Sunday, December 30, 2007

More on the Fatherhood of God

Dena, a member of Emerging Universalist is an almost "convinced universalist". She is standing on the UR side of the line, but when a tough question or easily misunderstood verse comes up she toes that line. She is in a discussion on a Christian relationship message board that morphed from praises for Jonathan Edwards to a discussion about hell and who goes there. She wrote a wonderful post...but then someone posted a rebuttal to her statement that God was not going to nuke one of his children. True, her opponent agreed....but, he said, we are not all children of God.

He said:

I have to agree with the statement that a "father" does not nuke his children (a paraphrase, if I may). However, I believe we need to recall Jesus' words to the Pharisees in Chapter 8 of the Gospel of John, v 41-44. I'll quote the NRSV, here:
Quote:
You are indeed doing what your father does." They said to him, "We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Here, by Jesus' own words, we have the statement that there are those who do NOT have Jehovah as their father. Those are the lost. There are those whose "father" is the Devil.


One of the common mis-conceptions in "popular Christianity" is that "we are all God's Children." That is incorrect. Look at the first chapter of John's Gospel:

Quote:
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. Here it is clearly indicated that only those who receive Christ, who Believe (for salvation) in Christ, have the right to BECOME children of God. For someone to become something, they first must NOT be that something. Therefore, those who do not believe are NOT "Children of God". Scripture is plain on that.

Hmmmm....it is, eh? Doesn't scripture also declare that Jesus was the firstborn of all creation? The firstborn indicates family....as in there are to be others born...and all creation does sort of sum it up,no?How about the following verses:

Ephesians 3:14-15

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,g 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.

1 Corinthians 8:4-6

4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "no idol in the world really exists," and that "there is no God but one." 5 Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth - as in fact there are many gods and many lords - 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Romans 11:36

36For from him and through him and to him are all things.To him be glory forever. Amen.

Colossians 1:16

16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Acts 17:26

26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,

Galatians 4:4-7

God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Concerning the belief that all humans are not God's children, in his writing Abba, Father George MacDonald says

The refusal to look up to God as our Father is the one central wrong in the whole human affair; the inability, the one central misery: whatever serves to clear any difficulty from the way of the recognition of the Father, will more or less undermine every difficulty in life.

'Is God then not my Father,' cries the heart of the child, 'that I need to be adopted by him? Adoption! that can never satisfy me. Who is my father? Am I not his to begin with? Is God not my very own Father? Is he my Father only in a sort or fashion--by a legal contrivance? Truly, much love may lie in adoption, but if I accept it from any one, I allow myself the child of another! The adoption of God would indeed be a blessed thing if another than he had given me being! but if he gave me being, then it means no reception, but a repudiation.--"O Father, am I not your child?"'

John Gavozanni is the author of an short writing called Adoption. He begins the article with the following:

There seems to be more confusion than I realized as to what the New Testament is referring to by the word, "adoption." A clear explanation is available in the notes of many good study bibles. The New Testament does NOT use the term in the sense that it is used in our culture today, that is, referring to making someone---usually a child, but it can be an adult---your child, a member of your family, LEGALLY.

Rather, it refers to the public presentation of a natural-born son---or for that matter, a legalized son---as acknowledged to be a mature, responsible son who has come of age and from that time on can conduct business in his father's name and in some measure speak and act with his father's authority.

In the teaching of the New Testament, becoming a child of God, is not presented as a legal matter, but, well, duhh, as a paternal matter, that is, one who is a child of God, is so by being born of God, born of the Spirit, generated by God from eternity and, upon this basis, in the aeon, "born from above," or REgenerated in the aeon in accordance with our eternal identity in Christ. Apparently, much to my surprise, some teachers who are quite comparatively biblically literate, are confused about this very fundamental issue.

I have some more thoughts on this...mine and those of others...that I will continue tomorrow.....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

One Father....

It comes up in UR discussions now and then....whether or not we are all really God's children. It usually comes up as a response to the sentiment (expressed by me) that God will not give up on one of his children. Many think we are adopted into God's family by our belief, by our faith....when we "get saved." They think that before that monumental event, even though we are all loved by God, we are not his children. I came upon a verse I had stumbled upon a while back and then lost ...only to be found again recently as I was rereading an article on God Quest. Even though it is posed as a question I think it is a rhetorical question....

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? Malachi 2:10

Indeed....do we not all have one Father? And in Psalm 82 it declares:

6 I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;

Sons of the most high...ALL of you.

And how about the words of Jesus?

"And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd" -Jesus

And a quote by Tennyson (although not scripture of course, but that fits with this line of thinking)

"The great good God looked down and smiled and counted each his loving child, for monk and Brahmin, Turk and Jew, loved them through the gods they knew"-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Neo-Calvinist / Fundamentalist / Evangelical Blogs

It's been a long time.  I feel almost a little...well, shy after being gone for close to a month?  What do I write about now anyway....since I've been gone so long??  And I've visited so many sites, thought so many thoughts.  The supply of things to comment on is virtually endless!!!  I took a trip through conservative, reformed blog land last night....following links from a great blog called The Chronicles of Indestructible Life  which is NOT reformed or conservative....and which everybody should visit.  In his blogroll, however, he has some conservative blog sites listed under the heading:

"Neo-Calvinist / Fundamentalist / Evangelical Blogs". 

He must save them there, clearly labeled so none of his readers ever wander there unawares, or perhaps, as a quick link to inspiration for his writings should he ever run out of great ideas of his own.  There is a virtual plethora of ideas and thoughts that make one's head spin.  So much to disagree with!!!  Many pages devoted to Penal Substitutionary Atonement, Spurgeon's writings, who is and is not a Christian, what is and is not truth, God's wrath, and even detailed instructions on a women's place in society (did you know that women really are not to argue with or moderate men on internet forums?  Yep, on a blog called Jackhammer (charming name) in the questions section, the following question is asked.  I'm not sure if this section consists of actual questions submitted by readers or if they are hypothetical questions made up by the group of pastors who write for the site.  Either way, the following question was posed:

Should a Man Ever Be Under the Authority of a Woman?

The answer is pretty much a "no-brainer" on a site like Jackhammer but he does include the following list which did come as a surprise to me living in the dawn of the 21'st century.

Women should hold no office in civil government.
Women should stop directing, bossing, superintending, administrating, or managing men in the workplace.
Women should cease leading churches.
Women should discontinue preaching to men.
Women should no longer challenge or moderate men in blogs and online forums.

Apparently, this ban is not just limited to women but also to effeminate men.  The author states this clearly when he says:

God didn’t intend for women to rule men or even effeminate men, men who act like women, to have authority over men.  This violates God’s intentions revealed in the Garden of Eden.

Wow...I wonder where the scripture is that instructs us on the place of effeminate men?  And who decides how effeminate is too feminine to rule other men?  My normally very conservative husband brought up a good point on this.  What about men who only have one testicle?  (which, I believe, in OT times disqualified a man from the priesthood) Is one testicle enough to qualify them as men fit to rule?  What if they have NO testicles due to injury or disease (testicular cancer comes to mind here)  What about impotent men? What actually qualifies one as a real man?  It can't be the Y chromosome since effeminate men are disqualified and they, undoubtedly, have the Y chromosome.  (Since I am guessing they believe that effeminate men are most certainly NOT BORN THAT WAY...but rather choose it as a lifestyle)  Oh please...this is just too much to consider the first day back to work after a four day Christmas vacation.  It is almost comical, don't you think? 

I should clarify, I suppose, that I am not a feminist.  I do not have an agenda or a chip on my shoulder about how society (men) has treated me and held me back and thwarted my dreams of leadership.  I am glad to be a women, I have no desire to be a leader and, at least in theory, I think that mutual submission in marriage is a great thing.  Just don't tell me I cannot challenge stone age opinions like the one expressed on this blog...

Gee...posting again was not all that difficult...once I found the right topic to loosen my tongue!!!!!

Contagion

For anyone who wants to investigate mimetic rivalry, Rene Girard, scapegoating etc. this is a great place to start.  There are links from this home page to all the issues of Contagion...a journal of violence, mimesis and culture. 

