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Getting Off Your High Horse

• Greg Boyd

We get off the “high horse” by not judging others or seeing ourselves as superior to them. We also get off the high horse by living relationship with others and having the humility to receive feedback from them.

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This sermon is comprised of two parts. The first is a short reflection on Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 13 that “Love never ends.” This is the only thing in the world that we can describe as never ending. There are other things that are good, but only love is eternal. When God wraps up this current age and establishes his kingdom in fullness, there will be nothing that is inconsistent with that love. When the completeness of God’s love comes, everything that is contrary to love must be done away. This means that our love is the only thing we take with us. Everything that is contrary to love must be burned away

When the final judgment comes, God’s love will be like a fire that will purify all that is inconsistent with love of God. Insofar as the character we’ve formed is consistent with God’s other-oriented, self-sacrificial love, we will receive a reward. Our reward is our increased capacity to receive and participate in the love of God. Insofar as the character we’ve formed is not consistent with God’s love, we suffer loss because we have a diminished capacity to receive and participate in the love of God.

Therefore, we must ask: how can I more perfectly demonstrate other-oriented, self-sacrificial love to my spouse, friends, children, grandchildren, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, strangers and opponents?

The second part of the sermon returns to the focus passage of this series, Matthew 7:1-5. We are called to love, welcome, and embrace all people as they are. We see this in verses four and five. We cannot be of help to others if we approach them with any sense of superiority. If we want to help others, we must come to them in humility. We must understand that we have a log in our own eye when we are trying to help people with their speck.

The early church experienced this kind of life, as illustrated by the 57 “one-another” statements found in the New Testament. In the context of relational house churches, people shared life together and invited each other to speak into their lives to address the specks that limited their vision. This is not judgement. It is a way to walk together in following Christ in relationship.

In God’s kingdom, we must get off our judgement “high horse,” refusing to sit in judgment of others with whom we have no relationship. At the same time, we must get off our “high horse” that keeps us isolated and assumes that we are beyond the need of input from others who care about us. We are called to challenge one another to live in love and prepare for the end where the love we bring is the only thing that will endure.

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Topics: Judgment, Love

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, Cross Examination

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Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 7:1-5

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

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38 thoughts on “Getting Off Your High Horse

  1. Cercatore says:

    Greg’s message was extremely relevant and very pertinent for my own diverged mindset concerning a certain very popular Canadian Intellectual who recently seems to be going ‘Full on Red Skull’ regarding particular hot button issues. Suspending and jettisoning one’s reactionary judgement is often most difficult when those whom you respect and love, are being directly belittled and attacked through a carefully woven false narrative. Calling out hypocrisy and ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ was never easy for even Jesus, which ultimately played an integral part in his arrest and crucifixion. Epictetus (50-135 AD) who lived concurrently within the early days of the Church’s formation, later became the quintessential Stoic Master who ingeniously framed the constraints & limitations of ‘Krisis’ (viz. the Krino & Krima of Judgement). He may have either known of, or witnessed Paul’s execution, but could not quite give himself intellectually over to the spiritual efficacy of self-sacrificial love and its power over the ‘Thumos’ of human judgement. Perhaps seeing firsthand the multitude of gruesome Christian crucifixions by Nero as a young man in Rome, was too painful to rationalize later (?) The philosophy of Epictetus is wonderfully relevant today though, in that he never allowed himself to be subsumed the prolepsis of his own polemic cultural war.

    “An ignorant person is inclined to blame others for his own misfortune. To blame oneself is proof of progress. But the wise man never has to blame another or himself.”

    This precept speaks to the elimination of ‘judgement’ through the process of maturity. The ‘Enchiridion’ or Handbook of Epictetus is full of such pragmatic and salient advice – seriously powerful coping mechanisms and tools to reach for in any circumstance in this life. But…..the real difference being, that stands in stark contrast, is the wonderfully contagious redemptive ‘Joy’ that is found in knowing who Jesus Christ really is. ‘The Expulsion of Judgement’ is not a philosophical card trick but, rather the elevation of empathy within the human heart far above and beyond what we ourselves are capable of achieving and or even conceiving of, as created finite beings. For Epictetus and his Stoic followers, the idea that the Divine Transcendent Logos (“Logos Spermatikos”) could then somehow be imminently primary and deeply personal, was a logical step too far. The ‘Mote & Beam Complex’ that many of us personally struggle with, is intimately linked to our conception of Joy – the Joy we have in Christ is what allows us to then “see clearly to help our brother” in a non-judgmental, non-condescending way.

    1. Matthew says:

      Hello Cercatore! Are you familiar with Ilaria Ramelli?

      1. Cercatore says:

        I think that to fully appreciate where Ramelli is coming from and her brilliant work on the Apokatastasis, one must first wholeheartedly dive into the work and teachings of Origen. Origen, like a lot of other Patristics that followed him historically, had an evolving theology that crystallized with his concept of the [Eternal Son] or Eternal Sonship and His Procession being Consubstantial with the ultimate eternal Divine Essence of the Father. The conflation and often contentious arguments that later came over how to define and interpret; Homoiousian – Homoeanism – Heteroousian descriptive systems of the Trinitarian Community, led to a derogatory vail being thrown over many of his teachings. Some of his work from our 21st century perspective, might seem somewhat wacky and bizarre, but it must be remembered that he was a man of his time who was extensively schooled in Hellenistic and Plutonic rhetoric, as was Saul to some degree under Gamaliel. The structural language and arguments that he makes bare this fact out. It is the audience of his day that the Spirit is inspiring him to reach, then and now. Ramelli’s book – “A Larger Hope” goes into all of this very nicely (and is affordable) but if you really want to get into some serious head-banging theology on this matter, you could invest in her – “The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena” at $353.00 or more!

        When discussing this topic with individuals who have been brought up and trained in the Reformed Tradition, it is almost guaranteed that they will gravitate towards and counter with and a variety of ‘Apocalyptic Bowl Judgements’ and NT ‘Hell Passages’ to refute any kind of Universal Reconciliation, because, well…… God takes ‘Sin’ so seriously that he’s willing to set up an Eternal Hell of torture, pain and suffering, right alongside a Beatific Paradise with his Glorious Throne being central, so ‘We the Elect’ can look down and shake our heads at those poor unrepentant bastards, etc…….

        Embracing an ‘Apokatastasis mindset’ is not a sellout to, or a rejection of, the ‘Necessity of Repentance’ or of the ‘Justification & Sanctification’ of our souls in accordance to our Faith, but rather looking at the larger macro-picture of the Continuum of Salvation and how it will play out eschatologically.

        1. Matthew says:

          I am really enjoying “A Larger Hope?” Cercatore. I also read Talbott´s famous work as well as “The Evangelical Universalist” by MacDonald. Also very good. Robin Parry has some lectures on YouTube from his time at Gospel Conversations in Australia. Fantastic. I have learned so much over the last few weeks.

          Was Origen himself declared a heretic, only some of his teachings, or both, or nothing? The internet is yielding unclear and inconclusive information.

          Also … can you explain to me how a scholastic text book can cost so much???

          1. Cercatore says:

            I wrote to her in Italian using the emails that I had asking that very question. Let’s see if she responds. As you might know, MacDonald and Parry I believe are the same person. It might just be a publishing deal where her institution/agent put forward the money for going to press and marketing, etc… and a percentage going to support a charity. At 1000 + pages it’s quite a heavy tome.

          2. Jerry says:

            Are we, other viewers, missing something?

            We are aware of your acquaintance via BZ’s forum, Matt’s paranoia in deleting his disqus account, and your response no worries we’ll be in contact.

            Cercatore: supposedly, I think, responding to a ‘scholastic textbook’ you open with ‘I wrote her’, female gender, then jump back to ‘MacDonald and Parry I believe are the same person’.

