A special heart

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40 thoughts on “A special heart

  1. Bryan,
    I couldnt agree more with the sentiment expressed there in your blog. BUT you have to admit that such a statement completely denigrates the much attested essential condition of holding and living a Christian faith. Christians believe that it is CRUCIAL TO BE RIGHT about that.
    Rian.

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    • Of course we believe that it is crucial to be right about holding and living a Christian faith.
      Jesus’ conflict with the scribes and Pharisees was the result of their faith versus His faith. We see it in the conflicts He had with them when He healed people on the Sabbath. And when we compare the old Testament with what He did, the weight of evidence is on His side not theirs.

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      • I agree to a certain extent davinci. The whole reason that the saints and Jesus were killed was due to the fact that they challenged people. They didn’t worry about spreading the truth, they didn’t worry about sensibilities or culture or differing faiths.

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    • I agree with davinci too, Rian.

      What good would our faith be if we didn’t believe it to be true and we were unsure if we were right in what we believed? We truly would be like the doubters who are double-minded and unstable in all their ways if that were the case.

      We speak of what we are certain of, according to the measure of faith we have been given, and that is as it should be.

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  2. This is very true and a lesson I often have to learn.

    As a coincidence the night before last I had a dream that shocked me. It was an incredibly loud barking that came out of nowhere. As I still do when a dream really has an impact, I browse the internet and I stumbled on this.

    “Sermon: Barking Dogs and Christians

    Summary: There have been challenges to Christianity from day one, Jesus said there
    would be. The latest challenges are a resurrection of Gnosticism. Jesus said the
    gates of Hades shall not prevail against his kingdom. Therefore, we should not be
    fearful when the world slanders God, the Bible, or Jesus. Without ignoring evidences
    of Christ, our biggest concern should be to live as lights in a world of darkness.

    Know: Challenges to the truth of God does not invalidate truth. Therefore, we should
    not be consumed with debunking every challenge nor should we ignore them so that
    we can remove barriers to faith for unbelievers.

    Feel: A confident faith in God despite intellectual challenges to it

    Do: Look for opportunities to dialogue with others about your faith

    Text: Matt 16:18

    Scripture Reading: 1 Pet 3:14-16” epreacher.org

    I felt this was a slapping on the wrist for me to a certain extent.

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    • Oh that’s awesome Kathleen.

      That truly is a ‘word in season’ for what’s going on right here and now. The “barking” analogy sent shivers down my spine.

      Thanks so much for being faithful to bring that ‘word’ (I believe from God) forward. It only confirms what I believe God had shown me last night.

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    • Hi Kathleen,
      Goodness, so the resurrection of Gnosticism is the latest challenge to Christianity. I wonder if the author really knows what it is.

      Still, never mind.
      Cheers, Rian.

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      • I have to tell you Rian, I never really quite understood what gnosticism was so I looked it up at the time and just got a brief understanding. Today I looked up the Catholic POV on gnosticism and linked to this. http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/whats-gnosticism

        I’ve been caught up in new ageish type things in the past. I think sometimes we can get caught up in the spiritual and not so much the Spirit. Maybe even the fact that I believe that sometimes God may send me lessons in my dreams could be wrong, maybe not. I’m constantly learning but overall, I do believe in the Bible, I believe in Jesus/God. I suspect anything that deviates from that but don’t necessarily think those that do are evil, just searching, like me.

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      • The Gnostic Gospels have been rejected since the very earliest days of the church. The early church accepted the four NT gospels because they were written by apostles who had met Jesus or their immediate associates. The apostles were the only authoritative eyewitnesses of Jesus.

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    • Kathleen,
      I already had something to say about your post the other day, but a new thought struck me after watching Four Corners last night. Gnosticism may represent a problem or a special challenge to Christianity today; but nevertheless, it seems to me that the horrifying threat of the drug Ice is a far bigger problem and challenge that threatens just about everyone and everything in our culture today. And on such an issue, let us understand that Gnostics and Christians, and presumably Islamics and all would be united in doing their level best to deal with such a terrible scourge.
      Rian.

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      • Yes, ice is frightening (also very sad).

        When I posted that link above, I pretty much skimmed over the mention of gnostics in relation to my dream. My point really was about the ‘barking’. Me barking my point across and worrying about trying to be right. I felt it was a lesson to me to discuss when needed but never in anger and always with love. Not to worry, because in the end, Jesus will prevail and He will decide what’s right and wrong, not me.

