Thursday, May 11, 2006

An Oasis - Not a Fortress

Friends,

I have had to be away from my blog for awhile because of other absolutely overwhelming real-life events. Last Saturday, sensing the light at the end of the tunnel, I sat down to write a humongous post basically catching up on all the comments re my last post What this Christian Is Looking for in Quakerism, but after I'd been writing for over two hours I saw the futility of even trying to respond to everything everybody said. There were just too many good comments for that. And, besides, I realized that I don't really have to have the last word in every conversation.

Today, I'd like to comment more briefly on some of the major themes. Then next week I'll try to go back and answer some particular questions people have asked me in more detail.

First, some people from varying points of view responded tenderly and respectfully to what I had said about a vivid personal experience of Christ more than 30 years ago. I just want to say that I appreciated these comments very much. Robin said something particularly meaningful to me about how learning of this experience made her feel "less unbalanced" about her own. Robin has written elsewhere (I can't find it any more but surely it was on her blog?) about what her experience was and I recall thinking at the time that it was really very similar to mine. Robin also said something about me "ministering to [her] personally" by telling about this experience. Since I am a great admirer of Robin and her husband Chris, perceiving that they seem to have a more consistent real-life spiritual practice than I do, it was very gratifying to me to hear that I may have in any way been a "minister" to Robin.

Second, I thought it was fascinating how different people riffed on the theme of my analogy between listening to the Light or Voice of Christ and listening to FDR's fireside chats. Some people elaborated the metaphor, others changed it in various ways so that it conveyed their own differing understandings of the real situation. I think all of this must have helped us understand each other a little better. To me, it does matter whether the voice we hear in worship is Christ or not, though I'm sure that I would still know it was saying good things even if I couldn't identify the speaker. I think there are other voices we could be listening to, as Marshall suggested, that would be less benign. These other voices might be the voices of things like nationalism, materialism, etc. They might be the internalized voices of our parents, our peer groups, our nation, etc. In theory, I think they might be the actual voices of other "spirits", though I have no experience of any such thing. At the same time, I felt a tad uncomfortable with some of the critical discussion of other religions. I really don't know anything about Krishna, and I accept Marshall's testimony based on his experience of Hinduism that there may be some Krishna-worshippers who are into some bad things. But Hinduism is such a vast religion with so many hundreds of millions of followers that I feel totally unqualified to make generalizations about it. It seems likely to me that many Hindus are truly guided by God (and hence - as I see it - by Christ). That doesn't mean that Hindus are Christians, of course, and I doubt that in practice a serious Hindu would want to join a group of people who saw themselves as looking for guidance from the living voice of Jesus Christ. I don't think there are many groups of either non-Christians or non-Quaker-Christians who even claim to base their practice on listening to the living, speaking voice of God, under any name, so in a sense it's pretty theoretical to drag other religions into the conversation when we're discussing voices and names of same.

To revert to the fireside chat analogy, this is where I think we are as a group of Friends: We all came to the fireside chat of Quakerism by explicit or implicit invitation from someone or something. For example, some of us came because we were invited by our parents, some by other Friends, some - less explicitly - by learning of the existence of Quakers through their public testimony, through reading about them in history books or whatever. The problem is that we came to the chat with different expectations. I came wanting to listen to FDR (the unlikely Christ-representative of our analogy) because I see him as a person who I love and trust and look to for guidance. Some came wanting to listen to whoever-that-guy-is (or whoever-or-whatever-that-voice-is) on the radio and they are willing to trust and follow him as long as what he says conforms to beliefs they already have about right and wrong and what is going on in the world. There may be still others who just want to spin the dial and see who else might be on the radio. All of us are a little befuddled about this situation, but here we are together and we have to make the best of it.

I very well understand how one might not think that it was important to identify the One who speaks to us as Jesus Christ. If I did not identify Him as such, I probably wouldn't think it was important either. But since I do believe He is Christ -- that He is a Person who loves us and who suffered for us -- then I do believe it is important to acknowledge Him. For me to not acknowledge Him would seem ungrateful and disloyal. In other words, this is an inherently asymmetric question. How you regard its importance may well depend on what you think its answer is.

