Monday, January 12, 2009

rote: being like god

here is an old post from last year i never got around to finishing. i touched it up a little and decided to throw it out there...

i have heard it said my whole life that the "original sin" is that adam & eve wanted to be like god. in fact it is this same thing that we are told about that enigmatic character known as lucifer. that because they wanted to be like god, they were punished and to want to be like god is wrong and sinful. yet, how many times in the same building and from the same mouths are we told that jesus is god and we are to be like him. so which is the truth? is wanting to be like god a sin? is jesus really god? is it a sin to want to be like him, then? if so, why are we encouraged to do it? if not, why are we taught that the original sin is wanting to be like god?

aren't we supposed to be like god? shouldn't we desire to be like her? wouldn't this world be a much better place if we were all like god? if we are to be like christ, and jesus only did and said what the father showed and said, shouldn't we be trying to be like god? isn't that what god wants?

but the real crux of the problem comes for me in the form of this: the original commandment given to humans as recorded in the bible is to not "eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil." however, is this not what most legalistic religions (christianity, islam, judaism) have as their main diet? nothing but heaping helpings of the "knowledge of good and evil" day in and day out? cramming it in as fast as we can shovel it constantly craving and downing more and more and more and more?

i had a hunch a few years ago that what jesus' death accomplished for all of us was to return us to a "garden state" in which everything was okay again. the law was overcome and done away with. only two things remained. to love god with everything in our beings and treat others the way we wish to be treated. in this view, nothing is then "off limits" as we would think of classical explanations of "sin." rater, what needs to be off limits is asking whatn is evil and what is good. which only leads to judgement. which we are warned away from. paul even says this by telling the people of rome not to ask "who will acend or who will descend. but rather...the word of god is near you."

what would life be like without this knowledge? what would be open to our consciences? to be able to DO ANYTHING BUT eat of the "fruit of the knowledge of good and evil"? can you imagine it? having that kind of wide open boundless freedom?

so then is this a wise course of action (steady diet of the knowledge) when it is the thing that set god off in the first place and was the root of our disconnect with god? the very roots of our expulsion from the garden? should we continue shoveling it in? is it just too late to go back, or can we still livein this manner?


Erin said...

Hmm. That's kinda how I live already, at least in my heart. It doesn't carry over to the world as much as I'd like, but always working on that.

It is frightening to have real freedom. There is a risk that a person who just comes to this realization will go nuts with it; I know I did. But eventually things swing back into balance, and suddenly a person can SEE in really see. I was no longer clouded by the reason and law...I really had to begin to look at my heart...until then it was easy to just be clean on the outside and call it good.

Law brings death to the soul, in my opinion. It kills the fires within us...including the fire of personality and creativity.

As usual, that might not be true of everyone, but it's where I am.

Susan said...

I've been reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell and he was talking about being like Jesus in the sense of a disciple wanting to do the things his rabbi did. I think we are to be like the earthly Jesus who laid aside his divine status. I think Adam and Eve's sin was usurping God's authority.

Anyway, I think it was Augustine who said, "Love God and do as you please" because he knew that if we really loved God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength then we will only want to do what pleases God.

Another interesting thing Rob Bell was talking about was it is not God's plan to return us to the garden or a 'garden state' but rather that we grow and move on to a city - the new Jerusalem.

Ruth said...

I like the new avatar Jon. You do know what the ladies like.

I don't think we can go back to the garden state in this present world because we do have knowledge of good and evil, evil has entered this world and Satan is the ruler of this world. What Christ did was to make us positionaly right with God so that we don't have to pay the penalty for our sin nature. However, we are always fighting against it even though our minds are being renewed. Yes we have freedom but we must use it wisely and guard our hearts.

Question - what is your definition of freedom? What should we be free to do and not call it sin?

PS. welcome back.

wanting more said...

Ugh. I did not want to read this...but alas I am glad I did. I am not sure why I did not want to read it...

Anyhow, I think this is cool. Maybe A and E took their hearts and minds off of God and focused on the rules to follow to be more like Him somehow instead?

Wanting to BE God sounds like more of a sin than wanting to be LIKE God. Does it mention original sin anywhere in the Bible? I'm too lazy to look.

Maybe if we love God with all of our hearts and are so attuned to Him, then we will be less likely to "sin." I don't want to say we will not sin, because I am not sure if that is possible...But, yes. This is freedom.

Throw the damn rules out the freakin' window, and follow's not that we are supposed to try to be like God - making an effort to follow His rules - but that in relationship with Him, we would know His heart, and our love for Him would transend our sin nature in some way.