Following is a copy and paste from the home page:

 

Contagion_banner

 

This is the home page of the COV&R which contains yearly journals from the:

 

COLLOQUIUM ON VIOLENCE AND RELIGION, an international association of scholars founded in 1990 and dedicated to the exploration, criticism, and development of René Girard‘s mimetic model of the relationship between violence and religion in the genesis and maintenance of culture. COV&R is concerned with questions of research and application. Scholars from diverse fields and theoretical orientations are invited to participate in its conferences and publications. Membership includes subscriptions to CONTAGION and to the organization‘s bianual Bulletin which contains recent bibliography, book reviews, and information on the annual conference as well as on relevant satellite sessions in conferences of diverse disciplines.

 

COV&R

Monday, December 3, 2007

From a Tentmaker Post about Sovereignty

There is a discussion at the Tentmaker Message Board going on right now about free will vs. absolute sovereignty. Not surprisingly, it has taken two sides...as the vs. between the words free will and the words absolute sovereignty indicate. I think absolute sovereignty is misleading because most of us who believe in "free" will also believe God is absolutely sovereign. I believe, however, that he has allocated some of that sovereignty to us....as in "take dominion and subdue the earth." Total determinisn makes more sense....since in their view everything...and I do mean everything down to the tweaking of our thoughts...is predetermined. Anyway, even though I do not often post on TM, I threw my opinion into the mix and it was pretty much ignored...no it was completely ignored by those who believe in determinism. No answers to any of the issues I posed. So anyway, I am going to repost it here on my blog. Any comments, questions or observations would be very welcome.....

With a deep breath and more than a few second thoughts, I am throwing my hat into the ring and commenting on this thread. Seeker, I have read all the posts so I am not just jumping in here at the end...with no knowledge of what has been written prior to this. As Taffy can attest to...from our time together on another forum, this subject has been a source of extreme angst to me for quite a few years....and only lately....within the past year or so, have I settled it....at least until further revelation from the Lord reveals something different to me.

A bit of history...I was an agnostic atheist for most of my life...until God revealed himself to me via a mini miracle in a hospital room, with a tap on the shoulder and a whisper in my ear that clearly said, "See, I really am here." I had been dragged to church as a child with my grandmother...a Free Methodist church and I vaguely knew their doctrines. In my naivety, when I became a Christian in my early forties, I thought all Christians thought alike...and that they all believed like my grandmother's church did. Free Methodists believe in free will...and a great degree of it....and also that you can lose your salvation in a heartbeat. Imagine my surprise when I ended up in a Calvinist church and sat through a few classes that explained those famous five points...TULIP!!!

Well, I had a new computer...and a burning desire to find out the truth and I went on an internet trek to prove what seemed right to me then...free will...it was the only fair way if one put an eternal hell into the equation. And in my internet journeys I found TM....and this forum...back in 1998ish. Roy (Bukrim/REB) took me under his wing...and shortly after that and through my friendship with him....I became friends with Keith who posted as Kamar at that time, I believe. They were my mentors. (a side note.... Roy and I are still friends...and I married Keith. He moved here to the States from Ontario and we've been married for 5 1/2 year) They both believe in AS. I no longer had to put an eternal hell into the equation and at that time in my life, I desperately needed to believe in AS...and so I bought it...hook, line and sinker. I cut my UR teeth on the writings of Preston Eby...Ray Prinzing. Keith sent me a box of Ray Prinzing tapes....and for those who aren't familiar with Ray Prinzing....he is total sovereignty all the way. And I accepted it....actually, I embraced it.....for a while that is. And then the questions started to creep in....the very questions and issues that have been raised time and again in this thread and all the threads on TM that have discussed this issue for page after page after page.

This post may get long...and I know....as a rule people tend to skim over long posts....but I have a lot to say on this topic and say it I will.

No other doctrine has caused me as much personal angst as this and actually led to a several year estrangement from God. These discussions that have taken place on TM...including the ones that get heated....have taken place right in my own living room...time and time again. I could argue the total sovereignty view flawlessly...convincingly. I have heard all the ins and outs of it. Keith has probably honed a few of his most convincing arguments on me. It was THE topic for the longest time. So for years this stewed in me...the conflicting "proof texts" and the holes that can be found in both views....total sovereignty AND limited free will. John Gavazonni (a believer in AS) calls these kinds of things contrarianisms. Contrary is right. That's why it has been argued for centuries....and I am sure more than one Christian has been burned at the stake for their views on this issue. There were a few times I eyed the wood pile out back when the discussions got especially heated. But it is through hearing what we do not believe that we become more keenly aware of what we do believe so I guess our "discussions" led me to finally pick a lane and stay in it. (at least until God shows me otherwise) The lane I've picked is the limited free will side of the road. Although I will acknowledge that there are a few potholes in this lane...and that there are verses and arguments that are very convincing as far as the AS view (and really...anyone who wants to respond to this post can cite them if they choose...but I really do know most if not all of them and I have an understanding of them and how they support the AS view) In my heart I have come to the conclusion that to choose otherwise makes God out to be a liar and no matter how we skirt the issue, he is the one who whispers in the rapists/ murderers/terrorists ear.....see that little girl over there??????

I mentioned Ray Prinzing earlier in this post. Keith has all of his Letters of Truth in the bookcase downstairs. I have read most of them. One particular one I remember was a New Year's letter in which Ray stated that it was his tradition to answer a letter or question from a reader. This particular question was from a girl who had been sexually abused and the gist of it was....if God planned that for me....each and every detail....then how could I ever worship a God like that. And what did Ray say in reply? Did Ray....who is known for his saying "If it is, it's right" tell her about how it was God's plan for her good....the trimming off of the carnal flesh etc....etc? No...he talked about how man is on a leash and when we get too far God jerks us back....and does he believe that God personally whispered in the rapists ear....see that little girl over there.....NO....he did not believe that. And then he talked about the fallen nature etc. Huh???? Of course, he attributed ultimate responsibility to God (as do I, since he can always step in if he chooses....but as Tom Talbott beleives....he only steps in when the evil done is something he cannot redeem or bring some good out of) So when it comes right down to it, even one of the fathers of AS belief could not look at someone hurting and flat out say....yep....God did it. But I digress here.....and will probably continue to do so throughout this post....

Byron is a member of another board I participate on....The Beautiful Heresy....and he started a thread called "What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas" which, if I recall was about this realm of time and space and how what happens here does not affect eternity. My best bud, annie, has a view that this realm (of time and space) is like a quarantine and that within this quarantine God has granted us limited free will (and I really do not want to argue semantics. By saying "free" will I know that my will is not totally free with no restraints. For instance, I realize that if I decided...on a whim..... to put my lap top down and...from this couch...leap to the moon that I could not do so. To me that is not proof that I do not have some degree of free/self will. That is just silly....but it is an argument I have heard put out there in defense of AS. When I say limited free will....my definition is.....a limited choice....and I do not mean a pseudo choice....a REAL choice.....be it whether I decide to greet my husband with a hug and a good morning when he awakens and get up from the couch and pour him a cup of coffee....or go about typing this already much too long post) But anyway...back to the quarantine thing. This realm is to learn to choose the good....to learn the difference between good and evil by experiencing it and the consequences of our choices (you know the how best to show the brilliance of a diamond is against the black velvet backdrop way of explaining evil) This is a realm that God uses to mold us into the image and likeness of his son. annie uses the term self governance and I think it is a really good term. If he controls our every thought, whim, action and interaction, do we really learn self governance? If the goal of creation was to make us into his image and likeness does predetermining everything from before the foundation of the world really accomplish that or do we remain "puppets" throughout eternity? Does "making every choice for us" or making it impossible to choose other than we do really enable us to...as the kingdom folk proclaim....to rule and reign with Christ? Would our children be fit to go out into the world if we made every choice for them? I don't think so.

