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  1. Philipians 1 (we may have covered this somewhere already but it struck me today, reading) 12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 1 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[d] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Paul's saying that regardless of the circumstances, if he remains faithful to his beliefs and with their support, his beliefs can be fulfilled. He reached people through his conditions that he would likely not have had he not been there. Rather than complain or be condemned for his conditions, he applied his beliefs to them and - prevailed. This does add layers of texture to the meaning of prevailing too , "more than conqueror". To add: Paul so clearly states that any and all circumstances can be used to serve the "way" he's pursuing, the work, the message of Christ. It's an incredibly powerful section here - even the fact that others use his circumstances as condemnation - I picture people at the Way Nash condemning people who leave their ranks when something goes wrong for them, or their families....."if they'd stood for the Word, if they'd stayed with the ministry that taught them the rightly divided Word (that) wouldn't have happened", but they "gave the adversary opportunity", etc. etc. etc. Paul allowed that even that kind of hatred, "whether from false motives or true", he was happy that Christ is preached. That's a pretty big perspective and not one I tend towards naturally but one that I can learn a great deal from. If the spirit of God lives "in" me then that's the primary turf it will affect. Me - and in many ways I think the understanding that the "pneuma hagion" that is the "Christ in me" is in a relatively ready-state is true. The spirit grows, as "Christ is formed in me". It is a part of "me" now and I'm the driver, with a new instructor with me, that holy spirit that has the character of Christ. Over the years this is how I have come to understand it, this life, of a "new birth". I think it's why the Stoic ideas resonate - that idea of not arguing over what a good man is but rather just "be a good man", puts it all back on me to "do the work" - not to get the spirit but to live this new life and for it to grow and develop "me".
  2. Duke, CD, et al - John changed his own teaching on speaking in tongues in regards to interpretation before he was fired by Howard Allen. He ran around the country "exposing" the Trustees evil ways and handling a laundry list of doctrinal points he wanted to cover and that was one of them. Dr. Weirwille's ground-zero on doctrine was the holy spirit field, and he was adamant on numerous occasions that it was the centerpiece of the PFAL series. He safeguarded everything taught in the PFAL series with the intention of never changing any of it. His son Donald made that clear too after VPW's death when the subject of re doing PFAL was rolling around the Corps, and it did not deal with the presentation package, it dealt with doctrine - "every jot and tittle" as he stated it. All the Corps and staff who'd been around since at least the early 70's had heard that many times from VPW in many different applications - "change one thing in the Word and your whole bible falls to pieces" was the logic being applied. Although he did not state PFAL was specifically a re issuing of the Word of God he did state that he felt it was the "best he could do" and that in fact anyone could do. That was forgotten or ignored later, very conveniently. And I can only restate my contention to John AT THE TIME when we spoke, that IF he chose to change the PFAL series teaching in whole or in part it was NOT his right to infer that Dr. Wierwille would have approved or agreed or as he wrote in a public statement that VPW would be "proud" of his work. Face value - he knew that was a lie and if he actually believed it himself he was living in a dream. Lot of this, a lot of people don't know or admittedly weren't there for. Just as I wasn't around for things Craig did or is said to have done later after I exited formally in 1989. I have changed, adjusted some of the doctrine I learned in PFAL and the Way Corps over the years, some of it I had worked on since my first year in residence. I don't apologize for that or even feel that it separates me from any other member of the Body of Christ, but I DON'T tell people that ol' Dr. Wierwille would be "proud" of what I've done, because as per the last times I heard him talk about changing things he'd taught in PFAL and the people who did that - let's say he didn't support that. Momentous, "personal prophecy", the nature of God and His sovereignty, etc. etc. ......... he's made some more than subtle changes in what he teaches, although the bulk of the public stuff is pretty much "Christian-Lite" Osteen/Meyer level teaching. I'm sure it's inspirational to many people. It's history. And as of 2020 if John's still the deluded but well meaning guy he was years ago, fine. I'm closing the book on beating some of these dead horses as it has no real connection or meaning to my life now, other than I find I have no animosity to him or many others. It doesn't change anything and versions may vary from person to person (and probably should based on individual experience) Carry on!
