Category Archives: Others’ stuff

The Genius of the Cross

Whatever you need the Cross of Christ to be, for you, it will meet that need. It’s often been said that at the Cross, God meets all the deepest needs of mankind. Reconciliation with God? Check. Healing? Check. Forgiveness? Check. Putting to death of the ‘old nature’? Check. A sacrifice? Check. Demonstration of God’s love for us? Check. I myself no longer see the Cross as being the place where Jesus was sacrificed as a Lamb to appease a wrathful god. But if you, personally, need the Cross to be the place of sacrifice, then God is big enough, and the work of Christ at Calvary is huge enough, to meet that need. And that’s fine. Others will likely have different needs, and that’s fine too.

For myself, I no longer see the Cross through the lens of ‘penal substitutionary atonement’ (PSA), where Jesus ‘took my place’. I no longer consider PSA to be a viable Biblical concept, although I do understand why people believe that idea. I used to believe it myself, once upon a time. I’m generally not very good at describing what the Cross means to me, because it’s more of an internalised thing for me, although I have expressed some of my ideas in previous blog posts. I know what it means to me, and I know that I am continually learning more about just what Jesus did there. At the bare minimum, if we fix ourselves to just one particular interpretation, or ‘meaning’, of the Cross, we will miss out on learning so much more about what Jesus did there.

And so, for your upbuilding, here is a beautiful piece by the brilliant Jacob M. Wright, where he presents a superbly logical and totally Biblical idea on a particular aspect of the Cross. As usual, Jacob expressess his ideas with clarity and conviction:


Here is a couple lines from a beautiful and scathing critique of Christianity by Sam Harris. Part of his critique is of the superstitiously violent nature of religion throughout history and its nearly universal practice of sacrificing humans in a myriad of different horrific ways to “appease the gods” or satisfy strange superstitions. I fully agree with him in this particular critique and I believe a very different interpretation of the crucifixion which I will briefly go over afterwards.

“Upon seeing Jesus for the first time, John the Baptist is rumored to have said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). For most Christians, this bizarre opinion still stands, and it remains the core of their faith. Christianity is more or less synonymous with the proposition that the crucifixion of Jesus represents a final, sufficient offering of blood to a God who absolutely requires it (Hebrews 9:22-28). Christianity amounts to the claim that we must love and be loved by a God who approves of the scapegoating, torture, and murder of one man—his son, incidentally—in compensation for the misbehavior and thought-crimes of all others.

“Let the good news go forth: we live in a cosmos, the vastness of which we can scarcely even indicate in our thoughts, on a planet teeming with creatures we have only begun to understand, but the whole project was actually brought to a glorious fulfillment over twenty centuries ago, after one species of primate (our own) climbed down out of the trees, invented agriculture and iron tools, glimpsed (as through a glass, darkly) the possibility of keeping its excrement out of its food, and then singled out one among its number to be viciously flogged and nailed to a cross.”

I appreciate Harris’ brilliant words here in so much as he is exposing the wrong way of seeing Christianity. This is why we need to continue to overturn Calvin’s model of the atonement and show that with Christ we do not have what every other religion has in terms of slaughtering a creature to appease its god with blood, but rather we have a subversion of sacrifice and an overturning of normal sacrificial thinking.

I would start by pointing out that if the bloody torture and crucifixion of Jesus was demanded by God to appease his wrath, then why are Jesus torturers and killers considered evil in carrying out this act, if they were merely fulfilling a necessary barbaric human sacrifice ritual unto God and with every drop of blood appeasing him?

Here is the normal sacrificial routine: those bringing the sacrifice are considered righteous and pleasing to God by bringing an offering to slaughter unto God. Now contrast with Christ’s Passion: The ones carrying out the act are evil, not pleasing to God. And the one bringing the offering (“I lay my life down of my own accord”) is God himself who is offering himself to humanity. This is the opposite of a divine wrath-appeasing human sacrifice model. This is completely turned on its head.

