June 23, 2017

Greg Boyd: Love Like the Sun and Rain

Spring Rain

Note from CM: It is hard to do justice to a book as massive as Greg Boyd’s The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: Volumes 1 & 2. We’ve had several days of discussing certain aspects of it, and yesterday I stated my main objection to his thesis. But as I said, my disagreements does not signal a lack of appreciation this book. I think it’s masterful and filled with a lot of good thinking and marvelous writing. This is rich, profound theological writing, centered on Christ, and I commend it wholeheartedly.

I think it only fair that I give Greg Boyd the final word by quoting a passage from the book today. Of the many, many that I could choose from, I’d like to highlight a practical, pastoral excerpt. This passage reminds us that one of the primary ways Jesus and the apostles defined a Jesus-shaped life was by making reference to the cross and our Lord’s self-sacrificial love for even his enemies.

And, as Pastor Boyd says, they weren’t just talking about how we think and feel.

• • •

In the previous chapter, we discussed Augustine’s subjective definition of love that enabled him, and multitudes of others that followed him, to claim that for God as well as God’s people, loving enemies does not necessarily rule out torturing and killing them. I now want to demonstrate that among the problems this definition faces is the fact that Jesus explicitly ruled it out. For Jesus commanded us not merely to love our enemies as an inner disposition, but to express this love by how we actually treat them. The love that Jesus teaches and models is both “active and nonviolent.”

We are specifically instructed to “bless,” “pray for,” “do good” to, “be merciful” toward, and to “lend to” our enemies “without expecting to get anything back” (Matt 5:44-45; Luke 6:28-29, 35). These are not inner dispositions, they are concrete behaviors. So too, as we saw in chapter 2, we are taught to disobey the OT’s command to exact just retribution and to instead “not resist (antistemi) an evil doer” and to turn the other cheek when struck (Matt 5:38-39). Moreover, “if anyone wants to sue [us] and take [our] shirt,” we are to “hand over [our] coat as well (Matt 5:40.” And if a Roman soldier commanded a Jew to carry his equipment “one mile,” as the law at the time allowed, Jesus told them to voluntarily “go with them two miles” (Matt 5:41). These are not merely instructions about how we should think or feel in response to enemies; they are instructions on how we are to actually behave in response to the hostile behavior of enemies. Peter Wick captures the ramifications of self-sacrificial love in the Sermon on the Mount while reflecting the thematic centrality of the cross when he notes that Jesus’s interpretation of the Torah in this sermon “aims at hearing the commandment of love in every other commandment and the whole Torah.” And he continues:

The aim is to overcome every type of violence and ultimately every force by love. …Love does not come easy and it is obviously dangerous. It was love that led Jesus to the cross. …Jesus in his own person fulfilled the Sermon on the Mount on the cross, but he handed over its message also explicitly to his disciples and the people (cf. Mat 5:1-2; 7:28-29), in order that they do it and try to imitate his example.

…however we interpret passages in which some see Jesus speaking or acting in unloving or even violent ways, I submit that they cannot be used to qualify the “enemies” Jesus instructs us to love, for Jesus’s teaching is specifically intended to rule out any exceptions. Jesus commands followers to demonstrate that they are “children of your Father in heaven” by reflecting the Father’s “perfect” love (Matt 5:45, 48). The nature of this love, Jesus teaches is reflected in the fact that the Father “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt 5:45). This love, in other words, is “perfect” precisely because it is indiscriminate — like the sun shining and the rain falling.

Jesus is thus revealing that the Father’s love is no more conditioned by the relative merits or circumstances of those it is directed toward than the sunshine and rain are conditioned by the relative merits of those they fall upon. The sun shines and the rain falls on everyone simply because it is in the God-created nature of the sun and rain to do so. So too, Jesus is teaching, the Father’s love is toward everyone simply because it is the Father’s nature to love like this. The children of the Father are thus instructed to love indiscriminately simply because only when we love like the sun shines and like the rain falls do we reflect the “perfect” character of our Father and thereby demonstrate that we are “children of the Father in heaven.”

