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The National Soul – 4) problems

July 23, 2011

(previous)

So, what if you accept what I’m proposing, just for argument’s sake. Surely it de-emphasizes the importance of the church. Why be a Christian if this was true? I’ll answer that shortly, but first lets explore that complaint a bit. What is it exactly that seems preposterous? That Hitler might possibly “squeak in” to heaven if he actually had one moment in childhood when he obeyed Christ? What about those “backsliders” – why do they “get to have their cake and eat it too”? What about all that wasted anxiety over “good” people who we used to think might go to hell and burn in conscious agony forever, if they may possibly get in on a technicality. Why all the talk of Israel being the “chosen nation”, i.e. what is the real significance of being “set apart”? What about the first century Christians who sacrificed their life – wouldn’t they have been better off verbally accepting Caesar as Lord and repenting later? When we have these questions I believe we are displaying how poorly we understand Christianity in the 1st place and how much we really do want to do our religious tasks, get our ticket to heaven, and then coast the rest of the way.

"Envy" in Hieronymus Bosch's Seven Deadly Sins

We’re saying to ourselves “I really do wish I could do all those worldly things”. We’re seeing Christianity as a chore – a bitter medicine that’s good for us, I guess, so lets get on with it… We’re displaying how much our soul isn’t of Christ. Is yearning for worldly things (by saying “how come they get to do that and still get to heaven?) a godly character? Is looking at the task ahead we have as Christians as only burdensome “of the Spirit”? Of course not.

The beauty of seeing scripture in light of our national soul is that it reveals a new level of God’s awesome grace at two levels: First we see that God could somehow reach out and save the lost children of the world who never consciously knew him, no matter what sort of monster they later become (all the while still hoping they will complete the circle and repent again). Without this we have to invent the concept of the “age of accountability”, where at one point we look at a young child as a “misguided innocent” and then a few years later, after sufficient derailment, we regard him as obviously rotten from the beginning, and just give mouth service to the thought that God could actually save him – especially if he dies without “saying the prayer”. With this new understanding we have even less ability to ignore (consciously or subconsciously) the great “unwashed masses”. Instead we can view every opportunity to find glimmers of Christ in people around us and “fan the flames” no matter how far fetched any immediate results may seem.

Secondly, it reveals that the most immediate mission field we have is our own soul. If we were aware of the possibility that we will be witnessing at point blank range the unquenchable fire of Gods wrath against the sin and unrighteousness in our own lives, perhaps we’d be praying more earnestly for our own obedience to Christ. I get the impression that many Christians do treat Jesus as a ticket to heaven – you’re either in or you’re out. Now while I’m saying that its still true at the level of individual beliefs and attitudes, its patently false to say that all that I am today, being a baptized publicly confessed believer, is who I’ll really be in the eternal state. The only one we could say is completely like their “former self” (disregarding the post-resurrection super-powers) was Christ himself.

So lets say that Adolf Hitler does, miraculously, “squeak in”. How much of the monster that the world saw in the 1930s and 40s will actually be left? Of course none of us can really say, but I’d venture he’d be one of the ones most likely to come with a very child-like state as (not being a Hitler historian) I don’t see any evidence of Christ after that age.

When we see the backslider (formerly upright Christian who now has gone back to former sinful lifestyle patterns) with secret or subconscious envy – i.e. feeling anything other than pity for them – we are backsliding ourselves. My speculation about true backsliders (oscillating between states of true belief and outright self-centred defiance) usually leads to images of a checker-board personality in the eternal state, which even though less desirable than a fully godly countenance, God may yet have some unique purpose for in eternity.

