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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Universal Truth; 'In the World But Not of the World'

A favorite saying of some, used  ( or misused ) by most to say that though we must live on this earth, we must not live as many others on this earth do. From a Futurist ( Christian ) point of view, of course, they understand the concept expressed above, 'in the world but not of the world' ( based on passages like Jesus' prayer in John 17, the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans ( 12:2 ) & the apostle John's words in I John 2:15-17 ) as referring to their perception of Jesus' world. According to this view ( not entirely wrong ), rather than simply referring to the Jewish economy of Jesus' Day, 'the world' that He & the apostles warned against extends far into the future, going on 2,000 years now: again, this is not altogether wrong!

One might as well say that while we live in a conventional world, we do not have to live according to those conventions! I'm not advocating throwing the baby out with the bathwater ( IE, resisting convention for convention's sake-some conventions are not all bad ), just that some conventions need not be observed. Another way of putting it is that while we must live in the Person, we must not live from the Person: in essence, because we, at present, are in this biology, we really have no choice but to live as the person ( ? ), but, even there, we don't have to live according to the selfish wants & needs of this biology.

This may be an unfamiliar concept to some, but the notion that we are spirits ( energy? ) having a physical ( biological ) experience is by no means a modern one! In this world-view, there are basically two ways to live; one can live according to the conventions of this world, from the Person, so to speak, or one can live from the ( higher ) Self, letting things be what they are, focusing on the fact that we are all of the same Essence. The former way of life, especially in this world, is much easier in the short run on the Person, but the latter is much healthier, according to a growing number of people!

The heart of the issue, as some have realized & more are recognizing, is that much of this world's problems, if not all of them, stem from living from the Person. Wars are begun because one Person, or group of People, believe that they have the right to subjugate another Person or group of People. Babies are murdered by the dumpster-full every day because one Person decides that another just won't fit into their selfish plans. On the other hand, living from the Self would bring peace, in the long run, maybe not the short, because when one realizes that there truly is no Other, but that we are Essentially the Same & then accepts things as they are, without processing how they think things should be, then wars would cease; murder would become less & less of an option: despite personal differences, people would accept each other & Love would rule the day!

As Utopian as that statement sounds, it CAN happen; those who have chosen to manifest the Self rather than the Person ( Jesus, for example ) may not live long in this world, but they have definitely left their mark on it! When one chooses to live non-conventionally in a conventional world, one often ( usually ) faces tribulation, sometimes death; Gandhi, for instance, was deprived of his personal existence for this reason. Many others have been persecuted, even to death, for not following the conventions of the day; the story of Martin Luther King & the whole civil rights movement of the 50s & 60s has opened many a blind eye!

It has been proven that those, including the Jesus of the Bible, who have chosen to live from the Self, not from the Person, have made history, for the better! It truly cannot be argued that, even with the advance of the Gospel, such as it is, the world, especially Western Civilization, has declined to whatever decree because of the tendency to live from the Person. Reports are coming in, however, for those with ears to hear, from all over the world, that it is becoming a growing trend to live from the Self & though this usually means persecution, more & more people are finding it a healthier option, a better way of life!

Wars, whether on a national or local ( personal ) level are unavoidable; abortion is a sad fact, at least to those living from the Person: 'I' will not stand here silent, while that Other Person tramples all over 'MY' rights!' Isn't that just the opposite of what Jesus did? In fact, Jesus castigated His own disciples for trying to defend His physical Person! Jesus even prayed for those who persecuted & eventually sentenced Him to death because He was focused on the Self, the good of all men & women, not on His own Person!

Some conventions are useful: Time, for instance; when someone tells us they will be there in a certain amount of Time, if we have a timepiece of our own, we can know that given a certain amount of trust, they will be there when we expect. Others, not so much; though the marriage license ( as with any license ) can be useful, especially when it comes to living IN the Person ( if you would avoid persecution ), it is by no means necessary ( except for matters of legality ) to the union itself. In fact, the convention of a man & woman standing before a minister or J.P. is questionable as to its necessity!

