Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Abi and June's Synchroblog -- From Peggy...To Peggy

Update:  The Synchroblog Links are up and added at the end!

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This post is part of June's Synchroblog, where we were invited to travel back in time to the “You” of 10 or 20 years ago and tell yourself something you know now but wish you had known then

This is not as easy as one might think...given the Temporal Prime Directive, and all.  My post title is a reference to one of my favorite Star Trek: Voyager episodes.  The important line of advice from Captain Janeway to Harry Kim is:  "Well, if you won't take it from me, take it from you."

Temporal paradoxes are very complicated and trying to understand them will burn your brain up in a hurry...and if I was, in fact, able to go back in time and tell myself something very important...it would, undoubtedly change my timeline today.  That's the point, right?

There are so many things I have learned in the past four, er, eight years that I wish I had known 10 or 20 years ago. But calculating the when of this endeavor is of paramount importance. It can be any time after Memorial Day of 2000. So, I'm going back just over 14 years ago.

Why then?

Because if I change anything between October of 1992 and April of 2000, I risk the loss of the three most precious gifts God gave this earth through me:  my three sons.  (Cue 1960s music....)

And that is something that simply must not happen.

But there is a day that sometimes messes with me...still.  And if I could go back and change one thing that day, everything would change for me and my family...and it would perhaps mean that all traces of AbiSomeone, Virtual Abbess of the Purple Martyrdom, would disappear from the Internet.

Such are the risks one takes when playing with time.

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"Robert, could we turn right and take the scenic drive home, please? It is so beautiful with all the spring flowers blooming and the water in the creek is running so high and fast -- there is that little waterfall that should be just awesome.  Please?"

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On the 3rd of June, 2000, we were celebrating our oldest son's 5th birthday (a few weeks late) at our local Denny's. As we pulled out of the restaurant's driveway, I simply suggested that we turn right. I didn't say why. Maybe Robert didn't hear me...maybe he had other plans for the drive home...in any case, he turned left and we ended up at the front of the left turn lane, just as the light turned green.

Just then, as we accelerated, we heard the sound of a siren coming toward our intersection.  Robert stopped to ensure that the way was clear. The young man in the big pickup behind us didn't hear or see what was happening, and slammed right into us...our Mazda 929's bumper a good 8 inches lower than his steel bumper, which went straight into our trunk.

Right then all our lives changed.

My 5 year old and 17 month old sons, seemingly secure in their car seats, both suffered concussions as their heads were slammed back. Neurological damage is slow to manifest and even slower to resolve. I can't even talk about it...my heart is breaking all over again.

I knew I was pregnant -- just two weeks! Somehow I was turned toward the boys in the back seat, which is how I saw their heads bounce off the backs of their car seats. I sustained twisting injuries of my cervical spine/neck muscles and ligaments as well as of my L5/S1 vertebrae in my low back.

...and with a little over eight months more of ligament relaxing hormones pumping into my 44 year old, ever-changing, body mechanics, the prognosis for full restoration was not very hopeful.

That day my babies lost a mostly functional mommy and had to learn to make do with a very broken-down, purple one. This is not something that they have understood very well...especially the two little ones, who never really knew me "before"...but that is another story for another time, perhaps.

In particularly melancholic moments, I wonder if I would have even had the rest of my slew of injuries in the ensuing years...compounding, as it seems, from that first, catastrophic, injury.

"What if?" is a place where I have spent a lot of energy, these past 14 years.  It is not a good place to be -- because there is no time travel. And even if I had a Time Turner, I couldn't safely go back more than five hours. And the Omega 13 Device could only go back 13 seconds. Way too late for fixing....

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Nope, I can't go back. I must live fully in the present, forgiving the past as the best we knew how to do at the time. I must embrace the severe mercy of my beloved Triune God, whose merciful and loving grace faithfully works in and through all of our pain and suffering to bring into being amazing goodness that would not otherwise exist.

