Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

Archive for the ‘Trinity’ Category

Western Myth Number Five: That Jesus was "a great teacher."

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“Jesus was a great teacher.” The ultimate subject of all of Holy Scripture is Christ, and what He said and did doesn’t allow us that option. (We can debate whether Mohamed was a “great teacher” based on his teachings and his life. It’s not hard for most people to see that loving others on the same level as ourselves is a more godly approach than waging war on civilians in the name of one’s religion, but that seems to be changing.) C.S. Lewis said that Jesus does not give us the option of saying that He was a good moral teacher. A moral man would not make the claims that Christ made, of being in the Godhead before the days of Abraham, of having the power to forgive sins against God, or of having the power to die, and rise again, of His own will. Such claims would have to come from a liar, or a lunatic. A liar, though, would surely have changed his story when facing torture and death, and a lunatic could not have backed up his claims with such miracles (Remember, His miracles were so widely recognised by friend and foe alike that for the first several centuries afterward it wasn’t His divinity, but His humanity that was hard for people to comprehend!) “Which is easier,” He asked, “To say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?'” At His word, the paralytic rolled up his mat and went home. The only option left us is that He truly is the Lord of Creation, and of life. How does that affect your life?


Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 6 August, 2008 at 17:38

Western Mythology, Part Three: An Omniscient "Science"

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Oh, and here’s one: That the Bible is true in as far as it can be scientifically proven. As long as there has been “science,” the Bible has served as its guide. Sure, there will be instant reaction here, about Galileo and Copernicus, but the religious establishment was complaining, not about any contradiction with Scripture, but against Aristotle and Archimedes! Remember, this was a time when church scholars were debating things like whether women have souls, or, reportedly, how many angels can dance on a pin head! Church position depended on social rank, and classical Greek “science” was the latest fad in the universities. The discovery of ocean “paths” that sped the sailing ships to new worlds came from hearing a Psalms reading, and when Western man “discovered” that the world is, in fact, round, it was a reading from Isaiah 40 that started the ball rolling. On the other hand, if we start off reading the Bible with “scientific” limits to what we are willing to accept, then we’ve already lost before we’ve started, haven’t we? At that point the basic science of logic has been overlooked: John Wesley offered this explanation: The Bible is either the work of good men and angels, bad men and devils, or it is from God. If the first, then why would the good make such claims about miracles, about God becoming Man, or about the Resurrection? Clearly, the Bible is not the work of good men, or angels! Could it then be the work of bad men, or even of devils?

Why would the evil ones go to the trouble of creating such a work that condemns their own activities? Clearly, again, it does not come from an evil source. The only choice left to us is that it comes from God, and if God has gone to such lengths to communicate with us, then that message might just be important enough to command our full attention.

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 27 July, 2008 at 21:37

The Image

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There are several ways that God uses to communicate with people, and several ways that people use to keep from hearing His voice. Why is that? Maybe there’s something deep inside the human soul that wants to throw a tantrum over any suggestion that it might not actually be God after all. We’ve all known people like that, and maybe we could even say we’ve been people like that at some time.

The first thing created, says Genesis, was light. Jesus gives light to everyone born in this world. God wants us to be enlightened. We can’t enlighten ourselves, but He wants to enlighten our hearts with His own presence.

At the Creation, we understand that God made mankind, both genders, in the image of God. Through sin, that Image is damaged, but we still long to create, and to love, and we love to see things of beauty, and deep down we know things that are true when nothing we learn in school supports them. There is such a thing as goodness, and marriage is respectable, and stealing is bad form regardless. Not just because there are laws, but there are laws because.

People with that “thing” in their souls, that thing called “sin” that is all about thinking it’s in charge of it all, want to suppress that Image of a God beside themselves to the degree that the sin claims first place. It’s interesting that, no matter how far we are separated from the One who is, ultimately, our Father, we always carry a picture of Him in our hearts.

Since we are, to the extent of being made in Him image, His children, He loves us and delights to see His good points develop in us. Unlike an earthly dad, this Father has no bad points, so there’s none of that “Do as I say and not as I do” bit. But He loves us, and wants to see good in us for our own sakes, and to better communicate that likeness to the rest of us. When people talk about human dignity, or the sanctity of life, this is exactly the reason. We (ought to) respect one another far more than Da Vinci’s heirs respect the Mona Lisa, or the most fervent patriots their flag. Because of the image of God upon the soul of every human being we respect their life and dignity, and because of that image upon us we think, and live, in ways that allow that likeness to develop in us.

If this is new to you, then it is first of all a matter of a child-Father relationship with God. This is the reason that Jesus came, to take away our sins and restore that relationship in all that are willing to become His children by a spiritual birth and not just from being of the human species. Those who come into that relationship begin to realise that it is the one reason for their (our) existence, as everything else does not just “pale in comparison” as a poet might say of some human devotion, but everything else actually fits together makes sense as it never could before. We can enjoy relationships with others on a whole new level, and also with thought, science, and the Universe in general. Like the old bit of Christian liturgy, “All things come from Thee, O God, and from thine own have we given Thee!”

