If God Doesn’t Speak through the Bible then How Does God Speak?

Recently, I published an article titled The Bible Clearly Says’ is Always a Seriously Misguided Statement in which I contended that the Bible does not speak in one voice (the voice of God) but in the many voices of the various authors. From that post came a very useful, respectful, and enjoyable discussion with Paul who challenged what I wrote. I think others might find it of interest as well.

Here it is in its entirety.

The Discussion

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Paul: Tim, if God doesn’t speak through the Bible then how does God speak? How do you communicate with God and God with you?

Tim: Paul, I think God speaks to us through Jesus’ teachings and example in the gospels.

Paul: Tim, how do you see that response as different from saying: “God speaks through the Bible?” Are you only taking certain passages and how would you define how God speaks?

Tim: Paul, the gospels are a record of Jesus’ interactions that were written from the memories of his earliest followers. And they were written by individual people–not God. When people say that God speaks through the Bible, the implication usually is that the entire Bible is God’s voice. Instead, I believe the Bible contains many voices.

Paul: Tim, are you saying that God speaks as you discern his voice amongst many biblical voices? If I am not reading too much into your view would that principle not apply beyond the gospels? And how do you discern God’s voice from the rest?

Tim: Paul, I think the writers of the books of the Bible felt a connection with God but wrote from the limitations of their own eras, their own cultures, and their limited grasp of God’s character. Also, we need to understand that each writer had a specific audience and occasion for their writing–and it was not us. I think much of what they wrote is of great value to us, but I don’t think it is the voice of God.

Paul: Tim, so in fact then your view is we cannot know God’s voice. There is no vehicle for God to communicate to us. We can only search amongst the voices to find something that could be God revealing something. Is that too strong a summary of your view?

Tim: Paul, all I know for sure about God is what Jesus has told us; but I find that more than sufficient. I also benefit greatly from those who had great insight, such as Paul, but that does not mean that they got everything right.

I am influenced by the later OT prophets who emphasized justice for the marginalized in society rather than rituals and sacrifices. I am inspired by insights of wisdom compiled in the book of Proverbs. I respond to some of the poetry in Psalms…and so forth. But the benefit I receive is not dependent on their being ‘the voice of God.’ In fact, I think I relate to them because they were written from the hearts of people–people like me with whom I can identify.

On the other hand, I recoil at the thought that God essentially wiped out humanity in a flood. Or that God sanctioned a violent conquest of Canaan or ordered the genocide of people groups including women, children, and infants. I am glad these were the ideas of mere humans and not of God.

You conclude that my position is, “There is no vehicle for God to communicate to us. We can only search amongst the voices to find something that could be God revealing something.”

I say that when we search amongst the voices we find great treasures–treasures that change my life. In addition, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would come to guide us. Now I don’t know what that means but I think it means something significant. But what I do know is that Jesus never said, ‘When I am gone, you will have the Bible to guide you–it is the very voice of God.’

Paul: Tim, I was trying to understand your view. I now try to make a determined effort to understand before discussing different perspectives. In effect you speak of certain passages within the books that you can relate to and be inspired by. These passages have no authority apart from what you personally give them as against other texts that you reject. They are meaningful and helpful and that is why you respond to them. My question though is if you give them no higher authority how can you trust in them for accuracy…..and even salvation. You quote Jesus’ words from men of their time…with their understanding…etc. What if this same author talks about God’s righteous justice? I understand your view but I cannot see any consistency to it. Not saying I am right mind just stating a different opinion.

Tim: Paul, I appreciate your approach. I agree about both of us that we are only stating our opinions and perhaps neither of us is right. But I think it unwise, and even harmful, to invest total authority, and our absolute trust, into anything written by a human–and that is all we have.

When I say I am influenced by certain writers or passages, I am not vesting them with authority–I am simply responding to what they say just as I do in any other book I might read. So I am not ‘giving’ them any ‘authority’ at all.

You ask, “if you give them no higher authority how can you trust in them for accuracy…..and even salvation.” In the four gospels, I see a quite consistent portrait of who Jesus is, what he taught, and what he did–from the memories of his earliest followers who knew him. Jesus was very compelling to his followers and I find him compelling as well.

Another example to your question is Paul. As I have said, I find Paul quite insightful and impressive regarding the role of love, the abandonment of legalism, and the inclusion of Gentiles. But I do not regard him as inerrant. As a flawed human, he is likely mistaken about some things–just as we are. I don’t think God gave him ‘inerrancy protection’ as he was writing his letters to churches.

Here is the consistency. I don’t think the biblical writers are authoritative but they wrote a lot of good stuff anyway. Isn’t that the way it is for any book. If I can’t ‘trust’ everything a modern author writes must I dismiss everything they say? Can I not learn or be inspired by only SOME things they write?

Paul: Tim, I think from my perspective your inconsistency is in determining what is acceptable or not by the same author in the same era and with the same knowledge. How can the author be right one sentence and wrong the next? Infallibility but that applies across the board. You cannot pick and choose when to apply it.

The Bible is not the same as any other book and the facts show this. Also it claims to be unlike any other book. Whether these prove it is the word of God is another matter but in some incredible ways it is unique.

Tim: Paul: “How can the author be right one sentence and wrong the next? Infallibility but that applies across the board. You cannot pick and choose when to apply it.”

Paul, authors are right at some points and wrong on others all the time. But let me just mention, since you bring up infallibility, that appeals to infallibility are ineffective with those who do not embrace infallibility. But I see what you mean, my view would be inconsistent with the idea of infallibility; but I do not assume infallibility.

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128 Responses to If God Doesn’t Speak through the Bible then How Does God Speak?

  1. Anthony Paul says:

    I find it interesting that so many who profess belief in the Bible as the totally objective, infallible and inerrant word of God —absolute and immutable— seem to have little problem with holding opposing views on what God seems to say about Himself throughout the book. At least some early christians like Marcion had the good sense to deny the validity of the OT altogether. But in our day, people persist in trying to convince those of us who happen to believe that the intellect is formed, at least in part, by our personal experiences, that black is white, and night is day and that all we need do is to see the Bible through some kind of contorted and squinty-eyed peephole in order for the entire scripture to make perfect sense. This seems to me to be neither the workings of a sound intellect nor the result of deep personal and emotional experience. It is rather the result of some personal need to cling to the dead and slowly decaying teachings and traditions of a mediaeval institution which is experiencing a decline in our day as never before. Jonathan Edwards and his hell fire and brimstone sermons and the revivalist movement of the 19th century…. They all have something in common with the 21st century inerrantist: they are all anachronisms which no longer speak to our time. When I attended church years ago, one of the preacher’s favorite lines was that some day all of mankind will come to know the truth as “we believers” have come to know it…. Sure! And perhaps one day we will all discover that the earth is flat after all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Anthony: “People persist in trying to convince [us]…that all we need do is to see the Bible through some kind of contorted and squinty-eyed peephole in order for the entire scripture to make perfect sense.

      Anthony, this is clever, visual, and funny; but unfortunately it is also frequently true. We just have to look through the proper-colored glasses (perspective) in order for it to be clear. And they have the glasses for us.

      Like

  2. Hi Tim, I’ve always taken heart from Jeremiah 31:34 and the versus below that echo the message that the primary way we know God and God’s nature and Her/His will is by listening to our hearts. Be ye still and know that I am the I AM. Funny that the Bible itself instructs us to be cautious about the written word, versus Logos–the Living Word. It’s a lot more work to listen to the Heart placed in us than to shake a bunch of “insurance policy” rules out of a collection of holy writings…

    Luke 1:77
    to give to His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,
    John 6:45
    It is written in the Prophets: ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from Him comes to Me–
    Romans 11:27
    And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
    1 Thessalonians 4:9
    Now about brotherly love, you do not need anyone to write to you, because you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.
    Hebrews 8:11
    No longer will each one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest.
    Hebrews 8:12
    For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more.”
    Hebrews 10:17
    Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
    1 John 2:20
    You, however, have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
    1 John 2:27
    And as for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But just as His true and genuine anointing teaches you about all things, so remain in Him as you have been taught.

    Liked by 2 people

    • omisarah says:

      Hi, Rita! I really appreciate your feeling perspective. I clicked on your picture and got to your blog but only the last part of a post. How do I sign up for your blog? My email is sarahpetty2017@fastmail.com.

      Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Rita, I believe the Holy Spirit does work with us. I don’t know how this works, but it is important. However, this also raises the issue of subjectivity. I don’t have the answer to that.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I’ve always like the way C.S. Lewis handled this at the end of Narnia…I think our intentions to be honest, brave, compassionate, inquisitive, and willing to lay down our lives for others will ultimately lead to “being on the right side.” And as far as subjectivity/objectivity goes, the deeper one digs, the murkier it gets. The way we are built, it is likely very little is actually objective. God dwells in our subjectivity.

        Liked by 3 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Rita, I love that scenario in Lewis as well. In fact, it created a great change in my thinking when I first read it many decades ago. I believe we are accepted by the genuiness of our heart rather than knowing and following the ‘right’ beliefs.

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      • Anthony Paul says:

        Tim, the idea that the “subjective” is somehow not as valid as that which is viewed “objectively” is, I believe, a misconception which has given rise to connotations which are not valid. My readings of late point to the fact that objectivity is something which seems to spring from the ego or our conscious nature… that which is subjective comes from a deeper well… from the collective unconscious or the soul, perhaps. You decide which should carry more weight… but try to remember that there is seldom anything like true objectivity; even science must make some kind of subjective choices as to what it will look at and in what manner. And speaking of choices… is there any such thing as free will? For a will to act fully and freely it must be subsumed that the individual so acting has full and complete knowledge of all choices available to him… this is seldom the case. Jesus perhaps is the closest to someone acting freely… but even He it is said to have had to live His life by faith else He could not be considered fully existentially human but more the god descended from Olympus.

        Liked by 3 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Anthony, I think I know what you mean about objectivity–we can’t know all the factors of an issue and ‘objectively’ come to a final, comprehensive truth. And in this case this is what I am talking about–the Bible does not give us objective, final, comprehensive truth.