If they were carrying out an act that in itself was good and pleasing to the Lord, namely torturing and killing Jesus as a human sacrifice to satisfy God’s wrath, then why did God go about it the way he did? Why didn’t Jesus just explain to his disciples to tie him down to an altar, slaughter him, and burn his flesh as a pleasing sacrificial aroma to God? Instead we have the opposite playing out, that it was an evil act and that it was God offering himself up to the hands of sinful men, rather than humans offering a sacrifice to God. The Passion is a subversion of the sacrificial system.

Furthermore, we have Paul explaining that God offering himself to be killed by the hands of sinful men was an exposure and defeat of the principalities and powers and it was God making peace with humanity, in contrast to a sacrifice where humans try to appease and make peace with God. Usually it was man trying to reconcile God to himself through their offering to God but here we have God reconciling the world to himself through his offering of himself.

To go further, the normal pagan sacrificial ritual was to satiate the bloodlust of the gods with the flesh and blood of the sacrifice. Whereas in the Passion narrative, God’s flesh and blood is offered to us, and we are the ones who eat and drink the flesh and blood of God.

The Passion shows us to be the ones with the bloodlust, not God. God subverts this nearly universal practice of sacrifice to expose something at the heart of humanity and to transform human thinking concerning who God is and who we are. We are thus transformed by coming again and again to remember this act of self-giving, unconditionally forgiving love, remembering the One who does not demand blood but lays down his own life to make peace. We partake in this act, we receive unconditional forgiveness, and we are called to be transformed into peacemakers ourselves.

This is how Jesus’ sacrifice was pleasing to God. Not because God demanded it or was satisfied with a blood offering, but because as the writer of Philippians says, Jesus “emptied himself”, demonstrating the humility of a servant, laying his life down in non-violent forgiveness, dying a victims death at the hands of violent humanity. This was a perfect act of love, and thus God exalts Christ to supreme authority, that at his name, everyone will surrender and every tongue confess that this love is the supreme authority. Within this act of divine love is the reconciliation of all things.

God did this at the risk of being thought of as normal sacrificial thinking, that is, an animal or human being offered to God to satiate his bloodlust and appease his anger. Yet even when people see it that way, it still communicates the final doing away with sacrifice with an act of self-giving and peacemaking which begins to deconstruct these sacrificial paradigms in social thinking. Even when one cannot see the powerful subversion of sacrifice at work in Christ’s act, and they see it through the lens of normal sacrificial thinking, it still begins the necessary deconstruction of sacrificial thinking and begins to end sacrifice once and for all in civilization, and begins to point to a God of self-sacrifice, forgiveness, self-giving love, and reconciliation, which begins working itself through human thinking and overturning our violence and enmity with Christ’s act of peacemaking and reconciliation.

 – Jacob M. Wright, used with his kind permission

10

A Good, Good Father

This is a brilliant insight by Jamie Englehart. I need add no more, except to say that it really fits with the general theme of my blog in that God is a good God!

Over to Jamie:


Jesus came to reveal the Father, not the law giver, or judge, or even a King, but a Father who desires relationship with His offspring.

When we view God and scripture through a legal, judicial lens, we will get excited about judgement, justice, punishment, and rendering evil for evil, and like the idea of God sending calamity, especially on those who have hurt us. These are not the days of Job or Elijah or Moses, but of Jesus.

However when we view God and scripture through Jesus which is a new and better covenant lens, we will view through the lens of family, relationship, mercy and grace, love, reconciliation, and the forgiveness for our enemies.

When we realize that His righteous judgements are from the heart of a loving father who is seated on a throne of grace and mercy and not in a courtroom, then we will run to Him and not from Him. He is a holy, righteous, and just Father who does chastise and correct those that are His, but it is from a place of loving correction and not punitive. Mercy triumphs over judgement, and TRUE justice or the God kind of justice is mercy and compassion (Zech 7:9).

If we are more patient, loving and kind as parents than our God, and we would not do to our children what we are ok teaching that He will do to His, then our God is NOT like Jesus. He is a good, good, Father and according to Jesus much better than the best of us.

