Sunday, January 12, 2014

Who Are We Really ?

And What Is This Thing Called Evil?

 All contents copyright © 2014 by M.L. Wilson. All rights reserved. No part of this document or the related files may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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This is going to seem a rather disjointed commentary for many different reasons. I suppose the primary reason is that I have a jumble of thoughts within which seek an escape. It seems that only by holding such thoughts out before me can I really make sense of them and what it is I am supposed to do with my life as a Christian; a certain introspection, if you will. Ordinarily I have not used this blog space for anything other than my religious and political views. I have definite opinions about a great many things and surprisingly enough, those views have not altered much over the span of my life.  As I grow older, however, I find that having a certain point of view or opinion about the larger world around you really doesn’t help to navigate some of the more murky aspects of your life. Whether or not I think Barack Obama is a good or bad president does not seem to help me in my job or familial relationships.

Quite frankly as one who has never really caught onto the ideal of journaling, the whole concept of a blog is somewhat intimidating to me. It has always been my impression that a blog was a place where thoughts of a certain import could be conveyed to the masses for their edification/enjoyment/ bemusement. I am personally drawn to blogs that impart information of which I  was previously unaware. I’ve attempted to do this on my blog page, but I fear that what tends to happen is a presentation of walls and walls of text which is quickly abandoned by any potential reader; such is the subject matter I have decided to tackle.

Personal taste is an interesting thing. I have often wondered why I am attracted to the subject of theology and if so, why I never pursued the proper formal training. Time has answered some of those questions for me; adulthood and raising a family left little room to spend on what was little more than a “hobby” of mine. Of course the financial consideration had to also be factored into the equation as much as the investment of time; raising a family left little of either. However the interest remained. Theology – (From the Greek: θεολογία literally meaning God study) is a subject that continues to draw my interest.

Lately I have found myself in something of a spiritual wilderness. This is not a unique position to anyone – believer or agnostic. (I don’t subscribe to the position of there being atheists for a host of obvious reasons.) One of the more famous accounts of such spiritual wilderness is a poem by Saint John of the Cross, a 16th century Roman Catholic friar which was written in approximately 1578. St. John was regarded as a Christian Mystic and delved deeply into the spiritual connectivity we as humans have with God. Clearly he was well aware of the (maddening) situation which the Apostle Paul also pointed out in 1st Corinthians 13:12 regarding a human’s ability to see the greater world as God views it. Paul said that such was akin to, “… looking through a glass darkly.” My previous commentaries sought to put an answer as to the “why” of this situation, but it doesn’t begin to address the emotions such a situation can have on the individual.

Part of my wilderness can be summed up in this one basic question which so many before me have sought to answer: "Why is it that so often it appears as though God isn’t present?" Through faith we’re commanded to believe that God is with us, but the harsh reality for most is sun that the will rise for the dawn of a new day and rare is the occasion a change for the positive is forthcoming; evil continues its onslaught seemingly unabated. Our prayers continue to go unanswered and most of us are left feeling absolutely alone.

To compound our suffering, we find that we cannot raise such feelings with our fellow Christians because to speak of such things is tantamount to lacking faith. As we are taught from the earliest, a lack of faith denotes one who is “not of the body” and is therefore not saved. A misreading of scripture (my interpretation) by too many well meaning Christians warrants ostracization for the one even thinking such thoughts about God. Thus the one hurting is set further adrift by the very people who are “called” to be the face of God to their fellow man. To me, this seems antithetical to the way God designed us to interact with one another. However if such were the case, would it not be reasonable to presume that God would tend to His flock and teach them properly; raise up those who have a voice which speaks the truth of God , rather than of the traditions of men? Hence, why does it seem God is not present?

My vexation at such a conundrum is multiplied when at every turn, doors are shut to me. I don’t mean to make this a whiny entry into my blog, but rather an avenue of thought. In truth, how many of us are terrified to speak what we really feel about the condition of our relationship – not only with God, but with God’s people? Will a pastor who leads a successful church who suddenly has an epiphany really impart such to his congregation if it means the loss of his job? Will the Deacon or Elder at a church risk their position to speak out on what has touched their heart because to do so would result in their excisement from “the body?” What about one who has simply attended a particular church for years, but has come to different conclusions than what is popularly taught?

Why should good people be terrorized into silence for fear of being rejected by other Christians for the dark thoughts which fill every person’s heart from time to time? Are we not called to share in one another’s sorrow as well as their successes? Evidently that is not the case in today’s modern church where personal internecine cliques will trump Christian unity at every turn, where one who enjoys wealth sees such as a sign of God’s love over that of the poor wretch barely making ends meet, where only the number of degrees and awards are a deciding factor in who possesses the wisdom of God and who does not? Why are Christians (or even non Christians) forced into silence when the Spirit instructs just because it may run counter to traditional teaching? While I agree that error should be reigned in, my personal research has shown me that orthodox thought propagates most of the error. (John Nelson Darby anyone?)

