Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Doxology


A doxology (from the Greek doxa, glory + logos, word or speaking) is a short hymn of praise to God. A doxology is typically a sung expression of praise to the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace,
goodwill to all people.
We praise you, we bless you,
we worship you, we glorify you,
we give thanks to you for your great glory.
Lord, King, heavenly God, Father, almighty;
Lord, the only‑begotten Son, Jesus Christ,
and Holy Spirit.
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father who take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us,
you who take away the sins of the world.
Receive our prayer, you who sit at the right hand of the Father,
and have mercy on us.
For you only are holy, only you are Lord
Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father.
Each day we bless you, and we praise your name forever and to the ages of ages.
Amen.

Glory be to God on high.
And in earth peace towards men of good will.
We praise thee.
We bless thee.
We worship thee.
We glorify thee.
We give thanks to thee for thy great glory.
O Lord God, heavenly King
God the Father almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right of the Father,
have mercy upon us.
For thou only art Holy. Thou only art the Lord.
Thou only, O Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost,
art Most High in the glory of God the Father.
Amen.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God, all creatures here below;
Praise God for all that love has done;
Creator, Christ, and Spirit, One.
Amen.
Be present at our table, Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
These mercies bless and grant that we
May strengthened for Thy service be.
Amen.
Be present at our table, Lord
Be here and everywhere adored
Thy people bless and grant that we
May feast in fellowship with Thee.
Amen.
From all that dwell below the skies
let songs of hope and faith arise;
let peace, goodwill on earth be sung
through every land, by every tongue.
Amen.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.
Amen.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

O Holy Night


O Holy Night
By Placide Cappeau

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.


He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Luke 2:1-40


Luke 2:1- 40;
"...And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.
So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.
So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
Then the angel said to them,


"Do not be afraid,
for behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be the sign to you:
You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths,
lying in a manger."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
goodwill toward men!"

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us."
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.
And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."
And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.


So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
"Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of Your people Israel."

And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.
Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother,


"Behold,
this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign which will be spoken against
(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also),
that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Isaiah 9:6,
"For unto us a Child is born,
unto us a Son is given;
and the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What About Love 3


God cannot abide evil. God hates many things -divorce, deceit, robbery, iniquity, homosexuality - "but there's nothing He hates that we would prefer He loved, or that we wished He were indifferent about". God hates what hurts us. Would a God of love be seen as otherwise?

It is easy to downsize God in our minds; in our theology; in our hearts; in our beliefs; to the manageable and manipulable, but this is no longer the God Who is "God, and not man - the Holy One among you" (Hosea 11:9) The God Who is loving is also, compassionate, faithful, forgiving, unchanging, just, patient and truthful. God is wholly other and utter holiness and this vision and revelation of God's true character is the most needed and corrective expression of God for our current society, as society struggles and copes with an ever changing and challenging view of life and love. The God we would create as a God of love is not the God revealed in Scripture. The created God of love is a trivialized and marginalized image of God Who is merely here to help us when we have difficulties, you know, the important stuff, like the closest parking stall to the mall doors, enough money for Christmas presents, the perfect dress etc. That God is just simply nice.

The true God of holiness and jealousy and wrath is the God Who exists in reality; this is a God to fear and revere; this is Marcion's God - Who is portrayed as a nationalistic warlord, who is impulsive, unpredictable, juvenile, and bloodthirsty: this is the God Who craves the same intimacy with us that we crave with Him; this is the God Who provides the means and resources for fellowship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His redemptive death on the cross for sin. This is the antidote for the poisoned view of a god of love who would allow mankind any and all freedoms.

God is bigger than all the hurts and harms and ways of man which deride His Sovereignty and Majesty. With God it is all or nothing, obedience is not an option.

Hosea 2:19-20, "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord."

At the start of this there was a quote, " You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand,..." We take a stand on the question as asked and answered by our Creator, we take a stand on the question as asked and answered by our religion and we take a stand on the question as asked and answered by love.

Spite


Spite is defined as ill will or hatred toward another, accompanied with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart; a desire to vex or injure; petty malice; grudge; rancor. Spite is usually associated with the desire to inflict or apply some concept of justice with regard to repaying selfish behaviour. The actions taken are malicious in their intent. Spite is often a more subliminal version of vengeance, no less malicious, no less purposeful, no less provoking, but often the effect is to leave in question the intent of the action so that there are no further repercussions to the offensive action. The intent is to harm and create misfortune without offering the opportunity for the offended party to have recourse for challenging or outright questioning of the offending action. The corrective nature of spite is usually lost on the victim and for the most part the offended party is just that offended.

Psychologists have experimented with the human psyche with regard to altruistic behaviour, which is that behaviour which seeks the benefit of another versus the opportunity to exhibit selfishness. There is a game which is played called the 'ultimatum game', one party is given a sum of cash and the power to determine the sharing of that cash at any division seeming appropriate to them. The catch is, the receiving party, the one not determining the division, if unhappy with their allotment can refuse the 'gift' and in the refusal negate the prize for both. In this we see the development of spite, if the selfishness of the first party is too great, the receiving party will refuse so that neither party receives any benefit from the game, this is spite. Goes back to that old adage - 'cutting of their nose to spite their face'.

Built into this is the concept of punishing selfish behavior and there seems to be a catch, for neither party at the start of the 'ultimatum game' had the money. It was a 'gift' to both, however the spiteful nature, our fairness gene, kicks in and determines the outcome based on an understanding of fairness and justness which is selfish. The strength of the definition is found here, that in spite of not having any money, a party will insure that no one has the money or the gift. We will refuse to give benefit to another if we deem the cost to fairness and justness is too high, if we can affect an outcome with our sense of equity. Most people are prepared to forsake personal benefit to punish selfishness. In the language of evolutionary psychologists, we are spiteful. Evolutionary psychologists recognise four basic forms of social behaviour: mutualism, selfishness, altruism and spite. Spite is uniquely human.




