Sunday, June 18, 2006

1 corinthians chapter eight

37 comments:

jON said...

this is such a small chapter, but there is so much here.

how often and how true that our knowledge "makes arrogant" or "puffs up." even in my own life, i recognize this. but paul says love edifies. and that is the place i am trying to find. because apparently, if we think we know anything, we do not know as we ought to. didn't socrates say that, "true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing?"

i find it interesting that paul says, at the very root, in very truth, there is no such thing as an idol. there is no god but one. but since people believe them to exist, they do. it gives a great testimony to the power of the mind and perception that we have been given to create our realities within ourselves. even if they do not reflect the actualities of life. because as far as i can tell, what we believe to be going on IS going on for us in our hearts. if we believe ourselves to be worshiping idols, we are. even if those idols are truly nothing. even if the spirit behind them is god himself, if we believe ourselves to be worshiping someone other than god, even if we are worshiping him, we are worshiping someone else.

but paul says to be careful with this. and here is the rub. the all too familiar rub. and the reason i wanted to study this letter.

freedom. liberty. we have all been given it. an unlimited dose as far as i can tell. i am firmly convinced it is possible to find a place where "to the pure, all things are pure." yet, for many, they do not find this place. they still have many things they are convinced in their minds they should not or perhaps CANNOT do. and since this is their reality, it is reality for them. even though, in light of the cross and grace and forgiveness, this is no longer our true reality.

and if someone sees you exercising your god given liberty in a way that for them would be sinful, you can strengthen them in their minds to do things which they are convinced in their heatrs are still sinful. because they see you, who has the truth, engaging in them. and because they become willing to do things they believe to be in disobedience to god, they are destroyed.

so how then are we to live? how frustrating it is to be given such wonderful and amazing freedom only to not be able to use it. or at the very least, have to limit the times and places in which you use it. i know i have been guilty of doing this very thing to others since i found true freedom, and for that i am sorry. it was an amazing revelation to me to find grace and i simply wanted to share the experience with others. apparently, it is not an experience the "weaker brothers" can handle. or even desire.

although i am still convinced they should. for some reason, i am convinced in my mind and in my world that it is god's desire for us all to live in freedom. and then use our freedom to obey him when he speaks directly to us in our hearts through his spirit.

that's just the way i see it right now.

so i seek to set others free from their mental prisons. but i guess sometimes i use a little too much force. if someone wishes to be released, they will gladly accept. if they do not, i should just let them be in short order. it is their life and they are free to use their freedom as they see fit in their own life. and when i do not, i sin against christ.

and that's something i don't want to do.

Susan said...

v.9-12 is very similar to Romans 14:1-6. One of the most interesting "takes" that I've read on this point recently comes from, The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass aged 37¾". Adrian Plass relates the presumably fictional account of a party he held at his house on March 8th. One of the guests is describes as follows, "Frank Braddock was sitting in an armchair at the far end of the crowded room, a pint glass in one hand and his pipe in the other, talking easily to the rest of the guests, who seemed to be listening with close attention to what he was saying." Braddock has been giving a brief overview of Jesus' life and concludes by saying, "There's no-one else worth following, and nothing else worth doing!"
A Mrs Flushpool pipes up, "'Mr Braddock', she said, 'would your message not be more convincing if you were to abstain from strong drink and noxious substances, such as tobacco? Stenneth and I neither drink nor smoke. Scripture issues grave warnings on these matters!'
'Ah scripture!' he said. 'Scripture certainly does warn that those whose strong faith allows them freedom in these things, must be careful not to harm those of a weaker faith who have abstained altogether.'
He held up his glass and his pipe.
'My dear Mrs Flushpool, if my drinking or my smoking is tempting you unbearably. I shall never drink or smoke in front of you again. Say the word.'"

And so Plass has cleverly and insightfully put Mrs. Flushpool in the position of being the "weaker brother". Yet often in our churches it is the "Mrs. Flushpools" who are considered to be strong Christians because of their abstinence and are often given positions of leadership. Isn't this a bit odd?

jON said...

squeaky wheels, susan. squeaky wheels. they tend to be a little more forceful, forthright, and numerous. and a democracy's greatest strength is also it's greatest weakness. majority rules. whether or not the majority is right.

but mostly, i believe abstinence is seen as a sign of strength and accomplishment and maturity. i think. not sure because i am obviously not that way. that's just the best i can figure from what i have witnessed.

jON said...

i need to request some intercession. one of ours here at the physical something else...fellowship has recently become homeless. she, of course, has temporary housing being provided by another member, but please ask the father to provide something more permanent. (as permanent as things get on this temporary plane) stable? yeah. ask for stable instead. not A stable. but that her living situation would become stable. you get me.

we all appreciate it.