What then is the difference between a Christian who (by definition) is saved and the non-Christian who in part is also saved by Christ choosing him? I believe the difference is the Holy Spirit. The former group has the awareness of the Holy Spirit as a constant presence in his/her life. In non-churchy language that means the Christian knows he/she is a Christian, they are conscious of who is the author of any righteousness in their life, and that constant “awareness of other” acts in their life to coordinate this good (Christly) thought with that good action, and coordinate good societal actions and events with other Christians around them. The latter group still has to still has to have the Holy Spirit acting within them at times, but I belief its more like the instances in the old testament when certain people at times were filed with the Spirit and at other times were not. Of course when God acts in history, he’s fully free to act upon the non-believing nations and individuals, even so far as using “deceiving spirits” – those spirits who choose to be deceiving(but that’s another side issue). The point is, instead of there being 2 groups in redemptive history – “us” and “them” – you can imagine it at first to be three groups: the saved, the unsaved, and the gray area in between. This is entirely in keeping with the concept of election (the idea that God chooses people for eternity prior to them even being born). A five point Calvinist is often criticized in his staunch view of election with the following taunt: “If the believers are truly elect from before they were created, why bother evangelizing at all?” Of course the answer is that God fulfils his election of an individual by way of his other children preaching the word to them.

I’ve often thought of the goal of evangelism as, instead of conversion which conjures up ideas that it is we who are “making the person into a Christian”, it should rather be thought of as “discovery”. That is, we explore the people around us gently like a puzzle and try to see if we can find Christ already there, and try to coax that aspect out of the person using the truth in scripture to the point of awakening and repentance. “But Dave”, you say, “God explicitly talks of the sheep and the goats”, and to that I say yes, of course, but that’s from Gods pint of view. From our point of view, I believe we are to look at the world not like Jonah nor Elijah, almost hoping God will smite all those pagans, but to expect there to be a hidden remnant God has placed there for us to bring out, and the remnant is inside the sinner in front of us (whether or not we’re looking in the mirror).

The National Soul – 3) Refiner’s Fire

July 10, 2011

Now we come to another ism: Annihilationism. If spiritual equivocation is a true concept, then there cannot be eternal conscious torment, at least for humans (I have no problem with fallen angels being eternally, consciously tormented, and as an aside, I’ll have to make it plain that I embraced annihilationism long before I happened upon this new idea). If my belief in and love of truth (Christ) is retained in my new (resurrection body) self after the final judgement, and my desire to steal forbidden cookies along with the thoughts that that would be okay is separated from me forever, it would be a far stretch indeed to suppose that there would be some doppelganger (evil twin) copy of me – a sort of cookie monster – suffering endlessly in hell, always desiring cookies and never getting any. No, that part of me will be destroyed. Its common to hear traditionalists say “annihilationists don’t believe in hell”. That is not only untrue, but if spiritual equivocation is true, then to some extent it may also be true that every human ever born (aside from Christ) will experience hell to some degree as the “bad stuff” is burned away forever, never to appear again. (I will go into the reasons I believe annihilationism is the correct biblical interpretation in a future chapter)

Finally, lets talk about the unforgivable sin:

Mathew 12:22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

I believe this is similar to the parable about the two brothers:

Mathew 21: 28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

To sin against Christ (the Son of Man) but end up forgiven is like being the first son in the scripture above. Its an external sin, either of commission (doing something wrong) or omission (not doing something you should) in relation to the people around him. It is a sin done by the person “as a whole”. One part of you may act in a sinful manner, but because you later repent (or have truly repented at least one time in your life) Christ can forgive you. The one who sins against the Holy Spirit is the inner attitude that sins itself, as the Holy Spirit acts inside of us – at the level of our inner being. It is the belief “I deserve this cookie, and neighbours be damned! I’m eating it!” Its that aspect of you in full confrontation with the Holy Spirit that will be cast into the lake of fire, and to realize this and perhaps still be entertaining such thoughts and actions when you die should give you pause… Do you really want to experience God’s full wrath of judgement as he burns that part of you from your alive and conscious soul, or would you like to deal with it now by asking for Gods help in humility?

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The National Soul – 2) Israel Inside

July 5, 2011

(previous)

In a sense those old movies or cartoons that pictured an angel on our right shoulder and a devil on our left were almost accurate in this view, except that there’s not just two of them, and they’re not external. They represent all of our conflicting concepts or beliefs about reality, wielding the desires and fears of our heart, or perhaps its our fears and desires wielding them…

Right away, this brings us to one of our constellation of “isms”inclusivism.

