February 2009


Ever since the US election, I’ve been thinking about the division of Christians over Oboma. I remember reading Dutch Sheets response:

but my convictions run deep and I believe I bear a God-given responsibility to share them.

Was This God’s Will?

Was what happened Tuesday God’s will? I am quite confident it was not. America was offered a very clear choice between moving further toward protecting the unborn or further away; between a Supreme Court that would move towards honoring God, life and morality or away from it. The stakes couldn’t have been higher nor the cost greater. As a nation we put on blinders concerning Barak Obama’s background, associates, beliefs and practices, and set these causes back years, possibly decades.

And in doing so we took another step away from God and His plans for America, and another step towards judgment.

  • For those in the Church who aligned themselves with pro-abortion forces, I believe judgment will result.
  • For leaders in the Body of Christ who refused to take a stand for fear of losing people, money, and tax-exempt status – I believe there will be a degree of judgment.
  • For those, both withing the Church and without, who voted money over morality – a potential raise or better health insurance over the life of a baby – there will be judgment.

I think I now believe that those who claim to be pro-life are, in fact, narrow minded. Not that they are wrong for being against abortion, but most who say they are pro-life, are actually just anti-abortion? They are short sighted and on a mission for God. And to quote Frank Schaeffer, ”No matter how good a cause, when you think you are on a mission from God, you eventually get crazy”.

Can you be pro-life and pro-death-penalty?

Can you be pro-life and anti-condom distribution? If this is the case, then I would say that you are more concerned with the image of abstinence then you are with life. If you were really pro-life you would teach abstinence and hand out condoms.

Can you be pro-life and be pro-war? If one is pro-life does that not mean they should be at least anti any and all civilian causality? I don’t believe you can say you are pro-life and be supportive of the war in Afghanistan or in Iraq. In this respect Obama is more pro-life than the alternative!

Can you be pro-life and do nothing for poverty? If you are not active in the fight against poverty politically, on the local body of believers level and on a personal level, I don’t think that you can say that you are pro-life. I don’t know all the statistics but I did hear that 90% of abortions that occur for those under the poverty line are done for financial reasons. Having a baby could mean losing a job, not finishing school or in general subjecting the baby and maybe other children to malnutrition and a general shitty life.

It is because of this last issue that I struggle calling my self pro-life. I have never brought into my home a pregnant mother that has no where to go. I have never in any active way tried to help those suffering more then me due to their condition in poverty. Politically I am against poverty, so at least I do something for poverty come election time, but I am not sure how much my vote aids in their real life struggles.

Taking the stance of pro-life, for most people including myself, is an easy way to ease our conscience rather than being actively pro-life.

So, back to the new US administration, there were two groups of response on election day: the group that were singing and rejoicing and praising God; and the group that were on their knees in mourning and interceding on the nations behalf. Both sides need to repent! Obama is not the savior nor is he the anti-Christ. He is, however, God’s authority in the seat of power of the kingdom of the west. Both sides need to come together in unity to pray and bless Obama and to seek God for direction for the Kingdom of God. For way to long, we have been mesmerized by the kingdom of the west. We have bought into the capitalism as though it were God’s economic system. We thought that it is through this worldly kingdom that God’s morality would flow. We have fought each other and drew divided lines, less on the things of God and more on politics.

Jesus will bring judgment on all kingdoms, and they will all fail. If America and west fall (not to mention China and the east which are being hit just as hard by the economic situation we are finding ourselves in), it willnot be because the wrong party was voted into power in America. If any thing the last party has been instrumental in the failing economy, what with their pro-death war! All Obama’s horses and all Obama’s men will probably not be able to put Humpty together again.

Revelations 18,19 is a better indicator for the state we find our selves in, rather then any results of an election in a worldly kingdom.

Obama was either chosen or allowed, by God, to be the leader of the United States in this hour! We need to stop rebelling against God’s authority by subversive intercession and negative attitudes masquerading as prophecy and raise up, separate ourselves from the kingdoms of this world and actively bring God’s Kingdom to earth! Love one another (fellow believers, our neighbors, even our enemies); Sell all you have and give it to the needy; Feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, invite in the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned; Visit orphans and widows.

Dutch Sheets claimed that he knew what God’s will was for his nation and that Obama was not it. Other Christians claimed they knew God’s will for the nation and Obama was the answer. Rationally, only one side can be right. Only one side can be hearing from God, meaning the other side is being deceived by some one else. This is the only rational answer. I believe God’s answer is not rational. God does not speak to individuals, he speaks to his Body. As long as God’s Body is divided into different camps, we will not know, we cannot know God’s will.