Wendy ftfs said...

ok Already asked for her, it will happen ...
Susan, I love this story ...
I drink very little and don't smoke at all but not for self righteous reasons...just can't hack it... my whole family smokes except me and they are loved by Jesus the very same as I am ... and that makes me very happy. Had a pastor once who was rather gossipy and called down our drummer behind his back for smoking ... we didn't stay under that pastor for long. This guy had just been released from a heroin addiction and was doing his best to worship God .. leave him alone on the smoking already ... sigh
Where are all the loving, anointed pastors? They seem rare these days but maybe not in Australia.

Susan said...

I was thinking some more about freedom but also about sacrifice (or to limit the times and places).

We do have such wonderful and amazing freedom but we are also asked to make sacrifices for the sake of our "weaker brothers" and those sacrifices vary depending on the viewpoint of the weaker brothers in our circle of fellowship.

I think we find it easier to make the big sacrifices - giving up a day to look after someone's children; giving a large donation to help others. But I think we find it harder to make the small, seemingly unnoticeable sacrifices for those who seem "unworthy" of it because they are not in physical need. e.g. "Why should I give up alcohol just because another Christian I fellowship with has a problem with it? Tell them to get over it!"

Yet I think we honour God when we sacrifice our wishes for the sake of our weaker brothers.

Wendy ftfs said...

Love is never selfish or rude ...
1 Cor. 13:5

jON said...

i guess the question for me still remains...

what is the difference between a person truly stumbling or just being "offended" at something?

wendy, you brought up the verse about love not being selfish or rude... is there a point at which so called "weaker brothers" are the ones being selfish and rude as opposed to being "stumbled"? and if so, should we bow to that or give up our freedom for that?

Trent said...

Hi Jon, and everybody else. Just a quick question for Jon going back to his original post on 1 Cor. 8. When Paul writes that to the pure all things are pure in Titus 1:15, was he contradicting his writings in 1 Cor. 5:11; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-7 (which is especially interesting because it seems to suggest there are behaviors that are impure in and of themselves); Col. 3:5-10, etc., or is it possible some behaviors are in fact outside the boundaries of what God allows us for our own good and for the sake of his own sense of holiness? I'm not talking about drinking and smoking. These are non-issues in my book, thought the former should not be abused to the point of drunkenness and the latter is just no way to be treating a body over which you are a steward (Yes, the same can be said for eating as if there's no tomorrow and any number of other behaviors.). Still, these aren't the sort of things I'm talking about because these aren't the sort of things these passages are talking about.

What do you think? Can greed by good, as the infamous and fictional Gordon Gano suggests, can it be pure? Can there be a pure orgy? A pure malice? A pure fit of rage?A pure immorality? A pure impurity?

I don't have much time for people who feel it necessary to "create" sins for me to worry about. But I'm also a little leery of people who try tell me what the Bible calls sin is really pure as long as I am. Apparently even Paul never reached that level of purity...

Susan said...

what is the difference between a person truly stumbling or just being "offended" at something

I think the Pharisees were an example of people who were just offended and not truly stumbling. And Jesus confront them head on. He didn't heal people in a back alley because it was the Sabbath. He healed people in the synagogue in full view of the Pharisees who He knew would be offended.

We need God to give us discernment so we know when and where to "break the rules".

jON said...

yes, susan. going back to your most recent post. which i enjoyed very much, by the way. knowing when and where to break the "rules."

and trent, thank you. those are very good questions which i can hear and wrestle with and enjoy. very much appreciated. i shall chew on them at work today and be back with thoughts.

jON said...

still thinking...

Trent said...

While you're chewing, Jon, let me add that I resonate with the tension you feel between genuinely not wanting to cause a weaker bro or sis to stumble and, at the same time, not wanting to placate somebody's silly cultural sensitivities. It's a fine line that calls for carefully listening to the Holy Spirit in each individual circumstance, for sure. However, if we're going to err, the spirit of Christ-like humility and selflessness we're called to exemplify suggests we err on the side of protecting people from a potential tumble, rather than "educating" them as to how free we are, or how free they should be. The old JOY formula from Sunday School days still has some validity for real world application...

jON said...

i'm sure you understand the tension. i'll never forget one day being in the fellowship hall and hearing the words "mulholland drive" drift into my ears from across the room. i whipped around without thinking (i was about 5 years younger then) and said, "that's a fantastic movie! i went to see it with trent at the dollar theater and we loved it!" the reaction i got was closely akin to having just disemboweled that person's firstborn in their presence.

