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Saturday, February 09, 2019

The Temple of Creation

 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
John the Revelator ( Revelation 21:22 )

A Temple without an Image is just a temple, but with an Image of the God or Goddess, it becomes a most Holy Place! So, you might say, according to many Christian, even 'secular' scholars, before the creation of man in 'the Image of God' ( Genesis 1:26 ), 'The earth was without form, and void'. According to this literal interpretation, 'God', or Elohim, 'created' humankind in order to posit 'His' own Image in 'His' Creation. Of course, according to the Story; this Image became corrupted when the Enemy of God ( a former Creation himself ( or 'itself' ) tempted this 'Image' to rebel against their Creator. In this interpretation of the Story, the Temple of the Earth still bore the Image of God, though it had been degraded, in a manner of speaking. It was not until the 'God' of the Hebrews had given the Ultimate Sacrifice, that the Image returned to Its former Glory & the Temple once more shone!

More & more scholars have come to the understanding, however, that the early chapters of Genesis ( in particular ) do not describe the beginning of Life as we know it; on the contrary, according to this view, the Hebrew Scriptures tell us a covenantal Story, a story of the Covenant that the Hebrew 'God' made with 'His' Creation, those He had formed in His own Image. Thus, according to some, the Story has itself been corrupted, most would say, because of the aforementioned 'understanding'; according to others, it has been corrupted by the traditional ( literal ) interpretation. Those who teach that the nature of the Story we read in the pages of the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures is covenantal rather than universal are often termed 'preterists'. Not all who have adopted this moniker, however, believe that Genesis 1 & 2 describe the formation of a Covenant & conversely, neither do all who believe that Adam was simply the progenitor of what the Bible calls 'the sons of God' teach that all has been fulfilled, as the term 'preterist' implies!

To say that the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures hold no truths for humanity today would be a grave mistake! There ARE many universal truths, or principles in Scripture! The words of Jesus, though often sadly misinterpreted, are one example. Quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures, He enforced the notion that we should love our 'neighbor' as we love ourselves. While some interpret the term 'neighbor' differently than others, it is universally accepted, among Christians, anyway, that we should observe this practice. Many who do not call themselves Christians, the more spiritual types, have adopted this Way of Life as well, recognizing the Divinity, or Image of God, in all humanity!

The greeting 'Namaste' is how many make known to 'others' that they recognize this universal truth, that all bear 'the Image of God'. ( Yes, ALL bear this 'Image' within themselves, though sadly, in some it is nearly unrecognizable ) The word is of Sanskrit origin & simply means ( in other words ), 'the Divine in me acknowledges the Divine in you'. Though this phrase is most often used, probably, by Buddhists or those of the Hindu or other Eastern religions, it would also go well with Christianity, though, most likely because of its Eastern origins, it is not employed among most Christians, especially those of the Western Orthodox, or Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church, of course is simply the universal ( religious ) term for 'the Body of Christ'. This phrase comes from the Bible, which is the Western interpretation of the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures. 'The Christ', in turn, simply means 'the Anointed, or Sent One' ( this is where the term 'chrism' comes from ); this was the title given to Jesus, who. according to the Greek Scriptures, was born to 'save His people from their sin' ( Matthew 1:21 ) As the Son of God, or 'God Incarnate' ( 'God with us' ) - Matthew 1:23 ), Jesus WAS the Christ, Anointed of God to free His people from slavery to sin. Because we all bear 'the Image of God', however, we ALL have the potential to become 'the Christ', or rather, to recognize & manifest 'the Christ Within' & free our people, our 'world' ( of influence ) from its slavery!

As my readers may have surmised, 'preterist' or 'preterism' has become a fairly broad term. There are different 'degrees', ranging anywhere from 'it's all fulfilled' to 'it's mostly fulfilled', with some going as far as to say the Scriptures applied to Israel Only, while others say that the Church simply replaced Israel ( both interpretations are faulty, though one might rightly say they both have their points ). As the case may be, though, 'preterism', while it is a closer, though still Western, interpretation of this Ancient Near Eastern piece of literature, fails in that it continues to define 'the People of God' as 'Those who have [a]made a covenant with Me  ( Elohim ) by sacrifice' ( Psalm 50:5 ) 'The People of God' cannot be defined as ONLY those who acknowledge the Hebrew 'God', or the 'God' of the Bible, just as 'God' or the Source of All Life cannot be defined by the Hebrew Scriptures, or the Bible, alone!

The fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures can be found in what we call 'the Greek New Testament'! While, from our Western point of view & thus from our human ( personal ) standpoint, it certainly does NOT seem to have been fulfilled in the first century, especially all that stuff about 'a new creation', to truly understand, as most, if not all Christians will readily acknowledge, that we are 'the Temple of the Holy Spirit', we must first realize the gravity of that statement: since the ( Holy ) Spirit dwells within us ( thus WE are the Temple ), yet the Greek New Testament ( Bible ) says that 'the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple', does that mean there are TWO Temples?!

Obviously, there is only ONE Temple & that is where 'the Image of God' resides! ( this is where it gets 'dicey' ) So, since there is only ONE Temple & THAT'S 'God' & US; where does that leave US: are WE 'God'?! Assuredly NOT, you might quickly respond! No, we are NOT the Source of All Life, though we DO bear the Divine Image ( what Christians call 'the Image of God' )! Contrary to what most Christians seem to believe, though, it is not only 'those who accept Jesus into their hearts' that bear this 'Image': all humanity bears the Divine Image; however not all bring that Image to the surface ( manifest ). In fact, one may well note; all Creation bears 'the Divine Image', for everything has in it a 'spirit' of some sort, being made of the same 'building blocks' of the Universe.

In terms that we, as Westerners in particular, are familiar with, a temple is a man-made structure, built as a shrine to a particular God or Goddess. Jesus, in what we call 'the Greek New Testament', spoke of a 'temple..................................................made without hands' ( Mark 14:58 ( II Corinthians 5:1 ); in other words, made, not by human hands, but by 'God'. It is this Temple in which we ALL reside, as the express Image of Divinity, yet again WE are this 'Temple', for we all bear within us that Divine Image!

Charles Haddon Shank


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