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  1. 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
  2. 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!
  3. Sure, and that's how we grow and learn, definitely. Everything really begins with a basic understanding of God and what He's doing. If I use the Bible as my guide, I go there. What it says is put forth in a few different formats but essentially it's a history book that covers a timeline - from "in the beginning" to events that haven't yet happened. Past, present and future. And the present is covered in two ways - by describing an era that began in the book of Acts, is spoken to through several letters and declarations and that I am now in, and then also by describing the present day as part of a larger image of events which it is (and were and will be) a part of. So we are in a very real way "still writing the book" of Acts, the events of this present era. " 2 Corinthians 3:3-6 "And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." And in many other places that lead us to believe that while those first followers of Jesus Christ declared their revelation of Jesus Christ so that others could also believe, the end result isn't a paper book. The final product and result of the revelation isn't a translation or publication, It's a human life that is changed, forever and that will now "speak the truth, in love" by it's very existence. We might ask for proof, "how do you know?" and the real proof is subjective, it's my own personal experience. Like the followers of Jesus then, I can only take them to the Logos, be that a written page or a living soul, whose sole purpose is to speak of God, to declare God, to be His glory. "Living messages". Romans 10:9 and 10 - believing in the heart and declaring Jesus Christ the resurrected Son of God, who now lives - completely falls into place in that light. Resurrection was a living message, literally, and the entire series of events was what His followers eventually fanned out to tell others about. The Bible now adds another dimension to that process, which is good for all of us but really when you think about it it's a part of the original instructions we do know about, to believe and tell others - Jesus never directly asked His followers to write stuff down, not that He didn't or it wouldn't have made sense but given the times and the culture, it wasn't the go - to form of retention. That we have the Bible is wonderful and it does appear that there's a pattern of relevance between it's various pieces - which makes sense if it's following a timeline. One thing I do know from what I read is that a "pneuma hagion" is required to have what the Bible calls "eternal life". Man's physical bodies die, and the life - force, the soul, goes with it, "breath life"....the mind of man, his consciousness, is primarily memory, a collection of memories, with some ability to do stuff and imagine, "believe". Man's life is designed to do more stuff everyday.... put another way, to make memories. Without the ability to do that the mind of man doesn't have much to do other than remember. ("aaah, the good times...") Sooooooo..........this is really another topic but the one all of the heaven/hell stuff depends on I think - and that is - where is the "me"....what is "me" and where is "me"........if Me is a collection of bio-electric impulses or a "thing" contained in my body and brain then it's gone when the body dies. If there's some part of that which isn't dependent on the body to exist and continue then it will ... continue ..... in some way or fashion. Only one person has made that journey, which is Jesus. It's kinda safe to assume then that whatever Jesus did could happen for others - but Jesus was "perfect", the sinless Son of God and that level of purity appears to be required to make the journey. We are offered it - pneuma hagion - and it's our token, our ticket to the future. "Me" won't die forever now, and the Me that's a total fuk-up and can't go a day without screwing something up will be fully changed, morphed, restored and reconstituted into "the Real Me". It's simple really - the wages of sin (are) death. Death is an end, be it now or later at a point of future judgment. That's been part of the outcome of the events in Genesis - the outcome was that they couldn't disobey God forever, they couldn't live forever as sinners. Disobedience to God doesn't get to go on forever, it can happen but it will end at some point. Our token of "the new birth" is our "hope" for that future. And I'll take all the help I can get.