• CWG I, 207-211

Comments

  1. Robert F says:

    A beautiful passage, yes. Part of me has for a long time resonated with this. The counsels of perfection are serious words from Jesus; my failure to live by them turns them into judgment. The Father’s love is as indiscriminate as sun and rain. And yet, and yet…. rain and violent flood are inextricably linked in life and Biblical imaging; and fire, well, the fire next time is an image of violent apocalypse in the Bible, and of supernova star-system death in the life of the universe. God’s rain and sun have the same life and death ambivalence as all of his creation.

  2. Robert F says:

    If I remember correctly, the New Testament passage about God sending his rain to fall on the good and bad alike occurred to Dietrich Bonhoeffer as he hunkered down along with the other inmates and guards at Tegal prison to wait out a nearby Allied bombing raid. He saw it as the operation of God’s grace in the human world.

  3. Rick Ro. says:

    Them there’s a lot of words to say I’m not sure what. Two books of that, eh? Well, I’ll take Dr. Fundystan’s simple statement from yesterday, thank you very much:

    “The ONLY way to reconcile YHWH with Jesus is to accept that Scripture was written by humans and filtered through their own experiences, prejudices, and opinions. Anything else is overly complex wishful thinking.”

    (Meaning no disrespect to Mr. Boyd and all those who like reading and writing and digesting this kinda stuff.)

    • Rick Ro. says:

      That said, I agree with this chunk of writing. If the Gospel accounts are to be believed, Jesus seems to be telling his followers and maybe thus us that violence is not the answer to ANYTHING. Easier said than done, for sure, but as Boyd lays out, the message seems clear.

      • Robert F says:

        I know what Jesus’ words are, and I know that it takes a lot of twisting to make them say other than what they say about violence and non-violence. But then I think of a simple example of what it might mean to follow this teaching literally: A woman and her children are being abused by her husband; she takes the kids and leaves him, but he stalks her, and commits increasingly violent acts against her. She does not call the police, and utilize the society-sanctioned police and judicial violence implied in their roles by seeking a restraining order, but seeks to overcome his violence by love. Not having any of it, he continues to stalk her, ultimately killing her and the kids. If you cannot disallow the use of legally sanctioned violence and the threat of violence in this case, there are many others that must be included, right up to a nation’s defense of itself against foreign aggressors, and Christian participation in that. I don’t see any way around this: either you morally disallow her resorting to socially sanctioned violence in defense of herself and the kids, or you have to accept the whole enchilada, allowing her as well as the society as a whole to repel violence by violence or its threat. Which will it be?

        • Robert F says:

          It’s exactly such a pacifist sectarian Christian social dynamic among the Mennonite and Amish communities in the area where I live that causes their rate of domestic violence to be so high. Mennonite/Amish men won’t use violence against neighbors, but many do against their own wives and children. And when they do, the women are often discouraged from going to civil authorities by the elders of their church, and the insular nature of their subculture. Instead, they are exhorted to forgive their husband, return to him, and overcome the husband’s violence with love. The results are frequently tragic.

          • It seems the divide between the command or theological concept and the actual behavior can at times be filled with complexities. On the other hand, most of the time it can be quite plain. I spoke with a woman yesterday who recently lost her husband. She told the story of her dying mother, some years ago, in Maine. Her husband used to drive 12 hours from D.C. on weekends, after a week of travel, to tend to her. Meanwhile the dying woman’s sister and daughter lived locally and took no interest in helping or communicating. Now, years later, the mother’s sister, the storyteller’s Aunt, a woman who had no children, has become dependent on her for basic sustenance. Rather than put her on the street in bitterness she has responded with grace in buying a home for her here in Texas and providing for her needs. While the complexities of life cause us to question the essence of such commands the mundanities of life generally present clear and simple paths. We need tangle with the complexities when we are presented with them but mostly we can simply obey the obvious command to love proactively.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says:

              > most of the time it can be quite plain

              +1,000. And most arguments about it rest on the extremes and the exceptional.

              > While the complexities of life cause us to question the essence of such commands
              > the mundanities of life generally present clear and simple paths.

              To paraphrase Tolkien: Go not to the Theologians seeking wisdom, for they will say both yes and no.

