Tuesday, November 06, 2007

a good example


JOS 7:19-20 Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, I implore you, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me." So Achan answered Joshua and said, "Truly, I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel..."
JOS 7:24-25 Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, HIS SONS, HIS DAUGHTERS, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

John 8:3-11 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”... He straightened up, and said to them, “ He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her...” When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “ I do not condemn you, either..."

LEV 20:10 If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.


i have been reading through the OT for about 3 years nowas i was largely ignorant of what was contained in it. not that the sunday school teachers and pastors didn't talk about it. they did. but it was the same few stories over and over again. there are no flannelgraphs for the levite and his concubine. (Judges 19) but that's another story.

as of late, as i said to my niece a couple of weeks ago, i can only read about one chapter a week because i am so disturbed by the things i am reading. and i believe i have finally been able to put my finger on the crux of the question. which is a very old question, but it remains all the same.

why is there such a difference between god and the way he deals with people in the OT and the NT. not saying there are no similarities at all, but sometimes there are differences so great, they don't make any sense to my mind. and here is one.

so often the story of jesus and the woman caught in adultery is lauded as a great example of the mercy of god shown to us through his son as an example for us to follow in the way we treat others. by treating them as we would have them treat us. with much mercy and grace and judgement-free forgiveness. jesus is seen as a great hero when he calls out the harshness of the pharisees and silently chides them for being so merciless showing them that they indeed are no better than this woman.

but here's the twofold problem for me...

1. - in stopping this proceeding, jesus is in direct opposition to the law which was given by god who commanded his people to follow it upon pain of death and curses for disobedience.

2. - jesus, who is supposedly god, is chiding men FOR DOING EXACTLY WHAT GOD INSTRUCTED THEM TO DO! god is the one who taught the jewish people to kill those who do "wrong" and pounded the point home time and again through exiles and destructions until the jews had decided they would follow the law to the letter and not stray again.

so if jesus is the exact representation of the father, why did he do this? why did the father command jews to stone people, only to rebuke them later for obeying his command? how can a god desire his people to stone a man and HIS ENTIRE FAMILY who did not participate in his "wrongdoing" and later find it strange that his people were hardened and merciless when he commanded them to be so?

this disturbs me. and pat answers about god "having his reasons" and "his ways being higher than our ways" ring very fucking hollow. because somewhere a little girl, through no fault of her own, had her head bashed in by big rocks. and it pleased the lord. what was it like to be part of that mob? did it strike any of them as fucked up? or were they so filled by the "fear of the lord" at this point (because of all the smitings and killings and pestilences and plagues for disobedience) that although they didn't want to kill innocent children, they wanted to preserve themselves and their own households? very understandable. but a real fucked up choice to have to make in the first place. i mean, achan even admitted his wrongdoing, apologized, and told them where to find the evidence!

if any human exhibited this type of terroristic control over a group of people, he would be labeled a psychopath and a terrifically evil man. yet once again, jesus, who is supposed to be this same god in the flesh, does not exhibit any of these corrupt and megalomanical tendancies.

very disturbing and confusing indeed.

55 comments:

Tessa said...

Let me be the first to comment back since we were already engaged in these ponderings before you posted this.

First off, these questions aren't new. People have questioned the harshness exhibeted by God in the OT forever, and probably even while they were carrying out his laws and commands back in the day.

I attempted to answer that the OT law was before a time of grace, when i last saw you. Now in modern times, mercy and grace are ours because of the sanctifying work Jesus did for us on the cross.

You replied that Jesus hadn't yet died at the time he spared the adulterous woman. This is true. BUT, let me venture into teachings i know you are fond of. Your grandfather's! He is a big fan of the belief that the death of Jesus was symbolic of what had already been accomplished in the spiritual wrelm. I would say that tends to make sense. Jesus came to earth destined to die, and in just being God incarnate (humble and in human form) was enough to rock the socks of the Old Covenant. To me, this doesn't take away the enormous act of love that the death of Jesus was, he still felt every lash and every nail on our behalf and I truly believed i am cleansed in his powerful blood. But God being all powerful had victory over sin always. The short time Jesus chose to walk the earth was purposed for him to share with us his parables, and real life examples of mercy (a concept foreighn to the religion at this time) like with the adulterous woman.

And last of all, its important to remember that in our finite human understanding we will never be able to fully grapple with the timing God has chosen to enact his plans, at least not in this life. We can ask and twist our brains in knots all we want, but this isn't what makes God happy. He asks for FAITH, or trusting without seeing. Do I know my God is good? whole heartedly! and that is without understanding why a guy and his whole family needed to be stoned thousands of years ago....

Nate said...

Oh Tessa, Glad your here. "He asks for FAITH, or trusting without seeing. Do I know my God is good? whole heartedly!" You say.

God allows all evil to exist. If he is all powerful, then he can also eradicate evil. Yet he does not. Let's put it in a earthly setting. I am 230 lbs, and lift weights, so marginally strong. I come upon a female being raped, I look at it and move on. Do nothing to stop it. Is it right or wrong, good or evil?

Jon, I am a scientific person. In all of the things of God, I see ways to make the things of God happen through science. Now, look at human development. From baby to adult. Do the ways that you get them to behave differ? Of course! A 1 1/2 year old, to keep them from burning themselves on the oven, you spank their hand when they become close, telling them it is bad. Why, because they understand nothing else. Communication is not strong enough yet to convey what we want them to understand. Much in the same way has man been growing for some time. We were in our infancy, just learning to grow. Time to change tactics. That is for the society at large. For the individuals, they had not gotten to the "loop hole" stage yet. (my term) Where they did whatever, then did the rites to get forgiveness. So it was still effective with the burgeoning baby society that we were then.

Tessa said...

"God allows all evil to exist. If he is all powerful, then he can also eradicate evil. Yet he does not. Let's put it in a earthly setting. I am 230 lbs, and lift weights, so marginally strong. I come upon a female being raped, I look at it and move on. Do nothing to stop it. Is it right or wrong, good or evil?"

Are you calling God's character into question? Just curious as to the true crux of what you're getting at. If you could explain further I'd appreciate it.

Nate said...

No, I am not calling God's character into question. What I am saying is that God DOES see every rape that happens. But still he lets them happen. Is that Good or Evil?

Susan said...

The story of Achen reminds me of people who take drugs to Indonesia. The death penalty isn't enough to deter them from doing the wrong thing and they too are very sorry when they are caught. However the Indonesian authorities believe that drug trafficking is a horrendous crime worth of the death penalty regardless of what we may think in the West. Likewise God views sin differently to us. R.C. Sproul, "The Holiness of God" helped me to understand this. The thing that makes us change our behaviour is mercy but we never understand mercy until we understand every sin is worthy of the death penalty.

faintnot said...

yes, Susan, which should help us to understand the great feat that was accomplished on the Cross...we deserved death. The word says that if we break one part of the law we are guilty of breaking all the law. Why? Because to the Lord, unholiness is unholiness. Lying is as great as murder. Our thoughts are as powerful as our actions. Lust = adultery as far as the Lord is concerned.
Knowing His own standards and how impossible it is for us to live up to them, declaring us guilty yet loving us so much He came and paid that penalty for us. Our debt wiped clean we are now free to "start over" serving Him.

