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  1. Thank you! It's a learning exercise to write my thoughts out this way. Over the years I have notes, we all probably do on different things and it's fun to to write it out. For me it writes different than it speaks, and speaks different than it thinks, and it gets clarified in the process, if that makes sense. annio really said it all regarding the study of administrations in this original statement - " I think there is a lot more accurate continuity with the perspective that God is always interacting w/ His ppl (and often others) as the same covenanting Father, rather than thinking of Him primarily as a "boxer upper" of administrations..." "Administrations" aren't outlined in the Bible the way we try to outline them as a hierarchy with hard stops and starts and break points noted in the texts by the author. Rocky's noted that the Bible is a collection of stories, of books, and that's true. We can understand them as an entire story and narrative then with a beginning and end (page 1, page 200, last page, etc) but that's not the actual story - is it? That's the book. It came to us in the format of the writers and their times. I would always see it first as history, a historical view of mankind's story from the earliest creation to the future completion of God's purposes for it all, and it's all told from the human angle, our voice. Today everything has rolled up into Christ the Savior. As annio stated there's a flow of events between God and His creation, and the changes that occur within that. It's a much easier way to read the Bible and if it does indeed speak for itself it will as we read it and learn it. So while I might use the idea of labelling the more obvious segments of the history and learning what changes and what stays the same I haven't found any great value to nailing that down till it hurts. Like say, the debate over the ending of the era of the apostles and there being an end to the gifts of holy spirit life manifesting in tongues, prophecy, healing, etc. Clarifying it as a change or no-change in "administrations" doesn't really do anything to move the needle on the real question which is - what does it say happened and does it say anywhere or read in the story we see that anyone written about declared an end to it, or for that matter even a start? And the answer I think is "no". So again, if I clear the table of the arguments over how many administrations can balance on the head of a goldfish, is there anything left and if so, what? And I figure, yes there is and it's.....etc. etc. We know the Bible didn't come to us as a textbook or manual. It does contain some things like that, Proverbs, Psalms, but they're not organized and cross referenced with footnotes as directed by God, they stand on their own word and order, as - is. So, it's not a textbook with an index, it doesn't start out "I the Lord God of all creation will now explain myself, my purposes and how this is all going to work. Let's start at the beginning. Remember there's maps and a glossary at the back of your set of manuals so make sure you have the current versions...." Nor does it lay out as a set of instructions - "Chapter 1 - What To Do Immediately After You're Born", or anything like that. As I grew up in the Way years, when I used to integrate these things into teachings people would usually get it and sometimes I could almost see light bulbs going off in our heads, first the bulb then the soft glow of awareness. Kind of like being in a well lit bookstore, in the back around a table in a room with windows, on a sunny day. That's how if feels to me anyway. : ) It goes to a place where there's no fight or debate or struggle. Instead there's study, discussion, listening, learning and hopefully understanding. God gave me peace with Him through Christ, I enjoy it. Cheers!