              Ask yourself, knowing what I know, and having the skills and resources I have, what is the best thing I can do? Do that. And move on. If someone gets up in your face with Theology about it – punch them. It’s called “irony”, not that they will understand.

              > mostly we can simply obey the obvious command to love proactively.

              Yes. Simply does not equate to Easily, but still Yes.

              • “Simply does not equate to easily”. No doubt about that.
                Great stuff from Tolkien there. Thanks Adam

              • Robert F says:

                Chris, I agree with the almost everything you say in your comment. But the fact that the problem of domestic violence occurs with such high frequency exactly in these sectarian communities that are committed to Christian nonviolence as a foundation of their belief and way of life, that loyalty to nonviolence is used as a restraint to keep individuals from seeking the help they need from civil government (which does not carry the sword in vain) and as a way of keeping them in victim statue, surely is germane to this discussion. And the fact is that domestic violence and the threat of it goes on every day in many Christian and non-Christian homes, and both inside and outside Amish/Mennonite communities. It’s part of everyday life for many people, maybe even some in the iMonk community reading the post and comments today; it’s not an ethical boundary situation, but part of what’s normal for an extraordinary number of people. No discussion about Christian nonviolence can be ethically balanced or sober or real without taking those people into account and recognizing them, and addressing their need for protection both inside and outside the church, even if it requires the government, and Christians working in government, to wield the “sword”.

                • I completely agree. It is egregious, heinous and cowardly. Thinking about guys who beat women is most certainly a test to my personal Christian ethic and I’ll admit I don’t feel much mercy toward them. They need Christ like all of us and there are people out there equipped to minister to that sort of thing.

            • Danielle says:

              Interesting points, Robert F. and Chris S.

              On one hand: Turning love and non-violence into a stringent “law” to be followed with no regard for circumstance or consequence backs us into the purist corner. One keeps the law but tosses out the law’s purpose. In the end, there’s no wisdom in the approach, but simply an ironic and self-defeating striving toward personal salvation. Allowing someone to destroy themselves and yourself when appropriate corrective or instructive action can be taken is not doing any of the players any favors. It is, rather, turning the hatred of the aggressor against her victim/s under the delusion the victim/s will be freed “from themselves”. But in that particular case, they don’t only need to be freed from their own hatred or fears; they also need to be freed from a person or a situation.

              On the other hand: Acting out of love is often difficult and not tidy, and it involves self-forgetfullness and willingness to embrace other people and view them independently of their function to us. The imperative seems to be: always look to do good, even to enemies, and to be always looking at the God in people, at what they are and might become. People deserve love because they are people, even if their actions don’t call for it. My own fantasies of power and violence don’t belong here. It’s always better to be the first one to offer mercy.

              I’m not sure these imperatives are in contradiction. In cases of direct aggression or danger, it seems to me that it must be possible (if mentally difficult) to stop someone from committing evil without wishing or pursing any harm to them beyond what is necessary to rescue them from themselves — and other people from their actions. I can, without great passion, observe that someone is trying to hit you and knock them over. That’s good, I think. It shuts down a situation where everyone is getting hurt. However, the violent fantasy I might suddenly entertain to then them kick them three times once they are down (esp. if I actually do it) is not good. I’m not playing referee at that point; I’m just mad and I want to show I can force my will. That impulse is coming from another place.

              Maybe what I mean is that in a violent world, some police action is often necessary, but I’m having to police myself as much (or more) than I police other people. After all, I’m in such close proximity to myself that I am in a unique position to anticipate the violence bubbling up in those quarters.

              • Robert F says:

                Keep in mind, Danielle, that it would not be unlikely if there are this very moment people reading this blog post and its comments section who are in need of intervention from the civil authority and the “sword” it carries. They need to be recognized and included when we discuss this subject, because for them the violence may be coming at them every day; it’s not an abstract or academic matter for them, and they are not in control of their situation. We can’t decide what to do in their absence, because this discussion affects them most directly.

                • Danielle says:

                  I agree. But perhaps my tone is overly pedantic.

