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Chris' (Rivers of Eden) Posts on Various Subjects - Part 8

Subject: Re: Sons of God

Don -

Yes, I'm thinking that the heavenly "angels" are the creators. They are "ministering spirits" that have their life in "Yahweh" Who is Spirit.

I think that the "image of God" is a reference to the "male" form of the heavenly "angels" who appear in scripture. Since "God" is from "elohim" (which is plural) in Genesis 1-3, I think that it is a reference to the "heavenly host" that do Yahweh's bidding as His "ministering spirits."

According to scripture, "no man has seen God (Yahweh) at any time" (John 1:18), so I don't think we are created to look like Him. However, the "heavenly" angels do look like us, and thus we are created after their physical form.


Subject: Church group

Hi Cassi -

I was considering the ministry earlier in my life (college days), but I was never sure I had the "right" view of things so I never made the commitment. I also realized after taking some Bible courses in college that seminary would probably be a waste of time since I would have to learn whatever creed was required for graduation. So, I began to do a lot more study on my own.

Albeit, I've always learned from other people ... I don't make anything up myself. I just think that there are a lot of bits and pieces of truth scattered among the various denominations and cult groups that need to be collected and compiled into a more accurate representation of what Jesus and the apostles really taught. I've read many books in my search for answers.

The difficult thing about this kind of study is that it is hard to "fit in" with any church group because some things are always offensive to one group or the other. To really join a "church" or "cult" I think one needs to believe its particular doctrinal statement or else it is very difficult to effectively minister and gain the trust of its leaders.


Subject: Universalism

Cassi -

Regarding "universal death" and "universal salvation" ...

I did a great deal of study on this issue several years ago because I think that it is one of the implications of having a "preterist" view of fulfilled prophecy.

At this point, I'm inclined to think that "universal salvation" is contrary to scripture because of the overwhelming references to "death" and "eternal destruction" in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. The doctrine of "universal salvation" seems to be based upon only a few scriptures which can be explained otherwise in light of all the "death" passages.

I did, however, change my mind about "immortality of the soul" as a result of preterism. I now think that the scriptures teach that when a human "dies" (physically) they are "dead" completely (annihilated) and "eternally" unless they are united with Christ.

In other words, since the "judgment" was fulfilled in AD 67-73, the only "punishment" left for unbelievers is the inevitability of their biological "death" from which they cannot escape without "eternal life" in Christ. I don't think that we are "immortal" unless we have life in Christ by faith. I don't believe in the "immortality of the soul" doctrine that is common among Evangelical churches. I also do not believe in "eternal conscious torment."

Let me know what you think ...


Subject: Time & Eternity

Cassi -

As a footnote to the "demons" discussion, I wanted to suggest something else to you.

As far as the Bible is concerned the "beginning" is the "creation" that occurred in Genesis 1:1. The Bible does not talk about an "eternity past" before that time. This idea of "eternity" comes from Greek philosophy and not scripture. Neither the Hebrew nor the Greek languages used by the

Biblical writers even had words for "eternity."

When the NT talks about "before the foundation of the world" and "before time began" it is referring to the time of Abraham (before the Law of Moses), and not to "eternity." Remember, it is the Law that establishes the "world" as the Biblical writers knew it.

As you know from preterism, the "world" and the "heavens and the earth" refer to national boundaries and not to the geophysical universe. This is why the rise and fall of nations is spoken of in terms of "de-creation" language.

This is another reason that the concept of a pre-Genesis "angelic rebellion" would have been inconceivable to the Biblical writers. They were not Greek philosophers, they were followers of Moses and the prophets. Moreover, whatever the "sons of God" were in Genesis 6, it seems that they are their children were destroyed by the flood. So, where would "demon spirits" come from?


Subject: Holy Spirit/Bible

Cassi -

Let me give you some thoughts on the Holy Spirit. I won't go into a lot of scripture quotes to save space. I will just give you a brief summary of where I am at.

I think that the "charismatic" ministry of the Holy Spirit was for the purpose of confirming the Word of God during the generation of the apostles. I don't think that there was ever an "indwelling" of the Holy Spirit other than that it was "indwelling" the church as a whole body at that time and the miraculous manifestations were evidence of that.

I don't think that the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is anything other than God Himself manifesting Himself and empowering His servants. God is "Spirit" and He is everywhere, and we "live and move and have our being in Him" as Paul said in Acts 17.

I believe that the scripture is "spiritual" because it is the historical testimony left by men of God who had divine revelation and who learned from what God revealed at that time. I don't think it takes any special "illumination" to understand the Bible - it is "spiritual" because of its origin and content, and not because of its physical form.

