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18. Miscellaneous

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1. The Best Belief
2. Understanding God
3. God's Requirement
4. Need for Perseverance
5. Spiritual Dynamics
6. Fellowship
7. From Twelve to Sermon
8. Jesus in Galilee
9. Judea thru John's Gospel
10. Key OT Teachings
11. Hermeneutic; Definitions
12. Ecumenical Monotheism
13. History of Beliefs, Part 1
14. History of Beliefs, Part 2
15. Moral, Political and Doctrinal Issues
16. People and Isms
17. Poems, Songs & Sermonettes
18. Miscellaneous

To Be Continued

The Propensity Principle (PP)
 
The PP employs linear logic to propose faith in the NT God as the best belief as follows:
 
1. Current scientific knowledge cannot explain how the universe came to exist by means of natural causes.
2. Thus, it is scientifically possible that the cause of the universe is a supernatural Creator/God.
3. It is also possible that human language, moral conscience and God consciousness reflect God.
4. When life is happy, one wishes it would continue indefinitely, so it is rational to seek immortality.
5. Happiness results from love and justice for all forever, called the duo of desirables (DOD).
6. The most credible way or hope of achieving the DOD appears to be resurrection by God.
7. The New Testament (NT) teachings of Jesus and Paul seem to be more divinely inspired than other scriptures,
because their concept of one just and all-loving God/Judge is spiritually most advanced,
and the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is most credible (although not compelling).
8. Thus, it is appropriate to believe in the NT God and to accept Jesus as God's Messiah,
until/unless a better hope for heaven (or at least utopia) becomes available.
 
 
Sticking Points between Atheists and Christians


1. Evidence regarding God's existenceChristians view the unique universe theory as compatible with belief in a God who created it, and the NT gospel culminating with the resurrection of Jesus as both credible and more desirable (cf. the PP) than atheism.  Atheists think a physical explanation for the Big Bang will be discovered, and that the NT is not credible, thus (in the absence of verifiable modern physical miracles) evidence for God is lacking.

2. God's attributesChristians view God (per the NT) as all-loving and perfectly just, the most benevolent Being imaginable.  Atheists sometimes speak as though the God (per some of the OT) in whom they disbelieve is unloving and unjust, like the devil.

3. Moral Free WillChristians say that MFW (a meaningful rationale for universal morality, called the “law of love”) is established or actualized by ultimate just consequences for choosing good or evil, which are heaven and hell.  Atheist humanists say that meaningful MFW (called the “reciprocity principle”) naturally exists and causes most people to gravitate toward socially acceptable behavior without consequences beyond whatever occurs in this earthly existence, and that moral relativism is not open to nihilism (for some unexplained “reason”).

4. Jesus:  Christians accept Jesus as Messiah (Son of God), the person chosen by God to fulfill His plan of salvation (foreshadowed by OT sacrifices) via dying so that God may show grace to repentant humanity without abrogating justice.  Atheists think Jesus might have existed and taught some good things such as the golden rule, but the NT writers who attributed supernatural miracles and resurrection to him were wrong or lying, and his dying as the atonement for humanity’s sins is incoherent.

5. God's WordChristians view the Bible as containing true communication from (inspired by) God regarding how to be saved and how to live morally, and that verses portraying God as demonic are false, stories describing creation are not meant to be literal, truth may be conveyed by parables employing figurative language, and historical passages may contain discrepancies about details.  Atheists believe the Bible is mainly untrue other than passages affirming the golden rule.

6. ChristiansChristians accept Jesus’ definition of a disciple as one who obeys God’s will to love everyone (JN 13:35, MT 7:21), which was reiterated by Paul (GL 6:7-8, 1THS 4:1-7, 2THS 3:2-5, TIT 1:16), which means that God’s grace may be free to those who genuinely repent, but it is not cheap or given without sincere contrition.  Atheists say that anyone who claims to be a Xian actually is a disciple of Jesus, no matter how evil they behave.

NT theists and atheists begin the philosophical journey side by side (as agnostics) but wind up oceans apart.  They are all on the same tree, but atheists choose to climb out on the branch hanging over a cliff, while NT theists decide to climb up the branch leading into the clouds.  They are all on the same maze, but some stop at a dead end, while others keep exploring open paths.

