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Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Resonance of the Story

'The Holy Bible, or Scripture, is the Story of Israel!'

These words, in one form or another, have been swirling around lately, not leastly in my own head! So, one might ask, 'why then are we reading it as applicable to our time & place?' 'Good question', another might reply. One response could be & should be, is that, in what we call the Greek Scriptures, or the New Testament, the teachings of Jesus, Paul & the apostles are more or less universal, that is, they transcend time & place, being applicable to our Heavenly Father's children at all times & in all places. One must be careful here, of course, to discern between something like, 'this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place' & 'just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise' ( Matthew 24:34 & Luke 6:31 ) Even 'God so loved the world.....' must fall under this heading!`

The Hebrew Scriptures, or what we usually call 'The Old Testament', although based largely upon what some call 'the Mosaic Law' ( including the Ten Commandments ), are given for our learning & instruction as well! Much of what we read in the Law & Prophets was fulfilled in the Christ, or Messiah of Israel & so no longer bears the sword for us, but even though these prophecies came to their fulfillment in 'Immanuel', or 'God with us', in the truest sense of the word, it is being fulfilled through us, who might be termed 'little Christs', or Christians!

The earliest Scriptures should resonate with us as well, because we can therein read the history of humankind! This blogger believes, as do certain others, that, beginning with Adam ( who was NOT the first human to walk to & fro upon the earth ) the Story of Israel flows, meanders, really, throughout the Hebrew Scriptures & into the Greek Scriptures, where it finally reaches its End, or the ultimate Goal, that which had been prophesied. We, humans in all times & places, can herein relate to Israel's Story, because, in reality, it is our Story as well! The ups & downs that Israel experienced throughout her sordid history speak to us as well; this is one reason that most Christians today are still enamored with saying, along with the prophet Jeremiah, 'The heart [ is ] deceitful above all [  things ] and desperately wicked; w ho can know it?' ( Jeremiah 17:9 ) We can all relate, at one time or another & some more than others maybe, to the apostle Paul's words to the Church at Rome; 'For the good that I will [ to do ], I do not do; but the evil I will not [ to do ], that I practice' ( Romans 7:19 ).

However one reads the words of Scripture, we must understand first of all, that they were written, as Paul wrote to Timothy, 'for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness' ( II Timothy 3:16 ): they were, in that sense, written 'for' us, though not 'to' us! Another thing we must take into account is the wickedness, or wilfulness of humankind, in that, down through the ages, who is to say that what most Christians call 'The Word of God' has not become somewhat garbled, with certain meanings having been 'lost in translation'?! This is not to say that the words we read therein are ALL suspect, for certain of its teaching flow smoother than others & of course, we also have the Spirit Within that discerns which are veritable & which are not. Here again, because we can relate so well with the history of Israel, humanly speaking, much of what we read in its pages strikes a chord with each of us & otherwise bares a nerve which has been covered over!

Jesus WAS the Messiah of Israel & even though that famous passage quoted, John 3:16, did indeed refer primarily to the Roman 'world' of Paul's day, I believe that we can read it today as inclusive of the Creator's entire Creation! As Christians, or 'little Christs', we are faced with the very same prospect that Jesus, as the Christ, or Messiah of Israel faced, that of redeeming the Creation! Just as the prophets of old held Jesus up before the eyes of Israel under that first covenant, or Israel according to the flesh, so many Christians today feel that old familiar 'twinge' when they are called to stand up for what they believe in the midst of an almost 'hellish' world.

At this present time, we live in a New Era, in a New Covenant, so to speak, one in which the Fulfillment of 'God with us' 'is met in us' ( which we celebrate in the upcoming Christmas Season )! No longer does Israel look for & long for its Messiah; He came in the flesh on that Blessed Day so very long ago & far away, but in some sense, you might say, the world still looks for & longs for its Messiah! Sadly, many Christians think they are still waiting for their Messiah, not realizing that the Messiah of Israel, through the ages, HAS redeemed them to be the Messiah to the World!

The Story of Israel then, is OUR Story! We have overcome, through the Power of the Spirit Within, 'God with us' the sins that plagued Israel! Though, in our humanity, it often seems we must still utter the words of Paul & Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 17:9 & Romans 7:19 ), realizing our Spiritual Nature, which was the End the Creator had in mind for us, helps us ( daily ) to overcome our 'worldly desires' & the inherent 'evils' which seem to beset us all around Understanding the Story of Israel resonates with us because we can all relate to their struggles, we can feel their pain!

