Life and Death
I learn a lot from Outlook and am interested in your thoughts on the subject of death and punishment.
Editorial Note: Let us approach the matter of human life and death from the original Hebrew perspective, based on the Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy). Beginning with Genesis 1:3, the Pentateuch is written in the future tense (see “Origins” [Outlook, September 2001]). There is a prior period of theistic evolution of approximately 13.7 billion earth-years.
God created Adam (Adamah = “Red Earth”) from “the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7) and soon thereafter declared, “ . . . unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19).
God created Adam as a “soul” (Genesis 2:7) and not “with a soul.”
When Adam died, the totality of Adam went to sheol and will “sleep” there until the resurrection.
The creation account of mankind (Adam) was a proleptic, promissory account which anticipated the fulfillment of the promise by the true Adam — Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ alone was divine (uncreated) and then became human (created).
At his death Jesus Christ took both human sin/mortality and self-existent divinity to sheol.
At his resurrection Jesus Christ came forth as the only, unique, and irrevocably immortal Human One.
When he returns (parousia) and we are raised (and only then), “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
The Christ event must therefore be seen as the fundamental, axial creation event rather than as a secondary redemptive event.
These few thoughts will continue to be developed in subsequent material that addresses the Christ event itself.
Jesus IS God!
I just read the “Canaanite II” (Context for the Christ Event, 2005.06). Absolutely tremendous! Jesus IS God! Hallelujah!
Two comments on “Canaanite I” (Context for the Christ Event, 2005.05):
1. Matthew 21:12, 13 does not mention any “cleansing of the temple.” N. T. Wright says that Jesus is acting out a dramatic portrayal of what lies ahead for the Temple — its destruction [see N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), p. 417]. “Den of robbers” in Jeremiah 7:11 confirms this. The Temple’s fate will be the same as that of Shiloh.
2. I have for years wondered what the Hebrew writer might have said to his readers about Melchizedek if they had not been so “dull of hearing.” Of course, one might say that he proceeds with his exposition by relating it to the Christ event. I still wonder about all that. Or, putting it in other terms, how does the Christ event affect the principalities and powers (elementals, thrones, dominions, angels, archangels, etc.) and our relationship to the same? Could old Melchizedek have been an other-world figure; and, if so, what might the Hebrew writer have wished to communicate about the same?
Keep up the good work.
With reference to the Garden of Eden (“Canaanite I” [Context for the Christ Event, 2005.05]), what is the difference between God’s presence in these two passages?
Matthew 28:20: “ . . . teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
1 Thessalonians 4:17, 18: “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
Editorial Note: Good question, Rudy. God will be with us until the end of the age, and thereafter we will be with him! This may well have a relational meaning. God is with us now, but we are “not yet” (1 John 3:2) with him now (relationally). However, at the end of the age we will be with him, and he with us.
One of the men at church stated that Jesus knew everything. Luke 2:52 says that Jesus increased or grew in wisdom and age (margin). Do we read that literally? If Jesus already knew everything, how could he have grown in wisdom? Does God know in advance everything that I am going to do, whether good or bad? Does he know in advance who will accept Jesus or not? Did he know all that before he created the world? Whatever the answer to these questions, I think that I am beginning to understand how God is working to bring everything to its ultimate goal.
Thank you for Outlook. I read and re-read the articles often.
Editorial Note: In response, Roger, to your comments and questions regarding divine foreknowledge, the reflections of Anglican theologian, William Hubert Vanstone, have been most helpful. The following quotation is taken from his book entitled Love's Endeavour, Love's Expense: The Response of Being to the Love of God (1977), pages 63, 64:
If the creation is the work of love, then its shape cannot be predetermined by the Creator, nor its triumph foreknown. It is the realisation of vision, but of vision which is discovered only through its own realization; and faith in its triumph is neither more nor less than faith in the Creator Himself — faith that He will not cease from His handiwork nor abandon the object of His love.
The existence of evil must be seen as the expression or consequence of the precariousness of the divine creativity. Evil is the moment of control jeopardised and lost; and the redemption of evil is inseparable from the process of creation. . . . [T]hat which is created is “other” than He Who creates; . . . [I]ts possibility is not foreknown but must be discovered; . . . [I]ts possibility must be “worked out” in the creative process itself; and . . . the working out must include the correction of the step which has proved a false step, the redemption of the move which, unredeemed, would be tragedy.
