The kind of religion I reject

Thank you. That’s clearer.

Having said that, Shawn, I continue to disagree with your interpretation of who Jesus was and what he taught.

I’m aware that this is your position, including your belief that Origen was chosen by God to finish the teachings that Jesus couldn’t (in your view) complete. Your belief (and it’s very much a prophetic belief like other revelatory prophetic beliefs we see throughout the history of major world religions) certainly has the advantage of leaving the door wide open for various prophets who came after Jesus (such as Paul and Origen, as well as numerous apophatic Christian mystics, including Gregory of Nyssa, Pseudo-Dionysius, The Cloud of Unknowing, and others).

I don’t accept in any way that God is so weak and stupid that God is unable to convey the Truth to us except in tiny little bits and pieces via chosen prophets. Such a belief accords far too much authority to those who claim to be the sole and unique mouthpiece of God (and there have been many such claimants).

God is really quite extraordinary and has no difficulty conveying messages to us whenever and wherever it’s appropriate. The problem has never been God’s ability to communicate Truth to us. The problem has always been our willingness to listen.

What set Jesus (and Job before him) apart from others was his willingness to listen with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength to what God was actually saying – as opposed to what people thought God should be saying.

It doesn’t take more than three years to tell a simple Truth. It takes a long time to tell a complicated, convoluted narrative involved multiple layers of Heaven and Earth, hierarchies of angelic beings, histories of good versus evil, essential rituals, hidden mystical secrets revealed only to a chosen few, and various other occult doctrines. However, Jesus had no interest in anything but the simple Truth about God’s Divine Love, Forgiveness, and Healing.

Granted, it’s the work of a lifetime to unfold the meaning of Jesus’ teachings about God and God’s Love, Forgiveness, and Healing, but this is the whole point. Jesus raised the bar for regular human beings to levels not previously contemplated except in the teachings of Job. He said (crazy thought, this) that all people are children of God as far as God is concerned, and that all people can choose to enter the Kingdom of the Heavens in the present if they open their Hearts and Minds to relationship with God.

In what way is this message incomplete? It’s a challenging message, to be sure. It leaves no room whatsoever for hubris or status addiction or excuses or blaming or chosenness. But it’s a completely complete message, and it’s the one that gives people the courage to believe they’re not a complete piece of c**p in God’s eyes.

If you’re waiting for complete information, you’ll be waiting a long time. There is no possible way for any human brain at any time or at any place to fully grasp the immensity of God’s Heart and Mind. The scale of God’s many gifts and abilities is beyond our capacity to understand. There aren’t enough terabytes of data storage in our brains to encompass the complexities of God’s vast universe. To say otherwise is to say . . . well, I’ll let you figure it out.

However . . . (and this is the totally amazing part) . . . we can feel God’s Love while we’re here as human beings.

What an incredible blessing!

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Dear Jennifer,
I do not deny this at all. What I have spoken about in the past is the Heisenberg principle relating to spiritual revelations. This means that level of enlightenment of the audience determines the level of revelation. So, what Jesus was able to explain to His audience 2,000 years ago is different than He could explain today to an enlightened group of people. Think of all the concepts that we can grasp today versus 2,000 years ago. Specifically the concepts of long time periods, multimedia storage and computer technology.

At least today we can know what it is that we cannot know about God.
Best Wishes, Shawn

Actually - we can’t even know that! An explorer may be aware of a whole lot of “unexplored space”. But the explorer can never be aware of all unknown territory without having at least surveyed all its perimeters first - something we can’t even yet do in our material universe, much less to God.

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Hi Shawn,

That’s an interesting theory. I’ve seen it many times, but as far as I can tell, it serves only to create barriers between those who believe they are more enlightened (the “haves”) and those who deemed by the elites to be less enlightened (the “have-nots”).

This is not what Jesus taught. It may be what some of the apostles (like Peter, John, and Paul) wanted him to teach, but it’s not what he taught. He was a brilliant scholar, but his goal was to make relationship with God accessible to all, not just to the elite.

Sure, if Jesus was talking to a group of advanced scholars, he could use more sophisticated terms and references. But that’s not unique to Jesus. Any compassionate teacher uses language and explanations that are relevant to the audience, not to the teacher himself.

