Can we believe the Bible?

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When the Lord speaks to us in His Word, infinite Divine truths are expressed in human terms that our simple brains can comprehend. The fact is that infinite truth can only be expressed to finite minds through analogy, comparisons,metaphors and parables. We cannot understand the infinite as it is in itself, but we can compare and contrast the infinite with finite things, seeing a reflection or image of the infinite in the allegories.

Does that mean that we can’t trust what the Bible says? No. We can trust the Bible. We can trust the Lord’s Word to reveal deep truths that will bring us closer to the Lord and closer to one another, but we don’t see those truths by staying on the surface. If you get a can of food from the store, it will have a label saying “peaches,” or “corn.” Most likely there will be a matching picture of peaches or corn on the label. Before you eat, you will have to open the can and take out the nourishment inside. The words and pictures are true because they correspond to what is inside, but if you never open up the can, or still worse if you open the can and keep it, throwing away the food, you will never get real nourishment from it, and the labels themselves become useless.

Scripture Points to Its Own Deeper Meaning

The literal meaning of Scripture is a container for the deeper meaning within, and just like a box that says “open here,” Scripture itself points the way to the deeper meaning. Jesus told His disciples that the Old Testament was about His own life:

“Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27)

“He opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45)

He compared Himself to the Manna from heaven (John 6:32), the brass serpent lifted up in the wilderness (John 3:14), Jonah and the whale (Matt 12:40), and the Temple in Jerusalem (John 2:19-22).

Furthermore, Jesus’ own words were symbolic. He told so many parables that it says “He didn’t speak to the people without a parable” (Matthew 13:34, Mark 4:34). Even alone with His disciples He said, “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father” (John 16:25).

Paul, too, warned us not to take everything literally: “We should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Romans 7:6). “The letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). Early Christians learned that many of the earthly things described in the Old Testament were a “copy and shadow of heavenly things…symbolic for the present time” (Hebrews 8:5, 9:9, Colossians 2:16, 17).

We can see that there are many, many statements in the Bible itself that direct us to look for a deeper meaning. And on the other side, there is not a single passage anywhere in the Bible that directs us to take everything literally. There is nothing on the box that says, “Do not Open.”

Other Symbolic Stories

There are many stories that are made up in order to teach a deeper truth. The many parables in the Bible are examples. We find further familiar examples in Aesop’s fables. No one imagines that the Tortoise and Hare were literal animals that talked and raced against each other. They obviously represent types of people, or attitudes that people have. The story is not literally true, but conveys an essential truth: “Slow and steady wins the race.”

In the parable of Adam and Eve it is not a tortoise or hare that talks but a snake. Though the story says that the snake was just a beast of the field, no one takes this literally. Anyone can see that the snake was not a literal snake but a symbol of the devil, a personification of evil itself.

Another made up story is Pilgrim’s progress, a story about a man who happened to be named “Christian,” who has friends named “Pliable” and “Obstinate” and is on a journey from his hometown the “City of Destruction” through the “Slough of Despond” to the “Celestial City.” With names like these no one would suppose that it to be a literal story about an actual individual. It is clearly intended as a symbolic story about anyone who might happen to be a Christian.

Again, the ancient Greek myth about the love between Cupid and Psyche was never intended to be taken literally. Cupid means “Desire.” Even today Cupid is a common symbol of love. And Psyche means “Mind,” as in psychology. Cupid or Desire loves Psyche (Mind) but remains invisible to her. Only after going through many challenges can Mind be be married to Desire, and have a daughter named Pleasure (“Voluptas”). No one thinks these were literal people. In ancient times virtually all writing about deeper things was done through symbolic stories such as these.

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DAILY INSPIRATION

“The Lord’s Divine Providence is present within the smallest details of a person’s life.”