With mixed reactions I recently finished reading a book entitled In Search of Paul: How Jesus’s Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom, by John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2004). The book concludes with the following words (along with Romans 8:38, 39), which I find very insightful:
. . . We are, at the start of the twenty-first century, what the Roman Empire was at the start of the first century. Put succinctly: Rome and the East there, America and the West here. Put more succinctly: they then, we now. Put most succinctly: SPQR [Senatus Populusque Romanus — “The Senate and the People of Rome” was the empire’s solemn chant] is SPQA.
That clash between Paul’s Jewish covenant and Rome’s imperial power was a radically transcendental one and was, therefore, both a first-century and also a twenty-first-century conflict. Imagine, on the model of plate tectonics beneath our geological earth, the metaphor of plate tectonics beneath our historical world. Deep below the surface of history is a giant tectonic plate that some have called macroparasitism, kleptocracy, or “the cage,” but we call civilization itself. The normalcy or even the cutting edge of human civilization in all its imperial inevitability has as its chant: First victory, then peace or Peace by victory. On one side, another plate grinds relentlessly against that great central one. Some call it utopia, eschatology, or apocalypse, but we call it postcivilization and its chant is First justice, then peace or Peace by justice. On the other side of civilization’s great central plate, a third one also grinds relentlessly against it. Some call it nihilism, totalitarianism, or terrorism, but we call it anticivilization and its chant is First death, then peace or Peace by death. Those plate tectonics of human history curve around as does our globe, so that those two smaller plates of anticivilization and postcivilization grind not only against civilization, but also against each other. In the first century, however, and indeed for most of the next two thousand years, postcivilization’s nonviolent alternative seemed to many a sweetly romantic, politically irrelevant, and idealistically unreal dream. Now, at the start of the twenty-first century, it seems more like a terrible warning two millennia ahead of its time. “If you live by the sword, you will die by it” no longer applies minimally to Israel or maximally to Rome, but minimally to world and maximally to earth. So, then, there remain these three: anticivilization, civilization, and postcivilization, but the greatest of these is postcivilization.
Thoughts on Angels
Your article on “The Divine Resolution I: Pre-Creation” (Outlook, March/April 2005) has some good points. But how can you say that the pre-Creation God was all alone when there were a multitude of angels, besides whatever inhabitants there may have been on other worlds — i.e., “ . . . he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited . . . (Isaiah 45:18). Planets formed without life would have been a vain creation.
Editorial Note: In the thinking of Old Testament Judaism, angels were simply metaphors. They were actually attributes of God himself. For example, “Gabriel” is derived from the Hebrew words gibbor (= mighty) and el (= God). Thus, Gabriel = “God is Mighty.”
Is there any biblical evidence for the pre-existence of other universes or other worlds?
What did the apostle John mean when he declared, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3)?
And what did the apostle Paul mean when he stated, “ . . . for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16, 17)?
Your critique is deeply appreciated.
God as Covenant
I like the idea that God is the Covenant (“The Divine Predicament,” [Outlook, January/February 2005]).
I am excited about your online work on the Worldview Publications Website.
Congratulations on your Worldview Publications Website!
Dating of the Book of Daniel
Your Website is certainly attractive and done in a manner easy to use. I have the highest regard for your sincerity and integrity and am anxious for your success.
I found your article on “The Second Temple: Hellenistic Period” (Outlook, January/February 2004) very interesting. I am pleased with your emphasis that, for the Hebrews, man was a living soul, while the Greeks viewed man as a dichotomy, divided into two parts, soul and body.
You indicate that the book of Daniel was incorporated into the Jewish canon during the Seleucid Era (198-152 BCE). It is my understanding that the book of Daniel was removed from the Prophets and placed in the Writings around 400 BCE. Which is correct?