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  3. Rewarding my children for kind acts has payed off for all of us. Trustworthiness also was an aim set for them. Hopefully these will be passed down the generations both in our family and those of others who pick up these attributes from them too.

    Below an extract from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141012-altruism-charity-education-women-children-ngbooktalk/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=link_fb20141013news-altruedu&utm_campaign=Content&sf5185069=1

    Kristof: In some primal way it’s more blessed to give than to receive.

    So should survival of the fittest be renamed survival of the most generous? Tell us how biologists are discovering that we may be hard-wired toward altruistic behavior from as far back as the Stone Age.

    Kristof: Darwin puzzled over it, and evolutionary biologists have continued to do so ever since. Humans and other animals are constantly engaging in acts of altruism that don’t intrinsically make evolutionary sense. Even rats will press a lever to let other rats access food. If it’s all about survival of the fittest, behavior like that wouldn’t make sense. And people have come up with all sorts of theories about why it makes evolutionary sense to be altruistic.

    The best explanation seems to be, in part, that survival of the fittest operated not at the individual level but the group level. If there was one clan or tribe that cooperated more, that looked after each other, that tribe had an advantage over other tribes where everybody was just out for themselves. More broadly, there are mechanisms because of the evolutionary benefit of generosity. In mating behavior, for instance, we have a high regard, in part, for people who seem generous.

    WuDunn: Darwin himself recognized the value of cooperation. Humans are extremely social, more so than we think. There’s a theory that shows if you cooperate, you may survive better than if you’re a loner and only out to fend for yourself, because other people don’t think you’re helping the group. We don’t always think about that when we think about the survival of the fittest. But Darwin acknowledged that. He also acknowledged compassion as part of survival.

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    • And even kind thoughts could make a real difference!

      http://www.sciencealert.com.au/features/20141010-26314.html

      “Telepathy may be best known in science fiction, but over the past 20 years, scientists have made huge breakthroughs in achieving “mind links” in real life, as the latest episode of BrainCraft explains.

      And, naturally, it all started with cats. In the late 1990s, scientists connected electrodes to the visual areas of cats’ brains while they watched a film. This allowed them to “hack” into their thoughts, and replay the movie through the eyes of the cats. Put simply, this means they were able to translate cat thoughts into real, moving images, which is pretty damn impressive.

      Recently, scientists have taken things a step further and have managed to achieve direct brain-to-brain communiation between someone in France and someone in India. It’s an incredible feat, but we’re still a long way off Jedi mind control, as Vanessa Hill explains in the episode above.

      Check out the video to find out more about why brain-to-brain communication is still slower than email, and to find out more about the crazy way we could talk to each other in the future”

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    • I know what you mean, Dom, but I would qualify by saying that I wouldnt want an unnecessarily sympathetic doctor. I would want one who could be empathic, but retain his objectivity.
      Rian.

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      • Doctor: I have some good news and some bad news.
        Dom : What’s the good news?
        Doctor: The good news is they are naming a disease after you!

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    • Why not a kind doctor? Being kind does not always mean to one person what it means to another. For a doctor to be kind would not mean ‘There there, everything will be all right,’, nor ‘I am so sorry for you, please accept my sympathy’. Sometimes we have to ‘be cruel to be kind’.

      Davinci has said it. “It was a brilliant mind that eventually got through to her by being brutally honest and telling it how it is. But it all hinged on timing, environment and the definition of kind. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.”

      Look at that! I’ve agreed with Davinci again! :-))

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      • Hi Strewth,
        I suspect that Dom is actually meaning something like what I said above. Kindly expressed words may still be delivering harsh news.

        Oh yes, another old ‘Doctor Doctor’…..

        Patient. Doctor Doctor. I think I’m becoming invisible.

        Doctor. Sorry. I cant see you now.

        Rian.

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  4. Guess what I read before going to bed last night:

    Timely Words
    By Marvin Williams

    “You may have heard the adage, “Timing is everything.” According to the Bible, good timing applies to our words and speech too. Think of a time when God used you to bring a timely word to refresh someone, or when you wanted to speak, but it was wiser for you to remain silent.