 I do not call atheists "nihilists", but I say that the unintended implications of their moral philosophy, which typically is some form of humanism, is moral relativism or subjectivism that logically must admit all opinions, including both NT theism and nihilism.  However, if NT theists are correct, then both atheism and nihilism are excluded (except for any truth-seeking atheists out there) and Hitleresque people are consigned to hell, but if atheists are right, then NT theism is excluded but nihilism remains included, which is aptly illustrated by Hitler, who suffered no meaningful consequence for his evil actions (merely death by suicide), since we all die—many more horribly than he.  In other words, NT theism provides a Rationale (God) for a universal moral imperative (Golden Rule), whereas all atheist-humanism can offer is a pyrite suggestion.

 

My KISSed Bible (Key Verses)

MT 22:37-40, "Love the Lord your God... and your neighbor as yourself."

MT 7:12, “Do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
1TM 2:3b-5, "God our Savior wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ [Messiah] Jesus."
JN 13:35, "All men [people] will know that you are my disciples if you love one another."
1THS 5:21, "Test everything.  Hold on to the good."
2THS 1:6a, "God is just". 

A Logical Framework for the History of Beliefs
 
          Typically, history is studied in chronological order.  The drawback of that approach is that the student tends to become mired in relatively minor details before covering all of the major events.  This essay provides a framework of 22 memory pegs that may serve as a skeleton for the body of history a person desires to learn.  Because history in its broadest sense refers to all events in time, it is logical for the first peg in the timeline to be the beginning of the universe (alpha, the "Big Bang", circa 20 billion years B.C., #1) and the last peg to be its future ending or eschaton (zulu, fade to dark, c. 20 billion years A.D.?, #22).  Alpha includes the formation of Earth (c. 4 billion years B.C.), because human history requires geography/space as well as chronology/time.  The advent of Jesus of Nazareth traditionally has served in Western cultures as an important event by which to bisect the alpha-zulu timeline (Christ/Christianity, year "zero", #11), and this framework continues that practice.
          

           Bisecting the time between Christ Jesus and alpha in one direction and zulu in the other depends on a person's purpose and perspective, but if the purpose is philosophical more than physical, then Moses' founding of Judaism (circa 1200 B.C., #4) might serve as one event or memory peg and the founding of Islam by Mohammed (610 A.D. #14) as another, because these religions have been such an integral part of history.  Between alpha and Moses, the invention of writing (c. 4,000 B.C., #3) is worthy of remembering, since history heavily depends on written records, and after Mohammed, perhaps our lifetime (today, c. 2000+ A.D., #21) should be included, since history is meaningful only to those who are living in it.  We cannot continue constructing the memory framework by bisecting each segment of history, because the most important people and events are not evenly spaced, so at this point we will proceed in chronological order.

           Before writing, the appearance of oral language (circa 10,000 B.C., #2) is significant, because this is what writing was invented to record.  After Moses, Hinduism (#5) developed a doctrine of karma that viewed reincarnation as part of natural reality, then Buddha/Buddhism (#6) reformed Hinduism (circa 520 B.C.), teaching that enlightenment and nirvana could be attained by means of right meditation rather than by worshipping gods.  Both of these are major religions that should be included in a framework of beliefs.  The appearance of atheist-humanism (circa 450 B.C., #7) in the writings of both Confucius (d. 480 B.C.) and Protagoras (d. 420 B.C.) should be selected, because this belief is the primary philosophical rival of Abrahamic monotheism.

          Next in this chronology is the nascence of science (#8) in Greek culture that is marked by Thales' (d.c. 545 B.C.) attempts to find natural explanations for phenomena and his concern about the most basic element composing material substances.  This was followed by the campaign of conquest led by Alexander the Great (d. 323 B.C.) that spread Greek culture (Greekism/Hellenism, #9), so that it greatly influenced all Western or Mediterranean cultures and beliefs.  Hellenism included the schools of Plato and Aristotle (387 & 330 B.C.), which mark the establishment of formal education in history and other subjects.  After the Greeks, the Roman Empire (c. 60 B.C.) or Romanism (#10) dominated Western history for several centuries.