When I look at the Old Testament and see the terrible weight the Law (which is good) had, and that God would not be mocked, His standard would not be compromised, then I fall in love all the more with Him for His graciousness toward us.

Tessa said...

Exactly, The weight of the law in the OT was necessary for us to understand just how great a thing Jesus was accomplishing for us. Its not that God is turning a blind eye to the evil in the world (like rape victems as you mentioned Nate) but his grace is seen on earth in a miraculous way when a woman can look at her attacker and say "i forgive you." Without evil in the world the testimony of the gospel would have no real power. We couldn't talk of lives changed, or of a "redemptive work." God didn't create evil, neither is he indifferent to our suffering. Rather, evil is what happens apart from his presence, out of our natural human "animal" insticts. The contrast itself that exists between a life without God and a life with, the miraculous and the mundane, the super natural and the natural is what makes a God-centered life attractive.

Nate said...

Thank you Tessa for making my point. One cannot exist without the other. Is God evil? No he is sovereign. His will be done. That is another conversation.

Jon, Been thinking on this a lot lately. To me it really somes down to cultural perspective. In the US, to cut off a persons hand if they steal, is kind of ludicris to us, but is still practiced today. Stoning is still practiced. I know a guy who took part in a stoning. Mo, obviously short for a longer name, took part in the stoning of a homosexual. He knew of another in his town, but was not there. I really liked Susan's analogy a lot. One of the toughest things, I think, for people in the US to come to grips with the Old Testament God is he is does not fit our societal picture of who we were taught he was in sunday school. We have this firmly fixed picture in our minds of the God of love and mercy. Don't forget this same God of love, forgiveness, and mercy is going to throw billions of spirits/glorified bodies into the lake of fire. He also says enough is enough, your fried every once in a while.

To me he is the same God, just taking a different tactic now.

jON said...

(loving this, by the way. thanks for stopping by. there are cans of sardines and dry ramen on the table. help yourself.)

the main thing this brings into question for me are not the age old "how come bad things happen to good people?" or "how can a good god allow such things to go on?"

what it brings into question for me is the age old concept of the "immutability" of god. (there's a college word for you, tess.)

the idea that god never changes.
that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

but reading things like this really challenges that conept for me. because i try to be honest when i read my bible and forget all of the doctrine i've learned and simply let it speak for itself.

so i wonder... does god change? and if he does, is he is process with us? the common process of experiencing and learning and knowing and becoming?

is that how we are made in his image?

One Voice of Many said...

Jon,
I read your post when it first went up and I've been sitting silent and reading. I hear your frustration on what seems to be two opposing characteristics of what is taught to be the same God. I completely understand. I don't get it either.

When I take away the doctrine that I've been taught all of my life I realize that a lot of it doesn't make sense if you think about it.

I read some teachings of Jesus from Luke the other day and after I sat and listened to what He was saying I just got completely frustrated. I hate how reading the Scriptures means that I have to ask other people what Jesus meant. If He meant "that", why didn't He just SAY "that"?! It's a long tirade that I won't bring here but ... frustrating, none the less.

One Voice of Many said...

Jon - it's pretty inconsequential but I dug up that email I sent to some friends expressing basically your same frustration. If it helps...



A Fresh Look

I popped in a CD this morning from my Bible-on-CD set thinking what a great idea it would be to listen to the teachings of Jesus from an objective standpoint. Pretending to be listening for the first time, I took out good ole Luke and sat back for my lesson in the ways of Christ.

I was rolling along ok, until.....

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:27-36



Now that you've read those verses and noded along in agreement because it's familiar to you, let me explain why I was so stumped. Trying to listen from the vantage point of "the first time" then I'm listening for specific ways on how I can be a follower of Christ. If I am to be a simple person (which, I'm sorry to admit that I am) and I hear Him say things like this, then it makes me wonder: if someone breaks into my house, should I not call the cops? I should let them take whatever and not file a report.
How does that not enable them to continue down a road of victimizing others?
At what point does social responsibility contradict the Beatitudes?

I realize most of you, if not all of you, have now officially rolled your eyes at me but this has seriously distressed me today. It may be disrespectful to say, but in my frustration I'll say it anyway; when I listen to the parables and these kinds of teachings it just sounds more like the ramblings of an old person. The kind where it kind of makes sense but you still can't help but crinkle up your forehead with that "WTF" look. I don't know that I can even call myself a follower of Christ if I seriously can't understand most of what He's even trying to say!


At any rate - I do understand your frustration.. Michelle

Valorosa said...

"the common process of experiencing and learning and knowing and becoming?

is that how we are made in his image?"

Yes ...I totally think He was learning. We are made in His image meaning we are able to fellowship with God... communicate with Him ... be friends or enemies with Him. We use what's around us to create from the elements He has created for us to live in. I think a creation in His image has been quite a challenge for Him.

Let's go back to the garden ... the Lord said "they have become like us knowing good and evil." Then He scooted us out of the garden before we ate of the tree of life and then would live forever in the state we had found in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 3:21

"like us" :-) after eating of this tree we had become like those powerful spirits in the heavenly realm. For some reason He did not want us to live forever in that state.

The tower of Babel ...
Genesis 11
As the people decided to build a tower to the heavens the Lord came to see what they were doing.

vs.6
The LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them."

It seems He has always held a check on the things He "didn't" want us to do.
He has held us back for reasons of His own.

Have you ever thought of this? We are relatively new creations in His kingdom ... a kingdom where good and evil have always existed. We are also a creation that He has mourned over making in the first place. He has desired to annihilate us more than once.

Have you ever wondered that He just may have run out of options to find a way to have a good relationship with us now that we had become "like us"

Harsh ways, stiff rules just never worked to bring us alongside Him.

I think God has learned much in walking alongside His creation in His image.

In the end He chose to suffer for the evil among us ... taking complete responsibilty for us.

His beloved creation.

faintnot said...

He, God, has always known everything. Nothing takes Him by surprise, least of all how we will behave.
From the beginning He has had this all worked out.
Sometimes we make Him too small; trying to fit Him into our limited understanding.
Sometimes He is just a mystery and we have to trust that He knows what He is doing...

Valorosa said...

And I know what you are thinking Jon ... why were those trees in the middle of the garden in the first place. Why was a deceitful spirit like satan allowed to run around free in the garden at all to tempt their innocence ...
Was it another Job case scenario? Go ahead and test him but spare his life?
Don't know ... :-/

Susan said...