  3. Reminds me of the 7 basic human needs, an expansion of Maslow's hierarchy 5 human needs. Those focus on individual where the social suite would be group focused. In these the expanded 7 needs are from the view of systematic organization, rather than hierarchical. I haven't studied it in great detail but I assume that viewing them as a system allows for flexibility that wouldn't be as useful in a hierarchy/prioritization approach. Still - my early impression was that the move to a holistic 7 point system of human needs may reflect the times more than anything else. But then, what doesn't, he asked...? They're: Subsistence-safety-security Understanding and growth Connection(love) and leisure Contribution and Creation Esteem and Identity Self-governance(Autonomy) and Freedom Significance and purpose Compared to: My impression of how these two kinds of things work is that the social - group contracts we form together assumes that the most basic need of "survival" is either at stake or accomplished (or in an incremental stage) - put another way, survival is always the box we're checking at a perception level - if it's just being in a meeting with people that we don't know well, and that awkwardness of being unsure how to act or what to say, or not knowing if someone we care deeply about cares about us in a reciprocal way - there's a theme of survival there, albeit not physical life for death but of the emotional layered kinds. We can not be worried about it but all priorities would always re prioritize to recognize the fundamental requirement of survival. If it's at stake then each of the social suite would serve the fundamentals - so friendship establishment would mean sharing food or helping gather firewood for a shared fire, etc. "Cooperation" would serve the greater need of the group surviving, which really means that each individual survives. So - self interest drives our social structures, by necessity. For conversation sake I might propose therefore that if that's the case and in regards to The Way Inc. there was a strong survival element to it that led the individual to see failure or success as something that was always in immediate play. We would read in the Bible that we "were" born again and that we "are" Sons of God and that our "standing" was one of assurance and confidence But our state could always be rocky, "in or out of fellowship", our"walk" wasn't really treated by VPW in the day to day business of the Way as one of stable assurance, EVERYthing was always one hit away from being "off the Word" and "of the Adversary"........in reality the daily success and survival of the individual was always in danger, on a razor thin path of good/bad, evil/righteousness. "No friends when it comes to the Word" could really mean "you swim in a tank of sharks and some of them are your co workers"............... Just some random thoughts here, will kinda gestate this. Thanks!
  4. I would tend to agree with you - although I do think there is a significant number of people "of faith" who have similar beliefs, the greater commonality is less the exact identity of the god/gods of all religions and their similarities, the commonality is that humanity has such a large widespread tendency towards looking for or at a greater authority in their existence. I'm not nitpicking the language so there's some flab in that statement but I'm specifically choosing "greater authority in their existence" to convey the idea that it may be a designer, a giver of purpose, a creator, a giver of laws and rules, of care and guidance, of justice, a sense of order in the short and the long term and the foeveroutthere term....I'm suggesting too that "greater authority" also covers the ground of faith, the part of trusting in something that may not be rewarded or punished in immediate gratification or punishment. All ideas and conception of God exist in a known universe of our own perception at the least (or I guess the most) so while I might think there's no way to know how this came to be or who is responsible, I can allow for greater even "ultimate" forces to be at work. Granted that's more deism than faith and probably covers some atheist ground more than the array of "religious" beliefs about it all, it still lives on that side of the fence, to me. Peace n love homies!
  5. That sounds about as I understand the two. An atheist can have moral values as Rocky notes the example in Stoicism. (the origin of them would be another story but arguably they're ingrained in the human being, the soul if you will and bloom as we grow and develop and which allow the step towards faith - a different view than extreme Calvinism for sure but is how many understand the platform put forth in the Bible's book of Romans, where man is "without hope", with a termination date of death but still very much a living being of say, lesser scope without that faith) ... But nihilism concludes then that moral values are meaningless, there are none and that life will be a general shit fest whether one enjoys it or not, with the Big Flush at the end. Although it covers a lot of ground it seems to be more rejection-of then absence-of, although it appears it could be either / or. I might put it as a question - can one be a nihilist without any experience of life to cause that rejection and be so simply "as born".....my guess, no. It requires some experience to conclude that. Course then, what doesn't? is another question, etc. etc.
