Sunday, February 26, 2012

Was the Trinity always the "Orthodox" position?The Truth!

Bart Ehrman is an apostate from the Christian faith.I do not in any capacity advocate much of what he claims or represents.He,however,because he's an agnostic now,has no reason to "take sides" so to speak in theological debates about the nature of Christ.It wouldn't really concern him whether God is one or three or three people in one "homoousios" since he doesn't even worship him anymore.As abhorrent as I find many of his sentiments and beliefs,I have to admit that he's seemingly on the mark with much of what he says about the "orthodox corruption of scripture" in his book of the same name.Not all of his opinions on the scriptures are sound,but with a little discernment it's easily detectable what should be heeded or discarded in what he has to offer in his book.All the quotes in this blog are taken from his book "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament."I won't be getting into how certain texts have been corrupted to make them seem a little more "orthodox"(as that term is so defined today anyway)right now,but rather how Christians(some willfully selective and ignorant..others just simply innocently ill informed about their own history)neither herald nor profess the real truth about what the earliest Christians believed.

Yes,one prevailing Christian trend is to rewrite history to make it more palatable in conformity to our own ideas regarding doctrine.For instance,most Christians wouldn't hesitate to tell you that in nascent Christianity,everyone was clearly a true saint who believed God was three people.Is this accurate?Or is it as about as true and unbiased as the "Jehovah's Witnesses: Proclaimers of God's Kingdom" book?Well,the least we can do is examine the other side to all the issues for a balanced & honest approach.Just like an orthodox Christian would desire to urge a devout Jehovah's Witness to examine their "true" history,I as an unorthodox Christian urge you to examine the history of your system of beliefs just as seriously.After all,when we take bias men's selective assessment(ones with a specific agenda mind you)as unquestionably true without critical thinking of our own weighing all the information,we're wide open for being fooled.Ehrman says:

"During its first two and a half centuries,Christianity comprised a number of competing theologies,or better,a number of competing Christian groups advocating a variety of theologies.There was as yet no established "orthodoxy,"that is,no basic theological system acknowledged by the majority of church leaders and laity.Different local churches supported different understandings of the religion,while different understandings of the religion were present even within the same local church."..p. 4

"The classical understanding of the relationship of orthodoxy and heresy met a devastating challenge in 1934 with the publication of Walter Bauer's "Recht-glaubigkeit und Ketzerei im altesten Christentum",possibly the most significant book on early Christianity written in modern times.Bauer argued that the early Christian church in fact did not comprise a single orthodoxy from which emerged a variety of competing heretical minorities.Instead,early Christianity embodied a number of divergent forms,no one of which represented the clear and powerful majority of believers against all others.In some regions,what was later to be termed "heresy" was in fact the original and only form of Christianity.In other regions,views later deemed heretical co-existed with views that would come to be embraced by the church as a whole,with most believers not drawing hard and fast lines of demarcation between the competing views.To this extent,"orthodoxy",in the sense of a unified group advocating an apostolic doctrine accepted by the majority of Christians everywhere,did not exist in the second and third centuries.Nor was "heresy" secondarily derived from an original teaching through an infusion of jewish ideas or pagan philosophy.Beliefs that were,at later times,embraced as orthodoxy and condemned as heresy were in fact competing interpretations of Christianity,one of which eventually(but not initially)acquired domination because of singular historical and social forces.Only when one social group had exerted itself sufficiently over the rest of Christendom did a "majority" opinion emerge;only then did the "right belief" represent the view of the Christian church at large."p.7

Ehrman goes on to note that Bauer's claims were based upon the closest scrutiny of the evidence from ancient sources for the Christianity in various regions,particularly Edessa,Egypt,Antioch,Asia Minor,Macedonia,and Rome.He found that,contrary to the claims of Eusebius(a fourth century bishop who was influential and who was deemed the so-called "father of church history"),the predominant Christian view was what today would be deemed "heretical."Ehrman further notes that even though there were folks scattered in these regions who embraced some form of what later became "orthodox",they were the minority to be sure.Much of the literature and opinions produced by the so called "heretics"(by today's standards that is) would NOT survive because,as Ehrman says:

"One would naturally not expect the victors of the struggle to reproduce the literature of their opponents."p.9

