Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

A thought occurred to me today as I was riding home from one of my trips of running the girls to and fro, to and fro. I was pondering what I read yesterday from Francis Collins' interview on beliefnet, and evaluating my thoughts about evolution. It occurred to me that perhaps human gestation tells the story of evolution in an abbreviated form. Creationists are offended at the thought that we climbed out of the waters (having evolved from some creepy little blob of fleshly life) and that our beginnings are much more grandiose than that. But truly...don't we all start life as a little blob of fleshly life that "climbs out of the waters" via the birth canal?

I remember when I found out I was pregnant with Matthew. First baby...oh so mesmerized by the wonders of life and feeling so motherly with all those pregnancy hormones pulsating through my body. I checked a book out of the library about pregnancy and it showed the developing fetus during different gestational periods. I found the picture that corresponded with my stage of pregnancy and I was shocked. Truly shocked. It was about as far from cute as you can get. Ewwwwwwwww. I continued to feel motherly, but I liked it a lot better when pictures of the embryo became pictures of a fetus that looked more like a real baby.

So pondering this all today, I typed all kinds of things into google...just to see what might come up. Being very unlearned in evolutionary theory I came upon a picture from The Descent of Man - Darwin Volume 1 that showed the similarities between the embryo of a dog and the embryo of a human. The picture follows:

I thought the similarities between the little blobs of fleshly life were striking. However as I read more about it online, I discovered there has been some controversy as to whether the pictures were doctored. So having google to help me with my research, I found the following pictures of embryos. One is an elephant, another is a dog, several are human.

Okay...the first embryo is a dog, the second embryo is an elephant, the last two embryos are human. If you look, even to the naked, untrained eye there are differences...but striking similarities too. They all begin as blobs. I do not mean any of this to be controversial. I do not mean to offend or poke fun at the sanctity of life because I do believe that even at these rudimentary stages, a baby is a baby is a baby. And I am just thinking this evolution stuff all through. As Francis Collins said in the article I posted about yesterday "God Is Not Threatened By Our Scientific Adventures" (no matter how amateur and ignorant they might be). And it is with that thought, and because I have an affinity for offbeat humor that I post a picture of a fetus at 7 wks gestation...truly a face only a mother could love :)

More About Christian Evolution

One day this week, in my email, there was a link to a beliefnet article.... an interview with Francis Collins, the well known Christian scientist who is the author of the book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. It is the same guy who participated in the Time Magazine debate I mentioned in my last post. I am going to take a few quotes from the interview.
It's also now been possible to compare our DNA with that of many other species. The evidence supporting the idea that all living things are descended from a common ancestor is truly overwhelming. I would not necessarily wish that to be so, as a Bible-believing Christian. But it is so. It does not serve faith well to try to deny that.

Well, that pretty much sums that up. With his credentials...and his faith, it is hard to simply ignore what he has to say.

About God's purpose of making mankind:
I believe God used the mechanism of evolution to achieve that goal. And while that may seem to us who are limited by this axis of time as a very long, drawn-out process, it wasn't long and drawn-out to God. And it wasn't random to God.

[He] had the plan all along of how that would turn out. There was no ambiguity about that.
While it may seem to us that this whole process has the risk of randomness and, therefore, an unpredictable outcome, that was not the case for God.

Concerning prayer he says:
For me, in my Christian belief, prayer is not an opportunity to manipulate God into doing what you want him to. Prayer is an opportunity to have a conversation with God to try to get in tune with what his will is.

The words in the Lord's Prayer are not "my will be done", but "your will be done.

He looks at DNA research as an opportunity to worship:
To be able to look, for the first time in human history, at all three billion letters of the human DNA--which I think of as God's language--it gives us just a tiny glimpse into the amazing creative power of his mind.

When asked what he wished scientists knew about believers and visa versa he said:
They draw the conclusion that belief is something that is arrived at purely by emotion. They (Scientists)don't perceive the notion that faith can be a completely rational choice, as it was for me.

