Arthur's Journal on God & Politics
What Does It Mean to be Christian in America?
A God of War
Apocalypse & End Times
Biblical Literalism
Christ Path
Conformity & Orthodoxy
Fear, Shame & Guilt
God & Politics
Goodness, Morality & Sin
Heresy & Heretics
History, Mystery & Doubt
Kindergarten Religion
Mental Spiritual Constructs
Mystical Christianity
Mythical Proportions
Passion of The Christ ...
Someone Else's Magic

The Book never says anywhere that your dreams come from the book.

People of the book are afraid of divination.

They are superstitious.
They are afraid that the devil hides in cards, moves plastic eyeballs on Ouija boards, flips the sticks on the I Ching and possess the stones in the Runes.
These are literalists.
They are Kindergarten Christians.
What they think they should teach you is what you already know.

They are afraid to divine.
Yet many of these same believers will not hesitate to talk about moments when they’ve felt spiritual guidance in their lives through the same divining process.
They may even tell you about it with tears in their eyes as they talk about their own experience of the mysterious.

You may encounter someone from this kindergarten who tells how they have opened the Bible to a random page, run their finger down to a verse picked randomly and found a specific verse timely to their question and purpose.
For them it was God’s spirit moving them to find God’s truth for their issue of the moment.

But in their book there are warnings against divination, wizards and familiar spirits - things and practices that cannot and should not be trusted.

But those who live by the book trust accept by belief - spiritual divination - written words as a spiritual communication of God.

"But," they will also say, "God doesn't communicate with people in that manner"

Even their book disagress. Abraham’s servant blatantly requested God’s help in knowing divining - from God - who God wanted to become Isaac’s future wife.

In the story book Abimelech learned that Sarah was Abraham’s wife in a dream,
Joseph’s dream interpretation for the well being of Pharaoh’s Egypt and his own Israelite tribe,
Gideon’s acting upon a dream to defeat the Midianites,
Daniel’s dream interpretations,
Joseph’s dream assuring him it would be okay to take Mary to wife, and again later to take the child Jesus to Egypt.

But the book condemns all divination as occult and a tool of the Devil.
Well the scribes and priests who wrote the book condemned divination. They condemned guessing when it came to the will of God. Because they were the only ones who could read the book. They told the kindergartent Christians what was in the book.

Kindergarten Christians did not know any better.
They still don't.

Christian Divination in the 21st Century: Prophets, Prompters and the Spirit speaking to the Church

 Recently, I had occasion to call a local businessman who had started a Health Club and was offering a discount to members of all local churches regardless of denomination. His procedural approach was for our congregation to pay the member’s full rate from which he would “rebate” the discount amount back. When I asked why he was doing this he declared firmly “The Lord told me to set up this business in this way.”

Another person I know declared that the Lord had prompted here to take a specific teenage female into her home and to act as a surrogate parent on her behalf.

In the context of my social work I’ve met more than one Christian adult who faces adversity with a faith that [paraphrased] “the Lord must want me to go through this for a reason. I trust in Him and do my best.”

Guidance, prompting, faith and trust … all expressing the living mystical aspect to Christianity that touches far more accurately on living spiritually than all the preaching, doctrine and conformity to some orthodoxy combined.

All of these above examples and the countless millions who have such a spiritual connection with a higher power - be it the Christian version of God or something above and beyond human perception - compose a spiritual approach to life that includes taking scripture beyond the literal and letter-of-the-law adherence formula for an afterlife reward.

This is what I refer to as Christian divination and ought not to be confused with the assumed prophetic activity of contemporary evangelical celebrity leaders who declare directly or strongly imply that God has spoken to them personally - perhaps in the manner of the health club operator mentioned above - but in a non-sharing way.

Mr. Robertson has taken the most publicly open role of prophet of our times in declaring all the things God has told him regarding national politics and American elections.

He and Mr. Falwell again are remembered for declaring the events of 9/11 as being a direct statement of God’s repudiation of America for its sinfulness regarding abortion and homosexuality.

Exercising their right to free speech, these public persons - because of their influence - perhaps encourage Christians who support them to make that leap of faith to accepting such “prophetic uttering” as today’s “thus sayeth the Lord” pronouncements of the will of God.

Claiming to speak the will of God can be a risky business. To do so runs the risk of being perceived in the same vein as David Koresh,Jim Jones, or those Mormon Fundamentalist/Polygamist Dissenters who broke-away from the LDS and who become prophets, as well as other cult leaders.

