Not a Replacement

We do not support Replacement Theology.

The Covenant of Moses was unique, a singular example of God choosing one nation as His sole representatives on earth. Their mission was to exhibit His revelation, to breathe life into it by living it. The covenant came with promises that were an extension of Noah’s Covenant, but added in a special status that granted them the best and most direct revelation of God and His ways. This covenant was restricted to this one nation.

The Covenant of Noah was not exclusive. It does offer the same basic promises of shalom, but there is no special family status with God. There is no promise of direct revelation and the bar is higher for maintaining a claim on the promises of shalom.

Israel had a special advantage in that, while their covenant was most assertively conditional, their status with God as family made it much harder for Him to sever ties. Nonetheless, the covenant flatly states those ties could be broken. Israel did so; the final break was rejecting the Messiah. Jesus’ execution symbolized the vast chasm separating them from God, that they had moved so very far away that they were no longer His family.

The New Covenant in Christ was unlike either of the two primary Law Covenants. Instead of an identity that was rooted in this world, the primary source of the Covenant is otherworldly. It has nothing to do with politics in that sense. There can be no “Christian nation;” it perverts the meaning of “Christian.” Instead, there can surely be nations who embrace Noah’s Covenant as their Law, which is subsumed under Christ. But Noah merely manifests Christ; it is not Christ.

So it’s not possible for Christians to replace Israel in terms of earthly status. We belong to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

Faith Does Not Compute

Here we take a short tour through the history of Western Christian theology. Our attention is focused on the business of fallen nature and human reason.

First, we have to understand that Hebrew Scriptures assume a wholly different anthropology from what is common in the West. On the one hand, both use figures of speech, but use them differently. In ancient Hebrew culture, human nature is divided up differently and associated with different parts of the body as mere symbolism. When it comes to understanding human behavior, it really didn’t matter whether the mind was literally rooted in the brain — there were too many other factors in human nature that affected how the brain worked. In other words, Hebrew culture downplayed the importance of intellect compared to the Western image of it.

Second, there was a radical difference in cosmology, too. While the particulars varied among the multiple Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) civilizations, of which Hebrew is one, there was a common thread of belief in a distinct and separate spirit realm that was invisible to the senses. We cannot overemphasize how radically different this is from the Western assumption that this universe is all there is. The Greeks had no trouble with the idea that deities and demons were invisible, but such beings were still confined to this universe. Greeks honestly believed that it was possible to find a physical entrance to both the homes of the gods and the abode of the dead.

So deeply does this stain Western thought that you can discern the influence in Western Christianity. Early in Church history we find the official church teaching that human reason is not fallen.

Let’s see how the ANE viewpoint is expressed in Jeremiah 17. Starting in verse 5 God is castigating Judah for departing from the Covenant (the Northern Kingdom was already long gone at this point). In particular, He refers to the “heart” as the center of one’s will, the seat of commitment or faith. There is a specific reference to the kidneys as the seat of human motives, and it’s often translated in English as “reins” or “mind.” His point comes right up front: cursed is the man who trusts in human capabilities alone. Blessed is the man who humbly trusts in God for moral truth. Without redemption, the heart of commitment is wicked. In that state, no one can subject their lesser faculties to the higher faculty that should be in the heart. There is no sense of conviction, so the heart is effectively just as fallen and broken as the rest of such a man.

This is echoed in Romans 3, particularly in verses 9-18. Paul indicates that a covenant identity never kept Jews from being just as wicked and sinful as the worst of heathens. Paul goes on to assert that without redemption, there is nothing good possible arising from human capabilities. It was always a matter of divine grace. Western Christians are completely mistaken in thinking Jesus introduced a new concept in John 3 when He spoke of spiritual birth. We can find references to that symbolism throughout ANE religious writings. Without “a spirit of the gods” within us, we are doomed. Nicodemas as so Hellenized that he had completely forgotten the mystical roots of Hebrew culture. For him, there was no separate realm of the Spirit; everything was confined to his universe. Redemption was merely to earthly Jewish identity.

