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:
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:

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. is, eh? Doesn't scripture also declare that Jesus was the firstborn of all creation? The firstborn indicates 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 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!!!!!


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:




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.



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 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 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 predetermined. Anyway, even though I do not often post on TM, I threw my opinion into the mix and it was pretty much 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 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 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 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 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 definition is.....a limited choice....and I do not mean a pseudo choice....a REAL 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 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 the kingdom folk 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 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 is he telling the truth when he said he is displeased. 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 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.....


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