Who is in control?

The notion that we are all sinful wretches worthy of punishment and that the physical world is the dominion and under the tyrannical control of a being known as Satan, is a dogma that I have always opposed. Satan, as Christianity perceives him, did not originate until the Gospels and Epistles. The very few references to Satan in the Jewish Scriptures paint this being in a far different way then the mainstream belief of the Christian and Muslim faiths. Satan is not the serpent in the creation account found in Genesis, nor is he the Prince of the Earth (whatever that means) that we see portrayed in gospels and epistles. Satan, in Jewish Scripture, is the “accuser” and “tempter”. He is not a fallen angel, as some wrongfully interpret Isaiah 14:12 (which when read in full context is an allusion to King Nebuchadnezzar). Satan, according to Jewish Scripture, is and always has been a servant of God. The servant who test one’s faith and resolve, but as clearly displayed in the book of Job, Satan acts and operates at the will and pleasure of the Almighty God.

So where did the concept of the evil, horned, red body-suit wearing, pitch fork carrying sovereign of hell come from? Well, truth be told, the devil that billions of Christians despise and the Hell they hope to avoid by having faith in Jesus are NOT Biblical. Both of them find their origins in a fused interpretation of Dante’s Inferno, the Divine Comedy and the Greco-Roman character known as Hades. The very few references to hell that exist are all in the Gospels and Epistles and they are better translated as the “pit” or Gehenna, which was an area outside the Jewish tribal camps (and later Jerusalem) where the worshippers of Baal and Molech would sacrifice their children by fire. This was an area that the Jews knew physically existed and they feared it. If Torah observance was not strictly adhered to one could get thrown out of the camp or city and face the threat of the “pit”. How a physical place was spun into a place of eternal torment is the crafty work of Augustine and it’s purpose, one could argue, was to scare people into conformity.

Let’s now apply reason and a rational view here. If God is all-powerful than he is all-powerful and the Sovereign of the Universe that Abraham claimed the Almighty to be. This means God and only God is in control and not a rebellious servant in the fiery bowels of the earth. If we are created in the image of God, than we have all the attributes of the Divine. We could not therefore be insignificant wretches that are full of sin and because of poor choices we may have made are somehow worthy of ETERNAL punishment. Let’s think for a minute about this gross implication of injustice. Most people live less than 100 years. What kind of justice is displayed where the mere lack of believing in something for the decades we spend on earth would somehow justify an ETERNAL sentence to torture and punishment? Not a life sentence, but a relentless and unending sentence with no hope for reconciliation or even parole. Where is the grace mercy and peace of the Father? Would the very Creator who created all things and imbued us with Reason and intellect really require that faith and faith alone ensure eternal bliss? Would the divine inspiration that is claimed to have been revealed to a small number of sages in the most primitive and ignorant corner of the earth, be the only source of this critical message? If this be true, why would the message be so cryptic and have so many examples of injustice within it?

Let me propose the following:

  • You are not a filthy wretch.
  • You are not unworthy of love.
  • You are not flawed.
  • You are not a disgrace.
  • You are not worthy of punishment.
  • You are not under an inherited curse of a sin that someone else committed.
  • You are not under the dominion of a powerful evil being who’s out to get you.

What you are is a living, breathing, and beautiful person. You have good attributes and you have bad. You have the freedom to choose how you use the strengths you possess and how you surrender to your weakness. If you have read this far, than you have a contemplative sense of reason and are willing to go behind the veils of dogma and uncover the purest source of truth. Everyone has the need to feel a sense of hope and an element of higher purpose. The idea that we are merely a carbon based collection of molecules and cells that act in repetitive and sometime meaningless ways and are destined to be inanimate patches of dust, is hardly inspirational to most people. This is why people feel deep within the recesses of their mind and soul that there must be something greater than ourselves. How can the wonder of time and the majesty of nature be the product of a Divine Judge that places matters of thought over physical actions?

