The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Decline of Western Civilization

You may have heard comments from the Christian Right, far right, even, that the government handing out marriage licenses to homosexual couples signals the end of western civilization. Any good dispensationalist will tell you that, not only this, but many other instances of good being called evil and evil being called good plainly show that the end is near!

We agree, but 'the end of what'?

For over forty years now, by license for the government of U.S. Inc., unborn babies have been murdered in the womb, and now there is talk of even allowing for murder outside the womb ( woops, not supposed to know about that! ) under certain circumstances!

The homosexual marriage license may be the best thing this country has experienced in years! 

That may seem like an extreme statement, especially to many Christians, but the government handing out these licenses to homosexuals is only the next logical step in the decline that this nation has been in for the past 150 years or so! It would be very hard to nail down one certain event that signaled the beginning of the end, but one such speculation is that it began long before that even, with the first amendment.By prohibiting the Congress from making a law infringing on one's freedom of religion implied that Congress had the right to make such an infringement! This, like the fateful decision handed down by the Supreme Court in 1973, simply opened the gate for the proverbial horse to run free!

The statement above should be understood as saying that events like this only go to prove the deterioration of the moral fabric of this country means that we are ever closer to hitting the bottom of the proverbial barrel! We can only sink so far before we must look up and begin to crawl, on our hands and knees, out of this pit  of primeval ooze into which we are rapidly sinking!

Continuing on the subject of the government-issued ( GI ) marriage license, although most Christians have a different reason for seeking this licensed privilege from their government, most other heterosexual couples seek it for the same reason that the homosexuals are clamoring for it. They want an official acknowledgement and blessing, for whatever reason and purpose, from a higher power and authority. Since they despise God as that Higher Power and Authority, they seek it elsewhere! This is their God-given 'right', whether they want to acknowledge it or not; homosexual or heterosexual, it makes no difference!

With the blood sacrifice that this nation has offered to the gods of convenience and selfish lust over the years, it is really almost shocking that the nation has lasted this long and been blessed to the extent that it has! We praise God for His Faithfulness to His people, through all of this, because, like the trials and tribulations that we read about in the smelting-fires of the Scriptures, if it were not for His Faith in keeping 7,000 for Himself, who have not bowed the knee to other God's; this country and empire would have been toast long ago!

Does homosexual marriage ( you really can't call it union, can you ) really mean the end of western civilization as we know it? Maybe yes, and maybe no; one thing for sure is that we cannot blame it on homosexual marriage licenses, our problems began way before that!

May God have mercy on our soul,
Charles Haddon Shank

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

La Sagrada Familia

Who knows where the winds may blow us, only a fool would sayWho knows if we'll ever reach the shoreFollow a rising sun with eyes that may only stareWhat kind of fire will burn us there? What kind of fire?Only a fool would say

La Sagrada Familia, the wind has changed the storm is overLa Sagrada Familia, for the lion and the lambLa Sagrada Familia, we thank the lord the danger's overLa Sagrada Familia, there's peace throughout the land!
In Search of the Holy Family
There are many people who, whether they know it or not, and whether or not they want to admit it, are looking for something that they can never quite grasp, or even put their finger on. The need to be a part of something is the need for communion that we've talked about before on this blog. If that necessary communion can't be found, for whatever reason in one place, what might be called the right place, it will be sought in another, usually what is seen ( by others ) as the wrong!

A terrific sermon was preached to Covenant Community Church the other day, in a place not normally used for that purpose, and an area which might be called 'the Garden of Eden'. His sermon, which was formed around the theme of 'the household of faith' and based on the final few verses of Matthew 4. A recurring theme, as well, was the importance, and betterness, even, of the spiritual family ( covenant, might be a better term here ) over the natural.
 The Family of God, which we all are, especially those who have realized the nature of our relationship with our Creator, is one of a covenant nature, much like that of what might be called a nuclear family, but with one most important distinction; the Head of this family is not subject to human weaknesses ( although He is familiar with them ), and so, unlike a human father, is always faithful, always loving, always there, and never making mistakes; He is all-powerful, all-encompassing, and ever just!

