Attacks on God from Within

Yesterday I mentioned subtle attacks on God (and just a reminder, by “attack” I am referring to that which contradicts or distorts the truth about God as He has revealed Himself in the Bible). From what I see, the subtle version is most prevalent from within the body of professing Christians.

Sadly, it would seem that some identifying with the emerging church, are falling into this category. I almost don’t know where to begin.

Self-described wannabe mystic and prophet Mike Morrell wrote an article, “Is God ‘A Recovering Practitioner of Violence’?” last November that illustrates the attack from the inside.

Note: this article is a result of reviewing some sessions from the 2004 Emerging Theological Conversation. The presenting scholar was Walter Brueggemann, and Brian McLaren, Tim Keel, Troy Bronsink were among those hosting dialogues. In other words, these ideas are not exclusive to Mr. Morrell.

While Mr. Brueggemann first advanced the idea that God is getting over his addiction to violence, Mr. Morrell uses Geoff Holsclaw’s summary to explain the position:

“By this he [Brueggemann] means that God used to think violence was a good idea, but then gave up on it. However, like all addicts, He has relapses. Of which the cross is either the final deliverance, or another relapse.”

In today’s society, of course, “violence” has come to mean any use of force. Consequently, God’s judgment—whether on nations or on His Son as He bore the sins of the world—is viewed as violence.

This position negates God’s role as judge, denies the goodness and immutability of His nature, and ignores His plan for the world.

In essence, while claiming to search for the mystery of spirituality (departing from certitude, dying to “answers/desires/scripts”), this position misses the transcendence of God.

On one hand, this view of God reduces him to human proportions, at least emotionally. He grows up, matures, battles to “recover” from how he’s treated man because, apparently, he knows better now. In addition, because we are in a personal relationship with him, that means he must learn from me just as I learn from him.

On the other hand, this view of God strips him of his personhood. Here’s the argument:

But when we’re faced with the disturbing truths that Brueggemann elucidates – God’s irascibility for instance – what do we do?

There are two ways to do handle this. One is the way of definitive, forceful – almost violent – denial that there is (or has ever been) anything troubling in God’s character or actions. It’s the route of trusting God via suppression.

But there is another route – more painful, more adult, more complex – but I think it can still end in deeply-rooted, childlike trust. It’s a path that I’ve learned from many guides over the years … And this is the path: As Grubb proposes a radically panentheistic reading of Holy Writ, there is only One Person in the Universe. (Y’know, like “I Am the Lord your God, there is no Other?”) Creation unfolds inside of God. And within this unfolding, it moves from gross [overt] to subtle to causal. (emphasis mine)

Notice, there is no argument against taking God at His word, just an accusation that to do so requires denial and suppression.

But here’s the conclusion:

I think that I can be an orthodox Trinitarian Christian with a high Christology, and still hold that the Universe is one important aspect of the unfolding of God – and that we are the co-unfolding of God within God.

The panentheism believes nature is God within God or that God is beyond God.

As Jay Michaelson explained it, God is the ocean and all else is the water.

Remember, Mr. Morrell is speaking as someone within the emerging church. He considers himself a Christian—one who looks at Scripture through the eye of a panentheist.

I call this an attack on God.

Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 7:00 am  Comments (301)  
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301 Comments

  1. interestingly enough…you seem to assume that we aren’t dialoguing because we aren’t using the same rhetoric as you? or because we use phrases like ‘i use to think this way’ we mean to dismantle all the traditional thought, i want to clear that up quick our agenda, hope, heartbeat is to open discussion, not ‘beat’ anyone, that spirit/ethos doesn’t help anyone or anything. dialogue is sharing worldviews and learning from one another. for example, at the root word of evangelism (euangellion) are the words teach and also ‘learn’….we sometimes go overboard on the primary definition and forget the latter. and so dialogue is not only about evangelizing but also being evangelized. and my hope is that is what is happening here. and if we are divine, then this is part of an ongoing divine process of learning. and i would disagree with your assessment of Paul, because he was dealing with a situation within a certain history, he wasn’t compartmentalizing roles, he was responding to an intra-church problem. i think we could all learn to be better prophets, sure, it looks different for each person what that looks like or how involved they are…but even people in the OT whom we might not think were prophets, were considered prophets solely based on the fact that they challenged the status quo. and so if we offer anything, it is alternative view, that can too easily be reduced to a right or wrong dialogue which cheapens the conversation before we even start. so i hope we can all evangelize and be evangelized here.

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  2. “..the author of the universe, whom I have met…”

    After my initial reaction, which is “Um, really?”, I have to wonder how the rest of us are not supposed to read that as some kind of mystical one-upmanship. I haven’t met any such person, myself, though I hear an awful lot of people speculate as to what such a person must be like.

    Actually, what I hear is a lot of “the stuff I made up (or the particular way I interpret stuff other people made up) trumps the stuff you made up.”

    Which, admittedly, does have its own charms.

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  3. OK… I will respond. The personalization is not the issue that prevents dialogue. What prevents dialogue is personalization and a closed door. I’m talking about “I usaed to think” accompanied by all indications that one will no longer engage or facilitate that earlier thought.

    What I have difficulty with, George, is that you are stationg things as though they were fact. To state prophets “were considered prophets solely based on the fact that they challenged the status quo” is an extremly limited, single-layered perspective. I happen to disagree with that perspective. In a dialogue, we could discuss it. However, in order to discuss it, you would have to set aside your conclusions about the emerging church, if for only the duration of the discussion.

    In a dialogue, it’s not sufficient to say, “I hear you.” One must also listen. That can’t be done without engaging disparate perspectives.

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  4. Mystical one-upmanship

    OK. I hesitated before bringing that up. I could, of course be deluded. However, you correctly point to what is fundamentally unfair about such an assertion.

    My experiences make it untenable to adopt the emerging church. It is precisely because of the person of God. That is impossible to adequately debate. As unfair as my assertion is, however, it is what explains my perspective.

    In the interest of fairness, I won’t say any more in this forum about my experience. However, I will not dismiss the accounts of similar experiences in the Bible. Paul’s conversion is another unfairly asserted experience that nobody else gets to go through, but I won’t remove it.

    I would contend that many people asserting that they have a better perspective with the emerging church than with the traditional church is guilty of the same unfairness. Some of them, in this forum, also talk about their transformational experiences.

    My statements are no more offensive. It’s just that people don’t believe mine.

    Anyway, I will make no more mention here. If anybody wants to engage me privately, I welcome that.

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  5. Traditional views always label and dismiss any other view no matter how sound.

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  6. “Traditional views always label and dismiss any other view no matter how sound.”

    First, I’m not dismissing the views. I’m dismissing the assertion of the views at the expense of dialogue. There is a gigantic difference. I am just as dismissive of the assertion of traditional views at the expense of dialogue. I welcome the continued dialogue.

    I quoted your text so you can see again what doors are being slammed shut: “always label” “any other view” “no matter how sound”.

    Isn’t the soundness what people are debating? Multiple viewpoints have equal complaints of having been dismissed.

    I still think people need to settle down a bit. Maybe read some midrash into the discussion, eh?

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  7. Cameron: I am appreciating your thoughtful and rational comments more and more. I do think, though, that what you mean by postmodernism I would call bad postmodernism. It is a perspective, a way of understanding (which differs in certain fundamental ways from modernism, etc.). As such, it is no more dogmatic than the person wielding it wishes to be. Goodness knows it is all too easy to find people being dogmatic and exclusionary on either side of the postmodern divide. I always thought that, rightly understood, some basic tenets of postmodernism are hard on dogma, since they force us to acknowledge the biases inherent in our position. Bad postmodernists insist others do that but fail to do that themselves. But good postmodernists asks difficult questions about the certainty of our knowledge, at least in public discourse. As such it highlights the preeminence of faith, which can hardly be anything but encouraging to adherents of faith-based systems of belief. (I’m not sure that Puddleglum’s famous reply is not a postmodern response to the shallow scientific-fact-based paradigms of modernism.)

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  8. I am confused…with all the intense dislike (hatred?) of the OT God (who is one with Christ) from the emergent commentators, why do they still go by the name Christian?

    Why is Sally accused of “playing a Hell card” when trying to warn others of the wrath to come? If there is wrath to come (and there is) wouldn’t the unloving “card” to be played just be leaving everyone alone and headed to Hell?

    I am growing tired of conversations with Emergents. In the end, it is always about a refusal to repent of their sin, and the invention of a god that approves.

    Has anyone out there ever heard of an emergent that repented and embraced Jesus Christ (the one in the Bible)? I grow discouraged.

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  9. “My experiences make it untenable to adopt the emerging church.”

    Fair enough. I’ve also had formative experiences — not meeting God, mind you — that make it untenable for me but for, I suspect, very different reasons.

    But what if those who embrace the emerging church do so because of some kind of similar formative experience? What if they believe they are following the Holy Spirit just as earnestly and fervently as you believe in your audience with the author of creation? What if they really do have a better perspective in the emerging church even if you wouldn’t?

    I don’t see anyone in this conversation with a particular corner on the dialog-stopping market. Suggest that one’s opponent is deluded by Satan, for instance, is impossible to debate. I don’t personally believe in Satan as a discrete supernatural entity — but I’m sure someone will feel compelled to point out that this is his greatest (not that the Bible suggests any such thing, and not that it would change my mind if it did).

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  10. Well, I can’t type, apparently. “Suggest” should be “suggesting” and the last sentence should read “…that this is his greatest trick…”

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  11. ChurchSalt, I think you may have hit upon some common ground:

    The invention of a God that suits one’s purposes us something everyone has in common.

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  12. By the way, when it comes to scandalous claims of tangible encounters with God, the Resurrection comes to mind. Seems to me there were those that claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus. Mary Magdalene, “the other Mary”, Joanna, and others come to mind. A common thread is that nobody believed them. In fact, it was treated as nonsense! (See Luke 24) Peter famously didn’t recognize Jesus, even through Jesus’ witty dialogue, leading to Peter’s threefold denial.

