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  1. 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.
  2. 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)
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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. : )
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. At the risk of over generalizing and not really getting into the weeds on his book (yet) I would say I agree more with the side he's on (I think) .... more than not. I'll try to come back to this Rocky - it's an invigorating topic. In brief, I don't see that the Bible teaches specifically that the outcome of God's creations, expectation of that creation and subsequent evaluation (judgment) of those creations is to exalt and reward the one's He likes forever (approves of, let's say) and to punish those he doesn't. God's view of things is often described in very human terms in the Bible, even what I'd call humanistic terms - like God being a "jealous" God and God's "vengeance"....mans' definition of many of those words doesn't fit with the God we see presented in Genesis nor in how He trends throughout the subsequent records, although that's how He's described but I never come to the same conclusion as say an angry Preacher shouting out God's Just Hell to all sinners everywhere - God clearly complex but seems to be put forward as One who is at work "creatively" - a word that gets closest to how I (in what I will confess to be very humble perspective) see the Bible's Elohim/Jehovah working. Sovereign, yes. Creative, yes. At work, yes. That's not to refute the inspirational source of the Bible itself, but rather to say it puts meat on the bones of how to understand it..........and the angst of man's struggles isn't one that's going to be at the essence of how a creator and giver of life who nourishes His relationships....feels. Or thinks. It does however give a level of emotional definition to God, and that's an important aspect of understanding God that Bell's book retains. Put another way I see God, whoy loves as strongly as many believe He hates and the result is a level of paradoxical "love" that we come to understand through qualities like grace, mercy and forgiveness...qualities that would seem to hint at a far broader Mind at work. I don't believe there's eternal punishment in store for those who don't accept Christ as savior, no but I can get into that further in this discussion (it involves what "Life" is and how the Bible teaches it). I do believe the entire message of Christ we're to live and spread is one of hope, of trust and of caring. I can't "BE" a Christian or "BE" saved and hate my brothers or even those who strike out against me - Jesus said "Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing"...... we are not all made by our own hand and intent - we are born who we are, where, at the age and times and to the people we are - completely outside our own ability to plan. People like to say we're accountable and responsible and we "make our own choices"....and we are and we do but we are not a law nor a law give unto ourselves....... So our ability to be right or wrong or even understand either one and "believe" in any one thing or not, is limited outta the gate. IMO. And Bell hits on that somewhat in that Book if I remember right, I read it years ago, seems like it anyway. PEACE!!!
  12. Another thing I'd throw into the mix is the give and take aspect of this. Seldom does anyone do anything without thought for what they're going to get out of it. What the outcomes will be. That's natural. Normal. I'm not suggesting that's wrong or even out of the ordinary. Look at Hebrews 12:1, 2 1. Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us 2 looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. This is a very clear instruction to look to Jesus (author and finisher of faith) and His example of focusing on "the joy set before Him". Some people choose to go off and live in a cave or to adopt a manner of life that excludes contact with the outside world. A great example of that is prison, "jail". When a person is considered dangerous to his community and unable to live safely in it's influences they're taken out of that society and put in a box where they can't hurt themselves or others. Kind of an extreme solution but it's one that does get used, right? That's not the kind of life Jesus taught us to shoot for - consider Matthew 15:1-3 and then 10... Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. It's a fundamental precept of Christianity to allow the spirit of God in us to do it's work, to lead and guide us in both the will as well as the work that God has for us to do. We are instructed to change our thinking, not be conformed to the reasoning of this age and to rather enjoy the Age of God's Grace in Christ fully. Again - I think there's a range of choices that God allows us to have and to make but to physically shut out the rest of the world in an institutionalized set of traditions and rules ("canon law") sounds like the wrong direction. The Jews had 3 religious, philosophical sects - Pharisees, Saducees and the Essenes. There's a lot of information in links like this one which may provide a spring board for more academic historical sources for you, if you need them. My overall impression, very "global" view of what the Church of Christ is as described in the Bible would certainly allow for those who choose to limit or expand their personal lives to include or exclude marriage and relationships between men and women. I would NEVER assume that to mean that the teacher, pastoral or leadership roles should be narrowed down to exclude them or to expect that having done so they would thrive in such a narrow habitat. It's just counter to everything I read. Selah....
