How To Be A Progressive Christian Without Being A Grump About It

How To Be A Progressive Christian Without Being A Grump About It August 12, 2015

Stubborn employee

So you’re a Progressive Christian?

Great, we welcome you. Whether you’re a Mainline Progressive™, a Progressive Evangelical™, or in the category of I Don’t Know Where The Heck I Am Anymore™, we welcome you under our ginormous tent. (There’s free beer and wine in the back if you’re interested.)

You’ll find plenty of friends here who will walk with you and inspire you along your personal journey.

But I’ll warn you… you’re also going to meet a few Progressive Grumps™. (Every tent has em, right?) Well, to be perfectly honest, some days I’m one of them… but I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. (Insert voice of Samuel L. Jackson in my mind saying, “But I’m tryin’ Ringo. I’m tryin’ reaaal hard to be the shepherd.“)

 Since most of us like to have a decent time in this tent (it’s totally cool if you just came here for the Beer and Hymns), you’re going to need to set up some safeguards to make sure you’re not constantly lingering over in the grumpy corner of the tent (fair warning- it’s really smoky over there). There will be appropriate occasions to briefly hang out in that corner, but my advice is to make sure you’re not constantly sitting over there. If you stay grumpy too long, you’ll just start to hate everything about life, and I honestly don’t want that to happen to you.

So, here are 10 things I think may help you to be a Progressive Christian™ without being a total grump about it:

10. Read/listen to voices who inspire you instead of only listening to voices who fuel negative feelings inside you. 

We have a lot of critics in here (they told me if we were a gang, my name would be The Dissenter™ which sounds kinda cool, honestly) but filling yourself on an over-diet of negativity will make one a permanent resident of the grumpy corner. A balanced diet is key, even in this tent– so make sure you’re consuming things that encourage and inspire you instead of only filling your plate with negativity.

9. Realize this tent is made up of people on a journey, not people who have arrived.

It’s easy to come in, pull up a chair, and breathe a sigh of relief that you have finally arrived somewhere. Unfortunately, that belief can lead to as much rigidity as exists in your old tent- and rigidity over time has a tremendous influence on the Grumpy Meter™. Think about this as a journey where you’re still learning, growing, and where openness to change can be your friend.

8. Hold your progressive beliefs in a soft hand instead of an iron fist.

While we are people on a journey always open to growing and changing, you’re going to have some convictions on certain topics that will be foundational– we all do. However, I think you’ll experience a more enlightening journey if you hold onto those convictions in gentleness and humility instead of a harsh edge. Plus, this is a tent where we don’t necessarily all share the same foundationals, so a good dose of humility would be good for all of us.

7. Please don’t shoot people inside the tent.

Let’s be honest: shooting someone is bad manners, especially for a Jesus follower. Plus, when you shoot people inside the tent, your bullets often ricochet across the room and cause collateral damage (which makes innocent bystanders Super Grumpy™). I know this might sound overly-simplistic, but if you have an issue with someone else at this party, can you do us all a favor and try to dialogue about it? While not everything can be resolved, I think we can resolve a lot more infighting than we currently do.

6. Strive to be gracious when dealing with those outside the tent.

Many of us left our old tents in part because we didn’t like the unloving way they viewed outsiders. Yet, we quickly resort to that old pattern of living- playing the same game by the same rules, but for a different team. If we want people to see that our tent is more loving than many others (which I believe it is) the best way to show it is to work toward loving those in conservative tents a little better. Plus, it’s good for our own selves– it’s hard to be grumpy when you’re busy loving.

5. Don’t join the Progressive Twitter Police™.

One of the surprising things you’ll find in this tent is, like fundamentalism, there are some here who will police your thoughts, tones, opinions, etc., and will be quick to “correct” you. Most commonly, this will happen on Twitter. Funny thing is, I’ve never met a member of the Progressive Twitter Police™ who wasn’t grumpy all the time, so it’s a tree/fruit kinda thing. Want to stay happy and avoid chronic Progressive Grumpiness Syndrome™? Stay as far away from this police station as possible.

4. Please don’t feel pressured to conform to other people’s ideas of what it means to be a progressive.

Let’s say the Progressive Twitter Police™ come calling anyway (they probably will at some point). In this scenario, here’s what you need to remember: don’t be a slave to group-think. Don’t let people pressure or bully you into conforming to their idea of what a progressive is or is not, and don’t buy into the lie that you have to conform to someone else’s idea of who you should be. There is no more Grump Inducing™ activity than trying to be anything other than who God is calling you to be.

3. Be about building, not just tearing down.

I’m not gonna lie: a lot of folks brought gas cans and lighters to this party, and I think we’re currently over quota. While there is a time and a place to burn bridges, if you spend all your time tearing down without investing into building things up, you’ll soon find yourself in a desolate wasteland. And you know what that will make you? Grumpy, that’s what. We are in need of people who are willing to do the hard work of constructing something beautiful– because we’ve neglected the beauty of being a builder.

2. Leave room for God to do what God does best.

So, you’re excited about this new journey you’re on? Great! Just remember: it’s not your job to try to convince everyone in all those other tents to come join ours. God has a wonderful ability to work on people’s hearts and lead them to the change he desires– so leave room for God to do what God does best. Yes, freely share the excitement of your journey, but if you begin thinking you need to get everyone out of the other tents, you’ll find such a quest is marked by a big case of Progressive Evangelism Grumps™.

1. Remember: the person you’re talking to might be the old you.

I know they make you grumpy, but please remember: that person in the comment section might be the old you. Instead of verbally blasting them and pelting them with dehumanizing labels that only shut down conversation, try remembering that perhaps, just perhaps, you thought that same way once upon a time. Maybe they were force-fed it as kids and are just regurgitating. Maybe they’re seeking. Maybe something you’ve learned will help them see things differently. But, you’ll never get through to them if all they meet is a Progressive Grump™. So, show them some love and patience- as someone probably once showed you.

So you’re a Progressive Christian™? Awesome, so happy you’re here.

This tent can be a lot of fun, and the journey can be exciting. However, there are some things you could do, and somethings you could avoid doing, that will go a long way in making sure this is a journey of enlightenment, and not a journey into the Seventh Hell Of Progressive Grumpiness™.

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  • Really, really good advice for me. Thanks.

  • Sirjoyful

    Excellent advice for a new arrival in the tent such as myself. Still hanging out in the observation corner for now. I will say that your voice had a large part of calling me into this tent, Ben

  • This is excellent advice for progressives; I think I agree with every point. My favorites are numbers 9, 8, 6, and 4. Regarding number 4, I sometimes receive pressure from some other progressives because I believe in the resurrection–it really seems to upset them.

  • I’ve recently been scolded, in a particular branch of progressive X, for a version of #5 (though Facebook Presbyterian). What I was doing was asking (politely, I thought) for use of the correct words that distinguish that branch. Hey, I’m a writer too, and I think the words matter. I’ve just shared this with them, so we’ll see if anyone gets the message.

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    thank you for that advice!

  • Guy Norred

    Reminders we all need from time to time. Thanks!

  • I spend a lot of time in the exasperation corner, myself.

  • otrotierra

    Thanks Benjamin! Another great commentary.

  • VisionaryJax

    — “I know they make you grumpy, but please remember: that person in the comment section might be the old you. Instead of verbally blasting them and pelting them with dehumanizing labels that only shut down conversation, try remembering that perhaps, just perhaps, you thought that same way once upon a time. Maybe they were force-fed it as kids and are just regurgitating. Maybe they’re seeking. Maybe something you’ve learned will help them see things differently. But, you’ll never get through to them if all they meet is a Progressive Grump™. So, show them some love and patience- as someone probably once showed you.”— Beautiful!

    This post is so, so needed, Benjamin! Thank you for writing it! I have been saddened to see believers who discover grace and move beyond evangelical/fundamentalism, only to stall out in their pain and bitterness toward their old faith so that, while they’re now on a better path, they can’t experience the joy of it! The pitfalls you’ve pointed out are exactly the ones most likely to leave ex-fundies and other progressives stranded on the roadside rather than moving joyfully deeper into the kingdom, that is to say, deeper into Christ. I hope we can all be as honest and hopeful as you, Ben, and overwhelm our Tent with joy and inclusivity rather than trying to make it function like our Old Tent but with smarter beliefs.

  • Clay Tablet

    “I was once a 20-something Steubenville undergrad, who thought my ability to quote “Theology of the Body” made me an expert on marriage, that Rick Santorum was amazing, that gays and lesbians were heralding the end of the family, and that the presence of women on the altar was the greatest violation of all that is holy. (Yes, my Swedish mother was horrified at me. Mormor asked why I didn’t just smoke pot and date musicians like a normal college kid.) I have a mean judge-y streak, and sometimes I realize now that I’ve gone home it has just been turned back on conservatives.”

    Lol to all of that. I can have a mean, judge-y streak too.

    Personally, I always felt a little different, like I was some sort of an odd duck as a political liberal in a pretty conservative Evangelical non-denominational. But I always felt loved and was careful to just not talk politics with anyone. So I’m glad to have found like-minded Christians, but I find that I have to be very careful not to succumb to judginess and spiritual pride. And that takes humility-think we all need God’s help with that one.

    Member of an Evangelical Covenant Church now where there’s lots of grace and room for all sorts of viewpoints, but I think we do a pretty good job of keeping the focus where it belongs. I also cheer when I hear Pope Francis say something particularly awesome about helping the poor or income inequality or caring for the environment. Think that’s where I’m at right now on my journey- melding the Catholic upbringing with the Evangelical reawakening.

    I guess it’s just so good to know I’m not alone.

  • It is all too easy for us progressives to develop an attitude of pride and superiority over evangelicals. Yet they are they are among those Jesus said we should love as ourselves.

  • Jordan

    > “Remember: the person you’re talking to might be the old you.”

    Or the future you. Let’s not get too confident in our current paradigm.

  • And some of us just wander about, suspicious of any actual grouping of other humans, hanging out on the hillsides, the awkward loner… wandering to the cliffsides, wondering if a flying leap off is in order because one never belonged to any worlds, anyway.

    If anyone wants me, please let me sit in a corner and doodle all over the programs. I’m not into beer and wine, but am into pen and ink.

  • Clay Tablet

    Precisely. :) having love and compassion for ALL of God’s children is what we are commanded to do. But boy do I need help with that one sometimes.

  • scott stone

    Great advice! Let me see if I can sum this up (chances are I’ll get this wrong.)
    Just be a Christian! (No need for a modifier since modifiers eventually take preference to the noun they are modifying.)

  • ashpenaz

    I think I need to modifier for my “Christian.” I think “Progressive Christianity” and “Conservative Christianity” are two separate religions. I, too, have swum the Tiber (twice now–darn that Pope Francis for making me believe most Catholic churches followed him!). I paddle about between the ELCA and Episcopal. I don’t see the church as divided by Reformation issues anymore. But I see a chasm filled with an abyss between Conservatives and Progressives. (National Catholic Register/National Catholic Reporter; ELCA/LCMS; ECUSA/ACNA, etc.)