    How grossly unfair of them to wield their personal experience over the others! How much more unfair that they continue to wield their personal experiences over us a couple of millennia later! I daresay their “made up stuff” trumps a whole lot of other people’s “made up stuff”!

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  13. […] did I do? I spent a few hours…several hours reading all the comments on Becky’s post about the emergent church and then jumping into the […]

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  14. Has anyone out there ever heard of an emergent that repented and embraced Jesus Christ (the one in the Bible)? I grow discouraged.

    keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith. Consider him on the cross. Consider why he went. Consider how much it cost him. Think of his great anguish. Do this so that you won’t grow weary in well doing.

    If you look at people and circumstances, you will grow discouraged.

    I’ve appreciated your posts. They have encouraged me. Thanks!

    But even if you saw no temporal results, you can always take joy in proclaiming truth.

    🙂

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  15. it seems that this is no longer about what the topic was on, it seems now it is about subjective interpretations of linguistical analysis. whether you agree or not cameron, people are hearing you because they are responding to you. if i am honest, that issue doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the conversation at hand other than being a ‘straw man’ to deter focus on the conversation. dialogue by its very nature is to bring two or more differing worldviews together and discuss, learn, challenge, and probe from one one another. you seem to thin otherwise, which is fine, but a blog is a forum for all of the above and more which doesn’t mean people come to suspend their own worldview, they come to share it and hopefully learn from it and other, well, at least that is my hope. God is too big for one theology (man’s study of god) to be right. if we think there is a set doctrine that holds all of who god is in one place, then we have become the manipulators of the divine, and we now also serve a small god who can only do what we says it can based on our worldview, environment, childhoods and perspective. and i am not in a place to serve a god like that.

    the emerging conversation can be good for the church because it asks questions that some humans long ago said we shouldn’t. central to the jewish way of thinking is that we hold one hand open and one hand closed when we come to truth…why…because we ask, doubt, challenge, prod…i think what is interesting is the emergent church gets blamed for making everthing subjective, but even from those who don’t consider themselves emergent here, there is a lot of subjectivity flying around. some of the stuff i am sharing is trying to recapture the jewish origin and mindset of where all this came from, and this is no way trying to usurp the conversation, but in comparison, i would say the jewish view of all that has been shared here, is quite liberal to conservative views of christianity. (1) the were reluctant to canonize anything because of this very conversation; (2) they thought god had a massive high view of mankind, (3) they didn’t agree with original sin, (4) they believed we were all directly connected with the divine…

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  16. Cameron — so much for dialog.

    The resurrection narratives are records of an experience someone else had, and placing importance on those records is something you and emergent types have in common. You have differing takes on what that means for you 2,000 years later, and justifying your own particular take on things on the basis of a personal experience is understandable and perfectly normal; I suspect we all, at bottom, believe what we do for deeply personal (and thus contingent) reasons.

    What I think you can’t do is make your take on things normative on the basis of your experience, which you seemed to suggest yourself when you said you wouldn’t bring it up again.

    If you’re going to make normative claims, you’ll need to do that on the basis of some kind of shared precepts, and getting down to what those are and where you differ (and determining, then, if those differences are reconcilable or not) would look a lot more like dialog to me.

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  17. George, I’m not sure whether you are Christian and I don’t want to assume. If you are, what does this passage mean to you?

    For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

    It hasn’t been spoken of here much, but a central weakness of emergent thought is a downplaying of evil. I left the “God is love” mode of thinking because when I encountered evil, I found myself blaming God and I knew instinctively that wasn’t right. It’s a choice, ultimately, do we believe there is a spiritual war going on, or don’t we. Do we believe good and evil are truly separate. Based on what we choose to believe, two separate worldviews develop. One is Christianity. They other is something different.

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  18. “The”

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  19. what does your subjective definition of a christian? (Jessica)

    i would say dialogue isn’t about reconciliation, it is about learning…this where i think some conservative worldviews towards God have really raped the intention of discovery. evangelism isn’t about trying to reconcile worldviews, it is more like a tennis volley — you serve, i serve and so on and we learn in the service of the dialogue, if there is any tranformation going on, it is on a personal level not a corporate, because change is personal unless it is corporately forced, hitler is an example that comes to mind for this one.

    i have just recently blogged on that, its a long one, but will share: Context: Ephesians 6:11-12

    In these verses, Paul is inviting his audience to see their world a bit different than they are used to. Some Greeks adhered to the Egyptian idea of how the world was ordered. The term most use today to describe this worldview is geocentric, which means that all things moved around the earth. (Now, we know since then this theory has been debunked). They believed heaven was above and death was below. Paul was introducing a new kind of worldview from the Hebrew perspective. So, Paul is dealing with this issue head on when he invites his Greek audience to see that
    the world is not separated but that all actions, words, reactions, acts of creation and destruction have incredible spiritual value. That
    as author Rob Bell so eloquently put it, “everything is spiritual”.

    For the most part, we live in a world divided.

    We tend to use the word “spiritual” to separate certain acts or music we listen to or books and movies we may spend time watching or reading. But Paul is saying that everyone already lives in this spiritual realm, that we cannot separate ourselves from being spiritual because we all are spiritual*. Let’s take a moment and see what Paul was dealing with before these two verses to help us understand these words in context.

    Paul is dealing a lot with how society was ordered. He initially deals with the family unit in the first few verses. Why? Because we all learn our values from behind closed doors and we take them into our world and workplace. Then he goes out into the workplace and begans dealing with relationships and emotions within those relationships. Paul is more like a music conductor here and less a theologian, he is building up his argument like a crescendo and it will end with this new worldview and realization that whatever you do and whatever happens to you is much more than what you see. That everything that you experience is for your spiritual development. Some people might have been going through life and couldn’t seem to find the meaning in what they were doing and the author is instructing the listeners to NOT see society and the people within it as the enemy here** that there is something deeper and darker here that he wants to inform them about. Let’s unpack a bit of what Paul is saying here:

    Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)

    Some words to keep in mind: (these are in Greek)

    panoplia is the word for “full” or “complete armor”. It is all inclusive: helmet,sword, breastplate, shoes and etc.

    Dynamai: (ye may be able) — to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom

    Diabolos:
    prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely
    a calumniator, false accuser, slanderer,
    metaph. applied to a man who, by opposing the cause of God, may be said to act the part of the devil or to side with him
    As one of my friends recently said, I don’t think Paul meant for us to metaphorically put on spiritual armor. That idea would seem to go against the new worldview he was sharing with those who did not share his worldview. My friend goes onto say that he envisions that Paul might have been looking at a Roman Centurion and taking his inspiration from what he saw. (This isn’t to devalue those that adhere to this belief; there is value in this belief as well.)*** And by these people doing so they too are adhering the metaphor as well. Also the word here that Paul uses is not the same word for Satan, it is a sinister act of impeding someone from getting something done. Which tends to be the Hebrew view of Satan. So, if we take the message within its context and language and modernize it, it might sound something like this:

    All of your sleeping, eating, drinking, conversations, work, play, thoughts and language have this immense value. Depending on how you choose to use them will determine how you partner against or with God in his dream for a world restored.

    For example, a couple verses later Paul tells his readers to gird themselves with truth. Some might misinterpret this to mean that we should have all the answers and never lie. Which is good, but might be a little off target. The Greek word for truth is Aletheia which in Greek thought isn’t simply a word, it is a way of life. It is this idea that we get to help uncover hidden things when we discover them. Another rendering or interpretation might be that we should be ready (“gird”) to learn new things. That in the process of learning these new things we bring them with us and live them out, and in the process of living them out, people too will discover with us the mysterious truths romantically luring us around each corner of the journey called truth. It is an unfolding rather than a conquering of truth.

    Paul also says in this series of verses that we “don’t wrestle against flesh and blood…”and then goes into a list of hierarchical systems within these spiritual realms. Now interesting enough, the phrase “flesh and blood” was a of Jewish origin. It had a direct reference to the Lords’ Supper, but also borrowed some imagery from the Torah and other cults which were around at this time. Blood was a metaphor for life. Flesh was also another metaphor for food. So Paul is essentially inviting his Greek audience into a new way of seeing life. If we take into context all that Paul has said thus far, we get this idea that Paul is not only dealing with how people view one another but life in general. He is saying we don’t spend all of our energies looking for food, life isn’t about going to the grocery store. It isn’t about fighting each other and looking out for number one. And when it does become that, we then forget that there is something bigger going on, that we all are apart of. That we can too easily join the “rat race” and forget that we can help change history by promoting things like peace, love, grace, and resurrect all these things in the lives of those we encounter. Paul is essentially saying in this verse through metaphor:

    that we can choose to break ourselves for the healing of the world, or forget that there are darker forces we can too easily align ourselves with by simply focusing all of our energies on our own needs (“flesh and blood”)

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  20. George, are you saying you believe in evil, that it exists separate from God?

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  21. i believe that evil can exist…but to define it in such a way in terms of origin, that i don’t know and am okay with not knowing, because the i think the important question would be, am i encouraging evil or am i doing something about it. for example, the jews thought we needed adversity (this is in my upcoming book), and in the jewish frame of mind, satan was a metaphor, not a personification of evil, so when jesus calls peter satan, he is telling peter that he is aligning himself with a behaviour that is getting in the way of a higher purpose (namely jesus’ death); there is also a jewish idea that evil stems also from god (isaiah is one of the prophets who said this; chapter 45)…do i believe in evil as an entity, where i am at in my journey, i might say no, not sure, but am just thinking out loud, i do believe that we all have it in us to make or contribute to evil through the decisions we make. for me i think a better question would be how am i repairing the divine in the world (google: tikkun olam) rather than whats wrong with it or who is doing the wrong in it. it doesn’t mean we don’t do anything about it, it means our focus and energies are on the postive resconstruction of a possible future rather than some mysterious imminent demise. god trusts us to help rebuild the divine in the world. i think we are the ones who have a problem with that, not him.

