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Quotes, Studies and WOW

In Apologetics on February 19, 2011 at 9:58 am

The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything

by Fred Sanders

See this book on Amazon.com

“But why did you come to Jesus in the first place?” and answer, “Because you were drawn by God the Holy Spirit.”   Jesus saved me; the Father forgave me. But the Holy Spirit convicted me, brought me to my knees, and showed me God.

Trinitarian theology is not primarily a matter of carrying out a successful thought project. Christians are never in the beggarly position of gathering up a few concepts about God and then constructing a grand Trinitarian synthesis out of them. Christians are also not in the position of pulling together a few passages of Scripture, here a verse and there a verse, and cobbling them together into a brilliant doctrine that improves on Scripture’s messiness. Instead, Christians should recognize that when we start thinking about the Trinity, we do so because we find ourselves already deeply involved…the essentially Trinitarian character of evangelicalism is Gerald Bray, who says that “the belief that a Christian is seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6), sharing with Him in the inner life of the Godhead, is the distinctive teaching of Evangelical Christianity.” No matter how much the doctrine may have become nonfunctional in the self-understanding of contemporary evangelicals, a robustly Trinitarian view of salvation has been the core, “the distinctive teaching” of the historic evangelical faith, according to Bray.

Without pride in our own tradition or prejudice against other forms of Christianity, we must surely proclaim that the experience of a personal relationship with God, sealed by the Spirit in the finished work of the Son from Whom He proceeds, is a deeper and more satisfying faith than any other known to man. . . . Evangelical Protestants are not wrong in insisting that theirs is a deeper, more vital experience of Christ than that enjoyed by Christians of other traditions. We have not received the grace of God in vain and we must not be ashamed to own the Christ we know as the only Lord and Saviour of men.4

The evangelical movement is booming, but it often seems to be ten miles wide and half an inch deep. This shallowness is not only how things look from the outside, to the cultured despisers of evangelical religion. It also describes the way many evangelicals feel about their own churches and spiritual lives. Many evangelicals seem haunted by a sense of not being about anything except the moment of conversion. When they stop to ask themselves where they are taking their converts, they fear that when they get there, there will be no there there. When they sense that God is calling them to a deeper communion with him, they are unable to say what that would be. After all, you can’t get any more saved than saved. When serious-minded evangelical Christians feel the desire to go deeper into doctrine or spirituality, they typically turn to any resources except for their own properly evangelical resources. A strange alienation of affections sets in. They cast about for something beyond what they already have, which leads them to look for something beyond the gospel. What sounded like such glad, good news at the outset (free forgiveness in Christ!) begins to sound like elementary lessons that should have been left behind on the way to advanced studies.

These two problems, our forgetfulness of the Trinity and our feeling of shallowness, are directly related. The solutions to both problems converge in the gospel, the evangel which evangelicalism is named after, and which is always deeper than we can fathom. Our great need is to be led further in to what we already have. The gospel is so deep that it not only meets our deepest needs but comes from God’s deepest self.

If the two problems of weak Trinitarianism and shallowness are related, there is also a single solution: we must dig deeper into the gospel itself. Instead of staying on the surface of it, satisfied with its immediate benefits to us and its promises of future blessedness, we can look into the essence of the gospel and find much more contained within it. Inevitably, what we will find in the depths of the good news is the character of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we call to mind how the gospel is inherently Trinitarian, we will find that we are being called back to the depths of the encounter with God that brought about the movement called evangelicalism.

When evangelicalism wanes into an anemic condition, as it sadly has in recent decades, it happens in this way: the points of emphasis are isolated from the main body of Christian truth and handled as if they are the whole story rather than the key points. Instead of teaching the full counsel of God (incarnation, ministry of healing and teaching, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and second coming), anemic evangelicalism simply shouts its one point of emphasis louder and louder (the cross! the cross! the cross!). But in isolation from the total matrix of Christian truth, the cross doesn’t make the right kind of sense. A message about nothing but the cross is not emphatic. It is reductionist. The rest of the matrix matters: the death of Jesus is salvation partly because of the life he lived before it, and certainly because of the new life he lived after it, and above all because of the eternal background in which he is the eternal Son of the eternal Father.