Forty percent of scientists are believers in a personal God to whom one can pray and expect an answer. That's proven by various surveys.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Christian Evolution

About a year ago, while waiting in the doctor's office for my turn, I picked up a Time Magazine from the rack when an article caught my eye. The name of the article was God vs. Science and it was a rather lengthy transcript of a debate between Frances Collins (a scientist...and a Christian, who also believes in evolution) and Richard Dawkins (also a scientist, but an outspoken atheist.) I wrote the following post to Emerging Universalist at the time:

Following an excerpt from Wikipedia about Francis Collins:

Raised on a small farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, Francis Sellers Collins was home-schooled by his mother until the sixth grade. Throughout most of his high school and college years, the aspiring chemist had little interest in what he then considered the "messy" field of biology. What he refers to as his "formative education" was received at the University of Virginia, where he earned a B.S. in Chemistry in 1970. He went on to attain a Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Yale University in 1974. While at Yale, however, a course in biochemistry sparked his interest in the molecules that hold the blueprint for life: DNA and RNA. Collins recognized that a revolution was on the horizon in molecular biology and genetics. After consulting with his old mentor from the University of Virginia, Carl Trindle, he changed fields and enrolled in medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning there an M.D. in 1977.From 1978 to 1981, Collins served a residency and chief residency in internal medicine at North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill. He then returned to Yale, where he was named a Fellow in Human Genetics at the medical school from 1981 to 1984. During that time, he developed innovative methods of crossing large stretches of DNA to identify disease genes.After joining the University of Michigan in 1984 in a position that would eventually lead to a Professorship of Internal Medicine and Human Genetics, Collins heightened his reputation as a relentless gene hunter. That gene-hunting approach, which he named "positional cloning," has developed into a powerful component of modern molecular genetics.In contrast to previous methods for finding genes, positional cloning enabled scientists to identify disease genes without knowing in advance what the functional abnormality underlying the disease might be. Collins' team, together with collaborators, applied the new approach in 1989 in their successful quest for the long-sought gene responsible for cystic fibrosis. Other major discoveries soon followed, including isolation of the genes for Huntington's disease, neurofibromatosis, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, and the M4 type of adult acute leukemia.

and a quote from Collins, when asked, "What do you say to your fellow Christians who say, 'Evolution is just a theory, and I can't put that together with my idea of a creator God'?")

"Well, evolution is a theory. It's a very compelling one. As somebody who studies DNA, the fact that we are 98.4 percent identical at the DNA level to a chimpanzee, it's pretty hard to ignore the fact that when I am studying a particular gene, I can go to the mouse and find it's the similar gene, and it's 90 percent the same. It's certainly compatible with the theory of evolution, although it will always be a theory that we cannot actually prove. I'm a theistic evolutionist. I take the view that God, in His wisdom, used evolution as His creative scheme. I don't see why that's such a bad idea. That's pretty amazingly creative on His part. And what is wrong with that as a way of putting together in a synthetic way the view of God who is interested in creating a group of individuals that He can have fellowship with -- us? Why is evolution not an appropriate way to get to that goal? I don't see a problem with that."

That pretty cool, I think.....and sounds quite reasonable doesn't it?? And as for Dawkins? I am just going to post the link to his info on Wikipedia.

There's a lot of stuff there....and would be too much for the scope of this post (and besides, I like Collins better :) BUT I am going to post his final remarks from the article in TIME magazine because even though it is taken a bit out of context, I suppose, it illustrates that even someone who is as devout an atheist as it appears he is, still has a longing for and a sense of God. There is that "God shaped hole" in his heart that nothing else is going to fill. It appears he is almost wistful in his remark. His quote follows

DAWKINS: My mind is not closed, as you have occasionally suggested, Francis. My mind is open to the most wonderful range of future possibilities, which I cannot even dream about, nor can you, nor can anybody else. What I am skeptical about is the idea that whatever wonderful revelation does come in the science of the future, it will turn out to be one of the particular historical religions that people happen to have dreamed up. When we started out and we were talking about the origins of the universe and the physical constants, I provided what I thought were cogent arguments against a supernatural intelligent designer. But it does seem to me to be a worthy idea. Refutable--but nevertheless grand and big enough to be worthy of respect. I don't see the Olympian gods or Jesus coming down and dying on the Cross as worthy of that grandeur. They strike me as parochial.
If there is a God, it's going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.

You can say that again Mr. Dawkins.......

