I saw a church sign recently that read, “Visitors Welcome. Members Expected.” Now, was this public message posted out of the belief that God makes such demands of his subjects? And if so, from where does that belief come? Or was this a desperate business move in the hopes of increasing traffic in order to pay the bills? Or something else? I cannot fathom such a demand on FREE people. However, that sign was like a heading for the conversation in which you and I are presently engaged. What follows is the next chapter in our dialogue.
The Word of God?
Thank you, again, for the responses to the previous two entries. Many of your comments (for or against my point-of-view) have been well thought-out and articulated. Most of these, though, inevitably return to a PERSONAL OPINION. Because of differing variables (things you’ve experienced, or doctrine, or deeply held beliefs of all kinds, or your culture, and etc.) our personal opinions profoundly influence our interpretations of the Scriptures. Add to this the fact that our own personalities, too, especially affect how we view God, and how we view others around us. And that’s OK! But do not conflate your own bias as “The Word of God” (SMH).
Because we (literally) have these various filters in our brains, it is not logical to assume that our conclusions are precisely how and what God thinks. That is exactly why I use, particularly, Logic and, specifically, “The Quadrilateral” to check and test my thinking. I don’t believe that God expects rehearsed and regurgitated information to be passed around among human beings. If God has included humans in the work of grace, then a broad spectrum of ideas, ideology, and ideologue is to be expected. THAT is The Vision! So, if all this is true, then we need a system to avoid chaos:
The Scriptures (to me) are the First Principle of the faith that I claim. They are NOT “instructions,” words to memorize, or even “The Word.” I believe they are inspired writings, collected via inspiration, for the (logical) purpose of Specific Revelation (they illustrate God’s Worldview). As a First Principle, they are the foundation of my entire thinking; thought system, and beliefs. Any thought that cannot stand, here, is NOT The Vision.
Logic (to me) is a Second Order Priority. I just think, automatically and instinctively, utilizing the (Formal) Laws of Logic. If something doesn’t hold up against Logic, it is a fallacy. If it doesn’t make sense, it is unreasonable and NOT God’s Worldview; for according to logic, God is the absolute fount of all reason (the ability to think critically). I understand that logic is a tough one for many people, but honestly, it is because you are conditioned to allow your emotions to lead your thinking. And that’s OK! Just know and understand that fact.
Experience of God’s Worldview is important because, as a rule, one cannot logically speak about something they have not experienced. I had no knowledge of The Scriptures when I first realized that I had experienced God and God’s Worldview. So, not only does experience help interpret The Scriptures, but they can also help explain the things we experience. In a sense, Experience convinced me of The Christ Event before I ever knew of such a thing as The Cross of Christ. I experienced the fact that, though I was NOT (intentionally) seeking God, God was (intently) seeking me. Your Experience (or inexperience) helps interpret the things around you.
(Ancient) History is another tool that helps interpret God’s Worldview. Sometimes the examination of history, in general, helps us understand the present. Yet, other times, the knowledge of history helps to keep us from ending up in The Twilight Zone! If you are ignorant of history, not only are you destined to repeat it, but also someone will come along and rewrite it! In our context, (Ancient) History – the first 300 years of the “organized” church’s existence – is of utmost importance. Before the Romanization of the institution, before there was really even an institution to speak of, before the (so-called) Dark Ages and the need for Enlightenment, what did The Church do/think about this or that? The Church Era finds it’s origins at Pentecost. Anything before that is NOT “church,” where God deals with humanity. Before The Christ Event, God dealt with a nation; a people, over against the heathen nations of the world. For most of us (who are not biologically Jewish), we are the “Wretched Gentiles” that God had warned the Jews about. Before the Christ Event, God dealt directly with Israel, NOT with the rest of humanity. We were included in God’s Worldview at The Resurrection.
This leads me to a near consensus in your comments and responses: You ask me to speak plainly and clearly about certain topics. (LOL) First, the point of this exercise is NOT my opinions, interpretations, or qualifications. It doesn’t matter what I say or think, but the fact that I’m saying and thinking them in the hopes of furthering this important conversation is the goal. I intentionally word things so as to induce thought. I do not enumerate for the purpose of memorization and rehearsal, but for the singular purpose of making people (The Church) think. And secondly, I thought I WAS speaking plainly and clearly!
- “When you say that you ‘don’t care’ about something, sometimes it’s offensive and hurtful.” – This isn’t really a question, but a statement, and carries with it no need for my response (since it isn’t in the form of a question). In my commentary, I enjoy using hyperbole. It’s use usually ensures that I get your attention, and it normally causes such a strong reaction that one has to think, seriously, in order to react to my hyperbolic statement or question. Therefore, mission accomplished! And, if you don’t like my use of it, I don’t care! (LOL)
- [AGAIN] “Do you believe in Universal Salvation? And Hell?” – It is fascinating that these Eschatological (the Last Things) subjects are so consuming to The Church. Are their primary positions in your thinking so important because they are the central tenants of your “Christianity”? Much of The Church is disinterested in BEING CHURCH, but obsessively consumed with sending people to Hell that may not think the same as them. This is simply and purely religion – the counterfeit to The Faith of Christ. I want nothing to do with it.
