Is Jesus a chip off the old block?

The Old Testament is full of frightening descriptions of Jehovah as being an angry, jealous and vengeful “warrior” God. In the New Testament however God’s “only begotten Son” reveals a Divine Being with profound love who “turned the other cheek” and never even lifted a finger against those who would eventually torture and execute Him.

But in the end, like Father, like Son.

No sooner do we get a chance to embrace the comforting idea of the Lord as a loving God and “Prince of Peace” than He shows us in the Book of Revelation His true colors and that He is really a chip off the old block. In the final cosmic battle of Armageddon it seems that Jehovah has passed the fight over to His Son along with a mighty sword.

Many Christians overlook this theological inconsistency and accept this back and forth behavior as a matter of faith, not logic. For logic tells us that inconsistency is imperfection and imperfection is not something we can attribute to the Divine.

So how do we reconcile these conflicting images of our Savior? How do we view our Lord as Infinite Love, yet itching for a fight? How is the Lord God both a savior and destroyer? How do we warm up to a God who is flashing a fearsome sword in his hand?

These kinds of irksome questions have caused many people to leave the church, embrace atheism and mock the authority and inerrancy of Scripture.

Thankfully, scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg provided an answer that addressed these “apparent” mixed messages about God as portrayed in the Scriptures. He discovered that the Holy Word was written in a most sacred symbolic language (even its historical aspects). Therefore, when we are given an image of the Lord wielding a sword, it is to be understood as a weapon not forged from steel but from God’s divine truth.

The Lord’s only weapon against evil and falsity is truth. A divine or holy sword is forged from truth into a doctrine to combat evil. As evidence for this higher meaning, the Lord is described in Revelation as having a sword coming out of His mouth! His weapon is therefore the “pointed” truth, which proceeds from His very mouth.

God hates no one but is pure love and mercy itself. God fights, but he fights for all of us through spiritual combat – so that we might be “struck” by the wisdom of His teachings. What this psycho-spiritual sword (the sword of righteousness) kills is not our physical bodies, but it seeks to slay the harmful compulsions and negative influences that we each face from within. Only our former ways are vanquished from such an encounter with God’s divine truth.

So Scripture is inerrant. But not in the way most believers and non-believers would expect it to be. Humankind needs to regain the deeper spiritual-speak of Scripture.

Website: http://www.provinggod.com

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About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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12 Responses to Is Jesus a chip off the old block?

  1. GodKillzYou says:

    While I can see where you’re coming from, from my perspective, it almost seems like retrofitting, or at least taking a gnostic approach to the scriptures.

    In Revelation, there are many direct references to actual physical pain inflicted upon people.

    Revelation 9:5-6:

    5 And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.

    6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

    These are not “spiritual” images. These are speaking of direct, physical assaults on non-believers. They will be issued pain in such a degree that it will make them seek death.

    So, while there are instances of this, as you call, “spiritual combat,” there is also very much spoken of real physical combat and torture. Which seems a lot like overkill if you ask me. An infinitely powerful God picking on mere mortals?

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear GodKillzYou,

    Thank you for jumping in!

    To say that there are references to actual physical pain in Scripture simply indicates that you are unable to distill any greater meaning from the literal words of these passages. Spiritually speaking, the sting of a scorpion produces the same affect (torment) to one’s physical body as the persuasive power of doctrinal falsity can have on a person’s mind and spirit. Falsity does not “kill” a person but induces a state of intellectual stupor upon the individual.

    Why is Scripture actually addressing falsity here?

    To “seek death” means to move away from God’s influence. So, the reference to men seeking death and “not finding it” means that in spite of a desire to close their mind off from truth (spiritual death) the Lord, from eternal love, keeps their inner spirit alive. If the Lord removed Himself from the interiors of a man’s life he would neither think nor will.

    You pray that only the literal meaning of the words hold true for Scripture so that you don’t have to change “GodKillzYou” to “GodLovzYou.” That would be a bummer – but at least you would get a real taste of what Revelation means by “earthquakes.” The Second Coming is an upheaval that takes place within us and to our world views (a paradigm shift).

    If the Holy Word only consisted of physical qualities and meanings then how could it have first existed from eternity in the pre-space realm of heaven – before the creation of the physical universe? Everything in the Holy Word refers to something deeper and SPIRITUAL.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  3. GodKillzYou says:

    I understand what you mean here. But, I think the reason I shy away from taking metaphorical and symbolic views of scripture is that it there is no way to distinguish between when you should use metaphor, and when is something literal? There is no formula for that.

    With this type of gnostic view of scripture, it seems to render everything essentially meaningless, because nothing is as it is written. It requires some type of internal, rationalization not found in scripture, which is supposed to be God’s Word.

    How can it be that the Bible would need information added to it in order to be complete. Maybe it’s just my lack of understanding, but this “interpretation” of scripture seems a bit shaky.