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Christian Universalism (still more from Eric Stetson)

Eric Stetson is one of the founding members of The Christian Universalist Association. Their stated purpose is:

The Christian Universalist Association is an interdenominational organization connecting churches, ministries, and individuals who believe in Christian Universalism. The CUA is active in evangelism and outreach to the public, spreading the Good News of God's love for all people. We are especially focused on helping people find and participate in developing positive and uplifting communities of faith that share this belief, where they can get involved and grow spiritually through worship, fellowship, and service to God and other people. We hold conferences, publish literature and a periodical, encourage networking and cooperation among believers, maintain a directory of churches and meeting groups, work to foster church planting, and create new resources to deepen and reform Christianity and help to bring people together from various religious traditions in a shared discovery of truth.

The Board of Directors consists of several well known UR Preachers/Teachers including Rev. Kalen Fristad, Chair, Rev. Eric Stetson, Executive Director,John Gavazzoni, Charles Slagle, Dr. Ken R. Vincent.
Some of the questions answered on the FAQ's page include:

Questions & Answers
What is Universalism?
What is Christian Universalism?
Why do Christian Universalists need an organization?
Can I join the CUA even if I am not a Christian?
Other than belief in universal salvation, how does the CUA differ from "standard" Christian churches?
How does the CUA differ from the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association)?
Does the CUA have a statement of faith?
Do churches affiliated with the CUA all have the same worship style?
Is the CUA politically liberal or conservative?
Does the CUA consider itself a separate denomination?
Can I continue to belong to another church while being a member of the CUA?
Can a church that belongs to a denomination also affiliate with the CUA?
Can I become an ordained minister and start a new church through the CUA?
What are the benefits of joining the CUA?

Another web page worth checking out!!!! Thanks Eric for all you do to advance this truth.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Christian Universalism (More from Eric Stetson)

Eric Stetson, owner of has also made some really good videos about UR and posted them on U-Tube. They are well made, informative and the reviews (from members of several lists where I am a member) are very positive. Again, if you are searching this out, I urge you to take the time to check out these videos. None of them are very long...ten minutes or so. He has done a great job. What a dedicated young man!!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Eric Stetson and

Anyone who is interested in searching out more about Universalism, I urge you to check out the labors of Eric Stetson, a man in his mid twenties who is very, very active on the internet. He is a prolific writer and also owns a top quality website called This site is home for a compilation of many writings that explain, proclaim and exclaim this wonderful truth. The articles are listed by topics such as

The best texts on Christian Universalism and related topics

The Bible teaches a limited time of punishment, not eternal hell

The Bible teaches the ultimate reconciliation of all souls to God through Christ

Biblical terms, metaphors and parables often misinterpreted as a hell of eternal torment

The traditional doctrine of hell is absurd and incompatible with God's perfect nature.

The traditional doctrine of hell produces evil effects, not good

Historical origins of false teachings about salvation and damnation in Christianity.

Better ways of understanding God, Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and the divine plan.

Various arguments for universal salvation and responses to objections and other views.

God's unconditional love for all created beings.

The redemptive purpose of suffering and divine judgment.

Accurate Bible translations refuting the doctrine of eternal hell.

Under each topic there are a dozen or so articles listed in order of their length (from short articles to online book length articles) written by many well known, well respected Christian universalist teachers and preachers. There are testimonies, links, a yahoo group by the same name as the website, a newsletter, listing of churches that preach/teach this message (there are not a lot :) It is well worth checking out and I think you will be blessed whether this is something you are just searching out or something you have believed for a long time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

$30,000 Bucks a Night

On my AOL Welcome Page yesterday there was an article about the Ty Warner Suite at the Four Seasons. It costs $30,000 a night to stay there. It is filled with priceless treasures...marble, rare woods from around the world, mother of pearl inlay on the living room walls, a waterfall, exorbitantly expensive accent pieces. Decadent comes to mind. As a customer service rep/secretary, $30, 000 is more than I make in a whole year. Does anyone really need to stay in a hotel room that expensive when there are perfectly good Red Roof Inns right around the corner? And who is it that can afford a room that pricey just to lay their head on a pillow for a single night? (a pillow covered, no doubt, with a pillowcase made of exquisite imported Chinese silk) Everything in the suite is so rare and priceless that guests are required to take off their shoes before they enter the suite. Special luxury booties are provided. Ahhhhhh....for $30,000 a night I think I'd like to keep my Nike's on, thank you.