Now...this quarantine thing could also work with the AS view. He sends us to this realm...this quarantine where nothing we do ultimately can escape into "eternity" in order to accomplish his purpose....the ruling and reigning thing....or training for reigning as I've also heard it called. His purpose is also to eventually make man into his image and likeness. And the curriculum is all set. Everything...and he accomplishes his purpose in as short order as possible. He wastes no pain....teaches us the lessons we need to learn in the quickest way possible. He tweaks our subconscious thoughts....he blinds us to alternatives to the choices we are preordained to make....he manages all of our interactions with each other and with ourselves. The lessons been planned to teach us everything we need to learn in the shortest time possible. It is intense but ultimately there is not one speck more pain than is absolutely necessary. I've heard it likened to a navy seal program. Okay...sounds plausible. I don't particularly like it or the thought of how much it will hurt but I could deal with that except for one thing....it makes so much of scripture a lie.

One verse mentioned earlier in this thread is a good example....where God declares the Israelites burned their own children and that it had never entered his mind that they do such a thing. Lie. If AS is true, there is no way around it but calling is what it is....a lie. Doesn't scripture proclaim that God does not lie? Now I have read Jeff Priddy....I have read L Ray Smith and I know the explanation for this....relative and absolute truths....relative and absolute views of scripture.....but I say, let's call a spade a spade....and call it what it is ....which is a flat out lie.


And what about Isaiah 66?

They have chosen their own ways,
and their souls delight in their abominations;
4 so I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and will bring upon them what they dread.
For when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, no one listened.
They did evil in my sight
and chose what displeases me."

Does this not seem a bit disingenuous? They have chosen their own ways? If AS is true...they really had no choice? Yes?? They chose what displeased him? Ahhhh....if it was all predetermined then how could it displease him? If it was all part of the plan then by their disobedience they were actually doing the will of God....so is he telling the truth when he said he is displeased. Again...call a spade a spade....perhaps a white lie....but a lie none the less....and there are other examples....plenty of them....which are all explained away with a wave of the relative/absolute wand of Bible interpretation.

And what about where God tells Adam and later repeated at least in part to Noah to "take dominion" and "subdue the earth?" How disingenuous is that if his every action and reaction is either instigated or thwarted by God's predetermined plan? God has in fact "tied the hands of man" all the while leading him to believe "taking dominion" is his God given responsibility??

And what about the verses where God says he repented / changed his mind? I have a list on my computer that contains quite a few of them....and to be fair the article contains verses that seem to say the opposite. The most commonly given explanation of these "he changed his mind verses is "anthropomorphic language." When the Bible says "God changed His mind," it didn't really mean that God changed His mind but that God is using human words to explain something we can't understand because we are human and cannot comprehend with our limited minds what actually happened. To me, it makes these verses into lies. There are many more examples...and I know there are verses that contradict my understanding of all of this...and so we are right back where we started from. The biggest contrarianism one can come up with. So ultimately, we have to pick a lane and stay in it.... at least until the navigator says...."TURN HERE!!!"

Once on TM, in a thread on free will /sovereignty someone said that if they had to choose between a God of absolute sovereignty and a God of absolute integrity they would opt for the integrity. I, too, have got to opt for the view of God that I think is most accurately displayed in the exact image and likeness of the invisible God....seen in the face of Jesus. Four gospels...four chances to get a picture of the invisible God....how he thinks, how he acts, his compassion, his desire to alleviate suffering. Again....I acknowledge that this view is not without its "holes". I could tell you exactly where they are gleaned from hours of discussions with Keith and reading and pondering and wondering and agonizing and cursing God for the way he set things up (when AS was something I could not quite let go of) but in the end when all is said and done, I have got to go with the belief that to me is most compatible with the God who is all light and love and in whom there is no darkness at all.....

Cindi.....

Sunday, December 2, 2007

More About the Levite and the Concubine

Few stories in the OT provide a more shocking example of man's man's inhumanity to man than the story of the Levite and his concubine. rape_of_concubineI mentioned it briefly in a post last week about sacrifice ...and then again when I posted a link to a modern day (eery) retelling of the story. I also came upon an interesting blog post on a blog called Dr. Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament. The name of the post is Rereading Judges 19:2 .....and keeping with what seems to be a tradition, it is from February 2006....yep, still caught in yesteryear. His blog is fairly conservative, but interesting, and some of the more up to date entries talk about "The Savage God" of the OT. He takes a pretty traditional stance on this, attributing God's acts in the OT to his divine justice which is something one would expect for a professor at Northern Baptist University.

About the concubine, he questions the KJV's translation that declares she had "played the whore" and had been unfaithful to her husband. But Josephus wrote: “They quarreled one with another perpetually; and at last the woman was so disgusted at these quarrels, that she left her husband and went [back] to her parents.”

The word zanah, which is translated played the whore, can also mean “to be angry, hateful” or to “feel repugnant against.” A few versions get it right...but for the most part the poor concubine is not only raped, murdered and cut into pieces, but the text is mistranslated and we are led to believe she was unfaithful to her husband. With the stellar display of valor and integrity he showed by pushing her out the door for the angry men to have their way with, one gets a glimmer of why she might have been disgusted enough with him to leave him.

It seems that the author of the blog post wants to see her vindicated since she truly got such a bum deal.


concubine 3concubine 2

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Play on Words....

Jesus came to RE-present God. I read that little play on words on a forum somewhere....and it stuck with me. Jesus did come to "re"present (represent)God. Mankind's view of God had become so distorted, so dark, so far from the truth that it took Jesus....the expressed image of the invisible God....if you've seen me, you've seen the Father to show us God's true nature. Jesus showed us that God was not the fire breathing, wrath filled, schizophrenic God depicted in the OT...

He not only represented the Father....he RE-presented the Father.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Modern Day Version of the Levite and his Concubine

In my reading this weekend, I came upon several interesting perspectives and articles about the Levite and his concubine...the one who was put out instead of the Levite to appease the angry men of Gibeah. He was the one the men really wanted to humiliate and degrade (ala sodomy according to the text). She was raped all night....was found the next morning, on the doorstep...assumed dead when she did not respond to the Levite's "Get up. We're going." Was flung on the donkey....later cut into twelve pieces and sent to the twelve tribes. Quite the story.

By far the most farfetched commentary was on a blog called Brie: It’s What’s For Breakfast. The name of the article was Why I Haunt Them. It is a modern day retelling of the story of the Levite and his concubine....using an abusive husband, drugs, a seedy, violent gang out to get the husband....and the modern day concubine, an abused wife. Very interesting read....but very graphic and at least R (if not X rated). That's why I'm not copying and pasting the article, but rather leaving it to the discretion of anyone who is interested enough to follow the link. Anybodywho does read it...I would be interested on your take....the differences and similarities in the stories.

Dismemberment and Community Sacrifice

Still digging in the Diigo archives....

I came upon an article called Dismemberment and Community Sacrifice and the Communal Body in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is a 21 or so page article that deals with a premise of sacrifice that differs from Girard's. In fact, this guy pretty much seems to say that Girard is full of crap and his theory full of holes. Not in so many words of course....but he does not see things the same way Girard does. An excerpt follows:

Rene Girard's thesis that "sacrifice serves to protect the entire community from its own violence" (8), and "to prevent conflicts from erupting" (14) finds no support in the earliest chapters of Genesis, where the first sacrifice results in violence: Cain murders Abel.The subsequent history of ritual sacrifice in the Hebrew scriptures—Noah's propitiation of Yahweh on Ararat; Abraham's offering of Isaac;the innumerable morning and evening burnt offerings of Exodus, Leviticus,and Numbers; the sacrifices of the days of Atonement, of Pentecost, and of the Festival of Booths—has less to do with any violence inherent in the "Israelites" themselves than it does with staving off the violence and/or seeking the favor and assistance of Yahweh. This view is seconded by Baruch Levine, following the early twentieth-century scholar George Buchanan Gray, when he argues that Hebrew sacrifice reflects a "contractual relationship ... [in which the] worshipper pledges a gift to the deity in an effort to secure his assistance"

I think he's missed the point. Sacrifice did not cause the violence that erupted between Cain and Abel...but rather the murder of Abel was caused by Cain's perception that God was more pleased with Abel's sacrifice. It was a case in point of mimetic rivalry. This view also confirms (to me anyway) that the Israelites were worshiping a god of their own making...one who could be appeased with the slaughter of a suitable substitute...one who could be placated with blood spilled and cast his favor on the spillers of that blood. That darkness originates in the heart of man....not in the heart of God.