It brings to mind the question of when a gift is actually a gift and when isn't it?






Love


Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?
Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
But Heaven’s free love dealt equally to all?
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay, cursed be thou; since against His thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Yet doubt not but in valley, and in plain,
God is, as here; and will be found alike
Present; and of his presence many a sign
Still following thee, still compassing thee round
With goodness and paternal love, his face
Express, and of his steps the track divine.
Which that thou mayest believe, and be confirmed
Ere thou from hence depart; know, I am sent
To show thee what shall come in future days
To thee, and to thy offspring: good with bad
Expect to hear; supernal grace contending
With sinfulness of men; thereby to learn
True patience, and to temper joy with fear
And pious sorrow; equally inured
By moderation either state to bear,
Prosperous or adverse: so shalt thou lead
Safest thy life, and best prepared endure
Thy mortal passage when it comes.—
Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou livest
Live well; how long, or short, permit to Heaven:...
Milton

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What About Love 2


What we (Christians) care about is patterns of life that hurt or dehumanize. Again, God desires mercy and justice, not religious observance. In short, the conversations that occupy the Christian are not religious but focus upon the human predicament. This human predicament involves the understanding of love and relationship; the understanding of the obligations to the Sovereign God; the understanding of purpose and reason for our very existence; it is a question of Who we are and How we are to be; and in this process of understanding, to be human and dignified as a person uniquely created by a Holy God. The plight of man is 'universal', we have been created to question and answer; to seek and to find; to know; because God in His wisdom desires people to worship Him for the sake of Who He is. It is in this aspect that Christianity requires the interjection of religious thought into the mainstream of life. We have been created to experience the wholeness and fullness of life and that life lived with flaws and failures. As Christians we are to have an active role in the conversation of how that wholeness and fullness is to be worked out in life.

It is often overstated that Christians "hate the sin, but love the sinner" and as any astute observer will realize this does not always translate into clear and precise action as clearly as the words imply. We understand an implied mandate to resist evil and fight wickedness and in that it appears and is sometimes a consequence that victims are made of those who continually and blatantly practice those things which the Bible declares to be abominations and perversions. This is referred to as collateral damage and is not the anticipated or strived for result of Christian intent. We are simply men and women living life with the goal of surviving, nurturing others, examining our lives and dealing with the hypocrisies that exist, attempting to explain and reveal through the frailty of example, a 'good life'.

It is easy in the context of declaring 'right' and 'wrong' to view Christianity as a corruption of God's love; a facetious judging of the 'pure' intents of men and women seeking to live a good life, meaning and doing essentially 'no harm' in terms of their impact on the greater society by their life-style choices. As they look at the censure imposed upon them by the Christian community and come under the glare of that judgement they see only the narrow-mindedness of a people professing love, but seemingly supplying the seeds of disapproval. This places Christianity in a tenuous position in the eyes of the world. This may be at odds with the mandate of Christianity and religion.

Being religious, being a Christian is not a "I am right, you are wrong"; "I'm going to Heaven, you're going to Hell" agenda. Being a Christian more accurately is about relating to the world around us; it is about being visible as a resolute and viable alternative reality to the other life-style choices being made. It is about making clear in the minds of all those with whom we have contact that a decision was made that has had an infinite and clear impact on our lives and subsequent to that decision our paths have remained fixed on an objective or goal from which we will not turn aside. It is about communicating through our actions, deeds and words the commitment and sacrifice we feel obligated to give as a result of that decision. It is not about the things that are historically, politically, morally, intellectually and culturally significant. Proposition 8 was an opportunity for an elective voice to be heard with regard to a extraordinary request made of the law-makers of the State and that elective voice denied that request; this was in part a moral statement, a cultural statement, and a political statement made by a majority of people irregardless of their personal political or religious affiliation. I believe it is somewhat unfair to assume that a majority decision was reached solely upon the backs of a Christian vote. I believe the Christian vote had a significant effect on the outcome, but not enough to carry the day. This vote was more probably a reflection on how all of society currently relates to the aspect of gay-marriage being an institution recognized by the law of the land.


The Christian voice in this is blurred by the intense emotions surrounding this event, and I realize how easy it is to be misunderstood in relating the Biblical position on marriage and expressing God's view to those who are unaware of that view. It is difficult to be convincing in a parlay between opposing viewpoints, when both sides see the others position as totally dysfunctional. This sounds redundant. I may be trying to express a thought or idea that in reality does not exist in relating to conflicting views, but a thought that lies at the heart of the Christian message, in that love requires intercession when the 'good' of all is at stake; when there is harm being done to the whole; and an apology is due if God is portrayed as an intolerant bully by the actions of Christians in affirming their beliefs.