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  22. I’m probably gonna wrap up my interaction on here for the time being – we’ve highjacked poor Rebecca’s thread enough! I just wanted to respond to a few ‘dangling chads’ (to borrow a term from the 2000 elections) that I still hear rattling around here. I can only respond for myself – not Dena, jspiers, George, etc… We’re not monolithic, and I’m sure there’s stuff we disagree on.

    First of all, the ‘sin’ thing. I hear several folks on here repeat the refrain that the reason we question the penal substitutionary atonement model as the exclusive or best way of talking about the meaning of Jesus’ death (a model that only came into existence in AD 1000, by the way – before that most Christians ascribed to some kind of ‘Ransom’ or ‘Christus Victor’ model. I’m not saying what evolved later with Anselm is wrong, just that your view wasn’t always held by the orthodox) is because we’re ‘soft on sin’ – that is, we don’t want to acknowledge sin’s reality or existence, or do the hard – and humbling – work of repentance. Again, speaking only for myself, I know that sin is real, and evil is real. I don’t think it has the last word – I think that this is what Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates once and for all. But sin, both personal and systemic, is real in my experience. And turning from it continually and relying on the mercies of God is definitely my modus operandi! Now, I do think that some Christians are overly sin-focused, making self-flagellating (figuratively or literally! Depends on if you’re a Calvinist or Opus Dei 🙂 ) the pinnacle of spirituality – I’m not in favor of that, as I think that God is not surprised by our sin. It’s not a deal-breaker, obviously. When personal sin rears its ugly head, we need to acknowledge it frankly and then release it to God, and move on. Systemic sin, of course, is trickier, but even it probably shouldn’t be engaged head-on. Better to light a candle than curse the darkness, and all that. Anyway – I hope y’all get what I’m trying to say: Sin is real, it’s serious…it’s a problem. 🙂 A problem that God in Christ addresses. Capiche?

    Um…experience. That one seems to be a giant red herring all of the sudden. I think that someone called out Dena saying “You have the Jesus of your experience; I have the Jesus of the bible” – and Ira pointed out, I think, that we all have our experience – whether of the bible, or in prayer, or what have you. Does anyone seriously debate this? Me, I like the Wesleyan Quadrilateral – I think that most of us, in fact, base our faith on Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience. My friend Spencer Burke likes to add ‘Culture’ as a fifth – because, after all, we don’t stand as isolated monads – just as tradition unites us across time, culture unites us spatially in the present. I trust that the Holy Spirit works through these five areas to lead us into Truth, that Absolute Truth that I believe in – a relational Person. Now some of you might counter with ‘sola Scriptura’ or what have you, but now we’re back to a ‘family debate,’ like that between Calvinists and Armenians, tongues-talkers and cessationists – not the kind of discussion that this thread has degenerated to, with folks condemning emergents to hell and saying “don’t call me your sister.”

    What else? Oh yes, panentheism. Cameron, I’m kind of surprised at you. Yes, quoting a bunch of verses scattershot is not the ideal way to demonstrate the validity of an idea; but I did also point to two blog posts of my own, one article by someone else, and an entire book by a respected traditional evangelical scholar on the subject of panentheism. The fact of the matter is, there’s been an honest debate going on for thousands of years about whether God is primarily ‘transcendent’ or ‘imminent.’ There are Christians and people of good will on both sides. Again, my purpose was never to convince you that Christ is within (though Galatians 2:20 and a zillion other Pauline passages seem to underscore this matter, not to mention Peter’s ‘partakers of the divine nature’ and John’s many writings…but I digress) or that God is the one in whom ‘we live, move, and have our being’ – but only to say that many Christians have felt this is so from time immemorial, including Athanasius, one of the fathers of Christian orthodoxy, who said “God became man so that man might become God.” This isn’t new age, this is classic orthodoxy, of which contemporary evangelicalism is far afield and which some emerging types are re-discovering. All I’m saying is that it’s a valid way to experience the discipleship of Christ – if it’s not your path, I respect that.

    And that, my friends, is what I’d like to close with. I know that “If it’s not your path, I respect that” probably sounds hopelessly relativistic to most of you – you’d rather keep plugging away until one side has converted the other. But on a practical level, that’s just not gonna happen. And on a spiritual level, well, I’ve grown to appreciate the diversity in the Body of Christ. As I think Cameron pointed out, we’re not all tongues, not all hands, not all feet. (Some of you probably think I’m a bit of an @$$ right now, eh? 🙂 ) Every tribe, tongue and nation are needed to do justice to the fullness of the glory and grace of our God. Perhaps the ‘tongues’ in question are not only the geographical tongues of different people groups, but also the different tribes of generations, psychographics, and theologies. No doubt we’re all wrong in at least some areas – and no doubt God only knows.

    Grace and peace to you all from God our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit who enlightens our hearts.

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  23. George, I believe this is the heart of the problem, and it’s evident throughout this thread. The current generation lacks discernment. It seems to me, most postmoderns would rather look at the world thru rose-colored glasses, not believing in evil because the thought of it makes them uncomfortable. Yes, evil is scary. No, we are not supposed to focus on it. But we cannot deny it’s existence. In doing so, we open ourselves up to spiritual deception, and we run the risk of deceiving others.

    I’m curious…have you heard of Joseph Kony? Do you think he is “is aligning himself with a behaviour that is getting in the way of a higher purpose” or, do you think he is being influence by demonic spirits.

    http://www.statemaster.com/encyclopedia/Joseph-Kony

    In my opinion, the worldview/philosphy you and others are ascribing to here is fundamentally flawed in that it does not adequately explain why men like Joseph Kony exist in this world. I hear what you all are saying, and it leaves me wanting. You are telling me what the world told me my entire life…that satan is not real (or might not be real, who knows), that’s it’s all about “love”, that evil is more likely a metaphor or figment of our imaginations…a “misalignment” if you will. I became a Christian, because I was tired of those lies. Those so-called “truths” did not mesh with the reality (i.e., fallen world) I saw around me.

    The Bible very adequately describes evil as much more than a metaphor or figment of any man or woman’s imagination. It explains how Joseph Kony, who is made in God’s image, can become so twisted, brutal, merciless. It also provides the remedy. The world needs the remedy, not whitewashed hodgepodge.

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  24. p.s. I’m not calling the emerging movement whitewashed hodgepodge. (Well, there is some…and sometimes a lot.) But, it certainly runs the risk of becoming nothing more than that. As for me, I will watch and wait.

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  25. you seem very combative, and i don’t see any reason or need for that. it isn’t indicative of a conversation, that’s indicative of a good ol’ fashioned ass whooping….which my momma is the only one who is allowed to do that.

    i never once said i don’t think there isn’t evil. there is evil. but evil is such a broad term, and we each define it differently. albeit, there are some evil things we could all get on board with, killing, hitler’s regime, 9/11, palestinian women being forced to abort their babies by israeli soldiers…so, yes evil is present. i do accept that. but so do blind people who can’t ‘see’ evil. they know its there, but they don’t spend their time mulling over it. why, there is more to life, jesus, god, the bible than evil. like mike said, the act of the cross was more than a violent god killing his son, it was that love is the higher reality. love has the last word. and so why would we want to spend all of our energy and focus on whether evil is true or not. and some of the stuff i share isn’t even mine, its jewish worldview, remember, that is the origin of where we get most of our understanding of scripture. and so if you challenge that then you challenge your own orthodox views against the validity of the bible and the authors who wrote it. yes, the world needs love, justice, grace, peace, goodness, not theology. in a sense, what we’re all doing is perpetuating evil by keeping this conversation going rather than being outside doing something about the evil.

    panentheism: the aramaic (jesus’ speaking language) word for ‘near’ is inside or within. when jesus says, “the kingdom of god is near” it means inside. God inside. you can challenge me, but if you are into orthodoxy than you might have trouble challenging the linguistics, thats if your orthodox. which, so far, i would say there’s a bit of emergent in you and you just don’t realize it, because the moment you challenge jewish thought, aramaic linguistics, than you too have joined what some have called ‘the dark side’…which the emergent heartbeat isn’t even close to that. we just desire to share and have conversation.

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  26. Jessica, you’re a science-fiction author? That is so cool! Who are some of your favorite authors? My Top Faves are Philip K Dick, Isaac Asimov, and Lawrence Watt-Evans (“Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers” – classic). In the fantasy venue, Neil Gaiman and Stephen Lawhead rock the caz bah.

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  27. Truly, I just want to know Jesus, and I want others to know Jesus. Sorry for coming off combative. The emergent movement incites some anger in me. Anger is not necessarily wrong, I just have to determine whether it is righteous anger (from God), or unrighteous (from satan). Which is why I shall watch and wait. (orthodoxy schmortsodoxy…I don’t even know what orthodoxy really means…does one need to understand all these definitions to know Christ? Sorry, that was my final thought, be it righteous or unrighteous.)

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  28. Zoe, yes, trying to be! I’m in the middle of a major reorg of my novel. Hopefully it will come out stronger than b-4. Philip K. Dick, definitely!

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  29. orthodoxy. i don’t know what is means either…lol…we are learning to be righteously unrighteous…

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  30. Whew!

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  31. Orthodoxy = to hold the right belief
    Heterodoxy = to hold the heretical belief

    To disbelieve in the blood atonement is to fall outside the pale of orthodox Christianity. Dena rightly says she has left Christianity.

    Zoe seems to believe he has surpassed orthodox Christianity but holds it inside of himself somewhere, as if it were a stepping stone to the higher astral plane he has reached in his journey. So, he too has left orthodox Christianity behind, though he insists he’s orthodox and so am I and so are we all on our various pages and in our various stages. We are all holding right belief and we don’t need to correct one another at all because, hey…

    if God is our father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother, in perfect harmony…. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.

