Updated: Nov 5, 2021
See how I’ve squeezed the word into a narrow font because, well it's a little bit awkward isn't it - talking about repentance and tagging it ‘progressive theology’?
Am I seriously suggesting this is a topic that will pique your interest and get you all hot under your clerical collar.
Well yes I am and here’s why.
We've been lied to for too long.
Misinformation is trending and the established Church is the biggest culprit.
With regard to repentance in particular we’ve been well and truly led up the Garden of Eden path. Led to believe that it's something to do with shame - feelings of regret for the bad things you have thought, said or done. The dictionary definition is ‘to feel sincere regret or remorse for wrongdoing or sin’.
Nothing sexy about that.
And even if we go slightly less fire and brimstone - and read repentance more liberally as a 360 turnaround where you are encouraged to change the direction you’re headed or the place where you’re looking for happiness, we're still missing the mark. I was honestly surprised when I looked at the word we find in the original Greek new testament texts.
Are you ready to be mind-blown...
‘meta’ means ‘large’ or ‘beyond’
‘noia’ is from the root for ‘mind’
Meaning… enlarge your mind.
‘Go into the large mind” would more accurately be a good literal translation.
Expand your thinking. Break out of the limitations of confined conditioned thinking and limiting belief… you get the drift.
Repentance then is NOT about remorse, guilt and shame: on the contrary it is an invitation to embrace consciousness expansion.
Hmmm… I must have missed that sermon in church.
None of this holds if we examine the meaning of the Greek word, ‘metanoia’ and search for a hermeneutic that holds ageless truth and meaningful contextual application in equal measure.
Socrates said ‘I think therefore I am’
Cynthia Bourgeault suggests we turn it around.
Rather than start with thinking and derive meaning from that (think leads to being)
instead start with being. ‘I am, therefore I think’.
The mystic emphasises Being, Awareness, Presence over thought which is limited to our human mind capacity.
There is a heart knowing (‘gnosis’) that expands beyond this limitation that emerges from the intimacy Presence.
So ditch the dictionary definition (’sincere regret or remorse’) and embrace mind expansion. Repentance really is the new black.