Even when we find Western church teachings about spiritual birth, we find that the net effect it is merely a changed mind. Somehow being more spiritual means nothing more than a different cerebral track. It’s a conversion of mind only, in the sense that religious leaders are looking for symptoms of orthodoxy. We find them saying in effect that “Jesus in your heart” equals “right belief and practice.” And that right religion always seems to look like the one that the present leadership espouses. “If you don’t believe and act like me, you ain’t born-again.” For non-evangelical traditions, it’s more like, “We are the arbiters or what God says, so if you don’t agree with us, you haven’t heard from God.”

This is precisely the fatal flaw in Judaism, and it goes all the way back to Jeremiah’s prophecy. Judah was at that time facing Babylon’s rampaging conquest. The Judean leadership insisted that, since the Temple inside the walls was God’s House, they were safe. Would God allow heathens to dirty His carpet? Was not this Hebrew nation God’s Chosen? Jeremiah was telling them that it didn’t matter where the Temple stood. It also didn’t matter their proximity to it; the nation had moved too far away from God’s protection in their hearts. Their faith, their feudal loyalty, was in something other than Jehovah.

In Hebrew thinking, spiritual birth does not change what you are, but who you are. It opens the door for a personal communion with our Creator so that His power can mitigate the Fall. Thus, spiritual birth is not some magic that changes the ideas in your head; it changes your heart — it registers as a sense of identity and commitment. You aren’t buying into a different package of human identity, but leaving all of that behind for an identity rooted in the Spirit Realm. Christ said His kingdom is not of this world. There can be no earthly kingdom of Christ; there can be no Christian nation. In this world there can be only provisional associations of fellow believers, acting like family in an eastern feudal setting. We as Christians are brothers and sisters with no earthly father. We are away from Home working together in a foreign realm. We don’t colonize; we offer adoptions out of this world.

Meanwhile, the only people who actually understand this world are those who belong outside of it. The only people who hold a valid assessment of human nature are those who denounce and renounce it. Only when we are linked to the Spirit Realm do we find communion with the rest of Creation. We still face the same natural world, but now are friends with it, not alienated from it in some god-forsaken mythology of something must be defeated, tamed and enslaved to our will.

Reason cannot be reformed. It can be properly subjected to faith, but you won’t see that often in organized Christian religion. Instead, we see the whole matter of “faith” as better belief and action, and “spirituality” as mere education and training. Theology is data; faith is much more.

Ditch the Systematic Theology

“What must I do to be saved?”

We see this question from the Philippian Jailer in Acts 16:30. The question itself arose from Greek culture. It became a figure of speech, so the actual meaning varies with the context. It was intentionally ambiguous in the sense that it was seeking whatever divine rescue was available, asking what were the terms. The jailer was hardly unaware of the plethora of Eastern religions represented across the Mediterranean in those days. He knew that people connected to Judaism were also part of that broad collection of Eastern mystical religions. Since he saw the power of something beyond human ken and these men were confident and at peace, he wanted some of whatever it was that set them free but kept them from escaping and getting him in trouble.

In Western culture, the question has taken on a rather precise theological meaning that builds on a false foundation. Bear with me a moment while I try once again to untangle this.

Ancient Near Eastern thought presumes a Spirit Realm separate from this realm of existence. Western thought presumes this universe is it, in the sense that there could be no other kind of universe. In other words, Western thought negates any kind of Spirit Realm a priori. This assumption is not discussed in the existing ancient literature (so far as I know) that teaches Greek philosophy. They didn’t bother to argue against it for the most part. Thus, it is a part of the package of assumptions about reality on which the rest of their stuff stands. When this Hellenized approach collided with the already weakened moral reasoning of the rabbinical schools of Hebrew religion (they had already been influenced by Babylon and Persia during the Exile), they were overwhelmed by the sheer intellectual thrill of analytical reasoning. The mind was back on the throne, and it loves to rule. But it bore the poisoned root of rejecting the Spirit Realm.

