The Adversary: The “God” of This World

September 4, 2018

The adversary. Ho satanus, in Greek: Satan—the “god” of this world.

Adversity—“adversary-ness”—is built into the “program” that runs the world we live in.

Trials, tribulations, tests, and temptations are signs of something in the world actively opposing people. Our response, the lesson learned, determines our victory…or defeat.

Defeat always means at least one more round with that particular “fighter,” though the “matches” go on without reprieve. Beat one and another challenger comes. This is not because you’re “Number One,” but because you’re human.

Adversity is the god of this world, this world in which we are, but of which we are not: our flesh is born of this world, a mix of energy and matter, but the Spirit that animates our flesh is not of this world.

It is this Spirit against which the adversary throws its tricks, meant to sabotage right feeling and thinking—meant to confuse, confound, confine, and convince (that unreality is reality, that surface is depth, that temporary is eternal and eternal is temporary).

Adversity itself is built into the machine: life happening against your intentions. The adversary throws curveballs—the only kind of pitch that a crooked pitcher can throw.

Adversity is the tendency of life to offer you something quite different than you expect or hope for, something that requires you to “take care of” or “handle” it before you can continue. (This does build character.)

The essence of this tendency is corruption, just as the essence of the ego/false self is corruption: things not working as they’re “supposed” to. A glitch in the program.

“Gremlins.”

The adversary is not entropy, the tendency of mass toward equilibrium. That is a quality of matter itself, left without the infusion of energy to move it. The adversary is energy that moves in opposition to the energy of Spirit.

Life is like a big chess game—like playing many chess games at once!—and the adversary is the opponent: that which opposes us, the black pieces, a mirror image of one’s own.

The adversary is supposed to be here, in this world of relative darkness. This is “his world,” so to speak, or at least “he” has dominion here—dominion, but not absolute power—and we are apparently unwelcome visitors who threaten that dominion. (Otherwise, why bother to oppose, to throw curveballs, to bring trials, tribulations, tests, and temptations?)

It’s as if we had a mission and purpose here that an opposing intelligent energy was trying to thwart.

The adversary works through the ego/false self of human beings. The ego/false self creates man in “his” image: corrupt, deceitful, and greedy.

The world is not evil; the human world is evil. Mankind’s presence in this otherwise perfect world (imbued with the graceful brutality of the Life Force in Nature) brings “evil” into the world. And so we oppose each other: we become adversaries ourselves.

People corrupted by the adversary become deceitful, greedy people who “fuck with” other people. “Fucking with” is the active opposite of helping people. Not content simply to leave someone else alone, or to allow others to suffer in peace, these people instead cause their neighbors unnecessary grief, hardship, or difficulty.

This attitude fosters competition among people, rather than a spirit of cooperation. The competition fostered here is not the same as the “spirit of competition” seen in many fields of human endeavor, such as professional sports. This negative sort of competition reveals itself in greed, hoarding, condemnation, trickery, violence, murder, and war.

That which fosters these tendencies is also of the “evil one”—the adversary, the god of this world, the tendency toward corruption, the symbolic embodiment of a (purposefully?) corrupted human nature.

Those who follow this dark influence worship what is seen: the densest, most crude and solid parts of the reality we occupy: material objects. They chase shadows and rejoice in illusions. The essence of evil is the lack of insight into the deepest parts of things—a preoccupation with the surface and its apparent-ness.

The essence of evil is viewing that which is temporary as eternal; giving up depth for shallowness (and not even breadth).

The god of this world appears to be “evil,” focusing the minds of men on the fleeting and the superficial, so that they trade quiet reflection for flashing lights and intense noises. Fleeing toward these outer charms, corrupted people even fear being alone with themselves.

The god of this world seeks to make human endeavor for naught, ineffective—a waste of time. The goal seems to be to make people give up in the face of unrelenting, constant, and continual opposition to their noble aims and deeds—or to exert continual effort to overcome adversity.

The god of this world rewards those who follow “his” materialistic creed. They receive the sum of their lot: an extra helping of this world, with more of this world to follow.

Thus the adversary entraps the souls of men and binds them to the human world of flesh and corruption. Until their eyes become free, until they are able to see with deeper vision, their hearts and minds will remain captive to the god of this world.

Written on September 4, 2012, and freshly edited on September 4, 2018.

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On Soul and Spirit in Animals and Humans

August 2, 2018

Soul is inherent in organisms. Where there is life–Nature–there is Soul.
All creatures and humans (even brain-dead humans) have Soul.

Spirit arises in organisms–animals–as a consequence of the brain and nervous system. The brain is a “house” in which Spirit can reside in an animal or human.