Like Don said in a recent message, I think that God can manifest Himself anytime He wants. I think that there are wonderful and miraculous things that God does in the world today (by His Spirit), but I don't think it has anything to do with what was occurring in the "last days" recorded in the NT.

The Spirit gives us eternal life today because God is Spirit and we belong to Him. Therefore, He will not take His Spirit away from us when we die - we will carry on with Him in heaven. Those who ó do not believe will perish when God takes His "spirit/breath" from them at physical death.

I also believe that "spiritual gifts" are mainly the talents and abilities that we apply to serving Christ. For example, the Apostle Paul was a devout zealous unbelieving Jew before he was saved. After he was saved, he was just as devout and zealous but it was for the sake of Christ. His service to Christ was "spiritual" because it was in accord with the truth of God. Just as our conversations are "spiritual" because we are serving God in truth.

Well, I hope this gives our discussion of the Holy Spirit a little bit of a start ... let me know what you are thinking (you don't have to agree with me!). I'm depending on you and Don to play "devil's advocate" once in while since you two are the only ones I have to share my thoughts with ...


Subject: Canon of Scripture/Discrepancies

Cassi -

Let me give you an example of one of the "key" moments in my ó theological development after becoming a preterist.

One of my "youth pastor" friends (who despise preterism) posed a dilemma for me a couple years ago. He asked me how I could believe that the Bible (canon of scripture) was literally "inspired" and think that all prophecy and the work of the spirit ended in AD 73.

The dilemma is that the "canon" was not formed until hundreds of years after AD 73 by the Roman Catholic church! In other words, if you think that the church has been "wrong" about the "parousia" for all these years, then how can you trust the "canon" when it was determined and collected by these "unbelievers."

He was saying "you have to trust that the Holy Spirit guided the Roman Catholic church to establish the OT and the NT (66 books) that we have, otherwise you can't say that they are the only 'inspired' writings." He was right, and this bothered me for a while, because I felt that every "jot and tittle" of the Bible had to be the precise "words" of God Himself.

This dilemma helped me to realize that the Bible is "historical" and it is a translation of ancient documents that no longer exist. We have no "original manuscripts" of the Bible; everything that we have is copies, and these copies are all somewhat different. Also, it is impossible to "translate" any language precisely into another language. All of our English bibles are merely "translations" that cannot be precise (that's why we have hundreds of English versions).

My point here is that there will always be "discrepancies" in the Bible and some contradictions. This is always characteristic of historical documents and doe +s not make them "mistaken" or "untrustworthy" anymore than two different news reports about the same incident might be somewhat different.

Accept the "discrepancies." They are there, and there is no use trying to cover them up. I would rather appeal to the "scientific" truths of "copying" and "translating" that are not "perfect" in any area of historical or legal documentation.


Subject: Healing

Cassie -

My concern with your point about "healing" being something that we should expect today is that most of the references to "healing" in OT and NT prophecy are figurative for "salvation/resurrection."

In other words, I don't see "healings" as a normal thing, and I don't see them as something that was to be normative for the church. I'm more inclined to think that they served a specific purpose during the "last days" just like "tongues."

Think of your point this way. God certainly doesn't want any of us to "die." However, we all die physically. The point of "eternal life" is that we ultimately have "life" in God. The "physical" aspect is not the point.

I see "healing" the same way. When Jesus "healed" people it had not "salvific" significance. For all we know, the people got old and died, or they may have contracted some other illness or handicap later on. I think Jesus was "healing" as a visible sign that the "heavenly/spiritual" significance of "eternal life" was being revealed.

I don't think it was ever for the purpose of delivering people from physical pain.


Subject: Re: Genesis

Cassie -

I've been studying the Genesis stuff now for a couple years. I tried to order a book for you called "Genesis Unbound" by John Sailhammer, but it is currently out of print.

What I'm seeing now is that Genesis 1 is probably a description of the "formation" (creation) of the Land of Israel. The seven days of "creation" seem to be describing a stormy, desolate land that God makes into a paradise/garden. I don't think it is intended to explain anything about the entire "universe."

The "key" to this is that the "rivers" mentioned in Gen 1 (that border the Garden of Eden) are probably the same as those that border the "Land" promised to Abraham later in the book. In other words, the "Garden of Eden" is actually the same as the "Land of Israel." This is why nobody can find the "Garden" ... it's right under everybody's nose so-to-speak!

Of course, when you study the rest of the Law and Prophets, and the occasional references to "Eden" you realize that these remarks concern the nation Israel, and not the universe. This is all very consistent with "preterism," too, because we understand that the "heavens and earth" language in the prophets refers to "nations" and not to the destruction of the physical universe.


