Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Eckhart Tolle - Christian Response

    Unbelievable! ...The extent man not founded upon Christ will go and follow in their quest and pursuit of self and attempts to explain away reality and sin. Here's Oprah's spiritual sage...




    Response:
    1. He resurrects errors of the past which deny reality by seeking to replace it with forms.

    2. By reducing the past to forms (or photo albums) he not only denies the reality of the past but the extent of it's connectedness and relationship to the present. This error he also translates in regard to the future.
    3. He establishes a false premise that one can separate the reality of the present ("now") from reality itself, which he vests in onesself (though he inconsistently goes on to suggest that life is found in abandoning oneself)
    4. He has no grounds or basis for assuming reality is found in self (and apart from everything else, or only what one want's to allow)
    5. By denying the truth of God, he falsely asserts that the future is no longer problematic when one presupposes it's only about self (i.e., "knowledge of self" does not deny the "reality of sin")
    6. He denies the promise the future holds by simply asserting "it just is". (i.e., by denying relationship of oneself and the future, he not only cast the dishwater out (the problems), but the baby as well (the promise).
    7. He falsely asserts that it's up to the individual to "let the world just happen", AS IF man not only is in control of providence rather than God, but man positionally controls whether and the very factors of providence occuring. (i.e., man is sovereign; at the same time - close your eyes and all will be alright)
    8. He falsely asserts that what arises ins't that important - it's a form, it's short lived, it's a play of phenomenal existence. He states it's "the universe playing with form, it's consciousness playing iwht form) (i.e., he denies purpose, signficance, importance, etc.)
    9. He speaks to "felt needs" of man today such as "strain, effort, stress, fear, etc." and seeks to offer that which is "simple, joy, alive, etc." However, his method of achieving the latter is by denying the significance and realities involved in bringing about the former. (For example, by closing one's eyes and breathing, will not do away with the realities of cancer and death, though one may call the symptoms and pains and results "forms".)
    10. His "detached" philosophy and forms of delivery in presentation alone are enough to drive any reasonable, thinking and engaged people away. It's amazing to what people will give themselves to when they deny the true God and the truth of reality.

    For more, see here and here. See also here.

    See also Comparison of Tolle and Christianity on the Subject of Death.

    104 comments:

    jazzycat said...

    Sword,
    I could only take about 5 minutes of this guy's gobbly-gook! You are a brave and dedicated man....

    IloveJesus said...

    There is something very attractive although illusory in what Eckhart has to say. He mentions how often our past failed performances create a bad self image in the present, e.g., 2 or 3 failed marriages.
    It seems to me nevertheless that these are real moral failures. They have real consequences in the present. Treating such real sins as though they were nothing, and as though they were of no consequence, is to deny that God has any sentiments about them. Subsequently we fail to encounter His loving mercy and Fatherly forgiveness. As for me, I trust the moral guidance of Jesus and cast myself on His self-giving love in His crucifixion.
    Eckhart Tolle I'm not confident of.
    Jesus I love.

    rust said...

    You people are delusional. Do you wake up each day looking for reasons to "be offended"? If you are so secure in your blind, sheeplike "faith" why is this man such a threat to you? Coming from the same group who thinks Obama is the Antichrist, none of this is surprising. Have you ever thought of looking amongst yourselves for the real "Antichrist" (whatever the hell THAT is) because "Anti Christ" is EXACTLY WHAT YOU PREACH. You are so far off on your interpretations of Christ's teachings it is laughable. The very name "swordbearer" says it all. Brandishing a sword in the name of Christ. Talk about an oxymoron. My other favorite one of you people is "army for God." As if God even WANTS an army.

    It also amazes me the way you so blindly love to believe in a God that is so "loving" that he supposedly allowed his own son to die on a cross! What kind of lunacy is that? If he could do that to his son, what makes you think you are in good hands with him? Your crock of crap religeon is so full of holes and yet you have the audacity to criticize someone else's ideas, peaceful teachings, and way of life....you make me want to puke and I am so grateful every day that I no longer believe this load of crap that I was taught to swallow, hook, line and sinker while I was growing up. Thankfully I AM grown up and able to use my God-given brain to see clearly how ridiculous it all is.

    IloveJesus said...

    Sin is the failure to attain the true good God intends us to achieve. Being creatures he made, we are obliged to honour His perfect wishes. In fact, His wishes are the only true path to real happiness and fulfillment. I have failed many times to do His wishes. I have many times directly opposed Him and brought suffering on myself and others. These are facts. They make me unworthy to be called a child of God. But God is love. In spite of my many serious failures, He loves me. Jesus, who is God Himself, decided to take on Himself the punishment that I have incurred by my insane and sinful acts. He did this out of love for me. I can do nothing but love Him in return.

    rust said...

    Well, good for you, "I Love Jesus." And KUM-BY-YAW! If believing that you are an unworthy sinful piece of cr-p is helpful to you, and believing that it was somehow necessary and helpful for an innocent man that was supposedly conceived in a virgin (this should be your first CLUE that you're not in Kansas anymore; that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are also all make-believe) to die a hideous death on a cross in order for you to become "forgiven" for JUST BEING BORN, then hallelulyah (or however you people spell that word) and praise be to God! I'm glad you've found your (ridiculous) answers and that you now have the authority to sit in judgement of everyone else who has not found your fearful, insane way of believing to be particularly "helpful"; people who are on their own path, seeking their own truth, people who have NEVER UTTERED ONE WORD OF CRITICISM ABOUT YOUR (stupid) BELIEF SYSTEM, people who, in fact, do the polar OPPOSITE -- you should all be ashamed of yourselves. You are nothing but a bunch of hypocritical self-serving morons. As someone who respects the place of Christ in the history of the world, I have one request and that is, please spare the Man the indignity of being associated with your particular "brand of Christianity" (I think that's the way you refer to Oprah's faith these days)...because YOUR "brand of Christianity" is so far from the real deal of Christ, the man, it is deplorable.

    IloveJesus said...

    Rust, can you explain how you "respect the place of Christ in the history of the world."?

    rust said...

    ILJ, certainly.
    I believe Christ walked this earth and was a visionary and profound teacher, just like other profound teachers (yes, whether Christians choose to believe it or not, there are many other profound teachers in the world who have ideas to offer us and they are not "antichrists"). I believe Christ came at a time when people really needed to hear what he had to say and he was passionate enough about his message to die for his cause. End of story.
    After that people became hysterical and created the crazy mythology that is now known as Christianity. They took the message of that beautiful man and turned it into a mockery, just as that same group of people is doing with the peaceful teachings of Eckhart Tolle. I think Christianity is as far from the teachings of Christ as it gets, unless, of course, Christ came to teach hypocrisy, judgment, shame, arrogance, fear, ridicule, paranoia and all of the other things that I see being represented on this and other Fundy websites. You are the MOST judgmental intolerant group of people on the planet. And yet you claim to follow Christ. I could go on and on but I won't. Suffice to say, I am thankful to be free from the trappings of this twisted story you all believe in (I grew up brainwashed by it) and happy to be openminded enough to explore New Age ideas, not stuck in the past or worried about the future. Very liberating.

    IloveJesus said...

    Rust,
    We share an affection for Jesus. I agree that I have often failed to live the love that Jesus taught. The historical record of what He said and what His immediate followers said and did is in the New Testament. Based on that record, I am convinced that He foretold His own death, that He was crucified by the Romans, that He declared His purpose in dying, and that He resurrected 3 days later. I also find that Eckhart Tolle says many profound and true things. However, I am still struggling with some of them. I am not convinced that everything he says is adequate. I find, for instance, that "Living in the now" doesn't necessarily help me solve the problems of my past. If the purpose of my whole life is for God and for His perfect glory, i.e., a life of Love in which I love everything as He loves it; and if, because of my selfishness, I have lived whole chunks of my life opposed to His love, living in the now as I ought doesn't solve the problem of having lived in the past as I ought not. If I have burned someone's house down, living in the present and not burning their house down does not solve the problem of having burned their house down in the past.
    I also have a hard time with Eckhart Tolle's idea that their should be no such thing as ownership.
    I hope you understand my difficulties.
    I love Jesus.

    Rust said...

    Hello, ILJ :-) ANd thank you for your respectful contemplative insights. And I must ask for your forgiveness at my angry outburst to you in my second-to-last posting. I have had some major insights myself these past few days, insights as to why I am so deeply angry at the way I was brought up in a Christian church.

    I am at a point in my life where I am trying to do something basic and that is LOVE MYSELF. I am 46 years old and trying to overcome some very self destructive ways of being. When I asked myself "why are you so angry" at this whole Christianity versus ET issue, the answer is this: for as far back as I can remember, Christianity taught me that I was UNWORTHY OF GOD'S LOVE. I don't know if the magnitude of that statement has the same meaning for you as it does for me, but I can tell you, there is nothing helpful in believing that I am unworthy of the love of the one that gave me life. Christianity also taught me a lot about shame. My middle name could be "Shame."

    The same religion that rammed this belief system down my throat then taught me that "there is a way out of your unworthiness, Rust. Here. Just believe this (completely mythological and ridiculous story, as far as I can tell) and you will be set free.

    For years I believed that story, yet continued to walk around with my church-given belief system that I am a no good, unworthy sinner, in essence, hating myself to the core, because my so-called "salvation" is based on this "story" that can't for the life of me swallow.

    Then I grow up, I start thinking for myself, and I start reading things other than the Bible. I am curious and I love exploring new ideas. I start reading things like The Power of Now that TRULY RESONATE WITH ME, on a very deep level. They give me chills; they "feel like my truth"; they are not scary; they are not asking me to believe something that makes no sense; THEY RESPECT THE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST and recognize His Greatness.

    Re the idea of being in the Now, I think it is absolutely beautiful because truly the Now IS all we have. What good does it do to beat ourselves up over "past sins", carrying them around with us like a U-Hall truck. The most unpleasant days of my life have been spent beating myself mercilessly over my past "wrongdoings." The way I see it, if Christ has forgiven me, then it's up to me to forgive myself...and then MOVE ON ...AND LIVE IN THE NOW. He said "I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly." Abundance is not referring to worldy goods; it is referring to living in complete joy; and complete joy means the ability to forgive ourselves, to admit our humanness, drop the shame/baggage and get on with the business of living fully in the present.

    I think you and I share a lot in common. You are struggling to accept that it's okay to live in the Present because you have a belief that you need to be repentent for your past sins; and I am struggling with being okay with letting go of the past, forgiving myself, and loving myself deeply. My anger towards Christianity is very fundamentally coming from the fact that it has taught me not to love myself and worse yet, that I am unworthy of the love of my Creator. I think that type of teaching should be a crime and I don't think it is what Christ had in mind at all when He signed up for his mission on this planet.

    That being said, I respect the fact that we are each on our own paths and by our nature we are not all going to resonate with the same teachers. And this is my biggest beef with the people who are trying to lump Eckhart Tolle into the general and judgmental categories of "false teacher," "AntiChrist," etc. For some reason, his writing IS resonating with MILLIONS. And that does not mean that they are "being led astray." It means that it makes sense to them. If they are finding peace within themselves and learning to love themselves in the process, how can that be anything but GOOD?

    Anyway...thank you again for your respectful insights, and I hope you can forgive me for my less-than-gentle tyrades of the past few days. I am starting to understand their origin and I apologize to anyone who has had the misfortune of being in my line of fire :-(

    Rust

    IloveJesus said...

    Rust,
    Thank you for your kind thoughts. It is sad when people indoctrinate impressionable minds with nothing but servile fear of God. Like you, I think that is the opposite of the message of Jesus. If God is Love, and if we are loved by Him, there is something truly wrong if we do not sense and know His love. People who are deeply loved have a very different view of themselves and of the world than do people who are not loved. Personally, I think it is only people who know/sense/feel God's love who can communicate the message of Jesus. There are things about Eckhart Tolle's philosophy that resonate deeply with me too. How often I have failed and still do fail to see the reality before me because of my commitment to self promotion. How frequently I am blinded by what Tolle calls "ego". I think when we see with wonder what is before us, without consideration of ourselves, we are able to see with the eyes of God. I think I wander about most of the time seeing only about 5% of what is there to encounter. If I could see the world as He sees it, how different, and how much better my responses would be. The limitations of egoic seeing leave me responding often from a base of ignorance and far from a base of true understanding.
    I think getting close to Jesus is the cure for all this. I believe He really loves me. If He loves me, what is there to concern me? But why does He love me? Is it because I am good? I believe the answer to this is "yes". Just to be human is to be tremendously good. But what about when my actions are not good? Sometimes they truly are not. Does He love me then? I believe the answer to this is absolutely "yes"; not because in my stupidity I am lovable, but because He, by His very nature is Love. His response is to forgive my stupidity when I show it to His heart. I do not merit His forgiveness; I simply receive it from the Love that He is by nature. I am so thankful to be loved by Him. I cannot help but love Him in return.
    I love Jesus

    panta dokimazete said...

    “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” - CS Lewis

    Ami said...

    This is what's wrong with the world and why wars have happened and innocent people killed! People can believe whatever they want to believe as long as nobody is harmed. It seems that most people that are criticizing Tolle haven't even read The Power of Now or New Earth. It's actually more psychology than religion. When people criticize his teachings, they are exemplifying what he says about the ego. The ego needs to be right and feels superior when it thinks others are wrong. Of course if it feels that someone is trying to deny what it has believed to be true it feels threatened. Maybe for those of us who are not Christians, we can be more open to new ways of looking at ourselves and the world because the ego is not threatened...

    It is very scary to hear such anger towards a way of thinking that is different. Tolle is not angry. You shouldn't be either.

    And ilovejesus... You would not have to "solve the problems of your past" if they were not problems in the Now. If they are not problems in the Now, you have already solved them!

    Adam Kacho said...

    Rust, I am very sorry that so many Christians are hypocritical, self-righteous, and above all, judgemental...especially toward you. I recently renewed my relationship with God after 7 years of anger toward Him. I had, from what I interpret from your posts, a similar experience with the Christian church.

    I now realize that it's not about being a failure and that I am not worthy of His grace and forgiveness. It's all about trying to live the example that He set for us as Jesus Christ.

    You are very correct in saying that people miscomprehend His teachings, just as I did as a Christian before my "backsliding" or turning away from Him. I didn't understand why so many people in the Church were so intolerant, hateful, and judgemental.