    The Bible says that there is an appropriate time to speak (Eccl. 3:7). Solomon compared properly timed and well-spoken words with golden apples in a silver setting—beautiful, valuable, and carefully crafted (Prov. 25:11-12). Knowing the right time to speak is beneficial for both the speaker and hearer, whether they are words of love, encouragement, or rebuke. Keeping silent also has its place and time. When tempted to deride, belittle, or slander a neighbor, Solomon said that it is wise to hold our tongue, recognizing the appropriate time for silence (11:12-13). When talkativeness or anger tempts us to sin against God or another human being, resistance comes by being slow to speak (10:19; James 1:19).

    It’s often hard to know what to say and when to say it. The Spirit will help us to be discerning. He will help us use the right words at the right time and in the right manner, for the good of others and for His honor.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for using others to speak words of encouragement and challenge to me. Help me to be wise in how and when my words or my silence may be helpful to someone else.

    Timely words are works of art.”

    And yes, it was a timely for me. Praise God!

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    • Excellent!
      I recently had to have a talk with a teenager that is becoming a sex addict. Kind words did not help. This was in spite of the fact that I come from a similar background and could listen emphatically.
      It was a brilliant mind that eventually got through to her by being brutally honest and telling it how it is. But it all hinged on timing, environment and the definition of kind. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

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      • Yes, we need to think carefully what is the ‘kindest’ approach, and it’s often not placating nor sympathetic.

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    • My comment above is awaiting moderation but essentially I think the same. I don’t believe that anyone should be held back from voicing their opinions, but to always keep in mind to speak justly and with care. Not to fight every fight.

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  5. Discussing the Bible With New Agers
    by Elliot Miller

    Christian: Do you believe in Jesus?

    New Ager: Yes, I believe in Jesus — and in Buddha, and Ramakrishna, and my own guru, too.

    Christian: But Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me.”

    New Ager: That’s right! I Am is the truth and the only way.

    Christian: What?

    New Ager: The I Am Presence or spark of divinity in each one of us!

    Christian: Wait a minute. Jesus was speaking about Himself…

    New Ager: Yes, and only when each one of us can say with Jesus, I Am, will we realize God as Jesus did.

    Christian: But 1 Timothy 2:5 says the man Christ Jesus is the only mediator between God and men.

    New Ager: Oh, that means the only mediator is our Christ Consciousness or Higher Self.

    Christian: You’re taking the Bible out of context.

    New Ager: The problem with you fundamentalists is you hang on its every word. We’re in a New Age and much of the Bible is obsolete! Yet there are also timeless truths within it, and only when you accept the Universal Wisdom in all religions will you recognize those truths.

    Christian: Second Timothy 3:16 says all of Scripture is God’s Word and profitable, so you can’t prove what you’re saying from the Bible.

    New Ager: You quote the Bible to prove the Bible and then tell me I lack proof? Actually, my guru does prove her teachings from the Bible, because she can unlock its esoteric meaning. But you fundamentalists are so obsessed with literal meaning you don’t understand your own book. [End of discussion.]

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    • Hi Mon,
      an interesting little piece there. Very difficult to win a debate with a determined New-Ager, I guess. When you think of it, the only person who might be successfully confronted during debate, with the Bible and its teachings, would have to be someone who was already some sort of Christian.

      Now, it must surely be one of the weak links in the apologetics armoury of the Christian, when he quotes that the Bible MUST be true, because the Bible says it is.

      Problems too with Second Timothy. This is one of the three Pastoral Epistles which the vast majority of scholars regard as not being written by Paul. And also at that early stage of Christianity, the term Scripture could only have been applied to the Old Testament, no New Testament having been assembled at that point, and for that matter was probably not envisaged at all by the faithful since they were expecting the Second Coming at any moment.

      Cheers, Rian.

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      • The Gnostic Gospels have been rejected since the very earliest days of the church. The early church accepted the four NT gospels because they were written by apostles who had met Jesus or their immediate associates. The apostles were the only authoritative eyewitnesses of Jesus.

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  6. Gnosticism
    http://www.bibleone.net

    Theology

    Although a variety of beliefs may be traced to the different sects under the umbrella of Gnosticism, the prominent doctrines of the “Great Gnostic” sects, in variant forms, presented the following basic ideas:

    A transcendent (above and beyond human experience) and ineffable (inexpressible and unutterable) deity who is pure spirit.

    A dualism between spirit and matter, which necessitated a chain of emanated beings (each a little lower in supremacy) in order to link the deity with matter.

    A split within the chain of emanated beings, which resulted in the creation of material things and man by a Demiurge (a supernatural being imagined as creating or fashioning the world in subordination to the “supreme being” and sometimes regarded as the originator of evil).