            On the back of my copy of The Evangelical Universalist, it clearly states “Gregory MacDonald is Robin A. Parry, an editor at Wipf and Stock Publishers” (he)

            Really confusing here. Are we talking about Parry, he, or some other, she, and my copy of The Evangelical Universalist is 250 pages so what up with 1000+. What book is that?

            This is hard for folks like me, not the brightest pop caps to follow. If this is a private conversation stemming from multiple comment forums and none of our business I again apologize.

    2. Matthew says:

      Hello again Cercatore. I think I may have shared this before, but I think it may be worthwhile fleshing out again. Marshall Rosenberg wrote a popular and influential book about non-violent communication. In the book, one of the main components is what I call the reservation of judgment. Rosenberg writes that in order to arrive at a place of peace and reconcilation, one must first stop making judgments regarding the one one is attempting to make peace with. It is only on this neutral, non-judgmental ground that non-violent communication (which should ultimately lead to a peaceful settlement) can take place. It sounds great in theory, but I still struggle with it. I´ll offer up an example:

      If the west is attempting to create a peaceful space with, say, the Taliban, but the Taliban is acting in ways that are (to the western non-Muslim mind) so gruesome (like stoning people), can we really reserve judgment for the purposes of non-violent communication that may lead to a peaceful settlement? Should we?

      I think the same holds true for the church. Can we (or should we) reserve judgment if the actions of a brother or sister can be interpreted as sinful or harmful within the context of the church community? Is it even possible?

      I really appreciate the teachers at Woodland Hills and all the work they have put into this series, but honestly I still struggle with their basic thesis.

  2. Matthew says:

    Thanks so much for the addition of the Edit button! Peace!

  3. Matthew says:

    How close is close enough? Matthew 18 describes what some have raised to the level of the “doctrine” of church discipline. How close do church leaders need to be to those in sin in order to judge that sin according to Matthew´s Gospel? Do church leaders need to wait until they are invited to give input into a person´s life before they begin to carry out church discipline? Is this portion of Scripture even relevant for the church today?

  4. Jerry says:

    “An ignorant person is inclined to blame others for his own misfortune. To blame oneself is proof of progress. But the wise man never has to blame another or himself.”

    I really like this.

    “But the wise man” – I’ll throw this cliché in: “It’s hard to fly like an eagle when surrounded by turkeys”! Folks not following Jesus.

    René Girard’s Mimetic Theory:

    Human beings imitate each other, and this eventually gives rise to rivalries and violent conflicts. Such conflicts are partially solved by a scapegoat mechanism, but ultimately, Christianity is the best antidote to violence.

    Jesus became a scapegoat to make an open show of this publicly on the cross.

    Greg considers Satan in his book “God at War” as forces that give God a run for the money. I consider these forces are more like “rubber duckies” for him but for us as you say Matt “like pulling a ball of rubber bands apart”. However if even for God it is close to rubber bands what chance do we stand?

    I’ve already commented on Walter Wink and René Girard thinks along the same lines.

    Satan is an anthropological category, not a theological one. The devil is about us humans, our violence, our projection, our victimizing, and our idolatry. It is not about some supra temporal being that God created. We, humans, created Satan the moment the male imitated in paradise. Satan dwells within us, creates our communities, and rules our ideologies. We mired in the imitation of our violent culture express corporately and individually Satan.

    Vengeance, the desire to “get you back”, is the desire to do to you what you did to me, or at least the equivalent, if I cannot do exactly the same. In vengeance, I copy your act. More profoundly, I copy the desire you displayed, or imagine you displayed when you caused me harm and now I desire to cause you harm as well. Culture is not linear but repetitive ritual.

    I consider, as Greg thinks, there may well be a tad more to this however folks often tend to cop out saying: “woe is me the devil made me do it” what chance have I when even God struggles big time with this Satan character.

    Unlike the animal kingdom with its built-in braking mechanism, (dominance/submission), humans, left to ourselves, having mirror neurons, unconscious imitation/copy devices of each other’s desires, tend to escalate things out of proportion to retaliation leading to hostilities creating scapegoat mechanisms. Not only can we imitate one other but we can also discern their intentionality. So Consciously 2 Corn 10:5 take captive every thought imitate Jesus!

    Mirror neurons have a much stronger connection to emotion-related areas of the brain first to the insular cortex and from there to the amygdala and other limbic areas. People feel each other’s pain and joy to a much greater degree than do any other primates. Just seeing someone else smile activates some of the same neurons as when you smile. The other person is effectively smiling in your brain, which makes you happy and likely to smile, which in turn passes the smile into someone else’s brain. Romans 12:20

    The ability to represent creative action, to duplicate observed creativity in their own actions, and to represent that creativity in detail and essence allowed folks to benefit from the creative action of everyone else. Their sociability ensured that their adaptive behaviors were structured with a social community, at least in the long run as it started to develop, in mind and increased their chances of exposure to creative intelligence. They observed others acting, in a manner, they found admirable and duplicated their actions. In this manner, they obtained the skills of others. Their capacity for abstraction allowed them to take their facility for imitation one step farther. They could learn to imitate not only the precise behaviors that constitute adaptation but the process by which those behaviors were generated. This meant they could learn not only skill but, meta-skill, learning to mimic the pattern of behavior that generates new skills.

    With shared intentionality Language, a word became possible, as an agreement among people who share a joint representation of the things in their world and who share a set of conventions for communicating with each other about those things. Humans constructed moral communities out of shared norms, institutions, and perceptions of sadly an angry God.

    Jesus came to inform us that God is not angry and so neither should we, a servant to one another kingdom, however in the twenty-first century we still fight, kill and die to defend these ancient institutions.

    Mimetic propensity, expressed in imitative action, provides for a tremendous expansion of behavioral competence allowing the ability of each to become the capability of all. The precise duplicative facility, however, still retains pronounced limitations. Specific behaviors retain their adaptive significance only within particular restricted environments only within bounded frames of reference. If environmental contingencies shift, for whatever reason, the utility of strategies designed for the original circumstance and transmitted through imitation may become dramatically restricted or even reversed. The capacity for the abstraction of imitation which is, in the initial stages, the capability for dramatic play overcomes the specific restrictions of exact imitation, elaborating reproduction of particular acts and removing the behavior to be copied from its initial specific context established as its first-level declarative representation and generalization.

    Thus the abundance of mirror neurons and the corresponding hyper-mimetic capacity was also a curse because it made it impossible to restrain acquisitive desires, even in the face of threats and dominance displayed by alpha males. The mimetic capacity of Homo sapiens is at once an attractive and repulsive force. Imitating the other’s feelings and desires leads to empathy and closeness but when the imitated desire is an acquisitive one, seeking to possess a particular object, imitation easily results in violent confrontations of the other’s perceived violent intentions. Consider two children in a nursery.

    We have a wonderfully sensitive ability to “sniff out” the other’s desire, reading their intentions and feelings even before they become observable acts. This is because we are always quite anxious, if not downright desperate, to know what others desire. We come into this world naked not only in body but naked of any sense of what should be valued and desired.

    Being made in the image of God we are meant to imitate/copy God. Consider original sin was Adam imitating Eve’s desire rather than God’s and that started the Satan that dwells within us and created a plethora of social, legal, and cultural communities, in our terrestrial realm, and counterpart thrones, dominions, rulers, and powers in the spiritual. In not hearing God’s whisper of others-oriented love we instead imitate others and digress into survival mode. In our every now moments we enhance realms and this entire plethora is entangled, in a pacifist or revivalist direction.

    God says they have become “like one of us” in that they now possess the ability to make discriminations between good and evil. However humans have not become gods, and they do not possess immortality. This power cannot lead them to God’s will because good to them is now a function of mimetic rivalry. My desire is good and your desire is bad even though, at the bottom, we are really imitating each other’s desire. There is a serpent among us which the Genesis story intuitively understands as a mimetic phenomenon giving rise to desire and issuing in rivalry and violence.