    Jesus told the adulterous woman who was to be stoned, "7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

    9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

    11"No one, sir," she said.
    "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." John 8:7-11

    We are charged as Christians to NOT condemn those in sin, but to gently correct and show true love. I am deeply sorry for your troubles sir, and really hope that you can see experience true love from our wonderful God who does not condemn.

    swordbearer said...

    adam kacho,

    You might try reading Romans 1-3 again. While it's true (in your example) Jesus drew attention that those seeking to condemn the woman were guilty themselves, that does not negate the fact that the woman herself fell short of God's standard of righteousness and needed forgiveness. Jesus (the one who stated he did not condemn her) is the one who is able to forgive sin. It's clear from the passage Jesus did not approve of her actions, for he went on to declare to her "Go now and leave your life of sin."

    You are mistaken if you think God does not condemn sin. The cross is an example of the fact that God takes sin seriously, so seriously that he poured out the fullness of his wrath because of it. There are plenty of places in Scripture that tells us not only that sin brings condmenation but also that that condemnation is from God. While it's true that God (and not man himself is the Judge to whom all are accountable - and hence these men were in no position to execute formal judgement upon her), at the same time, humans are called to make "judgments" about all things, otherwise YOU could not state that judgmentalism on the part of others is wrong.

    As far as Rusty's post, the point of the gospel is that while not of us have lived up to the standard of God's righteousness, God has shown mercy and demonstrated his love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. No greater love can be shown. The solution to our sin problem however is not in denying the revelation of this truth, or in pointing blame at others and generating one's own version of what you want to call truth, but receiving and believing the truth which enables one not only to freely admit their sin but also to rest in the peace that comes from God's provision rather than our own.

    You speak of a "wonderful God who does not condemn." He's not so wonderful if he turns his head or does not condemn sin. A truly wonderful God, not only condemns sin, but also shows mercy... something the God of the Bible clearly has done!

    K said...

    Eckhart Tolle is surely controlled by a demon(s) and is leading people to hell. His and Oprah's punishment is going to be great, as there are degrees of punishment in hell and the punishment for false teachers is greater than for your garden variety lost soul.

    IloveJesus said...

    That there is a Heaven and a Hell is clear from Jesus' teaching. That we can declare who goes to either place is NOT part of Jesus' teaching. Jesus says "Judge not lest you be judged." If Jesus has saved me from the Hell I have merited by my own actions, it is hardly appropriate that I should be fingering this or that person to go there. Let us rather, like Jesus, offer ourselves out of love to take the punishment for anyone who seems to be turned against Him.

    K said...

    Dear IloveJesus:
    That is incorrect. We are not to judge another's heart - their motives. But we ARE and can judge them by their fruits. This is scriptural. I see nothing but rotten fruit here. I don't know his motives - whether he is purposely deceiving or passing along his own deceit. But I do know that he is deceived, and I do know that he is leading others astray and so I can judge his fruits. It is clear.

    IloveJesus said...

    Dear K,
    What we do not know about Tolle's motives is why we are not in a position to declare his damnation. Only God can judge his motives in such a fashion as to declare his rewards or punishment. We can, nevertheless, judge the truth of his statements in light of the Truth of Jesus's statements. If Jesus promises us and Tolle denies resurrected bodies, I'm with Jesus; and I hold that Tolle is in serious error. On that basis, however, I have neither the confidence nor the desire to judge that Hell is Tolle's destiny. That is outside my scope of judgment and my jurisdiction.
    I love Jesus

    K said...

    Dear Ilovejesus:
    You should love Yeshua enough to stand up for Him and His Word. I see no righteous indignation here on your part, but rather a need of some sort, driven by something of who knows what, to defend a false prophet. If you are a Christian, you need much more time in the Word to understand it more than just simplistically. The passage you quote: Judge not lest ye be judged is the Most Misinterpreted, most misused quote from the Bible ever.
    Do you think that Jesus' disciples never called out false prophets? If you think not, you had better read the scripture.
    Finally, I leave you with this and am finished trying to reason with you. If you still want to defend Tolle, I wish you all the best and pray that you find discernment that only the Ruach can bring.:
    7:16 By their fruits ye shall know them - A short, plain, easy rule, whereby to know true from false prophets: and one that may be applied by people of the weakest capacity, who are not accustomed to deep reasoning. True prophets convert sinners to God, or at least confirm and strengthen those that are converted. False prophets do not. They also are false prophets, who though speaking the very truth, yet are not sent by the Spirit of God, but come in their own name, to declare it: their grand mark is, Not turning men from the power of Satan to God. Luke 6:43,44.

    niceguydave said...

    I must say I'm shocked to hear some of the responses left by "Christians" on this board, especially "K". Are you honestly aware of what you are saying? If this is what constitutes as faith in "The Man of Peace" then I'm with Eckhart Tolle all the way. I'm truly, truly disappointed. Shame on you.

    swordbearer said...

    I disagree.

    K makes some good points. One does not have to know Tolle's motives, but it's enough to see that he teaches a gospel other than that taught in Scripture and found in the substitutionary work of Christ. The apostle Paul himself condemned those who preached another gospel, which as he puts it is no gospel at all!

    K said...

    Dear Niceguydave,
    I am not a "Christian", I am a Christian. The concepts I have relayed in my emails are Christianity. One can take it or leave it. You can't piecemeal it and you can't fake it. For those who run away from it without understanding it, they will never understand the greatest joy and peace there is to have. Once you understand that you have to let go of your pride and repent of your sins (There is none righteous)... (and pride by the way is the greatest sin of all as it does not let you repent, among other things), you can put everything in the hands of G-d and receive the greatest gift of all - ASSURANCE THAT YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU ARE SAVED. Those who don't experience letting go and repentance, with the understanding that they are sinners will never have blessed assurance and salvation. Yes, the Word, which is the Sword of the Spirit is both comforting and it cuts sharply. But it is a two edge sword. This "Man of Peace" you refer to - I am assuming that is Jesus. He came in peace the first time,riding on a donkey, symbolic of a king coming in peace. The next time he will come riding on a white horse as the Ancient of Days, with a sword in his mouth (The Word) and leading an army. All will see him. I wouldn't want to experience his wrath, which his followers will not, but will be behind him. Those in front of him - watch out. That is my G-d! The question is, will you be in front of him with Tolle, or behind him with the saints? You're right - he won't be coming in peace then. I'm truly proud of Him and not ashamed as you would wish.
    Amen.

    niceguydave said...

    Thank you for your clarification on your positions. Before anything, I wish to apologise for the "shame on you" comment. I guess when I read posts speculating on what part of hell is reserved for another human being it angers me somewhat. For what it's worth, the information and postings on this site have helped clarify my thoughts on many issues and I am very grateful.

    swordbearer said...

    niceguydave: "...what part of hell is reserved for another human being it angers me somewhat"

    Response: You must keep in mind that when a Christian being filled with the Spirit warns others concerning the fires of hell, he begins not as one who sits outside a burning building as another is being forced in the building and says "Ha, Ha, you have to endure it while I don't, because I'm better than you"; but rather as one who in seeing the burning building and knowing the danger others are in (rather than "saying nothing" and keeping the truth to himself [private]), he out of genuine compassion and desire, with the interest of the other in mind, speaks trying to awaken the other and convince them of the danger and the need to respond.

    K said...

    Dear swordbearer:
    I like your words. You are salt and light. Blessings to you.

    Dear niceguydave:
    Swordbearer could not have put it better. I hope you understand his words. My prayers always include some fervent pleads to G-d that those who are lost (usually people I know or know of) will come to know the Lord. His death on the cross was a free gift to all and I urge you to accept it since the alternative is not acceptable. He did the work on the cross and said 'it is finished'. If you wish to speak with me more about this, I am so happy to give you my personal email. Just let me know by this blog. I would be so blessed and happy to speak with you more.
    Regards,
    Karen

    Benjamin said...

    I have not read every comment people have made, but have read some and am perplexed as to why people find Tolle's teachings so contrary to Christianity. I find Eckhart Tolle's teachings beautiful. I also think that they go hand-in-hand almost perfectly with Jesus' teachings... i just finished "The Power of Now," for my second time, and just completed the Gospels of The New Testament to compare. In doing so I found an abundant amount of parallelisms--even more than pointed out by Tolle in his works.
    I think a good gauge for the level of truthfulness in a work, is to see what it inspires you to do. When I read the teachings of Jesus or the teachings of Eckhart, I am both inspired and motivated to become a better person.
    Both teachers might use different terminology and describe things in a different way, but I feel that as a christian, Tolle only helped give me a profoundly new perspective on "the gospel" and one that I think meshes very well with Christianity.

    Puritan Lad said...

    Benjamin,

    I won't go too deep into your flawed analysis yet, but I do want to ask you...

    What is the gospel?

    ...according to Jesus?

    ...according to Tolle?

    What are similarities and differences?

    IloveJesus said...

    Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. His death on the cross is His taking the punishment for our sins on Himself. By this act of self-sacrifice and total love He reconciles us perfectly with God. He says of Himself, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but through Me." He promises us eternal life in His presence. He demonstrated His divine power to give us that gift by His own resurrection from death just outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago. Eckhart Tolle knows none of these truths. He is either ignorant of them, or he rejects them. I hope it is the former. As such, while he recommends many things that are consistent with Jesus' teaching, he does not know Jesus. This puts him at a grave disadvantage. Anyone who wishes to be embraced by God and live eternally in His presence must see and respond to the love of God expressed in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Jesus is how God expresses His love to us.
    IloveJesus

    Benjamin said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Benjamin said...

    I don't wish to get into any discussion or analysis of my beliefs for I feel very comfortable with them and feel no need to prove them or defend them to anyone. If you disagree with me or my beliefs then good on you! You're expressing your wonderful agency that we've all been blessed with.
    To anyone who enjoys the teachings of Eckhart Tolle AND Jesus, and would like free daily inspiration then feel free to visit my NEW blog at:

    LikeFreshAir.blogspot.com

    swordbearer said...

    Benjamin stated: "... Tolle only helped give me a profoundly new perspective on "the gospel" and one that I think meshes very well with Christianity."

    Then when PL asked him to explain the gospel of Tolle and the gospel of Christ, Benjamin stated: "I don't wish to get into any discussion or analysis of my beliefs..."

    Response: What a change! First, you're quick to state your beliefs, but now you're not willing to discuss them.

    Shouldn't a "Christian" be willing to give an answer for the hope that he has? Or, are you just more interested in leading others astray?

    Benjamin said...

    i'm sorry. some of you guys are just looking for an argument and i don't find that very christian. i just don't wish to participate! that's all. i'm comfortable in my beliefs and don't feel a need to defend them. i wasn't defending them before... just making an observation with reference to my beliefs.
    sorry if you'd like me to participate! I find a majority of the comments on this blog to be very low-energy. there's a quote i love that says, "Don't fight the darkness, only enhance the light." this is sound advise to all of us.
    if we disagree with others beliefs it is not our obligation to change them. nor to save the world from "darkness" whatever that may be in your perspective. rather enhance your own light so that you might stand as an example to others. i believe the quote is "let your light so shine," not your opinion.
    i hope everyone has a nice day!

    swordbearer said...

    Benjamin,

    Fine, but note that it's not "just looking for an argument" when the purpose of the site is clearly stated that we are "skeptical" of other views, and are willing to defend our position that even views like yours (which seek to equate or synthesize Tolle and Jesus) are inconsistent and lacking.

    Second, your statement that "... if we disagree with others beliefs it is not our obligation to change them. nor to save the world from "darkness"...", is a presupposition which you have not provided a basis for.

    Finally, I too wish you a "nice day", however, I also wish you to keep in mind that assuming yourself to be the determiner of reality and truth does not make it so, and the consequences of going on that way can be great. For this reason, though each will believe what he will, encourage you to study the differences between Tolle and Christ that you may turn from your present misguided thinking and even put your hope in the true gospel found in Christ alone.

    Nelson said...

    As self-aware, cerebral beings, undoubtedly the deepest question we long to have answered in life is why we are here. The ultimate meaning of our existence is both a great mystery and an awesome burden to bear, and the answers we are provided with by the likes of religion, science and mysticism are often insufficient to satisfy us. Life is cruelly short, and above all else we seek a bounty of uninterrupted peace, contentment, prosperity and a sense of purpose during our brief time on planet earth.

    We often find some measure of relief in the form of the relationships we establish with other people, having and rearing children, following a specific career path, championing some personal belief system and/or making money. And for many, this is enough to fulfill their craving for meaning and purpose. But it doesn’t guarantee a life devoid of suffering. And it doesn’t relieve us of the terrible angst that comes with knowing our days are numbered.

    So in defiance of this inescapable fate, long ago some men fabricated in their mind’s eye the image of a divine, all powerful creator that will save us and bestow upon us eternal life in some infinitely blissful place (provided, of course that we swear allegiance to this god), and in contradictory fashion they then went on to explain that we grow old and die in order to be “resurrected” someday because in our current form, we are somehow too imperfect or “sin ridden” for even an all powerful god to intervene on behalf of our mortal bodies. And then they attempted to justify this by staking the ridiculous claim that this all powerful creator is somehow limited by our choices, because we have been empowered to choose by virtue of the gift of freewill. Because, they reasoned, love must be chosen in order to be genuine.

    But, if we have the ability to alter the course of a future which this all-knowing god has exclusive foreknowledge and has predestined us to, then either this god is an imposter or we are the more powerful beings. But what may be even more disturbing (and incomprehensibly negligent) is the idea that an omnipotent deity would entrust us, mere creations, to determine our own eternal destiny.

    The Bible does not answer this question to the satisfaction of those who, like me, possess a uniquely thorough knowledge of the scriptures. Being a former minister of the Christian faith as well as a long time seminary student, I have read the good book from Genesis to Revelation (along with an even more strenuous bit of reading called a concordance) many, many times in nearly as many different translations as there are members of the electoral college. I am by no means an expert, but I can say with a great deal of certainty that I have done my homework.

    Reading through the Genesis account of creation, there is a recurring theme, temptation. We are persuaded to believe, according to the scriptures that the reason why the world is besieged by pain and suffering and death is because Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent and led to commit a forbidden act in defiance of God’s warnings-

    Genesis 2: 15-17 -“And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat; for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

    This is what is commonly, though erroneously referred to as the original sin. It’s what allegedly moved the spirit of God to “punish” his creation and ultimately exile the reckless pair from paradise and remove them from his presence.

    Whoa. Stop right there. Back up. Let me ask you a simple question folks. Would you allow your kids to play in a room full of deadly scorpions just to amuse yourself? The question may be ridiculous, and the answer may be just as obvious but it has relevance here. If we are to take this ancient account of the spiritual molestation of our species literally, then this is exactly what happened to our unsuspecting first parents. First, we have the presence of death in the form of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then, we have the harbinger of death in the form of the presence of the serpent.