  4. Well, to me it's a paradox I understand, that resolves itself in true paradoxical fashion. "Acceptance" is key there, and that's a great deal of what Bell's proposing. He just accepts something different than what a lot of others do. But once you accept his premise, "you're there", the conclusion is logical, at least to iteself. Is it correct? That's the discussion.... Bell's working with what I see as a very very traditional and conservative version of Calvinist pre destination theology. He got kicked off the bus so quickly, dunno, maybe it's just me, but in the Walmart of Religions, he's just another aisle, it's not like he's a Taco truck in a back alley, to me anyway. I guess I sort of get why those who are in that bucket already take issue with him encroaching on their turf buuuuut....I dunno. Going back to when I first heard about this book and the ideas circulating around it and the condemnation of it all, I didn't immediately make the connection to "universalism" in any of it's shades, but rather to the doctrine of pre destination and election, although I don't subscribe to the traditional religious versions of those either. Pre destination - God is sovereign and both plans and executes on His will both through specific action and plans - or as Wikipedia puts it - "Predestination is a doctrine in Calvinism dealing with the question of the control that God exercises over the world. In the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith, God "freely and unchangeably ordained whatsoever comes to pass."".....which is close enough for our purposes. In that is also a doctrine of "election" - again, to the Wiki...."Unconditional election (also known as unconditional grace) is a Reformed doctrine relating to Predestination that describes the actions and motives of God in eternity past, before he created the world, where he predestinated some people to receive salvation, the elect, and the rest he left to continue in their sins and receive the just punishment, eternal damnation, for their transgressions of God's law as outlined in the old and new Testaments of the Bible. God made these choices according to his own purposes apart from any conditions or qualities related to those persons. So - Bell's just really proposing another interpretation of Calvinist, pre destination election theology - boy that's a mouthful but that's how I see it. The outcome of the premise might be some kind of "universalist" form, in execution, but I see that as more the outcome or a product, and until I understand what's going on with all of this at baseline more clearly, I can't really make that kind of jump. There's too many labels and too much baggage to sort through that's not really part of the core idea. At least, to me) His proposal just says that God's sovereign will gets executed as He has planned it. God's still in charge, God is love, His justice is His will in execution. There's still peace in the valley, milk in the cows and honey in the comb. Bell's just proposing something different than some of us going to Heaven for good times and some of us going to Hell to be punished, per God's design. Or perhaps even per our own choice..................... And I'm there with Bell for most of that - because the idea that the Creator creates some of His creation with the specific intent of them being failures and destined for eternal damnation seems to conflict with most of what I read in the Bible. He may be a "jealous" God but that's kind of like the ex-you-never-want-to-breakupwith-God. (and I think a lot of that is more of a theological poop shoot, a by product of trying to explain God being "all knowing" and existing in an eternal environment that is not bigger or more prescient than Himself and a bunch of other stuff that's not going to be fully understood at this pay grade) So to me it's very conservative and doesn't automatically propose that God's going to let anyone into Heaven that doesn't have all their papers in order and most importantly someone the powers that be don't like or disagree with, and isn't that what counts for a lot of people...?..... There's till rules, they're just different. Which is still where I'm at, but figured I'd unload this box for now. PEACE!
  5. So, Bell's book - I've been meandering through it. Couple random thoughts - I think he may have mixed up certain things to get to his conclusions, which may or may not be all or partially right in themselves (given that his conclusions aren't entirely etched in stone and there's an open-ended air to them) Like the way he talks about "love" and "sin" and "justice" - I'm still sorting through it but I think he may define "love" in relation to God incorrectly. "God is love", says the verse. I John 4 helps to clarify the meaning of love and what it is and means. Despite thinking it's very simple it's not very simple if I make "love" the same as say, "God's justice" an the seems to see them as different spokes on a wheel, and I don't think they are. In short, I don't get the impression from the Bible that God ever set out to make a great clear case for say, being "just".......rather, God is Creator and has all the qualities and authority that goes with that and so in that sense we are then left with the fact, the reality, that what God does is right. In fact, I could think of it as a paradox by stating it as - "whatever God does is what's right, and whatever God says is right is what's right, including anything that God would contradict Himself on or do that is wrong by any other standard than His own, because all standards are less than God's"....which is a contradictory mouthful but it's a way to clearly say everything is whatever God says it is and however God wants it to be and that gives me my definition of right and good. As part of the God's creation my main purpose then is to know my part and what I'm supposed to do. At this point, this "age of Grace" as we call it, this time when the Kingdom of God is in play , we have a great open space for man to do as He will, to choose and to decide his own fate, as it were, to choose from the choices he's been given - Judgment is seen in the "court of life", where there are outcomes, rewards, penalties, etc. but we have the space to "call 'em like we see 'em" and seemingly "create our own truth".......everyone eventually dies and the arch of eternity continues to be measured by those who haven't