  6. The coolest thing about Christianity is that it makes for a lot of wonderful friendships and relationships. I had to learn to not treat it as a company or a business or even an ideal that I was trying to put into action. In the beginning of my Christian faith I didn't see it that way but as time went on I gave little bits of that away in trade for my work, for acceptance and a social circle I felt I could depend on - boy, you find out real quickly in the Way that they really DO NOT have any friends when it comes to The Word, and in order to stay on year after year you have to basically just assemble and work with the others who claim to have the same beliefs. It's not a truly woven in "love" of God or anything else. I tell people today - if you were my friend back then, you still are. Don't give me a reason to change that and we're good to go. On the other hand, if someone did wrong by my then, or if I thought someone was a jerk, ass hole or self serving hypocritical liar then - I'm going to need to see that they've changed before I get involved with them to any degree. I don't feel bad about that, it's just the way it is. I can "love" that person best in the active sense by keeping a distance between us, and if things turn that we are in touch in some way, we can proceed from there. But I don't seek them out, nor expect they will me. Lastly, I consider myself a "free range Christian" and have used that term to describe my place in the church since the 80's when I left the Way. It's a big body of Christ I'm a part of and there's MILLIONS of brothers and sisters I haven't even met in whom God is living and working, as He is in and with me. I am also not a member of any Way or ex-Way groups, ministries, fellowships, splinter groups, societies or assemblies, fraternal organizations or businesses, be it formal or ex-officio. No books to sell, classes to offer or writings based on repackaged PFAL teachings to sell, and no allegiances to base my ties, involvements or agreements on, other than Jesus Christ and God. This allows me to participate as I see fit and God leads. It's working well for both my wife and I. PEACE! Life is a rich experience to be enjoyed, so enjoy it! It's pretty cool too when it doesn't suck and it sucks big time when it isn't cool. Make it cool, friend!
  7. Hi - I knew Allan Cantor from Kansas, he was active in the initial outreach there, back in the late 60's, early 70's. I don't recall where he was from originally though, seems like everyone was in or came through California back then though. I believe he was fired/dismissed/kicked out/re appropriated during the Way's reorganization efforts in the early 70's and his departure was in late 1973 or '74. It was over money, which was one of the main issues VPW had with the ministries of others whose lives had been saved through Christ and improved by the knowledge contained in PFAL, ie "God's Word"....he wanted the money generated through donations and free will "offerings" to be treated as direct income for the Way and from which they would then own and maintain assets, hire staff, etc.....I was at the Way Nash when that happened and recall the discussion around those events as VPW described them. Cantor wasn't the first or only one who didn't want like arrangement and was basically replaced. I don't know his exact circumstances but I know for others in California and New York it amounted to an "unfriendly takeover" of the assets in those states, notably the peeps. (as well as trying to exercise owners rights over the use of the actual PFAL tapes, books, and materials of course). I don't check in here often, so not sure if there was any specific inquiries you had or just enjoying the elegant ambiance. Whatever the case, best wishes. Just thought too - I don't believe VPW had his eye surgery in 1976, which was the year of the nations' bicentennial year celebrations and a year he was photographed quite a bit for the Way's publications. He may have had some procedures being done at that time which would could have caused him to wear an eye patch for a time, not sure. I don't recall him wearing one at all until later, myself, but that's me. I'm from California by the way, attended PFAL the first time in CA in late 1968, and formally severed connections with The Way Inc. in 1989.