"What do you think? Can greed by good, as the infamous and fictional Gordon Gano suggests, can it be pure? Can there be a pure orgy? A pure malice? A pure fit of rage?A pure immorality? A pure impurity?"

as to your questions. as of right now, i would say yes, it is possible to greed, orgy, and fit of rage. not settled yet on malice (as it is not something I could do in a pure fashion. but that may not be the case for someone else...)

the last one was the most intriguing for me, however. the paradox of the pure impurity. reminded me of the "rock too big..." scenario. which lead me to say yes, god can make a rock so big he can't lift it. if it fills the entirety of the material world, it's not that he isn't strong enough, there just isn't any "where" left to lift the rock to.

but it really leads to bigger questions. like the inerrancy of scripture. we have in job chapters of error. job's friends are off base. yet, in chapter after chapter, they are expounding on things that we should not listen to at all. yet we do not find this until the end of the story. and some people may never make it that far. yet the error is there in print in our scriptures. and it made me wonder... is it inerrant because of how true it's error is? is it error that you can count on to be error all the time and that is why it is not in error?

so, then, the question for me becomes, is it possible to have an impurity that is pure in its impure-ness? so i'm not settled on this one yet either.

but as to paul's "lists"... it raises questions for me even more. does paul get to lay down rules? was that his role? does he have that kind of authority? and if he did then, does that authority still carry on to now? haven't we ALL been given the keys to the kingdom? to "bind and loose" what we will? aren't we all priests? isn't there no partiality with god?

because if paul is correct and, for example, adulterers don't inherit the kingdom (kingdom now or kingdom to come?) then what has become of abraham? jacob? david? solomon? and so on and so forth... how is it that these men escape the classification of adultery? and if they did not, how did they inherit the kingdom? repentance?


sorry gang. no time for proofreading today. time for work.


on a side note... hersch, are you still out there? haven't heard from you in a while. miss your perspective.

Herschel said...

im here....

honestly, i have kind of took a side seat here for a couple reasons:

1. ive been busy planning and getting ready for my trip to guatemala next week which includes but not limited to raising money, buying supplies, studying spanish, etc.

2.I have really been blessed to just read everyone else's thoughts and not try to give my own...i feel more like listening than speaking

Wendy ftfs said...

Yea I was wondering where Hersch was as well ... Hi Hersch !

Answers for Jon :-)

is there a point at which so called "weaker brothers" are the ones being selfish and rude as opposed to being "stumbled"? and if so, should we bow to that or give up our freedom for that?

Weaker brothers are often selfish and rude because they desperately want to hang on to what they perceive as their anchor which is the rules they have made for themselves to stay sane and in line. They believe and that's really all they need to do (John 3:16) They are people who would sin miserably if they didn't confine themselves to these places and Yes Jon ;-)we must not upset them and challenge them beyond what they are able ... because God teaches us all at different times in our life for His purposes and not our own. It is not our job to force anyone out of their comfort zone... it is the Lord's alone and He will draw them into His freedom with His love. He uses many things in our life to speak to us and to draw us as close to Him as we can possibly be. It is ultimately Jesus who does the work... noone else.
Our "common" ground is Jesus and His LOVE for us.
And if we fail to love and protect any brother or sister, I believe we are sinning and we need to repent of that sin to each other so that we can live in peace with each other.

Anonymous said...

I like your responce wendy. i think part of 'turning the other cheek' is even when someone is selfish or rude to respond to them in love anyway. Awesome insight.

I think expanding somebody's mind with the realisation of their great freedom is something that couldn't be done forcefully. ie as a retort to selfish or rude behavior. Otherwise it would only be the inverted form of legalism. Or 'reverse snobbery' shall we say? i know jon knows what i mean

Tessa said...

I like your responce wendy. i think part of 'turning the other cheek' is even when someone is selfish or rude to respond to them in love anyway. Awesome insight.

I think expanding somebody's mind with the realisation of their great freedom is something that couldn't be done forcefully. ie as a retort to selfish or rude behavior. Otherwise it would only be the inverted form of legalism. Or 'reverse snobbery' shall we say? i know jon knows what i mean

jON said...

that's cool, hersch. listen all you want. i know you've got your trip to guatamala coming up. i just wanted to know if you were still hanging around...

difficult thing for me is the two different approaches. in not wanting to go "too far", i found in my own life, that i was never going far enough. and as an experiment for the better part of the past year, i've tried going the other way and going as far as possible in any direction i set out upon. and since it is such a dicy thing for many people to witness, i have tried to confine myself to places and among people who are not wounded by such a use of freedom. and as a result, i have found that i have become comfortable among a different group of people who depserately need an example of freedom tempered with wisdom and an understanding that all actions carry with them consequences. whether good or bad. and that if you are going to indulge in something, you need to be ready to handle and accept the consequences of your choices. whatever they may be. so make your choices according to consequences you are ready to face.

love these conversations, folks. it is really amazing to see over the course of a week where they go. we start with the chapter, but by the end of the week, we are nowhere near where we started. to me it is a beautiful thing that is very edifying and something sorely needed. i hope it is the same for all of you as well. and i love that we can have so many diverse perspectives and opinions and come out loving each other and accepting one another anyway.

peace to everyone.

and as always, much love.

Trent said...

WJon, I think you answered your own question regarding how an adulterer like Abraham or David made it into the Kingdom. Repentence/faith would be the key.