It's probably clearer to some atheists than to some Christians that the 'world' to which Jesus & the apostles referred was the Jewish economy, which was about to pass away ( John 12:31, John 16:8 & 11, I Corinthians 7:31, Hebrews 9:26 ), but it should be noted that the statement made in the beginning of this blogpost stands as a universal truth. Just as we are spirits having a physical experience, so the earth itself, or the 'world', if you will, is a biological body. We, in the Self, are not of this earth, or this 'world'. In the Person, however we are of this world & as such we tend overmuch to focus on what we, in the Person, perceive as Reality; the Self, however, sees things as they are, not as the Person thinks or believes they are, or should be.

So, the 'world' of Jesus' Day passed away, just like ( when-thank God for Time ) He said it would, but we still, personally speaking, live in the world. Living as 'of the world' ( kinda like, 'I'm an American!' ) just causes trouble & not in a good way! Wars have been started for less! 'It's MY right; how dare you try to take it!': instead, we should be sharing this 'world' as a Gift from God ( the Source, Creator, etc. ). There ARE some things that we should NOT share, but that's a different subject for a different day ( or maybe I'll just leave it to my readers! ).

As a wise women once, said, 'Our lives are not our own; cradle to grave, we are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.'      

Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Universal Truth; 'You are Gods'!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.
Genesis 3:22

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’?
John 10:34 ( Psalm 82:6 )

First things first; 'who/what is 'God?' According to the Hebrew ( 'elohiym ) & Greek ( theos) the word refers to 'mighty ones' or 'a deity'. Looking into the etymology of the Hebrew word, one might even find that it has reference to a certain 'El'. Although this was simply an ancient ( Proto-Semitic ) word, meaning 'god', or 'deity', it was also used by an assortment of gods, including a Canaanite deity. This may be where the Hebrew usage stemmed from ( very likely, in fact ), with names like Samuel, Daniel, even Israel. As the Hebrew Scriptures morphed with the Greek, we may note that the meaning remains essentially the same & interestingly enough, both instances ( Greek & Hebrew ) employ the same word in referring to both 'God' & 'man' ( on the Land )!

Speaking of 'man on the Land', this in itself should be noted as a reference to the genesis of the Hebrews as a special nation. The second quote above, from John 10:34 ( Psalm 82:6 ), then, in context, is speaking primarily of the religious leaders of the Hebrews ( broadly 'Jews' ), although it may be noted as being a universal truth, in essence, that even though it may have referred in the first case to certain Hebrews, it applies to people of all times & nations. The Scriptures, both Greek & Hebrew, because they were written to a people long ago & far away, were written primarily for their instruction, thus applying ONLY to them & their current situation ( audience relevance ), still hold certain universal truths that apply to all humanity.

One of these universal truths, as we've discussed before on this blog, is found in probably THE most-quoted verse in the Bible, John 3:16. 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.' In other words, one might say, the Creator God, the Source of all Life, took upon Himself, biblically speaking, humanity, not so much as one ancient theologian stated, 'that man might become God', but that man ( kind-humanity ) might realize they are, in essence, in their innermost BEing, God ( A 'god', if that makes it easier to digest )!

This is not to say that we ARE the Creator God, though we ARE creators ( on a much smaller scale )! We ARE, however, from the same Source ( Essence ) as Jesus! As Jesus was the Christ ( Anointed or Sent One ), so WE are the Christ to our 'world'. As we are creators, we also, to some extent, create our 'worlds', just as we are ( to be ) the Christ to them. Not only do we create our 'world' through the choices we make ( thus our God-hood ), but we ourselves, through what we call 'procreation' ( Seed ) in this sense cause the formation of human beings. All this, of course, is based solidly on the fact that there is one Supreme Being, one ( common? ) Source of all Life, the Energy that motivates us all!

It is common, among Christians especially, to refer to the Energy that motivates us as Spirit, in particular, the Holy Spirit. Biblically speaking, however, we differentiate between what some call 'covenant life' &merely biological life. These interpret the formation of man ( Adam ) in 'the Image of God' as indicative of 'covenant life', whereas others simply read this passage as a record of the creation of the human race. Maybe it's not 'either or', but 'both and'! Rather than being just a record of the Creator God's dealings with Israel ( as some have supposed  ), it is indicative of the genesis of humanity, as retold through Hebraic lenses!