Spirit “saves” the Soul, so to speak. That is, Soul (which “arises” in matter as life) and Spirit (which “descends” into life as intelligence) MEET within an organism to complete, as it were, the purpose of life:

The “Divine Marriage” of Soul and Spirit.

This can only happen within a human being, as a consequence of our highly developed brain’s receptivity to Spirit–through the faculty of intelligence, by means of INSPIRATION.

The “Soul” counterpart to intelligence is instinct–again, found throughout Nature–and its counterpart to INSPIRATION is INTUITION.

Just as INSPIRATION is the doorway to Spirit through intelligence, so INTUITION is the doorway to Soul through instinct.

In Christian terms, Christ became a man in order to save the souls of all people–paving the way for the personal indwelling and guidance of the Holy Spirit for all who believe and are willing to receive this free gift of (and from) God.


10 Questions to Help Crack the Nut of Life

August 2, 2018

These are some questions I’ve asked myself and sought the answers to, through study and experience. The search for answers to these questions has brought me much good. Maybe one or more of them would interest someone else who “wonders”.

I’ve shared my own answers to some of these questions throughout my posts on this site.

1) What’s the difference between people and animals? (Do animals think like we do? Do they have feelings? Do they experience them like we do? What do they remember? Do they “love” their offspring like we do? Do we?)

2) What’s the difference between children and adults? (Are adults really just “big kids” with mature bodies? Are kids just “little adults” in kid bodies? When does a “child” become an “adult”? Are kids “better” than adults, or are adults “better” than kids? Or neither? What constitutes “child abuse”? Can its effects be “fixed”? What are its effects?)

3) Why do I experience and remember things? (What is “I”? Is “I” different from “me” somehow? Why don’t I remember my earliest years? Or the time before I was born? Did I exist before I was conceived? If so, where was I? In my parents’ bodies? Somewhere else? Nowhere?)

4) Why isn’t there just “nothing” instead of “something”? (How? Why does anything exist at all? If “God” exists, where? Everywhere? Somewhere else? Did nothing exist at some point? Why don’t I know? Can I know? If so, how?)

5) Do other people experience life like I do? (Could they be imaginary, like the people in my dreams? Can I trust other people’s words, thoughts, feelings, and experiences? Can I trust my own? Why or why not, and to what extent? What if my experiences contradict someone else’s? Is there really a contradiction?)

6) Why do we (have to) sleep? (Can I somehow stay “awake” while I go to sleep? What’s the “body” that I move around in dreams? Why is it different from my “real” body? (Is it?) Are the people in my dreams imaginary, or are they “real” like I am in dreams? Do I “create” them somehow? If so, what else do I “create”? Can (or do) I do this while awake?)

7) How are people the same, and how are we different from each other? (What’s the difference between men and women? Boys and girls? Male and female? What are the similarities? Where do these differences and similarities come from? Nature or Nurture? Both? Neither?)

8) Is it okay to defend myself if someone attacks me? (What if they attack my kids? Why or why not? How far can I go to defend myself? Is it ever okay to kill somebody else? If so, when and why? Is it okay to kill myself? Why do some people do that? If someone were to kill my child, could I rightfully kill that person? Why or why not?)

9) Where do my thoughts come from? (Can I trust them? Do they come from me or somewhere/someone else? Are they right or wrong? Is there a “right” or “wrong”? Can I know it? Do I already know it, or do I just repeat what I was taught as a kid? Was my family right in what they taught me? To what extent? How can I know? What about my feelings? What are they? Are they okay to have?)

10) Why do scary movies “scare” me? (Are there invisible beings who (can) interact with me and others? Are they good or bad? Can they be contacted? Why am I usually not aware of them, if they do exist? Are demons real? Ghosts? Poltergeists? Angels? What are they, if they do? What do they do?)

Bonus) Does anyone else already have this stuff figured out? (How do I know? Which one(s) of the many people and groups who claim to know can I trust? Can I be assured of anything at all without figuring it out myself? What are the limits of knowing? Who’s the judge? Who’s my judge? How do I know how to judge my own judge? Why am I asking? Why isn’t everybody else asking? Or are they?)

Originally written on March 10, 2014.


Does Stephan Molyneux contradict the New Testament on forgiveness?

February 13, 2018

Evil always wants forgiveness without confession because that’s the final nail in the coffin of the conscience of their victims. Evil people always want forgiveness without confession–without an admittance of wrong and a genuine seeking of restitution

Forgiveness is created by the restitution of the abuser, of the wrongdoer. It is not something to be squeezed out of the victim by further acts of conscience-corrupting abuse.”

