Category Archives: Others’ stuff

No Going Back

Here’s a great thought from my friend Phil Drysdale:There is nothing wrong with engaging with spirituality at that level. For many that is all they need and want.

But know that for those of us that have moved forward we are unlikely to start moving backwards again. That’s not the trajectory of our path. Your plea for us to return to your absolutes is not likely to do much more than cause you more frustration and pain. And I can say with all honesty that is the last thing we want for you.

If certainty is what you seek, enjoy your certainty. There are even many out there seeking certainty and they may be all ears to your answers. But we are not those people.

– Phil Drysdale, used with his kind permission


Universal Freedom

I have titled this piece as I have because I see a common theme of freedom all around the world: ordinary believers from all faiths, denominations and cultures are realising that God is simply available to all who call on Him, and He releases them into the freedom to serve Him as He calls them, and not according to the whims, doctrines and dogmas of other humans.

I wrote, in an article I published a few weeks ago, about how I am ministering in a group for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses. On the back of that article, then, I present here an extract from the book Crisis of Conscience, by Raymond Franz, a man who for sixty years was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and who for the final nine years of that time was one of the Governing Body (the ‘GB’), the supreme council of that religion.

In his book, Ray Franz describes in detail much of the way in which the GB works, and he also describes the ‘witch-hunt’ and inquisition that led to his dismissal from the GB, and eventually his ‘disfellowshipping’ from the Jehovah’s Witnesses entirely. I mention this in order to give context, because what Mr. Franz speaks of here describes perfectly the freedom one feels when one emerges from under the domination of man-made religion and the need to please men in accordance with their doctrines. In my previous article, I  talked about people I had met in the ex-Jehovah’s Witness community who are now living free in the Spirit. I would say that in fact complete freedom in the Spirit is not really possible until one has shaken off that need to please men; this shedding of the need to follow the ‘doctrines of men’ (Mt 15:9) is what my friends in that group have progressed to, and this is what this extract speaks of.  Note also the parallels with dealing with Religious antagonists of any persuasion – especially the ‘judging adversely one’s standing with God’. Heaven’s gatekeepers at work again!

Over to Ray Franz:

The mind which renounces, once and forever, a futile hope, has its compensation in ever growing calm. I have found that saying true in my own case. I know that it has proved true in the case of many others.

Whatever the initial distress— a distress that sometimes follows the demeaning experience of being interrogated by men who, in effect, strip one of human dignity, make the weight of their authority felt, and presume to judge adversely one’s standing with God— however torn one may feel inside, afterward there does come a distinct feeling of relief, of peace.

It is not just knowing that one is finally outside the reach of such men, no longer subject to their ecclesiastical scrutiny and pressure. Truth, and the refusal to compromise truth, brings freedom in other fine and wonderful ways. The more responsibly one makes use of that freedom, the finer the benefits. The greatest freedom enjoyed is that of being able to serve God and his Son— as well as serve for the good of all persons— untrammelled by the dictates of imperfect men. There is freedom to serve according to the dictates of one’s own conscience, according to the motivation of one’s own heart. The sense of having a great burden lifted off, the lightening of a heavy load, comes with that freedom.

If genuinely appreciated, this gives one the desire to do, not less, but more in service to the Ones giving that freedom.

– Franz, Raymond. Crisis of Conscience: The story of the struggle between loyalty to God and loyalty to one’s religion. (pp. 453-454). NuLife Press. Kindle Edition.

I think that’s absolutely brilliant and, like I said, people from all faith walks are finding this freedom today all over the world. It makes no difference whether they are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Evangelicals, whatever; God is doing this.

What’s even more remarkable is that Ray Franz had this epiphany some decades ago. God was moving in the ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses even back then.


Ponder and digest, for there is great freedom in this.

Grace and Peace 🙂


“Deep Calls Out To Deep”

I read a comment recently by one of my online friends, Ken Nichols, whose insight I have shared before on my blog (just one example is here). This passage expresses my own walk so closely, although of course there are differences. But it’s interested to see how the Spirit has brought us both to a similar place, completely independently, because She is the One Who orchestrates all that kind of thing so perfectly.

Ken is a writer who can clearly express his thoughts and communicate them effectively. I wish I could express myself like this! In this piece, Ken explains how the foundation of his faith moved successfully from dependence on the Bible to dependence on Jesus. In a way, this piece follows on from my own essay that I published last time, giving a real-life example of how the emphasis changes as we mature in the faith.

Over to Ken:

The following is a comment I wrote in a conversation I am having in a religious FB group. The person I am addressing has actually been very kind and open (though not necessarily receptive) to hearing my “heretical” ideas. We’ve been discussing now for going on a week. Here I present the basic “reason” why I now believe as I do. I think it’s a good summary and so I decided to post it here. If you have or are experiencing a similar path, I hope this helps you to know you are not alone.

“The fundamental problem that keeps us at odds is how we determine what truth is. You prefer a very concrete OBJECTIVE view of truth that you can point to as an authority, which gives you a feeling a stability (certainty?), at least on the basic tenets of your faith.

I used to seek for truth in that fashion myself. I’ve combed through scripture verse by verse for MANY years. That’s how I was taught to do it. It would take my pastor MONTHS just to get through ONE book of the Bible. Detailed exposition and hermeneutics were what I cut my teeth on as a young man. I considered myself an amateur apologist, and would defend the Bible at every turn. At one point when “bulletin boards” were the primary online communications tool, I took up the challenge of an atheist who put out a list of 100 biblical contradictions and inaccuracies. I answered EVERY SINGLE ONE. I know all the things we do to “prove” the Bible is a unified whole, written by one author, scientifically sound, etc., etc, etc. I was God’s warrior on the front lines. After I got a family I didn’t do quite so much of that, but the Bible was still certainly MY source of truth, and I considered that very few people, including some other pastors I sat under, knew as much as I did about it.

But, and I won’t go into detail here, eventually that whole system stopped working for me. I came to a point in my life about ten years ago when I honestly asked God “Is this all there is?” (in regards to being a Christian). That’s when things began to shift.

Now I no longer hold to the idea of objective, provable truth as the most important, or even necessary thing, when it comes to my faith. Our “objective” truth seeking is really a search for CERTAINTY, which I have learned is actually the ANTITHESIS of true faith. Faith doesn’t KNOW, it HOPES.. Faith doesn’t PROVE, it TRUSTS. I now follow what everyone else REALLY follows, but most don’t admit it: subjective truth.

So, I can never PROVE to you that what I believe is “authoritatively” correct. It isn’t. And I can’t even tell you, honestly, that you SHOULD believe as I do. I think what I have found has freed me in ways I haven’t even learned to express and brought me to a place of love and peace in my life that I had not previously known, but that’s all MY experience. I can’t tell you what YOUR journey is going to be, or even SHOULD be. I can only share what I have found. That’s why I expressed shock that some of the “conclusions” I have come to are the same as some learned theologians whom I had never read (well, maybe a quote here and there). Does that prove I’m right? No. But it does show me I’m not the only one who has walked this path.

