Wednesday, August 15, 2007


UPDATE: Missy! Don't apologize, please. I apologize that I made you feel like you had to apologize! I LOVED what you said! There is no condemnation here! It was not "childish" it was "childlike" and that's what we have to be in order to not let our "adult" (HA) selves get in the way of asking questions. KB...I'm not in the Universalist corner. I really don't want to be called any denomination or anything. I'm just asking. And, your statements and questions are good and wonderful, so no sanctimonious stuff here, okay? :-D It seems like I made you feel that way, and I apologize. I have a flippant way about me sometimes, especially when I'm treading on dangerous ground!
Being called a heretic scares me, actually.It hits me in the "you don't know anything about the Bible, Karen!"spot.
Your point is good...Let's discuss: Does the Bible teach the concept of eternal torment for non-believers?
If something else comes up in the interim, that's okay, too.
What I was going for was.....if we disagree on doctine, but agree that we are all in love with our Jesus, will we consider each other heretics? Frankly, the thought of losing any of you would be heartbreaking to me.

Here are some more "heresy" statements. Looks like Missy is itchin' for a fight! ;-) Or for some, too! CP....I think what Don is saying is that a lot of the stuff that is claimed as right and true today in general Christian circles may not have begun that way. What is orthodox and accepted now may have been "heretical" at the time. KB and CP both quote the Apostles' Creed. Now, I agree with everything in the Creed. The problem is, the Creed is not in the Bible.

....and now, note:
"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."

It doesn't say....I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins for myself and for those who believe, the resurrection of the body for myself and for those who believe, and the life everlasting for myself and for those who believe.

So, I'm looking at this Creed from a whole 'nother angle. I believe in His forgiveness of sins. Period.
Now, if I'm thinking that everyone will be forgiven because I love my Saviour and I believe that He will eventually bring all to Him, does that make me a heretic? If I'm not in line with the general population of Christians who feel that only a certain segment of society (believers) will be granted entrance into the Kingdom--will I be kicked out of Christendom?

Don also makes a point about the translations of the Bible. I believe the word of the Bible is, indeed, infallible. That's saying something, because I know a lot of the history of how the books of the Bible got there. I hope that you'll investigate this as well, if you haven't. I know that God certainly had His hand in this process because man certainly stuck his foot into it. After investigating the "women" stuff in the Book and seeing how the translations were mucked up, I can only assume that other aspects might have been messed with as well. It's very enlightening to see the words (as close as we have them, since we only have copies of copies of original manuscripts) as they are. Taking those words and finding the meaning of them through a Greek dictionary, or a Strong's or whatever....and letting the Holy Spirit lead you in the meaning. It's a feeling that wells up warm and loving in your gut, I promise're reading disjointed words...and in supernatural moment you know what the Holy Spirit is saying. Awesome.

Anyway, the word "eternity" is the simplest example. It is aion or aionios in the Greek, but it really translates to "eon." I don't have the little doo-dads that accent the words...sorry. Anyway, I looked it up, and it's true. No, I'm not a Greek scholar, but there are bunches out there with brains to pick. And, I have. Anyway, so, when Jesus talks about fire and damnation for an eternity, it's stated an "eon" or set period of time. I emailed the author of a new NT translation and asked her why she has it translated as eternity in the body of a scripture verse, but footnoted that it can mean "for a set period of time." There's kinda a difference in a set period of time and eternity. Either it's forever or it's not. Weeeelllll.....I didn't really get an answer on that. I got an interesting discussion about how one word can mean many things. Well, of course they can, but I want to know what the GREEK means in that precise spot! not what some translator made it say in our English. What I get from her response (in my humble opinion only) is that we are so entrenched in the hellfire mindset that we dare not stick our toes in any possible pool of all-encompassing forgiveness...even though we claim Jesus as the lover of us all.
More later. Remember....I'm just talking out loud here. Go ahead...throw something at me. Be nice. Let's see where it goes.

codepoke said...
Don R,> many times the heresies became the orthodox in timeIt's hard to know what you mean by this. Almost everything that's ever been believed is currently believed by some denomination somewhere, so yes, this is true after a fashion, but only at the periphery of the faith. I can't think of any contradiction of the Apostles' Creed that's ever been accepted as orthodoxy anywhere, any time.
3:47 PM
Missy said...
I think heresy and Hershey are synonymous - mmm mmm, good!If someone tells me someone else is a heretic, I immediately want to hear what they are teaching. Is that wrong?I just think its rather silly to put a label on someone that basically says, "I'm right and you're wrong" - especially on things that are really just our best guesses.In my experience, it's not usually the heretic who splits the church, he/she is the one who wants to talk about something no one in leadership does. It's the leadership who label him/her and those who agree as heretics and kick them out.Maybe there are some situations this is a required action for, but not any I have witnessed.Does any of this make me a heretic? That would be cool...
4:38 PM
Kansas Bob said...
I like what CP said about the Apostle's Creed. Here it is:I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. I accept it. Anyone take exception to it?
3:02 PM


Missy said...

