A Heavy Cross or an Easy Yoke?



Matt Walsh has a typically provocative post up on The Blaze entitled “If you find it easy to be a Christian, you probably aren’t one.” Is he right? There are certainly passages from the New Testament that would seem to suggest so. Jesus did say,

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

But there are other New Testament passages that seem to suggest the opposite, that the Christian life should be easy. Most notable are Jesus’ words in Matthew:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).

So which is it? Is the Christian life a heavy cross or a light burden? The answer, of course, is both. But the “easiness” of a genuine Christian life is far different from the “easiness” of nominal Christianity, a Christianity that requires nothing from its adherents.

Freedom or Servitude?

Walsh argues that the biggest obstacle to genuine Christianity in America is not persecution, but temptation to sin. There are countless versions of Christianity (and other faiths) to choose from, and you’re bound to be able to find one that will excuse whatever sin you happen to be drawn to.

But isn’t it good to have options? Isn’t freedom part of the point of being a Christian? Walsh nicely sums up the difference between genuine freedom and false freedom:

That’s the easy faith. The tempting one. The faith that preaches a Christ who died so that we may be freed to sin, rather than freed from sin. A difference of only one word, but the gap between them is as wide as the gap between Heaven and Hell.

It’s a good point, and important to keep in mind. But it’s also important to remember that living a Christian life should lead to a sense of genuine freedom and relief even in this lifetime. There are millions of Christians who will attest to way that their faith brought them out of harmful lifestyles or addiction. But that kind of freedom happens as a result of a willing submission to the Lord’s Word. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). First we abide in His Word as disciples, then we know the truth, and only then are we made free.

Peace or a Sword?

That kind of freedom brings with it a great sense of peace. Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). But again, this kind of peace only comes about after a willing submission to the Lord’s Word – and that takes an act of will, a battle between our new man and our old man. It’s a fight. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Paul exhorted the Ephesians to take up the whole armor of God in battle against the powers of evil:

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:14-17)

The Doctrine of the New Church puts this in terms of fighting against sin as if of ourselves while acknowledging that it the Lord Jesus Christ acting in us and through us. We need to know that it won’t feel like the Lord acting through us when we fight against the urge to tear someone else down. It’s only in retrospect that we realize that it was only by His grace that we were able to resist.

Even here, though, there can be a kind of peace within the conflict, a peace in knowing that we are acting in the Lord. A passage from Arcana Coelestia puts it this way:

A person who is being regenerated first experiences a state of serenity, but as he moves on into the new life so he moves into a state that is not serene. For evils and falsities which he has taken into himself previously now emerge and show themselves, and these trouble him, so much so at length that he undergoes temptations and trials from the devil’s crew who try all the time to destroy his state of new life. But despite this a state of peace exists with him inmostly. …In all the conflicts he experiences he sees that state as the end in view…, and this is what enables him to overcome. (Arcana Coelestia §3696)

“Fear Not” or “Fear and Trembling”?

In his final point, Walsh stresses the need for continuous repentance. He writes,

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” St. Paul tells the Philippians. To which the modern Christian says, “Dude, chill.” I think we’re safer adopting St. Paul’s approach than that of the super chill psuedo-Christian. What reaction can we have but fear and trembling when we honestly confront the vileness of our sin? How many of us have even attempted such a confrontation?”

Genuine introspection can be a terrifying thing to do. I happen to be preaching on fear and courage next Sunday, and in the course of my research I came across this great passage from True Christian Religion, explaining why repentance was not widely practiced in the Protestant world:

The reason is that some are unwilling and some are afraid to repent, and lack of practice turns into a habit and leads to unwillingness, and eventually to acquiescence as the result of reasoning by the understanding. In some cases it leads to sorrow, fear and terror at the idea of repentance… [I spoke to some,] and they said that when they have it in mind to examine themselves, they are struck by fear and terror, as if they saw a monster beside their bed in the twilight.