Judaism is the result of this collision. It is not the Hebrew religion of ancient times. Mixing Hellenism with Hebrew traditions results in legalism. The mystical was trashed in favor of nit-picking over particulars. What to do with the Spirit Realm? It became by default a spooky place rather like the myths of River Styx and the place of the dead. And how many times have you read discussions of sheol that equate it wrongly with the Greek mythology? Instead of the mystical Hebrew approach, God and Heaven became something akin to Plato’s realm of the Ideal, an entirely cerebral construct. It was all objectified.

Now, we are naturally unable to explain a mystical truth, but in the Hebrew mind, there is a sense in which the Spirit Realm has continuity with our realm of existence here. The Spirit Realm is ultimate reality, as it were, while our existence is the Realm of Shadows. We are forced to use parabolic language, but we do know that your manner of life here reflects something about your eternal destiny with God. Insofar as you are damned here, you are damned eternally. Even then, I’m using a figure of speech. What the Hellenized approach does is break that continuity and substitutes a false conceptual continuity that yields to reason.

So we see all kinds of a prior assumptions that attempt to force God into the boundaries of reason. Common Western (Protestant-Catholic) conceptions of Heaven are persistently Platonic in nature. Theologians can hardly break out of that track without a lot of study in what it means to be Western and what Western thought looks like from the perspective of non-Western intellectual traditions.

But this a priori assumption that equates God with Plato’s Ideal means all Western theology is infected with the notion that God has to make sense. Thus, we have a duty to reason about God and create Theology. We have to explore all the possible particulars by analysis and explain everything. And so we have a theology of how people are “saved” — soteriology. And we have this rational delineation of logical steps that ends up making God the creator of evil. Most Western theologians deny this because it breaks some of the other rules of logic, but the paradox is inevitable if you approach God from a rational foundation.

I can tell you how I backed out of that hellhole; that’s what some of my books are about. Maybe some of it will echo your own situation and I can help you escape. The Hebrew word most often translated as “saved” is rooted in the idea of escaping something.

The fundamental concept of moral human sorrow in the Hebrew Scripture is “separation.” You are separated from God. We were meant to be fit for His Presence, but somehow humanity got off on the wrong foot. So we start out alienated from Him. The mystical truth of how that problem is solved was never meant to be reduced to descriptive language. There are no steps to salvation that everyone can follow. All any of us can do is demonstrate what it’s like to live in peace with God. We allow Him to work things His way from His end and hope that means you find a path to peace. We don’t pretend to tell folks “how” to be saved, only to demonstrate what it looks like. We already know that there is no “how.” If you are going to get it at all, it has to come from something unique to you and God. Nobody has a clue what-when-why-how He decides to offer terms of peace, only that He does.

So the answer the Apostles gave to the Philippian Jailer was symbolic, not a precise HOWTO. He would have understood it that way soon enough, if not already. Despite his being bathed directly in Hellenist culture, the historical context included a lot of stuff we no longer have around.

And do you know how hard Western theologians struggle over that business of “you and your household”? When you objectify “salvation,” you are forced into cerebral gymnastics. How can one man’s decision affect the eternal salvation of his family members? Ditch the objectification of salvation and the whole thing takes on a different meaning. Since the man clearly worried about his moral standing, the Apostles presumed he was primed to take the heart-led moral path to God’s character. If he takes that path, it must include his entire household over which he holds moral dominion. That word “salvation” means walking in a heart-led moral truth, not some objectified status change in the Ideal. If someone begins instituting the changes inherent in heart-led moral commitment, who on earth could suggest that man is not at peace with God? So we are back to that mystical continuity I mentioned earlier.

That’s how we are saved.