Suffering is part of the hard work of learning patience and compassion.  For myself...for others...for all of Creation.

Living in the past or living in the future are time wasters for me.  I need YHWH, the Present Presence, to keep me in the here and now...walking baby steps with Jesus in the midst of the darkness and nightmares.  We will get through to the light of morning.

I keep waking up every day.

We do not have the opportunity to deal with temporal paradoxes, but Perichoretic cHesed Paradoxes are all over the place for this wee, purple, forward-looking, Papa-trusting, Jesus-following, Sarayu-transformed abbess.

In due time God will restore what the locust has eaten.

But that will not be my doing -- I cannot fix any of that.  There is no magic wand...there is only embracing pain as the way of human learning.  I must walk in faith into what I am learning about who God is and who I am and what it is that I am to be doing:  receiving God's merciful loving kindness and returning it by sharing it with those God puts in my path.

...I'm happy not to lose all of my virtual fellow journey mates.... ;^)

Be blessed...and do read the rest of the bloggers, when the links are up!

Abi

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Here's the blog links!



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Abi ponders privilege and purpose....

There has been something that keeps coming back to me these past few months, as I have been pondering patriarchy and the purpose of God.  It is something that one of my college professors, Dr. Knofel Staton, used to just hammer into us:  Privilege is given for a purpose.  If the purpose is abandoned, the privilege is no longer valid.

God called Abram to be the Father of the Hebrew people.  Not because Abram was exceptional, but because God was faithful. The Hebrew people were set apart as God's chosen people.  Not because they were exceptional, but because God was faithful. God was, as Baxter Kruger so frequently says, preparing the Womb of the Incarnation.

Abram, when his name was changed to Abraham, became the first of the great patriarchs:  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Each of these men were deeply flawed in character, but God was faithful.  They were given privilege in order for the purposes of God to be accomplished.  When they held to the privilege and lost sight of the purpose, things did not go well.

In those times we saw the cHesed of God move to prevent disaster in what we call wrath. Wrath, since it is an aspect of cHesed (love, grace, mercy), does not strike without warning.  Those on whom wrath is visited usually know they have strayed.  (I think Job may be one exception.)

The patriarchs and the prophets and the priests and the kings of the Hebrew people frequently had problems keeping their privilege aligned with the purpose of YHWH. They too often became enamored of the glory and honor that accompanied the privilege...and not only forgot the purpose, but frequently they abused their privileged positions.

When the fullness of time had come, and the Womb of the Incarnation was fully prepared, Jesus took up human flesh in order to dwell among humans and bring about their Adoption--which, by the way, has always been the purpose.

Jesus--by his words and deeds--gave notice to the patriarchs and prophets and priests and kings that their time of privilege was coming to an end. The Holy Spirit was about to be poured out upon all flesh, and Father, Son and Spirit would dwell within each of us.  We would become a Royal Priesthood for King Jesus and God would hold the title of Father in the Kingdom of God.

Throughout history there have been those who continue to grasp tightly to the privileged positions which Jesus set aside. Clearly they had not understood...they did not wish to understand...they were unable to understand.  The mind that is not renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit remains darkened and confused. And so history is cluttered with those who would claim privileged positions given by God...but who used their privilege for their own, or others, purposes and call them God's purpose.  Multitudes of the abused cry out against their abuses.

Surely, I do not need to list out the abuses of the Popes, bishops, priests, kings, nobles, officers, leaders...those who used their privilege to deprive others of their privilege as Children of God and Joint Heirs with Jesus.

I mourn the millennia of abused and confused privilege...and rejoice where it has been rectified by the work of the Holy Spirit.  There is, unfortunately, much work yet to be done.

Happily, the Word of the Lord does not return void.  This victory is already won...but it has not yet been fully realized.

May we each, in our own way, be beacons of the Kingdom...where all are brothers and sisters in Christ and only Jesus is Lord and God is Father...where the purpose of reconciliation and restoration can only be delayed but not thwarted.

