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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Scripture – Is it uncivilised dogma?

scriptureOn the face of it, much of the Bible and Qu’ran is dogmatic and sometimes unintelligible. Scripture contains scientific misconceptions. Also it has outmoded rules of living for example about food consumption and animal sacrifices.

There are references to historical events that seem unrelated to being alive today. One also notices all sorts of horrible things. In parts of the Bible, we can find a punitive deity and barbaric acts of inhumanity .

So, you might wonder what kind of divine authorship is supposed to be behind this scripture?

Myth in scripture

scriptureOne point of view is that just because a book is old it doesn’t have to be outdated. Philosophers read Aristotle and Plato and find lots of contemporary human interest in them. There’s no reason why the moral insights of religious texts like the general commands about honouring one’s parents, not killing, or not stealing should be any different. The so-called Golden Rule is that you should treat others as you want to be treated yourself. This you find in all sorts of religious texts. You see versions of that in Aristotle.

For many people the creation story in Genesis is a myth. But I would like to suggest that the word myth should not be understood as meaning something that is not true. Doesn’t a myth convey something of a deeper truth about the human condition – something not supposed to be taken literally?

One can likewise wonder whether there is also wisdom beneath the surface of other parts of scripture: – its historical narrative, visionary material, prophecy, and poetry. If present, it has usually remained hidden to many.

Attitude to reading scripture

My own experience is that when I have try to focus my mind on a text and slowly reflect on its possible meaning, only then can I start to sense a deeper message. I feel a personal relevance.

The truth that what you will find in the text depends on your commitment you show to the text, why you’re reading it and what you want to find in it.” (Anonymous teacher of Judaism – British Library website)

A danger lurks here. I can find myself proudly claiming I now know what scripture says and I want to tell others what to think.

“Our understanding of God’s word will be fallible because we are finite beings. It is arrogant to raise our interpretation to infallible truth and thus start to deny the truth that other people hold in their interpretation.” (anonymous Muslim speaker – British Library website)

If there is a God – an infinite Being beyond full human understanding – then a bit of humility from me is called for. Perhaps I have only partly had a glimmer of the truth and what is true for me works a little differently for you.

Spiritual Teaching

Mind you, I’m not saying scripture is the only source of wisdom. We value what we have learned from parents and teachers who have been part of our upbringing and education. They can convey deep guiding principles. For example the ideas that:

  • A realm of consciousness of spirit exists that is not limited by space or time.
  • There is a divine spark of love present with us which is the source and foundation of all reality.
  • The improvement of one’s moral character is the biggest aim of one’s human existence.

I feel these ideas help me to find some sense in scripture.

Nasty side of scripture

The Old Testament prophets are good at threatening punishments of the people. Applied to myself, I feel these to be a warning about the troubles I can bring on myself if I were to stray from the right path in life.

The people of Israel fought gory battles against various tribes living in the land of Canaan. I wonder whether these battles are symbolic of the inner conflicts within myself in my daily life. Generally speaking, there is a clash between a selfish thought and considering the needs of someone near me.

What about animal sacrifices urged upon the people of the Old Testament? To my mind these mirror the things I need to give up, or at least cut down. What seems like a personal sacrifice at the time however can later become something of no matter.

Correspondence and scripture

There is one big idea I find useful in understanding sacred writing. This is the concept of correspondence.  The philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg wrote about a deeper level of meaning within the literal sense of scripture. Each object, person, and event depicted in scripture is said to correspond to this spiritual sense. Sometimes this is clear but often it is hidden. One has to employ one’s deeper perception to notice it.

 “The spiritual sense …  does not appear in the sense of the Letter: it is within it, as the soul is in the body, as the thought is in the eyes, and as affection is in the countenance. ” (Emanuel Swedenborg, philosopher)

Enlightenment and scripture

Some religious believers say one shouldn’t criticise sacred writing but should take it as final authority. However, there is another attitude to scripture which I think is a little bit different. It is one that does involve a questioning and searching attitude. Such an approach involves reflection and a sense of responsibility for applying what is learned.

According to Swedenborg enlightened people are :

Those who love truths because they are truths, and who apply them to the uses of life.”

Conclusion about scripture

In Hinduism and Buddhism there isn’t the same tradition, as in the Western world, of an infallibility of one particular religious text. Rather, believers draw upon a whole body and collection of spiritual writing. They use these in order to understand their religion better.

I feel no individual writers of scripture of themselves could have infallibly grasped what is eternally true. After all they were only finite human beings. Nevertheless, I do sense a divine inspiration in their writing that has universal application.  Could they not have been instrumental in revealing the wisdom of an infinite loving Being? A message that is the Word of God?