Am I speaking against Scripture? No. I am merely providing my view of the Divine, just like the authors of the various books of Scripture did. Call me heretical if you want, but we know a lot more now about the universe, earth, the human genome, physics, medicine, human psychology, and a host of other quantifiable facts than any of the Bronze Age authors of Scripture ever knew. There is a strong argument that Biblical inerrancy is only in context not in content.

But Nelson, my pastor says this or Joel Osteen says that, or Joyce Meyer advocates this and Rick Warren wrote that… Well, why don’t we compare their motivational factors to mine. What exactly am I asking you for? Have I passed around an offering plate? Have I told you to call my prayer line and contribute to my ministry? Have I told you that I need you to “give all you can” and promised a ten-fold blessing from God in return for your offering? Nope. I am just on a quest for light and have welcomed you to accompany me on it and nothing more.

All I have ever asked is for 2 very simple things:

That you think with an open and rational mind.
That you love one another.

Ask yourself this question:
If this is the only life you will have and there is no resurrection or after-life, are you living life to the fullest?

One more question:
Why not?

26 thoughts on “Who is in control?

  1. Interesting. I think most people make a decision about what they believe very quickly. It seems that either their family, friends, teachers and school help form their decision. I find very few people in limbo and searching. What really seems to suprise me is that most people don’t care and aren’t looking or searching at all. Its refreashing that you are interested and studying.

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    • Good points Steve. So many people are born into a religion of some sort and few actually know what it is they profess to believe. I prefer to keep an open mind as to what the answers may be. I think some answers continuously evolve and some are still waiting to be uncovered.

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  2. Nelson I love the way you write. Don’t agree on many points but do appreciate the intellectual level… Isaiah 14:12…. The Hebrew word is Helel ….which was translated Lucifer. Coupled with son of morning…it simply means a bright shining being… .(..not a human.)..As angels are referred to in more than one place in the new and old testament…..Rev, Job, Luke etc

    See references to the king of Tyre as well….it’s the super natural power being referred to…not the actual king. Just finished studying Isaiah and Ezekiel and you have my 2 cents…if worth that my friend

    G

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    • Thanks Gene for the compliment. Yes, the translation done by the KJV translators was incorrect. It was probably because the Vulgate (which was in Latin was used more than the original manuscripts) had translated in a manner that was somewhat misleading.

      The contect of that story was an allegory of the King not a fallen angel though. I think given the time and place of Isaiah – which itself may have been authored by 2 different people separated by centuries – that it wasw likely that the Kind that fell from power was Nebuchadnezzar. Glad to see that you are studying the OT Gene. There are some many hidden treasures that are often overlooked due to the church’s overwhelming preferential study of the epistles of Paul.

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  3. Btw…if you really want to chase a tangent on this…reference the Book of Enoch which I believe was removed from the Bible during the early church…I think……and then Patrick Heron’s website…Nephillim and the pyramids …really fascinating thoughts and conjecture on fallen angels etc….incredibly interesting stuff

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    • The Book of Enoch is a very interesting read. It was never part of the Jewish Cannon though for reasons that are competely unknown. Thank you for dropping in Gene. Glad to see you still read my musings 🙂

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  4. Nelson, you always raise so many interesting questions. I read somewhere that the current image of Satan was modeled after Pan the mythological figure, and also that Wiccans wear masks of goats and rams in ceremonies and worship Pan. Maybe some of your readers know if this is propaganda or truth. I saw the movie “Pan’s Labyrinth” once and that was enough for me- terrifying and dark.

    I agree with your mention of Satan as accuser and being subject to the rule of God, but whether He is willingly so, or a rebel cast out from grace is another matter. Have you ever heard of the Processeans? They held a view that Satan helped us work out our salvation by tempting us, but I never could go along with that. What do you make of the passage in Revelation when the great dragon is chained and thrown in the bottomless pit?