On the other hand, my need to acknowledge Christ doesn't in itself create a need for anyone else to do so. If I need a group in which we can acknowledge Him and listen to Him together (as I do) this doesn't mean that others can't also sit in on the group while thinking of its purpose somewhat differently. But it will always be an awkward situation.

Another theme I'd like to comment on is Marshall's idea (actually, the classical Quaker idea) of "the hedge". This is the idea that one goal of some Quaker practices is to create a protected space for our faith - one where we won't be overexposed to non-Quaker influences that might be harmful. These outside influences might be "unsound" theological ideas, worldly attitudes toward war, toward hierarchy and inequality, toward consumerism, or whatever. In certain periods of Quaker history and perhaps in certain pockets of Quakerism today (such as the Iowa Yearly Meeting Conservative that Marshall belongs to) this has been part of the reason for Quaker disciplinary practices, for separate Quaker schools, for "peculiar" Quaker dress and speech, and so on. Although in other respects I suppose I am much more of a "conservative" than "liberal" Quaker (how oddly either of those labels fits with Quakeism!), I am not much of a proponent for the "hedge" idea. To me, it feels like a defensive and fear-based approach to maintaining our identity. The very earliest Quakers weren't trying to protect a little enclave from the world: they were trying to launch an offensive on the world. They assumed that in interactions between "the people of God" and "the world's people" the "people of God" would be perfectly safe and the "world's people" would be challenged and maybe changed. The "hedge" became a central concept after Quakerism had stopped expanding, after the most blatant persecutions had ceased for the most part, and when succeeding generations sought just to live in peace among themselves. John Woolman's ministry thrived during this period, as well as that of many others less well known, so one can hardly generalize that the "hedge" always led to spiritual deadness. Yet in the long run I think that was its tendency. People who were brought up with Quakerism as a "tradition" that was never really questioned or tested against others' beliefs gradually lost a really vital conviction of its truth, or a sense of connection to what motivated its founding. So then, when new ideas arose in the world around or when new challenges presented themselves, the Quaker tradition itself was no longer supple enough to adapt from within. In the long run no hedge is high enough to keep out the world. Challenges to our faith will come, and it's better for us to meet them with a tested, living, flexible faith than a protected and brittle one.

So, since I've had some luck with proposing analogies that get people talking, here's another one: Can we think of Quakerism as indeed having a boundary and identity, but not one that is either sharply drawn or marked by a fence or hedge or wall? A fortress has a wall. An oasis in the desert is a bounded place, easily distinguished from the surrounding barrenness, but it needs no fence. Its character comes from the water that bubbles up at its center, and from the life that grows around it. I want to settle with other water-lovers around the well of living water which Jesus spoke of to the woman of Samaria.

I could elaborate at greater length (and probably will eventually) but this post, too, has now taken quite a while to write. I am closing it now and will await any comments.

Peace of Christ,
Richard

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19 Comments:

Blogger Timothy Travis said...

Thank you for this analysis of the issue of hedges. I share your conccerns and, although the concept has uses I think it could lead people to believe they are a "chosen" and exclusive lot. Perhap more important it seems to me to cut against what I believe is an essential calling of the Society of Friends which is to affirm to all the validity of the motions they have felt toward the seed and testify to where cultivating that seed takes us.

The light doesn't go under a basket, as it is written, but needs to be place high where it can be seen.

11:06 AM, May 13, 2006  
Blogger Peggy Senger Parsons said...

