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He has to give his woman that same regard as he does himself, with the utmost consideration and profound love. So in conclusion, there is no macho parading in which the man gets to indulge. There is no room for bullying, cockiness, power trips or greed in this role that men have.
Husbands are tasked with the gargantuan responsibility of daily living out the ultimate in self-sacrifice, love, care, honor and respect for his wife. This is wrong and is clearly outside the realm of any sound Biblical reasoning. This does not include any other man, either inside or outside the Church. Misconception 2: A man can give his wife any instruction and she must follow it, even if it contradicts the Word of God. But what about when the husband contradicts the Word of God? There is always going to be someone or something what we are to respectfully submit to while we are here in earth.
However, when it ultimately clashes with the Word of God, then God must always take preeminence over anything any earthly entity forces us to do. Another cause of societal and familial breakdown is the re-prioritization of children. They are not to be made the most important members of the family and rule the roost, as the Bible never directly says nor indirectly implies once the kids are born, the parents are to put them ahead of their spouse. Children are in a sense, the opposite of that, as that one flesh of the husband and wife make a completely person who should be submissive to them, as Ephesians continues in chapter Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Until that age of adulthood, children are to display honor and obedience Colossians Put it into practice yourself. Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Anyone, including those who have believed, who practices sin without repenting and turning away from any and all sin will not spend eternity with God, even if they think they are okay till the end. The finished work of Christ the Cross is finished by Christ and should never be a license to continue in sin.
Hebrews , , 1 John Whoever wilfully continues in unrepentant sinful lifestyle, the finished sacrifice of Jesus has no benefit for them. It is impossible to bring them back to repent again, because they are again crucifying the Son of God and exposing him to public shame. The deceitfulness of sin Heb. The Cross is never to be taken for granted! Sin makes one to do that! That is why Jesus warned us, His followers, repeatedly about sin and deceiving ourselves to the point of arguing with Him on the last day. He makes this clear in Matthew , Luke , Matthew , — just to mention a few instances.
Jesus was speaking to those who believed in Him saved and required them to continue in His word John — obedience. He spoke so many parables to bring this point home about the kingdom including the parable of the seed and sower in Mark 4 and the ten virgins in Matthew The five foolish virgins were virgins! Whoever desires this power to overcome sin sincerely from our hearts will get it — He promised. No wonder, He said very few will find it, not to talk of walking on it.
We can walk in His Spirit and not fulfill the sinful lusts of the flesh. Romans It is possible. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Therefore do not be partakers with them. Each of us is already spending eternity with God. Even those of us pretty much all of us who stubbornly refuse to see our sins, much less turn away from them. Where else could we be, if not with the omnipresent God? What moment is not in eternity? To your co-workers? If so, why? True love is ascribing worth to another person at cost to yourself. Are Christians obligated or even justified to call out an entire people group publicly or online on their sin? Amen Angie. God bless you. For the love of God in our hearts cannot allow us to be silent when others are at risk.
I, and I think most respondents to this post, are receptive to that. But you have started down a very dangerous and slippery road when begin defending sin, any sin! Note: Jesus never sinned, even when he was driving the merchants out of the temple with a whip, which He Himself had made! So whip us into shape if you think that is necessary! But I plead with you not to neglect all of the clear Scriptural truths that have been shared here, in exchange for a politically correct lie.
The gospel message is not just that Jesus has freed us from the consequence of sin, but from its present power as well! See 1 Corinthians You people who quote scripture so freely and think you are the only ones who know it and have the keys to its interpretation and can never possibly be wrong, I ask you this one question, in how many verses of scripture did Jesus speak out against the self-righteous Pharisees and how many against gay people? Time to start reading the Bible instead of bashing it! They say that the devil can quote scripture and no more proof is needed than the use of scripture as attack against the LGBT community.
Hi Brian….. I would like to say that you are an inspiration…… And to those who have expressed opinions, which they are entitled to do, preaching and preaching and, incase I forget, preaching some more on the evil of homosexuality I want to ask this…….
If you were walking down the street and saw a man surrounded by other men and he was being beaten and kicked without mercy, blood pouring from his head……. And being the good Christians some here claim to be…… You went over to rescue the victim on the ground…….. My question is simple……. Given that so many on here cannot show love for a homosexual….
You see friends, verbal attacks are every bit as violent and hurtful as physical attacks and furthermore…….. Whilst everyone can have an opinion, please show me anywhere in the scriptures where it is taught that you have the right to sit in judgement on others? The moment you discriminate, you give yourself over to evil thoughts and judgement and have therefore sinned. So whether you like it or not, no one here, there or anywhere has the authority to judge or discriminate……….
You may not agree with certain things and that is your right, but to judge or discriminate instantly makes you a sinner……. When judgement day comes we will all be judged accordingly by God….. It would be a pity if those among us spent so much time focusing on the sins or not sins of others, that in our enthusiasm to judge others we forget to make our own backsides fireproof. Excellent response, Kieran. And, by the way, if anyone has the right to sit in judgment on others, it would be Jesus. As you say, it would not be us. I am a pastor.