The article talks in some length about the Levite and his concubine...the story considered by many to be one of the most disturbing stories in the Bible. Stranded at night, in the city of Gibeah, on his way home from fetching the concubine from her father's home, they were taken in by an elderly man. The men of the city came to have sexual intercourse with HIM....to humiliate and degrade him (which has its implication in mimetic rivalry as well) The Levite threw his concubine out to save his own skin and to appease the men of Gibeah who had come for HIM. The host offered to throw his own daughter out with the concubine if the men would agree to leave the Levite alone. The story reeks of Girardian scapegoats (the Levite, a homeless stranger in Gibeah, his concubine...a women...a secondary wife....no status at all in the view of society...the daughter, again a women with no rank or worth in that time) The whole mimetic rivalry thing seems obvious. The concubine is raped all night and finally collapses in the doorway. When the Levite comes to her in the morning, it is assumed she is dead because she does not answer him. I read another article that questions whether she was really dead at that point or just badly injured (which I'll post about later).

So anyway, to make a long story short, the Levite loads her on his donkey and later proceeds to cut her in 12 pieces to send to the different tribes of Israel. (again...more on this horror in another post) This article sees the murder of the concubine (who is referred to as "Beth") as a two way sacrifice "explained" in the snippet below:

However, if sacrifice is viewed as a gift marking a plea to enter into a contractual relationship with God promising submission in return for his favor and assistance, as suggested by Gray, then Beth's dismemberment can be seen as a sacrifice in two ways: it serves to facilitate a contractual arrangement between the Levite and the elders of the non-Benjamite tribes, and further, it serves as a contractual arrangement between this nascent group and God, serving to bring them together into a community focused on God and God's role in the vengeance they wish to take on the men of Gibeah, and the tribe of Benjamin generally (the city of Gibeah is in the territory of Benjamin). If viewed as a covenant between a superior and an inferior, as Schwartz suggests, further sacrificial dynamics can be seen in the dismemberment of Beth. The Levite is landless, a stranger in whatever territory he resides,being a member of the one tribe that does not—at the time of this narrative—have its own inherited territory. As such, the Levite belongs to a group that includes foreigners, women (especially widows—see the story of Ruth), and orphans. As Ilse Müllner argues, such groups are particularly vulnerable: "the fact that the laws in Deuteronomy are aimed at ...social groups especially in need of protection ... tends to indicate that these groups were not treated this way as a matter of course" (135). In this scenario, both the Levite (the sacrificer) and Beth (the sacrificed) are, in a very real sense, inferiors, strangers in the land of the as-yet-disunited tribes of Israel. The sacrifice of Beth serves as a plea from the Levite, not directly for the favor of God, but for the favor of the elders of the landed tribes. In Schwartz's terms, the "inferior who enters into the covenant with a superior" (22), is the Levite, who enters into a covenant with the tribal elders, who have never seen "such a thing since the day that the Israelites came up from the land of Egypt" (Judges 19.30). Each party in the covenant receives something from the sacrifice: the Levite is held blameless for the death and dismemberment of Beth, and the tribal elders, "the chiefs of all the people" (Judges 20.2) are united—albeit temporarily—as a military force.

Isn't"it serves as a contractual arrangement between this nascent group and God, serving to bring them together into a community focused on God and God's role in the vengeance they wish to take on the men of Gibeah, and the tribe of Benjamin generally" and "Each party in the covenant receives something from the sacrifice: the Levite is held blameless for the death and dismemberment of Beth, and the tribal elders, "the chiefs of all the people" (Judges 20.2) are united—albeit temporarily—as a military force."
exactly what Girard's theory declares? Sacrifice serves to bring the community together and stave off the all against all violence. But is is a band-aid and the rivalry begins anew...thus the "albeit temporarily....united military force." While disputing Girard's theory, this article seems to confirm it!!!


And what about:

"further sacrificial dynamics can be seen in the dismemberment of Beth. The Levite is landless, a stranger in whatever territory he resides,being a member of the one tribe that does not—at the time of this narrative—have its own inherited territory. As such, the Levite belongs to a group that includes foreigners, women (especially widows—see the story of Ruth), and orphans. As Ilse Müllner argues, such groups are particularly vulnerable: "the fact that the laws in Deuteronomy are aimed at ...social groups especially in need of protection ... tends to indicate that these groups were not treated this way as a matter of course" (135). In this scenario, both the Levite (the sacrificer) and Beth (the sacrificed) are, in a very real sense, inferiors, strangers in the land of the as-yet-disunited tribes of Israel."

Ahhhhhhhhh.....uh-huh....doesn't this further confirm Girard's theory? The Levite is landless, a stranger...a member of a group that included foreigners, women and orphans. Easy victims of scapegoating, perhaps? And am I reading it correctly when it seems to say that these underdogs, ripe for scapegoat picking, are not usually treated that way because of the laws in Deuteronomy aimed at protecting social groups in need of protection. To me, that seems like God's provision of protection for the very people the Israelites would most likely pick to abuse.


This article left me unsettled for some reason. Probably because within the examples the author uses to discuss his view of sacrifice...and especially the example of the murder of "Beth"....lies all the depravity in the human heart. These may be flat, one dimensional words on a page, but when one adds just a bit of imagination to the scene it would be a rival for modern day horror flicks like the SAW trilogy....or is Saw 4 that is out now? Which would make it a tetralogy...and yes, I did have to look that term up on google. To think that "god" would be appeased, placated, approving of such a display...such a sacrifice is unthinkable. Would it not be more in line with the God we see in Jesus for the Levite to throw himself to the angry mob rather than throw out his concubine? Is that not something that so much more seems to fit the character and nature of our great God? More about "Beth" in later posts.......

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Flywheel

Flywheel Keith and I watched a movie together last night called Flywheel. It is produced by Sherwood Pictures, a production company created by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia.... of Facing Your Giants fame. Flywheel was the first movie produced by the church and it was more in line with what you might expect from a Christian movie. Here I go again...discussing old news. It was somewhat touching and heartwarming ....and I did find myself tearing up a time or two. ...but overall, I don't think it presented a true to life picture of what the Christian life usually entails.

The story was about the owner of a used car lot and his pregnant wife and young son. He was not an honest salesman...and he ripped many people off....even his pastor!! His wife was not happy with his business practices or his relationship with her or with their son. His son didn't care much for him and knew he was a "cheat." He was on the brink of losing his business. He was estranged from his father. Then one night, while watching a late night TV evangelist he "got right with God" and made "Jesus the Lord of his life." And by the end of the movie....all...ALL...his problems were straightened out. I know it was just a movie.....but I couldn't help but want to shout....hey...what about, "in this world you will have trouble," or "pick up your cross and follow me." It was just a bit hokey...and a bit pie in the sky....but overall, a pretty good "B" rate movie.

Another "Girardian" Quote

In another one of those articles buried in the Diigo archives, I found a gem of a quote that is very timely and pertains to a situation going on in my life. It is another of those quotes that holds a mirror up for us to see our reflection. Like that glimpse of ourselves first thing in the morning, it's not always a pretty sight. The article is called I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE by Dr. Kosuke Koyama. Following is the quote that stood out to me....revealing something as unflattering as my reflection at 4:30 am...when I straggle out of bed to the brightly lit bathroom.


Envy thinks it will walk better if the neighbor breaks his leg.

