Death

Life is a constant struggle against both spiritual and physical death and its meaning for our lives. Spiritual death has to do with our loss of the image and likeness of God and our union with Him. Physical death has to do with hunger, thirst, cold, heat, disease, the aging process, and anything that leads to and or culminates in death.

We always have the need of food, drink, and adequate housing to maintain our life. Because of this there tends to be competition for these things, which tends to lead to greed, covetousness, backstabbing, doing anything necessary to succeed, etc. Our desire for an abundance of possessions can exist to shield us from the reality that death strips us from everything, and our greed and covetousness can be a compensation for the fear that our short life is not as good as is our neighbor’s.

There is also the fear that because of death, life is or may be, meaningless. This can lead to depression, suicide etc. It can also be the cause of much of our pride, since we are always trying to puff ourselves up in a vain attempt to escape what we perceive to be the meaninglessness of life. Pride can also come from spiritual death. We have a nagging notion that we are not what we should be (gods by grace) and so we compensate by pretending to be more than we currently are in our fallen state. This can also be the root cause of our self-destructive tendencies. Since we intuitively know that we are not what we should be, and that we are heading back to the dust of the earth, we think that self-destruction is what we deserve so we decide not to fight against it, and consequently work to destroy ourselves.

Much of our sinful pleasures are an attempt to dull ourselves to that nagging voice that says death is coming, it will all be over soon, and then what will be the meaning of all that we have done. Consequently we try and get as much pleasure as we can before it is all over. Sinful pleasures can also stem from spiritual death as we try to compensate for the lack of the joy that deification and union with God bring.

Much of our constant busyness and entertainments are designed to keep our minds off of death, the meaninglessness of life, the fear going back to non-existence, and the loss of all that we hold dear.

Our lack of union with God and our failure to see Him and his work in all things also makes life seem meaningless. If every particular thing is just a thing in and of itself, then it has no meaning other than what it is. (A tree is just a tree.) If each individual thing has no meaning, then all of the individual things taken together will have no meaning. Only if God is seen in all things can life have meaning.

Our constant judging, putting down of, and trying to rule over others stems from a vain attempt to compensate for low self esteem brought on by our fall from union with God and the constant pull of bodily death. Judging and/or ruling over others enables us to hide from ourselves the fact that we are not ruling over ourselves. The self-pride that judging others engenders also helps us to view ourselves as gods without God. This is the same mistake Adam made which brought death upon us in the first place.

In the end, in a myriad of different ways, man’s life is in bondage to both spiritual and physical death. Western Christianity tends to miss this completely as they focus on sin without much thought for death that is its cause. Eastern Christianity hits the nail squarely on the head as it says that Jesus came to destroy death in all of its forms and thereby destroys sin.

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Original Sin

Original sin cut us off from the continual contemplation and vision of God, and instead filled our minds with contemplation of ourselves (and the world) as things in and of themselves without God.

Today, because of sin, we think that contemplation of ourselves (and the world) without God is our normal state, and we consider the contemplation and vision of God as unusual or abnormal.

Sin therefore is not simply the breaking of a law, and it doesn’t need to be repented of primarily so we don’t go to Hell.

Sin has so darkened our minds that we no longer can “see” God. It needs to be repented of so that the vision of God can be restored to us, and we can once again walk with him as we did long a go in the Garden.

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Abortion and Love

The abortion debate centers on whether or not a human person is being killed during the procedure. Pro-lifer’s say that the baby is a human person from conception, while pro-choicer’s say that the embryo/fetus has the potential to reach personhood but is yet to do so. They say that since the embryo is only potentially a person, if it is aborted before a certain point, a human person has not been killed.

If looked at purely from a biological viewpoint we are at a standstill, since no one can actually prove when life, and/or personhood, begins. But if looked at from the viewpoint of love, it doesn’t matter if it is a human person at conception, or only potentially so, it would still be wrong to abort it.

If a parent has a child with the potential to be a great athlete, love would demand that the parent help the child reach its potential. Love would never snuff such potential out. In the same way if an embryo has the potential for life and personhood, then love would demand that we enable it to reach its potential. As far as love is concerned, abortion, which would end such potential, would not be an option.

When Jesus was trying to show us how to love, he said that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Very few if any of us would have wished to have been aborted because we value the opportunity to live our lives outside the womb.

If we would not have wished to have been aborted when we were in the womb, then love would demand that we do not abort those embryos and fetuses that are in the womb today.