    A spark of the divine implanted in man at his creation.

    The redemption and release of this divine spark by means of illumination through increased knowledge, resulting in self-awareness and a high level of insight, which is attained by a select and privileged few.

    A Christ who redeems by being the Revelator or Illuminator rather than the suffering Savior. Salvation by knowledge, essentially self-knowledge.

    The Gnostics taught that Christ was a pantheistic (of nature) emanation, lower than God, who only seemed to appear in the flesh. To the Gnostic all matter or material was essentially evil, and since Christ was an emanation and not evil, He could not have taken on human flesh. Gnostics firmly denied the Incarnation of Christ, stating that He was only an apparition (immaterial appearance) who left no footprints.

    Coupled with the denial of the Incarnation and deity of Christ, the Gnostics denied the vicarious (substitutional) death of Christ on the cross of Calvary. To the Gnostics, not only could Christ not have taken on evil human flesh, but as a divine being, He could not have taken on sin for any purpose. Therefore the Gnostic denied that God through Christ paid the penalty-price for the sin of man by means of His spiritual death on the cross of Calvary; rather, they held Christ up as a divine teacher and it was through His teachings and revelations that man was to evolve intellectually into a higher state of self-awareness, which was man’s salvation.

    Conclusion

    With this understanding of the heresy of Gnosticism, and realizing that much of the purpose of John’s writings were intended to correct such false beliefs, several passages that have been difficult for Christians to interpret, become clear, such as the following passages in the book of 1 John:

    1 John 4:1-3 (“Jesus Christ has come in the flesh”)
    1 John 5: 6-8 (“by water and blood”)

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    • Yep,
      For the greater part, that summary does indicate many points raised in the heretics’ writings about the essence of Gnosticism, as it existed some 2000 years ago. However, it must be remembered that the real essence of the ‘heresy’ was imparted privately to initiates, as it still is today, while the literal words could be at times most misleading. The teachings about the ‘Demiurge’ carry important symbolic meaning, and are very easily misunderstood. The ancient church fathers endeavoured to word their descriptions of the Gnosics in the worst possible fashion.

      The clause mentioned in the middle of the commentary which stated that ‘a spark of the divine implanted in man at his creation.’ is actually paralleled in words from the Hebrew Morning Service. – “O my God, the soul which thou gavest me is pure.” And the Christian mystic Meister Eckhart wrote “When God made man, the innermost heart of the Godhead was put into man.” Then in Psalm 82, a verse that was quoted by Jesus “I have said, ye are gods; and all (sic!) of you are children of the most High.” And Angelus Silesius put it this way – “I am God’s Other-Self. He finds in me What is akin to Him eternally.”

      I’m interested to see the verses 1 John 5. 6-8 listed there, as a portion of that reference is agreed by almost all scholars to have been an interpolation, – clearly inserted in order to provide the much needed and only direct reference to the Holy Trinity in the Scriptures.

      Thanks for that interesting passage, Monica.
      Rian.

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      • Hmmm……about that ‘divine spark’ Rian,

        Well, it just isn’t biblical, even though these scriptures are similar: “Genesis 1:26 teaches that every human being possesses the image of God. Ecclesiastes 3:11 declares that God has “set eternity in the hearts of men.” In Luke 17:21, Jesus proclaims, “The kingdom of God is within you.”

        From these verses we learn that each of us possesses a soul-spirit, is made in the image of God, is innately aware of eternity, and it is this part of us that connects with God (Hebrews 4:12). However, only a person who has been redeemed by Christ can truly connect with God because whatever “divine spark” there ever was in humanity was snuffed out by sin (Romans 3:10-23)”…… Got Questions Org

        “On the cross Jesus bore the shame, sin, and judgment for all of collective humanity for all time. Yet his purpose was far more than this. He knew by sacrificing himself he would open the way for the human heart to receive that divine spark of life that could only come from God himself. Whatever any of us face in our lives Jesus died that we might by our faith in him receive within our hearts that divine spark of God’s life and nature.

        It was and is the plan of God to transform the human heart from the inside out. When we give our lives to Him, he not only forgives our sins, but also places that divine spark of his life and nature within us. He longs to fill us with the love and understanding of God himself.”……… The Divine Spark by Michael Plemmons of CBN com.

        In other words, I understand it as having to be born again of the Spirit of God— “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit”. Where is that ‘divine spark’ if sinners are spiritually dead? “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).

