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Panentheism: Nexus of One World (Heretical) Religion

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Einstein Panentheism

Panentheism is not new, stemming as it does from Neoplatonism; and not rare, being widespread, in various forms and to various extents amongst the intelligentsia; yet is an unfamiliar term, even to most people who have encountered it in some form.  It is a man-made, philosophical religion which denies the authority of Scripture and brings together many threads of philosophy and speculation, including Neoplatonic Mysticism, speculative philosophy and theology, select elements of Christianity and other religions, speculative science (purporting legitimacy), in particular Evolution, and Environmentalism, with special appeal to Liberal Christians, New Age believers, semi-atheistic intellectuals, Social Gospel practitioners, Social Justice agitators, self-opinionated armchair theologians, “tree-huggers,” narcissistic “do-gooders,” and political Progressives of various other types.

In reality, Panentheism is Humanism in theistic garb, patently not Christianity, appealing to the selfish desire for apotheosis or self-deification, i.e., not to God but to self.  Observing the worldwide apostasy of this Age, and the “signs of the times,” there is good reason to associate Panentheism with the One-World Religion, the Religion of Man, which Bible-believers  anticipate will evolve into the religion of the Beast of John’s Revelation, otherwise known as the Antichrist.

Whether one believes this assertion or not, I encourage the reader to “save” the following basic description, in either text or the graphic form below, and from this time forward examine the theological claims and content of religionists, even one’s own church pastor, in its light, to see how he or she stacks up.

Panentheism

A Linchpin of Liberal One-World Religion

  • Increasingly a favored interpretation of Christianity amongst intellectuals.
  • Not to be confused with Pantheism (“all is God”).
  • Means “all is in God,” which includes evil.  Incorporates evil and redefines Redemption through its principle of Dialectic.
  • Influenced by Neoplatonist Metaphysics and Hegelian philosophy.
  • Related to the Process Theology of Whitehead and the New Theology of Karl Rahner.
  • Emphasizes unity of the Trinity (Perichoresis) in love and relationship.  Sees love, unity, Pacifism, science, and Environmentalism as the evolutionary path to unity with the Trinity and the universe by reflecting attributes of the Trinity (suggesting apotheosis).
  • Portrays God as continuously created and creating, not complete, evolving along with the universe, and influenced by Man.
  • Presumes truth about God discoverable in (theoretical) Quantum Physics.
  • Bypasses the Biblical Gospel and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, who becomes at best ancillary.  Does not require Bible-based Christianity.
  • Influences Liberation Theology such as that of Jurgen Moltmann and Gustavo Gutiérrez.
  • Expressed by John A. T. Robinson in his concept of the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God evolving through love and unity, but foresees no literal Second Coming (Parousia) of Christ.

Copyright © 2015 Paul A. Hughes

Social Gospel 101 - Panentheism

Panentheism

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Written by biblequestion

May 31, 2015 at 9:06 PM

‘Christian’ Tattoos: Does Jesus Approve?

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Yahweh-Approved Tattoos

Fair Use of an Image Displayed on a Public Street for Reporting Purposes Claimed

Condensed and adapted from God’s Laws:  Sin, Law, Grace, and Obligation in Pauline Theology by Paul A. Hughes (2014), available in paperback from Amazon and other online retailers, and in eBook format from Apple iBooks and other eBook publishers.

Don’t make up your mind till you have
considered these Biblical principles . . .
and oh, prayed about it—seriously!

Finding the line between God’s eternal moral law and prevailing culture is one of the stickiest problems with which people of faith must deal.  Much pressure is naturally exerted upon contemplating God’s law by the sheer weight of historic as well as contemporary culture.

