A Possible Gospel And New Testament

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Gospel, Chapter Three: The One

God is the One in whom “we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 God is the Wholeness of the whole story that holds the story of each little life; the greatest Context that exists. God is the only One that is: Being in the immensity of its full power for inclusiveness and creativity, including and yet beyond what we are able to know.

“A mediator involves more than one party; but God is one.” Gals 3:20

The One and Only says, I AM; and before that One there is, nor has there ever been, an Other. Long before the idea of Other-God ever was, I AM. Cf. Ex 3:13-15, John 8:58

When God spoke from out of the whirlwind, it was with the whirlwind’s voice. God is the Whirlwind. Cf. Job 38 There is one true god, and there is no Other-God before the One. Cf. Exodus 20:2-3.

Other-God is from pantheon central casting: full of vanity, jealousy, vengeful wrath, and self-centered conceit. If it is not worthy of you, how much less is it worthy of God?

Worshipping Og is like a man who carved a figurine of himself, perfecting his own face and form, and then lost it crossing a field. Later another man inherited the field, found the carving, and admired it. He called out to his family and they fell huddling to the ground, adoring the small figure until its image filled their sight. Their worship darkened and replaced their awe in the face of the blue sky, the green earth, the round of the stars, and the spirit moving over the waters.

Seek amazement and not worship. The being of the only One is awesome, and in that awe, there is knowledge of God. Worshipping Og is like a child playing with a toy and imagining that it knows the things known by those who have put away childish things. Cf. I Cors 13:11

47 Comments:

At 5:18 PM, Blogger Post_Fidelitas said...

I might be joining in this question a bit late and asking a little too persnickety of a questions, but How do we arrive at monotheism being preferred? Why not a quintity of cosmic dolphins or a courtly pantheon or even an ever present force of midiclorians?

 
At 7:06 PM, Anonymous zeus said...

Post fid

Who told you we have arived to monotheism?

Count the Gods we have now in earth. Some say there is like 30.000

And for the Christians take note there is some composite named "The Trinity"

 
At 9:50 PM, Blogger Homo Escapeons said...

It is understandable why images of Yahweh were verboten by simply looking at how diferent factions view Yeshua from the various portraits that persist to this day. He either comes across as the emaciated torture victim, the King James jolly orangeman, or the Buddy Christ from DOGMA.

Because we are visual manimals we crave the concrete nature of a god in our image. It so Planet of the Apes how those old stautues of great apes were used to prop up the ideology. These days The DaVinci explores our fascination with the power of symbols because Idolatry is inevitable for us.

We crave a logo for a brand name god.Only the true esthetes can joyfully romp in their heads to seek amazement...most of us are too theistically impared to appreciate an invisible
I AM so it's ...time please ref SUBS IN!

 
At 10:51 PM, Blogger Yeshayah/Nacho said...

The One True G-d- The One True G-d has revealed Himself as the eternally I AM, the Creator of the Universe and Redeemer of mankind. (Deut. 6:4, Ex. 3:14,
Is. 43:10,11) G-d has further revealed Himself as a triune Being manifested as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; Luk. 3:22; 2 Cor. 13:14)

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

Im not speaking with respect to a particular faith but God is the only One...the only eternal One.

Keshi.

 
At 11:52 PM, Blogger Gangadhar said...

Worshipping Og is like a child playing with a toy and imagining that it knows the things known by those who have put away childish things....dat's fantastic!!

 
At 3:07 AM, Blogger Liquidplastic said...

It’s like a parking ticket, everyone looking for validation. It’s the either, or for most -- and the in-between is what we think we know and don’t know. One thing for sure, one must think for themselves as to what works for them and what is, as they experience it. Other than that I have discovered that others look to the imagination --- which haven’t work for me in this world of either, or. I am still baffled at the math I have been taught --- which is, 1 + 1 = 2. In my life-experiences, whenever two of anything gets together a third is created --- and I didn't need to read a book to discover this, I was taught by the hardships of life. In this reality it’s impossible to have one of anything. Think how boring it would be to have just one idea.

 
At 5:28 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Hi. Regarding the tone of this post and in particularly this comment: 'The One and Only says, I AM; and before that One there is, nor has there ever been, an Other. Long before the idea of Other-God ever was, I AM. Cf. Ex 3:13-15, John 8:58'...

When I question existence I ask 'What is here?'. I am here but corporeally, on the face of things, there is also a great wide world that is not me. There is self (I) and there is other (the world and its people and trees and flowers and caterpillars etc).

And I don't feel whole; I don't feel complete somehow. I am always striving to reach completion, to find some harmonic state of mental repose.

 
At 6:52 AM, Blogger Darius said...

POST FIDEL: Please take another look. The post is not embracing belief in a God existing as a distinct entity apart from the rest of existence.