God’s Body is bigger than most people believe. It includes many that we ignore or resist (Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Anabaptist, liberal, mainline, evangelical, charismatic, post-charismatic, cessationists, post-evangelical, emergent, house-church, …). This is the Body! And until this Body comes together in unity we all will be carrying only a fraction of puzzle known as God’s will.(John 17; Eph 4) We need to focus less on the doctrines and practices of the different parts of the Body, and less on the kingdoms of this world. We need to focus more on Christ and His Body. His complete Body!

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Perhaps one of the greatest minds in science was born 200 years ago on February 12 1809. What Charles Darwin accomplished through simple observation and recorded as a naturalist has transformed many of the scientific fields through the years. There are other great minds, no doubt, and maybe some that will be proved as great or greater after time, but Darwin’s simple observations have not only withstood two hundred years of being rigorously tested in many different disciplines, it has been instrumental in leaps of knowledge: genetics, biology, bio-geography.

I have been reading Saving Darwin: How to Be a  Christian and Believe in Evolution, by Karl W Giberson, and I realized, again, the sad truth of how much of the Conservative Christians in North America are blinded by a simplistic faith. Their attitude is summed up in:

But Americans have never been eager or even willing to be led by intellectual elites. A simple commonsense argument by someone you trust is worth more than the pompous pronouncements of an entire university of condescending eggheads. America is a nation that loves cowboys, and cowboys don’t need experts telling them what to think.
(p 119)

It  is the sad truth. We have rejected scientific facts in a multitude of scientific disciplines that prove evolution. We have also rejected or twisted archeology, history and biblical critic simply because of our overly literal interpretation of the bible. We have rejected a massive wall of scientific facts, pushing them aside because they contradict teachings we cling to. We ignore and even make fun of global warming with a simple wave of a simple hand despite the overwhelming facts. Often we find ourselves opposing God and His command to us to be His agent in creation; to help care for it. We have not been faithful in this little thing, how will he be able to trust us to have dominion with His new heaven and new earth?

Its no wonder the masses are rejecting  this antiquated faith. We blame it on an attack of the enemy. I say, rather, that it is an attack from within our own ranks, our attack on intelligentsia. We honor people with simple minded faith more than we honor those that study and teach us the facts of God’s creation. There is nothing wrong with simple faith, as long as it is not simple mind but rather is grounded in truth that includes the truth that is revealed through our study of creation.

The thing is that there is no conflict between believing the gospel /following Christ with passion and believing in the facts as they are revealed in  natural reality, in God’s creation. God has revealed himself through the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and he has revealed himself through his creation. His ultimate revelation, though, is found in Joshua the promised one; Jesus the Christ.

So,
I am an Evolutionary Creationist;
I am a conservationist;
I am a proponent for an intelligent and critical study of the biblical text and of our faith. One that is in harmony with the gospel, the context of the original writings and our current knowledge of the world around us;
I am a believer in/ follower of  the historical Jesus, the promised on of Israel.

Here is to hoping that the next two hundred years will bring a balance between a faith worth believing with both our minds and our hearts, and the natural knowledge that results from science.

Happy birthday Darwin!

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.” [Revelation 18:2]

Babylon, the dominant culture, has fallen! Sound familiar?

Let me say upfront that I do not put credibility on the end time prophetic reading of revelation. So what I am going to be saying, I believe, is a revelation of Jesus Christ that has NOTHING to do with the second coming or being ‘Left Behind’.

“I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues..’ And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their cargoes any more cargoes of gold and silver and precious stones and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet, and every kind of citron wood and every article of ivory and every article made from very costly wood and bronze and iron and marble, and cinnamon and spice and incense and perfume and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and cargoes of horses and chariots and slaves and human lives. Cargoes of automobiles and mortgages, of news print and pulp…’. ” [Revelation 18:4, 11-13]

We, as the church, have been in Babylon. We are as much consumers in our society as anyone else, and much of our gospel has been a ‘different gospel’. We have made the same promises to the people in our congregations as our society makes to our culture: buy into our product and your life will be fulfilled.