When evangelizing, Paul preached from synagogue to synagogue.  Wherever there was a synagogue, there was also a Judaic subculture.  His views on the rights and comportment of women, while informed by the principles of original Creation and Scripture, also appear to reflect the influence of strongly traditional societies.  The prohibitions against women speaking in church (as in the synagogue, 1 Cor. 14:34 f., 1 Tim. 2:11 f.), praying with their hair uncovered (1 Cor. 11:5, 13), and adorning themselves ostentatiously (1 Tim. 2:9 f.) appear to be calculated to uphold the highest standards of respectability and even gender roles, and humility as becomes a saint, within the local society as well as the synagogue.  Add to this Paul’s opinion, appealing to Natural Law as well as culture, that men should wear their hair short and women long (1 Cor. 11:14 f.).  The Apostle favored neither Libertinism nor license, which in the name of grace flouted not only Biblical morality but the customs and mores of societies in which he ministered (see Rom. 6:1 f., 1 Cor. 8:9, Gal. 5:13).  Rather, he upheld what he deemed to be conservative, ratifying moral ideals and traditions among the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  Theologically, Paul regarded the original order of Creation to be supportive of natural and traditional gender roles, e.g., “Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13).

Matters of Conscience

Paul writes on questions of ritual observances and matters of conscience, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5) and “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” (14:22).  If Christians’ bodies are “the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own,” and “ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19 f., also 7:23), it stands to reason that while we are free moral agents before God, we are not free to unilaterally overstep God’s Moral/Natural Law at will.

This principle applies to a multitude of cultural moral questions, in a world that is increasingly godless, profane, and sexualized.  Questions of speech, entertainment, attire, and relationships are all in play.  A case in point is the phenomenon of the so-called “Christian tattoo,” or at least Christians with tattoos.  At the moment, tattoos are, especially among young people, increasingly popular.  A tattoo parlor in a small town near Houston, Texas, advertises, “Yahweh-Approved Tattoos.”  But does Yahweh approve?  Proponents say that the prohibition against tattoos in the Old Testament is invalid because we are no longer under Moses’ Law but under grace.  There they have a point.  They go on to say that the prohibition in Leviticus 19:27 was not about tattoos—rather due to the association of tattoos with some now-forgotten Pagan ritual practice.  Perhaps, but they would do well to wonder further what that Pagan practice might have been, why Hebrews were not to associate themselves with it, and why the commandment focused on tattoos and not other behaviors.  The reasons might still apply today, for all they know.  One might well consider that sincere believers should, in the absence of knowledge, prefer to err on the conservative side.  Paul’s views regarding the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, meant for God’s glory, and no longer “owned” by the believer, spring immediately to mind.

Proponents argue that “old” tattoos from their former reprobate lives become a curiosity to acquaintances, affording opportunities to witness by demonstrating the lifestyle from which they have been redeemed.  Fair enough, if so used and effective toward that purpose.  The metaphor that the “marks of sin” are hard to remove is not lost.  Associated with this idea of “evangelistic tattoos” is that of the aforementioned “Christian tattoos,” by which advocates, often citing out-of-context New-Testament support (e.g., Jn. 6:27; 2 Cor. 1:22, 3:2; Gal. 6:17; Rev. 19:16), profess to be setting God’s mark upon themselves, sporting their personal testimony, and even making their bodies into “a living billboard for the Lord” (my term).  Meanwhile, they categorically deny any connotation relative to the Mark of the Beast.

Many pertinent principles may be applied from Paul’s several discussions of meat offered to idols (see Chapter 2).  Tattoos, if associated in any observer’s mind with evil, could be equated with participating in evil; and while “all things,” according to Paul, are “lawful,” in such case would hardly “edify” (1 Cor. 10:20 ff.).  A believer who judges a brother on the sheer basis of a tattoo is wrong, and vice versa (Rom. 14:3 ff., 10 ff.).  Yet to Paul the onus of responsibility falls on the one who takes license, in this case to display a tattoo that offends a brother (Rom. 14:15, 20); or worse, tempts a brother to violate his own conscience by getting a tattoo himself (Rom. 14:20, 23; 1 Cor. 8:7 ff.).  It would be more pleasing to God, as well as to men, in Paul’s mind, for a believer to forgo the “liberty” of obtaining a “lawful” tattoo, in order to “make peace” and edify (Rom. 14:18 ff.).  This is the Law of Christ in action.  “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Gal. 5:13 f.).