    Now you can’t in one breath tell me that God is an all powerful being, all-knowing, in all things and everywhere in time, and in the next tell me we needed to be “tested” in order to authenticate our faith and obedience.

    First, God creates a supposedly free-thinking automaton (a human being), limited of course to the choices available to it, then he places that same automaton in a place perfectly suited to the needs of this being, save for the deadly tree right smack dab in the middle of it, and then either loses control of a purportedly rogue angel or intentionally permits him total access to this place to do potential harm to his handiwork (which either way is an absurd notion).

    Now to say that this is an ambiguity would be an understatement. At every turn this story appears to have been assembled from top to bottom, beginning to end like a sick and twisted little science experiment. If we are to believe any of this as empirical truth, as being an actual event which took place sometime in the distant past, then the underpinnings of the Bible’s validity as the preeminent source of all spiritual reality and truth are rickety. It’s suspect. And not just some parts of it, but all of it becomes subject to scrutiny. And unfortunately for swordbearer, the Bible, with over 40,000 well documented gross errors in transliteration, shouldn’t be any rational, contemplative person’s determiner of truth and reality.

    It is inconceivable to me that there are people in this world who actually believe every word in this book as having been written by the hand of God and campaign for its confirmation as the unassailable source of all truth. I spent years trying to rationalize the Genesis account of the “fall of man” and for a long time I simply could not. Then I started digging deeper for the answers, and here’s what I found out. For starters, if you have the time, look up “Zeitgeist (Religion) The Greatest Story Ever Sold” on youtube. It will not only open you to a deeper reality than the one presented in the “holy“ scriptures, but it will liberate you from the embarrassing circumstance of being too reliant on “blind faith” as your only instrument to guide you into the presence of God.

    BIBLE=ASTROTHEOLOGICAL LITERARY HYBRID

    eric said...

    Fundamentalist Christianity is simply the religion of a "book". As much as they declare its about a relationship with God, be sure that the sacred ground is the "book". A fundamentalist Christian will NEVER have a truly open discussion about the authenticity, rationality or viability of the "book" because to do so is to have already given into the "darkness". To openly discuss the "book" is to self condemn, having opened up to the deceits of "Satan". Its a closed system of belief that rational discussion can not penetrate. Have compassion on them. They are trapped by belief. Life will continue to be the only teacher that challenges thiers or any one of our own notions about what it is to be a conscious human and what this existance is all about. My own journey took me through 25 years of this sort of fundamentalist Christianity and it was truly by grace that I'm out and free from the trap.

    swordbearer said...

    Nelson,

    It's not the Bible's validity, but your own exegesis that needs to be brought into question (not surprising for one whose claim to wisdom boasts in the use of a concordance).

    Several issues to note:
    1. Your claim that "...in defiance of this inescapable fate, long ago some men fabricated in their mind’s eye the image of a divine..." is unsubstantiated.

    2. Your statement that this "... all powerful creator that will save us and bestow upon us eternal life in some infinitely blissful place (provided, of course that we swear allegiance to this god)..." bases salvation upon something found in or done by man, which is contrary to the basis of salvation found in Scripture. (i.e., you have failed to understand the very gospel presented in Scripture)

    3. Your statement: "...we grow old and die in order to be “resurrected” someday because in our current form, we are somehow too imperfect or “sin ridden” for even an all powerful god to intervene on behalf of our mortal bodies..." fails to acknowledge the consistency of God's own declaration regarding death as the result of sin.

    4. Your statement "that this all powerful creator is somehow limited by our choices," is not only inconsistent with Scripture but reveals your failure to understand the gospel the Bible proclaims. ... Your further statements stem from this and display "fruit of the poisonous vine".

    5. Your argument and question: "Let me ask you a simple question folks. Would you allow your kids to play in a room full of deadly scorpions just to amuse yourself?" reveals the false assumption that "things before sin are as they are now".

    6. You assertion of our "unsuspecting" first parents fails to take into consideration God's Word and Warning to them.

    7. Your presumption of God as uncaring or neglectful in allowing Adam and Eve to dwell in a garden with the potential for death is slanderous as it neglects the Creator-creature relationship, the sufficiency of the word of God, the plentious provisions made for man, etc.

    8. Your statement that "Now you can’t ... tell me ... we needed to be “tested” in order to authenticate our faith and obedience." fails to take into account the gracious covenant established by God as well as the just obligations God imposed within the covenant.

    9. Your assertion that God "either loses control of a purportedly rogue angel or intentionally permits him total access to this place to do potential harm to his handiwork (which either way is an absurd notion)" fails on the side to acknowledge the biblical recognition that God in no way lost control (God is sovereign, and not only expelled Satan, but binds him and let him loose)... and on the other side while you use the word "potential" harm fails to note both that tempters alone cannot harm those who stand upon truth as well as the fact that while the tempter had access that that access did not include all things.

    10. Your conclusion of this "story" appearing "to have been assembled from top to bottom, ... like a sick and twisted little science experiment" stems from your misunderstanding.(as shown above)

    11. The underpinnings of the Bible's validity stand when one employs proper exegesis and logic.

    12. As far as your "40,000 well documented gross errors", not only is this unsubstantiated, but suppose these too could result from your poor exegesis and misunderstanding of the Bible's primary point?

    13. As far as people looking up "Zeitgeist (Religion)", readers should be suspect to take the advice of one whose wisdom and exegetical foundations and principles have been shown to be so lacking.

    swordbearer said...

    eric stated: "Fundamentalist Christianity is simply the religion of a "book". As much as they declare its about a relationship with God, be sure that the sacred ground is the "book"." ..."My own journey took me through 25 years of this sort of fundamentalist Christianity and it was truly by grace that I'm out and free from the trap."

    Response: Obviously, your experience was "not consistent" with the teaching of the "book", so it not only raises questions about your experience, but your claim of having been a true part. (Nothing new, many have sought to use this as credibility for their side, who though they participated in the the trimmings of the faith, did not know and experience the object of true faith)

    eric stated: " A fundamentalist Christian will NEVER have a truly open discussion about the authenticity, rationality or viability of the "book" because to do so is to have already given into the "darkness".

    Response: You must have missed the posts on our site :)

    eric stated: "...Its a closed system of belief that rational discussion can not penetrate."

    Response: Rational discussion is usually based on solid foundations, something those apart from Christianity do not have.

    eric stated: "Have compassion on them. They are trapped by belief."

    Response: If you knew the one you proclaim you used to know and the freedoms that are found in him, you would not make statements like this, but would look to and freely receive from him those things which are true, lasting, and satisfying.

    eric stated: "Life will continue to be the only teacher that challenges thiers or any one of our own notions about what it is to be a conscious human and what this existance is all about."

    Response: Not only life, but death as well will present challenges and prove the worthiness of the hope people have. That's why Jesus shared a simple parable "Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practices is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streames rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." He who has ears, let him hear!

    eric said...

    Hello Swordy guy...Nice to meet you. Do you have a name or just the mask and cape?
    Well, you lost round one on two fouls. First you used the old tactic of attack the messenger and not the message. You were quite presumptive about my experience or lack there of. Your presumption that I partook of only the "trimmings" is your jump to your conclusion that I couldn't have "tasted and seen". Two,your ascertation of Christianity having the only firm foundation is ONLY your subjective BELIEF. How can you propound your subjective opinions and take it up to infalable heights? That my friend is simple arrogance. The "book" may even indicate some sin on that one.
    Anyway, back to credentials. This is fun because I get to sound a little like the apostle Paul when he rolled out his resume'....you know.. Jew amoung Jews,Pharasee amoung Pharasees, persecuter, etc. etc.
    To my experiences....radically touched and healed by super natural encounter 1970.....accepted Christ, born again, baptized in water, baptized in the Holy Ghost 1971......joined up and discipled by Calvary Chapel 1971-1974....served under Pastor Romaine in house ministries.......help found C.C. outreach in Southern California....(don't think I didn't study the scripture and pray and worship like the most commited disciple during this whole story line)....helped found two churches 1976ish and 1996 (Vinyard affiliate)....missionary to Poland when it was behind the Iron curtain...Bible smuggler, encourager and lover of Catholic Christians in Poland....assisted first penetration of Mongolia with the gospel.......discipled under Dr. Robert Frost who was a great friend before his passing....still good friends with Calvary Chapelites and a C.C. pastor as well as a many Vinyard folks....I have many Baptist and Evangelical friends and aquaintances as well. The Anglicans are a refreshing bunch themselves. I have a heart full of thankfulness,a lot of peace and no ax to grind. I'm just simply over it.
    You imply that if I had REALLY KNOWN Christ I would not be making such statements as I am. The truth of my experience is that it was very real to me BUT I understand that my cultural upbringing is what gave me the language of how I interpreted all those experiences. If I had been born in Morrocco, for instance, and I had a powerful life changing, healing deliverance from alchohol as I called upon Allah, guess who I'd be putting my faith in? It wouldn't be Jesus. (By the way, this is the true story of my friend Aziz who had a Muslim "born again" conversion back to the religion of his youth. Do you understand that it was his culture that gave him the words to discribe his experience. Just like me.) Does this make Allah real or Muhammed his only prophet? I know you don't think so and neither do I.
    What if you had been born into a devote Jehovah's Witness environment? Where do you think your passion for appologetics would be today?
    So back to the sacred book at the center of all this speculative chat. I'm sure you are aware, you are well educated in such stuff, that a whole lot of the "history" of the Old Testemant is borrowed mythologies from earlier religious heritage from around the Mesopotamia area. Ancient history and mythologies of the Middle East and the origens of monotheisism through Zoroastrenism are pretty well documented. In other words, the O.T. was not faxed down from one of the many local deities, Yahweh, to Mr. Moses, Ezra and Nehmiah.
    The forming of New Testement, being a little closer historically, is easier to tract. There sure was alot of politics, power grabbing and blood shed to get this thing canonized. Whew, "God works in mysterious ways" the old default escape from reality clause goes.
    Anyway Swordy, its good to chat it up about all this stuff. Evolutionary forces are slow but change is the only thing you can count on for sure. I hope that as far as religion goes that civilization will find a healthier place for it than at the center of all our wars. That would be evolutionary progress! Peace to you my new cyber friend.
    Eric

    Greg said...

    Eric, you said:

    "I'm sure you are aware, you are well educated in such stuff, that a whole lot of the "history" of the Old Testemant is borrowed mythologies from earlier religious heritage from around the Mesopotamia area. Ancient history and mythologies of the Middle East and the origens of monotheisism through Zoroastrenism are pretty well documented."

    I do study this area, and wonder what "well documented" resources you are using. If you could list your sources, I'll gladly study them too.

    Frankly, I find comments like yours to just be based on superficial examinations of ancient myths around the Near East area vs. the narrative found in the Old Testament.

    I could make very superficial observations between the Genesis account and any creation myth from any part of the world with a very convincing authority. However, when you examine these things much closer you find where the Genesis account goes far beyond a mere myth.

    I think C.S. Lewis once said that anyone who compares the bible to a myth has never really studied myths. I'd be inclined to agree with him.

    swordbearer said...

    eric,

    First of all, I'm not fooled (and neither should others be) by your flattery and declaration of friendship, for such is often the tactic of those who oppose the truth and yet by trickery and subtlety seek to deceive the simple.

    Second, your weak and somewhat laughable attempt at claiming victory for yourself is noted as well, for not only does it not make it so, but it serves as an initial hint toward the unfounded pride and arrogance to come, something especially interesting arising from one whose only confidence and hope is that "change will come." That's not much to hang your hat on, much lest rest one's life, future and soul upon!

    As far as distinctions between your experience and that expounded in Scripture, my point remains valid (even in the face of your testimony), for genuine salvation requires true faith and not only involves regeneration and illumination but the effectual work of God along with baptism "by" the Spirit and the the sealing and preserving of the Holy Spirit. Not only do you seem to speak out of both sides of your mouth (claiming supernatural, then denying it), but more importantly you tend to confuse the gospel of man (i.e., cultural religion and persuasion) with the gospel of God (the work of God whereby he convinces man of sin, enlightens our minds in the knowledge of Christ and renews our wills).

    Note:
    1. There is a difference between being healed and experiencing genuine salvation. One is common grace while the other requires redemptive and saving grace.
    2. There's a difference between "accepting Christ" as a result of cultural conditioning and as a result of divine illumination, conviction, and persuasion.
    3. There's a difference between meaning and effect of being "born again" from one who simply means they thought they believed in Christ to one who is effectually called and born from above not only being "cut to the heart" according to the word of God but being enabled through the power and grace of God to personally encounter and experience God as well as to see and experience the kingdom of God.
    4. There's a difference between participating in the outward act (application of the element - water - of baptism) and experiencing the effectual reality of the ordinance (for water alone can only cleanse the outside of the body, but baptism "by" the Spirit is needed to remove impurity from the heart and cleanse it from sin.)
    5. There's error noted in your statement and doctrinal position of being "baptized in the Holy Ghost 1971" as if there's a second baptism given only to some, for the Spirit of God is given to all his children, and what's needed is not an "additional gift" of the Spirit, but the continual filling by the Spirit. (Eph 5:18)
    6. The rest of your "credentials" are simply more of the trappings, nothing any unbeliever disguising himself in sheep's clothing can not do (Note - even Judas gave the appearance and even participated in ministry for a time!)
    .....

    As far as your really knowing Christ, there's a difference between it being "real to you" and it being real. (Note differences above)

    As far as your suggestion of cultural environment influencing religious persuasion, that may be true to a degree when it comes to religion, but not when it comes true conversion (regeneration, faith, repentance, etc.) In fact, often, it's one's own cultural environment and religion that stands in the way of one hearing, receiving and embracing the true gospel. Not only this, but Scripture and history has shown God sovereignly sees that all the recipients of his grace come to him regardless of the geography or religion they grow up with.


    As far as comparisons and relationships between the Biblical accounts and similar stories in extra-biblical literature, yes I'm familiar and this is nothing new. Obviously, you realize there's not only distinctions between the two but also logical reasons why one ought even to expect others to give similar accounts. Not only this, but there are many reasons and evidences given not only by Christ himself and the other writers of the N.T., but within the O.T. as well as outside Scripture as to why we can look to the O.T. with confidence and trust.

    As far as wars go, you fail like others in blaming "religion" without distinguishing between that which is consistent with God's word and that which is not. You must be more discerning!

    eric said...

    Well Swordy, you couldn't really know how friendly I really am considering the medium of interaction we are participating in. Too bad we couldn't have chatted over coffee somewhere.