It is genuinely frightening to start the work of self-examination and repentance. It’s hard to face the reality of what’s inside us. But it does get easier with practice. As with servitude that turns into freedom and the sword that turns into peace, this fear can be transformed into a kind of joy in repentance. Eventually, rebuke from God can be experienced as a blessing; the Lord says in Revelation 3:19, “Those whom I love I rebuke and chasten,” and the Psalmist writes, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (Psalm 119:71).

This doesn’t mean the fear of finding sin in ourselves ever goes away, but I it is transformed. It’s here that I might part ways with Walsh. Walsh writes, “I’m not really convinced that it’s possible to feel too guilty for your sin or too afraid of the eternal fire, but I’m sure those who cross that line, wherever it is, are in far better shape than those who never approach it.” I agree to a point – we should never lose the horror at the evil we’re capable of, and that does start as a fear of going to hell. But as a person grows spiritually, that fear becomes less one of “the eternal fire,” and more a fear of being hellish – a fear of letting down the Lord, a fear of doing anything that will hurt others. It becomes a fear that is actually love at its heart. From Arcana Coelestia:

As regards the holy fear which is signified in the Word by “the fear of God,” be it known that this fear is love, but love such as is the love of little children toward their parents, of parents toward their children, of consorts toward each other, who fear to do anything which displeases, thus which in any way does injury to love. (Arcana Coelestia §8925)

The Race of Faith

So is the Christian life difficult or easy? It’s both. The best way of reconciling this seeming contradiction is through the metaphor of the Christian life as a race. As the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews put it:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)

It is hard to run a race. It takes training, dedication, and perseverance. But if you talk to any long distance runner, they’ll tell you that at some point while they’re running, they get a second wind. (As it happens, the word for “wind” in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin is the same as the word for both “breath” and “spirit.” Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.) Runners push themselves to the point of exhaustion – muscles burning, breath difficult, sweat pouring out. And then – something changes, and they find that their body is almost running itself. They are “being run.” They still have to work at it, their muscles and breath are still straining – but they find that in some sense it has become easy.

To couch potatoes, all that might seem pointless. Sure, maybe running gets easy at some point, but it’s even easier to sit around and watch TV. Those people miss the reality that the easiness of a second wind is deep, fulfilling, and life-giving – the opposite of the bored ennui of laziness. But unless those couch dwellers decide to start moving themselves, they’ll never really get the difference.

It’s the same with couch Christians vs. marathon Christians. Being a couch Christian – a Christian in name only, who maybe said the sinner’s prayer once and puts up Christmas lights – feels easy, but it’s not authentic. Being a marathon Christian takes work – but even in that work there is a joy. Even before reaching the destination there are second winds and experiences of ease – experiences of a genuine peace that surpasses anything a couch Christian can imagine.

One final point, lest I come across as holier-than-thou. I try to be a marathon Christian, but sometimes I slow down and get out of shape. And every time that happens (as anyone who has stopped exercising will tell you), it’s hard to get started again. It takes effort to do the challenging work of introspection and continuous repentance. But it’s worth it. There is joy and peace and ease not just at the finish line, but in the running of the race itself.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Image copyright: balefire9 / 123RF Stock Photo

February 10, 2017 by 0 Comments

Truth by Religious Tradition & Authority vs. Spiritual Truth

Who or what is the source of truth? Recently it has become apparent that some basic teachings are in order here. The revelations of the New Church are very comprehensive and wide ranging, and can be easily applied to one’s spiritual life and allow one to reach a higher understanding.


