Andrew, there is a great deal here to think about. So, let’s begin with a response to your query “Since I’ve only just started this program, I don’t yet know much about the theological assumptions affirmed by the people operating it.” Well, the course is completely the work of the theologian James Alison, and the “people operating it” to my knowledge come from many different traditions, all of whom are united in James wonderfully anthropological reading of Scripture. You will observe as you progress with the course, that Jesus is constantly referring to the Hebrew scriptures and explaining them in a manner that is completely different to the interpretation held by his listeners. What he is saying is new to their ears and very revealing of the misdirected desire and scapegoating that is underpinning the violence in the texts.
As for our rapport with God. God is mystery, and as you say, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” So permit me to give you a contemplative reading of this. The spiritual path, is our striving for union with God, or ‘theosis’, that is, being transformed by aiming to be in the likeness of God, hence the medieval concept of the Imitation of Christ. In practical terms, this is complete submission to the will of God, an active rather than a passive way of being, which results in a tremendous freedom and detachment, not be confused with indifference.
So, where do we find God? We find God in relationship with the ‘other’. In the family, the work place, our social contacts, etc.etc. Here we have to handle the usual scapegoating with the resentments, conflicts, anger, judgemental attitudes, unhealthy competitions etc. etc. of our daily lives. As we come to realise that we are all broken and wounded people who are unconditionally loved by God, we gradually come to handle all these problems with love, which is God.
And, as we continue to listen to James’ interpretation of Scripture though the lens of René Girard’s thought, we come to understand the true meaning of the “New Creation in Christ”.
Does this make sense?