    Sorry to see that you consider my engagement as less than open faced but rather nefarious, subversive and tricky. Your response indicates a fairly hostle attitude so further engagement doesn't pose much hope for open dailouge or anything that promises any benefit toward any greater good.

    Quite frankly, I have rarely had the pleasure of engaging someone of your ilk (type of religious persuasion) at such a heightened level of intensity. I must state again that you appear to have a strong need to be "right". Since yours is such a passion based on conviction that you are being responsible to your God dictated directive, I shouldn't even begin to challenge that. This would serve no decent purpose.


    peace,
    Eric

    swordbearer said...

    eric,

    Given your opening salvo as well as opening and comments in your second salvo, it would be hard to come away with any other conclusion.

    It is too bad we didn't have this conversation over coffee for two reasons: 1) because I don't think you would begin our conversation the way you have here by asserting the things you have, and 2) I have a feeling, given your previous associations with the Vineyard folks ... that some if not much of your dismay and illusion may have arisen from those relationships, even though I'm initially convinced you have more experience with religion than exposure and experiential knowledge of God through Christ and his righteousness.

    IloveJesus said...

    Hi Swordbearer,
    You state
    "you (Eric) have more experience with religion than exposure and experiential knowledge of God through Christ and his righteousness".
    Can you describe/define "experiential knowledge of God through Christ and his righteousness". Define what you mean by that. I'm interested to know your thoughts.
    IloveJesus

    eric said...

    Well Hi again...didn't expect this to continue BUT I'm with "ILoveJesus" on this one....you are going to have to explain what "experiential knowledge of God through Christ and his righteousness" is that's other than or better than what you percieve my experience to be or to have been. What is your "super-qualifier" that trumps all the other Christian life experience out there? What does "God" feel like to you since you apparently are benefiting from such an experience?

    BTW...my experience with Vineyard was quite late in my journey through the halls of contemporary American Christian expression...can't say that that my time with the Vineyard was so fundamentally different than any other fellowship group.

    Also, I have to be clear that I continue to enjoy the presence of God as well as the peace of God in my conscious experience. This being uninterupted by my transition out of Christianity and away from "sacred scripture". God apparently is not offended if I don't address IT as YHWH. In fact I specifically have asked forgiveness from God for the smallness of our conceptions that place limits on God's being and expression to all humanity. I have asked Jesus to forgive all of us for all the wierd religious structure, scripture and practice that we as humans have fabricated around him and his legacy. I intuitively know that Jesus had no intention of creating a world wide religious movement around his life. He just wasn't that kind of guy.

    swordbearer said...

    Your responses are like that of the Samaritan woman in John 4, who ... when Jesus answered her saying "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water', ...responded by saying "sir, ...you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. WHERE CAN YOU get this living water?"

    Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

    Jesus' point (while using a physical illustration to point to a greater spiritual reality) is that short of coming to Christ himself, nothing would satisfy and she would continue to thirst and not be satisfied (evidenced even by her marital history).

    What's interesting is that though she asks for this solution (or "super-qualifier, or that which he knew, but of which she had not possessed), he does several things: 1. He brings her back to the places of her sin and consequences; 2. When she seeks to sidetrack the message by pointing to differences in human religions (v. 19 - the differences between the religion of the Samaritans and the religion of the Jews), Jesus draws her attention away from religious differences/distinctions (... for this is nothing but a cop-out) to what God requires which is worshi of the Father in spirit and in truth. 3. When she proclaims a Messiah is coming, Jesus proclaims himself to be that Messiah, and thereby brings her to the ultimate fork in the road, bo believe on him as the one he's proclaimed to be or reject him (can continue to thirst and not never find satisfaction).

    The point being, religion itself cannot and will not save or provided satsifaction, only Christ himself can do that. Neither will proclaiming "uninterrupted peace" apart from Christ, for salvation and satisfaction is found only in Christ.

    swordbearer said...

    Let me share my experience, and perhaps it will not only shed some insight but help you distinguish.

    For years I grew up looking primarily to religion and doctrine rather than Christ. While I adopted the position that "Christ died for my sins", I was trusting mostly in the "sufficiency of my faith" (rather than God's faithfulness and the sufficiency of Christ's atonement), I more or less thought while I made mistakes, God saved me - but because I was different than most, at least I prayed and asked forgiveness and even listed my sins before him - unlike the drunkard on the street, the unbelievers, etc. (i.e., God saved be b/c I was GOOD) All this worked fine until I couldn't remember all the sins I had committed, but even then I congnitively looked to Christ as the piece of the puzzle I needed. All this provided some satisfaction mixed with doubts until later I came to participate in sin that I knew was wrong and continue to commit that sin even though I would pray and tell God I would not if he would forgive me. But repeated, it seemed without end, having the will of God before me and my own will, I continued to choose my will over God's. For the first time in my life, I came to see myself as I really was, not a GOOD person who simply made "mistakes" like children do, but one who was a REBEL against God's will, one who was (NOT good, but) Depraved, and one who even found myself "powerless" even though I knew I should change. What's interesting in light of the former posts is that I struggled for years silently, saying to myself "I struggle to forgive myself" when the truth was I did not deep down believe God could forgive me. It was then, even when I was suppressing the truth, God sought me out and through the circumstances of my life and through the power and truth of his word brought me to know Him and the inexpressible knowledge and experience of his super-abounding love and grace along with his mercy which unquestionably covered not only all my sins but my rebellion as well. As Paul writes "While we were still powerless, Christ died for the UNGODLY". It was through this experience, the Spirit of God drawing me, the light and conviction and knowledge of the love of Christ as he really is rising in my heart, that I came not only to know redemption and love, but the fellowship, perfect contentment and satisfaction of being a child of God that brings peace, perfect assurance, and conviction and satisfaction such that I no longer need to question or search elsewhere, for having been found by God, I now have God and being fully supplied and satisfied by him, I need no other. But this has come, not by my own righteousness or being "good enough" or even professing the right doctrine, or "believing strong enough", but comes simply from God himself who by his Son and Spirit has not only provided for my sure and complete salvation but enabled me to know Him personally and as he really is.

    swordbearer said...

    Ilove Jesus,
    I noted in one of your posts, you stated you know God loves you because you are "GOOD". I encourage you to carefully consider the qualification Paul refers to when he says "You see, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the UNGODLY." (Romans 5:6) Surely, God desires truth in the inmost places, and it's only when we come to know our true and deep need for a Savior, that we will look outside of ourselves and find rest for our souls in him.

    When you come to know God and the and forgiveness that's found in him, all the baloney about finding God inside or worshipping a God though some sort of "consciousness" which denies God as he's revealed himself and denies the atonement of Christ will become utterly meaningless and offensive to you. That's why Paul states "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose wsake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

    Seems to me... you're on your way to Christ (with a mostly a good start when it comes to the knowledge that leads to salvation... but you need to consider what God through his Word says concerning the the sinner, our sin, and the incomparable riches of God's grace in Christ Jesus."

    swordbearer said...

    eric,

    I find your statement hard to believe that you know "uninterrupted peace" for several reasons.

    1. You have visited a site where these things are under discussion and have (liked the Samaritan) even asked about the difference and how one can know and experience it (and even possess assurance others don't have). While this can be simply to try to shoot down what is said and justify your own experience and present position, it can also be from a lack of assurance and satisfaction.
    2. You first repeatedly refer to your Vineyard experience, and now you seem to make little of it.
    3. You seem to base the grounds of your hope on your own "intuition" (apart from religious structure, scripture and practice), but have no grounds for trusting your "intuition" is correct.
    4. You speak of acknowledging the "presence of God" but apart from his Word have no sure grounds either for knowing his character or knowing with assurance that he accepts you (especially in light of the fact that you know you do the very things you would condemn others for doing).

    ===
    As far as the other things you have said, ...
    1. If God has revealed himself (which he has), then to depersonalize him (i.e., "IT") and deny his revelation of himself is not something neutral but rebellion and sin, for which there is accountability.

    2. It's one thing to suggest we put limitations on God, but in those places where God has revealed himself ... these things we can know.

    3. Why should Christ forgive you are any other if you reject him as the Messiah he has claimed and shown that he is?

    4. Do you not also oppose Christ's own words who has said his disciples were to 'go and make disciples of all nations" when you state "I intuitively know that Jesus had no intention of creating a world wide religious movement around his life. He just wasn't that kind of guy." What is more trustworthy, the word of Christ which we see being actively and forcefully carried out in the world today, or your intuition?

    ==
    My hope is that you too will see that while religion itself cannot save, only Christ does. Denying Christ will only forfeit the grace, life, and satisfaction that he will freely give to you; but looking beyond distinctions in religion and looking to Christ himself will lead to righteousness and eternal life. These things being said, God has provided through his Word and powerfully calls through his Word that we might be reconciled to him. To the extent that religion is in agreement with His word, this religion can be helpful. In fact, God established his church (even as weak and blemished as it is) and given his word that we might not only come to know truth and God himself, but be nurtured and supplied by that truth as well.

    IloveJesus said...

    Swordbearer,
    Gen. 1: 31 God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.
    I understand from this that each created thing has in it, the goodness that God desires it to have. God loves what is good. He created good things, and seeing the goodness of them, He loves them. In fact, the goodness of each thing is a manifestation of His own Goodness.
    For us humans, we know ‘the good’ as ‘the desirable’. Without desires, we cannot recognize anything as good. The desires we possess by nature God places in us so that through them we can recognize our own goodness and the goodness of things that are beneficial to us. Witnessing our own desires, we encounter the voice of God, built into us, declaring our own goodness (that is why we protect ourselves by crossing the street at the right time instead of at the wrong time) and the goodness of what benefits us (that is why we eat and breathe). Jesus says in Matt. 7:12 "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." In other words, "You know how you desire to be treated. Treat others that way." This presumes that, by nature, we have desires that we can trust to reveal what is good for us. In the 'golden rule', Jesus turns us to those desires for a revelation of everything He wishes of/for us. You refer to “all the baloney about finding God inside or worshipping a God though some sort of "consciousness" which denies God as he's revealed himself and denies the atonement of Christ…”. This seems to be at variance with Jesus command to find the will of God in our own conscious experience of ourselves. God reveals Himself, in fact, in that very interior experience. He is within us in the form of the very natures He created and gave to us. This is not baloney. It is what Jesus says.
    It is also true that by “denying the atonement of Christ” we deny what our very hearts desire. This is ultimately a self denial because we cannot help desiring union with God, i.e. eternal life. If we reject Jesus Who makes us sons loved and forgiven by God and Who promises us resurrection and eternal life, we reject our own heart’s greatest desire.
    IloveJesus

    swordbearer said...

    IloveJesus,

    I retract what I said about your being on a good start toward Jesus, for you have demonstrated you fail to understand, much less accept and embrace, a fundamental truth leading to the knowledge of salvation, that being: the fallen condition and sinful nature of man.

    Yes, in Genesis 1, we read God created man after his own image and declared all he made to be "good". However, two chapters latter, there's the fall of man, which not only resulted in man being separated from God, but resulted a new and sinful nature for man.

    YOUR POSITION DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS SCRIPTURE which states: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God, All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is NO ONE WHO DOES GOOD, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12a)

    Again, it is stated in Scripture, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Isaiah writes "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

    For SIMPLICITY OF ARGUMENT, if you are good, you DON'T NEED to be saved! You don't even need Jesus. You are acceptable on your own merit! (But may such assertions be condemned and God be praised and his Word stand firm for HE speaks a DIFFERENT Word!)

    Romans 5 states "therefore just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned ... For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners..."

    Eph 2 states "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and follow its desires and thoughts."

    In regard to the nature of man and of his heart, it is written:

    "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Gen 6:5)

    "The intention of man's heart is evil from his youth." (Gen 8:21)

    "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick..." (Jer 17:9)

    "For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coventing, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within and they defile a person."

    "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil."

    "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

    ... and these are but to name a few.

    YOUR PROBLEM is that you CONFUSE passages which state GOD'S REQUIREMENTS OF MAN with MAN'S ABILITY (on his own) to meet those requirements! While the requirements and desire of God remain, the ability of man apart from Christ to fulfill those requirements does not!

    Listen, we know that "each tree is recognized by its own fruit" and the experience and actions of our minds, attitudes and wills confirm what Scripture proclaims. Do not be foolish, but repent and turn from such illusional thoughts concerning your own nature that having come to possess a fallen and sinful nature along with the rest of man, that you might not only be delivered from God's wrath and punishment but given a new heart (/orientation) and attitude through the provision and gifts of Christ!

    The Second Helvetic Confession, Ch. VIII puts it well: "The Fall of Man. In the beginning, man was made according to the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness, good and upright. But when at the instigation of the serpent and by his own fault he abandoned goodness and righteousness, he became subject to sin, death and various calamities. And what he became by the fall, that is, subject to sin, death and various calamities, so are all those who have descended from him."

    IloveJesus said...

    Swordbearer,
    I acknowledge your good intentions, but your understanding falls short of the teachings of Jesus Who is the source of all Truth. In your post, you did not respond to His words “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. If, as you seem to assert, the sentiments of the heart of man are nothing but desperate wickedness, then it would be folly for Jesus to tell people to follow their hearts and do to others as they enjoy being done to themselves. Following your logic, the fallen man’s heart can produce nothing but sinful acts. Therefore, every thought and sentiment I have toward myself, must be sinful and wicked. I am able to desire nothing but my own annihilation. Consequently, if I desire my own annihilation, and I do to others what I desire for myself, I will seek nothing buy their annihilation. But if this line of your reasoning is true, it follows necessarily that, in the golden rule, Jesus is counseling people to sin. But Jesus is the perfectly sinless Son of God and second person of the Holy Trinity. Therefore His words do not counsel to sin. Therefore, there is goodness in the desires of the natural human heart. This is something that virtually every human knows and that allows them to respond affirmatively to Jesus’ words. Furthermore, in Jesus own words we also learn that many people do good things without even knowing that by following the natural sentiments of their hearts to help others, they are pleasing God.
    In Matthew 25:34-40 Jesus says, referring to the final judgment, "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
    37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
    40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
    Our everyday experience indicates to us that there are degrees of bondage to sin. If everyone was in absolute bondage to sin as you would have it, you can make no sense of the words and counsels of Jesus who is the Truth.
    IloveJesusa

    swordbearer said...