The role of Christianity is not the division of people into groups, distinct from each other by their behavior, religion or life choices, but the esteeming of the value and dignity of the personhood of each individual. Religion and religious thought seeks to divide and create distinction. Christianity, on the contrary, is to be about the business of being non-religious. In this we walk a tight-rope, offending those we most desire to help because the judgement of God rests upon our shoulders even as we profess God's love to a sinful world. We condemn by our presence and yet it is only by our presence that God's love can be expressed. We accept persecution because of the mantel of God's justice upon us and extol His mercy by persevering in the persecution. We are equated with intolerance and yet we are to move in every circle and community of life exhibiting the qualities of God in the representation of God's love exemplified in His Son, Jesus Christ. Matthew 9:11-13, ..."Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." We are to be a source of healing in the world, a vision of health, being vocal about the unhealthy is part and parcel of that. John 3:19-21, "...and this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

I really like the following quote, although I have not figured out its full implications for my life:

"[Religious man] must therefore live in the godless world, without attempting to gloss over or explain its ungodliness in some religious way or other. He must live a "secular" life, and thereby share in God's sufferings. He may live a "secular" life (as one who has been freed from false religious obligations and inhibitions). To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to make something of oneself (a sinner, a penitent, or a saint) on the basis of some method or other, but to be a man--not a type of man, but the man that Christ creates in us. It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life."

Christians being vocal about the effects of laws, attempting to change public opinion about the cultural disputes of our time is not necessarily about an attack on the purveyors of alternate life styles, but about the protection of the others who will be affected by those decisions. It is fine to say 'what goes on in my home is my own business', but, that is an untrue statement. Whatever happens anywhere has a subsequent repercussion felt by the whole world. Luke 12:3, "Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops." This is the real 'Butterfly Effect".

Matthew 5:14-16, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
http://undertheeagleswing.blogspot.com/2007/10/just-man.html

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What About Love


"With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadness's, this is what your conscience tells you to do? With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."


You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand,..." Keith Olbermann

This was an editorial comment made with regard to the passing into law of Proposition 8 which made gay-marriage illegal in California. The comments are directed at the Christian and Conservative majority which are responsible for the passing of the proposition.

What strikes me is the constant use of the expression of universal love, and the belief that universal love or any love as an expression, automatically means tolerance, complacency, acceptance and negates any persons ability 'to stand' against that which they believe to be a perversion of love. This argument of universal love conquering all, states emphatically that hate is the predominant emotion towards those who practice such deviant behaviour, rather than understanding it is the behaviour in question not the people involved. The differentiation is between love of the sinner versus hatred of the sin. Universal love if it is to be universal must then allow for all perversions to exist as equal and indiscriminate aspects of society; universal love must allow for tolerance of all behaviors regardless of harm or the poisoning of minds and bodies. Even the most resolute defenders of universal love would balk at the extremes of perversions which would become common place in a society bent on the absolute tolerance of all behaviors. At points in time and process definitive lines would be drawn, but they would be drawn in sand and the washing of time and desensitization would allow for the line to move and that which is not endured to happen now will become ordinary and accepted and so on and so on... In this context Christians and Conservatives have the legitimacy of the Word of God 'to stand' on and that 'universal' truth allows for the drawing of a line 'on the rock', unchangeable and resolute. The use of universal love in the argument for the tolerance of gay marriage has become the fall-back cliche and the trump-card of the gay community and its use fails to inflame any emotional response form those who oppose the gay agenda. The bluff is being called.

The word universal is never used in the Bible, the context that God will love all who live on this earth is a fallacy and a myth purported by those who wish to have everything they want in this world without any accountability for their actions in light of the judgement of God, not only God the creator, but God the Holy One. The cry of universal love is to claim some intrinsic and 'universal' right which is believed to exist and to leverage God into denying His Holiness and accepting all people on their own terms. This is not based on the revelation of God as the Righteous Judge of His creation. God Himself declares that there exists only one avenue of approach and acceptance into His presence and favour. The only accepted application of universal love is found in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for those who will receive, heavy emphasis on receive, but this not only implies but mandates obedience and in that obedience we see the love of God manifested in His followers. In this we 'honor' God by being obedient to His Word and 'standing' against those behaviors which in good 'conscience' we cannot tolerate as an accepted lifestyle choice.

Yes, I agree this pits people against people, however, that ability 'to stand' affords people the opportunity to change society, if no one ever stood for what they believe society would never change. "If you will not stand for something, you will fall for anything." It is the revolutionaries that have stood in opposition to the faults and flaws in society that have made this world what it is today, and even in that there is still no assurance of 'happiness', there still exists such atrocities and harms being endured by the innocent. These atrocities and harms are not the result of either obedience to God nor disobedience but come as a result and consequence of the lifestyle choices and options that are available to people and to the leadership of those peoples in either an active or passive role. It is not believed that the world will change tomorrow nor that all blessings will now flow from heaven because gay-marriage is illegal, and the reality is that declaring this a 'victory' is a statement of prideful arrogance tainting the true intent in opposing such changes to the value of recognizing the traditional and Biblical view to the institution of marriage. The 'sanctity' of marriage is to be found in the value given not only to the people in 'love' but in the recognition of the Creator of that institution and the intended reason for that institution, and that being the union of a man and a woman, to borrow a phrase, "in Holy Matrimony". Those areas of concern which flaunt disregard for the dignity of man and woman as a created image of God, in prideful ignorance of not only the Biblical condemnation, but also the cultural norms of society are the areas in which the Christian and Conservative will disagree with the supporters of gay-marriage, for the stated reasons.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Belief & Faith


