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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. 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. .
  13. 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
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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)
  18. 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!
  19. 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.
  20. 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!
  21. 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. : )
  22. 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.
  23. I don't want to make this a "verse battle" where one side stacks them up against another side and in the end we just have fat stacks of opinions that we had when we started, but since the Bible is my source book for trying to understand this topic....some more verses.... --- John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish (apollumi - end, abolish....and Strong's gives "put out of the way entirely") but have everlasting (aionios - or ever, without beginning nor end) life (zoe - hmmm..."life") Again, a fundamental verse for Christianity - whosoever BELIEVES in His "only begotten Son" will not die, perish, become abolished and put permanently out of the way .....but rather will have this unending transcendent LIFE. Nothing in one of Christianity's core verses about being punished and tortured if you don't - but you are being told you will at the least avoid ending, perishing. --- John 10:10 - The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy (apollumi - end, abolish....and Strong's gives "put out of the way entirely"). I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly." One of the biggies and there it sits like a big ol' duck. Compared to a thief that wants to steal kill and destroy their victims, Jesus gives more abundant "LIFE". I guess many of us see the "thief" there as "the devil" but we can understand a thief to be someone who wants to take our stuff and will kill us doing it. I could build a solid 30 minute sermon around the Devil's intentions as the "father" of rebellion and self centered focus who wants to steal our futures and see us destroyed forever but I don't want to forget that Jesus counters that with a bigger, better more abundant LIFE. So again - death is contrasted with LIFE here, not an eternal torment. A bad ending to life compared to a much better life, and we lose to the thief that opportunity for an ongoing life, "eternal". Granted if it means getting tossed into a lake of fire and ending it all that way then it's not something I want. Given eternity or termination, I want eternity. --- I'm resisting the cheesey logic stuff for now - why would a loving God do something unloving, etc. etc. buuuuut - I also think people under value our time on this planet in this life when they say "how come 80 years will get you eternal termination cuz you under performed in what amounts to the tiniest imaginable increment of time in that eternal arc....? How can that be fair?"......................................aaaaand that's a deeper topic, but from the perspective of this life I have, 80 years isn't a small part of anything, it's a huge part of everything, of all there is. That's something to consider in this mix, I think. Today we throw everything away, if it breaks we toss it, recycle it, dump it. Just get rid of it because most stuff doesn't get repaired, it gets replaced. "LIFE" is unique and individual - I can't be replaced. Another "like" me yes, but never another me. Life isn't cheap just because there's a lot of them. Each one counts, is "precious" and represents a much bigger picture of reality. THAT makes complete sense then for it to be non terminating and eternally resilient. What is God's greater long term plan? To answer that I have to ask myself what do I not know that I can't even know I don't know, for whatever reasons? I only know what I know and I gotta go with that - there are some things I can and do know now, I'm not floating in a sea of unknowns.