The larger questions you raise, however, regarding the inerrancy of scripture, indicate at least a certain willingness on your part to throw scripture out the window when it doesn't fit with your visions of freedom. This creates another conundrum of which you may, or may not, be aware. How can you seize upon the scriptural principles of "freedom", or "all things are permissable", or "to the pure all things are pure", and make them the bedrock and pillars of your existence as the definitive, eternal principles of the Word, and yet dismiss, or at least give less credence to Paul's lists of sins - lists that appear in multiple texts and that were written over the course of the entirety of his ministry - because they don't set well with you? Who gives YOU the authority to pick and choose what of the Word is relevant and what isn't? Further, why is it that what you choose fits so neatly with your current state of internal affairs, rather than your internal affairs being brought into discipline and made to fit with what the Word says, has said, and will say for all eternity? It's interesting that Paul's lists are remarkably similar to John's list in Rev. 22:15 concerning those who spend eternity outside the walls of the New Jerusalem. Maybe the same Spirit speaking to Paul about things that are impure in and of themselves, was also speaking to John.

And yes, of course, there is a "pure impurity". It's called evil. You may not mean to play with words, but "pure" in the sense I was using it refers to moral purity. You might also want to consider the definition in context of the Gk. words translated "greed", "orgy", and "fit of rage" before you assign them this status of moral purity.

For someone who is so offended by the doctrine of man, it's pretty amazing to see the extent to which you're willing to call scripture into question, and play with the meaning of words, in order to uphold your own doctrinal positions...

Wendy ftfs said...

Could it be that true adulterers and whoremongers are those who leave the Lord and go a whoring after false gods? These are the adulterers who will not inherit the kingdom ... do you agree ? They could be sitting in the pew next to you and they could be pimping in the bad side of town .. both with hearts against God. We don't know, the Lord knows the hearts of man.

As far as purity goes anything can be pure simply meaning there is no other element in it as in pure evil is evil and only evil and pure love is love and only love.

What do you think about this?
This freedom we have is freedom from the world and all its trappings. We are free to fly high as an eagle above all trials that come our way. Free to talk with our God at any time and discern truths from the Holy Spirit... Free from being ensnared by our enemy because the heart of God is in our heart. We are free to love those who are not loveworthy such as your government Jon ;-). We are free to walk humbly and unaffected by this world and all its vexations. We are free to do justly and love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. He has made our hearts pure and love dictates that we think the best of the worst. To the pure all things are pure. If we are truly pure there would be no desire to commit any of the wickedness the bible talks about...the wickedness is spiritual wickedness .. its fruits are manifest in our bodies. There is only one sin that will keep you from the kingdom..that is denying the Holy Spirit ...walking away ... not heeding the still and gentle voice of your God ... taking the wholeness of God written on your heart and throwing it at the Lord's feet, shaking your fist and wallking away... then the fruit of this will be an adulterous and whoremongering generation. Adultery is leaving the Lord for another ... whoring is worshipping and indulging in the worship of other gods ... this is what I believe the scriptures are teaching against not the earthly act of adultery and fornication and whoremongering but the spiritual.

Trent said...

Yes, Wendy, I agree with much of what you have to say about spiritual adulterers and whoremongers. It doesn't change the fact that Paul and other NT writers, including those who recorded Jesus' words, included literal adulterers and whoremongers among those who would have no place in the kingdom.

I also agree that "pure" can refer to that which is untainted by anything else - pure evil=100% unmitigated evil. However, that is not the sense in which Paul uses the word in the text. When he speaks of all things being pure to the pure, he is specifically referencing a standard of moral purity - being untainted by that which is morally, spiritually offensive in the sight of God.

I also agree with the majority of what you say in your extended definition of what purity means, tho, as I've already allude to, it's very difficult to read the Gk. text and buy into the notion that Paul, et. al., are only referring to "spiritual" adultery/whoremongering, not the real deal when they address it. Further, while it may not be your intent, if what you say in the final lines of your post is an indication that you believe "all are saved" by virtue of birth and can only lose that salvation by an act of rejecting God, I would also disagree. ROM. 10:9-15 indicates a pro-active step of faith in response to God's grace is part of what results in people "being saved". Without this Holy Spirit-inspired transaction, and I recognize it is not a cookie-cutter experience, not necessarily a rote, "pray these words after me" sort of thing, there is no salvation.

Jon, a pure murder (not self-defense, murder)? A pure sexual abuse of children? Even one exception to your "absolute" take on "to the pure..." will serve to indicate your interpretation is less than accurate. In reality, "to the pure...", "All things are beneficial...", etc. while certainly the Word of God, are easily recognizable as generalized, contextualized principles (much like the OT Proverbs). They are not foundational vs. dictating the interpretation of clear, objectively stated passages such as Paul's lists (which, by the way, are supported in the writings of the gospels, Peter, John, etc. Either all these guys were on a power trip, or the Holy Spirit wanted to be sure we got the picture.). Rather, the objective passages serve as the criteria by which these more generalized, contextualized (and relatively random) statements are interpreted. Call that "old school" or "tradition", but I'll throw in with the hermeneutical wisdom of the ages over 10 months of one person's logical and emotional attempts to re-craft Christian doctrine to suit his lifestyle any day...

jON said...

then we will simply have to agree to disagree.

rather than answer where i get the authority in my own life to listen to god and obey him, i would simply ask the question back to one who has asked it. where do you get the authority to ignore Ro 16:16, 1Co 16:20, 2Co 13:12, and 1 Pet 5:14? said four times from two different apostles. was this then a rule god was trying desperately to make for his church that we ignore daily?