 – Jamie Englehart, shared with his kind permission

20

Proximity Fixes Everything

Here’s a great piece by Michael McElyea:


Prior to 2018 and the awakening within that I had, the place I was running with was the statement that “proximity fixes everything and nothing else will”

I still believe that wholeheartedly, except I see this in an entire new light

I want to say that although I’ve moved past the theology I am so thankful for the Pentecostal world

I adore it with my whole heart

At least they taught and stressed and emphasized that this thing with God is not merely some beliefs to hold sacred, but an invitation into an experience, a communion, a fellowship and a nearness to not only the Father of all of this beautiful creation but the very lover of our souls

But the proximity message was as if God was over there in this holy place that I was not and I had to seek to be there I had to pursue him I had to ascend this mountain….in other words I had to get on this hamster wheel called religion and strive strive strive, I had to do in order to be…..having lost that I am not a human do-ing but that I am a human be-ing

Once the concept of the incarnation became a deep seated revelation in my heart, Jesus destroyed my hamster wheel

Once understanding that there’s never been any objective distance or delay or separation between Him and I, it changed my entire life and is continually changing my life. I’ve been “saved”, from lies, I’m being “saved” as we speak, and I will be “saved”

Proximity fixes everything, the truth that I was joined to him from my conception, never been separate, he’s with me in my darkness as well as on my mountains. And when my life contradicts my true self, it doesn’t take weeks of me condemning myself and grinding out to be a good person and get back into his nearness again, but that he’s always near, closer than anything else, and I’m reminded of who I am, that I am in Christ and Christ is in me. Restoration

And I’m reminded that love is the essence of my being, it’s my DNA, that I’ve been formed and fashioned for love, through love, to love and In the very image and likeness of Love himself…..by the very One who is nothing other than pure Love

He asked me and he received, he sought me and found me, and knocked until my door within opened. He put me on his shoulders as One, clothed me in righteousness, found the image that was lost, and we together are moving forward in this journey called life

Love has the final word

Proximity does fix everything, and we’ve always been woven together. The message is Union. There’s an incarnated human be-ing seated upon the “throne” in “heaven” announcing this perpetual union, as well as your dignity and glory and beauty, forever and fully immersed into the divine dance of the ages

This applies to every single one of you who reads this

Change the way that you think

He’s better than you’ve been taught

– Michael McElyea


Shared with Michael’s enthusiastic permission 🙂10

Except by Me

I’m sorry to say, but, in general, Fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity loves to be exclusive.

Black and white thinking: saved or unsaved; in or out; blessed or cursed.

We are the Chosen Ones; everyone else is wrong to some degree, and we are the only ones who have most of it right at least.

In the Old Testament (OT), so beloved of the more judgmental sectors of Christianity, there are – of course! – lists of people who are ‘excluded from the assembly’; in other words, they’re not allowed to ‘go into the presence of God’. The main list that springs to mind is the one in Deuteronomy 23:1ff[1], but there are others too.

Quite apart from those exclusion lists being part of the Old Covenant, of course, many modern Christians have not only revived the lists but have also enthusiastically gold-plated them by adding people from groups that they personally – or corporately – disapprove of. For instance, LGBTQ+ people, unmarried single parents, men who don’t wear ties 😉 , well, the list goes on and its contents vary depending on whom you ask. Maybe it’s best not to ask then? 😉 But it’s going to be that the main criteria for a given ‘exclusive’ Christian’s exclusion of certain people from the Kingdom of Heaven are: a) (in the wider sense) anyone who is not a ‘Christian’; b) (more narrowly) anyone who is not in their specific denomination; and c) (in the narrowest sense) anyone and everyone who does not believe the exact same things as he does. I suppose it gives them a sense of superiority or something.