    Sorry. I learned that song in childhood. It is not orthodox Christianity, it is orthodox universalism.

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  32. “The current generation lacks discernment. It seems to me, most postmoderns would rather look at the world thru rose-colored glasses, not believing in evil because the thought of it makes them uncomfortable.”

    Doesn’t every generation say this about the next generation? This is tired rhetoric. I can’t think of any generation that didn’t have its own version of rose-colored glasses, its own egregious blind spots.

    “Moderns” and “postmoderns” can mutually denounce each other ’til the cows come home. The former can’t really shield themselves from the ramifications of postsecularity (one of which is having to figure out what to do with that pesky next generation…) and latter aren’t fooling anyone if they think they’ve really gotten over the Cartesian hangover.

    The upshot: things change. Christianity is not the same as it was 2000 years ago and it is never going to be. I can’t think of a single modern evangelical (or postmodern “emerger”) who would be considered orthodox by a 2nd-century Church Father. Most evangelicals would have significant theological quarrels with the synods that ratified the canon they claim as their sole guide.

    And the next change to come down the pike is going to be anathematized by whoever the new self-proclaimed defenders of orthodoxy turn out to be. And so it goes.

    The real winners here are those who study religion as a human cultural artifact, because it never fails to be interesting.

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  33. hey sally,

    jesus the rabbi tells this story about one lost sheep. some conservative circles have read it to signify the importance of the evangelism of the other. yet, when read from the aramaic and understood from the jewish cultural nuances, a different story emerges. let me share one point from it…the word for sheep means ‘to journey’, yet jesus compares the pharisees to the 99 sheep who are stuck in the pen, who are stuck in their ‘right’ way of thinking…there is only sheep who walks out, ventures out, and jesus essentially tells the pharisees (me, you, anyone) that we need to get lost, because he is such a good shepherd that he will go find us.

    we can sit for hours debating theology, but as Paul said somewhere, it doesn’t help fight the ails right outside of our door. how is the right view of atonement stopping poverty? how is the right orthodoxy stopping the AIDS epidemic?

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  34. Sally, if you think your view of ‘blood atonement’ is the one held by all (or even most) Christians for the past 2,000 years in all times and places, you’re simply mistaken. Please, read a book about it if you don’t believe me. At the same time, you have a point, and it’s a point my friend Andrew Perriman writes about in Why The Emergent Church Should Believe in Penal Substitution. If anyone can convince me of this it’s Andrew, and I *think* I agree with him. I’m still in process.

    ‘Christianity’ is a religion that is constantly changing and evolving. It has over two billion adherents today, though my guess is that you wouldn’t consider 95% of them your spiritual kin. So yes, when Dena or my friend Tim King at Post-Christian says they’ve left Christianity, this doesn’t bother me in the slightest – I’m pretty sure it’s not what Jesus intended to start. (Indeed, much of it bears more resemblance to the Pharisees and Sadducees than to his band of merry pranksters) So if Dena and I have different approaches to the Great Tradition, to Christianity, or religion in general I cannot comment. I do know that there are many tragedies committed in the name of religion that I’d rather steer far clear of – racism, sexism, and untold violence. And yet it would be unfairly one-sided of me to summarily dismiss the sacrifices and shining witness of the very best of orthodoxy. So, I choose to take orthodoxy at its word, and – like Paul exhorts us in Phillipians – hold on to what is good, and discard the rest.

    I did not mean, earlier, to say that I’ve had exact experiences as you have, Sally – no doubt you’ve had different life experiences than I, I’m guessing you’re older than I (I’m 30), and I have no idea what ‘flavor’ of Christianity you espouse and practice. But please know that I take much of value from my past in denominational Christianity, including:

    Being involved in Mission Friends in a Southern Baptist church after my conversion at the age of four
    Being a leader in Royal Rangers in the Assemblies of God during my Pentecostal years
    Being a worship leader and small group leader at a PCA Presbyterian church during my years attempting to fit into Calvinism

    I wouldn’t trade that 15 years of my life for anything. But I’ve also enjoyed the subsequent decade or so, in more decentralized, clergy-less house church communities, in emergent cohorts, and being a freelance consultant to congregations, authors, and publishers of all stripes. It’s a full life, for which I give thanks to God.

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  35. Excellent point, Ira. ‘Orthodoxy’ or ‘Tradition’ are living, breathing things – in flux. And they have to be treated as such, even by those who love them, or else they die.

    (And for those of you who think Ira’s a gal, he’s not! S/he’s a pseudonymous Holy Ghost gender-bender, if you know what I mean…)

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  36. Ira, the reason I said I wouldn’t bring up my personal experience up again is because I acknowledged the foul that was called. I’m bewildered at your conclusion.

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  37. I don’t think the Holy Ghost should be implicated in anything I’m up to!

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  38. Cameron — I was giving you props for that. Maybe I phrased it awkwardly. But then you were seeming to justify it by appealing to resurrection narratives, and that whole “how dare they” business, and I didn’t feel like letting it go. Any less bewildered?

    I’m not the one adjuring us to dialog. I’m just enjoying the snark-fest.

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  39. Cameron, I can only speak for myself, but I think personal experiences are perfectly okay to share & relevant to the discussion. Dena was sharing a lot from her experience of Christ, and suggesting that we encounter God directly rather than second-hand. And while I know Ira has some epistemological beef with such a statement, I believe it was someone on a more fundamentalist side of the aisle who first shut down bringing personal experience into the mix.

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  40. George, George, George of the Jungle,

    oh, sorry.

    I have read with great interest, some initial chuckling, and much horror, your posts that redefine words and Bible passages so that by the time you are done with your explanations the Bible is saying to you the exact opposite of what was meant by the Author.

    I will not bother to explain what Jesus meant with the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, or the lost (prodigal) son. If God hasn’t chosen to enlighten you, what can I hope to do with my meager words. I hope you will turn from the place you now occupy and perceive truth.

    But while I don’t want to try to explain parables that seem at present to be beyond your grasp, I do think that your last lines bear attention.

    You present a backwards view of creation. You set up man as good and the human condition as being all that is important. So, in your scenario, the universe revolves around man and our job is to end human suffering.

    No, it’s not. We were created to glorify God and enjoy him forever. So says one catechism. And it is right. We were created for God, not the other way around.

    A correct view of the atonement does actually cause men to serve their fellow men, to love others, and to try to end the suffering of the injured men in their paths. But to focus on those things before God is wrong-headed. We are told that Jesus died to reconcile us to God. Once reconciled we can feel his heart for man, his hatred of human suffering, and we can hate it, too.

    That is why we preach the gospel, because the cause of all human suffering stems from rebellion against God. So we preach, hoping to see hearts and lives changed and prisoners set free.

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  41. “That is why we preach the gospel, because the cause of all human suffering stems from rebellion against God. So we preach, hoping to see hearts and lives changed and prisoners set free.”

    So that’s what we’re calling it these days. Where I come from we call it condescension and ad hominem attacks.

    And Mike — the only beef I have with the aforementioned is that there’s no such thing. 😉

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  42. Aha! ‘If God hasn’t chosen to enlighten’ – ‘So says one catechism’ – I knew you were a Calvinist, Sally! Not, to quote Jerry Seinfeld, that there’s anything wrong with that. (I spent years under PCA teaching; some of my favorite people are Calvinists. PCA or OPC? Are are you one of those Reformed Baptist renegades?

    Oh, there is so much we share in common.

    Yours among the Elect,

    Mike

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  43. sally,

    all the answers you now hold i once held. and there is truth in what you say, and since i am able to say so, what is it within you that holds back reciprocating the same? is there something more than the development of theology going on in your life that is effecting how you receive truth. the reason why i say so, is because my life has effected how i see the world. your life has also effected how you see the world. and truth. and the bible. like mike said earlier, a lot of these thoughts aren’t new, some were held by very respectful ‘church fathers’ in our history. and again, feel welcome to challenge me, but what is share aren’t my views, they are view of rabbis, jewish historians, some even documented views of first-century rabbis. and so, if you do challenge such things, then you end up supporting the very system you are fighting against. and so if you want to remain where you, a point of advice, tread softly. most of the ‘truths’ you share are the answers we have been taught. are they wrong? not necessarily. but just because we go a step further from them, doesn’t change their validity or status in our historical development and understanding of god, but it is the divine curiousity that leads us to seek out more. as i said earlier, rabbi’s would get together and end up with more opinions than when they started…and if you know the truth, all truth or the correct truth, shouldn’t you also be the saviour of mankind, rather than blogging shouldn’t you be out healing someone?

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  44. I assumed Ira was a man because all the Ira’s I’ve known have been boys. I have no idea what a Holy Ghost gender bender is, so, no, I, for one, don’t know what you mean.

    Ira? Are you saying where you come from you call the gospel condescension?

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  45. Sally, you are correct. Ira is a boy’s name. Mike seems to be confused, but you’ve been telling us that all along.

    “Are you saying where you come from you call the gospel condescension?”

    No, just your response to George.

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  46. Oh – my bad. I guess I was thinking ‘Iris.’

    They haven’t given me my meds yet this afternoon, but they say if I’m a real good boy they’ll let me play checkers!

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  47. I have some work to do today–not healing anyone or saving any sorry souls from the pit of hell, alas, but boring “grind of life” type work.

    Too bad, I’d love to sit here all day and dish out more condescension.

    The truth is, though, that God condescended to come down and walk with us and to take up our sins on his own back. He condescends to lean his ear to us and hear our prayers. So I guess we should all be happy with that great condescension.

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  48. “Iris” is my other pseudonym…

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  49. Irascible Reaching!

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  50. Christianity is always changing, I agree with the Emergent crowd there. The foolish Galatians changed it to works salvation, and then Paul changed it back. Then Rome changed it to works salvation, and Luther changed it back. Now Emergents are changing it to works salvation, and trying not to let it go back. Hmmmmm, maybe true Christianity doesn’t change….