God is a magnificent Father. God is a magnificent Saviour, Jesus Christ. But if it were not for the magnificent Holy Spirit, I would still be a wretched, hateful sinner! It is not enough to have a Father- God who loves and provides for me. It is not enough even to have a Saviour who died for my sins. For any of those blessings to make a difference in our lives, there must also be present in this world that Third Person of God, the Holy Spirit.

In what sense is the ministry of the third person necessary? The Spirit’s work is necessary because he is the one who actually brings us into contact with the Son and the Father. It does not take away from the Father and the Son to say that their work depends on the work of the Spirit.

==========

Whosoever Will (Steve Lemke and David L. Allen)

“For God so loved the world . . .” The load-bearing verb here is “loved.” The English word “love” can be used to express very different sentiments: “I love peanut butter. I love my wife. I love football.” The Greek language has several words for “love”: eros, philos, and agape. Eros, from which we get the word “erotic,” suggests a love that desires only to take. It is a sensual love. So odious is this word that it is not one time planted in the sweet soil of New Testament Scripture. Then, there is philos, which forms part of the word “Philadelphia,” the city of brotherly love. It conveys a give-and-take kind of love, a social love of mutual friendship and affection. The word here in John 3:16 is agape, spiritual love. This love is a love that desires to give. It is a love not based on the worthiness of the object but on the character of the one loving. It is a love to the highest degree. John uses agape 36 times in his Gospel. Whosoever Will (Steve Lemke and David L. Allen)

We would say even more so, God’s love is “out of this world!” The overflow of this love is expressed by “so loved” (houtos egapesen). The verb is a first aorist, active, indicative verb. More specifically, the verb is not an ingressive aorist, which would suggest a time when God began to love. The verb is also not a cumulative aorist, which would indicate a time when God will decide to love. The verb is, however, a constantive aorist, which emphasizes God’s eternal, constant, total love. It means God’s love in its entirety.

There was a time when you began to love your mate or your children, but there was never a time when God began to love you. God’s love reaches to eternity past, before you were born. Before the earth was created and before the sun, the moon, and stars existed, God loved you. God’s love reaches to eternity; there will never be a time when God will cease to love you. When the heavens roll away like a scroll and the stars fall from their sockets like chunks of coal, God will still love you.

John 3:16 addresses a number of “isms.” The phrase “For God” responds to atheism, which claims there is no God. The phrase “so loved” responds to fatalism, which asserts God is an impersonal force. The phrase “the world” responds to nationalism, which says God loves only one group of people. The phrase “that He gave” responds to materialism, which says it is more blessed to receive than to give. The phrase “His only begotten Son” responds to Mohammedism, which says God has no Son. The phrase “that whosoever believes” responds to five-point Calvinism, which says Christ died only for the elect. The phrase “in Him” responds to pluralism, which says all religions are equal. The phrase “should not perish” responds to annihilationism, which says there is no hell. The phrase “but have everlasting life” responds to Arminianism, which says God only gives life conditionally. John 3:16 is a simple biblicism which reveals the mind, the heart, and the will of God.

 

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Who said BIGGER is better when it comes to church?

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on February 7, 2011 at 7:14 am

Church growth is dead

At this time in 1993 I was getting ready to graduate from seminary. In the early 1990s many of the guys I graduated with were inundated with the hot model for doing church ministry known as “Church Growth” philosophy. Wanting to be successful in ministry we all devoured books to show us how to do it “right” in today’s world. Out with the old and in with the new was the ministry mind-set. It all sounded so promising: big churches with big budgets if we employed the right methods. Mega-church pastors told us we could do what they did, and a whole generation of pastors bought in hook, line and sinker. Now its been deemed a complete failure by its own advocates.

