Whether you pursue truth or you stumble upon it, you are confronted with three logical choices. You can ignore it, reject it, or accept it. There is, however, another factor that can affect us. This factor can be termed as “formatory thinking” or “psychological inertia.” Here’s an example. Remember back to the Revolutionary War. Educated British officers would lead their troops (decked in bright, red coats) to stand and kneel in the middle of an open field while engaging the enemy. Conversely, there were uneducated revolutionaries hiding behind trees picking off the British one by one. Education should enhance the pursuit of truth, but in the case of the British military, a conditioned or formatory mindset that was not able to think outside the box led to severe consequences. This sort of psychological inertia is prevalent throughout our society from the scientist to the theologian. Most people with spiritual inclinations, be it a church-goer or an unorthodox practitioner of one’s faith, would be prudent to examine their philosophical and theological position. They need to make sure they are not making the same mistake as the Red Coats with the possibility of a Daniel Boone hiding behind a tree with a Kentucky Long Rifle bearing down on them. (Historical note: Daniel Boone served with the Virginia/Kentucky militia during the Revolutionary War.)
Based on the premise above, if you are one who has pondered your existence, please consider the following:
- The probability of dying is 100%.
- When one considers all the religions of the world, it is easy to see that man has spiritual or metaphysical inclinations.
- Human beings have a conscience that can be calloused or even seared.
- There is a strong argument for the belief that mankind is comprised of a trichotomy consisting of body, mind and soul/spirit.
- In a disaster or tragedy, our conscience is shocked, and the imagined importance of materialism, physical gratification and ego temporarily fades.
- The complexities of our existence, such as the human anatomy and the DNA of all creatures, our mind-boggling universe with dark matter, black holes, and billions of galaxies, in addition to the possibility of multi-dimensional planes, face us with the questions, “How did it all come to be?” and “Why do we exist?”
- In this hemisphere, we are still basing time on one whom the majority of historians would say was the most influential individual that ever lived. Take into account B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini – in the year of the Lord).
- Out of all the historical documents of antiquity, the New Testament is in a class of its own due to the significant influence it has had over the many centuries, as well as the extensive manuscript evidence available.
- When one contemplates the present amount of suffering on a global scale, both physical and psychological, one shouldn’t rule out the warnings of The Christ regarding Gehenna/Hell in the hereafter. It is only logical that if one can experience pain in this life, there could be suffering in another dimension after this existence.
- The most profound philosopher or revered religious leader is hard pressed to come up with anything that could transcend what has been coined as “The Golden Rule” for the conduct of one’s life. It’s a bit ironic that a humble carpenter with no formal education authored it nearly 2000 years ago.
The purpose of this article is twofold. It is for those who don’t know, as well as for those who think they know. Helen Keller said it well, “People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.” If you are one who asks the questions, “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?,” and, in the pursuit of truth, you are not afraid to come to pleasant or unpleasant conclusions, it would be wise to pick up a New Testament to see if things ring true. But, please, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water because of the religiosity and churchianity so pervasive today. In fact, if one does take the time to read it, the reader will soon realize that during The Christ’s time on Earth, He had to deal with the conditioned minds of those in authority who were either hedonistic or legalistic hypocrites. He also had to deal with those motivated by money and selfish ambition just like we have to today.
Secondly, it is for those who have professed to have found eternal life through the narrow gate, whether through their own search or under the tutelage of another. It is hoped they would be stimulated enough to examine themselves to see if, in fact, they are in the faith. It is also to illuminate the problem of a perpetuating mindset that is contrary to what history reveals, as well as to what the scriptures state… Holding on to traditional, conditioned thoughts and practices simply adds to the divisions and confusion which ultimately hinders the truth from going forth to a world in desperate need. Remember, it is only for so long that one can hide behind denominations, preachers, priests, bricks and mortar, steeples, crosses, doves and lighted signs until the truth will find you out.
Can a heretic love Jesus (Yeshua)?
In some cases, we feel the answer is yes. For instance, take Origen, probably the greatest scholar and theologian of the early Christian era. Many interpret that the Fifth Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople condemned Origen for heresy. They would say he was officially anathematized (accursed). In perspective, however, some scholars would disagree and say he wasn’t condemned, while there are others who take a middle of the road approach and don’t give a definitive answer. Regardless, the damage to his reputation has been done, and since Origen has always been considered more heterodox than orthodox, some will find themselves in hot water if they give any adherence to him and his views in most churches today.
We readily admit that Origen went off the deep end on some things and took his allegorical method of interpretation to the extremes. But to throw the baby out with the bathwater and turn a blind eye to his substantial contribution to the early church would be extremely ignorant. You’ve heard the old saying, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” Well, it definitely applies here. Please, let the jury take the following into consideration. At seventeen, Origen wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps straight into martyrdom for his faith in Christ. His mother, however, hid his clothes to stop him, and his modesty prevented it from becoming a reality at that time. On another occasion, wanting to keep himself pure, Origen castrated himself, because he literally interpreted what is recorded in Matthew 19:12 . In 250 A.D., under the persecution of Decius, Origen was brutally tortured for his faith. He somehow survived only to eventually die a few years later due to the injuries of that cruel, inhumane ordeal. In Romans 14:4, the Apostle Paul said, “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls.”