ZEUS: That’s an interesting observation, and of course one might expect this coming from Zeus – that you’d perceive the Christian Trinity as pantheism. I wonder how other people would react to your thought? It can be extended by adding-in Christianity’s lesser gods, so to speak – Mother Mary, Fallen Angel (Satan), the rest of the angels, the prophets, saints…

HOMOESCAPEONS: It does seem to be the case that images of God, in terms of statues, paintings, and art, have always played a big role except in contemplative religious orientations. I can see your point about an idolatrous aspect to such images. But I’m guessing most people would say that the images help them to get at something beyond the image. My angel post, for example, although I have to say that's rare for me to react that strongly to religious images since personally I tend to come at it from the contemplative side. (Your last line… I don't follow...)

YESHAYAH: So you’re Jewish plus you accept the Trinity? I can see how that would work. Christians often forget that Jesus wasn’t “Christian” – the Christian church as an institution didn’t exist yet. He was Jewish, making anti-Semitism not only hateful but extremely ironic.

I say we still haven’t made it all the way to genuine monotheism. Mono. One. Not two. But this didn’t come to me as a revelation –mainly just garden variety experiences of life. I’m wondering if you consider the revelation you speak of to have been revealed to you personally; or whether you believe that revelation occurred historically.

KESHI: Hey, mate! (Was that proper Australian?) Me too…

GANGADHAR: Thanks – those lines pick up on some remarks by St. Paul. Btw, everybody, don’t forget about the Bible link I’ve got on my homepage, so that if anyone wants to compare my evil perversions with the real thing when I cite verses, it’s right there… "Cf." means, "compare" - in other words, my lines are based on those verses even though it's not a direct quotation.

HI LIQUIDPLASTIC: I take all your points except the last. I’d want to say, “But they don’t call it a ‘uni’-verse for nothing.” In other words, we seem to live in a reality that is a single interconnected multiplicity. (Now that’s a mouthful…)

BENJAMIN: To me your words sound like an original statement of, “Life is suffering,” which Dale and I were talking about toward the end of the last post. For me, this suffering that comes with the sense of disconnection and limitation was turned, for a while, into joy by way of experiencing, with increasing clarity, the places where I, and everyone, participates in the One’s identity, so to speak,. (Love, for example, is one of those connections. I’m being so abstract here because I’m trying to summarize a lot of stuff briefly.) Anyway, this is also what keeps me sane today under greatly altered circumstances, giving me a good measure of the peace or repose that you refer to.

It doesn't come easy for some of us. William James talks about the "once born" and "twice born" types - the latter have to go through that "dark night of the soul..."

 
At 7:30 AM, Blogger Yves said...

I agree with you about worship, but the urge to express gratitude, I feel, is built-in, even with agnostics like me, as is the urge to pray. My objection to those who try to take advantage of my natural urges. This is what puts peddlers of religion in the same league as pornographers.

 
At 9:01 AM, Blogger iamnasra said...

God is the One in whom “we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28 God is the Wholeness of the whole story that holds the story of each little life; the greatest Context that exists. God is the only One that is: Being in the immensity of its full power for inclusiveness and creativity, including and yet beyond what we are able to know.


So amazing to read this. Certain time I sit and wonder and the feel of His existenance is powerful Knowing there is no other than God who open the doors for fate to show or give another chance in the land of living is amazing. You come to question who could be powerful to plan the wheels of destiney if there is no God.

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger UARIDI said...

It is true that with two people you have five opinions (or like that) I like some of what you hav said.

Pole about the pictures, I am moving to wordpress soon, maybe that will improve the images.

Be blessed

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

Darius...you should be charging admission or tuition for this experience...

 
At 12:03 PM, Blogger Dale said...

To ask the sticky question, or one of them, Darius -- can a God who can legitimately say "I am what I am" also be a person? Can you talk to him?

If having qualities is essential to being a person, and God is beyond qualities, then God isn't a person.

But maybe one or both of these premises is wrong? I mean, people do report talking with God, it happens all the time -- what is it that they're reporting, then?

 
At 12:18 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

Darius, I am trying to understand what you have been saying about your concept of God.

You said: "POST FIDEL: Please take another look. The post is not embracing belief in a God existing as a distinct entity apart from the rest of existence."

You also said: "One comment infers that I "believe in a god.” I have no such belief. I’m calling God existence itself – Existence."

But isn't existence a state? Is God a state of being?

And finally you said: "There is not a shred of evidence for a Creator existing apart from creation."

What kind of evidence would you need?

Are you meaning to say that God is the cosmic organism having physical reality with everything that exists, including human beings, components of that cosmic organism? If so, do you think of God as having consciousness?

Thanks for your reply.

 
At 1:38 PM, Blogger Liquidplastic said...

“I take all your points except the last. I’d want to say, “But they don’t call it a ‘uni’-verse for nothing.” In other words, we seem to live in a reality that is a single interconnected multiplicity. (Now that’s a mouthful…)”

Yes, Darius I see your point, however, the meaning of words, like gods are created by humanity. Still, there must be something out here that’s truly divine within us that is united, because we all take different path to come to some of the same conclusions. Being born and living under the tyranny of religions all my life, I use to find it boring to discuss it because it was so obvious in my life that religions was used to keep me enslave to one type of thinking and being. But here in this place I have found the discussion of it refreshing to read. In the end, I’d want to say the word “universe” also hides within it “uni nurse, and I thank you with all my heart for the nursing you are doing right now.