I would suggest there is only one way for you to answer this question to your own satisfaction. Why not try to read parts of scripture you have never visited,  and look for what you had never previously suspected was present?     

Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

 

The Wolf Shall Dwell With The Lamb

If the Lord God takes personal interest in our lives and is most concerned with our eternal salvation, then what positive news can Isaiah 11:6 have for us?

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

This scenario presents us with a beautiful image of peace. Here, both gentle and ferocious animals alike come together and, like household pets, allow themselves to be led by a small child. Does this mean we can take comfort that a time will come when wolves, leopards, and lions will lose their appetite for fresh meat?

Or is something deeper being expressed here? Wouldn’t this biblical passage have greater relevancy if God were using it as a lesson for acquiring that same wonderful state of peace in our own lives?

The Lord states that we must become like little children to enter heaven. We usually associate childhood with a state of INNOCENCE. The idea of adults becoming like a small child can, therefore, easily be interpreted as a return to innocence.

The quality of innocence certainly makes sense as a requirement for heaven.

So are the words of Isaiah telling us that a return to innocence will actually allow us to lead wolves, lambs, leopards, kids, calves and lions to live in peaceful coexistence? That wouldn’t make sense, at least not literally. We would we be putting our lives in terrible danger for trying such a stunt with wild animals, innocence or not.

If a child represents innocence (and not an actual child) then maybe all these opposing creatures are also to be interpreted as representing qualities of our inner nature – like the opposing and conflicting desires and intentions of our heart. With a little introspection it can be easily seen how our negative emotions can prey upon, rip apart, and devour our more gentle dispositions.

This is why when humans act unkindly or treat others with cruelty, they are often referred to as acting like “animals” and “beasts.” God is simply using this same metaphor in Isaiah.

Returning to innocence requires that we adjust our anger, temper our tempers, and remove hurtful intentions. The effort and practice of gaining control over our “inner world” is what leads to our emotional balance, which ultimately leads to inner peace.

Religion was given to humankind as God’s wise strategy for helping us achieve that inner balance and promote our return to innocence. When we follow God’s tenets and commandments our “wildness” is tamed and a heaven forms within us.

It has been a major theme in many of my posts that God’s Holy Word contains deeper meanings. When we are able to unlock these meanings everything becomes instantly more relevant to our lives. I have offered Isaiah 11:6 as one simple demonstration.

One of the main criticisms of the post-modern world is the belief that many passages in Scripture have no relevance in today’s complicated world.

Certainly an all-wise God would have foreseen such an outcome and engineered the Holy Word to be able to respond to all challenges of its authority and eternal relevance.

Heaven is not someplace you go to. It is something you become.

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The New Jerusalem And Its Metaphysical Light

 

I have been maintaining through my various posts that Sacred Scripture contains a quantum vocabulary within the literal meaning of its narratives. As further evidence, I offer you the following “strange” verse concerning the Holy City, the New Jerusalem:

And the city hath no need of the sun and of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb. (Rev. 21:23)

Scripture then goes on to say “And the nations which are saved will walk in the light of it,” (21:24) also that, “the gates of it shall not be shut by day, for there shall be no night there” (21:25).

The above passage makes no sense when considered from the merely natural or material comprehension of the human habitual mind. We have a situation here where there will be no physical light source yet the Holy City will never be in darkness. How can this be? How would one improve his or her navigational skills in a busy urban setting without the electromagnetic influence of the sun’s rays?

On reflection, we can easily ascertain for ourselves that we can avoid obstacles and problems not just by ocular vision but also from the mind’s ability (the mind’s eye) to visualize certain unfavorable outcomes. Eyesight lets us see physical objects but understanding lets us “see” concepts and evaluate them.

The human understanding does not need physical light to operate. It is this inner and deeper capacity of seeing things within the human mind that God’s Revelation is directed at. All enlightenment deals with matters of truth. God’s Truth is metaphysical light. This is why the Lord makes two appearances. First He appears in natural light and in a physical body, then, He appears in metaphysical light, by opening our understanding to the deeper levels of truth within Scripture. This new spiritual light will shine through from the Lord’s Word as we begin to recognize the deeper, quantum vocabulary of its narratives.

This quantum vocabulary provides the answer to the strange idea that the New Jerusalem will not need a sun or moon yet it will never be in darkness. Understood from its elevated meaning, the Holy City is the Lord’s new “construction” project within our inner being.

The New Jerusalem represents a new spiritual doctrine, which will take the shape of a new “cosmopolitan” framework and dwelling place in the human psyche and spirit. This doctrine will replace the current fabricated dogma about the destruction of the physical world and its eschatological replacement. The Second Coming is a paradigm shift that is to take place in the human heart and mind. This is how the Lord will make “all things anew.”

Would you agree that a powerful inner change could change how you view everything in the physical universe?

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