    There is no middle ground I can see between evolution/creation. undocumented workers/criminal illegal aliens: peace through dialogue/good men with guns;. same-sex marriage/same-sex celibacy; women priests/women silent; Bible as story/Bible as inerrant, etc., etc. Once you’re on one side of the abyss, there is no bridge to the other side.

    That’s why I’m not sure conservatives and progressives are part of the same body. If they can call us the Antichrist, why can’t we say the same about them? I think progressives follow Jesus; I think conservatives follow Odin (that’s the god I think best embodies conservative ideals–warrior god, friendly to insiders, wrath on outsiders, our tribe against the world). Using Jesus as a spokesman for conservative beliefs makes about as much sense as Gandhi on an “I’m the NRA!” poster. But Odin has the same qualities conservatives say they want in God.

    So, I call myself a Progressive Christian. I like Jesus better than Odin.

  • Brenda Finnegan

    I think I needed to hear this today. All the politics on all the media all the time really just had me over the edge into grumpiness. Thanks for the reality check.

  • liberalinlove

    I hope I can say, I am just a follower of Christ. Unfortunately I’ve been labeled and uninvited to the table of many of my “christian” friends. It doesn’t make me grumpy, it makes me sad.

    It also makes me constantly check my spirit for wisdom that does not line up with Godly Wisdom.
    New International Version
    the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then
    peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit,
    impartial and sincere. James 3:17
    As lonely as it gets, the options are limited to following what I believe the message of Christ tells me I am to do and be.

  • liberalinlove

    It just feels like this doesn’t it. Either/or!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    on becoming the grumble…
    I highly recommend the Great Divorce by CS Lewis.

    Also I’ve had burning resentment
    … a.k.a the
    dry drunk.

  • Kobukvolbane

    and allow others to be Christians in peace

  • ashpenaz

    I don’t think we’re united. I don’t see Jesus in–

    calling undocumented workers criminals and calling for their mass deportation
    not trusting women to make decisions about their pregnancies
    not letting women pastor churches
    believing in unfettered free market capitalism
    supporting the death penalty
    disregarding global warming
    not seeing love, monogamy, and loyalty as the basis for lifelong partnerships
    not making cakes or filling out forms for those you disagree with
    wanting war instead of diplomacy and treaties
    fighting healthcare reform
    fighting gun control after Sandy Hook
    continuing racist policies after Ferguson

    Yet, conservative Christians will often sign off on all the above. Since I can’t find Jesus in any of that, I have to assume that who conservative “christians” worship is not Jesus–in fact, since what they believe is the opposite of what Jesus teaches, I have to assume they are the Antichrist. That’s what the Spirit of Antichrist looks like in today’s world.

    They have teachers, like Huckabee, and Dobson, who tell their itching ears what they want to hear. They call good evil and evil good. They are the Antichrist they accuse progressives of being. Why can’t we speak the truth in love and call them what they are so that they might repent?

  • cken

    So what exactly is a progressive Christian. Are they like political progressives, elitists who think they are more erudite than us regular Joe’s, and only they know what is right and good for all. These labels for Christians are stupid. We are all Christians regardless of labels or even denominations, struggling on our own path. Although certainly we could all do a better job of following the way the truth and life, and most of us would do well to read the bible or at least the gospels more frequently.

  • cken

    That would be tolerant like loving your neighbor as yourself. We all fall short on this but it helps to remember we are all connected by the great spirit in the sky. OK so some call that creative entity, God or Allah or Jehovah. Does the name really matter? It is the reality of the concept and your belief in same which is important.

  • cken

    It is arrogant and egotistical for any of us or any labeled group of us, or any denomination,or any religion to think we have it all right or are even the closest to being right. We are all trying for the same goal to reach a positive place in the afterlife.

  • Kobukvolbane

    The name doesn’t matter to me. But I do believe we are called to be much more than tolerant. Loving your neighbor is not the same as tolerating your neighbor. I totally agree on connection, too. Connecting and working together is much of what we are called upon to do.

  • Points I must note for future reference, when I feel ‘the urge… rising’. My own blog for the past while (three years next week!) has, by its nature, been mainly that of an old grumpy evangelical always bewildered and frustrated at the cultural baggage around me. I call myself a Progressive Evangelical™ but as with labels, it all depends on what you infer by it, and then it has implications for others. I know what I mean.

    I shall make the effort to be lighter shades that seek to illuminate the way, instead of trying to be a bright light that just blinds everyone. Thank you.

  • Kobukvolbane

    I think something other than asking others to repent of their views is called for. Can’t we disagree without calling others on the carpet and telling them they are wrong? Because we will get nowhere if we do that. Progressives are just as guilty of using the Bible as a weapon as are conservatives. We just use different passages. If Jesus wants us to love our enemies, what is expected of us in regards to Christians who disagree with us?

  • ashpenaz

    Where do you see see Jesus in conservative Christianity? Where do you see fruits of the Spirit?

  • Robert Conner

    There is no “progressive” Christianity. At least not in the New Testament.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    R U spam?

  • Herm

    “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” Acts 4:31-35



    1. happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step.

    synonyms: continuing, continuous, increasing, growing, developing, ongoing, accelerating, escalating; More

    2. (of a group, person, or idea) favoring or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.

    1. a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.

    synonyms: innovator, reformer, reformist, liberal, libertarian

    We can’t be too progressive as Christians if we haven’t grown as a body beyond Acts 4:31-35. Perhaps the progressive Christians are only those bold students learning real life directly from the one uniting “word of God” in their hearts and minds and not from the self-indulgent logic of the Pharisees and teachers of the law readily available from so many exclusive religious bodies of canonization ordaining themselves as the real Christians.

    Christ Jesus was chronicled as an innovator, reformer and liberal. We as an ever controlling mankind have for over 2,000 years tried religiously to conservatively get back to where He was … when all along He is here, now.

  • Robert Conner

    You might read the referenced essay and then reply. Pooling resources in earliest Christianity had nothing do with “progressivism” which wasn’t even a concept (see “anachronism” in your favorite dictionary). As the context makes clear, the primitive community described in Acts expected the immediate End (Acts 2:17). The philosopher Celsus (c. 170) investigated Christianity and read its texts. In short, Celsus must have read a gospel older than any surviving manuscript and talked to real “gnostics,” not scholarly reconstructions of gnostics based on a few surviving texts.

  • Robert Conner

    R U?

  • Herm

    Robert I would gladly take the time to read your essay but not for an additional $8.99 a month. Already saturated by subscriptions, thank you. I have read Celsus and his alluding that while pretending to be Jewish he questioned Jesus. He never once even said this is the response Jesus gave him. I’m sorry but there are many skeptics, you and Celsus are not the even more talented. I can only testify by my own experience that if you, no less special or capable than I, question the Rabbi directly you will learn to no longer be a skeptic.

    A book that might help you on your journey is one I was recently directed to here, The End of Religion by Bruxy Cavey. I am only a short way through but the Spirit I have read there is much more real than what you proudly share here that is seemingly limited by a carnal logic and not from a tested and knowledgeable spiritual heart and mind.

    Thank you for your concern that we have been deceived. Many here by their fruits are not deceived by carnal logic and will not discard these challenges from you for we can learn from all to be discerning so as to in everything actually do to others as we would have others do to us.

    Love your asking, seeking and knocking!

  • TLC

    Thank you so much for this! I have been going through a phase that I’m calling “burning the fundamentailsm out of me.” No. 10 is especially important. I’ve been spending a lot of time on blogs in the spiritual abuse network. They’ve helped me see the reality of what I was involved in, but now I need to see something positive.

    I am SO glad I’m here! Off to find the wine and to try not to be grumpy.

  • cken

    You are right but to love someone you have to be tolerant of their idiosyncrasies, their annoying habits, or their life style. So I think tolerance and love do sort of go hand in hand.

  • Rea

    I see it in the individual. Just like I see it in the individual on the progressive side, because that’s the level where the fruit of the Spirit is displayed. We may not always agree about everything, but it would be extreme hubris to assume that I am right on every single issue. I think that’s what Ben meant by ‘holding our beliefs in a soft hand instead of an iron fist.’

  • Kobukvolbane

    I’m not conservative, but I’m willing to realize that in Christ there may be no right or left. See #3.

  • Kobukvolbane

    I don’t disagree.

  • Kobukvolbane

    and/or this life.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    I checked out your profile you seem to be trolling today.
    what’s your real problem?

  • cken

    Interesting. do you think any religion helps you reach a positive place in this life if so how.

  • Robert Conner

    Thanks so much for that Christian insight into my heart and mind. Must be one of those gifts of the spirit–telepathy or something more like hubris? It’s passing odd that you seem to know what I’m about without bothering to read any of it. Another of those spiritual gifts?

    As far as Celsus is concerned, he read (around CE 165-170) a gospel older than any manuscript of the gospels currently extant and spoke to real “gnostics,” not conjectural gnostics based on a few surviving documents and guesswork. Interesting how you pass judgment on someone over 1700 centuries closer to the source than you are.

    Keep up that Christian message!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    could you help me find the spiritual abuse network I’d really appreciate it.

  • Proud Amelekite

    Based off of your essay, what I read of it, there is such things as all kinds of Christianity since the new testament writers (Paul, in specific, in your essay) simply fudged together scraps of Hellene writing in his invention of the faith without regard to their literary meaning. With a subjective foundation like that you can build any number of wildly variant and differing Christianity’s, I reckon.

  • Proud Amelekite

    I wish I could be on your side but I find myself with ashpenaz more often than not. I am gay and I and my brethren have been so hurt so often that much of the time I see those on the conservative side as little more than my foes.

    Not saying ashpenaz is gay, by the way. I am and that is why I have so much trouble but he or she may have their own reasons. The problem is that this is emotional for many.

  • ashpenaz

    If a belief system does and teaches the exact opposite of what Jesus does and teaches, wouldn’t that system, by definition, be the Antichrist?

  • Good advice for Orthodox Grumps as well. Thank you for NOT being fundamentalist about the cultural revolution.

  • Why would we want to grow beyond Acts 4:30-5:11? I think you’re problem is that you are stopping reading FAR too early.

  • That essay was pretty selective in its scholarship, especially when talking about early apocalyptism.

  • Herm

    Forgive me Robert for being so childishly rude and put offish as to publicly mention that you and Celsus are not even the more talented of skeptics I am aware of. I should have qualified that observation by, though flattered that you would respond to me on this one of thousands of blogs available to solicit, I consider myself the least talented of apologists I am aware of.

    I could not help but chuckle when you alluded to “one of those gifts of the spirit” things as possibly my excessive self-confidence.

    “Men who irrationally assent to any thing, resemble those who are delighted with jugglers and enchanters, &c. For as much of these are depraved characters, who deceive the vulgar, and persuade them to assent to whatever they please, this also takes place with the Christians. Some of these are not willing either to give or receive a reason for what they believe; but are accustomed to say, ‘Do not investigate, but believe, your faith will save you.”