    IloveJesus
    1. As far as a response to your references to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and "Following your logic, the fallen man’s heart can produce nothing but sinful acts", does not the prophet Isaiah write "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..."? (Isaiah 64:6)

    Let me ask you: Do YOU ALWAYS treat others as you would have them treat you? Do you always do so in EVERY ASPECT (incl. motive, attitude, degree, and to completion, without any ommission)? [Tell us more about YOUR GOODNESS and how it measures up to the standard God requires!]

    Or, as Calvin puts it do YOU willing at times "tread equity underfoot"?

    Your errors are multiple:
    1. You fail to live up to the very standard you proclaim (unless you are different from the all the rest of humanity)
    2. You fail to acknowledge: "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." (James 2:10)
    3. You fail to take into account who it is Jesus communicates this to - His Disciples.
    4. You fail to You fail to recognize that while the motives of an unbeliver's heart may be many in what they do, they do not ultimately do the things they do to glorify and honor God (even though some may claim this, and their hearts deceive them).

    2. As far as your reference to "Therefore, there is goodness in the desires of the natural human heart.", let me ask you is this what the first three chapters of Romans is trying to convey? You may need to read it again! Paul concludes "there is no one who does good, not even one." That's the very reason Christ came and died for us is that according to our sinful nature, we all fall short! You've misunderstood the very gospel itself! Try to keep the law in all it's requirements (I recommend the Westminster Larger Catechism on the Ten Commandments for a basic understanding of what all is involved) and see not only if you can do it, but what your heart's response is even when you try. I think your eyes will be opened!

    3. As far as your reference to "
    This is something that virtually every human knows and that allows them to respond affirmatively to Jesus’ words", let me point out that if all man needed was "education" and/or "instruction", Christ would not have had to die! Man needs more than an educator, he needs a redeemer!

    4. Finally, as far as your reference and statements regarding Matthew 25:34-40, you've missed the point of the passage entirely! Jesus is NOT suggesting that sinful man apart from Christ is able by their works to satisfy him and fulfill his demands. Rather, he's speaking to the rewards of those who evidence their faith even in the way they treat Christ's disciples. Rather than belabor that point here, let me refer you to: http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/sermons/matthew/matthew_vol_7-9/matt58a.htm

    Finally, your whole position is negated by the very words Paul speaks in Ephesians 2 where he states "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    not of works, lest any man should boast." YOU are looking to your OWN WORKS, while salvation comes as a GIFT of God by his GRACE!

    swordbearer said...

    ILoveJesus stated: "If everyone was in absolute bondage to sin as you would have it, you can make no sense of the words and counsels of Jesus who is the Truth."

    Response:
    "However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor 2:9)

    "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor 2:14)

    jazzycat said...

    Eric,
    You said…….
    I intuitively know that Jesus had no intention of creating a world wide religious movement around his life. He just wasn't that kind of guy.

    You are basically denying Biblical revelation in favor of your intuitive knowledge. You may want to explore and consider the truth claims of the Bible, which are quite impressive when you consider the amount of fulfilled prophecy concerning Jesus Christ alone. Consider the resurrection of Christ as affirmed by over 500 witnesses, the record of Dr. Luke who wrote Luke and Acts, the amazing story of the Apostle Paul, the lives, deaths and stories of the other Apostles that knew Jesus, and many more historical facts about Jesus. To make the above statement, you have to deny not only Biblical revelation, but also historical facts based on your intuition.

    eric said...

    As I see it, your fundamental flaw is the assumption that if its written in the Bible, its absolutely unassailable. How do you know that "that" is exactly what Jesus said? (or Mary, or John the Baptist, or Elizabeth, or Herod, or etc.) Anything I might challenge you on you throw out a quote from the Bible. Based on your premise, that you have exact quotations and historical accuracy, the founding fathers and you are able to construct your theologies and doctrines based on such assurances.

    Why is your confidance so high that you have the "faxed from heaven" words of the creator when the earliest N.T. documents were penned scores of years after the fact by writters, using other peoples names? With second hand reports and recollections at best and supersized legends at worst, not only stories of Jesus were circulated but all sorts of contemporary heroes made up the pop understanding of the age. You are inundated with scores of other "gospels" and epistles from the era which also quote or interpet Jesus in sometimes exact, sometimes similar and sometimes quite different manners. What makes you so confident that the Council at Niccea got it correct? What makes you so confident that the powerful political and religious forces, using all the devices of contemporary political persuasion and deal making, not to mention violence, didn't pollute "sacred, infallable scripture"?
    What is frustrating in talking with you is, as I stated initially, that you cannot have a dialouge with anyone about anything when one of the parties is an absolutist. Your absolute, the Bible, is off limits from critical questioning. That in turn makes you intransient. And that is why fundamentalism, where ever it rears its head, from any religion, philosophy or scientific posture, is this present epochs greatest challenge to survial. The fundamentalist has his correctness and thus his salvation so its the rest of the world's problem to get right.

    And, like I've also said, that's not the God I know. The Source, the Ground of all being for all this that is, all its beauty, complexity and grace, just CAN'T be as parochial as fundamentalists make thier God out to be.

    swordbearer said...

    eric,

    Seems your last beliefs (as ungrounded as they are) color your perspective and shape your attitude and positions toward your former thoughts (i.e., you don't want God to be what the Bible says, so therefore you must attack the integrity and trustworthiness of the Scripture), only your questions (and position) fail to account for the internal and external evidence and testimonies (including Christ's own testimony, eyewitness accounts, etc., the apostolic testimony, the testimony of the church, the methodology of first and second century transmission, the witness of non-Christian historians, the witness of extra-biblical literature, the scrutiny involved with the process of canonization, etc.)

    Why don't you just go on and admit that you choose to serve the God of your own imagination and therefore reject the God of Scripture? (Or, just a well, why don't you compare or try to prove the validity of your own thought concerning God, and the historical evidence and witness for that as compared with that possessed by the Scripture and testified to not only by the church church but by the Spirit himself?) I'd love to see a presentation of the grounds and witnesss for that!

    (... and since I don't expect to see you present that..., before you accuse Christians of not being open to addressing or discussing these matters, let me encourage you to read some works like "The Text of the New Testament by Bruce M. Metzger", etc.) You're obviously barking up the wrong tree as Christians have an entire area of study and writing devoted to textual criticism!

    jazzycat said...

    Eric,
    Ouch! I was looking over my comment to see where I was asserting anything that was as you put it, “is this present epochs greatest challenge to survial.” Perhaps you can point me to a quote in my comment that places me in a group that challenges survival on this planet?

    Again, if you consider the accuracy of Old Testament prophecies concerning Jesus Christ, I think you will have to allow for the strong possibility that the writers of those prophecies were divinely inspired. If you decide to pursue that method of validating the truth claims of the Old Testament, then it is not to much of leap of faith to conclude that a sovereign omnipotent God could also keep his revelation essentially free from error.

    My bottom line is this….. While there is much faith involved in Christianity, there is also much fulfilled prophecy and much historical proof for the accuracy of the Bible. I am simply challenging you to check these facts out for yourself rather than relying on your intuition. Why would I quote Scripture to you if you don’t believe the Bible is true or that Jesus Christ is the Son of God that was raised from the dead as proof that he was who he claimed?

    Can you tell me about “the God you know” and what is your source of information concerning his attributes? Remember one thing about God’s character and attributes. It does not depend on you or me believing or wanting them to be a certain way. Human beings can desire or want God to be like they wish all they want, but it is futile to think that will change anything.

    IloveJesus said...

    Swordbearer,
    You failed to follow the logic of my argument. Your response has been to quote from the authority of scripture in support of your own false world view. Because you ascribe to a view of the absolute depravity of the fallen man you search for, find, and interpret such Bible verses as "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..."? (Isaiah 64:6) You find these to your purpose but your purpose is not the purpose of God. Because you ascribe to that man-made world-view you avoid basing your ideas even on the words of Jesus Who is the Word incarnate. There are no words that contain as much Truth as the words of Jesus. When He commands us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, He is revealing the heart of God – His own heart. He is expressing a Truth that you would do well to listen to with humility. It is Jesus Who is speaking.
    Jesus speaks to human hearts – your heart and my heart. If you are honest, you will realize that even people who do not yet know Jesus can recognize the profound Truth of His counsel. That is because, in their very natural human hearts, they know what causes harm and pain, and they know what causes well-being and joy. If someone slaps you across the face or gossips about you to others, you know the harm and pain it causes. That is because you have a human heart designed by God so you could know that. You also know that others will feel that very hurt and pain if you do the same to them. Jesus’ command, the Golden Rule, is based on this intuitively obvious Truth known to everyone in the experience of their own hearts. The fact that this cannot be reconciled with the world-view you espouse, i.e., the absolute depravity of the fallen man’s heart, is the reason you do not hear, and do not wish to attend to, the words of Jesus and what His words necessarily imply. If you listen to Jesus, you will have to abandon your ‘absolute depravity’ doctrine.
    You said “1. As far as a response to your references to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and "Following your logic, the fallen man’s heart can produce nothing but sinful acts", does not the prophet Isaiah write "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..."? (Isaiah 64:6)”
    Because of the truth that Jesus speaks, we know that we must understand this statement from Isaiah differently than you do. In fact, even to grasp it, we must abandon the doctrine of absolute depravity. For, to understand and appreciate in our hearts the truth of Isaiah’s statement we must recognize and have an aversion to ‘unclean’ things. If our hearts were utterly depraved, we would love, desire, and look upon as the greatest good those ‘unclean’ things. To have an aversion to unclean things, there has to be something right about our own hearts. To not want to be an unclean thing, there has to be something right about our own hearts.
    To believe that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in the way that you do, you would have to declare that a mother’s natural affection and protective care for her baby are as filthy rags in the mind and heart of God. I am sure I do not have to explain the absurdity of that position to you. God wants mothers and fathers to love and care for their children. That is why He put those natural sentiments of love in their hearts. Following those sentiments they do His will. Going against those sentiments and harming their children, they go against His will.

    You said “Let me ask you: Do YOU ALWAYS treat others as you would have them treat you? Do you always do so in EVERY ASPECT (incl. motive, attitude, degree, and to completion, without any ommission)? [Tell us more about YOUR GOODNESS and how it measures up to the standard God requires!]”
    Of course I do not always do the will of God; and of course I must cast myself on His mercy to obtain His immeasurable loving forgiveness. But that is a red herring since it is not my sins that we are discussing here. We are discussing the doctrine of absolute depravity and trying to see the Truth of what Jesus says in the Golden Rule. I am a sinner like everyone else, and even worse than many others, but that is not evidence for the ‘absolute depravity’ error that you must leave behind.

    You said “3. You fail to take into account who it is Jesus communicates this to - His Disciples.”
    On what basis do you argue that Jesus is talking to His disciples to the exclusion of all others? I see no basis for it. By making that assumption you will only bury yourself more deeply in the ‘absolute depravity’ error. And it will not go well.

    You said, “4. You fail to recognize that while the motives of an unbeliever’s heart may be many in what they do, they do not ultimately do the things they do to glorify and honor God (even though some may claim this, and their hearts deceive them).”
    You seem to argue that it is impossible for someone who does not yet know God to glorify and honour Him. In Romans 2:14 the apostle Paul says, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” Paul here states the very thing that common everyday experience reveals. The law of God is in our hearts in the first place. It is outside our hearts in the Ten Commandments in the second place. If the doctrine of “utter depravity” were true, it would be impossible for the Gentile’s conscience to sometimes accuse him and sometimes defend him. On the contrary, they would all be drawn inexorably, and without alternative, to exclusively what is evil as though it were their greatest good. Paul clearly argues the opposite of that.
    Leave this ugly error behind. God does not want you to go about bashing depraved people into submission. He wants you to be like Jesus and appeal to the hearts they possess – hearts He made – hearts that can recognize His gentle call and that long to know His Love. The heart has its reasons that reason knows not of.
    People, like Eckhart Tolle and those to whom he appeals, are in many ways following the hearts that God gave them. That is why many of their assertions ring true to the Christian as well. We must recognize these truths and see their origin in God. We must use those truths as stepping stones toward Jesus in Whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily. We must also expose the errors of those who while embracing some truths, reject other more important ones. It is a useful tactic of the Enemy to lure people into some truth as long as he can keep them away from the One Truth Who is Jesus.
    IloveJesus

    swordbearer said...

    IloveJesus,

    1. You confuse the doctrines of "absolute depravity" and "utter depravity" with the doctrine of "total depravity." You would do well to discern both the historical and anthropological differences.

    2. You fail to recognize that even the Gentiles are not saved because of their own works, but also are dependent upon faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.

    3. Eckhart Tolle is following his own heart, but rejecting the substitutinary atonement and righteousness of Christ as necessary unto salvation. It's not a question of whether "many of their assertions" ring true, but whether the gospel they proclaim is the one God accepts. In rejecting Christ as the Son of God sent to redeem the the lost, they reject the only means by which man may be saved.

    IloveJesus said...

    Swordbearer,
    1. You are hiding behind distinctions without declaring which of them you embrace and without explaining what relevance they have to our discussion. To have a relevant theology of the human condition, you must be able to relate it to the real experience of real people. I have explained by familiar examples why we must admit that the heart of man in his natural condition is good and according to the heart of God. Please respond to the arguments as presented.
    2. You have failed to understand my words. At no point did I say that Gentiles are saved because of their works.
    3. That many of Tolle's assertions ring true is a sign that, at least to a certain extent, he is guided by the heart that God gave him. That can be used to draw him, or those who are influenced by him, toward Jesus. Jesus is the answer to the deepest longings of the human heart. These small steps that others make are to be encouraged and embraced rather than denigrated. Otherwise we will find ourselves opposing God in the very sentiments by which He draws us toward Himself.
    IloveJesus

    swordbearer said...

    IloveJesus,

    1. There are huge differences betweed the doctrine of absolute depravity and total depravity and any student of the Bible and theology understands that. The fact that you fail to distinguish doesn't mean I'm hiding behind distinctions.

    While total depravity recognizes the natural virtues of man and acknowledges man is not as bad/evil as he could be (by the grace of God), at the same time, all he does apart from faith (be it acts of religion - prayer, fasting, giving of alms, etc., or nurturing a child, helping the elderly across the street, etc.) is not free of sin and therefore is not acceptable before God or able to redeem a person.

    As Boettner puts it "The unregenerate man can, through common grace, love his family and he may be a good citizen. He may give a million dollars to build a hospital, but he cannot give even a cup of cold water to a disciple in the name of Jesus. If a drunkard, he may abstain from drink for utilitarian purposes, but he cannot do it out of love for God. All of his common virtues or good works have a fatal defect in that his motives which prompt them are not to glorify God, — a defect so vital that it throws any element of goodness as to man wholly into the shade. It matters not how good the works may be in themselves, for so long as the doer of them is out of harmony with God, none of his works are spiritually acceptable. Furthermore, the good works of the unregenerate have no stable foundation, for his nature is still unchanged; and as naturally and as certainly as the washed sow returns to her wallowing in the mire, so he sooner or later returns to his evil ways.