That is why I am speaking the truth in love here. I grew up literally surrounded by those given over to sexual perversion. Not only my neighbors but my uncle, who later confessed that it was a lie, and says he has stopped practicing it now. Also a big point in this all is that Paul writes to believers. I have not read the article yet but will, if you will check out the Scriptures I have shared as well. My question is, where in the Scriptures does it ever treat sexual perversion as no big deal? So, I read the Dave Barn Heart article. It was indeed a heart string pulling testimony.
However, I am not a person lacking in sympathy for you or any other lost soul! What particularly saddens me though is how nonchalantly this author and you miss characterise both the Scriptures and God. God will not be mocked, and you will not be saved by your good intentions. If you are really serious about doing business with God, here are a couple of Scripture to naw on. Jesus does want to set you free! You just have to believe it. Here is a testimony of true freedom! A person cannot lie to themselves, no matter how much you think you beleive would you for instance sacrifice one of your children if God asked you to, I highly doubt it which would mean you disobeyed God, am I right?
Of course I am. So in conclusion noone can possiblt be good enough for your God which means we are all doomed, because we all sin, and none of us can truly beleive in Jesus unless we feel it in our hearts not our minds. It perverts and destroys the Gospel and the hope of those who desire to find God but are blocked by the sick perversion of Fundamentalism and Literalism.
But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him! In fact, Ben, the main thing that we have to fear is that we might, through our actions and deeds, separate ourselves from our Saviour.
I wonder how many of those who rave and rant about it are just trying to cover up what is going on in their own minds, else why would they spend so much time thinking about, rather like the Vicar in Moll Flanders. Quite often this proves true. I admire you hanging in there in this seemingly endless conversation. If a person believes God is violent, they will think that Jesus is telling us to fear God even though the context does not require this. It cannot be God, so who is it? In this second case, the options are 1 Satan or 2 ourselves.
But we are not to fear Satan either, so …. My take on the Luke or Mathew passage is that Jesus is actually giving his disciples a command. The whole surround context is one of instruction to his disciples who He is sending out amongst metaphorical wolves. He wants them to be prepared for what they will face and He wants them to rest assured that if they do follow His instruction i. The beautiful thing about fearing God, as we are command to do numerous times through Scripture, is that once we humble ourselves in this way we really do have nothing else fear!
Here is a post I wrote on this subject last summer on my own blog. Ben, I agree that it is a command. I see that you take it to be God and there is good reason for this from numerous other texts , but I am not so sure this is what Jesus meant. Satan can tempt, and we can condemn ourselves, but is only God who gives and takes life, as He sees fit. Later on in Luke Satan even has to ask permission of Jesus to tempt or test Peter. As I see it Hell is not a place of violent retribution, but the merciful resolve of a long suffering Creator to once again start over.
The wages of SIN is death; sin brings its own consequences — God does not punish us for sin which He completely took care of once for all and for all time. Ben, where do you get the idea that God is a destroyer of souls? It is the thief not God who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Every murder, every rape, all torture is done because God willed it? Amen Jeremy.
Only a proud, self righteous person would dare to paint such an irreverent picture of a loving God. Satan will attack through the front door as well as, deceptively, through the back door. May i suggest that scriptual integrity govern someif these discussions. This passage has nothing to do with satan, but false teachers. Wow Jeremy! You gave me an awful lot to unpack! But, as always, I enjoy our engagement! Perhaps we could meet up for breakfast sometime, to meet in a more friendly environment and to hear each other out, in a more comprehensive way.
The Universalist approach, that you seem to take, makes the same error as the Calvinists: Insisting on what God can and can not do, with a weight of Scriptural evidence to the contrary. Here are a couple of Scriptures to gnaw on if you so wish to see where I am coming from. Here we see the prophetic fulfillment of Luke and Matthew Ben, I am not a universalist.
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And Brian is right about the book of Revelation. The texts you quote are notoriously difficult, and each has a wide range of interpretive possibilities. Sorry about the label Jeremy! Just trying to make sense of your views, which are strange to me. I am encouraged that you and Brain at least take the book of Revelation as something that should be studied more thoroughly.
However, whether taken as wooden literal, figurative, or allegorical the passages I shared can not be quickly dismissed! They are not old covenant laws or culturally irrelevant teachings but the only accurate testament of Jesus, through His beloved apostle John, to His church that remains in the world today. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
Thanks, Vladika. I can not speak for others, but I shine the light of Jesus into this forum because there is much darkness here. And I hope by all Godly means to reach some who are lost there. At least the ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness, as I do. Sadly, for a sinner like me who has submitted his will entirely to God, I see darkness and not light shining through you.
I see pride, the spirit of condemnation and the darkness of self righteousness in you. A person can disguise the hidden evil in his intentions perhaps even without being completely aware of it himself in his verbalizations and utterances , but he cannot hide or disguise the spirit behind his utterances, and if it is the Spirit of Christ speaking to the sinner, it can never be disguised or hidden. All I see is the evil spirit of condemnation in what you have verbalized.