died yet. But that only reflects the bodies we see and have now but may not be the path for the spirit of life that is "us". Buuuuut......the idea of judgment being part of the process isn't in conflict with God, who is "love" - when God acts in ways that show us His nature, that's love, what love is, what it means to love, etc. So back to Bell's idea of love and God's justice, to some extent He may be minimizing the redemptive purpose of Christ and the idea of sacrifice and what it bears and accomplishes, albeit unintentionally. Put another way, the God of "Love Wins" doesn't have to send Jesus Christ to redeem mankind in a form of substitutional sacrifice. "Grace" is understood to mean "undeserved divine favor" in a lot of theology but that's not the exact fuller meaning in the context of the Bible - because it may be undeserved by me, but the doctrine of Christianity is that Christ's role had to be fulfilled for it to be extended -the "grace of Jesus Christ" that we read about, "through Christ". It came free to me then but it wasn't without cost. We've been instructed by Jesus to carry on the lifestyle of "love" - not to do what only He was supposed to do, but as what we're now supposed to do if we "follow Him". It's an individual mandate - each of us does it and lives it, there's a need for man's decision and choice to fulfill the requirements of new birth, to repent, believe, accept, receive, live. In the NT a response is require, repentance of and from sin and a response to not continue in it's lifestyle. So - anyway. Still poking around....I would also again, I talk to people that have no interest in being forgiven by "God" for anything, don't want to be part of a future where God's idea of creation is the rule of law, people that would say "well, if God really does say this or that or want this other thing, then I don't want to spend eternity with that God"...................and the Bible tells us all knees will bow and all will at some point see reality for what it really is - but if say Lucifer is any indication there's going to be some who happily say "NO!!!" and step off and out, of their own decision, who don't want the future God has planned. For them Love Wins, yes, but they don't want to win .... that way. .
  6. That's true and it's why I consider myself a "member of Christ's Church", with assorted affiliations and attachments with other members. In His day there were followers, crowds of people, rooms filled with those who came to hear Him, and many who "followed Him" and His message. That message was unfolding. It wasn't all delivered in one day. One day they heard "this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased", and that was always the crux of the life of Christ - son of God, now among mankind. The rest of the message came as time went on and it had some lynchpin points around which everything else was built on. When I look at it that way, I can "be" a person that followed Him, sort of sit in their seats, their shoes. We can see that there would have been various discussions, debates, quizzical looks and confused moments followed by lengthy follow ups and answers, examples, parables, teaching from the OT, etc. If I am that person today, following Him, it then feels very natural to continue in that tradition - with the NT revelations and teachings which are essentially MORE about Christ and the who/what/where/when and why. Teachers of the Bible today like to make it all a simple, dumbed down and to have all the answers to everything already. But I have found that no one individual has all the answers and knows "it all" EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ON ANY GIVEN TOPIC. Anyway, there's more to that as you'd expect but it's for another day and time. PEACE
  7. Yeah, I get that. The thread was about the book. You don't have the book, and you haven't read it. I get it. You want to discuss a topic to find out if it's in the book, so you can discuss it. I'll leave it to Rocky/the person who started this thread to address that question if he chooses. He does cover some points from that. In my opinion you'd be best understanding what he says when you can absorb the context in which it's been written, as Bell (like many writers) builds his material in the book. If I have any thoughts on it after I re read it, I might share them but I want to avoid a "this is what Bell says" approach to someone else when they have a bundle of material to put into it, as I doubt I'll be an expert on anything Bell wrote except for my own impressions of it. Again, I'm taking more of a "it's Bell's book we're talking about" approach. Rocky, I've since reached out to a person I know whose heard Bell speak, and met him briefly after. No great insights really, he certainly didn't take him to be a danger as far as doctrine goes, as - and this is an opinion but one I share - a lot of his perceived aggressiveness "against" the dogma is more of a reaction against those who have threatened him and been so severe in their response and reaction to him. Some of that seems to revolve around his popularity amongst some Christians - it's as if his assertion that God's mercy might out distance our understanding of it is fine as long as it doesn't take away the satisfaction of seeing our enemies punished horribly, forever. We did connect on one point and that is that people like Bell in today's world draw too much focus around them, there's always a lot of dust thrown up around the person - it's fed by the proliferation of media and the need to create and grow media for public consumption. It them makes it harder to allow that person to speak for themselves, with less pre conceptions. That's not the sole cause of course but it's a factor, I think. To add, at the root of this is "what does the Bible say"....and where and how do we as Christians get and develop our doctrine and beliefs. What's the root source material? I might say "the Bible, the Book".... and that's the right place to start I think. But having said that I'm then reading a book written by inspired recorders who tell a story of people, events and their Creator, God. So somewhere at some point there was a person having a moment of enlightenment, of great knowledge and insight, of being in commune with God. Experience. In that, I see we need the back and forth, I do see the Bible as ground-zero, and as the guide to work from and by.
