Putting Scripture Into Proper Perspective: Part Two

by Joshua Tilghman on May 11, 2012


I remember the day like it was yesterday. Sweaty palms. Racing heart. The stage music was playing softly. Ministers were standing around the steps below the pulpit waiting for me and others to come forward. The message had been preached with fire and conviction. The salvation call was out. Jesus had spoken—at least through the pastor—and, being convinced, I was coming forward to set my life straight and give it to Jesus. Why? Because the preacher had convinced me that the Jesus of the Bible wanted this. What exactly this was I wasn’t really sure. But I assured myself that I could figure it all out later. The important thing was that I was getting “saved,” right? I mean, after all, wasn’t getting “saved” by believing the literal gospel story the right thing to do?

The Apostle Paul would have disagreed. For him, the salvation message wasn’t so simple. Nor was it so powerless. For Paul, being saved was radically different than what the traditional Christian message presents to us today; it was an event so life-transforming that it brought about an other-worldly experience most modern-day Christians could hardly conceive of, much less believe in. It was a powerful mystical phenomenon that words cannot describe, and it was about a self-realization so profound that it even changed his understanding of reality. Many of today’s mystics can empathize, but such language might scare away a traditional Christian. Why? Because doctrine, dogma, and creed has muddled the true Christ experience Paul preaches for a more watered-down version. The Christ experience Paul taught was about looking WITHIN. The Christ experience taught in most of today’s churches is more about looking without. In essence, it’s just smoke and mirrors.

Fed up with the modern Christian experience, I invited my pastor over for dinner one week and said my farewells. I always respected my pastor as a person, and I still do. But I realized we were now on separate paths and I had to discover my on profound experience. I went to a few other churches. I met some more wonderful people. But I still knew none of it was right for me. So I withdrew from all institutional Christianity and began to study alone. I plunged the depths of the Bible like I never had before. In time, I discovered the true Apostle Paul. The true Paul, like the true Jesus, was nothing like history has presented him. And that’s what this blog post is really about. So let’s dig in!

In the first part of this series, we discussed how the Apostle Paul:

 

  • Never met the physical Jesus.
  • Had a spiritual revelation of Jesus by a bright light (road to Damascus).
  • Went into the desert for years of solitude following the Damascus experience.
  • Made it clear that his version of the gospel was not something taught to him by men (doctrine, ideas, dogma, religion).
  • Never mentions the Virgin Birth.
  • Wrote his letters before the gospels or any other story containing a historical Jesus.

Taken together, the points mentioned above should—at the very least—get you thinking about who Paul’s Christ Jesus was. If you read my last blog post (found here), then you already know that I argued Paul’s Christ Jesus was not the historical Jesus crucified under Pontius Pilate. Paul’s Christ Jesus was about a spiritual awakening of the Christ within you.

But how can this be? Isn’t the literal, historical Christ the only Christ Paul could have been referring to? Not hardly. We have only been taught to think this way through hundreds of years of doctrinal conditioning.

So what’s Paul’s gospel message about if not a literal, historical Christ?

In Ephesians Paul tells us his gospel version is a mystery. The Greek word mystery means “secret.” In essence, Paul is talking about a gospel that is hidden to the carnal man. It can only be understood through spiritual (metaphysical) means. In other words, the “mystery” Paul speaks of so frequently in Ephesians is about a revelation that can only be experienced, not understood mentally. It is not about a doctrine. And more importantly, it is not about something we “attain” on the other side (after death). Consider this verse by Paul:

“…Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Eph 5:14)

Did you get that? Paul is speaking of a resurrection while being ALIVE! For those of you who thought Paul taught a resurrection experience after death, think again. For Paul, the resurrection experience happened in this lifetime! It was the same for all mystics in ancient times. Mystics from across the ages referred to carnal men as dead men walking. To a mystic, you are dead (even if you are biologically healthy) until you have had a direct spiritual experience that transcends the physical senses. They even taught that the physical body was a metaphorical tomb.  

Now for the real kicker: Paul tells us in plain English that the Bible stories are NOT literal. Galatians 4:22-24 states:

For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewomen. But he who was of the bondwoman was born of the flesh; but he of the freewomen was by promise. Which things are an allegory…”

Wow! Paul clearly states that the Abraham story is an allegory. My computer dictionary gives three meanings for an allegory:

  • A short moral story (often with animal characters)
  • A visible symbol representing an abstract idea
  • An expressive style that uses fictional characters and events to describe some subject by suggestive resemblances; an extended metaphor

Synonyms given by my word web dictionary are: “parable” and “fable”

I have had many Christians tell me that Paul only said that the Abraham story was an allegory because it was both spiritual and literal. But a fable is a fable. It is not both. We cannot have our cake and eat it too.