In the letter to the Hebrews, we read 'we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all [ points ] tempted as [ we are, yet ] without sin' ( Hebrews 4:15): if THAT does not resonate with us, it should!

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Blessed Union of Souls

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Thessalonians 5:23

'I just want to be held!' Well, no; that's not quite true, is it? As members of the Body of Christ, or Christians ( little Christs ), we have no 'wants' ( Psalm 23:1 ). As pneumataphoric human beings, though, even though we know that we ARE held ( John 10:28 & 29 ), we still have that inexorable & often inexpressible need for human companionship, that human touch! To be human is to feel: emotions are built into this biological structure; our brains, which might be called our Link with Divinity, are pre-programmed, you might say, to respond to certain sensations with appropriate reactions. For whatever reason & to whatever extent, we have re-programmed ourselves to stifle these emotions, particularly when it comes to those of a sensual or even sexual nature. Scripture DOES remind us that there IS a time & place for everything ( good ) under the sun ( Ecclesiastes 3 ), so, without doubt, there ARE times & places where we should let these emotions flow, but there is also a time & place when we should check them, or rein them in!

When the apostle Paul penned, or dictated rather, his first letter to the Church at Thessolonika, his concern was not the Church in the 21st century, although that was most definitely in the Mind of the One who Inspired him; no, Paul's benediction was aimed at the Church in the 1st century, the one Who was enduring persecution at the hands of the Judaizers. We, however, may understand Paul as viewing, as all or most good Hebrews did, our biological composition as three distinct parts, 'spirit, soul, and body'. This, by the way, is one of the 'strong' points of Trinitarian doctrine. Covenant Creation, or the notion that the creation account in Genesis 1 & 2 was not that of the material universe, but simply a record of the Creator's introduction of Covenant to the Creation, clearly shows us that we are comprised of at least two parts, our biological bodies & the 'breathe of life' ( Genesis 2:7 ), or that Divine Essence which gave us Life!

According to Scripture, marriage was ordained by the Creator as that mysterious union by which a man & woman become 'one flesh' ( Genesis 2:18-25 ); indeed, echoing this account, Solomon, king of Israel wrote, 'Two [ are ] better than one' ( Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 ). Whatever 'one flesh' might be construed as meaning, it is obviously metaphorical; those joined in union are STILL two separate & distinct human beings! A marriage is not only the joining of two human beings toward one purpose, one goal; it is, more importantly the blessed union of two souls, the merging of two distinct spiritual beings into one!

It might well be said that Moses was imbued with the same Spirit as Jesus; indeed, throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, we read examples of those prophets of old that were inspired by the Divine & thus accomplished things that no mere mortal could have! In other words even, it could as truly be said that these prophets of old possessed the 'spirit' of their predecessors ( II Kings 2:15 ( Luke 1:17 ), having the same strength of will & purpose. In much the same way, metaphorically speaking, it is said that husband & wife become 'one flesh'; they come together in their separate biologies in order to accomplish one purpose, to meet one ultimate goal.

The Spirit of Life, that which empowers us all to live in Blessed Communion with the Divine ( though sadly, not all do ), was given that day in the Scriptural Garden of Eden, not as a token of biological life ( that already existed ), but of spiritual life, awareness, if you will, of the Creator & the blessedness of right relationship with Him. The apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Galatia that the marriage of a man & woman was simply a picture of the Blessed Union of Christ ( the Creator God ) & His Church; as such, any biological union should mirror what has come to be called 'The Marriage of Heaven & Earth'. The sensual aspects of biological marriage should most definitely be preserved as they were ordained, but of utmost importance is the spiritual nature of marriage!

Human emotion is an important, integral & inseparable part of our makeup! Even though we are spiritual beings having a human, or biological experience, it is not just from our biology that these feelings come. Our brains, our Link to the Divine, if you will, are so integrated with our biology that we can motivate our several members to do things that are out of the ordinary, even 'supernatural'. We are told from early on that we should not let our emotions reign over us & while this is very true, the reaction by many Christians is to stifle them altogether, an overreaction, one might say. The wisdom of reining in one's emotions is without doubt; in order to enjoy the full blessings of marriage, we must exercise good judgment in the flow of our emotions & their immediate results, the actions which they stir up!