So, I don’t believe that God is love MERELY because it’s written in a book, but because I have EXPERIENCED God’s love for me. The Bible is a nice CONFIRMATION of what I have experienced, but it does not provide the PROOF of it. There IS no proof.

I know, I know, deceptive spirits and the fluidity of emotions and blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum. In the west we have been taught to put aside our feelings and gut instincts and only seek OBJECTIVE (i.e. BOOK) truth. But, guess what? Jesus was a mystic prophet, and He didn’t live by the scriptures, but by the Spirit’s leading. He invites us to live AS He lived, not just read about it and believe it. But to LIVE it out. You can see how in His life, Jesus had moments of doubt about whether He could really go through with what He knew was coming. He was following the Spirit in TRUST (putting His life — even that He knew would end —in His Father’s hands), knowing that whatever would happen would ultimately be for the good, because the Father is good.

I’m doing the same.

You warned me that I should be careful as these things inform my “eternal destiny”. Ultimately, that is an argument based in fear. Fear of “getting it wrong” is a strong deterrent from ever straying from the pre-programmed path that our religion (Christianity) expects us to take. “Be careful. You don’t want to end up in the bad place.” is, in the end, the ultimate roadblock for anyone seeking for MORE SPIRIT in their spiritual lives. It keeps us “safely” within the bonds of certainty while denying us the ability to actually GROW spiritually (“At least I know I’m going to heaven, even if I feel like crap about my faith here on earth.”).

I’m no longer concerned with my “eternal destiny” because I believe that God isn’t leaving that ultimately up to us. That He’s not expecting US to “figure it out” when it comes to how to move safely into the next phase of existence. In other words, I believe that “God’s got this”. There’s PLENTY of evidence of such to be found in scripture. But, ultimately, it’s since taking this on board (a period of deconstruction that took several years), that I have such peace now. I’m no longer afraid of being wrong. And I couldn’t go back to worrying about that now even if i wanted to (and who would?). I’m NOT my own “savior” (decider of my destiny). I’ve found what I REALLY needed to know was that I didn’t NEED to “do something” to be right with God. That He’s just waiting for us to “come to our senses” like the prodigal and come to Him and take a chance on His mercy, only to discover that “everything I have is yours”. Always has been. And that continues on into whatever comes next.

So, bottom line, my faith (no, trust, I prefer that word) in a good God that I have EXPERIENCED, is my “standard” for truth. I find SO much confirmation of this truth in scripture (in many verses I thought I knew EXACTLY what they meant — having been taught and teaching them myself for many years). It’s like reading a brand new book now. I have become, as Jesus was, a mystic who’s faith was INTERNAL, not external to Him.

We here in the West are honestly afraid of that way of living. But I can only tell you that it is the most freeing and wonderful way of “being” that I have experienced in my time here on earth. I pray that someday the Spirit takes you on a similar journey, and not so your “eternal destiny” is secure, but because I want you to live the best life ever (as I believe I am). But your journey is your own. Nobody could have “convinced” me to take what I believe now on board. It had to come “ORGANICALLY”. At the beginning I even FOUGHT against it with all my apologetic Bible knowledge at hand. But eventually I had to give in to the Spirit because deep in my heart I “woke up” to how right this felt. “Deep calls out to deep” is not just a pretty verse. It’s true. When you know it, you know it, and nobody can change that. But as I said, it was more like it happened TO me then that I did anything.

The only thing I did was to ask God if there was more and in that asking, admit maybe I didn’t know all that I thought I did. I became open to being taught again, and not just about the minutiae of the faith, but the “big picture”. I became “uncertain” and I am so glad I did, because it has completely transformed my life.”

– Ken Nichols, shared here with his kind permission



‘What the Bible Says’

One of my online friends posted the other day this interesting little nugget:

“The Bible says.”

So what? What does Jesus say?

I can find Bible verses to support slavery and genocide. If someone comes at me with “The Bible says”, I say, who cares what the Bible says?

What does Jesus say?

And I have to say I fully agree with him.

So many times nowadays, I actually feel like saying to people, like, look mate, I actually don’t care ‘what the Bible says’, because a) what Jesus says is more important, b) it’s not a Rulebook anyway, and c) who’s to say what the Bible really ‘says’? 40,000+ denominations tells me that no-one really knows exactly ‘what the Bible says’ anyway!

It also got me thinking along other lines too.

You see, I’m also noticing that, in our efforts to show Fundamentalists that actually our ideas are ‘Biblical’ (in that, like most things, you can find justification for them in the Bible), we are finding that the Bible is once again becoming the set of Rules by which we who have discovered Grace are trying to make our points to the legalists. And that has to be counterproductive. Even the Rulebook itself says that if it is law, then it is no longer Grace (Rom 11:6). To coin an analogy from Sun-Tzu, we are therefore picking the wrong terrain for our battles, and falling back into the trap of fighting on the ground of their choice.

You see, it is nowadays apparent that no longer do people sit and talk about Jesus; we sit and talk about the Bible instead. It’s as if the Bible is what we now have in common, rather than being one in Christ. The focus is the Bible. And so the focus is all wrong.

I mean, really, when a believer is firmly established in his faith, in a lot of ways the Bible can actually take more of a back seat, although this will of course vary from person to person. The Bible is no longer our primary source of ‘things from God’ or ‘knowledge of God’; instead, that Source is Jesus.  In fact, it should ideally have been Him all along. This is why it is important to cultivate, in the new believer as well as the old, a total reliance on Jesus rather than shifting the focus to the Bible.

And so it’s time I stopped pretending that I hold the Bible in the same esteem that others do. When beginning a conversation with other believers, there’s almost this ‘dance’ where everyone agrees to agree that the Bible is where it’s all at, and they (tacitly or overtly) agree to have their discussions using that as an axiom. Well, I’m not going to do that any more.

Sure, I still love reading my Bible, at least when I can tune out the grey, dusty voices of the Legalists, who have tainted the Scriptures with their deadly interpretations. (There’s that point again: interpretation!) But, for me, the Bible is no longer the primary source of my knowledge of God. In fact, it’s even broader than that. In this stage of my faith walk, I am finding that I no longer need/depend on others’ ideas, nor affirmation of my own ideas, by listening to more teaching. Sure, I find interesting ideas which I feel free to hold or to discard as I see fit. Sometimes I post things by other people because they express what I wanted to say so much better than I could have done. But I am finding that more and more I am hearing, and listening to, the Voice of the Master, and learning so much directly from Him. This sort of thing gives the Legalists apoplexy, because they can’t stand it that some of us have a Relationship with Jesus outside of the Bible. ‘Dangerous’, they call it. A ‘slippery slope‘.  Well if they want to stay in their ruts, that’s fine with me. But out here in the deep ocean, where there is no bottom and I rely entirely on God to keep me afloat, out here is where the real faith is. They sing about it in their song ‘Oceans‘, and I still find that song profound because it reflects my own experience. But in reality, and ironically, those who should be boldest – those who claim to have a solidity of faith undergirded by the Bible and their claim of a relationship with Jesus – they are the ones who are the most afraid to venture out ‘where no-one has gone before’, into the deep waters of bottomless faith.