The Spirit of a Man ( I Corinthians 2:11 ) is not only a biblical phrase, but one which is universally familiar. We often, almost haphazardly refer to this Spirit ( 'spirit', if that goes down easier ) as that which 'drives' a person; it is back of all ones decisions, though some choose to allow their biology to rule over their Spirit. A biblical example of this is Cain, who allowed his fleshly passions to override the Spirit Within & murdered his brother because of his own jealousy. Modern examples include, from relatively recent history, Charles Lindbergh's famous flight in 'The Spirit of St. Louis'. Although it was just a plane, to Lindbergh it embodied a certain Spirit; among others, no doubt, the Spirit of Freedom, It is the Spirit Within, our Godhood if you will, that motivates & so, it is by our choices that we show, or prove, that Godhood!

Terms like 'theosis' & 'deification' have long been a rather taboo subject among most Christians, although it is by no means a modern concept. In fact, it is a very biblical concept, if one reads certain Scriptures honestly & openly ( without bias )! The very fact that a mere Man could be God as well was outrageously shocking to many of the Hebrews ( Jews ); today is no different: most if not all Christians today will immediately, metaphorically or otherwise, employ the Sign of the Cross when faced with the absurd notion that mere humanity could be God. BEing God, however, simply means, according to the Scriptures, our ability to choose, to judge for ourselves. The choices we make however, determine, not our deification, but the manifestation, or revelation of our deification!

Charles Haddon Shank


Thursday, February 01, 2018

Living Acoss Dimensions


From a purely biblical POV ( point of view ), probably the clearest example of another dimension, or other dimensions is found in  II Kings 6:14-17. In this passage, we read an instance of a man's eyes being opened to this other, what might be called, 'the heavenly dimension'. Although one might just as well, or easily explain it as that his perception was widened ( there might be a Hebrew idiom at work here, too ), there can be no doubt that these dimensions, if there be several unseen, exist right alongside the three or four that most of us can perceive & indeed, interact with them!

Scientifically speaking, these extra dimensions, even called 'parallel universes', exist only in theory; FOR NOW! Although these theories, for there are several differing ones, are getting more & more attention; scientists believe they are getting closer & closer all the Time to finding  ( 'Eureka!' ) 'The Theory of Everything'. In short, such a theory would explain everything that has ever happened or might ever happen, ever so far as the Genesis of Life itself! All, of course, without the necessity of an Intelligent Designer, especially the God of the Bible, althougb there are some scientists who have reached & acknowledged this inescapable conclusion.

Faith tells us that the God of the Bible is this Intelligent Designer, although it should be clear to anyone with eyes to see ( ? ) that the beauty that surrounds us, as perceived in the four readily observable dimensions, is obviously the work of such a Designer! As a Christian, I must aver that the God of the Bible is descriptive, in part at least, of the Creator & Unfolder ( 'Revealer'? ) of the Universe ( s? ). As One who tends to explore Beyond Christianity, though, it is apparent to me that this Intelligent Designer is infinitely more!

Not to wonder too far off track; the perception of this blogger is that the Bible we are used to reading is comprised ( primarily ) of the Hebrew Scriptures. As such, the Story of Scripture is the History of Israel, a peculiar people who lived long ago, in a place far away from our own, although maybe not so far removed, in the theory of quantum physics. The point is, the Scriptures, or our Bible, is simply the Hebraic perception of the Creator God. This, again, is not to say that it is necessarily false or untrue in our Day & Age, just that there is so much more that we can learn about the Source of All ( biological ) Life, than just from the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures.

'Living inter-dimensionally; what a concept!' One might wonder why we should even conceptualize such a thing; 'why complicate things like that? Just live in the Here & Now; stop worrying us with these far-fetched notions!' We should live in the Here & Now, yes, but it helps to realize that, though our perception determines 'our reality' ( to some extent ), Reality itself is not determined by our perception. Elisha's servant, going back to our Scriptural example, did not perceive that the city was surrounded by a heavenly host ( 'inter-dimensional beings', one might say ), but when the scales were lifted from his eyes, so to speak ( however momentarily ), his perception was altered & he realized that, though they were surrounded by their enemies, their enemies were themselves 'surrounded'!