Rich,
Thank you for this whole conversation. It has been enlightening. When we first envisioned Freedom Friends here in Salem we were looking for a model to describe the church we felt called to bring into being. In Northwest Yearly Meeting at that time there was in vogue among some a ministry model which they called the "Temple Courts Model" based on the Temple of the time of Christ with its outer, inner and really inner areas. The point of the model was to bring people into deeper and deeper committment. I won't go into what we saw as the flaws of this model, but we were grateful because it challenged us to articulate our own vision of ministry - we ended up with an "Oasis Model of Ministry". Becuase it is kinda of long I think I will post it over on http://sillypoorgospel.blogspot.com/
I will come back here and continue to read this fruitful thread. thanks
Peggy

12:57 PM, May 13, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

Thy immage of an oasis rather than a fortress is a wonderful thing. Thee knows how often I return to the moment of Yeshua at the well, and just as the greening of the oasis spreads out into the surounding hard lands, the water we give each other has effects beyond that moment and that other person, as we feed one person, the effect spreads out, and the oasis grows.
I was feeling, am feeling a bit low this morning... thy post made me smile, thank'ee friend.

7:44 AM, May 14, 2006  
Blogger Paul L said...

I like the image of the oasis, too, Rich.

It is the water that makes the oasis possible, and though we might like to eat the dates from the palms, trade spices, have potlucks, hold contra dances, etc. under the shade of the palms, the living water is the thing that makes it all possible and has to be at the center of it all.

I wonder, though, whether there is some sense in which the well at the center of the oasis has to be kept pure that might require some sort of hedge?

2:52 PM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Canine Diamond said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:39 AM, May 17, 2006  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

I'm glad to see you back, Rich!

I, too, like the oasis analogy. I have been struggling a lot with some of these issues lately, and Friend Marshall's comments have been difficult to wrestle with. As to PaulL's comment about whether we might need some kind of a hedge to help keep the water pure, I'm not sure I would put it that way.

When I think about Quakerism as an oasis, I think that our focus should be on the water. It is why there is an oasis. Sure, we can run around, dance, sing, hold potlucks, but if we don't keep drinking the water, we won't be able to do those other things. It seems we should be willing to share our experiences of the water, and how we drink it ("the water is cooler here in the shade", "it really helps if I cup my hands", even "you look a little thirsty, let's go get a drink"). That is more important than "I danced a jig yesterday".

It isn't that we need a hedge to keep the water pure - that which the water is an analogy for is inherently pure. It's that we don't want all our water-enabled activities to get in the way of people drinking. That is, not only do I feel like we don't need a hedge, we need to be careful that our activities don't become a hedge that discourages people from drinking.

An interesting question comes to mind: Do you wait for people to hear you singing & dancing and then come to see what the ruckus is about, or do you go out into the desert and tell people "I found this wonderful oasis over yonder!" ?

With love,
Mark

4:53 PM, May 18, 2006  
Blogger earthfreak said...

Mark

Thanks, I have been sitting with this comment window open for a day now trying to figure out how to respond, and you did part of it for me


The water seems to me too to be inherently pure, incorruptible, isn't that the whole point??


And I think the analagy really gets to me because it seems to hit, again, on the struggle I'm having. I believe that the water is water, or rather, it's something essential, and life giving, and not able to be bound.

I read this, written by a self-identified christian, and affirmed by christians, to be the "hedge" - the water is Jesus? Why? You can't drink from the well unless you call it Jesus? Why??

In my experience, the water is beyond names. The stories I know about Jesus would indicate that he knew the location of the well, visited it often, and went out in the world to tell everyone he could find about it and show them where it was. I believe other people before and after him, and now, have a similar relationship with the well.

Jesus did NOT say "worship me and I'll show you a really cool well" (unless you believe fundamentalist interpretations of certain dubious passages)


I know lots of people think Jesus is the water. I dont' get it. To me it seems to be a mirage, mightily talked up, but with not much substance that I can actually experience, try as I might. What am I to do??

I suppose, to further the analagy, there are lots of oases in the dessert (well, really far apart from each other, but still) and all water is, in the end, connected. I don't want to set up camp at one where my fellow travellers insist on belief of a story that I don't believe, so perhaps I simply have to find another one. Christians don't own the water, but it's sad to not be able to find unity, or peace.

As for evangelism, When I became a quaker I LOVED that we were not evangelical, so much that I wanted to go out and tell people that they simply HAD to become quakers, cause it was the best thing ever, oops! It was actually a conflict for me for years.