Trying to listen from the vantage point of "the first time" then I'm listening for specific ways on how I can be a follower of Christ

I don't have to imagine listening for the first time, I remember the first time! I didn't grow up in church and when I started reading the Bible it was very strange. Jesus was always saying surprising things and I still don't understand the WWJD (What would Jesus do) concept because how would you ever know what He was going to do? Sometimes He broke the rules and sometimes He didn't. Nevertheless I kept reading the Bible and listening to others because God had done such an amazing work in my life and I just trusted Him that I would eventually understand. I trusted His character that He was good and loving and wise even when the Bible made no sense. And yes I needed others to help me understand but I don't think that's a bad thing. Actually I think it is a very necessary thing, in the Christian life we are supposed to learn from each other. (Isn't that what we are doing here on this blog?) Nevertheless I have learnt to be discerning and I don't necessarily agree with everything I am/was told. "Iron sharpens iron" (Proverbs 27:17).

"the common process of experiencing and learning and knowing and becoming?
is that how we are made in his image?"


I'd have to say I don't think that is how we are made in his image. Hebrews 1:1-2 talk about God's progressive revelation of Himself. So our perception is that God is changing whereas it is really only God revealing to us more facets of His character.

Nate said...

This is a new twist that came to me. The immutability of God, (Jon thanks by the way of putting the definition of immutibility in there, it saved my dumb ass a trip to dictaionary.com) just hit me in a new way. Too often people would say that this means that he is a fixed quantity, unchanging or X. What if he were instead an equation. Like x+1=x. Meaning that each day, we add 1 to the resultant number, getting something new each day. The equation never changes, but x changes everyday. Thus the person is always the same. But always changing due to a defined set of standards.

I love theorizing about what God is like and trying to understand him. The only assuarance we have about God from the bible though, is that what ever we think, we are going to be wrong. You know why I love that? Of course you don't, I haven't told you. Because if we knew exactly who God was, belief wouldn't be necessary. Because we would have fact. No faith. Interesting. Definition destroys the thing most necessary, our faith.

Nate said...

GREAT COMMENTARY!!! WOOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!! This is awesome.

Valorosa said...

God says He is the same yesterday, today and forever. There is no shadow of turning in Him ... He is good. He is Holy.

We think we know what that means but really we don't know God as well as we think we do...we ignore His wrathful side and His seemingly unfair side. Why?
Are we afraid to really get to know Him?

These are important questions that Jon has ... it is the very way that atheists today who are becoming quite forceful in their own "beliefs" :-) are attacking the bible and casting doubt re: God and the Bible. They are pointing these very things out and making the Bible out to be a barbaric book. The Israeli nation had some heavy duty barbaric punishments and they were often merci-less. Does that sound like our God?
Time to face these questions or you will not have an answer for them.

God is who He is and will do as He desires. He does not change but that may very well mean that He IS always changing and renewing and the fact that He doesn't stop changing is the reality of His never changing if that makes any sense to you.

There is no stagnation in the eternal God ... His mercies are new every morning. Freedom itself dictates that all things must move on. That is what forgiveness is all about.

jON said...

michelle-
i can't speak for everyone, but there is no eye rolling coming from here. and although i can't speak for them , from what i know of this fine group assembled here, and the fact that they have endured my questions and ramblings for 2 years now leads me to believe you're in a place where the others aren't eye rolling either. it has always been my desire to let this place be a place where our deepest, darkest doubts may be shared and our most "blaspemous" questions may be aired and discussed free from judgement and fear. thanks for joining in.

would i call the police if i was robbed? yes. but not while i was being robbed. this may be what jesus was hinting at. the less you resist the demands of an evil person (when caught in a real shitty situation) the greater your chances of not coming to physical harm. i don't really know what he meant. but this seems to be concurrent with the experiences i have had over the years.

"How does that not enable them to continue down a road of victimizing others?
At what point does social responsibility contradict the Beatitudes?"

unfortunately, many victimizers or users aren't actually looking for help. genuine help. they just want the next quick fix to get them down the road. and if you give to them with love and generosity, it is done with the hope that either this time or perhaps years down the road, they will come to understanding. but it is not something that can be forced. i only know that if i was in a position of great need and was asking someone for help, even if the situation was of my own fault and choosing, i would still want help. that is how i would have others do unto me...

jON said...

have to get zaavan off to school, but i will be abck to respond to all of this and tie it together. i have the day off today and would like to spend a good portion of it here.

nate, if you make it here anytime soon, could you give us all an update on sherri and let us know how her surgery went so that we may pray more specifically?

jON said...

susan-
would you be willing to clarify your position on Heb.1:1-2 for me? when i read it, i didn't necessarily see that god was giving a "progressive revelation" of himself, but rather taht he has used different methods of communicating to us through different people. i could be off on this, though.

and i agree that god at least seems different at differnt times to different people. god, in my opinion, being the highest authority, stands separate from any sort of rule or law. he is the standard for all things and what he says goes at all times. it just makes it hard to pin him down into any sort of a static system.

and i agree that it is not good for us to remain in a state of "knowing good and evil." and taht, i think, is one of the most radical implications of grace taht goes very largely undiscussed or studied. if the cross has indeed covered over all of our sin for all time, then we, in my estimation, should be able to return to a "garden state" of being free with no thought for "good or evil." just beings living in joy and love and peace and being able to rest in that place and know that it is good. because once again, in my estimation, it is not our doing or not doing good or evil taht is the basis of our peace with god, but rather what jesus has done on our behalf. which is a work finished. completed. over and done. and if we can have confidence in THAT, we need never worry about ourselves and our own actions. jesus simply counseled us to guide our choices by asking ourselves, "how would i like to be treated in this situation?" knowing that whatever we choose, beneficial or destructive, we are still well within the bounds of limitless grace and have plenty of room for making mistakes and learning.

still curious to me is not how god "dealt" with the COI(children of israel), or even his "strict punishments" (though a little harsh and disturbing to my western pacifistic mind) but more towards the thought that god put forth much effort to guide the COI into being a people who upheld the law with strict adherance upon pain of death for disobedience. and then later, through his son, chided the COI religious leaders for being the very people that he (the father) had been shaping and molding them to be.

Valorosa said...

I don't think He was molding them and shaping them to be the hypocrites they were.

Do you really think they were men after God's own heart?

Do you really think they were just and merciful men?

Do you really think they followed the law and taught the people to do the same?

He called them white washed sepulchres the blind leading the blind.

In the OT you can count on one hand the just leaders they had who "did right in the sight of the Lord"

God's laws to the Israelis were protective ... at least I haven't got any examples in my head that weren't. The harshness for breaking some laws I have had trouble with as well ...
I think that an iron hand was always needed to control them. They were so grumbling and unfaithful, always needing to be reminded of who they were and who they belonged to.

Sounds like someone else I know ... lol

Me and you.