  8. So couple more thoughts - "creation", a word I like. Biblically used for something God did, does. Mean - to cause or make something happen, to exist. So peeps create all the time, we do that everyday, I'm doing it right now. I AM THE ONE AND I CREATE! WORSHIP ME! Not really, but I think the thing that separates God the creator from what I do is that at some point there was no earth, no "universe" no twinkly stardust from which to create these earthly blobs of wonderfulness, and then God made it to be, made it come into being with the distinction that there was nothing there to work with before. God "willed" it into being and it was. Then. There's a whole line of philosophical/religious thinking that goes to the will, the "thelema", you're probably familiar with it. There's a history that goes back into eastern, Egyptian religious mythology and that concept of will and the concepts of personal transformation and affirmation. In a way, I get the comparisons between Judaism and Egyptian religions because Judaism essentially counters polytheism with One God, Jehovah, who is Creator and Sovereign. And it kind of figures - many gods seems very much like man's mind at work, whereas one God is an outrageous idea in comparison........and etc. etc. Nietzshe's nihilism was a step into articulating the freedom of man's will to re form himself by his own will, with the spiritual implications that everything is a product of the mind. Will. And stuff. Crowley, "Xeper", even some of the current interest in DMT and chemical "technologies" for enlightenment and entry into the so called spiritual realm, etc. etc. By any other name, "self improvement" - only in that realm I'm not just trying to paint my house, I'm changing the fabric of my universe, or something equally dramatic. Or not - really, it's probably not a bad idea - "be the best you that you can be, and YOU get to decide what that is, not your Daddy or your Priest"......again, doesn't sound bad and could be even healthy, but there are limits to what that can do. There may be some thinking they're changing the tides of time and space by dancing around trees in the woods and no one gets hurt either way, but if there's no borders on that picture we have seen how perverted a picture the mind of man can "create", given the opportunity and freedom to do so Some interesting public figures work in the arena of personal transformation, and I'm not thinking of the Tony Robbins types who essentially spend a buck of sweat trying to convince people they need to get their ass off the couch and go do something - a fine message at it's core, but some others in music, the arts, government, etc. Anyway - ANYway, the question I was getting to which I think puts all this mushy parsing of "create" is - that - if God in the beginning created "the heavens and the earth" and we understand that to be a "it's not here, now it is" and we go from there in Genesis, then yeah - the ol' question of - what was there/here before that that was different? because it had to be different if Genesis creation is not here/God wills/now it's here. I take that to fundamentals then - spiritual and physical. God - call it God's Kingdom, including "angels" etc, was "spiritual". A higher plane of "life". Since the spiritual universe can be understood at all and in any way, as it's been revealed into the physical world, I would assume that both in it's original more pristine state as well as it's current somewhat degraded state, the physical realm in some ways reflects the spiritual universe, of God, that preceded it. Quack. Who knows, right? Anyway, I do use the word create freely now, and with the understanding that it means to reform or reimagine/redesign from existing materials. Maybe so elegantly that it seems like magic! but there's no magic.
  9. When I was young I was never much into fowl, although I do enjoy their presence today. Seems I remember a fair amount of birds at and around the Way Nash though - accounting for Winter at which time that Central Ohio area sort of just...dies, or so it seemed to me the years I was there. There's a little of the "winter wonderland" feel but for the most part it's about as much fun as a runny nose, all chunky brown and wet. Don't know what birds like that. Spring though, seemed like there were plenty of birds around, and then summer - well, by that time the summer rains were coming so I'd assume the bird count might reflect the weather. Remember too that the Wierwilles were always banging around that 147 or so acres digging or moving or painting or building something so birds might have not found it all that inviting. There were always some birds around the "big Top" tent - pigeons? I guess they'd qualify as a bird although not my favorite.