  2. You're welcome! Yes, I have. A little early in my youth but moreso in later adulthood. I've read quite a bit about it and have some favorites in the field, although not many. Philosophy wasn't a popular term in the Way anytime I was involved (68 - 89). Philosophy is often considered antithetical to Christianity which is thought to be anti-intellectual by many. That line of thought contrasts Christianity the religion as being a set of revealed truths, a faith in a revelation that defines life with Philosophy as an inquiry into the fundamentals of life that tries to consider it as a whole and reason through what we know by our senses, not "super senses" so to speak, if there were to be such a thing. My thought on that is that if I take it all off the table and go back to zero - what have I got? Christianity itself is a bit of a hybrid, but not for obvious reasons. Christ is "the Logos", the Word, the intent and meaning, the purposes, of God. God who can not be seen by my human eyes can be seen through the human being Jesus Christ, "He that has seen me has seen the Father". A logos is very much attached to it's source, if I can put it that way - it's essentially an expression of the reasoning of the one reasoning. And it's why Jesus Christ can't "Be God" literally, if he's the Logos of God anymore than say, a child I might have and raise whose sole purpose would be to carry on my work and legacy can literally "Be Me". It's a matter of consciousness, Jesus had a conscious life that was not "the same" as God's, they both didn't think through the same conscious facility, seen in how Jesus prayed TO God, and described Him as "Father". So in a way, even considering all the permutations and conjecture throughout history on Jesus Christ "the Word" and what that means, it could never really mean that he's God. He is by intention a necessary part of the means I am given BY God to understand and relate to Himself. That's not a small thing in an of itself by any means. So - that being the case (either way but easier to see through reasoning the "Logos" of God) Christianity is a revealed belief that doesn't rely on human reasoning to exist but the revelation itself is now a part of the physical world and I can now reason with and through it and learn both from it and about it. Now - Paul wrote that the "full" revelation of Christ wasn't a product of man's effort and was unknown, a mystery, secret. He wrote about the physical not being able to understand the spiritual and since I accept that to be true I also have to accept that when and if the spiritual is expressed in the physical, it's expression must then be able to be reasoned to it's source - without that "domain" context I can't really know it in a meaningful way and that's eXACTly what Christianity does, it gives domain context to everything it covers. And I'd argue that while it's outside of the reasoning we see in history it's not outside the range of human reasoning to have considered this time we are in - something that gets missed in theology I think. Granted the Jews and the other nations weren't thinking that way and they were being generally led as Israel to their separate and chosen status - but it wouldn't have been impossible for anyone sitting down and considering what the Messiah might really be like and do in His coming to consider "...hey! What if God draws all mankind to Himself through our Messiah??!! I know, I know, that's not supposed to happen but doesn't it kinda make sense in a weird way...? What if - hey, that's a crazy idea but think about it....."... and then say "nawwwww! that's too crazy"..... Point being that everything about Christianity as it's been revealed and passed down including it's heritage history, is a physical reality, a moment in history, a tangible event, something that happened or was said and that had meaning and understanding in it's day and time. It's been written down, given the stamp of authenticity and can be now clearly understood to be "in" "The Word of God". In the same way we believe in Jesus Christ, not as an idea of an intention - but as person who lived, died, rose again, ascended. A real person. Point to the point being that in order to learn that, know it, understand it and get to the point I'm living it, everything I am doing in believing in Christ is essentially believing in the meaning of past events that have meaning now. So in it's own world it's not just a fuzzy idea or a revealed truth - it's a real man, a real God, and a real meaning for things I now really consider to be - well, real. So the effort I engage in is one of observation and consideration. In this same way the essentials of my own Christianity are tangible, with real events and real things that also have lead me to believe what I believe in - including what I've learned in the Bible. It's not only a belief in a set of values I've been taught or a fact someone told me is true - my own facts follow suit with the ones I've learned from others and in fact are probably at least as important to my beliefs now as what's in the Bible. I guess I choose to not get stuck in arguing objectivity and subjectivity and never get to the real meat of it all which is - is there really anything going on here with all this and if there is, how can I learn and understand it. And since the spirit of God is now in me and I have the "mind of Christ", my new capacity to live in this life would logically include the ability to reason within my new universe. - Glad you liked the Mickey Mouse stuff - an idea once fell on me like a cinder block once - that "the truth" can always be seen from any angle. God is with us always, even to the depths of hell or the furthest reaches of life - God is with us. Some people see God as being someone who does good things. I kinda see good wherever I find it, and see God. Or try to anyway. PEACE!