K - I guess I got prideful and acted like I am more enlightened. I am sorry for the childish response.

I watch so many people change and evolve over their lives growing in faith, waning in faith, changing perspective, understanding more clearly or being set in tradition that I guess it just doesn't seem right to label and reject people that are simply learning, just as I am, when they get stuck on a crazy idea - and especially when that crazy idea has merit or even better, love, at the heart of it.

We really hold each other to a higher standard than ourselves sometimes. That really seems about as far away from Jesus as I can be.

(BTW, my comments were not directed to anyone and I find myself in agreement with most of those made, I just had a gut reaction as a rebellious child of God!)

I am thinking about your ideas on forgiveness. I'll get back to you.

Kansas Bob said...

Hi Karen,

You and I have batted this idea around a few times. I have noticed in the UR community that some wear 'heretic' and 'heresy' as some kind of badge of honor ... I really don't find that to be helpful because it is labelling and sort-of name calling.

I would rather just discuss the idea of eternal judgment that you have surfaced. To frame the discussion maybe it would be good to ask questions like:

Does the bible speak of eternal judgment? If so, what are the scriptures that support it and which ones do not support it.

Not sure if this helps or not - feel free to deep six. I just don't want to get into a name calling exercise.

Sanctimonious Bob

Kansas Bob said...

About this:

Anyway, so, when Jesus talks about fire and damnation for an eternity, it's stated an "eon" or set period of time.

I think that God ("I AM") exists outside of time and that time is only relevant in our fleshly earthly experience. So I think that words like eternity could represent such a timeless existence after after death.

This is problematic for a temporary (non-eternal) judgment.

Sanctimoniously speaking of course :)

Missy said...

KB, I am proud to call you friend! What a mature response. Now I am envious. :)

Karen, your response did not provoke my apology - a little time to think did. I think this is a great discussion to have. But, I'm still thinkin'...

Don R said...

Excellent reply, Karen. It shows you are using your brain and spirit. You're not just accepting a doctrine because it's always been that way. Maybe it's always been wrong! I have read enough to know that Christianity in the first century was very different from what we see today in most mainline Christian churches. Quite a few doctrines were introduced into the church in the 2nd and 3rd century by the Church/state (Rome) to insure adherence to the govt/Church's line; I believe so that the Church/state could maintain control of the masses of ignorant people. The practice of not letting the people read the NT in Greek (the lingua franca of the day), then Jerome's very poor transcription of the Greek (a language he hated)NT into Latin (the Vulgate)insured that the NT said exactly what the Church/state wanted. How much of it was significantly changed. It's hard to pin down. But, thanks to Augustine, the doctrine of ECT or ET became firmly rooted in the Latin version of the NT. The threat of eternal conscious torment (ECT), being separated from God forever, is a pretty good way to insure that the people will "toe the line". The firming up of the doctrine of the Trinity also came about after the Latin edition was created. I have a lot of unanswered questions about the differences between the writings of the early followers of Jesus and the Latin Vulgate. When it comes right down to it, everything we "believe" as result of faith. Proof, scientific or otherwise will not and cannot enter the picture. Whoa, didn't mean to go on so long. All this is just my own musings. No one has to accept a single word of it. However, I would incourage you to check it out for yourself.

Don R said...

CP- Almost forgot to answer your question. I believe many of Paul"s ideas were called heresy by the church in Jerusalem, when Paul said that Gentiles didn't have to follow Jewish Law. Check out Galatians, I believe.

Don R said...

Karen- I agree with your point on mistranslation. Does it really matter that much?? You bet it does! I can think of two words that have been mistranslated in the KJV NT and other similar NTs. Those words are HELL and ETERNAL. If you mistranlate what the Greek said in every place those words are used in context, you've changed the whole meaning of the authors words. You have created an idea, ECT or ET, which was never meant to be there.

Don R said...

I think we have to remember who Jesus was addressing in the Gospels. Jews. So when He taught about a judgement coming, it was not a distant future event. He even said it would happen within that generation. He was speaking of a national judgement of the Jews, because they would reject His mission. That judgement came in 70 CE at the hands of the Romans. The Jews have not worshipped in the temple since. Context is everything. Everything Jesus said has to be searched for its context in order to better understand His message. An example: the word Gehenna, usually translated Hell. Jesus used it numerous times when He was speaking to Jews about a future national judgement. He used the word because He knew Jews understood the connotation of it, knew its physical location (the valley of Hinnom)and its purpose in the history of the Jews. It was not a place of eternal torment, but a reference to the coming national judgement. I apologize for such a long comment. Again, just my musings. No one has to believe a thing I write. I love you all as brothers and sisters in God's great plan!!

Don R said...