This has come up as a topic of conversation between Keith and I before. Indignantly, with much self righteousness, I declare that with starving children in the world....nobody needs that much luxury. There is no reason anyone should sit at a custom made Laianne bronze table, atop French travertine floors in the breakfast nook, which is adjacent to a balcony that overlooks Central Park...where there are hungry, cold, homeless people sleeping on park benches. To which Keith might reply, "How much is too much?" Hmmmmm. How much is too much? His point is that in comparison to much of the world we are filthy rich. Do I have "too much"?

There is a ten year old shag rug on my bedroom floor, not French travertine, but it's not a dirt floor either. And the love seat I am sitting on is over ten years old, too. It came from a tent sale and cost about $150.... but it is soft and comfortable and it is not a rock or a straw mat. We drive old cars, not quite beaters, but definitely not new. And what about the three computers in our house. Granted, one is about 8 years old....but do I really need this laptop I got for Christmas? A bottom of the line Dell, yet, is that too much when so much of the world is poor and there is so much need everywhere? Do I really need a computer that I can hold on my lap on the $150 love seat?

I don't have the answers to those questions. I think about it sometimes, and wonder whether I should do more to alleviate suffering and poverty in the world. Even though my lifestyle is rather modest, am I living in far too much opulence? Where exactly does one draw the line between enough and not enough? Between enough and too much? I'm not sure. Any thoughts?

Robert Rutherford of Rock Fellowship

I can't remember how I came across the ministry of Robert Rutherford who is the pastor of Rock Fellowship in Georgia. About a year ago, perhaps a bit longer, Keith and I ordered some DVD's from an Inclusion Conference we saw mentioned on he Tentmaker message board. Around that same time there was a TV show on The Learning Channel called The Messengers. Probably one of those two venues was the link to his ministry, but however it was that we happened upon him, his ministry is a great blessing. Following is his short bio from The Messenger's site. (Scroll down through the other contestants to find him) All of his messages from the show are there, too, available to listen to online or as MP3 downloads.

Pastor Robert Rutherford is the consummate family man. Located 55 miles outside Atlanta, his camp, Rock Fellowship, houses not only his wife and their 11 children but also an ever-changing extended family from all over the geographical and spiritual map. Muslims, Jews and Christians, along with the homeless, are all welcome at Rock Fellowship. Robert has played with a Christian rock band for the past 20 years, and the experience shows in his entertaining, thought-provoking speaking style.

The Messengers was similar to the American Idol type shows. Each week the speakers were given an assignment (spend a day in a hospital for critically ill children, spend a day as a handicapped person) and then they had to give an inspirational message on that topic. Each week one "messenger" was eliminated. I think Robert made it through five or six weeks before he was eliminated.

The message I remember the most clearly was the week they had to speak about their experience at the children's hospital. Robert, as a pastor, with a pastor's heart, spent his time with a 16 year old boy who was dying of AIDs. His family was not with him for whatever reason, but Robert was...and in the message birthed from that experience, he spoke of God as a loving father who welcomes all of his children home. Robert preaches universal reconciliation.

Well, I have heard him deny that he preaches universal reconciliation or inclusion, and he declares that he preaches only "Christ." To my way of thinking, they are pretty much one and the same. There are many messages available on his site, recorded from the services at Rock Fellowship. He is an engaging preacher, with a southern drawl and his sermons are filled with those southern idioms that I remember from living in Nashville for several years. Granted, Nashville is not as "southern" as Georgia....but it provided some exposure to sayings like, "I'm fixin' to", "hose pipe" and "fooler" (pacifier). With 11 kids, he has lots of material for his sermons which he blends in as amazing analogies about God's character and nature and how to live the "Christian life."

I think he sees the atonement more along the lines of penal substitution. He is a bit more traditional about his view of sacrifice etc. but he is very knowledgeable about scripture and his sermons are quite entertaining and touching. Drop by his site and listen to one of his sermons....or one of his songs because he is also a great singer. I loved his musical medley of "I Come to the Garden" and "There is None Like You". I was a bit disgruntled when Robert was disqualified on "The Messengers" but he continues to be a great messenger of the true God through his website and his CD ministry. Also check out his sister Logo for that site follows.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mama!!! Mama!!!

Yesterday the topic of the sermon was prayer. The sermon was based on Jesus' parable in Luke about the judge that was petitioned repeatedly by the widow....over and over again until he gave up and gave her justice. Jesus applied this to persistent prayer by saying:

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them?

