Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Constantine and the Council of Nicaea

In Protestant, Evangelical and Hebrew Roots sects of Christianity it is popular to vilify Constantine.  I consider myself to some decree part of the last two of those groups.  Yet my view of Constantine is different.

I'm by no means inclined to view Constantine as the ideal Christian or an Ideal Ruler.  But I think the extent to which many people pin everything they don't like about mainstream Christianity on Constantine greatly oversimplifies things.

All the core doctrines of Catholicism had their seeds planted among the Church Fathers who came before Constantine.  The reverence of the Greek Philosophy of Plato, Aristotle and Philo had already started.  And to varying decrees so did the desire to reconcile Christianity with Rome.

Constantine did not formally make Christianity the state religion.  In fact the Edict of Milan was actually an edict granting Freedom of Religion to all Religions.
"When you see that this has been granted to [Christians] by us, your Worship will know that we have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases; this regulation is made that we may not seem to detract from any dignity of any religion."
The common statement that Christianity didn't become the State Religion till Theodosius I is also perhaps an oversimplification.  Christianity had certainly become a state sponsored religion before then.  But only Gratian removed the state sponsored status of any element of the old Roman Religion.

It is with Theodosius I that Christianity as the state religion to the exclusion of other faiths began.

The original Nicene Creed of 325 AD contains nothing I object to (I just did a post defending the Homoousion doctrine).  Nor anything I would expect to be objected to by most Protestants, Evangelicals, or other Christians who like to vilify Constantine and say Pre-Nicene and Post-Nicene to distinguish which Early Church Fathers they consider worth quoting.

"We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible. 

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father [the only-begotten; that is, of the essence of the Father, God of God,] Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made [both in heaven and on earth]; Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

And in the Holy Ghost.

[But those who say: 'There was a time when he was not;' and 'He was not before he was made;' and 'He was made out of nothing,' or 'He is of another substance' or 'essence,' or 'The Son of God is created,' or 'changeable,' or 'alterable'— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.]"
Later the Creed was revised at the Council of Constantinople of 381 AD under Theodosius I.
"We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (├Žons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead. ; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.

In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen."
I don't mind the removing the Condemnation part.  As a supporter of Eternal Security and now a Universalist, I have no desire to question the Faith of people I disagree with, even Arians.

It is mainly the last paragraph I object to, firmly establishing a terrestrially organized Church.

The other differences seem to be influenced by the earlier Old Roman Symbol and Rule of Faith creeds that goes back to the Second Century.

The Donations of Constantine were a forgery made by the Roman Catholic Church, though it gets used by Papal Antichrist theorists.  That Constantine moved the Capital from Rome to Constantineople makes him if anything more a founder of the Eastern Orthodox Church then the Roman Church.

Theodosius I made Christianity the state religion and outlawed other faiths with the Edict of Thesselonica.  I'm surprised more Historicists and other Papal Antichrist theorists haven't made a big deal out of that Edict being in the same city Paul directed his most Eschatological concerned Epistles to.

However I feel Justinian's reign was equally important to formalizing what I consider corrupt mainstream Christianity.  It was under his reign that Universalism was first condemned as a Heresy.

What do I think of the Doctine of Traducianism?

I'm not sure.  But I'm kind of leaning towards it.

"In Christian theology, traducianism is a doctrine about the origin of the soul (or synonymously, "spirit"), holding that this immaterial aspect is transmitted through natural generation along with the body, the material aspect of human beings. That is, an individual's soul is derived from the souls of the individual's parents.[1] This implies that only the soul of Adam was created directly by God (with Eve's substance, material and immaterial, being taken from out of Adam), in contrast with the idea of creationism of soul (not to be confused with creationism as a belief about the origin of the material universe), which holds that all souls are created directly by God (with Eve's substance, material and immaterial, being taken from out of Adam).[2]"
In other words the Soul/Spirit reproduces the same way our bodies do.