  13. We can go to Ephesians ..."Chapter 5 begins with an admonition to imitate Christ. In order to do so, Christians must avoid sexual immorality, vulgar language, foolishness, and other inappropriate attitudes. Paul warns that those who persist in these behaviors are not part of the kingdom of God. The passage then transitions to an explanation of mutual submission, including that between husbands and wives. Wives are to submit to their husbands, and respect them. Husbands are to love their wives in a Christ-like, sacrificial, and humble way.".....Ephesians 5 compares salvation and the church/Christ relationship to marriage and the relationship between men and women becoming one in marriage to all races and people's becoming one and in unity through Christ, in His Church. I don't see the N. T. teaching denial, celibacy or abstinence as a specific means to an end of a more or most spiritual life. If it did, it would have to compare THAT to living in the Body of Christ, and not to something like husbands and wives united in marriage.....in fact it seems obvious that it's through that kind of relationship that unity and real transcendence can be achieved. What it does teach is to avoid sinful behaviors, including sexual immorality. So again, it would appear the RC's have created the ideal circumstance to encourage all manner of immorality, by writing a law that it's priests must agree to denying one of their most basic, human, male impulses for their entire lives. A petri dish of ingredients for making a virus. That's not learning to love - no wonder they end up drowning in shame and conflict!
  14. I agree - celibacy doesn't work. It isn't the way humanity is expected to live and prosper. I think it's a complete fallacy to think that a complete denial of the flesh is what God expects from us. That's THE PROBLEM. People are being led to believe that there's a higher level of spirituality to denying who and what they are. We're made male and female, and we have the task set before us by our Creator to live our human, physical lives with His treasure in an earthen vessel. We will not be male and female "in the resurrection" according to Jesus - but it's set before us to live righteously before God in this life, in the life we are given. There's two extremes here and both are wrong - one, that by perfecting our humanity we will be more holy and perfect before God and two, that we "do as we will" and exert no controls over our physical shell. I know we all may not come to agreement on this, but I feel compelled to spell out exactly why I believe these practices of the Roman Catholic religion are wrong and counter productive to godly mindfulness and practice. It's institutionalized error. They may be nice people, and some may succeed or be happy but like I say, you can spit in the wind and once in awhile it won't blow back in your face.
  15. Weeeeeell, the issue of concern isn't some old guy's opinion about what makes for vibrant sex, or what he does in privacy alone for that matter - it's illegally and immorally taking advantage of others using the authority of their rank and position including underage boys and girls, in an organization that essentially sanctions and protects that activity. The way in which the RC's have built their societies of men and women "of the cloth" is a disaster, it's a plan for failure. Even if you just took what's in the N.T. and just applied that to those who wish to pastor, teach and carry on the work of the church as lifetime commitments you would be encouraged to not create circumstances that produce pressure and difficulty, you'd be encouraged to create those which make it manageable and useful.
  16. I wouldn't get hung up on the date, I think his context is it being an early written codification, an ecclesiastical effort of the coalescing "Catholic Church", formal, clerical, non-liturgical, as a synod/council in a Roman province, in Spain - my impression of those earlier settings were that while provincial they did have some authority and laid the groundwork for the later councils. Paul makes reference to saying things "by permission" and having "an opinion", and I think we should see that for what it is. Some of it is informed advice from a caring pastor for his growing church communities and the extended affairs of life. Celibacy and matters a person chooses related to marriage and sex are matters of choice, with some guidance as we see here. If someone wishes to go that route, go for it. A guy like Paul makes it sound like not being married will free a person up to devote their time, their lives to God. For those whom that works, they're free to go for it. For those who don't want to do that there's a full life for them too. Paul's ideas and opinions in this are are informed and the product of his knowledge, experience and general benevolence for the people he felt responsible. It shows when he wrote things like "But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away."
