

Hear, O Israel: HaShem our God, HaShem is one:
And you shall love HaShem your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your might.
And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart:
And you shall teach them diligently unto your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,
and when you walk by the way,
and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand,
and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
And you shall write them upon the posts of your house, and on your gates.
— Deut 6:4-9
And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love HaShem your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season,
the first rain and the latter rain,
that you may gather in your corn, and your wine, and your oil.
And I will send grass in your fields for your cattle, that you may eat and be full.
Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived,
and you turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
And then HaShem’s wrath be kindled against you,
and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest you perish quickly from off the good land which HaShem gives you.
Therefore shall you lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul,
and bind them for a sign upon your hand,
that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
And you shall teach them to your children,
speaking of them when you sit in your house,
and when you walk by the way,
when you lie down,
and when you rise up.
And you shall write them upon the door posts of your house, and upon your gates:
That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children,
in the land which HaShem swore unto your fathers
to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
— Deut 11:13-21
And HaShem spoke unto Moses, saying,
‘Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:
And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of HaShem, and do them; and that you seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you use to go a whoring:
That you may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
I am HaShem your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God:
I am HaShem your God.
— Num 15:37-41

We found our faith on all of the Holy Scriptures and the Tradition of Creation Spirituality.

Our firm foundation is the Words of Christ contained in the five gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Thomas.

The central and organizing narrative of our faith is found in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, including the so-called Apocrypha.

The Liturgy of our church is found in the Book of Common Prayer.

The Tradition of Creation Spirituality is found through the Via Media (Middle Way), also called the fourfold path:

“In the Via Positiva.  In awe, wonder, and mystery of nature and all beings, each of whom is a ‘word of God,’ a ‘mirror of God that glistens and glitters,’ as Hildegard of Bingen put it.  This is Path One.”

"In the Via Negativa. In darkness and nothingness, in the silence and emptying, in the letting go and letting be, and in the pain and suffering that constitute an equally real part of our spiritual journey. This is Path Two."

“In the Via Creativa.  In our generativity we co-create with God; in our imaginative output, we trust our images enough to birth them and ride them into existence.  This is Path Three.”

“In the Via Transformativa.  In the relief of suffering, in the combating of injustice, in the struggle for homeostasis, for balance in society and history, and in the celebration that happens when persons struggling for justice and trying to live in mutuality come together to praise and give thanks for the gift of being and being together.  This is Path Four.”

We do not believe that we or any other group could ever be called the one true church of the living God (Mark 9:38-42; John 10:14-16). 

All who love Jesus, and follow him are our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

All just believers of any faith who labor to illuminate the world and free it from oppression, hatred, violence, and bigotry are our fellow sojourners.

All who conform to the discipline, faith, values, and practices of the Seraphic Church are Seraphic Christians (or Seraphan).

Deep Ecumenism, as taught by St Augustine of Hippo, St Thomas Aquinas, and Matthew Fox, will be practiced to seek out the truth in all faiths.

We believe "In a word, were we to observe unity in essentials, liberty in incidentals, and in all things charity, our affairs would be certainly in a most happy situation," as Rupertus Meldenius (Peter Meiderlin) so wisely said.

The essential images of faith is stated in the Apostles’ Creed, and the Nicene Creed, the Definition of the Union of the Divine and Human Natures in the Person of Christ from the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D., Act V), and the Creed of Saint Athanasius.

We reject the worldly notions of Original Sin/Total Depravity or any other doctrine that distorts the nature of human life and reason, either thinking to highly or lowly.  Instead, we believe that the world was created in and as an Original Blessing.

We proclaim the Seraphic Threefold Creed:

I bear witness to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the one triune God, until all is reconciled to the Divine.

I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, until all souls are brought to enlightenment.