We walk in suffering solidarity on this journey with those oppressed by the hand of men who hold to a privilege that has been rescinded because its purpose has already been accomplished.  May they see that there is a new task set before us by the Master....

Patience is a difficult discipline, but our God is full of love and grace and mercy for us as They walk the path with us.

Be blessed...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Abi links to a great post which asks: Is God Male....

Friends, you must simply take the time to read this beautiful post--shared on their Facebook page by the wonderful folks at The Junia ProjectIs God Male or Masculine? 

I have written posts about patriarchy and accommodation and about pondering the Spirit as the Grand Mother.  This post is an important background document to flesh out what I have so imperfectly tried to say in my broken, purple way....

Be blessed!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Abi and May's Synchroblog..."What the hell?"

Update 6/10/14 -- interesting chart over at Jesus Creed.  Why am I not surprised that I don't seem to fit any of the options?

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Update 4/25/14 -- added another blogger at the bottom...

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This post of part of May's Synchroblog.  Please see the listing of other bloggers at the bottom of this post, and take the time to read the variety of responses with as much openness as your heart and mind will allow.  

I encourage you to follow J.R.R. Tolkien's advise and "suspend disbelief" long enough to enter into the narrative and let the Spirit speak--either to confirm what you have come to suspect (but thought you were the only one) or to challenge your own belief in what you have been taught.

If there were ever a time to be Berean, it would be for such a time at this!

Be blessed....

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As with just about everything else, my ideas about wrath and hell have changed significantly over the past five years. It has been a slow and confusing process of looking at things that I hadn't really thought about--just taken them for granted as they had been taught.

When one's foundational ideas shift, the whole house shifts....

So I need to start with wrath as an aspect of love. I started thinking about this after reading The Shack and meeting Wayne Jacobsen. There was plenty to ponder about in these conversations...and ponder I did.

But there was something that just wasn't setting right...and it wouldn't be until I finally took the time to read and listen to C. Baxter Kruger that things began to fall into place in a way that really helped my ideas about wrath and hell shift. I started sharing that shift in the April Synchroblog. A shift that I have begun to talk about as Perichoretic cHesed.

Perichoretic cHesed is all about the very nature of God as Father, Son and Spirit. But that nature has been clouded by an infiltration of pagan Greek philosophy by some of the most influential church fathers--like St. Augustine and Martin Luther.

Baxter Kruger has done a tremendous job of documenting this subtle infiltration--and I'm so very grateful to him! In a nutshell it comes down to this:
  • A Deistic GOD which is basically solitary, distant, impersonal, disappointed and angry--among other things--is mostly a reflection of Greek ideas about god. Those ideas made a lot of sense to people steeped in the Greco-Roman culture of Western Civilization. But those ideas appeal to the fallen mind...and that is problematic. A solitary God does not love by nature. 
  • A Trinitarian God which exists in the loving relationship of the Father and the Son in the Spirit, that I have come to describe as Perichoretic cHesed, is consistent with the realities of the Hebraic culture of covenant that God developed as part of what Baxter calls "the womb of the Incarnation." This Triune God loves by nature.
And this is where all the troubles arise....

When God does not love by nature and is cast in the most of humanity's fallen mind, we're going to get an angry judge, offended and looking to punish sinners.  Jonathan Edwards did an unfortunately great job describing that God.... It is this God of wrath who condemns sinners to a Hell of eternal punishment and torment, as Dante's Inferno popularized.

But what if that God is not what God is really like?

What if God, dwelling eternally as Father, Son and Spirit, are a community of self-giving and other-centered love that always looks out for the best interest of the other? What if they planned, from before they even created, to include their creation in their relationship of Perichoretic cHesed? What if that is what Jesus took on human flesh to accomplish--our adoption? What if the task of the Spirit, for all these centuries, has been one of educating the human race concerning their inclusive adoption into the very Family of God? And what is part of that education is the pruning away of ideas and habits that hurt and destroy us and keep us from living in the truth of who we are in Jesus? What if the things we have build in this world have been made from wood or straw or stubble rather than gold and silver and precious stones...and when the fires of trials in this world burn up that which is flammable?