        “In the first chapter of the Bible we find that the world was created ex nihilo (out of nothing) by a divine decree (cf. Ps. 33:6, 9; Heb. 11:3; Rom. 4:17). That it was ex nihilo is supported by the fact that the Hebrew word (bara) used for the initial creation of the universe and man is never used in Scripture (unlike other Hebrew words for “create”) with reference to preexisting material, out of which the created object would be fashioned. Thus God did not fashion the world out of Himself. At the core of man’s being he is a creature — there is no divine spark that can be fanned through meditation or other New Age practices.

        The infinite gap between creator and creation revealed in Genesis 1 is maintained consistently throughout Scripture (e.g., Ps. 102:25-27; 113:4-6; 1 Kings 8:27). In fact, the identification of the creation with God is denounced as the very essence of idolatry (Rom. 1:18-25). The pride of man is condemned for the very reason that he is a mere creature, and only the Creator — who bestows on man whatever glory he possesses — is worthy of exaltation (Isa. 2:11, 17, 22; cf. Ps. 100:3). Furthermore, humans who make a profession of deity receive a special condemnation from Yahweh (Isa. 47:8-11; Ezek. 28:2, 6-9).”….. Discussing the Bible With New Agers by Elliot Miller

        Cheers, Mon

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      • Hi Mon,
        The arguments that non-Christians will frequently find most unconvincing, are those that are based on the premise that the Bible in its Christian form, is of a united nature, with the same identical message at its heart all through. The non-Christian scholar, I venture, would never agree about that. The unifying influence just has to be the eye of faith, with no other evidence.

        Dissenters will maintain with I think good logic, that one simply cant prove one odd isolated verse by comparing or modifying it via another isolated verse that issued from a completely different author situated in a different society, and maybe separated by hundreds of years. You still always have to determine or arbitrarily decide just which verse is the essential and orthodox one. Thus those unappetising and sometimes violent and divisive Councils held in the early church.

        I would point out to you Evangelicals, that those same ‘holy’ Councils that defined many of the teachings that you adhere to, were exactly the same Councils that came up with Dogmas and concepts that are fundamental to Roman Catholicism, and thus absolutely anathema to you. No wonder we have so many Sects and Denominations within the Christian Church. For me and probably for many persons outside the Church, a greater respect for the religion would develop if all the devotees of the Christ spoke the same language and declared the same dogmas.

        I recall so well those lines from the old hymn we used to sing in the Methodist Church of my youth, called The Church’s One Foundation. Referring to the Christian Church it said – ‘With schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed’. All too unappetisingly true, I fear.

        That elusive Right Thinking or Belief that is just so crucial within Christianity has swung about all over the place over the years, proving to become more and more important than the essential teaching about the Love of God and the Love and Service to mankind. It is irrefutable that many things in doctrine and infallible church practice that were standard just a couple of centuries ago, no longer hold sway with the faithful. Who knows just what doctrines and practices or rules of today will survive and still be regarded as God’s laws in another hundred or two years time. And that of course is provided that Christianity does continue into the future.

        As a classic example, I recall reading Evangelical tracts when I was a teenager, in which it was maintained that absolutely no-one other than a ‘saved’ or ‘twice born’ Christian could possibly do a genuinely good deed of any kind. This thesis is apparently largely defunct, thank goodness, and it is surely possible now, for the most devout Christian to applaud the works and compassion that even atheists and persons of other faiths, can exhibit; despite many of them maintaining just the same, that those good works alone simply cant ‘get one into heaven’ by themselves.

        Cheers as ever, Rian.

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      • Incompetence, arrogance, malice makes no difference when it comes to the god of gnosticism. They are all unruly. It is an evil idea, not unlike scientology who says we were created by evil aliens.

        It is not beside the point if there is an evil creator of gnosticism, for with such a sinful assumption of an evil creator, you have no recourse, and your only legitimate option is to continue in that evil in keeping with your creator. Your false ideas lead to false consequences. There is a cause and effect in all things.

        Whereas God has His redemptive design and makes some men and women children of God who receive His only begotten Son. Nothing is better.

        To assume matter is nothing but evil is the evil spirit’s suggestion implanted in your mind, but with a little observation it is totally unfounded. Walk down to your nearest park and observe the pond or the river and how beautiful it is. This is not evil. Nor is giving birth evil. It is a wonderful glorious moment. I experience no suffering in saying these words.