Some of the most prolific and earliest Church Fathers also taught the scriptures were  allegorical and esoteric in nature. Consider the statement made by Origin:

“When the Bible says that God used to walk in paradise in the evening or that Adam hid behind a tree, no one, I think, will question that these are only fictions, stories of things that never actually happened, and that figuratively they refer to certain mysteries.”

There goes that word “mystery” again.

As I mentioned in the first part to this series, the Bible has been stripped of its intended meaning. In its place a powerless salvation message has been taught which encourages us to “know” God through doctrine. This has in part been done through emphasizing a literal, historical gospel message instead of a spiritual one. One this is clearly understood, the good news that Paul referred to becomes very good news indeed

In closing, I want to mention that many Christians are never taught the verses in the Bible commanding us NOT to take the scripture literally. I will cover those in the next blog post.

I hope this post helped you put the scriptures back into their proper perspective. At the very least, I hope it has caused you to look for the deeper meanings behind the literal stories. If you would like to read another article addressing more on metaphysical experiences from the Old Testament, feel free to read here and leave a comment.

 

 

 

 

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Allen June 29, 2012 at 7:26 pm

FROM: The Nazarene Way – along w/ some of my thoughts also.
—————————-
Christ’s major task was the establishing of God’s kingdom upon earth. He showed us the way in which humanity could enter that kingdom – by subjecting the lower nature to the death of the cross, and rising up by the power of the indwelling spirit.

Each one of us has to tread the way of the cross alone and enter God’s kingdom – by right of achievement.

Man’s SALVATION – is not by
(a.) a wave of a ‘magical wand’… or
(b.) some magic potions… or
(c.) belief in words of an exacting incantations… or
(d.) the sacrifice of another.

The way of Christ is found in service to the earth, to other beings, and Christ’s death was the outcome of His service which He had rendered.

Service,.. pain,.. difficulty,.. the cross – such are the rewards of the one who puts humanity first and himself second. But having done so, he discovers that the door into the kingdom is flung wide open and that he can enter in. It is through supreme service and self sacrifice that we become followers of Christ and earn the right to enter into His kingdom.

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Joshua Tilghman June 30, 2012 at 7:26 am

Allen, you are right. We have to FOLLOW him, not just believe.

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Brian September 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Im really enjoying your work, I love the way u have connected the dots to show the hidden meanings.

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Joshua Tilghman September 6, 2012 at 5:58 am

Thanks Brian! I will keep striving to do so for a long time to come. Feel free to comment any time.

Blessings!

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Canis Major November 2, 2012 at 8:43 am

Here I go again with something to say:

Not to cause any contentions but I feel compelled to strongly disagree with the point you made about the particular scripture in Galatians 4:22-24 – rather this is the point you seem to make in every teaching – that the events of the bible were not literal but rather fictional, in aim to express profound spiritual truths that we’re mostly ignorant of. Although I agree with the spiritual truths presented, and that “Abraham having two sons” was allegorical, I do not believe Paul meant that it’s merely a fictional story – that would be utterly ridiculous. Abraham was a physical person who literally lived the life we see in the Scriptures, and to say that was merely an allegory (which was not literal) is to discard Truth in its nature entirely. All truths are parallel, and if something did not occur literally, it cannot apologetically be regarded as truth.

Which brings me to the focal point of all Scripture in context – the Cross of Christ.
First of all the crucifixion of the man Jesus cannot be merely perceived as a Roman method of corporal punishment for political matters, but an actual fore-ordained master plan of God to victoriously redeem humans and nature as a whole. SALVATION, which comes from a Greek term ‘Sozos’, does not just mean an event that took place when you ‘invited Jesus into your heart’ – in fact it doesn’t mean that at all. Salvation in its entirety has got to do with LIFE, ABUNDANT LIFE – in spirit, soul and body. It is the answer to every aspect of one’s life i.e. Health, Financially, prosperity of soul, etc. (but I’m sure you know this already). My point really is based on how one obtains this salvation; I don’t agree that meditation is the way, simply because Paul himself and all scripture does NOT teach us that (that is an Eastern philosophy concept of “life” in higher consciousness). Paul clearly expresses that salvation can only be obtained by BELIEF. This may sound shallow and too simple – and ofcourse it is, His ‘yoke is easy an burden light’ – it was never created to be difficult. Not by going at the front to ‘receive Jesus’, not chanting specific words, not by fasting, writing an exam or anything but BELIEVING.