Your Theology Is Your Problem

Let me say this with as much clarity as I can marshal: Theology is a human activity in response to divine calling. Theology is religion, a mere expression of faith. Theology is not wisely discerning objective truth about God, because there is no such thing as objective truth about God. Truth is God’s personal moral character, an element of His living Presence. Theology is just a tool, one that can be modified as needed and discarded when it wears out. Your theology is not eternal; it will remain here in this world when you go home to be with God in Heaven.

My theology is just a part of me. Your theology cannot be mine, nor vice versa. If we overlap, the common ground says more about us than it does about God. That we have a common ground says something about God and how He intends to work in us.

Human intellect cannot be made un-fallen. Intellect is redeemed only in surrendering to something eternal in you — your heart-mind. Theology can never be more than a human effort to organize and implement faith. You cannot trust your theology to answer all the questions; treat your theology as a mere tool, a provisional set of handles for grabbing hold of reality. Reality itself is fungible, so theology cannot possible be any less ephemeral.

People who take their theology too seriously are actually taking themselves too seriously. Idolizing your own intellect is called “sin.”

Icons and Idols

Iconoclasm is not a virtue; it can be a useful tool. There’s nothing wrong with good statuary to help you focus your mind on the task of faith. There’s a problem when your faith is trapped by the icon.

Our culture seems trapped in a closed loop aimed at high efficiency, to include a sort of speed-reader reflex that isn’t always appropriate. To be honest, my writing isn’t good enough to speed-read. The subjects and things I attempt to say require you become aware of things speed-reading won’t allow. I’m trying to open a door to a level of moral awareness that won’t even fit into words, but does result in some fairly concrete choices. As noted often, what we do is less of religion and more about religion. I’m pastoring in the sense that I hope to awaken your own moral convictions, not to prescribe mine for you.

My claim that Radix Fidem is so named in part because of a measure of radicalism does not place us inside the ownership of radicalism itself. The radicalism begins with rejecting the model of directed religious activity versus encouraging your creativity. While I was in the hospital last week the VA chaplain came to visit. He’s a Unitarian and asked if I had considered their brand. I told him it was all too cerebral, something he didn’t quite grasp because — well, his religious orientation is cerebral. His Western background assumes that what isn’t fully logical is largely sentiment and they are okay with that kind religion.

Some of you grasp the anti-Western thing. Some of you can just jump right past all of that because it never really held you in the first place. The notion of an entirely different realm of existence, to which we naturally belong as well as this one, finds poor traction in our world. But if you weren’t pickled in Western epistemology — and most Westerners really don’t know what it means to be “Western” — you can skip that part of my blather and proceed directly with faith. My only iconoclasm is aimed at making folks less dependent on things that hold you back from faith.

Faith is a living and growing things and religion struggles to keep up. Just when you get things working smoothly, faith makes an entirely new demand. I’m trying to teach that as the norm. That means cutting out the idolatry of things that you can grasp with your intellect.

I once noted that my “Calvinism” isn’t actually Calvinism. It’s missing almost the entire background from which Calvin built his theology. My contention is that Calvin couldn’t escape the conviction of God as sovereign, but had to satisfy all his intellectual dependencies to put that to use. I end up using Calvinist language at times, but reject most of what he taught. I still have his Institutes on my shelf, but they are collecting dust. They were useful only in helping me ask enough questions to break out of the trap that held him. I end up saying that you’ll probably need to organize your religion to account for God’s authority and that the business of “sovereign will” is merely a way of expressing something none of us will ever understand. But if you worry too much about Calvin as a theological enemy, then you can’t avoid thinking I’m in his camp. I can’t help you with that.

And I’m not really sure how far I can escape the poison of the West myself. There comes a point when you really need to quit obsessing over it and get to work. I hold up the ANE (Ancient Near East) as a target even when I can’t promise I’ll hit myself consistently. Maybe I do know a little more about it than you, but I’m hardly the sole expert.