–Stefan Molyneux

You can watch the entire 53-minute YouTube video here.

These are strong words–and powerful words for an abused person to take to heart and begin to heal. I realize that they seem to fly in the face of many Christians’ view of forgiveness, and since forgiveness is such a central topic to Christianity (the majority religion in my society, and the religion I grew up in), I wanted to examine Scripture to see what it really says about this subject.

This examination is a brief, but hopefully sufficient, look into the subject of “forgiveness” in the New Testament. At the end, I will compare its findings with Stephan Molyneux’s statements above.

John the Baptist in Mark and Luke

There is more than one context or meaning of “forgiveness” in the New Testament. One meaning indicates the individual’s forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD, and another refers to the individual’s forgiveness OF SOMEONE ELSE. In a few instances, a third-party individual seems to BROKER (or facilitate) the first type of forgiveness. The first section of our study will examine this latter context.

Chronologically speaking, our study in the Gospels begins with John the Baptist “preaching a baptism of repentance [METANOIAS] for the forgiveness[APHESIN, “REMISSION”] of sins [HAMARTION, “ERROR”]” (Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3). We see here that forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD (at least as John the Baptist brokered it) involved two steps: first repentance and then baptism. Presumably, these two steps were enough “for the forgiveness of sins” (at least until Jesus came a bit later).

This is the first instance of forgiveness in the Gospels. In this case, John the Baptist was not forgiving SOMEONE ELSE of sins, errors, or offences committed against John himself; rather, John was apparently BROKERING forgiveness for others, GIVEN BY GOD.

Jesus in the Synoptics

Jesus acted in a similar fashion when speaking to a “paralzyed” man who was brought, lying on a mat, to Jesus:

When Jesus saw their faith [PISTIN], he said…“…your sins [HAMARTIAI, “ERRORS”] are forgiven [APHIENTAI]” (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20).

In contrast to John’s BROKERED “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” GIVEN BY GOD, Jesus simply declared forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD (to the paralyzed man) in response to “their faith”. Whose faith? In both Mark and Luke (but absent in Matthew), “their” refers to “some men” who had carried the paralyzed man’s mat onto a roof and lowered it down to get him near Jesus.

Whether “their” includes the paralyzed man himself is not clear. Interestingly, it’s also not clear who is the BROKER in this act of forgiveness; is it “some men” or Jesus? Also, it appears that, in the context of Jesus’ personal ministry, someone’s faith [PISTIN] led to their forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD.

Christ in John

Similarly, in the only use of the word “forgive” in the Gospel of John, the risen Christ says to the newly-minted Apostles:

“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he BREATHED INTO [ENRPHUSESEN] them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive [APHETE, “YE MAY REMIT”] anyone’s sins [HAMARTIAS, “ERRORS”]…THEY HAVE BEEN REMITTED [APHEONTAI]; if YE MAY RETAIN[KRATETE] them, THEY HAVE BEEN RETAINED [KEKRATENTAI]” (John 20:21-23).

Thus, to conclude this first section of our study, John the Baptist seems to have foreshadowed and exemplified a sort of brokered forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD similar to that which Jesus practiced at least once in the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus is also said in the Gospel of John to have explained this brokered forgiveness to the Apostles (immediately after the risen Christ “breathed into” them “the Holy Spirit.”)

Although this information may be interesting and relevant to the individual Christian’s understanding of the roles of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles in “brokering” forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD, it doesn’t address Molyneux’s statement above. Indeed, it seems to model the later priesthood (“forgiveness-brokerage”?), rather than giving guidance about forgiveness OF SOMEONE ELSE in personal relationships.

The Lord’s Prayer

Next, in both Matthew and Luke (but with different wording), we have the Lord’s Prayer, which states either

forgive [APHES] us our debts [OPHEILEMATA], as we also have forgiven[APHEKAMEN] our debtors [OPHEILETAIS]” (Matthew 6:12).

or

Forgive [APHES] us our sins [HAMARTIAS, “ERRORS”], for we also forgive [APHIOMEN] everyone…INDEBTED TO US [OPHEILONTI HEMIN]” (Luke 11:4).

Here we see a relationship described between forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD and forgiveness OF SOMEONE ELSE–namely, that one’s own forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD depends on one’s own forgiveness OF SOMEONE ELSE–especially in Luke’s wording.