So ofcourse you’d ask me – “believing what?”
Believing the GOSPEL. But nowadays everything we hear is called the gospel – as long as it has biblical reference that sounds ‘deep’ and ‘profoundly spiritual’ we deem it good.
The Gospel means Good News, in actuality the Greek term used there is the word meaning “almost too good to be true news.” So what is this “almost too good to be true news”? It is foundationally embedded on the Cross – the death, burial & resurrection of a literal Jesus Christ, the man!
This is something you guys know. Paul says in Romans 1:16 that he is not ashamed of this gospel, because this gospel IS the POWER unto SALVATION to anyone who BELIEVES. Not, has the power, but IS the actual POWER. And then he further breaks it down, “for in it (the Gospel) the RIGHTEOUSNESS of GOD is revealed from faith to faith.” To put it in my own words – ‘everyone who believes in the gospel has salvation, because in the gospel we clearly see how righteous (in right-standing with GOD) we are as we grow in faith. This bafflingly simple message is the basis of our faith as Christians. John’s main point he repetitively stresses in his epistles is “to abide in that which we have HEARD FROM THE BEGINNING” – which is this same simple message we’ve heard to obtain Salvation. Paul says in Colossians “as you have therefore received Christ Jesus, so walk in Him”. How have you received Him? By meditation? NO! But by BELIEVING. When the Jews asked Jesus what to do to ‘work the works of God’, he replied “this is the work of GOD: That you BELIEVE in the one whom He has sen.” Not immitate Him, not study scripture an realising ancient mysteries, but simply believing – he calls this “the work of God.” And the grace of God is what literally empowers us to live up to the faith we have received of Him, the grace of God makes you do righteousness. I experience this first-hand. It is not much learning, but rather much believing.

The last point I wanna make has got to do with the Christ Spirit within us. The Bible, or rather Paul, does not teach that Christ is within everyone – saint and sinner. He says in Romans 8 “if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ/God, he is none of His.” We receive the Spirit when we believe – this is throughout the Epistles. If anyone does not believe in what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross (knowing what that means – namely that He died to free us from SIN (missing the mark, including all the works of the flesh that prove that) that we might “become the Righteousness of God in Christ JESUS.” Christ has died for EVERYBODY, and salvation is just a ‘BELIEVING step away.’

Grace & Peace

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Joshua Tilghman November 2, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Canis,

Don’t worry about causing contention…I agree that you should voice your concern if you feel compelled to do so. Besides, I completely understand where you are coming from. The answers you have given here used to be the exact answers I would have given years ago when I took the scripture literally. In fact, I remember getting into quite a few debates where I went in the same direction as you and even used some of the same scriptures. I have been right where you are, Canis.

Not to take the conversation off your concerns (we’ll get to that in a moment), but it seems like you are trying to convince yourself of some of these answers. If I am wrong, I am sorry. But I believe one the reasons why you took so much time to formulate your thoughts was because you are trying to hold the traditional view together since you are most comfortable with it. If I am wrong, I apologize.

About belief…you seem to be saying that believing the Gospel assures salvation. But I want you to ask yourself a few things:

1) If salvation is living life more abundantly, in “spirit, soul, and body,” as you say, then how does believing in the literal story of Christ make this so. There are many people who are blessed this way that do not believe the story of Christ is literal.

2) What really is salvation for you? You haven’t gotten to the core of it in your response. Is salvation for you an escape from eternal judgement in hell? Is that the “Good News?”

The only true benefit derived from a literal gospel is believing that you are in right standing with God simply because you “think” differently that the one who doesn’t believe its literal. How can a thought produce salvation? A thought is a thought. Even a belief or a conviction is a thought process in your head. Can something as simple as a thought save you? If God bases salvation on a belief and a thought, what about those who never get this opportunity?

Canis, it just doesn’t add it. Why do you really believe an all powerful God of the cosmos needs blood to be appeased? Doesn’t Isaiah clearly declare that this was a false way of thinking? If so (and indeed he does), don’t you think there is more to the scripture than what it seems to say on the surface?

