GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast

88. World Religions | Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | Dialogue 8 [Part 2]

August 18, 2022 Jerry L. Martin, Scott Langdon, Richard Oxenberg
GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
88. World Religions | Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | Dialogue 8 [Part 2]
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Which is true- evolution or Adam and Eve? Can someone believe in Jesus without being Christian? Explore these timeless questions in part two of the conversation between philosophers Dr. Martin and Dr. Oxenberg on World Religions. Investigate beyond the truths defined through sect and look deeper at the ultimate truths found in revelations.

Uncover the story of Adam and Eve as a myth leading to an essential truth about the pain and suffering that results when detached from God- finally, Adam and Eve can exist with evolution. Monotheism, polytheism, and impersonal nontheistic spirituality are all a part of God's story and this conversation. Understand the Kingdom of God as the reception in the soul of God's presence leading to salvation and the world's divine history. At the heart of every religion is not the same repeated message but a unique representation and aspect of God's Self communicating with diverse and distinctive cultures throughout time, each revealing a puzzle piece to the bigger picture.  

The real action is here and now. The battle between good and evil is internal and external, moral and spiritual, and an ongoing struggle. However, this effort creates the story of life- a story with great purpose, integration, and harmony.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin is a philosopher and author of the true story, God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, and is the founding chairman of the Theology Without Walls group at the American Academy of Religion. Dr. Richard Oxenberg is a professor at Endicott College and has published numerous articles on ethics and theology, including his book: On the Meaning of Human Being: Heidegger and the Bible in Dialogue.

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Related Episodes: [Series: Two Philosophers Wrestle With God] World Religions: Part 1; The Nature of Human Beings: Part 1, 2; The Problem of Evil: Part 1, 2

Related Content: [Video]  God, What About Sin?

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Scott Langdon [00:00:17] This is God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 88. 

Scott Langdon [00:01:11] Hello. I'm Scott Langdon. Welcome to episode 88 of God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. This week we bring you part two of dialogue number eight between doctors Jerry Martin and Richard Oxenberg. In this second part of the eighth dialogue, Richard and Jerry continue their discussion regarding God's involvement in the various world religions and talk about how God works within and through the dualistic confines of this world. Remember, you can hear the complete audio adaptation of the book any time by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through Episode 44. Here now is part two of dialogue number eight. I hope you enjoy the episode. We begin with Richard speaking first. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:02:00] But and in some sense, I mean, I guess what God says to you is that this battle between good and evil that finds its expression in Zoroastrianism, is something that's really very much still going on, right, in the world? You know, we are still engaged in that battle, and that's-- So, there's a legitimacy to that way of looking at life. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:24] The battle is internal and external, moral and spiritual.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin And it goes on all the time, and this is, in a way, what the story of life is. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:02:36] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:37]  Yeah. This is what it's all about. It's not pointless. It's not meaningless. It's not purposeless. It's got ample purpose, but it is an ongoing struggle. To achieve integration, harmony, full-relatedness..

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:02:56] And in a sense, this is where, then, monotheism becomes, I would think, necessary. Right? Because what doesn't work in this dualistic way of looking at it, is to see if evil is indeed the part trying to take over the whole, right, then, in order for there to be anything but evil, there has to be some whole. Right? You can't have-- If we represent reality as two separate parts, each trying to take-- no longer good. (Cuts out) There's just, you know, two evil forces contending with each other. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:45] Well, no, not evil. One is good, but they're just two parts

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:03:46] What makes a good? In other words, you know, I mean, in other words, what makes it good is that it doesn't want to destroy the other force. If both forces want to destroy each other for their own sake, how are they in any way different?

