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Chris' (Rivers of Eden) Posts on Various Subjects - Part 9

Subject: No Life In The Womb 12/20/99

There's no life in the womb because the scripture repeatedly identifies "breath" with "life." Adam did not become a "living soul" until God "breathed" into his nostrils. This relationship is evident throughout scripture.

Also, the reason a fetus responds to certain "senses" is because of "reflex motility" which is the same reaction that a chicken has when you cut off its head and it still runs around the barnyard, or when you disect a frog and its legs wiggle for a while.

If a woman and a fetus are "two" persons, then you have all kinds of problems with other biblical doctrines as well. It is essential for the fetus to come out of the body in order to be a "living soul."


Subject: Re: No Life In The Womb 12/20/99

There are numberous explanations for the reflex motility that is evident in a fetus. It's obviously attached to the circulatory and nervous system of the woman which may be the cause of these responses. I can't accept these medical observations when they are contradictory to the biblical evidence about "breath" and "life."

A corpse has "fingers" and a "heart" and all that too, but it has no "breath of life" and it is therefore "dead."

Also, I think that the scripture teaches that the "soul" is the combination of the body and mind ... it is not an "immaterial" thing that "enters" the body at some point.

The fetus is formed from the "body" of the woman. Like a "corpse," it is a "dead" soul until it is able to "breath" through its nostrils and "move" on its own. This is a "living soul" according to scripture.

Moreover, the womb is a watery and bloody place which would be considered "defiled" in scripture. That's why a woman was impure for a time after birth, and also why the babe needed to be cleaned of the bloody mess immediately after birth.

In scripture, being submerged in water and covered with blood is associated with the "grave/death" and not with "life."

This is also one reason I think David says that his mother "conceived him in sin." David was not a Roman Catholic who believed in "original sin." He was talking about the birth process itself, and the way that he emerged from the womb "unclean" (bloody).

Just some things for you to think about ...


Subject: Re: [Fwd: Genesis 3, Romans 5 and Romans 7] 12/23/99

I was reading the notes you sent me from "Steve" and you.

One concern that I have with the "genetic poisoning" idea is that the Elohim (God) says in Genesis that they didn't want the "man" to eat of the "tree" because he would "become like one of Us."

It seems that one might have to conclude that God had some kind of "genetic poisoning" or "death" on account of eating from the "tree." Moreover, it seems strange that God would forbid the "man" to be "like" Him in this passage, and than require "man" to be "like" God in every other teaching of the Bible.

Mostly, though, there is no indication is scripture that the Biblical writers understood anything about "genetics" so I don't think that this would even be a reasonable interpretation of the biblical text in the first place.

The passage itself says nothing about "poison" or "genetics." In Genesis 3:16-17, it is the judgment of God that causes the "death" and not the "fruit."

Just some thoughts ...


Subject: Re: Point two on deity of Christ 12/27/99

The dilemma that you are realizing with the "deity of Christ" views proposed by Steve and Ward is the very essence of what I'm trying to get at.

We must take the meaning of words as they are used by the writers themselves. A word's meaning is always determined by the way that is is used in a particular context or similar applications.


Subject: Re: Point two on deity of Christ 12/27/99

When one assumes that Jesus must be "equal" to God the Father in "essence and nature" he must alter the common and simple usage of words like "father" and "son" to the point that obvious contradictions arise. This is the a priori assumption that Ward and Steve use to approach the interpretation of many passages.

Unfortunately, this is circular reasoning, and is not very persuasive. It is a significant rule in the science of linguistics and exegesis to always favor the simplest meaning of a term unless there are uses that demonstrate a more complex or figurative sense.

That is why you find proponents of the "diety of Christ" doctrines using "big" words (from philosophy) to explain and quantify their viewpoints (and to intimidate common people). There is no "simple" explanation of these "doctrines" in the common languages of the Bible.

It is very simple to understand that Jesus is a "man." The Bible explictly states it, and describes his human birth is great detail.

The relationship of a father (superior/prior existent) and a son (inferior/begotten) is described in thousands of examples in scripture. It is simple to understand. There is no reason to make a "mystery" out of it because the words are used of God and Jesus.

There is not even one example of "three persons in one being" or a "father/son/spirit" trinity, or a "father/son" co-existing anywhere in scripture! In my mind, then, it isn't a biblical teaching!

There's plenty of discussion of this stuff in the old Roman Catholic Church Fathers ... that's fine ... because that's where the doctrine comes from! I'm interested in what the Bible is saying, and not this kind of post-biblical speculation ...


Subject: Re: Point two on deity of Christ 12/27/99

Excellent remarks about "elohim."