I walk the middle way between the four holy paths until I reach my journey’s end: salvation through Christ Alone by Grace Alone through Faith Alone for the Glory of God Alone

The essential message of our faith is a fourfold truth:

  1. There is Ignorance and Error in the world concerning the nature of the transcendent.
  2. The Cause of Ignorance and Error is the Limit of human understanding in that we are incapable of defining the transcendent in words.
  3. The possibility of illumination (enlightenment/wisdom), the end of Ignorance and Error exists.
  4. Illumination (D'vekut/Unity with God) is gained through Living God through the ten hanhagot (spiritual practices):
    1. Avodah Be-Bittul/Meditation
    2. Gerushin/Repetition
    3. Musar (Inspirational Reading)/Lectio Divina (Divine Reading)
    4. Kavvanah/Attention, Tefillah/Prayer)
    5. Tzedakah/Generosity
    6. Gemilut Chesed/ Loving-Kindness and Brachot/Daily Recitation of 100 Blessings
    7. Pitron Chalomot/Dream Interpretation
    8. Eco-kashrut/Ethical Consumption
    9. Teshuvah/Self-Perfection
    10. Liturgy: Shabbat/Sabbath and Holy Days

The essentials of our practice is a fourfold Truth:

  1. Dukkha (Suffering/Craving) is a real part of our conditioned existence.
  2. Dukkha is caused by attachment and aversion.
  3. Nirvana (Wellbeing/The End of Suffering) is a real part of existence.
  4. Nirvana is attained through the noble eightfold path:
    1. Samma-Ditthi (Complete or Perfect Vision/View/Understanding)
    2. Samma-Sankappa (Right or Perfected Emotion/Aspiration/Thought/ Attitude)
    3. Samma-Vaca (Right/Perfected/Whole Speech)
    4. Samma-Kammanta (Right/Integral Action)
    5. Samma-Ajiva (Right/Proper Livelihood)
    6. Samma-Vayama (Complete/Full/Right Effort/Energy/Vitality/ Diligence)
    7. Samma-Sati (Right/Complete/Thorough Awareness/Mindfulness)
    8. Samma-Samadhi (Full/Integral/Holistic Samadhi/Concentration/ Meditation/Absorption/One-pointedness of Mind)

The Discipline and Order of the Seraphic Church of the Living God is found in Rule of St Francis, The Seraphic Constitution to the Holy Rule, and the Seraphic Covenant of the Faith.


CONCLUSION

We recognize that our tradition, like every religion, is to be read like poetry, seeking out connotations rather than denotations. 

We recognize that no way is The Only Way, no religion is The Only Religion, no faith is The Only Faith, and no creed is The Only Creed; this is our way, our religion, our faith, and our creed.  The Biblical language of chosenness and election are mythic symbols to be interpreted, not to be taken literally.

We recognize everything and everyone is a manifestation of the Living God, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain…poets have said, For we are also his offspring (Act 17:28),” making us all equal in, with and as God.

We recognize the possibility of D'vekut (Unity with God), Hashvaah (Nondual Consciousness), and Nirvana (Wellbeing/The End of Suffering) in one lifetime, and vow to study the teachings of reincarnation, heaven, purgatory, and hell seeking to understand more fully these symbols of our return to God upon death.

We recognize the fourfold ministry of the Church in Christ: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness (Pleroma) of Christ (Eph 4:11-13).”

  1. An Apostle is a messenger or delegate of the Fullness (Pleroma) of the Godhead to the church.
  2. A Prophet is an interpreter of the oracles and hidden things of the Fullness (Pleroma) of the Godhead.
  3. An Evangelist brings the Good News of the Gospel to those who will listen.
  4. A Pastor shepherds the faithful, guiding the flock of Christ gently.  As Teachers, they instruct the faithful into the mysteries of the faith.

We recognize the necessity to build an Order and Abbeys as needed for the ministering of the faith, the work of the Liturgy, the fellowship of believers, and the serving the needs of the community.

We recognize that a parochial attitude toward the faith benefits no one, neither does secrecy or clandestine teachings.  The Universal Truths of Seraphic Christianity, as well as its particular costumery of the Perennial Philosophy must be kept open and freely accessible to any who wish them: As Christ Jesus our Lord taught us, “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give (Matt 10:7-8).”