At the end of the service the pastor urged us to think of a prayer we had prayed for a long time with seemingly no results....and with tears in his eyes....he told us to persist. There were about five minutes devoted to this prayer time. I prayed for my kids...Beth in particular.

During the sermon, he used a film strip to illustrate why sometimes when we are distraught, flat on our face before the Lord, crying out to him in despair and yet, we feel only silence...with no awareness of his apparent answer to our prayers....

The clip was from the movie about Ray Charles. It showed him, flat on the floor of their very, very modest home tears, streaming down his face, crying out for his mother to help him. Apparently he he had tripped and fallen on the floor, new to being blind, and he was crying out to his mother for help. His cries were pitiful and wrenched the mother's heart beating in my chest. She was standing nearby, in the kitchen area. She was keenly aware of his every move....his every cry....but stood silently. He wiped the tears away and stood up...feeling around the shack with his hands...coming close to an open fire...a whistling tea kettle. All the while, his mother watched. Flinching when he was near danger....actually starting to move toward him but stopping herself. She watched as he began to use senses other than his sight to identify things....children playing.....a horse drawn wagon passing by the open window....a cricket. He knelt down on his hands and knees and found the cricket. "I heard it," he said. "And I hear you too. You're right over there." And so the point was that when we are crying out to God, thinking he has abandoned us, he really is right there and if we can learn to use our spiritual see in a different way, we will find him.

.............for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Determinism According to "Sims"

I posted this on EU but got such a kick out of it that I decided to post it here too....

Emily is revisiting a game she played nonstop a few years ago called Sims. It is a virtual reality type game where you make up people and families and they go about the business of everyday living. She was on it this morning...playing around. Last night there was a fire in the kitchen and a wedding and all kinds of stuff going on. She has a family based on ours...and I heard her up there this morning saying.......Matthew!!!!!!!!!! Apparently the virtual Matthew came into the virtual room where she and Ashley and Beth were sleeping, turned the music on loud and started to play Ping-Pong, waking everyone up....then Ashley got up and started to watch TV. I've never really been that interested in the mechanics of Sims but this morning it piqued my interest and I asked her if she controls all their actions of if they do whatever they want to do. To which she matter of factly replied, "Yea, I gave them freewill." I immediately started to laugh since so many conversations between Keith and I center around that very subject. She is oblivious to that ongoing theological discussion though so she was not poking fun at us or anything. She was earnestly explaining how Sims works. She went on to say that "you can put them on no free will, but it's not as much fun." Indeed :)

Neither is the Final Destination

I am going through my AOL favorites and importing them to at a time...slowly, meticulously because upon a cursory google check, there is no way to do that all at once...especially when your bookmarks are a compilation of favorites all the way back to AOL 3.0 or something. Anyway, I came upon a web page with the gleanings of N. Thomas Wright, the Anglican Bishop of Durham, England.

I am not sure why I saved it...but it is amidst the peacekeeping, nonviolent atonement links I've been saving of late so I am assuming he is related to that vein of thought. I borrowed the title of one of his short writings, Neither is the Final Destination. It is a short article followed by comments....50 some odd comments.....from readers. I thought what he had to say succinctly illuminated the view that our final destination is neither heaven nor hell (although I think he might believe that one of these is a temporary destination) and that the real final destination is "THE NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH." which to Wright means "an ultimate new creation in which heaven and earth are brought together in a great act of renewal" Oh wow...that sounds a lot better to me than the view espoused by the unbelievably successful mega series, Left Behind..or for that matter the view of most Christians who believe in the rapture. The Rapture is the ultimate "Calgon take me away!" (anybody but me remember those commercials?) Perhaps it will mean that in this great act of renewal, I might be able to right some of the wrongs I have done to the the ton of disposable diapers I sent to the landfills, the hurt I caused by careless words or selfishness, or the disparaging light I sometimes cast on the name of Christ by calling myself a Christian while behaving in a manner that was anything but.