As Ehrman also notes,even those who seemed at least somewhat orthodox by today's standards(some of the much-hailed and quoted early church fathers,namely) had certainly not imagined today's trinity formulation and all it's nuances so definitively or meticulously.There was definitely "social ostracism,economic pressures,and political machinations"(as Ehrman puts it,p.15) that led to the "orthodoxy" held today.Not only that,the Early Church Fathers that are venerated in some respect by so many Christians today as fathers of their faith had some truly peculiar and "heretical" beliefs themselves!A small sampling:

"Both Clement of Alexandria and Origen,for example,acknowledge that Jesus' body could readily change appearance at will--a decidedly docetic notion--with Clement claiming that Jesus ingested food not for nourishment but simply to convince his followers that he actually had a body."..p.10

Irenaeus believed there were four gospels because there were "four winds" and "four corners of the earth",and therefore four pillars,or Gospels,upon which it is built.(Adv. Haer. III,11,7-8)

I see Christians all the time condemning Jehovah's Witnesses for following an organization and men with such a dubious history of peculiar beliefs,yet they do the same thing.If you're going to tell a Jehovah's Witness that one reason the Watchtower organization is corrupt is because of some of the particularly peculiar things Charles Taze Russell believed,did and taught,then the very least you can do is recognize the imperfections and peculiarities in the beliefs of the "fathers" of your faith.You will often hear trinitarians hailing the Early Church Fathers (yes,the same ones with beliefs that were heretical)as if they are true heroes.Even the Jehovah's Witnesses aren't bold enough to call the governing body their heroes.And if it's ok to be so selective when presenting the beliefs of these "heroes",then I suppose,if we're going to be unhypocritical,I could present a good case for the Watchtower.All I would have to do is omit all the lies,all the bloodguilt,all the hypocrisy,all the questionable beliefs.

Just like the Watchtower compels JW's to accept their interpretations of scripture by use of the power exerted over them by certain men with weapons of intellectual intimidation and salvation threats intact,"orthodoxy" accomplishes acceptance of it's questionable dogmas much the same way.

"For it is a historical fact that ,owing to a variety of reasons,one group within early Christianity achieved social dominance and enforced its views on other groups that had supported divergent opinions.Looked at in sociohistorical terms,orthodoxy and heresy are concerned as much with struggles over power as with debates over ideas."p.12

Should we really want to garner our "truth" from the effects of power struggles,social dominance,bloodshed,intellectual intimidation,threats,and the like?The history of the establishment of what is now termed "orthodox" has an ugly trail of blood.Besides,:

"If the term orthodoxy means the dominant form of Christianity,then prior to its domination,the views of this group are scarcely orthodox.."..p.12

So it's kinda funny how orthodoxy wasn't always "orthodox" at all yet people choose to believe it was because they don't or won't look outside the box where they are anymore than the average Jehovah's Witness would.If they do,the repurcussions might not be anymore attractive than those suffered by conscientious JW's who question the protocol of the Watchtower "organization."

Fact is,our "traditions" and what we've always been taught,that which is thoroughly and stubbornly ingrained in our conscious,is not necessarily true or real.But how palatable it is to continue believing it is and deceiving ourselves at all costs to maintain the comfort it compels!How horrible it would be to have to tell ourselves we've been deceived,receive possible shunning from our respected and well loved piers,receive constant labels and threats to our salvation,etc.Such terrible things would of course scare most any human being/Christian from the kind of critical thinking and genuine truth seeking they should embrace wholeheartedly.After all,if there's any possible way to take scriptures,twist them,and make them "fit" our heritage,that is often undertaken to ensure the comfort that results from ALREADY being completely and utterly right about everything.Pier approval.Cozy traditions.Feels good.And as human beings,it's only natural to run vigorously toward what feels good and away from what hurts.Even though Jesus said we are called to suffer as he did.

Even if Jesus seems to contradict what we've been taught and come to believe(everywhere,left and right),common sensically and earnestly,we human beings have a consistent and concerning history,right along with the Pharisees ,of insisting that we have the truth that Jesus lacks.(when it's the other way around of course!)I mean,it's so easy to find a few texts here and there that can conform to our ideas,just like the Jews who opposed & persecuted the Christ had in their arsenal.They too possessed a particular understanding of sacred texts.They just KNEW they were right.Deception wasn't possible for them at all.Being blind was real for others,but not for themselves!Yah's simple words and Christ's simple words weren't good enough at all.But they sure knew the scriptures!Right?