    Genesis 3 is the story of how every day we humans turn the world into a theater of competing goods and evils, a world of clashing differences created by eyes turned covetous by the venom of mimetic rivalry. Genesis 3 shows us that the root of all these rivalries is the envious desire to which we spur one another as we play the mimetic model-obstacle game.

    Model and obstacle continuously depend upon and meld into one another. When I am attracted to a model and drawn in by it, I make a tacit admission that the being of the model is higher than mine: that’s why I wish to imitate it, so I can possess the same quality of being as the model. But this “highness” of the model puts the imitator in a subordinate position, thus making the model a potential obstacle. Rivals are always in this double-bind state of scandal since they at one and the same time repel and fascinate each another.

    Jesus’ mission was to expose the Satan saving us from the world we humans have created

    Jesus in his temptation narrative, unlike the Genesis couple, thwarted the deceiver’s arguments. He’s on track.

    Jesus’ mission is to unmask the violence of the scapegoat mechanism and to launch a new nonviolent, no scapegoats, kingdom but everyone was looking for retaliation. Isaiah 61:2 The day of vengeance of God.

    The crowd was favorable when Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey but it was soon decided a scapegoat was necessary. John 11.50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man dies for the people than that the whole nation perish.

    Suddenly a mob, imitating its father the devil a murderer, and the father of lies, turns against Jesus. Its hostility becomes contagious, mimetic contagion. All the disciples Matthew 26:52-54 run and hide convinced Jesus was not the Messiah because Jesus would not resolve conflict by making Rome the scapegoat John 18:36. Peter denies Him three times. Pilate is ruled by mimetic contagion. He would prefer to spare Jesus but surrenders to the crowd for fear of a mob riot.

    Amidst a huge social crisis, a victim, Jesus, is persecuted, blamed for some fault, and executed, as an innocent scapegoat, the Lamb of God. From the anthropological aspect, the Cross is the moment when a thousand mimetic conflicts, a thousand scandals that crash violently into one another during the crisis, converge against Jesus alone.

    For the contagion that divides fragments and decomposes communities is substituted for the collective contagion that gathers all the scandalized to act against a single victim who is promoted to the role of universal scandal. Nothing in the Gospels suggests that God causes the mob to come together, satisfying His wrath of man’s transgression against Jesus. Violent contagion is enough. Satan initiated the rivalry and scandal, mimetic contagion that crucified the Lord of glory hoping the victim mechanism would function as usual to rid the cosmos of Jesus and his message.

    John 12:23-27 In speaking about the seed that dies and bears much fruit, Jesus is commenting on the generative power of the scapegoat mechanism. It will signify that the victim is innocent and that the crowd is guilty, composed of murderers and liars, who “know not what they do”, unconscious, whom Jesus forgives. Jesus’ death will throw all cultural institutions into question because all institutions, religious, legal, political, and economic, combined unanimously to condemn Jesus.

    Every accusation, condemnation, subjugation, or victimization comes from the wrong story and Jesus exposed the Satan in all of us, the accuser and humanity’s dark side, for he was indeed the innocent victim a complete exposure of the lying murderous scapegoat game!

    On the cross, with nails through his hands and feet, he does all that he judges needs doing and he does it all by doing precisely nothing. He just dies. He does not get mad and he does not get even; he just gets out of something he was never into the judging and comparing business, we are into, driven by our fears. Colossians 2:15 and having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

    But something happened in Acts 3:13-15 and that changed everything. A reverse effect Matt 21:42 victim!

    Rom 8:31-32 Paul is struggling to find language about divine generosity. That God was basically good and had to come up with this way of showing that he really is for us, actually likes us, loves us, and wants to be on our side. Jesus occupies the very worst space that any of us can come up with. The place which we typically think God puts people in. God doesn’t do this it’s we who put people there.

    Jesus occupies that space to show us that God is not out to get us and exposes the scapegoat mechanism Colossians 2:14-15. At that moment we see that we need no longer engage in that awful business of making ourselves good over against, or by comparison with each other.

    Jesus was not the kind of Messiah anyone was looking for. The people made God in their own image to do their bidding believing that their god is more powerful than other gods, and would protect them and give them some of his power so that they can crush their enemies. They assumed God agrees with them, their group/social institution, and is just like them against the other groups/social institutions.

    In Psalm 50:21 the writer quotes God as saying: These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself.

    Jesus came to prove them wrong! There is no universal all there is just US.

    2 Corinthians 5:14-17 For the love of Christ compels us because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

    What he is talking about is removing labels of Us vs. Them and Better vs. Worse. From now on, we shall regard no one from a human point of view where we let our five senses or social strata or physical form define reality. From now on we look at everyone in a new way because everything has passed away everything IS new! The cross has changed everything for everybody.

    The kingdom is an us without a them!

    From God’s perspective, everybody is in. Romans 5:18 Our call is to see everything and everyone from the lens of the cross. To die to our self-indulgent mind that always judges, compares, contrasts and measures. These behaviors are antithetical to the kingdom. When we learn how to catch our self-oriented mind, with Jesus’ help, doing this and reverse course, other-oriented, we move the kingdom forward.

    The difference between the old scapegoat and the new servant Kingdom: Matthew 20:25 Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

    Jesus came to save a lost and losing world by his own lostness and defeat but in the world of losers, especially the left hemisphere thinking West, we remain firmly, hopelessly committed to salvation by winning. It hardly matters to us that victories we fake for ourselves are not real or that the losses and losers we avoid are the only vessels in which saving grace comes. We will do anything rather than face either the bankruptcy of our wealth or the richness of our poverty. Matthew 10:39 Those who try to gain their own life will lose it, but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.

    We delude ourselves into thinking that our own salvation can be achieved by keeping records of others. The thinking, I know I am no prize but at least I’m better than Joe Schmo, is as if putting ourselves at the head of a marching column, heading in the wrong direction, makes us less lost than the rest. God does not compare us to others. Why do we?

    The birth of Christianity is a victory of the Paraclete, defender of the accused, over Satan the accuser.

    In this Christus Victor theory of the Atonement, Christ’s death defeated the powers of evil, which had held humankind in their dominion.

    We must face our neighbors and declare unconditional peace even if provoked or challenged we must give up violence once and for all. Jesus came to show us resistance but without violence Matt 5:38-41

    When we imitate Jesus it adds to mimetic contagion in the kingdom of light. When we mimic each other it tends to add to the mimetic contagion in the kingdom of chaos. Either way, it effects – impacts – entangles the attunement of the ocean of existence (everything).

    In the order of God’s new kingdom universe, we cannot work at cross purposes, mixing kingdom activities, with the order of the old system, the kingdom of this world, by hanging onto blame and unforgiveness without paying the price of crippling the new life we could be enjoying right now. We promote the new kingdom by working on removing the motes from our own eyes and in so doing, by our loving example; we send a powerful positive mimic energy towards others. Rom 12:20 on the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” They will know we are Jesus’ followers by our love. John 13:35

    The kingdom is, like a dance, a big formal party where everyone is invited with a band playing the music forgiveness never takes a break. The music is hidden music so you have to trust it is being played. Our job, as Jesus followers, is to simply dance to the hidden music and, by the joy of our dancing, wake the world up, stop the noise in their head Rom 12:20, to the party they are already at.

    Our battle is not about flesh and blood but with principalities’ powers and authorities’ the inner spirit of institutions and structures.

    So from a prior comment:

    First and foremost let’s be partisans of a king who established an upside down, inside out, left-handed, born again spirit birth, follow Jesus orbiting God’s example kingdom, the others first kingdom, the go to the back of the line kingdom, the do for others what they can’t do for themselves kingdom.