For the most part, and this is my personal belief based on experiences only, humanity as a whole is seemingly locked in the milk stage, it hard for a baby to digest meat.

 
At 3:02 PM, Blogger Darius said...

YVES: I think I've known what you mean by the sense of gratitude in terms of that, "it's good to be alive" feeling. Gratitude for the essentials - the air, light, eyes to see and so forth. On the other hand, I've never felt grateful to God for getting a good price on selling my condo, not getting hurt in an accident while others do - specific things.

The urge to pray as built in... If you mean contemplative prayer, I think I see what you mean. Not so sure about petitionary prayer. I guess to the degree that the human species has been predisposed to believe in Og (as distinct from God, per the post), or other deities, it would also be predisposed to ask Og for favors and protection from danger and hardship. But off the top of my head, it seems like belief in deities, once it got started, was taught. Therefore that sort of learned belief in deities, it seems to me, must generally preceed the tendency to request protection/favors from deities.

I hope I'm not tromping on people's feelings when I say stuff like that. But there's so much talk from a religious perpective that I no longer share, and so little that's closer to mine, that I figure someone has to say it...

EVERYONE: So please feel free to "talk back" to me. I have no problem distinguishing people from their views. I can disagree with your view completely without respecting you less. As long as people don't attack each other's motives and intelligence, these things can be discussed.

To me, it's helpful to keep in mind that nobody has the beliefs/unbeliefs they have just to aggravate others.

And no religious or irreligious group has a corner on intelligence. Condescension and sneering are never in order, imo.

IAMNASRA: Can you say more about what you mean by, "destiny?"

UARIDI: And I think the main reason that there are five opinions for every two people in discussing religion is that most of the talk's about beliefs and not experience. When it comes to "things unseen and undemonstrable," talk can be endless.

DON I - thanks, and for stopping by.

DALE: I AM THAT I AM - if I understand correctly, and any Jewish commentators could probably help here - this is the idea behind YAHWEH, the Hebrew letters for God. (Stacey? Yeshayah? Am I Am I mangling this??)

I believe the idea of God as I AM THAT I AM is to indicate God's "aseity" and "ineffability." (I may not be doing justice to this idea, any help is welcome.)

In other words, God (but I'm calling this God, "Og," per my post) "just is" - his existence doesn't depend on anything else. And he's beyond words - words are inadequate to hold him or to do more than barely point toward His nature.

I say: I see no evidence for the existence of Og; but existence sure does exist, and seems to have these important characteristics that have been assigned to Og. So existence is what I'm calling, "God." Actually, these aren't the major reasons I respond to the All or being-itself as God, but they seem to be the ones relevant to this discussion.

Our relation to God, in this sense, is truly participatory in every way. God is the One in whom we live and move and have our being. And while we're included in this life of God, God is so much vaster than ourselves alone that we are both intimate with God and awed by God.

SUSIEQ: Great questions. To clarify, I don't use the word existence to refer to any particular "state of being," but to refer to being itself - including everything we know about it and all that we don't know. Which could be quite a bit...

So yes, God as "the cosmic organism" works for me, although that particular metaphor does gross me out a bit! Must be some old Star Trek episode... I'm picturing lots of tentacles, lol...

But also bear in mind how little we know about the cosmos, if, by that word, you mean, ALL - everything that is/was/will be, whatever it is that is happening and that we find ourselves in the middle of, so to speak, including processes, events, and interelationships beyond space and time as we experience it.

I mean, cosmologists can't even agree on whether there's one universe or any number of them...

Yet as far as we can tell, all the dots, whatever they are, are connected. Small example: if somebody were unkind enough to rocket you off into space without a pressurized cabin or space suit, your body would explode. The pressure in our bodies is just enough to counteract the pressure of earth's atmosphere.

You ask if God, as the only One, is conscious. Well, at least we are. Beyond that, I sure don't know.

But we are. Sometimes. Best of all, we can experience our consciousness in relation to that More than self alone - experience ourselves in relation to that wider sphere of interest, to some degree. For example, we do this whenever we love.

Re. evidence for the existence of Og, by which I mean the Judeo-Christian-Islamic Other-God that's thought to exist as a Being distinct from the rest of being, nature, reality, or existence itself - I don't think it's a question of what I'd personally require for evidence, but a question of what the world would require.

Arguments for the existence of Og don't work. Logicians in the Middle Ages (the Scholastics) tried to work it from every angle. The telological argument (from design) is the only one I remember off the top of my head, but there must have been around a dozen basic arguments. All fatally flawed.

If there were strong evidence for Og's existence, or for Jesus as the Christ, there would be widespread consensus among society the world over. Top-notch universities would all teach the proofs. Anyone capable of following the arguments would be a believer - all the brightest people would be.

And proselytization would be a piece of cake!

LIQUIDPLASTIC: We're really young as a species, that's for sure, so I agree that it's good to bear in mind everything we don't know - uh, that is, in so far as it's possible to do that...

THOSE ATHEISTS who are hostile to all references to God or religion (I know you're out there, I keep posting to Raving Atheist), how's this:

Religion is how we feel about Being. Science (and all forms of honesy inquiry that seek to look at evidence dispassionately) is how we think about Being.