But, to be fair, the reasons and the heart behind these actions and attitudes are not my target today; instead, I want to use an excellent piece, by Jacob M. Wright, to show why the main verse normally used to justify exclusiveness – John 14:6 – is actually a really inclusive passage of Scripture, not exclusive as it has of course been twisted to mean. Let’s take another look at it:

(John 14:6)

On the surface, when Jesus says “No-one comes to the father but (except) through Me”, it does look at first sight as if that’s what He’s saying, especially when we see the word ‘except’, which is of itself an exclusive kind of word. Jesus is the only way to the Father. And in a sense, I agree, but for other reasons which are not germane to this present piece. I too have written on this idea before in this blog (but I can’t remember all the places, but one such piece is here 😉 ) There is also Acts 4:12, which appears to say a similar thing, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name [Jesus] under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” But, look, I’m going to stop blathering and let you read Jacob’s piece; it’s a real eye-opener, and will give you a great perspective on this verse. I learned something new from Jacob when I read this.

Here we go:


“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6)

Today, I would like to discuss this statement. Typically this statement has been interpreted by many Christians as an exclusive statement, but I would like to show how it can and should be interpreted as an inclusive statement. Usually when you hear this verse, it is a Christian trying to use it to basically say that you must be a Christian by saying the sinners prayer or believing the correct things about Jesus in order to “go to heaven instead of hell.” This is just not what the verse says.

Rather, Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father but through me.” This is the same as saying, “Everyone who comes to the Father, comes through me.” It’s like saying, “No one is alive on earth but through breathing the air.” Yes, and everyone who is alive on earth is breathing air. In other words, everyone who has a relationship with the Creator, has it through the Spirit of Christ at work within them, whether they know it or not. Jesus was simply pointing to himself as the incarnation of this reality.

Christ was a universally ever-present reality before he assumed the body of Jesus of Nazareth, and still is now. As John tells us, he is the divine Logos through whom the universe was made, and his life is the light of all mankind (John 1:3-4), not just Christians. Furthermore, Paul tells us that in him we all live, move, and have our being, as well as that the whole universe exists and is sustained in and through Christ (Col. 1:17).

So, with this in mind, Jesus is simply saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. If anyone knows God, they know him through me and my Spirit at work within them.” Jesus was simply saying that he is the embodiment of the universal Christ that John and Paul later attested to. By this, Jesus was both saying he is the inclusive universal reality that everyone can and does access AND putting exclusive importance on his own life, teaching, and person that signifies and clarifies this reality.


– Jacob M. Wright, shared with his kind permission

I’d just add as a final point that there are many other verses that agree with Christian inclusivity (did I just invent a new phrase?? 😉 ). A good place to start would be in the list of Scriptures given by Mo Thomas in the recent post of his that I shared here.

And in any case, if there is no Hell, as I firmly believe, what other conclusion can there be but total inclusion? Even if not in this life, certainly in the Hereafter…but hey, why not start now?

Grace and peace to you 😀10

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Ah, surprise, surprise – good old Deuteronomy again! Don’t you just love it? 😉

Dip Your Brush in Reality

Over the years of writing this blog, I have often mentioned that there seem to be Christians who will try to squeeze every bit of Bad News out of the Good News that they can.

In reply to that sort of behaviour, here is another great piece by my friend Mo Thomas:

Dip Your Brush in Reality

“God was in Christ, reconciling the WHOLE WORLD to Himself, not counting men’s sins against them.”
– Either this is blasphemy or ultimate reality.

“In God WE live, move and have our being”
– Many say this only applies to some in a particular setting.

“There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father OF ALL, who is OVER ALL, IN ALL, and living THROUGH ALL.”
– There are reasons people find to limit God as Father of only a select few.

“Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for EVERYONE, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for EVERYONE.”
– Most would argue FOR the universality of Adam when he fell, but AGAINST the universality of Christ when Jesus succeeded.

Years ago, I would have quickly dismissed the startling implications of these and hundreds of other passages with rebuttals like:

1. You must first understand context
2. Many other verses frame a different message
3. All doesn’t mean all in these cases, only those who believe
4. It’s more important to focus on receiving Christ into your heart than on Christ receiving you into His

…and then, I would have proudly carpet bombed my own list of proof verses and used them to bolster my exclusive position.