    All quoted paragraphs presented here are from my copy of “ARGUMENTS OF CELSUS, PORPHYRY, AND THE EMPEROR JULIAN, AGAINST THE CHRISTIANS” which is all I have immediately available to remember why I have long ago discounted Celsus. If you send a copy of your dissertation to Benjamin Corey to forward to me I will read it and comment. Then you may sway me to see more value in the scraps of Celsus’ works available to us than I do today.

    As the poor apologist that I am I don’t charge for what I share that was freely given to me. By my logic I will surely die into obscurity (at peace that this life was a wonderful opportunity I did not choose) but mankind gifted with adaptability, foresight, love and an opposing thumb (they did not choose) as a species have no logical reason to die if we each invest constructively in us as one. For this reason in everything I do to others of mankind is as I would have others of mankind do to me.

    If this is the same Celsus you are attributing value to the survival of mankind then your arguments will have to refute the following before I can value his offerings to us as constructive:

    “Celsus, assuming the person of a Jew, represents him as speaking to Jesus, and reprehending him for many things. And in the first place he reproaches him with feigning that he was born of a virgin; and say, that to his disgrace he was born in a Judaic village from a poor Jewess, who obtained the means of subsistence by manual labour. He adds, That she was abandoned by her husband, who was a carpenter, because she had been found by him to have committed adultery. Hence, in consequence of being expelled by her husband, becoming an ignominious vagabond, she was secretly delivered of Jesus, who, through poverty being obliged to serve as a hireling in Egypt, learnt there certain arts for which the Egyptians are famous. Afterwards, returning from thence, he thought so highly of himself, on account of the possession of these [magical] arts, as to proclaim himself to be a God. Celsus also adds, That the mother of Jesus became pregnant with him through a soldier, whose name was Panthera.”

    Robert, there is a good chance that you and I are on the same plane of reason, though from contrasting perspectives. We both are skeptical, we both question, we both challenge, and we both care to share with our species to support and learn. We both seem to no longer subscribe to religion as beneficial to mankind. The difference is that I am not left orphaned to work this thing called life out subject to only the limited perspectives of my siblings of Man from the perspective of this womb Earth peeking out and in to the worlds beyond our reach. I am at peace and invigorated with Who preceded the big bang and Who follows the probable collapse.

    Am I a student of the Rabbi Jesus? … YES. My faith saves me but not how agnostics might visualize to define faith as “excessive self-confidence”. We are all ignorant and to deny that is truly ignorant and is excessive self-confidence leading to failure.

    I now know I know less of what real life is than when I was a toddler not knowing where and what my parents did to nurture and provide for me. I am aware that there is infinitely more for me to adventure into than what I sensed within the four dimensions that my logic was limited to as a child of Man. Faith in God (by any name will smell the same) is best explained as the same trust I had for my parents to provide for me what I was clearly incapable of providing for myself, the opposite of hubris.

    My parents were not some ethereal force as you refer to as the gifts of the spirit as likened to telepathy. I knew my parents as real tangible providers who gave of themselves that I might survive what I did not know. That was long before I had a definition for love as a motivator, even if that love was instinctive for the species of mankind to survive by the act of propagation supported by a continuing instinct to nurture their young. My faith in God, supported by a long period of evidence that even my limited logic cannot deny, is not that They are in my life for that is as tangible to me now as were my family when I spoke as a child of Man. Today I speak as a child of God and trust, have total faith in, my Family to provide for me what I peacefully accept I am incapable to provide for myself. I am free to have faith that my environment of play is monitored for my safety and snacks will magically be provided following our class nap time.

    Please, Robert, if you truly believe your works are of value to mankind share them with me or us free of charge as I am willing to do for you. If you cannot then for me to learn and grow from your dissertations you will have to market them much better than you have so that I can justify why I took funds from another source of learning to pay for yours. I earn nothing here except what we earned in college study groups to progress to the next lesson armed with more expanded perspectives than our own. You are always welcome to be a contributing member of our casual study group, even if the “our” is just you and me. Love you!

  • Robert Conner

    I would point out only a couple of items in the interest of concision. First, is that you nor anyone else now living has ever read Celsus’ work which was destroyed by the Church. What you have read (apparently in translation) are the scraps Origen chose to quote (partially and tendentiously) in his “refutation” written some 70 years after Celsus’ death. It is notable (as pointed out in my essay) that it took the Church two generations to raise a figure who was able to respond to Celsus at all. About a third of what Julain wrote survives in selected quotations in a work by Cyril of Alexandria, the same Cyril who whipped up Christian mobs until they became death squads. The Church was so terrified of Porphyry’s works that all copies were burned, including the works of others that merely quoted him. Some bits of Porphyry’s books survive but what has come down directly from him and what may simply be the suppressed voices of others is a matter of debate. Christian apologists who scoff at Porphyry reveal not only their gross ignorance but their bred-in-the bone dishonesty. The actual Porphyry would have laughed them to scorn.

    The fact remains–which I consider you to have not very adroitly avoided–the the Church had no answer then for its Roman critics and has no answer now except for sanctimonious jabberwocky. I’m not very happy to say that your response continues to make my case.

  • Herm

    Eternal life has no adventure or value to me in final attainment. The joy in my life has always been in anticipating the additional newness right around the next bend or over the next climb. My strength has only been derived by my willingness to struggle beyond now to learn and grow. Acts 4:30-5:11 was only an image of the foundation that the kingdom is built on as imparted by the Holy Spirit as a model in the believers’ hearts and minds. Acts 5:1-11 was already spoken to in Luke 10:25 and Matthew 7:12. Acts 4:30-37 is only a beginning offered through acknowledging and abiding in the counsel of the Spirit of Truth, the word of God.

    Each of our lives as children of God begins with the Holy Spirit today and grows from there onto eternity.

    I am sorry if I gave you the impression I have a problem, but thanks!

  • Herm

    What church do you think I represent?

  • Robert Conner

    Then I suppose you will share with us in what way Judgment Day arrived, trumpets and all, and the Thessalonians “who are still alive and remain” (1 Thess. 4:17) were really snatched up into the clouds? Porphyry pointed out that a couple of centuries after Paul’s death no one had been snatched up into the sky. In other words, he knew over 17 centuries ago that there would be no “Rapture.” Or…you could stay on the bus with William Miller, Hal Lindsey, Harold Camping, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and all the other hundreds of false prophets.

  • Robert Conner

    Exactly. As the famous grammarian A. T. Roberson noted, Paul cobbled together vocabulary from “gnosticism,” Jewish apocalyptic, and the mystery cults. Of course Robertson assumed that Paul knew what he was doing, but the incoherence of Paul’s theology, which logically reduces to word salad in places, argues that he really was just a tent maker.

  • Herm

    … you forgot Ellen G. White and Joseph Smith whose spirits are both even more influential today in a churchy sort of way.

  • Robert Conner

    Well, Barbara, I certainly wish you luck. I’m afraid you’ll need it.

  • Herm

    gnosticism was 2nd century

  • Robert Conner

    Christianity makes an absolute religious truth claim: “No one comes to Father except through me.” (John 14:6) The Roman critics of Christianity, who encountered more than a few interpretations of Christianity as conceded by Origen, found that claim to be absurd on its face. Taking a page from the Roman playbook, I find it reasonable to think that astounding claims merit minute scrutiny. The reason why scholars have to reassemble the writings of Roman critics from scraps is that the Church didn’t appreciate scrutiny then or now.

  • Well, I think it makes sense that rabbinically trained Paul would be using apocalytpic language in the tradition of the Old Testament, such as when the heavens are described as rolling up and the stars all going out at the fall of Edom, or Tyre being covered by the sea. The way the OT uses language of cosmological trauma and change is to indicate a significant historical event. No one accused Isaiah of being a false prophet when the sky did not collapse when Edom was conquered.

    Further, the OT describes YHWH coming on the clouds many times, usually to visit the world in judgement, yet in none of those events does YHVH physically appear. Instead, He is manifest in the outworking of the event. This same image is, in fact, used to describe the transfer of the authority of the Ancient of Days to the Son of Man.

    It was virtually a universal opinion in the early church that the destruction of Jerusalem as an act of judgement by Jesus, and a virtually universal opinion in Judaism that it was an act of judgement by YHWH, although there are differences of opinion as to what that meant eschatologically. The second century church was about 50/50 in terms of chiliasts.

    Further, there is a early church tradition of the physical resurrection of the martyrs/earliest of the early church where they dwell in heaven with Jesus, just as Jesus dwells there physically. Obviously, Porphyry would not share that tradition or consider it a viable explanation.

    And now we get to how the selective scholarship influences the essay, because to lend credibility to the thesis, the writer arranges the cited works in a chronology that is in high dispute. His thesis is -plausible-, but it depends on a lot of hotly contested issues working out in his favor.

    Take, for instance, his citation of the Didache. If the Didache were written in the mid-first century, it would be prior to the greatest political event in the life of the Jews or the early Christians – the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Rome. The essay says that the Didache was written in late first century, and therefore should be interpreted as trying to salve the desperate hopes of disappointed Christians. Well, that might be true, but the date the Didache was written is contested and would have some important ramifications for the author’s thesis. That’s just one example – there are several others.

  • The lack of a response does not equate to the inability to provide a response.

  • Robert Conner

    I assume that you consider yourself to represent the “real” Christianity, like other members of the 40,000 or so branches of “real” Christianity. I don’t get bogged down arguing the minutiae or untangling what Christianity means to particular groups or individuals who are free to come up with their own solipsistic versions which change from week to week. New Testament Christianity makes a series of particular, if incoherent, truth claims starting with its bedrock apocalypticism. Christians have been foretelling the End for 2000 years and not a week goes by that another “sign” appears. Unfortunately for something (like the destruction of Jerusalem in Mark) to be a sign of the End, the End has to actually happen sometime. My focus is on what primitive Christianity taught and how it changed to fit the circumstances when its predictions repeatedly failed.

  • Herm

    Thank you! If you had spent much time on this forum you would know that the moderator does not subscribe to any where in the New Testament as “apocalypticism” is even of a remote concern to enrolled students of Christ. … and neither do I. I am at a point in my studies where the picture is unfolding that even the book of Revelations is exactly as was suggested and no more: a letter to seven churches that was directly relative to the period of those seven churches to sustain their faith (trust) in the authority of a real live interacting God. It has happened.

    I have a Lord, High Priest, and Teacher who puts my fears of the boogie man to rest because I have full faith I am in good hands. I have been under the umbrellas of many denominations from whence I have grown to know they are of Man with mostly the best intentions of mankind. I am under no protective umbrella of Man now. Read in Luke 14:26 & 27 to better understand my relationship with the God unknown to you. I am at a point in my relationship where I do not need the Bible to peacefully and joyfully learn and grow for an eternity but I need the Bible and other inspired works of spirituality to share with those of us who have learned more or less than I from the same Teacher.

    Today I have no commitment, allegiance or affiliation with any church that you seem to fear enough to attempt to destroy all credibility of. I, having been active on the inside, have no fear of those churches and know that responsibility to free will is not extinguished within and they all have pointers, as is the Bible, to a divine inside relationship as one of God that is eventually perfectly sufficient to eternal growth.

