#0003 A cultural rift in the Church (part III)

In the 1st two parts of this series we have been focusing on situations from out of the past. There are a few reasons I wanted to include these in the beginning.

  1. We needed to try to identify the greatest obstacle or challenge for Jesus while He was on earth; doing so should help us get a bead on the kinds of activities best suited to His Church’s mission. We found that it wasn’t sinners and the fruits of their sins per se that Jesus focused on; but the systemic evil that had been nesting for some time inside of the Hebrew culture and the practices and ideas it emanated.
  2. We needed to differentiate the God of the Sadducees and Pharisees from the God Jesus spoke of throughout His years of ministry. In the book I refer to Him as the Jesus God.
  3. Lastly, we needed to try to find the seed of spiritual devolution in the beginning of the Christian movement which grew into some of the perverse perspectives evidenced within the Church today. 

Many theologians (and those who can be heard making theologian-like noises) often times will come right out of the gate making a proclamation of great religious significance which has little or no basis in anything. They might be riffing on a word or a line of scripture or maybe they’ll reference some obscure bit of ancient Hebrew history; but it’s almost as if they want us listeners to believe what they are saying just because they are saying it. I don’t go in for this kind of approach, so forgive me if I seem to go a little overboard with background details. 

In the last post, I ended with some questions and I want to get into those now. With putting up all of the history surrounding the Sadducees and the Pharisees, I can make comparisons to the way things were then with the way things are now in the church. These 2 Hebrew factions are very comparable to any two Christian denominations of today. It doesn’t matter which two denominations you choose because what their doctrines say or what they’re about doesn’t matter. Doctrine, in and of itself is irrelevant to God; at least that’s what we can glean from the way Jesus responded to it when the Pharisees were throwing it around and trying to use it against Jesus.  Remember when the Pharisee queried Jesus about which was the Greatest commandment?  It is believed that this guy was trying to trick Jesus into making a mistake or a wrong interpretation of the Law; but was he only just trying to trip up Jesus with His question, or was he, with this query, putting up the full weight of the Law against anything Jesus had? It is quite likely the Pharisee—from his legalistic viewpoint believed that he had won this challenge and the answer Jesus gave about love had paled in comparison.

Jesus responded from a place outside the vicinity of the Law. And it wasn’t just what He said, but how He said it and from where His words originated. His answer sort of welled up inside His divinity and Jesus began to live stream spiritual truths. As I mentioned earlier, the Hebrew people were getting the divine significance of Jesus’s words, but the ears of the Pharisees and Sadducees—still tuned into the frequency of the Law—missed it altogether. Deep in my gut, I suspect that this same streaming of truth is available to people today and God wants us to be tuned in to it and then implement it—especially in matters of His Church. Some might challenge that notion by pointing out that back then Jesus was the divine conduit God the Father used for such truth-streaming; but today, Jesus is no longer available (at least, not in the flesh). So in lieu of Him and His capacity for truth-streaming—we have doctrine. But for a minute let’s consider this passage in John… 

25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 

26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 

27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14: 25-27 (NKJV) 

According to this scripture the kind of peace Jesus is talking about is divine. It is dynamic in nature because it emanates from the throne of the authentic and dynamic God. This peace is proactive.  It is much more than a warm security blanket that gives us solace in the turbulent world; it is a peace that is pregnant with solutions and resolutions to calm the turbulence and reverse the course of the storm that caused and keeps it energized.

  • Ever since Jesus uttered the phrase, “My peace I give to you…” we have access to the Helper, the Holy Spirit.
  • Peace isn’t just a nice feeling of calm and good will, it’s comes in a wave that’s informational.
  • This peace that passes understanding is our conduit for streaming truth directly to our minds.
  • When a difficult question is posed and doctrine seems to say one thing and your gut says another—the doctrine would have you put on your Pharisee hat; whereas the gut feeling–the Helper John 14: 26 is referring to–invites you to search out a deeper truth.

Now we are ready for questions:

  • Q. Today, who might be included in a group practicing the spirit of the law; that is to say, practicing principles that Jesus taught when He was alive?
  • A. I believe this group is comprised of people who most likely are not in proximity with each other. The thing that makes this group of a kind is the Helper or the Holy Spirit living in their hearts and minds. These people may be religious, but more often are not for reasons of their own.   Outside factors such as laws, regulations and doctrines are evaluated each on its own merits and how well it intuits with its environment. Those in this group have a strong sense of their inner voice which they value and pay close attention to. Often times these individuals will be drawn into proximity at rallies, demonstrations and the like…Two days ago SCOTUS came forth with a ruling that legalizes same sex marriage in all 50 states. This decision will change the culture in America from now on. The decision was 5 to 4 and that is as close a victory as you can get. The judges on the losing side wrote dissents explaining their views. The two groups of judges on either side of this issue represent a microcosm of the two groups Jesus refers to in Matt: 25—the sheep and the goats. Many Christians believe that this ruling is a victory for the devil and it represents what they view as the continuing decline of morality in America and the world today. In other words, they see this a vote against God. The epicenter of their belief resides within the Law and a doctrine of the Christian Church; it originates from Leviticus 20: 13. This is (allegedly) God talking:

13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

In another translation the word abomination is used instead of, what is detestable. A couple other Bible references are sited as well, but this is the go-to scripture many Christians claim as the undeniable proof of God’s position on the topic. People from the other group have tried some strategies to get past the wording in this scripture but overall have failed to sway many from the other side away from their position. I stand with those who oppose the sentiment of this scripture. My reasoning originates from the voice of the Helper in my heart and in my mind. In the second part of John 14: 26 Jesus says: “[the Helper] will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” I have pondered the Leviticus scripture often but just last week a deeper insight came to me through the counsel Jesus gives in the John passage.; and it’s quite incontrovertible. It was 1st brought to my mind that the tone of the Leviticus message was off—it didn’t sound like something God would say (especially the Jesus God). Next the Holy Spirit brought to my memory something Jesus had said, and that clinched it for me…

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Matt 18: 21-22 (KJV) 

Using this scripture we can reason that if Jesus is telling us to forgive one another 70 X 7 (a.k.a.: an infinite number of times) then He as God and the Father as God must operate under this same recommendation. From this point I was able to conclude that the voice of God in Leviticus must be false! A God with an endless [boundless] capacity for forgiveness wouldn’t command people to be put to death. Giving such a decree is in effect pronouncing a final judgment upon these people; thereby removing for them the possibility for any future forgiveness. After this is established other supporting scriptures quickly flooded in.

 

We will continue this discussion on Wednesday.

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