  24. Well, thanks, Rocky. Kind of sorting through some stuff on this - I wrote a thing titled "Was Jesus A Calvinist?" but don't know where it is, it'll turn up. I want to be careful with not getting too far off your original topic, buuuut I would say that how we define mans' so-called "free will" and "freedom to choose" are important in this topic. In the bible anyway, will is associated with what we "want" to do, and what we plan to do....I will go to the store, I will open the door. It's a capacity, ability to determine or decide. It would be a function of our "nous" then, our minds which is part of the "psuche" or life we have. We're living breathing people, and we have individual minds that can think, consider, decide, plan. BUT WITHIN THE SCOPE AND PARAMETERS IN WHICH THAT CAPACITY EXISTS. We're human, we're not God. I can't say "Let there be light" and expect anything to happen unless I turn on a lamp, as a human being. Freedom to choose, making a choice, is us exercising that will, that capacity. Like picking which shirt I want to wear tomorrow. I have the ability to choose - there's more than one shirt I could wear, and I can then pick which one I will wear. My will or plan is to wear a different shirt tomorrow, and there are several shirts I could wear, so I pick...that one. Pretty simple. The Bible makes it clear that man's CAPACITY in which he picks and plans is limited, and in fact is unreliable and unpredictable, mostly because man's physical realm and capacities are fairly limited on a large scale - sure, I can decide to wear that shirt tomorrow but if a fire burns through my town over night I'm not going to do it as I planned. Many places in the Bible compare man's capacity to God's and how limited it is - like Proverbs 19:21 "Many plans are in a man's heart, but the purpose of the LORD will prevail." So we can't decide to do or say or have or change or make something that can't actually be done, and even if it can be done we may not be able to control circumstances in such a way that would guarantee it to happen. God can of course, so the comparison is easy to understand. If God says it's possible, then it is and it may be within my ability to then decide and choose...whatever it is...but the fuel comes from God, not me. I may turn the key but that's nuttin' if there's no gas in the tank. The will to decide and the ability to choose and act are all actually the mechanics of "believing", of pistis. It's what believing really is, all it is - not to say it's a small thing but it's not a magical thing. If we understand how to decide and choose and how to take action (or not take action depending, etc) then we completely understand how "believing works". So - God's sovereignty and authority is untouched and supreme when He....allows....us......to choose......to believe in God, to follow Jesus Christ, and to accept forgiveness as the New Gold Standard of life. God would "have all men to be saved", and so they will be as they respond but our choice to respond IS ONLY POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF GOD'S GRACE. We can't manufacture even the opportunity or invitation, so to speak, as it's "not by works". There's lots of places that help to define what God means by hell - like Romans 6:23 For the wages (apsonion - pay, allowance) of sin (harmatia - a mistake, missing the mark) is death (thanatos - death, end of life); but the gift (charisma - free gift) of God is eternal (aionios - for ever, without beginning nor end) ) life (zoe - the living soul) through Jesus Christ our Lord. I'm not told there that the payment for disobeying God is to be tortured for eternity in some hellish environment - it says it's death. Actual ending of life. The payment of God's gift to me though is ETERNAL life. Actual life that doesn't die but lives forever. So the contrast here in relation to what God wants to do with us is between death and life. Termination and continuance. Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill (apokteino - kill, destroy) the body (soma - the physical body), but are not able to kill the soul (psuche - life): but rather fear him which is able to destroy (apollumi - to destroy, abolish, out an end to) BOTH soul and body in hell (geenna - from Gehenna, the place where trash and dead animals were burned) Again, the concern is to defer to God, who is able to destroy both soul and body - everything that we are - in "hell", a place or process or (fill in the blank) where that destruction is done. I'm not told to fear Him who is able to torture and punish me forever, endlessly. I'm told to fear the one who can end the entire body and soul. Could God do that, torture everyone for eternity? Yes. Sure. But that doesn't seem to be what is said in these and many other verses and contexts. Because - well, it doesn't say that or even imply it. There's other verses too, of course, other places we get context and scope. The real issue here is LIFE and the QUALITY of that life. There is a kind of life that is part of that "free gift" of God that's ETERNAL. Without that we don't "live forever". Eventually it gets to Bell's point, or at least the question which is - why would a Creator decide or even allow that some of His creation won't live forever, when some clearly can and will. Why even allow for that outcome. Why not "save" everyone? Or does God plan for that? And if so, what about those WHO CLEARLY DON'T WANT TO BE PART OF THAT PLAN - people who would even think that eternity with a God they consider unfair wouldn't be desirable? And I've talked to people who do say they think like that. Lots of stuff to this.