I will confess that after decades of study, prayer, contemplation … pleading even, I really do not understand this entity we call God. Such does not shake my belief in Him; quite the contrary, but I do not understand Him in the least. If Christ said that all authority was given to Him (Matthew 28:18), then from that point to now, it would seem to me that He is complicit in the evil which has bathed this world so thoroughly. However since such would run counter to what Paul tells us of God’s very nature (Galatians 5:22) and certainly is not in line with the example Christ left us with, I have to conclude I am misreading the signs. This further vexes me as I have tried most earnestly to understand what is going on and what the point and purpose for my being a part of it could be. Let me explain:

My theology has led me to the conclusion that a Covenantal agreement between God and his spiritual ambassadors erroneously referred to as angels (they are actually Celestial beings of vast power.) led to a break in the intimate relationship which should exist between man and God. A misunderstanding of what was written in Genesis has led mostly western religions to conclude there was some sort of “fall of man” which has dropped us all into a sinful state. While there was technically a “fall” and this “sin state” did exist, one has to be aware of certain words and their meanings. The word “sin” is a term which simply means, “to miss the mark.” I cannot underscore enough that sin is not evil; they are two totally different concepts. Simply put, Sin is not gradient; it is black or white, on or off, ones or zeros; sin is essentially binary.

Evil is a tricky concept for most people to grasp because even theologians are not certain just what evil is. They will rail against the “evils” of the world, but all they’re really doing is pointing out the effects of evil, not the actual concept itself. So what then is evil and how does it differentiate from sin? To answer that question, one needs to look briefly at all acts which are evil. Certainly we can look at a Hitler as evil. We can look at a Charles Manson as evil. Some of us will look at a Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) and conclude she is evil. One must be cognizant of the fact that despite our personal belief, each one of these people has their followers and those who regard their acts as good and NOT evil. What is the difference in what those followers believe and what you believe?

A Christian might say that murder is evil and a sin against God, thus these aforementioned people are evil. Really? That is your tipping point? Anyone familiar with the Old Testament would become well acquainted with God’s temper and the wanton killing and murder which ran rampant. (Deuteronomy 20:10 – 20 comes to mind.) You can attempt to explain such murder away all you wish, but what else do you call the plight of a little Canaanite girl minding her own business at home who is then suddenly torn from her mother’s arms, raped and then brutally murdered by the invading army of Joshua? Righteous justice? It is to laugh. There is nothing righteous or just about such brutality. Compare the heinous instructions from god to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy with Christ dealing with the adulterous woman in John chapter 8. Quite a contrast – and yet both occurrences took place while under the covenant of the Law; the Old Testament. (Christ had yet to die for ANYONE. The strictures of the Old Covenant were still very much in effect.)

Israel was following the orders of their god when they invaded the land of Canaan. The Canaanites may have been “sinful” in the eyes of the god of the Jews, but there is very little evidence to support their being an evil people. (At least no more so than were the Jews themselves.)  Again, two different concepts with two different words in the Hebrew language. Regardless the designation of being “sinful” by their god, there remains no excuse for the ill treatment the Israelites showed the citizens of Canaan. Period. Such is a rationalization by people unwilling to see the incongruity between the god of the Law and Christ.

So what then is evil? If we have seen that sin is simply the abridgment of a set line of demarcation (e.g. If you can finish the race in under 5 minutes, you win otherwise you lose.), but evil is not the same. As I stated earlier, evil is gradient. Recall Christ’s parable in Matthew 12:43-45. How can one be invaded by spirits MORE wicked then those who had been swept clean if sin is predicated on a single line of demarcation? The answer, of course, is that they cannot. Evil is gradient, evil has shades of gray. It does so for a very interesting, yet obvious reason. Evil – true evil – is merely the antithesis of God Most High.

Consider that Christ came to this earth as a servant; Christ came to be selfless. He did so because at that time, the earth was under the command of the powers of darkness. (John 12:31, John 14:30, John 16:11) I will not belabor the obvious incongruity that according to orthodox thought, Jehovah God was still in absolute and complete control over the whole of the earth at that time. Scripture is clear that the earth was being ruled by something apart from God Most High. Once we can accept Christ came to defeat these powers of darkness, we can then look at evil in a new light.