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Canis Major November 2, 2012 at 9:06 am

Following Him IS believing Him all the way. It is not to be seen as an external practice (like the disciples followed Jesus on Earth) but rather its all within (ofcourse you know this), nor imitating the charitable good works – all of that comes naturally from the heart as God works in you.
Jesus said to certain Jews, “do you BELIEVE? If you abide in my words and my words in you, you shall truly be my DISCIPLES…”
In this verse particularly Jesus clearly describes the model of a true disciple, which has got nothing to do with “good works” per se, but merely believing – His words (which are spirit & life) abiding in us, and visa versa.

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Joshua Tilghman November 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Canis,

How do his literal words from the Bible give you spirit and life? Jesus also teaches us to be ONE with he and the Father. Do you become ONE with someone from believing their words, or do you think something metaphysical must be meant here?

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Canis Major November 5, 2012 at 8:49 am

Joshua,

In life, I’ve come to realise that you become one with everything you believe.

First of all the concept (if I may call it a concept) of believing is not something I merely thought of – it’s continually stressed in the scriptures that salvation comes by faith in Christ Jesus.
Another thing I want you to be aware of is that my language did not in any way imply that believing is a mere thought – as you have conclusively analyzed.
Before I proceed I’d just like you to please properly clarify to me what do you mean by “believing in the literal story of Christ” – you seem to have really strong convictions about “literal & figurative” that makes me kinda doubt that we’re on the same page with either understanding the English term(s) or the scriptural aspect of understanding the meanings presented thereby.

To answer your question regarding salvation:
the Greek word used is ‘sozo’ which simply means ‘saved/delivered’ – nothing deep or complicated with it. It just simply means to be saved.
Now the question – from what? From alot of things.
Let’s look at the Hebrew name Yeshua, which means Joshua (LoL) in English, Jesus in Greek.
Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
– to me, this verse outlines as the model for this definition, by which we (when broken down using Scripture) understand the vastness and extent of Salvation as a whole.
Like I said previously, the term has got to do with abundant life in a nutshell. Jesus says ‘I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.’
So this constitutes deliverance from Hell/eternal punishment, Romans 5:9 “Much more then, having now been justified by his BLOOD, we shall be SAVED from wrath through him.
5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the DEATH of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be SAVED by his life.”
But ofcourse it doesn’t end there – that would make the Gospel very shallow.
It also consists of Healing/Deliverance, Matt 9:21 “For she said within herself, If only I may touch his garment, I shall be healed.” It consists of health/wealth/abundance, 3John1:2 “that you may prosper and be in good health, even as your SOUL prospers..”
Need I say more? C’mon you know this! MERCY, PEACE, LOVE (Jude 1:2)- all of these are factors of the Salvation we have in Christ. Jesus is the whole package. The first few verses of Isaiah 61 perfectly paints the picture.
So to answer your questions regarding Salvation;
1) BELIEVING that Jesus died for you is what is needed for Salvation.
As I have expanded in the former, JESUS IS our Salvation (isn’t that what the name means anyways?)
-take a look at Mark 16:16 and Luke 8:12. Can you see how believing is the integral/pivotal part of our salvation?

Another point I want you to strongly consider is that many people when they look unto the Gospel, or preach it in pulpits, all they see is a 30 year-old man who did amazing things for 3.5 years. Whereas we who are “a new creation” from a completely spiritual/higher Order, do not regard man after the flesh – not even Jesus;
2 Corinthians 5 :14 “For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth alive unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”

There are many profound depths to fathom in theses verses but I’d like to touch up one:
in context Paul is talking about being reconciled to God, which can only happen through the cross, for “He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God” (v.21) – all of this reconciliation is obviously seen on the Cross. So even though we might not regard Christ after the flesh, disregarding the literal story of the Cross would be to rob Christians and people in general, of the power of the Gospel. This is the foundation of our preaching; it’s not about ‘wisdom’ (HE is our Wisdom, 1 Corinthians 3), or esoteric depths of knowledge – that can’t bring you salvation. The ‘foolish’ message of the Cross is the sacrament that ushers in Salvation to the hearers which can only be accessed by believing.