At any rate harshness did not work with us and we needed and still do need a mediator. Love is the only thing that brings us alongside Him and keeps us loyal.

Maybe the universe is a very harsh place to be ... we know so little.

Just thinking

Valorosa said...

No eye rolling here either, Michelle :-)

Nate said...

First off, Michelle, let the blaspheny and heresy roll. OK, maybe that is overkill, but feel free to throw any question out there that is troubling you. We will work through it with you.

Next, contemplating this all. God really hasn't changed at all. The judgement of death is still there. It is just the when of the judgement. After Jesus returns to sit in the judgement seat. No one gets off, it is just delayed instead of immediate. Still the same. But, if you kill someone before they can repent, then they will not be able to come to God's grace. Technical change, not a complete change.

With the turn the other cheek thing. I do not take the words literally, I take them figuratively. If someone slaps you in the face, turn the other cheek. Many times I have heard, "when he/she said that, it was like a slap in the face." Instead of going after that person in revenge, let it GO. Do nothing in retaliation. That is my take on it.

jON said...

exactly. "don't resist an evil person."

a very peculiar thought to contemplate and ruminate over as it pertains to us in our modern world. it does ring strange to my western ears. but maybe that's only because of the culture and paradigm i was raised in. it can be hard to disassociate myself from what i consider "normal, natural, and right." because that concept has one very specific picture in my mind. yet, in another's, a completely different picture. sometimes to the point of antithesis. but all the same, in each, at the heart level, life is lived in view of what that one feels is that same concept of "normal, natural, and right."

i think it can be easy to remember that "normal, natural, and right" is more like a set of sunglasses. worn around the right people, it can raise your status. but it is still only a filter through which to see the world. until we take off those glasses, we won't see what the world really looks like together.

you know, i have often had a thought. it is a question that i ponder from time to time. and i ask you because i appreciate all of your opinions. so i would love to hear your thoughts.

what do you think would happen if every human being went outside, sat on a patch of ground(real ground-no cement or asphalt), and waited on god?

Erin said...

Wow. Shit, I don't know anything anymore. Way more questions than answers these days. I'm enjoying this conversation. (Thanks to Nate for pointing to it, I somehow missed it.)

One Voice of Many said...

I am happy to have landed amongst a group of similar disrespectful heritics. :-)(spoken as a detoxing fundie) Thank you all for your reassurance. The "eye rolling" part was included in my original email out to my friends who consist of people I used to attend the same church with. Many have moved on to other churches, some are still in that particular one. We are one of the few who haven't landed anywhere else other than our couch.

I read, Seeking Enlightenment..hat by hat" the other day and there was a section on turning the other cheek. Let me quote just a section here as it really put a good spin on it for me:

"A rude driver cutting me off in traffic made me bitter. Striking back, I'd snap at a slow salesgirl and watch her turn sullent and angry, ready to pass the ugliness on to her husband, her child, the next customer. As I watched this process unfold again and again, pieces of an new/old concept began to appear on the edges of my mind.
...turning the other cheek, taking the hit, absorbing it, not striking back with your body or your spirit, effectively says, "The violence stops here, with me. I take it. I hold it. This stream of hate will flow no farther."

I'm still very much on the fence with most every doctrine that has been passed down. Judgement, hell, heaven, actual - real - historical accounts of OT stories.... I'm still "hmmmm... maybe" on those. But reading everyone's thoughts is still quite interesting.

Jon - as far as what would happen if everyone "waited on God"... I'm not sure what point you're trying to make but let me tell you -- we waited on God for the 15 years of our marriage and it's wound us up in a VERY difficult situation; financially and personally. God didn't show up and we waisted a LOT of time. So, I don't really recommend someone try that just for fun. It might not end up well.

Also, Jon, I saw your comments on my blog about original sin. If I didn't know better, I'd say you sounded a bit... pissy? lol
I'll go back there to comment. :-)

Erin said...

I've been thinking more about this discussion. I guess I have found a lot of my answers by learning to read some of the Old Testament as metaphor.

That, and realizing the people made a simple mistake when God gave the law. They thought the law was the priority (keeping the rules) instead of the Love being the priority (that God gave them the law because he Loved them). This gave birth to "fear of the Lord" in the literal sense, and it comes out in some of the writing.

As far as the killing and wars, though, I don't know. Are they literal? Are they metaphorical? I don't know.

Michelle - Not only do I have the questions you do about most doctrine, but beyond that, I'm not even sure we need to know what we believe about OT things because I'm not sure it's relevant other than to give context to references made to "scriptures" in the NT.

Sometimes I think the writers of the NT and what they had to say is what is important, but at some point they thought "oh, some people aren't going to know what we mean when we refer to this or that scripture, so lets include that here so they know what we are talking about." I know that's not how the Canon was determined, but sometimes I wonder.

Nate said...

Michelle, Last year, I started my blog to start defining what I thought about the scriptures. Basically creating my own doctrine. It was not my intention, as I hate doctrines, but that was where it was headed. Doctrines are stupid in the fact that they limit God. They say that this or that is right, and everything else is wrong. Therefore God is this and nothing else. It is all crap. As I run into different people and their beliefs, I learn more about God and my beliefs evolve. I go back to old posts, reread them and then rewrite them stating what I believe now. I wholehearted believe that faith is fluid, and everchanging. Anyone trying to corral that faith into a simple set of ideals is an idiot. The only thing that I am sure of, is when I get to the kingdom, is that I will be proven wrong about many of my strongest beliefs. God will look at me and go, "son, you tried real hard, but you got to a place with your faith that truly astounds me with your stupidity. But for me it was the effort that counted, welcome home."

Susan said...

Jon, you are actually right the first verses in Hebrews don't specifically talk about a progressive revelation. I guess it is more the general feeling I get from reading the whole book of Hebrews. There are references to things in the OT and then the idea that these were only shadows of the things to come (Hebrews 10:1 which refers to the law but he/she has just been talking about the tabernacle, covenant and worship). So I get the impression that God was progressively revealing more and more of Himself – I understand that others may not get that impression.

Another thought: Generally when we read a book we don't take it literally for example if we read that something was "an earth shattering event" we would understand it was exaggeration. Some expressions like that are so normal we don't even notice them when we read. Jesus used many expressions that were understood in his context that don't equate quite so well to ours.

So it is good to have these discussions about what Jesus really meant.

One Voice of Many said...

Nate - Don't forget this same God of love, forgiveness, and mercy is going to throw billions of spirits/glorified bodies into the lake of fire.

I'm not sure if you meant this sarcastically or not. I'm sure it's a discussion for an entirely different time and place but I don't believe that anymore about the after life. If you consider God to be a just God, he wouldn't even do that to Hitler. Justice means the punishment fits the crime. While Hitler would deserve quite a LOT and it be just (equal) to what he facilitated - an eternity... ETERNITY... in eternal conscious torment would not be just. McLaren is one of many that leans towards annihilation, which sounds more plausible and just to me as well.
There is a book called The Four Views of Hell. A VERY good read for anyone looking to consider the option. I realize that ultimately, it doesn't matter what we decide is correct - what happens on the other side will be whatever it will be. However, before I settle down with the idea of a God that would do that ... well, I can't settle with that actually... so I try to consider maybe we didn't understand some of those parables very well either.