Keith Giles puts it like this:

“Do you know anyone that constantly claims, “That’s not Biblical” to everything they don’t agree with?

“Yeah, just ignore them.

“Some say we cannot trust the Holy Spirit to guide us, and that’s why we need a Book. But I have never gone to the Book when I have needed wisdom or guidance. I have always gone to my knees, and listened.

“The idea that we can trust a Book more than the Holy Spirit is actually an idea that is refuted by the same Book.

“Can we get it wrong if we follow the Spirit? Of course. And you don’t have to look very hard to see a few thousand years of people getting it wrong by following the Book, either.

“Our capacity to “get it wrong” is unlimited. But, I would argue, we have a much better chance of getting it right if we learn to discern the voice of the indwelling Holy Spirit which leads us into all Truth and provides wisdom and insight directly from God’s heart to our own.

” ‘If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of the Lord who gives generously to all.’ – James 1:5 [Notice it doesn’t say, ‘Let him search in the Book…’]

“What God did a few thousand years ago is comforting, but I am concerned that many of us may be missing what new and exciting thing God may want to do in our life TODAY if we keep holding on to those stories of what God did back then.

“Don’t fear to trust the Holy Spirit and to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd.”

– Keith Giles

Brilliant. I couldn’t have put it better.

Someone asked the other day what part the Bible played in my life nowadays. Here’s my reply:

“It used to play a big part. But now I have moved on to solid food. I have stopped trying to ‘prove’ things from the Scripture for others; I have stopped trying to convince grey people that the Bible is multi-interpretable, and I have stopped trying to show arguments from a Scriptural point of view for the benefit of those who still treat it as a Rulebook.

“I have had it with people using a 4,000yr old (in places) book to make Jesus irrelevant in today’s world, because they have to stick to the Rules laid down essentially by Moses the Prat. I no longer hold to their viewpoints, so there is no point in pretending that I still do, even to show them things from their own Rulebook.

“I now listen only to the One Whom I trust above all others, and occasionally I will pick up ideas or prompts from people who also hear His voice. Here is the problem that is the root of all Fundie Christian problems: that God is no longer trusted enough to be allowed to speak to His people. The idea that God will never contradict Scripture is not only contradicted in Scripture itself, but it is also a non-Scriptural idea held up, incorrectly, as a ‘Biblical ‘principle’.

“I am sick of judgemental people who place their own judgements above those of God. So, there we are. Bible firmly in its place”.

Of course, the problem with ‘demoting’ the Bible in ‘discussions’ with grey people is that what I say is always going to be reduced in value because I apparently don’t hold the Bible in the same esteem as they do. But since there has already been a sort-of breakdown in communication in that we are interpreting the same Bible in different ways, then that very difference of opinion reduces my credibility in their eyes anyway. Which isn’t really my problem, of course, and each of us has to follow the Spirit both in our lives and in hearing what God is saying to us, either through the Bible or through other channels.

But I do hold the Bible in high esteem, of course, and when I speak of ‘putting it in its place’ I mean that it should be restored to its rightful place. In other words, it is a book – a very special book, but a book nonetheless – which is full of insight, wisdom, amazing stories, and also some not-so-good stuff too. Its primary function is to point us to Jesus. Sure, that’s not its only function, but it’s the Bible’s primary function (Jn 5:39). If we fail to let the Bible point us to Jesus, then it has failed in its primary task. No, the ‘rightful’ place of the Bible is to be very firmly removed from the throne of people’s lives – where many believers have placed it – and to allow Jesus back onto that throne. The Trinity is ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’; these days it seems that many modern believers have replaced this with ‘Father, Son and Holy Bible’. In other words, the problem is with the people, not the Bible; they are using it incorrectly and elevating it to a position it was never intended to occupy.

And as an addendum to this, I would say that my ‘relationship’ with the Bible has come full circle. I began reading the Bible when I was about seven years old. Didn’t get very far. My secondary school was a Public School which was set up in 1812 for the education of the sons of Methodist ministers, so I was educated in a Christian background and Scripture was a part of daily study.

At the age of 18, on July 12th, 1980, I began my actual walk with Jesus, responding to an ‘altar call’ at a tent crusade (actually God propelled me to the front!), and it was just what I needed. My life changed from that point onwards and I was increasingly conscious of Jesus at my side, and saw His influence in my life on a daily basis. Over the following years, I got to know the Bible inside-out, walked with Jesus, and also with others; although the emphasis was on both Bible and Jesus, gradually, as with all these things, the Real Thing is supplanted by the written accounts of it. That said, though, I did not lose sight of my first Love, Jesus Himself. I had had such an experience of God, as a young Christian, that no amount of Pharisaical layering of rules and other baggage on top of that Relationship could ever snuff it out entirely. And so when I entered my ‘dark night of the soul‘ in 1999, its main function was to allow me to rid myself of all the baggage and to walk free.

Once that process was complete to Father’s satisfaction, the subsequent encounter I had with God was new, powerful, real and unexpected*, but still rooted in my already existing Relationship with Him. It was just like I’d never been away. And one of the fruits of that long period of change was that I no longer relied as much on the Bible. One of the things that God had pruned away, so to speak, in that time, was the emphasis on Scripture and He replaced it with a far more emphatic emphasis on Jesus and my Relationship with Him.

Interestingly, my knowledge and memory of Bible verses was still intact. I can still recite whole sections of Scripture should I need to do so. But the Bible very much takes a back seat as I simply walk freely in the Spirit.

There are some people I know who never read the Bible, but are in a strong Relationship with Jesus. For them, the Bible just turns them off, and detracts from the Person of Jesus.

Fundies might say, well, how can you know Jesus apart from the Bible?

Well that’s a very silly question when you think about it. Most of what I know about, say, my friend in my aircraft owners’ group, I know because I have sat and talked with him, flown with him, talked to his wife, and all that. He’s my friend. He has never had a book written about him (although his dad has an autobiography, but that’s a different story!). It’s the same with Jesus. Jesus exists outside of the Bible; yes we can learn more about Him from the Bible, and read of others’ experiences with Him from the Bible, but you can only really get to know Him by actually meeting Him and spending time with Him.

What Fundagelicalism has purveyed for many decades now is a cheap bait-and-switch imitation. Come to Jesus! And here’s how: read the Book! Bait = Jesus. Switch = Book. It’s funny too but Jesus actually turns this around and helps people to get to know Him despite the best efforts of the Fundies who, really, don’t trust the Spirit at all, and want to do all His speaking for Him, usually by quoting Bible verses.