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger crystal said...

Darius, I'm not sure I understand about Og. Is he sort of like the gnostic neoplatonistic demiurge, the "bad" God?

 
At 4:34 PM, Blogger Darius said...

CRYSTAL: I really have only a vague idea of that terminology. But what I mean by Og is "Other-God" - a Creator-Being believed to exist in distinction from being or creation itself.

Is Og bad? Without seeing any evidence for Og's existence, I can only talk about Og as a good/bad idea or belief.

On the one hand, I think Og's a bad idea in as much as the competing representations of Og in the belief systems of Judaism, Christianity and Islam divide us from each other and from the rest of the world, creating conditions for endless conflict - as they have throughout history. Also now as throughout history, these beliefs can be manipulated to terrible effect by hypocritical political leaders.

On the other, I see that now as in the past, this belief works to constructive effect in the lives of large numbers of individuals and also has some positive social effects - for example, when believers push for social justice.

 
At 7:10 PM, Blogger crystal said...

Darius, here's a bit of what Wikipedia says about the Demiurge ...

Like Plato, Gnosticism also presents a distinction between the highest, unknowable "alien God" and the demiurgic "creator" of the material.

I think this is a dividing of God into two different beings ... one is like a person (og), and the other is an impersonal life force (the "real" God). But I prefer to think God is both at once.

 
At 9:14 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

Darius, you said, "So yes, God as "the cosmic organism" works for me, although that particular metaphor does gross me out a bit! Must be some old Star Trek episode... I'm picturing lots of tentacles, lol..."

Tentacles, yes, lol....

Actually, I did not mean it as an metaphor. I do not think of God as a cosmic organism myself, but some people do in a way and I wondered if you were one of them.

I have great respect for science and philosophy, but they have their limitations when it comes to gigantic questions such as whether or not God exists apart from creation. The question can't be answered at least not at this time with the extremely limited knowledge we have of the All, the Everything. This makes God Mystery which I think is a more honest way to conceive of him at this point. Of course, I could be wrong. I am only a human being. What do I know, really, when you get down to it.

This may have already been established in your exchange with your readers, but it seems to me that your concept of God is pantheistic. Is it?

Mother Teresa said that we are in God, surrounded and encompassed by God, swimming in God. I mention this because somewhere in your writings, I believe, you use the term "swimming in God"

 
At 9:24 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

'maiite' wud be the more accurate Aussie accent :):)

Keshi.

 
At 9:48 PM, Blogger grumblefish said...

I'm explaining automobile systems to my son, who is just old enough to start thinking about a car of his own. I can understand the bewilderment that he's feeling,
as we're talking about just engines
at the moment. Most people who are
not interested in cars are more than happy to let mechanics worry
about the details. The notion that
we don't need an in-depth grasp of
cars only works as long as we know
that it needs oil, gas, water, etc,
and an occasional trip to the shop.
Our understanding of our universe
is equally unlikely to be adequate,
even if we acknowledged that we do
not already know everything about everything. I propose that Og or
any proper deity be considered a
closed system, in which we are only
elements of the whole. There is no
escape from the system, regardless
of theological or philosophical
leanings- it makes no difference
whether we accept scriptural or
scientific explanations, or, resign
from the discussion altogether. The
closed system continues, with or
without our acquiescence, and will
still simply lump our existence in
with the inputs,outputs, and errors
that sum up our activities while we
live within the system. If, through
sheer stupidity or ignorance, we
cause enough instability in the system, the system will rebalance
itself to cancel out the errors- us
included, if we are the error.
Admittedly, car shop manuals are a dry read, at best. On the other hand, they do actually tell
one how to set up mechanisms that,
if done, yield a working car. You
could turn a million monkeys (with a million wrenches) loose in a junkyard, and possibly get similar
results. On the other hand, it might be wiser to convince the
monkeys to restrain themselves, or
else! If we take an ala carte view
of religion (any religion) and only selectively practice what we
preach, then we lose any real credibility in our criticisms of
the system as a whole. It amounts
to dumping a gallon of water in the gas tank, then bitching about
performance.
I think that hierarchies of
deities are the product of our own limited abilities to understand even small segments of the system.
Eventually, intellect kicks in, and we identify other truths about
the system which may supersede any
previous description of Ogly domains, and behold! But sheer
intellect should grant us humility
to admit that we really ought to watch our step, with our provably incomplete knowledge of the system. We're rarely as smart as
advertised.

 
At 10:10 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

There is no such thing as "Jews for Jesus" or "Messianic Jews". It is an oxymoron. Jews do not believe in the Christ.

In reality, these groups are fronted and heavily funded by the Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God, and other fundamentalist Christians in an effort to convert true Jews. It is deeply offensive.

 
At 8:03 AM, Blogger Darius said...

STACEY: Doesn't surprise me, thanks for that information. The Christian far right is very well organized. In my remark, I was responding to the content of Yeshayah's comment.

KESHI: Hmm... looks like maybe I've also been mispronouncing "would" then, maiite?