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:04] Well, the true God is not just trying to do it for God's own sake, but for what's good and noble and beautiful in the world and right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:04:15] But what's good and noble and beautiful in the world? But, I guess, what I'm saying is that what is good and noble and beautiful, what makes for good, and what makes for nobility, and what makes for beauty is some appreciation of the whole. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:32] Mm hmm. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:04:33] Right? In other words, that's what makes them different from one another, that the evil part wants to conquer everything, and the good wants to commune with everything. Including, I would imagine, the evil, right? And that's where ultimately you get the idea that what is desired is not to destroy the evil, but to somehow convert it, to redeem it, right? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:02] Or to make use of it. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:05:07] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:08] For the greater harmony. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:05:10] And to recognize that what is producing all this discord and evil, is itself, ultimately, part of the whole. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:19] Is part of the whole, and-- 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:05:21] Right. And so in that sense, the next revelation necessary is a monotheistic revelation. That there is a whole. That everything, including that evil part that doesn't recognize it, is really part of, right? So that in a sense, you have to rise above the Zoroastrian vision to a monotheistic vision in order to make sense of what the distinction is between the good and the evil. Am I making sense here? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:05:55] Yeah, you're making sense, you're going rather beyond the book. Yeah, but that makes sense. And the book, you know, I at one point ask late in the book something like- well is monotheism the story? And I'm told, no, it's just part of the story. As you know, monotheism is a form of theism, and Zoroastrianism is still part of the story. Polytheism is still part of the story, much, and in addition, there are these other religions that are not theistic. There are non-personal aspects of the divine reality of God, if you will. The personal aspect is just one aspect of the divine reality. So one has to not think- oh, we're all headed toward monotheism, and that's the summit and culmination. It's a larger-- you talk about the whole, you know, monotheism likes to think monotheism is a part that wants to be the whole. And there is a larger whole, and the key, in a way, is the whole has to be extremely complex. The tendency of all philosophizing and theologizing, is to kind of simplify to boil everything down to one principle, or one ultimate reality, and get rid of that complexity. But I would take one of the main things we learned from God: An Autobiography is how very complex the divine is and the world is, an action with God in the world is, how manifold the tasks are, the kinds of life to live are, and therefore each one actualizing another good. You know, the harmony is one thing where we end up with a single note going on forever, it's always going to be a very complex harmony. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:07:54] Yeah. Although, there is a quote in the book... I'm not sure this is an although, that I don't have on hand right now, but it's something like the ultimate goal for the part, to enter into a communion with the whole. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:17] Mm hmm. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:08:19] That’s kind of what it is ultimately all about, and all the religions are kind of moving toward that. Right? And if we think of evil as being the part trying to consume or take over the whole, then in a sense, that move of the part entering into a communion with the whole, is sort of the overcoming of evil as well. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:08:56] Well, that's one formulation. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:08:58] I guess that's the way that I tend to think about it. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:09:00] Yeah, no, that's fine. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:09:02] But anyway, we now move into the God of Israel. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:09:08] Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:09:09]  And God says, on page 90, "The God of Israel is one face of me. It is really me. And I really did undergo the development recorded pretty accurately in the Hebrew Bible." And then, you know, I, here's where, you know, there are a number of places where you get into a dialogue with God about some specific things that happened in the Bible. Talks about the creation of Adam and Eve. I'll ask you about that, I found myself stumbling over that a little bit, because I wasn't able to quite fit that in with the notion of human beings as evolving. Right? Because He speaks on page 86/87 of creating Adam, and then creating Eve in response to Adam's being alone, which is right out of Genesis. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:13] Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:10:14] How does that, or does that work with the notion of Adam, the human being, having evolved, right, from the great apes, so that, well, women would have already been there, Adam would have had a mother, right? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:10:29] No, no. Yeah. I don't take that Adam and Eve part to be trying to describe history or the development of our human biology, or our evolutionary story. I take it to be a mythic, a kind of myth, which God is interpreting the meaning of, and say here is the meaning of that myth, and it recapitulates God, Himself, a bit. God was alone. As you say, God was lonely, and God in some sense creates human beings in the evolutionary history since everything underlying underneath it all is God, is the Divine, and that moves God forward because God can now become a fuller person in an interpersonal relation. Adam can become a fuller person in an interpersonal relation. And the problem is, it's a kind of diagnostic. You're probably right that there isn't much, I don't know if there's much evolution within this story or development, one would have to come back and think about that, but I take it to be describing, you might say, the timeless human problem. Which is that God created this wonderful world. Let's just use that creation language. God created this wonderful world and gave us all these wonderful capacities of enjoyment, for example, sexuality, creativity, and having gotten them, we tend to think they're ours. And they're just there, it's much like what you were saying about nature, it just is a resource for us, and our own bodies just become instruments of our own pleasure, and our capacities in the world become, as you were talking, Richard, about, you know, ways to dominate others. Why not, you know, climb to the top of the corporate ladder or something, become the richest person and Idaho, or whatever? So these become– all of these talents and good things that we are given in the world around us become completely detached from God's purposes and from our partnership with the Divine. So it's as if Zoroastrians, you people who have signed up to come to the world to help, you know, conquer evil, in fact, once they got to the world, say- hey, this is great, this is Club Med, you know, let's just frolic. So that's what I take God's comments about Adam and Eve to mean. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:13:18] So, you see this more as, not so much God reporting something that happened in history, as God providing something like an interpretation of the meaning of this mythological story? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:33] Yes. In a way that He believes captures essential truths. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:13:38] Right. But not that there was a particular Adam and a particular Eve, even? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Right. Right.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Okay, so that helps me understand. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:49] The expulsion from the Garden of Eden isn't so much a literal story of being expelled and punished, so much as detachment from God is sort of the punishment. We're told in various places, you're not punished for your sins, you're punished by your sins. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:14:11] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:14:11] That's an affliction. You might not know it, but that's an affliction. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:14:16] Right. Well, that's helpful. That, you know, helps me, too, because I've always taken these stories as mythological and the way in which they were spoken of in the book didn't make that clear to me, that God was saying, yes, they are basically mythological expressions of truths, but they're not to be taken as if this actually happened. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:14:48] Well, it would depend on the story. You can't just say, well, therefore, it's all a myth. This is a myth of Adam and Eve. I don't think these concepts that I've read and other scholars come into the book particularly, but a character like Abraham is often called legendary, not just mythological, not a kind of made up character to be an allegory, or something of that sort. And when I prayed about that, this really happened, I'm told- well, don't worry a whole lot about that. Something like this happened. You know? There was somebody who first heard My voice, and which here is identified as-- And then later, you move into historical time, people like Jeremiah, the prophets, and so forth, David and so forth are historical time and there are records. The records don't always match the biblical account, but they do show something like that was going on, in fact. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:15:50] And all of this development, I guess, at least in your book, kind of culminates on the Western side with Jesus. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes, uh-hmm. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg And so let's just look at this. Pastor John Page, Dean. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:16:06] Just be careful-- not culminating in the sense of replacement theology, that, okay, we leave the people of Israel behind now, and move, and they're in the ash can of history. But no, it's just another stage when we get to Jesus. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:16:26] Right, right, right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's not a supersessionist idea. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:16:31] The original covenant is still valid, but Jesus comes along, and-- 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:16:39] And adds a somewhat new dimension to it, or-- Well, on page 17, so, you say, "Lord, is Jesus Your Son?" Right? So you're saying Lord is Jesus your son? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:17:28]  Yes. I first asked all these standard Christian questions because I grew up in a Christian home, and in a Christian culture, and so I ran through the kind of list of Jesus, your son, and what does that mean, you know, does that mean he's sort of God, and so forth? 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:17:44] Right. So God says, "Yes." 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes

Dr. Richard Oxenberg And then you say, “Well, Lord is Jesus God?"

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg And God says, ”Yes." And then you say, "but you told me I should not become a Christian." By the way, at one point you asked God whether you should become a Christian and God said no, is that right? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:18:04] Yes. I don't-- that might not have ended up in the final version of the book, which I had to shorten. But yeah, at one point I thought maybe I was supposed to be Jewish, and I did not look forward to circumcision. Then I was told- no, no, I don't become Jewish. And then I thought, well, I don't know what the order of these actually is, but should I become Christian? And I was told- no, it's a sect. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:18:32] Yeah. God says, here's the quote. You say, "but you told me I should not become a Christian. And God says you should not to believe that Jesus is my son is not the same as being a Christian. Christianity is a sect with some truths, but many limitations. study. Learn from him, but do not become a Christian. Now, that, of course, is a message specifically to you. God is not saying that nobody should be a Christian. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:02] That's right.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg  Right, right, right, right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Right, right. God may have just had for the purposes of this project, even, it would make sense for me not to be affiliated, because I'm going to read and ask God what He's doing with each religion, and it's best if I don't have a dog in that fight, you might say. That might be the reason. At one point I started to say something about the Trinity, and I was just told, don't go there. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:19:30] Don't go there. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:33]  Right. We're not doing Christian theology, in other words. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:19:35] Right, in a way, the book never goes past Jesus. Right? You don't go into the development of religion after that. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:19:46] It was somewhere in here that I was told, these are, I think, a quote, "pray about Jesus going into Jerusalem, not Jesus coming out." I took that to be actually a cut off period for all the religions. Pray about the ancient scriptures, the revelations, and in the case of Jesus, what he was saying, what he was teaching in the Gospels, and so forth. Don't go off into Christianity and doctrines, don't go off in Buddhism, and the many sects and philosophical developments, which Hinduism also had it so... Don't go into the religions, read the revelations, and they're ancient. So these are the ancient revelations cut off at roughly the time of Jesus' life. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:20:34] Yeah. There's an interesting moment in the book, a kind of touching moment, I thought. Poignant, maybe is the word, in which I guess you ask God whether the Jewish people should have accepted Jesus, and God says yes--. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:52] As Messiah. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:20:54] Right, as Messiah. And you talk about Abigail, your wife who's Jewish. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Whose reaction to that, that was upsetting to her or--? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:10] She told me only later when I was having these experiences, she held back as she explained to me later, I ask, why did you didn't say anything, she took it all in. That was clear because she remembered what I'd been told, but she said she thought it was a delicate thing that I was going through. She did not want to create static. On this occasion, told the Jews should have accepted Jesus as their Messiah. She told me later when I inquired, only when I inquired, that she'd gone off and cried. And she cried because so aware of the enormous price Jews pay at Christian hands over the next thousand plus years. You know, up until very recent times and all unnecessary, I guess that was what was striking her, all unnecessary. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:22:04] Yeah. And yet, you know, it's interesting also, and I don't know that you go into this in the book, but it's relevant, I think, and that is that, I mean, it's already said in what we already discussed that Jesus and Christianity are two different things. You know, what Jews rejected was really Christianity. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:32] Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:22:33] Not Jesus. Right?  

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:35] Right, right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:22:37] Right. And so there may be a way in which, you know, Jesus, the Jesus, as we now think of Jesus, was never presented to the Jews in the way that... What was presented to them was a certain kind of Christian variant brand of Christianity, which they rejected because they felt that they violated what they had been told from God. Right?

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:23:04]Yeah. Yeah. He was saying uncomfortable things, and the Pharisees would argue with him, they were more strict, you might say, and that he was wayward. Yeah, Christians forget that Jesus was not a Christian. You know, Jesus was a Jew. Everything he said he was saying to Jews, to other Jews, presumably made sense to them, and subsequently, and for a time, you know, Christians were just a sect of the Jews. There were various sects and strands within Judaism, and the followers of Jesus were one of them. Later, as Christianity grew in power, the two became more hostile to one another and more competitive, and part of the scriptural text sort of reflects that the gospels were written several decades after the life of Jesus. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:24:09] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:24:10] And usually not by first hand witnesses. Scholars will differ over that. But, anyway, there ended up being this terrible competition and the Christians ended up with the power of Rome. They were first persecuted by the Romans, they ended up with imperial power, and it was a hard life after that for the Jews. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:24:39] And the way that Jesus is presented in the book, you know, which makes sense given the whole thing that is presented in the book, right, is-- I wouldn't say that it is-- opposition is much too strong a word, but it's not exactly Christian orthodoxy.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:02] At this point, I was not putting questions of Christian orthodoxy forward for yes or no, or anything like that from Jesus. I was asking, just having the dialogue of what was on my mind when I first encountered Jesus, and while reading some of the New Testament, and asking Jesus about events depicted in the Book of Mark. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:25:28] Right. So, I mean, after God says, you ask, well, was Jesus God, God says, yes, Jesus was God, but then God also says, this is now on page 196, "All people are, in a sense, God made flesh." Right?