This is why I think it is important to let the meaning of these words be determined by their usage. Any concordance will show that "elohim" (Heb - God/s) and "theos" (Greek - God/s) are used of many persons in scripture besides "Yahweh" and "Jesus."

When someone makes the argument that Jesus is called "God" (ho theos - Greek) in the NT, he must also acknowledge that this title is given to others as well in both the Greek and Hebrew/LXX scriptures.

Therefore, it is fallacious to make the argument that "Jesus is Yahweh" because he is called "God." If this is the case, then "Moses" and "angels" and "judges" and "idols" and even "Satan" are "equal" to "Yahweh" because the Bible also uses the word "God" as a title for these persons too.


Subject: Beliefs 12/28/99

Steve -

Here's a simplified "list" of things that I believe:

1. "God the Father" is the only true God. God the Father is immortal and "dwells in unapproachable light." All apprearances of God are manifested through heavenly "angels" (elohim) except for the "man" Christ Jesus.

2. "Jesus" is a human being who began his existence by the miraculous birth through Mary. He was raised from biological death and given authority over everything in God's kindom. He is the Lord and Saviour of "all men" (Jews/Gentiles).

3. The "holy spirit" is another name for the essence and presence of God the Father.

4. The Bible is a collection of historical documents that bear eyewitness testimony to the revelation of God to the ancient Israelites including Jesus and the apostles.

Our modern Bibles are translations and copies of ancient manuscripts. The texts are very reliable, but they are not "inspired" in a "verbal plenary" sense.

5. The scriptures contain the covenant history of Israel and are not concerned with the entire "universe" as we know it in modern times. Genesis 1-3 is the account of the "creation/formation" of the Land of Israel. Adam is the first "man" that God placed in the "Land." The "garden" is the "Land of Israel" itself.

6. All prophecy in scripture is completedly fulfilled and consummated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple during the generation of the apostles. The Bible begins with the "creation" of the "Land of Israel" (old heavens and earth) and ends with the judgment and restoration of Israel, which is the "new heavens and new earth" (the Church).

7. "Predestination" and "election" in the writings of Paul pertain to the promise that God made to Abraham (before the Law - when "time" began for Israel) concerning His desire to have all the tribes/nations of Israel united in salvation.

References to "before the foundation of the world" and "before time began" in the NT pertain to the time of Abraham, and not to "eternity past."

References to "all men" in the writings of Paul pertain to the then-current status of Abraham's descendants according to the Law(either "circumcised" or "uncircumcised" collectively). This term is not a reference to "all men" in an "individual" sense.

8. Salvation is by God's grace through faith and not of works. Those who "believe" that Jesus is the "Messiah" and the "Son of God" have "life" in his name. Those who do not believe, perish forever in biological death.

9. Human beings are "mortal" souls. They have "life" because of the "spirit/breath" that is given to them by God the Father at birth. When the "breath" is taken away, the "soul" dies and "returns to dust" according to the judgment of Adam/Eve. There is no "life" in the womb, nor in the grave. There is only "life" in God.

Human beings are created in the "image/likeness" (physical appearance) of the "elohim" (angelic host). This is why "man" looks like the "angelic" manifestations of God in scripture. The "elohim" were the creators and mediators/rulers of the old covenant. "Adam" was created to look like the "angels"; the "angels" are not made to look like "man."

The "man Christ Jesus" has been exalted above the "angelic majesties" and is superior to them in all rule and power and authority. Jesus is the "creator" and "ruler" of the "new heavens and the new earth" because the "new covenant" is made in his blood.

God is now "all in all" because the mediation of Jesus has brought all the tribes/nations of Israel into everlasting covenant with the Father according to the promise made to Abraham.

10. The "resurrection" was the gathering of all the tribes/nations of Israel into the "land" to be judged according to the Law at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. Those who belonged to Jesus were raised to "life" (Ezek 37; Rev 20) and those who remained "enemies" of God the Father (Gog and Magog) were gathered for destruction by the Romans (Ezek 38-39; Rev 20).

11. The "holy spirit" no long manifests itself in the church through miracles and charismata. This was occuring as a fulfillment of OT prophecy during the ministry of Jesus and the apostles until the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.

12. Baptism with "water" was a Mosaic cleansing rite that pertained only to the Jews who were required to fulfill "all righteousness" according to the Law. It had no place among the uncircumcised "nations" of that era, nor any purpose in the Church today. This is why apostle Paul was "not sent to baptize" (1 Cor 1:13-17) since he was the "apostle to the UNcircumcision."