CRYSTAL, SUSIEQ, and G-FISH: I'm thinking you may all be getting at the same basic thought from different angles, so let me first state:

I'm by no means trying to identify God exclusively with the world as known by science - say, the "material world." I'm identifying God with the Whole, the big and complete picture of whatever is going on - whatever that may be, and in its full dimensions and extent.

Certainly this includes "the material world" as we experience it - and all our experiences of life. But I doubt that we're in a position to grasp the totality of WHAT IS. As God says to Job from out of the whirlwind: "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world?"

So G-FISH, I like your description of humility as called for by sheer intellectual honesty, quite aside from any notions of modesty or the attractiveness of humility as a personality trait.

For example, for all science knows, there may be multiple universes. Or consider "string theory," where apparently mathematics suggests that the three dimensions of space plus the fourth dimension of time that we experience, are only a few of many dimensions - the other possibilities haven't been realized in our universe, but exist only in a latent form.

I've never studied pantheism, gnosticism, etc, so maybe I'm one of these and don't know it. I do know that the most compelling case I can make for equating the world, reality, or existence itself with God has to do with the route that took me there, which wasn't a cerebral one.

SUSIEQ, you mention "mystery." For myself, I distinguish between a genuine sense of this, which I'd describe as a sense of awe, from my intellectual, "Huh? How's that again?" in reaction to riddles and word-play that the church often describes as "mystery": the bread and wine are really flesh and blood, three persons in one, the virgin birth, etc.

I'm awed by the sky at night, how wind sounds rustling tree branches, the look in the eyes of babies when they stare at me. Mystery is another of those things we attribute to Og that I experience in direct response to God as life itself.

Interesting that Mother Theresa spoke of "swimming" too, hadn't run across that.

CRYSTAL, yes, the idea of a personal God sounds important to many people. For me, I guess I'm not convinced that personhood, especially as we've realized it to date, represents a pinnacle or fullness of existence such that I'd necessarily want to posit it as an attribute of either God or Og itself.

 
At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Marissa said...

bf"Religion is how we feel about Being. Science (and all forms of honest inquiry that seek to look at evidence dispassionately) is how we think about Being."

I agree! :)

 
At 8:44 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Dale asks, 'People do report talking with God, it happens all the time. What is it that they're reporting then?'

I think this is a constructive question in this thread and I would like to hear some personal responses. What does God sound like? How do you know you are talking to God? These may seem like naive questions, but I am interested.

For those who have a personal and intimate relationship with God, how does this differ (if at all) from talking to yourself?

 
At 3:15 PM, Blogger Chris said...

"This is good and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself-a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time." 1Tim 2:4-6


I would like to take this space, and use it to explain the belief of the Trinity. The Christian belief in a Trinity of three persons in one God is not a contradiction. He is three persons, but only one nature. An example is one to the third power. 1*1*1=1 God is not 1+1+1=3, which is tritheism or polytheism.

Another great example of this concept is by Norman Geisler. "God is love (1 John 4:16). But to have love, there must be a lover (Father), a loved one (Son), and a spirit of love (Holy Spirit). So, love itself is a tri-unity."

God has spoken clearly of each part of Himself in the bible, and the significance of each part as it relates to us. For instance the verse at the top tells us of Jesus being the mediator between God and us. God has spoken, the rest is just commentary right?

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger Darius said...

BENJAMIN: Good question, hope we get some feedback before I post again - I think most people here in the states are already in Memorial Day mode, blogosphere seems pretty quiet...

CHRIS: Sounds like you share what I termed, "the conservative premise" in comments section of May 14 post, which reads in part:

"What conservatives seem to believe is that the process through which the Bible was written differs from the writing process used by all other human beings in all times and places. It was informed in some especially direct way by God.

"For religious conservatives then, whatever the Bible says has to be correct."

My May 3 post gives a critique of this idea - the idea is essentialy a view of what inspiration consists of - and offers an alternative. (In brief: religious inspiration is creativity in the area of spirituality.)

No one would come to the view that Jesus was God walking and talking in human form, much less a holy trinity, independently of accepting that the New Testament is not only the word of God, but the special words of God. It's only after the fact of accepting what these words say that apologists scout around for plausible-sounding analogies and theological language with overtones and connotations of something the thinker has reasoned his or her way into.

 
At 6:34 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

People do call themselves Jews for Jesus, but their version of Judaism is unlike what I, or many others embrace.

 
At 6:30 AM, Blogger kevin said...

Hi Darius, your posts have been very enjoyable.

I once heard a Jewish explaination of the "I Am What I Am" statement, and he interpreted it as almost a joke: "Never Mind What I Am - It is Enough To Know That I Am!"

My favorite chapter (Surah) from the Quran:

Sura The Unity:

In the Name of the Most Merciful, Compassionate.
1. Say: He, God is One.
2. God, the Self Subsisting Source of All Being.
3. He was not born nor gives birth.
4. And there is nothing that can be compared to Him.

thanks

 
At 8:09 AM, Blogger Darius said...

BENJAMIN ASKED: How do you know, in a relationship to God, that you're talking to God and not to yourself? Any thoughts?