Prophets may also face in-house challenges from loyal followers or dissenters seeking to wear that same prophetic mantle.

In September, 1830, five months after the founding of the LDS Church, Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith was forced to deal directly with one Hiram Page who had become equally caught up in the open charismatic prophetic role modeled by Smith. Hiram professed to be receiving revelations by use of his own “seer stone,” a method by which Joseph had earlier translated the Book of Mormon.

Having established a place for charisma and prophecy in the new church, Joseph had to deal with others practicing the same gifts he professed. He had to assert who receives revelations and who doesn’t. Joseph declared that he received the following revelation for Oliver Cowdery, his Book of Mormon scribe but intended for the whole church.

From the LDS Doctrine and Covenants Section 28:2, 11-13.

“ But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.

... And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him; For, behold, these things have not been appointed unto him, neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants.

This problem with prophecy repeats itself now more than ever, particularly with the entry of politics into Christian activism, blurring the lines between seeking goodness for the sake of goodness and seeking control for the sake of religious convictions.

Sensing God’s support and a guided influence in one’s own life is the desired departure from a biblical absolutism that turns Christian spirituality into mindless fundamentalism. It reflects the thriving mystic quality of religion that keeps God from remaining forever aloof, out there and stoically judgmental and punitive.

In an earlier article Render Unto Caesar I wrote that

Jesus does not live in our spiritual lives as a kind, gentle and loving but forceful and demanding equivalent of a divine Julius Caesar. The Lord does not authorize religious leaders to speak to us for Him. Nor does he reveal to any religious leader more than to us individually His will as to our decisions concerning our religion or politics. We as a spiritual people must not ignore our own internal promptings if they are based in Christ in our own lives.

We do not have some Christian duty to blindly consent when someone in prominence announces that the Almighty has chosen or inspired him to lead American Christians to specific actions that impact communities, a people and a nation.

Is the very heart of our Christian way of life an understanding that Jesus, from the unseen world of spirit, is a commanding presence? Or is Jesus a presence commanding Christians what to think, when to think it and who to support?”

If the latter is the answer then American Christians are headed for a national tragedy because of a lack of exercising their own individual spirit of prophecy, guidance and personal revelation; trusting instead tho



Life, Death & Belonging
Belonging to life is not yours to decide,
to deny you belong deny's where you reside.
As the river and sea are both separate yet one,
all of life is within you -- that's how it was done.

The here and the now is just where you reside,
a part of totality -- timeless inside.
Yesterday's slave is unable to grow
but tomorrow's free man is the one we should know.

Claim back to yourself all the portions that be
made from experience to portray all you see,
that leads to the knowing of earth as it is
as one with your being -- not hers and not his.

Living and dying are one and the same;
one comes in then goes out as on plays the game;
a continuous round where the soul does expand
to growth and exploring to then understand

that moments are moments which leave and return,
for timely is timelessness making us yearn
to find with each other to whom we belong
and learning is trying without right or wrong.

Experience is primary and stands as the goal
to live life with power accepting the role
designed with specifically just you in mind
so God in entirety is what you will find.

The life and the death are but one and the same
as the sea is the river from whence we all came.

God-talk that serves more to disrupt than unify.

Greetings from the mother lode of apostasy where the rule is to act dumb whenever any scripture is quoted; where we probably need to post our controversial views from time to time about the bible, so that others can see how far we have strayed from the narrow gate.

I’m reminded of a Sunday school class I once attended in Seaside, California. The leadership had appointed a man named Roger, a controversial but very well-read biblical scholar whose spirituality was not disputed, to be the teacher. He was controversial in that his classes were taught from that 4-legged stool Lietta referred to in her post :scripture, prayer, tradition and reason.

In his very first class he offended those whom I now describe as literalists with a view of the Bible as inerrant.

What was his sin that very first Sunday? He suggested that the brevity of the Genesis story tended to cause Adam to look like a buffoon and proceeded to make a case that restricting ourselves to a literal understanding was like eating the carrot sticks at a banquet but nothing more.

In making that suggestion, he aroused the defensive ire of four men in the class who, the following Sunday, had all placed themselves at the front of the classroom seated with their Bibles open –literally laying in wait to catch Roger at an offending word or phrase.