To support this idea, Jesus explains elsewhere that “when you stand praying, if you HAVE [ECHETE] anything against anyone, forgive [APHIETE]…so that your Father in heaven may forgive [APHE] you your OFFENCES [PARAPTOMATA]” (Mark 11:25). He repeats this basic idea in both Matthew 6:14 (if you forgive[APHETE] other people THEIR OFFENCES [TA.PARAPTOMATA.AUTON], your heavenly Father will also forgive [APHESEI] you) and Luke 6:37 (RELEASE[APOLUETE], and YE SHALL BE RELEASED [APOLUTHESESTHE]”).

It seems so far that, according to Jesus, one IS NOT forgiven BY GOD unless one HAS forgiven SOMEONE ELSE–but also that one IS forgiven BY GOD if one HAS forgiven SOMEONE ELSE. This seems pretty simple, and much more relevant to the Molyneux statement than the third-party “forgiveness-brokering” described in the first section above.

Seven Times or Seventy-Seven Times?

Now we come to the Gospel teaching that perhaps most directly addresses the present question. The following saying of Jesus is recorded in both Matthew and Luke, but with some variation between them.

In Luke 17:3-4, Jesus says, If your brother [ADELPHOS]…sins [HAMARTE, “SHOULD ERR”] against you, rebuke HIM [AUTO]; and if HE SHOULD REPENT [METANOESE], forgive HIM [APHES AUTO]. Even if HE SHOULD ERR [HAMARTESE] against you seven times in a day and seven times come[S] back to you saying ‘I repent [METANOO],’ YOU SHALL FORGIVE HIM [APHESEIS AUTO].”

In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive [APHESO] my brother [ADELPHOS]…who SHALL ERR [HAMARTESEI] against me? Up to seven times?” and Jesus answers, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Because of the discrepancy here–and following my personal Bible study guideline that passages present in both Matthew and Luke but NOT in Markmost likely came from a lost source called Sayings Gospel Q–we can surmise that at least one of these passages (if not both) has changed the original saying of Jesus. But which one? Let’s look at what these passages have in common:

“…your brother sins against you…forgive him seven times.”

In Luke, this might read, “If your brother sins against you, forgive him seven times.” In Matthew, it might read, “Forgive your brother who sins against you seven times.” The idea is basically the same in both accounts.

Interestingly, the author of Luke adds (twice) a condition to forgiving one’s “brother”:

“rebuke HIM [AUTO]; and if HE SHOULD REPENT [METANOESE]” and also “come[S] back to you saying ‘I repent [METANOO]…”

Perhaps we shall see below why the idea of repentance as a condition of forgiveness is present (twice) here in Luke (although its inclusion begs the question of its absence from the equivalent passage in Matthew).

The Lord and the Wicked Slave

On the other hand, only Matthew expounds upon this teaching. In the subsequent verses (23-35), Matthew has Jesus tell the story known as the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. This parable tells the story of “a king [BASILEI] who wanted to settle accounts with his SLAVES [DOULON, “BONDSMEN”].”

One DEBTOR [OPHEILETES] “owed him” about 200,000 years of wages(according to the NIV footnote) and “was not able to pay,” so THE LORD [HO KURIOS] “ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold AND PAYMENT TO BE MADE [KAI APODOTHENAI].”

The BONDSMAN [DOULUS] fell down and DID HOMAGE TO HIM[PROSEKUNEI AUTO], saying, “Be patient with me…and I WILL PAY ALL TO YOU [PANTA APODOSO SOI].”

Then, “HAVING BEEN MOVED WITH COMPASSION, THE BONDSMAN’S LORD RELEASED HIM AND FORGAVE HIM THE LOAN. [SPLAGCHNISTHEIS.DE HO KURIOS TOU DOULOU EKEINOU APELUSEN AUTON, KAI TO DANEION APHEKEN AUTO.]”

Afterward, that servant [DOULUS] went out and found “a FELLOW BONDMAN [SUNDOULON]” who owed him a hundred days of wages(according to the NIV footnote).

Jesus continues recounting the parable:

“He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay [APODOS] back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

His fellow servant HAVING FALLEN DOWN [PESON] begged [PAREKALEI] him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay [APODOSO] it back.’

“But he refused. Instead, he went off and CAST HIM [EBALEN AUTON] into prison until he could pay [APODO] the debt [TO OPHEILOMENON]. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their LORD [KURIO] everything that had happened.

“Then HIS LORD [KURIOS.AUTOU] called the servant in. ‘You wicked [PONERE] servant [DOULE],’ he said, ‘I canceled [APHEKA] all that debt [OPHEILEN] of yours because you begged [PAREKALESAS] me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy[ELEESAI] on your fellow servant [SUNDOULON] just as I had MERCY ON[ELEISA] you?’ In anger his LORD [KURIOS] handed him over to the TORTMENTORS [BASANISTAIS]…until he should PAY [APODO] all he owed[OPHEILOMENON].