I think perhaps Wright might believe in annihilation (although I do not know this for sure but just get that vibe from this short writing) On hell, he says "God's new world will not have in it 'a concentration camp in the midst of a beautiful landscape', as some earlier visions of 'hell' have supposed." On the second coming he says that it, "is NOT Jesus 'coming back to take us home', but Jesus coming -- or 'reappearing', as 1 John 3 and Colossians 3 put it -- to heal, judge and rescue this present creation and us with it." He doesn't think that God is interested in saving Christians FROM the world but that we "are to be his agents in bringing that salvation to the wider world." It is an interesting short read...along with the comments. The website is the Newsweek/Washington Post religious section called, "On Faith." Other short topics by N. Wright are God or god? , "A Caste System For Christians", "Pray, Study and Keep Working", "Love More, Pray More", "Golf More" and "Falwell From Afar" Check these all out HERE.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Free Will vs. Total Determinism

On Emerging Universalist, we have been discussing free will vs. determinism. I’m not really even sure how it came up as a topic except that there has been a flurry of posts. I don’t think there is anyone in our group of “heretics” who believes in total determinism. Someone coined the phrase “detourminist”to sum up what we believe. A newcomer to our group mentioned she thinks we have free will ….which is of course, limited to our circumstances etc. but not sovereign will….which belongs to God alone. I really liked that distinction.

My friend Brian posted urging me to “let it go.” He has been on lists with me for several years and knows the turmoil this doctrine has caused me. Not the doctrine….but my double mindedness about it. I did my brief stint in the total determinist camp….and was there long enough to see that there is some logic behind it. Plus it is my husband’s pet doctrine. You would be amazed how that colors everything…..everything. From prayer to reading the Bible, to everyday discussions….everything is colored by how you view this doctrine. I get frustrated because I think it makes God out to be a liar, a manipulator, an overly anxious “jewish” mother. It just violates so many principals and turns God into a “do as I say and not as I do” kind of deity….and is indeed a dark blotch on his holy character much like eternal torment and penal substitution. Keith thinks that if God does not control even one small detail, the universe will go into runaway mode, the cosmos will be knocked off their orbits and chaos will reign.

In Brian’s very wise post to me, he also listed the criteria he uses to determine a doctrine’s validity. I thought they were very good standards to apply so I list them below:

Reason, Scripture, Tradition and Inner Knowing

Reason is obvious. So many of us discard rational thinking when accepting certain doctrines of standard Christianity….and not so standard Christianity. God is not an irrational God. To me, if it does not make a lick of sense in the here and now, it is doubtful that in the sweet bye and bye it’s going to make any more sense. Of course, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and all that stuff….and he cannot be understood by our little pea brains, yet if a doctrine flies in the face of reason, (ET comes to mind) we should seriously reconsider its validity.

Scripture: The B…I…B….L…E, yes that’s the book for me. I love scripture. I love the Bible. I think it is one of the most important ways God’s communicates with his children. Lynn Hiles sometimes says that “God breathed on a verse” in a new way. Although they are words written on a page, I think the Holy Spirit can bring them to life in our hearts and our lives when he “breathes on them”….however I do not think everything in the Bible was authored by God. Even Paul points out certain passages that are not inspired but are rather his own advice. I am not so sure others who wrote were as in tune as Paul was to what God was actually saying. I filter scripture through Jesus. Four gospels, four chances to get it right, four chances to see the invisible God in the expressed image of Jesus. “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father.” If it does not fit with the character and nature Jesus displayed in his time here on earth, I have no problem putting it on the shelf as something that is not legitimately from God.

Tradition: Hmmmmm…oftentimes tradition is screwed. Sometimes tradition is the antithesis of what is true. I am thinking of Girard’s theory about how religion legitimatized sacrifice and scapegoating. I am thinking of eternal torment and penal substitution which are both traditions. I am thinking of Catholicism and all it’s doctrines of demons and bondage. I am thinking of Spurgeon and Edwards and their vile spewings of what God has planned for sinners in hell. All of these things are so far removed from the simple theology of Jesus. Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Sums it up nicely huh? So tradition might enter the equation but I am more likely to judge it as the wrong way of looking at a thing.

Inner knowing: My friend Roy pointed out once that Jesus promised us when he left that the comforter would come and lead us into all truth. The Holy Spirit….the essence of God buried within each of us (in some of us it is buried very deeply, indeed) will lead us into all truth. "So let him do his job!", is my motto. I have been navigating the gentle breezes of inner knowing for as long as I have been a Christian….shunning penal substitution and ET long before I knew there were others who felt that way or that there was any scriptural support for them. Keith tells me I am “blown about by every weird doctrine that comes along.” Perhaps…but I am convinced I am traveling in the direction God wants me to go….with a few detours along the way….but he has a way of directing our steps back to the right path.