We have bought into it so much that we think that as Babylon is being cast down, we will be its savior. However, we are called to come out. As Jesus might say to western Christianity – not just to individuals but to the institutions themselves, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” [Matthew 19:21] “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” [Luke 18:22]

Jesus’ and the apostles teachings are the antithesis of the Prosperity theology that has dominated much of the teachings coming out of western Christianity. “Any Gospel that cannot be preached in a Third-World country is not the True Gospel of Jesus Christ” — Dr. David Jeremiah.  As a result, we have participated in Babylon’s sins, and, without repentance, we will receive of her plagues.

We cannot be the answer to the problem as long as we are buy into the culture.

As Michael Frost says in this video (a must watch)[paraphrased]:

What the world sees when it looks at the church in our culture today is: absolute temporal power, what with all our accouterments and buildings … and they think we would do anything to keep that power. They agree with the Da Vinci Code thinking that we would do anything to maintain our status and our power and our position. Why don’t we show them that we hold what we got, very, very loosely! that we are a viral movement of little Jesuses and that we do not need our buildings and our money and the accouterments of our institutional power; that we have spiritual power that transforms us from ordinary people into a movement of Grace and Love and Power.

The peasants in China can take  hold of the gospel with none of the temporal institutional instruments of power that we have and can literally transform the most draconian of  regimes that the world has ever seen.

What would happen if we woke up tomorrow to find that our christian denomination has lost a lawsuit that required the selling off of all the assets, buildings and property in order to pay the fine? Many would possibly move on to other denominations. But what if we owned the situation and learn to live in temporal poverty, instead relying on an indwelling of God’s spiritual power to flow through us?

I say that then we would hear cried out in heaven, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” [Revelation 19:6,7]

Here is a great post that says it better than I could.

“If you don’t believe then you are not a Christian.”

This statement is orthodoxy at its finest. By believe, we mean believe correctly. If our statement of faith is not correct [where it matters] how can you be a Christian. I believe this. However, the ‘where it matters’ for me is extremely small.

“Modern Christians have a hard time understanding how the Pharisees and Sadducees could work together in the Sanhedrin with such differing theological positions but this view helps us to see that what they believed was less important than how they lived their lives.” hockey pastor

Can I be a functioning, healthy Christian and believe: evolution?; that the bible is a God- breathed but human book, full of messy humanity and errors, and yet profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness?; the virgin birth was midrash and not meant to be taken literal?; any of a number of the different views of church leadership?; that ultimately all creation including all humanity will be redeemed and reconciled to God through Jesus? Each one of these I either  wrestling out in my mind with God or I have already come to believe.

Some of the beliefs listed above would prove to some that either I am not a Christian, or that I was on my way to becoming a non-believer.

The problem I am having with this mentality, is that the early Christians and Jesus did not seem to function this way. Jesus said: “Follow me.” not here is a set of teachings, now start believing. Sure He also said. “Who do you say I am?” But I don’t think he was looking for a doctrinal statement for a response, He was looking for “You’re the One.” Christianity was not about coming to a right set of beliefs, but about coming to a relationship with the living Jesus. The only belief that was needed was that Jesus was Lord and that He was raised from the dead.

What is sound doctrine?
1 Timothy 1:10: “ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching”

Jesus and his early followers emphasized orthopraxy, or right practice over right belief: Love one another (fellow believers, our neighbors, even our enemies); Sell all you have and give it to the needy; Feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, invite in the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned; Visit orphans and widows.

If you say that I am not a Christian, or that my Christianity is off, by pointing to my orthopraxy, there I may have to agree.

What do I believe? Well, who knows? What day is it? Because it will be different tomorrow…

What are you doing. I told you not to read this. Please go now.

Come on, don’t do this to your self, go play solitaire, read any other of my posts, just leave this one alone.

Are you still here? You really want to read this? I can’t persuade you against it? O.K, but let it be said that you were warned. Since there seems to be no way to convince you, the least you can do is to pick up a bible and read Act 17:1-15, I’ll wait.

I can only trust that you read the Acts passage. This is the last change I’ll give you. If you have any tendency to be like the Thessalonians, go. For the rest of you Bereans:

Over the last year, I have gone through some major theological change. I realized that theology is not static but fluid, dependent on the culture and the context. Theology is man’s attempt to answers the questions being asked in his culture and context. So as those questions change, as our understanding of reality changes and as we mature as a culture, we need to revisit our theology.

This has always been happening. We have always had people modifying, improving and changing our understanding of God. But we have also gone through periods where this change has been amplified. There was the era of the new testament, the church fathers, the great theologians, then the reform theologians, the liberal theologians and today we have the post modern theologians.