    I liked this: The ‘Mote & Beam Complex’ that many of us personally struggle with, is intimately linked to our conception of Joy – the Joy we have in Christ is what allows us to then “see clearly to help our brother” in a non-judgmental, non-condescending way.

    But first the Mote and in the either-or polarization we are in today it can be tough to remember Jesus’ third way and or both.

    Matt: “honestly I still struggle with their (WH) basic thesis”.

    I think their basic thesis is spot on. I consider you may be placing too much focus on the flesh and blood aspect which is not first and foremost and is, to a large degree, above our pay grade as being, for the most part, creatures of subconscious habit. Greg’s sermon/bad-elephant/, I left a comment-228460 and the sermon/taming-the-raging-elephant/.

    I liked in the movie ‘Rudy’ when the priest said after 30 years I’ve learned just one thing. There is a God and it’s not me.

    I love this edit feature!!!

    1. Cercatore says:

      Sorry for any confusion. Ilaria Ramelli is definitely female (I assume) and Italian. I wrote a quick note to her (or to her email contacts that she uses) referencing the super high cost of her book – “The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis : A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena”. (2013) Although my Italian is not perfect by any means, I’m fairly fluent and it may just catch her attention.
      Mi scuso per l’eventuale confusione.

      1. Jerry says:

        No problem.

        Books of that nature are often higher institution-required reading. Those books are often purchased with rights for multiple users to download from the institution’s sights.

        Pdfdrive.com tracks this and offers these books.

        I found your book and downloaded it.

        pdfdrive.com/the-Christian-doctrine-of-apokatastasis-a-critical-assessment-from-the-new-testament-to-Eriugena-d188009767.html – (911 pages)

        I’ve been trying to wrap my head around: Like a certain very popular Canadian Intellectual who recently seems to be going ‘Full on Red Skull’ regarding particular hot button issues.

        Red Skull implies to me a lack of frontal lobe activity.

        If you go to reknew.org/blog/ and in the search enter Jordan Peterson; Greg does a series of (20) Assessments on him.

        Cercatore you said on disqus.com concerning Greg:

        I haven’t explored his work recently although, through discussions in the past, his name and theological panache have come up here and in other forums. Like George MacDonald, his work has been often dismissed and repressed by Calvinist-leaning Evangelicals who cling tenaciously to the need for Eternal Hellfire!

        I might have mentioned this before but Greg commented not too long ago during a ReKnew Podcast that he wasn’t comfortable teaching ‘Universal Redemption’ because, in effect, it would violate a postmortem free will option for someone to reject the offer of eternal salvation through an infinite regression of denials. He then declared; “That’s why you can’t teach it!” It took me a while to get my head around what he had actually said, and the pretzel logic that he employed.

        Pretzel logic: fallible, twisted, or circular reasoning that when dissected is wrong, does not make sense, or does not explain the situation rationally.

        You said you were a NON-lateral & Divergent Heterodox Believer

        ‘Lateral thinking ‘Thinking Outside the Box’ is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.

        I can understand that you being non-lateral and Greg’s reasoning not perfectly flowing using only traditional step-by-step logic would lead you to pretzel logic however even so to phrase as pretzel logic may border on violating “see clearly to help our brother” in a non-judgmental, non-condescending way.

        On Jordan: The problem with Peterson’s pontification is that he is like a man who has blinded himself in one eye, or worse yet, like a Cyclops that only sees in one parochial direction at a time. Also, his arrogant and swaggering use of the words “We” and “Us” are disturbing and feel tribally divisive. For him to attempt to define what constitutes the “Christian Church” is like me telling Roger Federer how to serve the ball better.

        Your thoughts on Jordan might also border on judgmental and condescending.

        1. Cercatore says:

          The first paragraph that you quoted wasn’t about Greg, but rather the 19th Century Universalist Erasmus Manford, whom I have great admiration and respect for.

          “Pretzel Logic” in my mind, when I used it in that context simply meant that it feels like it looped back on itself somewhat in that specific ReKnew podcast at the end, in that, if someone has a conscious free will effort to reject God for whatever reason up until the very moment of death, then once that individual is standing there before Christ in a Resurrected form stripped of all pretension, there simply isn’t any place else to go. Like the ant on the edge of the blast furnace, you’re not going to be arguing about ‘Why you don’t like the heat!’ Would an individual have the eternal conscious power to then continuously reject God’s offer (?) Is our ontologically gifted free will, then even greater than the sovereignty of his Eternal Love where we’d be locked in some kind of stalemate scenario? By saying it was pretzel logic, I was not suggesting that it was inherently fallible, twisted and or even wrong potentially.

          When it comes to theological matters, I don’t think I’ll be helping Greg to see ‘anything clearer’ then he already does. It would be like me trying to give him instruction on how to do speed drumming. He’s very much well aware of a multitude of Universal Reconciliation constructs no doubt and is very gifted beyond measure on these matters. I desperately hope and pray though that ‘Annihlationism’ is not how it all ends for some and that someone’s free will autonomy post-mortem, will not keep them from the arms of the Lord. In fact, if you go back a few years now, he essentially says the same things when discussing Edward Fudge’s work. But in the final outcome, I could absolutely be very wrong – Dead Wrong!

          As I have shared with Matthew and many others, I love Greg’s messages and all that Woodland Hills has done and is doing presently. It is an epicenter of Kindness, Faith and Self-sacrificial Love for the Twin Cities Community and the world. When I personally met Greg, the Dude blew me away with his generosity and gravitas. Truly an exemplar and a Big Brother in Christ.

          I’m sorry, but I simply have had enough of Jordan Peterson’s personal ‘World View’. His mean streak seems to grow broader by the minute and his voracious rips and diatribes into the ‘Left’ are growing tiresome. But you’re right though, ramping up the counter invective is not very ‘Christ-like’ of me, and I need to repent and pray for greater civility. In The Resurrection I really do hope he’s right there beside me so I can give him a great big warm hug and a high-five………
          “Now please do go stand over there…… please!”

          1. Matthew says:

            After having read a fair amount of the fathers who supported and taught universal reconciliation, it seems they had absolutely no problem reconciling a rational beings free will with God´s providence as it relates to apokatastasis. We are not perfectly free beings in this life. Everyone is making decisions based on the imperfect knowledge they have. Is that truly free? I don´t think so.

            I have come to the conclusion that it´s a faulty view of free will that keeps many Protestants from embracing universal reconciliation. I also think that being disconnected from the Tradition of the church leaves many Protestants in a position where they are flying too freely and unchained. Their intellectual pursuits are bold and lofty, coming up with many cool theological theories and paradigms, but in the end they are probably missing the mark in some (if not a lot) of cases. I say all this as someone who has not yet left Protestantism!

            I agree that Woodland Hills is doing great things and although I have never met Greg personally, I think he would be a warm and welcoming chap! I assume the rest of Woodland Hills leadership would be the same.

            P.S. I also agree with you about Jordan Peterson. He seems so angry.

          2. Matthew says:

            Now I am thoroughly confused. According to the Orthodox Church in America´s website, universal reconciliation is rejected by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Origen was indeed deemed a heretic at the 5th Ecumenical Council. Then we have the scholar David Bentley Hart who is a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy who supports universal reconciliation. Then we have Ilaria Ramelli´s defense of both universalism AND Origen in her book “A Larger Hope? (though I´m not sure what Christian confession/tradition she is part of, if any). Then we have various Roman Catholic apologists online saying that there is much debate about the anathematization of Origen. Then we have the Gospel Coalition of course smashing the idea of universal salvation, but then other evangelicals like MacDonald in his book “The Evangelical Universalist” supporting the idea. Then finally we have many other church fathers who gave voice to universal salvation (apokatastasis) who were NOT anathematized.

            Whew!!! Too much for my brain. Where do we go from here??

          3. Jerry says:


            Thanks very helpful.