It has been debated in the past and is currently under scrutiny in some circles, as to whether one is a child of their Heavenly Father if they have not entered into Covenant with Him, or do not live such a life that could be deemed worthy of the title. The Scriptures do, unarguably, seem to say that it is those who show love for God and their fellow man ( human being ) and have covenanted with Him and them that are the children or sons of God. However, I believe, as I've postulated before, that we must take into account the historical context of these words. The children of God, Scripturally speaking, are named in opposition to the children of the devil. In the historically biblical context of John 8:37-47, for instance, the children of the devil are named as the Pharisees, and though it may be easily argued that this group is alive and well today, in the covenantal context of these words in John 8, we can see that they were fulfilled in the first century! Phariseeism is alive and well today, but as Revelation 11:15 tells us, the kingdom ( powers ) of that world became the Kingdom of our God and His Christ! Today's Pharisees think, like those of the first century, that theirs is the only way, and like those Pharisees, are greatly mistaken, but there is one redeeming difference; the once for all sacrifice of the Son of God brought lasting salvation to His people, and brought to an end the separation and the enmity!
The Community of Divinity
Can those who are not obedient to the Covenant be considered as part of the Body of Christ? Although they are arguably children of God, though they do not enjoy the blessedness of a right relationship with their Creator, can we consider them part of what Paul calls the household of faith? Can we call them brothers, sisters or mothers? Because they live, sometimes in flagrant though maybe willfully ignorant violation of the Covenant, they  must still be viewed as children, though errant children of God, and who will never see the blessed results of right relationship with their Creator until and if they actively seek it for themselves!
I believe that, in the covenantal context of Scripture, that if one has not acknowledged, both in profession and confession, that covenantal relationship, we can not rightly call that person part of the Body of Christ. There has been some question recently though, in certain circles, as to whether the term 'Body of Christ', especially as the apostle Paul used it in his letters, was not merely an eschatological figure, and whether this too, has been fulfilled.  As we are speaking of an infinite Being though, and not just some human institution, I believe it is more than correct to say that this Body exists today!
With the Advent of the New Covenant, and the full revelation of what might be called The Age of Grace, one might be tempted to speculate as to whether or not all are part of the Body of Christ, or what has traditionally been known as the invisible Church, being children of God. However, it is clear, from two immutable things, the first being the immutability of God Himself, and the second, His Fatherhood, that only those who obey the Covenant are blessed with the privilege to be called a Son of God!
Only those who accept and follow the Faith of Jesus can be considered sons God, even though all His Creation might be considered His children. Jesus said, as quoted in Mark 3:35 'whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.' Although children, we should not consider all as part of the Family of God, or the Holy Family, but by acting according to the Covenant and partaking in necessary communion, one may indeed be welcomed, as a full-fledged and blessed member of La Sagrada Familia!
May we always be ready, as Sons of God, members of the Community of Divinity, do our part to strengthen and encourage not just this Community, but the greater community of all God's children!
Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What's in a Name?

The changing ( by God ) of names in Scripture should never be taken lightly!

When God changed Abram's name to Abraham, it almost looks, to our English ( American ) eyes like all He really did was add an 'h' and another 'a' to come up with, instead of 'exalted father', 'father of many nations'. This name-change, like many other significant happenings recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, pointed forward to the spread of the Gospel, and the fact that it was not Abraham's physical descendants, but his spiritual progeny, that would inherit the Land of Promise. We can see this by reading certain of the Apostle Paul's letters. It helps to understand Abraham's beginnings as well, for we can find, through other writings, as well as Scripture, that Abram was an immportant leader in the economy of Chaldea, or lower Assyria, of which Babylon is probably one of the most infamous biblical cities!