Some of these areas have taken us further away from the truth of God: the Greco-Roman philosophers from 300 to 1300 CE and the liberal theologian of the late 1800 – mid 2000. I have placed the classic theologians in this list due to their departure from Hebrew thought to Greek thought. This was not necessarily wrong for them, though Paul seems to warn against it in Colossians. However, the fact that most of our theology today is influenced by this ancient Greek philosophy, and that this is not wildly realized as a problem, indicates to me that we could be building on a crumbled foundation of theology.

It is nearly impossible to read the bible outside of an interpretive context of Greco-Roman philosophy until some one comes along and exposes this as an idol. It has happened to me, and my prayer is that it happens to you.

Any way, all that to say, I have been on a wild ride over the last year that has brought me to were I am currently.

How did I get here?

Step 1:
Coming to grips that God IS Love. God IS Love. He has other attributes, but He is Love.

Therefore we need to understand His attributes through the reality of love and to understand that reality of love in the context of His love for us [human race] and His desire for us [human race].God’s wrath, God’s holiness, His mercy and justice. All His attributes need to be understood through the fact that He is Love.

GOD is patient, GOD is kind and HE is not jealous; GOD does not brag and HE is not arrogant, HE does not act unbecomingly; HE does not seek HIS own, HE is not provoked, HE does not take into account a wrong suffered, HE does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but HE rejoices with the truth; HE bears all things, HE believes all things, HE hopes all things, HE endures all things. GOD never fails;

Therefore, we need to reinterpret much of our understanding of the God of the Old Testament. Jesus was and is God’s ultimate revelation to mankind. So now that we have this new bit of information, GOD IS LOVE, we need to use it on the old revelation to update our understanding.

When we read of a wrathful, vengeful God in the old testament, that imagery needs to be updated. What has happened in the past is that we have clung to the old imagery and modified the image of the new testament God of Love. The love of God is down played and lessened by the idea of a Holy God that has to loose His wrath on the disobedient.

THIS IS BACKWARDS => GOD IS LOVE

[We have also given God his own standards of Love. God told us to love others, but we would not want someone to love us as we think God loves his enemies. We hold ourselves to a higher standard of love then we hold God to.]

Step 2:
Next, I came to realizing that sin “is not a moral/spiritual stain upon the soul and an inheriting of guilt, rather it speaks of a severance of communion from God, a loss of sanctifying grace, an inheritance of a spiritual and physical death, the introduction of decay and disease, a subjugation to Satan, and finally a weakening of will and thus an inclination to sin. Succumbing to sin and temptation prevented humanity from participation in the Kingdom of Heaven; thus, all people from the beginning until Christ were prevented from entering into Heaven.” From Wikipedia.

Jesus’ death on the cross was not a legal requirement that allowed God to forgive our sins. First of all, this would not be forgiveness, rather it would be appeasement. It my sins were paid for, there is no longer a need for forgiveness.

And God did not turn His back on Jesus on the cross because of sin. Nowhere does it say God left Jesus, rather it says the opposite, that God was in Jesus. God never needed to hide from sin, sin does not make a gap that God cannot cross to be with us.

In the garden, right after man and woman sinned, God came looking for them to walk with them. He did not feel the need to hide from their sin, rather it was man and woman who hid from God. Sin caused mankind to hide from God not God to hide from man. With sin came shame and that sin and shame is what Jesus felt on the cross, He became sin. He felt our shame, and felt, for the first time in his life, a separation from God. God was there. He was in Christ doing the reconciliation, but due to the sin and shame, Jesus felt the separation we feel.

So sin is not a moral/ legal stain that God, in his holiness, has to hide from. And the cross was not the legal substitution that was the loop hole that allowed Jesus to get God to accept us. The cross is not an appeasement to and for God; it was an appeasement for us. The act was not legal [with legal there is winners and losers]; but was base in reconciliation. Jesus’ death was the cure for our sin and shame, not a substitution for my punishment.

I could go into great depths here. But rather than that I recommend an 8 hour dialogue here.

Step 3:
I listened to a number of amiable debates between a christian and an atheist and was struck by the idea of the culpability of God. What kind of God would set up humanity, so that not sinning is statistically and logically out of the question. God created them; He set before them a tree that was both pleasing to the eye and good for food and said don’t eat. I could have predicted the results.