Arcana Coelestia 10774

 

Quotes from scripture about art

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalms 139:13-16)

“In the natural sense, ‘to create’ means to create, but in the spiritual sense ‘to create’ means, symbolically, to reform and regenerate, which is also to enliven.” (Apocalypse Revealed 475)

“In the spiritual heaven there are magnificent palaces, in which all things within shine with precious stones and decorations in such forms as cannot be equaled by any painting in the world, nor expressed in words. For art there, especially that of architecture, is in its own art. From that heaven many arts in the world derive their laws and harmonies, from which come their forms of beauty.” (Apocalypse Explained 831)

“Ask what truth and good are to the sight of the eye. Is not what is called beautiful truth to it, and what is called enjoyable good to it? For enjoyment is felt in beholding what is beautiful. What are truth and good to the hearing? Is not what is called harmonious truth to it, and what is called pleasing good to it? For pleasure is felt in hearing harmonies. It is the same with the other senses. What natural good and truth are is plain, then. Consider now what spiritual good and truth are. Is spiritual truth anything other than beauty and harmony in spiritual matters and objects? And is spiritual good anything other than the enjoyment and pleasure of perceiving the beauty and harmony?” (Divine Providence 312)

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

“You have many workers: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as those skilled in every kind of work in gold and silver, bronze and iron—craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the LORD be with you.” (1 Chronicles 22:15-16)

“Every truth shines in heaven, and consequently truth when shining is faith in essence. The beauty and charm faith gets from this illumination, as the truths in it increase in number, can be compared with various shapes, objects and pictures, formed by different colors harmoniously juxtaposed; also with the precious stones of different colors in Aaron’s breastplate…. Comparison is also possible with the beauty of the rainbow, or of a meadow full of flowers, and of a garden in bloom in early springtime.”(True Christian Religion 353)

“Spiritual things, which are the truth and goodness involved in faith, were celebrated by harp and lute, by song, and by similar music. The holy or heavenly aspects of faith were celebrated by wind instruments— horns and so on. This is why so many instruments were connected with the Temple and why it says so many times that certain instruments were used in celebrating this thing or that. So the instruments are taken to mean the very qualities themselves that the instruments were honoring, as those just discussed are.” (Secrets of Heaven 420[2] )

DAILY INSPhttps://newchurch.org/IRATION

“It is of the Divine Providence of the Lord that everyone can be saved; and they are saved who acknowledge God and live well.”

Divine Providence 325:1

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Love

“The Lord is present with you the moment you start to love the neighbor.” (Secrets of Heaven 904)

The Bible has a great deal to tell us, and to teach us. It tells us that we should have faith and believe in the Lord. It tells us that we should practice repentance for our sins, and to obey the ten commandments. These are all important.

It is good to pay attention to what Jesus says is most important. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He answered:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Love is the basis of Scripture

Jesus said loving the Lord and loving the neighbor are the basis of all Scripture. New Church teachings focus on Jesus’ emphasis on loving the Lord and one’s neighbor as the most important elements of Christianity.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7).

“Above all things have fervent love for one another.” (1 Peter 4:8)

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2)

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

“You see then that a person is justified by works, and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)

From New Church theology

“What else is love but a partnership with God through goodness that shapes our intentions and desires? … The ultimate purpose in creating us citizens of heaven and also citizens of the world was this partnership. … Through this partnership we have salvation and eternal life.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, True Christian Religion 369:3)

“Life received from the Lord is the life of love towards the entire human race.” (Secrets of Heaven 6467)

“We are not born for the sake of ourselves, but for the sake of others.” (True Christian Religion 406)

“There is no adequate way to describe God except in terms of pure love and pure mercy towards the whole human race. That mercy is God’s desire to save everyone, to make everyone happy forever, and to give us everything He has.” (Secrets of Heaven 1735)

“The whole of heaven rests on love as its foundation.” (Secrets of Heaven 1055)