    Jesus said that He beheld Satan fall from Heaven like lightning, and I didn’t get the impression it was a metaphor. I always enjoy your probing writings, and the open forums for discussion. I wish more spiritual writers would do this, because I always enjoy your topics.

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    • @Olive – Pan!! Shoot, I just realized that was not in my final post but it was in my notepad draft. You are correct, that the imagery did come from Pan – also Baphomet. Sheesh – 2 big reference I missed in the final.

      Anyway – Processeans is a term I am not familar with – will look more into that.

      Revelation is pure imagery. A mushroom induced vision that is more the weaving of the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the defeat of the Roman Empire with an injection of hope for the rise of a New Jerusalem than it is a apocalyptic showdown that is attractive fodder for a Hollywood movie.

      Revelation is one of those books I believe was a mistake by the folks who made the decisions as to what bookd would be in and out of the New Testament.

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      • Wow, those are some pretty strong words there…mushroom induced? Hmmm, not so sure about that, but I love your ideas anyway.

        I do wish more people would think out what they believe, instead of just letting others tell them what to believe. You should read “The Geronda and the Atheist” when you have a chance.

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        • @Olive didn’t maen to offend. There is actually a few very well researched books about mushrooms and how the not only influenced people but were worshiped by them. There were several cults within the region and they coexisted with the tribes.

          I know it sounds crazy, but allegorical esoteric literature like Revelation has to come from somewhere. 🙂

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  5. I would like to add that not all preachers are asking for money just to get rich. Unlike many denominations and religions, the churches I have attended do pass around a plate or basket for tithes and offerings, but I have never been denied the ability to worship or participate in the different ministries if I hadn’t contributed. Some religions require you to pay to attend. So, I get what you are saying about some of the big tv evangelists, but please don’t lump all Christian churches and ministries together. I look at how much it takes to run my household of 5, I can’t imagine how much money it takes to run a large church, especially when they have many programs and ministries to reach out to the community.

    I do believe I am flawed, I do believe I am a sinner. I battle the urges often. With God’s help I am usually able to fight the bad choices that I am confronted with.

    I always enjoy your posts and I love how you make me think and spur me on to look into the Scriptures for the answers.
    Keep writing…I’ll keep reading.

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    • Hi Valencia. I know that there are many pastors who walk the talk. However, your very defense of what is needed to manage churches does not necessarily strengthen the point. Did Jesus say “Build big, beautiful, ornate churches and have hundreds of people who don’t know each other take an hour out of their week to worship me” or did he say “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”(Matt 18:20)? I think the dogma of the church gives people an unnecessary low opinion of them. Yes, you make mistakes Valencia, but you are also one of the most selfless people I know. You fight urges – that’s normal – you have light and darkness, just like the day and the night and God gave you the free-will and reason to figure out which to act on.

      I am so glad you keep coming back and that what I write makes you think. This is a quest that I can always use company on.