And then to say that because of their actions, we will all [mostly] perish in eternal torment. This God would be culpable!

Although I wouldn’t say that these debates changed me drastically, I was already well on my way, I found that they did emphasis the idea of looking at the other side of issues and allowing this to become an opportunity for iron sharpening iron.

Let me also say, that as an evolutionary creationist [I’ll explain if requested], and with the general understanding of biblical literary styles, I do not take Genesis to be literal history. The creation story does not describe our origins, rather it describes our condition. There is all kinds of truth and understanding that we can get out of Genesis even if read only as Godly myths. It is God breathed but not a science or history book. The later chapters, I believe are based on real events, but even they were written in a style that conveyed more meaning of God then history.

I find absolutely no compromise in the God breathed authority and my view of Genesis being non science, non history literature. Though I’m sure many would argue differently and say that I was on the slippery slope of liberalism.

Step 4:
Influence of Greek Philosophy in Christian Doctrines
see my post on Colossians

Here are just two headings I came across in a history of western thought textbook:
Saint Augustine: the fusion of Platonism and Christianity
and
Medieval Philosophy: a prolonged attempt to fit Plato, Aristotle and Christianity harmoniously into the same outlook.

There are different theological schools of thought that are being developed today that bypass this adherence to the Greco-Roman worldview and are more harmonious with the ancient Hebraic thoughts and philosophies of God:

I honestly do not know enough about these theologies to say I believe in them or not. I just know that the old theologies that stem from the greco-roman philosophies need to be, at the very least, challenged. These challenges need to be in the spirit of open and honest communication and not to be responded to in a knee jerk reaction.

Step 5:
Study of hell. The Hebrews did not have a well defined view of the after life until the inter-testamental period. The word sheol is often interpreted as hell, however, it is the place every one went. The use is similar to the word Hades in the New Testament, which again is the afterlife or the unseen realm where all those who die go to.

The other word in the New Testament, Gehenna, is the name of a real valley that was used as Jerusalem’s garbage depository. The history of this valley has child sacrifice and was often used in the Old Testament as the imagery of judgment.

Jesus’ hearers would not have the image we have, as a result of the middle ages. They would think of this garbage dump that was apparently continually on fire to burn off the refuse. The Hebrews would also have the understanding of the continuation of the judgment imagery.

I have become convinced that hell could very well be real, however, it is not like our modern imagery that comes out of the middle ages. Hell is a place of Judgment and Punishment, and though hell may exist for eternity, individual punishment may only be for a set period. [there are other possible interpretations for eternal – unto the ages]

So I came to the conclusion that there are three valid interpretations:
1) The traditional western/ Catholic view of eternal/ everlasting torment. I need to reject this view due to my understanding of God. The God I know would be able to save all or would have mercy to terminate the torture.

2) Annihilation: Sinners are not reconciled, by they are not eternally tormented. They perish. Although I could accept this, I see the scripture leading me to the last option.

3) Ultimate Reconciliation

Step 6:
Submission to Ultimate Reconciliation

I believe that all will be judged and some will be punished. But in the end, Christ will reconcile ALL things to Himself. (Colossians 1:20) After all, He himself is the propitiation [satisfaction; mercy; make favorable, the removal or cleansing of sin] of our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the WHOLE world! (1 John 2:2)

There are many other scriptures that, taken just as they are written, reveal this doctrine of ultimate reconciliation. The problem is that these verses are usually interpreted through and explained away by other verses that hint at a exclusive salvation of only some who believe. The question is which side should be used as the basis for interpretation? Do we replace the ALL’s with SOME’s?

“For God has shut up ALL in disobedience so that He may show mercy to ALL.”

becomes:

” For God has shut up ALL in disobedience so that He may show mercy to SOME”
(Romans 11:32)

“So then as through ONE transgression there resulted condemnation to ALL men, even so through ONE act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to ALL men “

becomes:

“So then as through ONE transgression there resulted condemnation to ALL men, even so through ONE act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to SOME men”
(Romans 5:18)

“For as in Adam ALL die, so also in Christ ALL will be made alive”

becomes:

“For as in Adam ALL die, so also in Christ SOME will be made alive”
(1 Corinthians 15:22)

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires All men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for ALL, the testimony given at the proper time.
(1 Timothy 2:3-6)

These are just some of the verses that convey the idea of a ultimate reconciliation. These verses, taken in there immediate context and in the context of the loving God seeking to bring reconciliation to His creation, clearly can only be understood as applying to all mankind. It is only by taking the doctrine of ‘limited salvation of some’ into their context that these verses can be twisted to mean something other than their plain meaning.