Only a proud person doth judge another. And by what authority do you dare to stand in the name of the Almighty God and judge some to be lost here and assume yourself to be saved? Augustine: His Letter c. It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. Is this what our love looks like? In such a case, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.
That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture. In any case, when we use the terminology are we using it in a manner consistent with either the usage of Augustine or Gandhi? Or have we invented our own application of the terminology? That quote never even came from jesus, Mohandas Gandhi penned the idea and further popularized it when he wrote in his autobiography.
NOT quote it at all?? Is it more comforting to believe in a God who it like us, subject to the influences and powers around us, or to believe in the God of the Bible, who never ceases to carry along His story to its rightful end? You act as if you are perfect and sin free, and arrogant I may add. How about pointing out your own flaws instead of teaching eternal damnation. I was quite capable of loving others before I became a Christian. Are we drawing the person to Christ or irrevocably driving them away? Most of us have changed our minds about many things in the course of our faith journeys.
In many cases, those they confronted turned their backs on not only the one who confronted, but on God. These days many of those who were confronting others have fallen silent on many of these issues. If we know them well we often times note that some of these very issues have affected them or those close to them. Love seldom begets regret as we grow in age and wisdom. Do we still think the Spirit was directing what we did?
If not, why not if we love them? We did love them, right? Otherwise, why did we confront them and their sin?
Could we have better shown our love for them in another way? To the contrary, man was made upright Ecc. Even Satan was once perfect until he sinned Eze. Since God does all his pleasure Isa. I too am not a Calvinist. To me it simply means that nothing is outside of His ability to control. There is much indeed that He chooses NOT to control, particularly in regards to human beings. For LOVE demands it! To me, Love is not Love if it is forced or even coerced. Which is precisely why God allows human beings, who are not interested in the Holy perfection that He is about, to opt out.
So, why do I believe God is responsible for the destruction of human souls? Because most people in this world would rather die than surrender to His will for them! We have only two options in this life, to be a vessel of honor, or of dishonor. I still stand by that phrase.
I DO love sinners. And I DO hate sin. Then you are talking about a whole other religion altogether. Another Great Post, Jeremy! Venez, Singe ; parlez le premier, et pour cause. Etes-vous satisfait? Dame Fourmi trouva le Ciron trop petit, Se croyant, pour elle, un colosse. The Wallet. Redress shall instantly be given to each.
Come, monkey, now, first let us have your speech. You see these quadrupeds, your brothers; Comparing, then, yourself with others, Are you well satisfied? Is not my visage comely as the best? Not he;—himself he lauds without restraint. The elephant he needs must criticize; To crop his ears and stretch his tail were wise; A creature he of huge, misshapen size. The elephant, though famed as beast judicious, While on his own account he had no wishes, Pronounced dame whale too big to suit his taste; Of flesh and fat she was a perfect waste.
The little ant, again, pronounced the gnat too wee; To such a speck, a vast colossus she. Each censured by the rest, himself content, Back to their homes all living things were sent. Such folly liveth yet with human fools. For others lynxes, for ourselves but moles.
Great blemishes in other men we spy, Which in ourselves we pass most kindly by. The pouch behind our own defects must store, The faults of others lodge in that before. I think to sin just means to miss the mark, which we all do from time to time. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
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Are not even the tax collectors doing that? Do not even pagans do that? So what I am getting from this is that when the world is raging around me and persecuting me because I am a Christian I should pray for those who persecute me. I must love my enemies even if they persecute me. I am sure we can all think of persecution in our lives, whether it be from the media or in our own neighborhood.
There is no way that we should love sin or tolerate sin, but we must realise that we are sinners ourself. As we are all sinners, then this quote could be interpreted to love ourselves but hate the sin inside of us. It is our duty as Christians to attempt to remove the sin in our life and to help our Brothers and Sisters in Christ do the same.
If we just let the sin be we will not be doing our duty. Only God can fully remove the sin in us. We can only pray to God to help remove not only the sin in our lives, but also the sin in others lives. I just happened to come across this site.. Happenstance, God nudge?
Who knows.. So far I have liked your insights into the scripture but your last podcast bothered me. I believe that there are sins that are unforgivable, even by G-d. G-d tells us that it is our duty to fight evil. There has to be a punishment for the wicked and a reward for the righteous in the world to come or otherwise life becomes a bad joke. You see very bad people who are wealthy and live long lives, and good people who are poor or become sick and die young. There has to be some reward for being good or why bother. I believe that works trumps faith every time. I think that a good person who lives an ethical life and is a credit to society but is not religious will get more in the world to come than a religious person who is unethical and does bad things.
I put a lot more stock in what a person does than what he says. What works? How do you know you are doing the right works and how do you know if you are doing enough of the right works? Who determines what qualifies a person as being good or what is an ethical life? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John You are basing your opinion on strawmen arguments and extreme ones at that. How many people in the category of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, ISIS, etc have you actually ever heard of that made a profession of faith at the end of their life.