"Belief--or disbelief--in God is not a scientific opinion... It is an element in something larger and more puzzling...the set of background assumptions by which we make sense of the world as a whole." The relationship between belief and knowledge is subtle. The relationship between belief and knowledge is that a belief is knowledge if the belief is true, and if the believer has a justification (reasonable and necessarily plausible assertions/evidence/guidance) for believing it is true. Philosophy has traditionally defined knowledge as justified true belief. The background assumptions upon which Christians base their belief is contained in the Scriptures and the understanding that these Scriptures are the revealed truth of God and the revelation of God interacting with man in an ongoing story that is the foundational basis for the interpretation of that story as it applies to human history and the existential implications of that as revealed truth. Deut. 3:2, "'O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds?" In this we see Christians making sense of the world by defining life in the context of truth as revealed as recorded history, and that history in the context of God as the sovereign, exerciser of rule and dominion. His governance and ruling power are seen as benign, not posing any serious threat; not particularly aggressive nor recurrent; manifested throughout time; sustaining and providential; faithful in word; merciful in deed. Psalm 145:3, "Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations." This belief is questioned on the grounds of being justifiable because the knowledge of God is subjective. Belief is formed, as in opinions, based upon subjective feelings or intuition, not upon observation or reasoning, which can be influenced by preconception; coming more from within the observer rather than from observations of the external environment. The resulting belief is derived from or pertaining to personal mindsets or experience, arising from perceptive mental conditions established by a bias toward that which has been believed to be truth within the heart and mind and not necessarily from external stimuli.


It is this that allows people to ask, "But what makes anyone think that religion has anything to contribute? to the answering of life's existential questions because, "The entire history of the Church would seem [to be] eloquent testimony that religion provides no special insight..." Everything observable and felt can be explained in a rational and substantive manner using acceptable criteria of elaboration, quieting the suspicious and mystical claims of faith. Christianity is merely the claim that the extraordinary events that happened in the recorded history (The Bible) of a group of people is to be the impetus for the radical and astounding beliefs in a God of inestimable character. If the historical validity of any aspect of Scripture is in question then the integrity of the whole is made subject to the same criticism. In this Christians find themselves in a quandary between believing in the absurdities of the Bible as empirical truth; the dubious motives and intents revealed of God; and the problem of asserting that truth in spite of those same absurdities challenging our own sensibilities and gullibility. In this we see faith as opposed to belief. The empirical evidence and rational thought may not support the belief in an event or the reasoning behind an expectation of a future cause and effect relationship to exist by understanding that, ... "All [historical] questions must be decided, in terms of more or less probability, by historical research. They are questions of historical truth, not of the truth of faith. Faith can say that something of an (existential nature) has happened in history because the question of (existence) in being and meaning is involved."

To quote: "The Christian message provides the answers to the questions implied in human existence. These answers are contained in the revelatory events on which Christianity is based ..." The existential questions of human existence are associated with the field of philosophy and, more specifically, ontology (the study of being). Understand that there is a complimentary relationship between the questions and the theological answers, derived from Christian revelation. The task of the philosopher primarily involves developing the questions, whereas the task of the theologian primarily involves developing the answers to these questions. However, it should be remembered that the two tasks overlap and include one another: the theologian must be somewhat of a philosopher and vice versa, the notion of faith as resolving the existential dilemma necessitates that the theological answer be correlated with, compatible with, and in response to the general ontological question which must be developed independently from the answers. Thus, on one side of the correlation lies an ontological analysis of the human situation, whereas on the other is a presentation of the Christian message as a response to this existential dilemma. It is important to remember that no formulation of the question can contradict the theological answer. This is because the Christian message claims, a priori, that the logos “who became flesh” is also the universal logos. Implying that the answer is contained in and provided by God.

2 Cor. 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." While we are in the present state faith supplies the place of direct vision. Faith is for the lifetime. Here we have the testimony of God, the Bible, Church history, experience, and teaching and believe in that reality, because we don't disbelieve His word. "Faith is the state of being (existentially) concerned: the dynamics of faith are the dynamics of man's (existential) concern." To walk by faith, is to live in the confident expectation of things that are to come; in the belief of the existence of unseen realities; and suffering them to influence us as if they were seen. The simple account of faith, and of living by faith is, that we live and act as if these things were true, and invite and allow them to make an impression on our mind according to their real nature.

Atheist:I am laughing because I see what ignorant people you are, to make such a tedious journey, when you will probably have nothing but your travel to show for your effort.
Christian: Do you think we will not be received?
Atheist: Received! The place you dream about does not exist any where in the world.
Christian: But it does in the world to come.
Atheist: If I had not believed, when I was still at home, I would not have come this far to seek it; but finding nothing I am going back again, and I will seek to refresh myself with the things that I then cast away for the hopes of what I now see is not.
Christian; Is what this man says true?
Hopeful:Be careful!... are we not to walk by faith? "Cease son, to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge." ... let us "believe to the saving of our soul."
Christian: "... let us go on, knowing that what we believe is the truth, and that no lie comes from the truth."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Thought-Provoking Quotes #2


"... and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Galatians 5:24

Beware of refusing to go to the funeral of your own independence.

The natural life is not spiritual, and it can be only made spiritual by sacrifice. If we do not resolutely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural in us. There is no royal road there; each of us has it entirely in his own hands. It is not a question of praying, but of performing.

Oswald Chambers

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Memento Mori


The title of this blog is a Latin phrase meaning; "Remember that you are mortal," "Remember you will die," "Remember that you must die," or "Remember your death". In ancient Rome, the phrase is said to have been used on the occasions when a Roman general was parading through the streets of Rome during the victory celebration known as a triumph. Standing behind the victorious general was a slave, and he had the task of reminding the general that, though he was up on the peak today, tomorrow was another day. The servant did this by telling the general that he should remember that he was mortal: "Memento mori." It is also possible that the servant said, rather, "Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento!": "Look behind you! Remember that you are but a man!".






Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb



In Dostoevsky's novel The Idiot he describes Holbein's painting ( pictured above ) and has a character exclaim: “Why some people may lose their faith by looking at that picture!”