What I can do is remind you not to make an icon of me, either. I don’t really want you to absorb my religion, but absorb the way my religion works as an expression of the ineffable God we all must come to know and serve. We associate as a virtual parish on the grounds that we all tolerate the guy who runs the blog. Nothing keeps you from building your own thing outside my blog; you won’t even catch a hint of resentment from me because I encourage that explicitly.

Note in passing to regular readers: I take the position that my bike crash was God’s own epilogue to “Our Crazy Ancient New Religion” series. Wherever that path was taking me at that moment is cut off and I’m not in the same place any more. The experience itself changed me, in part because I made choices as soon as I sat up in the grassy sand bank and realized my right leg couldn’t pull itself up in a natural position. I had a mission to show people how a man of faith could reach out in power and love from the midst of disaster. Just the act of doing that stuff jerks you into a different world. For me, that actually is the best way to show what the series was about.

However, I think my faculties are coming back online. I’m irritated by this restriction to my netbook; I really should have tried harder to get a good Linux laptop, but ran out of money and time when other things took center stage. I’ll take this as divine provision and keep plugging away at it for now.

God bless you all. You prayers and efforts to help me are, I trust, blessing you as much as they are me. Otherwise, it’s a waste of resources.

Not Green

My favorite color is orange.

While I’m like most humans with an aesthetic preference for blue (it has to do with the mechanics of vision in our eyes), I would rather wear orange. That’s because when I’m on my bike, orange makes it easier for drivers to see me. If not, it makes it easier to find the body later on.

And I have come to the point where my bicycle is more important to me than any/all of my computers. Think of it as a wheelchair in effect, in that all the hiking and running I used to do is no longer possible, but biking remains possible. The real issue is getting outside and doing something solitary and physically demanding so that my heart can push through the clutter and get my brain’s attention. It’s a blessing, a means to draw closer to God and hear His voice. His Word promises that He generally encourages that sort of thing and after all these years of riding my bicycle in motor traffic, the Lord still protects me. I suppose angels are riding alongside on ethereal bikes.

A part of me is aware that my bicycle is far less harmful to my fellow humans, in terms of pollution, than my car and all my computers. I’ve already stated bluntly that I like computers as the one means to finding fellowship with my fellow believers. My particular religion is esoteric enough to mean the fellow believers are few and far between. The Internet is the only way we can find each other for the most part, since the same thing that gave us computers is what has made us so rare on this planet. Nothing personal, my sweet parish family, but if there were people in geographical proximity who shared my religion, I wouldn’t have gotten involved with the Internet very much. But you came first, so even if a church grows up now in my area, I’d still keep the channel open.

But let’s be honest: Computers and the Internet are pretty hard on Creation. The economic realities of connecting globally means cranking out some truly nasty toxins into our world. Much less so than a bicycle, but bikes aren’t pure as the driven snow, either.

Unlike the Greens, we do not worship “nature” itself. We do not fall down to the creature (Creation), but to the Creator. We know that He gave us the means to do stuff in this world that allows us to share our devotion to Him. He knows that it means we have to use some of the resources in nature in ways that are distinctly unnatural. He made the world capable of absorbing and self-cleaning a certain amount of that. But does anyone really need to explain that humans have long pushed beyond the limits of what nature can absorb long-term?

When I post pictures on the other blog of the North Canadian River or other water features, I would like to remind you that the beauty of that water, so pleasing to the eyes, always comes with an offense to the nose — the water is polluted somewhat. Always. You can’t drink it safely. In it’s natural state prior to the settler invasion, the natives didn’t have that much trouble drinking it. Yes, some water sources are naturally toxic, but these days most of the water in the world requires some clean-up on a scale unimaginable before massive human exploitation of natural resources.

I imagine we could rediscover some kind of balance, some kind of homeostasis with nature, even with our current world population. But going that route would probably reduce the population somewhat as a natural result. I’m not eager to see a die-off like that, but a part of me knows it’s for the sake of something better. We aren’t likely to see it.