Susan - Generally when we read a book we don't take it literally for example if we read that something was "an earth shattering event" we would understand it was exaggeration.

Been reading McLaren, have you? I've heard him use that explanation as to why figures of speech from Biblical times make us all loopy. They were only speaking in terms that meant something to them. Good point.

Michelle

Valorosa said...

I've wondered lately how many of those "details" of Jewish law were actually part of the ten commandments or whether the Israelis did as they were so often prone to doing, interpreting the heart of God wrong, making their own ways and "using" God to back them up. Sort of like some religious groups do, slaughtering in the name of God or dictating in the name of God whether you can dance or watch TV or go out on Hallowe'en.

The bible is a history of the Israeli nation and their walk with God. I am glad all the misbehaving in the OT is revealed to us.

The Israelis themselves, misinterpreted the heart behind what God wanted and wandered off into their own thinking.

We are no better.

Matthew 5:16 to the end

Maybe Christ was saying LOOK what you have done to my law ... you have been slack here and you have been too harsh here ... among the rules here that He addresses only two are actual commandments from the ten.

He says "unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."

The corrective teaching goes on and on throughout chapters 6 and 7 straightening out the things he meant when the ten commandments were given to them...ending with this

Matthew 7:28

"When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes."

He corrected their wrong thinking and crushed the self serving rules of the religious leadership.

Much like our control freak dos and don't's thinking in the churches today.

The scribes and pharisees are still among us.

Susan said...

Yes Michelle I have been reading McLaren, though I had forgotten it was him who used that agrument. I found it to be a very helpful way of understanding some of the things Jesus said.

One Voice of Many said...

Susan - me too...I do like Mclaren a lot. His last book, though, Everything Must Change, didn't hold my attention. I only got half-way through it and "shelved" it for later.

jON said...

okay. erin and i are going away for the weekend. our first two nights away together, kidless, in 5 years! i am going to try to respond to everything that stuck out to me, so this may be a little long. i love you all and hope to see much more when i return. feel free to raid the fridge while we're gone. our home is your home. have fun. (i don't have the time or energy to go back and check spelling. deal.)


"Do you really think they were men after God's own heart? Do you really think they were just and merciful men? Do you really think they followed the law and taught the people to do the same? He called them white washed sepulchres the blind leading the blind."
precisely the crux of my question here. my answer to all of those questions is of course "no." but at the same time, reading through the OT a full second time, i am noticing more and more instance where god is himself the instigator towards the killings and observing the law with a ruthless hand. so much so as to cause death and curses himself towards the COI when they have mercy and allow some people whom they were supposed to kill to live.
in the grand scheme of things, it can be too easy for me to look back and recognize that what the pharisees and sadducees and teachers of the law made the worship of the one god into was a horrible thing that is not unlike modern, western, evangelical christianity and what it has become.
but at the same time, in the early days of Israel, you have god pounding in a message over and over again. "observe the law and kill all who don't. observe the law and kill all who don't." and he did this because he didn't want the COI to become corrupted by the world. he was trying to create a people who "knew him face to face" and have them be an example and influence to the world. and we know things didn't work out like that.
break for 400 years, and when we rejoin the action, a corrupted religion based on the one god has taken hold and many traditions and rules have been put into place that the god never spoke in order to keep people from crossing the real lines that the one god had laid down. WHICH, IN THEIR MINDS, IS WHAT GOD WAS GOING FOR. a people completely obsessed with observing and keeping his law and punishing those who did not. only to find out when jesus came on the scene that they had completely missed it.
so was it god's intention? did they really miss it? or were they shaped the way they needed to be in order to kill jesus when he showed up?

"The judgement of death is still there. It is just the when of the judgement."
i have often thought of this as well. that perhaps it is MY perspective that is skewed because i live in the peculiar age of grace. grace has not been around as long as the law. adn we know that a judgement is coming. but exactly what that is and what it looks like is still up in the air for me and changing all the time.

"The violence stops here, with me. I take it. I hold it. This stream of hate will flow no farther."
how very ghandi! :-) in fact, it is the very same words of jesus, about turning the other cheek, that lead him to become the man and lead the revolution that he did.

"I'm still very much on the fence with most every doctrine that has been passed down...But reading everyone's thoughts is still quite interesting."
souds like we're in the same boat. i'm in the midst of forgetting everything i was taught and just trying to let the bible speak for itself. and trying to understand what it really is. literal? allegorical? metaphoical? dramatical? all of the above? i tend to lean more towards "all of the above" and am working on sorting out which is which. the people who i have met who take the WHOLE bible as any ONE of the above, in my opinion, seem to be a little unbalanced in their theologies.

hence the "pissy-ness". (which i would call more fiesty than pissy) do i think god speaks to us through poets and musicians and song lyrics? absolutely! do i think that lyrics lend themselves towards hard and fast absolute truths? not as much... however i still think god is speaking through musicians and lyrics, both light and dark, as with the psalms. for me, the power is not in the words themselves, but in the naked heart that is being shared with raw honesty. and that raw honesty could be over a mistaken conception, but it is powerful in its honesty nonetheless.


"We waited on God for the 15 years of our marriage and it's wound us up in a VERY difficult situation; financially and personally. God didn't show up and we waisted a LOT of time."
a story i would love to hear if you feel like sharing. unless of course you have already shared on your blog. in which case i just need a link.

"As far as the killing and wars, though, I don't know. Are they literal? Are they metaphorical?"
i think they were very much actual, historical events. i think the jews were very vigilant on that point.

and i do think there is a lot to be gained and understood through reading and wrestling with what is in the OT. for me, anyway. tempering my reading through Joshua right now is also reading through Job. Job is a fantastic read if you haven't read it recently. asking all of the questions and raging at the skies as we want to some of the time. especially after a great tragedy or upheaval in our lives. even when we were "following god" with all of our heart and strength.

ecclesiastes is pretty bitching too and lends itself very well to our modern, countercultural, liberal mindset.

yet, i DO agree that the NT writers were sometimes very poor at pulling OT verses out of context and saying that it fit what they were talking about.

"I wholeheartedly believe that faith is fluid, and everchanging. Anyone trying to corral that faith into a simple set of ideals is an idiot."
enough said.

"I get the impression that God was progressively revealing more and more of Himself."
i get the same feeling. there are just some things that were done and commanded in the OT that bring several things about god and who he is into question for me. i think that we as humans ARE in a state of constant flux and change as god guides us into becoming new beings. and i like how you used a he/she to talk about the writer of hebrews. i tend to side with my mother that it was written by a woman, which is why it is unsigned. i don't see how anyone can read anything else taht paul wrote and then try to say that this letter is written by the same guy.