  25. Well, couple things off the bat, and I'm sure others will chime in.... First point - The issue of God's sovereignty - some people want to believe that if some of us aren't getting condemned to hell forever then some of us are "getting off the hook".....that a righteous God will serve up justice to those who disobey him and the penalty needs to be eternal punishment of some sort. Needless to say whether it's eternal burning or getting pitchforked forever or maybe just having to hang out with Hitler and some of those nasty assed Popes, it's not something anyone will like. Conversely they believe True Justice will be served when God extends magnanimous gestures of grace and mercy to some of us, no matter how bumbling, incompetent, selfish and inept we really were and waves us through to an eternity of fun with the Son because - I dunno - He "Likes Us", maybe, for whatever reasons....? The assumption is that those who believe this will be most likely to get the pass, of course. The scariest version of this is hard core Calvinist theology, salvation by grace, not works, and that God by His own will chooses who will and won't "be saved". One of the weirder splinter teachers of Christian Reformed Calvinist theology was "Harold Camping" who taught what they call hyper Calvinism with a twist of his own to it - he made the news for awhile because he was predicting the return of Christ from the Bible's "data". More than once. I loved to listen to his call in radio show at night when I'd be on long drives. He was down right creepy, but it kept me awake. : ) That hyper Calvinism also covers the section in Ephesians where it talks about "predestination" - in that Calvinist view that means that God predestines and decides everything - who believes, who doesn't, what happens and when, etc. Everything that happens must happen that way because God is "in charge". So if God doesn't want some of us to believe in Him, we're not going to. Some of us will "go to hell" forever, because that's what He wants. "The Elect" and those He chooses, those "sheep" He gives to His Son the Shepherd, will be saved. Others, won't be, by God's determination. These beliefs were codified by some churches in response to theology like Bell's proposing so that they could shut the door tight on any possibilities that might include those who might get or even deserve "a second chance" or perhaps never had even heard of Jesus Christ. Figure - if God wants them, they're gettin' in, regardless. And If I understand it correctly this drills deeper into that predestination plan of God's where He already knows who would believe or not BECAUSE HE MAKES THEM THAT WAY. BUT - This "administration of grace", of the church of Christ of both Gentile and Jew reflects an inclusion of PEOPLE THAT WEREN'T INCLUDED BEFORE CHRIST. So really, the very existence of this time period reflects God's desire for the world to be drawn to Him in ways PREVIOUSLY NOT UNDERSTOOD but now in movement as an entire world hears a message that the Jews didn't believe was directly for anyone but themselves.....ironic in a way. So, this is kind of chatty I know, but I don't want to presume to try to teach a history of theology here - there's a lot of things this doesn't cover, but I as far as I've studied, the real core, real platform, real foundation of disagreement on any of Bell's premise(s) is the question of heaven or hell, but under it all it's the belief that Bell's position questions and demeans God's Ultimate Authority. And by association, their authority. Cause there's a LOT OF POWER in having the one clear voice of God's will. Lot of power. Hell, you can even demand people pay you to hear it. - My take on it is that if God has given us the ability to choose - and He clearly has from Day One of man's relationship with Him - then it reflects His sovereign will to use it. Remember the "first and great commandment" is "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. " If I don't insert my own logic into that statement then I have to assume that God's logic is clear - He's telling me what He wants me to do, so that I can do that. It's not of concern to me whether or not I am even able to do it or not - if I hear that I have to assume that I should choose to do that, to obey that commandment and my next concern is "how". It's important to see that Jesus never taught people that came to Him to hear him and be helped by Him that they couldn't be helped. He never said "No, my Father has said I can't heal you", or "Sorry, you can't have any of the bread or fish, you're not included in this, my Father doesn't want you". He did reject those who rejected Him, who sought to kill him, He did reprove those who taught error and led people astray and who sought their own good and not the good of God and His people. Not many were turned away who came to Him seeking help - there was the one guy who asked Him to help settle a family inheritance issue, and he told the guy he wasn't a judge of those affairs over him (there were others who could do that).....There were some people who turned away from Him after one particular teaching, but it doesn't said He sent them away, it says they left. Another person He told to see all he had and give it away and that person didn't want to do that so they left. But Jesus never looked a person in the eye who was asking Him and who wanted to follow Him and said "Beat it, my Father tells me He didn't plan for you to believe". People say that today, but I don't see that Jesus took that route. God's "sovereignty" means that what God has put in place and done is what's going to happen, and since He's given us these lives and minds that are designed to think, act, choose, respond and learn, we are going to have to learn to function in this world the way He's made it and with the plans He's put in place.
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