The need for the sensual is more evident in some than it is in others! For whatever reason, some have re-programmed themselves to such a point that they are able to exist without its comforts, others are able ( publicly, anyway ) to so completely stifle these emotions in order ( as they claim ) to better serve their God. Bad experience or 'spiritual' flagellation has caused or enabled many people to almost bypass their emotions, especially when it comes to the sensual, but from the Beginning, it was not so; when the Creator breathed into His Creation the Breath of Life, he endowed us with emotions & called His Creation 'good'!

Charles Haddon Shank


Monday, November 14, 2016

'An Acceptable Time', Politically Speaking

'It's Time For a Change!'

Now where have we heard THAT before?!

But seriously, for the past 8 years, we have been experiencing a lot of 'change'! The 'winds of change' have been blowing for some time now & the defeat that the mainstream media just experienced is just one indication that much-needed change is on the horizon. The mainstream media has tried from the get-go & is still trying to cast Donald Trump, the new president-elect of the USA, Inc., in a bad light. Cries of 'racist', 'bigot' & 'womanizer' ( 'where have we heard THAT before?' ) are rife across the news media today! To some extent, these cries may be fairly well-founded, but like it or not, ready or not, here comes 'the Donald' & if he is able to keep his promises, some of that much-needed change!

'Let's make America great again': anyone with an ounce of sense should jump right on that! It was Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman, who after observing the inner & outer workings of this fledgling nation for a time, said, 'America is great because she is good; if she ceases to be good, then she will cease being great'. A truer statement was never made, yet it seems like, in today's political landscape, to be 'great' means to be stronger than everyone else, not necessarily to be 'good', or 'right'! To be 'good', or 'great', again, one might argue, America, or more correctly, the USA, Inc., needs to stop embroiling the young men & women of this nation in needless, even useless foreign wars, protect our own borders & stop trying to build an empire, focusing rather on the sanctity of life, taking personal responsibility for its own actions!

Change will not be easy: yes, it IS much-needed, but the biggest change needed in this nation, one which it would seem we are seeing the fruits of, is a change in the hearts & minds of her people! The very fact that enough people saw past the obvious bias of the mainstream media & cast their vote for 'a racist bigot' anyway, tells this blogger that people are waking up to the fact that the wool has been pulled over their eyes for quite some time. While some are using the recent events as an excuse to loot & riot, destroying private property & persecuting those who dared to vote in opposition to the status quo, the mainstream media are still reeling from the defeat they experienced at the hands of 'we the people'!

This year's election will probably be remembered as the most momentous in recent history ( give or take, at least a hundred years )! It remains to be seen if the changes 'the Donald' has promised will ever see the light of day, but if half of them do, the next four years should be a very interesting time indeed! In order for this to happen, the American people, those who decided to ignore the media hype & vote against the status quo, must continue along the path which they have begun to tread. ''We will not go willingly into the night' must be their cry; 'enough is enough'! The day may come when Donald Trump will be on the receiving end of the fight against tyranny, maybe sooner rather than later, but for now, the American people, the majority anyway, have made clear their choice!

America may become great again, hopefully in the 'de Tocquevillian sense', but it will not without a great change in the tides! Arguably, America is still a 'great' nation, though mostly, if not wholly, in the sense that she is, simply put, 'a democratic bully'. Wars, for the past century or more, have been fought on foreign soil to 'make the world safe for democracy'! Seems a bit presumptuous, does it not? As a relatively fledgling nation, America, or the corporate entity known as the USA, Inc., has been forcing other nations & peoples to acknowledge that 'our way is best', treading on the fact that these cultures, for better or worse, have existed, without our help ( ? ) for hundreds, even thousands of years! This is not to say that our interference does not have its 'good' aspects, or intentions, but much of what this entity has accomplished over there is anything but 'good'!

The question must be as, as well, 'can a nation that has legalized child-murder ( AKA, abortion ) truly be called 'good', or 'great'? The answer to this question, not to mention questions concerning other similar atrocities, should be a resounding 'No!, even 'Hell no!'

After 50-60 million legalized deaths of the innocent over the 40-odd years since that famous decision handed down by the Supreme Court, still nothing has been done by the U.S. Government to stem the tide! There is much blood on the hands of, not only many of the people of this nations, but of the Corporation that most of them belong to!