The whole faith vs. It just raises more questions: Does your life end when your body fails? Are you your body? If a deathbed acceptance of faith is effective and important, how can we tell if a person has had one, or why should we need to? How can we pass final judgement on anyone based on a recorded deathbed confession or at all? Even they had faith in the attitudes and principles behind what they did, as misguided as those were. It is a reflection of living in the Spirit.
Living in the Spirit produces the right works. The Son of the Father is not Jesus, but the Spirit that gives life to everything, including the universe itself. Most of the rest of the chapter John tells of Jesus often speaking metaphorically AS the Holy Spirit in order to try to awaken his audience to being OF the Spirit, because he himself was living and being fully IN the Spirit.
The biggest problem Jesus was having was that then, just as still now, people could not let go of their indoctrinated views of the world and of their religions, enough to allow and experience the FACT of spiritual being. Any concept of heaven has always been made into a physical place, somewhere, sometime and somehow outside of present reality. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. The act of speaking to and understanding each other comes from the Spirit, as does the very act of being alive! Yet there are some of you who do not believe.
It means some of you who do not believe in the reality of Spirit, right here, right now, always and everywhere. My question was how many deathbed professions were they actually aware of concerning people like Hitler? Did they really believe the gospel? Jesus is the one whom the Father sent as referenced in John John makes this perfectly clear, plus if you look at John the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2.
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:. Romans 1 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
The difference is crucial to understanding the N. The practical problem with studying the Bible, especially the New Testament, is the same as the problem with studying and practicing the law. If you focus too much on the letter, the exact, literal meaning of the words, it is easy to overlook the spirit in which the document was written and assembled, and important details of its provenance. In Judaism, scripture and the understanding of it was historically taken to be a work in progress, a collection of inspiration and commentary on the nature of God and Man including, of course, Womb-man.
Paul later expresses the same frustration much more frequently though usually much less spiritually. Much of Christianity today ignores the true, spiritual communion that Jesus sought to establish, in favor of man-made rules, tenets, and rituals. Let me just admit this here and now: I am no Christian.
In fact, I am gay and transgender. And for all those who believe the statement argued is acceptable in any way, let me give my perspective so that you may hope to view LGBT from the inside. To call us sinners is hurtful. It is a jab at who we are. And I have to say, for someone else to tell us what is right and what is wrong is a shiv to the heart.
It is, rather, a matter of morality. We all decide our own morals, in the end. You live by them. Have you heard our morals? Here it is: Love comes in all forms. You claim to love us, but all I can read from these comments are cold, Biblical references devoid of love. I love Christians, as much as I love my family, friends, coworkers and all other humans. But would it not be called the same if religious people told us that we are condemned to Hell unless we drop everything and join their religion? Ignorance is bliss. Gays, lesbians and bisexuals are not wrong for being attracted to those of the same sex, just as straight people are not wrong for being attracted to those of the opposite sex.
Please, stop telling us that we are sinners and that we are engaging with sin. If so, then love is sin. Sage, some of us hear you. These friends understand that I do not accept many of the beliefs of their religions, so therefore do not feel it necessary to live by those beliefs. For example, some of our Hindu friends do not eat meat, especially beef. They understand that I do not accept their beliefs and they do not expect me to not eat beef.
If you are not Christian then it is understandable that you do not feel it necessary to live by Christian beliefs. Many Christians believe that anyone who does not follow Jesus and believe his teachings will suffer eternal torment. Therefore, they believe it is their duty to tell everyone who does not believe that they must believe. When Christians talk about what is and what is not sin, however, they do not always agree on these things.
When I was growing up I remember the woman who sincerely believed that eating anything sweetened with sugar was a sin. I also remember a couple that my family knew. The husband was a traveling preacher. His wife accompanied him. In one area they traveled, the churches they went to believed red neckties for men were sinful. Only black neckties were acceptable. In another area, people believed that black neckties were sinful.
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One area believed that short hair for women was sinful. The other area believed that long hair for women was sinful. What did they do? She cut her hair short and wore a long wig when in the area where only long hair was acceptable. We laugh at such a silly story today, but to the people involved it was all very serious business.
Some Christians have difficulty expressing their beliefs to people who are not Christians in loving ways. They think they are doing the right thing, and do not understand that they are actually pushing the people they are talking to further from Christianity and from Jesus. Guess what? It actually made us less interested. I may not agree with you but I sure sense alot of love and a good heart. I have friends that are Gay, they didnt ask to be that way and by trying to turn away from it would be lying to themselves and to God, God wants you to be yourself, I myself am bisexual, does that mean I am sinning?
No I refrain from sex completely but I am still attracted to both men and women At least I am being honest, God knows the truth from the lie, and you are a truthful loving kind person who is trying to adapt to a harsh world, I pray for you and many others the best way I know how, God Bless you. The words He gave us communicates truth that leads us to an understanding of who He is, His will for our lives, how to be saved and what happens when get we saved.