          But I think the same thing must be considered regarding subjectivity. I believe we receive important and significant understandings subjectively; they might be very valid and beneficial for us, but they do not bring us to a final, comprehensive truth any more than objectivity does. Otherwise, everyone would come to the same conclusions about truth and reality. I think we must use both our minds and our impressions to determine the best path for us.

          I do believe the Holy Spirit leads us subjectively, but I could never claim that the Holy Spirit revealed to me a final, comprehensive truth that other people must acknowledge. I think the Holy Spirit is much more subtle than that. So I am not saying subjectivity is not valid; I am just saying that neither objectivity nor subjectivity discovers total, universal truth.

          By the way, I would suggest that our free will is free will to make choices within the bounds of our knowledge.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. omisarah says:

    Hi, Tim! I read the discussion between you and Paul and what stands out to me is the religion has taught us to discern God’s influence and guidance by using our mental powers. But there’s one word you used that is more important than all the thinking: “heart”. Ezekiel 36:26 is a passage that Jesus quoted. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (New American Standard Bible) I’ve gradually experienced shifting from a thinking stony heart where I trusted in written words to now relying on having a feeling relationship with God. I believe this was Jesus’ experience that even as a child he felt love from and for his Heavenly Parent. The contrast between his heart of “feeling flesh” toward God (which was not the Jewish image of God) and what religions taught— to trust in ideas, beliefs, rituals, interpretations of prophecy, etc, the heart of stone, not feeling, was so marked that it became the central point of his lessons— that each human SOUL is equally loved and treasured by the Parent Who made us and sustains us; that we can each have a personal feeling relationship with God.
    Eighteen months ago I resigned from ALL religions because they mostly trust in that thinking heart of ideas etched in stone and do not know how to teach reliance on a feeling relationship with God. It felt like I had slipped out from under a concrete dome painted like the sky under which old wooden battleships pointed heavy iron cannons at each other, each ship displaying a religious flag. They taught that the painted sun was the real God, never realizing that if a soul DESIRES to believe in an image that he/she will be praying to the image. Like Screwtape writing to Wormwood [keep them praying to a picture in their heads and never let them arrive at the feeling of “to Whom You know yourself to be”].
    The mind is a tool of the soul to help us learn what are God’s loving laws but religions do not understand God’s definition of Love. If we develop a closer and closer relationship with our Papa, then we can more and more rely on the feelings coming from God to guide us toward what is loving. I believe that God does not communicate with words. I believe that if we ask God a question and do not yet have a heart of flesh mature enough to discern the feeling answer, then God uses angels, spirit guides, and people to speak the words. But we must still use our feeling heart to know if it is God’s truth.
    It took a lot of repentance work to crack that heart of stone I had. There’s still a lot of stone left, but parts of it are flesh now. Holding onto sin, ie, unloving beliefs, like “God is a murderer”, “I am unlovable”, etc, prevents truth from coming in. When I repent of believing an untruth it is then I can receive God’s love IF I HAVE A DESIRE for it. God never shoves it into our chest. That bit of love will contain some Absolute Truth that changes the stone to flesh, so it is a path that requires diligence. And much more soul nurturing than living on a wooden battleship.

    Liked by 4 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Sarah, I really enjoyed your reflections. I think we do need to listen to our hearts on such matters, but only if our hearts are humble, sincere, and as informed as possible. We certainly do not need to approach Jesus with hardened, calcified hearts (except to have our hearts softened).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. newtonfinn says:

    A while back, I called the attention of JWB readers to a new translation of the New Testament by a distinguished Christian scholar named David Bentley Hart. He has attempted that which has never been done before, to render the original rough and colloquial Greek, in which the various New Testament books were written, into equally rough and colloquial English. I’m about to begin working my way through Hart’s new translation and will report here on anything that jumps out at me. But because other JWB readers might like to explore this new work on their own, I am attaching a link to the book on Amazon. For those unfamiliar with the Amazon website, you can first read the book description and then click on the picture of the book to get a sizeable sample of what you are considering to purchase. The sample alone provides fascinating reading well worth pondering, and I urge all of my JWB friends to click it and read it, especially since it has much to say about the whole inerrancy discussion we’ve been having in recent threads.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, my reading list is already quite long so I cannot read this translation anytime soon. But I would love to hear your reaction and report after you have read some of it. Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  5. Chas says:

    Tim, You and certain others are aware that I believe all of the bible to be the words of men, yet it is what God has wanted us to have as a guide. Consequently, He/she has provided the means for us to receive from it what He/she wishes us to receive at that time, and on that reading. If we read the same passage in the future, we might receive a different message. How this is achieved, we might know as the Holy Spirit, although that is man’s understanding; it is God communicating directly with us to enable us to receive His/Her message by reading the bible. Depending on circumstances, we can also receive communication directly to our minds without actively reading the bible at the time. This might be through feelings, or just ‘knowing’ something, without our being aware how we know it. An example of this occurred almost 20 years ago, when a woman whom I often spoke to arrived at church with a pair of shoes. She was certain that she had to bring them, but had no idea why. It turned out that someone else in the church needed a pair of shoes, but did not have the means to buy any. (Yes, they were the right size too!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chas, I have no argument with that. Let me repeat a response that I left to Anthony above:

      “I believe we receive important and significant understandings subjectively; they might be very valid and beneficial for us, but they do not bring us to a final, comprehensive truth any more than objectivity does. Otherwise, everyone would come to the same conclusions about truth and reality…I do believe the Holy Spirit leads us subjectively, but I could never claim that the Holy Spirit revealed to me a final, comprehensive truth that other people must acknowledge. I think the Holy Spirit is much more subtle than that.”

      Like

  6. Dennis Wade says:

    Hi Tim!
    This is my second attempt to leave a comment on this post, as for some reason my first one didn’t work out.
    This is a topic that I really didn’t feel ready to comment on as of yet, as i am still working out a lot of it for myself, but this topic is so important that i think I have to try as best as i can.

    it is extremely hard to know how to live properly in this world, and one of the main reasons is because of the countless voices who all claim to have the only correct answer. And it is even harder in this modern world where everybody and their grandmother can post their ideas on the internet on how our lives should be lived.

    As people who wish to follow Jesus, it can be very hard for us to work this out as we are told that we need to rely completely upon the Bible as the “infallible Word of God”.
    To anyone who reads the Bible with an open mind it becomes clear very quickly that it really is no more than a collection of thousand years old stories that differ greatly in their descriptions of the nature of God and what he expects from us.

    From what I understand about the “Good News” of Jesus, this is exactly why He came into this world: as a living demonstration in thought, word and deed of what the true Nature of God was, and just what He does expect of us.
    Turns out He loves us very much, and wishes us to have more fulfilled lives guided by principles such as simple kindness, caring and support for each other!

    But Jesus also talked about how important it was for us not just to know about God, but to have an actual relationship with Him, where we abide within Him and allow His Life to be in us.

    So just how do we establish such a relationship?
    I believe that this is what is meant by the Holy Spirit. And to clarify, I am going to take the liberty to include a segment from William Barclay’s “Gospel of John” to illustrate:

    “It was at his baptism that the Spirit came down upon Jesus with power. We must remember that at this time the Christian doctrine of the Spirit had not yet come into being. We have to wait for the last chapters of John’s gospel and for Pentecost for that to emerge. When John the Baptist spoke of the Spirit coming upon Jesus, he must have been thinking in Jewish terms. What then was the Jewish idea of the Spirit?

    “The Jewish word for Spirit is ruach, the word which means wind. In Judaism, there were always three basic ideas of the Spirit. The Spirit was power, power like a mighty rushing wind; the Spirit was life, the very dynamic of human existence; the Spirit was God; the power and the life of the Spirit were beyond mere human achievement and attainment; the coming of the Spirit into a person’s life was the coming of God. Above all, it was the Spirit who controlled and inspired the prophets. ‘I am filled with power, with the spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin’ (Micah 3:8). God speaks to Isaiah of ‘my spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth’ (Isaiah 59:21). ‘The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news’ (Isaiah 61:1). ‘A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you … I will put my spirit within you’ (Ezekiel 36:26–7).

    “We may say that the Spirit of God did three things for those on whom he came. First, he brought to them the truth of God. Second, he gave them the power to recognize that truth when they saw it. Third, he gave them the ability and the courage to preach that truth to others. To a Jew, the Spirit was God coming into a person’s life.

    “At his baptism, the Spirit came upon Jesus in a different way from that in which he ever came on any other person. Most people have what might be called spasmodic experiences of the Spirit. They have their moments of dazzling illumination, of extraordinary power, of superhuman courage. But these moments come and go. Twice (verses 32–3), John goes out of his way to point out that the Spirit remained on Jesus. Here was no momentary inspiration. In Jesus, the Spirit took up his permanent abode. That is still another way of saying that the mind and the power of God were uniquely in Jesus.

    “Here we can learn a great deal of what the word baptism means. The Greek verb baptizein means to dip or to submerge. It can be used of clothes being dipped in dye; it can be used of a ship submerged beneath the waves; it can be used of a person who is so drunk that he is soaked in drink. When John says that Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit, he means that Jesus can bring God’s Spirit to us in such a way that we are saturated and our life and being are flooded with that Spirit.

    “Now what did this baptism mean for John? His own baptism meant two things. (1) It meant cleansing. It meant being washed from the impurities that cling to us. (2) It meant dedication. It meant going out to a new and a different and a better life.

    “But Jesus’ baptism was a baptism of the Spirit. If we remember the Jewish conception of the Spirit, we can say that when the Spirit takes possession of us certain things happen. (1) Our lives are enlightened. There comes to us the knowledge of God and God’s will. We know what God’s purpose is, what life means, where duty lies. Some of God’s wisdom and light has come into us. (2) Our lives are strengthened. Knowledge without power is a haunting and frustrating thing. But the Spirit gives us not only knowledge to know the right, but also strength and power to do it. The Spirit gives us a triumphant adequacy to cope with life. (3) Our lives are purified. Christ’s baptism with the Spirit was to be a baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16). The dross of evil things, the alloy of the lower things, the base admixture is burned away until we become clean and pure.”