Editorial Note: There has been a long controversy over the origin and dating of the book of Daniel. Christian scholars generally trace its authorship to the Jewish exile in Babylonian times (ca. 545-535 BCE), while Jewish scholars regard the book of Daniel as a pseudo-epigraphic work dating to Maccabean and Antiochean times (ca. 168-165 BCE). In his treatise entitled The Origins of the Bible: Rethinking Canon History, the Mennonite scholar, John W. Miller, helps to resolve this debate. He records that, during the Antiochean persecution, any Jew who was discovered possessing and reading a biblical book was executed. In this crisis situation the Jews secretly dispersed the books found in Nehemiah’s library. The book of Daniel was among the archival manuscripts removed from the library. Under these circumstances Daniel was added to the canonical corpus of Law, Prophets and Writings.
However, Miller further states that Daniel was not merely discovered and added to the canon at this time. “That the book of Daniel was compiled and added to this library at about this time is also indicated by Daniel’s absence from the list of ‘illustrious men’ in Sira’s survey of biblical history in Sirach 44-49, something hard to imagine were Daniel part of this library then already (c. 180 BCE)” (see John W. Miller, The Origins of the Bible: Rethinking Canon History [New York: Paulist Press, 1994], pp. 155-157, 215 [italics supplied]).
Since such well-known texts as the book of Daniel and the books of Enoch are Jewish apocalyptic documents, it also should be noted that apocalyptic was a broad movement that did not develop and flourish within Judaism until the second century BCE. “Apocalyptic,” meaning “uncovering” or “unveiling,” claimed that God had revealed to the writer the secrets of the imminent end of the world. Of particular significance to this movement was the sect called “Pharisees” (Perushim = separate), who emerged with sectarian Judaism from about the middle of the second century BCE. In adopting Zoroastrian beliefs, the Pharisees were convinced that the millennial appearance of a world savior, a final battle between good and evil, and the ultimate judgment were about to occur. This, combined with the absence of the legitimate Davidic kingship, the prophetic office and the Zadokite priesthood, led the Pharisees to author apocalyptic literature. Believers in apocalyptic despaired of events in this world, anticipated its imminent end, and expected a final judgment and restoration by means of a redeemer figure acting by the power of God. See M. Alan Kazlev, “Gnosticism and Apocalyptic,” at www.kheper.net/topics/Gnosticism/Gnosticism_and_Apocalyptic.htm. See also “‘Ye Shall Be As Gods,’”
(Outlook, March/April 2004), section “7. Sectarian Judaism and the Divinization of Mankind.”
I look forward to Outlook articles with great anticipation! The truths and perspectives set forth often serve to enhance my seemingly unending meditation on the Gift that all humanity already possesses but is so slow to accept.
I am bewildered that more people have not recognized Outlook’s presentation. Simple yet profound! Outlook is the clearest on the gospel that can be found on the Internet. Surely the hopeful event of Christ’s return will take place soon.
Directed to Worldview Publications
I am thankful for being directed to Worldview Publications. I went to the site and found some of the articles quite interesting.
Rev. Johannes Erich Myors
I find the Worldview Publications Website very profitable and laden with truth seldom heard in this age.
Jerry L. Ogles
What a pleasant surprise to learn that your essays are online! Of course, I will be forwarding them to friends. [See the “send . . . to a friend” feature accompanying each online document.]
I agree that God is ultimately responsible for the existence of evil as well as good (“Resolving the Threefold Paradox,” [Outlook, November/December 2002]). Moreover, the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” is both an evil and a good event. How else could humans really “know” (intimately) the difference between good and evil except through the experience of it?
Editorial Note: Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch or Torah (= instruction). It is a mixture of myth, legend and history, designed to teach the Hebrew people about their God, YHWH, and his purposes for mankind.
Genesis was written in the context of the transition from a possessional “god-consciousness” to relational self-consciousness (see “The Dawn of Self-Consciousness,” [Outlook, October 2001]). To “know” god was to return to the recently lost and longed-for god-consciousness. Mankind desperately wanted to be re-ligioned (re-tied) to god rather than to move forward to self-consciousness.
Meanwhile, God tried to communicate that the future of possessional god-consciousness was the eventual demise (death) of relational humanity, while the future of self-consciousness was the eventual emergence (life) of relational humanity.
At the same time, if God had granted mankind either immediate life or immediate death (Tree of Life vs. Tree of Death), God’s long-term tutorial purpose in creation would have been thwarted. Every attempt to make man in his own image, with free will, etc., would have collapsed.