The truths of His word sets us free. While there is symbolism, allegory and metaphor in the Bible, the normal way of studying is the literal approach, looking at the context, and comparing scripture with scripture. If you read the entire chapter of John 3 it is obvious Jesus is speaking of Himself in verse Your mystical approach seeks to by-pass the plain literal meaning of scripture and insert your feelings so you can create a God after your own imagination because if you take the literal approach you will realize you are sinner and are accountable to God for your sins.
Jesus was the physical man. The Christ is the perfect personality of the Holy Spirit. Stop thinking of yourself as a worthless sinner. Start believing that you are a child of God, with the real work of God to do — which, whatever the details boil down to in any individual case, is above all else, to love. Jesus is the son of God Romans I am blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Ephesians 1: 3.
Forgive myself? Why would I want to engage in worthless worldly psychological drivel when God has already forgiven me! My apologies. I wonder how you imagine the infancy of Jesus. Did his mother or Joseph never need to teach him or correct him? Jesus is the son of God. So are you and so am i. Anyone who yearns and strives for God is a son or daughter of God. Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. So are you and i, and everyone and everything else, striving or not.
Jesus never sinned. But that applies to the adult Jesus. In that time and culture, he would not have been considered a person until his bar mitzvah. The Bible clearly teaches He never sinned so I have no reason to believe otherwise. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: Human beings are limited in power.
God must not be so limited, so we say God is omnipotent. On and on we could go, but the result is the same. Every God defined throughout history by any human being is always human-like with all human limits removed. Listen once more to the language of liturgy. What we are saying is: God, you are not limited in power or bound by time. This God is also the all-knowing one who searches the secrets of our hearts. This all-knowing deity becomes little more than a human construct. If the theistic understanding of God is dead, then the question quickly is raised as to whether it is God who has died or the human definition of God.
Can we find a way to talk about God in other concepts with other words? Or is God so identified with our theistic language that God dies when the theistic language dies. That is our modern question. The Bible has defined idolatry as worshiping something made with human hands.
Theism is an understanding of God developed by human minds. Can the ultimate ever be captured inside the limits of human hands or human minds? I do not believe so. Theism is an expression of human idolatry. So we push aside theism as a definition of our own creation, and we seek to move in a new path into the reality of God. That is a far more revolutionary step than most of us can imagine, but that is the world in which Christianity must learn to live. Christianity was born in an experience of God associated with the life of a first century Jewish man named Jesus of Nazareth.
What the exact dimensions of that experience were is quite difficult to say. The gospels were written 40 — 70 years after this man had been put to death, so we do know how those who were his earliest disciples actually articulated that experience in the first generation of Christian history.
Most of them had died before the gospels were written. So far as we can gather the earliest disciples were quite convinced that everything they had ever thought about God, had been experienced as present in the life of Jesus. That was the core of the message and that is how Christianity began. He was quite content simply to exclaim his experience, he had no need to explain it. Somehow in Jesus, he believed that he had seen, or engaged the presence of the holy. By later standards this was a strange explanation.
The problem was one that we have already noted. The human mind can only conceive of God in theistic terms. Theism is a conception of God arrived at by magnifying the qualities of the human. God was an external being possessing supernatural power. If that was the working definition of God, then the issue became how had this external God got into the life of Jesus, so that the people could have experienced him present there? This was the question that they felt they had to answer, and as those answers developed, they began to shape Christianity in new ways as the years rolled by.
When the first Gospel, Mark, was written, around the year 72 CE, a new explanation of how Jesus and God were connected had entered the minds of the followers of Jesus. In the opening chapter of Mark, the fully human, adult Jesus is brought to the Jordan River to be baptized by one called John the Baptist. In his baptism Mark said that the heavens, the realm of God, opened. The universe was conceived of in those days as a giant astrodome. The sky, the roof separated the realm of God from the realm of the human.
The ceiling of the earth was the floor of heaven. So a hole appeared in the roof and the God who lived beyond the sky, simply poured the Holy Spirit from heaven down onto the human Jesus. It was not a fleeting spirit, but a spirit that was to remain in him forever, a spirit that would ultimately redefine his humanity.
A study of the scriptures reveals that the words God spoke at this time in Mark were not original. They can be found in the Psalter Ps. The explanatory process moved on in the 9 th and 10 th decades when the gospels we call Matthew ca 85 CE and Luke ca CE were written. In these next two gospels Jesus was thought of, not just as a God-infused human life, but as a God presence that inhabited his human form.
The moment in which the theistic God was said to have entered Jesus had been moved from the resurrection, where God adopted Jesus in Paul, to the baptism where God entered Jesus in Mark, to his conception where God was the male agent who gave life to Jesus in both Matthew and Luke. This was the occasion when the virgin birth tradition entered the Christian story. It was a mid to late 9 th decade addition to this developing faith story.