    Barclay, William. The Gospel of John, Volume One (New Daily Study Bible): 1 (The New Daily Study Bible) (p. 99). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

    Please forgive me for such a long post, but I think the whole crux of the matter for us lies within this understanding of the Holy Spirit. There has been a lot of nonsense spoken and written about the Holy Spirit, as with almost every Biblical topic, but when we look at how Jesus saw it, it becomes apparent that to Him it was nothing less than the Indwelling Presence of God in our lives, a Presence that fills us with wisdom, strength, and purpose. The whole point of the Holy spirit is to NOT leave us struggling in darkness trying to figure out how we should live.

    Throughout the Biblical stories there is a theme of God speaking in a “still, small voice”, and that we need to learn how to “be still and know that I Am God”. This speaks of a relationship with God where we can actually hear His guidance if we learn to listen.

    Now I know that this will bring up such questions as to how do we really know if we are hearing God’s voice, and thoughts of all the times people were able to justify the most horrible acts just by claiming that “God told them to”.
    One thing we can count on without fail is that the Holy Spirit, because it is the Voice of god, and the Indwelling presence of God, will never lead us to act in a way that is contrary to how God would act. And we have the beautiful example of Jesus that was such a perfect example of God’s behaviour! By using these things wisely, we have a built in guidance system that we can learn to rely upon!

    That doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes, but we don’t need to fear our mistakes, because mistakes ae a large part of how we grow. And if we are truly sincere in our efforts to live as God wants us to, He will always be there for us, giving us help and support.
    We must never forget that the message of Jesus is an actual experience of dwelling in the presence of God, not just in some promised afterlife, but right here and right now!

    Again, apologies for the length of this post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Dennis, I think you demonstrate a lot of insight in this comment.

      I really like Barclay and I really like this: “The Spirit was power, power like a mighty rushing wind; the Spirit was life, the very dynamic of human existence; the Spirit was God; the power and the life of the Spirit were beyond mere human achievement and attainment; the coming of the Spirit into a person’s life was the coming of God.”

      I believe this! I don’t understand it all and how it works, but I believe it is true.

      Like

      • Dennis Wade says:

        Tim, Barclay says in another part of his commentary to the Gospel of John:

        “There are any number of things in this world which we use every day without knowing how they work. Comparatively few of us know how electricity or radio or television works; but we do not deny that they exist because of that. Many of us drive a car with only the haziest notion of what goes on inside its engine; but our lack of understanding does not prevent us using and enjoying the benefits which a car confers. We may not understand how the Spirit works; but the effect of the Spirit on the lives of men and women is there for all to see. The unanswerable argument for Christianity is the Christian life. No one can disregard a faith which is able to make bad people good.”

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Paz says:

    I also think Jesus reveals to us the Spirit of God which can even be found within our true self when we allow God’s love to speak to us, to heal and transform us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dennis Wade says:

      Paz I agree with this. I also believe that the Holy Spirit is our true self, which we discover through the transforming power of Love.
      i think it is obvious that a huge amount of people are not living authentic values from their true selves.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paz says:

        Dennis, I have enjoyed reading your comments, including William Barclay’s insights!
        And I agree… I think our true self is discovered and hopefully continues on to develop/evolve through the transforming power of (God’s) Love.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Perry says:

    Hope I’m posting this in the right place. Appreciate the discussion, Tim, between you & Paul. Didn’t feel like anyone was trying to cram anything down each other’s throats, or threatening each other with hell if the other didn’t believe a certain way. What’s from God & what’s not is a struggle for many of us. People comfortable in that search appreciate honest discussion, while the insecure try to force others to agree with them, probably because a subconscious urge tells them that if they can get others to agree with them, what they believe will become true. But, alas, whatever is…is…and that cannot be changed by any human’s opinion or teaching or preaching, no matter how hard we wish what we want to be so. It’s a search for ultimate truth, not ultimate power over others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Perry, I thought it was a good, friendly discussion as well. I enjoyed the thoughts you shared, and I agree that, “Whatever is…is…and that cannot be changed by any human’s opinion or teaching or preaching, no matter how hard we wish what we want to be so.”

      Like

  9. Didn’t Luther talk about finding the Word within the word. Maybe it was someone else. Anyway, the point is to find Jesus, the eternal Word within the Bible, the written word. The written word is limited though, out of necessity. Words have boundaries and limitations. Jesus, the Word made flesh, is different. This is the same argument that Luther had with Zwingli over the Eucharist – how can the infinite be contained in the finite. It’s all there, but we don’t understand it because of our limitations. The other challenge with infallibility is the issue of translation. There isn’t a perfect translation that exists. It’s not possible because people, who are flawed and sinful, have to make decisions about translating words. And so we have situations like the one I love to talk about – translating paradidomi. Even in our Lutheran liturgy, it is translated as betrayed, which is an acceptable translation. However, every other time paradidomi is used in relation to Jesus’ passion, it is translated as handed over, which I think it a better translation. If paradidomi is betrayed, then we are saying that Judas was in control of the situation, which we know is not the case from the simple fact that Jesus knew that Judas was going to hand him over. To be handed over is a divine passive, meaning that it was all God’s action from the very beginning – the point in which Satan paradidomi’d Judas’ heart, to Judas paradidomi-ing Jesus to the chief priests, to the chief priests paradidomi-ing Jesus over to Pilot, to Pilot paradidomi-ing Jesus over to the soldiers, to the soldiers paradidomi-ing Jesus over to be crucified and dying. And the end is the Jesus dies, but conquers Satan and death in this act. Satan and death have just been fooled and beaten. And it was all God’s action. They never had control, they were pawns and used in their own demise.

    The big problem here is translation into another language and making decisions. How does one translate Hebrew words that are lost to history and we have no idea what they are or what they mean – we can only guess. What is the infallible translation of words like paradidomi when there are several legitimate options? We can’t just simplistically say that the Bible is infallible without struggling with the language that is used and translated. And as you stated, God didn’t put pen to paper and write – God went through people, inspiring them to write after they had heard stories that were passed down. The earliest books of the bible are from Paul in the 50’s and 60’s. The Gospels came after that – most likely from second generation Christians who wrote down the stories they heard from first generation Christians. Revelation was written even later, meaning it was possibly a third generation. All are considered inspired. All have value. But they also have flaws. I had a seminary professor who once said that he didn’t take the Bible literally, but he did try to take it seriously. I think that’s a good approach.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Luther, your comments are so good! I really enjoyed your thoughts on infallibility and translation. Your treatment on ‘paradidomi’ was fascinating. I have long thought that Judas has been treated unfairly as the ‘betrayer’.

      I very much agree with you that, “The point is to find Jesus, the eternal Word within the Bible, the written word. The written word is limited though, out of necessity. Words have boundaries and limitations. Jesus, the Word made flesh, is different.”

      And I also agree that the NT books have value but also have flaws, though I have never discovered the value of the book of Jude!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chas says:

        Tim, shouldn’t the translation of paradidomi be dependent on the context? This is the case with many languages. I’m told that Japanese is a good example in which the context is all important.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Chas, I don’t know the answer to that. My Greek is terribly rusty.

          Like

          • Chas says:

            Tim, Betrayed seems more correct in the above examples that were quoted by Luther for Judas betraying Jesus, but handed over seems more appropriate for Jesus being handed over to Pilate and Pilate handing him over to be crucified. Judas did not have Jesus in his power, he only identified him for other people to take him into their power. In the other two instances, someone already had Jesus in their power, but handed him over into someone else’s power.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I see your point. But Luther’s point seems valid as well. Judas did ‘hand Jesus over’ by identifying him to the soldiers. But I don’t know for sure.

            Like

  10. RachelBeans says:

    I am not religious but Think I want to learn about Jesus with out all of nonsense about homosexuality being wrong and so called good people doing amoral thinks (thinking of GOP specifically). your posts are helpful. Are there any books about Jesus you recommend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Rachel,

      Wow! You would think this would be an easy question. Through the years I have read LOTS of books on Jesus from various perspectives and academic levels, but I have not read a book about Jesus in a while. I still do read about Jesus a lot but mostly from commentaries on the gospels rather than separate books.

      So I am not familiar with more current books on Jesus along the lines you are asking about. I can recommend a book I read long ago that impressed me very much: The Humor of Christ by Elton Trueblood. I found it very insightful, but I am not sure it is what you are looking for.

      Perhaps other blog readers might have some suggestions. I am very sorry I cannot zero in on such a reasonable question.

      Like

  11. johannamm says:

    I hesitate to comment without reading all the other comments, but I’m sorry: it’s just TLTR (too long to read) at this time.

    One of the things that stood out for me in your discussion with Paul is that you’re both talking about finding God’s message in the Bible. I really believe that God did not stop talking 2000 years ago. God has spoken through contemporaries throughout the ages, and continues to do so today. God talks to me (rarely in direct words, often through other people). Can I prove this is God and not a psychotic delusion?–No, but I have no other signs of psychosis and it feels to me to be God speaking.

    How do we know which parts of the Bible are God giving us messages and which are of purely human origin? — largely by how it feels to us. Terribly subjective, I know. But when the Bible speaks of love and justice, it seems to me to be authentic. When it is legalistic or mythic, it seems to be of human origin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Johannamm, I agree that God did not stop speaking to us but continues to speak to us. It is quite subjective and individual, for sure, but I think that is what we really need–something that speaks to us personally; and that could be all sorts of things.

      However, I think you have identified here something key to benefitting from reading the Bible, “when the Bible speaks of love and justice, it seems to me to be authentic. When it is legalistic or mythic, it seems to be of human origin.” Well said!