                  What I mean is that no one should be encumbered in escaping or preventing violence at those moments it is necessary. The priority is always to stop it — principles be danged. But in fact, I don’t think flight or intervention it violates those principles.

                  • Robert F says:

                    I don’t think your tone is pedantic. I just want to emphasize that the discussion we are having about whether or not the path of Christian discipleship should be one of absolute nonviolence (and that is emphatically the position Boyd’s words support) takes place in a world where being a victim of violence or the threat of it is a normal everyday experience for many people. This is not a boundary situation for them, and the last thing I think that most of us want is for Christian pacifism to reinforce on them a situation and mentality that sees non-violent/non-resisting martyrdom by their violators as the proper Christian response.

              • Good points Danielle. I see what you’re saying.

          • StuartB says:

            That makes me unbelievably angry.

            • Robert F says:

              I used to have an idealized image of the Mennonite/Amish (the Plain) before I came here. Now I’m like the non-Plain people who have lived here all their lives: skeptical of the glamorization the Plain receive in the wider culture. For my part, I’m also skeptical of the idealized view of them expressed by some theologians.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                Now I’m like the non-Plain people who have lived here all their lives: skeptical of the glamorization the Plain receive in the wider culture.

                “When I read a book about the Amish, I want to read about the Amish. NOT what some Evangelical THINKS the Amish are like!”
                — somebody online talking about “Bonnet Books” in Jesus Junk Stores

                P.S. Are there any Amish settlements in Southern California? I see what has to be Amish on the station platforms at Fullerton at least once a week — beards, bonnets, and speaking in German.

          • It’s the old college debate:
            If I were hiding Jews in my house, and the Nazi came knocking, would I lie?
            Yes. I would risk the stain on my soul by lying to protect people. That is the loving thing to do.

            If someone were attacking me or my family ( or anyone!), would I risk the stain on my soul by using violence to save them?
            Yes. I would risk the stain on my soul by using violence to protect people. That is the loving thing to do.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says:

              > It’s the old college debate:

              Ugh! I do not miss those.

              Also – yes and yes.

            • StuartB says:

              Yes. Absolutely. And I might strike first.

              Also, I would stomp so hard on that Bible in the mud if I had to.

              Hated those questions. Take your martyrbation fantasies elsewhere.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          Sure. I live in a small town that is still Mennonite dominated. Not only is there a lot of violence underneath the surface, they are also prone to racism and all other kinds of intolerance. It gets quite ugly – my kids now go to a city school. No longer being passively aggressively bullied by the Mennonite intolernazis.

        • Dana Ames says:

          Robert,

          this kind of thing is exactly why I can’t be a “pure” pacifist, though I would very much like to be.

          (broken record alert)
          One thing that drew me Eastward was their understanding of this. Orthodox theology didn’t go where Augustine went, as per the example Boyd gave. War is always wrong. Torture is always wrong (though both sadly were employed in the Byz. empire and after, but not for the lofty reason of “saving souls” – it was and is pretty much purely political). Abuse of people is always wrong. And yet, people go to war, and people use torture, and people abuse other people. No Orthodox priest of my acquaintance would tell the woman in your example anything other than, “Get out of the house and report your abusive husband to the authorities.” This is the point of having a just legal system. St Paul endorses this in Rom 13: “Rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” This is needful in our world the way the world actually is.

          If a person becomes truly grief-stricken by having perpetrated abuse, if that person is part of a sacramental church, there is something that can be done (aside from finding a good counselor to figure out why one is driven to become an abuser in the first place). That person can go to Confession, and sacramentally unite themself to Christ on the cross and deposit all their rotten stuff there, and be assured of forgiveness. Such a one will also likely receive advice about getting counseling and also figuring out how to make restitution to those sinned against. (In cases such as war, or other situations where direct restitution is not possible, the person will need to abstain from receiving Communion for a time.) An Orthodox abbot who writes a blog has written that he will not grant absolution to a person who has committed a crime until and unless that person has turned himself in to the authorities, and this is pretty much the standard among good priests. In the Orthodox Church, a General Confession and Absolution exists, but it is extremely rare. We go confession face-to-face with the priest – no boxes or grilles between us – because this stuff is Personal and has to be dealt with on the level of person to person – including the Person of Jesus Christ.