In Christianity, it should be acknowledged that all source of truth is from the Lord, and that all truth and doctrine should be drawn from scripture.  There are three levels of truth:

  1. Knowledges of the truth.
  2. Rational truth, which are teachings confirmed by reason when one has come of age.
  3. Spiritual or intellectual truth, an inward perception of what is truth.
Swedenborg describes these levels of truth as follows:

“Truth learned is one thing, rational truth is another thing, and intellectual truth is another; and these succeed one another. Truth learned belongs to knowledge; rational truth is truth learned, confirmed by reason; intellectual truth is conjoined with internal perception that a thing is so.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1496)

Truth learned, or rational truth, only becomes a spiritual truth when one starts to live by them. This is so, because the source of all truth is the Divine good, and all truth leads to this:

“With those who are first learning [the truths of faith] they are only knowledges. Afterward if they are held in holy veneration, they reach further and become truths of the church. But when such are affected by them and live according to them, then they become spiritual truths; for good of love and of charity, which is solely from the spiritual world, then imbues them and causes them to be living, since to be affected by them and to live according to them is from that good.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 5951)

These three levels of truth correspond to the higher and lower parts of the mind. Although we are first introduced to a subject through knowledge, knowledge is the lowest level of truth. The highest level of truth is in the intellectual mind, and it is here where there is Divine influx into each soul:

“Intellectual truth is distinguished from rational truth, and this from truth of knowledge, as the internal, the intermediate, and the external. Intellectual truth is internal, rational truth is intermediate, truth of knowledge is external. These are most distinct from each other, because one is more internal than another. With any man whatever, intellectual truth, which is internal, or in his inmost, is not the man’s, but is the Lord’s in the man. From this the Lord flows into the rational, where truth first appears as man’s; and through the rational into the faculty of knowing; from which it is evident that a man can by no means think from intellectual truth as of himself, but from rational truth and truth of knowledge, because these appear as his.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1904.3)


Although one may be first introduced to Christian truths by religious authorities, or by ritual or tradition, or by one’s parents, truth learned by authority is only an introduction. Any religious tradition, any religious authority, any person which serves to introduce knowledges of truth is an instrument or means, but is not a source of truth in itself:

“It is known that a man learns many things in infancy and childhood for the sole use that by them as means he may learn those that are more useful, and successively by these such as are still more useful, till at length he learns those of eternal life; and when he learns these, the former are nearly obliterated. In like manner when a man is being born anew by the Lord, he is led by various affections for good and truth, which are not affections for genuine good and truth, but only useful for apprehending them, and then for being imbued with them; and when he is imbued with these, the former are then given to oblivion and left behind, because they had served only as means.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3982.2)

There is no such thing as a truth that become a truth because a religious authority says so. This is a fallacy known as argument of authority. It is only but a means of introduction. Most people will only go as far as learning from an authority, and go no further. But this is just the beginning. For whatever one has learned, one should question and determine if it is true or not:

“First the doctrinals of the church are to be learned, and then exploration to be made from the Word whether they are true; for they are not true because the heads of the church have said so and their followers confirm it, inasmuch as thus the doctrinals of all churches and religions would have to be called true, merely according to country and birth. Thus not only the doctrinals of the Papists and likewise of the Quakers would be true, but also those of the Jews and even of the Mohammedans, because their leaders have said so and their followers confirm it. From this it is plain that the Word is to be searched and it is to be seen there whether they are true. When this is done from affection for truth, then man is enlightened by the Lord so as to apperceive, without knowing whence, what is true, and he is confirmed in it according to the good in which he is. If these truths disagree with the doctrinals, let him take heed not to disturb the church.
“Afterward when he is confirmed and thus in an affirmative mind from the Word that they are truths of faith, it is then allowable for him to confirm them by all the knowledges that he possesses, of whatsoever name and nature; for then, because affirmation reigns universally, he accepts the knowledges which are in agreement, and rejects those which by reason of the fallacies that they contain are in disagreement. By means of knowledges faith is corroborated. Wherefore it is denied to no one to search the Scriptures from a desire for knowing whether the doctrinals of the church within which he was born, are true, for otherwise he can in no way be enlightened. Neither is it to be denied to him afterward to strengthen himself by means of knowledges, but he may not do it before. This is the way and the only way of conjoining the truths of faith with knowledges — not only with the knowledges of the church, but also with any knowledges whatever. Yet very few at this day proceed in this way; for most persons who read the Word do not read it from an affection for truth, but from an affection for confirming therefrom the doctrinals of the church within which they were born, whatsoever they be.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 6047.2-3)

I emphasize the last point, because most who read scripture do so to confirm the doctrine they already believe in. Very few are open to questioning what they believe is true or not, and to search the scripture for the truth. One should do so after achieving a certain sense of affirmation to become spiritual. Those who do not entertain doubts, but these doubts are admitted and mere excuses because doubts originate from the evils of life (Heavenly Arcana, n.2689.3-4).