This isn't like my other blog posts.  I don't have much of my own insights to add.  So I'll be quoting Wikipedia's section on the Biblical Arguments for it.
Supporters of traducianism present arguments from the Bible such as the following:
  • Begetting includes the image and likeness of God (Genesis 5:3), but since God is spirit, this must mean the immaterial aspect of human beings.
  • God's creation is finished (Genesis 2:2), thus no new souls are created directly, but are instead transmitted by natural generation just as the body is.
  • Creationism destroys the idea of the miraculous and supernatural, since it incorporates God's supernatural, miraculous creation of the soul (out of nothing or himself) into the natural process of reproduction. This is inherently contradictory, since it makes that which is against natural law a part of nature: it is against natural law that something is created out of nothing.
  • God created all things "very good" (Genesis 1:31), yet many Christians understand the Bible to teach that after the fall, all are sinful at birth (Job 14:1-4; 15:14; Psalm 58:3; John 3:6) and from conception (Psalm 51:5). Since most theologians hold that God would not have created something sinful, it follows that souls are not created directly but are generated. Those who adhere to Roman Catholicism believe that it is possible for God to create a soul that simultaneously takes on a fallen nature, much like He can create a soul that simultaneously is prevented from taking on a fallen nature (see The Immaculate Conception); this view is not typically held by Protestants or other Christian denominations.
  • Genesis 46:26 can be understood to teach that souls are already present in the loins, and Hebrews 7:10 ("When Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.") seems to take this view.
  • In Genesis 6, some interpreters see the traducian model as the best explanation for the begetting of monstrous offspring with human bodies and demonic souls by the angels that took wives of the daughters of men. The soul-creationist's difficulty of God creating souls for such monsters may be why most later churchmen rejected the literal interpretation of Genesis 6 as referring to angels interbreeding with human women.
The first of these arguments is perhaps the least likely one I'd use myself, since it sounds like diminishing the significance of our Physical Bodies being Made in God's Image.  The last one I'm also hesitant to use since my position on the Genesis 6 issue has become complicated.  And the third isn't much of a Biblical argument at all.  But the rest are pretty solid.

The Wikipedia section on the arguments against it don't mention any that impress me.

This view was supported by Augustine of Hippo.  A person I have generally emphasized my disagreements with in the past.  But I've never said he was wrong on everything.  Similar with Tertulian though I have recently questioned how sure we are he wasn't a Universalist.  Gregory of Nyssa was a Universalist who supported Traducianism.

The Godhead, what does that mean?

Godhead is a word that appears three times in the KJV, and in all three it is a different word in the Greek (though all of them were derived from Theos, God or god).  But first we need to discus the English word itself.

Originally, Godhead was just a variant spelling and pronunciation of Godhood, and so carried the exact same meaning as that word.  But that's not how it's usually used today.

I've seen people who agree with he doctrine of The Trinity as it's usually defined, but don't like the word "Trinity" for whatever reason, say we should say The Godhead instead.  And even others not suggesting we use it as a synonym for Trinity, still seem to mean something similar by it.

Let's look at all three verses it is used in and their corresponding Greek words.

Acts 17:29
"Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device."
Godhead here is Theion, Strong Number 2304.  This is the only of the three words used more then once, though the others is a slightly different form.  Theios in 2 Peters 1 verses 3 and 4, there it is translated "divine".  And I think likewise "the divine" is how it should be rendered in Acts 17.

Romans 1:20
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"
Here it is Theiotes, Strong Number 2305.  Here I agree with the Strongs that it should be rendered "Divinity".  And so it would be here that the "Godhood" meaning would be accurate.

Colossians 2:9
"For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
Here the Greek word is Theotes, Strong Number 2320.  This word is a bit more mysterious.  One website says it also means divinity but with "abstractly" in parentheses.  I've also seen it defined as "The substance of being God".

In this case it is useful to talk about some of the Greek words around it.

The word for "fulness" is Pleroma.  Because the Gnostics used Pleroma a certain way, it suits some people to say Paul is using it that way here.  But this is the same word for "fulness" used when he refers to the "fulness of the gentiles" in Romans 11:25.  It just means fullness.

The word translated "Bodily" is Somatikos Strong Number 4985.  It's a variation of Strong Number 4984.  It could also equally accurately be translated Corporeally or Physically.

The term Homoousion "of the same substance" was a key focus of controversy at the First Council of Nicea in defining The Trinity.  While I can sympathies with those who objected to the word because it was not used in The Bible and seems to have been coined by Gnostics.  The point of the Nicean Homoousion doctrine is supported by Colossians 2:9.

If I were to make my own translation, Colossians 2:9 might likely be the only place where "The Godhead" is used.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

My Evangelical Universalism does not contradict Free Will

I made a brief post on Free Will before Pelegius once.  I decided that I didn't need much of a separate post proving Free Will Biblically because those Church Fathers themselves quotes Scripture in those quotes.