In other words, the emphasis has shifted from the real to the hypothetical, and from the Living to the written. “And … you refuse to come to Me to have Life” (Jn 5:39).

It’s sad that those of us rediscovering the primacy of Jesus are labelled as heretics, by the very ones whose concept of Jesus is based mainly in book knowledge, and experiential knowledge is counted as being from ‘deceiving spirits’. And conversations with such of these Grey People always degenerate into, again, that ridiculous dance around the authority of the Bible and its extent in determining how well we can know God. It’s posturing, and it’s pathetic. Tell me: Who is best placed to talk about what they know of Jesus: those who read about Him or those who actually know Him personally, not just from a book? Is the former not much more than a case of the ‘blind leading the blind’?

This emphasis on the Bible is exemplified in conversations with Evangelicals, where most of the time there is a tacit assumption that the authority/inerrancy/infallibility/etc. of the Bible is unquestioned and already accepted. But the assumption that those who are at a different place in their walk will accept that premise is not going to produce a good conversation, and it will always degenerate again into discussions about the Bible. You see the problem? Any time we want to talk about God, or Jesus, or the Spirit, we end up talking about what ‘the Bible says’ about Them rather than what is our personal experience of Them. This of, course, may be because those arguing with people who have a real Relationship with Jesus don’t have one themselves, and so they really don’t know the One about Whom they are talking. But that’s never my judgment call to make.

And so, this dependence on the Bible means that God isn’t allowed to speak to His people, in any way He wants to, any more. He’s only allowed to use the Bible and what it says in there.

Well, try telling Him that! He’s bypassing all that by just doing what He wants all over the world, irrespective of what people’s Bibles tell them He should be doing.

All around the world, people are finding new freedom in Christ; in Christ, not the Bible. In fact, modern ‘understanding’ of the Bible has been thoroughly polluted by nasty and erroneous doctrines and ideas from Evangelicalism, which have been espoused for so long that they are now accepted as ‘normal’. I mention a few of these doctrines in this post. As I hinted above, I now find it hard to read the Bible profitably because of all the years and layers of dusty, dry legalism and bad exegesis (interpretation of Scripture) caused by many long years under the thrall of those doctrines. Like it would be for a former member of a cult, the old interpretations and taught meanings – based on ideas of humans (Mt 15:9; Mk 7:7) – are what come to the fore as I read certain passages, and as such these verses have been poisoned for me. I feel quite badly done by about that, actually, like I have been robbed of all the fruit and glory of those passages. I am, however, fortunate in listening to teachers like Don Keathley and Francois du Toit, whose love of the Scriptures is not only infectious but also their teaching is wholesome, and you can tell.

But I want to finish this essay on a positive note. My aim is always the encouragement of my readers!

I must say I do get the impression that, for those who have the hearts to receive it, the Grace message of Jesus is the thing they have been looking for all their lives. Some of us were sidetracked into rule-keeping. Some of us were snatched away as soon as we heard the message and met Jesus for the first time. And to be fair, some of us in fact needed to enter through the path of legalism, because only by seeing its hopelessness could we even begin to look for something more.

But once our eyes were opened to Grace, oh! the wonder! Oh, the freedom! For some of us, detoxification was needed. For others, straight in to Grace with no messing about. But however we got here, God has His hand on us, and He will never let us go! So, while the Bible, when interpreted by the Spirit of Truth, is useful, remember it is not God; it never has been and it never will be. No matter what your reverence for it, and I am sure that reverence is not misplaced, make sure that the Spirit – Whom God has poured into our hearts – is always the One Who has the last word. Then you will be hearing directly from God Himself.

Grace and Peace to you.

*Facebook post from February, 2014: “What a morning. First time voluntarily in a church for fifteen years, and getting thoroughly zapped by God: weeping, laughing, complete acceptance, forgiveness. Wow, wow, wow! Going again tonight hehe 😉 “


Another Buffet

Here is another collection of bite-sized wisdom quotes. I apologise that about half of them are by some dodgy-sounding character called ‘Me’; he appears to have been on a bit of a roll this last couple of weeks 😉

“The cross doesn’t mean you can be forgiven. The cross means you are forgiven. That was always the Father’s heart toward you from the beginning of time. God is not mad at you. God does not count your sins against you. So be reconciled. That’s the Gospel”.
– Jacob M. Wright

“I’m sure if God had wanted you to know about that [usually an enquiry about ‘sexual sin’ on someone’s part], He’d have already told you about it. And how presumptuous to believe that, although God has known all along, all of a sudden because *we* know, we have to do something about it on God’s ‘behalf’. That’s pathetic”.
– Me

“You don’t need a book for a relationship but it’s painfully obvious you need one for a religion”
– Barry Smith

“Religion’s problem is that it doesn’t trust God to be reliable enough to speak to people Himself”
– Me

“Radical grace lets you live life like everything is rigged in your favor. It’s that good”.
– Don Keathley

“And you make a positive difference just by being you. The contribution you make is not entirely your responsibility; it’s God working through you too. Just relax and live; don’t worry that what you do with your life won’t be enough”.
– Me

“That’s what happens when you know the book but not the author…”
– John Plummer

“You need to get rebellious against the fear that bullies you”
– Catherine Toon

“Religion is the ultimate in gold-plating”
– Me

“Sometimes, in the absence of [clear teaching], you have to spell it out for the hard of thinking.”

“I’ve always have said, life is tough enough, why on earth would we need a supreme being to make it harder for us? Is he not father? I would never do [something horrible] to my child, why would God?”
– Simon Wilson

” ‘Ah, but you only get unconditional love if you…. [insert religious requirement of choice]’. Looks as if someone’s tried to redefine ‘unconditional’, and others haven’t noticed it happening”
– Me

“To say you have no choice is a failure of imagination”
– Adm. Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek – Picard 

“2,000ft up in the air is not a naturally tenable position for the best part of a ton of metal, wood, fuel and flesh, except under certain well-defined conditions. In general terms, the Pilot’s job is to make sure that those conditions apply for the whole flight 😉 ”
– Me

“There is a big difference between turning your back on God, and turning your back on religion. Turning your back on God is like a fish being in the ocean and trying to turn his back on water. Turning your back on manmade religion is like a fish on dry land flopping back into the water”.
– Wendy Francisco


Hors d’Ouvres

More bite-sized wisdom quotes for your delectation…

Real love accepts people as they are, with room for who they may become
– Susan Cottrell

God is love. Don’t consume anything that argues against this
– Barry Smith

The only reason infernalists no longer have to work hard to prove Hell from the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats is that most Fundies already agree with the faulty interpretation that the parable speaks of Hell.
– Me

Live life in such a way that people in every religion thinks you’re going to their version of hell.
– Ron Doerksen