      Like

  12. Stacy says:

    Just read an ethnography of an Evangelical church that talks about how praying and reading the Bible was to practice looking inward to hear what God is telling you personally. It stated that many believed the Bible was written for them personally. In this way, common phrases like walk with God meant different things to different people and this was more important than rules or very specific ways to live. I have no idea what Evangelicals beliefs are but this sounds like what a lot of people are getting at here. More of an individualistic way of religion over a collectivist view where a lot of rules have to be followed and everyone has to believe the same.
    Maybe. For me at least I like the idea that God can come to us in whatever way will reach us and speak to us all differently through different voices in the Bible.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Stacy says:

      Just want to add an edit, I don’t mean to demean or oversimplify people’s various beliefs/comments. Quite the opposite, I read this because I enjoy the respectful back and forth. My very hippie can’t we all just get along way of thinking often comes out in anything I talk about….

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dennis Wade says:

      Stacy, I think you are really unto something here. Sometimes we tend to forget that our relationship with God is a very personal one, and that God will guide and speak to us in different ways.
      I do think the main thing we need to remember is that any way that God does choose to speak to us will never contradict His Nature of caring love.

      Liked by 2 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Very good point, Dennis: “I do think the main thing we need to remember is that any way that God does choose to speak to us will never contradict His Nature of caring love.”

        Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Stacy, the book you read stated, “that many [evangelicals] believed the Bible was written for them personally.” I think this is very true for some evangelical believers. I believe we can benefit greatly, and personally, from what is written in the Bible, but it was not written specifically for us–and especially not for us individually.

      If you are interested, I wrote about this here:

      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/the-bible-is-not-open-to-narcigesis-thinking-the-bible-is-written-to-you/

      Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      Stacy, When I was first brought to believe, the message led me to understand that there should be no barrier between me and God, which was confirmed by people in the church telling me that we were intended to have a personal relationship with God. Thus a major stumbling block has been churches interposing popes, bishops, deacons, pastors and so forth between individual believers and God. Even one person acting as an intercessor for another is therefore an anachronism. In short, do what feels right in relation to God would be reasonable advice, although, as always, only do that if it feels right to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Chas: “Thus a major stumbling block has been churches interposing popes, bishops, deacons, pastors and so forth between individual believers and God.”

        I agree! We can benefit from experienced believers and educated believers, but there is NO ONE who stands between us and God. As believers, we are responsible to Jesus and not to the judgments of other people–not even pastors or bishops. All they can do is remove us from their community; they cannot affect our relationship with God.

        Like

  13. Paz says:

    Stacy, I think you made some really good points in your comments! I believe that God can speak to us in many ways which help us to be mindful of Jesus’ presence in our lives. I personally believe that God can also speak to us in the stillness… in the silence, in meditation, in prayer, when we practice gratitude, in BEING aware of the present moment… remembering that even simple acts of kindness have “eternal” value and often “speak” of God’s love, grace and compassion.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. cmgatlin53 says:

    I’d accept that the Bible is authoritative, but not infallible. The events recorded in the Gospels are eyewitness testimony (recorded sometimes by an amaneuensis or even the next generation), and the words of Jesus can be taken as the word of God. As for the rest of the Bible, it’s degree of authority must be measured against the words of Jesus. Remember, he has access not only to the Father but also to the written scriptures that make up the Old Testament, so he would have been aware of the Bible to that extent. I don’t insist there was a literal flood just because Jesus referred to “the days of Noah”—but his reference shows that there’s something important to be learned from the story of Noah and the flood. We must take the whole Bible seriously and not lightly dismiss its teachings just because we think our understanding is more advanced; but taking it too literally may lead us astray (think of Nicodemus’ reaction to Jesus saying “You must be born again.”)
    St Augustine (I think it was him) said we read and accept the teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures because they were entrusted with “the oracles of God.” I take that to mean that those writings are uniquely full of God’s message to us, but not his words literally except when He is represented as speaking. (I can’t think of a book of the Bible where it’s likely that the author would have blasphemed so as to claim God said directly something the author has instead cooked up, although plenty of preachers and believers have done so.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Chuck! Long time no see!

      You shared some good stuff here. I think you are right on target with, “I don’t insist there was a literal flood just because Jesus referred to “the days of Noah”—but his reference shows that there’s something important to be learned from the story of Noah and the flood.”

      I think many people overlook this when they claim that Jesus demonstrates that the Old Testament is inerrant, or at least literal, when he refers to stories like this.

      Another example often used is in Matthew 12 where Jesus says, ‘For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ Jesus’ reference to the story of Jonah does not necessarily mean that he thought the story was historical.

      I definitely agree with your statement that, “As for the rest of the Bible, it’s degree of authority must be measured against the words of Jesus.” Jesus is, indeed, the final authority in my opinion.

      I approach the prophets in the OT who claim to speak for God a little differently, though. I don’t think they are so much attributing to God ‘directly something the author has instead cooked up’ as they attributed to God something they genuinely felt God was saying to them.

      Others in the OT, like those who claimed that God commanded them to kill all the Amalekites including men, women, children, and infants, might also have genuinely thought God did so, but they might have simply invoked God’s name for their massacres as they reconstructed their national history.

      It is good to hear from you! I always enjoy your comments.

      Like

      • newtonfinn says:

        As far as I know, Jesus may well have taken some of the stories now found in the OT as historical accounts That was simply the way that many religious people of his era thought. Why is it a problem for us to view Jesus as fully incarnate, as a particular human being at a particular time in a particular place? Do we need to have a Jesus who knew, in or around 30 A.D., that the earth was not flat or at the center of the universe? Do we need to envision a Jesus who knew all the laws of science that humanity discovered only after many centuries had passed since the fall of the Roman Empire? If we do, then I would question whether we have thought deeply enough about the meaning of incarnation. How could God remain omniscient and yet become fully human?

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Newton, I think you make a good point! So often we assume that Jesus on Earth was omniscient, but I doubt that this was so. Jesus was born human–otherwise what’s the point of his being like us?

          It’s not like Jesus opened his eyes in the manger and thought, ‘Well, here I am! The plan is underway!’ Despite the popular Christmas carol, Jesus cried when he was hungry and he wet his diaper.

          Even though Jesus had the wisdom of God within him (probably over time), he was born as a human and developed as a human develops. So I agree with you that he was very likely influenced and somewhat restricted by his culture.

          Liked by 1 person

  15. Paz says:

    Tim and Newton, I think you make very interesting points! I think for Jesus to be able to demonstrate the kindness, to feel the compassion, empathy and tolerance for others the way he expressed it, he also had to share life experiences as we do and as we are (human), to be able to fully understand and relate to us in our own human nature!?

    Liked by 2 people

  16. It’s convenient to ignore the parts of scripture where God seems judgmental. The problem for those who do this is, you can’t get around the fact that Jesus was just as judgemental as Yahwah. In spite of many trying to say otherwise, he repeatedly speaks of hell and judgement. It’s really impossible to only go with Jesus as always merciful and ignore much of the OT, he doesn’t leave us that option. Yes, God speaks in many ways other than scripture, but without scripture being authoritative, we are left with our human desires to sort God out, which is a recipe for everything from Hitler to hare Krishna to jonestown.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Wild, I think you are right that Jesus’ message was not always flowers and kittens. I do not deny that Jesus often mentioned negative consequences for misguided behavior–especially with certain Pharisees. Jesus warned them that they would not hold the seats of honor they anticipated in God’s community. Jesus also sometimes warned of destruction (not eternal punishment in hell). But I take these sayings to be warnings–not judgments.

      Like

      • Paz says:

        Just a thought… The language and the terms used in the OT and even in the NT are not always the way people speak now, so when they refer to concepts like SIN or breaking God’s law = instead we might today express this by referring to the way someone does NOT speak or behave according to GOD’S WILL…? and HELL/PUNISHMENT, as we all know what often happens as the result of not taking responsibility for what we say and how we behave = NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES/ DISCIPLINE ( the way to learn and grow from our mistakes, our misguided choices and behavior, etc etc?).
        Hope this makes sense!

        Liked by 2 people

      • If you believe that Jesus was pre existant, then you have to either conclude that Jesus was and is Yawhah and every judgment ever brought on man was as much Jesus as the Father.
        Jesus talked about hell more than anyone else in scripture!

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Wild, are you saying that Jesus (the son) is the same as God the father?

          I agree that Jesus talked a lot about Gehenna, using references to Gehenna in the OT, but Gehenna was not the eternal, burning punishment many of us think of today. Gehenna represented destruction–not God’s punishment.

          Like

          • I don’t think I’m qualified to fully explain the mystery of the Trinity! In one sense, yes, they are the same entity. In another sense, they are fully separate entities. The point is, that Jesus was just as much involved in the destruction of the flood waters, for example, as God the Father. There is this tendency I think a lot of people have to see Jesus as the loving part of the God and the Father as the judging part. I understand why we tend to perceive them that way, but that’s just poor theology.
            Three in one eternally existing in perfect harmony, means that Jesus was obviously not excluded from the decision to destroy the world and start over after Noah. Keeping in mind that this was a world where every thought of every person, (except for Noah, apparently) was only evil all the time. Can we even imagine such a world?
            Given the terms used to describe gehenna, such as unquenchable, eternal, and the worm never dying, I can not come to the conclusion that hell is about annihilation. Jesus used the word “apollumi” which in every other case of it’s use, does not mean annihilation. I understand why people want to read it as annihilation, but I don’t see anyone wanting to read our eternal life as the redeemed as limited. Things like that make you go “Hmmm.”

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Wild, thanks for the elaboration on the Trinity. My perspective, of course, is that neither the Father nor Jesus brought a destructive flood on the earth; it was a story adapted by the Jews from an older Middle Eastern account of such a flood from the gods.

            I have written some articles on hell, including the use of various words by Jesus. If you are interested, I can link them here. Just let me know.