The ideas that became the Church Growth movement began taking hold in the late 1970s. If the Christian church was going to survive into the future (we were told) it needed to rethink its methods and embrace a new approach. Church growth gurus such as Bill Hybels, Donald McGavren, and C. Peter Wagner advocated making going to church as inconspicuously “Christian” as possible. One writer I read summed it up this way: “Churches were built by demographic studies, professional strategists, marketing research, meeting “felt needs” and sermons consistent with these techniques. We were told that preaching was out, relevance was in. Doctrine didn’t matter nearly as much as innovation. If it wasn’t “cutting edge” and consumer friendly it was doomed. The mention of sin, salvation and sanctification were taboo and replaced by Starbucks, strategy and sensitivity.”

The goal was to make unchurched Harry and Mary as comfortable in church as they would be in a movie theatre. Indeed many of the churches even designed their worship centers to look like a movie theatre. In short they made the church look like the world… and it failed.

The first crack in the church growth edifice came a couple of years ago when church growth advocate George Barna expressed frustration that – since the full-blown implementation of church growth principles 20 years ago – there has been no net growth in the Christian church to speak of; in fact it has declined in America. He found that mega-churches have both a big front door and an equally large back door.

All mega-churches seemed to have accomplished is to kill off smaller churches that resisted the temptation to compromise Biblical Christianity.

The final nail came when Willow Creek Community Church – the “Mecca” of the church growth ideology – recently released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, on staff at Willow Creek, conducted the study. The conclusion? Senior Pastor Bill Hybels said, to his credit, “We made a mistake.” They didn’t make disciples – they made dunces.

Very simply they made secular people even more secular. Rather than leading people to worship Christ they led them deeper into worshipping themselves. This should be no surprise: if you gear a church towards the consumer preferences of a fallen culture you will produce a fallen church. Why would anyone think that catering to man’s fundamental sin problem would do otherwise? Liberals say there is no sin, and church growth says sin is no big deal. The very heart of the gospel tells us otherwise: sin is real and its the main problem we must address. Any church that fails to address this will fail too.

One may wonder why they didn’t see this sooner. Its simple: in their minds large crowds meant they were successful. Many think that there is an inexorable relationship between numbers and success. But many religious movements boasted large numbers and turned out to be in gross error. When I hear this sort of thing I often ask, “Have you ever heard of Jim Jones?”

A Biblical church rejects innovation in favor of faithfulness. God has given us a specific mission and a specific message, and He has not made what He wants in a church a secret. Being successful according to Scripture comes not by embracing a fallen culture but by embracing Biblical directives. If you encounter a church driven by anything else take my advice: find another church. And whatever you do don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

Marty Fields is pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church. Reach him at pastor@westminsterepc.com.

A Christian Business in the Left’s Crosshairs

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Trinity on February 2, 2011 at 2:22 pm