  8. It's pretty simple to me - the topic is Rob Bell's book, "Love Wins" and the content of the book. There's lots of things related to that, many I've brought up so far, some a stretch but I don't intend to dwell on them until I've finished re reading the book and gathered my thoughts. If you don't or can't read the book WW, then I'm not interested in discussing a bunch of if this/then that postulations based on what the book might seem to say based on what others say about it. But you're right, it's GS, do as you will, see how it goes. I really don't care one way or the other, I'm just keeping my focus on the original topic since it caught my eye. I haven't done a deep dive into some of these other topics yet because I would have to generalize and wouldn't be able to specifically tie them to a statement or premise in Bell's book. Consider what I've written so far a lot of misk-ellaneous thoughts while I refresh my thoughts on it. Sure, we could start a discussion on "love" and what it is, and "what it means to win" and of course Hell and Heaven and God's sovereignty and Man's will, predestination, justice, the history of religion and the various beliefs in all of the above... But the common thread in this is Bell's book, Love Wins and what he's written about in it. For my part - I don't mind if you Mark or anyone wants to take this off into whatever areas you see of importance in it to you, but I'd expect that there is some tie in to Bell's book, Love Wins and that you can point out where and what that is, not ask one of us to validate it in the book for you. So Mark if you ask if what you're writing is in Bell's book, I would ask you to say where and to what point are you responding - in other words, don't ask Rocky to tell you if you're consistent with the book, point out yourself the point and place in Bell's book that you're commenting on and state your business in a way that we can actually understand both the connection, and the meaning. Otherwise it does seem like you're just tagging on your material to the topic without interest inRob Bell's book, "Love Wins", which is where this started. And if that's what you want to do, just say so. I'll give you an "A" for clarity. Either way, I'll likely ease off this for awhile myself while I peruse the book and give it some thought.
  9. Cool, and yes it's intriguing! In any inquiry I'll usually go to the two extremes of the topic, just to see what that looks like and see what's in-between. "Grace" is a very interesting thing in the extreme. So the question, what is the extreme and does it accurately reflect what it is? The context of how it's used puts the borders around it and fills in the meaning. When it says we are saved "by grace, not of works, lest anyone should boast"........the knee jerk Sunday sermon on that is about how we can't take credit or glory in salvation.... but in that verse-statement is some very hard cast reality - 1. that the opportunity to be made whole and have the relationship restored with God, through Jesus Christ is not one we created - by negotiation, good behavior or any other effort on our part. There's no "after much discussion God and I came to an agreement"....Man is like Humpty Dumpty there for awhile before God lays out a path for the full restoration of the relationship. It comes into fruition in Christ. 2. that the relationship develops once it's been restored. If I gave you a rock for your birthday, the rock will always be a rock. Time passes....rock. Our "gift" is different, it's living, and the restored relationship develops for us in this life, as we live it. That's something that I've come to appreciate more and more over time - there's a LOT of the Christian doctrine that comes in under that part of it. The new birth and the relationship and the nurturing and growth of it aren't all separate things, divided from each other, they should be understood as part of the same thing. As with time - if I say it's 3 pm, it's part of a reality being shared by all of creation. For a lot of Christians the development of the relationship is one of angst, struggle and lots of on again off again misunderstandings. When it's young it's like having a crush on some girl in high school and every day is a tortured exercise in finding out what she said, what her friends said and if she said anything about me like does she like me? does she know I like her? and which table she's going to be sitting at for lunch today and can you give her this note and tell me EXACTly what she says and how she looks when you say it's from me........but in reality the "grace" part of the opportunity through Christ eliminates all that, ALL of the back and forth. We're now in a position of basically enjoying the new car smell of our New Life and learning what all this stuff does. Bell's position could be understood as one of "extreme grace"....and if grace is "unmerited divine favor" then who are we to put requirements on it other than what God puts.....and THAT'S where my focus is on - he's straddling uber Calvinism and universalist grace in a way that's really kind of conservative and fundamentalist. (and it's realllllly funny how he got thrown under the bus for insinuating burning hell isn't the end game for disobedience to God - it's almost like he threatened their money streams....)..........I don't like the way he presents the whole thing, like the list of seemingly contradictory and confusing definitions of what salvation is - he knows that isn't a correct way to view it but he still does in order to set the table for his argument. And any part time theologian or philosopher knows the answer to "why" would God do this or that or whatever even though it seems whacky to me inside my big beautiful brain.....and it's "because"..............once that's accepted the exercise of understanding something I didn't already have my mind made up on is possible.