    In the realm of morals it is a rule that the morality of the man must precede the morality of the action. One may speak with the tongues of men and of angels; yet if he is lacking that inward principle of love toward God, he is become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. He may give all his goods to feed the poor, and may give his body to be burned; yet if he lacks that inward principle, it profits him nothing. As human beings we know that an act of service rendered to us (by whatever utilitarian motives prompted) by someone who is at heart our enemy, does not merit our love and approbation. The Scripture statement that “Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto God,” finds its explanation in this, that faith is the foundation of all the other virtues, and nothing is acceptable to God which does not flow from right feelings."

    2. You keep saying I fail to understand your words, well let's see. Answer the following questions for me for clarification. (A simple yes/no answer or short response will be sufficient:

    a. Is Christ as a "guide" or "teacher" sufficient for man for salvation, or was his substitutionary atonement necessary for salvation?

    b. Is man saved by casting himself fully upon the mercy of God or is he saved by keeping the law of God himself?

    c. Do you believe Tolle's gospel is the same as that taught in Scripture?

    d. Do you think Tolle is unaware of the differences between the gospel he preaches and that which Scripture proclaims, or does he reject the one for the other?

    e. Where do such things as evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, etc. proceed from? (If they proceed from the heart of man, what does that say about the nature of man's heart?)

    IloveJesus said...

    Swordbearer,
    Here are the answers to your questions.
    a. Is Christ as a "guide" or "teacher" sufficient for man for salvation, or was his substitutionary atonement necessary for salvation?
    Both are necessary for salvation.

    b. Is man saved by casting himself fully upon the mercy of God or is he saved by keeping the law of God himself?

    He is saved by casting himself fully upon the mercy of God. However, keeping the law of God is closely related to casting oneself on God's mercy. Authentic repentance manifests itself in a transformed life of keeping the law of God. Failure to keep the law of God can be, and often is, a sign of a lack of sincerity in repentance. If my repentance is insincere, I cannot be confident of the mercy of God. If someone slaps you across the face, asks for your forgiveness, and then immediately slaps you again, you are just to question the sincerity of his request for your forgiveness and mercy. True repentance bears itself out in actions according to the law.

    c. Do you believe Tolle's gospel is the same as that taught in Scripture?

    Largely no, although there is some overlap. The essential and huge element missing for Tolle is Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and our Redeemer. Without Jesus there is no redemption. To know Jesus and intentionally turn away from Him is to lose access to eternal life. However, this is not the same as to not know Jesus and fail to turn toward Him.

    d. Where do such things as evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, etc. proceed from? (If they proceed from the heart of man, what does that say about the nature of man's heart?)

    This question requires an explanation of "the heart of man". "Man's heart" can mean many things and may include the intellect, the will, and the emotions. It may also include the imagination and memory. These are all involved in moral action. The intellect is to grasp the full truth of the circumstances in which we act and to deliberate on the possible alternative actions, the will selects which of the cosidered action to take in those circumstances; the emotions are our natural response to what is good and what is not good. For good things we possess desires. For evil things we possess aversions. (It is out of an aversion for harm coming to my child that I protect him. It is out of a desire for marital union with a woman that I court and give my life to her in marriage.) The sins you list are all instances of failing to do to others according to our own desires to be done by. It is my desires to live, to enjoy exclusive lifelong marital fidelity, to keep and use what I possess, to know the truth and have the truth be known about me, to offer God praise and thanksgiving in love, etc. that reveal to me the evil of murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, blasphemy, etc.
    I will explain the role of the desire in human moral action by examining the case of theft. My desire to own and use the things I have worked to obtain, or have received as gifts from others who have worked to obtain them, reveals to me the evil of theft. Say, for example, that I work over a long time to buy a car for my family to get around in, and after I finally buy it someone steals it. I feel the loss of all the work I did to obtain it and I am saddened that I cannot take my family anywhere in it. I know what it is to be stolen from. By that knowledge, I also know how other people will feel if I steal from them. They will experience the same loss and saddness that I experienced.
    When I am faced with an opportunity to take something that does not belong to me, I know in my heart the evil of theft. I can either turn my attention to the living emotional reality of the owner, acknowledge the sorrow that would be his, and avoid taking the thing; or I can turn my attention away from the owner and consider instead the joy that would be mine in having the thing. By this latter selfish course I may talk myself into stealing what does not belong to me. In both cases I know in my heart (emotions) the sorrow of unjust loss. In the first case (not stealing) I turn my attention off myself and onto the owner. I consider the joy he has in possessing what he owns and the sorrow he would experience in losing it by theft. In the second case (stealing), I turn my attention off the owner and onto myself. By ignoring the owner and his emotions, I remove his loss and sorrow from my consideration. By turning my attention to myself, I relish the thought of owning the thing that can be mine in the taking, and I steal it.
    My heart is present and plays a role both when I steal and when I do not steal. My natural heart is what tells me that theft is evil. That heart will affirm me when I do not steal, and it will chastise me (if I am willing to listen to it) when I do steal. This is what the apostle Paul talks about in Romans 2:14 "... when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.”
    The law of God is written in our hearts. You surely must concede this to be true. You also must not say that God's law in our hearts is the source of the murders, adulteries, etc. that people commit. This is clear both from the Bible and from common human experience, cf., the examples above. I will give many more examples if you think it would be worthwhile.
    In conclusion then, we must not make black and white unqualified statements that declare the heart to be utterly depraved and capable of no good thing. This goes against common everyday experience. It also denigrates what God has made.
    I love Jesus

    jack said...

    kudos to rust! thank you for saying eloquently, exactly how i feel about the gigantic distortion by todays so called christians, of christ's teachings. there is only one fact about the christian faith, and its that there was a man named jesus who professed he was god incarnate. that is it! what followed is equivalent to the summer camp game of "telephone". over the centuries christ's original teachings have been misinterpreted and mistakened. how christianity continues today as a faith and or religion, is mind boggling! rust, remember most of these people who write back berating your beliefs are individuals without any sense rationalization. here are some of my problems/question with the bible, so called "word" of god.

    1. since the begining of time there have been an estimated 103 billion born homo sapiens. roughly 6 percent of the population that ever lived, lives today. there are approx one billion "christians" living today. history has proven most of our human race never "knew" jesus or god. how are these people to be judged? will they be held accountable for some thing that they never knew?
    2. how can the so called christian apologist suggest that the earth is not over 6k yrs old? that the earth is not 4 billion yrs old?
    3. if god's word is infallible, perfect, why are there so many loop holes in the bible? the bible was written by men!? enately, grossly fallible men!
    4. why hasnt god spoken to man for over 2k yrs!?? why so long, without even a prophet or some empirical sign?
    5. the synoptic gospels were apparently written by three different authors all of whom wrote about the same person, but each story had its differences and varitations, left open to interpretation. why would a perfect god leave his word opened for some much misinterpretation? i beg to argue that there are too many to mention,examples of man written/inspired documents that are arguablely perfect in nature and are not left opened for arguement. i.e. scientific/mathmatic paradigms.
    6. the list goes on....like that old childs game of "telephone".
    thanks again rust.

    than

    swordbearer said...

    IloveJesus,

    Thanks for your thoughtful and thorough answers.

    a. We are in AGREEMENT (that is if by both are necessary, you mean Christ as a guide or teacher is necessary but not sufficient alone apart from his atonement).

    b. We are in AGREEMENT.

    c. In response to my question: "Do you believe Tolle's gospel is the same as that taught in Scripture?", you responded "
    Largely no, although there is some overlap. The essential and huge element missing for Tolle is Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and our Redeemer. Without Jesus there is no redemption. To know Jesus and intentionally turn away from Him is to lose access to eternal life. However, this is not the same as to not know Jesus and fail to turn toward Him."

    You have AFFIRMED my original post! The two gospels are NOT the same. Readers should note this distinction and recognize that the gospel Tolle presents is NOT the same as that presented in Scripture and not only FALLS SHORT but stands in OPPOSITION to the gospel of Scripture which claims the necessity of Christ and his substitutionary atonement for salvation.

    (You may correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems in referring to Tolle at times, you tend out of an evangelistic heart to cut him some slack and hope he is still in process and perhaps will come to the saving knowledge of Christ (... which I have no problem with, and hope for as well), whereas I have tended to take him at his word that he has "studied all the major religions" and has come away with a gospel not only different from the true gospel but opposed to it ... is inculcating a false doctrine and thereby must be singled out for his grave error, ... which can lead many souls astray)

    d. You give a good description and it appears on one issue we may have been mixing vocabulary (but we are in agreement), though I have sought to raise another issue which you've touched on, but haven't addressed.

    On the first issue - the natural heart, it appears you have been using it to refer to man's sense of right and wrong (God's law) where I was referring to it as the "flesh" (or sinful nature or fallen disposition of man) as opposed to his "new heart" (Jeremiah) and redeemed nature. I agree with you (and so does the doctrine of Total Depravity) that by God's grace man continues to possess ability to discern right and wrong (though many factors are involved... which I want go into for sake of space, such as informing the conscience through God's word, etc.)

    On the additional issue I was raising, not only can man possess a sense of right and wrong (and know God's law) but in man's fallen condition there are aspects of his heart (even as you've defined it) where man (under the dominion of sin) "chooses" and "intends" to do evil. For example, some people after striking a person will excuse themselves by saying "I didn't mean to hit them" when in fact they did! .... IOW knowing the harm it would cause, knowing the lawless and sinful nature of their upcoming action, they not only chose to do it anyway but wanted to do it and DO want to hurt the other person. It's not that a question of whether we always act against the knowledge we have but whether all our intentions and desires are always good. It's a question of whether - though the law is good and we know it, that we (according to the sinful nature of the heart) knowingly, willingly, and intentionally violate God's law. In this sense, I equate the heart with what Paul refers to as the flesh. (Perhaps, even here, we've cross-talked to each other - where you refer to the natural heart as the heart of man in the image of God, whereas I have referred to the "natural heart" as the heart of man in a fallen condition as opposed to the "renewed" heart God gives to man through regeneration/sanctification.

    Examples of this in Scripture include Paul's coveting, David's adultery, Cain's murder, etc.

    Scripture speaks of thoughts of the heart which are evil (Gen 6:5); of hearts that are impure (Mt 5:8, by opposite); of committing adultery in one's heart; of men who are evil (Mt 12:34); of evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander coming from one's heart (Mt 15:19); of hearts that need to or refuse to forgive (Mt 18:35); of those with a noble and good heart (assumption - some are not)(Lk 8:15); of unbelieving hearts (Heb 3:12), of God judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Heb 4:12), of hearts that are deceitful (Jer 17:9), etc., and of God giving man a "new heart" (Ezek 36:26)

    swordbearer said...

    Jack,

    You obviously commit the same error as eris and as many who have not studied textual criticism do in assuming the preservation and transmission of the gospel has been like a "telephone game". This denies not only the affirmation by Christ and the apostles, the methods of transmission in the early centuries, the understudies of the apostles and church fathers, the broad and extensive testimony of extra-bibiblical literature (which extensively testify to the original through quotation and allusion), the broad geographichic witness provided by discovery of texts, the scrunity involved both from without and from within the church, etc., and these just to name a few. Any learned scholar in the field of textual criticism will tell you this is far and remote from anything resembling the modern game of telephone, and that such a statement not only fails to take the issue seriously and at best simply shows how uninformed the person is, but also could reveal a predisposition to the subject as well.

    eric said...

    Hello jc.......

    You said........"Ouch! I was looking over my comment to see where I was asserting anything that was as you put it, “is this present epochs greatest challenge to survial.” Perhaps you can point me to a quote in my comment that places me in a group that challenges survival on this planet?"

    I'm sorry that you are so close to your own beliefs that you can't objectively look at your fundamentalism in the context of similar fundamentalist beliefs in other religions. Here's the deal:

    Because Muslim fundamentalists have the SACRED goal of resurrecting the 1000 year Caliphate, they will go to jihadist extremes because they believe they are doing God's will, being tools in the God's hands. That my friend is why they strap bombs to themselves and will someday try to nuke Witchita!

    Because Christian fundamentalists believe in a literal escotology of the second coming of Christ, shock and awe bombing of Bagdad is an "assist" on the road to Armageddon. American foriegn policy, heavily influenced by the belief in the literal descent of Christ onto the Mount of Olives to usher in the Milleneal Reign, is so tilted in its pro Israel stance that no where in the rest of the world would the systematic subjegation of a people group (Palestinians), draw such a blind eye! WHY? Because JHWH is going to reign brimstone down on all the infidels anyway! God's sending all them Muslims to hell and redeeming Israel with some scheme that gets them included with the fundamentalist Christians in the eternal kingdom!!!

    What all fundamentalists have in common is a belief that they are IT and everyone else had better "get right". This has a direct corrolation on how a fundamentist looks at someone who is not part of the "called out" group. The unfaithful chose not to adopt the "truth" so its thier fault that they will be punished by God. Christian and Muslim fundamentalists share the same belief exactly. Fundamentalists are inherently dismissive and judgemental and that is the problem.

    Puritan Lad said...

    Hi Eric,

    I've missed you. Have you accounted for human knowledge in your worldview yet, or do you just enjoy making unsubstantiated ad hominems against us "fundamentalists"?

    Judging by your comments regarding Israel and the millennium, you seem to have little knowledge of the Historic Reformed Faith. However, with your Calvary Chapel background, I'm not surprised.

    I also must add that your latest post is every bit as "inherently dismissive and judgemental" as any fundamentalist I've ever met. The only difference is that you have no standard by which you justify your claims.

    Come on back over to Covenant Theology when you feel up to it. We have some unresolved issues to discuss.

    Blessings,

    PL

    jazzycat said...

    Eric,
    Is that the best you can do in your comment to me? I would suggest you seek counseling to reign in your pre-conceptions based on inaccurate information and an over active imagination. Your comment to me bordered on being delusional. When you are able to become rational, I would be happy to have a discussion with you.

    eric said...

    Counseling from whom? You? Sorry, I doubt your qualifications.

    One more reflection before I say good bye......
    I remember with stark clarity the day I looked into the mirror and saw that I was the metaphorical Pharasee of my own making! My experience, my assurance, my knowledge, my belief that I was as close to the center of God's revelation as possible left me strong in the head but bereft of heart. That was the day I left this latest incarnation of self-righteous religion behind. Two thousand years ago it was the temple hiarchy that felt threatened by the rebel Jesus. You find no contemporary parrallel but none the less you call me "delusional" from the marble steps of your portico.