Luke 8:12 ” Those by the wayside are those who HEAR; then comes the Devil, and takes away the word out of their HEARTS, lest they should BELIEVE and be SAVED.” – looking at this verse (and there are many others that have the same point), how can you say belief is a mere thought process in your head? Isn’t it from the heart (the very core of one’s being)? (Maybe a ‘Sigmund Freud’ approach to this would properly clarify.)

2) I believe I’ve substantially answered your second question.
You asked, “If God bases salvation on a belief and a thought, what about those who never get this opportunity?” – this is why it is our job that we “preach the word” (2 Tim 4:2). What word? That Jesus died and rose again for the whole world. This may sound lame and shallow (and it is), but that’s our job. It is then the Spirit’s job to draw men unto Christ. If we rely on deep words of wisdom for the preaching of the Gospel, then we rob it of its power. (1 Corinthians 1:17, 1 Corinthians 2:1, 2:13, 4:20)

Ofcourse there are many profound truths in this Gospel, but they’re not for the world, they are for the Church – esoteric/hidden in its nature – this is the true Wisdom that we speak: Christ IN you.
Which is partially the reason why I commend some of the deep teachings you come up with, because they make me see the metaphysics of life as a whole – helping me to think of Heaven, or the spiritual world not as a physical location, but as a directly “parallel universe” within the physical realm. This broadens my traditional understanding, if only you could use the cross of the man Jesus Christ as the focal point and the epitome of your doctrine. Because I don’t believe the Kingdom of God can be obtained/seen/accessed by some kind of effort or striving – but by believing: this IS how God designed it. Even believing in itself is not something one initiates – it is the work of the Holy Spirit. We just preach the Gospel.

One last thought: Paul (with all his great knowledge of the Scriptures – before and even more after his conversion – having been taught by no man but by the revelation of Christ himself in himself) said to the (1) Corinthians, “…I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”(2:2)

Grace & peace.

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Joshua Tilghman November 6, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Canis,

I think I understand better where you are coming from now, especially after reading your second to last paragraph. Just to clarify my point of view, I do not believe that it is important to believe in Jesus Christ as a literal person. Whether Jesus was a literal person or not is of no consequence. The Christ nature being manifested through us is the power of the Gospel.

To the beginning Christian, yes, the literal cross is important. It gives them a reference point to begin their spiritual journey by. But at some point we learn to leave this literal doctrine and learn the deeper meaning of the scriptures.

You referenced Luke 8:12 to show that believing is not a thought process in the head. But Luke 8:10 has Jesus saying to the disciples:

…unto you it is given to know the MYSTERIES (secrets) of the kingdom of God.The mysteries of the kingdom cannot be explained with literal concepts, especially when you are talking about the cross. The literal story of the cross gives the beginning Christian a reference point whereas he / she can clearly see that salvation is not about themselves (ego), but something beyond who they “think” they are in this life.

If one continues to believe that someone must believe in the literal cross to receive salvation then they have not understood the true mystery of the kingdom, which can only be discovered by going “within,” which is also where true knowledge of the self comes from. To be “saved” simply means to know thyself for all that you truly are. When one experiences the true self beyond the ego then the fear of death is conquered because death no longer gives its sting. The true self knows that death is but an illusion.

Consider the difference between faith (pistis) and Knowledge (gnosis) as given by Elaine Pagels in her work the Gnostic Gospels:

“…gnosis is not primarily rational knowledge. The Greek language distinguishes between scientific or reflective knowledge (He knows mathematics) and knowing through observation or experience (He knows me). As the Gnostics use the term, we could translate it as ‘insight’, for Gnosis involves an intuitive process of knowing oneself…Yet to know oneself, at the deepest level is to know God; this is the secret to gnosis.”

Pistis is more of an intellectual acceptance of a proposed statement. “I have faith that Christ died on the cross and saved me from my sins.” The type of faith I propose is an experience, not a belief.

I hope that helps clarify where I am coming from a little better.

I have enjoyed this. Blessings, Canis.

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Canis Major November 5, 2012 at 9:10 am

It’s not the words from the Bible that are spirit and life. It’s the words from Christ himself (the Spirit) – who is in me, and in everyone that BELIEVES that the man Jesus most definitely IS the Christ, who died for the remission of our sins – that are spirit and life.
Consider the fact that the Bible itself is just a mere book of great depth – without the Spirit it can do nothing for me but just fill me with a whole lot of deep information. (‘the letter kills’)
Jesus said to the Pharisees, “you search the Scriptures thinking that IN THEM you have life, but these are they which testify of Me.” “…come to Me…”

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Joshua Tilghman November 6, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Canis,

Very true. The Bible is an incredible road map, but still just a road map.