Well, Steve, this is not complete ... but, it's getting long so I'll stop at this point. I hope this gives you a better idea where I'm coming from, anyway! :)


Subject: Worshipping Jesus as Yahweh 12/28/99

Ward -

For clarification ... I don't have any problem with you "worshipping" Jesus as "Yahweh." It's evident throughout scripture that heavenly "angels" and the "man" Christ Jesus were worthy of "worship" because they carried the "name" of God the Father.

If you read the OT, you will find that Abraham and Moses and many others spoke to (and revered) the heavenly "angels" as if they were speaking directly to "Yahweh" because these messengers/angels possessed the same "name" and "authority" as Yahweh Himself (See Gen 18-19; Exo 3; 23; Acts 7 for examples).

This also seems to be the reason that Paul was concerned about the Jews continuing to "worship angels" (Col 2:12-16) even after the Lord Jesus had been "exalted" above them (Php 2:5-9) and given the highest glory in the universe.


Subject: Re: Sin vs. Sins 12/29/99

Steve -

I just had some thoughts about your comments about "science."

I don't have any problem with what you said about the ancients "reporting" things that are "scientific" (like the "rainbow in the clouds"). There is certainly some shared vocabulary between the Bible and modern science.

Even the whole Hebrew/Aramaic vocabulary and syntax of the OT scriptures strongly suggests that the Hebrews "thought" about things in a very "practical" and "observable" way. They used very few words and grammatical nuances to convey their thoughts. The language is very simple compared to most ancient and modern languages.

Where I have much difficulty finding some of your ideas persuasive is that you try to draw a "modern" interpretation of passages like Genesis 1 that has no basis in the vocabulary of the text itself.

For example, you are right that Moses saw a "rainbow." He had a word to identify it in his vocabulary. However, there is no indication anywhere that Moses understood that "rainbows" are caused by "water dropletts" diffusing sunlight. So, I don't think we can make a biblical doctrine out of any more than what we know Moses was communicating.

Such is the case with your application of the "fruit." All the text says is that Adam and Eve ate the "fruit." There is no explanation of any "poison" or "genetics" or "infected sperm." There isn't even any statement implying that the "fruit" is what caused them to "die."

Moreover, in Romans 5 and 7, Paul makes no explicit association of "death" with the "fruit." He talks about the "transgression" of Adam being "disobedience" and not "poisoning." His use of the "seed" in Galatians seems to be figurative (birth/lineage) and not "biological" as your comments imply.

From what you've written, I just think you're trying too hard to come up with a "theory" of how "sin" passes through Adam's descendants. But, I don't think there's any need to speculate about expecially when you seem to be developing so much of your "theory" from unsubstantiated assumptions about the "poison fruit."


Subject: Re: Jews/Israelites/nations 1/1/00

I've been thinking more along the lines of whether or not Paul understands the "nations" to be "only" the scattered Israelite "tribes/nations", or if he understands all "nations" to refer to all "humans."

It's difficult to tell because Paul may be assuming that only those who are "sons of Abraham" (biologically) can possibly be among the "elect." Therefore, all of his references to "Greeks" and "God-fearers" and "reverent" may be references to "uncircumcised" Israelites.

On the other hand, sometimes the apparent simplicity of the term "nations" or "Greeks" seems to refer to all "non-Jews" in general. Or, again, Paul may just be assuming that only the "elect" will hear the "gospel" so he really doesn't care about the "heathens" at all.

The same is true of his use of the word "men/men." Maybe he is using it in the Genesis sense of the "creation" of "Adam/man" and not in the more general sense of "all men" including those not descended from Adam.

Of course, I think all of these questions would apply in Romans too. Is Paul referring to the "creation" as limited to the Land of Israel (per Genesis 1-3) or is he thinking of it in a wider sense? Or, does he think that everyone he is preaching to is descended from Adam?

From the OT, I think that there is much more evidence that it is only Israelites that are of concern because the covenants pertain to them. So, I could see where Paul would never assume that anyone other than "sinning" Israelites would be able to get back under the covenant blessings through the sacrifice of Christ.

Anymore thoughts?


Subject: Todd Dennis articles - Israel/Nations 1/2/00

I read through the articles by Todd Dennis and I think he made good points about the usage of the word "nation."

I think you and I already agree that "nations" cannot be taken to the extreme that it ALWAYS refers to the "10 tribes." We agree that all of the tribes/nations of Israel were among the people living in the Land itself, and included in the religious use of "Jew", and were among those "scattered" among the "nations."

On the other hand, the main problem with what Todd Dennis argues is that he provides no more proof that "nations" cannot refer only to descendants of Abraham, than the CI people offer that it "always" refers to descendants of Abraham.