In the next four to eight years, there lies before 'us' maybe the greatest opportunity we have witnessed for some time to implement a great change in the tides of this nation! If, as above, Donald Trump stays true to his stated convictions, or better yet, along with many others in this nation of fools, experiences a change of heart, for the good, then we will see America become great again.

Donald Trump, though maybe not the perfect choice to lead this nation out of the morass, cesspool really, that 'she' has become engulfed in & enamored of, has set out on a path that may end up pulling this once-great country, or nation, 'up by her own bootstraps', so to speak. As a leader of men & called 'the most powerful man in the word, the President of this Corporation has the ability, the responsibility, even, to lead this nation back to the right path, a Path in which child-murder will no longer be allowed & a host of other atrocities will no longer be countenamced!

May we, as a nation, turn our hearts, minds & actions back to loving our neighbor as ourselves & treating others as we would have them treat us!

Charles Haddon Shank


Monday, November 07, 2016

The Exaltation of Women

And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on [ My ] menservants and on [ My ] maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
Joel 2:28 & 29 

Ask any good Bible-believing Fundamentalist Christian & they will most likely, maybe even fiercely tell you that 'women do not belong in the pulpit; much less in the guise of pastor or preacher!'  Even many Christians who aren't so 'conservative' are quick to rely on the apostle Paul's words in I Timothy 2:12, 'And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence' My purpose here is not to render a discourse on what the apostle meant by these seemingly plain, but mus-understood instructions, but simply to remind my readers that his words were directed at a certain individual, during a certain period of time & in a certain place. In other letters, Paul also said things like, 'The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband [ does ]'& 'likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife [ does]'.

In certain cultures around the world, particularly those of Eastern descent, but even, to some extent, those living in the West, women are still relegated to a slightly less elevated stature than men of the male persuasion! The Hebrew Scriptures are somewhat to blame for this, but mostly, I believe, because of a misinterpretation of them. I have written previously on the 'evils' of 'A Focus on the Physical': this problem, I believe, falls under that umbrella as well, because of the focus on women as child-bearers. Really, men shoulder as much responsibility because they not only share in the act of procreation, they share much of the pain in child-bearing & birth; after the birth, the REAL struggle then begins, although fraught with blessing; that of rearing the child. In Matthew's record of the Gospel, he names five notable, though questionable, women in the lineage of Jesus; Sarah, for instance, though traditionally one of the first mothers of Israel, indeed one might say, the Queen Mother of Israel, bears not even a mention!

In one of his famous 'Jew & Gentile' statements, the apostle Paul also wrote, 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.' ( Galatians 3:28 ) I do not believe that Paul meant that there was no longer any distinction between men & women; he simply meant that it did not matter if you were not an Israelite by birth. or a man or a woman by birth. One was accepted by faith & according to Promise. 'Why, according to that famous promise in Genesis 3:15, was it 'the Seed of the woman' that would crush the serpent's head; was not Jesus called 'the Son of Man' as well?' This point, about the siring of Jesus, has been one of contention among modern scholars for probably hundreds of years, so whether Jesus meant by saying 'Son of Man' in a metaphorical sense, or whether His fathering had a more natural explanation, women have really always, at least in word, enjoyed a rather exalted position!

In the greatest sense, one might say, women have been set free by the New Covenant; hell, we have ALL been set free, right? This is not to say that, at one time, men WERE better than women, although they DID enjoy a higher status; women have ALWAYS been on equal footing before the Living God, but since the Exultation of Mary, women have enjoyed a higher status than they had previously known. Even in this nation, as well as most Western nations, women DO enjoy a more elevated position than in many Eastern ones. The distinctions, biologically speaking, between men & women are obvious; both are very well-fitted, in most cases, for the duties they were assigned, but when it comes to their exalted position in the King of the Living God, they are equals!