Susan said...

Yes agree to disagree, please :)

Wendy ftfs said...

Trent,

Just copied and pasted what I said above....
....taking the wholeness of God written on your heart and throwing it at the Lord's feet, shaking your fist and walking away... then the fruit of this will be an adulterous and whoremongering generation.

earlier in the post I said..."the wickedness is spiritual wickedness .. its fruits are manifest in our bodies."

We are all individuals here, Trent. Not clones of one another. I was wondering if it would be possible for you to come to Jon's study to learn and humbly share. Lay aside your connection with Jon and let the Lord direct us all. Let us know what you think of the chapter at hand and give us your sincere thoughts so we may study and not get caught up in the war between Jon and Trent.

Do you know who George Barna is?

Trent said...

I'm not so sure the failure to greet one another with a holy kiss can be placed in the same category as ignoring moral teachings that carry an explicit warning of being excluded from the kingdom of God. Frankly, if pressed, I doubt you'd place them in the same category. This is a rather disingenuous response, Jon, tho we certainly can agree to disagree.

I will note, however, it is interesting to see that your spiritual deconstruction has now led you to a place of relativism as regards the authority and instruction of scripture, with you as the relative authority as to what fits with the way you want to live, and what doesn't. Abandoning the doctrines of men, you have embraced the doctrines of a man, namely yourself. Read the deconstructivist experiences of Augustine, Luther, or Schaeffer and you'll find the thing that brought them to a place of being able to re-establish their faith in a new and lasting fashion was a bedrock commitment to the authority and veracity of God's Word. Unfortunately, read the deconstructive experiences of Schleiermacher, Bultmann, and Hartshorne, and you'll find they reached the same place you're at - a willingness to treat scripture that didn't sit well with them as non-authoritative. The divide between these two groups of men is sobering and potentially enlightening.

I realize others on this blog may not appreciate my interaction with Jon, but I'm sorry, Wendy, I was conversing within the context of the study. My original question was in regards to Jon's comments about "to the pure...". This question remains, for the most part, unanswered...

Wendy ftfs said...

....and I don't mind that you are conversing in context to the blog... I guess what is offensive is the insults you hurl at Jon ... and the assumptions you have made about others here...

ie to Jon "Abandoning the doctrines of men, you have embraced the doctrines of a man, namely yourself."

to me: "if what you say in the final lines of your post is an indication that you believe "all are saved" by virtue of birth..."

You are not following scripture yourself, Trent ... you are to be wise as a serpent which you are having no problem with but the harmless as a dove is not there and I believe you are defying scripture here. I sincerely believe the best of you and I'm sure this is not intentional. I know you know this is the teaching of our Lord. As Brother Yun states in The Heavenly Man, "you can never really know the Scriptures until you are willing to be changed by them..."

You belie your mistrust of the power of the living Christ to guide Jon to the absolute truth because you keep trying to do it yourself.

Pray more for him and talk less ... harmless as a dove ... trust in the Holy Spirit's power and abilities
... rest and enjoy our study.

I'm sure that St Thomas of Aquinas had his messy times as he searched, as well. I remember that his mother did not want him to leave home ... she was closest to him and feared for him... she prayed, she begged and was sure he was going to be lost, but the Lord stayed with him and he found what he was looking for and influenced the world ... your brother is looking for truth and the Lord WILL bring him to it ...

God's love to you my brother.

Trent said...

Wendy, my assumptions regarding Jon are based on what he himself has written. The assumption regarding yourself was carefully qualified with an "if". If that is not your belief, than what follows is irrelevant and certainly no reason for offense.

As to a failure to follow scripture on my part, well, Wendy, let's get a little perspective here... Jon is a member, not just an attender, of a congregation which I pastor. I am not only his pastor, but have been his brother-in-law for more than 20 years. I read him bed time stories when he was a kid. I've been his friend for a good part of the last decade. I played some small role in his return to faithful relationship with Christ a number of years ago, and in the discipleship process that followed. I have shared with him in more than one men's mutual accountability group over the years. In my role as Jon's pastor, I take scripture (Perhaps these were not the ones you had in mind) VERY seriously - scripture's like 2 TIM. 2:25-26; 4:2-4; TIT. 2:11-15; JMS. 5:19-20. I would hope you would recognize scripture not only suggests, but requires of spiritual leadership times and places of instruction, confrontation, rebuke, etc. That was certainly the example set by Paul to Timothy, Titus and other leaders in the Church, and one that is not abrogated by the post-modern obsession with affirming anything and everything people say or do as if it were the advent of the Kingdom in and of itself.