It seems like the legalistic people, the ultra conservatives, the people who believe in the wrapped and labeled boxes of religion, it seems like they believe God wrote everything down that was important, and then died. Well, I think God is a living spirit. All knowing, loving and all seeing. And I believe it is RIGHT to question, to learn, to understand. I don’t think we should be afraid of that. Are we trying to learn what’s true? Or are we trying to pretend we believe things we don’t even understand? Because we’re not going to fool God.
– Dayle

As with everything else in life, you need to learn to see past the perceived offence and find the underlying joke
– Me

“Eternity” is what happens when we choose love in the present
– Jeff Turner

The problem is not with the Bible or whatever, the problem is that humans just have an innate tendency to be really, really stupid
– Jeff Charest

“But there were millions of lives at stake!”
Romulan lives”
“No. Lives!
– Adm. Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek – Picard, Ser 1 Ep. 1, “Remembrance”

Religion was [about] obeying. And really, religion was about obeying religion
– Wendy Francisco

Bottom line is this: If Love keeps no record of wrongs – and that’s what it says right there clear as day and in nice friendly Fundamentalist black and white in your Rulebook – if Love keeps no record of wrongs, what possible basis does god have for sending people to Hell?
– Me

Through the Law man is conscious of sins. Through Jesus Christ the new man is conscious of God. Allow Him to shift your reality.
– Wayne Shelton

Morality is doing right, no matter what you are told. Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right
– H. L. Mencken

This may be obvious but I think someone needs to hear this today: You don’t need to be accepted by the Church to be accepted by God.
– Me

I do not see prayer as a practice in which I alter God’s behavior by pleading, begging, or putting in confident requests (not that I do not make requests). Rather, I understand prayer to be a willing and purposeful exposure of oneself to an other-worldly love that, one hundred times out of ten, will regard us and our fellow humans with far more mercy and compassion than we do ourselves when left to our own devices.

To pray is to place one’s heart in the direct path of God’s tornadic love in order that it might contradict our evolved defaults, and awaken us to a love that we would otherwise remain ignorant of and unresponsive to
– Jeff Turner

She’ll probably change her tune. And I don’t want to be there when she plays it
– Anon

Yes, I use both toolkits (faith and reason) in my walk. That’s why I don’t walk with a limp
– Me

I love being wrong. It means I learned something new
– Bob Brow

There is more than one way to interpret Scripture verses. The purpose of Scripture is to lead you to truth Himself, it was never inspired to be the sole source of truth and authority.
– Don Keathley

Our failures elicit the applause of a God who is far more interested in our encouragement than our ability to keep the “rules.”
– Jeff Turner

In response to this:
“This one made me a bit sad: ‘When people go missing from the house of God, they’ve already gone missing from the presence of God’ ”
I said:
“This phrase is just to control those still there. It means, “We have the monopoly on God”. Put like that, it is easy to see how ridiculous it is
– Me

When you have that table prepared in the presence of your enemies – make sure you leave a seat for them. Leave a seat open!
– Derrick Day

‘Not caring’ [about what others think] is the first step on the road to being unaffected by others’ opinions. Like Jesus was. And please be assured that acceptance by God is completely independent of being accepted by churches and, by extension, those who populate them. Your relationship with God is your own; grow it in your own way, not according to the whims of others 🙂
– Me

[Deconstruction] … enabled me to see things more clearly, including Jesus, who was built, for the first time, as the actual foundation of the house, rather than hell. If hell is in there, it’s the foundation. You either have hell hold the house up, or Jesus, but not both
– Wendy Francisco

It’s all or nothing” is the one Christian principle that I’d like to get rid of more than anything! Why has it always been this way? Why do we have to either accept EVERYTHING they teach us, or keep nothing?

Martin Luther was the first person to successfully break out of this. He kept all the parts that rang true with him, and tossed out his list of 95 things that were wrong. He disagreed with the corrupt Christian leadership, but kept Christ.

We can too! 🙂
– Randy Renkenberger

“A mountain is tall but it also has dirt on it”. “A fish swims, but it is also wet.”
Saying God is love, but God is also a just God, is saying that love is inherently unjust. Hmm.

I think this is how I look at it: God is love, and his love includes all the advocacy for our humanity that we will ever need.
– Wendy Francisco

There is no balance in God. The idea that there needs to be is an entirely man-made concept.
– Me

When God tells Adam and Eve they may eat from any tree in the Garden, save the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it’s like saying: literally the whole world can be yours, or you can choose to live a life of judgment.

Choose wisely
– Jeff Turner


Why Do People Believe In Hell?

I know I keep banging on about Hell, but I am sure that I am not alone in considering this horrific, seemingly central doctrine of modern-day Christianity to be simply repugnant, repulsive (in that when they hear about it, people are repelled from God by it) and, well, just wrong. And so I make no apology for placing yet another article on my blog about why this doctrine can be considered false. Who knows, someone might be encouraged by it.

In this excellent New York Times article, renowned author, theologian and philosopher David Bentley Hart writes about why he believes the doctrine is untenable. And this guy really scares the Fundies because, unlike them, he really knows his stuff 😉

Once the faith of his youth had faded into the serene agnosticism of his mature years, Charles Darwin found himself amazed that anyone could even wish Christianity to be true. Not, that is, the kindlier bits — “Love thy neighbor” and whatnot — but rather the notion that unbelievers (including relatives and friends) might be tormented in hell forever.

It’s a reasonable perplexity, really. And it raises a troubling question of social psychology. It’s comforting to imagine that Christians generally accept the notion of a hell of eternal misery not because they’re emotionally attached to it, but because they see it as a small, inevitable zone of darkness peripheral to a larger spiritual landscape that — viewed in its totality — they find ravishingly lovely. And this is true of many.

But not of all. For a good number of Christians, hell isn’t just a tragic shadow cast across one of an otherwise ravishing vista’s remoter corners; rather, it’s one of the landscape’s most conspicuous and delectable details.

I know whereof I speak. I’ve published many books, often willfully provocative, and have vexed my share of critics. But only recently, in releasing a book challenging the historical validity, biblical origins, philosophical cogency and moral sanity of the standard Christian teaching on the matter of eternal damnation, have I ever inspired reactions so truculent, uninhibited and (frankly) demented.

I expect, of course, that people will defend the faith they’ve been taught. What I find odd is that, in my experience, raising questions about this particular detail of their faith evinces a more indignant and hysterical reaction from many believers than would almost any other challenge to their convictions. Something unutterably precious is at stake for them. Why?

After all, the idea comes to us in such a ghastly gallery of images: late Augustinianism’s unbaptized babes descending in their thrashing billions to a perpetual and condign combustion; Dante’s exquisitely psychotic dreamscapes of twisted, mutilated, broiling souls; St. Francis Xavier morosely informing his weeping Japanese converts that their deceased parents must suffer an eternity of agony; your poor old palpitant Aunt Maude on her knees each night in a frenzy of worry over her reprobate boys; and so on.

Surely it would be welcome news if it turned out that, on the matter of hell, something got garbled in transmission. And there really is room for doubt.