          In the example EZK gives, the same applies. If it happened to occur in the household of a priest, said priest would confess, and deal with the legal authorities and ramifications, and would also be removed from the priesthood for having shed blood.

          Life is complicated. EO understands this.

          Dana

          • Rick Ro. says:

            –> “Life is complicated. EO understands this.”

            I’m not sure it’s only EO that understands this. Me and most of my Protestant friends understand this…LOL…

            • Dana Ames says:

              Of course you do, Rick, or you wouldn’t be hanging around these parts 🙂

              People’s understandings are all over the map, and I did have Protestant friends who understood it – just not very many. I never encountered that understanding in Protestant theology (even on the “progressive” side).

              Cheers-
              D.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            We go confession face-to-face with the priest – no boxes or grilles between us – because this stuff is Personal and has to be dealt with on the level of person to person – including the Person of Jesus Christ.

            You see face-to-face Confession in the Western Rites (RCC), too. It’s been displacing the through-the-grille since the Sixties, though RCC confessionals are structured so that both options are available. As I understand it, the “boxes and grilles” were originally done to ensure anonymity and privacy.

            • Dana Ames says:

              Privacy I understand – but surely you don’t think the priest doesn’t know who’s on the other side?

              I know about the VII changes – we’re the same age, m’friend 🙂

              Confession in EO happens up front, where everyone can see, though if someone comes near to light a candle or venerate an icon the priest will stop talking for the moment it takes to do that. Someone can always arrange to see the priest for confession outside the usual times to avoid having other people around.

              D.

  4. Dennisb says:

    A good point Robert. It seems to me to say we should simply go beyond what we would normally do. To go out of our way in consideration of an enemy. I don’t see the implication that it has to occur “ad infinitum”. We’re supposed to forgive our brother 70×7 I don’t think the same applies for an enemy.

    And in a fallen world God had to use violence sometimes to distribute justice, as an image of the final accounting at the end of time. I don’t think that included genocide btw.

    Cheers
    Dennis

    • Robert F says:

      But Boyd is saying it should go on ad infinitum That’s the point of his words: in all circumstances, and no matter what the level of violence one is facing, the Christian should never resort to violence to defend either himself or anyone else, but imitate Christ by being killed rather than resorting to violence. In this way, and only this way, is violence overcome by love. That’s the whole point of the quote. Going beyond what we normally do, and stopping at that, is most emphatically not what Boyd is saying.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        In the words of Dogbert, “Then I can conquer the world with just a rusty table knife.”

  5. Been working thru the Book of Revelation again lately. Lotta blood, lotta violence, lotta retribution, and well deserved. This is not just academic to me, I believe we are seeing at least the preludes all around us in the world as we speak, or not seeing it. When Jesus on the cross asked the Father for forgiveness for “them” who didn’t know what they were doing, just exactly who were the them? Certainly the soldiers, who had no say in the matter and were only doing their job. Those scoffing and jeering? The Sanhedrin that condemned him? Probably. The high priest in cahoots with the world system and the main instigator and who certainly knew what he was doing? Now we’re back into Revelation territory. Whatever, it did not prevent the Jews from the self-inflicted mass tragedy of the Roman seige and destruction of Jerusalem, as violent and ugly as anything in the Olden Testament or Revelation. I’m not so sure that those religious nitpickers who condemned Jesus and his disciples for grabbing a little breakfast along the way on the Sabbath didn’t have to answer for that at their life review on the Other Side. Jesus seemed ready to spread tolerance and forgiveness for pretty much everyone except religious bigots and hypocrites.

    • Charles, apocalyptic literature will mess up your mind.

      • Ha! Too late. Way too late.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Charles, apocalyptic literature will mess up your mind.

        I second that.
        Gospel According to Hal Lindsay, Southwest Radio Church, Jack Chick’s “The Beast”, etc in the Seventies.
        Last flashback sometime in the late Eighties.
        Forty years later, the scars are still there.

        Question: What are the symptoms of Left Behind Fever among Eastern Orthodox? And does Charles show any ot them?