Even less likely are we to see the Green Dream. Theirs is more than a political agenda; it’s a heathen religion. Their religion calls for the extermination of the vast majority of the human race. Only a tiny handful of their religious elite are worthy of living in a pristine natural world, as they view it. Hand them the power and you can be sure wars would ratchet up to a new global density of slaughter that we can’t fathom. They have a jihadi’s zeal for their gods.

For us, the Law Covenants explain what God intended for us. Not so much in the sense of Eden, but in the sense of making the most of what’s left after the Fall. The Laws tend to sound superficially Green to some degree; the Laws reflect a respect for Creation as a living being. While I feel no sense of personal guilt about having computers, I do share in the broad common human guilt of abusing God’s creation — I’m still fallen. But when I’m out riding my bike and hearing the trees and grass alongside the road calling out to me with celebration of God’s living character, I’m far more alive than I am sitting here typing on this keyboard. I have to take that ride so I’ll have something to type when I get back here.

And it’s not so much that I really have to be alone on those rides, but I can’t really share that experience with anyone around here who might be otherwise interested in riding with me. If some of you were cyclists in my area, we could have church on the wheels, worshiping and singing as we pedaled along. No church experience I’ve had would come close to that. I can dream, can’t I?

But I would recommend we all wear orange in such worship, not green.

British Israelism

Theology class today.

If you have never heard of this wild heresy, I find little to dispute with the description on Wikipedia. It’s all well and good to call it a heresy, but if you think about it, you realize that this weirdo religion is nothing more than a bluntly honest conclusion from the whole of Anglo-American culture.

Maybe you could take a moment to refresh your understanding of The Cult, too. Keep in mind that this is not a particular bunch of folks but a moral influence that appears as consistent in character across multiple generations. I maintain that my analysis of The Cult is as much as we can know for sure, and plenty for us to build an understanding of what we face today. The reason it matters is that Westerners are deeply infected with the fundamental subconscious assumptions behind what British Israelism dares to say openly.

The Cult’s primary weapon is the two-edged dagger: elitism on one side and secrecy-deception on the other. This is visible starting with the Pharisees, through the Judaizers and Gnostics, up through the capture of the Church under Roman government, the later survival of the Church after the government fell, and the eventual rise of what we now call Western Civilization. I’ve noted repeatedly that Western Civ is the marriage of Aristotelian rationalism, by way of Pharisaic legalism, and German Tribal mythology. By far the strongest thread of Germanic Tribal culture yet alive today was the Anglo-Saxon branch. Anglo-American culture is the bastard child The Cult hoped to raise up as their thug to take over the world.

If you want reliable servants for evil, it helps if they are an ignorant copy of yourself — ambitious but without the full bag of secrets. The Cult has withheld their secrets, but injected their elitist secrecy tendencies into the very soul of Anglo-American culture. The Cult created a ravenous beast that doesn’t quite understand it is actually the servant, not the ruler. The Cult still holds those invisible reins in their hands.

All the blather about the hidden power of the bureaucracy merely reflects the natural tendency of Anglo-American cultural assumptions about justice and government. The business of injecting that moral system back into Scripture is inherent in British Israelism, that the Anglo-Saxon culture was a better grasp of divine revelation. Thus, we have Ruckmanites who claim that the KJV corrects bad manuscripts and that the scholars who translated it were all the very saints of God. Nazism? Another offshoot from the same roots. (Zionist leadership delights in Jewish persecution.) Feminism? Just another branch where the Germanic Tribes venerated Oester. Socialism? That’s just cowardly bureaucracy in it’s most honest form, where tribal loyalty rules all. Communism? Just socialism on steroids. It’s all easily traced back to the mythology that the Anglo-American culture is a near-perfect manifestation of God’s own character, because the Anglo-Saxons are just Israel with a minor case of amnesia.