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The stark and offensive nature of the artist's depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ creates an uncomfortable, possibly nauseaus, reaction to the reality of the nature of this punishment used by the Romans. It provides separation from a comfortable, peaceful appearance of the crucifixion portrayed as a divine source of satisfaction, contentment and ease. The panels bring us face to face with the anxieties and fears that come with life. There is that intent in this representation of the horrific event of the crucifixion, it is to bring home the reality of the ugliness of sin; the ugliness of the cruelty and heartlessness of man in disposing of God; the ugliness of the intents of the heart of man in the treatment of each other, regardless of our fault or folly; the ugliness of our ambition and pride in usurping God as Lord; it creates a supreme crisis of the soul, that crisis being our spiritual life and death and in that crisis the consciousness that only two existences are true, or contain truth — God and self.
The Death of Jesus Christ is more than the creation of a pious atmosphere or condition of prayer and devotion, discipline and zeal, it is the superanatural and miraculous redemption of man from a destitute and desperate condition which required the passion of God to be revealed at a cost inestimable in human terms, a covenant signed and dyed with the Blood of the Lamb, a covenant marked by the nails in Jesus' hands and feet, which makes those who understand the truth of this sacrifice exclaim with awe and wonder, 'This is the work of God Almighty". This is the revelation of the truth that Jesus is not just the figurehead of a relgious movement; He is that, but He is Infinitely more; He is salvation itself. Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth is come ... He shall glorify me." "When I commit myself to the revelation made in the New Testament concerning the claims made by Christ of His divinity and propitiation, I receive from God the gift of the Holy Spirit, that Spirit which is given in earnest as a dowery or down payment on the subsequent balance of the covenant, and I am enabled to begin to interpret and understand what Jesus did; and that same Spirit will do in you and I, subjectively, all that Jesus did for you and I objectively."


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blue Pill: Red Pill

What is 'truth'?

"You take the Blue Pill -- the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe."

"You take the Red Pill -- ... you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep ..."

"Remember -- all I'm offering is the truth, nothing more."

A decision is before us, it is the result of the Question, do we accept life in the terms and conditions which are seen as outcomes of fate and destiny, the programmed cause and effect of life within a Matrix, lost in the control of a blissful form of ignorance; a state of comatose torpor induced by an operant conditioning, or do we take up arms in a battle for understanding and discernment in an age of questioning, doubt and failure.


The Blue Pill can be described as 'bad faith'; that faith which obscures our responsibility to understand the 'truth'. The Blue pill allows us to 'wake-up in your bed and believe whatever you want...' today is a new day. Yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow will be as today! The Blue Pill also allows us to exonerate our current existence as a dependant function of the past; that past determined by those fixed points of reference in our history which have created a faith lacking understanding of the requirement to resolve the ambiguity of our existence in light of a revealed truth residing in our souls. In the video excerpt there is a choice, the existence of that choice implies an understanding of a condition in which a person can remain captured or seek freedom. That truth which is resting in our persona, awaiting the moment of decision, searching for the moment of clarity, and we know that that truth exists and will demand a conclusive resolution. The choice is to remain or to change. To remain is blind acceptance; a continued enslavement; mindless lethargy. The Blue Pill removes the responsibility for a faith in the existence of truth by creating an environment removed from reality, negating our privilege, responsibility and the acting demands of free agency. “The goal of bad faith…is to put oneself out of reach; it is an escape.” It is the denial of the resident 'truth' known by all. If human reality is defined by the choices we freely make, then 'bad faith' provides an escape from the responsibility of our free choice which is an essential and central characteristic of our being. The Blue Pill offers an escape from the reality of the free choice decision to accept the responsibility and accountability for life's randomness and in spite of the obstacles and challenges and failures that will loom on the horizon of an ambiguous life lived in the Red Pill world, that choice is the perfection of 'faith', for it sets the course of life on a journey toward 'truth' and 'freedom'. John 8:32, "... and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Freedom (intellectual, moral, spiritual) is only attainable when we are set free from darkness, sin, ignorance, superstition, cultural norms, prejudice, etc., and are allowed.... The lie of the Blue Pill world is that "this is it", all that life has is contained in the Blue Pill world, and my existence will be easier if I accept and subject myself to that existence as the only reality that truly is. The strength of the lie is founded upon the distortion of the expected value placed on the outcome of rational choice. The expectation is based on the probabilities, whether positive or negative, which result as a consequence of the option chosen. A belief system which concludes that the 'good' life will be lived on this Earth as a result of a faith in God; that the life lived will be free from struggles and adversity; that challenges will be faced without regard for personal sacrifice; that this life and its value will not be questioned as a result of faith; that frailties and imperfections will be overcome without personal effort and toil is perhaps an indicator of those who have consumed the Blue Pill and are willing to awake believing whatever they want. Aquinas stated that, “A judgment is said to be true when it conforms to the external reality”.



Can we be authentic? Can our lives be seen as viable alternatives to the world-view around us without free choice? Without responsibility?


To change is to remove the shackles of conditioned thought; imported, inputted or imputed thinking; and attempt to be free. In asking What is Truth?; taking the Red Pill; we create the opportunity for reality, understanding and knowledge to enter life and create, as a side effect, discord, dissonance and tension conjoined with peace, harmony and unity. In the conversation which occurs the discussion will touch on the issues of security, safety, the goal of faith, the pursuit of truth, the purpose of random life in a God administered universe, the existence of disorder within the context of divine order. The question will be asked, "What must be our response to the fact of an eternal and absolute 'truth'? The first issue is the question of the existence of an absolute truth, which I believe is an inherent part of our identity and is spoken of by Paul in Romans 1:18-21, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." The key words for the purpose of this discussion are; ... 'revealed from heaven' ... 'manifest in them' ... 'God has shown it' ... 'His invisible attributes are clearly seen' ... 'being understood by' ... 'they are without excuse' ... 'they knew God' ... If we deny the existence of this inherent knowledge of 'truth' we believe, like taking the Blue Pill, that we will not be held accountable for our actions in light of the reality of absolute truth. Subsequently we can awake and 'believe whatever we want'.