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  51. Hmm, maybe you should have more than a kindergartner’s caricature of Church History education. “Luther changed it back”? LOL

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  52. Sorry – that was snippy. It’s just that if you think that Paul’s understanding of ‘the Gospel’ is identical to Luther’s understanding of ‘the Gospel,’ then you haven’t been paying attention to the last 50 years of Pauline scholarship. And if you hold Luther up as a beacon for all that we should aspire to, well, I wonder how much of his history you know – his brutal classicm and violent anti-Semitism. I like the guy and all, but, I guess the bottom-line is that Catholicism has blood on its hand, Protestanism has blood on its hands, we all have blood on our hands.

    May God have mercy on us all.

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  53. Back again… lots of responses on this! I love the fact that there are Christians from such a cross section of the faith that can still have a genuine, thoughtful, and non-wrathful conversation! Kudo’s to Becky for a blog that welcomes this!

    A few quick responses…

    – Cameron, about Thomas: interesting viewpoint! I was simply making some observations about him, not trying to condemn him. I too enjoy the “cheekiness” of Jesus (that sounds a little trite, but there is no doubt that he had a sense of humor!) I am still not convinced that this was the context of his statement to Thomas, but your argument is valid. I always enjoy it when someone points out a new way to see a passage of scripture!

    – Sally, I have only read to post 66, so this may have been covered, but I wish to point out that saying that “Christ came to reveal what he had always been, not to accomplish something new,” is not heretical nor is it diminishing Christ. That is, unless you wish to deny that Christ was the “Lamb slain before the creation of the World.” (Rev. 13:8) Even orthodox theology teaches us that Christ was preached to those in sheol… his sacrifice was and is eternal, but it was enacted before the beginning, if we are to accept scripture. Stating scriptural beliefs out of the context in which we are used to seeing them does not necessarily a heretic make! (This does not mean that I agree that Jesus was not a sacrifice… That is impossible to believe, in my opinion, without violating scripture!)

    – post 83: Sally, I think that you probably hit the nail on the head in this discussion. I can, in a similar vein to Mike say that I am what we Apostolics would call a “one God, apostolic, tongue-talking, holy-rolling, born-again, believer in the power of Jesus Name.” Unfortunately, I also believe that God intended me to use the brain that he gave me. You choose to question none of the things you have been taught by orthodoxy, as you “do not need answers.” I cannot accept this, because too much of what I have been told the Bible said, reason and logic and history and fact tells me is not true. (I didn’t say that the Bible is not true, but that the understanding I had of it has often been wrong.) I think the relevance of the challenges of Job and God’s responses apply here (the discussion is somewhere in the first 30 or so posts).

    – post 97: Jessica… again, this may have been pointed out, but sally was referring to scripture. Specifically, John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day… in Pentecostal circles, at least, this is believed to be a spiritual calling and drawing. I can’t speak for other traditions

    OK, going to put together a bed… I’ll work on some more later =:-)

    JS

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  54. Yes, Zoe, my summary of Church history was brief. I learned in pre-school (before kindergarten) that leaving lengthy posts in a thread that was already 150 posts long might be counter-productive. My point was that every attack on true Christianity is on the atonement of the cross and salvation thru faith alone. It is always about works. Emergence theology is no different, regardless of what kind of intellectual-pious-open minded-let’s have a coffee-we should all talk about this-face it puts on.

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  55. Some thoughts that may or may not be totally on-topic … but as they came to me (through the symphony of one biblical passage, an article, two books, and 3 separate conversations, all this morning), I had the thought to share them here … though I had decided that I didn’t intend to post here further (pulverized horse carcasses, and all …).

    Whatever the gospel is, it was being preached *prior* to the death/resurrection of Jesus … the disciples were sent out to preach the gospel (again, whatever it was) to all of Israel (though Jesus told them they wouldn’t finish telling all of Israel *before* He returned …). Also, Jesus was declaring folks “saved” prior to His death/resurrection … so whatever it was that saved them, it wasn’t putting their trust/faith in an event that neither had yet happened, nor which they could fathom (they, like Peter, would soundly object to the concept of His pending death!).

    So, whatever the disciples, and Jesus(!), defined as the gospel, it was not “accept that Jesus died in your place on the cross.”

    I have my own thoughts about what the gospel is, but I’m wanting Him to show me … I figure I do best if I use the Mind of Christ (which Paul says we all have, i.e., present tense), rather than the egoic/carnal mind that pretends to be “me”.

    But I had the prompting to share, so I did. If the prompting was the Spirit, He’ll confirm. If it was my ego, then I have yet-another wonderful learning opportunity.

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  56. Um, Dena … Old-Testament saints were also saved through looking forward to Christ’s death, even though it hadn’t happened yet.

    It’s saddening to see His sacrificed cheapened so much. And it is not egotistical at all to believe the clear truth of the Gospels’ and epistles’ and whole Bible’s Big Story: that “Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of who I am the worst,” as Paul said, not just to urge them to believe some “whatever the gospel is.” Dena, I know you don’t know me, but saying you simply don’t know the gospel yet is not humble. It is arrogant to lift one’s own opinions over such clear truth, feigning “humility.”

    In the world today, it is far “sexier” to be on a Spiritual Quest than to believe you have found a piece of the truth: that the Gospel *is* such-and-such, and while it may have applications we have not yet learned, it can be said to *not* include other things. I suppose it has always been sexier to be on a Quest, and not be so “arrogant” as to say “I found it.”

    The Spirit has already revealed the truth in the written Word. Looking for some kind of “inner prompting” is the same kind of mysticism that leads certain bad-theology evangelical leaders to say they know God’s reasons for allowing, oh, a natural disaster such as the Haiti earthquake. It’s Gnostic-“spiritual” nonsense.

    Please, reject it! 🙂

    God has worked, and always has, in the nitty-gritty *physical* details of life, including a physical Word that His Spirit inspired and which, despite its complexities, can be understood quite well enough for new life and salvation.

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  57. Sally, I have only read to post 66, so this may have been covered, but I wish to point out that saying that “Christ came to reveal what he had always been, not to accomplish something new,” is not heretical nor is it diminishing Christ.

    Thank you for pointing that out. Because you are a modalist I don’t trust your ability to interpret the written word or to have spiritual discernment in these matters.Sorry, but there it is.

    I think you are reading what you want to read into Dena’s post and assigning meaning to her words that she never intended.

    If you read a little farther I think it will be clear that Dena doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world, or at any other time, as a sacrifice to reconcile sinners to God.

    She says that Jesus came not “so much to accomplish anything, as He came to reveal what had always been. He met us where we were … to engage our minds/imaginations, into seeing *beyond* where we get entrenched/stuck.”

    She meant that he didn’t die to affect a change in God’s orientation toward us, rather he died to change our perception of things.

    She is saying that it isn’t that God has wrath toward sinners and someone must come and cover us with his blood and so turn away the angel of death. Our problem is that we don’t see clearly how much God loves us and has always loved us.

    In one of the very next posts she said she does not believe that God put God to death to appease God. It is quite clear that she is not holding to the hope that Jesus died, either before the world was made or at any other time, to take the punishment her sin has earned.

    What she said is heretical and is an attempt to diminish the work of Christ on the cross and in the world. Yes, it is.

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  58. What I learned here today:

    ~ Sally knows what I know better than what *I* think I know (good to know!)

    ~ Dr. Ransom thinks I’m sexy (good to know!).

    I love it when things fall into place…! 🙂

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  59. “Because you are a modalist I don’t trust your ability to interpret the written word or to have spiritual discernment in these matters.”

    Now there’s a sound, well-reasoned argument!

    I really have to try that one myself. It’s like the snarkiness nuclear option.

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  60. Ha ha, Dena — calling particular ideas evil doesn’t make *you* evil for buying into them, any more than calling them “sexy” makes you one way or the other. 😉

    Referring to the views in this way, of course, is meant as more of a synonym for “popular,” not “attractive.” I must continue to look past your joke and be serious by adding this: such ideas have the kind of artificial “sexiness” only supported by constant presentation, airbrushing, only when it’s young and fit and in-vogue and repeated by the popular people.

    Any comments on the substance of my post, or Sally’s pleading rebuttal to reject false beliefs?

    Another question: where will all this “sexy” (i.e. artificially sexy and trendy) speculation and spiritual “questing” with no definable end be when suffering comes in your life? It will come, to Christians and “emergents” alike. People will die. Disaster will strike; disease will come, and how then will this “faith” support you? A faith that disease or death can overcome is no faith at all, and never was.

    This is not just endless philosophical ramblings disconnected from real life. This affects real, horrible, life situations.

    “Emergents” decry perceptions of philosophical ramblings that don’t address people’s needs in “traditional” Christianity. But the solution is not to do more of the same divorced-from-reality “conversation” merely in the opposite direction.

    Rather, the solution is to humble ourselves and believe the God of love/truth — *all* of what He inspired in His Word. That includes helping others. But it means we realize people’s — including ourselves — spiritual *deadness* before the surface results of environmental decay, poverty and inequality and things like that. Inequality is not the problem. Sin is.

    Only with such faith will God’s people be able to trust Him when bad times arrive, and the “sexiness” of endless “seeking” ages.

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  61. Lest any of you engaged in this enlightening conversation think I’ve abandoned you, I want to point out that I gave a response in today’s post.

    Let me add this point. Re postmodernism vs. modernism. I think my pastor said it best. Both philosophies have strong points and weak points. For a Christian, the key is to think Biblically.

    Consequently, while I think the Bible includes unadulterated instruction (i.e. lists of do’s and don’t’s), it also teaches through narrative, some historical, some (Jesus’s parables) hypothetical or allegorical. I’m happy the postmodern culture embraces story. I’m happy the postmodern culture has moved away from scientific rationalism. I’m sorry it clings to pragmatism and existentialism, however.