The modern concept of inter-dimensional travel, for instance, has so far been limited  ( for the most part ) to traveling in Time, either backwards or forwards, or Space, as in, one 'place' to another. The whole notion, really, of manifold dimensions, to the perceptive mind of this blogger, anyway, is predicated itself on the notion that these 'dimensions' are not so much 'parallel universes' ( 'Marvel' at that, if you will ), as they are the Reality that IS & not the reality that we perceive, though our perceptions may comprise the Whole. The world-view that we glean from our reading of Scripture, therefore, in its manifold interpretations, is based simply on the Hebraic perception of that Reality. Again, this is not to say that their perception was NOT Reality, just that it was simply their perception & NOT the Whole of Reality!

The Truth of the Matter is that, whether we perceive it or not, we ARE living in a dimensional world, inter-dimensionally, one might say! A strong statement, perhaps, but the very fact that there are things beyond our current perception ( most call them 'supernatural' ) should tell us that our 'reality' isn't necessarily what IS; in other words, though our 'reality' isn't necessarily wrong, Reality itself is more than what we perceive; Reality itself is inter-dimensional! Not that Reality travels through Time, though that may be our perception, but that it transcends Time, across the spectrum, so to speak.

Our Faith, as Christians, directs us in how to live across dimensions: though we do not see the 'heavenly dimension' with our physical eyes, we may, with the eyes of faith ( some call it 'the third eye' ) see this other dimension, or the Reality That IS! While we have to do with what we perceive with our ( physical ) senses, we do not have to live according to what we perceive with those senses alone. With the aid of this 'third eye', our spiritual senses are awakened & our perception itself is altered: then, we begin to see Reality as it IS, not just as we have perceived it. This, of course, is predicated on our acceptance of Who We Are!

Charles Haddon Shank

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Metaphorical Jesus


Call it faith! In order to assert that Jesus the son of Mary ever walked the Earth, one must take it on faith that the few references to Jesus extant in ancient writings, such as the Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, Josephus, etc., are unbiased & verifiably true. One may also finds bits & pieces of archeological evidence that a certain Man named Jesus, or Yeshua ( Joshua ) once existed, but other than that, one must simply take their word for it, since we weren't there. The Christian faith, or religion, is based wholly upon the facts, as evidenced in the Hebrew, Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, that, not only did the Man Jesus exist, but that He was God Incarnate, more than just a Man!

The Scriptures, as theologians have known for centuries, are full of metaphor! In the Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, for instance, the Gospel accounts, interestingly enough, of just Matthew & Mark ( chapters 8 & 5, respectively ), tell a story of a herd of swine that, after a demon enters them, run headlong off a cliff & drown in the sea. Modern critical studies show that this wasn't necessarily a herd of pigs that drowned, but was actually more of a metaphor for unfaithful Israel who were swallowed up by the Sea, which itself is a well-known & accepted metaphor for the Gentiles. A metaphor is not always related as non-literally; for instance, the story of Sampson & the Lion, as related in Judges 14, is told as a factual event, but it also relates a deeper spiritual truth, that Israel according to the flesh was becoming a dead carcass herself & must die that the sweetness of the Spirit might be revealed!

Mysticism should be noted as having been practiced well before the time of Christ! Christian Mysticism, in its many different forms, of course, is based on the Revelation of Jesus the Christ: the notion that the Creator God Himself bore the Body of a Man ( Hebrews 10:5 ( Psalm 40:6 ) in order that Man might better understand his relationship to the Creator is one that is not foreign. In his famous 4th-century work, 'On the Incarnation of the Word', Athanasius made this amazing, almost heretical statement; '“God Became Man that Man Might Become God”'. In today's theological landscape, this might better be rendered as 'God became man, that man might be revealed as ( One with ) God'. Of course, such a statement would very likely land you in as much or more hot water as the previous one, but, as the case may be.......

The very notion that a Man could be God is one that ultimately got Jesus  killed! Yes, it had been prophesied throughout the Hebrew Scriptures that One would come, like Moses, that would bear the sins of His people, but it never said, in so many words, anyway, that He would be God Himself ( Isaiah 7:14 should have been a clue ). When Jesus made the claim that He was equal with the Creator God, being the Son of God, the unbelieving Jews were so enraged that they handed Him over to the Roman authorities, claiming He was a political insurrectionist. Well, things kinda went downhill from there ( you probably know the old, old story ): Jesus ended up being crucified, according to Plan, of course & was revealed as exactly who He claimed to be, the Very Son of God!