Jacob means 'one who supplants, or undermines'. Jacob, when he was born, is known for the fact that when his brother was born first, Jacob grasped the heel of Esau, signifying what he would do later in life, taking his elder brother's place, for all intents and purposes, as the firstborn among his brethren! The correlation too, between Jacob and the heel is also significant in biblical prophecy in that it was the heel that would later be bruised by the serpent ( Genesis 3:15 ), though He would crush the serpent's head! As Jacob grew and became a man ( adam ), and began to exercise dominion, God changed his name to Israel after he had wrestled with the Angel ( messenger ) of the Lord. The name Israel literally refers to the fact that he wrestled with God, although the name 'Israel' is most often understood to mean 'prince, or ruler with God'!

As we cycle through the events leading up to the Revelation of the Christ, there are many such circumstances and happenings, though sometimes seemingly trivial and insignificant that point toward the expansion or explosion of the Good News throughout God's Creation, and the Identification of Jesus the Christ, the Son of God as the True Israel, and the Last Adam ( Man ), as Emannuel, or God With Us! The Gospel Expansion was never meant to be, as the physical seed of Abraham assumed, for one certain people, dwelling in one certain place; it was always to be for the whole Creation, for all people, as these new names, among other things, plainly signified!

The apostle Paul's name-change is likely one of the least noticeable, yet most important in biblical history! Saul is the name given him by his parents, and this name means 'asked for', as in 'prayed for', or 'desired'. One might recall that this name was also borne, almost infamously, by the first king of Israel. Thoughout this story, which is recorded in I Samuel 8, with Israel's official rejection of God as their King, Saul was referred to as 'the desire of Israel' ( see I Samuel 9:20 ). Jesus, by contrast, was called 'the Desire of all nations', by the prophet Isaiah!

Paul, a Roman name, means 'small', not as in 'diminutive', but as in 'humble' ( even insignificant? ) As we read in the Story of Saul's exaltation, beginning in I Samuel 9, we see that Saul came from a very exalted position, and was very pleasant to look upon as well; much to be desired! As the Story of Saul's Exaltation continues, we see how the idea of 'power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely' might have its beginnings. Saul was a very proud man, but was brought low because of it!

This was significant of the Apostle Paul who also had much reason for pride, as we read in several of his letters, most notably, to the Philipppians ( chapter 4 ). However, in Acts 9, how Saul, as he was known then, was also brought to his knees! It was sometime after this humbling experience that Saul the exalted, desired one, became known as Paul, the small, humble, almost insignificant one Paul, being the apostle to the Gentiles, was by no means insignificant, being the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, whereby He was the Father of many Nations!


Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, July 06, 2013

The Never-ending Story

The Story of Scripture is the Story of the Ultimate Reconciliation of the Children of the Father!

It is also the Story of Israel, and the Story of Redemption. It is a Covenant Story!

In some circles today, the fact that Israel and the people of God are one and the same is being questioned! Whether or not you view the Creation Account in Genesis as the Creation of the Universe or as some have begun to see it, as the Genesis of Covenant with the people of God, one thing is clear from the context of Scripture; the Story that we read in its pages is the Story of the Redemption of His People, or Creation. The Story that began with the Creation of Man on the Land, or National, physical Israel, had an end, or telos, and saw its fulfillment in the Christ! God's Redemptive Purpose was fulfilled and completed, but does that necessarily mean that the Story is over, and having reached its end, has ceased to be?

Most recently ( on this blog ), we have seen how grace has been everpresent in the Plan and Purpose of God, for indeed, that is an intrinsic and inherent part of His Nature! As God does not change, we know that this is a fact. His modus operandi, or manner of dealing with His people has never changed and never will! Therefore, we can also safely assume that His people have not changed either. As we read in Scriptures like Ezekiel 36:22-28 and I Corinthians 15:52, there was a change effected IN His people, but His people are the same they've always been! They are, and remain, His Creation!