“In the Christian world it is their doctrines that cause Churches to be distinct and separate, and because of these they call themselves Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists or the Reformed, and Evangelicals, among other names. It is solely by reason of their doctrines that they are called by these names. This situation would never exist if they were to make love for the Lord and goodwill towards the neighbor the chief thing of faith. In this case their doctrinal differences would be no more than shades of opinion concerning the mysteries of faith which truly Christian people would leave to individual conscience, and in their hearts would say that a person is truly a Christian when he lives as a Christian, that is, as the Lord teaches.” (Secrets of Heaven 1799)

“Heaven is not located on high, but where the good of love is, and this resides within a person, wherever he or she might be.” (Secrets of Heaven 8153)

“Love is our vital core. We grow warm because of its presence, and cold because of its absence, and when it is completely gone, we die.” (Heaven and Hell 14)

“The nature of every individual is determined by his or her deepest love.” (Secrets of Heaven 6872)

“The Lord is present with you the moment you start to love the neighbor.” (Secrets of Heaven 904)

DAILY INSPIRATION

“When people who are perceptive have feelings of compassion, they know that they are being alerted by the Lord to offer help.”

Arcana Coelestia 6737

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The walrus is Paul!

I am not referring to one of the Beatles. The gentleman I am referring to is the so-called “apostle” Paul, whose original name was Saul.

Paul is the walrus because he is the odd man out, and for several interesting reasons. One of which is that he was not a part of the Lord’s inner circle. Paul was not a part of the Lord’s original twelve apostles and plays no foundational role in the Holy City, the New Jerusalem.

“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:14)

So Paul is most definitely the walrus when it comes to the Second Coming or having special authority, even though many theologians put his importance above that of the other twelve.

According to theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, Paul’s writings are not a part of the inspired Word of God, either.

While Paul’s work was important to spreading the Christian movement abroad and he is now the “go-to” guy for fine-tuning Christian doctrine, his actual writings came from his own prudence and subjective estimation of things. His writings were not Sacred in and of themselves.

The reason why Swedenborg came to this conclusion is that Paul’s writings did not contain the deeper, sacred meanings that are contained within God’s true Holy Word. Remember, that the canonical Bible consists of stories that were decided upon by the judgment of finite human minds. Some of their choices were correct, and some were incorrect.

In other words, not all the stories in Scripture represent God’s true Holy Word. (See my post entitled “God’s Holy Word vs. The Canonical Bible.”) Since I have addressed the topic of higher meaning within the stories of Scripture in dozens of earlier posts, it would be too tedious to address this enormous topic here and now. Rather, I would like to address more urgent issues – a misfortunate outcome of Paul’s writings.

Paul is the walrus because he did not make it clear enough to his readers that LOVE trumps both FAITH and HOPE. Today much of the Christian Church is misguided because of a misinterpretation of Paul’s words “that man is justified by faith without the works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

Swedenborg points out that Paul was not trying to tell people that they were no longer responsible to the Lord’s commandments, but that they no longer had to follow the numerous tenets of Mosaic law, such as circumcision or the law of the red heifer.

The Lord made it quite clear that one was to “love God” and “love the neighbor.” These are the two great commandments upon which all divine law hangs.

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me . . . and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him, and will make my abode with him.” (John 14:21, 23)

Furthermore, in Revelation 20:13 it states: “and they were judged every man according to their works.” So even after the Lord’s dying on the cross and His resurrection, He still demands more than “mind faith,” but faith put into action (which is love).

Paul supports this: “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2:13)

Merit, is not sought by those who sincerely place loving God and the neighbor above themselves. This is what makes good works selfless and truly spiritual.

So the doctrine of justification by faith alone is bogus. And, because of that, much of orthodox Christianity has become the walrus as well. (No wonder it has been like pulling teeth to convince people that Sacred Scripture also contains higher levels of meaning.)