By Michelle Malkin 2/2/2011
Here’s a modest proposal for liberals who say they support job creation: Stop smearing successful, law-abiding private companies whose values don’t comport with yours. I’m looking at you, New York Times.
Chick-fil-A is an American success story. Founded by Georgian entrepreneur Truett Cathy in 1946, the family-owned chicken-sandwich chain is one of the country’s largest fast-food businesses. It employs some 50,000 workers across the country at 1,500 outlets in nearly 40 states and the District of Columbia. The company generates more than $2 billion in revenue and serves millions of happy customers with trademark Southern hospitality.
So, what’s the problem? Well, Chick-fil-A is run by devout Christians who believe in strong marriages, devoted families and the highest standards of character for their workers. The restaurant chain’s official corporate mission is to “glorify God” and “enrich the lives of everyone we touch.” The company’s community service initiatives, funded through its WinShape Foundation, support foster care, scholarship, summer camp and marriage enrichment programs. On Sunday, all Chick-fil-A stores close so workers can spend the day at worship and rest.
For the left, these Biblically based corporate principles constitute high social justice crimes and misdemeanors. Democrats are always ready to invoke religion to support their big government, taxpayer-funded initiatives (Obamacare, illegal alien amnesty, increased education spending and FCC regulatory expansion, for starters).
But when an independent company — thriving on its own merits in the marketplace — wears its soul on its sleeve, suddenly it’s a theocratic crisis.
Over the past month, several progressive activist blogs have waged an ugly war against Chick-fil-A. The company’s alleged atrocity: One of its independent outlets in Pennsylvania donated some sandwiches and brownies to a marriage seminar run by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which happens to oppose same-sex marriage.
In the name of tolerance, the anti-Chick-fil-A hawks sneered at the company’s main product as “Jesus Chicken,” derided its no-Sunday work policy and attacked its operators as “anti-gay.” Michael Jones, who describes himself as having “worked in the field of human rights communications for a decade, most recently for Harvard Law School,” launched an online petition drive at http://www.change.org “demanding” that the company disavow “extreme anti-gay groups.” Facebook users dutifully organized witch hunts against the company on college campuses.
Over the weekend, New York Times reporter Kim Severson gave the Chick-fil-A bashers a coveted Sunday A-section megaphone –repeatedly parroting the “Chick-fil-A is anti-gay” slur and raising fears of “evangelical Christianity’s muscle flexing” with only the thinnest veneer of journalistic objectivity. Severson, you see, is an openly gay advocate of same-sex marriage equality herself and the former vice-president of the identity politics-mongering National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association.
In a bitter op-ed on gay marriage laws not changing quickly enough, she asserted: “I don’t want the crumbs. I want the whole cake.” Severson has voiced complaints about her social and economic status as an unwed lesbian with a partner and child in several media publications.
None of this was disclosed in Severson’s advocacy journalism hit job on Chick-fil-A. But therein lies the unofficial motto of The Gray Lady: All the ideological conflicts of interest unfit to print.
Progressive groups are gloating over Chick-fil-A’s public relations troubles exacerbated by the nation’s politicized paper of record. This is not because they care about winning hearts and minds over gay rights or marriage policy, but because their core objective is to marginalize political opponents and chill Christian philanthropy and activism. The fearsome “muscle flexing” isn’t being done by innocent job-creators selling chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. It’s being done by the hysterical bullies trying to drive them off of college grounds and out of their neighborhoods in the name of “human rights.”
Remember: These were the same tactics the left-wing mob used in California to intimidate supporters of the Proposition 8 traditional marriage initiative. Individual donors were put on an “Anti-Gay Black List.” Businesses who contributed money to the Prop. 8 campaign were besieged by fist-wielding protesters. The artistic director of the California Musical Theatre was forced to resign over his $1,000 townhall.com/columnists/…/print1/2
2/2/2011A Christian Business in the Left’s Crosshai… donation.

Message: Associate with the wrong political cause and you will pay. So much for national “civility.”

Coexist Really

In Apologetics on February 1, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Many ways to God? Aren’t all religions basically the same?

“When Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and others pray to their god, all of those individuals are actually praying to the same god, but simply using different names for that deity.”

—registered opinion of four of every ten American adults (Barna poll)

Are these Americans right or wrong? Mahatma Gandhi of India once said:

“The soul of religion is one, but it is encased in a multitude of forms.”

Is this true or false?

“In reality, there is only one religion, the religion of God. This one religion is continually evolving, and each particular religious system represents a stage in the evolution of the whole,” claims the Bahá’í faith on its official Web site at bahai.org.

Are the Bahá’ís correct or incorrect? What about the Hindus?

“In whatever way men approach Me, even so do I go to them.”

—quoted from the Hindu scripture by Swami Chidananda of Divine Life Society

Is Christianity’s claim of uniqueness and exclusivity misleading and baseless?

Or is it necessarily true?

Even a cursory examination of comparative belief charts and data* quickly reveals that different religions make very different truth claims on a number of even basic issues. And they do so in a definitive manner. In other words, as any knowledgeable student of comparative religions will tell you, every religion—not just Christianity—claims exclusivity to achieve a position of true belief.

We are in agreement with the Socratic dictum that "the unexamined life is not worth living." And we believe as well that the unexamined faith is not worth believing.