  3. And Adam and Eve and the Fall and that stuff - This may seem a little sideways, but I'm thinking of how Disney's Mickey Mouse has been described by some writers as "Adam before the Fall", a character who has no guile, no ill intent, and would deliberately cause no harm to someone else but who is overwhelmingly happy living "in the moment", etc. etc. In Disney's world Mickey might do something wrong but it wouldn't be with a deliberate intent to break the rules. This is elaborated on in "The Sorcerers Apprentice" (based on a poem by Johann Wolfgang Goethe in 1797) where Mickey's "sin" is to try and be the "Sorcerer". Mickey's fine in the beginning working in and with what he's been given but going on his own to try and wield the power and authority of his "Boss" he's not able to do it and it gets out of hand. Without the correct training and oversight and ultimately by stepping outside his role by his own will, he fails. So there the pure heart of the character goes it's own way thinking he's up to the task - there's no subtle voice of disobedience from another telling him to disobey - step out of his given authority - he decides on his own. It's within him to want to be like the Sorcerer and to go outside his apprenticeship. That's not the Bible's story of course but it makes me think of Adam and Eve, before "the fall"....and if their error was disobedience we have to accept that they were knowledgable enough to not make that mistake. Genesis makes it sound like it was a "once and done" sort of thing, they were told what to do and what not to do and it was fully expected they had all the resources they needed to act accordingly. So what happened? That question takes me to the question, what is "sin". Disobedience, yes, but not every rule that's broken is done by deliberate disobedience. A toddler child will knock over a glass on a table but doesn't even know what the glass or table really is or why they shouldn't hit it with their hand and knock it over. We don't punish that child - or do we? Jesus taught for use to become like children, that to be great in the Kingdom of God we must be humble, like children. Children aren't perfect and their humility isn't the result of a perfect decision on their part. Which brings me to the body/soul/spirit part of all this and the loss of mankinds status with God in the original setting they were placed. There's a lot of theological struggle around understanding what man lost through his disobedience and gains through faith in the obedience of Christ. Cause from that angle it's all about our inability to be 100 per cent obedient to God - right? But Christ, the Perfect Son, lives and dies on our behalf and opens the door to the future for all who follow Him and believe "in Him" which means to accept his being the son of God, who lived, died BUT was resurrected by God's doing and who now resides in a place or state with God, in a favored status of "His right hand". We're told in Genesis that the disobedience will cause them to die. They're told by someone else, no that's not what happens. There may be some specific thing about the "Tree" but if it's a matter of the knowledge of good and evil being revealed BY the act of disobedience then it's pretty simple - while they may have been pure at heart, they would be able to make a logical decision to do something other than what God told them AND to do it as if God was wrong, as if sure, that's what God said but now they're thinking otherwise, maybe not. So "sin" was made not as a mistake but as a decision. Seems unlikely doesn't it? But even today we have the saying "cut your nose off to spite your face", so maybe it's not so unlikely. And following the storyline of Genesis into the rest of the Bible they did start dying. Assuming they weren't going to die physically before that, now they would die physically. That was and is more than these bodies, it's all about "us", the me of me, the life, indeed, the pneuma of me and who I am. To me the Bible's all about LIFE, life, our lives, this life, the fact that we come into being, are born with an expiration termination date based on a bunch of factors but the overall state of our "pneuma" is that it will end and "die" at some point. "Pneuma hagion", spirit or life that is holy, separate, God's pneuma, won't. Doesn't. If I stop for just a second and look at "pneuma" as less a thing and more a kind of thing, with a quality and characteristic of life, it's much easier for me to understand. Instead of it being like a change in batteries, it's more of a transformation, one that we can actually now participate in to a degree in these "old wineskins" to some degree by the transformation of our minds, thoughts and actions, and even in a renewal of our "heart", our innermost essence of our being. To me the administrational thing isn't a tug of war, or a matter of theological debate. It only exists in any form because of the overall timeline and the events. If I follow the events and learn from them, I end up in the same place today - a rank Gentile who is now part of God's family. What was lost is reborn. I am now entered into a series of events that go forward into eternity.