By the way, here’s a grabber for you!

Written by Robert Easter

Monday, 5 May, 2008 at 7:14

Free in the Middle!

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Lately we hear people saying that the Bible is just a book, but it is only in Jesus that God revealed Himself. It is generally packaged in language that would sound a lot nicer, saying the Christ, alone, is the Word, or that the Bible is made of physical stuff like paper and ink, so how can we really trust it. Interestingly, a lot of these folks happen to have some paper and ink hanging on a wall someplace, which they expect to be taken quite seriously.

So what do we have, if we “only” have Jesus as God’s revelation? First off, without the 300+ Bible prophecies He fulfilled we’ve already overlooked some amazing credentials. Then we would also lose His history within the Old Testament record as there are a number of incidents in which He shows up as a special messenger for God, whether as the “Captain of the Lord’s hosts” to Joshua, the mysterious Melchizadek who met Abraham, and to whom Abraham gave a tithe (tenth part) of all he had gained in a miraculous victory of his servants against the kings of three cities, or any of many others. Then still we have Jesus quoting and authenticating the writings we’ve just been told aren’t authentic. Can we have it both ways? If God has spoken to us at all, then Jesus Christ is right in the middle of God’s revelation of Himself, as God personally, come as a man for mankind!

On the Cross, Jesus lived out what David wrote in Psalm 22 (among other places), and what Isaiah described in chapter 53 (among other places), and then rose again as predicted (again…). When He did rise, He told His disciples that it was necessary that He die and rise again as predicted in the Prophets, and that He would be returning to set all things right. If we take a serious look at Bible prophecy we find that hundreds of warnings and promises have already comeabout concerning captivities and returns, setting up and bringing down of kingdoms, and especially of Jesus’ coming as the “Son of Joseph,” the suffering Messiah. The promises of His Return, and the resurrection of all the dead (the righteous to eternal life, the rebellious to eternal torment) are just as sure, with His own resurrection as living proof that God is able to do even that.

So what do we do with that? Thomas had his doubts, but when confronted with the living Christ could only say, “My Lord and my God!” Thousands since him have gone the same way: They had their doubts, but when they were faced with that one Reality gave up their own worn-out opinions (as they suddenly saw them to be) for the Truth of God. When we consider what is in the balance, this is definitely one question that is worth finding out. Like Jesus said, “They will now the truth, and the truth will make them free,” and, “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed!”

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 20 April, 2008 at 18:04

Little Boxes?

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It’s become fashionable in Church circles today to talk about thinking or working “outside the box.” An old truism says that insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, and so comes a book some years back about “coloring outside the lines” which seems to be the base now for this “outside the box” language.

Speaking of coloring, one bit of info from my “undergrad days” was that Pablo Picasso was an accomplished student of the classical painting styles before he launched off into the Dada styling that made him famous. Possibly he could have gained the same fame anyway, but who knows? The point here is that he knew exactly where the lines were before coloring outside of them.

One concern comes of the fact that the Church is not a business concern, or an ad agency for that matter. A business is an organisation, made of rules and procedures. The Church is a supernatural organism, made up of the Spirit, Word, and Sacraments of God in the living souls of the Redeemed. One is powered by prestige, pride, and performance reviews, the other depends on God. While this sounds too vague or spiritualistic to some, it will ring true with the experience of many others. Now we come to the point of the matter.

To think “outside the box” we first have to find the box. Even thinking outside the thing, the thinking still relates back to it, or else it has no reference point by which to even say what the thinking is about. One has to wonder at times if these “outside the box” heads have really seen the box to which they are referring. The need in view is, for clergy and Church scholar, to find the box, the starting point: a Biblical understanding of the faith of the Early Father & Mothers of the Faith. The ones who learned from the Apostles, and the ones who worked through those teachings to teach the people of their own world. After you have gotten inside their faith, understanding the implications of Christ’s resurrection, and of the Trinity, and where it all applies to being the Church then and today, then we can talk about “boxes:” Only by that time we will have discovered that “box” to be a vast city too great to measure!

Written by Robert Easter

Tuesday, 15 April, 2008 at 14:59

The Whole Truth

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Following up on our last article, to be able to get our minds around the idea of the Bible being one whole message, or word it helps to understand what we read from Moses, and from Jesus that, “Man shall not live ..but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In order to understand that Book as one whole message we have to understand that every word is there on purpose, and is important to the message as a whole. For some folks, this might be a matter of fact, for some it’s a radical idea. For a slow learner like me, I can say I believe it and then discover all over again how radically true it is.

In the Psalms, David writes that God has a blessing for those who are “undefiled in the way,” who seek the Lord “with a whole heart.” [Ps. 119:1,2] Who were these people? Did they only exist in David’s time, or can there be people like that today? What kind of blessing does God hold for them? The king of all Israel, in the process of building the nation from a dozen scattered tribes to a place of real prominence, would go on through this longest Psalm to show that blessing was the one greatest desire in his own life, and to build a series of meditations on how to gain it.