His humanity was now permanently compromised. One cannot be fathered by the Holy Spirit and still be fully human! As substantial as that change was, however, that was not destined to be the final step in Christological development. John was asserting that the theistic God above the sky had in Jesus assumed human form and that in him God was dwelling among us. Jesus was now fully understood to be the incarnation of the God who dwelt above the sky.
Both the doctrine of the Incarnation and of the Holy Trinity had been given their biblical basis. The creeds of Nicea and the doctrines and dogmas that followed those creeds now claimed to be able to define God. This proper understanding was later to be enforced by burning those who disagreed at the stake. If, however, the idea of a God above the sky has become bankrupt, as I believe it has, then the suggestion that this theistic God was incarnated into the human Jesus is equally bankrupt.
This means that this primary Christian creedal explanation of Jesus, developed over the centuries, can no longer be applied to Jesus today. Does that mean, however, that the experience, which this explanation sought to explain, is not real or valid? I do not think so, but it does mean that new explanatory words must be sought. The old ones do not work any longer. Every explanation is a human creation. As such, every explanation is both time-bound and time-warped.
No explanation, therefore, is eternal. An experience unexplained, however, cannot be passed on, but an explanation that is passed on is never the same as the original experience. Explanations point to timeless truth, they cannot capture it. What then is that timeless, eternal truth about Jesus, to which our treasured theological words now point so inaccurately? What was there about Jesus that caused people to believe that they had encountered God in him?
That is what the search for truth in our day compels us to discover. Faith in Jesus as the incarnation of God or as the second person of the Trinity, was born in a human experience. What was that experience? It was not the tales of miraculous power that gathered around him. We can find no evidence that ties Jesus to miracles until the 8 th decade of the Christian era.
The claim that in Jesus the presence of God has been met antedates the claim of his being a miracle worker by decades. The experience of meeting God in him was also not related to the claim made for him that he had a miraculous or virgin birth. That was an idea added to the Christian story in the 9 th decade. It was also not attached to an understanding of the resurrection as the resuscitation of a deceased body back into the life of the world.
That was an idea that Luke primarily contributed to Christianity in the 10 th decade. The experience of God being encountered in Jesus antedates all of those aspects of the developing Christian tradition. The God experience in Jesus had to have been something original, something transformative.
Perhaps in those experiences they came to understand that they had confronted the holy in the dimensions of the human. Perhaps the problem with theological explanations was not in the experience they sought to convey, but in the concepts which shaped the words used in the explanations of this new reality. Perhaps the experience is real and, that once the dated and irrelevant explanations are jettisoned, then the reality of the experience can once again be engaged.
What was it that caused the followers of Jesus to develop doctrines like the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity and how would we describe it today? Can we still think of Jesus today as divine, but not as the incarnation of a supernatural deity who lives above the sky? When the doctrine of the Incarnation was formulated, people thought in dualistic terms.
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The divine and the human were opposites. Suppose the divine and the human are not two separate realms at all, but one single continuum. Perhaps the way into wholeness and even into divinity is to become deeply and fully human. Perhaps when we move beyond our security boundaries of tribe, gender, sexual orientation, race, creed and status, we experience a humanity that is not bound by the drive to survive. Perhaps God is found in the freedom to allow, indeed to accept, responsibility for assisting all others to be what each of us was created to be without imposing our agenda on them.
Incarnation makes no literal sense in a non-dualistic thinking world.
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It makes infinite sense when it is seen, not an as explanation, but as an experience. Can we reclaim this Christian concept for the 21 st century? I think we can. If Christianity is to survive, I think we must. Christianity might just turn out to be something far more profound that we have yet imagined. When the familiar biblical story of the six-day creation Gen. The Hebrew people experienced the world as good and finished and so they told a story of how God created all things out of nothing.
Since God was the creator of the world, the world had to be good. The Hebrew myth says that God looked out on all that God had made and pronounced it good. That story also assumed that the work of the creator was complete, for it tells us that when God had finished the creation process on the sixth day, God rested from the divine labor and pronounced the seventh day to be forever a day of rest for all creation. So the biblical narrative, as it is presently constructed, begins with an understanding of creation that suggests that the world was created to be both perfect and complete.
This particular narrative of creation was written fairly late in Jewish history, probably during the time of the Babylonian Exile in the late 6 th to early 5 th century BCE. Long before this story of creation in six days was written, however, another Jewish myth sought to account for the fact of evil in this world. It was written about four hundred years before the six-day creation story was written. What we need to recognize, however, is that these two stories were not originally connected at all.
They were not written to be a continuous narrative. Following the Council of Nicea in CE, and with the official recognition of the legitimacy of Christianity in the Roman Empire, many Christian leaders, but a bishop named Augustine in particular, began to form what became in time the primal Christian myth. They built this myth on the assumption that chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis formed one continuous and infallible story. This primal myth had five principles. First, the original goodness and perfection of creation was asserted.