What if the fires of hell are not ones of eternal torment and punishment but rather are ones of purification and restoration? (HT: Wm. Paul Young and C. Baxter Kruger)

What if hell is what we experience when we separate ourselves from the love of God...and the fires around us are a way of herding us back to the Shepherd?

Hour #33, starting in minute 43:35, in Baxter's "Big Picture" series of lectures gets to this definition of hell:  "...it is the form of human existence that takes shape in wrong-headed believing...it takes shape in the "I am not".  It is false religion. It's the misery of your own soul because of what you believed under the lie and harassment of the Evil One. And that can be extended indefinitely. But even though we suffer eternal  hell and misery, it doesn't change the fact of who we are. Who we are is beloved children of the Father. The Spirit's been sent to us to help us know the truth.  Whether we believe it or not doesn't change the Real World. It just means we are living in an illusion. And, to me, as the New Testament testifies, we can live in that illusion for eternity. That's the scary part."

That means that heaven is living in the reality of the Good News that Jesus has laid hold of us and brought us to live with with him and his Father and the Spirit. We hear and receive by faith what Jesus has done, and if we believe it and repent (change our minds), we experience heaven.  If we don't believe it--because "I am not" ... you fill in the blank--then we experience hell, because of what Baxter calls "our stinking thinking."

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I think there is a lot of room for more thinking about this, especially because we just do not have that much really clear teaching about hell and a lot of murky teaching has resulted ... and I am looking forward to the rest of the folks writing about this.

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Here's the collection of links from the May participants in this Synchroblog:

Jeremy Myers – Does Jesus Talk About Hell More Than Heaven?
Wesley Rostoll – Hell, thoughts on annihilationism
K. W. Leslie – Dark Christians
Angie Benjamin – Hell Is For Real
Paul Meier – Hell Is For Real – I’ve Been There and Came Back
Glenn Hager – Abusing Hell
The Virtual Abbess – What The Hell?
Kimbery Klein – Hell, if I know.
Michael Donahoe - Hell Yes…or No?
Liz Dyer – Hell? No!
Margaret Boelman - Hell No I Won’t Go
Loveday Anyim – Why the hell do you believe in hell?
Linda - If you died today, where would you go?
Edwin Aldrich – What the Hell do we really know.
Mallory Pickering -- The Time I Blogged About Hell
Elaine – What The Hell?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Abi redefines and refocuses the controversy....

I have mentioned before that I'm not really comfortable with the terms currently used in the debates. I have had my synthesizing hat on for the past few years, looking to see if I could get my brain about things enough to describe what I have come to understand about the foundational issues that underpin the controversy.
Some of the key players in my thinking  these past 20+ years include: S. Scott Bartchy, Scot McKnight, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Mont W. Smith, Lewis B. Smedes, Wayne Jacobsen, Alan & Deb Hirsch, Eugene H. Peterson, Neil Cole, Michael Frost, Tony and Felicity Dale, Len Hjalmarson, Wm. Paul Young and C. Baxter Kruger ... and all the thinkers of the past they have brought with them into today's arena. I would have a very difficult time separating the various threads each of these persons contributed to the wee tapestry I want to share today.
The following definitions are intentionally very dense as I try to squeeze 40 years and millions of words into something that begins to represent what I believe about how humans are meant to treat one another.  These concepts have been heated white-hot in wrath's purifying and restoring hell-fire (not sure whether I'm ready to join the May Synchroblog: What the hell? ... I may need a rest!) and hammered out on the anvil of spiritual formation over the past five years in my wee purple experience. And now they have been plunged to cool in the Living Water of Truth to harden and prepare for service.
My glasses are still a bit fogged from the steam...and I'm still a bit tender in places that have been pruned and cauterized...but I trust the love of Sarayu that sometimes wounds in order to heal.
I pull no punches today, so I know those brothers and sisters who have invested their lives in what is currently called Complementarianism will not be very happy with me.  The term "Patriarchal Subjugation" will probably offend them.  I am intending to be precise, not offensive. I endeavor to speak the truth in love, spritzing a bit of Trinitarian Windex on their Augustinian glasses, as Baxter says...but I know that they will not see differently until they get a new prescription.
And I realize that it is not my task to convince them and call them to repentance--that is the work of GrandmotherI trust that Jesus is on their journey with them right where they are and that the Spirit will lead them according to their readiness to follow.  I certainly know how long it took me to make this difficult transition. They are still my brothers and sisters in Christ, but that does not mean that I must agree with them.
If you've been following my thoughts over the past eight years, you will see how I've come to this particular synthesis. And, as Craig Groeschel told a group of us at a Church Planting Conference in Kansas about seven years ago:  I only guarantee what I'm saying for 90 days. The Spirit is always at work teaching and leading me toward deeper growth along this journey...and there's always something being pruned, weeded, mulched... hey, it's spring! ;^)