KB- I guess the only exception to any of the creed would be the word (you already know the one) HELL. I believe it would be better translated sheol or the grave. He went there and released the captives He found there. How many do you suppose He spoke to and released. Hmm.. I think it was probably all of them.

codepoke said...

> So, I'm looking at this Creed from a whole 'nother angle. I believe in His forgiveness of sins. Period.

Ah. I see. I missed the point the first time around.

> does that make me a heretic?


The question is backwards.

You may be right or wrong. I suspect wrong, but Don R would say something highly informed and pointed about that. There's always someone to agree with you, and no matter what you believe, there'll always be more people to disagree. That's alright.

The question is whether you are joined to the body of Christ? Are you joined to the Head? Do saints who touch you with the Lord's love and wisdom appreciate that you are their friend? Do you destroy the body of Christ, or build it up?

Assume you are right. Assume every living soul will one day taste the forgiving power of Christ's love. Do you take this shining truth, this possibly true truth, and amputate yourself from the body of Christ with it? Can you, do you, fellowship in love and harmony with those who lack this truth? Do you extend God's grace to those in the church to which you are called?

If not, then - THEN - you are a heretic. You are a heretic with the truth, which is a little odd, but a heretic nonetheless. I said Paul's definition of a heretic had been forgotten. Here it is:

I Cor 11:17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

Divisions are the mark of heresy. We've made error the mark of heresy, but it's really division. Any teaching that pulls people together and pulls them closer to the Lord does not qualify as heresy. Peter refers to damnable heresies, and there are definitely damnable errors, but those always lead to division. When people are drawn to Christ, it's always good.

Please forgive me, Karen, if I put a question in your mouth that is not really there. I suspect it is not, but I have to argue against it.

FAQ: So, what can you do when people reject you, because you have the truth? They rejected Jesus, so why should I be surprised when they reject me over the truth?

Answer: That is a "guy's" question. It deals in weighty matters and the red badge of courage. And it's completely wrong-headed.

Us dudes need to scale back the thinking that asks that question. Instead of thinking about "The Cause of God and Truth," let's think about sisters and brothers whom we love and who love us, people whom we know adore the Lord and are rich in His life. When those people reject our little truth and we allow that fact to separate us from them, we have become heretics. I've been there and done that, and it is sin - plain and simple.

So, Karen, if you embrace the idea that all souls will be saved, I say you're embracing an error - and I pull just that little bit closer to you for it. If it bothers you that I reject that doctrine, I won't back away from either my conclusions or from you. If, at the end of the day, we can both build each other up and reach Christ together, then there's error on my side or yours, but no heresy.

codepoke said...

Also, Karen, you more or less ask how to study the word, "Aionios."

Far and away the easiest and best way to do so is to look at every instance of the word in Greek. That's simple to do using or several other tools. Crosswalk shows 69 instances of aionios in the new testament. Take a look at all of them, and see whether they tend to mean something with or without a beginning, end, or whatever.

If possible, look at the way John uses the word in his gospel and his epistles. Then look at Peter's gospel (Mark) and epistles. Then look at all Paul's letters. By breaking the study up into a single-person's meaning, you are more likely to be comparing apples to apples. If no pattern emerges, then you dig into lexicons and the like, but where scripture can interpret scripture you know you're on solid ground.

Here's the link to crosswalk on aionios:

Kansas Bob said...

Thanks CP for defining a heretic as one who causes divisions - very insightful. These questions that you pose are very insightful:

Do you take this shining truth, this possibly true truth, and amputate yourself from the body of Christ with it? Can you, do you, fellowship in love and harmony with those who lack this truth? Do you extend God's grace to those in the church to which you are called?

My blogging exerience tells me that some folks can but some can't. Some have withdrawn from what they call "the institutional church" because they exalt their pet doctrine and can't deal with people who don't agree with that doctrine. Their fellowship seems to be based on an assent to their "doctrine" and not on Jesus. What they charge "the institutional church" with they do themselves ... but I could just talking sanctimoniously :)

Don R said...

KB- Don't you just "hate" "pet" doctrines and those who can't deal with others who can't agree with that doctrine. Ouch!! You, santimonious! I don't view it that way. Go easy on yourself...

Kansas Bob said...

I apologize to you Don ... I was trying to relate my experiences with CP's comment ... I didn't mean to offend you and didn't target my comment at you personally.

What was your take on CP's comment about divisions being the mark of heresy?

Don R said...

I don't agree that division is the mark of heresy.The word originally meant: to choose. I feel it is making a choice that others in the "norm" have not made. I think we look back on examples from history, such as the Protestant Reformation and accept the tag given to the Protestants by the Catholic church per their own definition. The tag of heretic is not put upon one's self. It is given or put upon someone by another person or group. When you see someone calling themselves a heretic, I feel it is more in jest because the person feels that the tag is antithetical to the reality.

karen said...

That's good, and well put, Don...I'm going to highlight it, okay?