There are many things in religion which are known as “adaptive” truths, or “apparent” truths. They are not exactly true and yet serve a purpose in order to adapt the truth to one’s understanding. There are even apparent truths in the sense of the letter of scripture:

“With those who remain in the sense of the letter of the Word, and think that it is the Lord who leads into temptation and who then troubles man’s conscience, and who think that because He permits evil He is the cause of evil, and that He casts the evil down into hell, with other similar things — these are apparent truths, but are not truths; and because they are not truths in themselves, there is not a parallelism and correspondence. Still the Lord leaves them intact in man, and miraculously adapts them by charity so that they can serve celestial things for vessels. So, too, with the worship, the religious teachings and morals, and even with the idols, of the well-disposed Gentiles: these likewise the Lord leaves intact, and still adapts them by charity so that they also serve as vessels. The case was the same in regard to the very many rites in the Ancient Church, and afterwards in the Jewish Church; which in themselves were nothing but rituals in which there was not truth, but which were tolerated and permitted, and indeed commanded, because they were held as sacred by parents, and so were implanted in the minds of children, and impressed upon them from infancy as truths.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1832.3)

When one understands truth is adapted to one’s understanding, one can understand others more who follow different religious traditions or practices. It leads to more toleration and understanding. Adaptive or mediate truths are necessary, because the Divine truth itself is so high above us it cannot be comprehended:

“If Divine truths themselves were to be opened, they would not be received by those who are in the doctrinals of faith, because they exceed all their rational apprehension, thus all their belief, and consequently nothing of good from the Lord could flow in. For good from the Lord, or Divine good, cannot flow in except into truths, since truths are the vessels of good, as has been often shown.
“Truths or appearances of truth are given man to this intent, that Divine good may be able to form his intellect, and thus the man himself. For truths are to the end that good may flow in, inasmuch as good without vessels or receptacles does not find place, because it does not find a state corresponding to itself; wherefore where there are not truths, or where they are not received, there is not rational or human good, consequently the man has not any spiritual life. Therefore that man may still have truths, and thence have spiritual life, there are appearances of truth given, and this to every one according to his apprehension; which appearances are acknowledged as truths, because they are such that Divine things may be in them.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3387.1-2)

Divine good flows from heaven into these lower level truths. Even Jehovah become incarnate in order to reach mankind who had become merely natural:

“The Divine good, which is here called celestial good, is united as by marriage to the Divine truth, which is here called spiritual truth (n. 2508); and although the Divine good is united in this manner to the Divine truth alone, it still flows into lower truths, and conjoins itself with them, but not as by marriage; for it flows into rational truths which are only appearances of truth, and conjoins itself with them; and indeed into truths of sense and of outward knowledge which are scarce other than fallacies, and conjoins itself with them. Unless this were so, no man could by any means have been saved (see Part First, n. 1831, 1832). That the Divine good might be conjoined with truths of reason and of outward knowledge, and that man might thus be saved, was the purpose of the Lord’s coming into the world; for without the Lord’s Human made Divine there can in no way be any conjunction, but through Him there is conjunction.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2554.1)

This unknown Divine which is beyond all human comprehension, is known in scripture as the Father. The image of the Divine by which He made Himself known is the Son. Even Paul said that the Lord is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:14). It is a falsehood to declare them as two distinct persons, they are different aspects of One Divine Being.