    I, as apparently do you, react to any intimidation, manipulation, intentional confusion and subjugation with hate. I understand and believe in inclusive for all of our species (in my mind and heart spiritually in the image of God) as constructive and productive for the individual and the collective whole of Man. I abhor the powerful destructive force derived from secular or spiritual exclusivity and any segregation due to self-indulgent individualism.

    Frankly, Robert, as I feel, think and write here it is your assumptions that stand between us learning together. It is you who are erecting walls of Robert against them. If we could proceed as we maybe then we could learn from each other. Does this make any sense?

  • Robert Conner

    The whole category of gnosticism has been challenged as little more than a scholarly invention. The early church apologists coined the term and scholars assumed they were being truthful. There are a number of “gnostic” concepts in the pseudo-Pauline letters starting with loaded terms like pleroma (“fullness”). Current speculation is that “gnosticism” originated among a fringe element of disaffected Jewish intellectuals who rejected messianism.

  • Robert Conner

    And yet, after all this disquisition about what might have been written when, we are left with the plain wording of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not.” (1 Corinthians 7:29) Does that sound like advice you’d give if you thought the End would come in some indefinite future? In a century or so? Or does that sound more like the admonition of some latter-day Armageddonist nutjob who you would consider to be a con man or functionally insane?

    The ability of Christians to waltz circles around and around the clear apocalyptic core of Jesus’ preaching and Paul’s clear understanding that he and his house churches were living literally on the cusp of history–by which he meant the End of History–is nothing short of astounding.

  • I think it’s very sound advice when you’re going to have to flee Jerusalem in the near future.

  • Robert Conner

    Now that is literally laughable.

  • Only if you’re into logical fallacies.

    The theonomists claim that their position is the most biblical one because no one has actually issued a thorough refutation of their position. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that nobody does this because they’re wingnuts and there’s no particular reason to respond to them.

    You sort of exhibit the same fundamentalistic tendencies, but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.

  • Robert Conner

    So basically what I’m hearing is that the clear predictions of the (as far as we can know) historical Jesus about the End mean nothing and that there are no relevant implications or conclusions to be drawn from the failed expectations of the Pauline churches. As I point out in the essay that you can’t afford to read, the “response” of modern Christians to the inconvenient fact that the Parousia didn’t arrive and will not arrive is to simply ignore that inconvenient feature of Jesus’ preaching and early Christian expectations. Guided by “the spirit”–whatever that could possibly mean–the “progressive” Christian, who’s done with all that apocalyptic nonsense, basically uses whatever appeals in the NT as a pacifier to calm the fears of a child left home alone in the universe.

    At the same time, however, the Christian suckling his spirit-endowed pacifier insists that he is arguing in good faith, respectful of the evidence, and truly concerned about truth and ‘learning together’–just so long as the “learning” is confined to an anti-historical and counterfactual “discussion” about a “God” who hasn’t given much indication that He’s terribly concerned. If Lucian of Samosata were writing today he might ask why, if God is so interested, Jesus didn’t come back as promised before two world wars, the Holocaust, the rise of the Soviet Union and the invention of atomic weapons for starters.

  • Herm

    When has any culture in the annals of mankind become so perfectly still, that there was no instance of revolving, circling, rotating, circling or spinning?

  • Robert Conner

    Christians lecturing about logical fallacies is always laughable. Going back to the subject, the Roman critics of Christianity issued thorough refutations of the Jesus cult. They pointed out misquotes, errors of fact, and discrepancies in the “inspired” gospels, pointed out theological mayhem in the early Christian ranks, and chided Christians generally for their inability to engage in rational discussion. The emerging Church regarded those refutations as so dangerous that they sought them out and destroyed them. To the extent that they survive at all, they survive in the quotations of apologists who belatedly took it upon themselves to respond (selectively) to some of charges of their critics. To the Roman intelligentsia the Christians with their exorcisms and relics of saints were ridiculous figures of fun.

    Feel free to read it here and then respond.

  • Um, I read your essay and responded.

    What you just gave me as a very long list of assertions, not arguments. I feel comfortable talking to you about logical fallacies because you seem to use them a lot. Other than the article itself (which was VERY interesting, btw), you are failing to actually produce any arguments. It’s like you’ve read a text, and anyone who has issues with that text is just wrong by default.

    I wonder if anybody else does that.

  • Herm

    Do you blame a God you do not know for the destruction caused by the “terrible twos” of humanity run a muck? Do you blame all of mankind throughout all chronicled history, mostly lost to time, for your plight today? What are your solutions beyond blame?

    Because you do not recognize the Spirit does not mean He does not exist. Because you do not know if there is intelligent life with choice on other planets does not mean they do not exist. When did mankind begin to choose to question and assume some responsibility for their destiny … 120,000 years ago or 12 million years ago … out of how long the temporal Earth has existed to carbon date?

    What I am testifying today to you, based on my knowledge from experience, reflection and testing, is that there is a solution available today that casts out all blame and fear. The solution builds strength of my heart, soul and mind because I can embrace life as it is as versus trying to change it to fit my exceedingly limited logic expanded over 71 years of continual education in a physical cosmos eons of years in the making.

    Your obsession with the Pauline churches could be justified by the destruction they have caused that cause you to fear its continuation. The Roman Catholic church has the same history and is a church of Peter. You could be seeding a spirit right now spawning the church of Robert. You didn’t read, or maybe didn’t comprhend, but I don’t subscribe to any of those churches (dogma, rituals, traditions or theologies) and do not have to to be a disciple of Rabbi Jesus. Paul, Peter and James were all disciples (no doubt to me) and were no more inspired or capable to plant the good news of peace and joy than am I. I have even less excuse for my limitations as did the biblical prophets, disciples and apostles for I have many more resources at my disposal to both support and learn by than they. The really great news is Jesus didn’t die or stop teaching at the end of the book of Revelations.

    You have a narrow focus and a pride to be able to learn and influence others, good or bad. Your believing that you are called, by who I have no clue, to bring your hard earned studies to call out the frauds who are the route of all your evil is as offensive to me as the religious fanatics who hurt others to their cause because they know not what they do.

    I wonder why so many fight the spiritual based on so little to work with? I am in wonder that so many who know they know so little come to some sort of relationship they trust with the spiritual. The vast majority of human beings I have conversed with throughout the world acknowledge that there is a spiritual they sense as working in their lives, many far more educated and capable than you or I. If you do not you are in the smallest of minorities. In addition to the really great news the God I know can communicate and relate with each individual exactly where they’re at; physically, mentally, socially, intellectually and, yes, spiritually. The only prerequisite is they must care enough to acknowledge in full humility their limitations to provide for themselves.

    Your work is not in vain but you have not sold it as something I need today. I am ignorant of your work but not of the Spirit you have not accepted. I thank you for your grace that you have not called to have me hung from the cross I carry. My work has been graced to me and I share the fruit as openly, honestly and succinctly as I am capable today with all who seek, ask and knock. Armed with that knowledge go back over and actually read what I have wrote. Not for me but definitely for the continuation of your work to be constructive and productive for all. I sense this is really what you seek. Love you and, yes, you are in my continual prayer.

  • Robert Conner

    The essay, as you’re possibly aware, is about the assertions of Roman critics. They are not my assertions (unless you think I’m Lucian redivivus in which case I’d be highly complemented). I merely point to evidence with in the NT and early Christian writings that substantiates the Roman claims.

    Lucian, for example claimed that Christians were gullible yokels who could be fooled by almost anyone. I can turn on a television more or less at random and watch believers being “slain in the spirit,” or being told that Jesus awards them with wealth, or pick up a newspaper and read about Creflo Dollar’s new multi-million dollar jet. I propose that the interested reader decide whether Lucian identified some core issue with Christianity or not. Or what motivated the writer of the Didache to warn against “Christ-mongers”? And whether that warning is still appropriate, perhaps more than ever.

    Celsus (not me) asserted that there were multiple Christian sects ab initio; Origen was forced to concede that fact and also to admit that some Christians denied the resurrection and rejected the God of the Old Testament, facts now well known since the discovery of the Coptic Nag Hammadi documents. What I’ve mentioned, several times by now, is that Celsus and Lucian and Julian and Prophyry really saw early Christian missionaries, that the Christian books they read were written well before most if not all of the oldest currently known manuscripts. The Roman critics of Christianity did not have to imagine what religious hucksters and frauds, conjurers and exorcists, were all about. Their world swarmed with them and they universally denounced Jesus and his followers as magicians and deceivers. In short, it has taken 18 centuries for modern academics to catch up with Roman writers and to confirm their claims.

    I completely understand that this is an intensely uncomfortable topic for apologists and that there are good reasons why evangelicals in particular barricaded themselves in Bible colleges following their Scopes debacle and why the home schooled attend places like Liberty “University,” or BYU or Baylor. Christians need a protected enclave to sustain their belief that the NT actually means something, anything. As they say, I feel for you, but I can’t reach you.

  • Robert Conner

    A couple of brief points and then I’m done.

    I really don’t care what the “spirit” has revealed to you. For all I know, you’re typing this in a psych ward.

    My point, my only point, is what Roman critics said and how much of it can be confirmed from texts and history. If that strikes you as obsessive, then I suspect you really have no interest in what texts say or in history. Which is fine; I just wish guys like you would come clean with it up front and tell guys like me you have no real interest in that evidence stuff.

    Lastly, I don’t have a bone to pick with Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth was almost certainly a typical Jewish wonder worker, like many others attested in the records, whose apocalyptic preaching (like that of John the Baptist) got him crosswise (so to speak) with the Roman authorities.
    More details here:

    And finally, I don’t blame God for anything. That would be pointless if (1) there is no God or (2) there is a God and He doesn’t really care if millions of humans go down the tubes. Take your pick.

  • Herm

    number (3)

  • Kobukvolbane

    I am so sorry for the hurt people have caused you. So truly sorry.

  • Kobukvolbane

    I’ve been thinking about this. I think praying for your enemies can be lifechanging. So can helping other people. On a slight tangent, have you ever read “The Compass of Pleasure”? I forget the author’s name, but he’s a neuroscientist–non-clinical. He says that giving to charity can give people the same high as drugs, or as being in love. It’s an interesting and surprising read.

  • Kobukvolbane

    Kathleen Norris wrote that she asked a minister who the Antichrist was. He told her it was anyone who read the gospel and did not do it. So who does that mean the Antichrist is?
    Some people who adhere to right wing politics may also feed the hungry or build a Habitat for Humanity house. They have different feelings about money given by governments than I do. I don’t really understand it, but I’d like to.

  • Kobukvolbane

    Yes! It is seen in the individual! I know some conservatives that I like and admire very much.

  • Oh, I don’t need protection from anything.

    MY point was that the article that you linked to depends on certain datings to fall in line that are highly contested and adopts a very fundamentalistic understanding of Paul’s apocalyptism without taking into account its Old Testament origins, specifically the use of apocalyptic images to describe a change in world systems rather than, as you put it, the End of History or actual trumpets or whatever. That’s the way fundamentalists understand Paul, not scholars.