I just think that the semantic range of the word "ethnos" (nations) is broad enough to make either argument a possibility and neither argument invalid. As we've discussed before, "ethnos" is used in the NT to refer to "Jews/Judea" as well as other religious peoples and geographic locations.

From the standpoint of logic, I think that Todd Dennis still has to "assume" that "nations" refers to "heathens" in order to make all of his interpretations from Galatians and Romans work. Unfortunately, he isn't able to provide this definition of "nations" any more clearly than the CI folks provide their restricted definition.

At this point, though, I'm still inclined to think it is more probable that Paul's usage of "nations" is restricted most often with the intent to recognize primarily descendants of Abraham because this usage would be more in keeping with OT prophecy and the covenants. However, I certainly don't think we can restrict the definition of "nations" to the extreme that it excludes "heathen" (like CI).

Another consideration is the fact that Paul usually entered the synagogue to "preach" the "gospel" first. Obviously, there were "Jews" there, but it seems (in Acts) that most of his "Greek" converts come from the synagogue as well. I'm wondering if these "Greek" converts were the "uncircumcised" that he saw as the focus of his ministry.

Moreover, I also don't see Paul making much of a distinction between "cirumcision" and "uncircumcision" so far as "polytheism" is concerned. Paul's "uncircumcision" converts seem very familiar with "one God" and Judaism. This might be construed as evidence that Paul was not simply preaching to "heathens."

It's also interesting to note that Paul uses "circumcision/uncircumcision" as the basis for many of his arguments which would really only be significant to Israelites. If he were concerned with mere "heathen" you would think that "idolatry" would be the central issue.

I also find it interesting that Paul uses "Greek" throughout the book of Romans to describe the "uncircumcision" and does not even seem to regard the "Romans" as a separate people. This might be construed as evidence that Paul thought of "Greek" as a religious term like "Jew." One of the obvious problems with CI is that they don't take into account that "Jew" is a "religious" term as much as it pertains to the land of Judea.

What do you think? Anymore thoughts ... I'm still going to continue studying this issue. Please forward me any material you find from both sides of the issue!


Subject: Re: Romans 1/6/00

I'm inclined to agree with you that God "indirectly" hardened Pharoah's heart because this seems more in keeping with the biblical language as a whole.

Like I always say ... things like "Calvinism" and "omniscience" are philosophical concepts that are not explained in scripture. I think that the assumptions that supralapsarians make are "read into" the interpretation of these passages without warrant.

Just because the text says that "God hardened Pharoah's heart" doesn't mean that this language requires "omniscience" or "determinism." And, that is why I think you see the conflict with other passages that seem to suggest the opposite.

The writer may be attributing the action to God, but doing so without the assumption that this is "determinism." According to the Hebrew thought pattern and language, God can "repent" and "change his mind." But, this presents a difficulty for supralapsarians because it contradicts their basic assumptions. We have to find a way that God can "change His mind" and still be "holy" and "righteous" and "good."

I also think the key lies in the fact that the biblical writers recorded the events with "hindsight." They probably thought that Pharoah made his own bad choices, but (with hindsight) it could be attributed to the plan of God.

In John 6, for example, Jesus condemns the Pharisees for their unbelief and then goes to the scripture to show the disciples that what they saw was foretold by the prophets. But, I see this as "hindsight" and not "determinism." Jesus was simply showing the disciples that what they saw was "biblical." I don't think he was trying to make a point about "divine decrees."

What do you think?


Subject: Re: Romans 1/7/00

As I read Romans 9-11, I'm inclined to think that Paul is speaking of the "nations" as descendants of Abraham. I think that this fits the overall context of the book of Romans. All agree that Paul is defending his gospel against "Jewish" objections.

With regard to Hosea. It's difficult to tell whether or not Paul is quoting Hosea in its OT context, or if he is just borrowing the language of "not a people" from that passage. Throughout the NT, the apostles sometimes just use the words to make a point, and they don't necessarily take them in the OT context.

If we think of the "creation" as the story of the formation of the Land of Israel, then it seems that the beginning chapters of Romans put everything in Israelite context.

Also, if by "Greeks" Paul means the "Hellenists" (those Israelites who adopted Greek culture rather than the Law), then it seems to suggest that the "house of Israel" and "house of Judah" may be Paul's concern. I don't think Paul makes enough of a distinction between "Jews" and "pagans" in his epistles to warrant the conclusion that "Greeks" must refer to heathens. The "Greeks" he's talking to seem to already know a lot about the God of Israel.


Subject: Re: Romans 1/8/00

Your point about the "blood" in Acts 17:26 is a great one! I never thought of this as a reference to the "bloodline" of Adam/Abraham, so you really enlightened me!