The Lord is the Word made flesh, and in the spiritual sense, the Word or Logos is the Divine truth. The Lord said I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). All truth is from the Lord alone, and no man can claim what belongs only to the Lord. All good and truth belong to the Lord alone, and any good and truth that one has is not one’s own but was given to them by the Lord. To acknowledge that good and truth is from the Lord is to glorify Him.

Swedenborg saw in the spiritual world how all truth proceeds from the Lord alone:

“The Lord was the Divine truth itself when He was in the world, and afterward when He was glorified became Divine good, and thenceforth all Divine truth proceeds from Him. This Divine truth is light to the angels, which light also is that which illuminates our internal sight, which is of the understanding.
“This sight, since it does not see natural, but spiritual things, has for objects in the spiritual understanding truths which are called truths of faith, but in the natural understanding it has for objects truths of civil order which relate to what is just, and also truths of moral order which relate to what is reputable, and lastly natural truths which are conclusions from the objects of the external senses, especially of the sight. From this it may be seen in what order truths follow, and that all and each have their origin from truths Divine, which are the internal beginnings of all things. Moreover the forms in which they are have taken their origin therefrom, for these were created to receive and contain. Hence it may be evident what is meant in John by all things being created by the Word (i. 1-3); for truth Divine is the veriest essential and is the only substantial, by which all things are.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8861.1-2)

As the Lord is Divine truth, and the source of truth, the Word of scripture should be sought to determine what is truth, and one should ask the Lord for enlightenment when reading scripture. There are three principles (True Christian Religion, n. 225):

  1. Without doctrine the Word is not understood.
  2. Doctrine is to be drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word and to be confirmed by it.
  3. But the Divine truth which is of doctrine appears to none but those who are in enlightenment from the Lord.
In the New Church doctrines have been given from heavenly revelations received by Swedenborg in the 18th century. With other churches, they will use the Bible to confirm doctrines which may or may not be true. The third point is important, as most use scripture to confirm their own bias. Jesus said, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened (Matt. vii. 7, 8; xxi. 21, 22).
Without acknowledgment of the Lord for enlightenment, the Bible is a closed book, even to theologians and scholars.
The truths of faith are those which treat of love, and it is only the truths that one chooses to live by which become a part of one’s spiritual life:

“It shall be briefly told what are truths of faith from love. Truths of faith from love are truths which love dictates, and thus which derive their being from love; these truths are living, because the things which spring from love are living. Therefore truths of faith from love are those which deal with love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor, for these are the truths which love dictates. The whole Word is the teaching of such truths; for the Word in its spiritual sense treats solely of things that regard the Lord and the neighbor, and thus of such as are of love to the Lord and toward the neighbor; whence also the Word is living. This is meant by the Law and the Prophets hanging on those two precepts (Matt. xxii. 34-40), the Law and the Prophets being the Word in its whole complex. But truths of faith from love are not bare knowledges of such things with man in the memory and thence in the understanding, but they are affections of life with him; for the things which a man loves and therefore does, become of his life.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9841.4)

Good is in truth, which determines what man favors:

“That good is within truth, and makes it to be truth, may also be evident from the goods and truths in even worldly things. When man seizes upon and acknowledges anything in these as good, then whatever favors this good he calls truth; but whatever does not favor it, he rejects and calls falsity. He may indeed say that that is true which does not favor that good; but he then dissembles, and thinks otherwise. So likewise in spiritual things.” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2434)

One only has faith only inasmuch as one is in charity:

“A man has only so much of faith as he has of charity; and that when a man is being regenerated, charity presents itself to faith, or what is the same, good presents itself to truth, and insinuates itself into it and adapts itself to it in every particular, causing faith to be faith; and thus that charity is the very firstborn of the church, although to man it appears otherwise” (Heavenly Arcana, n. 2435.2)


Earlier I described the three levels of truth.  The lowest form of truth is truth from authority, religious tradition, and truth that remain as only mere knowledges of the memory.  But in most Christian churches, this is where people remain. They do not question, they do not ask.  They merely follow authority and tradition. This is partly because church authorities wish to keep people this way – in a form of blind faith, not faith opened up reason and understanding, where truths can be seen in their full light. To merely believe as one has been told to believe is not spiritual faith, it is blind obedience, where the spiritual understanding has been closed off.