To provide a bit more context, yesterday Jon spent 4 or 5 hours at my house, along with other family members. Earlier in the day we had visited a museum exhibit together. By the way, I greeted Jon with a kiss - wouldn't want to fall short of his scriptural expectations. We enjoyed a rain-shortened game of bocce ball, a good meal, fellowship, and Jon taught us all how to play Apples to Apples. Before leaving he invited my wife (his sister) and I to join he and a group of friends in an evening of Dutch Blitz (a card game). Now, I'm sure Jon gets tired of me posting here (as do you), tired of the things I have to say (as do you), but we're not exactly ready to cut off one another's heads and post them by the front door, either :-)

Wendy ftfs said...

I guess because the bible study has more people involved than the two of you and your very personal relationship... I was just asking you to do as you would do in any other bible study and keep your personal relationship and rebuke of Jon on the side lines. Brother to brother and then we can get on with the study ... because really we don't have a lot to do with the war between the two of you.
I have no doubt that you love Jon dearly ... and I don't get tired of you being here but it would be nice, if you truly are a pastor, if you would simply impart your thoughts to us about the chapters. Just be a member of the study.
George Barna has written a book called Revolution and it addresses the very things you and I have briefly discussed ... the drop in church membership. It talks of a new trend taking place ... have you read it?

Trent said...

Yes, I've read Barna's book. His ability to track trends within the American Church, and within the society as a whole, is not in doubt. His ability to prescribe responses to those trends, however, leaves much to be desired...

jON said...

the overarching thing that is being said here is that you are simply acting in a way that contradicts with universal #2. which is the sum of the entirety of the law and the prophets. "love your neighbor as yourself" or "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

correct me if i'm wrong, but i sincerely doubt that you would appreciate ANYONE, much less me, coming into your weekly bible studies on wednesday nights in order to commandeer the conversation and contradict everything that is being said. it would be disruptive and divisive. and if it continued to happen week after week after week, it would probably begin to affect your attendance as people just don't seem to enjoy hostile environments too much. i am simply thankful that the members of the something else... fellowship are filled with so much grace that they continue to come back even though the conversation continues to go down paths none of us are really too thrilled about them going.

but it is getting wearying. we are not here to discuss evangelical or orthodox doctrine. we are here to study the scriptures apart from such things regardless of your personal views on the properness of doing so. because, as i said at the beginning of this, i know that you would not appreciate it very much if i acted in the midst of your fellowship the way you are acting in the midst of ours.

you know that your comments, in the fashion you offer them, are unwelcome. you have been asked several times to please not comment the way you do, but you don't stop. which is ultimately your freedom and you can do as you wish. it's just hard to hear any sort of biblical and doctrinal "correction" from someone who is not acting in accordance with the words of jesus. i am not here, in fact i don't believe anyone else is here because we are trying to correct any other person. the only people we are here to correct is ourselves. to take the planbks out of our own eyes and become the people god is calling us to be.

once, and finally, i was inundated with evangelical christianity for 18 years. i got out when i had the choice. then at the age of 21 god revealed himself to me in a personal way. i just was afraid of believing it was him. then at the age of 23, i embraced him. unfortunately, the only "arena" that i had for relating to him was evangelical christianity. and i threw myself in headlong for 7 years. "being more zealous than my countrymen" so to speak. it honestly lead me nowhere. i was more miserable than i had ever been in my life and on the verge of a nervous breakdown and divorce. something had to change. and so it did. god brought me out into something else... he showed me that evangelical christianity is not the answer. HE is the answer. and it's not even jesus. jesus came to provide THE WAY for us to come back to THE FATHER. and that's where i am now. forgive me for not being a christian any longer, but it has lead me to places and turned me into a person i did not want to be. and scripture did not want me to be.

so i'm not interested. i'm really not. nothing you say here helps me one bit. all it does is make me argue with you in my head all day long and steal my joy instead of my normal days which are joy and peace and love and meditating on god's word and sharing that with everyone around me.

it is true that we are far from putting each other's heads on posts and that i enjoy spending time with you. but i'm really not interested in the comments here. and if you would be so kind, please stop. they have more of a negative effect on me than i think you know. and i hope you care about that.

JudLee said...

so........there are, indeed, limits to freedom? ("you have been asked several times to please not comment the way you do, but you don't stop/if you would be so kind, please stop")

and..........there are rules: ("you are simply acting in a way that contradicts with universal #2./. we are not here to discuss evangelical or orthodox doctrine. we are here to study the scriptures apart from such things regardless of your personal views on the properness of doing so."}

and........the ultimate criteria is that what one brother (Trent} is saying/doing offends another brother (Jon).

Just asking...........

jON said...

judie!!!!!! thanks for stopping by. as eddie vedder once said, "there's no crime in asking..." i do not mind the questions.