Know What the Lord’s Will Is

It is thus incumbent upon the believer, first, to learn sound doctrine, being thoroughly trained and informed in the elements of the Faith. Jesus’ mission both prior and subsequent to his atoning sacrifice was to deliver his Gospel to the Apostles so that they could in turn convey it to others to follow.  Aquila and Priscilla deemed it important to correct deficiencies in Apollos’ doctrine.  “I would not have you ignorant, brethren,” Paul so often began his instruction.  According to Paul, Christian leaders are gifted by the Holy Spirit to teach sound doctrine, so that believers might “come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:12 ff.).  It is not just “unity of faith,” but unity which is only possible in the context of the Faith, that is, sound doctrine.  Truly, we find to this day, as in Paul’s, that where there is unsound doctrine, there is no unity, but division!

Paul further urged believers to “be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17).  The good steward of Christ’s grace needs to know the Lord’s will for him or herself, by a thorough understanding of the Word of God and also by personal revelation.  Though “we walk by faith,” seemingly blind much of the time, God’s Word provides principles by which to live, beyond specific commands and prohibitions; and moreover, the Spirit-filled believer, if to such one may lay claim, is equipped and ready to hear the voice of the Spirit whenever He chooses to speak.  Dare we make life decisions on our own, without thoroughly consulting the Lord?  Paul entreated, “Be careful [worried] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Php. 4:6).  The Apostle James warned those who made their own plans without consulting the Lord, when they ought to be saying, “If the Lord wills” (Jas. 4:15).  The Apostle John reminded the church, “if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 Jn. 5:14 f.).

Do we not know what to pray?  Most who purport to be Christians pray that their own will be done and neglect to ask God his.  “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19 f.).  Paul said that “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit . . .” (Rom. 8:26 f.).  So second, we need to pray in the Spirit.  “Not my will, but thine be done.”

How long are we to pray, and how hard, before making a decision?  Paul conceived that believers ought to “pray without ceasing” (Rom. 1:9; 1 Th. 2:13, 5:17; 2 Tim. 1:3), just as he “spoke in tongues more than you all” (1 Cor. 14:18, paraphrased).  Even Paul did not claim to receive a definitive answer to his prayers in every case.  He still had to “walk by faith, not by sight,” too.  Yet in matters of conscience, he enjoined his fellow believer to “be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5) in order to be “happy” that he “condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” (v. 22).  Only once the life choice in question has passed the final test of the Law of Christ can the believer truly consider himself to have been “fully persuaded” and stand not only uncondemned but “happy” in it.

The Law of Faith and Law of Christ

Paul rejected the works of the Law, yet concluded that God’s law is still not so simple as “Moses out, grace in.”  He was not a Libertarian.  Those freed from bondage to the “Letter of the Law” are not so free as to “continue in sin, that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1).  Paul took pains to stake out the moral middle ground between Legalism and Libertinism, in which God’s interests are served.  Christians may not live altogether without law, for God’s laws are built into Creation, and lawlessness is utter rebellion.  Sound doctrine, derived from the Gospel, dictates that Christians reject both the extremes of dogmatic Legalism and libertarian self-actualization in order to live by a higher law, the Law of Faith.

The Law of Faith says that we are saved by faith alone, by God’s grace, not because we have the ability to earn salvation, or to pay the price (other than by our own eternal damnation).  Since we are saved by faith, moreover, we should then act in accordance to what we have believed:  to wit, that Christ’s blood frees us from bondage to sin and the consequences of the Law of Sin and Death.  We who have received forgiveness of sin should forsake those sins for which we have been forgiven, rather than pile up more and expect the Lord to cover them like the proverbial “blank check.”  Such a mindset is akin to throwing excrement on Christ and his Cross.  Jesus declined to condemn the woman caught in adultery, yet commanded, “Go, and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11, see also 5:14).

The Law of Faith further presupposes the Law of Christ.  The Law of Christ says that since Christ loved us enough to die in our place, we are therefore obligated to return love to him by acting in love toward all others for whom Christ also died.  We have been redeemed from sin, bought and paid for, hence are Christ’s servants, not free to do as we please without our Master’s permission.  We are thereafter acting as Christ’s emissaries in Christ’s interests and, since all who believe have entered “into Christ,” also for the interests of the entire Body of Christ, in which we share.  The Apostle James is fully in agreement with Paul and with Christ when he writes, “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works” (2:18).  Those redeemed are to go on to do good works toward others, to serve Christ by edifying his Body, and to share the Gospel wherever possible, in word and in deed.