I think the key is that some aren't ready to drink. They're not thirsty, or tehy're so thirsty their body can't handle it anymore. I think it's okay to go out and tell people, but some won't see what you see. For various reasons.

peace
Pam

5:16 PM, May 18, 2006  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Pam,
I don't particularly think that you have to say the water is Jesus. And in one of his recent posts, I think Rich said the same thing. He said that HE has to call it Jesus or Christ because that's what he believes and to not do so is being disingenuous. I think of the water as God, maybe a Hindu might think of it as the Atman, maybe some would call it the "Great Spirit", Rich would probably call it "Christ".

Some Christians seem to think of "belief in Christ" as being along the lines of believing in Santa Claus - acknowledge that he exists and you won't get a lump of coal in your stocking. But my understanding of it is more of a trusting - I listen and try to do what God is telling me, and I trust that God will give me strength. Is it important that I call God "Jesus" or "Christ" or "God"? If I don't believe it is true, then I would be lying.

My understanding of drinking the water doesn't mean believing some set of facts, it means listening for that voice inside me that is what I call "God", and doing what that voice tells me, and receiving strength and comfort from that voice. For me, the hedge forms when people come to the oasis because other people at the oasis like to protest, or because they are environmentally conscious, and some don't care about the water, that's not what the oasis is about to them.

With respect to evangelism, it means "to spread the good news", it does not mean "to recruit". The word has gotten a very negative connotation in our culture because people treat it kinda like a multi-level marketing opportunity, you have to "win souls for Christ". That attitude makes my skin crawl sometimes. But I don't think the solution is to just clam up keep it a secret. We have no trouble telling someone "You'd really like that movie" or "Diet Berries & Cream Dr. Pepper is delicious", but we can't say anything about something that may have a much larger effect on someone's life. Opportunities come up to talk about our faith, we don't have to go looking for them. I'm suggesting that we don't ignore those opportinities. And if people don't see the same thing, so be it. Jesus basically said the same thing in the parable of the sower.
With love,
Mark

6:33 PM, May 18, 2006  
Blogger earthfreak said...

mark - yes! I agree about evangelism.

It's one of those things that would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad, the prevalence of the message out there that reads basically "Good News!!! You will burn in hell for all eternity if you don't believe my story!!!"

Wow, that makes me feel so much better! Good news, indeed.



I think that leaves me, in my sort of post-traumatic-christian-stress-disordered state, concerned about what it DOES mean to "share the good news" - certainly there IS good news - That God loves you, that there is love in the world, that we can live lives of integrity and compassion and hope and great love.

And I don't think that we should restrict ourselves from sharing it. Like you say, we feel free to talk about consumer products until the cows come home, why not about spirituality, which is so much more essential??

For me it's more about how deep, and personal, the sharing is. I have had moments that caused me to yearn for a relationship with Jesus, and they have usually been prompted by christians, but not christians saying "you're wrong/doomed/stupid/cursed because you don't believe in Jesus" - but those who share deeply moving stories of their own lives and their walks with Christ.

And old lady on a train told me about how Jesus appeared to her in her kitchen and told her to leave her abusive husband, possibly saving her life, certainly opening up a whole wide world to her. She also raised an eyebrown at my "tight pants that all these young girls wear these days" (leggings, which are comfy - I spent approximately zero time attempting to look "sexy") and others in whom I can see the light simply shining, pretty much all the time. The three most "enlightened" folks I know are heavily catholic identified, but I don't see Jesus shining through them, I simply see light.

Perhaps I misread the oasis analagy. I read it as very much about Christianity, as the water being Jesus, and not simply "the light" - that much of christianity is based in insiting that it is a DIFFERENT well. I guess I am simply not interested in that. I am interested in hearing people's stories about Jesus and the water, I am willing to share water from someone else's "Jesus cup" and from my less identified cup. I have found great power in solace in ministry that comes to people through Jesus Christ, it's simply not where my ministry comes from.

