Friday, April 20, 2007

Why I left the Institutional Church

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Why I left the Institutional Church Category: Religion and Philosophy
As much as I appreciate all I've experienced and learned through my participation in church all my life, I find I no longer belong in the institutional church. I love and respect the people and the friends I have in the church as brothers and sisters in the Lord and don't feel it is my role to say they should do as I have done. Having parted company with the institutional church, I hope to be free not to have to defend my actions by being critical of it. I certainly see myself as a "lively stone" in the church that Christ is building.
Perhaps the first departure for me was that I came to reject the idea of a hell of "eternal torment" and to believe in what the Bible teaches concerning the "restitution of all things" as more worthy of a God Who's "mercies endure forever." For me, this harmonizes the age-old argument between Calvinism and Arminianism. The following is a very brief skeletal explanation:
The Restitution of All things
Calvinism says, "Christ died only for the elect"
Arminianism says, "Christ died for all but only those who believe benefit."
Restitution says, "In Christ shall all be made alive"…...
This is well expressed in the following scripture as well as in other similar references:
Philippians 2:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 ¶Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Every Man in his own order. First Christ…the first perfect man…then those who are Christ's at his coming (in their lifetimes) and then everyone and everything.
This passage in 1 Corinthians indicates the order of our perfection:
1 Corinthians 15:
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Could Christ's action be less effective than Adam's? As by one/…….all so by one/all….this is repeated five times in succession in the chapter five of Romans. This kind of repetition indicates the importance of the message….
Romans 5:
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.The church propagates a slander against God, because of it's teaching of Eternal Torment. God is misrepresented. The Bible states, in many places, that Jesus is the express image of God. If we want to know what God is like….we should look at Jesus. The following is one of many verses where this is expressed.
John 1:18
"No man hath seen God at any time. The only begotten son, which is in the bosom of the Father….He hath declared him."
I find that it is difficult to dig deeper and come to a more accurate knowledge of God, when there is no opportunity to discuss any variation of the orthodox image of Him held by the church without being marginalized as a heretic or a crank. If I were to bring my questions and ideas forward in the church setting, it would most likely be viewed as disruptive and causing confusing for children and for those who are less mature as Christians and not used to hearing a different view.
Picking out the teaching of "Eternal Torment" from the teachings of the institutional church, is a lot like picking out egg shells from scrambled eggs. To come to a clearer understanding of a better Theology in the milieu of all the false fad theologies and all the traditional theologies which are false but have deep roots is difficult if not impossible. For this reason participation in the institutional church has become a hindrance rather than a help to me. It is compressing rather than expanding my knowledge of and relationship with God.
It is a daunting thing to change your Theology. I will be criticized by some and marginalized by others. It is often easier to put people in a box and write them off rather than to try to understand. There is a temptation to want to have a once for all experience….pray the prayer….join the Church….(get the barcode) and never go any deeper with our experience of God. Not only to be right, but to have always been right and never to have had to learn differently.
Hebrews 4:11 says:
Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest…"
And Hebrews 5:11 expands this idea:
Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your spiritual hearing and sluggish even slothful in achieving spiritual insight. (Amplified Bible)
Before I had ever read the Bible, I had been taught to believe in the eternal torment of Hell and now that I HAVE read the Bible numbers of times, I find there is much more scripture to support that it is rather, God's love and mercy that endures forever. I find that I find I serve a more wonderful God than I once thought. His plan is not thwarted by anyone or anything. The grave does not end God's dealings with us. His judgment follows it, and his judgment is mercy. It is corrective.
1 Corinthians 11:32 "But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."
There is wrath involved, but as any parent knows, punishment that is meant for correction and discipline flows out of love. Some children are compliant and want to please their parents. Others, are difficult and rebellious, but we continue to chastise and correct them and it truly does hurt us more than it does them. Our goal is to bring them all up as our children in spite of the fact that some seem to cost us more dearly and possibly even contribute less to our "joy de vivre"
The following passage in Romans suggests that God's chastisement has the important function of bringing us to repentance. It flows from his kindness and his mercy.
Romans 2:
4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
"According to his deeds," does not seem to indicate "eternal," but rather appropriate and effective.
At the risk of repeating what most of us have already heard stated many times, the word "eternal" has no equivalent in the original languages of the Bible. It has been mistranslated from the word aeon or aeonial. These words are more appropriately translated "age-lasting" and have a reference to time of an indefinite length, as opposed to "eternal" which can't logically be expected to have a beginning if it doesn't have an end. This is something that I had heard for years, but have found it very simple to verify by looking at a Greek interlinear New Testament.
There are many who write about these subjects more clearly than I do, but I wanted to make a start by expressing myself in my own words using only Scripture as reference. Chapter 6 of Hebrews tells us to go deeper in our Spiritual maturity. I think one's Theology has to keep developing and changing in light of their revelation of, and relationship with, God. After all, what is theology if it isn't simply, what knowledge we have of God. God is changeless….but I must not be, until and unless I am perfected, so I am very open to having the way of God expounded to me more perfectly. (preferable to being burned at the stake) I think my ability to admit I was wrong is attested to by this writing….and I'm certainly not satisfied that I'm completely right yet….
I believe that a wrong image of God keeps many people from loving Him. Jesus came and said, "If you have seen me you have seen the Father" He came to reconcile us to God, by showing us who God is. My desire is to know God as truly as is possible, because I think it's important, and because I want to love Him for all He's worth.
I believe we all have a margin of error in our Theology. I know I certainly do. But I also think there are some people who don't want truth because it will jigger up what they already know.
"Truth makes knowledge obsolete," is simply a little paraphrase of 1 Cor. 12: 10-12. To me it says that when we finally know all truth, we will gladly trade our "knowledge" for it.
6:46 PM - 0 Comments - 0 Kudos - Add Comment - Edit - Remove