    If emerging thinkers really want to learn, then I suggest they need to unshackle from the constraints of postmodernism rather than trumpeting the philosophy as the next best thing to sliced bread. (How’s that for pulling out an oldie-but-goodie cliche? 😉 ).

    One more point. Emerging thinkers apparently don’t believe that God is able to preserve and protect His revelation down through time. All this talk about what Paul meant and what the 2nd century Christians thought and how it all needs to be interpreted by rabbis (rabbis interpreting Scripture explaining the Messiah they reject! Hmmm, what’s wrong with that picture?) It’s all quite immaterial if you believe that God revealed Himself in a miraculous way through Scripture by inspiring writers to write the very words He wanted them to write though they retained their own authorial voice in the process. Wow! that’s larger and deeper than anything a mere human could come up with.

    But on top of it, the Holy Spirit leads believers into all truth. Another miracle. And those two in tandem make it possible for God to preserve and protect His revelation down through time.

    As to experience being valid or not in discussing what we know of God. As some have pointed out, Satan is capable of giving experiences too. He’s masquerades as an angel of light, whether some want to believe he is a real person or not. Scripture says he prowls about looking for those he can devour. So does that mean experience is null and void because anyone can have an experience? Not as long as Scripture is held up as the touchstone to measure the truthfulness of the experience. If the experience contradicts God’s clear revelation, the experience is bogus.

    OK, I think I’m done—for now. 😀

    Becky

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  62. Seeing as how the bar for decorum on this post is obviously very, very low:

    Burnett, are you really so surpassingly dense as to think that no Emergent types have ever faced suffering? What kind of reasoning is that? What about people — regardless of where they landed — who left orthodox theology precisely because they faced suffering and found that their theology wouldn’t hold up? Oh, that’s right — there’s wans’t genuine. My bad.

    What about countless people who are not orthodox and maybe never were who face suffering with poise and dignity and graciousness?

    The “suffering” schtick is a red herring.

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  63. Dr. Ransom asked: “Another question: where will all this “sexy” (i.e. artificially sexy and trendy) speculation and spiritual “questing” with no definable end be when suffering comes in your life? It will come, to Christians and “emergents” alike. People will die. Disaster will strike; disease will come, and how then will this “faith” support you?”

    You have the wrong tense. I have experienced suffering. It goes without saying: I am human. Humans suffer.

    Sexual abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse … self-abuse. I know them. I know death — I lost three children. I was bulimic for more than two decades … I know disease, addiction. I was institutionaized 6 times for addiction and depression. I know despair. My marriage was abysmal (then later healed). I know heartache.

    You’re right … my former faith, what I refer to as my traditional Christian faith … did not sustain me for any of that. It was outside of the traditional camp that God met me and healed me of bulimia … it was due to the healing of our marriage (again outside the traditional camp) that we were kicked out of church (see: http://www.gallery.me.com/cl.jacobsen – click on “The Marriage Bed”). It was in the throes of all of that that I cried out to God, asking Him to show me what’s of man, and what’s of God. He’s been doing so ever since… for more than five years now. With countless confirmations of His leading. Nothing I can prove, but everything I can trust and follow.

    My faith, as defined by traditional Christianity left me hanging and hollow. But God has more than sustained me … He’s transformed my life from barely-surviving to thriving.

    Dr. Ransom said: “Any comments on the substance of my post, or Sally’s pleading rebuttal to reject false beliefs?”

    As to your post, I see you as sincere, but constrained by group-think — but no worries, as this is just my opinion. As to Sally’s pleading: I did just that, due to God’s interventions in my quite-traditional-Christian life, over five years ago.

    FTR, I’m not emergent. I’m not part of the church (I see that as a temporary entity that lasted for 40 years in the first century). I’m not Christian. The manmade “Christian life” (of which Jesus never spoke) was getting in the way of me living the Abundant Life that Christ has been showing me.

    I’m gladly a heretic, though. Has become a sweet word to me. I notice, historically, that all truths first were declared to be “blasphemies” by those who upheld traditional religion.

    Quite recently, I’ve discovered that others’ opinions of me are none of my business.

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  64. “Another question: where will all this “sexy” (i.e. artificially sexy and trendy) speculation and spiritual “questing” with no definable end be when suffering comes in your life?”

    Bingo.

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  65. Dena, is it possible your former understanding of Christianity was flawed, that yes, you have moved in a healing direction, but (another caution) you might be riding the pendulum too far left? (Or right, which ever direction is opposite of where you were.) Not knowing you, I don’t want to read into your posts too much, but I sense that may be happening. Becky is spot on with this: “So does that mean experience is null and void because anyone can have an experience? Not as long as Scripture is held up as the touchstone to measure the truthfulness of the experience. If the experience contradicts God’s clear revelation, the experience is bogus.”

    My opinion, a Christian theology that moves too far left or two far right is suspect. Worse than that, it is spiritually damaging. People have been damaged by bad Christian theology, no question. For those people “turning away” from Christ may actually be “turning towards Him” even tho they themselves wouldn’t call it such…if I’m making any sense.

    Ira, “Doesn’t every generation say this about the next generation? This is tired rhetoric.” It may be tired, but it’s true. I’m 35 and very very few people (it seems) my age believe in satan as a distinct entity or even that evil is real. We were taught “it’s all good” by our hippie parents. When I say ‘satan’ or ‘sin’ to my peers, they bristle up and look at me like I’m the one with horns on my head. Evidence of their poor discernment.

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  66. Or maybe it’s evidence of their refusal to believe in superstitious delusions. Two can play this game, Jessica. I find your smug certainty repulsive and your condescension offensive. But that doesn’t matter, does it, because I’m the deluded one, right? Fair enough. Your theology seems to work for you. You’re welcome to it.

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  67. Jessica – Anything’s possible…! 😉 I’m open.

    If this is something I’m going through, rather than being led to, so be it. If so, then I’m like the Prodigal (and really, we all are) … and I’ll come to the end of my egoic thinking, and I’ll come to my senses, in the pig-sty of my own making, wake up and smell the pig-poop, realize who I am *not*, remember who I *am* (child of the Father), and head Home. And He, the very one who leaves the 99 to go after the one who is lost (look it up – same word used for “destroyed”), and search for me ’til He FINDS me. The deal is, He doesn’t have to go far, for He’s in me. And the “far country” is ever only in our minds … according to Paul, we are only enemies of God in our minds.

    I trust Him.

    Got to agree with Ira that your message sounds a wee bit condescending and dismissing. Trust me, I’ve heard it before: “Oh, you’ve only left the church/Christianity because you’re so wounded.” Yeah, you bet I was wounded (did you watch the video link I sent?). But God led us through forgiveness … we had loads of tough-deep-level heaiing, and were in the very process of a church search (after moving) when God apprehended us and let us out.

    But, y’know, it’s ok for you to think of me as you will, to assume what you choose, and to think you’ve got me all pegged. I know who I am, and more, I know what He’s done in and through me. You can label me to your heart’s content, but it doesn’t alter my reality … doesn’t change how I’ve experienced the One living in me.

    I mean, please, if you think you must, turn me over to satan … ’tis ok with me. Really.

    I know I’m loved.

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  68. LOL, not sure what “tough-deep-level heiing” is, but it sounds fascinating! May try it! What we were led through though, was deep healing. Paaaaaaainful stuff … more painful than the initial wounding!

    Highly recommended!

    More God, more!

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  69. Ira, I love comment 132… too sadly true!!

    Post 157: I said I hadn’t read past that post, I saw the reference you made later, Sally. By the way, I am an apostolic, but I am also a student of comparative religions. Accusations of modalism in relationships to apostolics just don’t hold up. By the same token, I could make some snarky comment that because you are a Calvinist, I don’t trust you to judge anything! It’s kind of pointless and mean-spirited. Frankly, I think that dialogue is served much better if judgments of validity are based on logic and reason than categorization… I would have to agree that upon further consideration Dena appears to reject the sacrifice of Christ, and if that is true, I would have to RESPECTFULLY disagree with her… Like I pointed out, I’m not exactly an emergent Christian, though I will gladly submit to the label mystic… the news that Pentecostalism is essentially the main form of Christian mysticism today is no news to scholars, though it hasn’t yet rung in with popular Christian thought so much… mysticism isn’t new, but it always has P.O’ed the non-mystics, what with its lack of catechisms and such…

    Dr. Ransom! Good to see you back… I have to take exception to the idea that mystical thinking led to Robertson’s verbal attack on Haiti! Most of the pastors I know personally are extremely aggravated at that gaffe… To be fair, Robertson is not a mystic, but a Southern Baptist, which makes him an evangelical with Calvinistic roots… I also appreciate your comment in 160 regarding faith in tribulation (this without assuming that any of the emergent/postmodern crowd has not suffered – that would be foolish)… As a mystic, I love the spiritual connection I have with the divine. Until you have fallen on your knees in the presence of God because you COULD NOT stand, you have no idea what I mean. However, my faith in God and his Word are what carries me through when I cannot (or sometimes perhaps will not) feel him! (like a human relationship, the feelings do no good when they are not there, and they mean nothing without trust and belief) I love questing, but the clear danger in relativistic thinking is that when you need it, you may have thrown out your anchor (if you will pardon the mixed metaphor!)

    Careful, Becky… references to the Holy Spirit leading one to the truth can cause chill bumps and sharp tongues in those who already know and apprehend ultimate truth! Your comment on contradiction and the spirit is right on the money… The one thing that keeps any mystical traditions or tendencies in check, no matter the religion, is an adherence to the text. The phrase that I hear repeated often is that “God’s Spirit will never contradict His Word.” When mystics transcend text, some really interesting things can happen, theologically, philosophically, and in every other ways. This often brings the smackdown from the orthodoxy (If you don’t believe that, just ask the Sufis!)

    Cheers to all!