I guess I am still trying to figure out where that leaves me with this quaker christian movement.

peace
Pam

12:36 PM, May 19, 2006  
Blogger john said...

I found this entry in searches of your blog (Still more about being a Christian Quaker), but I can't find the full text anywhere, only excerpts that were archived by the blogger search engine. Was it taken down?

2:07 PM, May 22, 2006  
Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

A brief response to John: The post you found with the search engine was never deliberately posted. I still have it as a "draft" post tentatively titled "Still More About Being a Christian Quaker", though I must have accidentally posted it and left it out there for at least a short time. Since starting that draft, I have shifted gears and covered some of the same material in the posts entitled "An Oasis not a Fortress" and "Responding to Pam". Whether I will get around to using the rest of the stuff in the draft is open to question.
- - Rich

5:33 PM, May 22, 2006  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

I feel the need to write a little more about Christianity and the Oasis metaphor in terms of my understanding.

First, one of the comments from Martin Kelly was: Michael Sheerhan's observation in Beyond Majority Rule that the most significant divide between Friends isn't Christianity vs Universalism but between those who have experienced (or believe in) a gathered meeting and those who don't, a distinction which cuts across the theological lines

I bring that up, because when I get caught up in debating over the meaning of the Light and the names we use for it, I think back to that quote and realize that I may be distracting Friends from a more important discussion. And from that standpoint, I wonder if Rich is not so much trying to suggest that you have to call the water a particular thing, but that there is water at our oasis and it is the presence of that water and our drinking of it that forms the basis of Quakerism.

I think I do need to descend into the "what to you call the Light" discussion here for a moment, however. Marshalls comments have frequently come to mind over the past week or two. It seemed to me that he was saying that Christianity is the "one true path". The real difficulty I had was that as he pointed out what Jesus taught as compared to teachings in other traditions, I couldn't really contradict what he was saying. Perhaps it is because I am not familiar enough with other traditions, or that Jesus' teachings speak to my western mind better. I may not know for sure whether that voice inside me is Jesus, but it does seem that the voice is consistent with what Jesus taught. So when I think back to Marshall's comments about hearing multiple voices, it isn't necessarily that I am listening for Jesus' voice, but the voice that is consistent with Jesus. Maybe that's a subtle point, but for people that do struggle with the divinity of Jesus, yet believe that God is actively speaking to us, it might make a big difference.

I might also suggest that the reason a lot of people dislike and fear Christianity is because deep down, we know what Jesus taught, and we don't always see those teachings in the actions of some Christians, who seem to act out of ego, greed, desire, jealousy, selfishness and hatred rather than out of love, joy, patience, peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.

With love,
Mark

9:01 PM, May 22, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

I suppose my chief worry about the divinity of Jesus ... still small voice IS Jesus contention, is the part of Christianity, which I strongly doubt a Pharasean rabbi would have stated, and that is that his sacrifice redeems others and atones for their sins. This is a completely antithetical concept to the totality of Jewish thought at the time and as expressed by most of Yeshua's ministry as we can attempt to reconstruct it after edits from folks like Paul and John. It seems to me to be a misinterpretation of the concept of sin and redemption in Judaism, which is a deep and important and civilizing ideal, that we sin, not through doing wrong, but by acts which separate us... and as such, need to atone, to heal and bring together all separated by our actions. There would have been no teachings of Jesus without this, and I can't see how it is not undermined by the idea of a salvation through the image of God in a human being.
Thine in the light
lor

1:29 PM, May 27, 2006  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Lor,
Do we know for sure that Jesus was a Pharisee? I have heard speculation about Jesus belonging to a number of different sects - Pharisees, Essenes, even Zealots. It was my impression that Jesus' teaching was somewhat antithetical to Pharisean thought, which is why they wanted him arrested.

Paul states that he himself had been a Pharisee, and he was the first one to write about the idea of Jesus' death being an atonement for sin. Even if this was not part of Pharisean thought, it was not something so foreign that a former Pharisaic Jew couldn't conceive of it.