  4. On face value the Bible is a story, a history that follows a timeline. As such it's a complete history - starts at "in the beginning" of everything and ends with the Book of Revelations and events in the future. The perspective, the "one telling the story" is man. It can be believed to be inspired by God and what God wants us to know and to be authored by God and be God's Word. But the story doesn't begin with something like "I the God of all creation will now tell you about myself and what I've done - in the beginning...." It starts with a person writing about what God did in the beginning and what happened, someone recounting and telling the story. Figurative, metaphorical, literal, that's the voice of the Book. Within it there are many places where God is then quoted, or where God speaks in the story and the story unfolds of God, His creation and mankind. Etc. Etc. So - everything within it speaks for itself and to the degree we can understand it we know what it says. "Administrations", I started looking at that in Bullingers Companion Bible after PFAL in 1968, and his book "How to Enjoy the Bible". More important than understanding the jots and tittles of the breakdown for me was understanding his presentation of "structure" in the Bible and how the Bible reads out as a written work. Structure adds well, structure to context, near, distant, all contexts, by allowing a means of getting the rhythm and flow of it. The further I stepped back and view the parts, the more the overall context reveals itself. It also aids in just reading the Bible as I learned to begin to see the repetition and flow of it. And pretty much all language has that. Not every written work does though, and the more I read the Bible for that flow and connectivity the more I appreciated it. I never saw a real conflict with the idea of "administrations" or covenant theology or any of that. The Bible covers all known history from "in the beginning" and within that it does appear that God has made and held to arrangements with mankind, and specifically "His people". Today we're all drawn together under Faith in Jesus Christ who is the Head of the Church. For me, the old, the new and everything in-between flows into that and is governed by the Lordship of Christ and what He taught and revealed to His followers, a reign that will come into fulness over time and ultimately bring everyone and everything into God's purposed plan. See you there! Wanted to add: I was a Gentile. I now get to know all of the Bible now as it was brought forth by Jesus Christ and taught, interpreted and then revealed through His own life, death, resurrection and ascendancy to heaven, the "right hand of God". Coming into this as a Gentile, a "non Jew", I have no direct right or claim to any of it. I am not a "child of promise" of any lineage of the 12 Tribes, as far as I know anyway. I'm in the Big Tent of Jesus because that's what God has allowed and through that grace we all are now brought together into this new temple of the Living God. Called before the foundations of the world, yes but it was not clearly understood that this was going to be the plan. Surprise! I only say that because until the day I was born again I had no part of the previous promises and agreements of God with you His people. Called, by Christ, sure but not of the previous nation of Israel. A "new covenant", etc. That's me. So while I do care about the history of God and His people, and all that he's done both in this world and any others, my place is in this one NOW. Everything is of God, and from God and has been, is and will be as God says it will be in the "big picture" - we live on the earth because at some point in the past God put things into place so that there could be an earth so this is our primary domain. Key to everything is that none of this is of our planning or direction. So the variations and changes of any concern to me at all are those that God has set forth. Mankind - we'll change a law or make a law for any reasons, no reasons, or just to have something to do. God's laws are the important ones.
  5. Philipians 1 (we may have covered this somewhere already but it struck me today, reading) 12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[b] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[c] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 1 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[d] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. Paul's saying that regardless of the circumstances, if he remains faithful to his beliefs and with their support, his beliefs can be fulfilled. He reached people through his conditions that he would likely not have had he not been there. Rather than complain or be condemned for his conditions, he applied his beliefs to them and - prevailed. This does add layers of texture to the meaning of prevailing too , "more than conqueror". To add: Paul so clearly states that any and all circumstances can be used to serve the "way" he's pursuing, the work, the message of Christ. It's an incredibly powerful section here - even the fact that others use his circumstances as condemnation - I picture people at the Way Nash condemning people who leave their ranks when something goes wrong for them, or their families....."if they'd stood for the Word, if they'd stayed with the ministry that taught them the rightly divided Word (that) wouldn't have happened", but they "gave the adversary opportunity", etc. etc. etc. Paul allowed that even that kind of hatred, "whether from false motives or true", he was happy that Christ is preached. That's a pretty big perspective and not one I tend towards naturally but one that I can learn a great deal from. If the spirit of God lives "in" me then that's the primary turf it will affect. Me - and in many ways I think the understanding that the "pneuma hagion" that is the "Christ in me" is in a relatively ready-state is true. The spirit grows, as "Christ is formed in me". It is a part of "me" now and I'm the driver, with a new instructor with me, that holy spirit that has the character of Christ. Over the years this is how I have come to understand it, this life, of a "new birth". I think it's why the Stoic ideas resonate - that idea of not arguing over what a good man is but rather just "be a good man", puts it all back on me to "do the work" - not to get the spirit but to live this new life and for it to grow and develop "me".