  10. Thanks, I started with a line and from there it kinda rolled. Genetics and environment.....seed, soil and care. Remember how in the Way's teaching there were no "accidents"? Everything was a result of our believing, at least from our "positions in Christ" as "believers"? An accident is defined as "an event that happens by chance or that is without apparent or deliberate cause." I think the word "chance" is the money shot there - as if something just "happens" that we by "our believing" were not able to have control over. In Way terms we were ALWAYS able to believe God for HIs promises in the Word and in so doing we were always able to receive God's will in living action and form. It's all a semantic card trick though - I'm positive Dr. Wierwille knew that "accidents" aren't really ever possible as pure "chance" by definition but that they only live and function in our own world's of understanding and perspectives. In other words, there's ALWAYS a cause or reason for everything in life but it's only when something happens outside of the expected or "normal" path and range of possibilities that it is an "accident" and at that time, call it by whatever name or label we wish, it is what it is....and if it's completely unexpected and was something neither we nor anyone else planned for at that time and place, then it's an "accident". But it can't be without cause. Two things I see a lot of in the Bible's history are serendipity (the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way) and gestalt (an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts), two non biblical words that describe what I'm thinking. Again, "chance" being something entering my field of vision unexpectedly but not without cause. Gestalt covers the ability mankind has to "fill in the blanks" as it were, in a list of factors, allowing for perceptual organization. We look for pattern, structure which in turn produces meaning. The Bible covers how man can see God through His creation, and that God has declared Himself in it and through it. Similar kind of thing. Wayfer teaching was based on silos, like silo'd thinking. In the Bible mankind makes their plans, good or bad, but God's design is at work and is ultimately served. To the average Pastor or Priestess struggling on their next sermon or where to get more donations, serendipity's gonna bite 'em in the ass before they see it coming - and when lightning strikes the conditions of it's presence announce it's coming, but only if we're paying attention. So, yeah. Like the phrase "everything happens for a reason" - sure, but the reason may not be that it's part of the Big Guy's Plan, it may just be because I did something really stupid. Or something really smart. I think the idea of you joining the Way being a susceptibility to joining a cult is possible, buuuuut my guess would be it's not solely that. I never felt I joined a "cult', although I certainly had a year or two where I deliberately extended VPW a range of authority and accountability over what I did to allow for me to learn what I wanted to learn. But I always knew he was kinda living his own dream there in Ohio, and that while he had his own motives that weren't exclusively self centered he was definitely working in his own interests.....in other words I knew from Day One that what we were doing there wasn't the only way it could be or even should be done, rather it was the way he decided he wanted to do it and that now I in turn decided to participate in and contribute to. A lot of the earlier vision he'd discussed went south, and perhaps he'd never had any intention of doing some of the things he talked about but clearly the direction he went in was creating it's own set of dominoes, causes and effects, that would push the Way forward on it's own path - one that was very much of his own making. I was young, "if i knew then what I know now", I might do the same thing but I wouldn't do it for as long.
  11. Was going to add, her speech reminded me of how so much, everything really, is fashioned by my own perspective and how I myself choose to see things. It goes to the fundamentals of life, that I am me. Even if a God of omniscient authority and facility controlled every single thing I do (which I don't believe) He is still controlling "Me", who apparently needs a lot of minute involvement. And that's just the one Me, not the trillions of other Thems who would say the same thing. Even if a God of unlimited humor were building endless mazes through eternity for all of us to wander through while secretly being manipulated by device to go a way that's been already made for us, I'm still the one bumping into walls and dropping into ditches and making my way laboriously through life. Even if that's what a God were doing He's still having to do that because I am Me and able to decide and choose, even if amongst a preset and limited number of choices. God didn't create robots - if he had we wouldn't be thinking about why we're thinking and why we aren't thinking like we think we're supposed to be thinking, we'd just be doing stuff, and if thinking was one of those things we were programmed to do we would just do it.....but it's that tiny essence of a crumb of random self awareness that seems to allow me to wonder what 's going on and if I'm thinking what I'm supposed to be thinking and evendoing so with great concern but then STILL being able