Subject: Paradise/Thief

Cassie -

Evidently "Paradise" was a place in "heaven" somewhere. In 2 Cor 12:3-4, Paul remarks that he "knew a man" who was "caught up into Paradise" by God. This seems to suggest that this "paradise" was somewhere in "heaven" and not on earth.

In Luke 23:42-43, notice that the "good" thief first asks Jesus to "remember him" when Jesus "would be coming in the kingdom." I think that this is a reference to the "parousia" coming that was still future.

When Jesus answers the thief, He says "Truly, to you I am saying TODAY, you will be with me in Paradise." Notice here that the meaning of "today" is to emphasize what Jesus is saying at that moment, and it is not meant to give the "time" that they would be in "paradise." I think this is more in accord with the thief's question. Thief wanted Jesus to "remember" him ... the thief didn't ask "when" they would be in "paradise." Thus, I think Jesus was assuring Him (before they died) that He would remember Him.

This passage illustrates how the Greek text can be translated different ways into English meaning (another reason that a strict "letter by letter" emphasis on "inspiration" is impossible %). The context always determines which possible meaning is more "probably" the correct one. I think the thief's question indicates that the above translation is probably correct.


Subject: Wages of Sin

Cassie -

The most important thing to see is that "death" is physical and not "spiritual." Whenever people "die" in scripture, their "spirit" always "returns" to God who gave it.

When Jesus was about to die he said "Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit" and then he "breathed his last breath." This is consistent with Adam who was not a "living soul" until God "breathed" into his nostrils the "breath of life." When God pronounced judgment on Adam, he said "to dust you shall return." This is physical death and is what we all inevitably experience.

This is also important for "atonement" because Jesus died a "real" physical "death" to be our savior. The Bible nowhere says that Jesus died "spiritually" to save us. After three days, God raised him physically from the grave and gave him eternal life.

One of the ways that I show the dilemma of traditional theology to people is to point out that, according to the apostles, Jesus was in three "pieces" when he was "dead." Remember, that the Gospels say that Jesus "commended his spirit to God" when he died. They also say that his "body" was laid in a "tomb." Peter then says in his sermon in Acts 2 that the "soul" of Jesus was in "hades." I often ask people, where was the "real" Jesus during those three days?


Subject: Angels/Males/Females/Hair

Cassie -

You asked for it! I'm going to give you some thoughts on this male/female thing.

First of all, have you noticed in scripture that the "angels" (from heaven) always appear as glorious "male" persons. I think that the reason for this is because in the beginning God created the "man" in His own "image" according to Gen 1. That's why humans (especially males) look like the angels.

As the Bible says (even AFTER Jesus appeared on Earth), "no man has ever seen God at any time" (John 1:18; I Tim 6:16). What, then, was everybody talking to in the Bible when they were talking to "the Lord?"

Well, according to Stephen's sermon in Acts 7, when Moses was speaking to "the Lord" in the burning bush he was talking to an "angel." Also, when you read about the "Lord" visiting with Abraham in the Plains of Mamre (sp?) in Gen 18-19, you find the "Lord" being called both an "angel" and a "man."

Now, I think that the reason for this is that "Yahweh" always appears in the form of a "man." This is the only form in which He ever appears because "no man has seen God at any time" (as "spirit" that is). The "image of God" in Gen 1:25-28 is referring to the "male" angelic form in which God always appears, and after which we humans are created to look.

Now, in 1 Cor 11:3-14 in the NT, Paul says that a "woman" should wear her hair bundled up (covering) her head because "the man is created in the image of God, and the woman is the glory of the man." Paul says that the reason for a woman having long hair clipped up on her head is that she is subordinate to the "headship" *of the "man" who is subordinate to the "headship" of Christ. According to Numbers 5 in the OT, a woman who let her long hair down for any man other than her husband was considered a "whore."

Paul says that this is "because of the angels" in 1 Cor 11 since the "angels" were the "creators" (let us make "man" in OUR (angelic) image - Gen 1:26) and the "rulers" (Heb 2:1-5) of the Israelite nations. The "angels" delivered the Law to Moses (Acts 7), and helped to carry out its blessings and curses. They were being "subjected" to Christ (Php 2:5-9), but were still the "angelic majesties" (Jude) as far as the humans were concerned.


Subject: Re: Angels/Males/Females/Hair

Don -

In answer to your question ...

I don't mean to suggest that "Yahweh" is "m ale." "Male/Female" seems to be a distinction created through the angels according to Genesis 1:26-28.

The distinction between "male/female" seems to be the reason that figures of "authority" are normally (but not always) "male." However, God does always reveal Himself in "male" angelic or "human" (Jesus) form.