           After Jesus and the apostle Paul founded Christianity (c. 30-68, #11) [all dates from this point are A.D.], Romanism was instrumental in establishing Roman Catholicism (RC, #12), another major religion warranting a memory peg in this framework, during the reign of Emperor Constantine following the Nicene Council (325).  The teachings of Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) were dominant in Christendom during a "dark age" in Western civilization that began when Germanic migrations (#13) ended the Roman Empire (in 476).  Then militant Islam (c. 632) conquered Africa's Mediterranean coast and Spain, where its advance was stopped by Charles Martel, founder of the Carolingian Empire (c. 732), which ushered in the culture of the medieval ages.  During this Dark Age, the Mongol Kublai Khan (1260-1294, #15) founded the largest empire in history, which served as the interface between the Orient and the West when Marco Polo made his famous journey.  Then the plague or Black Death (c. 1347) killed almost half of the population of Europe.

           The European Dark Age was ended by the Renaissance (c. 1500, #16), embodied by Leonardo da Vinci.  The Renaissance had three main contributing factors:  the printing press (c. 1450), because literacy opened the door of knowledge of the details of history and science; global exploration that was begun by the Portuguese around Africa and furthered by Spain's expeditions across the Atlantic, beginning with Columbus in 1492 and climaxing with the circumnavigation of the globe by Magellan's crew in 1524 (completing the loop that defined the extent of the world this history is relating); and Protestantism that was begun by Martin Luther when he nailed his famous 95 theses to a church door (in 1517, #17) and followed by John Calvin's affirmation of Augustinianism. 

           Protestants were persecuted by kings who cooperated with the Inquisition of the RC Popes.  Global exploration began a period of European colonization (#18), led by Spain, then dominated by England following its defeat of the Spanish Armada (1588), vying mainly with Holland and France for hegemony.  The quest for freedom by the colonies culminated with the founding of the United States of America (1776), which became the world's greatest defender of freedom of faith or religious tolerance and marks the end of the age of colonization.  Unfortunately, this was followed by an age of national totalitarianism, which might be deemed to have begun with Napoleon (d. 1821, #22), climaxed with Hitler in World War II (1939-1945) and culminated with Marxist communism and Islamic terrorism.

          Our framework concludes at this point, because the number of details that can logically be deemed significant to the history of beliefs for various reasons (including numerous inventions) begins to grow at an exponential rate, so that memorizing them might seem overwhelming for many of us.  I hope the reader has been edified by this exercise.

          

 

THE PRAYERS OF PAUL

 

Colossians 1:3&9b-12             Ephesians 1:15-19                                           Philippians 1:3-11

                                                                                                           

We always thank God, the        For this reason, ever since I heard about             I thank my God every time   

Father of our Lord Jesus           about your faith in the LJC and your love           I remember you.  In all my

Christ, when we pray for          for all the saints, I have not stopped                    prayers for all of you, I always

You…                                     giving thanks for you, remembering you              pray with joy because of your

in my prayers…                                               partnership in the gospel from

                                                                       the first day until now…

…asking God to fill you           …I keep asking that the God of our LJC,             …And this is my prayer:  that

with the knowledge of his        the glorious Father, may give you the                   your love may abound more

will through all spiritual            Spirit of wisdom and revelation…                        and more in knowledge and

understanding…                                                                                              depth of insight…

…in order that you may           …that you may know the hope to which              …so that you may be able to

live a life worthy of the            he has called you, the riches of his glorious          discern what is best and may

Lord and may please him         inheritance in the saints…                                   be pure and blameless until

in every way…                                                                                                the day of Christ…

…bearing fruit in every                                                                                     …filled with the fruit of

good work…                                                                                                    righteousness…

…being strengthened with       …and his incomparably great power for                     

all power…                              us who believe…

2THS 1:11-12                          2THS 2:16-17                                                  2THS 3:5&1THS 5:23

We constantly pray for you,    May our LJC and God our Father…                   May the Lord direct your

That our God may count you   strengthen you in every good deed and word.      Hearts into God’s love and

worthy of his calling, and                                                                                 Christ’s perseverance.

that by his power he may                                                                                 May God… sanctify you

fulfill every good purpose                                                                                 through and through.  May

of yours and every act                                                                                     your whole spirit, soul and

prompted by your faith.                                                                                    body be kept blameless at

                                                                                                                      the coming of our Lord…



Scriptures that Teach a Proto-Gospel

The NT indicates that the “gospel” has existed from the beginning.  Paul wrote (in GL 3:8), "The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham:  "All nations will be blessed through you." 