I am not going to go into detail about the situation or how it applies, but I am pretty sure most who read these words can relate it to a time or experience in their own lives.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Good News Tour

While checking out my favorite blogs on Bloglines, I came upon "Washing Osama's Feet" on Gregory Boyd's blog, Random Reflections. The post tells about The Good News Tour and the stir that resulted when the organizers of the tour (Heavenly Sanctuary) contracted with several Seattle Malls to hang posters advertising the tour. Angry calls began to pour in shortly after the posters were hung....the malls canceled their contracts and took the posters down. Sadly, most of those complaining were Christians. The Christian college where the tour was supposed to be held also canceled and the organizers had to find another location to hold the conference. Following is the picture that caused all the outrage and the description of the tour:

jesus_washes_feet

The Good News Tour is an ongoing conference that is entirely about God. The message about God’s kindness is open to everyone who desires to listen. The Creator of The Universe has revealed Himself in many ways, but most clearly in the life of Jesus – God in the flesh.
Despite Jesus’ revelation, God’s character has been tainted and misunderstood by many throughout the last 2000 years. We desire to make Him known and make public the beauty of His Person - His kindness, His humility, His never-ending forgiveness.
The Good News is entirely about God - that He is just like Jesus in character. This Good News has the power to transform those who are willing to listen. His kindness is the power that can change human beings into a people who are free to experience unity - a people who have God’s law of love and liberty written on their hearts.

Gregory Boyd says:

"What the protest reveals is that many Christians have tragically allowed their patriotism to co-opt their faith. They have allowed their American citizenship to take priority over their Kingdom citizenship --"

He goes on to say that:

Obviously, the protesters believe that Jesus would not wash Osama Bin Laden’s feet. But Jesus died "not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world" (I Jn 2:2) -- and this obviously includes Osama. So if Jesus died for Osama, how are we to imagine him being unwilling to wash his feet?

You can read the post in its entirety at "Washing Osama's Feet". Any comments about the picture?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Jesus said, "Follow Me"

Last night I was poking around in the articles I've saved on Diigo...an internet notebook kind of program that I thought would be so handy for saving and highlighting and sharing treasures I find on the web. For me, it worked better in theory than in actual practice so I think I am going to go with a combination of Google Notebook and Zoho Notebook for trying to keep track of the totally mind blowing, overwhelming amount of info that is available on the internet. With these OCD tendencies I have, it is very distressing to have info and comments, thoughts and ideas here there and everywhere. Sigh....

All that to say, I came across a Girardian quote I thought noteworthy on one of the articles I skimmed through. It is an older article....written in 2001 by Paul Nuechterlein owner of The Girardian Lectionary website. The site features a weekly Girardian take on the Lectionary reading. There are also lots of links to sermons and articles written by and about Girard or mimetic rivalry or peace...or the atonement. There are also many of the owner's original thoughts and writings....including sermons he's written and preached from a Girardian perspective.

This particular article was called A Girardian Take on the Historical Jesus Movement. I seem to be focusing my attention on stuff that is old news....but alas I've let God be the captain of my internet travels and.....with a little help from google....the things he has shown me over the past ten years is nothing short of astounding. If I happen to end up reading an article written 6 or 7 years ago, I'm sure there is something for me to learn there. I've never really read the views of the Historical Jesus Movement, although I suspect they more or less attempt to strip him of his divinity. That is just a guess. I don't know for sure.

In this article, Nuechterlein refers to Girard's theory as "evangelical anthropology." I thought that was an interesting term. I've heard his theory referred to as the "anthropology of the Cross" but "evangelical anthropology" has a nice ring to it....and cuts to the chase concerning part of the mission of Jesus. To introduce us to ourselves. To quote this article:

Resurrection proclamation claims, but not proves, that Jesus was right about God.' If Jesus was both truly human and truly divine, as the resurrection Christian faith has come to claim, then we also believe that Jesus was right about us. In other words, Jesus not only gives us a revealed theology but a revealed anthropology. He shows us things about ourselves that we could never hope to see. Without the Messiah, as Isaiah prophesied, we hopelessly continue to sit in the darkness.

Hmmmmm....He shows us things about ourselves that we could never hope to see. I think he shows us things about ourselves we don't want to see. The article goes on to expound on this idea after it lists quite a few modern day scapegoats and sacrificial behavior we find in our society....in ourselves....

But the cross and resurrection graciously reveal these things to us as they are forgiving us for them. Unconditional forgiveness from God is the key to begin to see any of these things, because we could not hope to see something so dark about ourselves if we weren't already forgiven for it, and if we weren't already offered another way of peace through Jesus Christ.

And Jesus said to them, "Follow me......"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

annie's view on the atonement and life of Jesus Part 2

In response to the following question:

annie...this is wonderful....but how do you think the shed blood of Jesus actually works and empowers us? What and why is the power in the blood?

annie...my best buddy, chum cyber pal...who has been my confidante and advisor in many very trying personal issues...always an open ear....and an open heart. I find it almost shocking that we see things so much alike!!! I know we are all part of the body of Christ..but she and I must be located right next to each other since our view of things so closely matches. Most of the time, she forges the spiritual path and I find myself following along saying...."yes, yes..yes....that's the way I see it too!!!" Her thoughts bearing witness with my spirit....putting to words what I know in my heart.

aisi, "the blood" (metaphorically, not literally) is the perfect cure, the "vaccine" against sin. tempted as we are (in his humanity, exposed to sin, the "antigen"), yet without sin (immune, the "antibodies"). i am one who accepts the duality of Jesus, as God incarnate - no less divine because of his humanity; no less human in his divinity. if he had been only divine, he would not have been our "high priest who is not untouched by the feelings of our infirmities". if he had been only human, he could have sympathized, but would have been powerless to help. as the "first adam", merely a living soul, incapable of imparting life. but, as the One who died and rose again, conquering death, paul wrote in 1 corinthians 15 that he became a "Life-giving Spirit", able to indwell and empower - "Christ IN you, the hope of glory". the "seed that fell into the ground and died" does not remain alone, single, but produces an abundant harvest of souls. the "eternal" life that he now imparts to us has more to do with the quality of that life than merely the duration. i don't believe it was Christ's physical death that was so important, but rather, his dying to self. the physical death only proved to what great lengths that full submission would go - that there was nothing he would hold back, that he would give all. and his physical death was for us in that he blazed the trail as the "first-born from among the dead". he had to die in order to be resurrected - for us. he didn't die to PAY for our sins. Jesus died that he might conquer death in his resurrection and deliver us, not from the experience of physical death (duh - we still die. even lazarus, whom Jesus raised went on to die), but from the fear of death and the power of death. in our minds, death is so permanent. God's design has always been for death to be temporary - it will one day be "swallowed up". the book of hebrews offers some keen insights into Christ's work of at-one-ment, helping to answer the question, "why did Jesus have to die?" let me quote a few verses with a bit of commentary on each.


1.1 God, after he spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us IN HIS SON, whom he appointed heir of ALL things, through whom also he made the world, 3 and HE IS THE RADIANCE OF HIS GLORY AND THE EXACT REPRESENTATION OF HIS NATURE, and upholds ALL things by the word of his power. when he had made PURIFICATION of (not payment for) sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high....
2.8 for in subjecting ALL things to him [Jesus], he [God] left nothing that is not subject to him, but NOW we do NOT YET see all things subjected to him (the "now and not yet" expressed in 1 john 3.2) 9 but we do see him who has been made FOR A LITTLE WHILE lower than the angels, namely, Jesus BECAUSE OF THE SUFFERING OF DEATH, crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God, he might taste death for EVERY one. 10 for it was fitting for him, for whom are ALL things, and through whom are ALL things, IN BRINGING MANY SONS TO GLORY, to PERFECT THE AUTHOR OF THEIR SALVATION THROUGH SUFFERINGS, 11 for both he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are ALL from one Father, for which reason he is not ashamed to call them brethren.


this is UR in a nutshell - Jesus the heir of ALL things, fulfilling one of his purposes, to be the express revelation of God upon the earth. wanna know who God is? scripture falls short of describing him - but we can see him fully manifested in Jesus. "perfect" in 2.10 doesn't mean that Jesus was screwed up and had to be fixed. it would better translate "complete". without suffering on the earth, incarnating into the human experience, Jesus as Savior, would have been incomplete. the writer goes on to explain more:


2.14 since the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise also partook of the same, that THROUGH DEATH HE MIGHT RENDER POWERLESS HIM WHO HAD THE POWER OF DEATH, THAT IS, THE DEVIL (consistent with 1 john 3.8), 15 and might DELIVER those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives... 17 therefore, HE HAD TO BE MADE LIKE HIS BRETHREN IN ALL THINGS (including death), that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation (rescue, not payment) for the sins of the people. 18 for he himself was tempted in that which he has suffered, HE IS ABLE TO COME TO THE AID OF THOSE WHO ARE TEMPTED.


what was he "tempted" to do? his own will of course. tempted to save himself as the onlookers at the cross taunted him to do. yet, he chose to "trust himself to the One who judges righteously". frankly, i think most fundamentalists are too hung up on the blood of Jesus. my faith is not "in the shed blood of the Lamb", but rather in the PERSON of Christ. his blood was not payment for sin, but rather a testimony to the impotence of death over the One who IS Life. paul, in 1 corinthians 6, called Jesus our "passover Lamb". the blood on the doorposts that caused the "death angel" to "pass over" was not in payment for any sin, but rather a testimony of deliverance from death.


more from hebrews as to what was accomplished in Jesus' death:


5.7 in the days of his flesh, when he offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and who was heard because he was a Son, 8 although he was a Son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became to all those who obey him the SOURCE OF ETERNAL SALVATION.


and "ALL those who obey him" will indeed one day be ALL, for EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue confess Jesus as Lord to the glory of God the Father (philippians 2). how else could one experience obedience/submission without having to submit their own will to something that is in opposition to that self-will? God granted to each one of us self-governance with the intent that we learn to set aside and give back to him that independence - to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, even as Jesus did (romans 12.1-2).


the rest of hebrews focuses on the idea that since Jesus has already done his part, let us, as co-creators with him, do our part to fulfill/complete the circle. here's where i have a beef with "the finished work of the cross" folks. it's good theology to help deliver folks from a mentality that they just never quite measure up to what God expects, those who still think God is mad at them and need to be reassured that Jesus bought him off so that they are fully forgiven. but, that doctrine rather misses the point. it still stinks of the penal substitution, taking the focus away from God's original purpose and ongoing process of the creation of man in his likeness. when Jesus said, "it is finished", HIS work was finished, not ours. otherwise, why would paul exhort us to "forget what lies behind" and "press onward to the goal of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (philippians 3)? in fact, the writer of hebrews expresses this same idea:


6.10 for God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward his name [nature], in having ministered and still ministering to the saints, 11 and we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises".


in hebrews 9, it can get confusing, if one previously has a mindset that God demands blood payment for sin. the significance of the blood is not payment, but rather the death of the old covenant. it was not offered as PAYMENT, but rather as a TESTIMONY.


9.7 but into the second (holy of holies) only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance, 8 the Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, WHILE THE OUTER TABERNACLE (the flesh) IS STILL STANDING, 9 which is a SYMBOL for the time then present, according to which both gifts and sacrifices are offered WHICH CANNOT MAKE THE WORSHIPPER PERFECT IN CONSCIENCE... 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse YOUR CONSCIENCE from dead works to serve the living God?


nothing here about paying God, but rather, the cleansing of our conscience, our soul, our heart and mind. and here's where most folks will only quote the last half of 9.22, but it reads:


and according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.


hmmm.... "one may almost say". sounds more rhetorical/metaphorical to me than a good supporting scripture for blood payment of sin. also, note that it is "according to the Law". another note: it speaks to the "remission" of sin. "forgiveness" here would also be an accurate translation if tradition hadn't distorted the intent of forgiveness.... God's "forgiveness" has nothing to do with letting folks off the hook for the PENALTY of sin and everything to do with providing deliverance from the POWER of sin (and death). i think 9.14 very much speaks to a girardian view of the atonement, reinforcing the truth that it was never God who needed to be reconciled to US, but rather WE who were at enmity with him and needed to be reconciled IN OUR MINDS, IN OUR CONSCIENCE. it took the death of the Innocent to deliver us from our self-justifying deceptions. i know it might sound bizarre (blasphemous to some), but the work of at-one-ment is truly all about metanoia, about what's going on in our soul - the mind, will and emotions. our spirit never needed "saving". it is the essence of God within us. our flesh is disposable and won't be saved. truly, we have never been outside of God, for it is in him that we live and move and have our being. our alienation from him is in our MINDS, our independent self-will. God never left us. again the "separation" has been in OUR minds, with the manifestation of the resulting poor behaviors. like proverbs says, "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he". Christ's atoning work awakens us to who we really are, delivers us from deception and death, and turns our hearts back to our Father. Jesus said that we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. that's the "power of the blood" - it is a testimony to the truth that sets us free from our deceptions. james points out that sin is conceived in our minds... it is the deception of self-protection/self-provision "apart" from God and his perfect will.


long explanation... and i don't think i've adequately explained it yet... but, you could have cut Jesus' finger 2000 yrs ago, smeared his blood all over yourself and it wouldn't have done a thing except draw flies. it's not the literal blood of Jesus that is the point, but rather the "death of the testator" to which the blood testified. "power in the blood" is a better song lyric than doctrinal truth. it was only the evidence of his loving, sacrificial obedience. it is Christ himself, not his blood, that is "able to save us to the uttermost" because "as he is, so are we in this world" and he is the "first-born among many brethren". in revelation, those who overcome do so by "the blood of the Lamb (the testimony of Jesus), the word of their testimony, and that they LOVED NOT THEIR LIVES EVEN TO DEATH. just as Jesus gave up his life, so must we lose our lives in order to find our [true] life which is "hid in Christ". the "now and not yet" of our at-one-ment will not be fully manifested until we are transformed, all one in the One.


was any of this what you were getting at? if there's something specific i've forgotten, please add it. it's hard for me to address "atonement" like it's a separate issue. all of creation (aisi) is our journey "out" from and back at-one with God (though we never truly "left"). love that is forced is not love, so there had to be freedom to "perfect" it. God set us free, even to hate and mistrust him, with the intent that we one day reciprocate that love in pure uninhibited fellowship, oneness, with our Father/Creator. the power is not in the blood, but in the Love. -annie

Saturday, November 17, 2007

annie's view on the atonement and life of Jesus Part 1

I am going to post the following view on atonement written by my best cyber buddy, annie. Life has been really, really confusing and mixed up lately. My mind has been on the never ending merry go round of issues...to the point of distraction. I originally typed obsession, which might perhaps be the better word, but decided to downgrade it to distraction. It sounds better :) This was posted on Emerging Universalist in response to a request for resources on the atonement. We asked annie for her summarized version...and here it is:


okay, i'll try... i just realized that i've never attempted this... i mostly post [lengthy] snippets (i know, an oxymoron LOL) addressing varying aspects of what i believe are misrepresentations of "the atonement". i don't think i've ever tried to compile them before, so bear with me and feel free to offer corrections.


first, i'm passionate, even dogmatic about only ONE thing: God is Love, he is Light, and in him is NO darkness at all. i don't base my views of God solely on scripture, but rather base my interpretation of scripture on that view of God. if a thing seems to deny his divine nature, i believe it cannot be true, no matter what scripture APPEARS to say. due to mistranslations and misinterpretations, even original error by those who were quite certain they were hearing from and correctly representing God, i don't think we can place the entire weight of our faith in words on a page, but rather, only in the PERSON of the Living God. anyways, as one who claims the status of seeker rather than knower, the rest of my views are subject to change with progressive revelation. all we can do is walk in the light we have thus far....


i'd like to address a couple of errors in interpretation that i believe have led to and supported the penal substitution theory of atonement:


1) "propitiation" as defined by fundamentalist tradition has come to mean that Jesus died in our place to PAY for our sins, to appease an angry god. i use a little "g" here for a reason. this view besmirches the character of God, who forgives because it is his nature to do so. there is NO unforgiveness (darkness) IN him, so it is impossible for him to hold a grudge or seek revenge for sin. and his chastening is corrective, not punitive. yes, scripture uses words like "ransomed" and "redeemed", which denote a "payment" of sorts, yet, these too have been misunderstood. i challenge anyone to find it stated explicitly in scripture that Jesus bought forgiveness from God, that God demanded blood and didn't care whose was spilt, whether from the innocent or guilty, as long as the accounts were "evened". at this juncture, someone inevitably quotes from hebrews, "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins". hmmm... just what is REMISSION? if i have cancer, is remission when i have paid my bill or when the cancer no longer ravages my body? selah. scripture clearly states that Jesus is the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY the sin of the world (john 1.29, i john 3.5), who was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil (1 john 3.8). the TRUE intent of "propitiation" is found in the greek, "hilasterion" (strong's 2435). it is from the same root as "cheerful" or "hilarious" as in "God loves a cheerful giver" (see all the forms in strong's 2431-36). the true intent of the word is that feeling of relief one gets when certain calamity is averted or avoided. there is nothing cheerful or hilarious about a god who demands a blood sacrifice. save that view for molech. propitiation is about RESCUE (please read psalm 102.18-22 and isaiah 61), not the traditional fundy sing-song explanation of "i owed a debt i could not pay; he paid a debt he did not owe". there WAS no debt to be paid, because it was CANCELLED, FORGIVEN. in accounting terms, a debt may be forgiven, or it may be paid, but not both. even if it is paid by a third party, it would not be forgiven.


2) "wrath" of God has been confused with the human emotions of anger, malice, revenge. not so with God. God's "wrath" is a white-hot love that pursues his own to the ultimate length. his "wrath" does not target men, but rather the unrighteousness and ungodliness OF men (romans 1.18). he is a Consuming Fire that burns the dross, leaving his beloved children safe and purified (1 cor 3.15).


3) "grace" does not mean that God laughs at sin, ignores sin, or pretends we are righteous. grace (greek, "charis") is defined by strong as "the Divine influence upon the heart as reflected in the life". we will be changed into his likeness, not through external rules (the law), but through the indwelling Christ (the law came thru moses, but grace and truth thru Jesus Christ). God's grace does not cover up sin, but TRANSFORMS us and frees us from the power of sin. with being so hung up on getting off the hook for the PENALTY of sin, it appears to me that many fundamentalists aren't even concerned with being freed from the POWER of sin. truly, if we love God with all of our hearts, we would be willing to endure any fire of hell if it would eradicate sin. it is SIN itself that should be feared and detested, not the blessed fires of God's love. it is SIN itself that Jesus came to defeat, to take away.


4) "imputed" does not mean that God pretends we are righteous. he does NOT credit us with Christ's righteousness, but rather MAKES us truly righteous. a better translation of "imputed" in "inworked" or "interwoven". it is NOT a veneer, but making our complete substance righteous through and through.


okay, i probably left a bunch of stuff out, but this is getting long enough as it is and i haven't even started LOL.


in the beginning, God stated his plan and purpose for mankind: "let us make man in our image". adam was the BEGINNING of that process. he did NOT "fall". he was not created perfect, but rather "very good". the fact that adam was sinless before partaking of the "fruit" is based solely on the technicality of being a clean slate - he had as of yet not had any real opportunity to sin. i liken it to the american indians before the euros came and brought smallpox. they had previously remained disease free only because they had never been exposed. yet they were forever vulnerable. remember the original Plan. for God to create us in his likeness, we must, of necessity, have the same freedom of self-governance that he has. it was never God's intent to create little automatons, but rather, sons and daughters. that free choice made us vulnerable to sin. it's the reason God put us in these disposable bodies and created this time and space as sort of a quarantine. can you imagine if he'd granted us immortality BEFORE he'd dealt with the sin-sickness? it was not his design that we be forever protected from sin (like the boy in the bubble with no immune system), but rather than we become IMMUNE to sin. we contract the dis-ease, are cured, and then are forever after immune - fully in his own likeness. this was why Jesus came, as stated in scripture. "he was tempted as we are, yet without sin", now he is able to save us to the "uttermost" as the "captain of our salvation". "you shall be holy as he is holy". "beloved, NOW are we the sons of God... and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but when he shall appear, we SHALL BE LIKE HIM, for we shall see him as he is. and every man who has this hope in him purifies himself even as he is pure". we are co-laborers, co-creators with God, submitting our will to his divine will, cooperating in the process of going from mere "living souls", in adam's likeness, to mature sons and daughters, redeemed and perfected, in Christ's likeness. we are traveling something of an ellipse. we had to "go out" from God in our orbit, to become those "separate" living souls that we might have a self-will as God does. i use "separate" in quotes, because, it is truly only an illusion. we are, and have always been, his children and it is in him we live and move and have our being (acts 1), yet somehow we imagine an independence that empowers us to rebel if we choose. but, as we repent and return, we begin our journey back home to his heart. it is Jesus who is the reconciler - who causes us to "turn the corner". God was never estranged from us and never needed to be reconciled to us, but rather, it was WE who needed to be reconciled (made at-one). this is done through repentance. many would accuse universalists of leaving this out, but repentance MEANS to turn around. we stop moving away from our Father and return to him. and we are ALL predestined to this return trip according to romans 8.29. just who would it be that God didn't "foreknow"? thus, he also predestined us to be conformed to the image of his dear Son. this has been God's plan all along. which part of creation do we think was "plan B", because God somehow got caught off-guard and had to come up with a contingency plan? if it's his will that none should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance (2 peter 3.9), just who would be left out? duh. paul spells out many of the "steps" in the process in 1 corinthians 15 - first the "earthly", then the "heavenly". going from little adams to little christs is as normal and planned as a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. nothing is impossible for the God of the universe and beyond.


i hope in my effort to offer a condensed version, i didn't leave out anything vital... all of youse guys, feel free to offer additions/corrections, and of course questions. perhaps i can answer them satisfactorily. if not, i imagine someone else can :). -annie

Sunday, November 4, 2007

God Is Your Enemy...at least according to Fred Phelps

God is your enemy

I ran across a few articles today about the 11 million dollar ruling against Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church for picketing the funeral of a fallen soldier. The soldier's dad brought the lawsuit against Phelps and his clan in an attempt to send a message and hopefully spare other families the added heartache he endured because of the actions of this "church."

Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the church after members demonstrated at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming that the soldiers are dying because the nation is too tolerant of homosexuality. They carry signs such as "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags."

This ABC News article goes into some of the particulars of the case...and includes some ironic quotes from the church leadership. The church mainly consists of people related to the Phelps...72 in all....counting a recent addition who is now 2 months old.

11 of Fred Phelps' 13 children are lawyers.....including his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper. After listening to a phone interview I found on the National Post website I find it hard to believe she ever made it through law school. She sounded just like a few belligerent drunks I've had to deal with in my days as a waitress....or the ravings and ramblings of someone who is mentally ill. Her harsh, crude way of speaking was even more noticeable because of the contrast with the interviewer...a Canadian women from Toronto with the melodic, sing song accent many Canadians have. (Remember, I am married to a Canadian and I mean no offense or slur against the charming accent of Canadian women.) Shirley sounded just plain ignorant. And rude. And hateful....something she denies in the ABC article.

"Hateful message? It's a kind message. It's the only kindness of this hour," she said. "And we do it on our own time and we do it from a pure heart and kindness."

Uh-huh...yeah...right. She provides a glimpse of this kindness when she goes on to say that parents mourning their children who died in war "did not do their duty to their child."

"Those people that are sitting around there with their crocodile tears … the Lord, God entrusted them with that tiny baby," she said. "They raised the child. There's only two ways to raise your child. You either raise them by the standards of God or you do, in fact, raise them for the devil."

And whose standards did Fred use when he raised his 13 children?

In the National Post interview she mentions that the trial provided an opportunity for them to do a bit of missionary outreach. "We have signs and we know how to carry them." she said in her course, grating voice.

"In his compassion, for the last 17 years, God has sent his servants — the apple of his eye — from this humble little church to warn you daily to flee from the wrath to come.” the church said in a statement.

33574993

I'm afraid that these people have no idea what compassion is and they are a million miles away from what Jesus meant when he declared, "if you had understood what this meant, I desire mercy not sacrifice you would not have condemned the innocent"

Yancey's Not the Only One.....