You seem to be implying that Jesus taught one thing to “the enlightened” who were “worthy” of revelation, and something else entirely to regular people.

Again, this is not what Jesus taught.

I see young children today who totally live the message Jesus taught. Then they grow up, lose touch with their own Hearts and their own intuition, and can’t understand a single thing Jesus is saying about Divine Love, Forgiveness, and Healing. So they think he must have hidden the REAL teachings among a hearty band of spiritual warriors somewhere on the planet because it’s unthinkable that such intelligent, highly educated adults should be unable to understand Jesus’ “public” teachings. Yet a person can go through his or her entire life without ever having the “blessing” of enlightenment or revelation and die in the full knowledge of what Divine Love is.

The human tendency to turn “believing” into “knowing” (as in concrete-like doctrines that won’t budge under any circumstances) has prevented many a person from being open to God’s ongoing messages.

Divine Love was the same 2,000 years ago as it is today. No amount of scientific advancement has changed – or ever could change – the feeling of God’s presence in your life. Who cares how many levels of pure revelation there seem to be if the most fundamental human step – relearning how to love and forgive – is never mastered?

Hello Reggie,

But the Bible has many references to the eternal nature of the soul. Please consider for example,

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalms 23:6).”

And,

“…and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).”

Please note the word, “forever” that describes eternity in the first verse and the word, “dust” that refers to the body in the second verse. The body returns to the ground as dust and the spirit (soul) returns to God. During resurrection, the body is brought back because of it.

I think it would be helpful to describe more clearly the use of the phrase, “free will.” The dictionary describes it as “free and independent choice; voluntary decision.” Even when subject to higher authority, the subjection is voluntary.

The “free will” that should be discouraged is licentious free will or license, a misuse of freedom as an excuse to do anything one wants even if known to be wrong.

The Christian faith is in stark contrast to multitudes of religions that make dogmatic demands to “do this, this, this and don’t do that, that, that - or else.”   It is not a “do” dependent religion, but instead a “done” dependent religion. The term “done” refers to the fact that Jesus paid the ransom for your and my sins and thus made regeneration possible.

Consequently, by the believer’s honestly confessing his depravity and that Jesus is Lord, and is thus forgiven, he is freed from his unpayable sin debt. Regenerated, he desires out of gratitude to do good from his heart. Laws then become guides to keep him on the right path instead of having to drive him.

That’s what real freedom and the scripture, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10)” is all about.

Earl

I see nothing in the Psalm which points to ‘immortality of the soul’, only a belief that the righteous will dwell with God forever, no mention as to when or how this will happen. Ecclesiastes 12:7 contradicts the many mentions of she’ol in the Bible, as a place of nothingness upon death. The point being is that I reject inerrancy, so a couple of obscure Bible references aren’t enough to tip my beliefs.

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Dear Jennifer,
You certainly read much into what I had written and I am sorry that you have come to some sort of conclusion that I am claiming superiority of some kind. It is true that many have done this and continue to do it. But as a Christian universalist it is not in my nature.

I am just stating a fact as to how God has spread HIs message to humanity in the past, and attempting to provide some insight into divine revelation.

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Matt 7:6

God does not give something precious to the unworthy, including His Word. If someone thinks they are somehow privileged because they are deemed to be “worthy”, then they commit a sin against the spirit. Jesus taught us how an enlightened Christian should act, with divine love and humility.

I have had to learn about God’s Divine Love through logic, since I am an emotional cripple. I know why I have to love my enemy and I could not have come to this enlightenment by hugging them. I think this path is missing in modern Christian teaching.
Best Wishes, Shawn

Hello Shawn,

I think you and I are often using the same words to mean different things, so it’s difficult for us to communicate well. I wish you well and hope you find the peace you’re searching for.

God bless,
Jen

Some people quote 1 Timothy 6:16 to say that only God is immortal usually to push the idea of annihilationism, but let’s look at this more closely.

I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 15 and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

First of all, we should notice that this is speaking of Jesus in particular, which is quite a problem for non-Trinitarians, and they will have to fudge with an “of course this does not include God.” But it does not support annihilationism either because Paul makes it quite clear that Jesus is the first of many bretheren in the resurrection of the spirit. And so while we have good reason to reject the pagan notion of the immortality of the soul as something we have by default, the imperishability of the resurrected spiritual body spoken of by Paul in 1 Cor 15 is quite another matter.

