Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Devil and Forgiveness

The Devil and Forgiveness

I just want make a point before I start this article. If at times it seems like I reference material from various contrasting religions, I do. I believe one should look closely at the all the options of any choice. These articles are intended to provoke thought and do not, unless otherwise specified, represent my opinion(s) on any religious group or subject. This particular article makes reference to items which have neither been proven to be fact, fiction, or myth…namely the Bible, God and the Devil. (In this scenario, I do believe in one supreme being, YHWH. That is not to say that I do not believe that there are other spirit creatures, some with ill intents). I will also be discussing the grey area of dreams (no pun inteneded).

The Book of Mormon says this about dreams:

1 Nephi 1:16 : “And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account.”

Ether 9:3: “And the Lord warned Omer in a dream that he should depart out of the land…”

The Mormon “Guide to the Scriptures” offers this of the keyword “dreams” and offers the included verses:

One way that God reveals his will to men and women on earth. Not all dreams are revelations, however. Inspired dreams are the fruit of faith.

He dreamed, and behold a ladder reached to heaven, Gen. 28: 12. Joseph dreamed a dream, Gen. 37: 5. The Lord will speak to him in a dream, Num. 12: 6. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, Dan. 2: 1-3. Old men shall dream dreams, Joel 2: 28 (Acts 2: 17). The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, Matt. 1: 20 (Matt. 2: 19). Lehi wrote many things he had seen in dreams, 1 Ne. 1: 16. Lehi dreamed a dream, 1 Ne. 8.

Other Bible verses on dreaming / dreams include:

Gen. 40: 8: “And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.”

Num. 12: 6: “And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream”

Joel 2: 28: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions”

Jer. 23:28: “The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.”

According to these and countless other Biblical references, dreams are one of the ways God communicates with humanity. Prophets are identified by having these dreams/ visions. Keeping all of this in mind, I would like to relay a dream I had. I would almost be inclined to take advantage of readers and convey two dreams but I will stick to the subject of the title. In my dream, the devil approached me. He was trying to tempt (scare) me with different things. I kept warding him off by telling him he was powerless over me, that I was God’s. He came back for more, but again I got rid of him. The next time he came back I befriended him. I was hugging him and patting him on the chest. I forgave him for his repetitive attempts at persuading me to do the things I did not want to. I woke up realizing that this is the ultimate forgiveness – to forgive the Devil for all of the bad things he has done. If I can forgive these things, I can forgive any man of his errors. What is forgiveness anyway? To humans, it is our seeking a peace of mind be it through an internal or an external source.

The Bible tells us this of forgiveness:

Matthew 18:21-22 (NKJV): Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. “

Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do...”

Perhaps the Devil did not know the full ramifications for his actions. I, for one, forgive the Devil
 of his wrong doings. After all, I would not be following my dreams if I did not.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Monotheism, Christianity and the Bible

Monotheism, Christianity and the Bible

Webster defines monotheism as “the doctrine or belief that there is but one God”. Christians profess to be monotheists. Christians embrace the Bible as the word of God. We can refer to Bible scripture for the following comments on God(s) and / or god(s):

Genesis 3:5
“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Exodus 15:11
“Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”

Exodus 23:24
“Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.”

Deuteronomy 5:7 (commandments)
“Thou shalt have none other gods before me.”

Deuteronomy 32:17
“They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.”

Judges 10:6
“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.”

I could go on for pages and pages. The discussion(s) of other gods in the Bible is very extensive. There are approximately 22 named gods in the Old Testament and 5 in the New Testament (1). We can conclude from these passages that there are other gods and that YHWH does not dispute their existence, just requires that one place none other above him. If Webster is accurate in their use of “is” in the definition of “monotheism”, which could be replaced with “exist(s)”, then it would stand to reason that Christianity (among others) is not monotheistic. If you believe in the Bible, you then must believe in the existence of other gods. Should we choose to argue the point, we would need to consider the perception of “gods” and “God” and their use in the Bible. Some feel the term “gods” is used in a general sense for objects created by man in explanation for the things around him/ her. Others feel that there are other gods but it is the one God (YHWH) that created and dominates over all the others. Webster does not make this distinction in their definition nor does The Bible in and of itself does not offer a distinction or explanation (2) other than the specific references made to one (god) or the other (God / YHWH). John 1:1 tells us: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god”(3) . Here the term is used for a spiritual being created by YHWH, having a specific amount of power and authority. So, we can assume the term is used in this way throughout the Bible, confirming the existence of other gods. Someone has to be wrong here. Either Webster has their words mixed up or the religions believing in the Bible (Old or New Testaments) are really not monotheists.