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:47] Yes. Yes. That's very striking. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:25:49] Right, Jesus is not metaphysically unique? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:53] Well, he is also unique.  I mean, not unique in contradistinction to what you just quoted, Richard. But God has, excuse me, Jesus has a role that you and I don't have. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:26:10] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:11] And has a cosmic impact.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:26:14] But it's not that God is of a different substance. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:18] Right now. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:26:20] From other human beings. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:22] Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:26:22] The way that it has been presented in classical Christian Orthodox. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:26:27]  Right. Yeah, God is not so transcendent. A lot of the Christian orthodoxy, I think, goes back to God as creator. You know, taking that first line of Genesis to heart, and maybe reifying it somewhat, you know, kind of freezing it in space as a doctrine. If God is going to be the Creator, then God's got to be completely different from the world God creates. Like the potter from the pot. And if that all makes it more puzzling, if Jesus is going to be God, well, then you've got to have some strange incarnation of God somehow coming into the pot, you know, into this totally created material world. But, no, in God: An Autobiography, God and the world come into being together. There are aspects of the same spirit, and we are aspects of that spirit, too. And therefore, that's part of why our communion with the divine is possible, and we don't have to leap out of the world in order to connect with the divine. The divine is here in us, and Christians have known this in spite of the creation doctrines. They often, I think Augustine or somebody, talks about God being closer to me, like I am to myself. You know? 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:27:58] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:58] And a number of again, a number of religious traditions have an insight about the divine window. So… yeah.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:28:07] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, I'm just looking at on page 248, we get God saying about Jesus, "He is the pure embodiment of love."

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Right? And that's what he is, he's a human being, but all human beings are God made flesh in some sense. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg  But he is specifically unique in being more fully infused with the divine, with divine love than your average guy. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:28:41] I think I'm told at some point he's like 100% divine filled. And, you know, we are different. We're all God in some ultimate metaphysical sense, but in terms of spiritual actualization, most of us are various percentage points, far below 100%.  

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:29:05] And you ask about the traditional Christian doctrine that Jesus died for our sins. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:29:13] Right. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:29:14] And God sort of rejects that idea. Right? The quote here–

Dr. Jerry L. Martin What page? 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg This is page 286. He says, I guess he's reiterating what you just said, he says that, "I became human so I could die to pay for everyone sins. That doesn't even make sense."

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:29:41] Very strong statement. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:29:43]  "Sins are not debts to be paid. They are a condition to be healed. The solution is not for me or someone else to suffer or sacrifice or otherwise pay for them or redeem them. It is for each person to become more perfectly attuned to me."

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Right?

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg And so that gives us a somewhat different understanding of what the role of Jesus is than in certain versions of Christian theology. Which I've heard people say that, you know, Jesus is viewed as, what's the phrase, fire insurance. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:30:27] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I know of a very strongly believing Christian who's also not a very good guy, rather sharp, cuts-the-edges realtor, you know? and he always talks about with glee, about he somehow has it in mind that Christ saved David, the Old Testament David, and David was kind of a murderer and womanizer, and I don't think I've done anything as bad as David, he says. So it is the get out of jail free card on that theory the God: An Autobiography view is no, the solution is a closer spiritual attunement to the divine. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:31:16] Right, and-- 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:31:17] Salvation, if you use that term. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:31:19] And. Yeah, I'm sorry, Jerry, go ahead. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:31:21] That's fine. That's salvation.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:31:22] That's what salvation is. Yeah. And what Jesus then helps us to do is, first of all, see someone who has arrived at that state, and I suppose in some way, through devotion, through contemplation, through reflection on the spirit of Jesus, we are better able to move in that direction ourselves. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:31:54] Yes, because God seems very distant to people. I heard this voice, and so forth, so that's not my personal reality, my personal situation. But on the whole, God just seems very, very distant. And whereas Jesus lived, you know, he's an historical figure, he lived, we can imagine what he looked like, we know the stories of what he did, that many of which are very well verified, and by historical measures, some historians that we actually know more, verified more about the life of Jesus than of Alexander the Great, who's a more distant past figure. And we don't challenge that. Well, we know a lot about Jesus, and so we can relate to Jesus. And, of course, from my experience of Jesus appearing to me, and I've had the feeling sometimes after that of Jesus almost physically being in my heart, you know, sharing Jesus, having Jesus inside as a friend or something, I don't know what. But yeah, I'm told he's more available, and you don't have to go through Jesus. It's perfectly fine, I mainly talk to God even after I encountered Jesus, but if you do relate to Jesus in, I guess the way isn't specified, but it's transitive. Relating to Jesus, relates to God, and so 100% you relate to Jesus in that way, it goes right through to the total divine reality. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Yeah