"Generally when we read a book we don't take it literally...Some expressions like that are so normal we don't even notice them when we read."
the thing for me is that you and i may understand exaggeration or allegory, but many MANY men through the ages have created their doctringes and warred with people over them because they believe every specific word to be the WORD OF GOD. handed down to us specifically by god and taht every single word was chosen to convey a message to us about the correct and proper way to live and think. so when the see the word "all", they take it seriously.

as opposed to thinking that these letters are the best understandings of god that these men had at the time they had written them, and not necessarily hard and fast absolute reuls and laws to live and understand the world by.

"I'm sure it's a discussion for an entirely different time and place..."
why not here and now? i have read four views of hell and i don't know if i believe in any of them. i don't know if hell is going to be a literal place so much as a state of mind. which is not a new concept. the thought that the cross worked and we all have eternal life, but the quality of taht is directly related to who we are and who we become and the state of mind we bring with us into the next stage where everything changes.

the thought that the judgement to come will be us getting the desires of our hearts.

which begs the question, how well do i know myself and my heart and what its TRUE desires are? and how honest am i with myself and others about that?

Valorosa said...

Jon, I am so glad that you are reading the OT cover to cover.

If you want to know who the Father is you must read it that way ... from beginning to end leaving no stone unturned.

I'm quite sure when all is said and done that you will see that He is a God of love and knows the intent of each one's heart. There are instances in the OT where he has recanted His judgment in sympathy for tears of repentance and granted mercy and when you get finished with Job you will see the very thing that my own earthly Dad spoke to me a long time ago.

"I figure God will do anything He wants to do."

Jesus speaks of the Father's heart here ... to me this sums up the COI and their relationship with Him ...

Matthew 23
Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

"Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!

"For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"

Nate said...

My goodness, things are really firing up. Awesome. As with Jon, I would like to throw some things out that hit me.

"Jesus used many expressions that were understood in his context that don't equate quite so well to ours." I like this a lot, because when truly getting all out of study that one needs, culture is a real piece of it. Example, Sherri's surgery went well this week. I said, "we have never gotten the long end of the stick before," to my mom. Long end/short end of the stick. Think about someone reading that 2,000 years from now, and basing a religion on it.

"I'm not sure if you meant this sarcastically or not. I'm sure it's a discussion for an entirely different time and place but I don't believe that anymore about the after life. If you consider God to be a just God, he wouldn't even do that to Hitler"
Yes I believe that God will drop billions of people in a lake of fire. Why, because even though it was a vision, even if it isn't fire, I think whoever they are will hate where ever God sends them. Just as if they were thrown into a lake of fire. Will it be forever, It doesn't say that in the bible. Not that I remember anyway. It doesn't even tell us what happens beyond the thousand year reign. Maybe all of those people in the lake of fire are released. Who knows.


"I've wondered lately how many of those "details" of Jewish law were actually part of the ten commandments or whether the Israelis did as they were so often prone to doing, interpreting the heart of God wrong, making their own ways and "using" God to back them up." Lots of people in my belief. So many churches so things that are nowhere in the bible and attribute it to the bible. Crazy.
"http://honestfaith.blogspot.com/2007/08/things-that-arent-in-bible-4.html" That link is to Barry Talyor's blog. He has some good ones, and this is a great example of wha V is saying.

Last and not least, a thought of my own, "How far does grace extend? To fallen angels? To lucifer?" I do not think that we can find the answers to that in the bible. But it makes me go HMMM.

Valorosa said...

How far does grace extend?

Pretty far ... but keep in mind that there are those who "hate" God and will not accept His grace nor His everlasting love.

One Voice of Many said...

valorosa - if I hate grace, does that stop it from being there anyway?

(just wondering anyone's thoughts - )

Valorosa said...

No, I guess anymore than you hated chocolate or flowers.
?? :-)

Nate said...

Hey Guys,
Check out "Life In General" blog. Cool stuff there.

Susan said...

I'm wondering if perhaps we are asking the wrong question, instead of why did God have all those people killed in the OT perhaps we should be asking, If the wages of sin is death, why did God allow any of them to live? And for that matter why does He allow any of us to live – when he took out Ananias and Sapphira which was after Jesus died.

I think we take God's mercy for granted.

(Yes Jon, I also like to think Hebrews was written by a woman)

jON said...

"How far does grace extend?"

"if I hate grace, does that stop it from being there anyway?"


million dollar questions. questions that were at the heart and beginning of the melting of my previously held doctrines and beliefs.

is grace there for you if you don't know it? is grace there for you even if you don't believe in it? if the blood was meant as a sacrifice for everyone everywhere, is it dependant on our belief for effectiveness? and if it's effectiveness is dependant on our belief, doesn't that make our belief more powerful than the cross? if our non-belief is able to block it's effects? which then makes me wonder, why the cross at all if it is our belief that effects grace?

which is not to say that belief in grace is not powerful. not in the least. when once you have belief in grace, your outlook, perspective, and entire mode of being changes.

but does "not believing" keep you from being covered by grace?

and in myself, coming to a more universal understanding of grace, i think that also answers the question you have asked susan about why god allows any of us to live. he allows us to live because of grace. yes, very curious is the story of ananais and sapphira, as it is the only one of its kind post-resurrection.

"I'm wondering if perhaps we are asking the wrong question, instead of why did God have all those people killed in the OT..."
and to once again try to steer a portion of the coversation back to my original question, (not that i don't love the tangents it has brought up. keep 'em coming.) i'm not disturbed as to why god had the people in the surrounding areas to the COI slaughtered. in my opinion, he was clearing the way for a people to be with him and he wanted there to be no pagan influences around them. he wanted a people who were completely a "clean slate" with which to teach and reveal himself and give birth to something new and wonderful and intimate in the world that involves god as he truly is, face to face.

god ASKED the COI to perform these killings and slaughterings on people who were without the law, jews and non-jews alike, without mercy. that is a fact. it is not the confusing part. the part that is confusing and disturbing is that later, in the aftermath of pressing these people to adhere to the law and disposing of non-adherants without mercy, that his son would come through later only to say that these people had completely missed the boat because they were a people without mercy.

is it because they didn't really know god? is it because they had replaced many of god's true requests with man-made tradition? absolutely. all of the above. but there is also a truth in that god WANTED his people to be a people without mercy towards those that did not obey the law.

perhaps things got bad when they stopped listening to god about whom to slaughter and whom not? or when they began to add their own rules to what god had truly said so that they were killing and people without mercy according to their own intuition instead of being obedient to god?

Nate said...

Wow the milage on this conversation. I can't use the center scroll button on my nouse because it takes to long to get to the bottom. That kind of annoys me, but, I have teddy grahams. That kind of peps me back up. Oh where to start.