I don't even want to attempt the whole question of is Jesus God or not...

I guess it's scary to some to throw all of the rules out. I like to have rules in my daily life...of course, I have a preschooler and a toddler.

I just had a thought. Maybe it can only be freedom if we are throwing out the rules in the most unselfish of ways.

Also...this verse comes to mind:
"I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6
I know this is also somewhere else in the "good" book. ;)
I love this so many ways.

jON said...

erin- i don't know if we can move from bondage into freedom without going a little wild at first. i think you need to experience much of what the world has to offer in order to find out what works for you or not. and once you do swing back into balance, as you said, yes, i believe you finally CAN see.

you're not the only one who has thought that law brings death...

susan- honestly, i think the big problem or "sin" was that god said "no" and they did it anyway. at least, in my life and experience, that has always been the problem. that and trying to figure out if it's really god saying "no", or my own religion inspired neuroses. ;-)

what rob bell says is interesting. i am beginning to really see the situation two-fold. i DO think we have been returned to a "garden state" in terms of the possibility of "kingdom among us." we have been returned to a state, because of the cross, where it's all good with god again. in that sense i would consider it a "garden state."

but at the same time, i have had a strange suspicion lately that this whole grand scheme has had some sort of loose plan. that in creating us, god was interested in a being becoming. that we, as a race of beings, are in a process of becoming something much bigger than we could possibly begin to imagine with our tiny brains.

i don't rightfully have any proof to offer for this theory other than a few flashes in scripture that are not spelled out very well. for example, god told them not to eat the fruit. would they have eaten if he didn't say anything? before god spoke and gave a commandment to be broken IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE for them to disobey. the possibility of disobeying god didn't even exist.

and i also believe from paul's statements about law and the effect it has on our psyches and beings that we were made this way. made to cast off control demanded. any control that is not control given freely. made to collectively become being who would freely choose to give control in order to find our true fit.

ruth- i want to be free to do everything. so that i can wander without fear and find out who i am and where i fit. once i really began to grasp grace and the enormity of it, like erin, i went a little crazy. but that's the great thing about grace. it's big enough to handle it. when i can do anything it removes the thrill of the taboo which is 99% of the enjoyment of any self or corporately destructive behavior.

i could ceratinly go out and get absolutely trashed and sleep with a prositute and lie to my wife about it. but why? what in the world would be the point? even if the cross can cover these kinds of mistakes, what benefit would there be to me? a moment's pleasure? not even, really, because i know i couldn't really lose myself in the moment and enjoy it.

and i think eventually, when you can embrace your freedom, you come around and realize this. most people who don't have some sort of inhibition inside that keeps the thrill of "taboo and forbidden" alive. and indulging brings back the guilt which brings you back to the "thrill" to medicate the guilt. then back to guilt then indulgence then guilt ad naseum. sound familiar?

kari- i completely agree. i think that the relationship, when cultivated, does indeed transcend our nature. that is when i am able to freely give control because i know that i can't be god. i just odn't have it in me. i don't have the skill or knowledge necessary. my vantage point on all situations is far too limited.

but in that relationship, god can help you to understand who you are and who you have been created to be. where he wants you to be and who he wants you to be and how he wants you to be. not as a set of rules. that's missing it. but aligning your being in such a way that it simply flows out of you naturally. flows out naturally despite how much i might mess up in learning how to be a vessel. broken i may be. but of course, the more cracks, the more that spills out of me into the world.

mercy. not sacrifice.

and btw. if you, or anyone else, are ever interested in tackling the whole "is jesus god?" discussion, i would be more than willing to host. we skirt around it in various places, but we've never had a fullblown discussion on the topic if i can recall. at least not in my circles...

thanks for chatting y'all. glad you liked the new avatar, ruth. it's from the new calander i got for my wife this year. porn for women! :-)

wanting more said...

I just got back from a MOPS meeting, and as part of her presentatino, the speaker showed a video that ended where the husband was vacuuming, and that led to other things that the man was desiring from his woman. It was quite hillarious to see your avatar after that, Jon. So, how does your wife like the vacuum?

Sue said...

I tend to view that whole garden thing as the beginnings of a couple of people who were really very infantile. We get presented to us Adam and Eve as completely and utterly formed human beings, with all faculties intact, "complete" people, if you will. I'm not so sure I subscribe to that view. Not that I have any firm ideas on it, but just that I think our views and posturings are so incredibly narrow. The "God as being totally not in control of his creation almost from day 1" view is just a bit pathetic.

I find so much of Christianity patently pathetic. I feel like we have misread so much of it. I am so glad we are starting to grow up and question and be real and to go beyond narrow fearfilled interpretations of things.