        The Sophie gnostic god says it is better God never created, but God says His creation was made perfect. Though Satan and man sinfully corrupted nature, God can restore it. That is exactly what He is doing in His redemptive design. It’s awesome!

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      • It’s amazing Rian,

        I was reminiscing about my time on Faithworks last night. If I’m still around February next year, it will have been eight years! OMG! I mean, how many times have I sworn to leave and never come back? Countless times! And yet I’m still here. But, I have to believe that God is in charge and He really does know what’s good for me.

        It has been an incredible learning process for me though Rian. I have found that being here has given me the opportunity….and the passion to really question and pull to pieces my religious beliefs/doctrines, or as Paul the Apostle says, ‘rightly dividing the Word of truth’. I’ve gone along with, which for me were new concepts of Christian faith, even though they never did really sit well with me; never did have that ‘peace which surpasses all understanding’ to be my guide, and just let God, in His good time, teach me the true from the false. So all in all, it’s been a wonderful season of spiritual growth for me, not to mention a valuable time of socialisation and teaching me new people and communication skills.

        But you know, as far as Christian doctrine is concerned, I’ve come back to where I started from in this faith journey nearly eight years ago, and I find that amazing.

        The Lord once made a promise to me and said that He was going to knockdown my old foundations (of faith) and rebuild new ones, and that it would be a quick work, and I see that being here has enabled that process. I can’t see that I have discarded much of my theology. If anything, it has been strengthened.

        But I certainly feel that God’s Word is truth and my strength, and all your mocking (well it certainly comes across as mocking) about the possibility of me losing my faith if it is proven that God did not give Moses the Ten Commandments, does not diminish my faith in any way, shape or form Rian. If that ever happens in my lifetime (and I seriously doubt it), I am certain that God will give me the strength, and spiritual understanding, to deal with it. If anything, rather than being an object of derision, I just think it shows just how much faith I really do have in God’s Word. And so, my faith journey continues….praise God! 🙂

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      • Ah Monica, now I’ve got a chance to settle down to sort out some of the matters that you are talking about.

        My ‘mocking’!!! Oh dear I am extremely disappointed if anything I wrote appeared like that. It’s just not anything that I do, when I’m communicating with a person of faith. Without going back to check, as I recall it, I queried your comment that you could lose and leave all your faith if a single thing such as the revelation to Moses, detailed in the Jewish Scripture were to be proven incorrect.

        It seemed just incredible to me, for a person such as yourself who has had many experiences of the presence of God, to be all that heavily reliant on the literal veracity of the Bible accounts; and you would put that ahead of your God and your experiences. You went ahead to point out to me that because you are completely positive that the Bible is, from start to finish, the literal Word of God, then any discrepancy or error could only make out your God to be a liar; and that was unthinkable.

        So, absolutely NO mocking at all. No sneering at you or poking fun. It was truthfully an expression of my feeling of disbelief. You went ahead to explain your situation and I duly accepted what you had to say. Just now though in your current post, you sound as if in such a remote circumstance, you might with the help of God cope with such a discovery after all. That makes complete sense to me, if that is what you are implying.

        I endeavour to express an attitude of respect for anyone else’s faith on religion, and a tolerant stance. In fact, this tolerance was actually a common approach among the Pagans of the ancient world. The Romans, as is pointed out many times, were people who couldn’t care less about the religious beliefs or faiths of the populace. So long as the people obeyed the law, respected the Emperor, and didnt rock the boat, they were left alone. (But as we know, the Christians were observed to meet secretly, and terrible rumours circulated about the activities that went on).

        Similarly with the Gnostics. They were literally all too tolerant to a fault, and that is why they were rarely militant or prepared to fight for their cause. They were well prepared with argument and philosophy that in their opinion would enable them to show up well against the Christians. But when attacked physically and silenced by the growing Church, they were unprepared for a genuine stoush. Under the Christian Emperor Theodosius (late fourth century), all their books were declared to be illegal, and were to be burnt.

        Along with the Pagans, the Gnostics would have their meeting places and temples or whatever all destroyed. AND of course anyone practicing and propagating Gnostic teaching was committing a heinous crime. This is of course, why for many many centuries, the only information that circulated in Christianity about the Gnostics came from the passionate writings of the Church Fathers, which was not always particularly accurate.