to just say meh! and ignore with complete prejudice doing anything that might be even a little helpful that makes me think, nope, we're given the capacity to poke ourselves in the eye repeatedly so we can see how good if feels to stop so that we can imagine what that would be like and then choose to not do it. Or in the case of a lot of people today, learn as we go and find someone else to blame. Or sampan. The Me involved in this has the ability to choose but not create - at least as far as we know so far, as if we could I'm sure someone would have figured out before me that chocolate should be a fruit and be a super food we have to eat every hour and would have done it by now and we'd all be super healthy and living forever by just eating chocolate. .... Course then, maybe even worse maybe man CAN really create from nothing and someone went completely insanely nuts at some point and that's how we got a world where cell phones with "unlimited plans" aren't really unlimited and always come with "some restrictions" that apply, a world where we can make a room reservation at a hotel and get there and find out that didn't mean an actual room was being reserved for us, and where some cities won't let you use a plastic straw to drink a soda but can't keep you from taking a dump on the street when no one's looking. MAYBE MAN CAN CREATE ANYTHING HE WANTS AND THAT'S WHY THIS WORLD IS SO F'D UP THAT EVEN AN ENTIRE UNIVERSE AVOIDS US AND ASIDE FROM THE OCCASIONAL ANAL PROBING TO SEE IF WE STILL HAVE OUR HEADS UP OUR ASSES, PRETTY MUCH WON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH US. But I digress. We do seem to have the ability to freshen up our outlooks every once in awhile, even if it's just a day hike into nature, a good book, pleasant conversation or even just a few hours of peace where someone isn't telling us how dumb we are for thinking how we DO think.
  12. Amber Scorah is a writer and speaker. She has quite a story, including that of her 3 month old child dying in day care. After cutting ties with the JW she saw how she was shunned, thought of "as dead", and was on the road to finding what she felt to be a better way of living. -She says it was embarrassing to "realize that (she'd) been wrong" her whole life. -the premise was flawed and "therefore the answers" were "meaningless". -that we're "wired" to go along with "the group". -how her religious beliefs were essentially a set of one-size-answers beliefs, giving the answers to everything about life, and that in her case those trusted beliefs were proven wrong, "more true than they actually are" as she states it. -Her call to action at the end - consider what life might be life if we stepped outside the norms of our social and religious circles and saw life from other perspectives. So lots of good ideas there. I think she was intellectually honest about her points, at least in this presentation. She doesn't create a bias out of her personal experience here and declare by fiat that all religious faiths or beliefs are wrong and need to be challenged. I'd say her real point is that because people are born into the families, geographies and societies that they are the decisions they make are strongly influenced by what amounts to a limited or prejudiced range of selections or possibilities. I'd agree with that, on face value as well as her conclusion that there is a value to trying to see out and beyond from where we are at the moment. She also saw that the basic human needs - the who, what, where, when and why's of life - can be understood by different people in different ways with the end result that the outcomes are usable, "good", for them. Where I take that is that there are "truths" to life that are consistent and can be consistency known and learned by anyone anywhere regardless of their "faith" or specific religions. When I share or speak on the topic of salvation something I emphasize is that God can be seen from many perspectives - He sent His Logos, Jesus Christ and in Him we can see God, in the flesh. "What would Jesus do?" is really "what would God do?". So while there are billions of people and individual journeys, Christianity believes there is one thing that is the truest expression of God's intents and purposes. What I see that does in a lot of Christian religious thought is create a nearly impossible point of access, a tiny door that a billion people are trying to all get through and that logically we can't all access, so the standard interpretation of Matthew 7:13 and 14 is used to support that idea that the "truth" is a slender slice of reality that most won't accept. In reality if God wants "all (of us) to be saved" then the path to God though Jesus can't be impossibly difficult or even reduced to something most of us won't be able to travel. Ted Ferrel had his song with the line "there are many roads....that lead to to Chicago......but if you "wanna go to Heaven", there is "only one way". If the Church, "the body of Christ" is what Ephesians says it is, there are as many travelers and parts to it as there are people that believe, all using "only one way"........so it is a different way to understand Christianity for some I guess. Men and women want to say "my way or the highway, because this way is God's Way"........a completely horrifically wrong way to view God's plan of Jesus Christ. I enjoyed the video Rocky, and that thoughts it sparked.