Even before or apart from the Hebrew culture, Luke wrote (in ACTS 14:16-17) that "In past generations God allowed all the nations to go their own way, although He did not leave Himself without a witness, since He did good:  giving rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying hearts with food and happiness."

Quoting Paul's speech to the Athenians, Luke wrote again (in ACTS 17:26-27 &30), "God has made every nation of men... so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him... Having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent."

 Paul himself wrote (in RM 1:18-20):  "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

And again (in RM 10:17-18), Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.  But I ask:  Did they not hear?  Of course, they did:  "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." 

We can see from these verses that truth sufficient for salvation and judgment in cultures separated from the Judeo-Christian tradition is revealed through what theologians call "general" or "natural" revelation.  Paul told the Colossians (in CL 1:23):  "The gospel that you heard... has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven."

Applying these verses to the Parable of the Talents (MT 25:14-30), we can infer that the man who received the most talents is comparable to a person who has had the opportunity of learning the full NT gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus as Messiah.  The person who received fewer talents may be viewed as representing those who experienced the OT dispensation.  And the person given only one talent is like a pagan who has access to nothing more than knowledge gleaned by meditating upon nature.  Each person will be judged fairly on the basis of the truth he/she had the opportunity of learning.   

                                  HEZEKIAH

 

1:1- Life is never simple; 1:2- if it’s not one thing, it’s another.

2:1- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

3:1- Accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative.

4:1- Love to learn and learn to love.

5:1- It takes two to tango or tangle.

6:1- Two wrongs do not make a right.

7:1- You are what you eat (and read and listen to and look at, etc.)

8:1- Communication is key.

9:1- Variety is the spice of life.


“God’s Plan A”

1. Every baby is wanted and born into a happy home,
where both parents are spiritually mature or
able to provide for the child’s emotional as well as physical needs.
 

2. Every child is raised by both parents, who are Spirit-filled or Christ-like,
so the right way to believe and behave is taught by both words and deeds
and there is no good reason to be rebellious.
 

3. Every child becomes able to comprehend spiritual reality
and at the stage of accountability (about ten) decides
to accept God as Lord or be spiritually reborn.
 

4. Every reborn adolescent continues learning truths
that will enable them to become mature adults and parents,
unless they choose to remain celibate.
 

5. Every adult perseveres in manifesting God’s love and witnessing for Christ
as they become wise senior adults and grandparents.

6. God’s kingdom of heaven is achieved on earth,
but when sin and stupidity hinders plan A (perfection),
plan B is for people to repent and do the best they can to approach plan A.


“Logical Connections"


             IF                                 THEN                          Scripture           

Repent  of Unbelief          Believe God’s word                ACTS 3:19
           
Believe God’s word          Love Jesus                             JN 8:42
Love Jesus                       Obey Jesus                            JN 14:15           
Obey Jesus                      Love neighbor                         JN 15:12, MT 22:39
Love, forgive, etc.            Go to heaven                           MT 6:14f., 7:21


   “LGW Diagram”                 

hear                                                 have faith                  
obey
[word]--------------à[mind]---------------à[heart]-------------à[work]

     (love)    received                  believed                    applied         (good)


 

“Biblical Synonyms for Divinity”

   SPIRIT                                                   POWER    
                                          TRUTH                                                 WORD                                              
                                                WISDOM                                               LAW                                                     
LIGHT                                                    LIFE    
       LOVE                                                     SPIRIT 

 
   
“God in a Box”
(Connect the dots)

                                                        * omniscient                   * omnipresent                                          

                                                    * omnipotent             * omnitemporal

             

                            

                                    G                  O                 D                  

                       

                        * just                              * spirit                      

                                         * love                        * truth   


 
                                  “Chain Sinning”
 

Sin usually is a cluster or chain of sins, as illustrated by the first man and woman’s fall from innocence (in GN 3:1-6) as follows:
 

1.       The first sin might have been too much faith or not doubting the lie of the serpent (1JN 4:1, 2CR 11:3).

2.       The second sin was adding to or perverting God’s word (RV 22:18f.), because in the recorded instructions to Adam God had said only that they must not eat the fruit; He had not said they could not touch it (GN 2:17).

3.       The third sin was one of omission.  Adam and Eve neglected to ask God about the devil’s teaching (JM 4:17, 1:5).