The first challenge that we face today is simply believing what we read. It seems to be saying that such people exist (and if then, why not now?), and that there is a real blessing for them. It is interesting that so many people today will stand up and say that they believe in God, and in miracles, and that there is nothing too big for Him to handle. He made the Universe. He brought the Hebrews out of Egypt. The Flood. The Virgin Birth. The Resurrection. Healings, and all kinds of miracles are right in His domain. But can He actually make a change in a yielded human nature? Jesus conquered death, but can He overcome sin? The easy answer, for a lot of people, is to assume that sin is somehow beyond His reach, or that He’s really not all that concerned with it.
The obvious answer is that He has made it clear that there is nothing outside His concern, or His reach, especially that which He abased Himself from the highest throne down to Hell to eradicate.

Back to the Psalm we see two things, or maybe three. The first is that David knows that there are people who do love the Lord with all their hearts, and that he wants to be one. Also, maybe he envies the “undefiled” because of God’s building that purity in his own heart. Some people, it seems, have a guilty conscience, but others are conscious of God’s own holiness. We read in Hebrews that God’s Word discerns the difference between soul and spirit. What does this mean? One example is right here, as , and this is one example as it says in 2nd Corinthians that a godly (spirit ual) sorrow leads to a change, while a worldly (selfish or “soul ish”) sorrow is deadly. In short, what does that awareness produce? So we see a question raised in the Psalms, an assurance in Hebrews that the answer is available, and a clue for understanding it in 2nd Corinthians. More clues can be found in probably every one of the sixty-six books, or else someone can ignore the whole landscape and claim it’s not there. We find that in the Psalms also: “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the
man that trusteth in him! [Psalm 34:8]”

Written by Robert Easter

Tuesday, 15 January, 2008 at 22:38

All Different, Alike.

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Each of us is different- a lone, unique, individual in a vast sea of different individuals. Some smart ankle put as “You are special and unique, just like the other six-and-a-half billion people in this world!” This, in itself, makes us feel a little insecure, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s why people living in big, dense, populations seem to either carefully conform to the “norm” or go out of their way to defy it. Either way it seems we’re trying to define ourselves without a dictionary.

Sometimes this creates a problem of us wanting to feel more secure in this confusion by writing our own dictionaries so that they define us as better than others by setting our “good points” as the main standards and our weaknesses as less important. Someone with a weakness for alcohol can re-write that part of the book to recommend themselves for their discerning taste in their poison. Another might recommend a lustful bent as a virtue for only lusting after the “pretty ones.” Each person can define
“superior humanity” as having straight or curly hair, or being the “ideal” height. Anyone with different body type, food preference, or career path would be clearly deficient, and part of the universal human package is the kind of insecurity that could enable me to actually believe such nonsense.

So what is Normal? And why are we all so different?

There seems to be a rule in logic that we can learn more about the particulars from the general than we can learn about the general from the particulars. If there is anything like a norm, the best thing we can tell about it is that every one of us is deviated from it, though some in more creative ways than others. Two other things we notice is that while each of us wants to be known as an individual, each of us wants to belong to something bigger than just us. And each of these three things points straight to God!

Back in the very beginning, God did make us to be like Him- to carry His image. Goodness, honesty, compassion, all the things that our consciences tell us we ought to show, but just can’t seem to get around to it. Each of us is distinct. There’s something in us that wants to be noticed, and understood. And we want to understand others, don’t we? When we put those three parts together we have a some suggestions about the God Who made us: All that “good” means, that’s Him. And He is distinct: He is the One that is completely distinct in Himself. Theologians say that is what His holiness is about. But not just to be distinct in isolation, but in relationship. The Bible tells us that He wants to reveal Himself to us, and for us to open our own hearts to Him, as His friends. So just seeing this glimpse of God’s image in our humanity we can say that He is good, holy, and loving. Since God, by definition, is eternal, and we, by definition, are not, that would mean that for the unimaginable majority of God’s existence we weren’t there. Again by definition God is perfect and not needy, but love assumes a relationship. In what kind of relationship do we find God, in all eternity? The Bible, again, tells us that God is love. If He lives in love, through all eternity, and not in need of love then can He be One, alone? Being God, it is possible that He be of one Substance, yet more than one Person in perfect unity. We have pictures of this in human life, as newlyweds experience that desire to be completely united and identified with each other, or of soldiers building such an esprit de corps that their very lives are secondary to the mission. So if the Deity is expressed in more Persons than one, then how many might it be? If two, then that would be a picture of a romantic coupling or one’s love affair with a mirror, with no room either way for another. If four or more, then it gets to be more like a committee, or a group of smaller cliques. That leaves us with three, which happens to fit with the Holy Trinity. Three Persons: Of one substance, each distinctly unique, yet the very word “Person” means one in relationship with others.

So we can find out that much about what God is like from looking at the broken image in people, then what can we learn about ourselves from learning about God?

Further reading from St. Anselm

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 15 December, 2007 at 18:26