As this theological understanding became dominant in Christian history, the sinfulness of human life was emphasized continuously in Christian liturgies. We Christians were trained to approach God on our knees as slaves might do before the master. Guilt thus became the coin of the Christian realm. Salvation came through acknowledging that the suffering and death of Jesus for us, had been achieved since God, in the person of Jesus, had absorbed the punishment which human beings deserved.
The Christian Eucharist was the meal, which provided the first taste of the Kingdom of God. So in the cross Jesus, by dying, paid our debts, absorbed the punishment that we deserved and thus won for us our eternal salvation. This theological framework became so powerful in Christian theology that it swept over all other possibilities. It claimed every aspect of the Christian proclamation.
It undergirded the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. It was the definition behind the doctrine of the atonement. It shaped the entire Christian liturgy. It also did some rather terrible things that did not get noticed for centuries. It turned God into a monster, who did not know how to forgive. It portrayed a God who demanded a human sacrifice and a blood offering before it was possible for God to extend forgiveness.
It told the story of God the father, who punished with death God the son in order to satisfy the divine need for retribution. Secondly, this theology turned Jesus into a chronic victim who was never allowed to escape his cross, since the ongoing sins of human beings required his continuing suffering and his death. As the primary Christian icon we offered the picture of Jesus eternally dying on the cross. Thirdly, this theology filled you and me with an overwhelming, even a debilitating sense of guilt. I crucified thee. This theology assumes a discredited and dated anthropology that, when once exposed, renders it immediately both null and void.
Atonement theology assumes a theory about the origins of life that no one in the astrophysical or biological world today still holds to be valid. The premise on which atonement theology is based is demonstrably a false one. Since the work of Charles Darwin in the middle of the 19 th century, we have known that there never has been an original perfection. From that original single cell, life has gone through many stages from single cells to cell clusters, from cell clusters into complexity and from complexity into a division between animate life and inanimate life, just to name a few.
All of this was over hundreds of millions of years. About six hundred million years ago, life in both its plant and animal forms, abandoned the sea and began to take up residency in the river beds and estuaries, where it waited until this planet finally became hospitable to life. Then these life forms moved out of the water and onto the dry land, where they adapted to their new environment and began to interact, producing a multiplicity of new forms. From about one hundred and eighty million years ago to about sixty five million years ago the reptiles ruled this planet.
The dominant reptiles were the dinosaurs, and thus they occupied the top of the food chain. On planet earth the dinosaur had no equal and thus no natural enemies. Some natural disaster, however, struck the earth about sixty five million years ago and that disaster dramatically changed the climate, scrambling, in the process, all of the forms of life.
This natural disaster is thought by most scientists to have been the result of a collision of a giant meteor with the planet Earth. Whatever it was, it produced a change in climate that ultimately rendered the dinosaurs extinct and opened the gates for the mammals to begin their rise into prominence. From these warm-blooded, inside-egg-producing, mammals there finally emerged from the line of the primates, a human-like creature. This happened some four to five million years ago. Over those years, the brain of these human-like creatures expanded, the jaws receded, the larynx dropped, speech developed and ultimately this creature passed the great divide, going from being merely conscious to being self-conscious.
It also embraced its own mortality. It began to plan for its own death and it developed a kind of chronic existential anxiety that no animal had ever known before. The anxieties of self-consciousness were so severe, this creature had to develop coping devices. Religion was one of those coping devices. The object and focus of religious thinking was a human-like deity, who possessed supernatural capabilities. This deity could do all the things that self-conscious creatures could not do, including escaping mortality.
God was originally conceived of, we have already established, after the analogy of a human-being, but with all human limitations removed. This anthropomorphic God was in charge of the universe and so to this supernatural power anxious human beings could appeal for help. These are, in the briefest of details, the story of the origins of life on planet earth.
As this human creature gained more knowledge of the origins of the universe, however, it became clear that there never was an original perfection and that creation was itself an ongoing, never finished process. This also meant that all the forms of life on earth were never set, and thus were always changing. There is nothing static about life. There never has been anything static about life and there never will be. Note, also, that there never was an original act of creation, but rather an on-going, ever-evolving process.
Now look at what these insights mean for our understanding of Christianity. If there was no original perfection there could never have been a fall from perfection into sinfulness. Other things also begin to fall and be dismissed. If there was no original sin, there was also no need for anyone to be saved from this sin or rescued from this fall. One cannot be rescued from a fall that never happened. Suddenly the whole framework, which for centuries had formed the basis of the Christian story, collapsed. It is not an accurate reflection of our origins at all. This particular story of salvation thus ceases immediately to be capable of translation into anything that has any chance to be credible in our 21 st century minds.
It is, therefore, not capable of being grasped by the devotion of our hearts, since the heart will never be drawn in worship to that which the mind rejects as real. We can, therefore, no longer pretend that in these concepts we can continue to tell the Christ story in our contemporary world. It simply does not work. The question for many then becomes can we continue to tell the Christ story at all? Can we separate the reality of the Christ from the interpretive framework of the ages, in which that reality has been captured, and still find in him something that speaks to and enhances our humanity?