Jesus was/is the Son of God ( according to some, Jesus still inhabits His biological Body ); if one believes the Scriptures, there can be no doubt about that! As the Son of God, the unbelieving, as well as believing, Jews noted that Jesus was claiming equality with the Creator God. This was not necessarily the case, although the apostle John himself wrote, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God' ( John 1:1 ). Jesus Himself never claimed to be the Creator God, though He DID claim to be the Son of God. Like most Christians today, though, the Jews of Jesus' day assumed that for a Man to make that assertion meant He claimed equality with the Creator God. But such was not the case with Jesus; He only said ( truly ) that He was the Son of God.

Metaphorically speaking, then, the historical ( Scriptural ) Jesus showed us that a Man could indeed be God! Jesus had the Holy Spirit, yes, like certain men of old ( Moses, Sampson, even Saul & then David): the prophets even had a direct connection with the Creator God. But some may insist that Jesus had more; 'He was the Second Person of the Trinity, or 'Godhead': eschatologically & Scripturally speaking, He WAS that, as far as that goes, but did He indeed ( have more )? Yes, as He said, recorded in John 8, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.', thus, in their eyes, anyway, affirming that He was indeed God in the flesh, for this was how the Creator God had introduced Himself to Moses ( Exodus 3:14 ). Jesus was 'God with us' ( Matthew 1:22 ( Isaiah 7:14 ), but He yet deferred to His Father; though He WAS the Creator God, or at least, One with Him from the Beginning, He acknowledged that He was not the Supreme Deity, but simply a Channel!


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

The above prayer, of course, is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, who understood that it is by unselfishly serving others, by manifesting the Christ, that we find our salvation! Not salvation, maybe, in a strictly Scriptural sense, for that was accomplished in the 1st century A.D., but in the sense of the prayer above, that it is by metaphorically laying down our lives, that we take them up ( Matthew 10:39 ). As instruments, or channels of the Creator God, we may pray along with the Man from Assisi that we might be channels of His blessing, that we might sow Love instead of Fear, Peace instead of War. But more than that, we need to purpose in our own hearts to BE that Channel, those Instruments!

The Jews of Jesus' Day were called to have faith in Jesus, just as their forefathers had exercised faith in Him whom they could not see ( Hebrews 11 ( Luke 2:25-33 ). Today, whether or not one takes it on faith that Jesus was a historical figure, we understand, as Christians especially, that the teachings He laid down in the Scriptures can be our salvation as well, but only if we practice them from a pure heart. 
Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Ways of Life & Death

We have a problem here in America! Place the blame wherever you want, but wherever you place it, you're most likely missing the heart of the issue. Many like to lay their robes at the feet of the current president, whoever he may be, or point fingers at the federal, state, or local governments, even their next-door neighbor. The issue, however, should be clear; even if you're not a Christian, with proof-texts like James 4:1, 'Where do wars and fights [ come ] from among you? Do [ they ]  not [ come ]from your [ desires for ] pleasure that war in your members?', when anyone points fingers at someone else or even somewhere else, they should know that at least three are pointing back at them!

That fateful day in 1973, the very anniversary of the day of this writing, in fact, the Supreme Court, in its finite wisdom, handed down the fateful decision in the case of Roe V. Wade that, although it may have not legalized abortion, per se, is responsible for the deaths of over 53 million babies, to date, according to LifeNews, almost 65,000 this year so far, according to Romans322.com. But this is not the Supreme Court's fault! It is not the president's fault! We can't even lay the blame at the feet of the federal, state, or local government. If one wants to get to the heart of the issue & it's still only another symptom, one simply has to look in the mirror, so to speak! Oh sure, there's plenty of corruption in the federal to local governments, including the president & the Supreme Court, but that's the point; they're people: if some people hadn't been trying to legally murder their offspring, whether because they wanted to hide their indiscretions, or because of extenuating circumstances ( God knows; they DO exist ), then there would have been no call for the Supreme Court to make such a fateful decision!