This has been used to justify the elitist arrogance behind the broad Anglo-American conquest as yet ongoing in the world. If our cowardly bureaucratic consensus government says America should have control of the whole world, but only in those things we want to control, then that is the sacred and only sensible policy anyone living can imagine. Doubters must of necessity be evil for not seeing the obvious blessings of such an agenda. This is God’s work, doncha know?

I haven’t even scratched the surface. How about that Stone of Scone? Ever heard the legend that Peter traveled to Britain and founded the Church of England? Given just a little time and study, you could easily trace this same nasty root system of British Israelism as behind all kinds of moral sewage in our world today. However, it is most persistent in reading Anglo-American morals and sense of justice (in all its flavors) back into the Bible.

A Sample of Dispie Folly

For those of you inclined to understand the madness of Dispensationalism from a safe distance, I wanted to share with you an outline of some primary features. This comes from a study offered at Jesus-Is-Lord:

Dispensational theology centers upon the concept of God’s dealings with mankind being divided into (usually) seven distinct economies or “dispensations”, in which man is tested as to his obedience to the will of God as revealed under each dispensation.

Dispensationalists see God as pursuing two distinct purposes throughout history, one related to an earthly goal and an earthly people (the Jews), the other to heavenly goals and a heavenly people (the church).

Dispensationalists believe that in the Old Testament God promised the Jewish people an earthly kingdom ruled by Messiah ben David, and that when Christ came He offered this prophesied kingdom to the Jews. When the Jews of the time rejected Christ and the earthly kingdom, the promise was postponed, and the “mystery form” of the kingdom — the church — was established.

The church, according to dispensational doctrine, was unforeseen in the Old Testament and constitutes a “parenthesis” in God’s plan for Israel. In the future, the distinction between Jew and Gentile will be reestablished and will continue throughout all eternity. The “parenthesis”, or church age, will end at the rapture when Christ comes invisibly to take all believers (excepting OT saints) to heaven to celebrate the “marriage feast of the Lamb” with Christ for a period of seven years.

God’s program for the Jews then resumes with the tribulation, Antichrist, bowls of wrath, 144,000 Jews preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and Armageddon. Then, the Second (third, if you count the preTrib rapture) Coming, the instantaneous conversion of the entire nation of Israel, the resurrection of the Tribulation and Old Testament saints, and the “sheep and goats” judgment. The “goats” will be cast into hell, the “sheep” and the believing Jews will enter the millennium in natural human bodies, marrying, reproducing, and dying. The “mystery church” and the resurrected Tribulation and Old Testament saints will live in the heavenly Jerusalem suspended above the earthly city. This millennium will be a time of great peace and prosperity, with Christ ruling on David’s throne. After 1,000 yrs. Satan will be released from the chain with which he had been bound at the beginning of the millennium and many of the children born to the “sheep” and the Israelites will follow him in revolt against Christ. The King will again destroy His enemies, followed by another resurrection of the righteous, another resurrection of the unrighteous, a final judgment, and at last the New Heavens and the New Earth.

The terminology alone is enough to make your head spin, and there is very little here compared to the mountain of verbal trash I’ve seen while serving in the ministry: Pre-Trib, Post-Trib or Mid-Trib Rapture; Preterism, Historicism, Chilliasm, etc.

Perhaps you now grasp why I pursue discussing how the Old Testaments saints experienced spiritual birth, too. Jesus spoke of it as a reality before the Cross, as if Nicodemas could and should have had a spiritual birth already. Thus, redemption is redemption is redemption, and that the church is the natural extension of something that lies under the Covenant of Moses. I also teach that the revelation of God is a single thing. Further, I emphasize that one revelation is the same one for this world and the world to come. I teach that the Covenant of Moses was closed forever because the New Testament says so quite bluntly. Truly, as the linked page notes, if you pay attention to the Bible and stop reading stuff back into it, you can’t cling to Dispensational teaching.

That doesn’t mean I endorse everything on that page, but you can make up your own mind. I’m not laying restrictions, but pointing out why I write what I do. The term “heresy” is used here only in the relative sense that I consider it harmful to follow that path.