Yours is a wonderful and serious Website. I arrived at it as to an oasis after making a search for my name on the Internet and finding some really hysterical sites. You were kind enough to put a reference to my writings on Genesis right at the first of your article on “Origins”
(Outlook, September 2001).
Dr. Y. Hayut-Man
The Academy of Jerusalem
I have had to think in different areas to grasp the new understandings that Outlook brings.
It is a pleasure to read Outlook. My other reading confirms that the thought of Philo of Alexandria remained dominant in Christian philosophy down through the medieval age. Moreover, the same distortions are alive in our time.
Mrs. A. M. van der Wal
We want to thank you for bringing such eye-opening messages through Outlook. It is clear that our Western minds have been polluted with Greek and Roman philosophies. May the Spirit be with you and lead you to reveal more and more about these matters.
Lea and Timo Karppi
Outlook reflects such advanced thinking. Sometimes my first reaction is, “How do we know this? Some of this can’t be right!” Then I re-read the articles and ponder them. Further, Outlook gives us material from reliable scholars who substantiate what you are saying. Then these marvelous teachings come to life in my mind. Sometimes all I can say is “Wow! How fortunate I am to learn these things!”
I bet your theology was dealt with as heresy a number of centuries back. I’ll tell you where my theology is at: man lost life, God’s life; and Jesus Christ came to restore that life in you!
Eager to Learn
Your material helps us awaken to the realization of who we are, what human coexistence really means, and the purpose in our covenantal relationship. I’m just eager to learn more every time a new article is published.
I deeply appreciate Outlook’s contributions and am desperately trying to digest the material. I consider it vitally important to our understanding.
Wow! We are thankful for the gospel. We can hardly wait for each new Outlook article with its significant material on the Christ event — its meaning, purpose and value. Thank you for your loyalty to true and honest research. You may count on us to stay tuned.
Paul and Eleanor Knight
Editorial Reply to Thoughtful Letter
Letter Summary: Your letter included the following major questions:
1. If we expect to share eternity with God and each other, will that existence be confined to time and space — and why couldn’t it be self-existent?
2. If Jesus is already relationally and coexistently present, what unfulfilled possibilities remain for the Parousia (Second Coming)?
3.If Jesus is YHWH himself, how can he speak to and with YHWH the “Father”?
Editorial Reply: It may be that no one can provide wholly satisfactory answers to any of these questions at present. Meanwhile, however, they deserve serious comment. Let me then make a preliminary response:
1. While God has chosen to relate to us in history — in time and space — our mutual relationship will not always be confined to earth-space or earth-time. The universe is vast and expanding with infinite possibilities, so we shall enjoy vast and expanding relationships with infinite possibilities. Self-existence, however, implies a solitary existence that excludes all else or possessively includes all else — without relationship.
2. The Parousia (Second Coming) and transformation of the created order await us. There will be life but not death. There will be universal peace but not hostility. There will be limitless possibilities for growth, development, creation, etc. The Risen Christ is inaugurally present, but we still live in the “not yet.” “lt doth not yet appear what we shall be” (1 John 3:2).
3. If YHWH as Supreme Deity and his human manifestation as Jesus Christ involve the same “Person,” you properly wonder how there could be communication between them. Let me make some suggestions:
- With Old Testament Judaism we hold to a strict monotheism — One God. With early church fathers we tend to think of this One God as having adopted several roles. For example, Tertullian suggested that God had three “personas.” The term persona referred to the masks used in Greek theater by a single actor to “play” different roles. Such an actor could therefore converse using different masks.
- Another approach is to think of God’s manifestations across time — first as pre-existent Father, then incarnate Son, and finally as Risen Christ or Spirit. Conversations, therefore, could be imagined as taking place across history — time and space.
- Still another approach is a liturgical and interpretive view of the Gospel accounts. The Gospels were not intended to rigidly define historical events but, rather, to convey meaning, value and purpose. In this approach literary license might well have been used to employ conversations for the purpose of establishing such meaning, value and purpose.
Since our views are not engraved in stone, please feel free to express your thoughts. We deeply appreciate your contributions.