            Like

          • I’ve been trying to do a blog post on hell and justice and how they fit with God’s love for some time, but there were still some pieces of the puzzle that had to gel in my mind. I think this discussion has been helpful in that sense. I would say that a loving God has to finally and fully conquer evil and that in every case, even in the OT where God is wiping out people, we are seeing God’s love in action. The perceived contradiction comes from our limited understanding, first, of how evil man can be when he rejects God and second, our inability to trust God to always know more then us and always do good. When we say God would never kill his enemies, we are actually putting ourselves in judgement over God. The new normal seems to be to see God as always looking like Jesus and I agree, but then we have to ask just what Jesus looks like? He is always laying down his life for love, but what we fail to see is that sometimes that laying down looks like Jesus actively fighting against evil men, as in revelation. God HAS to destroy his enemies, because it is the loving thing to do for his friends. God has to cast out those who ultimately reject him, because it is the loving thing to do. Forcing a person who has chosen evil to be in His presence is not loving. There is not a contrast between God’s anger and his love. Righteous anger is loving. And I think that just because some have focused too much on his anger, the pendulum is swinging too far the other way, so we get this kind of soft version of Jesus who can’t be a warrior because people perceive that as unloving.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Wild, remarkably and though I would use different words, I agree in substance with your statement, “God HAS to destroy his enemies, because it is the loving thing to do for his friends. God has to cast out those who ultimately reject him, because it is the loving thing to do. Forcing a person who has chosen evil to be in His presence is not loving.”

            This is consistent with the view called conditional immortality. That is that humans are not naturally immortal as Plato thought; they are mortal. When they die–they cease to exist. It is the work of Jesus that provides a new option–resurrection and immortality. I suggest that, after death, in a situation where all minds are clear of confusion and misunderstanding, God will offer eternal life to everyone.

            However, there may be those (whom you call evil) who cannot bear to be in the presence of God and who will refuse the gift of eternal life under those circumstances. Honoring their decision, and not forcing their free will, God will grant their desire and allow natural mortality to proceed and they will cease to exist.

            I think this is consistent with what you are saying. If you are interested, I have written an article about this.

            Liked by 1 person

    • newtonfinn says:

      Thomas Paine made an interesting point about revelation; namely, that revelation is only revelation for the person who experiences it firsthand. Moses, for example, went up the mountain and directly encountered God, who then gave him the ten commandments. God revealed Himself to Moses in doing this, but when Moses came down the mountain and showed the stone tablets to the Israelites, their belief in them as being the words of God was not a matter of revelation but rather one of believing what Moses told them. So whatever authority we give to the Bible is based not upon revelation, but rather upon our belief in the accuracy or reliability of the many authors who wrote the book. And when it comes to such matters, similar to the evaluation of the credibility of a witness in court, judgments and opinions are bound to differ. Some of these judgments and opinions may be better than others–it may be more reasonable to believe that all of the testimony is true, that some of it is true, or that none of it is true–but all of these judgments and opinions are based upon human perception, discrimination, and, yes, desire. They are all arrived at by a human being sorting it out.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Chas says:

        Newton, just a thought from your court analogy. If you were on a jury, and you perceived that a witness had lied, would you believe anything else that he/she said?

        Like

      • Chas says:

        Newton, another thought, arising from your comment, was the degree to which we might be influenced (for good or ill) by others at various points in our walk with God. Soon after we came to believe, we have little discernment, so we tend to accept whatever is said by someone whom we are told is in authority over us. Later, as we develop discernment, we might ignore what we are told by those whom we do not respect, since respect has to be earned. Later still, we listen carefully to things that we are told concerning God, rejecting everything that is not supported by independent sources, in the same way that evidence presented in court ought t be supported by all other evidence in order to be accepted.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Using that logic, I might as well quit reading my Bible, as I surely can’t rely on anything it contains.

        Like

  17. tonycutty says:

    For an excellent perspective on this and other current doctrines coming under fire, I would recommend a free eBook by my friend David Matthew – ‘A Poke in the Faith’. You can download it from his website here:

    http://www.davidmatthew.org.uk/dmbookspage.htm

    Liked by 3 people

    • Anthony Paul says:

      I started reading this book today… it’s hard to put down… it seems to encapsulate much of what JWOB is all about… the author is so straight to the point and his style is clean and direct and easy to follow… I love it. Thanks for sharing this with us.

      Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I was able to check out this book and the blog today. Looks great! Thanks for sharing!

      Like

      • Dennis Wade says:

        I have also downloaded this book and have just finished my first reading of it.
        I also have to highly recommend it!
        It has helped me identify various area of my faith that I’m still working out, and has given me a lot of different ways to approach it.
        I know this reply comes quite a while after most people have looked at this post, but still i hope it will be a help to anyone seeking to understand their faith better.
        Especially helpful is the quite thorough reading list he has at the end of the book. It helps you to identify what areas of faith you are battling with and makes incredibly helpful suggestions on where to find more info on those topics.
        I wish someone had given me this book years ago!
        And the most amazing thing is that it is completely free!
        What a wonderful gift!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Just a note to say thank you, Dennis, for your encouraging words about my book, ‘A Poke In The Faith’. I do appreciate it! David Matthew

          Liked by 2 people

          • Dennis Wade says:

            Wow, David, I wasn’t aware that you read this blog! But I’m glad you do.
            It was interesting for me to discover that a huge lot of the various ideas and explanations of doctrinal points had entered my mind through my own ponderings, and it helped to reassure me that I wasn’t lost in strange ideas after all!
            Again, thank you, You have done us all a great service.

            Liked by 3 people

  18. tonycutty says:

    Also, ‘The Bible Tells Me So’ by Peter Enns. Not free, but an excellent read.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. tonycutty says:

    Personally, I hear Jesus’s Voice for myself, either through things He highlights to me in the Bible, or things that He says directly to me in my spirit. First and foremost in my life is my Relationship with Him, and this is not a Relationship based on the Bible. Why solely read a book about someone when you can know the Person Himself? This is the Relationship that so many churches talk about, but fail to recognise as being absolutely real. God cannot be contained within a book, no matter how amazing the book is (and it is). Jesus is the Word of God, not the Bible.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Dennis Wade says:

    Sometimes I think that in order to really understand God and Jesus we need to begin by letting go of all of the concepts and ideas we already have, especially the religious and a lot of the spiritual ideas. Most of these are just other people’s ideas, including pretty well everything we have learned from the Bible and the Church.
    Jesus may have been born into and lived within a society that was dominated by the laws of the OT, but He based His life on Love as the only standard we should base our lives on. He pretty well stated that we should do also. He really didn’t seem to think much about using the old Mosaic laws as a guide for life, and I don’t think we should either.
    If we are not careful, spending our time arguing the whys, such as all the theories about how Jesus fulfills the old Mosaic laws, can be a way of distracting ourselves from actually living with love as our standard.
    I think the true nature of Jesus is just as much a mystery for us as God is. We may never really know how His death sets us free, or the real relationship between Him and the Father, but do we really need to in order to live by love?

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Good points, Dennis.

      Like

    • Anthony Paul says:

      Rather than quote a part of your post I must let it all stand because I think you’re right on here from start to finish.

      I like this a lot because you’ve said something very basic to what it means to being a believer. Generally speaking, the churches have it all backwards when they make the mistake of teaching that the Bible is foundational to who Jesus is… in fact, it is Jesus who interprets for us the entire word of God. Once we start with Jesus as inwardly real for us (Emmanuel… God with us), miracles start to happen, lives are changed, and even the Bible starts to take on a wonderful new meaning as it did for the two travelers on the road to Emmaeus.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I find it hard to believe that the foundation of mainline Christianity is wrong and that we have to re learn everything. When I go back and read what the people who wrote the Nicene Creed were studying and pray fully attempting to understand, it blows my mind. Most of our discussions today are very shallow in comparison. Again, we have people saying Jesus will inform you of what the Bible says. A feelings driven understanding will always get you something defective, most likely the prosperity gospel, or some form of new age religion.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dennis Wade says:

        I don;t base my faith on feelings. i base it on my understanding of the nature of God, which Jesus said was love. My standard by which I measure my life and my faith is the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated. And He demonstrated it in very practical virtues such as patience, kindness, acceptance, forgiveness, etc. Love can sometimes be just another abstract term, but when we understand that these virtues are how love behaves towards others, we have a very clear picture of how Jesus wants us to be.
        This is a very hard standard to live up to, unless we abide within Jesus and have a living relationship with Him, which is what Christianity is all about.
        We can spend a lot of time trying to come up with the “correct” interpretation of the Bible, but just having the “correct” interpretation isn’t enough. It;s really not about what we believe in the end, but how we behave towards others that determines whether we are part of God’s Kingdom. Matthew 7:21-23 1John 4:7-8

        Liked by 3 people

      • tonycutty says:

        I understand your concern about a ‘feelings-driven’ understanding. I also agree that the foundation of mainline Christianity can’t be ‘wrong’.

        There are three points I would raise in response.

        Firstly, it is Jesus Who is the foundation of Christianity, not the Bible – although of course the Bible introduces us to Him, in most cases. This leads to my second point: Since Jesus is alive and well, He’s perfectly capable of guiding us into the paths He wants us to tread, above and beyond our feelings. Part of the problem with Church leadership today is that they no longer trust *either* Jesus to inform His people of what He wants, personally, *or* they don’t trust us to hear Him correctly (but surely He is capable of speaing to us in a way which we understand) – or both. I would say to those who doubt Jesus’s ability to speak to His people, ‘What part of “He will lead you into all truth’ don’t you agree with?”

        Finally, when you say, “I find it hard to believe that the foundation of mainline Christianity is wrong and that we have to re learn everything” – I agree entirely with your first premise; as I said above, the Bible isn’t ‘wrong’ even though I don’t agree that it’s the ‘foundation’. However, *it could well be* that we have interpreted it – or, more likely, had it interpreted for us – wrongly. And, in that case, yes – we do indeed need to re-learn many things, if not ‘everything’. And I would suggest that this is part of the process of being ‘transformed’; it’s part of repentance, in that God allows us to repent – to change our minds – about things we believed in the past. And then He leads us into a clearer uderstanding, where of course we will not know ‘everything’ this side of the veil. But essentially, yes, we are in a continual process of re-learning everything. For me, the sense that I have ‘arrived’ is a sure indicator that in fact I have not 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Wow Tony! That last line is a real knock-out!: “For me, the sense that I have ‘arrived’ is a sure indicator that in fact I have not.”