            “Stripped of all pretension”

            In Greg’s last sermon he says anything that is inconsistent with that love will need to be left at the gate. So I see the difference here between your and Greg’s thoughts being (you) automatically stripped of verses (Greg) you need to check that stuff in order to enter. Is that correct?

            For a long time I saw it as yep it was automatic. What began to bother me was; then what’s the point of our whole existence with all the pain, suffering, etc. Why not just bypass this whole universe Eon, we are in, and go straight to the finish line?

            Practice for eternity, crowns rewards, to establish an order of hierarchy was my only answer but then what’s up with Matt 20 25:27 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.

            So is last the answer? If that’s the answer why not live a life of, as Steve Martin puts it, wild and crazy?

            ‘Auto strip’ kind of ruins the C S Lewis book “The Great Divorce” with the optional bus ride but who says he got it right?

            So what do you do with Rev 22 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

            With “auto strip’ it can’t be a future event leaving only the present with a circular thought back to what’s the point?

            If Divergent, Using imagination left-handed thinking, is the only course then Lateral/ Convergent Thinking: using logic (Critical Thinking, Vertical Thinking, Analytical Thinking, and Linear Thinking) sends folks like me and Greg down a rabbit hole.

            Cercatore I really hedge between left and right-handed thinking with a lean toward left. I am left-handed.

            So then being a somewhat computer genius is the wrong course then the only redeeming quality being, because of IT, we can comment on this sort of stuff back and forth via the Internet.

            After the high-five, your “Now please do go stand over there” implies this is not covered under ‘auto strip’ you can take that in the gate and carry it with you for all eternity.

  5. Cercatore says:

    “Whew!!! Too much for my brain. Where do we go from here??”

    I’m glad you see the confusion and competitive nature that this subject has almost always manifested over the centuries. In our own time presently, we are much more secure to hold onto and espouse such hopeful Beliefs/Doctrines, which in the past, were often life & death matters for some; with anathematization and excommunication being par for the course. There has been a lot of defrocking though of pastors and clergy who dive too deeply and teach too loudly, a message of Total Victory. Pejorative association fallacies and negative labelling such as; ‘Heretic’ or “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” leading ‘The Elect’ astray, etc…. continue to mirror the efforts of deeply courageous intellectuals and ecumenical minded believers. I have had some light correspondence with Eric Reitan, whom I believe is still teaching at Oklahoma State (?) He’s written a book with John Kronen entitled – “God’s Final Victory: A Comparative Philosophical Case for Universalism.” Once again, another outstanding resource to feed your heart and mind on concerning this quintessential & indispensable topic. Here are a couple of links that I found very enlightening –


    “Where do we go from here?”
    In the words of the great Rock Prophet William Bruce Rose Jr. –
    ……Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay

    1. Matthew says:

      Thanks for the YouTube links Cercatore.

  6. Matthew says:

    Thanks so much Cercatore. When I read the church fathers, especially those who seem to support the notion of universal salvation or Total Victory, my heart and soul are greatly warmed. They articulate in their brilliant biblical exegesis and philosophical arguments something that I have for the longest time hoped would be true; that Christ and Love truly win when God is finally all in all. They also (more clearly than I ever could) articulate theological ideas that I have been mulling over for years, but that I could never fully bring to intellectual fruition; questions of free will, redemptive versus retributive justice, the problem of evil, etc. I know my Reformed Calvinist brothers and sisters will think I am simply lingering in “sloppy agape” when I say the following: the warming of my heart that I experience when I read the fathers regarding this topic I believe is coming from the Holy Spirit, not a false demonic teacher-spirit of sorts. What the fathers speak of and what they speak out resonates with me in a way that not even personal Bible study does. I find this interesting and something that is worth internally investigating.

  7. Cercatore says:

    I was being facetious of course and actually wish Jordan health, wealth and spiritual happiness in this life and the next for certain. But I happen to disagree with some of his social/political views. This mainly stems from an intense conversation I had with my Son earlier this year when he brought home a copy for Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life”. He’s just graduated and is headed off to college this month – Thank God! So after hashing out these ’12 Rules’ in discussion, I felt something was amiss and feeling the same intense educative passion to reach young men’s minds as a teacher, I came up with ’12 Rules of My Own’ parodying off of Peterson’s list below –

    1. “Stand up straight with your shoulders back.”
    2. “Treat yourself like you are someone you are responsible for helping.”
    3. “Make friends with people who want the best for you.”
    4. “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”
    5. “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.”
    6. “Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.”
    7. “Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).”
    8. “Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie.”
    9. “Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.”
    10. “Be precise in your speech.”
    11. “Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.”
    12. “Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.”

    My Revisions –
    1. Walk humbly and pay attention to what is around you; In this you will discover balance.
    2. Look for the Good in others and give them the benefit of the doubt.
    3. Be confident & friendly even to those who don’t want the best for you.
    4. Take care of your Body & the Earth; They are connected.
    5. Love your children deeply, even when you dislike what they do.
    6. Have a non-quitting spirit, even when your house is falling down around you.
    7. Do something kind for very old people: they’re on the same journey as you.
    8. Never take for granted what you think you know; Don’t always take the path of least resistance.
    9. Kindness in your speech is more important than precision; Be cognitively flexible.
    10. Grow your own food & be kind to small animals.
    11. Skate & Bike freely but wear a helmet.
    12. Really get to know who Jesus is and what his life is about.

    Now these are as much a challenge for me to live up to, as any student or family member that I might share them with, especially number #9 as you have so adroitly pointed out. So, I think that intensely worrying about and posting argumentation on the legalities of the use of ‘gender neutral pronouns’ and the appearance of plus size women, etc… for example, are all somewhat important but very distracting from the real matters of the heart that I want to convey and instill in my own Son such as – empathy, kindness, compassion, patience, fortitude and creativity. I think Peterson has recently reposted these rules Online now and they appear to be more equanimical and egalitarian. But perhaps I am too naive and the gears that move the ‘Male Mind’ are more strictly hormonal(?)

    The link below towards the end encapsulates some of the issues with “Conditionalism” and how it may bump up against aspects of Universal Reconciliation. He does a pretty good job teasing it out.
    Am I a Universalist?

  8. Matthew says:

    I like your #12 the best. 🙂

    1. Cercatore says:

      Thanks again Matthew,
      So you just saw the two comparative 12 Rules Lists I posted in response to Jerry right? So where are they??? Once again random comments appearing and disappearing. Why ? Very strange….. I’ll try this link again –

      1. Jerry says:

        I liked the one, they were all great, not sure Cercatore your comment disappeared.

        Were you flagged for copyright infringement? You did outline the essence of his book verbatim in a somewhat derogatory fashion. If that heads south concerning publishers (WD) would be libel and possibly writing a large check.

        It was about gardens and small animals which aligned well with my comment on the environment with my focus on Hugh Ross.

        You mention a son and a stepson with special gifts. Are they one and the same now to enter college?

        Hugh Ross couldn’t figure out how to grip a pencil to make basic characters until he was seven however a teacher saw something in him and by seven got him a library card where every Saturday he would take the bus there and bring home 5 college level astronomy books that during the next week he would read cover to cover.

        Matt: were you able to download it from Pdfdrive.com

        Just copy/paste this into your browser Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP): pdfdrive.com/the-Christian-doctrine-of-apokatastasis-a-critical-assessment-from-the-new-testament-to-Eriugena-e188009767.html

        or give me an email address and I can mail a copy. (4.5meg)

        If you type in his name he has several other books you can download. (one 1000 plus in Italian)

        1. Matthew says:

          Thanks so much Jerry.

      2. Matthew says:

        I´m not really sure what happened technologically, Cercatore.