    JS

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  70. so are we willing to say that we serve a BIG god who is bound to a compilation of books? and that those books hold the global truth for all of mankind? jesus quote confucius, (research this, don’t trust me) and he also quotes greek philosophers. and in another place he Paul quotes Greek philosophers, John quotes Greek philosophy by calling Jesus the ‘logos’… Gods truth is everywhere. Are we willing to accept that the ULTIMATE truth on all things God is scripture? this is what the mystics caught on to….God isn’t bound by scripture, several authors throughout caught on to that reality. I think I said this earlier, but it didnt seem to get through the cracks….the Jews were afraid to compile their stories into a book because of these kinds of conversations about its authority. ask a rabbi….but the term God-breathed, was a colloqualism in the time of Paul, it really had this idea that the text wasnt a live unless you were wrestling with it, probing it, denying it, coming back to it, letting it go…the text became dead and lifeless if you did not do anything with it. I think as long as we are learning from one another here and taking away the nuggets of truth within this conversation, than no one needs to abandon anything unless they feel it important to their development as a G-d-breathed person. there is more truth out there, and it can’t only be found in the bible. to assume so, would make God small, which would be a form of idolatry anyhow. god many times breaks his own rules, and the prophet isaiah says god is too big to be bound by scripture – 55:9…remember, scripture, if thats what we can call it without being disrespectful to those who put it together….wasn’t for God, and wasn’t put out there for us to see if god is going to follow it, it was for mankind, but not a car manual, not a blueprint…..a set of stories we could learn from and also help keep writing…

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  71. Ira, we are all deluded to some degree.

    “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT

    I’ll never claim to know everything in this life, and I have peace knowing God will reveal it all to me eventually. (And you’d probably call me a traditional Bible thumper!)

    This is one reason I don’t understand the emergent trend of thinking/mulling over/thinking/mulling over. There are some things in this life we will never/can never know. I don’t know why God did some of the things he did in the OT. He’s God. I’m not. Regardless, I know He had my best interest at heart then as he does now.

    “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2 NIV

    Sorry my faith sounds smug to you, but I didn’t write this stuff!!

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  72. Dena, I have no desire to turn anyone over to satan. I’ve had my fair share of trials too, been to what I would call hell and back, and I don’t want anyone to go there. Not even Hitler. Complete and utter disconnect from God is…well…hell…

    I don’t think I have you pegged, it was just a thought crossing my mind. Altho, you an Ira are both just driving home my point about the lack of discernment.

    Your faith is between you and God. If you know Jesus, you know Jesus… Anything anyone else says is irrelevant. Regardless, as a fellow follower of Christ (if that is what you consider yourself) I feel led by the spirit to warn you. I’m not saying you are being deceived now. What do I know? That’s for God to know. I just sense you are opening yourself up to that possibility, and as a sister in Christ, I’m looking out for you. I hope you would do the same for me.

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  73. One last thing to Dena, Ira, whomever else cares to listen. Here’s the way I see it. In this life, God’s main goal is to see us all safely through to the other side. Biblical revelation is sufficient for this. If we needed more, God would have given us more. That’s not saying there ISN’T more to God, there certainly is! Perhaps he is panentheistic…or whatever…but…who cares. Do we need to know that to ‘win the race’ as Paul said. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.” God wants us to win the prize first, and he wants us to help others win the prize. After that, we can talk about whether God is all things or in all things, or is energy, or all that. And the cool thing is…God will be there to give us the answers!

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  74. Yes, there are things that can’t be known. You, me, Mike Morrell, etc., draw the line in different places. You claim to know things that Morrell isn’t sure can really be known with the kind of certainty you claim. Mike claims to know thing I don’t think can be known. You have your reasons. He has his reasons. I have my reasons.

    If I were to share my thoughts on the matter in the same tone and with the same fervor that you and others (Sally comes to mind, as long as I’m naming names) proclaim your truth, it would sound like this:

    I feel bad for you because you’re deluded and confused. You’ve been seduced by a narrow and insular theology because it falsely offers you purchase on the meaning of the world. You’re addicted to the feeling of being right that it offers you, to the simplistic rubric through which it allows to categorize people into ins and outs and justifies the contempt you have for those who think differently.

    It allows you to burn with righteous anger against those who come against your way of thinking, and that must be richly cathartic and deeply satisfying. And it allows you to do this in the name of saving souls, or turning a sister away from darkness. As such it affords you the perfect justification for sanctimoniousness.

    So you can spare me the evangelistic pep talk, and you can spare me your asides about my “lack of discernment” and you can spare me the scripture verses you’ve hand-selected to justify your position and your approach. The sheer vastness of expressions of Christianity (to which I am not hostile; it is a rich and robust tradition) is a sad commentary on the supposed clarity of God’s revelation. If clarity were the goal, you’d think God could have hired a better stable of writers.

    So, since politely demurring from making grandiose claims is seen as weak and wishy-washy, there it is. There’s how I see things. And trust me, I’m as certain and confident in my views as you are in yours.

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  75. jessica,

    if i am confident in anything, it is that i am not sure of my views. they might change in 5 years. everything is in process. flowers, trees, environment, animals, evolution is a natural part of life. we change, or are suppose to, if anything, some emergents are asking what those changes look like, and it can be scary i am sure. but i would caution you on the side of trying to help people find the truth…the assumption is that we should all see truth the same…matthew, mark, luke, john, peter and the others didn’t…this is why it is so important to see that jesus chose 12 people not one…not one…because he (jesus) wasn’t afraid of the different versions we would come up with. like a mentor of mine, who is in fact, an orthodox christian follower of jesus, who has his doctorate in the new testament, agrees that when jesus, paul, peter, moses, abraham and etc. were speaking they didn’t think ‘hmmm, one day many centuries later people will kill and argue over my words’, again, if this point is overlooked than all here support the view that life and biblical understanding IS subjective. which isn’t a bad thing. they didn’t think one day people would accept their words as doctrine, they were living and breathing and discovering through their life experiences who god was and how they were going to choose to respond….

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  76. George and Ira … your posts are tremendous … may have to get to know y’all…!

    George — #170 in particular is a gold-mine … rich! Thanks for your articultion.

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  77. thanks Dena! cool. i am on facebook, as one of Mike’s friends and thanks for the humbling comment…i hope i can learn from all this here as well…

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  78. 142.Aha! ‘If God hasn’t chosen to enlighten’ – ‘So says one catechism’ – I knew you were a Calvinist, Sally!

    Hence the avatar on my posts, Zoe. I was never trying to hide my perspective on Scripture.

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  79. (psst! George! I can’t find you! Mike has too many George-friends! I think he has only one Dena-friend … so, friend me!)

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  80. Wow. Reading this thread takes a LONG time. 🙂 But it was a great interchange. I know Dena, and to a lesser degree Mike, but I was so impressed with George’s responses I just had to pop in and say so. Thank you, George.

    And I wanted to comment on Post #173…the concept of winning the race. FOR ME, I find this concept destructive and divisive. I do not want to win the race without the other people in the world. I do not want to go to Heaven and look down upon the billions and billions of people suffering in hell (not my concept, mind you) and go about my Holy/Happy way. I find that concept UNBEARABLE.

    What I do want to do, need to do and feel compelled by GOD to do, is to love every single human being GOD has created IN SPITE OF our differences. As I love people/understand people/have compassion for people, I throw off the competitiveness of “winning” and walk in the Grace of loving my neighbor as if s/he was myself. This is the Gospel…the Good News of Christ. The Kingdom of God is within us and it isn’t spread by debating the finer points of how we all see GOD. It’s spread by loving GOD and loving people. Those are the laws upon which all others stand or fall.

    Want to know what kind of a Christian you are dealing with? Watch how they act with/to/around/for people…then love them anyway. Your love might be the only light they ever see. Shine brightly. Love generously. Live abundantly. Amen.

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  81. You’re one of the absolutely shiniest humans I know, Debra…! It’s an honor to know you and bask in the Light you reflect!

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  82. You too, Dena. I am very blessed to know you.

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  83. http://www.dougtrudell.com/html/what_in_hell_.html

    If this is an issue of “what the hell is hell” is one that you’ve wondered about, or are feeling the desire to explore, I highly recommend Doug Trudell … he has experienced several “camps” within Christianity, including fundamentalism, charismatic, Messianic, mainline, etc. He’s a gracious and kind man, and writes in an articulate, accessible manner.)

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  84. thanks for the humbling praise. just sharing what i am passionate about and it seems to intersect with what a bunch of us are passionate about…the journey..

    i have some stuff on hell coming out on a book i am working on as well. it was rhetoric, an interesting factoid is that some of the Jews/Pharisees used to it as a conversion tool. Hmmm…

    i like the idea of overextending ourselves, i think that is the message of the cross. love without limits, well said Debra.

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  85. LOL Excuse me while I chuckle, but, George, you put right out there in the open the problem. You are passionate about the journey.

    You should be passionate about Jesus Christ. You should be passionate about knowing God. You should enjoy the journey, but being ever journeying and never arriving should not be your passion. The only thing that makes the journey enjoyable, as painful as this world is, is the hope that there is a bright tomorrow where every tear will be wiped away and where we will see Jesus face to face. If you don’t have that hope, then the journey becomes. “shit happens and then you die.”

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  86. see. i think this is where the problem is…one, that argument presumes (arrogantly, if i may say) that you or someone or one thing (e.g., holds all the answers). are you willing to bet your soul on one book? what if they were wrong? –sorry, had to ask that. and saying that they aren’t is valiant, but answering the question is even more valiant.

    i won’t tell you where i stand on that, just yet.

    but the journey is what it is all about. jesus said it was all about the journey. i think i share this earlies, but still it seems things like this get sadly and conveniently overlooked. When Jesus said I am the way — the hebrew word means ‘journey, to walk’, in the jewish mindset — to be a jew was one who walked. you get this in the story of Enoch.