The only difference we seem to have is that you find it very important to believe that Jesus literally walked the earth and died for us on a cross in order to receive his spirit. Respectfully, I disagree. Again, as you say, the letter of the law doesn’t have any power. The power comes from the Holy Spirit (chi, kundalini, etc.) But I don’t believe you receive this power through a set of beliefs. You receive this power by raising your consciousness. The scriptures are simply road maps for how to do this. Metaphysically they teach us how to overcome the ego by crucifying it. When the ego is properly crucified, the Christ nature is raised within us.

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Canis Major November 12, 2012 at 7:14 am

Then in my attempts to overcome my false self (ego), I in turn deviate my focus on Christ (whom the Scriptures teach me to behold [with the ‘piniel’], Heb 12:2 / 2 Corinth. 3:18) – and I put concentration on ‘myself’, oblivious to the truth that, already, I’m a completely new creation. (2 Corinth. 5:17).

I’m afraid but we’re are not taught “raising our consciousness” in the Scriptures, the way you put it.
However, “raising our consciousness” within the Christian context of the Scripture is to “put on Christ” – which is the “renewal of our minds” to the truth that Christ is already within us, He has already cleansed and redeemed us from all sin and presented us holy, unblamable & unreprovable in His sight.

Colossians 1:21-23
(NIV)

21 “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s PHYSICAL BODY through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23, if you continue in your FAITH, established and firm, and do not move from the HOPE held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

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Canis Major November 12, 2012 at 7:38 am

Think about it bra,
If Jesus Christ didn’t really literally/physically walk on earth & die on the cross for humanity, then how can one concur to the fact that what we speak is truth?
If it were not so, then His teachings would be nothing more than a mere ‘good read’, with absolutely no gracious intervention for the physical realm. His death on the cross is an emphasis not so much on “justice”, and God being appeased, but largely on the VICTORY that Jesus has obtained for us. God, through the cross, has defeated sin, death and the Devil.

Colossians 1:20 “…Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through his Son’s BLOOD on the CROSS and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven.”

v.16 “…For through him God created everything in heaven (spiritual, spirit) and on earth (physical, matter), the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities. God created the whole universe through him and for him.”

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Joshua Tilghman November 12, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Canis,

Just out of curiousity, do you believe everyone will be saved since you say the emphasis isnt on justice but rather his victory for us?

And thanks for all your heartfelt comments. I have no problem with someone taking the gospel literally. I just think it can actually diminish the message.

Blessings!

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Canis Major November 13, 2012 at 8:01 am

It’s funny you should ask me that – I’m currently reading some writings by St. Augustine and Aquinas, and other philosophers; talking about predestination/election and reprobation (I’ll email you a snippet of that in a moment, & tell me what you think of it).

To answer your question – no, I don’t think everyone will be saved. The Bible touches on God “knowing those who are (truly) His” [2 Tim 2:19]…and “vessels of mercy, and vessels of wrath/destruction.”[Rom 9:22]… Although the Scripture does say that God wills for all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. [2 Peter 3:9]
However, I find this subject to be the most controversial amongst Christians (and human beings in general), hence it deals with the most philosophical and complex notions of the reality of nature and the nature of reality – it’s a very tricky concept to ponder on because one would stumble across the idea of Divine will and personal will, fate, destiny, astrology, etc.
But all-in-all, there are people for God’s glory, and for God’s wrath, and I personally think that, in essence, our personal decision-making have nothing to do with it, since we’re not saved by our own benevolent acts but purely by Grace. (But hey, even this statement may arouse a whole lot of questions to stumble upon).

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Canis Major November 13, 2012 at 8:10 am

Anyway, thanks for allowing me to express my views – I’m not doing this to start unnecessary “Christian debates” (I loathe that). However, I recognize the importance of reasonably reasoning with Scripture for building up rather than breaking each other (ego).

I will be reading more of your posts every now and then, and reasoning more if I feel compelled.

Grace & peace.

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Joshua Tilghman November 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Canis,

No problem. I enjoyed it. And I do wish you the best in figuring it all out to your level of satisfaction.

Grace and peace to you as well!