    I'm sure you will deride this confession of mine as well as the other parts of my experience that I've shared on this blog, but that's fine. You guys, whomever you are, need to be right so again, please go ahead and enjoy the golden sunshine of God's pleasure on all the fine work you do in his name.

    For myself, I've decided to "followed Jesus outside the gates of the city" and seeing that religious city in my rear view mirror will never go back to that soul erroding self-righteousness community of faith.

    I hope that someday you'll make it out yourselves. Peace to you again. Good bye.

    eric

    Puritan Lad said...

    Eric,

    I must say that I am quite disappointed in your approach here. You started out so promising. However, you have proven to be quite long on assertion and short on proof. First, you failed to answer any question that I've asked you (and perhaps the last thing you wanted was for me to follow you over here.) You claimed that "A fundamentalist Christian will NEVER have a truly open discussion", yet that is exactly what we have provided you, so you leave in a huff. Who isn't open? You proved to be a Kool-Aid Drinker by claiming that "a whole lot of the "history" of the Old Testemant is borrowed mythologies from earlier religious heritage from around the Mesopotamia area". I have heard this argument before, and know exactly what you are referring to. Apparently, you have never even read the Enuma Elish, because if you had actually read it, you would never make such a claim. So I need to ask, who did you borrow your information from? Seriously, after spending 25 years as an evangelist in a Christian church, you should at least make an equal effort as an antiChristian apologist.

    You then accuse us (falsely) of chiliasm and zionism. You pat yourself on the back for "follow[ing] Jesus outside the gates of the city" and seeing that religious city in my rear view mirror will never go back to that soul erroding self-righteousness community of faith.", and then call us "self-righteous". Go figure...

    But the pièce de résistance is surely this...

    "Two thousand years ago it was the temple hiarchy that felt threatened by the rebel Jesus. You find no contemporary parrallel but none the less you call me "delusional" from the marble steps of your portico."

    Where did you get your information about Jesus and the Pharisees Eric? Surely you aren't referring to a fact in the Bible to try and evangelize us away from the Bible. Talk about borrowed capital!

    Furthemore, you seem to be equating yourself with Jesus here. And we "fundamentalists" are "self-righteous"? You are more than that Eric. You are self obsessed, with no truth outside of you own head (you said this, right?)

    In the end, you have proven that it is you who will "NEVER have a truly open discussion". You have failed to justify any statement that you have made, and refused to answer any question I've asked. COme back when you have something to offer other than the opinions in your own head.

    swordbearer said...

    one thing to add ...

    It's would be a good thing if eric would live up to what he says when he states "For myself, I've decided to 'follow Jesus outside the gates of the city'", ...for it was outside the gate where Jesus substitutionally offered himself as an atoning sacrifice for sinners, and because of this not only can redemption and life be found in him, but also the grace of repentance and faith.

    This being said, the greater truth is .. we no longer need to go outside the city ourselves because Christ has gone there for us. (This is the history and message of Easter!) Ours is simply to receive the salvation he has accomplished and provides as we unite with him through faith.

    jack said...

    SWORDBEARER, MY POINT EXACTLY! I DO EQUATE CHRISTIANITY TO BE A GAME. A GAME PREDICATED ON FEAR OF ETERNAL PERDITION. YOU MASKED YOUR RESPONSE OR YOUR FEEBLE ANSWER TO MY PROBLEMS WITH YOUR RELIGION WITH A LOT OF VERBOSE LITERAL TEXT. EXACTLY WHAT I EXPECTED! YOU DID NOT ANSWER THE OTHER Q'S, BECAUSE YOU CANNOT. BY THE WAS DOESNT HE LIVES BY THE SWORD, DIE BY THE SWORD??? ANSWER MY QUESTIONS, IF YOU CAN. JACK

    JD Longmire said...

    wow - if this is the type reasoning and response Tolle inspires, well, the fruit is evident...and I'd say requires no additional response...

    Puritan Lad said...

    Jack,

    Methinks that you really aren't interested in answers, but heregoes nonetheless.

    Jack: 1. since the begining of time there have been an estimated 103 billion born homo sapiens. roughly 6 percent of the population that ever lived, lives today. there are approx one billion "christians" living today. history has proven most of our human race never "knew" jesus or god. how are these people to be judged? will they be held accountable for some thing that they never knew?

    Response 1: They do know God, and thus are responsible and will be held accountable.

    Response 2: How does that excuse you, since you have heard?

    Jack: 2. how can the so called christian apologist suggest that the earth is not over 6k yrs old? that the earth is not 4 billion yrs old?

    Response: A Red Herring, since I don't believe that the earth is not over 6k years old. Of course, many do, and that's based on how much weight one gives to science verses exegesis of Scripture. But disagreements over points in such issues have no bearing on weather or not these issues are objectively true.

    Jack: 3. if god's word is infallible, perfect, why are there so many loop holes in the bible? the bible was written by men!? enately, grossly fallible men!

    Response: Since you haven't brought up any loopholes, we can't give an answer. As far as why God would use fallible men to write His infallible Word, it's because He chose to do so. Why not?

    Jack: 4. why hasnt god spoken to man for over 2k yrs!?? why so long, without even a prophet or some empirical sign?

    Response: There is no shortage of empirical evidence, and no shortage or of prophecy. We have empirical evidence in nature, and we have the prophecy of Scripture. So God does speak, as millions of Christians can attest to. (This is why they are Christians.)

    Of course, you reject such evidence, but that doesn't mean that the evidence is flawed. You have the same evidence that I do, but have precommitted yourself to a naturalistic worldview (without any logical reason whatsoever) as implicit in your question. Of course, like Eric, you cannot justify human reason, morality, or science in your worldview, but that won't stop you from appealing to these things.

    Jack: 5. the synoptic gospels were apparently written by three different authors all of whom wrote about the same person, but each story had its differences and varitations, left open to interpretation. why would a perfect god leave his word opened for some much misinterpretation? i beg to argue that there are too many to mention,examples of man written/inspired documents that are arguablely perfect in nature and are not left opened for arguement. i.e. scientific/mathmatic paradigms.

    Response: Again, you have given no examples, but to anwwer your question about misinterpretation, the gospel itself is quite easy to understand, and we all are accountable for not understanding it. There are some things that aren't easy to understand, and even Christians can have varying viewpoints on some matters (baptism, the millennium, etc.). That's part of the beauty of Scripture. That which is necessary for salvation can be easily understood, and yet there is a richness to satify our studies throughout many lifetimes. That is why teachers are not to be novices, and why we are told to study to show ourselves approved.

    swordbearer said...

    PL has done a good job responding. I'll only add the following:

    1. Jack's Question number 1. - Jack, you confuse the grounds for judgment with the means of salvation. According to Scripture, man is never said to be condemned for not knowing Christ, but for the sins he has committed and failing to live up to God's righteous standard. It your own failure to distinguish between the biblical grounds for judgment (and condemnation) and the means by which a man may receive salvation that has resulted not only in your error but your expression of antagonism to the gospel. The question is, having this and distinction set before you, will you admit your error and reconsider your attitude toward Scripture, or will you continue to allow your predisposition to blind you and keep you from the gift of God which can save you?

    2. Jack's question number 5. - Your argument about the difference in the synoptic gospels reveals your lack of understanding of the purpose and audience of each writer. Whereas Matthew wrote to affirm Christ as the fulfillment of O.T. Prophecies (particularly for the Jews) and Mark wrote to affirm Christ as the "Holy One of God", and whereas Luke wrote in reference to Christ as the Savior who came to seek and save the lost, and whereas John wrote evangelistically that readers may "believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you ay have life in his name", the four are found to be in agreement but simply address the truth from four different angles. The question is: are you open even to considering this possibility, or does your predisposition keep you from even studying the texts to see if the evidence warrants acceptance?

    Jack, I hope I'm wrong in my expectation that you will probably flee like some others have done rather than hanging around when your beliefs are challenged and your predisposition exposed ... for if you knew the Christ of the gospels and the blessings he freely bestows, you would ask him and he would give them to you, even eternal life.

    jack said...

    Response 1: They do know God, and thus are responsible and will be held accountable.

    lad,
    ugghh! this is NOT a valid or logical response! i am a lazy keyboader so i will not go into the whole subject of "cognitive reality" something or someone, doesnt exist because YOU(christians) believe it true to exist. billions(at least millions) of humans lived and died long before christ, thus never being witness to the judaic/christians faith systems. and so once more, how can god hold these individuals responsible to his commandments etc?? will god pardon these souls/people??

    how, with all that science in the last one hundred fifty has revealed to humankind can a person of rational thought, believe the following:
    1. a man lived in a whales mouth for several days, and lived to tell about it.
    2. believe in a god who exibits a fallible human characteristic such as "jealousy" and "anger"
    3. would give man "free will" then hold him responsible for his misuse of it.
    4. that the earth is only six thousand yrs old.
    5. that the dinasaurs lived amoungst man.
    i could go on on and on.

    lad and sword both of you, are in a state of complete utter self righteousness. unfortunately YOU are predisposed to believe nothing but what your god tells you so.
    you two are obviously learned individuals who are well armored in your faith, and can argue this subject well. however your fervor only translates to a predispose zealot mindset, which misses your gods mark completely. LOVE was Jesus's message and grace without charge. it was not about being a "puritan" or a "swordbearer". eric had it right, what he said about your faith being soul eroding with self righteousness. jack

    Puritan Lad said...

    Jack,

    Just asserting that my response is not valid or logical does not make it so. How is my response not valid or logical? Like I suggested, you don't really want answers, because you have already precommitted yourself to a naturalistic worldview, and without any locial reason whatsoever). Being so, there is no evidence that will convince you. I answered your questions, and the answers are valid. You may not like my answers, but that doesn't make the answers invalid or illogical.

    You know the Christian God as well, because you live in his universe, and cannot possibly function apart from acknowledging him in some way. You have proven this in your latest post by referring to logic, science, free will, and expressing moral outrage over "fallible human characteristic such as jealousy and anger". Since none of the above items are possible without God, you have to use what Cornelius Van Til referred to as "borrowed capital". In other words, you have to adopt a Christian metaphysic in order to argue against Christianity. God is the precondition for logic, science, morality, human sensory experience, and free will, and the fact that you appeal to these things shows that you know God.

    As for your latest round of objections:

    Jack: 1. a man lived in a whales mouth for several days, and lived to tell about it.

    Response: Try a Great Fish, not a whale. In any case, you are assuming that the Christian God doesn't exist, and therefore miracles cannot happen. But what you are assuming is what we are supposed to be debating. Circulus in demonstrando.

    Jack: 2. believe in a god who exibits a fallible human characteristic such as "jealousy" and "anger".

    Response: This question is invalid because it assumes a moral standard by whuch one can judge God, which you have yet to account for, and it assumes that "jealousy" and "anger" are fallible human characteristics only instead of a righteous "jealousy" and "anger" which God alone has the right to exhibit. God has every right tp be angry and jealous.

    Jack: 3. would give man "free will" then hold him responsible for his misuse of it.

    Response: Again you assume that a moral standard exists by whuch one can judge God. Besides, your question doesn't make any sense, for how else could man be responsible unless he ha free will?

    Jack: 4. that the earth is only six thousand yrs old.

    Response: Dicto simpliciter. I've already answered this above. At least two of us on this blog don't believe that, as I have already stated above. You can keep pulling this accusation out as much as you want, but it isn't true. In any case, you have to account for uniformity in nature before you can even start a scientific discussion. Since God is the precondition of natural law, you have once again shown that you have an awareness of His existence.

    Jack: 5. that the dinasaurs lived amoungst man.

    Response: See above answer. You must enjoy creating strawmen and burning them down, but they aren't getting you anywhere.

    Jack: i could go on on and on.

    Response: And you probably will, which verifies my original assumption about your objections. We can go on with your "telephone game", but like I said, you really aren't interested in answers. But you do show that you know God, because God is necessary for the tools that you use to argue against Him.

    Jack: you two are obviously learned individuals who are well armored in your faith, and can argue this subject well. however your fervor only translates to a predispose zealot mindset, which misses your gods mark completely. LOVE was Jesus's message and grace without charge

    Response: Jack, where did you get your information about Jesus' message? Who is Jesus? What is God's mark? How is God known? You need to start answering some questions, because your worldview is also built on faith alone, The difference is that your faith is ungrounded, or to quote Eric, in your own head.

    TheAleph74 said...

    I could only take a few minutes of reading your response to Eckhart's video as your responses did not make sense at all. For instance, you mention the "reality of the past". Reality of the past? The past is not real. The past is gone. The past is only as real as you make it your head. Even the apostle said "in Christ everything is done new; the old things are gone ". On top of this, Eckhart never denies the fact that the past existed; his point is to set you free of the past's influence on your life, particularly when it modifies your perception of the now, which is the only thing there is ever. Anyway, happy Easter!

    Puritan Lad said...

    TheAleph74,

    I will ask you the same question as I asked Eric and Jack. Where did you get your information about the Apostle Paul's teachings?

    You guys have tried to shred Holy Scripture, but to no avail. But then you have the gall to refer to it to support your own teachings (as does Tolle).

    Eckhart Tolle = human egocentric confusion

    swordbearer said...

    Jack stated: "...believe in a god who exibits a fallible human characteristic such as "jealousy" and "anger"."

    Response: Jack, you have no excuse, for when you pass judgement and claim standards in these areas, and yet do the same things, you show that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So, when you, a mere man, pass judgment and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?

    You have two choices - you can either acknowledge the standard you use applies to yourself as well and that your own words will condemn you as you come to be held accountable by God and therefore choose to consider and accept the mercy, grace and righteousness that God offers to those who will receive them through repentance and faith... or because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you will continue storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment (which your own words testify to) will be revealed. For those who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger, but for those who accept and receive God's message and gift of salvation and righteousness there will be room for much rejoicing and thanksgiving.

    As you seek to live by the law , ask yourself, do you keep the whole law, or have you become a lawbreaker yourself, for God's word says "all who sin under the law will be judged by the law." At the same time, through Christ, one can be freed from the law as an accuser through union with Christ who not only has kept the law and imputes his righteousness to his own, but who provides forgiveness and freedom from the law ... having paid the penalty for us that the law demands. That's why Scripture says "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.

    swordbearer said...