    Your response is that Christianity is stupid and some other people in antiquity also thought so. Well, that’s all fine and good, but that doesn’t constitute actual argumentation. It’s not uncomfortable to me because you’re not actually arguing anything.

    It is old news that Christians had sharp Roman critics. I notice you left Tacitus out of your list. But so what? Once again, this proves nothing. I want to see actual argumentation. Your opinion of Christianity is not more valid because there were people in the first and second centuries that also thought the same thing.

    You raise a very good point that you are not them and cannot make their arguments, but therein lies the rub, because you are basically accepting that they know what they’re talking about even if you, yourself, are incapable of producing or defending the arguments. But an uncritical reliance on authority is not fundamentally different from the same people you criticize.

  • cken

    I agree helping people in need particularly if done directly is about the greatest feeling there is. It is only when you give and expect something in return you become frustrated. I tend to shy away from organized charities only because for me personally it is too impersonal. Just giving money doesn’t make me feel better. There are plenty of people all around us who have needs. Like maybe an elderly person in your community needs somebody to mow the yard or paint the house. The problem in today’s world we don’t take time enough to get to know people well enough to find out who has needs.

  • Kobukvolbane

    I just found the book, and it is David J. Linden. He calls it “generosity.” And he says it can also be exercise, fatty foods…Just as drugs are not addictive for everyone, neither is any particular other thing.
    Your post is interesting. I do go to church–I belong to a UCC church. Most of the congregation is older than I am, and I’m no spring chicken–getting close to retirement age. I often joke that I know everyone’s mother. And it’s true–a lot of the people my husband or I work with have mothers in the church. They don’t go, but their parents are faithful attendees.
    I know what you mean about the personal connection. If the church is feeding people, I like to sit and talk with the people being fed. I like to serve them . I don’t want to simply throw a care package out of a car as I drive by. Connection is key. I think most of us are still learning this, and still learning how to do it.

  • Kobukvolbane

    I do want to add that I believe religion is just an excuse for denigrating people who are gay. I also believe that people of goodwill are not going to continue that. Perhaps they will recognize by the nature of their response that this response is not coming from God. I truly hope so.

  • When we lived in small enough communities that we could be monocultural. Culture, like economics, does not scale. Relativism and pluralism are not sufficient answers to the problem. Neither is being ignorant of history in a rush to create new problems for the future.

  • The Apocalypse Christ preached- happened. Within 30 years of his death, the Romans had destroyed Jerusalem, left not one stone on top of another, sowed the fields with so much salt that not enough food grew there to sustain a significant population for the next thousand years.

    The Apocalypse John and Paul predicted also happened- within 50 years of their deaths, a series of Pagan Roman purges happened to the Church.

    We have a tendency to forget this in modern times, and so think that these things still have yet to happen- when they have already happened.

  • Why do you need adventure? Or value? Why is God not enough?

  • Kobukvolbane

    Isn’t God in everything, including adventure, and certainly value? God is larger than we can imagine.

  • Ask the grandparent post, that’s certainly true for me. Praise and Service of God for eternity is my idea of Eternal Life- and that is adventure and value enough for anybody, I think.

    There is a reason why I am an Orthodox grump and not a Progressive grump, and it’s summed up in a throwaway line from an English Sitcom. Look around your village, if you live in one- a nice little monocultural traditional village in which nothing ever really changes and people do the jobs they were born to do. A comfortable sort of tradition. Not much wrong with it, so why try to change it?

    That in short is the problem with progressivism. It’s also the problem with fundamentalism when you get right down to it. Change for the sake of change rarely turns out as well as the Holy Spirit guiding evolution of an entire culture can do.

  • Herm

    I have more progressed ways of saying this but I will revert to when I first realized to be able to answer your query. I don’t give a damn about heaven or hell because both are concepts I cannot possibly, from my carnal perspective on Earth, comprehend or truly value. The heavenly concept that we attain the prize and spend the rest of forever sitting on a cloud playing our harp or on bended knee singing our praises to our Lord God would be a living hell to me. Even God could not sit around doing nothing in Their perfect kingdom. They set out on an eons long adventure to create more family in Their image with free will to raise and nurture until the new family members can adventure as one with the whole of God throughout the kingdom.

    It is written that the dead know nothing and we know that if we do nothing our bodies die of atrophy. I would prefer death to an eternity of doing nothing. “Got it all now what more could I possibly need!” Cardio vascular struggle builds strength and endurance by tearing the muscles. So it is with each of us recognized by God as each made up with a unique cognizant spiritual heart, mind and soul having responsibility to our free will in the image of God.

    Tell me, if you have God what then?

  • Robert Conner

    Actually your comment barely merits a response, but what the hell?

    Here is the description of the Parousia as Paul understood it, taken from the earliest of his occasional letters:

    “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)

    Paul clearly states that some believers among the letter’s recipients (1) would still be alive when Jesus returned, that (2) those who had already died would be raised from the dead and (3) caught up into the clouds to meet the descending Jesus in the air. At the end of his letter Paul falsely assures the Thessalonians (not you, not me, not anyone living since because that’s “historical context,” of which you may have heard rumors),

    “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (5:23). Paul clearly expected, as did his fellow believers, that most of them would be bodily, corporeally, alive “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Very clearly there was no descent from heaven with trumpets and an archangel’s voice in 70 CE as the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. Clearly there has been no “Rapture” since unless all those millions of Christians who expect to be lifted out of their F150’s while driving home on the freeway have missed something. The philosopher Porphyry specifically ridiculed this nonsense.

    Paul certainly did not address these words to the house church in Corinth because the Romans might someday invade and destroy Jerusalem:

    “But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none.” (1 Corinthians 7:29)

    Nor did he likely give such advice thinking that the Roman government might persecute Christians in the decades that followed.

    Jesus promised his very first disciples:

    “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:23). Or do you suppose Jesus followers had left out some town in Israel while missionaries covered most of Greece, Asia Minor, and penetrated into Italy and Egypt?

    I must admit that the inability of Christians to honestly engage the clear statements of their own foundational texts is disgusting. Epic fail.

  • Herm

    I believe you are speaking to culture as the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. I am really not sure what world you are living in but I have not met one person in 71 years actively social in a variety of cultures identical to another. Scale in each distinct culture is always in a constant state of flux determined by the varying attitudes and changing needs of its influencing members.

    You seem to suggest that you have a Bible. You might note in Genesis 1:26 & 27 the plurality of our one God in regard to the plurality of one mankind created in the image of God. Even you have a plurality of character joined as one or else you are diagnosed schizophrenic. God has at minimum a begotten Son, more children and a Father connected with the Holy Spirit in their individual hearts and minds as one family culture. There is no mono-culture, period.

  • Kobukvolbane

    I’m not sure exactly what an Orthodox Christian might be these days in the U.S., but it would be interesting to find out. I don’t label myself a progressive Christian. But I do know that my church will change or it will die. Membership and financial realities dictate that. But I hope the change will be something old and something new. I like the Acts idea of community–that is, doing God’s work in community. I am not learned in scripture or Christian thought, although I’ve done some reading. (I didn’t even know what “swam the Tiber” meant until I read this thread.)
    Well, I am sort of all over the place, but this site has been more polite and even more fun than the politics on the newspaper sites.

  • cken

    With a name like Kobukvolbane I am surprised they let you into a UCC church :-) I am sure I will run into you again. Keep smiling. Oh and thanks for the book suggestion. Kind of like Paul – all things in moderation and with all situations therewith learn to be content.

  • TLC

    Libby Anne’s blog Love, Joy, Feminism is part of the network. She has a good list of blogs on her site:

    I followed LJF and Spiritual Sounding Board regularly for a couple of years.

  • So, you are not just a progressive then. You do not understand the Beautific Vision, and thus, do not desire it. Becoming one with the creator is the greatest adventure one could wish for, yet all you can see is the pain involved, not the joy.

    Ten again, that is what purgatory is for.

  • Herm

    I understand your drug of self-indulgent choice. By Jesus’ example his disciples learn, also, by His example which includes a balance of all senses. Little children of God, baptized (cleansed) in heart and mind by the Holy Spirit, are one today within the plurality of God. We know peace and joy.

    Me thinks you have not spoken directly with our High Priest.

    I no more believe in the man-made fabrication, by putting unattached Bible versus together, of the Beautific Vision than I do Purgatory. I am certain it makes sense to you but I know it wouldn’t if you truly listened to the Rabbi.

    Love you and am hoping for you the best!

  • Sola Scriptura, by cutting the Body of Christ out of the equation, has never made sense to me. I think you have zero interest in actually living with Christ, you want to be yourself rather than actually be converted or changed.

  • Herm

    The Holy Spirit (the word of God in your heart and mind) is the supreme authority that you can know and not the Bible compiled by Man.

    The Bible points to the Way but is not the Way. Please, if you are sincere, read from the pointer inviting the Spirit of Truth to counsel you in your heart and mind. God is a relationship with Their children and not a reward for passing tests which little children don’t do well at.

    “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:21-31

    ““My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:20-23

    “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” Luke 11:13

    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:15-21

    ““But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:8-12

  • Herm

    Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-27

  • How do you know the Holy Spirit without a community for the Holy Spirit to act in?

    Certainly not individually- your own sins will blind you to the Holy Spirit, will hide information from you that God wants you to know.

  • Yes. However, all of these people *are* Christ- to those who know how to see.

  • Herm

    What??? Like Judas, Thomas …

  • Herm

    … and from whom do you see?

    Everyone of us is loved and has a distinct heart and mind that can join us each to the community of God as Their little children through the Holy Spirit. This is the Good News!

    What other community are you hung up on? I really don’t understand your obsession with community defined as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals when you began this discussion with God is all you need. God, to me right now, is the community that I live in as a little child and my ruling Lord is my Brother Christ Jesus who has been given all authority over heaven and earth by our Father. This is real Theodore and not some intellectual game that will all be explained when we die. Again, what community are you speaking to, apparently pledging allegiance to, other than our Lord God?

  • Heaven can only be heaven, if we all learn to see from God’s point of view. That’s what purgatory is for- learning to see with God’s point of view, not OUR point of view.

  • “I’m not sure exactly what an Orthodox Christian might be these days in the U.S.”

    I am extremely sure- a criminal. The U.S. Government today is extremely anti-Christian.

  • Herm

    Bull! Right now, though I am but as a little child, God’s point of view is the point of view I am growing in as my spiritual eyes are opened today by the teaching of my Rabbi. The spiritual is a kingdom that is everywhere, inside and out of our carnal world. The Holy Spirit is in my heart and mind, Jesus’ heart and mind, and all my siblings of God’s hearts and minds now and forever more making us one. Purgatory is an invention of carnal logic trying to explain God in carnal terms. Really! Ask, seek and knock and it will be given to you directly from our Lord and our Father here, now and forever more. There is no instant gratification as magical final attainment but there is the offer on the table for you to accept of growing from where you are at to learn and share one step at a time all the way to the end of eternity. I only know because in my journey through all of Christianity I finally accepted the Holy Spirit into my heart and mind. We are sharing with you now.