So the motivation for annihilationism is the difficulty of believing in an eternity in hell as something a good and loving God would do. But not only do I think hell is something people create for themselves, I also don’t think much of spiritual euthanasia as a solution. However I as I envision hell, where our sins progressively destroy every part of us, this would include a destruction of our awareness and thus we are talking more about the external existence of remains rather than an eternal torment in a torture chamber.

Hi Reggie,

Then what do you believe in as your ultimate standard? Is there any such thing?

If iinerrancy is not possible then how is error possible? Is there any error in the value of pi? Your speech implies there must be. But how is even that possible?

As for proper understanding of scripture, scripture interprets scripture. Jesus says that the pure in heart sees God (Matthew 5:8) . In other words, the pure heart sees and hears God through the pages of scripture and thus properly understands the message conveyed.

When God speaks through His word, He will not throw the whole book at us expecting us to swallow it in one gulp, but leads us to a passage applicable for a need at the moment. When we obey, He opens our understanding to more.

Earl

The overall message of scripture

You don’t have to accept that the resurrection of Christ must literally have happened; but then you wouldn’t be a Christian, since that basically is the definition of a Christian.

Yep! It’s in the very first creed agreed to in the ecumenical council of Nicea 325 AD.

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost.

  1. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends
  2. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

What would you say of a person who accepts 1 and 2 above but doesn’t accept the literal resurrection of Christ? Are they Christian?

And (just for fun) what would you say of a person who wholly rejects 1 and 2 in all of their life practices but they wholeheartedly accept the resurrection. Are they Christian?

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Dear Mitchell,
I have seen many versions of this, but not this one. Where does it come from? It strikes me as if someone added the last sentence to it. I does not fit with the entire passage.

please advise.

Hi Reggie,

But what good is it if you can’t trust it as error-free? How do we know if anything is right or wrong if there’s no error-free (inerrant) standard by which it may be measured? How do you know what’s right and wrong? The Bible warned us against living only by what’s right or wrong in our own eyes apart from a standard (God’s standard, that is).

Earl

It is the original 325AD version. Constantinople 381AD added to it so it reads…

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.

What I think you are sensing is that this belief in the Holy Spirit wasn’t all that well developed in the consensus at that time and so in this first ecumenical council they didn’t know what to say about it. Eventually as this developed it even became the root of a controversy that divided the Eastern Orthodox from the Roman Catholic church (or that was the excuse anyway).

The source is the wikipedia article. If you have a better source for the original text, by all means let us know. It is true that there are many versions because you often see these later versions given the name of Nicean creed. To me, this points to the natural precedence of the first agreement, and the fact is that the alterations of the creed by by different sectors of Christianity and particularly by the RC continued quite a bit.

Dear Mitchell,
Yes, the creation of the trinity doctrine took much time to erase the early Christian wisdom of the multitude of spirits/angels that reside in Heaven and their King, Jesus. It is taking much more time to undo the damage that Constantine had done. Zwingli tried, but was unsuccessful.
Best Wishes, Shawn

No… that is, of course, I do not agree that any such thing is the case and it certainly does not follow from what I said. The doctrine of the Trinity comes from reading scripture and seeking some kind of coherent picture. If there was any damage it was getting bogged down with details which human beings simply could not expect to know and resurrecting such controversies by projecting your own preferred fantasy picture in the same way as JW, moonies, mormons, and others is not helpful in the slightest. It is more of the same arrogance, frankly. I certainly think that you make too much of the angels when there is very little scriptural or theological reasons to do so. In my opinion it can serve only two purposes and that is fictional works in books/films, and pretensions to esoteric knowledge.

The definition of Christianity includes both the creed and an acceptance of the authority of scripture. So either way, with no attempt made to reconcile beliefs with creed and scripture I would say that the answer is no, they are not Christian.

But the most important thing is the Christianity is a religion and is defined by beliefs and should not be confused with being a good person, going to heaven, having God’s approval, or even being a follower of Jesus. These are for God to say and no I don’t think these follow from your religious beliefs.

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