I've been thinking lately about another facet of the cross (instead of the stock standard straight view of it as cleansing the blood of humanity so that God Thou Giant Bastard could deign to sneer down upon us), the anthropological side which exposes to humanity our propensity to violence, exposes the scapegoating which goes on in cultures. Have you read any of Rene Girard's works? They're heavy going, and I have only touched the surface, but I do like what he has to say about all of this, but anyway, I digress :)

I like what Erin said about real freedom, and about people going nuts with it. I agree this is what happens. When you realise that you are free, I guess some of the things that come up to the surface from where you've repressed them in your quest to be the nicest little middle class rich Christian is gonna be some cruddy stuff. I actually love seeing this going on in people, even while they are probably being roundly condemned from the hearts of fundies, because when the pendulum swings back into balance, as Erin said, a peson gets to SEE again.

Oooh whee, we living in some interesting times :) I'm glad to share the road with you dudes

Erin said...

Wait...did Sue just say words like anthropological and propensity? DANG! ;-) Smarty-pants!

Ok so I'm tracking with what Sue said about Jesus...I have some nonconformist thoughts about that whole thing. Because it all seems so neatly tied up in the evangelical package with a bow on top...and that doesn't work for me.

It's like we take all the blame away from the humans who were involved and put it all on God...big old meanie had to fry someone so he could stand to look at our f-ing ugly selves. Nope nope nope. HUMANS are evil. Not God.

It's more like, if there hadn't been religion (in the religious sense) then it would have been a moot point. Obviously God ordained it, but I'm not so sure of the reason. I think RELIGION killed Jesus. They were so bent on proving the evil in a man who claimed to be God...because that was the ultimate blasphemy...well they HAD to kill him. Jesus' death was like saying "SEE what happens when you are more intent on LAW than love? People DIE." This is why we banish the law from the hearts of the people. Jesus died for the sin of people loving law more than they loved God and others. It was like "You're DOING it WRONG!" This whole God-Messiah-Human thing isn't that complex. We don't HAVE to tie phylacteries on or cross ourselves or raise our hands to be near to God. (Nothing against those who find those to be compelling.) We only have to BE because the bridge has already been crossed if we accept it.

And I know I'm not smart and there are probably holes in this theory...I'm just working it out. But I can't accept that God sucks so much in the way christianity would have us believe that he would have NO OTHER OPTION to straighten us out than to kill someone.

Fucking praise true FREEDOM though. I'll drink to that!

wanting more said...

I'm with you're pretty damn smart.

Valorosa said...

Brought some chocolate Chai tea and some left over truffles from Christmas.

I'm sitting in your easy chair with my feet up. Glad to be visiting you and Erin and Zaavan and Beep Bo.

I'll have to say that I had never been taught that Adam and Eve wanted to be like God nor did I read that anywhere in my fine tooth combing of the B.I.B.L.E.

I was taught and read that we were deceived by an ancient and crafty enemy who was allowed to slither through our garden and in all our new innocence there was no grace afforded us as far as staying in paradise was concerned.
Now that we knew evil and good we could not live there.

I venture to guess that knowing evil may be the sin along with the disobedience that went with it.

Do I understand this lack of grace?
No second chance?

It seems to me that if we had known or been taught about evil and good we may have been able to avoid the deception.

As far as Lucifer goes:
Yes He did want to be God and even higher than God.

I did read that Satan fell like lightening from heaven when the apostles told Jesus that demons submitted to them in His name.

If the dragon and Satan are the same and if you take the behaviour of Satan during the wilderness temptation, one would assume that Satan was after dominion over man, at least.
But here is where the star of the morning, son of the dawn actually says that He wants to be God.
The KJV calls him Lucifer.

Isaiah 14

To the house of Jacob....
And it will be in the day when the LORD gives you rest from your pain and turmoil and harsh service in which you have been enslaved, that you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, and say,
"How the oppressor has ceased,
And how fury has ceased!


to Lucifer also referred to as the King of Babylon.

"Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come;
It arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth;
It raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones.
"They will all respond and say to you,
'Even you have been made weak as we, You have become like us.
'Your pomp and the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol; Maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you and worms are your covering.'
"How you have fallen from heaven,
O star of the morning, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the earth,
You who have weakened the nations!

"But you said in your heart,
'I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly.
In the recesses of the north.
'I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.'

"Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.
"Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying,
'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms,
Who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities?
Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?'
"All the kings of the nations lie in glory, each in his own tomb.
"But you have been cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch, clothed with the slain who are pierced with a sword.
Who go down to the stones of the pit like a trampled corpse.
"You will not be united with them in burial, because you have ruined your country, you have slain your people.
May the offspring of evildoers not be mentioned forever.
"Prepare for his sons a place of slaughter because of the iniquity of their fathers.
They must not arise and take possession of the earth and fill the face of the world with cities."

Yes WE should be like God ... we are made in His image ;-)

But have we really been equipped to be like God? This is what I struggle with.
Made in His image but not the real deal?

Going back to the garden? Now that's a thought.

I guess our baby status is gone now??

Valorosa said...


I'm not sure that a person who is 'not smart' would even know what a phylactery is let alone spell it LOL

I get what you are saying and I was crying to God about this very same thing just yesterday. I told him I didn't understand why there had to be blood and a sacrifice involved in our salvation.

Sigh ... been through a couple of severely rough days ....

All that comes to me right now is RANSOM

We were held captive and Christ's blood was the price needed to pay our ransom.

Why were we held captive?

Why could the Lord not have simply moved our captor with a wave of His hand?

I don't know and I think this may be a question answered if we really wanted to know.

Why is the prince of the power of the air allowed to exist?

Who was the ransom paid to?

And by whose authority was blood required?

Ruth said...

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
-- Ephesians 5:1,2 (NIV)

This verse popped up in my in basket today from Christian Quote of the Day and it made me think of this conversation.

It dawned on me that sacrificing one's life blood for someone else is the ultimate act of love. It's love that casts out evil, not blood.

As bond servants to Christ we are asked to die daily to ourselves and put others first - imitating his selfless love. I find this to be the hardest part of my Christian walk.

I ask myself all the time why God set up this sytem that he knew would fail and let this process drag out for ages and ages. I have wondered, as Jon said earlier, if humans are somehow in a process, like fine wine.

Susan said...

For what it is worth, Satan does tempt Eve by saying, "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God..." Genesis 3:5

Sue said...

Oooh, great thoughts, Ruth :) Thanks for giving me some things to ponder today :)

jON said...

wow. law versus love. the processes of god. the deity of jesus. religion: the death of jesus. the meaning behind the cross. the fall of satan. you ladies don't get too deep, now do you?

and all of this from a throwaway little fragment of an old post. at least you've given me some serious food for thought. and i appreciate that. there's so much here that i could say, but each topic is so big, i'm afraid my comments would get out of control and about 2 feet long, so i think i'll pick one and make it a post.

thanks for making it back. thanks for engaging me again. thanks for feeling comfortable enough to talk amongst yourselves when i'm not around. :-)

Erin said...

Maybe it's just me, but I tend to read Adam and Eve as metaphorical for the human condition. When we are born we are innocent, until such a time as we willfully do something wrong. It is our inherent selfishness that tempts us to do wrong...the belief that we know better than out conscience: "the God-Spirit inside us" which will always tell us right from wrong.

I do think that in the case of Jesus, the fact is that nothing speaks so clearly of FINISH than the death of a life, the finish of a living being. So I get it from that seems to me God speaking to humanity in the simplest terms possible so that we could understand, but that much of it is still metaphor. I can't wrap myself around the notion that God literally HAD no other choice but to kill his son and spill his blood so that we could be blameless, but rather that these events were the best way God could communicate with us, the best way humanity could understand God's love for us and what happens when we become consumed by religion rather than love.

Just some thoughts.

Ruth said...

Erin - those are some good thoughts. I see what you are getting at. I too have wondered if there really were a literal Adam and Eve of if they just represented humanity.
It does seem that death and finality is a language that humans can understand just like a toddler can understand a spank. But in the grand scheme of things, death itself was no problem for Jesus. The pain and rejection maybe not so.
And yes - it was all done in the name of religion, like God was showing us what all our religious efforts get us. I never put the two together before. I just thought that God used current events to accomplish his purpose.

jON said...

i'm not sure how far to take the "non-literal" with the story of adam and eve. i think some elements of it may be figurative, but a part of me wonders about the family aspect. i mean, the whole of genesis seems to follow a family line into egypt. starting with adam and eve and moving down through their children. so unless their children are not real, or the whole story of genesis is not real, there has to be a point, for me, at which adam and eve collide with reality.

as far as jesus' blood goes, i had some thoughts about the blood on that level once in the depths of the night. hold on... ah yes, here it is.