THUS ALSO [OUTOS KAI] my heavenly Father WILL DO TO YOU [POIESEI HUMIN] unless you forgive [APHETE] your brother [ADELPHIO]…from your HEARTS [KARDION].”

In this parable, it is the king or lord who demands from his slaves repayment of their debts to him. In a compassionate response to one extremely indebted slave’s penitence and promise to pay the lord his impossibly large debt, the lord releases the slave and forgives the loan. However, the slave’s unwillingness afterward to extend forgiveness LIKEWISE to another slave (who owes the first slave much less than he himself was forgiven–AND WHO LIKEWISE IS PENITENT) causes the lord to hand the unmerciful slave over to “tormentors” until he pays all he owes.

Jesus explicitly states here that this parable describes the attitude of “my heavenly Father” regarding forgiveness (as a metaphor for canceling debts). So far, this is the Gospels’ clearest teaching on the relationship between forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD and forgiveness OF SOMEONE ELSE.

Checkpoint

To summarize so far, we see that

1) John the Baptist preached “a baptism of repentance for the remission of errors”;

2) there are two types of forgiveness–one GIVEN BY GOD, and one OF SOMEONE ELSE;

3) John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles apparently “brokered”forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD for others;

4) Jesus said in two Synoptic Gospels that IF you forgive SOMEONE ELSE, THEN you will be forgiven BY GOD;

5) Matthew and Luke agree that Jesus said that if “your brother sins against you,” you should forgive him at least “seven times”;

6) Luke has Jesus saying FIRST to “rebuke them; and THEN if they repent, forgive them”; and

7) Matthew has Jesus recounting a parable that explains and models repentance-and-forgiveness.

Taking note of what we’ve seen so far, what do Paul and the other New Testament writers have to say on this subject? Not much…but still something relevant to our discussion.

Paul’s Letters: Ephesians and Colossians

There are two passages in Paul’s letters that directly address our question. Notably, the Greek verb translated as “forgive” in these verses is NOT the same verb used elsewhere in this study:

Be kind and compassionate [EUSPLAGCHNOI, “TENDER-HEARTED”] to one another, forgiving [CHARIZOMENOI] each other, just as in Christ God forgave[ECHARISATO] you. BE YE THEREFORE IMITATORS OF GOD [GINESTHE OUN MIMETAI TOU THEOU]… (Ephesians 4:32-5:1)

Therefore, as God’s chosen [EKLEKTOU, “ELECT”]…Bear with each other and forgive [CHARIZOMENOI] one another if any of you has a grievance[MOMPHEN, “COMPLAINT”] against someone…EVEN AS ALSO [KATHOS KAI] the Lord [KURIOS] forgave [ECHARISATO] you, SO ALSO YE [OUTOS KAI HUMEIS]. (Colossians 3:12-13)

There we have it. “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” How much plainer and more direct can you get, and what more “Christian” idea of forgiveness could there be? Along with John’s and Jesus’ teachings regarding forgiveness, this teaching of Paul seems to resolve, settle, and answer the question.

What was the question? It was, “What does the New Testament teach on the subject of forgiving other people, and does this confirm or contradict Stephan Molyneux’s statement?”

And now we’ve arrived at a new and unexpected question: “What does it mean to forgive ‘as the Lord forgave you’?”

John the Baptist in Matthew

Let’s return to John the Baptist. He shows up in Matthew as well as in the other Synoptics, but he doesn’t use the word “forgive” in Matthew. Instead, Matthew’s account says:

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent [METANOEITE], for the kingdom [BASILEIA] of heaven has come near…I baptize you with water for repentance [METANOIAN]” (Matthew 3:1-2,11).

Both Mark and Luke also have John proclaiming repentance:

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:4)

He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:3)

Why repent?

The New Testament writers included repentance here for a reason: as a foreshadowing of Jesus of Nazareth, whose initial message was identical to that of John:

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent [METANOEITE], for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17)

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent [METANOEITE] and believe [PISTEUETE] the good news!” (Mark 1:15)

We see, then, that John the Baptist

1) preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”;

2) preached “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”;

3) foreshadowed Jesus, who preached the same message of repentance.

Confession and Forgiveness

Recall that John’s baptism was “of repentance” and “for the forgiveness of sins.” But people didn’t merely repent when they came to John the Baptist:

Confessing [EXOMOLOGOUMENOI] their sins [HAMARTIAS], they were baptizedby him in the Jordan River. (Mark 1:5b; Matthew 3:6)

But why “confess” their sins?