Churches that do not go to the Lord or the Word of scripture for enlightenment are not a church, for it is the Lord alone who makes the church. Churches that use scripture to confirm a false doctrine are a falsified church. If the primary interest of a church is their own religious authority, they cease to become a church, for the desire to rule from religious authority is diametrically opposed to love of the Lord. Swedenborg has several visions where the heavenly view of the current state of the Christian church was shown, and it was not good.

The main aspect that makes the New Church unique, is that revelations have been made where the spiritual sense of the Word has been opened. This is the Second Coming, which is described in more detail in Is the Second Coming a Physical Event or Spiritual Event? The New Church is the rebirth of Christianity, for the truth has been falsified in the older Christian churches:

Now as the dogmas of the present Christian churches were not composed from the Word, but from men’s own intelligence and thus from falsities, and as they were also confirmed by some things from the Word, the Word by the Lord’s Divine Providence was taken from the laity among the Roman Catholics, and was opened but still was closed among the Protestants by their common declaration that the understanding must be kept under obedience to faith. [a blind faith]
But the contrary is the case in the New Church; in this church it is allowable to enter with the understanding and penetrate into all its secrets, and also to confirm them by the Word. This is because, its doctrines are continuous truths, laid open by the Lord through the Word; and confirmations of those truths by means of rationals cause the understanding to be opened above more and more, and thus to be raised into the light in which are the angels of heaven; and that light in its essence is truth, and in this light the acknowledgment of the Lord as the God of heaven and earth shines in its glory.” (True Christian Religion, n. 508)

So for any who ask, for any who seek, heaven’s door now stands open.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Wishing To Be Wise From Self-intelligence

 Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeFrom Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
As “to eat” signifies to appropriate to oneself, it can be seen what is signified by:
Eating of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise (Rev. 2:7);
namely, to appropriate to oneself celestial life; also what is signified by “eating of the tree of knowledge” in Genesis:

Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden eating thou shalt eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of this thou shalt not eat, for in the day that thou shalt eat of it dying thou shalt die (2:16, 17).

The “tree of the knowledge (scientia) of good and evil” signifies the knowledge of natural things, through which it is not permitted to enter into the celestial and spiritual things which belong to heaven and the church, thus to enter from the natural man into the spiritual, which is the inverse way, and therefore does not lead to wisdom, but destroys it.

“Adam and his wife” mean the Most Ancient Church, which was a celestial church. Because the men of that church were in love to the Lord, they had Divine truths inscribed on them, and thence they knew from influx the corresponding things in the natural man, which are called knowledges [scientifica]; in a word, there was with them spiritual influx, that is, influx from the spiritual mind into the natural, and thus into the things that are in it, and what these were they saw by correspondence as in a mirror.

With them spiritual things were entirely distinct from natural things; spiritual things had their seat in their spiritual mind, and natural things in their natural mind, and thus they did not immerse what is spiritual in their natural mind, as spiritual-natural men are wont to do. For this reason, if they had consigned spiritual things to the natural memory, and had appropriated them to themselves in that way, that which was implanted with them would have perished, and they would have begun to reason about spiritual things from the natural man, and thus to form conclusions, which celestial men never do. This, moreover, would have been wishing to be wise from self-intelligence, and not from Divine intelligence, as before, and by this they would have extinguished all their celestial life, and they would have entertained natural ideas even about spiritual things. This, therefore, is what is signified by their “not eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and if they did eat, “dying they should die.”

The like is true of those who are in the Lord’s celestial kingdom as of these most ancient people meant by “Adam.” If these were to imbue the natural man and its memory with knowledges of spiritual truth and good, and should wish to be wise from these, they would become stupid, while yet they are the wisest of all in heaven.