  • Herm


  • Your Rabbi teaches you not just by words, but by experiences. How can you have those experiences if you cut yourself off from the very Rabbi you are attempting to follow, if you reject ALL that he taught to his disciples?

  • An Orthodox Christian will insist on such things as stopping the genocide of the unborn, ending usury against the poor through the banking system, and avoiding non-procreative marriage. These opinions are now illegal to hold in the United States of America, it’s just a matter of time before they activate the concentration camps that were built in the 1980s. Happy will be the millions martyred, however- the Church always wins in the end, and she’s survived the fall of empires before.

  • Herm

    I am His disciple and no one else’s disciple. All disciples learn from the very same Teacher. You, too, could be His disciple but you must learn to hate the father of your carnal church (Luke 14:26).

    There is no Holy of Holies that the high priest goes to to talk to God on your behalf, the curtain was torn top to bottom. There is no other Church of the High Priest Christ Jesus than the temple that is within the hearts and minds of Jesus’ brothers, sisters and mothers. You have been deceived. Jesus speaks to each of His students as they are ready to learn and each, if abiding by Luke 10:27, will grow learning from Him throughout eternity.

    God comes to us if we let Them in and in no way expects us to earn to reach Them to enjoy some human form of Nirvana. Please, ask, seek and knock, please.

    I am not asking you to believe me but I am saying you can go to Them to ask from the Source of all we know. Love you!

  • Herm

    There is no special chosen of God but there are those who choose God and God alone as the authority. God loves us all and would die for us all that we might choose to live. So would I!

  • The father of MY carnal Church is Jesus Christ, the Church Built on the Rock of Peter’s faith. Thanks for proving yourself to be following Satan. I think this conversation is done, since you are following a Rabbi of your own invention.

  • The Way is truly narrow, and you do not choose to live.

  • Kobukvolbane

    Now that is baloney.

  • Kobukvolbane

    If you insist you must have your way because of your religion, no, you are probably not going to get it in the U.S. But holding those belief does not get you in trouble. I’m sorry you are against non-procreative marriage, as I am married but have no children. I don’t know why I should be denied the love and companionship of my husband because we married after I became post-menopausal. But it doesn’t affect me that you hold that opinion. If you get the law changed, then I shall be the one persecuted, I suppose.

  • Then why have the courts started using the 14th Amendment to strip people of property over thoughtcrime violations?

  • Herm

    I am sorry for getting you so agitated. Do you really believe your Brother is the father of your church?

    “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. Matthew 16:15-20

    Read it, again, and tell me who is the Father. If you as a disciple said, as I do, that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah you would be no greater nor less than the disciple before you of Peter. How many churches must be built according to your traditional belief founded upon the faith of all the disciples, first to last, since Peter? Your community is the family spoken of in Luke 14:26. I do not say that to be vindictive for I too have had families of ritual, tradition, theology, creeds, and dogma that I still love the members but have learned to hate the baggage of their intimidation and manipulation. Those who have not become fellow disciples of Jesus I do believe it is only because they know not what they do.

    “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” Matthew 19:16-30

    There is only one Rabbi, one Father, one Lord with authority over all heaven and earth, and one Instructor. Only in Them do I have family. We are not of this world. Ask yourself whose family and what world are you of?

  • I am at best, a son of Christ, not His equal.

  • Herm

    I am living by the Way right now with the attitude of love necessary to have already inherited eternal life. Not through some purgatory or interim holding pen but right now. You can do the same.

  • Herm

    “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”” Matthew 12:46-50

  • If you are living the way, are you following the Way?

    Or have you accepted some foreign theology from more recently? You do not seem to be a follower of the 12,in fact, you tried to lead me away from Christ above.

  • Herm

    Your catechism is lacking in reading the entire Bible to know you can go directly to the Teacher to learn and the Father to be graced all your needs. Disciples of Jesus did not stop after the twelve or at the end of the last book in the Bible. Disciples are today and many know, what Paul, Peter an James did not, that Jesus has His own organization without reverting to the old ceremonial law days of organization of priests and Levites.

    No disciple, prophet or child of God but Jesus, the only begotten Child of God, is or was perfect. At best we are all little children revolving around a star of which there are more of in the cosmos than all the grains of sand on Earth; really little microscopic children in the eyes of God who is everywhere at once and can sit wholly on a pimple inside an electron. Why would I need a Didache when I have Matthew 7:12 to live by? “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

    What is ALL I have to do to inherit eternal life for the time I need to strive for perfection under the tutelage of my elder Brother and Lord?

    “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”” Luke 10:25-28

  • The Bible was edited by St. Jerome, so you owe the church for the existence of the Bible. The Church came first, and reading the Bible without the church leads one to skip one’s favorite sins.

    If you are for abortion, you have already done unto others in a way that you would not want done to you. If you are for usury, you have already done unto others in a way that you would not want done to you. “Progress” in the modern world is regress, and does not follow Matthew 7:12, and by rejecting the church, you are also rejecting Matthew 7:12.

  • Herm

    Sorry, the Word of God is and always has been Jesus and the word of God available to each and every receptive heart and mind on Earth today is the Holy Spirit. Read your last paragraph and ask yourself why that in this whole thread you might just be making an ASS out of U and ME.

    You’re exasperated and I am sorry because I sense you’re on the cusp of actually going to your Father in Heaven and asking that He protects you from evil, and He will if you follow His lead alone. Then you can ask Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit that your heart and mind might be filled with His word and not Man’s to find the peace and joy you seek, and yes it will be in the form of an adventurous struggle (much like you’ve gone through today, thanks).

    Take a Sabbath and just rest with full faith in Him. I do believe it is time for you to begin to make sense to yourself and He will help you do just that. Don’t trust me, trust Him at least as much as I do. Love you, truly.

  • I tried that in my 20s. It ended up a total disaster. I need community, because the most scientifically provable dogma of all time is Original Sin. Everybody I know who tries your method, ends up hurting everybody they know and destroying every relationship they ever had- and end up doing more damage by applying Matthew 7:12 than if they had never known Christ to begin with.

  • Herm

    I am truly sorry for what you have witnessed. I can honestly testify that if you accept the protection of your Father in Heaven and seek in all humility the Spirit of Truth you will know a divine community offering the opposite than such disappointment as the result. May you find it to be so, also. amen

  • I have found it- in the Church that Jesus Christ founded, in the Communion of Saints. In living every day as if it may be my last. You’ll learn, eventually, we’re all given the final choice.

  • Herm

    Your choice, your responsibility … go in peace!

  • Why should other people support your contact privet marriage? Why seek to force other people by the gun to accept your right to marry?

  • They were. Christ returned in the triumph of the Church.

  • Herm

    Theodore, let me share with you, if you will listen and verify, what you are up against in your comfortable community [your words] “in the Church that Jesus Christ founded”.

    Do you know who Raymond of Agiles was, influential shortly after 1095, and how he might relate to this conversation?

    He was the representative for the church at the invitation of Pope Urban II to document the saving of the Holy Land from the rule of the Islamic infidels. This is an excerpt he sent back to his Pope:

    “Wonderful things were to be seen. Numbers of Saracens (Muslims) were beheaded … Others were shot with arrows or forced to jump from the towers; others were tortured for several days, then burned with flames. Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one’s way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the temple of Solomon … What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much at least, that in the temple and portico of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God, that this place should be filled with the blood of the unbelievers, when it had suffered so long from their blasphemies.” Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History

    I am an in country veteran of Vietnam and the atrocities I witnessed pale in comparison and that was not even a religious conflict in the name of God, subject to God’s rules. Which came first, the knights of Europe taking the Holy Land back for God or ISIS taking the Holy Land back for God. By Raymond’s account of one battle ISIS seems pretty tame to me, relatively speaking.

    How does the call of your church in 1095 relate to this?

    ” “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Jesus speaking in Luke 6:27-36

    As a proud Grand Knight of Columbus who do you follow when you find you cannot follow both masters? I give you much credit for standing out and defending your faith for that takes real nerve. Without the nerve of the high priest Caiaphas to defend his faith we would not have had the opportunity of Jesus showing that He would surely die on the cross for us and Caiaphas. Forgive them Father for they know not what they do!

  • Given what has been happening in Iraq for the last year, can anybody doubt that the Crusades were justified? Maybe you can, but I can’t.

  • Herm

    OH, MY GOD! Forgive him he could not possibly have known what he just said. I am shaking the sand from my sandals … bye!!!

  • Robert Conner

    And in “the triumph of the Church” the dead were raised and the survivors caught up into the clouds to meet Jesus? The sheep and goats judged and the goats sent off into everlasting fire? Really, Mr. Seeber, you’re making this up as you go along.

  • Hi Louis, I don’t know what network TLC had in mind but you might be interested in the following links. They should lead you to additional ones.

  • You do realize there were gnostic worshipers of Apollo, right? It isn’t even strictly a Christian thing.

  • What do you think Purgatory is for? I suggest reading the writings of St. Faustina, who was shown all of this.

  • Robert Conner

    I’m a little fuzzy about Purgatory, Ted. Don’t recall if it comes from Jesus and the Sorcerer’s Stone or Jesus and the Goblet of Fire. Or was it Jesus and the Beanstalk?

    St. Faustina, huh? OK, I’ll jump right on that. In the meanwhile, I’d suggest you call your therapist.

  • Spot on mate

  • Herm

    Thank you.

  • Great question. Exploring God’s huge, vast nature is in itself the main adventure. And the Kingdom comes into the present, from the future, wherever God is King, bringing healing, reconciliation, peace and forgiveness. The adventure of grace is an adventure indeed! So, to answer your question, God is *indeed* enough, and He Himself is the Adventure. Especially for someone like me with an adventurous, enquiring and exploring spirit.

  • Herm’s not going to blow his own trumpet, so if Herm will forgive me, I will blow it for him.

    Herm is a Godly man who walks closely with Holy Spirit. He’s learned to walk closely with God through fire, deprivation and loss. His faith blazes brightly as evidenced by the gentle and loving nature of all that he posts on these blogs. I have learned, over the last couple of years, to read Herm’s contributions carefully for the wisdom they impart. If there’s something I don’t agree with, he’s always good to discuss things. But I would never presume to judge his position in Christ; that is not for me to do.

    Sorry, Herm, I had to say that.

    Oh and PS: It is not necessary to be in fellowship with humans to be in fellowship with God. I know of many Godly people who walk closely with God without necessarily walking closely with other humans. That is their walk; again it is not for me to judge them.

  • Yes. This.

  • Herm

    You truly have made me tear up, thank you so much. I am no more, honestly, capable of imparting that brightly blazing faith than you have shared with me. You have taken the time today to raise me up when I was feeling down, thank you, thank you, …!

  • Kobukvolbane

    I didn’t even consider that anyone would object.