        • Questions: HUG, why do you so fiercely insist on dwelling 45 years behind the cutting edge? Why are you treating those scars of stupidity like stigmata that somehow elevate you spiritually? Why are you still giving your God-given power over to those remnants of past history, most of whom are now dead, and all of whom were, and have been, subject to spiritual discernment as false witnesses? Why do you continue to confuse knee-jerk reactionary response with critical thought?

          It is understandable to be initially taken in by popular misdirection, especially when young and inexperienced. Dancing to their tune going on half a century later, not so much. There is more than enough discernible deception to be recognized all around us today without keeping us distracted by dusty museum exhibits from the past. Let past mistakes, your own and others, rest in peace and help deal with our current ones. There’s more than enough to go around and none of us are immune.

          • StuartB says:

            On the other hand, he’s successfully driving things into the light and getting under people’s skin with it, no more sweeping it under the rug.

            • Stuart, the light was shined on that batch forty years ago. It’s ancient history. That’s like protesting the Vietnam War today. What good is it doing anyone today to take your complete collection of Jack Chick comics out of the shoe box every night and read them with scathing indignation and self-righteousness as Jack molders in the grave? This isn’t just decades out of date, it’s in the wrong century, the wrong millennium. It’s really time to start catching up, past time.

              And if you think it is helping things for HUG to repeatedly scoff and sneer and ridicule me, please make that clear to me and I will do some serious reassessment. You have taken some hard hits coming up and I am watching you heal and grow and learn, which is commendable. I can say the same of Robert and others. HUG portrays himself as equally injured but if he is growing out of it, that is swept under the rug where I can’t see it. All I see is repetitive sneering and caustic shouting and ridicule and stomping feet and a steadfast refusal to consider what’s happening today around us as we speak. Like I said, if the consensus is to deal with things like it’s 1975, make that plain to me and I’ll find greener pastures. I spend way too much time here as it is, and if it’s all for nothing and resented, I’ve got a lot of other things that need my attention. And as far as that goes, I took a lot of good with me out of 1975 that I still use today. I’ve found there’s good in most everything if you look for it.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Because those “Remnants of Past History” are still out there, going strong under other names and faces.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > apocalyptic literature will mess up your mind.

        +1,000

        • Exhibit A, Jesus, who laughably referred to himself as Son of Man more than any other appellation right out of Ezekiel and Daniel. What was he thinking? What were the canoneers thinking? Thankfully we are more sophisticated today.

          • Dana Ames says:

            “Thankfully we are more sophisticated today.”

            Really? I used to think so – not anymore. We are on the other side of the Resurrection, true, and that colors our understanding of some things, but people are still the same on the inside. The major difference between then and now isn’t people, it’s technology. So it seems to me.

            Dana

            • Robert F says:

              Totally agree, Dana. Genetically and socially we are mostly the same as our first century ancestors, except for the gargantuan advances in technology.

            • Dana, my remark was intended as sarcasm directed against those who consider themselves too sophisticated to be taken in today by the childish beliefs sometimes showed by Jesus in his apocalyptic preaching, such as the downfall of Jerusalem with stars falling and the moon turning to blood, and we all know how that turned out. However I do seriously believe that humanity as a whole has grown spiritually in a measurable way, making a significant jump at the time of Jesus, and then very slow progress until roughly thirty years ago when another jump was made. When I say “measurable”, I recognize that this is not accepted by most of the scientific community, but that does not change my perception or belief. This doesn’t mean that there are not idiots now as there were back when, only that the collective average of spiritual growth and awareness has risen. Many different viewpoints agree that we are on the verge of some kind of a quantum jump, but that remains to be seen and it’s a field day for scoffers.

              Closer to home, I have watched the Monastery growing spiritually over the years, altho when my patience wears thin I tend to view folks here as mostly children squabbling in the sandbox. Still and all I am optimistic and believe we may be on the edge of a huge breakthru, even if some refuse to make the jump or are dragged in kicking and screaming. No way to prove any of this, but I do expect to see it happen in my lifetime. Seems to me that Jesus’ advice to stay awake and be ready is my best shot, however things turn out. As with much else, your mileage may vary.

              • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                These days I wonder if “stars falling and moon turning to blood” may have been idioms of Cosmic Catastrophe common at the time. And “Sun darkening and Moon turning to blood” DOES describe solar and lunar eclipses, which in a lot of ancient and folk belief had great significance.

                Still and all I am optimistic and believe we may be on the edge of a huge breakthru, even if some refuse to make the jump or are dragged in kicking and screaming.

                I’ve asked this before: Just what IS this “breakthru” you expect? What do you think it will be? How did you come to this belief? Not asking for prophecy, just your expectations and opinion on it.

                • HUG, in general many different sources believe that we are heading toward some kind of cosmic upgrading of the planet that is happening on a galactic level, and in great part depends on our spiritual level of readiness. Some of the sources function from a more scientific point of view and some are quite esoteric, but all would probably be considered fringe by conventional wisdom. Unless you are able to entertain a thought or idea without necessarily believing it, there is no point in even talking about this.

                  Many of the descriptions are similar to the phenomenon Paul talks about as happening in the twinkling of an eye but it involves a flash of cosmic energy resulting in a change of consciousness, not people floating off into space, and may in fact happen over a more extended time. If you can’t separate this from dispensational theology, you are better off staying ignorant.

                  If you are interested in investigating this, I would recommend starting with The Ascension Mysteries by David Wilcock. He tries to be as objective as possible and documents his research. He appears on television as well. If you email me, I can give you some other sources of information I consider helpful but this is not the place to discuss them. All of this calls for great discernment and an open mind and healthy scepticism. It is good to be as informed as possible but in the end about all that can be said is, we’ll see.

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

                    Sounds similar to some of the Pre-WW1 Post-Millenial eschatology, except with a bit more mystical bent. (Kind of like Teilhard DeChardin’s Omega Point?) Nothing solid you can point to, but a general pattern seems to be emerging. Still, this sort of thing always has a low signal-to-noise ratio.

                    Unfortunately, these days Dispy is the only game in town among Evangelicals. (At least locally, thanks to the domination of Calvary Chapel. “Non-denom” has come to mean “Calvary Chapel with the labels painted over”. This is NOT a good sign.) One of my writing partners credits the Dispy End-Times trip with “destroying Protestant Christianity in America”.

                    And I’m no stranger to the esoteric; two possible paranormal experiences in my life, introduced to UFOlogy by Adamskyite literature (i.e. the original Space Brothers Saucer Cult), and I used to listen to Coast to Coast AM for my weirdness fix before they went all Conspiracy all the time.

                    And it’s important when speaking or writing of this to stay clear of anything that could remind your listeners/readers of the Gnostic types with their Inner Mysteries of What’s Really Going On. That will damage your credibility; it did with me when you first proposed this. Since this is a subject touched upon by some really crackpot Gnostic mystic types, it’s essential that you speak as plainly and clearly as possible. You have to distinguish yourself from all the Mystagogues out there with their fake Mysteries.

                    “Real mystics don’t hide their mysteries, they reveal them. And even when you’ve seen it from all angles and even touched it, it’s still a Mystery. Mystagogues hide their Mysteries behind veil after veil after veil, and when you’ve drawn aside all the veils, you discover it’s just a platitude.”
                    — G.K.Chesterton, one of the Father Brown Mysteries (from memory)

                    Because a real Mystery doesn’t need any enhancements to be Mysterious; the Mystery is intrinsic. A fake Mystery needs all the help it can get to look Mysterious — remember Scientology’s OT3/Wall of Fire Inner Mystery?

              • Dana Ames says:

                Thanks, Charley – sometimes I’m tone deaf to sarcasm, even IRL…

                I do believe something changed with the Resurrection, Ascension and Sending of the Spirit. Western civilization (broadly speaking to include all of the remnants of both Roman Empires) now has available a different way of looking at life, personally and corporately, since then, and then people of other places in the world with good missionary activity (there’s been plenty of bad missionary activity, too). Not saying there’s no good in any other way of belief – quite the contrary. All of the good elsewhere finds its completion in Jesus Christ. I’m not so sure about some great breakthrough, though. The pattern seems to be (some kind of) Death followed by (some kind of) Resurrection.