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Modern Man

Modern man’s attempt to understand life through observation, logic, and reason has been an abject failure. On the one hand, if we wish to discover why leaves turn color in the fall, applying logic and reason to what we observe makes sense. On the other hand, if we are trying to discover the answers to the truly important questions of life, such as, why we exist, is there a God or not, what happens when we die, etc., applying logic and reason to our sense experiences cannot provide the answers.

At least in part the reason for this is because our experiences in the world vary greatly from those of others. Even our understandings of common experiences differ. From these differing understandings and experiences we form the unprovable presuppositions that we take as “for granted” truths. Since these vary significantly from person to person, our conclusions as to what life is about vary greatly. Needless to say these conclusions are not only unprovable, but are also often times mutually exclusive at a very basic irreconcilable level.

This is why, despite, or maybe because of, all of the great philosophers modern civilization has produced; the conclusion of western culture is that nobody knows the meaning of life for certain. In other words our great wisdom has concluded in ignorance.

Critics will generally respond to this line of reasoning by saying, “Even if this is true, the only alternative is revelation from God, and even if that were possible how could we know whose revelation is the true one, or how can one prove that the revelation he has received has come from God, and not from a deceiving spirit, or personal deception?” Of course, what is implied in these questions is how can we apply human reasoning to prove that a revelation is really from God?

Just as man, in and of himself, cannot reason to the important truths of life, he also cannot use reason to prove his revelation to be true. The question is not whether one person can prove to another that his revelation is true; he obviously cannot. The question is whether an omniscient, omnipotent God can make himself known in a way in which anyone who wishes to can know for sure. The obvious answer is; of course he can.

Modern man doesn’t like this answer because in his pride he has convinced himself that he is the measure of all things. He has no desire to depend upon God for anything, much less the answers to life’s great mysteries. This is why he will remain ignorant of that knowledge which is truly important, and pride himself on having the relatively unimportant knowledge that secular science and philosophy can provide.

Thinking himself wiser than all previous generations, modern man, in many important ways, is the most ignorant.

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Arguments With Atheists

Arguments with atheists usually end up as arguments over evolution, but an atheist arguing evolution as a defense of atheism is like a Christian arguing the existence of Jerusalem as a defense for God. It is totally irrelevant.

Evolution can be true and God can still exist. He may not be the Christian God, but atheism isn’t about arguing against the Christian God. It is about arguing against all Gods.

Atheists have two philosophical/scientific problems. One is how to get something out of nothing, and the other is how to get life from non-life. I suppose they can get around the first by saying that something i.e. energy/matter has always existed. The first cause argument seems to demand that something has to have existed eternally, and that something has to be either God or energy.

As for the second, as far as I know, there are no experiments that show how one can get a living cell from non-living matter. And as far as I know, without that first cell life as we know it would not exist. So the question is, does it take an intelligent being to create that first cell? If so, then some manner of God must exist. If not, then it is possible, though not necessary, that there is no God.

It is conceivable that even if it is possible to get that first cell without God there nonetheless can still be a God. Just because something is possible doesn’t mean that it happened. In addition, life coming spontaneously from non-life does not disprove God. It only allows for the possibility of no God.

We all know that intelligent beings can create. We see it every day. What we don’t know is whether life (a living cell) can come from non-life without an intelligent being.

Atheists argue that their philosophy is based upon observable evidence, and belief in God is based solely upon faith, which they define as wishful thinking with no observable evidence. On the contrary, what we see every day (intelligent beings creating) shows us that it is possible that a super intelligent being could have created the first cell if not more. On the other hand, since we have never seen life (a single cell) arise spontaneously, then the foundation of atheism is based on faith, which is defined here as wishful thinking without any observable evidence.

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Three Disturbing Trends

In my opinion there are three disturbing trends developing within Christianity. First, many churches, including the Catholic Church, either have already accepted, or are in the process of accepting evolution. Secondly, the fastest growing churches have man centered rock and roll worship and self-help messages that pass as sermons. The third trend is that the Protestant propensity for every man to choose for himself how the doctrines of Christianity should be understood, has spread outside of Protestantism into Catholicism, and even though I haven’t personally seen it, I’m sure it has spread also into Orthodoxy. There is enough of the name of God sprinkled within all of this to get us to think that we are still God centered, but the truth is that much of Christianity is becoming man centered.