BARBARA (and STACEY): Right. Without knowing anything about them, I would think that any "Jews for Jesus" sorts of organization(s)such as Stacey refers to would be unlike Judaism as the overwheming number of Jews understand it. We've never heard back from Yeshayah, so hard to say where he's coming from.

He did represent himself as both Jewish and also believing in Christian theology. When I replied, "I can see how that would work," I wasn't implicitly advocating that Jews accept Christian theology - I've been explicit that I don't accept it myself.

My reply was to highlight one of the few historical facts we know about Jesus: he was Jewish. Early Christianity was in fact a tiny Jewish sect. The earliest Christians truly were "Jews for Jesus." The rest of the Judaic world rejected the idea of Jesus as Messiah and all the attendant theology that came to surround belief in a Savior who gets crucified.

Shortly afterward, Christianity was put squarely on a path to becoming a different religion when this small Jewish sect decided that non-Jews could become Christians. So at that point, Christianity not only had a theology - or Christology - that was not accepted by the larger Jewish community; it was also set on a course to rapidly distance itself from Jewish law and tradition.

KEVIN: Those lines you quote from the Quran ascribe attributes to God that Christianity also ascribes to God - I'm guessing Judaism too, since that's where western monotheism originates. While these three religions have major differences of belief and tradition, they are historically connected.

Personally, as I've been indicating in the post and comments, I find it more plausible to assign such attributes to reality or existence itself - which is what I mean by the word, "God."

I don't know about others, but for me this sort of abstract talk does have it's limits - inevitable as it is for us to go a ways down that path, given that I've stated that I don't find the Og-concept compelling. For me, the further we remove the abstractions from experience, the further we get away from what's truly life-giving and important in the domain of religion and spirituality.

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger iamnasra said...

Destiny okay I must have spelled wrong . Fate or destiny (to me at least) just does not happen by fluke there is a higher power behind it to happen a creator and this can be no other than God. One of the sign we tend to ignore of the existence of God (or creator)

 
At 2:37 PM, Blogger kevin said...

How do you know, in a relationship to God, that you're talking to God and not to yourself? Any thoughts?"

When the message is something that I don't want to do, or is uncomfortable, asking me to reach for a unknown, to trust, or to strive for compassion or some small kindness - then I think it is usually safe to assume that is a message from God.

The voice of my Self, consists, I believe, of self pity, frustration, impatience, anger and pride, among others of course.

When the "voice" or message points to outside of my 'Self" I know that is God. When the voice points to my self, then I know it is my ego talking.

That is how I have come to discern.

 
At 7:36 PM, Blogger Darius said...

KEVIN: In addressing Benjamin’s question, it sounds to me like you may be speaking of being receptive to God in ways that don’t primarily involve words.

You contrast messages that come from your “Self,” or ego, with messages that come from “outside” yourself, which you speak of as coming from God.

Does it seem to you that your experience of relationship to something greater than yourself is of an Other being – a distinct and separate Entity, kind of like the way that we experience other people? Or does it feel closer and more intimate than your relationship with other lives?

IAMNASRA: No problem with your spelling! But honestly I’ve never understood the idea of destiny.

We experience a world in which events sometimes unfold with a high degree of order; but at other times appear to involve a high degree of randomness and chance. How could we tell the difference between a world that really does contain both order and disorder from a world in which things have been planned or foreordained in a manner that gives every appearance of containing both order and disorder?

 
At 10:08 PM, Blogger SusieQ said...

Darius, you say: "SUSIEQ, you mention "mystery." For myself, I distinguish between a genuine sense of this, which I'd describe as a sense of awe, from my intellectual, "Huh? How's that again?" in reaction to riddles and word-play that the church often describes as "mystery": the bread and wine are really flesh and blood, three persons in one, the virgin birth, etc.

I'm awed by the sky at night, how wind sounds rustling tree branches, the look in the eyes of babies when they stare at me. Mystery is another of those things we attribute to Og that I experience in direct response to God as life itself."

Darius, I am awed, too, by things like the sky at night, the wind blowing through the trees (I love the wind) and children fast asleep in their beds. I feel close to God at moments like these. I sense that God is speaking to me through these things and I sense my heart is being softened as a result. But it could be that my heart was soft to begin with thus enabling me to be in awe of these things.

When I say God is Mystery, I mean that God is incomprehensible. But it is okay if I do not understand God completely. I trust God the Mystery and I entrust myself to him. I may not know all there is to know about him, but I can still know him, that is experience him. I think there is a difference. Don't you? For instance, it is a mystery to me how my body knows what to do in order to digest food and distribute this nutrition in proper form to my cells. It is a mystery to me, but I trust it and, so, I eat.

You say: "Interesting that Mother Theresa spoke of "swimming" too, hadn't run across that."

I discovered that term in a book I have about her meditations on spiritual life. She also talks about silent prayer in this book. If you are at all interested, the name of the book is Everything Starts from Prayer.

 
At 5:28 AM, Blogger Don Iannone said...

A Community of the Spirit
A Poem By Rumi

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.
Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.
Open your hands,
if you want to be held.
Sit down in the circle.
Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd's love filling you.
At night, your beloved wanders.
Don't accept consolations.
Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover's mouth in yours.
You moan, "She left me." "He left me."
Twenty more will come.
Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.
Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger kevin said...