In Mary's exultation & subsequent exaltation, she became one of the most famous women ever! Though not a great figure, like Sampson or David, Mary is known world-wide as being the mother of Jesus, who in reality, was the Creator Himself ( ? ). Western culture, though it holds women in higher esteem, maybe, than some Eastern cultures, yet, for whatever reason, tends to place men more than women in positions of authority. While it is true that most men, or at least some men more naturally assume & fulfill this role, there are many women who are no less capable, even compatible for such positions. In ancient times, even in Near Eastern culture, the Roman/Greek world, to be exact, most women enjoyed a status slightly lower than, possibly equal to that of a slave; in the modern Near East, some might argue, it's not much better, but in the West, where the Gospel has had a more evident impact, women enjoy a status almost equal to that of men, though they still must traditionally turn to men as their 'head'!

In his letter to the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul wrote mot famously, 'Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord' ( Ephesians 5:22 ), but previously, he told them to submit to one another ( 21 )! In the same vein, the apostle Peter told his readers to submit to each other ( I Peter 5:5 ). Women ARE to submit to their husbands, but husbands are to submit to their wives as well! Yes, Scripture says that, as the Christ ( Jesus ) is the Head of the Church, so men are the head of their wife, of their family. Traditionally, men have enjoyed 'the final say', husbandly prerogative', the 'head' of the table & so on & so forth: yes, it's Scriptural, but is it right? With our continually evolving understanding of the Story of Israel, especially in the Light of the New Covenant, can/should we continue to hold with such reverence these views of women that we have practiced for ages?

Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Jolly Old Soul

Nathaniel Cole was a king!

No, maybe he didn't have the rule of any certain country, or even a people, but he sure felt like a king, at least most of the time! You see, Nat's father had blessed him with a great inheritance & though this great inheritance did not necessarily entail what might be called tangibles, he had found Eternity in his soul, or spirit. While this Gift is, by itself of immeasureable worth, it also made itself manifest in his daily life, where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, as actions worthy of a king in the service of another, Greater King!

There was a time when men & women had been used to treating one another as mere petty thieves & murderers: it was common at this time for one to use another to vault him or herself into a relatively loftier position. Into this scene entered One through whose very Presence caused these petty thieves & murderers to make a complete turnaround, to repent of their former ways & to begin to see each other, not as launchpads or rugs, but as fellow souls, spiritual beings who, although maybe not on the same stage of the Journey, were nevertheless striving to walk the same Path, that towards a Oneness with the Creation, with Life itself!

The world to which this Savior was revealed was an ancient one; in fact, this world was so foreign to that in which Nat grew up, that many or most of his peers did not really understand the depth of what this One had truly accomplished! Though the Story of what He had done for this ancient world had been told & retold many times & in many different ways over the years since His Appearance, the import of what this One had rendered for that ancient, foreign world had not been fully realized, even in our hero's day. Although the Salvation this One had wrought was full & final in this world as well as that ancient one, there were many in this current world that did not yet understand the full significance & glorious implications of that Salvation for this world!

Such was the world in which Nathaniel lived! In the not-so-distant past, his world had suffered much sorrow at the hands of petty thieves & murderers, those who had failed to see, or had not yet come to the realization that all life was sacred, that men & women were not here to be used & abused for their own selfish purposes, but were rather to be symbiotically loved through the Spirit that inhabited them. The world to which the Savior first appeared, as told in this peculiar Story was not really all that dissimilar to this one; both worlds had those ( this one still does ) those who like to use & abuse their fellow men & women to advance their own careers, but both generated those enlightened ones who had that still, small voice inside them, the beginnings of Awareness that whispered to their spirit that Peace that is Beyond!

Men & women still use & abuse each other for personal aggrandizement, this is evident, but as more & more people, like Nathaniel, awake to their True Nature, to their True Potential, the Journeys of so many that had been once thought so different will be revealed as different steps in the same Path! Although there will always be those who will mistreat their fellows, because they have been so hardened to any good spiritual influence, many even that were previously thought to be too hard will, through the ministrations of men & women like Nathaniel & his wife, be softened to the point where they cannot but realize the glorious fact of their relationship with all living things!

Nat WAS a King! Though he would probably never experience many of what are called 'the finer things' of life, he had everything that mattered. His wife loved him & treated him like a king; he fathered a quiver-full of children who, like himself, were fully aware of their exalted position. The world in which they lived was fraught with danger, largely due to the fact that so many had not yet awakened & some others who would likely never awake, but it also offered a glorious world of opportunity, a wonderful world in which the Spirit of Life was revered, as it should be!