Ever since the creation of man, the conflict has been whether we will become like God through God, or become gods apart from God. The first is an exaltation of God, and the second is an exaltation of man. In my opinion much of Christianity is now on track to seek to become god without God.

There seems to be only one stage left in the evolution of man, and that is to ascend to some sort of super man or god man. As this infiltrates Christian thinking the Godlessness of evolutionary theory will also subtly infiltrate. In addition, the inevitability of the evolutionary process will eventually become more front and center in the Christian mind. As it does, God will become more and more unnecessary since evolution will do the work of making us gods without him. Finally, God will only be a term we use to pacify our conscience so we can avoid seeing our Godlessness.

The people who are tied into the self-help gospel will eventually realize that the relevant word in self-help is self. As they do they will slowly drift further and further away from God while trying to make themselves more godlike through the methods they have learned. This will probably include occult like methods, such as mind over matter, which will be cleverly disguised with the Christian verbiage of faith. The rock and roll worship, which confuses man’s emotions for the presence of God, can only end in man exalting his emotions, and ultimately himself, as god.

And, of course, the Protestant way of every man becoming his own version of the New Testament Moses, believing that God has personally shown him how all of the doctrines of Christianity should be understood, is self-deception which begins and ends in self-exaltation. As the deception increases so will the self, until eventually self becomes more exalted than God.

All of these, plus the man centered secular culture, are taking us inexorably to the religion of Anti-Christ, which will be some version of man making himself god without God. We are being set up for it. It is right in front of our eyes, and we don’t see it. The Devil is the master deceiver and more and more we want to be deceived.

 

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The Liber Diurnus

The Roman Catholic Church says that its Pope has always been the infallible head over all of Christendom. One of the problems with this claim is the 6th Ecumenical Council (680), which anathematized (accursed and cut off from the church) Pope Honorius of Rome for the Monothelite heresy. (Jesus only having one will) The ecumenical councils are authoritative in both the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and this particular council took place while the two churches were still in communion.

The anathema of Honorius would seem to invalidate the Catholic claim of headship and infallibility of its popes. Rome counters this by saying that this was not an official pronouncement by the Pope, and that Rome never went along with the anathema.

The first problem with this claim is that the ecumenical councils did not anathematize bishops for opinions. They were only anathematized for taking official stands for heresy. So at least those at the council believed that Pope Honorius had officially come out in support of Monothelitism. Secondly, the Liber Diurnus shows that the Catholic Church did accept the pronouncement of the 6th Council and did see Honorius as a heretic.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia the Liber Diurnus is:

“A miscellaneous collection of ecclesiastical formularies used in the papal chancery until the eleventh century. It contains models of the important official documents usually prepared by the chancery; particularly of letters and official documents in connexion with the death, the election, and the consecration of the pope; the installation of newly elected bishops, especially of the suburbicarian bishops; also models for the professions of faith, the conferring of the pallium on the archbishops, for the granting of privileges and dispensations, the founding of monasteries, the confirmation of acts by which the Church acquired property, the establishment of private chapels, and in general for all the many decrees called for by the extensive papal administration.”

Formula 84 af the Liber Diurnus deals with the oath that popes, from about the late 7th to the 11th centuries, took upon being elevated to the papacy. The Catholic Encyclopedia says this about Formula 84:

“Lucas Holstenius was the first who undertook to edit the Liber Diurnus. He had found one manuscript of it in the monastery of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme at Rome, and obtained another from the Jesuit College de Clermont at Paris; but as Holstenius died in the meantime and his notes could not be found, this edition printed at Rome in 1650 was withheld from publication, by advice of the ecclesiastical censors, and the copies put away in a room at the vatican. The reason for so doing was apparently formula 84, which contained the profession of faith of the newly elected pope, in which the latter recognized the Sixth General Council and its anathemas against Pope Honorius for his (alleged) Monothelism.”

The relevant paragraph of formula 84 says:

“The authors were in actuality defending the new heretical doctrines of Sergius, Phyrrhus, Paulus, and Petrus of Constantinople, and were in agreement with Honorius, who expanded his perverse fix for the problem.”

As one can see Pope Honorius is listed with the other heretics that new popes were to renounce upon taking the throne. This is very strong evidence that the Roman Catholic Church did accept the anathema of Pope Honorius for Monothelitism, and therefore did believe that he had made an official pronouncement of heresy.