No truly accomplished New Testament scholar, for instance, believes that later Christianity’s opulent mythology of God’s eternal torture chamber is clearly present in the scriptural texts. It’s entirely absent from St. Paul’s writings; the only eschatological fire he ever mentions brings salvation to those whom it tries (1 Corinthians 3:15). Neither is it found in the other New Testament epistles, or in any extant documents (like the Didache) from the earliest post-apostolic period. There are a few terrible, surreal, allegorical images of judgment in the Book of Revelation, but nothing that, properly read, yields a clear doctrine of eternal torment. Even the frightening language used by Jesus in the Gospels, when read in the original Greek, fails to deliver the infernal dogmas we casually assume to be there.

On the other hand, many New Testament passages seem — and not metaphorically — to promise the eventual salvation of everyone. For example: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.” (Romans 5:18) Or: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) Or: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) (Or: John 13:32; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; and others.)

Admittedly, much theological ink has been spilled over the years explaining away the plain meaning of those verses. But it’s instructive that during the first half millennium of Christianity — especially in the Greek-speaking Hellenistic and Semitic East — believers in universal salvation apparently enjoyed their largest presence as a relative ratio of the faithful. Late in the fourth century, in fact, the theologian Basil the Great reported that the dominant view of hell among the believers he knew was of a limited, “purgatorial” suffering. Those were also the centuries that gave us many of the greatest Christian “universalists”: Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Didymus the Blind, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Diodore of Tarsus and others.

Of course, once the Christian Church became part of the Roman Empire’s political apparatus, the grimmest view naturally triumphed. As the company of the baptized became more or less the whole imperial population, rather than only those people personally drawn to the faith, spiritual terror became an ever more indispensable instrument of social stability. And, even today, institutional power remains one potent inducement to conformity on this issue.

Still, none of that accounts for the deep emotional need many modern Christians seem to have for an eternal hell. And I don’t mean those who ruefully accept the idea out of religious allegiance, or whose sense of justice demands that Hitler and Pol Pot get their proper comeuppance, or who think they need the prospect of hell to keep themselves on the straight and narrow. Those aren’t the ones who scream and foam in rage at the thought that hell might be only a stage along the way to a final universal reconciliation. In those who do, something else is at work.

Theological history can boast few ideas more chilling than the claim (of, among others, Thomas Aquinas) that the beatitude of the saved in heaven will be increased by their direct vision of the torments of the damned (as this will allow them to savor their own immunity from sin’s consequences). But as awful as that sounds, it may be more honest in its sheer cold impersonality than is the secret pleasure that many of us, at one time or another, hope to derive not from seeing but from being seen by those we leave behind.

How can we be winners, after all, if there are no losers? Where’s the joy in getting into the gated community and the private academy if it turns out that the gates are merely decorative and the academy has an inexhaustible scholarship program for the underprivileged? What success can there be that isn’t validated by another’s failure? What heaven can there be for us without an eternity in which to relish the impotent envy of those outside its walls?

Not to sound too cynical. But it’s hard not to suspect that what many of us find intolerable is a concept of God that gives inadequate license to the cruelty of which our own imaginations are capable.

An old monk on Mount Athos in Greece once told me that people rejoice in the thought of hell to the precise degree that they harbor hell within themselves. By which he meant, I believe, that heaven and hell alike are both within us all, in varying degrees, and that, for some, the idea of hell is the treasury of their most secret, most cherished hopes — the hope of being proved right when so many were wrong, of being admired when so many are despised, of being envied when so many have been scorned.

And as Jesus said (Matthew 6:21), “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Here’s the link to the original article


Why Hell Doesn’t Make Sense

Well, I seem to be posting a lot on Hell at the moment. I really don’t mean it;  I would rather concentrate on the positive!

Thing is, though, that as you know, I always ‘do what I see the Father doing’  – this from John 5:19, what I like to call my ‘lifetime verse’; the Scripture that best sums up the way I see my life.

And it seems that, at this time, Father is wanting me to post all this stuff debunking Hell. Which is actually hugely positive, when you think about it, because as I’ve said before, “Hell is the single most repulsive idea in all of Christendom“. So in fact I am posting positive stuff, just using negative things to accentuate the positive.

I know for a fact that many, many more people will read this than will comment. And that’s fine, and I also know that many people will be blessed and set free by the truth on here.

There. Is. No. Hell.

At least, not the kind of Hell that many Christians say exists: a place of eternal conscious fiery torment for anyone who does not [insert Religion-based qualification/requirement for not being thrown into Hell] before they die*.

I’m certain that Father is instilling a passion, in the hearts of many of His children, to refute at every opportunity the idea of Him consigning people to such a terrible fate. You see, I’m not the only person who thinks like that. Many, many sincere and devout believers are now re-examining the doctrine of Hell on both an historical and a Scriptural basis, and seeing it for what it is: a scare-and-control tactic invented by the mediaeval church in order to keep people in line. It’s disgusting, it’s blasphemous and it’s just plain false.

Right, that’s enough of my blathering on. Instead, let me hand you over to the brilliant Lee O’Hare, who states yet another piece of excellent logic refuting this most terrible of doctrines:

If the traditional church teaching about hell is true and the vast majority of the human race really are going to spend all of eternity being tormented by fire, then why did not Paul, who wrote 1/3 of the New Testament, who was THE apostle to the Gentiles who told the Ephesians elders that he did not hold back declaring the “whole counsel of God” — why did he not one single time EVER mention hell or eternal conscious torment of those who fail to accept Christ in their lifetime?

And why is there not a single mention of hell or eternal punishment in any of the 19 sermons and sermon fragments in the Book of Acts which gives us an actual first hand eye-witness account of what the original apostles of Jesus actually said while they were proclaiming the good news of the Gospel in Jerusalem, Samaria Judea and throughout the rest of the known world that time? If it really is true that God is actually planning to perpetually roast billions of people in a torture chamber called hell don’t you think it would have been at least reasonable for at least one mention of that fact in the preaching of the original Apostles in proclaiming the gospel to the world?

If the destiny of the great majority of humanity is to spend eternity in an everlasting torture chamber unless they accept Christ and pray the “sinner’s prayer” before they die don’t you think it would have been fair of God to have actually made that so absolutely clear that there could be no doubt about it? Shouldn’t that have been the very obviously primary focus of the early church’s preaching as recorded in the book of Acts and of the Apostle Paul’s writing in all of his letters to the churches and the church leaders?

And don’t you think that somewhere in the Old Testament there would have been at least one mention of the impending punishment of the majority of the human race in the everlasting torment and flames of hell if that were in fact the destiny of all those who fail to accept Christ in this life? Do you think that maybe God just simply forgot to tell Adam and Eve what the actual consequences would be of eating that forbidden fruit if eternal torment in hell really was their destiny?