  • Welcome. Often we find that we are not aware of how obvious our own faith is. People sometimes tell me what an example I am, and it is humbling to be told that, and I am the last person to have noticed! I think it’s because we spend more time looking at Jesus than we do at ourselves or at others, which is probably the way it should be (as long as we’re not so heavenly-minded that we’re no earthly use!)

  • …err, and surely Holy Spirit can convict of sin? So that you won’t be blinded by sin? I know of no sin so great that it can blind us to Holy Spirit’s interventions….

  • Herm


  • Herm

    We each know the little child we are when in the presence of our older Brother to relate to. It is not for our capabilities that we are nurtured, thank God, but for our desire to be constructive and productive for all beyond and including ourselves. I want so very much to impart that to Theodore and am left only to hope we have planted a seed. Thank you for your support and, maybe, Theodore will come to know what we know so little of but find such real peace and joy in. Love you brother!

  • Herm

    … except when we are stubbornly blind to the Holy Spirit’s presence and His knocking to be let into our hearts and minds. That is said to be the only unforgivable sin (separation from God) because without the Spirit of Truth we are left to only our own grossly immature and inadequate childish devices to survive. You “know of no sin so great” because you know the Advocate as we attest to by your fruits. Just a point of perspective that has been clearing for me lately. Cheers!

  • Sothlice

    I really needed to read this article and take a step back, not as a grumpy progressive Christian, but a purely angry one. I felt before that the only way that I could reach the thickheaded angry conservative Christians online and in person was to adopt their often vehement, condescending, and warning tone and fight “fire with fire” so to say. I did often think that this was a bit contrary to Christ’s central teachings, I didn’t fully realize, however, the extent of my ignorance until I read this. It is impossible to simultaneously preach about a Christ that sees no enemies and no fools among us, all while pitting myself against people who hold different opinions and perspectives (perhaps [and often] not even by conscious choice) and deriding them simply for expressing what they believe to be true. Thank you!

  • Sam Hawkins

    I was hopeful at one point that one of the defining marks for which Progressive Christians would become known was their spirit of understanding and compassion in dealing with those with whom they disagreed. Even if those folks were those committed to a conservative Christian tradition such as many of us had moved away from. Unfortunately, I can’t say that it seems to have worked out that way. As Tim Keller (certainly no Progressive, but still someone from whom I have heard much that is thought-provoking) says, “Sometimes the Younger Brothers become the worst kind of Elder Brothers about Elder Brothers.” And as I say, “Grace has to extend even to those whose sins rub us the wrong way – or it’s not really Grace at all.” Pray that we can all find the Grace that allows us to see that we all have serious flaws – they just come in different flavors.

  • Right so it’s blindness by choice rather than blindness by not being able to see. Looking the other way, so to speak. Makes sense, thanks :)

  • Oh yes. Eternal life begins now, else it’s not really eternal. Take a look here: (shameless plug!). Enjoy!

  • Herm

    Your hope defines you as a progressive in that you are looking to grow out of your serious flaws. We are all on a journey from the conservative, “I want to go back to the perfect comfort of just me and mine of the womb”, to, “Oh, dear God, I am loving this life so much that I want with all my heart to keep moving forward learning, struggling and savoring an eternity of continually less me alone and more us together!”

    We’re all most grumpy when we think we’ve progressed so far in the life we know that we’ve “earned” more respect from those “disrespectful young-ins” or those “intimidating know it all’s” (three of my flaws I can react to exhibit childishly all at once when Dad lets me out on my own to interact with the other kids). How far can we each progress in 120 years of Earth bound carnal life compared to the eons it took to provide us the perfect environment to grow spiritually into little children of a family of God with no beginning and no end? The Holy Spirit knows. I’m just beginning to be aware that He is lovingly leading and steadying me as I am ready to progress to next baby step closer to flawless.

    Thank you! You have great hopes for us all and are truly progressing! Love you!

  • In my experience, the Holy Spirit uses *OTHER PEOPLE* to convict me of sin. I am unable to see my own wrongdoing in a vacuum, despite ample evidence that I indeed am a sinner (there being no doctrine (not dogma, dogma comes from the deposit of faith, doctrine comes from thinking about the deposit of faith) with more direct evidence than Original Sin).

    What alcoholic can recognize that he is an alcoholic without other people telling him his behavior has become problematic?

  • Wow, did I mess that up- contraceptive marriage.

    In a day and age where tax cheating is common, and marriage has become delinked from raising children, perhaps not.

    But consider this- you’re taking resources that society specifically put aside for creating the next generation.

    If the sexual revolution has had any good outcome for me, it is that it has caused me to rethink why I should be asked to subsidize somebody else’s love. I can think of only one reason for me to be asked to, through my government, support another person’s choice of how to create a household- because where there is the possibility of children, encouraging them to live with their biological parents is a hell of a lot cheaper than housing them in prison for 30 years afterwards.

  • Actually, it predates Christ by about a hundred years- it’s in one of those books that you Protestants choose to remove from the Bible.

  • The Islamics have always killed Christians, it’s part of their theology. The Crusades were DEFENSIVE wars, taken back land that was Christian and Jewish. We now know that we are in a genocidal conflict- if not on our side, then most certainly on theirs.

    The chant of the crusaders was “God Wills It!”

    Oh, and that’s Past Grand Knight- I finally got somebody to step up and be as zealous in their faith as I was! Will be an interesting year adjusting.

    I find the generation harmed (both at home and “in country” as you put it) by America’s attempt to protect rubber plantations from the Chinese to be quite biased on a lot of issues; that is to be expected. But there are evils worth fighting against; and if you think Vietnam was bad, talk to a Russian soldier sometime about Chechnyan Islamics.

  • Herm

    Theodore I love you, truly. Your autism along with your programming skills, especially in arrays, should actually help you to see the contrast between what Raymond of Agiles wrote and what is written Jesus said. Both spirits cannot be your master nor exist in the same community as they are polar opposites.

    What of Luke 6:27-36 don’t you understand?

  • I actually don’t see much of a contrast. There are cases where the most loving thing you can do for a soul so lost in sin and bad religion is to prevent the harm to the rest of the world from continuing.

    Would I rather we just build a wall around the Caliphate and accept whatever refugees want to leave? YES. I suspect the self-contradiction in their culture will eventually burn out. But when faced with a genocide- when faced with what 400 years of not fighting back had caused in Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East, as Raymond of Agiles had- There is a time to fight in the name of Christ.

    I suggest, since you’re a Biblical Fundamentalist not used to deep thinking, contrasting Luke 6 with Luke 19-20. Read whole chapters, not just verses, and see if you can figure out how whipping a bunch of people and animals is a loving act.

  • Herm

    Truly, you cannot see that beheading began with the Roman Catholic sword and not any caliphate. If you’re born carnally through no choice of your own into an Islamic community you are first subject to the rules of your adults for survival until you can speak as an adult. If you are born carnally through no choice of your own into a Roman Catholic community you are first subject to the rules of your adults for survival until you can speak as an adult. The rules of both speak to retaliation by the sword as are you. If you are born in the Spirit as a child of God by your choice to inherit eternal life in the community of God you are no longer of this world and will lay down your sword to pick up your cross.

    If you had the word of God in your heart and mind rather than filled with the vindictive words of your church of war you would find true peace and joy everlasting. I would venture to say that I have read all books of the entire Bible much more than you, fully in context. The significance of the Bible did not begin unfolding until the Counselor read with me.

    A church of retaliatory war is not the church of the Prince of Peace.

  • In a time of swords, what is the most loving way to kill an enemy?

    Even the Caliphate recognizes this today, I don’t see why you do not understand.

    Tell me, when you were in Vietnam, why didn’t you just let the Chinese kill you?

    The words of the Catholic Church are the Word of God- you are even beholden to the Catholic Church for the existence of your Bible.

  • Herm

    You asked, “Tell me, when you were in Vietnam, why didn’t you just let the Chinese kill you?”

    It was not the Chinese, it was the citizens of North Vietnam that we were at war with, in conjunction with a corrupt South Vietnam government. I was under the protection of God who I recognized intellectually at the time but was not filled with the word of God I am today.

    I am not beholden to any of man except those who gave the me opportunity to know God as real.

    I find no flaws in the word of God working in my heart and mind. I find many flaws in the Bible compiled at the Council of Nicea and its many human interpretations. I find many flaws seen only from the words of Jesus, including stimulated by some Gnostic gospels not allowed to be canonized, in both the New Testament and Old Testament, and both the different Protestant and Catholic renderings.

    I honestly don’t understand how such a sincere person, as yourself, stubbornly remains blind to the atrocities of the church you have been taught to believe is the church of Jesus: like the crusades financed by rape and pillage all along the way to the holy land, the inquisition, the dark ages, the genocide of God’s creations, and the witch hunts right here in the USA.

    The very same Jesus who spoke in no uncertain terms that His students pick up their own cross in His example to die that their enemies might learn to live. The very same Jesus who taught, by His example, that huge numbers of enemies can become children of God only if we bring the word and love of God to them throughout the world. What are we protecting with the sword but only the treasures of this Earth at the cost of treasures stored in Heaven? If we know God in our hearts and minds has truly given us the opportunity of eternal life why do we protect only the life we have that will die?

    I can talk all around it but, please, read this again and pray on it:

    ” “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. ” Luke 6:27-36

    Is this your church speaking?

  • The Bible, or at least the Canon of Scripture, came from the Synod of Hippo

  • Herm

    The Synod of Hippo was in 393 and the First Council of Nicaea was convened in 325 under the patronage of the war lord Constantine, the first compilation of the Bible we know today. The first official Christian canon was in 140 under the leadership of Marcion of Sinope. You are mislead and giving much too much credit to your church of Constantine or better known as the Roman All-Embracing (Catholic) Church. The first christian church to compromise the Sabbath with the Sun worshiping pagans of Rome for political purposes. Your church fathers are not by any means representative of our Father in Heaven no matter their good intentions. These are facts your church will not share with you to protect their survival, not the Spirit of God’s word which disagrees.

    You still do not address Luke 6:27-36.

  • Ah, you’re a Seventh Day Adventist believer in the prophecies of Ellen White, the prophetess kicked in the head by a horse. I have a tendency to reject 19th century con artists, sorry.

  • Herm

    You really are truly deceived. I am not anymore a SDA believer than I am a Roman Catholic or Protestant believer. What I am proposing is in neither’s dogma, doctrine, ritual, catechism, creed or theology. It is not of religion but is of the Spirit. I am a disciple of the Rabbi Jesus, pure and simple, learning directly in the word of God, the Holy Spirit.

    Tell me what you think of Luke 6:27-36.

  • I think that in some rare cases, war and the death penalty are compatible with Luke 6:27-36 when there is no other way to protect Christianity.

    Tell me why you were repeating the lies Ellen G. White told about Constantine if you are not SDA.

  • Herm

    Facts are facts no matter who knows and shares it. The Sabbath was changed to the Lord’s Day under the rule of Constantine. It is in the archives of your church written and justified as so.

    In what “rare” case are war and the death penalty compatible with Luke 6:27-36? You could really help me here if you could give me a example.