Unfortunately, being only a symptom ( of the disease ) abortion is not the only determining factor in the current judgement: America's propensity for war, foreign war in particular, has made her a stench in the nostrils of, not only an Almighty God & Loving Father, but in the sight of the many nations we are currently occupying, are at war with, or have made war on in the past! This is not to say that America ( the powers that be ) should not defend herself, or that she should not occupy herself in rooting out evil wherever it exists, or rather, happens, just that by going above & beyond, by using the machine of war for her own selfish gain, she has become a blight to many & a pariah to others!

There may seem to be some wisdom to the notion of the 'preemptive strike', especially in this day & age. 'If we don't hit them first, they will likely hit us', or something similar, is one of the arguments you might hear. Such an argument, though, is based in fear; we fear what might happen if we don't do this or that, but we seem to forget what will most likely transpire if we DO this or that! Like war, abortion has many more results & consequences than the intended. The perpetrator may simply intend to gloss over a certain event or memory, or reduce the population of evil, but it NEVER stops there! In war, for instance, the killing of so-called 'terrorists' may seem like the only just & merciful thing to do, but in many, if not most cases, the family of the one ( or ones ) killed ( murdered ) probably won't look at it that way!

In the case of abortion ( ask just about anyone who's aborted their own flesh & blood ), there's very likely, somewhere down the road, if not immediately, going to be a host of emotional issues, maybe even, depending largely on  the skill of the performing physician ( there ARE other factors ) physical problems. One might even link our current issues with Social Security ( bankruptcy ) with abortion, due to the fact that there are now more people taking out than there are putting in. This probably can't totally be blamed on abortion, though a large part of it must rest there, but across the board, it should be obvious that many of our problems here in America, not to mention the rest of the world, stem from these two issues, both of which involve death, not life!

To bring America back around, we need a wide-spread example of what Almighty God promised Israel of old, in II Chronicles 7:14: 'If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.'  Even if one is not a Christian, one should be able to see the wisdom in turning from their wicked ways ( abortion & war barely begin to cover it )! If for no other reason than to 'Stop the Madness!', One shouldn't have to do much pondering to understand the concept of 'you reap what you sow'!

Our 'land' ( US ) CAN be healed; we CAN get back to where we should be, as a light to the nations! However, the 'right' president, congressmen ( or women ), senators or judges will NOT do the trick ( though they may help ): it's going to take a full-scale assault on the minds & hearts of Americans to even get the ball rolling! To really make a change, quoting Michael Jackson, we must start with 'The Man in the Mirror'. BE the change you want to see in America & the ball will start rolling. The progress may seem slow at first, in fact, the ball may seem to roll back on your own head, but sooner or later, the effects of your actions will spread!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, January 19, 2018

Commmunion With the Divine

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Genesis 3:8

I AM a Christian, personally speaking: I very likely will always be so! As such, I still communicate with our Heavenly Father, I still commune with what is called Scripturally, 'the Body of Christ' ( a title, not a name-more correctly, 'the Body of the Christ' ). Maybe unfamiliar to most, though I daresay this term will become more popular in the near future, 'omnism' is basically the idea, or fact that no religion has a handle on Truth, but that all religions contain Truth ( my interpretation ). The Christian religion, for instance, being the basis for the culture most of us were brought up in, seems to give the clearest image of the Creator God, but by no means is it the only one: there are more ancient religious text than even the Hebrew Scriptures that are available to show those with an open mind & heart a different, but similar image, or picture!

The question 'What IS communion with God?' is one that bears other questions; 'what is communion?': 'what/who is God?' To answer the latter question first, a little clarity might be in order! If by 'God' is meant the Christian God, or the Creator God of Scripture, then this description, while not wrong, barely begins to cover the Truth. If by 'God' is meant the Source of all, Divine Energy, even the Universe, One not definable by any religion, though all religions have tried, then we begin to understand that, though all these different religions, culturally speaking, have noted varying aspects, as they perceive them, of this Source, or Divine Energy. An ancient parable from the Far East ( as I remember it ) describes it almost perfectly; four blind Indians came upon an elephant & each one had his description: one grabbed the tail, thus describing the elephant as short but sinuous, while another latched onto the elephant's ear, saying that an elephant must be wide but narrow ( thin ): yet another wrapped his arms around one of the elephant's legs, claiming that an elephant must be very stout, while the last one found the elephant's trunk, declaring, like the first, that an elephant was a sinuous creature, but that they were very long instead. None of these descriptions were wrong, necessarily, they all were just different perceptions, different aspects. Religion is simply man's finite attempt to define the Infinite!