I think that God is called "Father" because of His always "male" form when He reveals Himself, and because He is the "father" of Jesus as far as Jesus' human birth is concerned.

Also, the authority of a "father" is a little more endearing than the "authority" of a "King" or "Master." Our relationship with God seems to be one of "love" more than servitude, as would normally be the relationship in a family.


Subject: Atonement

Cassie -

I'm glad that you are not "offended" by the "atonement" views. I actually learned them from the "Christadelphians" denomination. Few Christians realize that the whole "substitutionary" atonement view is based upon Greek philosophical assumptions that were popular in the churches a few hundred years after the apostles.

I don't have a "problem" with "substitutionary" atonement. I mean, it doesn't "bother" me, I just think it is wrong. First, it is not explained that way anywhere in scripture. There are verses that might be Understood to be saying that Jesus "bore" our sins. However, I can say that I "bear" someone's "grief" without meaning that I'm inflicted with all of their problems. It's just a figure of speech.

Since the Bible explicitly teaches that God if "just" and that he "judges" and "rewards" every man "according to his own works" I think it makes sense that Jesus would be "rewarded" for his obedience, rather than "punished" for everybody else's "sins."

Also, since the Bible explicitly teaches that "grace" and "forgiveness" are superior to "justice" I think it is more biblical to presume that God "forgives" our "sins" rather than seeks "retribution" on the innocent Jesus. Afterall, we are told to "turn the other cheek" and "forgive 70 times 7 times." We are NEVER told to demand "retribution" when someone sins against us, and we are NEVER told to go out and find an innocent person to "punish" as a substitute! Why would God operate against His own will?

Here's an example of what I'm suggesting. Let's say that one of your neighbors was to "kill" your son, Lewis. Would you think justice was served if your husband, Peter, decided to go to jail instead of your neighbor as a "substitute"? Then your "murderous" neighbor goes free and you are left alone to "worship" God (with your neighbor) for His righteousness? Would this then motivate you to "forgive" someone else regardless of what they did to you?


Subject: Hair and Headship - 10/17/99

Cassie -

One thing is certain, there is no biblical evidence that women wore facial coverings like the Arab women do today. There is evidence in scripture that women wore coverings on their heads (like a scarf), but There is just as much evidence that there was no requirement to wear them.

Years ago, I did some extensive study of 1 Cor 11 because I was intrigued by the discussion of "covering the head" and "angels" in the passage.

I think that most of the evidence (in scripture) favors the interpretation that the "hair" is the "covering." Notice in passages about women in 1 Tim 2 and 1 Pet 3 that the women are told not to do fancy "braiding of the hair" or costly "gold and silver" in the hair. Evidently, the women were able to style their hair (implying that it was long) and tie things up in their hair.

When you compare these passages to the "covering" and "hair" language in 1 Cor 11:3-14, you get the impression that the women wore their long hair wrapped on top of the head. This is also consistent with many of the drawings we have from the Christian caves and catacombs of that period.

Most of all, the priest in Numbers 5 was instructed to "let down the hair" of the woman suspected of adultery as an act of "shaming" her. This implies that the woman wore her hair on top of her head as some sort of custom of "modesty." Presumably, a woman would untie her own hair during sex with her man/husband as a part of being "naked" before him.

Like Sting sings "in his arms she fell, as her hair came down, among the fields of gold" ...


Subject: Re: Universalism - 10/17/99

Don -

Let me make a couple of comments about the universalism proof-texts…

It seems to me that Paul in Romans 5:18-19, 2 Cor 5:12-21, and Gal 6:13-16 is explaining that his ministry is for the purpose of proclaiming a "new creation" in which the "whole world" is being offered "reconciliation" by God.

Notice that the distinction he makes between those in the "whole world" is between "circumcision" (Jews) and "uncircumcision" (Gentiles = nations). He also indicates that through Adam "ALL" (Jews and nations) died, and, likewise, in Christ "ALL" (Jews and nations) may be made "righteous."

When you consider all of the passages about "perishing" and "unbelief" with respect to Paul's general distinction between "circumcision" (Jew) and "uncircumcision" (Gentiles = nations) then we cannot deny that "ALL" includes both "believers" and "unbelievers" in the sense that both "Jew" and "nations" consist of both believers and unbelievers. On the other hand, we cannot deny that some have "life" and some are "perishing."

If "universalism" is true, then why all the warning of "perishing" in the NT, especially in John 3:16. If Jesus came to save the "world" (in the sense of every individual person), then who are those that does not believe and "perish."