  9. Cercatore says:

    Another resource for discussion and thought –

    1. Matthew says:

      I am now reading David Bentley Hart´s book about universal salvation. I consider myself to be relatively intellectually able, but man this book causes me to have a dictionary within reach! I struggle also with some of his philosophical arguments, though the big picture is beginning to form for me. I think what I like the most about what I am calling my personal summer of Christian universalism is that the authors I am reading are putting flesh on the skeleton of the philosophical ramblings I have personally had over the years.

      1. Cercatore says:

        Sounds very encouraging. DBH’s New Testament Translation wonderfully opens this up a bit more. Look how he handles Matthew 25:46 for example –

        “And these shall go to the chastening of that Age, but the just to the life of that Age.”

        Now a lot of Believers don’t like this and disagree with what he’s doing. Look at this gentle push back for example –

        “That translation needs some commentary (or the Greek) to make it more understandable. Another point: The milder English word “chastening” is not surprising from an Orthodox translator. The absolute sinfullness of Adam and Eve’s actions don’t feature in Orthodox theology. They are thought of more like naïve youths, rather than absolutely sinful people, and humanity inherits original sin without the Augustinian universal guilt of original sin. Trench differentiates τιμωρία from κόλασις by saying that the first is vindictive, while the second – our word under consideration- is for the betterment of the one being chastised, and may be temporary, leading to a better state later. [The middle state between heaven and hades is mentioned in some fathers, but does not have the status of an official doctrine, because there was not a consensus of the fathers, and neither was it a doctrine officially accepted by an Ecumenical Council of what they call the undivided Christian millenium.]
        τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ; “

        He and others make some good points for certain, but I think that its how we understand ‘Ontology’, and its relationship to the ‘Trinity as Community” that is perhaps the key here. From the perspective of The Cross, the intertwining of my being, your being and God’s being, are hypostaically linked in such a way, that the gift of consciousness and or our self-awareness is anthropologically foundational to what we have been created for – “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” – (elohim vaiyomer na’aseh Adam betzalmenu kidmutenu) – Genesis 1:26

        Because each person of the Trinity is irreducibly and uniquely itself, distinct in three persons, and yet is perfectly united in being, love, and in purpose, and eternally processional, it is a true community of perfect love. So the first part of that passage connects to the process of the physical world (potentially hominid evolution and or special creation) Either way, it’s the second part that is so intriguing in that we are created in a dynamic process of Perichoresis, so in that sense our salvation is Trinitarian as well. God could lovingly grant our ontological extinction if that’s what we really, really want – ‘the second death’ but postmortem conditional mortality would then be predicated on a Trinitarian chain of command where the second person of The Trinity failed to achieve his prerogative – “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” – John 3:17
        But then there’s that word “Might”………grrrrrrrrrr! We exist in the constraints and appearance of time linear time, whereas he does not; so the proviso being the freedom of unbound agency in this life but when one’s finite creaturely stubbornness potentially comes up against his Infinitely Powerful Love – we simply don’t stand a chance.

        1. Matthew says:

          Thanks so much Cercatore. “but when one´s finite creaturely stubborness potentially comes up against his Infinitely Powerful Love — we simply don´t stand a chance”. Agreed. 🙂

          DBH talks about salvation in a truly corporate sense; the idea that none of us is truly saved individually and that in some metaphysical sense all souls are connected to one another. If that is so, then it would be impossible for some souls to be damned and other souls to be in a state of eternal bliss since a damned soul could not be in connection with a saved soul. Such a situation, in the mind of DBH, would be an abject failure in God´s salvific plan. He also uses this argument to push back against the evangelical philosophical apologists who say God will simply wash the minds of the saved clean so that they will not think about the suffering of those in hell. As I understand DBH, he thinks such a move would not be likely because in doing so God would be washing away part of that person or soul´s essence and being. Interesting.

          I want to share a quote that stood out to me as I was reading this morning:
          “For Gregory of Nyssa, evil and sin are accidental conditions of human nature, never intrinsic qualities” — pg. 143 That All Shall Be Saved — David Bentley Hart

          To me at least, this quote illustrates just how different in essence western Christianity is to eastern Christianity, whereby in the west the focus is nearly always on human nature being totally depraved. It´s like in the west the purpose of discipleship is to die to who you truly are (a totally depraved sinner) and in the east the goal of disicipleship is to press into who you truly are (one made in the image of God). Also interesting.

    2. Matthew says:

      DId we lose the Edit function in this forum?

  10. Jerry says:

    The End of The World As You Know It. Great stuff!

    Please forgive me for commenting here. Appears comments may be future disabled!

    What struck me most was Greg’s ending with GAPS – “to go about this week practicing these things but be aware how temporary they might be”.

    At the same time, I couldn’t help but think about how Greg’s ended his sermon two weeks ago. (the one I’m now posting to )

    “In God’s kingdom, we must get off our judgment “high horse,” refusing to sit in judgment of others with whom we have no relationship. At the same time, we must get off our “high horse” that keeps us isolated and assumes that we are beyond the need of input from others who care about us. We are called to challenge one another to live in love and prepare for the end where the love we bring is the only thing that will endure”.

    We all have GAPS – between what and who we want to be known for and what and who we actually are – so we are all tempted to cover, make excuses, hide and even lie.

    We pretend – managing our image making us imaginary –preferring our imagination over the real – so when we are presenting our imaginary self, like avatars, the real is hiding in the background not wanting to be known. The moment we start pretending, a full-time job keeping it ALL together ALL the time, we stop improving.

    If folks don’t know what you’re really like they don’t really like you but your Instagram [pretendaholic], addicted to image management, image.

    Problem: Until we embrace who and where we really are we can’t get to where we want and need to be. We ALL need relationships where we can drop the pretense, the pretending, the manufactured cool, (confidence and image) that I’ve got it all together. We ALL need a place where we do not fear being criticized, judged, or dismissed because we are being honest about the GAPS between where we are and where we want to be.

    Concerning God’s image, we don’t really make progress until we are known and accepted for who we really are: being transparent, starting to turn over rocks, and dealing with the scary stuff together with others.

    James 5:16-17: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (Righteous – a right relation NOT pretend)

    Hebrews 10:24: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another
    (content consumption is no substitute for community)

    Galatians 6:1: Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

    The pivot from Old to New Testament:

    —2: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. (One law no longer numerous laws)

    God accepts us as we are however God loves us too much to leave us that way.

    If you get a chance listen to Greg’s podcast on the multiverse.

    Greg says at one point “it’s a singularity so you can’t talk about time – which bugs the scrap out of me”.

    It seems the real puzzle is linear time and a singularity.

    Greg’s next podcast is about Yoga! Dan start’s with “I was skeptical about your yoga”. Our linear assumptions:

    “Complaining about not achieving success despite working hard is like complaining about an ice cube not melting when you heated it from 25 to 31 degrees. All the action happens at 32 degrees.”

    We often expect progress to be linear. At the very least, we hope it will come quickly. In reality, the results of our efforts are delayed. It is not until months or years later that we realize the actual value of our previous work. This can result in a “valley of disappointment” where people feel discouraged after putting in weeks or months of hard work without experiencing any results. However, this work was not wasted. It was simply being stored. It is not until much later that the full value of previous efforts is revealed.

    If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

    Nothing happens in a linear fashion but over time in a circle of repetition face to face NOT just forward.

    Forming habits is soul work and a double-edged sword. They can work for you or against you.

    I qualified for the Senior Nationals, when I was 19, squatting 550 for five reps however I only benched 315. Al Larson was pretty buff too however he told me Greg was in a league of his own, though smaller in stature, benching 315 for reps.

    Greg said in a recent sermon, talking about Diamond Dallas Page yoga, that he was unaware that he was NOT stuck for the rest of his life but could reverse his plight. I consider Greg just forgot where he came from. He was temporarily stuck in a new habit.

    1. Jerry says:

      I wanted to modify my prior post but the Edit function appears to have disappeared.