  17. socks

    Psalm 139

    Psalm 139 always speaks to me, from many different angles. I'm posting below. Psalm 139 begins to paint the picture for me of a very basic idea in regards to who God "is" and what it means to say "I believe in God", and that is that God interacts me and the world I know in a way that is above good and bad, light and darkness, right and wrong...in fact, what is right is what God wants, likes, thinks, says it is. It is what it is because that's how God says it is and from that point, anything that God declares is the starting point from which any logical or reasonable outcomes are produced. As I consider this Psalm I'm reminded that God is indeed "with me", at all times and is the one, true presence in life. My own ability to choose, to know and to understand can be most easily understood by seeing God as both Creator and Father. 139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a] Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. 19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts![c] 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting![d]
  18. Celibate - isn't that that new arthritis medication? I would say that the RC's have re worked the teaching of the New Testament to come up with their own piece of doctrine. The N.T. including the Gospels doesn't lead anyone to believe that the normal state of a male or female disciple of Christ is to not be married or to not have sex. It just doesn't. Jesus wasn't married, but He never needed to be. I suppose one could wrap some humor around the idea that He was tempted in all things including getting married...but resisted! But aside from that, we don't get any real inference from what He's recorded to have said that He taught that His followers shouldn't be married or have children. Reading Timothy and Titus it all reads as if married and family life is considered for those who want to have a role in caring and working with the other followers, the Church. Remember too, it's considered a "sacrifice", something that is being given up and denied. That being the case it may not be wrong or bad but we don't really know that in a way that would lend us to think it's a worthwhile practice, and is even discussed by Paul as something that if be done "for a time" but doesn't read as something normative. This link below gives some details. Here's an excerpt that deserves consideration. And now that the Church "owns" a loosely connected wad of several 100,000 acres of land and properties worldwide including it's own theocratically run country, I think it's somewhat less than generous of the current Pope to consider altering celibacy .....but that's another story... https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2017/03/23/why-catholic-priests-practise-celibacy "The earliest written reference to celibacy comes from 305AD at the Spanish Council of Elvira, a local assembly of clergymen who met to discuss matters pertaining to the church. Canon 33 forbids clerics in the church—bishops, priests and deacons—from having sexual relations with their wives and from having children, though not from entering into marriage. It was not until ecumenical meetings of the Catholic Church at the First and Second Lateran councils in 1123 and 1139 that priests were explicitly forbidden from marrying. Eliminating the prospect of marriage had the added benefit of ensuring that children or wives of priests did not make claims on property acquired throughout a priest’s life, which thus could be retained by the church. It took centuries for the practice of celibacy to become widespread, but it eventually became the norm in the Western Catholic church."
  19. Twinky, I think that's excellent advice and insight. Over the years I've seen both in myself and others that when it comes to the Bible we kinda bring who we are "to it" when we read. And it's that way with anything we do, isn't it? I do think, without being "elitist" about it, that we'd all benefit from what you're saying and so much misunderstanding comes from just not knowing or following simple stuff. Plus, everyone may sit that and read and listen and nod and say "amen" at the right times but two people can have very different understandings of what they're hearing and reading and just as certainly different applications of the "same thing" into our individual lives. I've been studying Bullinger's scope of scripture again, the structure stuff. I always enjoyed it and it's an area that PFAL didn't get into much but that fits with reading for context. Structure really highlights the literary side of the Bible, as a written book. The ups and downs, the flows, and how it follows and fits with the language itself. The repetition of an idea and how it's contrasted, how it's expressed throughout a chapter, a "book" and then across the entire Bible. I see it revealing meaning and emphasis without adding much need for interpretation or interpolation. And it's something that doesn't seem lost between languages, Greek, Aramaic, English. It follows the content, the ideas, and exposes the essence of the meaning of what's written just by reading it. I'm working on an old project with it, the similarity to music and various musical forms. We know music is written and follows a wide range of rules and reg's, depending on the type, etc. I'm not an expert in all of them by any means, but the fundamentals are pretty easy to understand even if you just listen to music and know what you like. Musicians of all stripe have always used improvisation and very effectively for compositions where the core of the score is written, say a melody or even an idea, and the actual notes then played may vary in performance. Mozart used improvisation in his composing, and sometimes would draw from initial sketches he'd either write out or have in his head when he performed those pieces. This is done all the time in music when someone takes a piece of music and produces different versions of it, "improvises" in it. Achieving different end results while using the same harmonic structures is done all the time, as well as using different harmonic structures against a melody.....it's "different" but it's a product of the melody or even a re working of the melody itself that fits into the original composition in it's entirety. The Bible does some of the same things, which makes sense really - both are written forms of communication that have a living expression to be heard and seen. So it follows that they'd be similar. * I meant to add - I think that's how the "truth" of "God's Word" is mean to be lived in each individual life. People get really hung up on the nuances and every little detail being exactly this or that, in the human rendering of what we learn about in the Bible and are given by God. It's like saying, if we were dancing everyone would have to do the same routine, the same steps and move the same way as each other at the same time. Regimented, coordinated, controlled. Planned. Expected. Repetitive. (Boring?) I believe it all gets lived out in a much broader, grander scale of activity, where the basics are rendered in a diversity of ways that is vast in number, as each of us individually renders out "the living Word", the "logos" - which is how the Bible describes the way the spirit of God works in each of us in the "Body of Christ"...."members in particular".... We contain the vast glory of God when we insist on regimentation, and we constrain the ability of each of us to naturally/spiritually produce a living performance of God's Word when we do. So on the one hand we adhere to the rules and regs....and on the other we then produce our works, our "fruit" which then has the qualities of joy, peace, etc. that the Bible takes about, "fruit of the spirit", not just feel good stuff but real stuff. Thinking of it like music, and performance, and improvisation, it comes to life for me.