John of Patmos, writing many years after the days of John the Baptist and Jesus, offers an insight into this teaching. This is the only reference to “forgiveness” (in all its forms) in the non-Pauline letters that directly addresses the present question:

If we claim to be without sin [HAMARTIAN], we deceive [PLANOMEN] ourselves and the truth [ALETHEIA] is not in us. If we confess [OMOLOGOMEN] our sins[HAMARTIAS], he is faithful [PISTUS] and just and will forgive [APHE] us our sins[HAMARTIAS] and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

Confession of one’s errors, then, is part of repentance–throughout the New Testament. That is, “an admittance of wrong and a genuine seeking of restitution” (to quote Molyneux again) are prerequisites for forgiveness GIVEN BY GOD in the teachings of the New Testament.

Jesus taught his followers to have “mercy on your fellow servant just as [the Lord] had mercy on you”. Paul taught his followers to “be imitators of God” and “forgive one another …even as also the Lord forgave you.”

We see now that forgiving SOMEONE ELSE in compassionate response to their confession and repentance IS forgiving “as the Lord forgave you.” Therefore, Stefan Molyneux’s statement on forgiveness is in harmony with the teachings of Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul of Tarsus, and John of Patmos.

Stefan’s words here are modern-day reminders of the New Testament’s ancient teachings about forgiving people who have erred against us…after they repent of their errors and confess them to us.

Appendix: A Few Technical Notes…

According to the online concordance that I use, the word “forgive” (to include “forgave,” “forgiven,” “forgiveness,” and “forgives”) appears 66 timesin the New Testament (NIV), as follows:

Matthew (12 times)
Mark (10 times)
Luke (19 times)
John (1 time)
Acts (6 times)
Romans (1 time)
2 Corinthians (4 times)
Ephesians (2 times)
Colossians (4 times)
Hebrews (3 times)
James (1 time)
1 John (3 times)

In keeping with my personal Bible study guidelines, this discussion omits the Old Testament, the Book of Acts, certain Pauline pseudepigrepha (2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Hebrews–but NOT Colossians, Ephesians, or Titus), and passages that only appear once in the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), except where noted.

I also have a custom of rendering the Koine Greek word “HAMARTIA” generally as “error” in English because 1) the literal meaning of its verb form “HAMARTANO” is “to miss the mark” (with the classic example of “missing” the bull’s-eye in archery being frequently given) and 2) I know through personal experience that “error” is the greatest cause of harm (perhaps the Greek word translated below as “offence”) among human beings.

(Interestingly, the English word “error” in all its forms (such as “to err”) occurs only EIGHT times in the New International Version (NIV) of the New Testament–and 17 times in the King James Version (KJV). It comes from a different Greek word that also means “deceit” as a noun and “to deceive” as a verb. See 1 John 1:8, referenced herein.)

Text quoted in this essay is from the NIV, as copied from the online concordance at BibleGateway.com. I used this version here because its textual sources (being chosen from among many divergent Greek manuscripts) are superior to the Textus Receptus, the manuscript used to translate the King James Version (KJV) more than 400 years ago; however, the NIV‘s English translation (being less literal or word-for-word, as in the KJV) sometimes loses grasp of the original meaning, in my view. I believe that the value of my approach will become apparent to attentive readers.

Accordingly, in this study I provide, within the copied NIV text, an English transliteration [IN ALL CAPS] after certain key English words and phrases. Where I believe the NIV translation differs meaningfully from the corresponding manuscript’s literal translation (according to my Interlinear KJV: Parallel New Testament in Greek and English), I note both the Greek transliteration AND its literal English translation together [IN ALL CAPS, “IN BRACKETS WITH QUOTES”] following the NIV‘s translation.

In certain instances, the wording of the NIV was so divergent from the Greek that I simply removed the NIV‘s wording and replaced it with its literal English translation IN ALL CAPS, followed by the Greek transliteration [IN BRACKETS]. In other cases, as in general, I use “…” to indicate the removal of text from the quote when it isn’t present in the Greek at all, or where its inclusion (or word order) would reduce the reader’s ability to follow the text, or for the sake of brevity.

All bold type is my own addition, in order to emphasize certain points and/or focus on the subject of study.


True and False “Urges”: The Essence of Human Life

December 26, 2016

This is the essence of human life:

Urges rise up from within us, and these urges are of three types:

–NEEDS: impulses of the outer being (the body) to survive, reproduce, and perpetuate the body (breathing, eating, sex, sleep, etc.)

–DESIRES: expressions of the inner being (the True Self) to bring forth one’s true, deepest nature or character (which is always “positive”)

–GREEDS: destructive inflations by the ego (the false self) of either legitimate NEEDS or genuine DESIRES

——–

NEEDS and DESIRES are natural, normal, and necessary urges that guide correct and proper function in human life.