I was thinking, today, that it seems we must allow non-Israelite people to inherit salvation because it seems as though this was also possible under the Old Covenant to a limited degree.

Also, if these "Greeks" are a mixed breed, and uncircumcised, then they are essentially like "heathens" anyway. I think it's safer to assume that many of them had pagan blood. However, I think that the vast majority of them were Israelites because there is so little concern about "paganism."


Subject: Re: Fwd: Universalism 1/9/00

Cass -

I'm not "closed" to anything other than "eternal death" (whatever that means!), I just don't think Steve has given any persuasive biblical arguments in favor of "universalism." All he's done is asserted it.

The critical problem with "universalism" is the interpretation of the word "all" (TA PANTA - as Steve identifies it) in scripture. This word is used hundreds of times and it has different shades of meaning depending on context.

Steve seems to be suggesting that passages like "the savior of ALL men" must be interpreted to include "all" individuals. However, the word "all" can be understood a number of different ways in a passage like this. Steve's assumption that "all" must always mean "each and everything in existence" is easy to disprove.

For example, in Phlp 1:1, Paul writes a greeting to "ALL the saints." However, it is clear that the word "all" here is limited to those which are "at Philippi" as the rest of the verse says. The word "all" by itself clearly does not suggest "each and every saint" every where in the world.

In one of Steve's comments, he suggests that this is how we are to understand the word "all." But, there are hundreds of similar uses of "TA PANTA (all)" in scripture that are limited by the context. Any of the "universalism" prooftexts can be understood in a limited sense.

For example, when Paul refers to Jesus as the "savior of ALL men" he is limiting the meaning of "all" for two reasons. One, Paul almost always speaks of believers as "Jew and Greek." It is very likely that Paul is using "all" in a collective sense to speak of "all nations" and not "all individual humans." Second, Paul teaches "death" and "eternal destruction" in many other passages which strongly suggest that he was not thinking of "all men" as "every individual" since not every "individual" inherits the kingdom of God.

Hope this helps!


Subject: Re: Fwd: Universalism 1/10/00

Cass -

I understand Paul's point about "all" dying in Adam and "all" being made alive in Christ in a simpler sense. Let me try to explain.

Paul always seems to defend his "gospel" against the Jews by pointing to "Abraham" and his "faith." The reason I think he does this is so that he can show that "salvation" is "apart from Law" since the Law came 430 years after Abraham was "justified through faith."

Now, the Law also makes the distinction between "circumcised" (Jew) and "uncircumcised" (Greek or Gentile). This came after Abraham "believed" and was intensified as part of the Mosaic Law.

When Paul refers to "all men" I think he is referring to "all men" collectively as "circumcised" and "uncircumcised." This would include both believers and unbelievers because there were both types of people among both the Jews and the Gentiles.

With this in mind, the "all" makes sense without "universalism" because "all men" (Jew/Greek) descend from Adam and experience biological death. Also, the "gospel" brings life to "all men" because it is the power of salvation for "Jew and Greek" (Rom 1:16).

But, I think the simple point that Paul is making is that God is able to "save" all men by means of the "death" of one man (Jesus) because "death" came by one man (Adam). In other words, Paul is explaining that the "one" sacrifice of Jesus is an equal price to pay for the "one" death that came by the "one" man, Adam.

This also fits with the idea of "representative atonement." Since God "killed" all men on account of the "trangression" of the "one" man, Adam, it is "just" for God to save all men on the basis of the "righteous" death of only the "one" man, Jesus. This is the key to understanding Paul's argument in Romans 5.


Subject: Re: Tongues? 1/23/00

Cass - The simplest "explanation" for the "tongues of angels" passage in 1 Cor 13:1-4 is that fact that every angel in the Bible spoke in the language of the person he was talking too!! I can't think of any angel in scripture that used an unintelligible gibberish, can you?

Second, the key to understanding that "tongues" is not any kind of "heavenly" language is the fact that the word "tongue/language" is just the basic word for a "dialect." There is no use of this word in the Bible that "requires" a "mysterious" meaning.


Subject: Re: trees 1/25/00

Cass & Don -

On this question of the "trees" ...

I think that only "God" is immortal according to scripture. I think that Adam and Eve possessed "immortality" because they had the "breath of life" given by God.

As long as God sustains the "breath" there is life. I think the essence of the "death/mortality" of Adam and Eve is to be found in the judgment of "death" imposed upon them by God Himself.

I don't think it has anything to do with the "anatomy" or "physiology" of Adam and Eve. They became mortal because God decided to take His "breath" away from them and let them "return to dust" because of Adam's transgression.


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