Salvation Gobbledygook

The understanding of how people are saved and go to heaven was turned into gobbledygook at the Council of Nicea, where God was first divided into three Persons.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with early Christian history, let give you some of the background that led the Church to make decisions that rendered the process of salvation unintelligible.

A man by the name of Arius was challenging the Church’s claim that Jesus was divine, and insisted that the Lord was inferior to the transcendent Father. To stop this new, heretical movement from growing, a synod of bishops got together in the year 325 in the town of Nicaea to mount a counter attack. These bishops were faced with the complicated task of explaining their affirmation of one God, but consisting of three distinct Persons.

The bishops invented new, high-sounding words (not found in Scripture) to explain their Trinitarian doctrine in a way that would preserve the Lord’s divinity, such as “hypostatic” union, which allowed the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to be distinct, yet be of one personal divine substance.

According to theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, while the bishops endeavored to escape a wolf, they “ran into a Lion.” Now, the dynamics of salvation had to be described by giving each distinct God a special duty. If each divine Personage requires the help of the other in saving humankind, then they cannot – by any stretch of the imagination – represent the fullness and perfection of the Godhead individually. There is also a problem of logically explaining how the Son was begotten from the Father when each existed from eternity (begotten suggests a sequence in time). But don’t worry – we can simply say that such illogicality is a great and beautiful “mystery” of faith. Things do not get any better when the different duties belonging to each particular God are seriously explored.

First, God the Father is pissed-off with humans. So the Father sends the Son (who apparently had nothing of value to do up to this time) to be slaughtered on the cross and take upon himself the sins of the world.  The Lord defeats death and emerges in righteousness. But this victory over sin (through bloodletting) has no direct benefit to us. The Lord’s merit and righteousness is merely transferred to a divine “credit card.” The Father does not impute this merit and righteousness of His Son (the Redeemer?), until those who by grace, obtain faith. Then the Father sends the Holy Spirit to use His divine credit so as to actually implement salvation for those who have the proper faith.

This is redemption. It is given to only the elect.

There are two big problems here. First, God cannot be seen as having Infinite love and mercy for all people – only for a select few. He hates some and accepts others (the Son and Holy Ghost simply follow orders from the Father). Second, we have absolutely no say in the process.

As a result of this spiritual “limbo,” we are put in a schizophrenic state of panic in which we try to acquire the proper FAITH. We rush to church, take part in its rites, listen to sermons, then cross our fingers (because the final outcome is still up to the judgment of the Father).

The strength of one’s faith is in the strength of one’s belief that the Lord is our Savior and Redeemer through His vicarious death on the Cross. We must believe, believe, and believe – until our eyes pop out of our sockets. And, during all this believing, we should overlook our transgressions, since we wouldn’t dare take merit for becoming a better Christian and person.

This dismissal of personal responsibility in matters of salvation is why some church leaders believe that Christians are above the Law (God’s Commandments), since through the crucifixion we now need only approach Christ. Yet even Christ states that we should approach the Father when He taught us the LORD’S PRAYER. The whole thing is a mess!

But change is coming. The New Jerusalem will usher in a more adequate theology for today’s world. In fact, it is yours for the taking.

Posted on September 14, 2008by thegodguy

Posted in god, Life after death, Reality, religion, spirituality, unity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Son of God — How to make sense of Christ’s claim?

Son of GodA basic teaching of Christianity is that there is only one God but in three distinct divine persons, the Father, the Son of God and the Holy Spirit: each said to be God. Many Christian theologians themselves admit they have found it impossible to come up with a persuasive and rational explanation for three Gods in one. So they call this a mystery.

Any lack of understanding in what the churches teach, I suppose, is not necessarily a problem for those of faith. Having said that, I suspect this central dogma is a major obstacle for many other people who won’t believe in something they don’t understand.

Son of God unprovable in historical terms

Virtually all scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus Christ existed. They have offered various historical portraits of his life, which at times share a number of overlapping attributes, such as a charismatic healer and religious prophet, who preached about the “kingdom of God” as a means for personal and social transformation. The question of his divinity is more difficult for historians and his claim to be what he called the Son of God.

Christ’s birth was not strictly a ‘virgin birth’ or parthenogenesis, for this would necessarily have produced a female offspring. Because he was male, he had to have had a father to give him his male sex chromosomes. He came to see himself as the Son of God. One snag from a scientific perspective is that if his father were really God, rather than a human being, how did he get his male sex chromosomes?

Son of God as body of the one God

Christians believe Christ’s assertion that his father was God and understand this to mean that he was a distinct person from his father in the same way as you and I are not the same person as either of our parents. However, an alternative Christian view originating from Emanuel Swedenborg is expressed by Brian Kingslake:

“Your soul is a finite vessel containing God’s life; and, because it is finite, you will always be finite. You will never merge with God. But Jesus was different. God was his Father, so his soul was God. It was not a vessel containing God, it was God himself. Therefore Jesus had no finite limitations.”

He goes on to claim that Christ’s spiritual growth went on and on without halting, until his humanity was dissolved into the divinity of God, making one divine person only. So according to this view of the Son of God, Jesus Christ had a divine soul that was within him throughout his life on earth.

However, his maternal heredity was like that of any other child. Mary gave him his natural tendencies. He began life in complete ignorance and had to learn everything. He could grow weary and could become angry and weep. Because of the self-orientated tendencies, he inherited from his mother, he was to be vulnerable to corrupting influences, as we all are.