Yes, beyond words, while including them. I understand no limits to how He chooses to Act.

Does it seem to you that your experience of relationship to something greater than yourself is of an Other being – a distinct and separate Entity, kind of like the way that we experience other people? Or does it feel closer and more intimate than your relationship with other lives?

ummm, it seems at times both of these. I realize this borders on 'pantheism', but I see God actions, messages and His Mercy and Power in all of His Creation: Including my ego.

So, when my stomach makes a noise, Allah is telling me to feed this piece of flesh He clothed me in. When "I" feel the urge to "pray", it is His message telling me to feed this spirit of Light He clothed me in with prayer. When I watch my wife attend to some hurt of our daughter, then I am seeing Allah's Mercy manfested through the actions.

In this blog, the comments, ect. Allah is making Himself Known through His attribute "The Inspirer of Faith".

So, to put it another way,I see it as God's Essence is One, greater than ourselves, as you say. He is Other in the sense that He is Incomparable to anything.

AND, He is a close Friend (Dost) through His manifestations of His attributes of Mercy, Power, Kindness, Forgiveness, ect.

So, again, I see His message including "words" but is not limited to them.

nice question, thanks for asking.

 
At 8:24 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Thanks for the response, Kevin, regarding conversing with God. It seems to me you discern that those thoughts suggesting compassion and kindness to others come from God. Thoughts about helping yourself come from your ego.

Does anyone have any comment to make on this point? I suspect that Kevin's comment would resonate with many believers. Whether I am in one of my 'believer' phases or not, this is the way I think of God. Godliness is good and selfishness is bad. It seems to me reasonable that, since we define a message from God as being a good thought, and a message from ourselves as a selfish or bad thought, we might go on to analyse where we get our notions of good and bad from.

Do we get our notions of good and bad from God?

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Darius said...

SUSIEQ, you write, “When I say God is Mystery, I mean that God is incomprehensible. But it is okay if I do not understand God completely. I trust God the Mystery and I entrust myself to him.”

Me too! It’s just that when I say, “God,” I mean reality or existence itself and not an Entity existing in distinction from it.

Thanks for the reference. Given the nature of the quote and mention of prayer, sounds like Mother Theresa must be someone who practiced contemplative prayer.

DON I: Like that a lot. It reminds me in a way of Walt Whitman’s poetry. I especially like, “Flow down and down in always/ widening rings of being,” which happens to read like an extremely concise metaphorical summary of pretty much everything I've ever experienced.

KEVIN: Thanks for your thoughtful answer. I’ll shorten and re-state the question here in case anyone else wants to comment:

"Does it seem to you that your experience of God is of an Other being – a distinct and separate Entity, kind of like the way that we experience other people? Or does it feel closer and more intimate than your relationship with people?"

Sounds like for you, something in the quality of the experience is Other-like; but also there is a greater nearness involved than in your experience of other finite beings. To give my take on your words, you experience Allah as being – or Being - which is immediately informative of, or upwelling to, your own life and life itself.

Me too. For me, the way that I can best make sense of this experience is when I take “God” or “Allah” to truly and literally mean the only One. Existence. Reality - whatever its full dimensions are. The One in whom, to borrow Saint Paul’s words, we live and move and have our being.

Now the experience of God becomes the experience of our own Otherusness. This experience has the dimension of occuring in relation to Being as Other-like in the sense that the full dimensions of the One that includes us all remain beyond all of us in any number of ways (as pointed to by SUSIEQ).Yet while God is so much more than we are, everything that we are is comprehended by God; and therefore the experience is also one of utmost intimacy.

For me, thinking of God as simply the One – i.e., as existence or reality itself – is much truer to my actual experience than belief in the Og (Other-God) that I grew up with: the anthropocentric Guy in the Sky whose being is conceived of as existing in distinction from the rest of existence but for whose existence there is no evidence.

BENNAMIN: I look at it as One world-in-struggle. And we’re a small part of it. Less a belief than an observation, I think. And imo, the biggest job we have, as individuals and a species, is to make and live exactly that distinction you refer to between Godliness and selfishness.

 
At 1:46 PM, Blogger Trish said...

Hey, thanks for commenting on my blog. I have nothing against psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical interviewers, or any other people in the mental health field. I think they do a lot of good work with people. I'm just slightly nervous about what they're going to say about ME. You know the ol', "I think I'm normal, but what do the professionals think"? :) Anyway, See ya later.

 
At 8:54 AM, Blogger Darius said...

TRISH, thanks for stopping by - I know, was just kidding in my remark to your blog -

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger Liquidplastic said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:15 PM, Blogger Chris said...

"No one would come to the view that Jesus was God walking and talking in human form, much less a holy trinity, independently of accepting that the New Testament is not only the word of God, but the special words of God."