Consequently, the believer does not ultimately live under the laws of Men, even the letter of Moses’ Law, but according to the Law of Faith.  The Law of Faith upholds Gods’ Moral/Natural Law (which embodies all that is morally right and according to God’s purpose in Creation), and is expressed to the World through the Law of Christ.

In America today, it appears that a dogmatic interpretation and application of absolute laws is unacceptable to modern, relativistic sensibilities.  It is indeed a mistake to attempt to translate law directly to modern society in terms of the “do’s and don’ts” and “thou shalt nots” of Moses’ Law, however those ordinances are framed.  Simple, unassuming people may find comfort in “pat” answers to eternal questions, and in turn be highly offended when their orderly little world is questioned.  Others have found profound truth in Scripture, and the power of God through the Holy Spirit, no longer finding cause to question.  Questioning claims of truth seems to be the hallmark of the younger generations, however, as “everything that can be shaken is being shaken.”  Youthful exuberance and willfulness chafe at restrictions.

But God’s eternal laws cannot be shaken without dire consequence.  God’s laws coalesce toward God’s Plan for Creation, ultimately to be fulfilled in and by Christ.  God’s laws and goodness are displayed for all to see in the things that He has made, so that all Men “are without excuse.”  Christ is “the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes. . . . And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Ps. 118:22, Mt. 21:42, 44).

What Does God Require?

So how does the Christian fulfill God’s laws without simply becoming legalistic?  God’s laws are rightfully expressed through the combination of the Law of Faith and the Law of Christ, as described above.  There remain, first and foremost, moral absolutes—adultery and murder are always sins against God’s eternal moral law.  The repentant believer acquiesces to such clear-cut, eternal laws, in humility before God, or else he does not believe the revelation of the Gospel, nor the evidence displayed in the created order:  in short, he remains an infidel and a rebel.  Second, there is the sovereign will of Christ as is conveyed through God’s Word and the revelation of the Holy Spirit.  The servant listens for his Master’s voice, heeds, and obeys.  Spirit-filled believers seek the will of the Lord through the Holy Spirit, and are able to hear the Master’s voice when He speaks, thus highlighting the indispensable nature of Pentecostal Spirit Baptism.

A third classification of obedience to and discernment of God’s law, at which point the Law of Christ comes especially into play, is that which involves “matters of conscience”:  those things which are neither clear-cut and subject to eternal principles, nor a revelation of the Lord’s specific and particular will for a time, a place, and a person or persons—but in the absence of a set of Ordinances such as Moses’, a matter apparently left to the discretion of the individual believer.  Paul describes, himself, various instances in which even he, an apostle, having been granted various endowments of revelation, yet renders his own judgment (“to the rest speak I, not the Lord”) based on his best understanding of the will and purpose of the Lord.  In this realm of activity we as believers exercise the prerogative afforded by God, who would have all Men to freely choose to serve him or not, to decide for ourselves, according to knowledge of his Word and of his nature, what is good and appropriate to do.  Paul in essence walks us through the process, outlining the problem, describing the opposing interests, and presenting alternative solutions, in his several passages on eating meat sacrificed to idols.  Yet too many Christians, even leaders and teachers, become heedlessly obtuse when Paul’s own clear-cut example is brought up; they demand a law, chapter and verse, clearly stated, to which we are bound, in the absence of which they assert personal sovereignty and claim license to please themselves.

In this utter willfulness they overlook and defy the very Law of Christ by which they are called to conduct themselves in just such contingencies in the absence of clear-cut law.  The Law of Christ, Paul points out, compels the servant of God to sacrifice self-interest, and even his or her much-vaunted “rights,” in favor of sparing the sensibilities of a brother and keeping the peace.  Any other choice is carnal and defamatory to the Cross by which he or she purports to be saved.