Communion, then, becomes a bigger question than most Christians might admit to, or even acknowledge! Is communion simply the practice, as we have traditional perceived it, of observing the ancient ( 2,000 year old? ) ritual of the bread & wine, as representing what Scripture terms 'the Body of Christ' ( Luke 22:14-19, et al ), or is it something more? It could be well said that communion is simply the interaction of the corporate Body of Christ, Scripturally speaking. While this is true enough, could it, should it not be said that we only scratch the surface?

Simply put, according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 'communion' is defined as 'an act or instance of sharing'. 'The Communion of the Body of Christ', then, according to Christian usage, is a sharing in the Life of Christ, or God. The bread & wine, true enough, signify the Body & Blood of Jesus, the New Covenant, but does this ritual alone define 'communion'? It should go without saying that it does not! 

Communion, most of us can agree, is much more than just the ancient ritual of the bread & wine, whether observed daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. Communion is something, whether we admit it or not, acknowledge it or not, that we all observe on a daily basis. This can mean anything from 'Communion with Nature' to 'Communion with God' ( ? ). Communion, in this sense, then, knows no bounds, especially the bounds of religion. In this respect, Communion is akin to the One Christians call 'God'!

The Source of all Life, then, we can all agree, cannot be defined by mere humanity! There is no book written, no script over produced that can either define or contain the great I AM. Like the iceberg, humanity has only ever scratched the surface, so to speak, when it comes to describing the One that Scripture calls 'the Almighty'. Like the Indian Parable above, all religions have sought to describe this Source & though all, in some semblance, have touched upon the Truth, none have a complete, or perfect definition, because the cultures from which these religions have been engendered have always varied when it comes to their experience of the Divine. 

Since the Christian God, though veritable enough, is only one aspect, our perception of the Divine Source of All Life, can we really & truly say that unless one acknowledges the Christian God as THE definition of Life, that one has no Life in them?! Scripturally speaking, this is exactly what we have taught & been taught for thousands of years! Indeed, covenantally speaking as well, this is what we have deduced from them. But as we have seen, 'God' cannot be defined by a book, much less the doctrines of men. Sure, one might say, 'the Holy Spirit, according to Scripture, told these men of old what to write'; true enough, there is much universal truth ( applicable to ALL humanity ) in Scripture, but even so, since they ( the Scriptures ) were written to an Ancient Near Eastern people, the original audience were the primary receptors of its promises. 

Having established, then, though not beyond all reasonable doubt, maybe, that the Christian God is not the one & only image of God, we press on to communion  with the Source of All Life, who has been described by humanity in a variety of different ways! Communion, as we have also established, is simply a sharing, a sharing of intimacy, spiritual or otherwise. So really, Communion with God cannot be defined by religion alone, be it Christianity or not. Communion, like its Creator, is so much more than any religion, as defined by humanity, or some 2,000 year old ritual involving bread & wine ( Body & Blood ), though, it could be argued, it IS just that, since we all, in our humanity, ARE made up of Body & Blood!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Essence of Love & Life

Even the most hardened criminal can love! Shocking, maybe, but it's true. It's hard to deny, admittedly, that there are some people out there who are seemingly beyond help, that even if you show them mercy, you will receive none in return; in fact, one might say that the only merciful thing to do is the world a favor & rid it of this evil, one person at a time. But, is anyone really beyond help or hope? Take a biblical example, for instance; the apostle Paul, on the road to Damascus. You may or may not believe the Story of Scripture, but if you do, you're probably familiar with the story recorded in Acts 9:1-30. the apostle, who was a Pharisee named Saul at the time, was on the road to Damascus where he planned to arrest, maybe even kill any who claimed to follow the teachings of Jesus the Christ. Luke records that, 'suddenly a light shone around him from heaven' & Saul almost immediately did a 180 ( complete turnaround )!