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anny May 3, 2013 at 10:39 am

Hi Joshua,

I think that believing and a set of beliefs are not necessarily the same. I do not have a set of beliefs any more because in my process of growth I do not keep believing the same things all the time. I have learned to not take anything absolute any more as we cannot possible grasp everything and understand the Absolute Truth yet. It simply evades words, it goes beyond it and I move from one step on the ladder to the next one as it were. In this way it is also not so devastating when something I have always believed to be true turns out not to be or to mean something different.

That is not to say that I do not believe anything any more. Actually I do believe that Jesus was a historical figure and also that it matters whether he was or not. As everything everyone thinks, says or does has an influence on everything and everyone else (All being One and interconnected), the life of Jesus must have had an enormous impact. In fact Matthew formulates that by mentioning an earth quake both when Jesus died as after the resurrection. And whether or not those were literal events, it does mean his life had an enormous impact which made it possible for people to grow in awareness.

And then there is the meaning of believing itself. Somewhere in John’s gospel Jesus said: you are gods. I think when you apply the principle of believing to that, it means can you accept that concept? Can you live it?

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Mike S July 20, 2013 at 10:35 am

WOW is all I can say, Josh – Canis – Anny Thank you so much, It was like the fourth of July fireworks. I see the truth in all your insights.

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Joshua Tilghman October 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

Leo,

This is quite true. The Christ within transcends all boundaries.

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gnostic_me March 20, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Hi Josh:

I just found your site and have been reading this thread. Your comments in reference to Paul’s statements in Eph. 5.14 to awake from our sleep and arise from the dead are spot on. Plato certainly referred to our bodies as a tomb in his writings. We (those living here on earth) are the dead! We need to awake to the Christ within. This is the whole point of the gospel message. As I’m sure you are aware, the same themes are discussed in other religious traditions throughout the world – Buddhism and Hinduism to name just two. Same story, different garb.

If you haven’t already, you might be interested to read anything by Alvin Boyd Kuhn. I especially like his short treatise entitled: “The Lost Key to the Scriptures.” He goes into the concept of us being the dead in much greater detail. Kuhn is generally maligned in literalist Christian circles, but I have found that he brought out a lot of great truths. I would be interested in your thoughts.

Thanks for writing. We need more like you.

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Joshua Tilghman March 22, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Thanks for the comments. I have read Alvin Boyd Kuhn. In many respects, he is one of the greats and his writings are quite valuable to someone evolving out of the literalist mindset. Of course it takes others like Joseph Campbell to further that evolution.

I love Plato as well. His allegory of the cave is an esoteric classic that reveals the truth you speak of above.

Many blessings!

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Omar October 29, 2014 at 10:19 am

I noticed that you as well as many other estoric movements refer to Origen as an Early Church Father that that supported the Esoteric Perspective. Can you name any other well known and credited Early Church Fathers as well besides him? I know Clement of Alexandria Egypt is one of them too. People referred to him as heretic. As I read your articles they seem like your eisegesis that may be very well supported by others and may well be true. In the very least they are amazingly interesting. Will I only be able to verify all this once I have the experience myself of enlightenment or Christ Consciousness. It is a hope I myself will continue to pursue.

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Joshua Tilghman December 27, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Omar, many of the church fathers, even the ones considered to be literalists, speak esoterically. From Ambrose to Augustine, there is esoteric meanings in all their sayings. Often they knew the Bible wasn’t meant to be taken literally, but they never openly taught this. However, there were many church fathers who were staunch literalists and wanted to eradicate those that were not. History is often hard to correctly interpret. Clement and Origen were considered heretics because they openly stated what they believed. But even in some of their writings, Origen and Clement can seem to be literalists. I believe it takes a lot of study to decipher what was really being said beneath the literal words.

Christ consciousness is a lofty goal, and usually cannot be achieved in one life-time. I know I have not made it. There is still many times I choose the ego over the truth. However, when we truly set ourselves to walk the path, progress in each life is made in different areas of the soul.

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SL January 3, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Great site! I agreed with the views that all religions are just branches of the same tree. All are in search of immortality, eternal bliss, etc. To take it literally is to go outward, to divide, to branch out into more little branches, more diverse. To take it symbolically is going inwards, and the deeper you go, the differences become less & less until you reach singleness or oneness. On the surface we see separate lands and oceans, but underneath it’s all one single land mass, it’s not really separate.

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Joshua Tilghman January 9, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Thanks for commenting, SL

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