Redemption is complete, yes, and the people of God have been redeemed, but are we to believe that every one of His people, having been redeemed and reconciled, has reconciled themselves to this fact? Accomplished Redemption is most certainly a fact, but not every single lamb has found its way back into the fold, so to speak! All over the world, more and more are converting to Christianity, and though not every one of these realizes the full extent of what this means, the fact remains that they have a part in Redemptive History! They only recieve the benefits of Accomplished Redemption, it is true, but they are still partakers in History. Being the Creation and Story of an infinite God, it is only natural that History should be infinite as well, with no beginning or end.

We read in the Revelation that God said that He is 'the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End'. Does this mean that He had a beginning or an end? Well, of course not! It simply means that He instituted the first ( covenant ) with National, physical Israel, and that He brought it to its end, or telos. The writer to the Hebrews put it this way, 'the Author and Finisher of our Faith'. It was simply that part of the story, which some have found to be the betrothal covenant rather than the marriage covenant, that came to its end, which was the consummation of the marriage. The betrothal covenant was what came to an end, not the Covenant wherein God cemented the Relationship, or Marriage with His people! The Story of Redemption was what came to its end, not the History of Israel; that is a Story as infinite as its Author!

Charles Haddon Shank

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Tree of Knowledge

'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'
John 8:32
Talk to most any Christian today, and you will likely hear that if we claim to have absolute truth, there must be something wrong. 'No one can know for certain that what they hold to be true is necessarily the truth', you might hear! 'To claim that you hold absolute truth, is to be proud, boastful, and in danger of hell-fire!'

This is relativistic to the core, and damnable!

Jesus said that there is ONE way to know the truth, the Absolute Truth! That ONE Way is to abide in Him, and to follow His teachings and Life! If we live according to this Word, Jesus said, we will know the Truth, and the Truth will set us free!

So why are so many Christians in today's America struggling in the chains of bondage? Why are they not exercising that Truth in Living? Oh, I know that these same Christians would most likely have the same response as the Pharisees in the next verse, but, just like the Pharisees, they are blind to the fact that they are at present, as in the past, laboring under bondage!

There is a big 'hub-bub' in the headlines all over the country right now about how the courts ( government ) are redefining marriage. They have granted the right for same-sex couples to be licensed in marriage. Most Christians are up in arms about this, saying things like, 'we cannot allow our govenment to redefine marriage, for that would signal the end of marriage, even America itself'!

Sounds like chains to me, and self-wrought chains at that! First of all, no government but God's has either the right or the ability to define marriage! When God brought Eve to Adam, He defined marriage as between a man and a woman ( 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh' - Genesis 2:24 ). Any government of men can only uphold or disregard God's institution of marriage, not redefine it!

Another example of how many Christians have allowed themselves to be bround under bondage and servitude is the 501(c)3 ( tax-exempt ) statua that has been granted by the Federal Gogernment ( USA. Inc. ) to individual churches. More self-wrought chains! Churches, by nature, ARE exempt from taxation! Most Christians have been blinded to this fact by the lies and machinations of their government, which is not God's!

What can be done to remedy this sticky situation that we've gotten ourselves into?

First of all, we should not only preach this Truth and Freedom, but even more importantly, we should exercise this Freedom and Truth in Living! In many congregations today, the Gospel of Truth and Freedom is preached, but less often, it is practiced. Oh sure, there are individual Christians out there who are living inconsistently with the Truth as they claim to know it, but for the most part, Christians today keep that Knowledge 'behind the eyes, and between the ears'. 'After all', they say, 'this world is not our home; we're only passing through'. It would seem, to many, anyway, that this Knowledge has nothing to do with our everday Life; it has only, or mostly to do with where we go after our biological bodies perish!

The Truth that we have been set free from all government but God's must ring out across this Land if we are ever to live in True Freedom! Yes, as any good Christian will tell you; we have been set free from the Law of Sin & Death, but that only has to do with our spiritual, not physical, or biological experience! Because we have been set free from the Law of Sin & Death, we have the capacity and Freedom in Christ to live out that Truth in our Lives!

May we ever Live that Truth, as we experience Life in Our Father's World, and always share that Truth with others, as we Commune with the Body of Christ!

Charles Haddon Shank