It seems that John is writing to "Jews" in 1 John 2, as he was an "apostle to the circumcision" (Gal 2:9-11). So, the "whole world" would be inclusive of those who are not "Jews." It does not have to refer to a distinction between "believers" and "unbelievers" as individual persons anymore than do Paul's references to the "world" of "Jews" and "nations."


Subject: Re: Jews - 10/19/99

Don -

Yes ... I would agree that the majority of references to the "nations" refer to the "Israelites" who are "buried" (so to speak) among the "nations."

But, to translate "Jews" all the time as "Judeans" might be too restrictive because according to Acts 2 there were "Jews" that came from "every nation under heaven" and then Luke lists these "nations" and identifies those "Jews" as being "from" those nations.

What I think this suggests is that the title "Jews" is used in the NT also as a "religious" connotation and not strictly "nationalistic." In other words, these men from "every nation under heaven" spoke the foreign languages (according to Acts 2) and were obviously "born" in those other regions. Thus, it is their observance of the "Law" (coming to Jerusalem for the feasts and circumcision) that seems to identify them as "Jews."

Now, they may also have been "registered" as "Jews" in the Temple (like "Judeans" would be) as well, but, again this suggests that the "religious" issue is most pertinent, and not necessarily the "ethnic" or political origin.

With respect to "Gentiles/nations" ... this would also help us to realize why Paul uses "circumcision" vs "uncircumcision" to identify these groups rather than always referring to "Jew" and "Gentile." Paul evidently realized that there were "Jews" living among the "nations" and "circumcision" would have drawn the "religious" distinction much more clearly than simply identifying regional citizenship.

What do you think?


Subject: Land and Sky - 10/24/99

Cassie -

The "land and sky" (heavens and earth) figure of speech is a good example of what you are realizing about "context" in biblical language.

There is no reason to think that Moses knew any more about the "universe" than what he could see from "horizon" to "horizon" so why should we think that he would be writing about the whole "universe" as we know it.

As you've learned from "preterism" ... the idea of God destroying the "heavens (sky) and earth (land)" in the "end time" is limited to the fall of "Israel/Jerusalem" and not the whole "universe."

I think that one of the reasons that the biblical writers use the "creation" language to describe the "fall" of Israel/Jerusalem is because of Genesis 1-2. They understood the limited scope of these terms because they only thought in terms of what they could "see" around them and not what we know from 20th century technology.


Subject: Jehovah - 11/4/99

Cassie -

As far as I know, there is no difference between "Jehovah" and "Yahweh" at all ... these are just two different ways of transliterating "YHWH" which is the Hebrew "tetragrammaton" for the "name" of God.

Much theology comes from Germany (Luther, Calvin, etc) and the German language has no "Y" sound so they use "J" instead and spell it "Jehovah"

Other languages (like English) that have a "Y" sound often spell it "Yahweh" because this might be closer to the original pronunciation although nobody knows because ancient Hebrew is no longer a spoken language.

As you may or may not know, Hebrew has no "vowel" sounds, so it's somewhat difficult to figure out how things would have been pronounced.


Subject: Abortion/Womb - 11/16/99

Cassie -

I don't think that "thou shalt not murder" applies to the "abortion" issue because I don't think that "life" begins until the "breath of life" is breathed into the nostrils at birth. The "fetus" is not a "living soul" by biblical evidence.

This is in accord with the "breath" being the evidence of "life" throughout scripture. Also, the "deep waters" and "drowning" in scripture were considered places of the "dead" so I don't think the biblical writers would have considered the "womb" a place of "life" since the "fetus" is surrounded by "water."

Also, the baby emerges at birth with "blood" all over it, which makes it "unclean" according to the Law, and thus I think that the "womb" would have been considered an "unclean" place.

Also, the "womb" is "dark" which would also be considered an "unclean" place in scripture, just like the "grave."

What do you think?


Subject: Re: Abortion/Womb - 11/17/99

Don -

I don't think that the "health reasons" issue is a biblical one. At least I can't think of any scriptures that address the "abortion" issue at all.

I think you are right in the sense that, as far as the biblical evidence is concerned, having a "baby" should be a woman's most precious experience, as well as something of value to the family. So, I don't think that getting an "abortion" would be a "biblical" thing to do.

However, I don't think there is any "soul" life in the womb, so I don't think that condemning "abortion" as "murder" is right either. If the woman's life were at stake, then it would be "biblical" to save the woman, as the "fetus" is not a "person" with any right to life.

Moreover, the Law gives no recognition to the "fetus" as a legal entity. And, if "slaves" and "women" and "foreigners" and others did not have "equal rights" under the Law, what makes you think a "fetus" would be considered "equal" in the statutes?


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