Here at T.E.A.R.S.C.R.Y, we say let God decide Origen’s fate and not some ecumenical church council or the opinions of scholars. After reexamination of how Origen steadfastly endured the hardships and trials of his existence and the physical persecution that ultimately took his life, it leads us to believe he had a level of faith that most people, be it church goers or church leaders, can only dream about.
Can a Conspirator to Murder be Righteous?
Can a conspirator in a murder plot be righteous in the eyes of God? In some cases we feel the answer is yes, but it all pivots on the condition and motivation of the heart. Historically, the early Christians were pacifists. Even while under the severest persecution and torture, they would not fight back. Either they would flee to avoid it or use their heads to try and get out of it, but taking up armed resistance wasn’t in the game plan. This is still and should always be on page 1 of the Christian’s handbook, but it’s not the only approach that should or can be taken. We have to take into account that through the centuries, more pages have been added to this handbook, and though the fallen nature of man is still the same, the stakes have gotten higher due to the technological advances that can control or annihilate mankind.
While in the service, I spent many weekends in Hiroshima, Japan sitting in “Peace Park” (ground zero where the 1st atomic bomb detonated) contemplating existence. The air blast that took place there was like a fire cracker going off compared to today’s nuclear bombs. I mention this to drive home the point that the increased knowledge which has been attained in the backdrop of man’s previous track record paints a picture that can make you easily lose your appetite. When you actually grasp the unfathomable amount of suffering and pain that can be inflicted with the push of a button along with the high probability of it one day being a reality, you’ll never view life through rose-colored glasses again. Albert Einstein said, “The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.”
Let’s look back to Nazi Germany in WWII. There was a mad man in power. A nation with a Christian heritage was carrying out the dictates of one very possibly controlled by an entity of another dimension. There were unimaginable atrocities and genocide being carried out by some professing to be Christians. (As you well know, professing and possessing are two totally different things). To these “professing Christians”, Jesus (Yeshua) is recorded as saying in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”(NKJV) If the above verse didn’t apply to the overall pathetic response of the Catholic and Protestant churches during their test of adversity in Nazi Germany, nothing did. The so-called church with the majority of clergy who were also hypocritical professors of faith just sat back and relaxed while the Nazi Socialist leadership wreaked havoc. Although the Pharisees and Sadducees have been long gone, their same two-faced, self serving, power hungry spirits always seem to find a way of getting back into leadership positions. We can only imagine how John the Baptist would have responded to their cold, apathetic silence. Do you think the prophets of old would have gotten in the face of the brainwashed Brown Shirts or the Schutzstaffel (SS)?
Now, in order to have counterfeits, be they $100 bills or preachers, there must be the genuine, real McCoy. Resuming to our Nazi Germany analogy, up to the plate come the possessors that not only profess faith in Christ, but they possess the Spirit and truth. They speak out and protest against the diabolical insanity that is all around them. They form underground resistance to save Jewish lives and contend against the Nazis, risking their own lives. One such brave possessor is Lutheran pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a vocal leader of the Confessing Church who later joins a group in collaboration with high ranking military officers that try to assassinate Adolph Hitler and overthrow the Nazi regime. Bonhoeffer is finally arrested for helping Jews escape to Switzerland and eventually is hanged after it was found that he had ties with the conspirators in the plot to blow up Hitler with a suitcase bomb which failed on July 20, 1944.
Although he supported the murder of another human being, a sick and despicable one at that, most would have no problem saying Dietrich Bonhoeffer was righteous in the eyes of God. Additionally, Alvin C. York, the most highly decorated soldier in WWI, was at first a conscientious objector. After much deliberation, however, the motivation of his heart became similar to Bonhoeffer’s; Kill only for the purpose of saving lives. Just think if we and the allies hadn’t won the two World Wars in conjunction with the sovereignty of God. Do you think you would be reading this right now? York and Bonhoeffer had a choice to make. That choice was exercised through human responsibility in the right direction. It is like a double-edged sword; one sharp side is human responsibility while the other, much sharper side is God’s Sovereignty. In the third chapter of Ecclesiastes it says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:… ‘A time to kill’…’A time of war…” We feel the motivation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as Alvin C. York was to save lives, do good, and overcome evil while keeping their conscience clear before their Maker.
To those who strongly oppose this teaching, we wish them to take into account what is found in Luke 22:36. Also, if your disagreement is based on what the Apostle Paul said in Romans 13:1, then please take a quick review of American history and ask yourself the question why has this country been so blessed.
In no way is this article to be taken as a refutation or rebuke to the Mennonite or Amish communities and others who hold onto pacifism. In fact, at this point, we would like to say that in some respects, they have a higher percentage of Biblical truth than some of the other denominations in the “Yellow Pages.” If this was a rebuke, it would have been under the refutations/rebukes link. This is the teachings/exhortations link, and the motivation for this article is to get believers and non-believers informed while hopefully instilling a little self-examination.