It took me a while to find this term which is different from pluralism / universalism. I was calling it “calvinistic pseudo-universalism” for a while. In evangelicalism the terms “universalist” and “pluralist” are bad words. Recall the furor over Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins”. Pluralism is bad because it says you can “get to heaven” by ways other than through Jesus’s death on the cross, which makes His death and all of Christianity in vane. Universalism is bad because it says “sin is actually okay after all, so don’t worry about it”. At the far right of the argument is Calvinism which emphasizes God’s freedom to do with what He’s created as he will by way of His election (choosing) of the saints – those people who he chose from out of the whole of humanity to be given eternal life to the exclusion of others.

At some point in the future I should insert my own summary description of the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism, but for now these Wikipedia links will have to do. Okay, here’s my one sentence summary: Calvinists believe that God has total control, and that a true Christian can’t “lose his/her salvation (place in heaven)” and Arminians believe that God is limited by the free will of man and that people can lose their salvation.

If we see the concept of spiritual equivocation in scripture we can begin to reconcile the tension between the passages Calvinists emphasize with the ones Arminians emphasize. Picture your soul like the star ship “Enterprise” You, meaning your unchanging personality – the little “I Am”, are the captain; your ship is your body, the view screen your “mind’s eye”. You never make decisions in total isolation – you have a multitude of officers at your disposal who offer up suggestions to base your course of action upon.

Coming back to biblical terms, the soul that is saved by Christ’s death on the cross is our personality and character. There is nothing of merit in and of ourselves that can save us. If we are one of the elect, that means that one or more of those “officers” (attitudes, beliefs, spirits) who advise us in our thoughts and actions has been places there by God and represent Christ himself. If we act upon those beliefs, we are “believing in Christ”. If we act upon the “advice” of sinful beliefs/attitudes/spirits, then we are sinning – i.e. acting in unbelief.

When the bible then speaks of a sinner being cast into the lake of fire its speaking of the destruction of those parts of us not attached to what Christ has put in us. And when Christ said it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, I believe he’s saying that the rich man in his entirety will not make it in, meaning that the greedy part of him (at least that part) would never be a part of the eternal state. If, however, a person had true belief in Christ (in this view – remember, this is just my interpretation and I admit I may be completely wrong) then during the final judgement, Christ’s presence becomes the Passover lamb’s blood and that person is saved, even though all the sinful spirits/attitude/beliefs will be separated out and utterly destroyed, therefore allowing him/her to forever be in the presence of the most Holy Lord.

1 Corinthians 3:11 For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ. 3:12 If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 3:13 each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. 3:14 If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. 3:15 If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

This whole theory might never be more than speculation (this side of eternity) as it relies on subjective experience at some point (no, I’m not a relativist – just a realist). Here’s an explicitly experiential argument that may resonate if you’re both a Christian already and an admitted sinner (yes – that’s a joke). Let’s go back to childhood for some “common sinning”. You’re a child who’s been told not to take one of the cookies cooling on the counter because they’re intended as a gift for someone. You strongly desire a cookie and say to yourself “Mom won’t notice one missing” while simultaneously ignoring the thought, or rather the vague impression “I’m not supposed to do this”. When you get caught (Mom notices the crumbs on your chin) you think “what a dummy – I already knew I shouldn’t have – I’m not going to do that again!”

Now pretend that was really you. We’ve all done things we knew were wrong but we did them anyway. Put the two moments side by side: you stealing the cookie and you declaring to yourself you’d never do that again. They are both you. It’s not like you had a different personality at the different instances. What was different was the spirit or sets of beliefs you were acting upon. In both instances you may even have “felt captive of” those spirits. Now there’s plenty here for spiritual warfare application, but that’s not the point (maybe more on that later). what I’m underlining is the experience we’ve all had that as individuals we are not really indivisible. Our thought life has ‘parts” even though there is always a central person we experience as “me”. How many beliefs does one person have? Thousands?, Maybe tens of thousands? There are probably all kinds, like “I love chocolate” to “the Leafs will never win the cup” to “God loves me” there are also our emotions, desires, talents and attitudes. I’m not going to attempt here to come up with some system to fully and completely describe our inner structure.