A. I have already said that such things are not my concern. I am not being vague nor attempting to avoid the issue. I just don’t care about it! (Note, hyperbole) My role is to facilitate thinking. I have quoted the Pauline text that is a central tenant in my thought process. I have NOT been given the task of speculating or otherwise passing judgment on another’s relationship with God (or the lack thereof). My job is to speak to (and into) The Church. What you, The Church, do with it is not my business. Whether or not you “believe” is not my concern. To discern or otherwise interpret the existence of a literal “Hell” is not my assignment. I am responsible for my task. If such things are your assigned task, then YOU deal with it.
- “Do you believe in sin and The Original Sin?” – So, there are certain words and phrases that carry with them too much baggage, and the word “sin” is one of them. The Church, ironically, has corrupted the word’s original notion by assigning an ever-growing list of things that it considers “sin.” For the Apostle Paul, there were “sins,” and there was “the Sin.”
A. The word, “sin,” in most of the Greek New Testament is, hamartia – to miss and subsequently move the mark [of God’s intended purpose]. Do you see it?! God has an intended mark for creation and “sin” is when we (individually) miss that mark, and then move that mark to a point where we can hit it! I tell you that THIS is what institutes a religion that counterfeits The Faith! We claim God, but we have moved the mark (that we consistently missed) so as to hit it repeatedly. We desire obtainable “Laws” and “Codes,” which serve only to dumb-down God (in our minds) and make him obtainable. This is religion! This is “sin”! We cannot reach God (by definition). God reaches us In Christ.
B. For Paul, “the Sin” is that event which took place in the Garden of Eden in the Jewish text. Adam and Eve’s “disobedience” had instituted a rift between God and God’s creation. “The Sin” creates in us repeated “sins” – the repeated missing and moving of God’s intended purpose. Thus, since it was “Disobedience” which caused the rift, it can only be “Obedience” which heals it. Enter Christ… the ONLY human to ever be “Obedient.” Try as you may, Church, but your “obedience” is unnecessary and is based on an impossibility. It is Christ’s “obedience” which heals us; which heals the rift between God and us.
- My use of “the Jewish text” leads me to a favorite question of yours: “Don’t we become Jews when we accept Jesus?” – There are certain texts in the Scriptures which are used by some in the church to explain that we inherently become Jews when we “accept” Jesus. But this is really confusion, ignorance, a complete lack of logic and, in many cases, manipulation. As “the wretched Gentiles,” we do NOT “convert” to Judaism in order to “convert” to “Christianity.” It is a direct line In Christ! We are still Gentiles, and Paul states that we (as Gentiles) have a “gospel” (Good News) that speaks to us. Paul, himself, states that there is a “Jewish Gospel” and there is “my Gospel” to the Gentiles.
A. The Ten Commandments (of the 600+ Laws) concern the Jews. They never concerned the Gentiles, and they don’t now. Those 600+ are found in the Jewish Scriptures. Because we have adopted them as the Christian Old Testament, it doesn’t necessarily follow that we need to Christianize them. They are historical. They tell us about the God of the Jews, who healed the rift between God’s-self and humanity in order to be the God of all creation. As Paul states: Who has cast a spell on you? If The Law couldn’t help you obtain God, what makes you think that following it now can make you keep him?
B. A casual study of Paul’s life and work amongst the churches he founded will show us that one of his major problems was the infiltration of Jewish Laws into the Gentile churches. In fact, he blamed the Apostle James for sending in “spies” behind him! Even today, this infiltration has (finally) consumed the organized Church, to a point where confusion, ignorance, a complete lack of logic and, in many cases, manipulation rule and reign.
- “You said that you believe that God is not judging humans today. Will you explain?” – The Christ Event has settled that problem. The rift between God and creation was healed via Christ and His Cross.
A. If you sense you are being judged, it is NOT God that is judging. Otherwise, what was the point of The Christ Event? If someone is holding God’s anger, displeasure, or any other irrational, negative emotion over your head, for ANY REASON, it is NOT God’s Worldview; I do not know this God of which they speak. What is the point of Christ and His Cross?
B. Judgment is where creation found itself after The Eden Event. Think critically: The scenario is that we are swimming in judgment, and Christ comes to rescue us. It is highly illogical that He would come with a rescuing act AND judgment! He came BECAUSE we are in judgment! Why would he bring judgment with Him when we were already in judgment? The Christ Event rescued us FROM judgment.
C. So, judgment is now reserved for various things, eschatologically, but none of which has anything to do with us. Today, God’s “judgment” is where contrary worldviews find themselves. Anything that is not God’s worldview is a contrary worldview, and there are myriads of them. Anything that is not found in God’s worldview is swimming in “judgment,” simply because it isn’t God’s worldview.
D. Thus, the problem today, for The Church, is living-out a contrary worldview (i.e., Religion), which inherently finds itself in judgment. It’s not a matter of salvation, so get over it! It’s a matter of reaping the rewards (so to speak) of something that is swimming in judgment. There is no favor, and there is no benefit to creation in Religion when said Religion is a contrary worldview, and swimming in judgment. It will never work out favorably.
The Things That Get Me in Trouble
Finally, The Church had several other points, of which I will hold for the next time. Also, a lot of the questions or comments deal with subjects and topics of which I have already written about. You can find those conversations on my website or in my published books and commentaries available on Amazon.
I am working on “The Things That Get Me in Trouble,” where I express my thinking on subjects and topics that get me in trouble with YOU, The Church. Many of the things I’ve taught for nearly 25 years get me in trouble!