Premise: the WAY we interpret scripture reveals our heart and exposes the lenses we use to see the world.

Response: Abba, show us how You see the world. By Your Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation, dip Your brush in Reality and paint beautiful portraits of God in our imagination, portraits that don’t require fear or manipulation for people to respond and receive Your Great Love.

– Mo Thomas


As an addendum, Mo also compiled this set of Scripture references:

I pull these out every once in awhile to remind us that it’s NOT a stretch to see this theme in scripture:

Genesis 12:3 — All peoples on earth will be blessed through Abraham.
Genesis 22:18 — All nations on earth will be blessed through Abraham’s offspring.

Psalms 22:27 — All the ends of the earth and all the families of the nations will acknowledge God.
Psalms 65:2 — All men will come to God.
Psalms 86:9 — All nations will worship and glorify God.
Psalms 103:8-9 — God is compassionate, will not always accuse and will not be angry forever.
Psalms 145:9-10 — The Lord has compassion on all His creation and all He has made will praise Him.
Psalms 145:13 — The Lord loves all His creation.
Psalms 145:14 — The Lord upholds all who fall.

Isaiah 25:6-8 — God will prepare a feast for all people, He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers up all nations. He will eliminate death, wipe away the tears from all faces and remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth.
Isaiah 45:22-23 — God has sworn an oath that every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will swear by Him.
Isaiah 49:6 — God’s salvation will be brought to the ends of the earth.
Isaiah 54:8 — Although God will hide His face in a surge of anger, He will also have compassion with everlasting kindness.
Isaiah 57:16-18 — God’s anger is not permanent. Although He punishes man, He will heal, guide and restore comfort to him.

Jeremiah 31:33-34 — All men will know God, from the greatest to the least.

Lamentations 3:31-33 — The Lord does not cast off forever. Although He brings grief, he will also be compassionate.
Ezekiel 18:23 — God does not take any pleasure in the death of the wicked. Rather, He is pleased when they repent.
Micah 7:18 — God does not stay angry forever.

Matthew 18:13 — Like the man who owns a hundred sheep and is not willing to lose even one, God is not willing that any one be lost.
Luke 2:10 — The birth of Jesus is good news for all the people.
Luke 3: 5, 6 — John the Baptist quotes Isaiah’s words that all mankind will see God’s salvation.

John 1:29 — Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
John 3:35 — God sent Jesus to save the world.
John 4:42 — God has committed all things to Christ.
John 5:25 — Even the dead will hear the sound of Christ and all who hear will live.
John 6:37 — Everything that God has given to Christ will come to him.

John 12:32 — When Jesus is lifted up from the earth, he will draw all men to himself.

John 12:47 — Jesus came to save the world.
John 17:2 — God granted Christ authority over all people so that Christ may give eternal life to all that God has given him.
Acts 3:20-21 — Jesus must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything.

Romans 3:3-4 — The unbelief of some will not nullify God’s faithfulness.
Romans 5:18 — The act of obedience of one man (Jesus) will bring life for all men.
Romans 8:19-21 — Creation itself will be liberated and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Romans 8:38-39 — Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ.
Romans 11:32 — God made all people imprisoned by disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

1 Corinthians 15:22-28 — All will be made alive in Christ, but each in his own turn and ultimately Christ will subdue all his enemies, eliminate death and God will be all in all.
2 Corinthians 5:15 — Christ died for all.
2 Corinthians 5:19 — Through Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself.

Ephesians 1:11 — God will bring all things under heaven and on earth under Christ.
Ephesians 4:10 — Christ ascended higher then all the heavens to fill the whole universe.

Philippians. 2:9-11 — Every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (In 1 Corinthians 12:3, Paul writes that no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit)

Colossians 1: 19-20 — God was pleased to reconcile to Himself, all things on earth and in heaven through the blood of Christ.

1 Timothy 2:4-6 — God wants all men to be saved and to know the truth. Can God’s desire be thwarted?

1 Timothy 4:10 — God is the Saviour of all men, especially (not exclusively) those who believe.

Titus 2:11-12 — God’s grace, which brings salvation has appeared to all men.
Hebrews 2:9 — Jesus tasted death for everyone.