It helps that I first came to an understanding of sin as a ‘missing the mark’ rather than committing a great travesty against God.

It helps that I also came to the understanding of a Loving God working through the cross to restore relationship with His Creation rather than a vengeful and wrathful God needing appeasement.

And it helps that I first came to the understanding that God has been at work throughout human history to establish and to restore the Father/child relationship that exists outside of the context of the fall. Wanting it so bad that He would go to the cross in order to appease our sense of guilt and shame. That God was in Christ reconciling THE WORLD to Himself. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

I may be [read: will be] labeled a heretic by some, but that is OK. I’d rather be labeled a heretic for believing in a good and loving God, a God who IS love; who is powerful and wise enough to be able to bring His will to fruition. For He is not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.(2 Peter 3:9) “For it is this I labor and strive, because I have fixed my hope on the living God, who is the Savior of ALL men, especially those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10)

But none the less, here are some of my other beliefs:

  1. Jesus is the Way , the Truth and the Life; no one can come to the Father except through Him
  2. we need to come into repentance and be baptized to enter the Kingdom of God
  3. We, as believers are called into the ministry of reconciliation.
  4. It is appointed for men to die once, and after this the judgment. All WILL be judged; Some will be punished.
  5. Punishment and Hell fire is purifying, redemptive fire
  6. In the end, EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father:
    Bowing as a defeated rebellious enemy of God, in my opinion, would not be glory to God

Scriptures
The above scriptures are not an exclusive list of scriptures supporting my view, but they are the most obvious. These can only be explained away by the use of preconceived theology based on other scriptures.

I do not deny that there could be two ways to interpret scriptures based on prejudges that we bring with us. Why would we seem to desire that the majority should perish or be eternally tormented.

“In the first five or six centuries of Christianity there were six theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa, or Nisibis) were Universalist; one (Ephesus) accepted conditional immortality (annihilationism); one (Carthage or Rome) taught endless punishment of the wicked”.
The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 12, p. 96; Retrieved April 29, 2007.

I just had an interesting thought on Kingdom leadership,

1) Jesus taught NON-authoritarian [Luke 22:24-27] and NON-positional [Matthew 23:8-12] leadership in the Kingdom.
2) We know that we are to respect and submit to governing authorities of the world [Romans 13:1-8].
3) God has appointed in the church NON-authoritarian, NON-positional forms of guidance/ gifts: “commissioners/delegates, prophets, instructors, powers, free gifts of healings, of
assistance, of guidance, of kinds of tongues” [1 Corinthians 12:28 – some translation use governments here but the original Greek word means ‘to steer or pilot’]
4) Jesus is the head of the Body – He is the source of our being and our authority.

Shortly after Peter wrote: “You are a royal priesthood and a priestly kingdom” [1 Peter 3:9] to the WHOLE Body as the fulfillment of promises made in the Old Testament, St Clement of Rome wrote his first letter to the Corinthian church:

Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen.
chap 40

The ink of Peters letter was hardly dry when this was written in 96 C.E. And we went from the priesthood of all believers to assigned high priests, priests, Levites and laity. All before the end of the first century.

The thought that struck me as I was pondering this, was that part of the cause of the fall was our taking authority and rule a way from God and putting it onto human agencies. Not only did it cause the fall, it became part of the curse. The egalitarian state between Adam and Eve before the fall became a hierarchical ruling relationship afterward.

From that time on, man ruled man. And governing authorities were set in place. These governing authorities were also set up between ourselves and God. Moses, priests, prophets, and then kings. These are not God’s best for us, God often instituting them on our behalf against His will. They are all an example of what don’t work and won’t work. Authority finds its origins in God, but as a result of the curse, some of that authority has been established in man’s institutions.

Jesus came, set up the Kingdom and taught that we are not to lead with authority; that God is going to take back ALL authority in the Kingdom. And then we turn around and re-setup our own human run authority in the kingdom of God. We still choose to live under the cures rather than let the full work of the cross break us free.

Sure all authority is establish by and in God, but that is not and never was his best for humanity. Jesus came to break us free from these chains, commissioned us to ministers of reconciliation to help Him usher in His kingdom to earth and we turn our backs to Him and request another mediator, another system of mediation.

Well what do you think?

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