Regardless of this, however, I don't think it is logical to conclude that Jesus couldn't be divine because the doctrine of atonement is wrong. Regardless of how we try to interpret the life and death of Jesus (and there are plenty of interpretations), we are left with various experiences of people throughout history who have heard the divine voice as Jesus - Paul & George Fox come immediately to mind, and it sounds like Rich has indicated a similar experience.

On a side note, my personal difficulties with the atonement theory is that is conflicts with Jesus' teaching. For example, in Matthew 6:14 he says "For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 6:15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins." In that statement, I don't hear any suggestion that someone has to die in order for the forgiveness to take place.

With love,
Mark

7:26 PM, May 27, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

Dear fFriend and brother Mark:
With thanks to Hiram Mcabee:
So, was Paul a Pharisee? Putting aside Paul’s belief that Jesus was God, was seen by Ebionite's as well as other Jews, as a pagan notion, and may be a clue to his Hellenistic identity, we find in his attempts to use Pharisean logic, errors that would not be made by a Pharisee. All Pharisees, in order to be regarded as a Pharisee, must be able to employ the qal va-homer argument or a fortiori argument. That is to say, that something which is found to be so in a small amount - must be all the more so if found in a greater quantity. Numbers 12: 14, is an example of this reasoning which is cited by rabbi’s as a prime example of that reasoning. Paul uses this logic four times, Romans 5:10; 5:17; 11:15; and 11:24. The first three of these times, his arguments are invalid by the cannons of Pharisean logic - the conclusion cannot go beyond that which is contained in the premise. In Greek logic the analogy is never regarded as a logical form and, of course, the root of the qal va-homer argument is analogy. Greek logic is based in “set theory”. Where as Hellenistic writers used qal va-homer reasoning in a rhetorical way, without much attention to precision, a Pharisee would not, there are no such examples in rabbinical writing of the time. This further supports the conclusion that Paul was a Greek gentile, who wished to be a Pharisee at some point.
As to was Yeshua a pharasee, I am sure he was. The fact that his teaching was so mainstream of that belief, and the fact that it was in the Pharasean tradition to point fingers at one's own traditon before anothers... yes I am completely convinced he was a Pharasean rabbi, remarkable, but mainstream of that tradition. As far as the Parasees wanting him arrested, no. I am not convinced of that, as he was crusified, not stoned. He was exicuted for opposing the Roman occupation, not for opposing the Juedaen faiths.
The whole story of the trial of the Sanhedran does not stand up to serrious historical evaluation, such a trial would not, and likely DID not happen.
Thine in the light
and deeply in the love of God
and Yeshua's dear teaching
lor

8:46 PM, May 29, 2006  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Lor,
It is my understanding that there is very little scholarly agreement with Hyam Maccoby's assertions about Paul. I believe you are probably right about the crucifixion vs. stoning. Crucifixion was a Roman punishment. We don't know for sure that Jesus was a Pharisee, all we have is speculation. There are certainly arguments for it, but I would think that if the evidence was so overwhelming that one could be completely convinced, there would be more agreement on that point.

I also think that the debate over whether Paul and/or Jesus were Pharisees is a little off-track, and maybe I should have omitted that part of my response. My main point was that I don't think that you can use the doctrine of atonement to prove or disprove the divinity of Jesus. Atonement might rely on the divinity of Jesus, but the reverse is not necessarily true.
With love,
Mark