It is said that, in the beginning, 'the Lord God formed man [ of ] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being' ( Genesis 2:7 ): whether one reads this passage as speaking of the literal creation of the first human being on Planet Earth, or whether one acknowledges that a covenant creation is in view here, this should be seen as a Universal Truth, that the Creator God took of His own Spirit ( Essence ), thus animating the creature He had formed. A closer look at the Hebrew phraseology used here in the very first part of the Book of Beginnings will reveal that this Adam was not merely the first human on Planet Earth, but simply the Vehicle through whom the Creator God chose to reveal the Life of His Creation. As the Son of God, Adam & Eve were the proto-Christ, if you will, the beginning of the Revelation of the Christ, the Son of God!

'God is love' ( I John 4:8 ): this should be noted as one of the many universal truths of Scripture as well! Being that the Creator of all, as revealed, not only in the Hebrew Scriptures, but in other ancient texts from that part of the world, in particular, the Far East, is the very Essence of Love; are we really assuming too much when we say that we too, apart from our created humanity, being of the same Essence, are pure Love as well? We propose that it is not too much of a stretch to acknowledge that we are, ultimately of the same Essence as the Creator God & are thus, at heart, One with Him!

While many or most might immediately recoil at the statement just given, it is, when one clears their mind of those pesky religious cobwebs, that one cannot help but realize that it is true! We are human beings, yes, for so we were created, but we are so much more; Just as we saw earlier, in Genesis, the Creator God formed the man, then breathed into him the Spirit of Life. Now, admittedly, as we also testified to, the first parts of Genesis are not so much about the material creation, although they speak to that as well; they are primarily about a covenant creation, in particular, the priestly nation of Israel ( with which the current nation/state of Israel has NOTHING to do, Scripturally speaking! ).

Although Israel of old, which we read about in the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures, ultimately failed in their mission, as a majority anyway, to evangelize the world, or spread the good news of what some call the Marriage of Heaven & Earth, that good news has continued to spread, in one form or another, across the globe! It can be argued, though many have rejected the notion, even from Scripture, that Heaven, or the Creator God's realm & Earth, or the material realm, have been married, or put another way, have met & kissed. Humanity dwells, as places like II Kings 6:17 reveal, alongside this heavenly realm, or dimension & in reality, we dwell in both realms at once, though some have become deadened to this glorious fact!

That many, whether through religious indoctrination or whatever, have hardened their hearts & minds to the fact that we are dwelling in Realms of Glory does not change the fact! As Christians, we have been taught that unless one believes a certain way, that one has no hope of dwelling with the Creator God. In fact, many passages of Scripture have indicated this to orthodox Christians for centuries. As indicated earlier, however, the Hebrew Scriptures, as well as other ancient texts, reveal how the Creator God opened His Realm of Glory to humanity, not so that we could go there when our humanity perished, but so that we could, in Essence, dwell there now!

When we say that we are One with the Creator God & that we are of the same Essence, we do not assume that we are the Creator God, that we are the One who set the Universe ( multi-verse? ) in motion! We are simply of the same Essence & thus Creators ourselves, though on a much smaller scale. We are limited by our humanity & though this is often frustrating to us, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Many of our limitations are self-imposed, as well, for whatever reason. Much of the reason for our limitations is our own free will; we have the free-will to choose, humanly speaking, to do this or that, one thing or the other. Our choices then determine, to a great extent, whether we experience the joys of heaven or the terrors of hell on earth!

The Love that we are is not always the love that we show! When we choose not to just BE the Love that we are, but instead let our mind/ego work its spells on us, we often forget the example of Love that Jesus showed us in the Scriptures. While He did bring upon His covenant people their deservedly adverse judgement, according to their own Scriptures, He forgave them even for rejecting & crucifying Him as their Messiah. Jesus did not condemn those that sinned against Him, rather He forgave them & healed them!

Though the Hebrew Scriptures hold many universal truths, we must understand that they ARE the Hebrew Scriptures; they contain a revelation of the Creator God, but we must understand that they are not THE revelation of the Creator God! There are other, more ancient texts, from other cultures even, though maybe mainly in the East, that reveal the Divine as well. We must remember too, that we, in Essence, are a revelation of the Divine. We do not always show it to the best of our ability, through the choices that we make, but every time we show Love, however weakly, we give a glimpse of that Divinity!

Charles Haddon Shank