Truth by its very nature is exclusive or it wouldn’t qualify as truth. Denying truth, ignoring truth, rationalizing truth only strengthens the conclusion of truth. Truth is objective not subjective, how you feel about truth confuses and muddles our understanding of truth. Then there are those who denounce truth because it requires mankind to consider their actions based on a standard that typically indicts our narcissistic behavior as fallen creatures.

Os Guinness on truth:

“‘What is truth?’ someone will immediately ask. Let me answer straightforwardly. In the biblical view, truth is that which is ultimately, finally, and absolutely , real or the ‘way it is’, and therefore is utterly trustworthy and dependable, being grounded and anchored in God’s own reality and truthfulness. But, this stress on the personal foundation of truth is not—as in postmodernism—at the expense of the prepositional. Both accuracy and authenticity are important to truth.”

Aristotle’s definition of truth:

“To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true; so that he who says of anything that it is, or that it is not, will say either what is true or what is false.”

✧ Truth, by nature, is:

• Noncontradictory – it does not violate the basic laws of logic.

• Absolute– it does not depend upon any time, place, or conditions.

• Discovered– it exists independently of our minds; we do not create it.

• Descriptive– it is the agreement of the mind with reality (coherence).

•Inescapable– to deny its existence is to affirm it (we are bound by it).

• Unchanging – it is the firm standard by which truth claims are measured.

✧ Nicholas Wolterstorff on truth:

“If I believe of something that it is a duck that is true of it if and only if it is a duck. And if that is indeed true of it, it is not true of it relative to some conceptual scheme. It is just true, period. Thoughts are true or false of things, period—not relative to something other.”

Since both orthodox Islam and Christianity claim to be the true religion, it is incumbent upon thinking person’s to examine carefully the evidence offered by both and to make their own decision in view of the evidence.

La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle." This is the motto of the Muslim’s family life, the ritualistic formula that welcomes the infant as a believer, and the final message that is whispered in the ear of the dying.

Among orthodox Muslim theologians, Jews and Christians were generally regarded as unbelievers (kafar) because of their rejection of Muhammad as a true prophet from God. For example, we notice that even though Tabari (d. 923), the most respected Muslim commentator of all time, distinguishes between the people of the Book and the polytheists (mushrikun), and expresses a higher opinion of the former, he clearly declares that the majority of Jews and Christians are in unbelief and transgression because of their refusal to acknowledge Muhammad’s truthfulness.

Adding to this complication is the charge against the Christian belief in the divinity of Christ, a belief that amounts to committing the unpardonable sin of shirk, and is condemned throughout the Qur’an. The Qur’anic condemnation of Christians is highlighted in 5:75, "They do blaspheme who say: `God is Christ the son Of Mary…. Whoever joins other gods with God-God will forbid him The Garden, and the Fire Will be his abode."’

How does coexist work in this case where two ideas compete for the claim of supremacy over the other. Truth demands and common sense require a choice validating one and discrediting the other.

The philosophical system formed in India in the 5th century BC by Siddhartha Gautama (usually 563-483 BC; an alternative date of death based on Chinese sources is 368 BC), the Buddha or enlightened one. Buddhism teaches salvation through escape from samsara, the endless cycle of birth and rebirth The state of Enlightenment or nirvana is a state of liberation from the passions and frustrations of ordinary living, a radiant state of living in the present, obtained by following the Way, or the eightfold path Two main kinds of Buddhism are recognized. Theravada (or Hinayana, lesser vehicle) Buddhism is found mainly in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. Mahayana Buddhism is found in Nepal and the countries surrounding and including China. Theravada Buddhism is conservative and simple in its forms; Mahayana or greater vehicle Buddhism includes more elaborate rituals, scriptures, and a gallery of saints (bodhisattvas).