Nathaniel Cole, as many of us have been, had been blessed mightily by his gracious father! He was not recognized as a king by most of his peers, because for one thing, he surely didn't act like any in their experience. You see, like his Father, Nathaniel was not a King over many Subjects, but rather a King among Kings, a King of Kings, if you will. He did not Lord it over his fellows as many kings do & have done. He not only realized the sanctity of life & help it in His Healing Hands, He was that very Spirit of Life!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

'This Land is Our Land'

Okay, so I've made political posts on this blog before, but they've all been fairly general in nature, without targeting any specific individual! This post is a bit different, directly aimed at one of the current presidential candidates, who is not technically a politician & thus is somewhat free from the corruption normally attributed to most politicians. 'The Donald', as he is 'affectionately' called, is, according to what may be called 'The American Dream', a good businessman: although I prefer the term 'shrewd', he would doubtless make a 'better' CEO of the USA, Inc.!

Donald Trump's campaign slogan, whether officially or unofficially, is his promise to 'make America great again'! First of all, 'what does he mean by that phrase?' If he means to make her 'great' again in the sense that she has always been, ( till lately ) 'great', by world conquests, meaning 'endless war' propagated by the American Empire, then 'NO THANKS!' If however, he means to 'make America great again' in the de Tocquevillian sense, then 'kudos' to him, 'BRAVO!' Unfortunately, we can be almost certain that he leans more toward the first definition ( of 'great' ).

Most Americans who will be voting for Donald Trump, including many Christians, although the latter especially are somewhat peeved by his use of the English language & certain of his 'eccentric' mannerisms, are nonetheless enamored by his promise, as outlined above. These all want to 'make America great again', but how many of them, do you suppose, have stopped to wonder if America SHOULD be made great again! Do we really want to endure the endless wars, along with death & destruction around the world, that it would cost to make America great again, in the sense of the American Empire?

Our coinage in this nation, though under fire for the last decade or so, is 'One Nation Under God': take that for what it's worth, but it at least signifies that she was formed under Christian principles, at least in word, if not in deed! The 'god' that America serves at present may be another matter, for as we all can attest to, 'god' can signify anything from money to innumerable other idols. You may have heard that the 'pledge of allegiance' is part of a socialist plot & one might wonder if the phrase in question doesn't fall under the same shadow! He who was instrumental in developing 'the pledge' although without the addition 'under God', was a Baptist minister & 'no surprise', a Socialist as well. This leads us back to the question, 'what does Trump mean by his promise to 'make America great again'?'

Alexis de Tocqueville once observed, 'America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.' To whatever extent, this nation WAS founded on Christian principles & although many of those principles, again, 'to whatever extent', are still at work in today's America. To a great extent, though, even certain of these principles have become 'skewed', while others seem to be in direct opposition. The events surrounding the founding of this nation might begin to shed light on the nature of the founding fathers. Without doubt, these men did what they did with the best of intentions, but one might wonder if a better solution than armed revolution might have been pursued. The wars that this country has been embroiled in since that terrible chain of events only bears witness to the fact that the American Empire is not a recent invention!

Without doubt, according to de Tocquevillle's observation, America WAS once a great nation! However, as the name 'America' is no longer synonymous with 'good' ( especially if you ask most Middle Easterners ), can America any longer be termed 'great', except in the sense of prowess, or physical strength. America has shown it's true colors all over the world, bullying lesser nations into accepting it's terms of 'democracy'! In some sense, one could be lead to wonder if what we now bear witness to in America & around the world is actually all that much departed from her founding 'principles'!

Is it merely nationalistic fervor that prompted 'the Donald' to utter those now famous words, or were they based upon a genuine wish to return to the 'Christian' principles this nation was founded upon? My readers must judge for themselves which is more likely, but I believe it's pretty clear where his allegiance lies! As you may have noticed, I have not even mentioned the other party's candidate ( she's really not even worth mentioning ) because, of the two choices, he IS the better; but again, my readers must decide for themselves if they can conscientiously vote for either one!

By focusing on just one candidate, I am by no means showing allegiance to either party, the donkeys OR the elephants! Salvation for this country, this 'One Nation Under God', will come in no form other than a complete turn-around of the practices of those in power, as well as those who follow them. Donald Trump wants to 'make America great again'; whatever he means by that rather ambiguous statement, we can be pretty certain that he did not refer to de Tocqueville's comment. I believe that it is possible that he could be startled by the Holy Spirit & set on the 'right' path, but that's just a little more likely than winning the lottery without buying a ticket!