          I think you nailed it.

          Like

  21. I don’t disagree with any of that, but where do you get these ideas? Where did you get an understanding of the nature of God?
    First you say: “Most of these are just other people’s ideas, including pretty well everything we have learned from the Bible and the Church.”
    then you say:
    “And He demonstrated it in very practical virtues such as patience, kindness, acceptance, forgiveness, etc. Love can sometimes be just another abstract term, but when we understand that these virtues are how love behaves towards others, we have a very clear picture of how Jesus wants us to be.”
    Without learning who Jesus was from the Bible, you have nothing to base your correct behavior on. Which is exactly why it’s important to have a correct interpretation of the Bible. It surely is about what we believe in the end, because what we believe determines how we live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Dennis says: “My standard by which I measure my life and my faith is the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated.”

      Wild says: “Without learning who Jesus was from the Bible, you have nothing to base your correct behavior on.”

      Aren’t these the same thing?

      Like

    • Dennis Wade says:

      Wildswanderer, this will be my only reply, because I really don’t want this to turn into an argument.
      When i read about Jesus demonstrating virtues such as patience and kindness, I don’t need someone to correctly interpret these actions. They speak for themselves.

      When i was referring to “other people’s ideas”, I was referring to doctrines that have arisen because people can’t agree on the same interpretation of scripture.

      In the early church there was no new Testament for the first few centuries. Then when there finally was, it was the hierarchy of the church who decided which books would be included within it. Even then, with no printing presses and high illiteracy, the common people depended on the hierarchy of the church to tell them what they were supposed to believe. When printing presses appeared and the Bible became common enough for almost everyone to have a copy, and with a higher literacy rate, people began to read the Bible for themselves. One of the results of this was the development of many different denominations, each with their own interpretation of the doctrines. All of a sudden the Bible itself and the interpretation of it became a source of division between Christians.

      it’s easy to think that people who reach erroneous conclusions about the Bible’s teaching are all simple, untrained souls short on brains and analytical powers. Opposing conclusions have equally been reached by biblical scholars with umpteen years of seminary training, a string of degrees including a couple of PhDs, a detailed knowledge of biblical Hebrew and Greek, and long years of teaching experience. If even godly biblical scholars can’t agree on basic topics like these we can draw only one conclusion: on many topics the Bible is frustratingly unclear.

      it would be great to have a “correct interpretation” of the bible, but where are we going to look for it? Whose interpretation do we accept? And what happens if I don’t agree with the interpretation that you decide to go with?
      Is it the wish of Jesus to have His followers divided into over 9,000 different denominations, all convinced that only they have the correct interpretation of doctrine?
      No wonder the modern world has such a low opinion of Christianity!

      This is why I don’t base my faith on correct interpretation of doctrine. Instead, i base it on how Jesus lived and what He taught. As i said earlier, when we see someone being patient or kind or forgiving, we know what these things are. There is no interpretation needed.

      We may argue that truth is more important than unity, but as Pilate asked, “What is truth?”
      Jesus said He was “the Truth, the Way, and the Life.” He Himself as an example of love in action is the truth. Those loving actions are the correct way, and if we continue in those actions, it brings us life.
      Christians can argue about the nature of the Trinity, whether baptism is needed, what the Holy Spirit is, and whether Jesus fulfilled the old mosaic law, but if we are not engaging in the same virtues that Jesus exhibited, it will only lead to more divisions.

      The only division that is brought about by basing our faith on living the virtues of Jesus is the one caused by people who think these virtues are meaningless and have no power.

      So, yes, I did learn about the nature of Jesus from the bible, but it was not from someone’s “correct interpretation” but rather from the actual behavior of Jesus Himself.

      Liked by 2 people

      • What Jesus taught is doctrine, and you are interpreting it. You are also assuming the Bible correctly records what Jesus taught. I see no difference between that and what you are saying a multitude of denominations do.
        And Jesus’ “correct” behavior and teaching was actually divisive more often than not.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dennis Wade says:

          Wildswanderer, I owe you an apology. In my last post, I said that it would be my last because i didn’t want an argument.
          I realize now that I was disrespecting you with that statement. It was like I was presuming that your only intention was to argue with me, and that it wasn’t worth my time to listen to you.
          I hope you can forgive me for this very unrespectable comment. Of course you have the right to disagree with me, and the right to an open discussion as to why you do.
          I definitely was not treating you in the way I would like to be treated, and by doing so, I was acting against one of Jesus’ most important teachings: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
          Again, i apologize, and promise to you and to all that I will do my best to be open to all criticisms in the future.

          Now for your last comment.
          I began by looking up the definition of doctrine to see if you were correct in saying that what Jesus taught was doctrine. One source defines doctrine in this way:

          “Doctrine (from Latin: doctrina) is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given branch of knowledge or belief system. ”

          So according to this definition I have to admit that you are correct. The teachings of Jesus do fall into this definition.
          As to me interpreting those teachings, again I admit that you are correct in the sense that everything we hold to be true is an interpretation.
          It is like when science forms a theory, such as the theory of evolution. The theory has to be based on the facts we do hold to be correct, and has to stand against all future facts as they arise.
          In that sense, my theory, or interpretation, of Jesus as “Love in action” expressed by simple virtues such as patience and kindness works well for me. I have found no facts so far that demonstrate this interpretation to be wrong.

          And yes, I do have to assume that the teachings of Jesus and the descriptions of how He lived and behaved are correctly recorded.
          Perfectly, no, because of the differences between the four accounts in the gospels. but correct enough to form a good idea of His character.

          And again you are correct in saying that who He was and what He said were often divisive,
          but didn’t most of those divisions fall into the type that are caused by not wanting to accept that He was correct in how we should live and behave?
          Thank you.

          Liked by 3 people

          • I appreciate the apology. Sometimes I do just want to argue, but usually I’m trying to make a point. I think you are correct that Jesus was love in action, but since I try to read scripture as a whole and not elevate certain passages above others, I also believe Jesus is the only way to salvation. So, it’s not an either/ or, it’s both. Jesus’ fulfillment of the law means much more than “Be nice to each other.” I’m not ensured I will be saved from God’s destruction of his enemies by being nice. I’m only saved by dependence on Christ’s sacrifice. As unfair as it seems, I believe there will be many not so nice people who end up in Glory because they truly do get salvation by grace. They will be saved as through the fire, and be the least in the Kingdom, but still saved. I hope I’m not getting off topic, but this is why, in my mind, doctrine is not a side issue with no importance.

            Liked by 2 people

      • omisarah says:

        Surely God had a better plan for us to be in relationship with Her/Him than to have to read a book. Consider the billions who lived and died without a book printed in the last millennium. I can have thousand of beliefs while I have a hard heart— look at the inquisitors—but If i have a direct relationship soul to soul with my Creator Parent I can discern if an act is unloving. There are many hearts of stone teaching many beliefs, but God looks upon the heart and all Her laws are sherpherdesses trying to get us to desire a heart of flesh.

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Omisarah: “I can have thousand of beliefs while I have a hard heart— look at the inquisitors—but If i have a direct relationship soul to soul with my Creator Parent I can discern if an act is unloving.”

          Very well said! I think coming to some basic beliefs is important, but behavior is the key. And that behavior should be based on Jesus’ teaching and example.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      If we have to have the bible to base correct behaviour on, how is it that so many people in the world manage to get it right without having ever seen a bible?

      Liked by 2 people

      • No one gets it right all the time. All have sinned, no exceptions. And good behavior with out salvation is futile.

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Wild, I agree with you that good behavior without ‘salvation’ is futile. Good behavior is one very important result of ‘salvation’, but good behavior does not bring us eternal life after death–Jesus’ death and resurrection does that.

          But what is ‘salvation’? I don’t think ‘salvation’ is a ritual prayer and acceptance of a package of doctrines to save us from eternal punishment. Rather, it is our reconciliation and alignment with a God who was never alienated from us in the first place, being healed of our fears and our brokenness, and receiving eternal life instead of extinction after we die.

          And I suspect this is to be offered to everyone who ever lived, or will live, at a time when they understand it well enough to accept it; it might even be after death.

          However, the good behavior Jesus asked of his followers IS seen throughout the world by those who do not know Jesus or the Bible. I think that reveals something about their hearts that thrills Jesus.

          Liked by 1 person

          • “I don’t think ‘salvation’ is a ritual prayer and acceptance of a package of doctrines to save us from eternal punishment. Rather, it is our reconciliation and alignment with a God who was never alienated from us in the first place, being healed of our fears and our brokenness, and receiving eternal life instead of extinction after we die.”
            Take out “ritual” and “package of doctines” and I would say it’s both. A ” ritual” prayer might be a saving prayer if the heart is sincere. Some one may quote the Lord’s prayer for example, and sincerely mean ” forgive me of my sins”, some one else may not even know words to say, but only groan with contrition and remorse, to God, and be saved. As far as doctrine, I don’t know how much one has to understand to receive salvation, but if they are asking me that question I’m going to point them to the cross. I certainly believe we are alienated from God by our sins, but also that God continues to call all those who still have the ability to respond. I can’t find any reason to believe in purgatory in scripture. I love reading Lewis’ ” the great divorce” because of it’s wisdom as to the why of people rejected God, but I don’t take it as a literal doctrine of hell, nor did he mean it to be.
            Good behavior varys widely according to culture and training, which is why Jesus should be our only example. What surprises me at times is how much people have downplayed Jesus’ tough love approach to sharing truth. But that’s a whole other topic.