Comments 1 Peter 2 1-10

Thursday, March 29, 2007

1 Peter 1-10 Category: Religion and Philosophy
I am often a little overwhelmed with respect to the expectation that I sense to simply explain myself to others. I Know the two things that bothers people, is my:
1. rejection of the teaching of eternal torment... argued by some...nevertheless...
2. withdrawing from participation in the institutional church.
I got on to this blog space, because I wanted to read my neice Tanya's blog and it seemed that I had to register myself in order to view hers. I had thought about blogging befor, because I want to express myself on spiritual matters but it seems I have no real spiritual fellowship for several reasons including (but not limited to) points one and two above. Anyhow, I don't plan to go in to this at this point in time. I actually am a little uncomfortable with just blathering whatever comes to mind, but that seems to me to be the way blogs work. I am not very adept at methodical thinking and expressing myself in an impromptu way, so I have made a decision...(for this time at least) to comment on Scripture starting from where I am reading this morning. Hopefully my perspective on Scripture will reveal something of why I am what I am.
I hope to defend myself on points one and two on this blog to the satisfaction of myself and whoever else might read it...but it might take some time...I don't know....So here goes....I'm starting with the 2nd chapter of 1st Peter because that's where I am...
1. So be done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (evy, jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind.
If our intention is to follow Christ....then my motto is "Get the easy stuff right!" Sometimes, we don't see things like insincerity and grudges and that type of thing in ourselves (but with practice and humility...we can) but surely we DO see obvious wickedness and depravity etc. so why not start there and then get down to the fine details after that. My feeling is that a lot of Christians leaders seem NOT to be serious about starting with the first steps indicated in v. 1. and yet, their followers do nothing to help themselves, spiritually, but depend on these "leaders" to spoon feed them. That kind of complacency is killing us.
I don't think I can type out the whole you'll have to open yours and read it for yourself (I'm reading the Amplified...which is really good!) Verse two talks about newborn babies CRAVING the milk and growing unto (completed) salvation. This is not demonstrated and won't happen by simply going to a Church service once or twice a week. It tells me that I am to go after what I crave in order to GROW unto completed salvation. It's a process of putting off (our carnal responses to things) and putting on (the nature of Christ) It all sounds rather spiritual but if we simply think's not a bad start.
Carrying on, we are advised to come to Him (that is Jesus) who is the Living Stone(v.4)....and becoming a living stone ourselves and built into a spiritual house (v.5) This is the church of which I AM a member...and I am promised that I will never be disappointed or put to shame (v. 6) I'm very glad of that....because I have been disappointed and put to shame in the past.
In Verse 8 it refers to the fact that this spiritual building will be an offense or a stumbling block for those who disbelieve "as those (who reject Him) were destined (appointed) to do." This tells me that there is some truth in the doctrine of "election." That many are called....but few are chosen....that some may not be chosen now but will be chosen later...(v.10)
I am blessed if I am able to see something in the spiritual realm....but how can I expect that others act on my say-so. God will bring us all along in His own timing....He is always at work in all of us, and He has a perfect sense of timing. This reference in verse 8 to a disbeliever being destined or appointed to reject Christ (for now) seems to support what is suggested in 1Corinthians 15: 23-24 "each in his own rank and turn" ... And then (v.10) seems to suggest that even though I might have been excluded at one time...that doesn't mean that I will forever be excluded.
This is getting quite long so that's all I have to say for now. Here is a brief summary of the topics I believe this passage of 10 verses support.
1. Salvation is progressive with the intention of our perfection.(v. 1-3)
2. We are living stones in the body of Christ - we are His workmanship.v. 4-7)
3. The progression is individual as well as collective. He is at work in us as individuals to bring us to perfection and He is also bringing us collectively to stages....
Wish I could be briefer....I have the habit of saying all I have to say with one-liners for fear of being told to "shut up." The beauty of blogging is that no one can really tell you to "shut up."