To take the Red Pill is to move from the shallows of the shoreline out upon the deep water, 'the Rabbithole' and investigate and resolve the issues of 'truth' which are embodied in the God who states in Isaiah 55:9, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." and in Psalms 103:11, "For as the heavens are high above the earth, so high is his goodness over them that fear him."


We hold this belief, that in God we can have faith without fully and rationally understanding all that is encompassed in that truth; we can hold and believe in the absurdity of the claims, promises and actions of a holy and perfect God, whose existence and being are diametrically removed from any reality which we can imagine; that we can have hope for the intervention of that God Who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow; and that love as defined by the thoughts and intents of man is a natural, transcendent characteristic of God that surpasses any conceived and supernatural comprehension of man. Truth is knowledge of the inexpressible fullness of God Who chose to reveal Himself at His own initiative, without supplication from those to whom He has revealed Himself and oftentimes without any avid pursuit on their part. Truth is there is a God Who can be found, accidentally or through investigation. Proverbs 25:2, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter." Truth is about belief and the search for belief in an absolute, irrefutable constant source of freedom releasing from the strictures of an existential understanding of life. Truth which is able and unlimited in its ability to comprehend the knowledge of God, and that God offering new parameters of existence beyond the scope of our humanness. Truth is found in the course of discovery which is steered by the same God Who wishes to be revealed, not revelation in the sense of the unfeeling, uncommunicative, blind gods designed by man, but in the sense of a knowable Person, a Friend, a Father, Who is touched by our infirmities and weakness and Who edifies and instructs us in the use of our strengths and encourages and enhances our actions. Eccles. 7:25, "I applied my heart to know, to search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things, to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness."

Eccles. 9:1, "For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them." Truth is we cannot judge from the occurrences which take place in life who are the objects of God’s love or displeasure. Truth is understanding that people are not masters of their own fate; people and "what they do" are subject to God’s sovereign will and operate volitionally within that Divine will as sentient beings. This truth of life's orientation forms the awareness that as individuals there is a determination of truth, understanding and our perception of reality. This reality is shaped (heavy emphasis on molded, formed) by God. In this, it is truth that sets us free, we no longer need to develop coping skills and defence mechanisms, but, are free to invest in life knowing that the course of events has as an ultimate, ordained end.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Borrowed Thoughts


Sometimes other people say and speak words which resonate with your own thoughts and do so with such clarity, this comes from a blog I read:


A Prayer?
My step-sister has end-stage cancer. She still hopes for a miracle cure, as do I. But that hope has been in the abstract, as an expression of an open minded attitude toward the possibility of a cure. When my mother, this morning, asked me to see to it that family gathering to visit her this weekend surround her in prayer, I faced the prospect of turning hope based on an abstraction into a concrete act and statement of faith. And so I am asking myself, in what sense does the abstraction survive the descent into the hard facts that I know?
Is my faith to be a hope that somehow the doctors got the diagnosis wrong? Clearly that would be a perversion of faith. To me it seems essential to faith that it be an expression, at least of the possibility, of there being more to human existence than we can see or know. My faith does not take the givens of what we can know and contradict them, on this view. It places them in a larger context.
The question then confronts me, if faith expresses a conviction that there is more to life than I can see or know, where does it come from? I think that it comes from the conviction of good people in trying times that it is the good that they can see and know that connects them to what they cannot see and know. The imperative of a good will dictates the content of one’s ontology. Whatever one thinks of Luther and Lutheranism, one sees that view of faith clearly in his—some think apocryphal—“Here I stand, I can do no other.” No matter what the actual words were, clearly the existential “ought” in Luther's life became more real to him than any visible existential “is.” To me that is what faith means, or at least what it ought to mean. And that is why it can and does exist in the midst of great countervailing facts: Quite simply, it transcends them.
The wager of faith, to speak crudely, is that not only is there more to human existence than we can know, but that that “more” can be understood by faith as an expression of what life requires of a good person. If life has a larger meaning than we can understand—at least if it has one worth knowing—that is it. And just so, if we are invited to live as members of the kingdom of heaven, we must be guided by our best motives as we remain open to a reality greater than our understanding.
But why would anyone choose to believe in something beyond their understanding? The question implies a misunderstanding. One does not choose to act on insufficient evidence. Rather, one chooses to interpret insufficient evidence in light of one’s best motives and hopes. What else is one to do? It is when we encounter an existential crisis, then, that faith comes to light. And the reality of the existential crisis speaks louder than any proof or evidence, because it speaks for the human heart. I believe that William James nailed the idea when he wrote, “…to refuse to cultivate a feeling of security would be to do violence to a tendency in one’s emotional life which might well be respected a prophetic.” (Preface to The Meaning of Truth)
I, for one, can do no other tomorrow. I will express my fondest hope to my step-sister that our family’s love for her—with all the hope that that entails—can and should inform our belief. Is that intellectual courage, or cowardice? I say neither, for once again the question implies a misunderstanding. Faith transcends that question, and for those who have it, its possibility entails its necessity.

http://metaponderance.blogspot.com/2008/11/prayer.html

Monday, November 03, 2008

Jeremiah 9:23-24


Jeremiah 9:23-24, "Thus says the Lord:
"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,


Let not the mighty man glory in his might,

Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;

But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me,

That I am the Lord,

exercising lovingkindness,

judgment,

and righteousness in the earth.