Roger continued each week to teach marvelous and thoughtful lessons for which he was roundly thanked and complimented by the majority of us – but not the four “orthodoxy sheriffs” who spent more class time flipping Bible pages than listening to and pondering what Roger had to say. Roger’s classes, for the four guardians of what they considered the “true faith”, went clear over their heads while they strained at gnats, having swallowed the camel of an idea that there was a strict way to read and interpret scripture and an even narrower-gate by which one could gain entrance into heaven.

Because Roger’s presentation demanded spiritual thinking and not mindless citing of verses, these four lost an opportunity to work with what he presented, having lost themselves in a very narrow and dark passage. The sad part to me seemed that they seemed to fortify and encourage each other to interrupt the discussions with attempts to make mountains of orthodoxy out of molehills of doctrinal ambiguity.

In Omaha, Nebraska, I witnessed another similar circumstance in which a recently baptized young father was asked to facilitate a men’s study group. I saw him act in that role the single time he did so while I was a member of that congregation.

In his only presentation, he was repeatedly interrupted by another man, only slightly older (they were both medical students) but self-defined as having more years of “experience” and “Biblical study” under his belt. Another sheriff personality – a self-appointed guardian of doctrine and orthodoxy whose responses were not only limited to points of disagreement, but were also unnecessarily critical and given to slick phrases of put-down (phrases not unlike “mother lode of apostasy” ) as he strove to fill his self-appointed role as Defender of the Faith.”

What is it about the language or what I call now "God talk" that serves more to disrupt than to unify? And I don't mean unify in a set of exact same beliefs, rather in a teambuilding of the spirit of compassion as it seems to me Jesus attempted to teach?

If we were to learn that the Christ Story is myth, would that make the Sermon on the Mount, The Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan less valuable? If so, why?

This act of sacrifice Jesus gave for redemption of mankind (women too?) is a message lost on us (generally speaking) when we still continue to insist on a "correct" dogma before we can benefit by the Jesus sacrifice. Do you insist on a correct dogma before one can benefit by the Jesus sacrifice?

The history of Cathars like much other history of persecution under Christianity that does not bear a likeness to the message and teachings of Jesus speaks to me of how permission is granted by the fact of the bible itself to act in discord to the message Jesus brought. Portraying violence in a religious context to push a doctrinal point of view while failing to portray violence in another religious context that questions the behavior of those who professed to be followers of Jesus is hypocritical. Using violence as a motivator is a poor tactic.

The classic logical next question to ask upon hearing the question “What would Jesus Do?” is, "Did the apostolic ancestors do what Jesus did when they burned heretics and falsely labeled women as witches and butchered them?"

They quoted the Bible, justifying torture and murder with Leviticus 20:27, Deuteronomy 13:3-5 and other “inerrant” verses. Jesus quoted the Hebrew Scriptures but not those two verses. While picking apart posts according to your sense of doctrine, true faith and narrow gates, you have yet to speak of these issues.

Rather than focus on correctness of how to read, interpret the bible and how to follow the Christian path, I wonder if the deeper meanings of the death scene of Jesus isn't lost on us when we try to put it in context based only on bible storyline. Had he thought he could suffer this kind of death on behalf of mankind, as the divine Son of God and put right all that was wrong with mankind, there would not be the continuous aftermath in history of torturous violence mankind annihilating mankind.

If that is what is taught, does it make sense that the Divine, having insisted on Divine righteousness in the Sacrifice of his only Son would be righteously satisfied that all was again well with the flawed world He, the Creator, created?

Does it not It surely serve to diminish the act of Jesus if, in fact, nothing was learned in his sacrifice except that there is a correct way to believe and only in so doing can one be a correct Christian.?

Is this not borne out in the historical persecutions of Christians against other Christians for a perceived incorrect or heretical view of the "sacred text?

Is it not true that It was exactly the sacred text of the time and the manner in which it was dispensed that Jesus took exception to in his ministry and his willingness to die the torturous death to make his point?

Do you think that part of Jesus’ intent was that if he did this act of sacrificing his own life with a recognition of knowing what he would have to endure - that the message for all time he hoped to convey was it never need be done again?”

Nobody wants to see Christ and the sacred hung at the entrance hall of a 3 ring circus. Neither does anyone want to see Christ and the sacred hung at the entrance hall of a poorly-defined orthodoxy where the foundation of a false “true faith” was laid by the guile of Church fathers 200 years after the crucifixion; political clerics who voted on what went into the Bible and what disagreed with their own points of view and political needs and was left out.

We all seem to know where we disagree. What we don’t seem to know is whether we can learn from each other and grow from the experience.

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