The Buddha’s own awakening came with realization that neither the way of meditation, nor that of asceticism, provides a way to awareness of a ‘Self’ conceived of as a permanent, unchanging object of yogic contemplation (see atman). Buddhism therefore rejects the desire to constitute oneself as a single ego or self, on which point it is sometimes acknowledged as a precursor of the bundle theory and the no-ownership theory of the self. Rejecting this desire is the beginning of enlightenment. Buddhism rejects any concept of permanent substance, either mental or physical, in favor of a metaphysics of transient states and events. It equally rejects anything resembling the god of monotheistic religions. Philosophically however Buddhism, as much as Christianity, has a long history of diverse schools, representing different attitudes to reality, mind, scepticism, and experience. See also atman, four noble truths, eightfold path, madhyamika, yogacara, Zen.

Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy: Buddhism

Coexisting requires some form of common understanding. Buddhism denies any God and requires man to empty himself of the ego. Jesus said I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly. Once again man is required to declare something truthful or something false. If many paths lead to something of commonality shouldn’t they have the same in mind at the beginning?

Common 20th-century view: Only "scientific" knowledge is genuine knowledge. Everything else (including religion) is "prescientific myth."

Thomas Edison, American inventor (1847-1931).

"I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious ideas of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God."

Sigmund Freud, Austrian physician and pioneer psychoanalyst (1856-1939)

"It would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent providence, and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be."

Carl Sagan, American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author and science popularizer and science communicator in the space and natural sciences (1934-1996)

"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring."

Stephen Jay Gould, in his 1999 book Rock of Ages, coined the term non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA) in an attempt to finally resolve the conflict between science and religion. He claimed that scientists had one set of tools that equipped them to study science and answer questions relevant to their domain of science. Theologians were similarly equipped to answer an entirely different set of questions. Since the scientific domain, or magisterium, and the theological magisterium studied a different set of questions, they needn’t overlap.

The magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty).64

While this may sound like a pleasing solution to the problem, the fact remains that many of the questions faced by science and religion actually do overlap. You most likely would agree with Richard Dawkins when he says, “God’s existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice.”65 Dawkins, however, makes it very clear that he believes that God’s existence is not discoverable in practice. Of course, if no one who would even remotely consider the God hypothesis is engaged in research at most of our academic institutions of higher learning, God’s existence as a scientific fact will likely never be postulated. This does not mean that it cannot be postulated; only that such a consideration will have to wait until such time as science and theology can complement one another in the search for ultimate truth.

Secularists claim that the God hypothesis does nothing other than put an end to scientific inquiry. They assume that God is only used to fill in the answers to the questions that scientific knowledge hasn’t yet discovered. However, I would contend that such a God of the gaps mentality is not a legitimate use of the God hypothesis. Rather, the biblical God has very explicit attributes that may be explainable scientifically. Certain events documented historically in the Bible may be subjected to scientific evaluation. However, scientific materialism places detour signs that block potentially open roads of scientific inquiry into these arenas.

So we are left scratching our heads once again in an effort to coexist someone must give up their core beliefs and renounce their convictions because “science can’t verify God’s existence with their methods”. Yet in the course of scientific discovery faith is exercised and hidden behind the vocabulary of theory. How much of our Universe is unexplained and yet it continues to exist?

PRINICIPAL BELIEFS OF JUDAISM

The central idea of Judaism involves a commitment by the Jewish people to a single, omnipotent, incorporeal God, who is the creator and ruler of the universe and the source of a moral law for humanity. The idea of God as the creator of the universe opens the Biblical narrative Bereshit (“In the Beginning”) in the Book of Genesis.

The declaration of this belief appears throughout the Jewish source texts, including in the key prayer known as the Shema. The Shema, a recitation of Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, is a central feature of every synagogue service. It is also recited daily upon waking and on significant occasions such as approaching death. The Shema (whose name means "Listen/Hear") begins:

"Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God. The Lord is One.

Blessed be his name, whose glorious kingdom is for ever and ever.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."

The concept of a moral law prescribed by God is one of the principal subjects of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The concept of the Creator’s moral law suffuses the Tanach, which comprises the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings.