        Though many Gnostics composed books on their teachings, there were seldom any demands made on their followers about beliefs they should hold, or about particular books they must treat as sacred. Even though the ‘heretics’ of Southern France, known as the Albigensians or Cathars showed up something like a thousand years after the early Gnostics, nevertheless, there are amazingly few examples of their literature too, since the Catholic armies and the Dominican inquisitors once more left practically nothing of it unburnt or unconfiscated. So, it was the most amazing and exciting thing in the 20th century when a small selection of third and fourth century Gnostic books were discovered at Nag Hammadi, – writings that had been carefully hidden away from the prying eyes and bonfires of the Catholic Church.

        So once again, the major information we have about the Cathars comes from the Inquisitors and their records. In Southern France, the ‘heretics’ were not at all inclined to fight, as they were indeed a peaceful lot. However when the Catholic armies landed in to invade and to convert, they certainly put on a show of defense; but all for nothing, as what ensued was a pretty terrible example of genocide, with a great and prosperous culture and countryside, and men women and children simply destroyed.

        In that tolerant atmosphere in Southern France, Jews, Catholics and Heretics had lived together in an atmosphere of peace and mutual respect. In that society, women enjoyed complete equality, and were numbered among the hierarchy of the Cathars. Once again, the official view held by the Catholics from Rome was badly biased, and everything about the heretics was condemned by the Church. So much more I could tell, but I’ll leave it at that.

        Again Monica, no mocking from me. So sorry you got that impression.
        Cheers and love, Rian.

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      • Hello again Carmel,

        When I posted my comments the other day about your assessment of Gnostic tradition, I failed to make one particular observation. Since certain of those Gnostics postulated that the creation was made by an ‘evil’ Demiurge, it becomes rather obvious doesn’t it, that they held there actually IS an opposite and great GOOD original and ultimate Spirit as well? The last thing a Gnostic would consider to be legitimate would be any inspiration coming to him from any lesser and so-called ‘evil’ spirit.

        Some of our Gnostic forebears held that the deity described in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Genesis was not the same god as the ultimate one referred to in the 1st chapter. They further held that the Serpent in the Garden of Eden was actually the Christos, and to put it crudely, was specifically the ‘goodie’ in the story, while the rather harsh and jealous deity who made and endeavoured to enforce rules on the first humans was specifically the lower Demiurge. In such case then, the whole of the Garden story was actually recounted in the Bible from the perspective of the Demiurge, which accounted for the usual reading of the tale.

        However, all of this was not literal for the greater part, but symbolic; and Carl Jung maintained that that same imagery was actually a picture of some of the processes and levels that exist within the psyche of the human being. But it would take a far better Psychologist than I to detail all of that in a clear fashion. It is claimed that a careful study of every word and detail of the Garden story, makes it very plain that there are flaws and multiple discrepancies in it, that quickly cast doubts on the Christian interpretation of the same.

        Cheers, Rian

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    • There are apparently different sects of gnosticism, with different beliefs.
      Early Christian gnostics included
      Cerdonians
      Marcionism (not entirely Gnostic)
      Apelliacos
      Lucianists [1]
      Colorbasians
      Simonians
      Menandrians [2]
      Dositheans (could be offshoot of Simonianism or proto-Gnostic)
      There were many others, particularly in Syria, Egypt, and Persia.

      Later came the Bogomils, Bosnian Church, Bagnolians, 4 seperate sects of Cathars, Picards (Neo-Adamite), Novgorodians, Paulicians, and Tondrakians

      Today the following are classed as gnostic.

      Anthroposophy
      Ecclesia Gnostica
      Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica
      Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum
      Eglise Gnostique
      Gnostic Society
      Holy Order of Mans (Quasi-Gnostic)
      Johannite Church
      Lectorium Rosicrucianum
      Muckers
      Neo-Luciferian Church
      Ophite Cultus Satanas
      Order of the Nazorean Essenes (Influenced by Gnosticism) [13]
      Society of Novus Spiritus
      Tempelhofgesellschaft (Neo-Marcionite)
      Tiamatians
      The Church of St Mary & St John
      Theosophy
      The Summit Lighthouse & Church Universal and Triumphant; considered New Thought/ neo-gnostic
      The White Eagle Lodge

      I was always taught that the ‘knowledge’ of gnosticism did not entail esoteric teachings, but was the knowledge of God’s existence and immanence, the knowing his presence. But how anyone could give a single outline (as my source and http://www.bibleone.net both do) for these other varied beliefs, I do not know.

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