4.       The fourth sin must have been greed for the forbidden fruit, because the inner sinful attitude always precedes the outward sinful action (CL 3:5).

5.       The fifth sin was actually eating the forbidden fruit, which was not an apple! 

6.       The sixth sin was covering up and lying (PS 32:1-5, 1JN 1:9). Note that Adam and Eve were both deceived and enabled each other to sin (v.6-7).  (1TM 2:14 is problematic.)

 

"Scriptures stating or implying God's requirement for salvation stated in terms of faith (F) and works (W)"


From Matthew


1. Repent (4:17, F), 

2. Recognize one's spiritual poverty (5:3, F)

3. Be righteous (5:20, W)

4. Love your enemies (5:44, W)

5. Serve God (6:24&33, W)

6. Enter the narrow gate (7:13, F)

7. Do God's will (7:21 & 12:50, F&W)

8. Hear and act (7:24, F&W)

9. Confess Jesus (10:32, W)

10. Love Jesus (10:37, F)

11. Give life to Jesus (10:39& 16:24-25, F)

12. Have no doubt (11:6, F)

13. Come to Jesus (11:28, F)

14. Learn from Jesus (11:29, W)

15. Be for Jesus (12:30, F)

16. Understand (13:23, F)

17. Be good (5:48 & 13:38,43,49, W)

18. Value salvation (13:44-46, F)

19. Believe Jesus (16:16& 21:32, F)

20. Become humble (18:3-4 & 19:14, W)

21. Forgive others (18:35, W)

22. Give to the poor (19:21, W)

23. Follow Jesus (19:21&29, F)

24. Yield fruit (21:43, W)

25. Dress appropriately (22:11-14, cf. RV 16:15, W)

26. Love God, neighbor & self (22:37-40, W)

27. Hold out until the end (24:13, F)

28. Keep awake (24:42 & 25:13, F)

29. Be ready (24:44, F&W)

30. Be trustworthy and useful (25:21&30, F&W)

31. Help Jesus' brothers (25:34-40, W)

32. Be righteous/do right (25:46, F&W)More from Mark

33. Accept the kingdom (10:15, F)

34. Believe the Gospel (16:16, F)

35. Receive baptism (16:16, W)


From Luke


36. Be hated (6:22-23, W)

37. Lend (6:35, W)

38. Judge not (6:37, W)

39. Invite the poor to your party (14:13-14, W)

40. Use wealth wisely (16:9, W)

41. Stand firm (21:19, F)


From John


42. Be born again (3:3&6, F)

43. Come to the light (3:21, F)

44. Obey the Son (8:51 & 14:15, W)

45. Drink living water (4:14, F)

46. Heed Jesus (5:24, W)

47. Do right (5:29, W)

48. Work for the food of life (6:27, W)

49. Partake of the bread of life (6:33-35&51, F)

50. Eat the flesh and drink the blood of X (6:54, F)

51. Dwell within the truth (8:31&35, W)

52. Hate self; serve Jesus (12:25-26, W)

53. Accept Jesus' words (12:47, F)

54. Follow Jesus' example (13:15-17, W)

55. Dwell in Jesus and in love (15:5-10, F&W)

56. Heed his command (15:10-12, F)

57. Know God and Jesus Christ (17:3, F)

58. Believe Jesus is Christ/Son (20:31, F)


From Acts


59. Call on the name of the Lord (2:21, F)

60. Repent and be baptized (2:38, cf.3:19, F&W)

61. Believe in Jesus (10:43, cf. 13:39&48, F)

62. Believe in the Lord Jesus (16:31, cf. 18:8, F)

63. Repent and turn to God (26:20, F)


From Romans


64. Have faith (1:17, F)

65. Persist in doing good (2:7&10, cf.3:12, W)

66. Obey the law (2:13, cf. 3:20, W)

67. Have faith in Jesus Christ (3:22, 26&28&5:1, F)

68. Confess Jesus as resurrected Lord (10:9, F&W)

69. Call on the name of the Lord (10:13, F)


From 1 Corinthians


70. Believe (1:21, F)

71. Hold firmly to the gospel (15:2, F)


From 2 Corinthians


72. Repent (7:10, F)


                              "Etcetera"

My personal belief system continues to evolve until I die...