© 2014 Paul A. Hughes

 

Written by biblequestion

July 18, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Posted in Paganism, Society

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Austin-Area Hindu Swami Flees Justice

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Austin Swami Prakashanand Saraswati

Austin Swami Prakashanand Saraswati

In a day when every indiscretion that can be pinned on a Christian minister or believer is trumpeted widely and often by the Mainstream News Media, it would be easy to overlook reports quietly and purposely slipped through by night regarding indiscretions by leaders of other religions.

Prakashanand Saraswati, 82, founding swami of the Barsana Dham ashram near Austin, Texas, is currently “on the lamb” after being convicted of sexual molestation of two young women, then minors, who were living at the ashram’s 200-acre compound.

See “Warrant issued against Hindu guru convicted of molestation,” in The Times of India, March 8, 2011.

According to the ashram’s Web site, “His Divinity Swami Saraswati,” also known affectionately as Shree Swamiji, “can expound upon any spiritual topic with such a clarity it is as if he is describing a visual account.  His scriptural understanding is unequalled and his books are unique examples of his exceeding knowledge related to the science of the material and the Divine dimensions.  The warmth of Shree Swamiji’s love melts the hearts of those who listen to him and drawing close to him opens the path to God.”

I am reminded once again, that there is only One Way to God, Jesus Christ, and a multitude of wrong ways.  The way of self-gratification is always the way of the flesh, and those who “walk after the flesh” (2 Peter 2:10) rather than the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16) will never see God.

© 2011 Paul A. Hughes

Written by biblequestion

March 12, 2011 at 8:04 PM

A Merrie Olde Xmas

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Publick Notice Christmas Ban

Publick Notice Christmas Ban

For most Americans, Christmas has long been a secular holiday.  In the midst of all the Santas, elves, and reindeer, the holly, spruce, and pine, it is possible to go for days without hearing a truly religious Christmas carol on store sound systems or on the radio.

In fact, non-Christian Christmas celebrations are nothing new, being rooted in paganism.  Unable to wean primitive cultures from their pagan festivals, the Church centuries ago opted to “Christianize” those holidays, adding Christian content and symbolism.

In 17th-century England, however, Christmas had degenerated into an occasion for drunken revelry and mocking of religious institutions.  As one commentator observes,

Moreover, all over Britain it had become the custom for the town rabblerousers to elect a King of Misrule at Christmas, who, according to a Puritan observer, led his followers “into the Devil’s own recreation to mock at Holy things.”  Masquerading in fancy green and yellow costumes, bells tied to their ankles, they would dance through the quiet churchyard and on into the church itself.  Ignoring the Mass being read, they pranced on wooden hobby horses up the center aisle.  To the accompanying din of skirling pipes and rattling drums, the poor protesting priest was pulled from his place while the shameless King of Misrule took his place and desecrated the altar by drinking and dicing before it.  Meanwhile, riotous companions drowned out the measured music of the Mass with coarse shouts of ‘Yule, Yule, Yule’ . . . .

Twelfth Night Revelry

Twelfth Night Revelry

Clergy were at times physically abused by such rabble, and the hanging of mistletoe was the occasion for much “promiscuous kissing,” abhorred by the Puritans.  In 1644, at the height of the English Civil Wars, Puritans gained power and made the celebration of Christmas illegal.  In America, Puritans decreed that “No one shall keep Christmas or any saint day, read common prayer, make mince pies, dance, play cards or play any instrument of music except the drum, trumpet and jews harp.”

How are Christians to react to the secularization of Christmas today?  A Puritan legalistic backlash is certainly inappropriate.  Our aim is not to force people into unwilling conformity with our preferences, but to win over their hearts and minds with the truth of the Gospel.  Unfortunately, when in power the Church has been more apt to use force, and less likely to approach secular people with the love and patience required to persuade.

To quote the old song George Beverly Shea used to sing, let’s “Put Christ Back Into Christmas,” but start with ourselves.

[Source: Katharine Van Etten Lyford, “Victory of the Christmas Keepers” in Austin N. Stevens, Mysterious New England (Yankee Publishing, 1971), pp. 18-23.]

© 2002 Paul A. Hughes.

Written by biblequestion

December 22, 2010 at 12:54 AM