  10. At the expense of seeming like the ant peering back up through the microscope, I have the same question about Bell's view of God's "universal acceptance" plan.... Everything religion teaches about "the Devil", Lucifer, the angel that rebelled and fell and that is at odds with God.... Is that Lucifer is NOT going to change and align with God....free will, choice, etc. Lucifer may be part of a different creative plan than ours....some of the same rules may apply but all may not....we don't really know, however we do know from what we're told that we're all rolling out to the same point in the future where there will be a convergence of sorts where we're all cross paths. A lot of Judeo-Christian religion tends to put us all in the same basket of creation but I don't know that that's true....it's less that we're told we're not and more that we're not quite told enough to come to that conclusion without any question or reservation. So - my point being - going by Bell's theory and postulations, Lucifer (and all others of that group) may be part of the win-win of Love, in the end but not as a win, as a you-no-winnah-nuttin' scenario, which appears to be a dead end, literally. Which isn't really any of my business so to speak but ... based on what we've seen the separation between God and Lucifer is one of Lucifer's choice and the expectation is that Lucifer's mind won't change. So - this brings up a very interesting point and that is that our "Free Will", our ability to choose and therefore "believe" is fundamental- But not truly within or under our complete total command. Because we can choose yes, but there aren't a million possibilities between yes and no there's only two choices we're given, and if we don't choose to follow God's direction we automatically fall into the second choice. So really I could say that there's only "one choice" and in a very real way that's "no choice".....there's just the one thing, that really matters.... So the default state of man's creation is or was - a "yes". However the ability to do anything other than what we were designed to do allows/ed for that default state to essentially fail, to break. The break was like a computer or any machine - a computer in it's simplest form is built to do certain things, even one thing say, and it will do that one thing forever given the right set up. There's no self development over time - it just does that thing forever. Or until it stops, which means it may still be "powered on" but it's essentially broken. It didn't really "choose" to do that it just reached some point where it was no longer able to do that for whatever reasons. We haven't been told we're designed to do many different things or that the rules change at some point, so it's not a bad way to look at it. The unsaved person is called a "child of disobedience", condemned and unable to change. "Broken" would be another word. Christ "unbreaks" us, puts us back together, rejoins us to God. We then become a "child of God", and able to be back in that default state of "yes", a creation that can now work right, so to speak. (drum roll) so it took awhile to get here but what I'm saying is that heaven isn't and doesn't need to be a big back of sparkly candy nor is hell an eternity of torment......if the net result of salvation is being back in the correct state of God's design. As we are now - our "spirit", our "Christ in us", our "faith of Jesus Christ", isn't making the wrong choices, it's not exercising a freedom of will where we in "new life in Christ" can somehow actually do the wrong thing or sin or skank it all up, the "holy spirit" in us isn't tainted by our choices......it can't feed back a toxic lifestyle to God. There is a perfection to this treasure of new life we're given that is the new standard for all time, now and the future. Love wins......? It has to if Love is whatever God wants. It's His show. Whatever God doesn't want to have happen won't produce a result that will survive and thrive in future of eternity. "Sin", disobedience, the wages of sin, etc. etc. etc. etc. There's no need for that in eternity. Unless that's what God wants. (insert LOL)
  11. And thassa my pointah - HOW can a group discussion take place amongst members of all those denominations whose faith is deeply embedded in other matters, like politics, history and cultural issues if they're restricted from including them......ANY intelligent in-depth discussion of most religious denominations will involve them. So - GS pretty much is lowering the bar by not going that route. If the issue is the behavior of the participants and the ability to produce civil discussions then THAT'S the problem that needs to be dealt with. In an average world of emotionally charged people and issues where everyone feels their opinions as well as the outcomes themselves are critical what keeps the peace of humanity intact is the commonly shared view that to win everyone invested in the process has to get something from the outcomes and not lose anything critical doing that (....side note - When Rob Bell preaches "Love Wins" what he's really doing (IMO) is defining what it means TO LOSE, what there is to lose, who loses what when and if loss occurs. ....... ) Anyway - I think everyone knows how this stuff works and what I'm talkin' 'bout. Choices have been made, lines drawn. So be it. Have fun!