"so........there are, indeed, limits to freedom?" if you look at the quotes you brought out from what i said, you will find your answer on my personal views contained in the very next sentance. "you have been asked several times to please not comment the way you do, but you don't stop. which is ultimately your freedom and you can do as you wish." i tried to make it clear that i am not opposed to trent's involvement in this group. simply that the current way that he is going about it is not beneficial or edifying to the group that it is involved in. but that he can indeed continue to go down whatever course he chooses as it is his freedom to do so. i, and several others who have spoken either here or to me in person, simply wish it would take a different course or tone. we are not here to debate. in fact, many of us are here because we are tired of debate.

"and..........there are rules:" yes, we have two rules. universals i call them.

universal #1: love god first and foremost more than anything else in this life.
universal #2: treat everyone else in a manner in which you yourself would want to be treated.

these are things which jesus said, "do this and you will live." and two universals that i have actually found much success with in my life. they bright light instead of darkness for me.

now, not being trent, perhaps he WOULD want someone who is not interested in his fellowship and not interested in actually learning anything from the group at hand coming in to be a dissident voice on a frequent basis and frustrating his congregants. i don't know for sure, i am not him. i simply don't think he would. of course we all know what they say about "assumption being the mother of all fuckups", don't we?

"and........the ultimate criteria is that what one brother (Trent} is saying/doing offends another brother (Jon)." i need a little more clarification to know precisely what statment you are making here. the ultimate criteria for what? i simply think he is acting in a manner he would not like another to act towards him in. yet, split 2 ways.

i understand that he is concerned for me and thinks i am in a "bad direction" and is trying to call me back to evangelical truth because he is concerned for my eternal soul. i have no problems with that. it is simply the manner he is employing. and that he is ignoring my wishes is indeed hurtful. on several levels. for what once was a beautiful and "safe" haven for me has become a less than safe place mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. it really fucks with my life in negative, negative ways when he does his thing here. and i'm not sure why knowing that and requests for that negativity to stop are not enough.

the hardest part for me is that i know trent hates this form of communication. and that he does not enjoy being here. but he keeps coming back. is he really interested in learning with us? if that is the case, it is something that has been missed by all who are true members of this fellowship. in fact, one silent member who follows along near daily said to me on monday, "it's funny. it seems as if trent's only purpose in being around is to tell you and your friends how wrong you are."

so tell me judie, is the dynaimc that is being displayed here from said dissident being done in a manner and a frequency that you think befitting a gathering of god's people? would you like this sort of thing going on in the middle of your services daily? if these are questions trent needs to have answered in order to exfoliate, then he can have all the grace and patientce in the world. i am not convinced, however, that he is here to learn. and i am not interested in debating scripture because i am protective of my pearls and don't appreciate them being trampled for what SEEMS to me to be no real good reason.

i am nearer god now than i have ever been. he is working in and through me in astounding ways every day as well as his mind numbing providence to my family and fellowship. why is that not to be believed? why am i a special case that must justify everything? why do i have to feel like i'm running through mud just to have a conversation with brothers and sisters here in this place? which is just as much a body of christ here as it is anywhere else. i simply cannot meet with wendy, susan, hersch, paul, dee, and all those who read anonymously any other way. is it a small thing to destroy this body which is the temple of the holy spirit?

why is a simple request not enough?


i'm sorry. i don't want to be frustrated and tired, but i am. i know this is not gossip as it will all be here waiting for trent to see in plain view when he comes back. i just don't know why it won't stop. because, for me, it goes beyond "encouragement" and borders more on harassment. that's just how i feel about it and it's effects on my life.

jON said...

support. that was the one word that came to mind last night. i just don't feel as if he's here for support of what's going on. and if not here for support, then what reason?

i have tried to make it clear how damaging doctrine and traditions have been to my life and i am trying to get away from them to heal. and when someone keeps coming around and ripping the bandages and scabs off...

why? is healing not something i should obtain? is that not something desirable for my life?

and to reiterate, as you can tell, this line of conversation simply has me arguing and defending myself in my head all day and night instead of meditating on god's word. which is not how i prefer to live my thought life. i'm interested in joy and love and peace and light and parties and grace and the cross.

not much else.

Tessa said...

Jon, just tossing this out there for something to chew on...

When expounding on new and different courses while basing all your understanding on your own experiences and emotions alone (and correct me if im wrong on what you are doing) in my opinion a challenge to your thoughts is more than healthy.

I understand what you're saying in your last post. Your feelings of negativity are valid certaintly. But couldn't a well meant challenge to your way of thinking edge you on all the more to seek out the truth for yourself? Of all the people and ways to be challenged by, isn't it best coming from somebody who really cares? Sombody who was willing to say he was fallowing the holy spirits voice and his own convictions by meeting you here?

you called this a "dessert" experience right? and even in the dessert Jesus had the devil with him. and though im not really trying to compare my dad to satan... aren't you glad God only lets us take the temptation we can bare?