Since then I've become a Universalist.  And in the Evangelical Universalism group on Facebook I joined, there seems to be a lot of hostility towards Free Will.  My differences from a lot of other modern Universalists I think has a lot to do with my not being as fond of Origen and closer to agreeing with the Antiochian school.  Though at the same time Origen did refer to Free Will.  It is still the Platonic influence on the Early Church he reflects that let reject of Free Will seep in.

The Pagan Greek mindset always rejected Free Will.  The Oedipus Legend is all about how Man can't escape the Fate that the gods decreed for him.

I do believe there is a difference between those who Believe in Jesus in this Life and those who didn't.  I believe only those who enter a Covenant Relationship with Him become Citizens of His Kingdom, and eligible to become Co-Rulers.  Revelation 21-22 refers to "Nations of the Saved" outside New Jerusalem.

The idea that you must be rejecting Free Will if don't think God is going to punish unbelievers  eternally for their choice.  I think is an abuse of what Free Will means.  Traditional Arminians believe in theoretical Free Will, but they don't actually believe God respects it, because they say if you make the Wrong Choice he will either annihilate or eternally torment you for it.

My point is, True Free Will is ONLY believed in by those who reject Eternal Punishment.  The same passages in The Bible that I consider the strongest proofs of Unviersalism, also clearly show that people will make different Choices.  Like Sodom being Restored, and that verse from John 12 I made a post on recently.

It is God's Will that none should Perish.  I unlike Calvansits and Amrinians believe that can be accomplished without rejecting Man's Free Will. We won't Perish, but we do have choices.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Incest and The Law of Moses

My previous Incest in The Bible post I still want to be my definitive discussion of the topic.  What I'm going to argue here I'm not definitively arguing for.  It's somewhat Rhetorical.  But I can't say I entirely don't actually agree with it either.  It's a complicated matter.

In my discussions with those who strongly believes Christians are still supposed to follow the Law of Moses.  I see them misusing Malachi's "God doesn't Change" quote.

Which bugs me because Augustine of Hippo, when he was a Manichean still, cited the fact that the Old Testament depicted an Emotional God who changes as what he was mainly uncomfortable with, and why he was drawn to sects that depicted that God as Evil.  It was Ambrose convincing him those changes could be allegorised away that convinced him to convert to "Orthodox" Christianity.

Malachi's point had nothing to do with whether or not what God permits us to do can change.  It mostly has to do with that He keeps His Word.  God repents of things often in the Old Testament, but when He swears an oath He won't Repent.

So to point out the absurdity of this misuse I created the following Image via Meme Generator.

That was the most shocking example.  I also brought up the evidence that Capital Punishment and eating Meat wasn't allowed before the Flood but were after.  Arguing God's laws had changed a few times before we even left the Torah.

On those latter two issues however they had arguments against the notion that those things were treated differently before the Flood.  I forget what the argument on Capital punishment was.  But for the eating meat they basically felt the allusions to Animal Sacrifice in the Pre-Flood world implied eating Meat.  And I think there was an appeal to the heretical Book of Enoch.  I was and still am unconvinced of those arguments, but at least they made fairly Biblically based arguments.

On the Incest issue however they just cited the common argument from the Young Earth Creationists, that the supposed Genetic Risks from Inbreeding simply weren't a factor many generations after the Flood.  And while I'm as inclined as ever to agree with that argument scientifically.  It's not a directly Biblical argument.

And either way doesn't change that God's Law apparently changed.  It changing with a reason doesn't undermine the comparison to things changing at the Cross and/or Pentecost.  That event is what all History revolves around according to our world view.  There was as good a reason as ever to change things.

Now to get to the main topic of this post.  As I was laughing to myself at their failure to even make an argument.  I went and came up with an argument for them.  This has been in mind for months, over a year actually, I just kept putting off making a post on it.

The wording in Leviticus 18, 20 and Deuteronomy on the Incest restrictions.  Is strictly speaking about Sex not Marriage.  And I have shown Biblically that not all Sex Outside Marriage is a Sin.  And that it's mostly potentially reproductive Sex God puts restrictions on.

So one then could make the argument that when you Marry someone your relation to them legally changes, and they are now your Wife not your distant-Cousin-as-a descendant-of-Noah or Sister.