      Nothing happens in a linear fashion (ONLY) but over time in a circle of repetition face to face NOT just forward.

      This was in reference to a prior post concerning Roger Penrose’s Conformal Physical Cyclical Cosmology theory and William Lane Craig Kalam Cosmological Argument in regards to Lorentzian transformation symmetry versus Euclidean time as possible entangled space-time continuums.

      …and 2nd Greg’s stating “it’s a singularity so you can’t talk about time – which bugs the scrap out of me”.

      Einstein’s theory of relativity supports the Euclidean block universe, as a four-dimensional space-time structure where time is like space, in that every event has its own coordinates, or address, in space-time. However, relativity theory is consistent both with the idea of a temporal block universe and with a temporal universe of true becoming.

      In quantum mechanics there are two kinds of path integrals:
      • Euclidean: thermal equilibrium, fixed-time correlators.
      • Lorentzian: scattering theory [repelling wave and particle collisions], out-of-equilibrium dynamics, chaos, etc.

      Science’s account of causal properties is patchy and does not imply the closure of the universe to other forms of causal influence. Intrinsic unpredictabilities offer opportunities for metaphysical conjecture concerning the form that such additional causal principles might take.

      Chaos Theory eliminated the Euclidean Laplacian Cartesian fantasy of universal deterministic linear predictability. We become what we think, repetitive over time, is now 85% of reality, discontinuous, inhomogeneous, and irregular.

      Having gone beyond materialism to a world of spirit-matter physical matter time measurements are affected by gravitational fields affected by uniform motion and so forth, but time itself, for the most part, is not something that is a physical quantity but is a metaphysical spirit reality.

      John Polkinghorne rejects the notion of only a static block universe of space and time together. “We live in a world of unfolding and becoming.” It is important to note that the metaphysical issue of the nature of time and the metaphysical issue of the nature of causality are independent of each other. The block universe does not necessarily imply a deterministic world, since the pattern of events located within its space-time continuum could correspond either to tight determinism or to the operation of a variety of causal principles, including agency.

      The more open that the pattern of actual causal relationships appears to be, the more natural becomes the picture of a world of true becoming. The acts of truly free agents cannot be known beforehand, or the results of truly indeterminate processes.

      The Bible pictures God as being related to human history, but also, if creation is indeed a world of true becoming, then God will surely know it as it actually is, that is to say in its becomingness. God will not just know that events are successive but will know them in accordance with their nature, that is, in their succession. This implies that even God does not yet know the unformed future. Of course, any theist will believe that God knows all that can be known, but in a world of unfolding becoming the future is not yet there to be known, so current ignorance of its nature would be no divine imperfection.

      Most open theologians picture this divine dimension of temporality as being graciously and freely embraced by God and not imposed on divinity by some outside metaphysical necessity. The Templeton Foundation is sponsoring Rogers and Dr. Stuart Hameroff’s “Orch OR theory of conscious Neurobiology” concerning falsifiability Quantum interference ‘beats’ in tubulin and microtubules, a staggeringly high space-time frequency that if proven will solidify open theologies possibilities as starting in our conscious imagination via microtubules neurofibrils between synapse neurotransmitters and receptors.

      Some of their thoughts as they relate to Process and scripture:

      There are an infinite number of probabilities you can choose from, good and bad, which in quantum theory, Erwin Schrödinger’s probability wave, is just a prediction so there is always a degree of resulting uncertainty however, even though we don’t know the details, we do know God’s plans for us are good and that he wants to give us a hope and a future Jer. 29:11.

      So as we choose, in quantum terms, we collapse a probability wave, in neuroscience terms our choice generates a signal that causes genetic expression. The wave function of all the probable possibilities does not objectively describe the world rather it subjectively describes a person’s unique choices so each of us has our own wave function, our own reality, and our own set of probabilities or beliefs, attitudes, and choices from the possibilities God provides. God has a specific plan for our lives and we participate in that plan as individuals with the ability to freely choose.

      Prior to the collapse of the wave, which is our choice, the wave function incorporates a number of probabilities. These probabilities are not actual waves but rather waves of probability in a conceptual space, termed Hilbert space, so the collapse of the wave is the updated knowledge of the observer, you, as you go through the process of thinking, feeling, and choosing from the range of probabilities.

      As you are thinking and feeling you are in a superposition. On an atomic level, this means two particles are in a 1 and 0 at the same time, a quibit, and are being held together by quantum entanglement before they collapse into either a 1 or 0 as the result of a choice. This means the brain, as a quantum computer, can calculate different computations simultaneously while the process of decision-making is taking place.

      This mind action has a physical reaction on multiple levels from the waves of energy to the atomic level and right up to the level of our choosing to believe one reality over another. Information choosing a holiday destination, a medical diagnosis, a situation at work, an opportunity, anything enters your brain through your five senses and activates electrochemical and quantum actions in your neurons.

      Inside the neurons are microtubules around ten million per neuron. Equate these neuron connection relations to elementary particles in the expanding database universe. These microtubules are made up of proteins called tubulin, which in turn are made up of amino acids called tryptophan, which on a molecular level are made up of six carbon atoms in the form of a ring which is called an aromatic ring. Quantum action is taking place at the level of the vibrating electrons oscillating from side to side in this ring. These electrons, because of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, you on a mind level not having made your decision, not having a fixed position yet, don’t know if it’ll be Hawaii or Paris.

      The electrons spread out like a literal wave of probabilities, options/possibilities/tendencies, and the aromatic rings cross over and share electron clouds, going into superpositions of 1 and 0 the quantum bit or quibit, so you are essentially thinking Hawaii and Paris at the same time. There is not just one pathway but several, topological quibits, and because there are a lot of them working together it is called coherence.

      The more we listen to the Holy Spirit the more coherence we will have and the more we will have access to his infinite wisdom which will positively change our coherence and enable us to make a positive choice. As we choose we select a probability from Hilbert space and collapse the wave which means we have turned a probability into an actuality or a reality.

      We have turned a nothing into a something. This collapse of the wave function is also called decoherence in quantum theory. We start building this reality into a physical effect in our brains through genetic expression updating our nonconscious mind with new information with increased levels of expertise and wisdom if we choose correctly or if an incorrect choice the knowledge is toxic.

      The Quantum Zeno Effect, which is a type of decoherence, describes how when we repeatedly pay attention to something and think, feel and make choices collapse a wave function creating a long-term memory. The repeated effort that allows learning to take place that will become part of our belief systems and influences our choices in the future. Information becomes implanted and if the information is within God’s will, it will save your mind James 1:21 but operating outside, repeated and therefore learned memories (QZE) that are incorrect, disrupts the reward/thinking/learning circuit in the brain.

      People who listen to God’s whisper are the good soil in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1–23. They persist and push through even when they no longer feel like it. They hold on to God’s Word even when life is no longer carefree and happy, or when that great church conference is over and they are back in the throes of everyday life.

      Yet the parable also includes people who ruminate endlessly on the worries and illusions of life: instead of building healthy thoughts from repeated effort, they build negative mindsets and worldviews that influence their choices on a daily basis.

      This is called the plastic paradox and highlights the fact that our brains simply follow the direction of where our minds take us positive or negative. We can choose, our uniqueness pervades these choices since we act from what we have built in our minds. Our choices literally describe us since they reflect our attitudes and deeply rooted belief systems. Finding the neural substrates of free will have long intrigued philosophers and scientists and the power and reality of choosing being reflected in the brain, the brain is the substrate through which the mind works, has recently been confirmed by Johns Hopkins University researchers. Science is catching up with the Word of God!


      Quantum mechanics, with its emphasis on the entangled nature of consciousness and the physical world, is about us in the world, others oriented, not just the world or us.