1 John 2:2 — Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only ours but of the sins of the whole world.
1 John 3:8 — Christ appeared to destroy the devil’s works.
1 John 4:14 — Christ is the Saviour of the world.

Revelation 5:13 — Every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and on the sea will sing praises to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb (Christ).

Revelation 21:4-5 — God will dwell with men and he will wipe every tear from their eyes, death, mourning, crying, pain and the old order of things will pass and everything will be made new.”

10

A Box of Frozen Chickens

I think I’ve said this before, but some of my favourite blog posts have been inspired by interesting exchanges on social media, especially Facebook. Yes, despite my recent rants, there are still interesting posts on there, in addition to the usual bunch of grey Religious people doing their routine moaning. In particular, the humour one finds on the Internet is far and away my favourite aspect of the entire marvellous phenomenon (that phenomenon being the Internet). So, I wanted to share this particular exchange and the funny, bantering discussion that followed. It’s quite dry and tongue-in-cheek geeky banter, but if it makes you laugh, job done. If it doesn’t, fair enough and I am sure there’ll be something out there that you will find funny.

So, in this very memorable exchange from last week, there was a question about some damage that an airliner had suffered in a collision with a bird. Here’s the meme that prompted the discussion:

My two friends Bill and Philip commented, and it kinda went from there:

Bill: What kind of bird was it? Wanna make sure I dont hit it with my truck!

Philip: I think it’s a dead kinda bird now…
Don’t know, actually. But it musta been a decent size…A frozen chicken, possibly?

Bill: Box of frozen maybe?

Philip: It could have been, Bill…I’d like to know the aerodynamic possibilities of a box of frozen chickens at cruising altitude, though…Anthony, you may be able to enlighten us…

Bill: I would very much like to hear his analysis.

Philip: Bill, knowing Anthony, he will give us a comprehensive and detailed synopsis.

Me: Very well, gentlemen. I’ll see what I can do.

The aerodynamic properties of a box of frozen chickens at 38,000ft would be very easily defined. Of the four forces of flight: Lift, Drag, Thrust and Weight, only weight and drag would be in operation due to the absence of any lift generating devices (such as wings) and the lack of an engine (producing thrust). Weight would accelerate the box downwards until the deceleration caused by the drag forces, operating in direct opposition to the acceleration caused by the weight, cancelled out the downward acceleration. At this point, the box would attain a stable downwards velocity which is known as ‘terminal velocity’, which brings it back to something that most of us have heard of, even if only because it is the title of various eponymous movies. The box would maintain that velocity – which would of course vary with air density and temperature – right until it made what is technically known as a big splat.

The fact that they were chickens in the box would have no bearing on the matter because a) chickens are virtually flightless; b) the chickens are frozen (and therefore dead) and c) they are in a box. Fortunately for the chickens, the fact that they are already dead means that the outcome of the analysis, for them at least, is irrelevant.

In short, the aerodynamic properties can therefore be summed up as being very similar to those of a safe, or even a piano. It would not be correct to assert that the aerodynamic properties are similar to an anvil, however, because that would be more streamlined, at least at the pointy end. But even an anvil would still have its own terminal velocity.

I trust this answers your questions.

Philip: It answers them perfectly! I thank you.
The only question that remains, is; how did the box of frozen chickens, travelling perfectly naturally at their terminal velocity, collide with the front of the airliner? I propose that there’s something quite fishy, here…Or, chickeny…

Me: No, it’s actually quite a simple explanation. Because air accident investigators always blame the aircrew, it follows that in fact it was the airliner that collided with the box, not the other way round.

Philip: Of course! That clears things up. It’s the aircrew’s fault. Lol…

 

And at this point, we left it. I so love Internet humour, and the banter of intelligent people 🙂

 

Peace and Grace to you 😀

10

Buffet Lunch

Another collection of tasty treats:

“Your picture is on God’s fridge”
– Susan Cottrell

“When we say that Christ “paid the debt, once and for all”, it simply means that God’s job is to make up for all deficiencies in the universe.