Here goes--I suggest that you read it slowly and out loud (if your surroundings allow!) 

Patriarchal Subjugation 
is a male-centered, domination-based 
functional social structure of scarcity 
implemented by coercion and aversion. 
It's Christian practice flows from 
Augustinian-based scriptural interpretation and tradition, 
which is influenced by the pagan Greek philosophy of Socrates 
as taught by Plato, Aristotle and others. 
(Interestingly, Socrates rose to influence 
as the 400 years of prophetic silence 
was beginning for the Hebrews 
and his philosophy was firmly entrenched 
in the dominant culture of the Roman Empire 
when, in the fullness of time, Christ was born.)
Its infiltration from Western Civilization into Western Christianity 
was as subtle as a pagan wolf in Christian sheep's clothing 
and its practice ultimately fosters bondage and stunted maturity—
both of the oppressor and the oppressed.
Its peace is built on the coercive order
and cruel efficiency of the PAX ROMANA.
[I will need to come back and unpack this later...
probably with lots of links
to things that have already been said better
 somewhere else!]

Perichoretic cHesed
is an other-centered, self-giving 
relational social structure of abundance 
implemented by gracious loving-kindness 
and manifests as unmerited favor, 
mutual submission and 
mutually-initiated helpfulness
based on the best interest of the other. 
It flows out of Trinitarian-based scriptural interpretation, 
which is influenced by the Hebraic covenant philosophy of YHWH 
as revealed to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, 
and given to Moses in the Law,
known as the Old Covenant, 
and taught by the prophets. 
As it was radically reinterpreted by Jesus 
and introduced as the New Covenant, 
(cut in his very own body 
and shedding his very own blood,
to bring about our rebirth and adoption)
and taught by Paul and the very Early Church Fathers, 
its faithful and humble practice
results in the growing freedom
and growing maturity 
of ALL toward Christlikeness. 
Its peace is the very own peace of Christ Jesus, 
which is not at the world gives,
but rather removes both anxiety and fear
as all come to learn of their 
inclusion in the very Life Eternal
of the Father and the Son in the Spirit
as adopted children and joint heirs with Christ Jesus.


Perichoretic cHesed...

It's News...because we didn't know it.  And it's Good!  (HT: C. Baxter Kruger)

Grace and peace to you!

Abi

Monday, April 21, 2014

Abi and April's Synchroblog: Bridging the Divides

Updated update!  The last stragglers have been added to the list.  I hope you wander through these thoughtful posts...take your time, they're not going anywhere!  ;^)

Update!  The list of the other participants in this Synchroblog are listed at the bottom of the post....