Now that sounds kinda like a Loop Hole.  My argument about the very differently worded verses alleged to condemn all Homosexuality get accused of also being a Loop Hole, but they're not.  The issue only someone with a very modern way of thinking about Sexuality would read that as condemning all Same-Sex affection to begin with.  When dealing with other commands in the Torah, all both Jewish and Christian scholars agree if there is a qualifying statement, it condemning only where the qualifier applies.  "Don't boil a kid in it's mother's milk" is not condemning all boiling or even all boiling of kids (nor does it condemn Cheeseburgers as some Rabbis think).  It's condemning a specific Canaanite practice that we now know quite a bit about thanks to the Ugarit texts.

But even if it is a Loop Hole.  If God's Word has Loop Holes they are there for a reason.  When I look at Chuck Missler's argument about how God worked around the Curse onf Jechoniah, it sounds like God loves taking advantage of his own loop holes.

I've done a post on why Amnon's Sin was mainly Rape, and the incestuous part was incidental.  And I even then talked about how what Tamar says in II Samuel 13:12-13 seemingly ignores that marrying your Sister is supposed to be illegal.  Now I am iffy on building doctrine on something a girl says to ward off unwanted advances.  But it is still there in the text that theatrically David might have let Amnon marry Tamar if he simply asked.  It kinda parallels an aspect of what God via Nathan says to David when exposing his Sins against Uriah The Hittite.

More interesting however is the second Witness I have.

Now much has been written about how in the Song of Solomon, The Beloved poetically called Shulamith his Sister.  I've seen people argue "Sister" is simply a misleading translation, and that I don't buy.  I am NOT about to argue they were literally Brother and Sister, I stand by my earlier post on the Song of Solomon where I argue Shulamith is Shelomith daughter of Rehoboam and Granddaughter of Solomon, and The Beloved a humble Shepard not of Royal Blood.

I am aware that some of the arguments against them being actually Brother and Sister could be explained away by them being half siblings, same father and different mothers.  But my ultimate conclusion remains the same as it was in those posts.

The key factor is Song of Solomon Chapter 8 Verse 1.  This verse tells at a few things.
"O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised."
It clearly says they are not brother and sister.  But at the same time she says she wishes he was?  Like it would easier if he was.  And it makes sense with her being Royalty and him not, since patriarchal society tends to be less tolerant of women marrying below their station.  Princesses are usually either married into other Royal families, or if incest is allowed they marry within their own.  Egypt isn't the only ancient Monarchy to practice Royal Incest, they were just different in making it almost completely required.

This all happens to fit in well with a post I did in September 2015 on my Prophecy Blog on the subject of The Man Child being The Church.

Mainly my point here is, to Hebrew Roots Christians, either argue that Marrying your Brother or Sister isn't prohibited, or stop the "God Never Changes his laws" argument.  You can't have it both ways.

Monday, June 19, 2017

John 12:46-48

"I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Sabians mentioned in The Koran

I have made a few blog posts where I allude to my belief that the Sabians in the Koran were either the Himyarite Jews and/or other Jews and Christians of Yemen where Sheba/Saba was.  That Sabians equals Sabeans.

Like my theory about the Ebonite origins of Islam.

The Koran Says Israel belongs to the Israelites.

And my theory that the Magi were from Yemen rather then Persia.

Only the first of those three is it even close to being relevant to the main point.

I am well aware that the most mainstream view is that they were rather the Mandeans, a Gnostic sect most famous for claiming to be followers of John The Baptist but not Jesus.

Thing is, that theory makes no sense to me.  It seems to derive from them calling themselves a vaguely similar name.

But the Sabians of the Koran are considered "People of The Book".  And that Book refer to one of or all of three specific parts of our Bible, The Torah, The Psalms and a Gospel.  The Mandeans revere none of those books, as they reject Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus all as being False Prophets.  The Prophets they have in common with traditional Judeo-Christian or Islamic line of Prophets ends with Noah or maybe Shem.  They instead claim Aram was the first key post-Flood Prophet.

And I suspect they might very well deny The New Testament's claim that John The Baptist was an Israelite and instead claim he came from Aram, since his ministry was mostly East of The Jordan.  He must have been in Perea to fall of Antipas' authority.  Or maybe their John The Baptist was never meant to be the same as ours anyway, since theirs lived to see the Fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

As Gnostics, they weren't even truly Monotheistic.  Which also rules them out as being People of The Book.

Muslim sources outside the Koran say they specifically followed the Zabur (The Psalms).  That goes against my theory of them being the Sadducean Himyarites who were Torah only.  But those sources are later and possibly based on misinformed assumptions.  But it could also be the name comes from The Sabbath, and The Gospels tend to associate the Pharisees with The Sabbath more often then the Sadducees.