11:28 PM, May 29, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

Well, fFriend Mark, thee is right about that, the disscussion of wether or not Yeshua was a pharasee. I personally find the best evidence that Yeshua was devinely inspired but not divine are the laws of nature... God does not violate natural law. For there to be a universe with a capricious God who calls forth a rational world, then several times, in the past, breaks the rational law... for me is as unlikely as can be... more it seems to be human discomfort with the way the world is created... I don't like that there is cancer, that there are earthquakes, that we are conquered by Rome, so OUR God, THE God, comes down to fix the mistake.
I find that is to deny the hand of God.
If in fact, the dead did rise and walk through Jerusalem, or there were earth tremors and an eclipse at the death of Yeshua, it is likely to have been written about. Rather, there is much more written about John the Baptist, and many small leaders of uprisings. In point of fact, there is a great deal of evidence that Nazareth did not exist at the time of Yeshua's birth. It strikes me that the coming to earth of God, would, well... make the papers, as it were.
This does not undermine the message of Yeshua, that we should feed each other, that we should live the sermon on the mount... but to say that Yeshua's divinity IS that message, for me undermines that message, because we then find ourselves in a debate over the bibles as history... and that makes that work of humankind an idol, and idols by their very nature divide humanity.
As to atonement... the idea of the need for personal atonement is core to the idea of walking with righteousness before God. If one sees sin as separation, rather than right or wrong, even the best of us, must atone, for good acts which separate us from others. To have a divine being who, through the simple act of accepting his divinity saves, atones by his sacrifice, it empower those who drop bombs on innocents, with a sense of being right with God... frankly, I think atonement takes a bit of work as well as faith.
Thine in the light
lor

10:42 AM, May 30, 2006  
Blogger Mark Wutka said...

Lor,
When I refer to the divinity of Jesus, I am not speaking of the idea that "you believe (as accept the fact) Jesus died for your sins", or that somehow believing that Jesus was/is divine is a replacement for following his teaching (how silly is that? You believe he's God and then don't do what he says!) I don't think anyone here has been suggesting that. All I have been saying in response to your comments, is that people have attached various interpretations to the idea of Jesus being divine (subsitutionary atonement, believing a fact, etc.). Those interpretations being wrong does not prove that Jesus was not divine. I'm not trying to argue the divinity one way or the other. You presented those arguments as a response to the "still small voice IS Jesus contention", and I don't think they really have any bearing. In other words, I don't see how we got from someone suggesting that the voice is Jesus, to the implication that if you say the voice is Jesus, you must accept all the orthodox Christian notions.

You also said: but to say that Yeshua's divinity IS that message, for me undermines that message
I agree with that statement, but I would also say that it is equally wrong to say that the message is the divinity (I'm not implying that you have said this). This whole discussion about an oasis and the water is based on the notion that it is more than just following a certain set of teachings, but having an active relationship with God. Jesus' teachings may show what the result of that relationship should be, but they are not a substitute for it.
With love,
Mark

1:33 PM, May 30, 2006  
Blogger Lorcan said...

Oh my Mark... we need to get us all together... somewhere... because I agree, this is getting a bit confusing... well... lets see, we all hear the same still small voice, that voice is God, that voice is Jesus, is Jesus God, therefore is Jesus just speaking for God... well, if so, are we listening to the same voice or are there a few stations playing here... do folks in Papua New Guinea hear Jesus' voice when they believe they are hearing some other God or Gods... and if so, why OUR God, maybe we are hearing Baal, and we've all been wrong all along... God really IS a golden bull... a blue elephant, a volcano, a host on Olympus... was God Lenny Bruce? Einstein? I once met the granddaughter of Goyakla called Geronimo. She had been pointed out to me before. She noticed I had law books with me. "Look at YOU!" she said. "You are going to be SOMEONE!" "Oh no, Grandmother," I said. "I am only going to be a lawyer, I never heard of a lawyer stopping the sun in the sky." "Oh! You know who my Grandfather was. You believe he did that, don't you?" "Yes, Grandmother, I do, how else did he get to the Black Hills that day." The lesson of the miracles of Goyakla's people is that belief brought them closer to God. Did the sun stop in the sky, ie: did the earth stop and our ancestors go spinning out into space, no. But, my miracles are no more true than his. It is the meaning of his miracle that is true, not the physicality of it... did Goyakla hear Jesus' voice to stop the sun in the sky and make the Black Hills with his fellows. No, he heard the voice of God, his God AND my God. There is not a God for the Bedonkohe (Chiricahua) Apache, and another for we Anglo Irish, or ... who ever else.
Baxt hai sastimos,
Devlessa, Mark
lor

10:16 PM, May 30, 2006  

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