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (1135 – 1204), commonly known by his Greek name, Moses Maimonides, was a rabbi and physician, as well as the author of a number of important works of philosophy, law and medicine. Born in Cordoba, Spain, Maimonides fled Muslim persecution of the Jews there and eventually became physician to Saladin, the Kurdish ruler of Egypt.

Maimonides promulgated "The Thirteen Principles of the Faith", which sets out his version of the fundamentals of Jewish belief. The Thirteen Principles appear in various forms in the Synagogue service, but it is important to note that they are not prescribed as dogma in Judaism, as similar pronouncements may be in the Christian tradition. For example, Articles 12 and 13 are not officially accepted by Conservative and Reform Jews.

Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles are:

1. I believe with perfect faith that God is the Creator and Ruler of all things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.

2. I believe with perfect faith that God is One. There is no unity that is in any way like His. He alone is our God He was, He is, and He will be.

3. I believe with perfect faith that God does not have a body. Physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing whatsoever that resembles Him at all.

4. I believe with perfect faith that God is first and last.

5. I believe with perfect faith that it is only proper to pray to God. One may not pray to anyone or anything else.

6. I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.

7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses is absolutely true. He was the chief of all prophets, both before and after Him.

8. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that we now have is that which was given to Moses.

9. I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be another given by God.

10. I believe with perfect faith that God knows all of man’s deeds and thoughts. It is thus written (Psalm 33:15), "He has moulded every heart together, He understands what each one does.”

11. I believe with perfect faith that God rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress Him.

12. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. However long it takes, I will await His coming every day.

13. I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when God wills it to happen.”

The Jews await Messiah and the Christians celebrate Messiahs, virgin birth, life, death (crucifixion) and resurrection how do we say all paths lead to the same end? Of all that have a reason to coexist Jews and Christians seen to be the most obvious of neighbors yet the tension that exists almost precludes it. Both would see a major disagreement with any polytheists or other monotheists regarding who God is.

There’s an old saying that if you ask any ten Wiccans about their religion, you’ll get at least fifteen different answers. That’s not far from the truth, because with nearly half a million Americans practicing Wicca today, there are dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of different Wiccan groups out there. There is no one governing body over Wicca, nor is there a "Bible" that lays down a universal set of guidelines. While specifics vary from one tradition to the next, there are actually a few ideals and beliefs common to nearly all modern Wiccan groups.

We believe that the Earth is a dynamic system of interconnected life force energy – that every plant, animal, mineral, element and being on this planet create the body of Gaia – named for a primordial and primal cosmic goddess. James Lovelock, a British scientist, coined the phrase Gaia Theory in 1979. His work is instrumental in the development of the principles and practices of the Gaiaist religion, which takes many forms within and apart from other practices of spiritual connectedness.

As Wiccans, we believe that we have the power to affect change in all areas of our existence – body, mind and spirit – through the force of our human will aligned with Divine Energy to create and maintain the highest good for all, with harm to none, according to free will. We also recognize that "harm to none" is an impossible goal – that part of the interconnectedness of life involves the polarity of creation and destruction, birth and death, predator and prey, and other forms of energetic polarity (not duality).

What is Wicca as Defined by the Gaiaist Wiccans?

Wicca as we define it is

  • a transformational and experiential religion
  • practiced primarily in small groups of believers
  • who are part of a larger body of believers
  • with an implicit hierarchy of initiated priesthood
  • based on standards set by each group according to their lineage, tradition, or specific belief system.

We believe that Initiation is a necessary part of understanding the Mystery of the Divine, and that levels of Initiation matter only to others working within that specific and congruent circle of believers. We honor the teachings of the founder of Wicca as a 20th Century religion and the writings of Doreen Valiente, who documented the birthing of this new religious philosophy as the Mother of Modern Wicca.

The only real belief in this form of religion is the rules change based on how anyone feels that moment. If you can’t really define a thing how can it be thought to coexist with anything else? In the past pagans relished the idea of ruling or killing all those who disagree philosophically with them.