“What else would God do?

“Basically, grace is Gods first name, and probably last too. Grace is what God does to keep all things he has made in love and alive- forever

“Grace is not something God gives; grace is who God is”
– Richard Rohr

[After explaining a medical question, in a simple way, to a friend] “This is science, but it’s not rocket science. I don’t do that 😀 ”
– Me

[Speaking of someone making racist, bigoted comments] “So, on that front the man also deserves an epic fail as a human being”.
– ‘Shane’

“Your life is not there to fulfil someone else’s wish list” – Me

“If one person is offended by your post that’s all it takes – to end the freedom of speech we all enjoy. To deny someone the right to show a swastika is to endorse everything the swastika stood for”.
– Matt

“If your picture of God is starting to feel too good to be true, you’re starting to move in the right direction.”
– Greg Boyd

“…it also makes me wonder just how real some people’s faith really is. Maybe there are those who do not actually know the Shepherd’s Voice, for whatever reason, and they are afraid of those who do know that Voice. You see, God is unpredictable, which is a) why they like Him to be shut in a book, and b) why they try to make Him conform to their expectations. Either way, they’re on a losing wicket 😉 ”
– Me

“You cannot offend anyone. People can be offended by what you say. It’s their interpretation, and not your problem”.
– Jan

…and related: ” The difficulty with offence is that it is taken, not given. People choose what they find offensive. That should not be prescribed for them.”
– Gerry

“I think it might be an idea if you re-read what you just wrote, but with your sensible lenses on. And then re-write it using your sensible pen”. – Me

“Loyalty is interesting. It’s actually an emotion. It’s not the same as trust. Trust is calculated and is developed through our powers of reason. We can cultivate trust if, a person is trustworthy. But loyalty is a natural reaction.

“The only people that ask/demand loyalty from you are abusive mates, high-control cults, and manipulative salespeople”.
– Daniel

“Make no mistake – the desire to please God through following rules almost always turns into trying to please men, because in actual fact it’s their rules you end up trying to keep, not God’s”.
– Me

“A God who cannot handle your questions cannot be your answer”.
– Jeff Turner

“I do think that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear”
– David Hayward

“When it becomes clear that your beliefs are keeping you from being better, allow yourself the freedom to become better than your beliefs”.
– Jeff Turner

“If you were going to give the Bible an enema, Numbers is where the tube would go. Or maybe Deuteronomy”. – Me00

Cosmic Shame

One of my online friends, Louise, coined a superb phrase the other day – ‘Cosmic shame’. I simply had to share the concept in order to let her refutation of the idea out there into the wild, as it were 🙂

Over to Louise:


I think essentially every human being wants to be loved and respected just as they are.

I’ve just been chatting to some friends this morning, funnily enough about the nature of shame. I think shame is a whole whirlwind of emotions that comes out of a sense of rejection. That rejection can be what we sense in a group, or at work, in family and actually when it comes to hell as well. Hell is a cosmic rejection from heaven – which leads to trying to handle a cosmic shame within our own body. That is why I think the hell doctrine is so damaging. We find it hard enough to handle every day shame that comes along – let alone cosmic shame.

One thing I’m finding to be more and more true is that – I am the resource. If I want other people to love respect me just as I am, I need to love and respect me just as I am.

The act of rejection and shame we consequently experience is a feeling that we don’t have the right to even exist! It’s the deepest, most destructive, most unsettling, most primal fear and sickness there is.

People experience rejection from the tribe, rejection from family, rejection from friendship groups, rejection from the earth, rejection from God and the universe. It is that silly idea that there is a qualification needed to even be here. Shame essentially asks the questions:

Are you good enough to be here?

Are you good enough to belong here?

Do you deserve to live?

Do you deserve to be here?

Do you belong to this planet?

It’s the most unsettling feeling in the world. It destabilises the root of who you are. It’s questions your personhood. Heaven and hell are so disturbing because essentially church says to people that they are rejected from heaven – they say “You don’t get to be here, you are not good enough”. It’s the biggest, most enormous cosmic rejection that someone can experience. Terrible.