A new book caught my eye the last time I was at the Christian bookstore (killing time while the girls were at the other end of the strip mall trying on clothes at T.J. Max.) At least I think it is a new book. I haven't seen it before....but I usually only go there when the girls are shopping at T.J. Max....so it may have been out for a while. The Papa Prayer, by Larry Crabb expresses sentiments similar to what Yancey had to say in his book on prayer....

"Ever since I've been a Christian, I've asked God for lots of things He hasn't given. There have been times I've begged God for clear guidance on how to handle messy relationships or on what direction to move in a confusing situation, and it never came. I could name a dozen nasty spots in my life, probably more, when I've felt desperate to hear from God yet heard only silence.

Sometimes I tried to believe I had heard God's voice, but I knew I really hadn't. I wanted it so badly I pretended I had.

"God, where are You?" I've often asked. "Are You listening to me? Do You know what's going on in my life? Do You care? Do I even know who You are?"

Anybody else been there, done that, bought the tape?????

He talks a little about his experiences with prayer.....

A New Way of Praying

I've practiced centering prayer. I've contemplatively prayed. I've prayed liturgically. I've interceded and petitioned. The first model of prayer I learned as a kid was ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. I tried that, too, for years. I've benefited from each, and I still do. In ways you'll see, elements of each style are still with me. There are many good ways to pray.

But I believe I've sovereignly stumbled on a fresh way to think about prayer that has led me to a new way of praying. It's not a formula or technique. There are no techniques in good conversation with God. There are no means to manipulate Him, no ways to persuade Him to do things our way. He's not open to input on how best to run my life.

He explains this fresh way of thinking about prayer in an acronym that spells Papa.....

It's the PAPA prayer, and it looks like this:

P: Present yourself to God without pretense. Be a real person in the relationship. Tell Him whatever is going on inside you that you can identify.

A: Attend to how you're thinking of God. Again, no pretending. Ask yourself, "How am I experiencing God right now?" Is He a vending machine, a frowning father, a distant, cold force? Or is He your gloriously strong but intimate Papa?

P: Purge yourself of anything blocking your relationship with God. Put into words whatever makes you uncomfortable or embarrassed when you're real in your relationship with Him. How are you thinking more about yourself and your satisfaction than about anyone else, including God and His pleasure?

A: Approach God as the "first thing" in your life, as your most valuable treasure, the Person you most want to know. Admit that other people and things really do matter more to you right now, but you long to want God so much that every other good thing in your life becomes a "second-thing" desire.

Even though I don't consciously follow his formula when I pray, I think I capture the essence of at least the P. A. P. part...being honest with God about what I am feeling....be it thankful, fearful or ticked off. I don't do very well with the final A....since it is hard for me to put my kids as a second thing desire. I know that scripture says God comes first and that we are to "seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness...." but the next verse also instructs us not to worry....which is another skill I have definitely not mastered at this stage of my Christian walk. Anyway, Crabb goes on to say that the PAPA prayer is not "rubbing a magic lantern and making known three requests to a docile genie that pops out before our eyes." and that most times when he prays this prayer "nothing happens-at least nothing I can see or feel right away. Sometimes I feel closer to God, or at least I think I do. And sometimes I sense an urge to do something, to reflect on a certain thought, to call a certain person, to think about a certain passage in the Bible, or to read a certain book." It is " simply a way to come to God and learn to wait, to listen with a little less wax in our spiritual ears, and, most of all, to be relentlessly real. "

He also says that it has given him a great deal of peace of mind:

As I recognize the symptoms of advancing years and terrifying images of old age come to mind, I am developing a comforting sense that the best is yet to come, even if I end up alone in a nursing home with attendants taking care of me.

Hmmmmmmm.....definitely NOT there yet either. But anyway, I came across two online guides...one for this book and the other for Yancey's book on prayer.....

Four Day Guide to Prayer which is a guide based on the PAPA Prayer.

Prayer Participant's Guide which is "Six Sessions On Our Relationship With God" The link will take you to Barnes and Nobles....the page where the book is available for purchase. Underneath the picture of the book is a link to this guide. "Read a sample chapter"

Any comments?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Age Old Question

I took notice of these two, apparently opposite, points of view as I was reading some of the articles online about Yancey and his book about prayer. In the blog I mentioned a few days ago, he highlighted the following post and stated his concerns about Yancey's belief in open theism. Being a calvinist, it did not sit well with him at all.

Quote by Yancey

“A hundred times a second lightning strikes somewhere on earth, and I for one do not believe that God personally programs each course.”

Then, as I was listening to a song by Chris Tomlin, the following words jumped out at me....

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go

Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow

Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light

Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night

None can fathom.

I have no idea what Chris Tomlin's theology is concerning free will/determinism. He may have been using poetic license to make a point in his song "Indescribable" yet, it struck me (and especially me since it has been such a point of contention between Keith and I) that it was a great example of this opposing belief.

Oh...and another quote from the book that deals with the open theism/total determinism/free will debate.....

“I know a missionary whose wife and seven-month-old daughter were killed by a single bullet when the air force in a South American country mistook their plane for that of a drug runner and opened fire. ‘God guided the bullet,’ the surviving husband and father said to the press. We have held long discussions about that quote, because I do not believe the ‘Father of compassion’ guides bullets into the bodies of babies. Jesus himself refuted those who blamed human tragedies on God.”

Any comments? Does God tell every lightening bolt where it should go? Does he guide bullets into the bodies of babies?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

From Daniel on Prayer

Daniel is a friend on Emerging Universalist. He is somewhere in the vicinity of 70 years old and is filled with the wisdom of a life long walk with the Lord. Many of us on the list look at Daniel as a mentor in this somewhat off the beaten path journey with an off the beaten path view of God, and life, and our relationships with each other. Someone on the list brought up prayer again...with a question akin to what Yancey asks....does it make a difference. This is Daniel's view....

This may be way too simplistic, but it's an analogy that I hope at least hints at an aspect of prayer in time of trouble. Such prayers help us to remember that God is right where we are regardless of the appearance, God never forgets us, but it's easy sometimes for us to forget God.

If I want to watch TV I have to turn it on. Praying for it to come on without making the connection would be fruitless. The TV broadcast is there but I must make the connection. in a like manner, God is with us all the time, but we must make the connection by our conscious awareness.

I think if I should pray for God to give me something or get me out of something it can serve no real purpose except hopefully to remind me that God is already here and needs no instruction from me about what I perceive as needs. And then I can pray aright:

You are with me always; You will never forsake me. You go before me to make the crooked places straight. You lead me and guide me, and I shall fear no evil. My prayer changes from a petition to a realization that I have God with me, and there is never a need for God AND something else. There can't be something else. That's when I'm "plugged in to the broadcast" and on the right channel!

When turmoil or crisis arises, I am very likely to cry out, "Lord, deliver me!" But the very cry reminds me of the Presence of God. And when I don't know how to go in or come out of praying aright, I cry "Father, pray!" and let God take over the how and what. Then I can get to the prayer that cannot fail: "Thy will be done."

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Calvinist's View of Yancey's Book

I am sure I'm breaking all kinds of blogging rules by linking to a post that is over a year old,  but if you are interested you can check out a discussion on Yancey's book on Prayer ...along with lots of comments at Challies.com.  This is a blog by a guy named Tim Challies.  When I was researching "Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?" his post came up on a list of  links at Google Books.

It's a very impressive site...lots of posts, information on how to purchase his book...some stuff on web design.  He writes from what seems to be a reformed /calvinistic viewpoint and has information about conferences that feature speakers  like John Piper, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur.  From my stint in a true blue five point church, I know these names as hallowed proclaimers of reformed "truth."  

He criticized Yancey's book on several points which included Yancey's  allusions to a belief in open theism and quoting Mother Teresa too often (to the exclusion of some of the above named teachers.)  He does mine out snippets of quotes from the book that are priceless and thought provoking.  More tomorrow on this.  Although this seems painfully short for a post on my blog, I've got to run.