Ordinary life in Palestine meant experiencing daily events like others of his age group. The boy would have learned how to become aware of things around him and of the way his family saw them. Like the rest of us, his thinking would have been restricted much of the time by how things appear and seem to be. In other words his experiences would have been shrouded by human consciousness. At the same time, the argument goes, if his soul were divine, there would have been many ‘break-through’ moments of a higher perception. John’s Gospel suggests these quite vividly. For example he wept over the self-defeating, self-centered attitudes around him.

“I believe there is no one lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic and more perfect than Jesus — not only is there no one else like him, but there could never be anyone like him.” (Feodor Dostoevsky)

Son of God having Christ’s dual nature

Swedenborg suggests that because of what he claims is Christ’s dual nature, at times there would be states of temptation say for material gain or egoist fame and thus Christ, even though he always resisted such urges, would have felt distinct and apart from God. So when feeling tempted by ordinary selfish urges  he would have been conscious of himself as the son of Mary: but even in his most exalted states,  free from baser tendencies, he was only conscious of being what he called the Son of God rather than God himself.

I would ask whether, compared with the traditional view of the Holy Trinity, it is more rational to think of the Holy Trinity as three dimensions of one Divine Person? I would suggest that just as we each have a soul, a mind and a bodily activity so does God: only in God’s case it is a soul of love, a mind of wisdom and a bodily activity that has powerful effects.

Swedenborg maintained that before Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, God did not exist in an ultimate form of flesh and bones and natural mind although there was a potential for this to develop. And this did develop through Christ’s overcoming and purifying his natural side inherited from Mary.

If this theory is correct, by the ‘Son of God’ we can understand the natural degree of mind and body which God took upon himself when he came into the world as the ‘Word made flesh’. And if true, there would have been no Son of God before the birth of Jesus and thus no separate divine person.

I myself feel it is probably misleading to describe Christ, after his ascension, as the Son of God. Instead I would say that Christ is the natural degree of the divine — i.e. God’s body rather than a distinct person of a Godhead; the Lord God we all can relate to person to person in what might be said to be a visible form. As the Bible says

“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9)

Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of Heart, Head & Hands Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Can the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost sit on three different chairs?

This cannot be answered without a rational discussion of the Holy Trinity. This theological topic, more than any other, confuses the heck out of serious and religious thinking people.

Orthodox Christianity describes the Holy Trinity as three divine persons. Although they attempt to recover and restore the notion of one God (Christianity is supposed to be monotheistic) by saying that the three divine Persons of Trinitarian doctrine consist of one unified substance, still, one is left with the notion that these three Gods could sit in three different chairs.

When I have pointed to the illogicality of such an ambiguous notion of God, its defenders (including those with Ph.Ds) say that it is a “Great Mystery” and warn me that my mind should not even be going into such directions.

My answer to that is “zc@#$%*&>?+<#x<!”

Now that I have gotten that off my chest I can put my emotions aside and return to a more pragmatic discussion of this matter. When I say my prayers at night, I want to know exactly to whom I am addressing (and not have to guess whether I am focusing on the correct chair or the proper Deity).

I know that Jesus said that the only way to the Father was through Him (the Son) but then Jesus does an about face by teaching the Lord’s Prayer which completely bypasses the Son and allows us to pray directly to the Father.

So, with the Lord’s Prayer in hand, who needs Jesus?

But Orthodox Christianity, which embraces the sacred Trinity as three Persons, insists we are first to put our faith in Jesus. In this way the righteousness of the Son can be imputed to us humans by the Father, then the Holy Spirit shows up to set into motion the operation of justification, which magically wipes all our sins away, renews our spirit, and completes our salvation.

In other words, each Divine Person cannot claim to be fully God, as each does something that the other two don’t. If it takes three Persons to give us an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God, well, to be frank, that is not my idea of monotheism.

I prefer Emanuel Swedenborg’s version of the Divine Trinity as ONE GOD manifesting three distinct operations and functions. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit represent not three persons but the three operations of Divine Love, Divine Truth, and Divine Activity.

Truth makes love visible. That is why the Lord came into the world – to make the Love of the Father visible to us by taking on a human form. Jesus is Jehovah!

One might wonder how God could take on an imperfect and gross human body. According to Swedenborg, that was God’s precise strategy for salvation. The purpose of coming into the world was to make His human form perfectly divine by doing the will of the Father (the Father was His Divine Soul) and combating the worldly desires of the flesh and worldly temptations.

Why did God have to implore such a strategy instead of fighting evil straight on?

Without taking on a human body an Infinite God cannot be realistically attacked by any evil. A human body provided the medium by which the Lord was vulnerable to attack by both people on earth and by the entire powers of hell. The appearance of the Holy Spirit (as a dove) when Jesus was baptized was a sign from heaven that the operation of harmonizing his human side by means of the higher influence of His Divine Nature was about to begin.

This process of overcoming the flesh and its proclivities (especially love of self and the world) involved profound humiliation before the Father (which represented His Divine Spirit and its ultimate dictates).

The Lord’s biggest challenge on the cross was not enduring physical pain or physical death but His not giving in to the human part of His nature – which tempted Him to get off the cross as a show of absolute strength to men and women and compel belief. By resisting this final temptation and achieving profound humility He united His human nature with the Divine Nature and made them one (the Alpha and Omega). What died on the cross were all His human imperfections.

This complete victory over the flesh gave the Lord full power over hell, which was increasing its deadly influence in the world at the time of His Advent. We were not saved by this event but the door to salvation was kept open. When we approach the Lord to change our lives His Divine Heavenly Spirit (not a dove) starts a similar process of renewal and regeneration within us. The Lord will help us combat our negative nature and find true humility.

If God chose to sit in three chairs we would see the same person (the Lord) on all three.

How does that sit with you? Did I pull a chair right out from under your faith-system?

Posted on August 15, 2008by thegodguy

http://www.provinggod.com

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