Can we break the barriers that separate us from one another and then find a sense of oneness in him? Can we, through this Jesus figure, dip into the wellsprings of life, open ourselves to a transforming love and through him find the courage to be all that we can be? The old words will never carry us to these goals.
Despite that, there will always be some who are unwilling to leave their ports of security, those who will act as if the old words must be clung to forever. They will do this primarily because no one has ever suggested to them that there is another way to tell the Christ story. They fear that the story itself will die if the old words, which carried this story for so long, have to be abandoned. The Church of tomorrow, however, cannot be impeded by those who cannot embrace the new reality. The quest for new words in which to tell our story must become the major agenda of the Christian Church in our time.
If we do not embrace these changes there will be no hope for a Christian future. Please understand that death may still come when we abandon these words of antiquity. We cannot be sure that we modern Christians can make the necessary transition. We live at a critical juncture in Christian history.
I think it is. The call for radical reformation is the call our generation must answer. It will start with a new understanding of what it means to be human. We are not fallen sinners, we are incomplete human beings. We do not need to be saved from our sins, we need to be empowered to embrace life in a new way. No one had ever heard of the possibility that the woman had an egg cell and was, therefore, genetically, a co-creator, equal in every way with the man, in the birth and development of every human life that had ever been born.
People in that era rather thought that the new life lived in the spermatozoon of the male and that he simply planted this life in the female in the same way that a farmer plants his seed into the soil of Mother Earth. The woman, like Mother Earth, served only as a receptacle, or the incubator, for the growth of the baby or the seed; she did not add to it. This meant that whenever the claim was made in the ancient world for an extraordinary life, which could not be accounted for without the suggestion of divine origins, there was, in the development of the explanation of the myth, a need to replace only the male with the divine source.
Since the female was thought to contribute nothing to the new life, she could easily become the receptacle for a divine child, as well as a human child. Given that understanding of the reproductive process, miraculous birth stories and virgin birth stories were frequently told about extraordinary lives. It was, therefore, not surprising, that in the ancient world in time one such miraculous birth story was devised for Jesus to explain the source of his extraordinary power. It is of interest to note that Paul, who wrote between the years or years after the crucifixion, never seems to have heard of the tradition of Jesus having had a miraculous or a virgin birth.
Indeed, Paul appears to have assumed a very ordinary birth for Jesus. James, indeed, has achieved his position of influence in the Christian movement, based totally on that fact of his physical relationship of Jesus. He never mentions the virgin birth, because it had not yet been developed. When Mark wrote the first gospel, about the year 72, or 42 years after the crucifixion, there was still no miraculous birth story in the tradition.
That kind of narrative still had not been born. Presumably before his baptism he was not God-infused. That is hardly appropriate behavior from one to whom an angel might have announced that she was to be the bearer of the messiah. One does not entertain an angelic annunciation prior to pregnancy only to conclude, when the child is full grown, that he has become an unbalanced adult! Mark clearly was not aware of the tradition or a supernatural birth for Jesus. He had not heard of it because it had not yet been created. The virgin birth story is then repeated by Luke about a decade later, but in a very different and even an incompatible way Luke The virgin birth story is not history, it is not biology, it is mythology designed to interpret the power of a life.
It is the power that is real, not the reproductive process. Now we go back to what we know today about human reproduction. When the sperm of the male fertilizes the egg from the female, the offspring is the blend of the two genetic sources. Yet that was the substance of what the great councils of the Church sought to proclaim: a literal virgin birth, understood biologically, with the Holy Spirit providing the male seed and the Virgin Mary the female egg; that process would produce not one fully human and fully divine, but rather a life half divine and half human.
That is not Incarnation! The ramifications of this new understanding are far greater than most imagine. That seems elementary! Science discovered the egg cell in the woman in the early years of the 18 th century. A literal virgin birth quite literally would destroy the essential claims articulated both in the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity. What then does the story of the miraculous birth of Jesus mean?
Why was it developed and applied to Jesus? The answer to that is clear. That was the only way that first century disciples could proclaim that they had met in Jesus the presence of God. This was the way that the followers could validate the claims of their experience, namely that human life could not have produced what they believed was the God presence they had encountered in Jesus of Nazareth. We Christians worship the God revealed in and through the humanity of Jesus. The myth of the virgin birth will never give us that.
It is, therefore, not meant to be literalized. It is not about biology. We Christians need to stop pretending that it was ever anything more. Miracles are not unique to Jesus in the Bible. Moses performed miracles in the Hebrew Scriptures, some of which were rather bizarre. In one Exodus story, Moses cast his staff to the ground and it became a snake Exod. Some of them were manipulative of divine power like the plagues of Egypt Exod.
Joshua also performed miracles in the Hebrew Scriptures by parting the flooded waters of the Jordan River Josh. Later in the biblical story, both Elijah and Elisha performed miracles. The third place in the Hebrew Scriptures where miracles are mentioned is in Isaiah. Miracles were said by the prophet to be among the signs that would accompany the dawn of the Kingdom of God on Earth.