Christ explained to us in Luke 14:11 that, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” The common thread here is the frame of mind one has who would exalt himself over that of his fellow man. Such a person is not being selfless by definition, but rather SELFISH. So as Christ is selfless and good, one who is selfish is evil. Now think about those who are regarded as supremely evil in history – or even people in your own sphere who you would regard as evil. If you look carefully you will note that the level of evil is proportionate to the level of selfishness. Worship of self is evil; worship of God is good. David Koresh thought himself a god and molested little girls. Hitler sought to bring about a master race which regarded him as their leader and murdered millions of people in the process. Both men were supremely selfish and put no one or nothing before themselves. Even at the very end, Koresh did not free the people from the Compound at Waco and instead allowed the ATF to burn them to death – all of them. Hitler believed the German people had failed him and thus deserved their fate. He then committed suicide rather than face judgment. The mystery of what is evil is thus solved. It is to be the antithesis of God; it is to be selfish.

Of course I am not so naive as to believe the critics of this commentary will not come out of the woodwork to shoot down my theories. Would it dissuade such people if I were to say that God told me these things Himself? Probably not. Those critics are keenly aware of the fact that I have not heard God’s audible voice much as they have not heard God’s voice. Such people rely primarily upon the teaching and instructions they have received from “learned men” rather than the prompting of the Spirit. It is a sad reality in our world which holds men of letters higher than those who have connected with the Spirit. Such was prophesied however. I suppose that should give me a measure of hope; based upon the vitriol of my critics, I am on the right track.

Please do not misconstrue this commentary to mean that I regard all who have had such formal teaching to have been deluded or not “in touch” with the Spirit; that is not my intent. I started out this commentary with a confession that I personally do not understand God and that fact hasn’t changed. What I am pointing out in this commentary is that most the rest of us do not understand Him either. We will shield that fact from our fellow man primarily out of fear, and then out of pride. My pride where understanding God is concerned is non-existent. One can only be called a heretic so many times and ostracized by fellow Christians for only so long before any pride once possessed is completely eroded away. Pride and ego do not compel me to write these commentaries (since I know that few read them in any event); a thirst for knowledge and understanding does.

During the nine years I researched my novel series, I had to find the answers to a number of vexing question which kept coming up regarding God, the spiritual realm and us lowly human beings. Too much of what I had been taught simply did not fit no matter what contortions of facts one made. The answers I received from the clergy (“There are some things in the Bible we’re not meant to understand.”) displayed a stunning level of ignorance of both history, and of the spiritual aspect of just who God is. Quite the contrary to such limited thinking people, I believe that the entire breadth of scripture is to be understood with absolute clarity. Paul’s analogy of, “…looking through a glass darkly.” Refers to the spiritual realm only and not to scripture. How can one assert that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, but God doesn’t want us to understand it? I would presume if such were the case, it would have never been written at all then. Of course I dismiss such notions as the tripe that it is. With this understanding, the teachings I received from tradition began to fall apart one by one. I was left with an entirely different understanding, some of which is explored in the pages of my novels.

Here is a truth. People are generally self-centered; it is a natural requirement of the flesh trapped within a finite world which dictates such. I hasten to add that the fleshly body is merely a temporary conveyance and is NOT the sum total of our parts. Only the limited vision of the flesh will struggle with the eternal because the two are incompatible. The spiritual realm in not infinite; it is eternal. As with sin and evil, Infinity and Eternity are two different words with two entirely different meanings. We do not enter into infinity with God, we enter into eternity with God. (John 3:16, Romans 6:23, John 17:3, Matthew 25:46) When one contemplates the differences in those two terms and the implications of one over the other, I’m certain a greater degree of understanding will be enjoyed. It will, of course, open up a range of new questions which I have concluded is part of “Eating solid food, rather than continue to suckle milk.”

I realize that most of the selfishness I see is the flesh taking control of the person rather than the spirit. Divorce, drug abuse, sexual immorality, abortion, murder, etc. are all as a result of the person giving into their flesh, not sin. Since we’re all regarded as sinners, that argument is fallacious. When Christ confronted the Pharisees as to who their father was, he was not talking to the so-called evil Pharisees, but rather to Pharisees who were genuinely curious. Still He told them clearly they were children of the devil. (John 8:42-47) Christ summed it up with this verse, “…He who belongs to God hears what God says.” My understanding of that verse is that to the one who has put aside listening to the body (and the god of that body) they will hear what it is God has to say. More simply put, we must learn to see with our Spiritual eyes and listen with our spiritual ears rather than relying on the five senses of the body. The flesh cannot comprehend that which is eternal and spiritual. Period.

My hope and continued prayer is that I will come to a greater understanding of God in the time I have left on this planet. As Christians are to be God’s face to their fellow man, this understanding MUST include my brothers and sisters in Christ. This is a difficult prospect for someone like myself who is severely “relationship challenged.” That having been said, my fellow Christians need to also look towards others in the same light and not merely hold up those who have means and letters as the only indicator by which God shows himself. If the Gospel’s taught us anything, it was that God used the lowliest among men to spread the truth of who He is. There were none of means or letters amongst them, not even Paul who was regarded a traitor by those who once embraced him in the Synagogue. 


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