When we look at the human soul this way we can begin to see the similarities between an individual as a “plurality” and the way the bible speaks of the nation of Israel, or even a city (like Sodom or Nineveh or the place God said that there were 7000 believers that would not bend the knee to Baal).

Throughout the biblical history of Israel there have always been a remnant of faithful believers among the nation as a whole. Seth (Cain’s younger brother) was a remnant; Noah was a remnant, as were Abraham, the second generation out of the Sinai wilderness, the southern kingdom after the Assyrians destroyed the northern tribes, and finally, the church.

Okay, lets tie this back in with inclusivism, as well as annihilationism, the “unforgivable sin” and “the heathen and the unknown God”. When I was dating my future wife and had recently asked God to take control of my life (not really realizing He already had control) i.e. I’d just become a believer, guess what was the burning question I had for my future father-in-law, a baptist pastor? It was something along the lines of “what will become of the the north American native before any missionaries came to tell them about Jesus? How could they go to hell for something they had no control of on either end? He didn’t get a chance to talk Adam out of sinning, and never heard of Jesus about whom he could believe or disbelieve.

As it was years ago I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I think it was something like “people don’t go to hell for not believing in Jesus, they go to hell because they’ve sinned against a Holy God, and the wages of sin is death”. As an aside, I never thought early on of correcting that line of argument (which I heard several times from several sources) with “don’t you mean the wages of sin is eternal conscious torment?”, but we’ll leave that for another chapter)

Applying spiritual equivocation to this problem, it is possible that Christ may have chosen to act in that person’s life to some degree without their conscious awareness of the source of it being second person of the trinity. What if, for example (we’ll call him Dances with Bears) Dances sacrifices his safety to ward off a bear from attacking his child or wife or neighbour? We know from Paul:

Romans 3 (NIV)
1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.

3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:

“So that you may be proved right when you speak
and prevail when you judge.”[a]

5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!

9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
[b]
13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”[c]
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[d]
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[e]
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”[f]
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[g]

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Righteousness Through Faith
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

There is no one good, no, not one. What does that really mean? It means that only God is good, and apart from him we can do nothing that is good. We know from scripture that the Christian is only righteous in the sense that Christ is living in him, and His Spirit is at work in him, and that to a great degree, his (the believer’s) salvation is one largely of legal standing – not realised until the final judgement and renewal of the earth.

Okay, so what about Dances? He did a righteous act, and according to the logic of scripture (not one person is good if left to their “fleshly nature”) that goodness is proof that Christ has done some sort of work in his life. Now immediately the traditional evangelical is going to argue that Dances was merely acting selfishly because if his son or wife died, how would he be successful in the hunt, or have more children, etc.? To me that’s as pathetic an argument as the one that atheists use to try to prove that evolution can select for altruism because of the benefits to the greater gene pool. Let’s face it – non-Christians can do righteous acts. Sure, there are lots of people who try to appear to do good, all the while being secretly motivated by greed or romantic persuits, etc. Common sense and experience, however, tell us that people of all backgrounds and belief systems can do truly righteous acts. Think of Rahab, the non-Hebrew prostitute who, because of her righteous acts was included in the genealogical line to Christ (and included in salvation).

I believe that the reason many Christians have a problem with this is because they see the soul as one individual “blob”. They’ll say ‘if you don’t verbally confess “Jesus is Lord”, no matter how much good you do, you’re going to hell, and by the way, those good deeds you did were like dirty rags to God, so Good Riddance!’

Let’s look at that scripture:

Isaiah 64
Prayer for Mercy and Help
1 [a]Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down,
That the mountains might quake at Your presence—
2 [b]As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil—
To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the nations may tremble at Your presence!
3 When You did awesome things which we did not expect,
You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence.
4 For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear,
Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.
5 You meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
Behold, You were angry, for we sinned,
We continued in them a long time;
And shall we be saved?
6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
7 There is no one who calls on Your name,
Who arouses himself to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us
And have [c]delivered us into the power of our iniquities.