But it’s ironic. Because that rejection is an illusion. We have come out of the earth-we belong here! We are from here. Planet earth is our home. God is father to us all. And we all will be in paradise one day. And we all are one anyway.

But that illusion is painful. And we can’t wait for everyone to understand that. We have to stop waiting for others to act out of the truth – and act out our own truth, and own that truth.

I am worthy.

I belong here.

I am beloved.

– Louise, shared here with her kind permission


Wow. I don’t think I need to comment further 🙂 Thanks, Louise!10

What Love Is Not

I’ve often said that if what a Christian labels as ‘Love’ does not match in every respect the Love described by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, then it is not Love. It’s certainly not God’s Love, at any rate.

It might be a cheap imitation, or it may even be a better kind of human love that more closely approaches that ideal, but it’s not God’s Love. Interesting therefore that it could be thought of that there are different ‘grades’ of love…

But what Love is not, is torturing billions of people for ever in a fiery furnace that Christians call ‘Hell’. “God is Love, but…” is a contradiction in terms. There’s no ‘but’ in God’s Love; there is indeed no ‘balance’ in God, and the idea that there needs to be is a man-made idea. God’s ‘Love’ is not ‘balanced’ by God’s ‘Justice’. Again, this is another man-made idea.

Putting this practically, take a look at this little meme. It goes a little bit further than I would (in that I still call myself Christian), but it says it really well:

Remember also the sickening Infernalist ideas about the Resurrection Body. Unless the Resurrection Body exists, how is God going to torture people forever in Hell? These people believe that everyone is resurrected into one of these amazing, glorious bodies, just like that of the Risen Christ, only for it to be used as an everlasting vessel in which they will endure endless agony.

You’d have to be a real sicko to believe that that’s what’s going to happen. Or, so deeply indoctrinated in the Infernalist viewpoint that it doesn’t appear that there’s anything amiss with the idea…

I realise that Dan Barker is an atheist. But sometimes it takes someone outside one’s familiar belief structure to cast a clear and clean light on just how foolish some of our beliefs are, and so I make no apology for including his ideas here.

Nope. Love is not torturing people forever; not in any way can this be a valid description of Love. No way.

Go figure.

Grace and Peace to you! 😀

 

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Tapping the Christ Within

Here’s a great piece by Jeff Turner:


The God of Christianity does not actively send calamities our way, nor does he cause the world to batter us that he might better us. It is also the case, however, that God does not go out of his way to overprotect, not to “helicopter parent” us in order to ensure that we are never touched by difficulties or trying circumstances. The one who claims that God does such things is simply living in a fantasyland, and has no real contact with the world inhabited both by God and “men.”

So, why does God not magically shield us from the activities of the sometimes chaotic cosmos? I’ve thought about this for a very long time, and I’ve come to believe it is because he trusts his image in us. We are universes within a universe, and house within us that which the “heavens” which contain us cannot contain. We do not live as this is so, however, and tend to go about life gazing at our navels, and bemoaning our inability to change this circumstance or that. It is the chaos of the cosmos, however, that put a demand on Christ within us, and causes that which can bring about order to stand at attention in our souls.

Were God to never allow life to happen to us, we very well may never learn to trust in the reality of Christ in us, our only hope of glorification. We would remain in an infantile state, always trembling and looking for God to enter our situation from the outside in order to alter it. When life is allowed to be what it is, however, there is a blessed pressure put upon the limitless-ness of God in his people, and we find resurrection life coming from the inside out.

That said, if you’ve ever had the sneaking suspicion that God has sent terrible things your way, you can set that aside, knowing it is not the case. Life is allowed to run its course, but the good Father we have will not waste a single “happening,” but will redeem it, making it work in our favor by causing it to tap the endless ocean of Christ that we contain. You are being parented skilfully by a Father who trusts his image in you to come forth.

– Jeff Turner, used with his kind permission

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