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  6. Ok, I’ve been meaning to reply a little more lengthy reply, but I’ve been so busy. First of all, thank you for the compliment. I try hard to put others 1st, sometimes it is easy and other times, not so much. I think there are others that do even more. I think the world would be a much better place if we all tried putting others before ourselves. Which leads me into church…
    I understand totally what you mean about the big churches and how ornate some can be (which I actually love…not that I have ever attended one, but for the architecture). I also am very familiar with small churches. Steve and I both grew up in small churches. The church I attended as I grew up had an average of about 40 people. For several years we didn’t even have our own building. We started out in a conference room at the YMCA, which was where I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit and I knew I wanted to have God in my life. A year or so later, I was baptized in the YMCA pool. During the midweek, we often met in other people’s homes for fellowship and Bible study. We eventually were able to purchase some property, a parsonage was built and in the walkout basement, was our sanctuary. I actually really miss the intimacy of a small church, where everyone knew everyone and the pot lucks were often. My memories of my teen years are full of good times in our tiny little youth group.
    But, whether a very small church, which really is the body of believers, not a building, where 2 or more are gathered together, or a large church with 1,000, the focus should be the same. The church is meant for teaching of the Word, training on how to use the gifts God has given you (mine is hospitality…I bet you would have never guessed), praising God…worship, building each other up…support and even discipline.
    So back to the big church thing…they have the ability when all members join together to really help solve some of the issues of society. In a better world, if we as believers and as the church did what we are told to do, we wouldn’t need a welfare system or a fostercare system. It is our job to help those that are less fortunate, to help the widows and the orphans, really, to love our neighbors. I know that a lot of large churches have many ministries and outreach programs, it is my own fault that I only attend on Sunday morning. When I was young we were there a minimum of 3 times per week.
    I don’t think we should only be there for just that hour. I think that even in a large church we would know many people if we were involved. The church offers the opportunity, it is up to us to take it.
    So I don’t think God would be pleased by knowing so much money is being wasted on ornateness, but I think He is well pleased when He sees us worshiping in unison. I know some people don’t feel they need to go to church to be able to worship God, learn about Him and communicate with Him. But for me and the people person that I am, it is vital. It is refreshing and renews my strength.
    Now, as for “The notion that we are all sinful wretches worthy of punishment and that the physical world is the dominion and under the tyrannical control of a being known as Satan”, I can’t help but to see it! Without it, Steve would be out of a job. I see it everywhere I go…even at church. I know that I have to be concerned for my children’s safety from predators, from drug dealers, from bad influences on tv, in books and on the radio, from friends. I know I have to be concerned about my own safety from being robbed, raped, burglarized. I imagine that my senses are heightened being a LEO’s wife, but the statistics are there, even though many of us are blessed to live blissfully ignorant until we become a victim. So the thought of believing that “You are not a filthy wretch.
    You are not unworthy of love.
    You are not flawed.
    You are not a disgrace.
    You are not worthy of punishment.
    You are not under an inherited curse of a sin that someone else committed.
    You are not under the dominion of a powerful evil being who’s out to get you.” is true for society as a whole is something that I can’t wrap my brain around. I wish I could think that there is ultimately good in everyone, but I believe the opposite. I believe we are all born with a sin nature and by God’s grace we can be good. I can tell you that I try to see good in people, but I also keep my eyes wide open. I try to do what God has commanded to love others and I try to teach my children the same.
    As always, this is just my perspective. I’m glad we can discuss our views without getting hurt feelings. I am glad you are on your quest for the truth.

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  7. One of my favorite posts that you’ve ever written. Really inspiring and full of light. ❤ I love how you call to light the Hebrew view of the adversary–perhaps just another being (or merely a nature within ourselves…still unsure) created for the Story and for the Glory. That's all. Everything you said parallels the things I feel God has been speaking to me in my journey. It's funny because when we first started corresponding (a year ago?), our paths seems fairly different, yet our quest for light and hearts tracking the same. Now our paths seem to have merged. 🙂 Thanks for your inspiration.

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  8. Pingback: Never gonna give you up.. « The Quest for Light

  9. Thanks Julie. This one came to me on a midlnight flight home. I wrote on the ipad and only fixed a few typos before posting. One could argue it was Divinely Inspired 🙂

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  10. Continually regarding oneself as filthy, unworthy, flawed, or “by nature evil,” promotes an attitude of little more than chronic self-loathing. This is unhealthy (especially for young children!), I don’t care how “Christian” it may be. This continual degrading and belittling of the individual, together with the Doctrine of Original Sin, were the main factors which drove me away from fundamentalist Protestant teaching long ago.

    I could never understand why love (which is considered a virtue when it is directed toward everyone else in the human race), suddenly becomes a vice when it is directed toward yourself. Or, conversely, why hatred (which is considered wrong or sinful when directed toward anyone else) somehow mysteriously becomes a virtue when it is turned on yourself.

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