Is it possible that the omission of any mention of Hell or eternal torment might be evidence of the fact that it never was true and that the religious powers have perpetrated an incredible hoax and deception upon the masses of people in order to control and manipulate them through the fear of something that has its roots, not in true apostolic Christianity, but rather in Egyptian and Greek pagan mythology that was transferred into the church during its dark days of mixture and pollution with the secular and pagan Roman Empire which eventually became the Church of Rome that plunged the world into centuries of “The Dark Ages”?

– Lee O’Hare

*I do think that a form of ‘hell’ can be seen on earth basically whenever people hurt others, or where circumstances destroy people’s lives. But that’s nowhere near the same thing as God burning people forever in a fiery pit!


The Exodus From Religion

Here’s a great piece from Glenn Regular, with a couple of my rambling musings tacked on at the end. I must say right at the very beginning that I do not consider that the things expressed in this essay apply to my ‘home’ church here in Devon (which I haven’t been to for a couple of years); they’re not like that at all. Given that they welcome the poor and homeless, they don’t fit the description at all, in fact. So, not all churches are like this by any means, but those that are are the ones who are driving people away. And I have been in churches like that, so I do know they exist 🙂 So, please accept this essay knowing that I am not criticising any and every church with it. Just the ones who deserve it.

The Exodus from Religion

People are questioning and exiting Religion in unprecedented numbers. The empty pews stand as a monument as to how toxic the institution of Religion is to people of the Exodus.

The religious hierarchy expend their energy trying to cover up religious abuses within the system and marginalizing people who are leaving the fold by saying they really don’t have relationship with God, they have an undying love for sin and are heretics doing the devil’s bidding, and are on a damnation slope to eternal hell-fire.

But, ‘Us Escapees’ from Religion don’t buy into that religious lying hogwash anymore.

Religion has been declining in membership for a long time. They throw all kinds of religious theatrics, hell-fire and brimstone damnation fear-mongering, etc., to boost it, yet without any lasting spiritual success.

Here’s why: To be successful, Religion depends on a delicate balance between the illusion that it is the way to God, it is the path to heaven, and the way to find out how to escape the torture chamber of hell fired eternal suffering they so heartily believe in. It is a fear-mongering tactic as old as Religion itself. They tell you, you are going to hell and sell you a rotten bill of goods to escape it.

To Religion, personal vulnerability, which is completely essential to have a healthy shared community, is too messy. Not only does it make people uncomfortable, because it makes them face their shortcomings and insecurities, it’s impossible to gain huge amounts of influence and make millions of dollars when people are being messy and real in living life.

The articles of Religion are:

“Believe. Because our way is the right way.”
“Membership. Become one and maintain a good standing.”
“Tithe. You will be giving to God.”
“Conform. We will respect you.”
“Change. We will accept you.”
“Submit. We will value you.”
“Serve. We will let you speak.”
‘Assimilate. We will love you”.
“Obey. We will let you lead.”

Religion will start to mold you into the Religious Lifestyle the moment you show interest. The push of performance is ever-present. It actually doesn’t matter if you truly follow Jesus as long as you look like you are “a good religious person” by showing up to programmed meetings when the doors are open, pay your tithes and offerings and speak the Christianese language.

But if they see you straying from the religious path, if you question whether the Bible is the Word of God or Bible literality, or whether eternal suffering in the torture chamber of hell-fire is a Bible doctrine, they will dismember you, demean you, demonize you and tell you, you are on a fast train to hell’s dungeon.

Religion is a thinly veiled capitalistic money-making machine whose framework is based on people’s ignorance of God, the Bible, the finished cross-work of Christ, the Gospel, and is of the devil, devilish.

People are deceived into giving their money, time and identity over to a religion that refuses to treat people as family unless they conform to Religion’s standard.

People who are too insecure, spiritually deficient, too queer, too old, too poor, too ugly, too needy, too mentally ill, not white enough, not middle-class enough, not straight enough, not submissive or assertive enough, not attractive or talented enough are not fully welcomed into the religious fold.

Have you ever wondered why Religion weeds-out unwanted people?

Because it’s extremely important that Religion keep up the illusion that they’re doing good so they can keep profiting from people’s ignorance.

And if Religion is going to survive, it has to weed out all the people who want to show up and be a part of them, that will make them look bad. So rather than lift up the broken and help the needy, Religion invites and promotes the people who are really good at pretending they’ve got their spiritual ducks all lined up in a row. The Bible readers and thumpers, the Bible literalists, the hell-breathing white, supportive, married straight couples. The kinds of people who don’t make them feel uncomfortable when you are performing on stage, or when they sit next to you in a Sunday morning meeting. The kinds of people who will dutifully shut down anyone who questions denominational doctrine or the literality of the Bible while sporting a fake religious smile as they shift their uncomfortable asses on the pews.

Religion wants members who will willingly submit themselves to a system that lets con-artists pa-stars make millions feeding off other people’s insecurities, unchallenged, while claiming tax-exempt status, and they are ‘successful’ because God favours them.

Religion is a hell fear-mongering business that profits off people’s fear and ignorance.

Religion is a shame and blame game that deceives people into donating to the religious business and buy their gimmicks, all the while believing they are giving to God’s work, when in fact the deceived ‘pa-stars’’ are laughing all the way to the bank.

That gives con-artist leaders the audacity to claim that their wealth and status are a direct implication of their authority on the identity and character of God.

And that quietly suggests that these wealthy “pa-star” celebrities desperately need your money and your time. That you couldn’t possibly invest it in a better way than by giving it to these God-ordained leaders because they know what God wants for you.

They pretend that when they say “give all you have!” it’s an invitation to serve God and your community, not to simply build the pa-star a bigger house, buy airplanes, luxury cars and a fancier church building with flashier lights and a more expensive sound system so they can continue their circle-of-deception, instead of offering genuine help to people.

Is there any good in Religion? Somewhat. However, their show of good does not erase the evil they do.

People are leaving Religion because they are done with the blame and shame game, the perpetual bait and switch illusion, where the carrot is always held out just a little farther in front of the mouth. They have realized that a far more accurate message from Religion would have been:
“All are welcome, you will enhance our image by giving far more than we will ever advance your relationship with God”

Thus we have exited the religious denominated corrals. Unsure of how to interact with the real world much of the time because we’ve been so incredibly deceived and insulated from it for so long. And we’re doing what many of us call “deconstructing from religious deception and illusions”. We’re confronting the fact that we were deceived. No matter how much we gave, no matter how many times we let denominations treat us like spiritual paupers we would never break free from religious deception.

People realize that the way to successfully deal with Religion’s religious system is to walk away from it. Religion cannot be fixed from the inside by anybody, not even the system’s leaders and architects, because they do not want to lose a single bit of the power, recognition and wealth they’ve robbed from the people.

Religion is a man-ordained, man-led, man-fed, man-run, man-indoctrinated, man-controlled, devil inspired system.