                A hug to you-
                Dana

      • Robert F says:

        Apocalyptic literature is sort of like LSD; flashbacks may continue indefinitely.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Took around ten years for them to fade away with me.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And so much Apocalyptic Literature (I’m talking the fiction) reads like really bad fanfic. When Revelation is one of the trippiest narratives ever penned, with wild exotic image after wild exotic image. Mythic imagery on a literally Cosmic scale. Yet the adaptations of it come across as bad “Twenty Minutes into the Future” pseudo-adventure/propaganda.

          In his scene-by-scene snark of Left Behind (which is far from the worst of Christian Apocalyptic), Slacktivist theorized that “In attempting to make Revelation “realistic”, they have pruned away the power of Myth, leaving only a fifth-rate technothriller.”

          (For the absolute WORST in Christian Apocalyptic, scare up a copy of 666 by Salem Kirban. AKA “The Eye of Argon of Christian Apocalyptic”. For the worst of the worst, search for “The 666 Cantata”, AKA the musical version. I literally cannot describe just how AWFUL it is.)

    • Rick Ro. says:

      –> “Jesus seemed ready to spread tolerance and forgiveness for pretty much everyone except religious bigots and hypocrites.”

      Anyone who reads the gospel accounts would have to either agree with that statement or somehow manipulate Jesus’ words and actions to suit some personal agenda. When it’s the latter case, they tend to be Christian fundamentalists.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        –> “When it’s the latter case, they tend to be Christian fundamentalists.”

        Oh, I should’ve added, “And those are the people who most need to look in the mirror, but unfortunately they tend not to. They’re too busy telling people how screwed up others are.”

  6. Robert F says:

    From the comments, it seems that just about no one agrees with Boyd that Christian discipleship requires completely forgoing violence in one’s own defense or the defense of others. We all opt for, “Do the best you can, but if push comes to shove, then push”. In other words, we all stand in the main tradition and teaching of most Christian churches down through the ages.

    • Robert F says:

      And that would include so-called just war theory.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      If my sci-fi book ever finds a publisher, you’ll see my take on forgoing violence, for what that’s worth…LOL…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        If you’re able to find a publisher, let us know.

        I’ve co-written an “Old School” SF novel (best described as “not a space opera, but about people who happen to live in a space-opera universe”) that’s about ready for a publisher, and the present state of the publishing industry is really depressing.

  7. Robert F says:

    I’ve reversed position on the issue of Christian pacifism a number of times over the years. I’m now in the Niebuhrian camp. But I wonder: Is it possible that for some Christians there is a special vocation to pacifism? This wouldn’t necessarily mean that there are two classes of Christian, one more perfect than the other in following the counsels of Christ. It would instead mean that some individuals and communities, with the support of their fellow Christians, are called by God to live the nonviolent discipline of the peaceable Kingdom as a sign of hope to a world tragically and helplessly immersed in inescapable violence. It would serve as an embodied prophetic sign that violence and death are not the end.

  8. Susan Dumbrell says:

    and another angle:- the perpetrator of violence through reducing mental capacity. The victim of this violence seeks police protection. not through choice but through necessity for personal safety.
    Where is the gospel of non violence going here?

  9. I take it that Greg Boyd is finding himself Anabaptist, tho I don’t follow him closely and may be wrong. I have no problem with anyone adopting non-violence as a discipline or way of life as long as they are not demanding or implying that I need to follow suit. I just read a book by a Quaker that I thought crossed the line from faith into ideology, which is a fine line. Jesus seemed to take things on a case by case basis even as he headed toward the ultimate in turning the other cheek. My Amish neighbors never push their beliefs on me and most of them seem happy enough minding their own business in their own way. If they were threatened, I would be among those defending and protecting them. I’m glad for Greg Boyd’s passage thru. Not sure I understand exactly where he’s coming from, but he would probably tell me to read the book. Don’t have time enough for all I want to do. I like Boyd because he’s a maverick and has integrity and seems to catch waves of the Holy Spirit and be fairly adept at riding them. Glad this series could be presented here.