8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.
9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD,
Nor remember iniquity forever;
Behold, look now, all of us are Your people.
10 Your holy cities have become a wilderness,
Zion has become a wilderness,
Jerusalem a desolation.
11 Our holy and beautiful house,
Where our fathers praised You,
Has been burned by fire;
And all our precious things have become a ruin.
12 Will You restrain Yourself at these things, O LORD?
Will You keep silent and afflict us beyond measure?

So, is this really saying what some contemporary evangelicals say it does? Is this saying that only believers can do truly righteous acts? There are many layers to this (just try reading the chapters preceding and following it), but I believe Isaiah is talking about how far Israel has fallen from the will of God, doing only what is right in their own eyes. Regardless, I think its safe to say that those doing the righteous/filthy deeds are the Israelites (people of God), not “unbelievers”, and so this cannot be an argument against what I’m saying here.

So far, I’m arguing for inclusivism, the idea that even though all true and self-described Christians are saved by faith in Christ, He may also choose to save some who do not consciously call themselves Christians. That does not mean that all people are saved, as God may choose to create people with absolutely no reddeming value at all. It also does not mean that other religions can save their followers (pluralism) because a lie cannot be reconciled to God who is Truth itself.

next post: Annihilationism, and the unforgivable sin

The National Soul – 1) Spiritual Equivocation

April 7, 2011

The bible is so obviously not of human origin that it still astounds me when people say it was man made. There are simultaneous multiple themes that interweave throughout in such a way that no human mind could have woven together such beauty – even less likely conceived by man when you consider it was written over several centuries by dozens of authors. One such theme is that of single and plural (I first started looking for this pattern after having it revealed by Mike Bull e.g. here, here, here.) For example, there is one God and three persons of the Godhead. There is one Godhead and the multitude of all creation. There is one beginning in Adam and there is the mother of all humanity in Eve. There is one chosen nation, Israel, and all the nations of the earth starting with the original 70 nations listed in Genesis. Abraham was one man from whom the multitude of all the saints arose. Joseph went into slavery in Egypt alone, and Israel went into slavery in Egypt as a multitude. On the day of Atonement (on the Hebrew yearly calendar) the high priest first was to go into the Holy of Holies to atone for his own sins, and a second time for those of all of Israel. When the twelve spies go into the promised land and come back, the few (two) are faithful, and the many (the other 10) are not. Later the ten tribes of the Norhtern Kingdom are destroyed by the Assyrians, but the two remaining tribes (the same ones that the 2 individuals were from) are saved through the Babylonian captivity.The Prophet Ezekiel in his visions was called the “son of man” and represents (is a “type” of) the singular Jesus who ascended to the heavenly throne at the end of the gospels, whereas Daniel in his vision sees “one like the son of man” ascending with the clouds, representing the bride of Christ – the (plural) risen first century martyred church, taking their place with Christ to rule history with Him since 70 AD, the date when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, burnt down the temple and razed it to the ground, leaving no stone standing upon another.

When we consider this pattern – the few or the one, and the many – we can see it overlap from one area to another.

There is one specific example of this one/many pattern that especially stands out for me and forms the basis for the National Soul concept: the nation of Israel in the bible. This includes its history over the millennia with its bad kings and good kings, its infancy and its adolescence, its obedience and disobedience, its tumultuous time up to its marriage to Jesus Christ as the bride represented now by the Christian Church. What’s potentially new is that I see this pattern (one nation / many kings & people) overlapping with the biblical concept of the individual soul. There is the one – the individual person – and the many – all the thoughts and beliefs, spirits and attitudes that also form a part.

This idea arises from a number of different areas. First there is the tension in scripture between the passages showing God’s attribute of Justice in descriptions of the fate of those who embrace their sinful nature, and His attribute of Love in areas that describe his will for all to be saved. This idea is entirely hypothetical and its here I introduce the main point most likely to be the target at which others will shoot. In these passages I see a type of hyperbole that I haven’t seen others notice of draw attention to before (in my limited reading). Until I find the “true” term or come up with a better one, I’ll call it “spiritual equivocation”, meaning when one speaks toward the spirit or attitude an individual is currently exhibiting, say selfishness for example, as if they are talking to or about the entire person, i.e. equivocating the spirit (current attitude) with the soul (a person’s entire identity).