1:05 PM - 2 Comments - 2 Kudos - Add Comment - Edit - Remove

HI Mom!I know what you mean about trying to condense everything down to one liners... I think this is a great idea for actually taking time to write it out and be understood... i'm interested to read the rest and see where you're at... did you notice you are a francophone site? Il faut ecrire en francais!!! :)..The whole idea of salvation being progressive goes against a book i remember you had when i was a little girl (Kingdom of the Cults? Something about "Rainbow?") - anyway, it was that Christianity was differentiated from other religions by rejecting a deepening "initiation" - once you're in, you're in... That was something that kind of sat there in my unconscious - and now i'm wondering what Bible verses would back up that assertion... because YES - i do believe that conversion/submission comes to a head at some point for every believer, a stone of remembrance where they can look back to "this point, when i became a Christian" - but like C.S. Lewis so memorably put it, it does seem to be a call to "Farther in and Further Up"... Never enough to just sit on your butt and be content - it seems the Father is ALWAYS working on something new and we are forced to grow or die... either let that main root force new life into our little branch, or wither... lovestephanie
Posted by stephanie On Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 8:20 PM

Well yes! It is both instant and progressive. Like a baby. A baby is fully human....but then it develops into an adult. It was a human being right from the start...but it is to be hoped that it doesn't stay an infant...but grows into a full fledged adult.
So since we are spiritually born of God we should expect to grow and mature as such. Becoming more and more like our Father. I like how Dallas Willard puts it...that God wants us to become the kind of people who He can set free to do whatever we want. Isn't that what we want too?.....Don't have to worry about Shirley..I know exactly what she'll do.., because she thinks and acts just like Me.
Posted by Mamalena On Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 11:41 PM

Comments on 1 Peter 2:11-25

1 Peter 2:11-25 Category: Religion and Philosophy
11. Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles (in this world) to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul.
This makes me think of sitting around the campfire with the youth group (at Arlie and Gail's) singing "We are strangers...we are aliens....we are not...of...this world." It made me smile at the time....but it's true. Problems start when we begin to put too much stock in the systems of the world....which as Watchman Nee in his book, "Love not the World" reminds us, are all fading away. They are temporary. Verses like this tend to put things in proper perspective. Remind us to look up....
Verses 12 -17 talk about how to behave ourselves as aliens. Giving respect for authorities and living as exemplary citizens even while knowing we have a higher citizenship. It is easy to think, "This is not taking into consideration, the society we now have and the corruption of leadership..." but in fact it is most likely that Nero was in power at the time this was written. That tells us something. I do think it should be held in balance with verses like Heb. 11:23 where Moses' parents are commended for concealing their baby because, "they were not overawed and terrified by the King's decree." Then there is the example of people like Corrie Ten Boom who became part of the underground....and even Deitrick Bonhoffer....implicated in an assasination plot against Hitler. There are many questions that this could arouse about practical applications, so my idea is that somewhere in there we must deal Christianly within the evil empire without becoming cog in the wheel of evil ourselves. Is there a way to be season and preserve?....or expose...then I think that's our part....(but maybe not throwing a pie in the PM's face...haha)
The next bit is to household servants....all employees probably. But I think we can all relate to the bit about unjust suffering. V 20-21 indicates that we should expect to suffer unjustly, and if we bear it is acceptable and pleasing to God. V 21-23 speaks of the suffering of Christ for our guilt and how it doesn't mean that He suffered INSTEAD of us...but left us an example so that we should suffer like He did. "He made no threats (of vengeance;) but He trusted Himself and everything to Him Who judges fairly." (v23) When it speaks of Him "bearing our sins" (v24) I think it relates to v 23 where we are told to "bear patiently with suffering."
Your children can make choices which you have to adjust your life around if you want to have relationship. For example, you might have to visit them behind prison bars....rather than being invited over to their house for Sunday dinner... it might be different than you had hoped for, but you take relationship on the available terms. (not my children....of them I am well pleased...thrilled even.)
Other people effect our freedoms.....Osama Bin Laden....we all bear the consequenses of his actions in terms of diminished freedoms....getting frisked at the airport....our hairspray and nailfiles confiscated. There might be some truth to the statement of J. Sartre, "Hell is other people..." I'll probably get nailed for quoting that old athiest in my little Bible commentary....haha....because we all know it is our duty to love people like our Father does. Maybe that's the whole idea though....some are easy to love....and some we have to be able to bear their sins in order to love them. V. 24 says that He bore our sins "that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness." I wish I had a really good understanding of this whole issue...I don't...but I think there's more to it than I once understood...if indeed I ever did.
4:13 PM

Moving my blog

OK....I've decided to move over from myspace....which I find too noisy for my liking. I guess I should go and retrieve my 2 or 3 posts from there. Today, I went for a bike ride of about 22K down the spit past the Colwood lagoon, to my sister's place. Not home...then I remembered they were moving the last of their stuff in today, so were probably out loading the truck to drive it in.

When I got home, I took my kayak out for a ride, and then spent some time cleaning out the disgusting paddle boat, which was 1/2 full of stagnant water and slime.

Next, I spent the afternoon reading in Isaiah and a book I got free at the AHEA conference about an organization that raises money for national missionaries. This just makes so much sense to support these local people, rather than send westerners for about 100 times as much money. You can go to and pick out a missionary to support for $30 per month. I love the idea and was only a little turned off by the author's dwelling on "Snatching people from the prospect of ET." I thought I'd like to support what they're doing, and write him a letter explaining a more excellent way. Well....if I do that, I'll post the letter here, but don't hold your might not know me!...all talk...