(Apocalypse Explained 617:15,16)
March 27, 2017

Ten Crappy Christian Ideas (and one bonus bit of baloney)

  1. The Trinitarian Doctrine that God is three Persons but one substance. This widespread Christian teaching requires us to throw reasoning out the window. Artificial terms, like “consubstantiality” and “hypostatic union,” were invented by theologians to get themselves out of their doctrinal pickle of dividing God into three Persons.

If we are to love God (as the first commandment dictates), which God are we to love? It was Jehovah God who assumed a human form on earth and fulfilled Scripture.

  1. God is pissed off with the whole human race. The idea that God is angry with humans comes from a mere literal interpretation of the narratives within Sacred Scripture, especially the Old Testament. God is Infinite Love and Mercy. The idea that God’s “wrath” has to be appeased by His Son’s suffering and death on the cross is barbaric and falls way short of INFINITE Divine Love and Wisdom. God never judges or punishes. It is those who turn away from God that damn themselves. Evil punishes itself. What greater justice is there than that?
  2. Salvation is by Faith alone. If you don’t want to bother with repentance or cleaning up your act, then you must place all your faith, hope, and trust that Christ is sticking up for you (interceding) and convincing the “Father” why you ought not burn in Hell. Christ’s death on the cross was not redemption itself, nor did it remove our personal responsibility for following the Commandments. Christ did overcome the power of sin while on earth. However, this saving power is offered to us when we approach the Lord and ask for His help in uncovering and removing our egocentric compulsions. Salvation is through cooperating with God – not in mere belief or crossing one’s fingers and hoping that things are well. But if you are of a lazy disposition, I can see why the doctrine of “Faith Alone” would be so attractive.
  3. The Sacraments save. Sacraments and rituals are simply outer signs and formalities representing deeper things of internal worship. For example, Baptism signifies the cleansing of one’s spirit. This “inner cleansing” is done from introspection and repentance. Repentance is what is essential to worship – not the splashing of water. Nor does praying to Saints help either – they are not told in heaven that they have been pronounced saints by earth-dwellers, because it would be a negative influence to a humble and heavenly life.
  4. Going to church saves. This, too, is simply external worship. True worship is to live one’s life according to God’s tenets. Going to church, participating in sacraments, hearing sermons, praying, and enjoying potluck dinners are all fine as long as we use religion to make real changes in our lives. Duh!
  5. We will get new physical bodies at the “end times.” Death is a continuation of life. We enter into the spiritual world after the death of the physical body. The spiritual world consists of spiritual substances – not natural substances. Our soul forms a spiritual body based on the choices we make in life. We become who we really are! So we end up where we really belong!
  6. God judges, rewards, and punishes. Nope! I touched on this in #2. The Lord God continuously seeks our salvation and eternal happiness. Heaven is not a reward or entitlement, nor is it a “place” that you go to. Heaven is something you become.
  7. Heaven is a place one goes to. Pure bunk! This has been covered above, but I need to throw in some scientific reasoning as a further support. Heaven is NOT a physical place in time and space. Therefore, it is not some place we need permission to gain access to. It is a quality of one’s heart and mind. Our thoughts and values are real spiritual substances and they grow into the bio-structure of our spiritual bodies, which are adapted to either a life in heaven or a life of self-centeredness. Religion is God’s strategy to extend the evolution of the biosphere into a non-physical realm. The purpose of creation is to build a heaven from the human race.
  8. The Holy Word is to be taken as historical truth. There are parts of Scripture that represent real events that involved real people. However, the Sacred Word is a multi-dimensional document. Even the real events and real people of the Bible are used to represent the deeper spiritual dynamics of salvation and various qualities of worship.
  9. Heaven is a retirement destination. Inactivity and uselessness is not tolerated in heaven. Eternal happiness and blessedness are the enjoyments of those who practice mutual love toward each other—through service. Life and love is fully expressed through  productive activity. Heaven would become hell without such a commerce of caring.