GREEDS are natural urges inflated by the false self–like cancers. In time, this egoic inflation itself becomes GREED’s urge.

This is the realm of cravings, addictions, attachments, obsessions, and Narcissism…and the dysfunctional human behavior that results from them.

——–

The True Self has these two aspects:

–HEAD, or Reasoning-sense: thoughts, ideas, images, concepts, etc.

–HEART, or Feeling-sense: feelings, impressions, hunches, etc.

HEAD is connected to the deeper SPIRIT, and HEART is connected to the deeper SOUL.

The True Self is like an axle with two wheels, HEAD and HEART, which properly function in balance together. The human Male-Female relationship dynamic reflects these inner “wheels”.

——–

The ego/false self is composed of these two corruptions of the True Self:

–false or incorrect BELIEFS about life, reality, self, and others

–unexpressed negative EMOTIONAL PAIN “left over” from past harmful experiences

BELIEFS are corruptions of the HEAD. EMOTIONAL PAIN is corruption of the HEART.

The ego/false self is like a collection of ropes–each one made with strands of BELIEFS that are cemented together by EMOTIONAL PAIN.  (These “ropes” are all attached to FEAR.)

BELIEFS hold error in place and error holds EMOTIONAL PAIN in place.

The presence of the ego/false self blocks inner guidance from the True Self…and produces ERROR and NEGATIVITY in outer relationships.

——–

The goal and purpose of human life is to realize (become!) one’s True Self. This is done by reducing one’s own error and negativity.

To reduce ERROR, incorrect BELIEFS must be removed.

To reduce NEGATIVITY, unexpressed EMOTIONAL PAIN must be released.

This process reduces the size and power of the ego/false self, which is the source of inner GREEDS–and, therefore, also reduces the outer dysfunctions of ERROR and NEGATIVITY, which perpetuate the ego/false self in others.

Everything in human life is part of the process of reaching the goal.

(Written on August 21, 2012 and freshly edited on December 26, 2016)

 


On the Importance of Consideration

December 17, 2016

There is a dividing line between two quite different ways of thinking and living, and everyone seems to rest on one side or the other.

Two Sides of a Fence

Children exemplify both sides more equally than adults, who have lived experiences that have shaped their thoughts behavior in one direction or the other. Adults seem to be more on one side or the other than children are.

The dividing line is: those who consider the viewpoints of others and those who do not consider the viewpoints of others.

It’s not my intention here to divide people, but to point out an existing division and examine it. By observing humans (most importantly myself), I’ve determined that some are basically considerate of others and some are basically not. It’s not a black-and-white thing, but rather a continuum of blacker or whiter grayness.

Consideration of others can also be called empathy. Inconsideration of others can also be called narcissism.

Some people seem to force consideration in ourselves at crucial moments, or to be compelled by some inner voice to “do the right thing” when we have the opportunity to show consideration…or not. Some of us deliberate, mulling over moral duties or imagining what God or Grandma would think of our choice in that moment. After such decision-making, many of us then act in consideration rather than blatant or obvious inconsideration.

Indeed, this deliberation, compulsion, and even forcing are themselves “consideration” for others–at least to the degree that they aren’t merely calculated or fearful acts of self-preservation. The outward, visible consequence (such as saying, “Thank you”) comes after the “consideration” itself.

A Window to Inner Values

Most inconsideration appears in mundane daily interactions like driving, shopping, or talking to our kids. (One’s parenting, and its results in the character of one’s grown children, can tell others a lot about one’s side of the narcissistic/empathetic “consideration line” that I’m describing here. Where do you suppose kids learn to be considerate–or not–and whose behavior gave them a daily example?)

I drive a lot, so I have lots of opportunities to show either consideration or inconsideration, and I also see a lot of both attitudes in others when they drive in my vicinity. I often feel that I have a glimpse into another person’s psyche when these encounters happen, either between myself and another, or as an observer when other people interact in traffic.

I see driving as a microcosm of human behavior because I believe that the values one shows through driving reflect the values they have at all times. This belief has merit so far in my own experience–although anyone can have a bad day and speed or cut someone off in traffic.

The same can be true of one’s shopping habits, parenting practices, and in many other ways: talking to telemarketers on the phone; returning an item at the store; working in sales or customer service; selling one’s used car; and sharing or not sharing what one has with others in need.

Although a lot of ways that we can show either our narcissism or our empathy might seem trivial, one’s “small” actions show clearly one’s overall attitude. If a person is inconsiderate to the checkout lady, why would he or she act differently toward other people, in other situations?