For in these I delight," says the Lord."



Lovingkindness is a compound word with an extensive meaning beyond that which is conveyed by the sum of its phonetic parts. The sum of the parts may give us reason to conclude that lovingkindness means kindness or mercy which is based on or arises from love. This is a right interpretation of the meaning, but it fails to impact the reader with the fullness of the import of the word. The Hebrew word which is translated as lovingkindness is 'hesed'. There are three basic meanings or thoughts which are communicated by God through the use of this word. The essential elements are goodness, kindness, but it is in the application and motivation that the true value of the word is found. The word implies strength, steadfastness and love and the constant interaction of these three elements in application of the concept of lovingkindness. The richness of the word is maintained by the inclusion of these three thoughts or definitions.



The word, lovingkindness, refers primarily to the mutual and reciprocal rights and obligations between two parties of a relationship. In this instance God and man. It implies that there is not only obligation but generosity; there is not only loyalty but also mercy. The intent is to bring about a realization that the weaker party needs the protection and blessing of the patron or protector while understanding that he (the weaker) may lay no claim (absolutely) to it.


The stronger party remains committed to His promise namely that of protection, blessing, etc., but, retains His freedom, especially with regard to the manner in which He may bestow or implement those promises. There is implied in the relationship an involvement and commitment beyond the rule of law. It is in the tender mercies of the Lord that hope is built upon and trust (faith) is empowered; God would have us hope, that even though sin has infiltrated our lives, the Lord will restore us with much pity and compassion. ‘Let Israel hope in the Lord,’ for with the Lord there is mercy, tender mercy.

In this we see that 'lovingkindness' is a central characteristic of God in His relationship with people. God offers His love because people need redemption from sin, their enemies and trouble. The entire covenantal history of Yahweh's interactions with man can be summarized in terms of 'hesed'. It is the one permanent element in the flux of human history.

Hosea 11:3-5,7-9,10, "I taught (you) to walk, taking (you) by (your) arms; but (you) did not know that I healed (you). I drew (you) with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to (you) as those who take the yoke from (the) neck. I stooped and fed you. ... My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him. ... My heart churns (is changed) within Me; My sympathy (compassion, repentings, lovingkindness and mercy) is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy (you). For I am God, and not man, The Holy One in your midst; And I will not come with terror. ... (You) shall walk after the Lord.... Even with the Holy One who is faithful."

The hope of the backsliding and/or unrepentant is that the lovingkindness of the Lord will sway Him to act in mercy, without regard for the fact of His Holiness. Hosea 11:9, "I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy (you). For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror." This view of the lovingkindness of God extending beyond His character to include universally all who would appeal to His sensibilities; those sensiblilities influenced by His lovingkindness, is a doctrine of hope, which for the most part finds as its foundation a hope that God is not Holy. It is a hope which has as its foundation a belief that God's lovingkindness is bound by a law of His character which disallows Him from acting in judgement.

The real message to be taken from the study of God's lovingkindness is that there is a future. Hope is in the future and in that future the restoration of relationship which is based on grace and love. The hope is in the removal of the logical links between crime and punishment. The hope lies in our inability to articulate or anticipate the spontaneous, inexplicable, unpredictable, and mysterious act of lovingkindness revealed in the salvation obtained for us by Jesus Christ, God's Son and the grace and mercy and lovingkindness of God the Father in authoring such a final act of love.


"If wisdom, strength, or riches be thy lot,
Boast not; but rather think thou hast them not.
One God alone from whom those gifts proceed
Is wise, is mighty, and is rich indeed."

Ephes. 2:4,7,8 "...but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, ... might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,... '

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Complaint or Compliant




"It is a curious fact that the church has, by and large, continued to sing songs of orientation in a world increasingly experienced as disoriented…It is my judgment that this action of the church is less an evangelical defiance guided by faith, and much more a frightened, numb denial and deception that does not want to acknowledge or experience the disorientation of life. The reason for such relentless affirmation of orientation seems to me, not from faith, but from the wishful optimism of our culture. Such a denial and cover-up, which I take it to be, is an odd inclination for passionate Bible users, given the larger number of psalms that are songs of lament, protest, and complaint about an incoherence that is experienced in the world … we have believed that faith does not mean to acknowledge and embrace negativity. We have thought that acknowledgement of negativity was somehow an act of unfaith, as though the very speech about it conceded too much about God’s “loss of control”…

Complaint is viewed as negativity, and is considered to be an act of unfaith and a failure to appropriate faith or to be compliant to the view held by a majority, but, for the trusting community and that community extending to the 'fringe' people who call Jesus their Saviour, their use of complaint is an act of bold faith.

Job 13:15, "Though He slay (lament) me, yet will I trust (communion) Him. Even so, I will defend (complaint) my own ways before Him."