  6. Duke, CD, et al - John changed his own teaching on speaking in tongues in regards to interpretation before he was fired by Howard Allen. He ran around the country "exposing" the Trustees evil ways and handling a laundry list of doctrinal points he wanted to cover and that was one of them. Dr. Weirwille's ground-zero on doctrine was the holy spirit field, and he was adamant on numerous occasions that it was the centerpiece of the PFAL series. He safeguarded everything taught in the PFAL series with the intention of never changing any of it. His son Donald made that clear too after VPW's death when the subject of re doing PFAL was rolling around the Corps, and it did not deal with the presentation package, it dealt with doctrine - "every jot and tittle" as he stated it. All the Corps and staff who'd been around since at least the early 70's had heard that many times from VPW in many different applications - "change one thing in the Word and your whole bible falls to pieces" was the logic being applied. Although he did not state PFAL was specifically a re issuing of the Word of God he did state that he felt it was the "best he could do" and that in fact anyone could do. That was forgotten or ignored later, very conveniently. And I can only restate my contention to John AT THE TIME when we spoke, that IF he chose to change the PFAL series teaching in whole or in part it was NOT his right to infer that Dr. Wierwille would have approved or agreed or as he wrote in a public statement that VPW would be "proud" of his work. Face value - he knew that was a lie and if he actually believed it himself he was living in a dream. Lot of this, a lot of people don't know or admittedly weren't there for. Just as I wasn't around for things Craig did or is said to have done later after I exited formally in 1989. I have changed, adjusted some of the doctrine I learned in PFAL and the Way Corps over the years, some of it I had worked on since my first year in residence. I don't apologize for that or even feel that it separates me from any other member of the Body of Christ, but I DON'T tell people that ol' Dr. Wierwille would be "proud" of what I've done, because as per the last times I heard him talk about changing things he'd taught in PFAL and the people who did that - let's say he didn't support that. Momentous, "personal prophecy", the nature of God and His sovereignty, etc. etc. ......... he's made some more than subtle changes in what he teaches, although the bulk of the public stuff is pretty much "Christian-Lite" Osteen/Meyer level teaching. I'm sure it's inspirational to many people. It's history. And as of 2020 if John's still the deluded but well meaning guy he was years ago, fine. I'm closing the book on beating some of these dead horses as it has no real connection or meaning to my life now, other than I find I have no animosity to him or many others. It doesn't change anything and versions may vary from person to person (and probably should based on individual experience) Carry on!
  7. Reminds me of the 7 basic human needs, an expansion of Maslow's hierarchy 5 human needs. Those focus on individual where the social suite would be group focused. In these the expanded 7 needs are from the view of systematic organization, rather than hierarchical. I haven't studied it in great detail but I assume that viewing them as a system allows for flexibility that wouldn't be as useful in a hierarchy/prioritization approach. Still - my early impression was that the move to a holistic 7 point system of human needs may reflect the times more than anything else. But then, what doesn't, he asked...? They're: Subsistence-safety-security Understanding and growth Connection(love) and leisure Contribution and Creation Esteem and Identity Self-governance(Autonomy) and Freedom Significance and purpose Compared to: My impression of how these two kinds of things work is that the social - group contracts we form together assumes that the most basic need of "survival" is either at stake or accomplished (or in an incremental stage) - put another way, survival is always the box we're checking at a perception level - if it's just being in a meeting with people that we don't know well, and that awkwardness of being unsure how to act or what to say, or not knowing if someone we care deeply about cares about us in a reciprocal way - there's a theme of survival there, albeit not physical life for death but of the emotional layered kinds. We can not be worried about it but all priorities would always re prioritize to recognize the fundamental requirement of survival. If it's at stake then each of the social suite would serve the fundamentals - so friendship establishment would mean sharing food or helping gather firewood for a shared fire, etc. "Cooperation" would serve the greater need of the group surviving, which really means that each individual survives. So - self interest drives our social structures, by necessity. For conversation sake I might propose therefore that if that's the case and in regards to The Way Inc. there was a strong survival element to it that led the individual to see failure or success as something that was always in immediate play. We would read in the Bible that we "were" born again and that we "are" Sons of God and that our "standing" was one of assurance and confidence But our state could always be rocky, "in or out of fellowship", our"walk" wasn't really treated by VPW in the day to day business of the Way as one of stable assurance, EVERYthing was always one hit away from being "off the Word" and "of the Adversary"........in reality the daily success and survival of the individual was always in danger, on a razor thin path of good/bad, evil/righteousness. "No friends when it comes to the Word" could really mean "you swim in a tank of sharks and some of them are your co workers"............... Just some random thoughts here, will kinda gestate this. Thanks!