      In one study people who served others who were going through something experienced a 68 percent increase in healing compared to those who only got treatment for themselves. The research showed that helping others predicted reduced mortality specifically by changing toxic stress to healthy stress. Many studies indicate that helping behavior can buffer the effects of stress on mental and physical health specifically when people reach out in love with a positive attitude to other people. Furthermore, studies show that isolation has a negative impact on mental and physical health.

      We are made to interact with each other and help each other even when we are going through hard times. The principle of entanglement shows it’s not all about ourselves but rather how we can get to know God better and serve others.

      We see this principle clearly laid out in Scripture in Ephesians 4:16: He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

      It is through Christian fellowship that we come to know God better. We are the stewards of the world, and all of creation cries out for us to reflect God’s glory Rom. 8:19–21. We cannot escape the intertwined nature of our world.

      Entanglement is in fact a primary law of quantum physics. God created us to have a relationship with him, each other, and the earth we are required to steward.

      Quantum physics helps us understand just how entangled our world is. If a photon comes into existence a billion light-years from here it affects you even if you do not notice it affecting you. John Bell, famous for Bell’s Theorem, observed that there is an inseparable quantum connectedness of every part with every other in our universe. No matter how far apart in distance and time all particles in a relationship, existing beyond space and time, affect each other.

      Entanglement demonstrates the profound impact our thinking, feeling, and choosing have not just on ourselves, spirit, mind, and body but also on each other and the world around us.

      Forgiveness is a primary example of entanglement in action. By not forgiving, we are staying entangled in someone’s life. Everything they say or do is as real as though they were still in our lives hurting us.

      By forgiving we disentangle ourselves from the toxic situation we have experienced, protect our spirits, and re-create a healthy entanglement where we are no longer affected by that person’s bad choices.

      We cannot control the events and circumstances of life since everyone is free to make their own choices even if they negatively impact us. We can however control our reactions to the events and circumstances of life through the choices we make. When we understand how we react, when we understand how we think, feel and choose we realize we can choose to control those reactions and ensure they are true to our wired-for-love image-bearing design.

      In turn, we shape our world by bearing witness to the love of God, we truly begin to reflect, like a light on a hill his magnificent image!

      Dan did a sermon whchurch.org/sermon/bad-robots/ where I posted #comment-226088 on Dan’s strategy 1: (good stuff) as it correlated with the tri-unity of the universe and with Process theologian John Cobb’s thoughts on the three different poles of God.

      You can read the book On Space and Time by John Polkinghorne, Shahn Majid, Roger Penrose, Andrew Taylor, Alain Connes & Michael Heller. It can be downloaded from pdfdrive.com/on-space-and-time-e165971723.html

      John Polkinghorne – What is Time? Youtube.com/watch?v=tkHfWezUAak

      I’ve been posting quite a bit lately and in reference to my time as an illustrator in the service and because I scored second highest in the nation in a pattern recognition test IBM was waiting for me when I got out: I wanted to comment a tad more on linear time progress.

      I originally turned down their offer stating I was going to use the GI Bill to attend the Minneapolis School of Art to fine-tune my skills.

      The IT director was quick to respond you can work for us and go to school and if the GI Bill falls short in covering expenses we offer a program that will cover the difference.

      As icing on the cake, he pointed to a framed image hanging on his office wall. I got up to look at a somewhat poor quality black and white Xerox of graphics and verbiage that however really grabbed my attention.

      He said if you accept our offer, for your first assignment, I want you to make a professional color version of this.

      I spent my first few days experimenting with fonts and ingraining this image deep inside me.

      I don’t remember the graphics, that was 52+ years ago, but the verbiage is as follows:

      “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.

      Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

      Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

      Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

      Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

      Calvin Coolidge

      For those folk still hanging on to materialism I can still remember my Drill Sergeant, in basic training, reminding us every morning, in his southern drawl, “Yawl no tin but a bunch a maggots” and in the absence of spirit that would be pretty much linear spot on.

  11. Cercatore says:


    In a fairly recent interview with Robert Lawrence Kuhn (of ‘Closer to Truth Fame’) John Polkinghorne said something incredibly profound which ties directly into your comprehensive elucidation on this topic. He said something to the affect –

    “The character and nature of God’s divine libertarian essence is such that he allowed the Universe/Creation to make itself.”

    Now that’s not an exact quote, but the gist of its there. The implications of this are absolutely huge and tie directly into a lot of what you’ve shared. Having that prerequisite and foundational understanding, can then set the frame and tone for how we interpret theology and God’s beautiful & salvific ‘entanglement’ in our lives!

    1. Jerry says:

      I did include a link to Robert and Johns’s chat on “What is Time” but I am not sure if this is the same conversation you listened to. Concerning the character and nature of God John said:

      “The act of creation is an act of divine self-limitation on God’s part. Nothing limits God on the outside but God’s nature means that God only does things in accordance with that nature. God brings into being a world in which creatures are given some freedom to be themselves to make themselves. That restricts God’s Power in a way because God can no longer manipulate everything. Similarly, I believe that God’s knowledge is voluntarily restricted by knowing a becoming world in its becoming and I think that does seem useful. That doesn’t mean of course that God is not in total control but we know that anyway by the genuine gift of freedom. I think it is perfectly possible to believe that God will bring about determined ends but by contingent paths. If creatures don’t act this way God will do something that steers them in another other direction. I don’t think it diminishes God’s providential power in a way that makes him no longer a ground for sure and certain hope”.

      I wanted to add a thought, again from “What is Time”, in correlation with Greg’s podcast concerning ‘the multiverse’ and the string theory supporting it. John said: “The idea of string theory, though interesting, is highly speculative in trying to guess how nature behaves on a scale sixteen orders of magnitude as to say ten thousand million, million times smaller than anything which we have direct experience. That’s very bold speculation”.

      The current smallest particles are Quarks and leptons 1/10,000 the size of a proton which is 0.8768 femtometers in radius (a femtometer is a millionth of a billionth of a meter). The strings of string theory would be unimaginably smaller. Your average string, if it exists, is about 10-33 centimeters long. That’s a millionth, of a billionth, of a billionth, of a billionth of a centimeter. If an atom were magnified to the size of the solar system, a string would be the size of a tree.

      To prove something of that magnitude you’d need, mathematically specific, 10 to the 15th trillion electron volts, which is about a quadrillion times more volts than what can be studied with the highest energy particle accelerator ever built, the Large Hadron Collider, used to discover the Higgs Boson. The collider would need to be the size of a galaxy. The energy requirements for one second would be that of the entire earth for three millennia.

      Elon Musk might be pretty jazzed about this and gearing up but that’s a really scary thought; Mar’s is not far enough.

      On thatdankent.com Dan’s focus is on Open Theism. His most recent podcast, with Kurt Willems, is extremely insightful.

      1. Cercatore says:

        Awesomeness!!! Plus ++

    2. Jerry says:

      I made a comment to Greg’s recent sermon/love-or-die/ that among other things reflects some of your thoughts. In case you haven’t listened I pinged this message knowing it will ping your email.

      Concerning Dallas Willard, from another recent post, he said something else you might find intriguing. “Heaven: God will allow into heaven anybody who can possibly stand it however as it turns out the flames of heaven turn out to be hotter than the fires of hell”.

      How you elect to read that is subject to interpretation working equally well for you, me, and Greg but not so much for the angry God folks.

      For those folk, this might work. He also said “Hell is God’s best for some people. If on earth you try to avoid God what makes you think you’d want to be with God for eternity? In heaven, God will be unavoidable! Truly, God doesn’t want anyone to perish; he wants everyone to be saved. But there are people who want nothing to do with God so he may let them have their way”.

      Sarah my answer from a hopeful Universalist perspective would be as Greg would say a ‘twofer’ Joy & Joy.

      The joy that ONLY love will remain – and a second joy that All else, chaos, death, and the likes will be left at the gate and will fade away.

      From the angry God perceptive I can see your quandary and I am clueless about an answer.

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