The point here is that complaint is a legitimate experience of faith. Complaint can be a regular feature of faith. In fact, complaint can be an act of bold faith. The tone of life is one in which complaint can predominate, though this view is, or should be, weighed in light of God's promises and His abiding faithfulness and is exchanged for that of confidence and hope. This is not a dichotomy, a view to life as having conditions perceived as polar extremes or opposites, an either-or perspective or seeing things as two-sided and nothing more, this belief exists in the realm of life lived with complaint; compliant to an understanding of life in the control of a sovereign and omnipotent God. We judge that the vacillation between the two seemingly polarized positions, one of complaint versus one of compliant, to be antithetical, in that, the complaint should not exist in the persons nature because the aspect of faith should be the pervading and predominant characteristic of the mature and grounded Christian and should promote a compliant attitude towards the disorientated life. Any view to life which allows for complaint via grievance, problem, difficulty, or concern is seen as a question of faith and not as a viable and healthy expression of a communion relationship with God. The question is brought forward that faith does not exist where doubt lives. Complaint cannot exist with faith. This is wrong, it alienates and promotes a view which sees certain Christians as diseased and leprous inhabitants of our Churches. We can not run around proclaiming 'unclean, unclean' and silence those who have and face legitimate challenges to their faith. Specifically, it ostracizes or marginalizes those people who struggle with the randomness of this world and the activities that occur by failing to give due consideration to doubts that they have. To clarify further, by doubt I do not mean to question the validity of God or belief in Him and His actions as being right; nor do I mean to say that God's actions and purposes are contrary or suspect in terms of purpose; but there lies a question in the heart of man that craves an answer; it is a question which cannot be answered except by faith, "...for without faith it is impossible to please God."; it is a question of the soul and requires an answer which speaks to the spirit of the man; it is a question which is linked to that which God has placed in a man's being and the answer must resound through all eternity; it is simply the 'yes' or 'no'... of the validity of our existence in light of the working of a sovereign God. And it is so much more ...

This does not imply that I believe we should give free licence to critics of Christianity and the Church. Certain levels of negativity are detrimental to the fellowship of believers and are indicative of a more serious faith issues, specifically that of a believing communion with God and they need to be addressed. The inclusion of these negative complaints would be contradictory to the intent of the Church to be a community that exists to encourage, edify and enhance communion with God through the receiving of Jesus Christ as a personal Saviour and the belief that He is the Son of God.

This may create a dilemma for certain Christians, however, it allows them, those who do not have rose-colored glasses, to own their struggles as a part of their faith experience. Further, it gives them permission to be different, to walk the walk as a believer trusting and communing with God attuned to their nature, in alliance with the circumstances of their life and up-bringing and accepting and being accepted that their view on life, God, the Scriptures are in accordance with their belief that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for their sins and they have received that forgiveness, but, they want in the deeper realm of their spiritual experience to understand their fears and doubts.

This is legitimate belief, healthy and normal. Believe this, that they (those with complaint) view 'blind' faith (compliant) that which normalized the lack of complaint as being 'true' faith, as an offence to the intelligent examination of life. Conventional wisdom tends to quiet and remove those who question and examine the parameters of the Christian life and their desire to give an answer or at least involve people in discussion about what the Christian life is to look like in the changing culture in which we live. In saying this it must be affirmed that the only true way of relationship with God is through Jesus Christ, God's Son ... Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me."

This is where the confusion begins (and ends), in that the questioning is predominantly about the experience of God as a real and vibrant reality within the context of a personal existence. God is a personal Saviour and that view gives (not that he requires permission or authority)latitude to His working in each individuals life. A lot of people struggle with the mindset of the Church that God can only be approached in certain circumstances or venues; that God can only work in lives in certain places and situations; that my personal experience with God does not have validity unless it conforms to a predetermined set of variables which by there appearance validates the experience as the 'true'. This is in my view another form of legalism and this is what flies in the face of a religion (Christianity) that has as its mantra "Freedom in Christ'. Galatians 5:1, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." 2 Cor. 3:17, " Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." This liberty is freedom from the institution that was the 'Law' or the "Church' at that time and has through the centuries continued to be represented by the Church and in these times this has become more pronounced. What must be never undone is the "...forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25) Gathering together does not refute the liberty held in Christ, the freedom of expression of the working of God in an individual' s life but instead allows for the fellowship and the communing of the Saints, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17) It's design was for that exhortation, edification and accountability; it's design was for teaching under the leadership of men who were taught by Christ Himself and passed on that teaching to others through those 'Church' services. Gathering together is the mark of our love and faith and hope, "...concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, ... and will be our future and I have thought many times at how surprised and amazed I may be with who I will meet in Heaven.

In that regard, we may be in error by judging other's faith based on complaint or compliant: in the questioning of the liberty that they have 'in Christ'; however,... If you truly read the Old Testament accounts of God manifesting Himself to the people of Israel and you really look at the people He used to that end, I believe you will realize that every psychosis and dysfunction is represented in the people God chose to work with and through to reach His purpose. The New Testament is no different.


The question seems to be not that there are questions. The question is in the desire by our culture for a greater spiritual experience. The question lies with the knowledge held by people of a greater spiritual experience which exists for them to know. The question lies in the absence of that experience within the confines of a 'legalistic' and 'suffocating' Church mentality and an environment which promotes a theistically sound doctrine but disables people from expressing and worshipping God. We are in a conundrum, for how can we give an answer? We must remain true to the fact of salvation in that "...you must be born again...", while allowing for different views on that experience to infiltrate our belief system about God and the Church as His vehicle of evangelization. There seems to be no plausible solution and although I give credit to those on the edge of 'sound' theological interpretation of Church and Christianity (Emerging, etc.) and the profound way in which many of its proponents have approached this dilemma there still seems to be a presiding disjunction with much of the undercurrents of emerging thought. This may be valid , or, ...
Many years ago in a Three Stooges comic book there was a Reader's Letters Page, in it a child had asked the Stooges what to do about a friend who buttered his bread on the wrong side?
The Stooges responded, "I eat both sides of the bread, doesn't your friend eat both sides of the bread, too?"