This is also evidence that Rome has not always believed that its popes were infallible. And since infallibility and absolute headship over the Church are tied together (one can not have absolute authority over matters of doctrine and be fallible, since one mistake would lead the entire Church into heresy), then this is also evidence that the Catholic Church did not always see its bishop as the head over the entire Church.

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Excerpt From: The Mountain of Silence

The following is an excerpt from the Mountain of Silence by Kyriacos C. Markides. It is part of a conversation between Markides and Bishop Maximos.

“Don’t you think we would be utterly misguided,” Father Maximos continued, “if we believed in a God for whom there was no evidence of existence, a God that was utterly beyond our grasp, a God that remained silent, never communicating with us in any real and tangible way?”

“But that means,” I concluded, “that most believers are in fact blind believers, or as you called them ‘religious ideologists,’ that is, they believe in the ideas about God that they themselves concocted that may have little to do with God. No wonder there are so many problems with religion, so much religious fanaticism.”

“Can you imagine how foolish we would be,” Father Maximos expanded, “and how foolish the hermits and saints would appear, to carry on with their spiritual struggles simply because they believed in an imaginary God, or an utterly unapproachable and distant God? That would not be serious. In fact, one could call it pathological.”

“I have no doubt that most modern secular psychotherapists and psychiatrists would view the monastic, eremitic lifestyle as another form of psychopathology,” I pointed out. Then in a more serious tone I asked: “Are we to assume that the philosophical quest for God, one of the central passions of the Western mind from Plato to Immanuel Kant and the great philosophers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has in reality been off its mark?”

“Yes. Completely.”

….”If this is true,” I reasoned, “then the Creed within the Christian tradition does not mean what most people assume to be its message, that is, a blind faith in the idea of God.”

“That’s a popular fallacy with all its disastrous consequences. True faith means I live with God, I am one with God. I have come to know God and therefore I know that He truly is. God lives inside me and is victorious over death and I move forward with God. The entire methodology of the authentic Christian mystical tradition as articulated by the saints is to reach that stage where we become conscious of the reality of God within ourselves. Until we reach that point we simply remain stranded within the domain of ideas and not within the essence of Christian spirituality which is the direct communion with God.”

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Blasphemy Challenge?

The atheists at Penn State recently held what they called a Blasphemy Challenge. They offered a slice of pizza to anyone who would blaspheme God. The question that needs to be answered is, how can one blaspheme a non-existent entity? Who is being blasphemed?

Once an atheist blasphemes God he leaves unbelief and begins to fight against God. In doing so he is admitting the existence of the God whom he is fighting.

So in having the blasphemy challenge the atheists at Penn State find themselves in the interesting position of declaring the existence of the very God whom they claim does not exist.

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Peter and the Keys

In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus gives to Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, and tells him that whatever he binds on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever he looses on earth will be loosed in heaven. The Roman Catholic Church claims that this means that Peter had authority over the other apostles, and by extension the pope who is the successor to Peter, has authority over all of Christendom.

In Matthew 18:18 Jesus gives the same authority to bind and loose to all of the apostles though he does not give them keys. So it is the keys that the Catholic Church focuses on for Peter’s and by extension Rome’s authority.

They point to Isaiah 22:22-24 to show that when the king gave to his steward the keys to the kingdom this meant that the steward had authority over all of the kingdom. The problem is that in Isaiah 22 only one person is given the authority that goes with the keys. In Matthew 18 Jesus gave the same authority that goes with the keys (binding and loosing) to all of the disciples. So what is the significance of the keys?

The Catholic Church says that all of the apostles were given authority, but the keys indicate that Peter was given greater authority. Why then does Jesus use the exact same words when he gives authority to the rest of the apostles as he did when he gave Peter the keys? One would think that if the other apostles were given less authority than Peter, then Jesus would have indicated this with different wording. It seems to make more sense that if Jesus uses the exact same wording in giving authority to the rest of the apostles as he does when he gives Peter the keys, then they must have the exact same authority.

What then is the significance of the keys? There may be none. It could be that the keys were implied when Jesus gives the same authority to the apostles as he did to Peter. It could also be that in only giving Peter the keys, but giving the rest of the apostles equal authority with him, Jesus was giving Peter the place of honor amongst the disciples. So the keys in Matthew 16 shows Peter’s special place amongst the disciples, while equal authority is given to all in Matthew 18.

This seems to be the more biblical and historical way of seeing Peter and by extension Rome’s place in the Church.

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