I'm with Susan more on this than most people. People like the "fluffy bunny" version of God. My version of God is the "Benevolent Despot."(BD for later) As my Ideologies teacher said, it is the best form of government. A BD is a king, he/she is soverign. Meaning that they have many decisions to make. Life and death decisions. Sometimes passing the judgement of death. Since you Jon are reading the old testament, how many times had the COI been warned about worshipping other gods? And how many times did they listen? If I were God, I would try the, exterminate everything and start with a clean plate approach too. At least once.

But, one of the things that I see in the bible, is God learning about his creation. This is just my view, not biblical that I can prove, just the impressions that I get. He starts with the most simplistic control techniques that He can find, "do not eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil." To something so complex, that none of us can fully explain it sufficienty. I think a lot of it is the capriciousness of God himself. We are for his pleasure. I think that if God wanted, he could cause absolute predestination. But what fun would that be. Free will thrown in there adds a little spice to an otherwise extremely boring existance. If we are made in God's image, then he has the "principle of diminishing returns" as well. The first time we have an exciting experience, he have a great rush, and afterwaord are still pumped. Like riding a wonderful rollercoaster. But after riding it 20 times, we are not that interested in it, and the old zeal is gone. If God is like that, then free will is his new and exciting experience.

Anyway, what has all of this to do with your original question. I believe God has deliberately limited himself on earth, to certain boundaries. Like not controlling people unless absolutely necessary. Or absolute preknowledge. Why? For his pleasure. Why can he do this, he is sovereign, and can do what he wants. Why should I give my allegience to such a manipulative person? Because he truly takes care of me and loves me.

Nate said...

PS-Jon, Grace is a gift. 3 things can become of a gift. First, the gift can be accepted and treasured. Second, the gift, after being seen for what it was, can be rejected. Lastly, it could not be known that it exists, and there fore cannot be accepted. ie. mailman delivers you a present. Wife collects it, and puts it in top of the fridge. You come home and place something else in front of it, and push it back out of sight. Your wife forgets about the package. You don't know about the package. What good does it do you. None. Those are my thoughts on the gift of faith.

One Voice of Many said...

my question on grace is - what if it's like a deposit into an account. If someone deposits $1,000,000 into my account, even if I never knew it was there at all, it would still be there to cover any bounced checks that might come along.

Even if I didn't officially accept it and give a thank you - it was put there anyway.

??maybe?

Valorosa said...

I see what you mean ... and agree with you 'one voice of many'. It is there and will be there for us no matter what and even when we are not aware of it.

I was referring to those who have known grace and turned away from it,those who have known the holy spirit and turn away.
Those who have tasted and know but hatred rules their heart possibly for the very reasons Jon is bringing out. Which not everyone is ready to face.

Jon, you are right and David knew it as well

Psalm 139:6
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

Surrender ... and be loved.

Nate said...

Michelle and Wendy,
I am not saying that grace is not always there for those that would like to take advantage of it. Becuase it always will be.

To lose your salvation, is real simple. First you accept the gift, then reject it. From what my studies have taught me, is that rebellion against God will do it. Meaning casting away all that is precious to him, for our own wants and desires.

jON said...

first of all, happy thanksgiving to all of my american counterparts. we have many blessings amidst all of the things we like to complain about. in fact it is those blessings that give us the time and ability, most often, to do the complaining we do. so be thankful.

i have a hard time with the "gift" analogy. unless i am reading you wrong, nate, you are saying that grace is something available to everyone, but grace does not take effect unless it is chosen or "accepted." which, to the best of my understanding, is the standard doctrine of salvation ascribed to by most mainline evangelical american churches. the college term for it is "arminianism", named so for its primary proponent, jacobus arminius.

but when we're talking about something as ubiquitous as GRACE, i think we transcend talk of things in boxes that need to be opened or are useless, and are more on par with things like atmosphere and gravity. things that are there whether we want them or think about them. and it doesn't matter if we "accept" them or not, they are there nonetheless. unless i am incorrect, this is along the lines of what you're leaning towards, michelle.

my main, personal, non-biblical thought on the subject is this: if the cross was meant as a covering for all sin for all time, how can you hold back that power? how can the sacrifice not do what it was intended to do and erase the burden and debt of sin hanging over our heads? it is a thing done. the cross has happened. it doesn't matter whether we acknowledge it or "accept" it or not. it is finished. i tend to believe more along the lines of what our grandfather believes which is the cross provided a "judicial pardon" for everyone. and once i came to this understanding, everything about life, from perspective to praxis, changed radically for me. of which we can speak more at length later if there is interest.

i, however, do have a question for wendy and nate, as we move on towards discussion of salvation and grace. you both have talked of people who "reject" god or his gift of salvation towards us. have you known of any people like that first hand? if you have, what did that look like? if you haven't what do you think it looks like?

Nate said...

Yes Jon, Thank you. I am using Grace as the coverall term for salvation. You are correct in saying that it is a judicial pardon. In my mind, I was thinking grace as salvation. Thank you for catching that.

The falling away from God is what I asked Grandpa about. For the best question to ask is, "Will there be satan worshippers in the kingdom?" Many say, "of course not." But the Baptist doctirne says that once saived always saved. So, you become saved, then turn away from God to worship nad embrace satan. According to the Baptist, yes there will be satan worshippers there. I think the best way it was ever described was with the parable of the Prodigal Son. But he had to return and reconcile himself with his father before he was allowed back. He had lost his inheritance, but was allowed back into the house. So if we split from God, we are them gone from him, until we return and reconcile.

Susan said...

Jon, you ask so many questions it makes my brain hurt! lol

I would like to elaborate on taking God's mercy for granted (which I hope will relate to some of your questions a few comments ago, Jon.)

As unusual as it would be Peter doesn't seem surprised with Ananias and Sapphira dropping dead. Perhaps Peter understood any sin is worthy of the death penalty and it is only because of God's mercy that we live. The COI should have understood this. That God was extending mercy to them therefore they ought to extend mercy to others except on those occasions when God specifically told them to carry out his judgement which I don't think was all that often in the overall scheme of things (except when they first entered the promised land).

David should have been stoned for his adulterous affair (not to mention murder) but his life was spared and his child died. David accepted God's judgement and then worshipped because he understood his sin was worthy of the death penalty and God was showing him mercy. I like to think the child was going to a better place (heaven).