  • Sure, He can use others – and indeed He does. But He’s still God. Would you seriously limit Him to *only* working through others? Can’t He cope with stuff by Himself, being God and all that?

  • Herm

    Could not Jesus, with all authority over Heaven and Earth, call up at least four legions of angels to protect Christianity?

    Did not Christianity grow only because He was willing, and thousands of disciples just following, die for us? Why are we better to kill the very enemies He died for?

  • When it comes to con artists from the 19th century rewriting history, facts aren’t even fiction.

    The Didache predates the Council of Nicea by 200 years and mentions worship on the Day of the Lord- Sunday.

    Christian governments have a positive duty to protect their citizens, said Augustine of Hippo, and thus, within the bounds of charity, it is appropriate and justified to stop somebody who is killing others, even if you have to kill him yourself.

    The fact that you didn’t even know that Sunday worship predated Constantine leads me to believe you haven’t read Augustine of Hippo either. Or for that mater, any of the Early Church Fathers, preferring instead the easy propaganda of the post reformation.

  • He did- in the form of the Crusaders. Who were willing to die to protect us. Not all angels are supernatural. And avenging angels do indeed sometimes need to kill.

    We are better because we follow Christ, the Once and Future King, and his Vicar the Pope. If you aren’t willing to kill and die for Him, how can you claim to be his follower?

  • Herm

    Are you really serious? He died for us that we might have a way to become little children of God. His power is so much beyond ours. Do you really believe we need to die for Him or the sinners He died for?

    “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31

    Any vicar today is a usurper of the power and authority of the Holy Spirit available to ALL who accept to be filled to speak the word of God boldly.

    This really hurts. You don’t get it, we are at best little children of a creator God who loves us all. We are not ever called to be avenging cherubs, no child is. Supernatural is the real natural and not this sub-natural image we want to control as if there were actually no higher power.

    Jesus Christ is alive and well today and is our King and Lord today. The temple was rebuilt, three days after the curtain was torn top to bottom, in the hearts and minds of the disciples filled with the Holy Spirit.

    Why do you insist on being the authority when there is only One who can keep us from evil?

  • You keep trying to prooftext me, and I don’t understand why. I accept only the Roman Catholic interpretation of the Bible. Prooftexting is worse than useless- I do the will of God, not the will of some random prooftexter on the internet who can prove anything by cutting apart the scriptures.

    There are more layers to authority than two, and I am not the authority. Neither are you, the Holy Spirit did not choose you to be Pope- and becoming as a little child is only the very first step on the journey.

    Jesus did NOT give you the keys to Heaven, he gave them to Peter, who gave them to his successors.

  • Herm

    You are the one being selective with your Bible verses and I would gladly place absolutely everything in full context but I thought you were capable to go to the supportive verses I have shared to understand the context. I am totally open to you responding with, “that is not what it says if you look at what happened before and after”. You have not.

    “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” Matthew 16:13-20

    “… this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven” through the Spirit in the Rock’s (Peter’s) heart and mind that Jesus builds His church on, not a truly imperfect Peter. Peter never passed on any mantle of head of church to continue past the passing of his body. It is the Holy Spirit who ties us into the community of church exactly like the following:

    “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” Acts 4:29-35

    This is what Jesus said to Peter following proclamation of His church:

    “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”” Matthew 16:21-28

    The Holy Spirit only speaks the words given Him by Jesus and our Father. All authority for heaven and Hell were given to Jesus by our Father. The Holy Spirit did not in any way, shape or form choose anyone to be Pope. It is not in the Bible, it is not in my heart and mind listening attentively to all of Jesus’ words, and it is only declared so by men and women who live only in this world.

    You accuse me of splitting the Bible to suit my argument. I have pleaded with you to read the Bible for yourself. If and when you do you will hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—and then you can be Jesus’ disciple (student) and not the mislead student of the Roman Catholic Church, or any religious body.

    As it is you who will not trust our Lord God over that of religion I don’t know what more I can do to support you. Perhaps, the Spirit who know your heart and mind may show me another way to reach you to find Him. Until then, I must only leave a warning to trust nothing of Man in hopes that you become vigilant. Suffice it to ask that if the Spirit of God can share directly with your heart and mind, a biblically sound premise, why must Jesus share any of His authority?

  • Kobukvolbane

    I’m not taking resources. Between all the taxes we pay, and the tithing, I think we are pulling our own weight.

  • Very good :) You can’t force your beliefs on others!

  • “What alcoholic can recognize that he is an alcoholic without other people telling him his behavior has become problematic?”

    Most of them. Our church works with addicts, homeless and alcoholics. Oh, they know they have a problem all right!

  • But not on their own, only 8n comparison to others. Others that you are providing by fellowship in the church.

  • And yet you got married to protect your assets.

  • And yet, you reject those words and the Church where Peter’s successor still reigns. You still do not understand how the Holy Spirit works, nor the meaning of the lesson Jesus taught to Peter- that he cannot rule by his will alone, but only in the will of the Father.

    God Wills It- the cry of the Crusaders as they marched to their doom. Or did you forget that the crusades ended in defeat, not victory? The servants of the Chaotic Allah turned out to be far more barbaric than those following Christ. But God willed it, so they went. Do you have their courage?

  • I am quite serious. Oh, modern crusaders will not need to be in country, they will do atrocities in the middle east while playing video games at home. But at to city there will be if the Caliphate is to be stopped.

  • Once again, not only in comparison. My best mate went down the harbourside one morning and met a homeless alcoholic there who is now a good friend of mine. This man saw his need on his own; all my best friend did was to go and introduce him to Jesus. He’s now completely healed and restored. Holy Spirit all the way; there was no ‘comparison’, although of course I understand what you mean by that and I do agree of course that Holy Spirit can and very often does work in comparison to others.

    But He’s not limited to doing that. Respectfully, I feel that perhaps you could do with just a little more vision of just how unlimited our amazing God is; we don’t need to limit Him in our ideas (not that it changes His nature in any case!). Yes, comparison, but there’s also ‘comparison *and*…..’ I’m sure you already know this anyway!

  • ” all my best friend did was to go and introduce him to Jesus”

    Which is enough to set up a comparison to the previous life, where alcohol ruled and the only thought was how to get the next drink. You underestimate the power of fellowship- the power that the Holy Spirit has given the Church.

    People fall into addiction because they have no better model for how to live.

  • Herm

    “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”” Matthew 15:7-9

    You do not know the Holy Spirit! You speak for your vicar who leads in the spirit of Caiaphas.

    You are cycling all around the issue refusing to go to the Rabbi and refusing to even read the verses, to discuss, from the Bible you praise your religion for, but never the Inspiration.

    3,760 years documented in poetic form in the Old Testament of our relationship with God. Less than 100 years documented in the New Testament of our relationship expressed more clearly of our relationship with the family of God and Their Spirit. What has happened in the past 2,000 years, with so many more resources of communication available to us, that we can’t express even more clearly our relationship in the family of God and They in us?

    You are not hopeless but unless your hardened heart opens to the let the Spirit of God work in and through you you are too ignorant to make choices because you do not know God is real. God is offering us all the most divine of relations with Them as little children. God is not in any way a religion of mortal authorities offering for some logical pretense of salvation.

    God loves you. Our Father in Heaven causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on your carnal life equally as with mine. The difference between you and I is that my spirit, recognized as heart, soul, mind and strength, knows the eternal to store my treasures and you only know to store in the physical you are fighting so hard to protect.

    The fruits are in everything Their little children do to all others as they would have all others do to them. The Good Samaritan was a mortal enemy of the Jews but in mercy was a neighbor to be loved as themselves. Go, do the same and you will live.

    We are done here. You are in my continual prayer. Love you!

  • Thought you’d requote my line there. Guess I set myself up for that…. ;)

    But you weren’t there. You didn’t see what happened.

    Yet I agree with you – fellowship is incredibly powerful. But it’s not the be-all and end-all; God has other avenues. I was fifteen years out of Church life – I call it my wilderness time – but God was still close to me; in some ways more than ever. And in fact one of the main things He did with me over that time was to remove my sole dependency on others, or, more specifically, others’ opinions, and set me free into the glorious freedom of complete dependency on God and His viewpoint.

    Sure, I value my Church family highly, and I voluntarily place myself under their ‘covering’. Or, at least, the ‘covering’ of my peers (we call ourselves the ‘Men of Honour’). But those relationships pale into the background when compared to my relationship with Jesus. They complement that relationship, but it is already complete without others. In fact, if anything, the completeness that they add to the already complete relationship (I know that sounds daft!) is mainly to give me people to bless with what God’s given me. They’re a help, but my relationship with Jesus is the primary driving force in my relationships with others. So, it’s God first, fellowship second. At least, that’s how it works for me.

  • Herm

    Jesus does not ask us to not love our fellows of mankind, exactly the opposite. Even the most secular member of mankind can be a support as we, without preaching our other world, can support her or him. Our Father makes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on us all by His grace and love, whether we know Him or not. Our temporal carnal body remains a member one with the carnal body of Man. Our hearts and minds can simultaneously reside not of this world one with God. That is why I said recently that even each of us is a plurality working together or else we are diagnosed an unhealthy schizophrenic.

    Tony, you are not schizophrenic! Love you and thank you for all you do for all of us!

  • Kobukvolbane

    No. W got married because we were in love and marriage is what people in love do in much of the world. Our minister married us before family and friends, our community. If assets are indeed protected, that was accidental. And the laws on that can change at any time.

  • Marrying for “love” is a relatively recent invention, and given how human beings fall into and out of love all the time, I think it is a ridiculous reason to move in together, let alone get married over. But then I guess that’s why King Henry VIII spit off from the Roman Catholic Church, isn’t it. To invent divorce.

  • Kobukvolbane

    We are loving it! And we aren’t wealthy enough to live separately. Computers are a recent invention, too, but here you are using one.

  • JimA

    Nicely done. “Soft hand” has been particularly important to me, descriptive of how to hold to my own understandings, while paying serious attention to the questions. These questions just take time to ruminate about, but they are the portal to personal, internalized faith walk (as contrasted with “belief” in what understandings are carried about by someone else).

    But dang, it then turns out that “soft hand” also applies when it comes to interaction with pilgrims who remain more “certain” about things than I, especially what “non-negotiables” define their faith. it’s a constant struggle for me to avoid discounting the understandings of folks that are elsewhere on the spectrum of Christianity, especially if it’s in the “fundie” direction, having little sense of the diversities of questions and understanding that have always existed within Christianity.

    It has been a helpful tool to have read James Fowler’s stages of faith, and related materials. But even at that, I just an challenged when it comes to being truly respectful of where folks are on the spectrum. And I do violence to Fowler’s work in slipping into thinking those that differ from me (mostly in the “fundie” direction) would certainly benefit by “just growing up”, through education or just greater awareness of the important (to me) stuff.

    I sorta forget that movement (where it exists) in a progressive direction is typically evolutionary and slow, and its milestones are subjective. So I dwell in constant greater need of patience, …and respect, …and reminders like yours. Thanks, B. Corey!!