    In the Hebrew, the word for sheep (talking about the story off the 99 sheep at the moment) — the word meant to journey. sheep were mean’t to journey. jesus was responding to the pharisees accusations by telling this story. he was pointing this story, not towards a marketable evangelism towards the other. but the sheep was a mascot for the jewish people, you can see this in Ezekiel 37…and so he was telling the Pharisees that they need to be more like the lost sheep. that they aren’t journeying at all. that they need to get lost like the one sheep and he will come and find them. if any of this blog post slips through the cracks, as i sure it will…then you are welcome to not journey, but i do not want to be in the group of people who werent on a journey trying to discover who they were meant to be. i think, for me, i would prefer to be with the lost sheep grazing in the world that is god’s and trying to discover my divine spark to then bring that out in others i can encounter, but can only do so if i journey….

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  87. George is clearly more gracious than I, and I commend him for it. But for my money I don’t see what gives you the right to tell any of us what we should be passionate about.

    “The only thing that makes the journey enjoyable, as painful as this world is, is the hope that there is a bright tomorrow where every tear will be wiped away and where we will see Jesus face to face.”

    This is pure hokum, and the fact that it is a remarkably functional delusion — it manages to successfully offer hope to large numbers of people — doesn’t make it less of a delusion. Moreover, it implies that only people who buy into your particular brand of hokum can be truly happy.

    Now I suppose that could work if you’re into question-begging circular arguments, but I just don’t see any evidence for that. Some people are happy. Some aren’t. I don’t think Jesus is the common denominator of the happy people. Again, I don’t know them, but Dena and George seem kind of happy to me, and they haven’t been knocking back your Kool-Aid.

    Finally, this focus on happiness and enjoyment strikes me as a vapid and hedonistic outgrowth of capitalist society. Life offers richness beyond happiness, and I fail to find a worldview that calls us to grin and bear it in the miserable now for the sake of a pie-in-the-sky promise of the beyond to be attractive at all.

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  88. Of course you may call me arrogant, George. Your judgment of me doesn’t hurt me. You think I’m arrogant, I think you’re arrogant—these are givens. Let’s get past that. We all think we’re right and the other guy is wrong. Let’s not have our feelings hurt by such things.

    I have read your posts, George, no need to repeat yourself. I reject your new way of interpreting scripture. I’ve told you before, you stand scripture on its head and try to make it say the exact opposite of what it means (in my oh, so humble opinion—or should I say your arrogance astounds me that you would go in and twist scripture as you do and insist that the rest of us should play along with you?).

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  89. Oh, Ira, I said we should enjoy the journey, didn’t I?

    I didn’t mean we have to grin and bear it. My journey has been full of pain. But in the darkest hours, I have had Jesus holding me, telling me he has gone ahead. He has walked through the pain before me, and he has even defeated death. So my loved ones aren’t lost and my own death won’t be the last word.

    I’m not grinning and bearing it. I’m crying in those dark times and at the same time rejoicing in the final victory that Christ has won.

    Yes, life offers richness beyond happiness. It offers relationship with the Creator of the universe. And it’s a wonderful journey. It’s also a pain-filled journey. And if there is no hope for the journey to improve and the relationship to grow past this “through a glass darkly” stage we are now in, then it’s a pretty poor journey and we might as well die and now and save ourselves some agony. Paul said it more graciously than I said it above. “If there is no resurrection, then we, above all men, are to be pitied.”

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  90. I don’t know, Sally; you’re sounding kind of passionate about that journey there. I won’t tell George.

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  91. arrogance presumes by its very definition that the person thinks they have all the answers, i don’t and don’t claim to. and don’t ever want to find all the answers it would remove the mystery element of life that makes life so intriguing to live. my interpretations are my own, i get that. but what i share are the intepretations of others..i didn’t go in and change the hebrew meaning of sheep for example. that is the hebrew language, so how i am twisting scripture? see, i am willing to learn from you, but, to be honest, i don’t feel the same sentiment and ye the word for evangelism in greek means to both teach and learn, again, not my interpretations. if you want to give those as my interpretations than i am also the person who created greek and hebrew linguistics, again, these word studies aren’t mine, you can find them and i challenge and encourage you to do so. and just because i share my worldview doesn’t mean i am right. i am willing to learn, as jesus was from syro-phoenician woman about racism…yes, this just in, jesus the human (and sometimes divine) learned. which isn’t against the bible, remember when he was twelve. so if anything from this post comes out is that i can learn from you and you can learn from me, but once that process stops we are each throwing our pearls to swine…

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  92. This is pure hokum, and the fact that it is a remarkably functional delusion — it manages to successfully offer hope to large numbers of people — doesn’t make it less of a delusion.

    Ira, you know this to be true because you’ve been on the other side of death and are reporting first hand?

    Jesus came from the throne of glory and told all Mankind that a day would come when He Himself would separate the sheep and the goats—the latter to “eternal punishment but the righteous into eternal life.” I trust His witness regarding life eternal.

    But I suppose you, like George, will say the disciples simply added this verse later.

    Let me ask you a question, then, since apparently emerging thinkers disdain the apostles and think they invented a lot of things Jesus never intended. Why would you want to be identified as Christian? After all, that term was first used in connection with a gathering Paul started in Antioch. If Paul and the apostles tampered with the Scriptures and made them read in such a way as to obscure what Jesus said, why would you want to retain that identifier?

    Why would you want to be called part of the Church?

    Becky

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  93. Another question. How is it arrogant to say, I believe the Bible and the Bible says … ?

    Becky

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  94. Hey Rebecca..thanks for asking….

    first of all, i would add that when jesus speaks of a day of judgement or a one day when, the jews, his audience weren’t expecting some jesus falling from the clouds experience one day in the future, this is why as good fiction ‘the left behind series’ is good, but as a theological document is completely misleading. the day of judgement was jewish rhetoric for the world as god intended it. so when the world came to a point where it discovered how it was meant to be in light of god’s divine plan for it. so living to its fullest potential. again, don’t trust me, google: “day of judgement, midrash”, you might havet to do some digging. but some real interesting stuff. and so the day of judgement isn’t a day of reckoning. in fact, the jewish (ancient; days of jesus) idea behind messiah was that is was a day when all humanity chose to work together to make the world a better place, it wasn’t in a person. now the jews get a bad rap here, because of a few rogue pharisees in the lot, but the jews, yes got it wrong, but that doesn’t mean we scrap their whole worldview, we get it wrong, in that case, we should scrap all of christianity. that thinking doesn’t work well. so, the best is to learn from them. back to messiah thoughts. the messianic age was more of a concept, not a person. that is why the OT is not a story about one person, but a group of people learning what it looks like to live with the divine and also out of the divine within. and if you notice in your context, the content jesus is talking about isn’t about separating for some doomsday event one day when. it was that those who took care of the other were going to be chosen and set aside as holy and special. those that did not, were the goats who were lost in their own demise. basically, jesus was using metaphor, again, remember he was part of a hebrew culture covered in metaphor. and this metaphor was saying that those who live for themselves aren’t going to be onboard with this messianic age and their self-exclusion will be there own judgement.

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  95. hey rebecca…those phrases aren’t arrogant. phrases in and of themselves are not. the assumption carried with it can be misconstrued with it, if it came off that i was calling her arrogant, i do apologize, i am saying the view itself tacked on to the assumption that their worlview is the only right and acceptable view that is arrogant. mine isn’t the right worldview. it is a wordlview i am sharing not forcing or asserting. i think that is why it is useles to debate scripture, jesus, theology, truth…but to converse is a whole different thing..because the assumption is we can learn from one another.

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  96. george says:

    this is why as good fiction ‘the left behind series’ is good, but as a theological document is completely misleading. the day of judgement was jewish rhetoric for the world as god intended it…. and he goes on with more pontification.

    And then he says:
    mine isn’t the right worldview. it is a wordlview i am sharing not forcing or asserting

    And all I have to say to that is:
    Be honest George. For a man who’s not asserting, you sure do make lots of assertions. Go back and read your posts, you silly person. We can all see that you believe you are right and Christians are wrong. It’s OK for you to admit it. There’s nothing wrong with believing you are right about something. You don’t need to apologize or make excuses for it. We ALL do this and we all should do it. We all should struggle and come to our own beliefs in these matters.

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  97. hey sally.

    again the danger is semantics here. one that we focus on it too much. but, having said that, i am sharing a worldview from my perspective, i am not asserting it in a manner that presumes i am right and you are wrong, assertions tend to start from synaptic processes and then move down to the keyboard, so, essentially you nor i can assume if someone else if fully asserting their worldview based on what they are typing. there is more to the psychological dynamics of assertion than what is simply written. and i don’t believe christians are wrong, and i caught the separation in your words, and if you believe that way great, but remember the story of the 99 sheep, jesus told the pharisees basically that it was HIS role to separate out who was the good and the bad sheep, not their role. which was a huge responsibility of a shepherd in that time. if you follow the jesus that you assume you do, than one of the responsibilities is to realize that it isn’t your responsibility to choose whos’ in and who’s out. i am not apologizing for my worldview but am apologizing if it comes off as if i am asserting it, i can only be responsbile for my words, not how they are received, this is what i am responding to, but again, this conversation gets lost on semantics, and it seems we come to thes conversations when there is nothing else to talk about. and maybe there isnt.

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  98. George words have meanings. I’m asserting what I believe to be true and you’re asserting what you believe to be true. Just man up and admit it.

    If words have no meanings then all we say is nothing more than blah blah blah.

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  99. Thank GOD someone called the Left Behind series what it is!!! Fiction!!! Utterly made up fiction!!! Thank you, George. You cannot know how many times people have said to me, “But Rayford said,” as if it were scripture!!!

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  100. Oh yes I must agree about the Left Behind series. Pure fiction. Yikes, I was so busy trying to prove the George wanted to be Pope that I forgot to distance myself from the faulty theology in Left Behind. They are fiction, for sure. They’re novels.

    Well, actually I never read them. I saw the first movie and didn’t agree with the theology presented.

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