I suspect we don't like think of ourselves as being in need of mercy – we tend to think we are not so bad as to need mercy, grace maybe but not mercy – however in the presence of a holy God we need mercy and thankfully God is usually very merciful though He wasn't with Ananias and Sapphira. Maybe that was God's point – don't take mercy for granted.

jON said...

as the grateful dead once said, "what a long strange trip it's been." at least nate has teddy grahams to get him by. and perhaps he will share them with us, or at least use them to leave a trail so we can find our way out again!

so let's see. grace. satan worshippers. god's severe mercy and holiness...

how does one leave god to serve satan? according to church tradition i walked down that road a while ago. yet, i am convinced that i have never been more rooted in god and his being than ever before as i see things like love and joy and peace flowing in, through, and around me than i ever did when i was being a "good christian." and i have seen this same thing from many who have "turned away." so, if you would not mind, i am simply curious if you could expound a little more on what it actually looks like when a person turns away from god to serve satan. and also if you happen to know any satan worshippers firsthand and know what they believe about life and god and religion. not just their views on christianity, but what they believe about their own religion. i'm not trying to bait you into anything, i'm just curious how much firsthand knowledge you have on the subject or if it is all simply hearsay and theory. because i have had different experiences with "satanists" than most conventional descriptions. although, like christianity, there are about a billion different subgroups within the genre... but that's a different story.

i still marvel and ruminate over the tale of A&S. killed for not giving the full amount of money they received from selling a piece of property. they gave some but not all. and they lied and said it was all. was it the lie? was it not giving the full amount? was it peter and the divine ability to perform miracles he had been given? was it a reflexive move by the father left over from the days of the old covenant? a quick smiting and then remembrance, "oh yeah. i need to stop doing that."

thanks for enduring my questions and even engaging. as you can see, i never quite got this sort of question and study and discussion in sunday school growing up, so i have a big back log of questions. i apologize for hurting your head susan, but it is good to have you and your perspective around.

and thanks everyone for helping to crack the "50 comment" mark. i think the old record around here was something like 35. and most have been more than a single sentance like "hey, good thoughts, man." real, thought out, heartfelt discussion. i love it. it's almost like a genuine discussion group or something.

or something else... ha!

Valorosa said...

Rev 9:18 ... a third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads, and with them they do harm.

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders
nor of their sorceries
nor of their immorality
nor of their thefts.

As you see in the above scripture from Revelation, that even during the great tribulation and release of God's wrath He is still looking for those who will turn to Him and repent.

I don't think I mentioned satan worshippers Jon. Only those who have tasted of the holy spirit and "know" God and have turned away. Enticed, I would say, as Jesus was during the 40 day fast. I'm not sure all satan worshippers know much at all and are followers to a manipulative bunch of leaders very much like some "christian" leaders. But really these kinds of manipulative leaders rule the world today.
What do they look like?
I think they are everywhere and in every suit. From the ghettos to the palaces and mansions of our world. People manipulating other people to use them for their own greedy gain ... at whatever economic or social level that is.

According to scripture satan is the prince of the power of the air.

Ephesians 2:1
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

These people rule the world right now. The 'love' of money is the root of all evil.
It is the presence of the godly... the salt and light of the world that keeps them at bay.

Tessa said...

Sorry, i dropped off for a few days... holidays and what not.

I didn't have quite the attention spand to read through all i missed. BUT i did really want to comment back to jon about why did God tell the COI to be without mercy and then have Jesus come later to tell them they missed the boat.

I think the Pharisees were following laws for their own self advancement, not out of a love for the God who made the law. BIG DIFFERENCE. They missed the boat on what ones proper motivation should be when serving the Lord, however, im sure their ferver was dead on target. When Jesus said "hey wake up! God demands more than rituals, he wants your motivations, your love!" thats when things got hairy. The pharisees lacked the ability to love God more than they loved themselves.

I could go follow all of the guidlines of the NT, soup for the poor, give my mattress to a prostitute. but if i did it for me, like hey guys, check out my rightiousness, i think that is the worst kind of pride and something detestable. I think thats what got Ananias and Sapphira into so much trouble was this kind of pride coupled with lying (not that their death wasnt out of the ordenary for post-cross happenngs, but perhaps God wanted to make an example of them early on in his new church.)

Jesus never spoke a word against what was written in the law. If he had, the debates between the Judiasers and people who accepted gentile costums would have been a non-issue within the early church. Thank God they settled on acceptance of gentile costums though eh? I'm not really one for a good stoning. However, if we still followd orthodox jewish costums i don't think Jesus would mind as long as we did it out of love for him.

Patti Blount said...

Jon-I ran across your blog via Nate's blog, and read most of what you said. I then skimmed the comments. I didn't want to read all of them because they were too long, but primarily because I wanted to listen to the Spirit of God in me to hear what He would say. Sometimes reading everyone else's thougths interfere with that for me. My impulse was to put forth my offense at your use of ugly words, but I was held at bay on that account. Anyway, I did not respond, but remained open to the Spirit upon going to bed, and during the night apparently. When I woke up, I had what I believe the Lord had shown me to say. So here it is:

"What if "Because I AM" is the only answer there is? The question to be answered would still remain: Are you going to believe that He is a good God who you can trust with your life or not?"

Jon, I believe that is the question we all have to answer not only when we decide to accept Christ, but also as the relationship continues. Everyday, I must answer that, and, yes, especially when things happen to me which involve pain and suffering. I was watching the videos from the book of John last night, and this same question (more or less) was put forth by Jesus Himself, when He kept asking the Pharisees, His disciples, and the on-lookers if they believed He was who He said He was. The point is indirectly related to your questions in that He was saying if you know my Father, and that I am from Him (and I am Him) than you would know that I am good and trustworthy, and you would come to Me. He asked His disciples if they believed in Him or if they were going to leave Him too, and Peter blurted out that yes, he believed. He said (my paraphrase) that He did believe, and then to who else would he turn, because Jesus has the words of eternal life. In fact, He is eternal life.
So, thank you, Jon for bringing these questions to the forefront,albeit in a raw way. It has revealed to me that I really do believe He is good and cares for me and my life, and that He can be trusted. I am not denying though that I probably will continue to struggle with that question throughout my life as things "happen" that don't seem like love or goodness to me, but I also know that He will move on me(however He does that) to use my questioning and doubts to bring to the surface that question of if I think He is good, and can I trust Him with my life. Time and time again I find myself answering as Peter did, and my trust level in Him seems to increase.(But know that I know that He does it)
Jon, bless you. As your confusion comes to a pinnacle, I believe God will use it to draw you to Himself, unless you willingly refuse Him time and time again. I don't know where or when that point is, and I'm not saying that to scare you, but do be aware that there is one who tempts us all to "forget God" and live for ourselves, and if we are not trusting God to keep us, we all could go that way of death that seems like life. Even His followers are tempted to "throw in the towel." It was just 3 weeks ago that the enemy had me believing that I was not even God's. This brought me so much torment and anguish that I called a sister in the Lord because I had lost all ability to hear from the Lord. She was in Big Lots at the time, and I didn't hear much she said except the words of life I needed to here (which was a miracle in itself) when she said, "You are His." I heard it in my spirit as Him saying, "You are Mine." I heard that for the first time I think, and the result of knowing and believing that has made all the difference.
I am believing that the Lord will bring you rest and peace. Patti.