As always, I welcome my readers (or should I say reader) to comment. I would love to see scripture either way.

Reference for this article and notes:
(1) Andrew Hill. Baker’s Handbook of Bible Lists. 1981

(2) Comment specific to English versions/ translations.
(3) New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures

This is the best reference I have purchased regarding the traditional Bible. It is like the Bible without all the words. It includes many family trees and histories/ events in date order.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tragedy or End of Days

Tragedy in Haiti

Tragedy in Haiti or YHWH warming up for the grand crescendo of them all, the End of Days Armageddon.

The Bible tells us in Revelations about the end of the system of things. We call this day Armageddon (Rev. 16:16) and the times leading up to it we refer to as “the end of days”. Matthew 24:7-14 tells us (regarding signs of those times):

7) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places.
8) All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9) Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10) And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11) And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12) And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13) But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14) And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Now let’s take a little look at Haiti. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. In the early 1980s, Haiti became one of the first countries to face an AIDS epidemic. Fear of the disease caused tourists to stay away, and the tourist industry collapsed, causing rising unemployment. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector. While the economy has recovered in recent years, registering positive growth since 2005, four tropical storms in 2008 severely damaged the transportation infrastructure and agricultural sector.

With these things in mind, should we be sad about the tragedy in Haiti or should we look at it as YHWH’s strategic targeting of third world countries in his building up to the grand crescendo of them all, Armageddon, and be happy because we are getting one step closer to the next thing? To quote Monty Python’s Life of Brian, “always look on the bright side of life”. Did the earthquake of 2005 in Pakistan get this much media attention? In my opinion we should be saddened by the fact that it takes a natural disaster to take notice of places like Haiti. Most people go about their daily lives with very little concern for people they cross paths with much less goings on in third world countries. Giving should occur all of the time. What makes the people in Haiti that need medical attention, food, clothing and water any different from those all over the world, even right in your backyard, that need those things on a regular basis? If it would further your concepts of giving, please consider that accumulated wealth, savings, property, and the like will be absolutely meaningless when Armageddon occurs. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, "If you have money, don't lend it at interest. Rather, give [it] to someone from whom you won't get it back."

Sources for Haiti data:

Bible source: (King James Version)

Gospel of Thomas:
Patterson & Meyer translation from the Nag Hammadi Library

Further reading:

Perception Video

Found this while surfing the web. Please enjoy and as always I welcome comments and criticisms.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another Good Beginning

The following book is another good beginning read. I say beginning because I would consider it a primer into the content to the Nag Hammadi Library. It is not bogged down with a lot of scholarly commentary (in fact it has none other than an introduction) or historical data. It is simple and clear and contains many of the popular Gnostic pieces. The translation is meant to be understood by the layperson. In my opinion, it has a very nice flow, giving the newcomer to Gnosticism a reasonable understanding of these scrolls / codex. It includes The Gospel of Thomas and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.

A Word...By Any Other Name

A word by any other name would be just that....another object of perception. Relative to the subject matter of this blog, it seems as though the smallest, simplest of words can make a huge difference in ones perceptions.

About two years ago I finally had the opportunity to read the Bible cover to cover (or as close to it as I had ever been...still lacking some psalms, proverbs, and 2 minor prophets). This, coupled with a home Bible study, more extensive reading of Nag Hammadi (Gnostic) resources, and vast internet research, has led me to realized what an important issue the wording is.

One of the most common debates in Christianity is based on the insertion or omission of a simple "a" in John 1:1. In the King James Version John 1:1 reads: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In the New World Translation it reads: "In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god."
The argument being for or against the trinity. May be it is my Jewish upbringing or perhaps my current leaning toward a "Gnostic" label, but , despite having read countless articles on both sides, I still don't get that one. In my opinion, the statement is inconclusive either way.

The New World Translation has a bigger concern (in my opinion) with its version of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11 (also in Luke). Most of the traditional version of the Bible use the word "blessed" in the Beatitudes. The New World Translation uses the word "happy". Most people perceive divine intervention when they hear the word "blessed" whereas, "happy" (happiness) could have any internal or external source.

A Gnostic might also find concern in the differences in Col. 1:27.

I invite my readers to site other examples as well as voice their opinions of these passages.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gnostic Beginnings

Okay folks this is the Gnostic book that I started with. I admit that at the time I read it (first time), some of the material was beyond me. Not beyond my comprehension but beyond that which I had been taught, etc. I was completely alien to some of the concepts discussed. Now I know that Stephan A Hoeller is one of the leading authorities on Gnosticism.