You know that religious denominated box you have confined God to? Why not open the box and set God free. Then stuff your dead religion in and seal it. Set it on the edge of a steep cliff. Pull your foot back and kick the box with a forceful motion. Now turn to God and walk away and let Him show you who He really is. You will find that He is not the God that Religion believes in.

I wonder, is Religion an abomination unto God?

What do you think?

– Glenn Regular

Great piece.

I mean personally I think it’s humanity’s natural tendency to do this sort of thing. All down the ages it’s been like this in one form or another. Beginning in prehistoric times, most likely, humans saw nature as being both hostile and good at the same time, so they invented ways of placating ‘the gods’ who were of course angry and therefore the cause of all the bad stuff that happened – earthquakes, volcanoes, famine, drought, all the natural disasters you want. Skip a long way to Jesus who showed us what the Real God is really like. And over the years ever since prehistory, people still have this fear of death, and fears of all kinds of things, and live out of that place of fear. Then religion comes along and offers a way out of those fears for those who will conform…and there you go. Sorted. Modern-day Religion tragically/conveniently forgets that the fear of death – the ‘shroud that covers all nations’ (Isaiah 25:7) – has been defeated by Jesus once and for all. Of course, it’s not really in Religion’s interests to make sure that people lose that fear, or at least not without ‘balancing’ the good news with a load of bad news too. Like, conform or you’re toast. What I find amazing is how people love to cling to the bad stuff even once they have heard the Really Good News of Grace. Maybe that’s what ‘sin’ is?

The irony of the Religions position is that they try to get you to pray the ‘sinner’s prayer’, and make Jesus the ‘Lord of your life’. This means that you give your heart, your life, every decision, your possessions, your entire will, to Jesus. I have done that in the past. Jesus is placed in charge of everything that you are.

Now, when that’s Jesus Who you’re giving all that to, you can be sure that He is trustworthy. But bear with me. The thing is that the Religious actually don’t like it when Jesus really is the ‘boss’ of your life, because it means that they are not. And if you dare to claim that Jesus has told you one thing, but that they are telling you something different, then it’s you that’s not hearing correctly and they are the ones who are hearing God properly. And that’s gaslighting by any other name – getting you not only to believe what they tell you, but that you are wrong in everything that you are independently hearing from God. And it’s easy for them to do this. A new believer is characterised by being hungry to learn about God and His ways. He longs to know more of the things of God and he is still finding his way. But by grabbing that new believer as soon as he emerges from the egg, so to speak, the Religious are the ones who devour him. Maybe what’s needed for a new believer is to do like St. Paul did and to go off into the desert by himself for some years and hear the things they need direct from God (Gal 1:17-18)

But I suppose it’s going to be different for everyone. I do get the impression that, for those who have the hearts to receive it, the Grace message of Jesus is the thing they have been looking for all their lives!

On meeting Jesus, some of us were sidetracked into rule-keeping. Some of us were snatched away into legalism as soon as we heard the message, after we had met Jesus for the first time. Some of us needed to know we were accepted by God before we felt free to learn more about Him. And, to be fair, some of us in fact needed to enter through the path of legalism, because only by seeing its hopelessness could we even begin to look for something more. Religion did have its uses.

But once our eyes were opened to Grace, oh! the wonder! Oh, the freedom! For some of us, detoxification was needed. For others, straight in to Grace with no messing about. But however we got here, God has His hand on us, and He will never let us go!


The Parable of the Good Hotel Owner

Here is a superb parable, written by my dear friend Mo Thomas:

CNN News Report: Chicago, June 7, 1997

A bomb threat was called in anonymously at 11:01am to a local high-rise office building in the heart of downtown Chicago near the Magnificent Mile. The owner of the building, Dr. Milton Hanner, a sincerely kind and generous middle-aged man who had lived in Chicago for most of his life, had become familiar with and well-loved by thousands of people over the years as he spent many hours each day walking around the building rubbing elbows with folks and getting to know them.

Upon hearing the news of this threat, he rushed over to the lobby immediately, filled with genuine concern over those inside . . . and formed an emergency plan to make sure every person had a chance to escape. A volunteer army formed quickly at hearing the news of impending disaster, and the owner personally led the charge to quickly and efficiently work the entire 65-floor building, executing the plan in an attempt to make sure that each and every person heard the warning, so they could escape.

Over the course of the next several hours, interviews were conducted with dozens of frantic employees who had fled the building, and CNN learned of the following responses:

— Many people believed that it was a hoax, and completely ignored the urgent warnings. They scoffed at the thought of wasted time leaving a perfectly safe building; some of them recalled the random “fire drills” over the past few years – apparently, two of them just last month, in fact.

— Some people considered the warning, and figured that they’d leave as soon as they got some work done. So, they turned around and went back to their phones and computers, soon forgetting about the warning.

— Others used the news as an opportunity to create panic in their areas. They started screaming, shouting, yelling at people to get out before it was too late. Unfortunately, a few folks jumped out of windows to their doom.

— Lastly, a few folks actually took the warnings seriously and followed the owner’s instructions, getting out of the building in the most efficient way possible and finding cover away from the area.

At 3:03 pm that same day, 65 separate bombs exploded in the span of 10 minutes, destroying the building and apparently leaving no survivors whatsoever.

Additional details:

Strange reports started trickling in that the owner was the one who had called in the bomb threat, and had himself been the one to plant timed explosives on every floor. This set off a firestorm of controversy across all media outlets.

Mr. Hanner, all of a sudden, was no longer the sincerely kind man who genuinely cared for the occupants of that building, no matter how many hours he’d spent with those people, no matter the emergency plan he’d formed and helped execute, no matter if he risked his own life to save them. For the compassionate man who went in to save the people from destruction was the same monster who had already made plans to destroy them if they didn’t heed his warning and escape.

The media now portrayed him based on this new information as

a #manipulator,
a #terrorist . . .
a #madman.

Wild reports continued to stream in: apparently, the building was destroyed, but there was evidence that the owner had hired security personnel to round up the remaining inhabitants of the building, taking them to a holding cell in the basement, until they could be turned over to a group of torture experts in a remote underground facility . . . with specific instructions from Mr. Hanner to keep them alive, alert and in excruciating pain for an undetermined amount of time, with no hope whatsoever of release or relief.

The entire city went into a mourning period that lasted for months, while hundreds of surviving employees and family members who had lost loved ones suffered from intense psychological trauma upon hearing these gruesome reports.

It wasn’t until much, much later that the final stack of evidence came forward, clearing Mr. Hanner from any malicious activity… it was truly heartbreaking for family members closest to the owner who knew and loved him, to hear dozens and dozens of reports of these horrific false accusations that so many people, including many of his supposed friends, were making against him. They knew how much he loved all the people who occupied his space. To accuse him of terrorism and torture was a terrible character assassination, pure and simple.

Sadly, years after the final evidence came forward, and he was cleared completely of any crime, most people who were interviewed still believed that he was keeping people alive for the sole purpose of having them tortured.



 – Mo Thomas, shared with his kind permission