  13. Agreed, and for me the conundrum is only solvable by recognizing that life is what it is, not what it might have been. So out of the weave of our lives, the fabric of God's will is ultimately produced into His "new life" in Christ. The New Birth then occurs not by the perfection of our choices but by the choice to allow God's "perfect work" in Christ to be fulfilled, in us. I define "free will" as "free choice", at it's purest. The power of my will is primarily understood as the ability to produce actions and outcomes from a range of existing possibilities. This would seem obvious but if we include God's "will" as being able to create from "nothing" (with mechanics beyond our understanding) then I think it does need to be established clearly that yes, we choose and in that way create outcomes but we can never produce a choice or an outcome that didn't already exist, tangibly or in theory. (when I try to imagine Lucifer's rebellion of self-will I have to figure it was so blinded by pride that the obvious was ignored, that rebellion can never succeed against The Creator, or perhaps it may even be in the nature of man's free will/choice to include that weakness - that's a quandary I like to ponder too - and the reason that a Lucifer would have cut his nose off to spit his face may be no more complicated than why any of us would....to add - which makes the "battle of the senses and the "spiritual warfare" winnable against a "god of disobedience of this age" when we are "alive in Christ" and identified with Him) Anyway - I would define "free will/choice" as "believing" and there's no scenario in life where we can be anything other than what we choose or than what God directs ( and I do believe that God can deliberately do things that move the blocks of life around in such a way that our choices narrow, even to just one) .... in that way we are now the complete product of who we WERE and HAVE BEEN - At a granular level the quandary then rules - we can and will make mistakes and they are simply the wrong things in their time and place. At a global level the quandary dissipates - out of all of it God's eternal will is and will always be accomplished, and in that way "all things" ultimately can be turned to a good result, outcome, profit, as you point out.
  14. Thanks! And I, your's. Share more of it, if you're inclined. The hell/heaven proposition - Bell puts "Hell" on the table for consideration and we have seen most religious systems don't want to do that, for them faith requires a consequence if not kept. There's ample biblical evidence to indicate that's a big part of God's creative design. Yet, so is grace, and grace is not just a means to an end, it's an end in itself, too. That's in the Bible in spades too. One side of me wants to riff on religion's insistence for a big hot hell as really just a response of "hey, if I have to live like this, then so do you or ELSE!".....it's a big box of "my God's bigger than you and your idols", which the OT is full of, Jews thumping chests and high fiving around cheers of "HA! take THAT you friggin' infidels!!". Meanwhile the Prodigal Son tries to come home to his father, finally, beaten down yet one more and maybe one last time, but in their version he get his ass kicked out by his brother who says NO! you were NEVER here when we needed you! Jesus wept for those who would reject Him and God and despite the fact He said that He and Father were "like that" and one, gave His Father the respect deserving of One who do the Judging. He spoke about the sheep His father gave Him and His sheep knowing Him. In the end He asked God to forgive His killers, saying they didn't have any idea what they were really doing. I get that man's mind and heart can only go so far in forgiving, but everything about God and His son Jesus Christ seems to set the bar extremely high. How high? That's God's business, the Creator and Law Giver gets to judge, not me. Bell did steer away from "universalism" .......he didn't consider himself a "universalist" (see one such statement in the link below this) and didn't subscribe to it, and it was there I realized he was really describing his take on the quality of God's sovereignty-in-action. "Calvinism" but with a twist, one that John Calvin certainly would have not agreed with but the bookend to it - Calvinism promotes God's selection and election of everything, including what we would consider good AND bad to whatever end results and outcomes, all of which are by God's design......... Bell proposes that God selects and elects - but to allow for His creation to come to Him, which they all will, as He reveals Himself and draws all to Himself in an inevitable flow of life and existence. (that's my wording, not his but it's my take at this point)........ I feel strongly that Bell's logic of "why would God do (hell, whatever) if God is (love, just, fair, etc) is an understandable point for man to start from but ultimately is weak to build on because we should start from the position that mankind doesn't have "the answers" and that we need to learn our purpose and futures from God whatEVER they are........so imo, *I think* he has to go with the "right is whatever God says it is and here's what we can see from He's revealed so far" stance to get to his conclusions at all........a Few links below, including a tiny tip of the inevitable shit storm of an iceberg that is "universalism", now part of the Pop culture of religion. -------- Bell speaks for himself https://www.christianpost.com/news/rob-bell-denies-being-a-universalist.html And of course others don't believe him https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/rob-bell-universalist/ Universalism evaluated and found wanting https://www.christianity.com/theology/other-religions-beliefs/what-is-universalism-and-is-it-compatible-with-christian-faith.html https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-universalism-700701 CARM says it's dangerous (amongst many others) https://carm.org/danger-universalism And for more uni unity, there has to be "unitarian universalist"....of course https://www.eruuf.org/discover/about-unitarian-universalism/ And lest we limit it to religious pursuits, there's political, cultural, psychological universalism - bunches! kind of a freudian group hug of huge everything-ness https://www.globalpolicy.org/home/163-general/29441.html And lastly, a discussion of how to best express the sentiment of not knowing something, a simple enough thing to say.......Or is it? https://www.englishforums.com/English/HaveNeverKnownNeverKnewDidntEver-Know/nxdkv/post.htm
  15. Another thing or three came up with someone else I was talking to about this - file under "back to basics" Salvation is by the "grace of God", we don't "earn it". Add to that all the details that go along with "not by works lest we should boast, or lay claim to having earned it" Including "the opportunity" to accept and confess the risen Christ, at all. We did nothing to bring that to ourselves. All God and Jesus Christ. If salvation is wholeness and is the key to our future eternal existence in a "new life" through and in Christ and relies on us accepting and confessing it Then what does it matter what we do after that? VPW taught rewards, because he believed that the "crowns" being given later to those who stood were being given out to those who.....earned them. It's an interpretation of the verses and many believe that's what they mean, like "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (II Timothy 4:7,8)." That theology connects fight a good fight, finishing the course and keeping the faith with loving his appearing, and receives the "crown of righteousness" But the verse could read just as easily that Paul, who had done all he'd done, would stand with everyone else looking to Christ's appearing and celebrate the fulfillment of God's promises. Pass out the crowns, there's plenty to go around. Yet, elsewhere Paul taught that righteousness was through Christ, by grace. So here it's supposedly a crown, that's earned, that's on top of eternal life righteousness and is something I can earn by basically doing something with the righteousness I"ve been given. So - saved by grace, not of works, lest any man should boast, but here a "crown" that is a reward I earn for being faithful. In Paul's time there was intense persecution of Christians by both Jews and Roman governments. Today, there's intense persecution in many countries. Even in America it's not popular in many circles to declare one's faith. But the idea of "standing and having done all to stand!" is more than the puffery and pontification of a drama queen pastor who's going to go to bed on a full belly in safe quarters every night. Paul was in the eye of the storm, literally and so his context makes sense for what he wrote. .....Elsewhere it's the "faith of Jesus Christ" that I must rely on, not only for salvation Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: So then "righteousness" by the faith of Jesus Christ appears to be something that bridges that gap to God for us, and brings us to a point of reconciliation to God AND Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Is something that lives in me and that I can now live by. There's a lot of other other sections of the bible that fall into this that have to be considered, but the basic idea here is consistent through out - it appears that the life I live after accepting Christ has an ongoing faith, of Jesus Christ that lives in me and that I now can live by - verses like this make complete sense now - "for it's God who works in me, both to will and to do of His good pleasure". So there's a lot of grace to go around, and to "live by grace" is ingrained in our new pneuma hagion DNA, so to speak. Grace could be said to be something we are then, "divine favor", a state of eternal righteousness, "eternity in a rain drop", so to speak. We show up - grace exemplified. And there's a basis for another perspective too - ALL THE MORE in our complete and utter unworthiness and need. When a world class athlete runs the mile and beats the record by a 100th of a second, you know they trained. I show up in shorts and do that - it wasn't the training. "GRACE" Selah!
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