Immediately the reader might object and bring forward the argument of many that say the bible speaks of the spirit and soul as if they are the same thing. I’ll go into more detail later, but for now will start with this:

Heb 4:12 for the word of god is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit…”

While this doesn’t prove that the two terms are always used in a different sense, it certainly does indicate here that sometimes they are differentiated between.

Here are a couple of examples from the net.bible:

Revelation 21:7 The one who conquers will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 21:8 But to the cowards, unbelievers, detestable persons, murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic spells, idol worshipers, and all those who lie, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. That is the second death.”

I have lied, and presumably I may lie again (I hope not though). How do you define a liar or unbeliever etc.? I would assume that the part of me that has lied certainly won’t be haunting me throughout all eternity… I hope it does get destroyed.

Mathew 16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”

Was Jesus talking to Satan but not really Peter, Peter but not really Satan, or was he talking to the part of Peter that was influenced by Satan’s lies that Peter had believed?

What I mean is that, to God, an individual is not indivisible like we naturally see ourselves. The nation of Israel (the biblical one that ended in 70AD, not the modern one we see today) was able to maintain its national character coming from its origins – its history we read in the old testament, especially the Pentateuch (first five books of the bible), while simultaneously being led by all those good and (mostly) bad kings.

I propose that we are to see ourselves in a similar way. In one sense we obviously have an identity and self awareness that never changes, and some would say a personality that is fairly static (unchanging) throughout most of our lives. This sense of our individuality corresponds with Israel’s national character as a whole. In another sense, we are also at the “beck and call” of our changing attitudes, mood, spirit, ideas (good or bad) – all the various thoughts that move us to make our daily moment-to-moment decisions. This changing aspect of our person-hood corresponds to the different kings and generations of Israel over the centuries…

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Introduction A

March 17, 2011

(this is the wandering, detail-oriented version for detail-oriented Christians.  For the more “popular” version see Introduction B )

 

the “National Soul” is a new (to me at least) perspective on understanding God’s revealed truth in the bible.

I’ve always taken seriously the idea that the bible is wholly from God, especially the parts that I never understood.  I believe there’s not one part that’s not there for a reason.  Sometimes I’d wonder how much of it we’d even understand at all this side of eternity, or even how much any one person could understand.

As I write this I still don’t really understand it a fraction of what I hope to one day, but I’m starting to get a glimpse of something that seems to keep popping up all over the place in the bible, and I can’t find anyone else talking about it.  I thought I’d better write a book about it.  Maybe this will only end up a booklet.  Anyway, either I’ll only get so far and realize I had it all wrong, or hopefully, make some contribution to some reader’s understanding that will help them see God and their own place in existence more clearly.

I’m a bit reluctant to write this in the sense that I’m compounding a few ideas some would call heterodox (do 3 heterodox stances make one heretical view?), and yet making a firmly orthodox stance too.  In the end, this will probably please neither the right nor the left, but regardless of whether I even finish & publish this, I’m hoping it will plant a seed for people in the middle who will say “this is what I’ve been waiting for  – this makes sense!”

So far I think there are two main components to the idea: 1) the “National Soul” concept, and  2) a constellation of specific “isms”, viewpoints from Christianity, namely Calvinism, Post Millennialism (including partial or orthodox Preterism) and Annihilationism.  In the end I think we’ll end up as well with a different sort of Inclusivism (ed: which I’m now calling Particular Inclusivism).  I’m also 75% leaning towards Physicalism over Dualism. All the “isms” seem to work well together with the National Soul concept.

Wait! Before you write this whole blog off because of all these red flag words, read a little further and hopefully you’ll see some of the nasty “stuffing” attached to these scarecrows come off. Maybe you’ll realize you’ve actually have had issues with “straw-man” concepts and not the real arguments.

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