I guess im trying to suggest the option of how you choose to respond to what is being said to you by my dad. You can let it screw up your day by getting upset over it. Or you can in an effort to retort dive deeper into the word so to answer all those sceptical questions... That to me would be much more of an example of "joy and love and peace and light and parties and grace and the cross." Than to get upset and try and kick somebody out of your discussions.

You've said how you feel and i certaintly respect that. I'm in no way trying to criticise you at all. In careing about you id like to see you not have those days filled with negetivity. I simply thought i would suggest something that might lessen them for you. and I will not be offended if you choose to not take my advice.

jON said...

okay. i'll try this again. i seem to simply be repeating myself these days... and that is not meant to be derogatory or a criticism of any kind. but i find that my responses have nothing new to say. except this: thanks. you are a wonderful peacemaker. i feel the intentional spiritual injection of peace that you have made. it drips off of your words straight into my soul. i only hope that mine can have the same. but i know the frustration shows through. i will try again, as best i can, to lovingly and calmly explain what i am trying to communicate in regards to this issue.

now for the reruns...

i have no doubt that your father is here out of love for me. none whatsoever. i have no doubt that we are on the same "side" as pertains to the everlasting invisible god and our desire to serve him to our utmost. i have no questions about your father's unswerving dedication to the vocation he has been called into and his dedication to the people under his care. which is why he comes here i'm sure.

the ones who have gathered here naturally had found something special and different and something we all needed. a place to ask questions as regards scripture and living out our faith apart from the doctrines and traditions of whatever backgrounds we came out of. and to ask those questions without fear and receive responses without judgement. even if there is disagreement. FOR SOME REASON, and i don't know what this reason is really, the tone of your father's replies is very "debate-ish". i have no other good word for it. something about them leaves a sour taste in my mouth. perhaps because i REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY would like to be able to read the bible apart from standard systematic theological conclusions. i am interested in seeing if perhaps scripture has something else... to say. and the irritating part is that while this plant is so young, i get the impression that your father is trying to tear off the leaves to inspect them while it is still a seedling. i am not opposed to discussions of this nature at some point in the future. it's just that, RIGHT NOW whil i am still so young in my newfound faith and walking according to the spirit that it has VERY VERY negative affects on me. as i said before, this strand of conversation consumes my mind with the need to justify and defend myself and instead of peacefully meditating on god's word throughout my day and sharing the love and joy inside of me with everyone around as they need it, i am seeking a new defense. a new response. a new justification. a new way to say, "i am not really interested in this line of conversation. but i don't want to be rude and ignore you. so here's something..." but that something is not enough. i have to then justify that. and then when i come up with something for that, i have to come up with a new defense. and so on and so forth. no matter what i say, it is never enough. if he is interested in having discussion of systematic theology, he needs to give a nigga time to get it straight. and 10 months is not enough. i haven't even had a chance to make it through the whole bible yet. but what i see is amazing. and different. and functional. for me.

these kind folks here have been kind enough to come alongside me and be the sharpeners i need in a manner i need.

i have no doubt taht your dad and i will have our relationship will be healed fully and we will be able to fellowship again. and then i would have no problem having these conversations with him. i just want to be left alone for a while. my mind and emotions are still healing from the torture of the accuser. SOMEHOW he was given power over me through the systematic theologies i learned and i'm tired of him having that power to torture me. so when you dad comes back in and lays down the system again, as well meaning as he is (and i have no doubt about that), what it actually does is give the enemy, the accuser, power in my life again to torture and twist and destroy me mentally, emotuionally, and spiritually.

which is why, at this moment in time, i would just as soon that he did not say anything. if he is concerned, i would hope that he would pray for us, follow along and take notes. and see if perhaps a few moths down the road i reach a conclusion he would like me to reach. but on my own. because then the conclusion will actually take root and grow. and even if i do not reach conclusions that sit well with him, to let it be and love me anyway.

that's all i want.

and on a side note, as may have been missed before, these are our gatherings. we have no other venue with which to gather regularly. being global friends and all. so i take this seriously. one of our good friends who was a regular member of this fellowship stopped talking once your dad joined. to lose a vocal member, to me, is a grievous thing. i actually looked back the other night and found it. may 22nd. well, the post from the 22nd. as soon as your dad started talking, this person stopped. and i have missed their presence sorely. i hope they will come back in a vocal way, but who knows. i know they're still here. i just miss speaking with them.

they're probably afraid of being torn apart. which is why most people stay silent in their churches. or only share "just so much" of themselves. because the whole of the being is not really acceptable. which is another reason this place was so exceptional. it used to be a place where you could share without fear. which is where the "sides" come in. there are many of us who are not interested in the style and type of debates your dad is moving towards and wish our fellowsihp could go back to the fun loving easy going group it used to be. not trying to kick anybody out of our group, just hoping that all who attend would actually get into the spirit of the group.

no time for spell check. i've got to get to work. thanks for the input. i'll see you physically on the 4th.

Tessa said...

Very well. Like i said, i see where you are coming from. If it has to be that way then it will be. As always, i care for you and look forward to conversation that don't have to be spell checked.