Maybe I'm just losing my faith, though................

Charles Haddon Shank


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Eschatology of Marriage

 Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
Luke 20:34-36

Traditionally speaking, the institution of marriage by the Creator of Heaven & Earth has never been questioned, at least in Christian circles! Even among the avowedly non-Christians & Pagans, though its importance is often viewed as lesser, most recognize the usefulness of following the pattern established in Scripture of one man & one woman coming together for the purpose of procreation. In this day & age, we see examples, though, ranging anywhere from two people of the opposite sex marrying merely for mutual comfort & pleasure, to two people of the same sex coming together with seemingly no regard for the origins of the institution. This is not to say that the institution of marriage should only be for the purpose of biological procreation, just that the institution is almost universally accepted as one for mutual benefit!

There has always been question in the minds of theologians & students of Scripture as to what Jesus meant when He said ' those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage'. Some who believe in a fulfilled eschatology have gone so far as to say that marriage is no longer relevant in this New Age, while others, those who believe that eschatology has yet to be fulfilled, teach that in the coming New Age, people will 'neither marry nor ( be ) given in marriage'. Both of these groups are in error, clinging to a merely physical biological representation, or interpretation of Jesus' words. Clearly, as we are presently in 'the age to come', of which He spoke, this concept has persevered into the New Age!

What then, did Jesus mean when He said that 'The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage', but that in the New Age, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; did He mean to say that the institution itself would be done away with? God forbid! There are several ways this controversial saying could be interpreted: one is that those of who Jesus was speaking, 'the sons of this age' would not make into that New Age, or 'the age to come' & thus would never marry or be given in marriage, as their predecessors were. Yet another consideration is that the concept is eschatological & thus that its import is as well!

Now, before you lump me in with those who say that, since eschatology is fulfilled, the institution of marriage has outlived its usefulness, let me assure that this is not the case; again, God forbid! Eschatology was fulfilled in the Christ, this true enough; the End came as prophesied, but that does not mean that History itself came to and end, at least not as we think of 'the end', cessation. Covenant History, which the Story of Scripture chronicles, came to its End in the first century, when the Creator divested Himself of His glory to invest Himself into His Creation. Thus the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, for which the whole Creation groaned & labored with birth pangs, was fulfilled!

In this day & age, as the world bears witness to every day, the institution of marriage, though often diverted from its original purpose & form, is alive & well on Planet Earth! Eschatologically speaking, as the apostle Paul bears witness to his letter to the Church at Ephesus ( chapter 5 ), the institution of marriage serves as a picture of Christ & the Church, or the Marriage of Heaven & Earth ( I Corinthians 15:47 ). This is not to say that Marriage, like Eschatology, is Fulfilled, though in some sense it is & really, in the same sense!

As we have seen & bear witness to every day, the institution of marriage continues! A little play on words, there, but serious, although Marriage, like Eschatology, is Fulfilled, it endures as a picture of the Marriage of Heaven & Earth! Just as a physical, biological union does not end, or cease to exist, once the marriage has been cemented, so the Scriptural institution, though it was fulfilled by the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, or Christ & the Church, did not end in the first century!

The very fact that Scripture refers to the 'sons of this age', 'sons of God' & 'sons of the resurrection' should tell us, not that those who penned the Bible were sexist, though this may have been somewhat the case, but that Scripture referred to a certain person, that being the Son of God! The one to which Scripture refers is Israel, the Covenant People, or Son of God. Today, we are the 'sons of God' & 'sons of the resurrection' & thus, one might say, the on of God, corporately speaking, being the Offspring of that Marriage, which is fulfilled & being fulfilled every day, as more & more enter the Kingdom!

Marriage is not something to be taken lightly; it was given to men & women as a picture of something greater, something spiritual! As such, it is not something to 'enter into unawares', so to speak, but always with this in mind. The union of two bodies as one is not merely a physical manifestation, though it IS that, it is a blessed union of souls, or spirits, like the union we now enjoy with our Creator. The End of Eschatology came in the first century & with it, the End of Marriage; both were fulfilled in the first century & one might say, both are still being fulfilled, but to a greater extent!

Charles Haddon hank