Posted on November 17, 2008by thegodguy

http://www.staircasepress.com

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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

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External Worship and Internal Worship

 

One person can have two belief-systems. The reason for this is that humans are both flesh and spirit. And we are so constituted that the body and spirit can be unified in worship or divided in worship.

Few people consider that humans enjoy both external worship and internal worship.

External worship includes going to church, attending church rites, listening to sermons, putting money in the donation basket and giving praise to the Lord.

Internal worship depends on the inner quality of one’s heart and mind, and the evaluation we actually give to the Lord and His teaching.

External worship can be united with internal worship if we sincerely do God’s will, which is to love the neighbor as God has loved us. However, in spite of good outward actions and noble words coming from the lips, we can still harbor self-centeredness, envy, greed, and disdain toward others.

It is because of this unique dual nature that hypocrisy, false appearances, and hidden agendas can describe who we really are, despite what we permit the world to see.

The Lord’s spiritual salvation takes aim at our inner, hidden world of the spirit – to clean the “inside of the cup.”

This is why salvation by faith alone does not work. It allows people to believe they can be saved by faith no matter how they lived, provided that they frequently attend church, and take part in its sacred rites. In other words, we derive salvation from external worship.

Anyone can see if this faith were truth, humans could be saved even while in the act of destroying each other. Furthermore, if we believe that we are redeemed solely by the passion of the cross, and that we are gifted by the Lord’s merit so as to no longer be under the condemnation of the Commandments, we are left to live in ignorance as to whether this gift is actually in us. We are even told that any attempt to co-operate with God would ruin our chance for salvation.

Hogwash!

Religion is instruction for the heart. The Lord plants the seeds of truth in the soil of our mind. But mere believing in Christ as Savior and Redeemer does not make these seeds sprout, grow, leaf out, blossom, and bear fruit. This happens through spiritual acts of genuine love.

Innocence and genuine love are obtained to the extent that we deprive interior and harmful motives of their power and influence. This is accomplished when we ask the Lord for help in our battle against evil inclinations. As evil is removed from the heart, our good deeds become genuine acts of goodness, because they are done from humility, innocence and from God dwelling in our hearts. This unites outer worship with inner worship.

The doctrine of salvation by faith alone was derived from misinterpreting Scripture and not listening closely to the Lord’s very words.

Posted on September 17, 2008by thegodguy

Website: http://www.provinggod.com

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Heaven is not just for Christians

The Lord’s kingdom is a kingdom of love. Love trumps faith, that is, love trumps Christian knowledge. The reason is that love is the spiritual means by which the Lord God forms an intimate relationship with each of us.

The knowledge of God or belief in God only makes God present with us. But love, which is faith put into action, is how the Lord enters into our very lives – not just nearby.

God seeks a dwelling place in our hearts. Love is how the Lord enters into a covenant with us.

When we love the neighbor as ourselves we apply the Golden Rule, whether we attend a church, a temple, a mosque, or a baseball game. True worship is true love.

The mercy of the Lord is Infinite and cannot be limited to any one country, race, or belief-system. This is contrary to Divine Love and mercy.

People who believe that those who do not share their belief system will perish in hell overlook the fact that religion involves being good – not being right.

Furthermore, how can Christians even claim to be “right” when disdain for others, greed, and adultery is so prevalent among its ranks? This is the horrible outcome of the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, which separates religion from how we actually behave in the world.

It is also the disastrous outcome of interpreting Scripture merely as a literal account of history, which describes God as being “pissed-off,” promoting wars between countries, allowing slavery, polygamy, and depicting women as second class citizens.

God is infinite love. We are made in God’s image not by having ten fingers and ten toes, but by having spiritual love.

It is only through sincere mutual love for each other that the world can be saved. Can the process of saving the world be different from the process of saving our souls?

This spiritual process of exalting love is open to all men and women on earth.

Otherwise, the Creator would be extremely inefficient in perfecting the heavenly kingdom and sharing eternal blessings.

Posted on September 8, 2008by thegodguy

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