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, November 20, 2011

Go Pound Sand or Not

We muzzle dogs; shall we leave men free to open their mouths and say what they please?...God makes it plain that the false prophet is to be stoned without mercy. We are to crush beneath our heels all natural affections when his honour is at stake. The father should not spare his child, nor the husband his wife, nor the friend that friend who is dearer to him than life.

--John Calvin, Protestant Reformer and Father of Calvinism (1509-1564)

Servetus rejected the doctrine of original sin and the entire theory of salvation based upon it, including the doctrines of Christ's dual nature and the vicarious atonement effected by his death. He believed Jesus had one nature, at once fully human and divine, and that Jesus was not another being of the godhead separate from the Father, but God come to earth. Other human beings, touched by Christian grace, could overcome sin and themselves become progressively divine. He thought of the trinity as manifesting an "economy" of the forms of activity which God could bring into play. Christ did not always exist. Once but a shadow, he had been brought to substantial existence when God needed to exercise that form of activity. In some future time he would no longer be a distinct mode of divine expression. Servetus called the crude and popular conception of the trinity, considerably less subtle than his own, "a three headed Cerberus." (In Greek mythology Cerberus is a three-headed dog-like creature of the underworld.)

Servetus did not believe people are totally depraved, as Calvin's theology supposed. He thought all people, even non-Christians, susceptible to or capable of improvement and justification. He did not restrict the benefits of faith to a few recipients of God's parsimonious dispensation of grace, as did Calvin's doctrine of the elect. Rather, grace abounds and human beings need only the intelligence and free will, which all human beings possess, to grasp it. Nor did Servetus describe, as did Calvin, an infinite chasm between the divine and mortal worlds. He conceived the divine and material realms to be a continuum of more and less divine entities. He held that God was present in and constitutive of all creation.

He did not restrict the benefits of faith to a few recipients of God's parsimonious dispensation of grace, as did Calvin's doctrine of the elect. Rather, grace abounds and human beings need only the intelligence and free will, which all human beings possess, to grasp it. In recent years this is what Michael Servetus has been credited with, that being one of the modern forerunners of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience in the Western world. A renowned Spanish scholar on Servetus' work, Ángel Alcalá, identified the radical search for truth and the right for freedom of conscience as Servetus' main legacies, rather than his theology. The Polish-American scholar, Marian Hillar, has studied the evolution of freedom of conscience, from Servetus and the Polish Socinians, to John Locke and to Thomas Jefferson and the American Declaration of Independence. According to Hillar: "Historically speaking, Servetus died so that freedom of conscience could become a civil right in modern society."

Michael Servetus was burned at the stake on October 27, 1553 for his heresies. A few months later Servetus was again executed, this time in effigy, by the Catholic Inquisition in France.

Calvin says that he is certain, and [other sects] say that they are; Calvin says that they are wrong and wishes to judge them, and so do they. Who shall be judge? What made Calvin the arbiter of all the sects, that he alone should kill? He has the Word of God and so have they. If the matter is certain, to who is it so? To Calvin? But then why does he write so many books about manifest truth?...In view of the uncertainty we must define the heretic simply as one with whom we disagree. And if then we are going to kill heretics, the logical outcome will be a war of extermination, since each is sure of himself.
--Sebastian Castellio, French theologian (1515-1563)

Heresy means, "an opinion of private men different from that of the catholic and orthodox church, it is used by Christian writers for "unorthodox sect or doctrine," it is derived from the Greek. hairesis "a taking or choosing, a choice," from haireisthai "take, seize," middle voice of hairein "to choose," and its denotata has changed over the years. 2 Peter 2:1-3, "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master (Jesus Christ God's Son) who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their own sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgement from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep."

There is a pursuit of truth which lies at the heart of a man, whether conscious of that pursuit or not, in which there is an adoption of beliefs determining the eventual outcome and judgement of each individual. When the Bible is no longer used as the authoritative text whereby theologies are judged we enter an era of duplicity, where truth is determined by a man's thoughts and he is without accountability and thus believes himself to be irresponsible of the outcome. Jeremiah 10:23, "... I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps." Proverbs 14:12, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."

Whoever shall maintain that wrong is done to heretics and blasphemers in punishing them makes himself an accomplice in their crime and guilty as they are. There is no question here of man's authority; it is God who speaks, and clear it is what law he will have kept in the church, even to the end of the world. Wherefore does he demand of us a so extreme severity, if not to show us that due honor is not paid him, so long as we set not his service above every human consideration, so that we spare not kin, nor blood of any, and forget all humanity when the matter is to combat for His glory. Geneva Council

There is much talk of the love of God and that a loving God could not punish or condemn a man for his sins as that is not conducive with a logical and loving expression of a God who loves all men unconditionally. I have yet to find a reference in the Bible where it says that just because God is love 'all dogs get to heaven.'
Those who profess a doctrine whereby this philosophy is expounded are false in their determinations. There is a direct relationship with God's love, God's gift, believing and receiving. John 3:16 can be summed up as God loves, God gave, believe and receive and with that comes a conditional aspect of obedience. Those who love,obey and those who obey, love. I find it very perverse to proclaim that all men will be saved when the Bible is full of the condemnations and judgements upon men who refused to accept the condition of obedience to God.

"Did you fondly believe -- I did -- that where you got among Christians, there, at least, you would escape (as behind a wall from a keen wind) from the horrible ferocity and grimness of modern thought? Not a bit of it. I blundered into it all ... 'Under judgment' is their great expression. They all talk like Covenanters or old Testament prophets. They don't think human reason or human conscience of any value at all: they maintain, as stoutly as Calvin, that there's no reason why God's dealings should appear just (let alone, merciful) to us: and they maintain the doctrine that all our righteousness is filthy rags with a fierceness and sincerity that is like a blow in the face ...." - C.S. Lewis, letter to his brother from The Kilns, 18 February 1940

"Go Pound Sand" means to engage in a futile activity. There is much pounding of sand and it is distracting from the very central and essential aspect of Christian faith.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who does not beleive is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of tyhe only begotten Son of God."

Ezekial 18:23,32 "Do I (God) have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,"  declares the Lord God, "rather than that he (a man) should turn from his ways and live" ... " For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord God, "Therefore repent and live."
1 Timothy 2:4, " ...(God) who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth."
2 Peter 3:9, The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

Psalm 90:4, " For a thousand years in Your (God) sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night." People see time against time, but God sees time against eternity. God's love is best expressed in that, at this moment,  you still have an opportunity to change the outcome of your eternity.

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