Baloney Bonus – The Second Coming is yet to come. It is taking place at this very moment! Did you miss it? It is not a physical event. It is a new dispensation from the Lord concerning deeper revelations within Scripture. This new knowledge from heaven is the descent of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem INTO OUR HEARTS AND MINDS! These new teachings from the Lord God will be a new HABITATION for our spirit.

Posted on October 3, 2008by thegodguy

Website: http://www.staircasepress.com

Posted in god, Inner growth, Life after death, love, metaphysics, Reality, religion, science, spirituality, symbolism, unity |Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Are you allergic to theological books?

I recently started reading another book of theology, but I found it utterly unintelligible and gave up after the first couple of chapters. I sometimes wonder whether theology is a matter of us studying God, or of God studying us. If the latter then clearly I stand accused.

I have even thought that maybe theology consists of theologians talking to themselves about each other – but I must try not to be cynical. But they do seem to use specialised language of their own which can barely be understood except by fellow members of the same mysterious and exclusive theologian’s guild – I almost said ‘trade union’.

Having said that, I do sometimes get vague ‘feelings’ of illumination if I plough on long enough regardless – but they seldom last. Much theological utterance, it seems to me, is apparently about what a rotten lot we humans are, which, if true, makes for pretty depressing reading.

Some writers have cleverly sugared the pill by wrapping up their doleful observations in the forms of drama and fiction so that we then seem to be finding fault with others, not necessarily ourselves. (I am thinking of Kafka and Camus for example.) Their protagonists, however, do not often emerge triumphant and joyful – they never entirely escape from their troubles. Works of classic modern fiction tend not to go in for happy endings.

Works of theology, trying to articulate our failings, succeed only in keeping them and our ‘fallen’ nature at arm’s length – maybe that’s why they are so difficult to read – so heavy-going.

Most Bible stories are likewise, I suppose, about the constant friction between good and
evil. I don’t mean they are just moral tales though David may triumph over Goliath – it’s far more interesting than that. If we analyse the characters and update some of the props we may find that we are left with an interesting psychological situation as infinitely subtle as any modern novel. Sometimes the simplicity of the story conceals a remarkable complexity of meaning. For ‘chariots’ and ‘horses’ read tanks and artillery: for ‘slings and arrows’ read missiles: for ‘castle’ read party headquarters: for ‘city wall’ read road-block
or pill-box: and so on.

Psychological states are revealed which are maybe not so very different from those that afflicted the people of long ago. For ‘prison’ read fixation: for ‘armour’ read defence-mechanism: for ‘retreat’ read phobia. Biblical goodies and baddies have much to tell us beyond their doubtful place in ancient history.

But to get back to my allergic reaction when faced with works of theology, maybe my
problem arises because theology is essentially speculative, unlike most fields of study, such as mechanics or astronomy where there is, so to speak, something to get hold of – something more or less tangible.

Theology, it appears is different: theological ideas have to be inferred, they cannot be observed. Now, at last, I think I know what is the matter: God is simply not susceptible to human study, the theologians are all wasting their time! Is God actually unthinkable? I’m not suggesting he doesn’t exist – simply that he cannot be imagined – at least, not with any certainty. But now, of course, I am in danger of falling into a trap of my own making.

Perhaps we cannot escape the possibility that we are just not ‘meantto fret about an
afterlife. Our business is to live the life in which we find ourselves. Despite the fact  that our clergy still go, I think, to ‘theological’ college, they tend for the most part not to engage much in theological discourse. Sermon material, so far as I can tell, is mostly about the life we live here and now. If we get our values right in this life, maybe the life to come can take care of itself. Don’t worry! I am encouraged in this notion when I see that the elderly, generally speaking, do not rush around in a state of sheer panic. Old people’s homes are not plagued with impending gloom or glory. They are apparently waiting rooms where old people patiently await their turn to find out what may be in store.

A dear brother-in-law of mine, when terminally ill and asked how he felt, told me calmly that he was ‘content’. Let us leave it at that.

Copyright 2011 G Roland Smith