A duck will quack, either loud or soft. But it will not bock like a chicken–especially in a crisis.

On the inconsiderate side of the fence, people seem most interested in causing their own will to negate or override the will of others, rather than sharing with others or seeking consensual mutual agreement. It seems that, in their fear–and all fears are ultimately fears of death, pain, or not existing–they are blind to the equally valid needs of others.

There’s a word for this blind and fearful inconsiderate negation of the will of other people by an adult human being: Narcissism, with a capital “N”.

“Do Unto Others”…How?

In a Christian society, there would be no destitute, homeless people (except by their own preference) and no extremely wealthy people, either (except perhaps by mutual social agreement). Consideration does not allow others to suffer when one has the ability to alleviate it.

In our own supposedly Christian society, even those of us who don’t accept the teachings of the Church in all its versions generally regard Jesus as a teacher and wise man. It’s from Jesus (and, yes, others) that we learn to be considerate:

“In all things, to unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

If people in our society are following this “Golden” Rule, then it seems from their behavior that many folks would have others be inconsiderate to them. Perhaps they expect others to treat them that way, and so they treat others inconsiderately in kind, in advance, out of habit or programming.

This idea–that inconsiderateness is a pre-emptive defense mechanism–suggests that it is a product of the “ego” that I identify as the immediate source of mental and emotional suffering in self and others. Out of fear, the ego seeks only to preserve itself, in the belief that not doing so (such as being considerate of others) is suicide.

This, again, is Narcissism.

Ego and Spirit

So, then, inconsideration (or narcissism) is a fear-based egoic thought pattern–as opposed to consideration (or empathy), which in my personal scheme of things is a trust-based spiritual thought pattern. We are always under the influence of one or the other, being led in our thoughts and actions by one or the other.

Consideration is certainly a spiritual quality or “value”–that is, it comes from the Spirit, from the deepest inner being, the truest Self which is one’s most genuine expression, without the contamination of the wrong ideas of the ego.

That same Spirit exists in others as their deepest inner being, and those who perceive Spirit in themselves also recognize Spirit in others.

This recognition of Self-in-others is the essence of consideration (empathy). It is the essence of spirituality and the Golden Rule. It is also the essence of a healthy and functional society, particularly a society whose members claim to follow the teachings of Jesus.

Written on January 29, 2011, and freshly edited on December 17, 2016.


On Function and Dysfunction in Human Beings

December 14, 2016

A human being has an inner guidance system.  These are a person’s SPIRIT and SOUL.

SPIRIT guides through inspired MIND.  SOUL guides through intuitive HEART.

Inspired MIND provides intelligent THOUGHT.  Intuitive HEART provides instinctive FEELING.

Intelligent THOUGHT leads to TRUTH.  Instinctive FEELING be leads to LOVE.

TRUTH brings ORDER.  LOVE brings HARMONY.

This is proper FUNCTION in a human being.

FUNCTION is HAPPINESS.

——–

LIES and HARM come from without.

LIES cause (false) BELIEFS in MIND.  HARM causes (emotional) PAIN in HEART.

BELIEFS replace THOUGHT and TRUTH.  PAIN replaces FEELING and LOVE.

BELIEFS block INSPIRATION from SPIRIT.  PAIN blocks INTUITION from SOUL.

FALSE BELIEFS in MIND cause ERROR.  EMOTIONAL PAIN in HEART causes NEGATIVITY.

ERROR spreads LIES to MIND in others.  NEGATIVITY spreads HARM to HEART in others.

This is DYSFUNCTION in human beings.

DYSFUNCTION is SUFFERING.

——–

TRUTH and LOVE are REALITY.  SUFFERING is a corruption of REALITY.

SUFFERING brings CRISIS.  CRISIS brings SURRENDER to REALITY.

SURRENDER brings HONESTY.  HONESTY leads to TRUTH.

TRUTH destroys LIES and BELIEFS in MIND.  MIND receives INSPIRATION from SPIRIT.

Inspired MIND focuses on PAINFUL HEART.  HEART OPENS and releases EMOTIONAL PAIN.

HEART receives INTUITION from SOUL.  LOVE from SOUL heals HARM in HEART.

SPIRIT unites with SOUL in the person.  ORDER and HARMONY destroy DYSFUNCTION.

As DYSFUNCTION ends, SUFFERING ends.

Proper FUNCTION returns.

HAPPINESS returns.

REALITY returns.

——–

TRUTH and LOVE are the most powerful defense against LIES and HARM.

HONESTY is the most powerful antidote.


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