but even if god DID require there be blood, for reasons we may not undersatnd fully, i at least know that he didn't require it from anyone but his own son. (we talked about this before, once, as well.) he sent down his own word wrapped in a human form to take on the full brunt of that requirement in exchange for championship of humanity. which, as horrible as it seems, seems like more than a fair trade. i believe comedian david cross made mention of that once. that the opportunity of staying here safe and secure in a fallen world where he was misunderstood and hated is nothing compared to what was offered in exchange for a few moments of suffering.

which makes me wonder if god is not learning along with us? perhaps god did not fully understand or know what or how we would behave and he had to learn? or perhaps he didn't understand the effects his speaking would have on us? or perhaps he knew too well and he wanted us to eat from that fruit. which is why he told us not to. knowing that we would give in to the temptation. and knowing what horrible things it would spawn into the world, but having the end goal in sight and knowing it was a process that we (as in the whole of humanity) needed to go through in order to reach the desired end.

it's as if we each have a small part to play in this huge sweeping story that has taken millions of years to culminate. all of those years of dinosaurs just so they could die and become fossil fuels that we would be using right now at this moment in history to be doing these things. building, together, for what is sure to be a catastrophic ending.

it's almost seems as if we are stuck in a paradox we cannot escape from. having the limitless freedom of infinite possibilities before us, but a also having a crippling inability to recognize and realize those choices. (together, collectively, as a race of people)

which, i think, is part of the captivity valorosa spoke of. which i think the cross is the cure for in so many ways and nuances, i can't list them all here. but moving us into a place on non-selfishness seems to me to be very key in avoiding this tragedy. but is it really possible to stop what has begun? could we really move away from destruction? or will we continue to refuse until it is horrifically too late?

wanting more said...

VERY OFTEN I have wondered on what you said about maybe God is learning along with us. There are a lot of times that this would explain away bad circumstances, but then that putting God on a human level as far as error goes? I am not sure I would want a God who is not, well, I don't know. I mean, I don't know what to consider perfect any longer, so maybe perfection is an ongoing process? Just thinking out loud.

Sue said...

I was thinking today on the train about the whole life~death~life cycle, and thinking about that verse in Genesis where it says "And the earth was formless and void" except that the word translated "was" can also be translated as "became". And I was thinking about how wild it would be about how if the earth was formed, and who knows what the hell went on in it, and it "died" in a sense, and then God said "let there be light" and here we are now, and wondering how that all ties in with evolution.

I'm not trying to concoct a theory of anything, because this has holes big enough to drive semi trailers through. I just love the mind stretch when you go, whoahhhhhhhhhh, and find yourself thinking about things in different ways.

That's one of the pleasure of visiting this part of (blog)

Did I used (blog) in the right way? I forget ... :)

Valorosa said...

In summary it is not wrong to want to be like our Daddy or our Brother or our Sister, the Holy Spirit.


"limitless freedom of infinite possibilities before us, but also having a crippling inability to recognize and realize those choices."

I feel this, I see it in my mind and heart ... it's like a magic eye.

Deep peering into the heart of our Father until we lose ourselves and see Him clearly.

How? Prayer?

This very thing we all leave for when we are at the end of our rope and there is nowhere else to go?


Erin said...

I see what you're saying, Jon, about the genealogies...still, I don't know...still pondering that one.

Sometimes I do wonder, Jesus being the ultimate martyr...if he hadn't died, been crucified at that point in time (which I know wasn't negotiable because that was the way God wanted it, but I'm just playing this out in my mind)...if he had just grown old and died like John, would we have ever even heard of him? Would he have just been another man of God, maybe did a few good things, just some mention in some book somewhere? Maybe that's why the drama and the whole crucifixion, in part? Because God wanted this message to stand the test of time?

I know it's heretical, but I'm not afraid to run at the mouth,'s how I learn best.

jON said...

i'm not against asking for things in prayer. but i don't think that is prayer's primary function. i simply think prayer is supposed to be a time of centering yourself in the spirit. "finding home again" so to speak. so, yes, i guess i do think that if people prayed more, in this sense, to open that moment to moment relationship, that more of these possibilities would "unlock" themselves.

hey, i'm not saying i know what to make of genesis. there's some pretty graphic stuff in there that i am throughly pissed was never made into a flannelgraph. (do you know how much more entertaining church would be if you could talk to teenagers abuot whacked out stories like judah and tamar? or lot and his daughters?)

i'm not saying there was really a tree. i don't know that. but somewhere along the line this geneaology becomes genuine. it tracks an actual family line, so it's hard for me to consider it ALL to be allegorical.

as to the cross... i have also wondered the implications and reasons. maybe god had to show us just how fucked up we really are. by sending his word among us in the flesh and then watching what we would do to him.