    Jack,

    Your continued opposition after having PL provide you answers after demanding them CONFIRMS your hangup is not doubt but unbelief.

    As Wiersbe writes "Doubt says, 'I cannot believe! There are too many problems! Unbelief says, 'I WILL NOT believe..." (and I might add: "though solutions may be found for the questions I demand.)

    Sometimes, people set forth a facade as if to fool others by demanding answers, but all the while do so only as an expression of their unbelief and hardened hearts rather than "searching minds".

    Hardened hearts are not pleasing to God either, for Jesus commanded Thomas saying "Stop doubting and believe." As a skeptic in his day, his problem was not that he did not believe ... for when the physical evidence was set before him his profession went beyond the proof of the physical evidence - revealing that he believed all along ..., but that for a time he refused to believe.

    I don't what issues in your life lead you to the position you now hold (that is... that you don't want the truth of Christ to be true), though I imagine you have failed to come to grips with the incomparable love of God and his sufficient grace which exceeds all our sins, but Thomas went for a week continuing in his condition though peace could have been his had he been with the saints a week earlier as they gathered for worship. Let me encourage you this Sunday as churches are used to having many visitors (whether they believe or not) to find a church and present yourself before the Lord that he might speak to your heart. It's amazing how many times the Lord speaks through his Word to the ultimate issues we have even though we may not admit them. Perhaps, that's even the reason we've come into conversation with you, as instruments of God's grace in leading you to redemption and salvation. Perhaps your greatest need is not physical evidence, but being awakened to God and his truth.

    swordbearer said...

    Jack,

    Consider the words of Spurgeon as well...

    "Especially on this occasion he shows his tenderness toward Thomas, and adddresses his first words to him. If Thomas will not be convinced except by what I must call the most gross and materialistic evidence, he will give him such evidence ... Oh, see how Jesus condescends to the weaknesses and even to the follies of his people! If we are unbelieving it is not his fault; for he goes out of his way to teach us faith, and sometimes he evin gives what we have no right to ask, what we have no reason to expect, what it was even sin in us to have desired. We are so weak, so ignorant, so prone to unbelief that he will do anything to create, sustain, and strengthen our faith in him. He condescends to men of low estate. If through our own folly we are such babes that we cannot eat the meat which is fit food for men, our Lord will not grow weary of giving us milk, but he will even break the bread into morsels, and take away the hard crusts, that we may be abee to feed thereon. It is not his will that one of his little ones should perish; and therefore he chases away unbelief, which is their deadliest foe."

    IloveJesus said...

    Dear Jack,
    You and I are made in the image of God. Some of our deepest insights into the nature of God come from observing what we are and how He made us. We have minds (intellects) and we have hearts (emotions). Our minds make us realize that God is a knowing God. Our hearts make us realize that He loves some things and He hates others. At the same time, we know that God is pure spirit. There is no material in Him. Therefore, what we know about Him by observing ourselves is knowledge by analogy. Nevertheless, this analogical knowing is the most profound way we have, naturally speaking, to know God. Looking on yourself, you are looking on a creation of God in which He profoundly reveals Himself.
    From this perspective, I will try and answer some of your questions.

    2. How can we believe in a god who exhibits a fallible human characteristic such as "jealousy" and "anger"
    Jealousy and anger are human emotions by which God reveals something profound about himself. How they exist in God who is immaterial is different than they exist in us who are material. Nevertheless, He reveals something about Himself to us in them. Jealousy and anger are useful and good emotions. If my wife promises to love me to the exclusion of all others, and if I find her spending time with other men, time that I feel would be better spent with me, I become jealous. That jealousy is what motivates me to encourage her to spend that time with me and it motivates me to discourage other men from spending time with her. In the end, my jealousy may be what preserves my marriage. It is also a sign to my wife that I love her and depend on her to love me. But we also owe love to God for giving us the amazing human nature that we have. If we fail to love God, He says that He is jealous. It is a sentiment that we can understand. It reveals that He loves us and expects us to love Him faithfully.
    Anger is another useful and good emotion. We have a friend who was in her house alone one afternoon when she heard something at the back window in her kitchen. When she looked in the kitchen, there was a young man partway in the window. She was seized with anger. She picked up a sharp knife and ran screaming at the man. Seeing her advance, he quickly retreated from the window and fled from the property. Her anger had achieved its proper purpose which is to forcibly throw off a present evil. Without anger, she would have been unable to do that.
    The kind of anger that is bad is uncontrolled anger that leads to unjust action. Good anger does not produce unjust action. It is not hard to conceive of circumstances in which one would expect God to be angry. Imagine His attitude toward the intentional murder of innocent children. Just as we get angry when someone is destroying some good thing we have made, it would be very surprising if something analogous to anger were not present in God when He sees someone killing a child He has made. In fact, I think the sentiments of your own heart when you see someone committing some obvious evil are because your heart is designed according to the heart of God. You are, in yourself, experiencing His heart, and sometimes that means anger.

    3. believe in a god who would give man "free will" then hold him responsible for his misuse of it.
    I think this is what we do with people who abuse their freedom by hurting others. We hold them responsible for their actions. If someone does something freely, he is responsible for what he does by definition. To hold them responsible is only to acknowledge and respond to the truth of the facts.

    4. believe that the earth is only six thousand yrs old.
    This is not a Christian belief even if there are some Christians who believe it. I certainly do not believe this. Scientists have calculated that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. They use very scientific methods to arrive at this number. The earth is far less than 13.7 billion years old, but it is certainly in the millions of years old.

    The other thing to realize is that in order to show His love for us, He became one of us in the person of Jesus. This is what we would expect. It would be surprising if God were to become an amoeba in an effort to reveal Himself to us. With His human nature He revealed directly the heart of God. As it turned out, His heart is Love. It is His love for you and me that led Him to suffer and die outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago. He wanted to take on Himself all the guilt that stops us from entering the presence of God. That is what He did. The heart of God is love.

    IloveJesus

    IloveJesus said...

    To All,
    May you all know the joy of our risen Lord Jesus Christ on this weekend when we celebrate His rising from the dead after his brutal, torture, and death outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago. He is God's Son. He died for our sins. He brings us into His love - the love of the eternal Father. He is preparing a place for us. He loves us all immeasurably. He has taken the punishment for all our sins. He lovingly awaits nothing but our confession and gratitude.
    IloveJesus

    TheAleph74 said...

    Puritan Lad:

    2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

    Closed minded Conservative Christian = Person who is identified with a sense of righteousness based on the ego need to be right.

    Puritan Lad said...

    So TheAleph74,

    You believe the Bible? Yes or no?

    Being Closed Minded is a subjective matter. You mind is closed to "closed minded conservative Christianity".

    This isn't a game TheAleph74. Eternity in either Heaven or Hell is at stake.

    IloveJesus said...

    TheAleph74,
    You said, "The past is not real. The past is gone. The past is only as real as you make it your head."
    You were in the past, but you are also in the present. Some things change and cease to be as the present moves into the past. On the other hand, many things do not change as the present moves into the past.
    The you that was in the past is the same you that is in the present. If you seriously offend someone, the act of offending moves quickly into the past, but the offense remains in the present. This is particularly easy to understand in a case like murder. I may have killed someone yesterday, but he is still dead today. All the loved ones who knew him continue to suffer his absence today. It doesn't seem to make sense to trivialize the murder by declaring that it belongs to the "unreal" past.
    Jesus died so our sins could be forgiven. If our sins became unreal the instant they moved into the past, there would have been no point or necessity in Jesus dying out of love to reconcile us with God Who is our Father.
    If a man cheats on his wife, or vice versa, that does not become an insignificant unreality just because it moves into the past.
    This is one of Eckhart Tolle's ideas that is ultimately absurd. No one can live such ideas with integrity.
    When we offend people and when we offend God, there is only one solution and that is to beg forgiveness - a forgiveness we know we do not deserve. God's immense love and mercy have the power to neutralize our Very Real sins of the past that continue to plague us and others in the present. When He makes us free, we are free indeed.
    IloveJesus

    swordbearer said...

    TheAleph74 stated: "...The past is not real. The past is gone. The past is only as real as you make it your head..."

    Response - So which is it? Is it "not real" or "only as real... as you make it in your head"? Your own words present a inconsistency, if not a contradiction.

    There's a difference between the past (i.e., history) being "gone" and the past being "real". You fail to distinguish between the two.

    Not only this, but the past can be real (even in the sense of having an effect on the future) whether one embraces it in their own head or not.

    The truth is that the past is a part of God's providence just as the present is. While it's true that on one level a person can unnecessisarily allow events from the past affect them in ways they shouldn't in present; at the same time to deny the reality of the past altogether is to fail to honor God as the Lord of history, to fail to recognize meaning in the events of history, and to deny man's accountability for the things done in time past. (...just another way unbelievers seek to deny man's responsibility and accountability... and hence the need for Christ!).

    jack said...

    LAD ET AL

    KEEP YOUR RESPONSES SIMPLE OKAY?? I DONT NEED A LONG DISSERTATION ON HOW YOUR BELIEFS ARE MORE VALID THAN MIND:THERE IS A DEITY, JUST NOT YOURS.

    HENRY MILLER ONCE WROTE: " I IMAGINE, I DONT HAVE ANY USE FOR GOD ANYMORE, NOR DOES HE. I THINK IF I WAS EVER TO MEET HIM, I'D SPIT HIM RIGHT ON HIS FACE."

    NOW, MY Q:

    IF GOD IS THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA. THE ALMIGHTY, WHO KNOWS ALL. AND HE TRANSCENDS ALL LINEAR AND ACTUAL TIME, HENCE, HE KNOWS THE BEGINING AND THE END...BEFORE THE "END" ACTUALLY OCCURS; WHY WOULD HE CREATE A WORLD OF PEOPLE, KNOWING WHO WOULD BE SAVED AND THOSE WHO WOULD BE DAMNED? WHY ALLOW AN AGE OF HUMAN HISTORY TO PLAY OUT BEFORE HIM, KNOWING WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END?? IT JUST DOESNT JIVE. ITS CRUEL. JACK

    Puritan Lad said...

    Jack,

    You answered your own question here:

    "HE TRANSCENDS ALL LINEAR AND ACTUAL TIME."God isn't really waiting for "AN AGE OF HUMAN HISTORY TO PLAY OUT BEFORE HIM", as He is not bound by time.

    As for our own temporal existence, God allows it to play out for His own glory, so that the saved will have nothing to boast in, and so the damned will have no excuse.

    As for the rest, I won't respond to Mr. Miller's blasphemy. When he meets God, he won't be nearly as bold as he thinks he will.

    IloveJesus said...

    Jack,
    God is love. He wants to do nothing more than forgive you and me and every human sinner. He wants your forgiveness so much that he allowed people to mock Him, beat Him, and spit in His face. With the same immense love, He endures the same insults and abuse today. He does all this with the loving desire to do nothing but forgive.
    However, we can only know His love if, by the exercise of our own freedom, we acknowledge we have abused Him and beg His forgiveness. There is no repented sin that Jesus in His love will not forgive. It follows as well, that by our own freedom, we can die spitting in Jesus’ face. God does not impose His immense love and friendship on people who do not want it. If He did that, He would render our freedom ineffectual, and there would be no true love possible on our part. But rest assured that He desires nothing more than to forgive you and love you eternally.
    IloveJesus

    swordbearer said...

    Jack,

    Your error is seen in your question's attempt to separate God's omniscience from his providence.

    jack said...

    i appriciate all your candid responses. i am not hear to offend, but rather to find out why still believe in christianity?

    here's an arguement, while i am here. i, along with most non christian people believe that being "gay" is a learned behavior. arguing that individuals are not predisposed to being "gay", that somehow the person "becomes" gay for some unknown reason or other. the discovery of DNA and genetics have proven that our sexuality is
    predetermined. obviously this agruement contradicts the christian paradigm. if this dilema were to be true, god would have a lot of explaining to do. jack

    August said...

    Jack, for the sake of argument, if homosexuality is predetermined by genes end DNA, what selective advantage does it offer? In the normal run of things, such traits which do not offer procreative advantages are selected against and made extinct within a few hundred generations, are they not?

    A couple of other things...
    1. What you presented is not really an argument, but an assertion. Please clarify your argument by stating clear premises and a conclusion.
    2. Your assertion holds no relevance as to the existence of God or not. If you think it does, please make the argument. Start with how you came to know your premises, and how that necessarily leads to your conclusion.
    3. By which standard do you demand that "God has some explaining to do"? How do you determine right and wrong in your "argument"?

    swordbearer said...

    Jack,

    In addition to August's list,
    1. Are there not reasons in which God could still be just even if your gene claims were true (i.e., if such was the result (/curse) for man's sin, etc.)
    2. On what basis would God be subject to answering to you? (and your standards of right and wrong)

    Here again, you are trying to make yourself the determiner and arbiter of truth and the judge of God, rather than acknowledging God to be the determiner and arbiter of truth and judge of you. Have you thought about how senseless this is given the limitations and character of your humanity?

    Puritan Lad said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Puritan Lad said...

    Jack,

    What would you say to this article in New Science magazine?

    Genes contribute to religious inclination

    If both of our positions are caused by genetics, than it would be pretty silly to argue, eh?

    swordbearer said...

    Jack,

    Seems like you may be beginning with persuasion and/or preference and then trying to relate truth to that rather than beginning with truth from which you base your persuasion and align your preferences.

    Kev said...

    Hi I have been a christian for 17 years ... Tolles view point helped me find where Jesus lived (inside)..it helped me see the destructive nature of my past and why i couldnt repent...remember guys God once spoke through a donkey..dont presume he wont speak through this guy or you...Oh yeah and remember the I AM lives in you so you dont have to shout...

    Kev said...

    Hi I have been a christian for 17 years ... Tolles view point helped me find where Jesus lived (inside)..it helped me see the destructive nature of my past and why i couldnt repent...remember guys God once spoke through a donkey..dont presume he wont speak through this guy or you...Oh yeah and remember the I AM lives in you so you dont have to shout...

    Kev said...

    didnt mean to repeat never blogged before

    jazzycat said...

    Kev,
    Satan also speaks through men! How do you distinguish the difference?

    TheAleph74 said...

    "by your fruits you shall know them..."

    Day said...

    The message of the cross is nonsense to those who are being destroyed,but it is God power to us who are being saved.The power of now is not from Eckhart Tolle and Oprah,but from God.The power is the cross and now is the word that the church emphasizes on it:The Holy past is present "now" with power.Let Oprah and Eckhart if they dare,to speak on TV about the real "power of now" of the cross in the book the coin of the temple by souheil bayoud.
    dayofwrath