  20. Everyday and personal, so true. I kinda springboard off the verse in the Bible that says God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. "Christ in me" and Christ being formed in me and how immediate and personal the relationship really is. My life is made up of millions of "little" things and learning how they ebb and flow as part of the whole is a daily endeavor.
  21. * This gives a good snapshotof the Mass and some of the controversies. I studied and became an "Alter Boy" for a couple years, when I was a kid. This was just before Vatican 2 . We learned the Mass in Latin, and the various responses and movements of the service and what it all meant. I don't remember much of it other than the standard "nominees for biscuits" and "it's feely all saaaanc-tay" kind of responses. The Mass itself has some decent parts to it, I think. If a person is thoughtful and engaged it can be meaningful as a meditative exercise. It's the whole context of the theology and religion that's gross though. Catholicism has a creep reality to it, at least for me - the whole extreme and deliberately gory emphasis on the "blood of the Lamb" and the crucifixion, "Mary the Mother of God", the functional definitions of dulia, hyper dulia, and latria "worship", veneration of Mary, saint-hood and the various mediators and mediatrixes for prayer, "Purgatory" and the final purification of "the elect"...................and other stuff. The Mass in Latin always sounded cool though. "Mystical". Some of the power of the religion comes from those kinds of things - stained glass art, awesome architecture, weird symbols, unintelligible secret rites and rituals. Heady stuff. * http://catholicstraightanswers.com/why-is-the-mass-structured-the-way-it-is/
  22. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p1.htm http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p3.htm And worth a read this one - ARTICLE 9 Paragraph 4. Christ's Faithful - Hierarchy, Laity, Consecrated Life "I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH" http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a9p4.htm ----------------------------------------------- I was raised RC, and had 10 years of RC education and experience, and direct involvement so I learned the Catechism many times over. But even today I would say that aside from any really theological considerations, if you read the Church's position on itself and who and what it thinks it is (and the above links are just a small part of it) You can understand why it's a completely SNAFU and very much FUBAR. I went through all of this when I was a kid, and at the tender age of 10 was put on notice I was going to get kicked out for being a "Communist". Because I had a lot of questions, y'know, the dangerous kind 10 year olds have. That was before EVERY ONE of the priests and nuns who taught me and had authority over me quit, left their vows and vocation and went off to get married or become nurses or do whatever it was they felt was worthy of their time, but not before they'd manipulated as many young minds as they could to mold to the Catholic Way, which in at least one instance included knowledge of what one priest was .... doing in his spare time. I love people, lotsa Catholics. Know lots of them, and all of them are disgusted with their church's behavior and attitude. Some of them go to church services too but I'll guaran-eff-ing-tee they don't take their grand kids without close supervision. 'S just the way it is, unfortunately. The doctrine however is completely whack. Many of the simplest tenets of Christ and what he taught are mangled and munched beyond recognition. This isn't an idle criticism, it's a response to how RC's explain themselves, via the Catechism they use to do so.
  23. socks


    They're similar to Scientology in many respects. Scientology has a range of hold-harmless agreements and contracts they use for their various activities. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Scientology/ReleaseForms/ Perhaps they'll be a new book - "The Real Jesus Finally Stands Up!".....a re interpretation of the gospels based on early Schoenheit notations in a lost bible only recently discovered and translated from the original Coined Geek, into modern day middle-American english and a DVD version by Lynn himself, with an added humorous commentary track available, cuz it's the best gift you can get at any price! A free excerpt, below: "And when the multitude had gathered to hear Him, the disciples told Him the people were hungered and thirsty, upon hearing which then Jesus asked that the baskets of fish and bread be brought to him, as well as the freshly scribed Hold Harmless Contracts, of which were distributed first, one to each and ever person with a hand out to receive it, and the ability to sign or nod, that they might relinquish Him of anything they might not like, later or of any sickness or disease or swellings or rashes that might appear to be traced to anything that Jesus said, did, implied, inferred or might have if He'd been there, which may or may not have actually occurred........."
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