Doctrines that are true don't need to have their history of development concealed,colored, or fabricated.They also don't need to be "formulated" at all because Christ stated creeds that were simple,clear,and not mysterious at all.God didn't want us to calculate the number that he is while we ignore common sense mathematics and qualify his Son's words at every turn.Just to make them fit a cherished belief,of course.The Pharisees had cherished beliefs too.Christ challenged those.Christ also challenges you.Let him.

I'm not supporting Ehrman or even the nontrinitarians who had the majority position at certain points in history.There are certainly differing views within the nontrinitarian community about who exactly Christ was.I'm also not suggesting the Early Church Fathers mentioned in the video weren't Christians just because they didn't have every belief accurate.I'm never the one who determines who a true Christian is in God's eyes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Will Jehovah's Witnesses be found naked?

Jehovah's Witnesses often think they are "rich" with God,in a spiritual "paradise" if you,sound,and protected benevolently in "God's chosen organization."Their refuge essentially becomes that "organization" that is,let's face it,a modern day establishment that Christ and the apostles knew nothing about.

They say:

"Jehovah is using only one organization today to accomplish his will. To receive everlasting life in the earthly Paradise we must identify that organization and serve God as part of it." Watchtower 1983 Feb 15 p.12

Is a manmade organization really the protection,"richness", and covering(the Watchtower also often identifies itself as a safe ark wherein we must be to pass safely into a new world)we need for salvation?One,as a Christian,would certainly not want to be found poor,pitiable,blind,or naked when Christ returns!So Jehovah's Witnesses must think critically about these things.

Revelation 3:17:For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

The church of Laodicea thought they were rich,when in fact they were poor and naked.Christ disciplines:

"..because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."(Rev. 3:16)

Thankfully,Christ gives the elixir to this spiritual disease:

"I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent." (verses 18-19)

IF Christ had returned in the first,second,or third(etc..on and on) century,what would have been the only sound and safe refuge for a true Christian?Obviously not the Watchtower!So the fact that people have been convinced that it's needed for salvation and a relationship with Yahweh is nothing short of a serious deception and is a downright genuine absurdity.The WT would like everyone to believe that Christians are naked and poor without their organization.Is this true?

The refuge and "clothing" one needs(obviously and biblically speaking) is the Christ of Yahweh and his body,of which any true Christian is supposed to be an eager and faithful part(or member) of.

1 Corinthians 12:27:Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Notice it says "each one of you."

When Adam and Eve experienced their tragic fall from grace and found themselves naked,they tried to cover themselves with something that wasn't adequate,namely fig leaves.Yah gave them something more befitting for the job to cover their shame in their nakedness,which was compelled by the consequence of transgression.

Genesis 3:21:the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

Clarke's Commentary on the Bible notes:

"It is very likely that the skins out of which their clothing was made were taken off animals whose blood had been poured out as a sin-offering to God."

As Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible also notes:

"..until the Messiah should come and die, and become a sacrifice for sin, the sacrifices of slain beasts were appointed."

This "covering" so to speak prefigured the Messiah,who we all need to cover our sin,for God "made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."(2 Cor. 5:21)Yeshua was the "Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world."(Rev. 13:8)

Since Adam passed sin and death on to all men,we all need covered because we've all sinned.(Rom. 5:12)In God's mercy,he provided the perfect One in Yeshua,the holy righteous Lamb of God.If the Watchtower denies that you can even be in him at all unless you're one of only 144,000 Christians throughout all of time,then what I want to know is how in the world are you covered at all?There is no evidence in all of scripture that an organization is a covering or that you're covered at all unless you are genuinely IN CHRIST.There is literally no fathomable or logical way around this.It's SO integral as a key to one's salvation that the Messiah said :

"If anyone does not ABIDE IN ME he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned."(John 15:6)

Notice Yeshua didn't say "If anyone does not abide in the Watchtower as a Jehovah's Witness he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned."

YET the WT actually says about people that:

"They must appreciate that identifying themselves with Jehovah's organization is essential to their salvation." Kingdom Ministry 1990 Nov p.1

Does the BIBLE say that identity "with Jehovah's organization" that,again,didn't exist until recently,is "essential to salvation"?Or did Christ say that identity IN HIM(denied most every Jehovah's Witness by the Watchtower) actually is?According to the Watchtower,you need them to survive!