  12. In this small a context a "no politics" rule doesn't serve a purpose as applied here. Now - never having gotten into any of the "political" pissing contests here over what I'm sure were genius level arguments with world changing outcomes, I don't know exACTly what you imps have been up to but I'm sure the catharsis alone took months to heal so I don't demean your losses buuuut it Isn't happening at the moment that I see. I guess thanks are in order then for you protecting me from myself? the nefarious ways of others? danger? doom? all of the above? Dunno. You're just serving the rule, not those who the rule is supposed to be serving. As far as the RCC and Christianity in general I would contend that historically you can't discuss them intelligently WITHOUT entering into the social and political arena's, if you intend to understand how we got to where we are today wherever that is and that's part of the discussion I suppose. I tend to copy/paste material into a file and then put together responses when I have time, and my own interest in that discussion was to look further into the internal politics of the church branching off from the Western/Eastern split, and consider how both geography and politics led to the church's teaching and development of their canon. It's one I've tinkered with off and on but don't have a fully baked position or meaningful result from but I always get something from what others bring to the topic as it's usually stuff I haven't considered. And it's a worthy topic to examine because Christianity is one religion that can be said to NOT have a strong political bias to it if it's viewed only from what Jesus taught and did and what we read in the NT - internally there are huge ramifications to the Jews, externally to Gentile/Non-Jews as we see the followers of Jesus live and fill His Church in the years that followed.....and yet we do see that external influences have huge impacts on the direction that people go. And then we see our own America today, perhaps a snapshot of how I see this went here, with this discussion. So it goes... I've got a vigorous discussion going on around that very topic elsewhere so I'll continue that. As always, PEACE! We definitely could not disagree more on this but I'm going to do my best to not close down the universe and condemn you all to where you certainly now need to go, which is, of course, HELL. ....I've been condemned to it so many times by so many people though, they know me at the door, so not to worry, they're not letting us in. Yet.
  13. Well, yes, that seems obvious. In my own exposure to this topic and those who might agree or disagree with Bell's premises, I don't thinks there's a real disagreement on that particular idea or translation across the board on every verse it appears in, the problem seems to be more in what someone thinks it means in relation to what the speaker or writer was saying, what they meant by it. Like Matthew 28:20 - Christ may have been telling them He'd be with them for some specific reason that He'd be with them for a specific period of time, but as part of His greater message, the "big picture", of being the Son of God He would want them to understand that He would "always" be with them in the way we understand words like forever. More practically and I think this is more to the point, the assurance He's giving His disciples throughout His life is that He's with them, cares for them, loves them and will help them. For humans, "forever" is most seen in the quality of "unconditional love" and forgiveness, I think, and this goes back to ol' Bell's ideas. We can talk all day long about what's eternal and what's not but like a child I care about my next meal.....will it be there Dad? Next time? How about the next? Will there always be food? What about when it rains and snows, will you still be with me to make sure I'm cared for? We know that children have to learn to live by time. Babies don't understand "tomorrow" or "later" very well. The earliest development is around what we see, hear, taste, touch, smell, our senses. It's immediate experience, we aren't born with the sense of time because we - haven't been alive very long. SIDE BAR ALERT - : ) There's always been a HUGE theological butt bust over whether the "natural man" of body and soul brings anything to the table for his own salvation, and we do know that nothing we do creates the opportunity or produces the result - it's all there by God's grace.....the idea of our developing understanding of time, our own selves as unique individuals and our needs for basic sustenance to live are learned though. We don't pop out ready to go. So while I believe "not by works but by grace", I also think there's an intrinsic in-the-face kind of "duh" moment when we realize that the conscious growth in our understanding of time and our own existence is something that's absolutely necessary to "be saved". Put another way, a person who