Program Notes: Reviewing Dispensationalism

I’ve been reading my own stuff for review and picking up some fresh sources I’ve not seen before. What’s crazy about Dispensational doctrine is that there is some crazy mythology about the people involved here in the US. For example, Scofield and his friends outright lied about his personal history. And did you know that the Scofield Reference Bible was highly edited by Oxford Press after his death?

Today I’ve been reading through a booklet about Scofield pulled from several sources.

Why? Brothers and Sisters, you can write this off as my obsession and I won’t blame you. Some of you never had to deal with this crap directly, but this thing was a prison for me during much of my youth and half-way through my adult life. While I had encountered opposition to it beginning in my OBU days (mid-1970s), it didn’t sprout and produce fruits of serious doubt for quite a while afterward. I recall seeing a book that debunked it nicely but didn’t have the cash to buy it, even at discount. So I actually borrowed the money the next day and went back — all the copies were gone. When I began following my own convictions against the prevailing orthodoxy of my associates, I ran into a vast wealth of information that showed this whole thing was assembled by crooks, liars and shysters.

I remain utterly convinced that there will be an exodus from that crazy doctrine soon, and we need to be ready to succor those who come out of it bewildered and shocked by things they were never permitted to see before. I can’t forget how it shook me to have so many things collapsing in cascading dependencies intellectually. To be honest, the period of transition took me close to suicide several times. I’ve seen others with the same profound shock, so I doubt it was just my individual reaction alone. It’s heart-led morality to care about the faith of others, and I’m quite sure there will be a lot of those others in need soon.

Decision Disaster

People have alleged all kinds of silly, goofy stuff about Billy Graham. Granted, his children have waded through enough scandal, but aside from a few unguarded jokes, the man himself is untouched by noteworthy moral failures.

That is, unless you understand the part he played in destroying the Western evangelical message. This really isn’t about him, but about his message, often referred to as “Decision Theology.” Indeed, his organization put out a magazine called Decision and it symbolized the easy believism. He once said that was a problem, but his preaching was precisely that. Go back and check the results of his crusades. In every location, he would gin up a huge army of local volunteers to follow up on those who “made a decision” at his worship services. In every case that anyone has recorded, not even 10% of those folks who crowded his alter calls ever gave evidence of having found faith. They apparently didn’t even “get religion” as the old expression goes.

Such was my experience when I volunteered as a follow up counselor for his and similar ministries. I can’t tell you that he knew about that. I recall reading somewhere that his staff tended to insulate him from stuff like that. He did and said a lot of things outside his crusade work that indicated he was just a bit cynical about things while always trying to be diplomatic and nice. Maybe he’s like most other humans — his own mixture of foibles and failures. However, no one can deny his fame is partly owed to WR Hearst and affiliated news organization way back when Billy was just starting out.

As well, I can’t produce any specific references on his ministerial background, but I recall someone said he was deeply influenced by Charles G. Finney. That would be more than sufficient to explain the “easy believism” stuff, because Finney openly insisted that this was good enough. He dismissed concerns about Fruit of the Spirit and went after the manipulation and huckster atmosphere with highly emotional altar calls.

Since Finney’s time, it has been very unpopular to criticize that empty, merely cerebral religion. When I was studying for the ministry, it was rare the teacher or guide who didn’t echo that garbage. At first I played that game and my efforts brought explosive numbers into whatever organization I served. While some part of me always felt a little dirty, but I kept pushing that into the background as “from the Devil.”

There is no room here to describe the memorable steps along my path to the truth. I’ve lost count how many times it felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest as each small incremental shift brought shattering pain. It didn’t have to be that way, but a lot of well meaning people shaped my thinking so very wrongly. If you can walk away from your religion, it’s not very useful in giving shape to your faith. It’s no wonder a lot of heart-led folks stayed away from organized Christianity.

Finney, Graham and millions of others made no room for a heart-led faith.