Jesus says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

How do we do what Jesus asks us to do in the 21st century?

Many of us live in cities crowded with people. Living conditions are intense. Our neighbours are in many ways different from each other.

Bodies differ in proportions like height and weight, in age from child to adolescent to adult to elder, and in strength with varying degrees of vitality.

Minds differ in the ways they see their world, in their worldviews; differ in their skills, in their ways of sensing, imagining, thinking and feeling things; differ in what they consider to be real; and differ in why they do what they do.

Souls also differ. Religious souls in Christianity tend to be alive with faith, hope and charity. But, for those educated in scientific materialism, souls are unobservable, not measurable, possibly an epi-phenomena of the brain, therefore, not “real”. And, for those motivated with egalitarian concern for all people, regardless of race, colour, sex or creed, souls tend to be “cool” again, not so much in the old ways of faith, hope and charity, but within some “cool” contexts, such as music, literature, psychotherapy, meditation and social justice issues. Yet, for many, notwithstanding various tensions, their souls are a mix of religious, scientific and egalitarian concerns altogether.

And, what about “heart”? Is it just a physical heart inside a body, or an emotional heart in resonance with loved ones, or a spiritual heart in the sense of the teachings of mystics in the world’s wisdom traditions in which one knows the unity of all things in all things, the Divine Spirit of all in all, including everyone’s self, relationships and communities?

Besides these differences amongst various people, there are also differences within each person.

We all begin life as a child with childish ways of seeing and living. Given growth appropriate living conditions, we can grow into adolescent and then adult ways of seeing and living.

Furthermore, some of us want to grow up into wise, compassionate and heartful ways of living in true fulfilment of Jesus’ teachings on loving God, self and neighbours altogether.

In their bold book, God 9.0, Marion Küstenmacher, Tilmann Haberer & Werner Tiki Küstenmacher use a model of human development called Spiral Dynamics(1) . In place of the simple four stage child-adolescent-adult-wise person model given above, they introduce a complex nine stage model, which they unpack in detail. They claim that at each of these nine stages of human growth there is a different understanding of God. They therefore proceed to describe nine versions of God, which are: God 1.0 (archaic), God 2.0 (magic), God 3.0 (egocentric), God 4.0 (absolutist), God 5.0 (rational), God 6.0 (relativistic), God 7.0 (systemic), God 8.0 (integral), and God 9.0 (emerging), as indicated in the table below.

 

SENSE OF GODFIRST EMERGEDLEVELCHARACTERISTIC FEATURES
God 1.0100 000 years agoArchaic levelWill to survive
God 2.050 000 years agoMagic-animistic levelAncestral kin and spirits
God 3.010 000 years agoEgocentric levelPower, gods and warriors
God 4.05000 years agoAbsolutist levelRulers, regulations, right beliefs and values
God 5.0650 years agoRational-materialist levelScientific research and striving for success
God 6.0150 years agoRelativistic levelSocial equality and responsibility; I'm Ok, you're OK
God 7.060 years agoSystemic-integral levelAcceptance and understanding of diversity; integration of all levels
God 8.040 years agoIntegral-holistic levelUniversal globalisation
God 9.0TodayUnknown levelYet to evolve
READ
Gnosis

 

Thankfully, the authors do a good job in making their unusual views accessible. They use cartoons, quotes, stories, and vivid explorations of relevant issues at each stage of development to describe the various human, society, God, Jesus, belief and faith characteristics that emerge at each stage from 1.0 to 9.0. In addition, for those unfamiliar with Spiral Dynamics and Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, they also provide basic introductions to key concepts in these models.

No doubt, God 9.0 is a very challenging text to read. Although the authors handle their approach to God and human growth with playful grace and deep insight, and as courageous pastors, many readers will not like having their worldview challenged in this unusual way. After all, it is to be expected that each sense of God, people grow into, will defend itself against the strange views of others, especially this collection of strange views framed in a context of human development. For those people with a God 7.0 or later sense of God, however, they will feel good about this text because it offers them growth appropriate challenges that truly resonate with their level of growth.

Fortunately, the number of people with an integral sense of God is growing. For some, premodern has given way to modern, which in turn has given way to postmodern, which in turn has given way for a while to a post-truth world without true leadership. What’s next? Books like Küstenmacher et al’s God 9.0, which is available via the book’s website, http://gott90.de/, Dustin Diperna’s Streams of Wisdom and Evolution’s Ally, Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward, Beth Ann Estock and Paul Nixon’s Weird Church, Paul Smith’s Integral Christianity, Tom Thresher’s Reverent Irreverence, Cynthia Bourgeault’s The Heart of Centering Prayer, Bruce Sanguin’s The Emerging Church, Kurt Johnson and David Ord’s The Coming Interspiritual Age, and Ken Wilber’s The Religion of Tomorrow are gaining currency.

G. K. Chesterson said a century ago, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Now we are seeing Jesus’ teachings on loving God, self and neighbours altogether being renewed and coming to fruition in new ways in many lives.

 

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Footnotes

Spiral Dynamics is based on research on human development conducted by Clare Graves in New York State in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Don Beck, Loraine Laubscher and Rica Viljoen have used and continue to use Spiral Dynamics in nation-building South Africa, such as in the transition from apartheid to democracy in the 80s and 90s – a snapshot of which was captured in the film “Invictus” in which South Africa wins the 1995 Rugby World Cup using Beck’s Six Games to Glory strategy. Don Beck, Elza Maalouf and Said Dawlabani are currently using Spiral Dynamics in their build Palestine initiative in the Middle East, and other Spiral Dynamics practitioners are using it at smaller scales in churches in Germany and USA, in workplaces in the Netherlands and UK, and in many other places, http://spiraldynamicsintegral.nl/en/.