never develops mentally and has the understanding of a 3 year old can't "believe to be saved" the way we know it from the Bible. And they may not "need to be".........which accounts for the convoluted doctrines of Catholicism to create a channel of salvation for them.........but when Jesus said that we should BECOME saved, converted and then be LIKE children, one has to weight that statement and come to certain conclusions about it - because if He meant like a 3 year old, it would relinquish any responsibility of our part. Yet, we can see from context He meant "childlike" not "babylike". And more importantly "sinless" ..... ? It's very simple then - it's about acceptance and trust. And to be that trusting doesn't require a lot of work, but if you're an adult you're going to need to position yourself to accept and trust completely in God's grace.....Food for thought.... Which gets into another idea here - as you say, for God there's no "end of time". Eternity doesn't have a beginning by definition (which is why I think conceptually it's a struggle to use it that way, it's like saying something weighs 47 minutes.) So from God's view the end of the world or an age is in relation to us and this part of His mmmm....stuff. Or others, for all I know. But again, it's like saying "what time is it" to Spock on Star Trek - surely he'd answer "on which of the billions of stars and their trillions of planets did you wish to calculate the time?" It's a matter of perspective, even excluding Vulcan where they may not care about what time it is anyway. So yeah. I'm going to re read Bell's book again, where he was going with this. I do think from my previous reading that he didn't put forth a position that accounts "for everything", but I don't think he was trying to. PEACE!
  14. So yeah - it does appear that the religious ideas of eternal/eternity and "forever" have been embedded into how people understand the translation of these words. Aion/aeon and the Greek's use of those words is of what you're calling a period of time, an "age", dispensation, part of a process - of sorts. It's an interesting topic and I think I get where you're going with it. I'd put it like this - A lot of man's idea of "eternity" is covered in our idea of "time". But - really, the most real definition of what eternity "IS" as it applies to God isn't primarily a matter of measured time..........in other words the word "eternal" isn't a clock that reads "always" or something.......(little humor there)......from the angle of aeon/aion I wouldn't answer the question "how long is eternity", I'd use it to answer the question "where am I and what's going on?" That's a really sucky way to describe what I mean but if I started stacking up verses about God in the Bible it would give the impression that to me - as a creation of God's, eternity as some kind of time that has no beginning and no end would be GREAT because I measure time as a very measurable and trackable quality of life. "What time is it" and where is this moment in relation to all the moments I'm going to know is VERY important to the average citizen of Planet Earth, for obvious reasons. But it wouldn't be for someone who actually existed in my concept of Eternal Time would think about it. Which is hard for me to write, it's like trying to say I like a color I've never seen. Anyway - where I see what you're saying is in the context of the statements in the Bible - the sentences and verses don't always impose a concrete definition of the word aion (and it's forms) to mean "forever" or "eternal" - the meaning what it is, comes from the context. "I'm barely going to make it".... Doesn't usually mean I'm going to make something like a cake and that I'll be bare when I do...... It usually means that I'll get somewhere I'm going when I'm expected but not early and hopefully not late. Etc. : )
  15. I'm getting a copy of it to re read Rocky, I originally read a copy loaned to me by a guy I worked with, who'd bought it after His pastor taught around some of the topics of the book. To them, him, Bell was a "heretic". We had regular chats every week at one point on several of the ideas that he wanted to know about but had strong opinions about - he knew I had background in the Bible and so I brought that to the discussions as a reference point for our understanding. He was a former Catholic who believed in "the Bible" now but didn't know one end from the other. A lot of our conversations boiled down to encouraging him to read the Bible more and give it thoughtful prayerful consideration. So the biggies I remember in our conversations covered several points- God's "sovereignty" Predestination (and what they call hyper-Calvinism and "the elect") Justice and God's justice versus man's justice (grace versus law - what does grace really mean?) The Devil/Satan Love Life Will (God's and man's) and God's "master plan" N stuff.
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