            Liked by 2 people

      • Dennis Wade says:

        Chas, I have always thought that as important as the Bible is because it contains God’s promise that one day He himself would come and dwell among us in order that we may clearly see what He is really like, it cannot be the only way that God speaks to us.
        One thing that convinces me is what you said about people getting it right without knowing or reading the Bible.
        I just discovered something very surprising yesterday. I have always bben a deep admirer of Martin Luther King, and he has always appeared to me as someone who was a good illustration of what we may become by opening to God.
        Yesterday I wandered unto a fundamental christian website that stated that MLK was now dwelling in hell. This had nothing to do with racism. the author was a black man. what he based this upon was that MLK, even though he taught in a Baptist tradition, did not accept quite a few things that Baptist doctrine taught. MLK was a progressive,and did not hold as literal such things as the creation story, the flood, the virgin birth, the physical resurrection, among others,
        Because of this, and in spite of him giving his life to a cause that he believed to be right and just, this fundamental christian says that God himself has placed MLK in hell for eternal punishment.
        This is a good illustration of what happens to our hearts and minds if we get too literal with the Bible. We end up throwing out the very nature of God , which is love.

        Liked by 2 people

  22. Dennis Wade says:

    I’m curious. What doctrine do you think is necessary for salvation?

    As for “just being nice”, I see love as far more important than that. The love of God demands that we put our ego aside and become new creature living by a different standard.
    For me, it has been and is still being a total transformation of how I view life, my values and my purpose.
    Before, the most important thing for me was that my life worked out the way i wanted it to, and I based my happiness on whether I thought that was happening or not. People were important if they were helping me to experience good feelings about myself. Otherwise, they appeared as obstacles or didn’t really enter my thoughts much.

    Now, I can’t help but see another person as being loved and held precious by a loving God who wishes for them to have totally fulfilling lives. So much so that He uses Jesus as a demonstration to us not only of His true nature, but as a living example of how He wants us to live. And He wants us to live that way because it is the only way of life that brings a transformation of our being.
    People are important, their happiness and wellbeing are important to God and should be just as important to me, regardless of whether they bring benefit to me or not. In fact, their happiness and well-being matter even if they treat me as an enemy.
    That doesn’t mean I should allow myself to be mistreated if there is something I can do about it, because I also am just as important to God.

    Living this way challenges me every day. My old self-centered nature keeps wanting to resurrect itself. Especially when I feel I am being mistreated. But now there is something new within me that is always calling to me to live by this new standard, to remember that putting myself first never brought a sense of fulfillment and often only led to more problems. It reminds me that seeing others as loved by God calls me to act in a different way toward them. They may not know that they are that important to God, and they may not even think it matters, but I now know it does.

    Because of Jesus I now know that God cares about every person I meet or interact with, and I understand that He wants to use me to let them know that. He wants to live through me just as He did through Jesus. He wants me to demonstrate, just as Jesus did, that only by letting go of a self-centered life and allowing God to live in our hearts can we ever find the fulfillment we seek and enter into His Kingdom. And He wants me to let them know not just by telling them. I am supposed to help them know by demonstrating that I have replaced my self-centeredness with the true Love that God has.

    In other words, because I have discovered this love through Jesus, God is now asking me to live by a higher standard. This new standard asks me to live as though the happiness and wellbeing of others matter just as much to me as it does to them. Just as much as my own happiness and wellbeing matter to me.
    This new standard reminds me that I don’t have the right to reject or ignore someone just because I may disagree with their behavior or am offended by them. i may not be able to condone or understand that behavior, but I can’t judge them. That is something that belongs only to God. Only He can judge someone, and He chooses forgiveness if they would receive it.
    This is something that is so far beyond “just being nice” that it’s almost offensive to even call it that.
    Just being nice is saying hello to my neighbour when I really feel like punching him. Just being nice is being polite. It may be a good place to start from, but it really doesn’t do much good to remain there.
    Allowing God to replace your self centeredness with His love is a total transformation of your very being. That’s why Jesus called it “being born again”, and why Paul said we are “new creatures in Christ.”
    To the ego it seems like death, but the amazing thing is the discovery that there really is no sacrifice, no having to give up our happiness for that of others. Instead, we find our happiness and fulfillment because we care for others, and not in spite of it. Taking up this higher standard is a burden only to the ego. When we give ourselves to it, we discover that it was exactly what we have been looking for all this time.
    To me, this is the doctrine that leads to salvation. Jesus wasn’t a sacrifice, because God doesn’t need sacrifices. He doesn’t judge us for not fulling the old laws. Jesus is an example. An example that only by allowing God’s love to live within us do we enter into the Kingdom. It is His perfect example of this love that fulfills the law. There is no other way to fulfill the old laws but by having this love live within us.
    You may call this a doctine, but it is actually an experience. it comes by being open to God and allowing Him to love others through us.
    Again, I’m finding myself having to apologize for such lengthy responses. It seems I have an inability to express my thoughts without using a lot of words. Hope you managed to get through it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. What you are describing is commonly known as santification. I’m dating myself here, but Petra had a song “Killing my old man.” The old man is the sin nature that always wants his selfish way. Yes, this is what salvation is supposed to do to a person, but it isn’t our putting off of the old man that justifies us.
    Roman 5…8But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him! 10For if, when we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!

    We are justified only through his death and resurrection. If I put my faith in my transformation, it will always fail me, sooner or later, because that transformation, as amazing as it is, compared to who I was before, is still incomplete. I can never perfectly keep the law of God, or love myself and others perfectly If I could, the blood of Jesus wouldn’t have been needed. Yes, Jesus is our example, but he’s much more than that. He is also our redeemer and king. As much as people don’t want to embrace the fact that God has a justified wrath against sin, it’s all through scripture. And as Paul says above, Yeshua’s blood saves us from God’s wrath, that would otherwise compel him to cast us away from him. Not because he doesn’t love us, but because we refused to accept his love and sacrifice. This is why I say it’s not either our transformation or our justification, it’s both.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Dennis Wade says:

    The OT understanding of God and our relationship with Him is that God is so Pure and Holy that because we are unable to be perfect in keeping the laws, He will never be able to have us in His presence. The blood sacrifices demanded by the law are supposed to make us pure. It was based on the idea that we could be made pure by a payment of someone’s or something’s blood.
    Paul used this imagery in the NT because it was a good metaphor for explaining Jesus to the Jews.
    But that is all is is: just a metaphor.

    The new understanding that Jesus gave was that God CAN accept us, WANTS to accept us, and that the ONLY thing that prevents us from being in His presence is our reluctance to be there.
    There is no need for any type of blood sacrifice, including the blood of Jesus. From God’s side there is no debt that has to be paid.

    This whole thing of there being laws that God needs us to live by in order to be pure is an invention of man, and not God. The biggest mistake we have made is trying to incorporate this old way of relating to God into the Good News that Jesus taught. It has only resulted in bringing us back to where they were in the OT: needing to be saved or redeemed by a payment of blood. And the sooner we drop this idea, the better it will be for us.

    Yes, Jesus died on the cross, but not because God needed Him to in order to redeem us.
    As Tim has said in his posts on sin and the law and why Jesus died, there is a mystery about it that we will never really comprehend in our limited state. But it is not a redemption by blood.

    So, if salvation isn’t being made pure in God’s sight by someone’s blood sacrifice, then what is it?

    Salvation is freedom from the only thing that keeps us from being in God’s presence: being convinced that we can successfully run our lives and our affairs without God’s love and grace.
    This is what has caused all of the pain and suffering that has ever been experienced.
    And this is why when Jesus was asked by the pharisees what the great commandment in the law was, He responded by saying:
    “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
    Matthew 22: 37-40

    The only law that God holds us to is this. We love God with all of our hearts when we realize that we can never be what He wants us to be unless our lives are ruled by His love. We keep failing miserably in loving our neighbor in the same way that we love ourselves, and this is because we keep trying to do it without God in our hearts.

    By accepting God’s love for us, it makes it possible for that love to give us the ability to love our neighbor in the same way that we love our self. Without God’s love in our hearts we can’t do this, no matter how much we would like to.
    Remember, God IS love. Love is not just one of His many attributes, but His very nature. Having God’s love in your heart is the same as having God in your heart, for God IS love.

    Salvation is when you really get this. It is when you really understand that you will always fail in your efforts to love without abiding in God. You will still be imperfect in abiding, but the times that you fail are not held against you by God. Others may hold them against you, and you may even hold them against yourself, but God doesn’t. All He asks is that you keep abiding in love and keep going.

    There are a lot of “Holy Mysteries” about the life and death of Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, and Salvation By Grace that we cannot fully understand right now. Paul said it’s like trying to look through a dark glass. We mostly see reflections of our self instead of what lies on the other side.
    But he went on to say that there will come a day when we will “know even as we are known.”
    When we finally stand before God there will be nothing to distort our understanding of him and our understanding of what it was that Jesus really did for us.
    But until that day we have to accept that there are a lot of things about God and Jesus that we don’t really understand right now.

    I don’t put my faith in my ability to transform myself, but I do put my faith into the ability of Jesus to do this for me. My faith is not in the transformation, but in Jesus. The transformation is something that comes as a result.

    You may ask how I can prove this from scripture. I really don’t make an effort to. Scripture is a recorded attempt of various people to understand our relationship with God. Some of the stories are factual and a lot are just metaphors and limited explanations. Some of it is accurate in recording what happened, but not very clear in how or why it happened, and has given rise to many attempts to explain it. Some of the explanations are helpful, and some are very harmful.
    But God uses it anyway, to lead us to Jesus. It is Jesus that we need because He is the Living Word.

    You said: “Yeshua’s blood saves us from God’s wrath”. God has no wrath, and no blood is needed to save you from it. May we all come to fully understand this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Well said, Dennis! Especially…

      “It was based on the idea that we could be made pure by a payment of someone’s or something’s blood. Paul used this imagery in the NT because it was a good metaphor for explaining Jesus to the Jews. But that is all is: just a metaphor. The new understanding that Jesus gave was that God CAN accept us, WANTS to accept us, and that the ONLY thing that prevents us from being in His presence is our reluctance to be there. There is no need for any type of blood sacrifice, including the blood of Jesus. From God’s side there is no debt that has to be paid.”