Darius I am sorry if I bring up an old topic that you already have discussed. It is interesting about what you said. You know the quote from up there. Because nether did the disciples; until the resurrection. (According to the gospels.) Now I am sure that you have already stated that they did not believe in Jesus being God; even though they died for their belief in Jesus. And of course no one would believe that Jesus was God if they did not read the bible. That is the whole point of the bible. Whether you believe that it was accurately written is not the point here. The point is what it says. Of course you have the right to reject, take peices of it, or believe it. But that does not change the truth. It is ether God's word, or not. If not then there is little point to it because it is false. It may say nice things, but who cares. It then truly becomes a peice of junk. Then we enter into a real problem of existence of God. And how do we find truth? But if there is a God, who wants to reveal Himself to us don't you think that He would protect the mode in which it comes. Believe in the entire does not close you mind, but opens it into another realm. But you then come to realize that it has been the one that you have been living in all along.

Also, an answer to you questions about all religions going to the same place. First, they all contradict. Even at the core all religions contradict, and truth does not have contradictions. Second, what place? Third, then why can't I kill people for my
religion since it is all relative. Just a few thoughts.

 
At 12:10 PM, Blogger Darius said...

CHRIS, no problem. And I"m pretty sure we disagree about less than you’re thinking.

Regarding the New Testament, I agree that it says what you say it says. Seems to me that it’s very clear about Jesus being resurrected God and Savior. It even puts this theological aspect of the text front and center. That’s the most important thing the authors of the gospels considered themselves to have to say.

I think it’s equally clear that believing Christians believe the things they do about Jesus based on the authority of the New Testament and the sense in which they believe it to be authoritative. It’s the original source document. Christians believe what it says about Jesus as resurrected God and Savior because it says so. And they believe it because it says so because they also believe that the words of the Bible are unique and unlike all other words: God’s actual words.

And yes, religions contradict when it comes to their beliefs. Not only that: they absolutely contradict. Each claims knowledge of truth with a capital T, asserting that its belief system was divinely revealed.

Where you find great similarity is when you look at the contemplative traditions of world religions; also, a number of other experiential aspects; and, to a considerable extent, morality. Since I find these aspects central to religious reality rather than belief systems, it’s not “all relative” to me either. In fact I think there are some experiential absolutes, but that’s getting way ahead of anything I’ve blogged to date.

 
At 12:56 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Ah…interesting. Darius let me state that my intentions on adding to this blog is not to attack, but to add to the discussion from a biblical perspective. The problem (though it seems not yours) is most people have an incorrect understanding of the bible and true Christianity. Most, admittedly, done because of those who are supposed leaders of the church.

Let me also state something about the bible. The bible is historically correct in every area. There is not one place, gravestone, or event that the bible puts out that history has been able to disclaim. Science can’t disclaim it. Nothing. It has stood the test of time. Not only does it speak about Jesus, but also it speaks about itself. It preservation is its own testimony. The bible speaks of actual events in history. It is not myth, but truth. Historically founded. Scientifically founded. Philosophically sound. Some Christians take the bible at face value. Other Christians have beaten it, stomped it, and tried to do everything they can to disprove it, and in the end are found with no other choice but to ether deny Truth or embrace it. C. S. Lewis was one of those people. If you want the meat of Christianity without the verses read Mere Christianity. (It is a really good book that gives an insight into the mystery of the bible and Christianity.)

All other forms of thought have come and past yet one still reigns. Though minor theological assumptions have changed, the message is still the same.

God created everything.

Man has fallen.

God has reconciled those who desire to be reconciled through Christ.

 
At 8:14 AM, Blogger Darius said...

CHRIS: To simply assert that something is true, no matter how many times it's done, doesn't constitute an argument for its veracity.

As far as the Bible being a history book goes, it just isn't. Historiography had no more been invented then than science. The Bible has some historical elements, but it simply isn't history. Leaders on the far right distort and overlook facts, and it's a terrible injustice to everyone. People with differing perspectives are hampered in having meaningful conversations when we are no longer honest enough to refrain from distorting information.

You don't have to be a historian to recognize that the books of the Bible contain a wide variety of writings, from theology to poetry to narratives.

None of this writing was done by historians or journalists. These fields, with the standards for verification that we use today, just didn't exist.

Not being a historian of the Mid East, I can't cite which specific historical details in the Bible are accurate and which inaccurate. But to give an idea of the kind of thing I mean, I've heard scholars discuss how parts of the Bible relate the use of camels for transporting goods at periods of time when this wasn't done. And archaelogical finds show that some places that Bible authors describe as having been great cities were, in the times they refer to, actually small villages in a largely agrarian area.

For the life of me, I don't understand how stuff like this threatens belief. I don't see how it relates to the central beliefs at all if people inspired by God, but nevertheless, PEOPLE, can't have been expected to be doing journalism, history, and science by modern standards prior to their invention! In fact except for conservative Christians, believing Christians don't have a problem with this, which I know from divinity school. The faculty there was entirely made up of clergy from various denominations. None of them felt they needed to pretend the Bible was a book of history or science in order to maintain their beliefs.

James Barr's "The Scope and Authority of the Bible" gives details on this. It's a "quick read" - written clearly and not a long book. Barr started out believing just what you do - in the inerrancy of the Bible. He ended up remaining a believing Christian, but after doing the research, he couldn't kid himself on that point any more.

 

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