Pacifism, Peaceniks (A political activist who publicly opposes war, a particular war, or the proliferation of weapons; a pacifist)

Using Nero’s mocking cross as a peace sign is sure sign that coexisting and tolerance as practiced in modernity is actually more bios than tolerant. The peace movement of the 60’s has all but gone the way of self entitlement and self aggrandizement and no longer dominates the below 30 culture. Looking nostalgically at the movement that brought us the drug culture, a near pandemic of sexual diseases, disrespect of our government and cultural institutions, the war on poverty that has ransacked the African American community, I’d be safe in saying coexist would be a difficult achievement.

Gay Rights, GLAD, LGBT (or GLBT) is an initialism referring collectively to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community", which many within LGBT communities felt did not represent accurately all those to whom it referred.[1] In modern usage, the term LGBT is intended to emphasize a diversity of "sexuality and gender identity-based cultures" and is sometimes used to refer to anyone who is non-heterosexual instead of exclusively to people who are homosexual, bisexual, or transgender.[1][2] To recognize this inclusion, a popular variant adds the letter Q for those who identify as queer and questioning their sexual identity (e.g., "LGBTQ" or "GLBTQ").

The initialism has become mainstream as a self-designation and has been adopted by the majority of LGBT community centers and LGBT media in many English-speaking countries.[3][4]

The initialisms are not agreeable to everyone that they literally encompass.[5] On the one hand, some intersex people want to be included in LGBT groups and would prefer the term "LGBTI".[6] On the other hand, some individuals of one group may feel no relation to the individuals in other groups denoted and find such persistent comparisons offensive.[7] Some argue that transgender and transsexual causes are not the same as that of LGB people.[8] A correlate to these ideas is evident in the belief of "lesbian & gay separatism", which holds that lesbians and gay men should form a community distinct and separate from other groups normally included.[7][9] Other people also do not care for the term as they feel the lettering comes across as being too politically correct, an attempt to categorize various groups of people into one grey area, and that it implies that the issues and priorities of the main groups represented are given equal consideration.[8][10]

Demanding acceptance from those who disagree on behavior, (but are more than willing to respect the individual in that behavior) is less than honest from those seeking to coexist by government warrant and social bullying. Anyone who speaks to the lifestyle of the gay community that doesn’t support the agenda is typically labeled with some pejorative term. Coexist hum!

Christians are defined as followers of the Way, adherents to the message and claims of Jesus the Christ the Messiah. Believers are those who understand their fallen nature as creatures, before their Creator who in His mercy offered a way of redemption and restoration of relationship to God our creator. Many claims against those who name Jesus or are called Christians have been leveled against them. I suppose if those who did those terrible things were really adherents of the faith it would be a tragedy. Since being a Christian in the terms Jesus stated requires death to self, hatred from the rest of the unbelieving world, and repentance from not only terrible behavior but a hatred of God it’s hard to reconcile the accusations verses the requirement from its founder. Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good but dead men live.

The story of the church continues throughout the rest of the New Testament, and as I read it, I cannot help but long to be a part of this kind of scene in the church today. A scene where we refuse to operate in a mind-set dominated by an American dream that depends on what we can achieve with our own abilities. A scene where we no longer settle for what we can do in our own power. A scene where the church radically trusts in God’s great power to provide unlikely people with unlimited, unforeseen, uninhibited resources to make his name known as great. I want to be a part of that dream.

Consider the implications for Christianity in America if this is true. What if God in all his might is simply waiting to show his power in a people who turn their backs on a philosophy of life that exalts their supposed ability to do anything they want and who instead confess their desperate need for him? What if God in all his grace is radically committed to showing himself strong on behalf of a people who express their need for him so their lives might make much of him?

God delights in using ordinary Christians who come to the end of themselves and choose to trust in his extraordinary provision. He stands ready to allocate his power to all who are radically dependent on him and radically devoted to making much of him.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (David Platt)

CS Lewis weighs in:

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I gotten this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too — for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist — in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless — I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality — namely my idea of justice — was full of sense. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.*

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