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It is always a miracle when I am able to participate in the Synchroblogs of my friends ... and when I first read the topic on this one, I was filled with turmoil.  You see, there is entirely too much division in my house...and the bridge that used to unite us was effectively blown up five years ago. I have been pretty much in survival mode since then.

Some bridges cannot be unilaterally built -- they require cooperation between those who possess the land on either side of the gulf that divides.  And so I wondered if I would have anything to say this month...that I was willing to say in public, that is.

But today I find that I have a few things to say!

The house that Jesus was talking about is the house of the Triune God, where Father, Jesus and Grandmother dwell in Perichoretic cHesed. Where there is such unity and togetherness that there is no other word to describe their reality other than that they are One. Interesting that the last Synchroblog in which I was able to participate was on that topic...kind of like a warm up to this one, eh?

Take a look at the entire story in Mark 3...see that the context is about whether Jesus is of God's house and just who make up the members of that household.

This little story tells two important things:  the Household of the Trinity cannot be divided...but the neighborhoods in the Kingdom sure can be.  This gives me a firm foundation as well as a firm reprimand. If Jesus gave no special place to his flesh and blood family, I should consider my priorities carefully too....

When I get all caught up in the distinctives of various neighborhoods, it is all too easy to forget the distinctives of the Kingdom.  Kingdom reality carries the proper pH -- not too acid nor too alkaline -- that sweet spot described by the number seven:  complete, whole and full -- where human life flourishes and homeostasis is possible:  Just Right!

When Jesus became human, it was a distinctive he would carry for the rest of Eternity.  And in that blend of Trinity and Humanity he took hold of all of creation. He became the first truly fully human; one who was not divided by the knowledge of good and evil, but united with Father and Grandmother as he hammered out what it meant to be fully human and fully God. He laid hold on his creation and took us down with him in death, where he entered fully into our fallen darkness and blindness. He put to death fallen humanity and voided Adam's sin. He fell with us into our hell ... and turned on the lights! When he rose from the grave, he bought all of creation back to life -- recreated!  In Christ there is no gap left to bridge. We have been included in the Perichoretic cHesed of the Trinity because we are IN Jesus. All humanity has been adopted through the New Covenant in Jesus.

The challenge he sent Grandmother to work out, when he returned to Father, was the education of the newly adopted children. This is no small challenge:  most of the children have not heard about (or do not believe) what Jesus has done for them: They have nothing to earn. They have only to see and hear, believe and receive, repent and reorient to Kingdom life.

And that is where we come back to division. Or should we say poor vision? In and out. Us and them. Included and excluded. Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female. What a big gulf is represented by that little word: division.

The problems of division come when we look at our lives through our own eyes, rather than through the eyes of Jesus, as revealed by our Holy Grandmother.  We need new glasses for this new reality -- for our eyes will not be healed until that day when our bodied are transformed into ones like Jesus. Until then, we all need glasses. I call them cHesed Glasses....

One of the reasons why I have had to step away from institutional forms of Christianity is kind of like keeping 3D glasses on after you leave the 3D environment. Thinks just don't look right. Images look blurred and flat instead of crisp and bold. I have talked about the 3D quality of my cHesed Glasses, but there is an update needed.  I guess they need to be called 3D Perichoretic cHesed Glasses! ;^)

These 3D pH Glasses are kind of like those glasses said to have been made by Benjamin Franklin for reading the secret map on the back of the Declaration of Independence in the movie National Treasure, staring Nicholas Cage. Depending on which lens combination was being used, different things on the map could be seen....


3D pH Glasses see through the lenses of love, grace and mercy. They show us not only how God's love, grace and mercy are poured out over us at all times...they also show us opportunities for us to share this gracious loving-kindness with all of Creation -- humans, animals, plants, planet.

I have come to see that the glasses that Western Christianity has ground out for us to wear have a prescription that looks more to Plato and Greco-Roman legal constructs (which influenced Augustine, and through him, Luther and Calvin and so many others) than toward Moses and cHesed as covenant relationships. I have become more and more convinced that this is one of the biggest sources of division within the neighborhoods of the Kingdom.