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yeah, that's the big picture. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:33:35] And maybe we'll just finish with this quote about the kingdom of God. Right? Jesus is preaching the kingdom of God, and actually, this is God's interpreting a passage in the Gospels in which Jesus says,"there is some standing here who won't test to death until they see the kingdom of God." And I guess you asked God about that, well, they died, didn't they? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:04] Yeah. I was challenging that, it seemed like a bait and switch or something to me. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:34:09] And God responds, and this is on 278.  "The Kingdom of God is the reception in the soul of God's presence." Right?

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg "It occurred to people during this lifetime, not afterwards and not at the end of history. They are. Those select individuals to whom Jesus was speaking understood this. A crucial part of this communication is that I am using Jesus both as the messenger. He is in Elijah, right? And as an exemplar.  He is God. He is God. And I am saying through him that they can be God. Yeah. And that He is God. And by participating in him, they can participate in me. Right? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. Yes.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg And that's the general idea. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin And that is the kingdom of God. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Yes.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:35:09] To have that kind of relationship to the divine, which Jesus, perhaps among others, but Jesus rather in a very special way, makes possible for people. And that's salvation, also. I mean, that's the real story, and it's the, you might say, in some sense, the meaning of history. You know, what's the meaning of the world? Why is there a world? What's the drama of the world? It's to try to move toward that kind of relationship with the divine. Which you can do right now, though, it's hard, but you don't wait around for it, it's not the afterlife. There is an afterlife, but the real action is here. Although, as we discussed a bit, there's also a point of view from which time transcends just the calendar and clock time. And it's a kind of eternal truth, you might say, that concept, I think, isn't used in the book, but it's this higher point of view that's sort of not trapped in our linear time, from that point of view, you've made it the kingdom of God, and it's been realized. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:36:32]  Yeah. And, in a sense, I suppose, if one arrived at that state, right that would be the overcoming of evil. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:36:42] Yes. That connection. Sure. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:36:45] You know, at least within one's own life. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:36:48] Right. Within one's own-- half the struggle, maybe the greater half, is always internal. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:36:54] Right. Right.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:36:55] How you live your own life, which is internal, external, you've got to be ethical, you've got to treat others properly or you're not going to be tuned in properly. You're going to have removed your capacity, limited your capacity for that if you're doing a bunch of or a lot of bad things, but the solution is the spiritual connection that you can achieve with an open soul, with the divine. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:37:24] Right. So, I guess that kind of gives us the Western trajectory of religion, right? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes, yes.

Dr. Richard Oxenberg Yeah. And then the book also goes into an Eastern trajectory. Right? And I suppose one of the things that it calls us to, at this moment in history, is to see how we would fit the two together as different pieces of this greater puzzle.

Dr. Jerry L. Martin Yes. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg  So, I thought that maybe next time we talk, we'll try and walk our way through that Eastern trajectory and see what we get out of that. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:37:59] Very good. Perfect. Perfect. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:38:01] Okay, great. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:38:02] Thank you, Richard. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:38:03] Okay. Well, thank you, Jerry. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:38:05] Great conversation. Thank you. 

Dr. Richard Oxenberg [00:38:07] Yeah. Yeah.

Scott Langdon [00:38:25] Thank you for listening. To God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin, by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted. God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, available now at Amazon.com, and always at godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at questions@godanautobiography.com and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time.

Introduction
The Story Of Life
A Complex Harmony: Divine History
Adam And Eve Or Evolution?
Jesus Beyond Christianity
God In All: Divine-Filled
Sins Are Not Debts: Jesus' Role
Jesus: A Less Distant God
The Kingdom Of God
The Takeaway: A Divine Relationship Is Salvation
Outro And Contact Information