      Excellent! Good stuff!

      By the way, I receive notifications whenever you post an article on your blog; and I haven’t received a notification in about two weeks. Let me point out that some of your comments here tend to be somewhat long. Have you ever considered taking these comments, revising them appropriately, and posting them as articles on your blog?

      Just a thought.

      Like

      • Dennis Wade says:

        i apologize for the lengthy posts. None of them start out with that intention, but end up being that way. I guess I have a lot held within me, just waiting to come out.
        right now I’m having a love-hate relationship with my blog, and i think it’s due to not having a clear idea of the direction i want to take with it I guess I need to give it more thought.
        also, i am facing the probability of having to have my bladder removed because of bladder cancer, and it occupies a lot of my thoughts, as you can imagine.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Oh Wow, Dennis! I am so sorry to hear of your medical issue! That will certainly slow a person down–I know from experience.

          I agree that having a good sense of direction for a blog is very important. I have quite a focused objective and a focused audience and it has worked well for me. However, in some of my most recent posts I have been dealing with off-subjects and I can see some slacking off of my numbers; but I needed to do it. I am now back on track.

          Dennis, I was not complaining about the length of your comments–only pointing out that some of them might serve as a good start on a new article.

          Like

  25. Ok, we will have to agree to disagree. Either that, or I will have to cut all the hundreds of verses out of my Bible, which speak of God’s righteous anger, and his redemption by his blood, and that’s not going to happen.
    There are a lot of mysterys, but it seems to me that a lot of people are making mysterys of things that are clearly revealed to us, because they don’t care for the implications.
    “As Tim has said in his posts on sin and the law and why Jesus died, there is a mystery about it that we will never really comprehend in our limited state. But it is not a redemption by blood.”

    “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace”

    Hebrews 9:12
    “and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
    Hebrews 9:14
    “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
    Revelation 5:9-10
    “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”
    and I could go on and on. This is not a mystery. We have been purchased by his blood, thank God!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Dennis Wade says:

    Can you possibly entertain the idea that these verses are sincere attempts by men with good intentions to understand our relationship with God, but that they are not the infallible Word of God?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. No. There is no question in my mind about redemption by way of the cross. To claim all the teaching about it being metaphorical is just silly to the point of being ridiculous.

    Like

  28. Dennis Wade says:

    I’m sorry that I appear ridiculous and silly to you. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

    Like

  29. I’m sure you are genuinely seeking truth. It’s this teaching that I’m saying is silly and dangerous. I’ll try to explain why I find it silly to try and explain away the sacrifice of Christ. This is the central tenet of our faith that everything else revolves around, the blood sacrifice of Jesus’ own flesh for our salvation. To deny that is to misunderstand the core teaching of scripture… and the heart of Christianity. There is no more important thing to understand. Without it, we are just another religion trying to be good enough to please God. It is literally the answer to every question we have about God. This IS the gospel. It’s what Paul taught, what spread around the world because of it’s power. Not just another religion telling us to be better people, but that God died for us personally. I have probably overstayed my welcome, so will bow out on that note.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Wild, I agree that Jesus’ death was tremendously significant; and, together, his death and resurrection represented his defeat of the ultimate power of evil and of death. This is astounding!

      I believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection did bring about reconciliation between us and God, but the alienation was not on God’s part–it was on our side only. New Testament writers use a number of ideas to try to explain how Jesus’ death works for us, but it was Calvin, building on Anselm, who developed the idea that it involved a pouring out of God’s wrath on Jesus to satisfy his wrath toward us for our ‘sins’.

      You stated, “This is the central tenet of our faith that everything else revolves around, the blood sacrifice of Jesus’ own flesh for our salvation.” It is not the central tenet of my faith, or the faith of many others today, neither was it the central tenet of the faith of the first 1000 years of believers.

      Even if the Bible were inerrant Calvin was not.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I certainly don’t follow Calvin. I believe that one of the things we are saved from is God’s wrath because it is scriptural. Regardless of what theory of atonement you follow, the blood sacrifice remains as the way we are reconciled with God.

        Like

        • Dennis Wade says:

          Wildwanderer, the replies seem to be getting out of proper order here.
          I am responding to your thoughts about how we are not saved by good behavior and doing the right thing. I do hope you are receiving all of these replies as coming from a wish for all of us to increase our understanding and not as an attack against your beliefs and understandings.
          I agree with you totally that we are NOT saved by good behaviour.
          Where I think we disagree is on some of our understandings.

          I recently wrote an article on the true nature of love, and in it, I included this:

          “The ancient greeks had 7 words to describe 7 different types of love.
          Storge: natural affection. the love you share with your family.
          Phila: the love you have for friends.
          Eros: sexual and erotic desire.
          Ludus: playful love, like childish love, or flirting.
          Pragma:longstanding love. love like married couples have.
          Philautia:love of the self.
          Agape: Divine love.Unconditional love.

          Love is such a difficult idea to talk about because most of the time we are NOT even talking about the same type of love
          There is only one of these seven types of love that we as human beings cannot generate, and that is Divine Love. This is because Agape, or Divine Love, is God;s nature, not ours.
          All of the other types of love can and are generated by our self-centered egos. That is why they cannot give us salvation from our selfish and harmful actions. And that is why they often fail us. Or rather, we fail love, because our love is tainted by ego.
          Only Agape never fails, and only Agape is free from ego because God;s Love has no selfishness or ego.
          And there is only one way for us to have that kind of unselfish love – – – and that is by receiving Jesus, God’s Nature, into our very being. We only do this when we finally understand that on our own we are not capable of such unconditional love.

          I would say that most of us are saying that we are saved from sin by Agape and not doctrine. Doctrine may teach us about Agape, and we may try to have it on our own, but only Jesus can give it to us.
          Jesus gives this to us and would give it to us whether he had died or not.
          But there IS a point where I Do agree with you, and that is that we would most likely keep thinking we are capable of generating Agape if jesus hadn’t demonstrated what Agape is by being so completely free from ego and selfishness that it can even be willing to give up life for another.
          The Bible says that there is no greater love than laying down your life for another. And since Agape is the greatest love, then we must understand that only Agape can motivate us to ever do such a thing.
          So, in that sense I agree with you: we ARE saved by Jesus’ death, because it is the most powerful demonstration of Agape we can ever encounter!

          I hope this helps you to understand that we do not actually disagree. We are really only emphasizing the same thing in different ways.

          Liked by 1 person

  30. Perhaps. But I seem to have a need to define the how of salvation as well as the results. In reference to agape love, I certainly agree that only Christ can give us that. But, I have to know how we are justified also, because of how my mind works and because my experiences with various churches have led me to a need to know exactly what scripture teaches (to avoid being deceived by bad theology. ) And the conclusions I have come to are very much not in line with what I read here. I’m not saying that to disrespect anyone, just being honest. I have found value in various views of salvation, even the Orthodox with their view of salvation being a lifestyle and not so much an experience. Again we get into this either/or question, which I think is short sighted according to scripture. It is about Jesus’ blood and resurrection and salvation from wrath and victory over sin and over out selfish desires and the ability to truly love as God loves and probably a lot more things that don’t come to mind at the moment.
    This post may help you understand a bit of where I’m coming from: https://closetchronicle.wordpress.com/2018/02/17/the-face-of-grace/

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Wild, I absolutely love your article! It revealed to me a side of you that I did not at all expect. Thanks so much for sharing the link, and I recommend it to anyone who might be interested.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Dennis Wade says:

    Wild, I, too, enjoyed reading your article! Thank you for pointing us to it.
    I know what you mean when you say that you seem to have a need to define the how of salvation as well as the results. I have always had that need, too. it has led me to explore and examine every part of my faith, and i think that’s a very good thing!
    Although I have often written my responses on this blog as though i had complete confidence in my views, in reality I often feel like that person who said to Jesus:
    “Lord, I believe. Please help my unbelief”!

    I don’t doubt my salvation, because I have a very strong personal sense of the presence of Jesus and God in my life, I have often brought myself to the point of total confusion trying to figure out how it all works.
    Actually, I now recognize that a lot of this confusion comes from our human dilemma, and not so much from the scriptures.
    As humans , our minds perceive the world from duality. To us, things are either one way or another, and we see the two ways as opposing each other, instead of being two parts of a greater whole.
    Only after years of putting myself through much mental anguish trying to find the “right side” have I come to realize that truth has to be seen from a higher level of being.
    Even Einstein said that a problem cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that caused it.

    Now, when I find myself getting too closely caught up in this effort of trying to find the “right side” to the point of rising anxiety, I allow myself to step back and just rest in the simple “peace that passes understanding” that Jesus gives. Then, when I feel renewed, I return to the search, asking Jesus to help me see it from that “higher level of understanding”.
    For someone who just can’t stop searching for a better understanding of all things, this method helps me to untangle my mind.

    Liked by 3 people

    • tonycutty says:

      “I don’t doubt my salvation, because I have a very strong personal sense of the presence of Jesus and God in my life,..” That’s called the Spirit bearing witness that we are children of God (and Jesus and St.Paul mention it too). What I love about this is that we feel/realise these things about ourselves, and find in the Bible that, nearly two thousand years ago, others had the same experience. That’s pretty mind-blowing to me 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  32. “It revealed to me a side of you that I did not at all expect.” We are all of us paradoxes wrapped in contradictions. I also think we tend to only see one layer of most people. I know I fall into this lots of times. Most of the time there are more layers, but for us introverts especially, getting into those layers is a long, messy process. In one sense, that particular post took about 30 years to write. Thanks for reading.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. michaeleeast says:

    Tim, My attitude to the Bible is very close to yours.
    I like the image of water in a jar. The water takes on the color of the jar.
    Also it is our job to separate the fragments of light from the shards of pottery that contained them.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Pingback: The Face of Grace | Flying in the Spirit

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