It seems to me that all divisions come, um, from vision problems. I love how Baxter Kruger says that theology is basically just Windex to clean away the dirt and smudges that mar our ability to properly perceive God as they exist as Father, Son and Grandmother. We need to remember to not only wear our 3D pH Glasses, but to regularly clean them with Trinitarian Windex!  That Platonic Windex just doesn't work.

When I am looking out through glasses that are ground to help me see the amazing relationship between Father, Son and Grandmother -- where there is no competition or hierarchy, but only the freedom of Perichoretic cHesed for one another and for me -- it is such a fresh and beautiful sight. But when I look at structures of law and judgment, expectation and responsibility, organization and hierarchy, power and control that so many churches have adopted...well no wonder it gives me a headache!  And when our Platonic Windex only smears without cleaning, we multiply the problems.

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In the end I have to keep reminding myself the division in the Kingdom is not really Real. It's just a bad case of distortion -- one that requires new glasses and proper Trinitarian Windex!  That being said, poor vision is the cause of many an injury...and neighborhood divisions in the Kingdom are the most tragic form of "friendly fire" that exists!

May Jesus help us find ways to replace division with his vision....

Be blessed!


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Here’s the list of other bloggers contributing posts related to healing the divides this month:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Abi ponders the roots of sin....

With gratitude to Mont Smith, Scott Bartchy, Scott Peck, Alan Hirsch, Paul Young, Wayne Jacobsen, Penelope Wilcock, Baxter Kruger...and so many others who have challenged my thinking. Thanks be to God....

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I have come, over the past 20 years, to believe that understanding sin requires that we back up and understand the primary will of God...so that we see clearly the target that sin misses.

Belief is certainly part of the will of God, but perhaps that is too narrow, or not specific enough. What is it that we are to believe?

Scripture tells us repeatedly that God is love. Love is a relational term that needs the context of the Trinity --Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- for proper understanding. Too many see God as alone and distant in his holiness (Greek thinking) rather than engaged as an eternal relationship of love that includes all creation.

If God is by nature a loving relationship of mutuality and equality, where there is such unity of desire that can only be described as Oneness, then we have to ponder the meaning of creation.

I believe They created in order to share Their life of loving relationship with humans. History has been the process of humanity's education. And this is where sin comes in.

I believe that the problem of human sin is one of laziness -- of taking the easy way rather than embracing the necessary work of growing through loving relationships. This laziness partners with a desire for independence, because it seems easier (better!) to do things our way instead of entering into the growth required by love that fosters the other's best interest and finds a way in unity. This is why sin almost always is manifest as coercion -- trying to get our way by force.

This coercive way is sin because it misses the mark of loving the other as we love ourselves. It weakens or destroys relationship and introduces fear...and I don't mean holy awe....

And when we are afraid, we trust less...and, boom -- we get unbelief.

The serpent sowed seeds of fear by suggesting that God was not to be trusted -- that he was holding something back -- and the rule against eating of the forbidden fruit was a form of coercion. Laziness took that seed and gave it place instead of running straight to God for the truth.

The serpent stole their innocent dependence on God as Guide and they turned to independence instead of growing toward greater interdependence.

I have come to realize that much of Western Christianity is mired in the unfortunate blending of Roman/Greek philosophy, which forms a pair of legal/rational information-as-knowledge contextual glasses. This moves away from God's Hebrew experience + information = knowledge philosophy, which is founded on cHesed -- gracious loving-kindness -- within God's series of covenants. When that happens, misinterpretation will follow about the very nature of God and humanity...with the horrific results too many accept today as God's will. So very sad....

Only by the continual renewing of our minds by the Spirit will we have eyes that can see the Truth in Jesus, and this calls us to die to self so that we can be alive in Christ.

Lord have mercy on us in our blindness...and lead us out of the darkness of our own fallen thinking!

Amen!