  8. I would tend to agree with you - although I do think there is a significant number of people "of faith" who have similar beliefs, the greater commonality is less the exact identity of the god/gods of all religions and their similarities, the commonality is that humanity has such a large widespread tendency towards looking for or at a greater authority in their existence. I'm not nitpicking the language so there's some flab in that statement but I'm specifically choosing "greater authority in their existence" to convey the idea that it may be a designer, a giver of purpose, a creator, a giver of laws and rules, of care and guidance, of justice, a sense of order in the short and the long term and the foeveroutthere term....I'm suggesting too that "greater authority" also covers the ground of faith, the part of trusting in something that may not be rewarded or punished in immediate gratification or punishment. All ideas and conception of God exist in a known universe of our own perception at the least (or I guess the most) so while I might think there's no way to know how this came to be or who is responsible, I can allow for greater even "ultimate" forces to be at work. Granted that's more deism than faith and probably covers some atheist ground more than the array of "religious" beliefs about it all, it still lives on that side of the fence, to me. Peace n love homies!
  9. That sounds about as I understand the two. An atheist can have moral values as Rocky notes the example in Stoicism. (the origin of them would be another story but arguably they're ingrained in the human being, the soul if you will and bloom as we grow and develop and which allow the step towards faith - a different view than extreme Calvinism for sure but is how many understand the platform put forth in the Bible's book of Romans, where man is "without hope", with a termination date of death but still very much a living being of say, lesser scope without that faith) ... But nihilism concludes then that moral values are meaningless, there are none and that life will be a general shit fest whether one enjoys it or not, with the Big Flush at the end. Although it covers a lot of ground it seems to be more rejection-of then absence-of, although it appears it could be either / or. I might put it as a question - can one be a nihilist without any experience of life to cause that rejection and be so simply "as born".....my guess, no. It requires some experience to conclude that. Course then, what doesn't? is another question, etc. etc.
  10. The coolest thing about Christianity is that it makes for a lot of wonderful friendships and relationships. I had to learn to not treat it as a company or a business or even an ideal that I was trying to put into action. In the beginning of my Christian faith I didn't see it that way but as time went on I gave little bits of that away in trade for my work, for acceptance and a social circle I felt I could depend on - boy, you find out real quickly in the Way that they really DO NOT have any friends when it comes to The Word, and in order to stay on year after year you have to basically just assemble and work with the others who claim to have the same beliefs. It's not a truly woven in "love" of God or anything else. I tell people today - if you were my friend back then, you still are. Don't give me a reason to change that and we're good to go. On the other hand, if someone did wrong by my then, or if I thought someone was a jerk, ass hole or self serving hypocritical liar then - I'm going to need to see that they've changed before I get involved with them to any degree. I don't feel bad about that, it's just the way it is. I can "love" that person best in the active sense by keeping a distance between us, and if things turn that we are in touch in some way, we can proceed from there. But I don't seek them out, nor expect they will me. Lastly, I consider myself a "free range Christian" and have used that term to describe my place in the church since the 80's when I left the Way. It's a big body of Christ I'm a part of and there's MILLIONS of brothers and sisters I haven't even met in whom God is living and working, as He is in and with me. I am also not a member of any Way or ex-Way groups, ministries, fellowships, splinter groups, societies or assemblies, fraternal organizations or businesses, be it formal or ex-officio. No books to sell, classes to offer or writings based on repackaged PFAL teachings to sell, and no allegiances to base my ties, involvements or agreements on, other than Jesus Christ and God. This allows me to participate as I see fit and God leads. It's working well for both my wife and I. PEACE! Life is a rich experience to be enjoyed, so enjoy it! It's pretty cool too when it doesn't suck and it sucks big time when it isn't cool. Make it cool, friend!
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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
  19. 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!
  20. 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.
  21. 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!
  22. 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. .
  23. 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
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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