Imagine if Paul(or any other Christian for that matter),in the 1st century, had been asked by inquiring minds "sir,are you in Christ?"And Paul answering in pride "no,but I'm in the Watchtower organization and the men I follow are!"Any conscientious Christian listening to such nonsense would have thought he was nuts,not only because the Watchtower didn't exist until modern times but also because there is "no salvation in any other NAME."(Acts 4:12)What is that NAME?The governing body and a manmade organization are NOT that "name."Therefore,they are not essential to your salvation.Notice in such holy inspired texts(like Acts 4:12 and John 14:6) that there is a particular and uncluttered way to salvation that leaves the Watchtower organization out of their sentiments.If you congregate somewhere where the aggregate assembly denies this basic milk of the word with clutter and manmade ideas & additions,then it's time to turn to Yah through his REAL "channel of communication",Christ.(1 Timothy 2:5).

I too believe in congregating with like minded believers,but not where these foundational fundamental truths are denied.Not where I'm denied Christ's covering,which only exists in his body!He can't be your head if you aren't a part of his body,if you are outside that temple.Yes,God's real temple IS that body,not the Kingdom Hall.I could take a fig leaf(which I'll liken to the WT organization since it won't be able to cover your nakedness either) and pretend I'm covered,but God beholds & knows the whole time that the only sufficient covering is the blood & body of Christ.A Jehovah's Witness might say they don't deny Christ and that he covers them and that they accept his sacrifice,but it's *empty speech* because:

1.they aren't allowed to actually abide in him in the true sense of what it really means to actually do so.The WT would tell them "no!" unless they are one of 144,000.

2.Messiah says:"unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."(John 6:53)He doesn't qualify this for anyone at all like the WT does.I'm not suggesting you have to drink wine and eat bread for salvation.That is just an outward symbol of an inward exercising of faith in Messiah's sacrifice.However,when it's passed around to professed Christians at a gathering,not partaking would suggest that you don't exercise faith in that sacrifice.After all,you aren't showing it when you shun the outward display!

3.If you exercise faith in Christ,you ARE born of God.(1 John 5:1)Being born of God,aka "born again",is denied most JW's by the WT.

So,again,*claiming* something (like that you're covered in Christ or God's child)with some serious unwarranted qualification in the background doesn't mean what you're saying is meaningful in any real *biblical* sense.The only thing that matters is what the *bible* means when it says you must be in Christ.I think it's obvious to most anyone that it means you must be a part of the body of Christ.That's what it meant for John and Paul and everyone else Christ loved.That's what it should mean for you.:)Yeshua's invitations are free and clear.

Christ says:

Rev. 16:15:"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."

Repent.Don't be exposed by remaining unclothed.That can only bring you embarrassing exposure and unabashed shame.

Much like the Laodiceans,if an unclothed(again,we must be clothed in the body of Christ)professed Christian hears Christ's voice,opens the door,and repents,Christ promises he will "grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne."(Rev. 3:20,21)

Will you be ready to "sit with" Christ on his "throne"?If that doesn't sound like something you want to do,who or what convinced you that, as a Christian, reigning with Christ wasn't an option if you want to inherit a "new earth"?Christ is only in heaven "until the time comes for God to restore everything."(Acts 3:21)Yep,he'll reign ON EARTH with all those clothed in "white garments."Another explicit biblical revelation the Watchtower inexplicably denies.

The emphasis in scripture isn't on an "organization" that denies the body of Christ for most of it's advocates.The emphasis and importance is quite obviously placed upon finding life in a WHO,that being Christ.He is God's word of life manifest for our eternal lives if we exercise faith.(1 John 1:1,2,John 3:16)I have stressed this repeatedly in my blogs and in a number of youtube videos precisely because it's a KEY salvation issue that compelled me to find the TRUE ark,the body of Christ, and to run from "shepherds" who deny this foundational life enhancing and saving fact.(John 10:7-13)

In John chapter 21,the disciples were out fishing.Jesus appeared,and this is what happened:

"Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. "(verse 7)

This should be our attitude.Get clothed and run to Christ!:)The water here may even symbolize a baptism or perhaps the "living water" Christ offers.(John 4:10,Rev. 7:17)Not sure.Either way,we must be READY for Christ by being clothed and baptized into HIM.Not an organization that makes the ridiculous lofty claim you need IT for salvation,protection,and covering!One that actually makes you pledge that your baptism identifies you with their self- professed "spirit-directed organization."Where did the Christians getting baptized in scripture have to do that?It's all about identity in Christ(yes,clothed in HIM)as opposed to identity in and with an organization.(that clothes about as well as a fig leaf.)