  4. thegodguy says:

    Dear GodKillzYou,

    It seems shaky because you haven’t been fully exposed to the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. He identified for us when a biblical event was purely metaphorical or mixed with real history. Even historical events in Scripture depict higher spiritual messages and teachings!

    For instance, God DID deliver the Ten Commandments to Moses. However, the event cleverly hides deeper spiritual ideas concerning doctrine. Each of the Ten Commandments contains a higher spiritual meaning. The Commandment “thou shalt not kill” not only covers physical murder or the destroying of a person’s reputation or seeking any kind of revenge but also spiritual murder – turning someone against God. Even worse is to deny God and blot out His existence.

    Furthermore, this sacred symbolic language was called the “science of correspondences.” This angelic science is based on the top-down causal premise that everything in the physical world corresponds to some doctrinal or spiritual truth in heaven. Everything we see in the physical universe has its psycho-spiritual equivalent. The multi-leveled architecture of Scripture contains these precise top-down relationships. Swedenborg has written some thirty books addressing this topic.

    I also will have a new book out next spring entitled “Proving God,” which will help to demonstrate the validity of these novel ideas. Current traditional theology is inadequate for the post-modern world nor can it respond to the New Physics without these revelatory ideas.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  5. GodKillzYou says:

    By about half-way through reading your last post I began to feel the stirrings of a post-modernist philosophy emerging out what what you were saying. And, surprisingly enough, you mentioned post-modernism. I’m not a fan of post-modernism for the same reasons that I don’t like the gnostic approach to interpretation of scripture.

    I can’t say I know enough of Swedenborg’s work (I actually know nothing of it) to make a valid statement of opinion. I will take a further look at what you’ve brought up. In the meantime, I’d like to continue this discussion.

    While I’m doing some more research on this, if you’ve posted anything on this blog, or have related links you could share, or even first-hand knowledge you’d care to share on this, I would appreciate it.

  6. thegodguy says:

    I am not a fan of post-modernism either and the relativization of biblical interpretation. My reference to post-modernism refers to its need to find universal principles (which the science of correspondences offers). Nor am I a fan of the gnostic approach of biblical interpretation – if it is based on mere human prudence.

    Revelation can only come from the Lord God.

    I would welcome any further discussion. However, I am unable to discern exactly what you are researching. If you can give me some specifics I could provide some answers, point you to various topics on this blog or to other links.

    Or, you can ask specific questions.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  7. GodKillzYou says:

    Actually, I was doing some research on Swedenborg’s work. I visited the obvious sites like Wikipedia, etc. I’ve found some interesting information, such as he believing that God allowed him to pass into Heaven & Hell to communicate with people.

    He claimed that the Lord had opened his eyes, so that from then on he could freely visit heaven and hell, and talk with angels, demons, and other spirits. For the remaining 28 years of his life, he wrote and published 18 theological works, of which the best known was Heaven and Hell (1758), and several unpublished theological works.

    Now, I completely understand that Wikipedia is written by people who claim to be experts on a subject. But, if this man claimed he could visit Heaven and Hell, believing this claim would be an act of faith. I would, personally, find it hard to trust his judgment with this seemingly delusional behavior.

    The main reason I say this because there is no Biblical reason to believe that God would give special powers to a man to do things like this. The time of the prophets had passed a long time ago. And there are many reasons given in the Bible to distrust a false prophet.

    Do you have any insight you could lend on this topic?

  8. thegodguy says:

    Great question!

    I have studied Swedenborg since 1974 – both his scientific and theological works. It is easy to dismiss his claim of having been given special powers to observe and speak with the citizens of heaven and hell. However, I do not accept his claim based on mere faith but on the actual things he describes.

    Swedenborg was a scientist and was therefore a good pick to report on the people, fauna, flora, geology, weather and how time and space is experienced in this non-physical realm. From his dual perspective of being conscious in both the physical and spiritual worlds he could also observe the vast differences between worldly biblical interpretation and angelic interpretation.

    Swedenborg gives the reader much material to contemplate and judge. I personally do not find any of it delusional – but one must make one’s own conclusions. The Bible gives us many reasons to believe the Lord’s return will come quickly. So why has 2000 years passed without this cosmic event taking place? Why does the Lord also state in the New Testament that His final return will not be observed nor will anyone be able to point to any physical location as it is taking place?

    Hmmm?

    The Second Coming is not a physical event. Heaven is not a place you go to, it is something you become.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  9. GodKillzYou says:

    I agree with you that being a scientist would make him a good pick concerning the people, fauna, flora, etc. BUT, the “non-physical realm,” and any claims made about it are distinctly non-scientific in nature and cannot be tested as such.

    Again, I would have to say that any “observations” that the man made would have to be taken on faith simply because those observations are not reproducible.

    I hope you can see where I’m coming from. There’s only one man in the history of civilization who was capable of visiting Heaven and Hell, and we’d have to take his word for everything he’s said he’s seen.

    That seems like a huge stretch, a huge leap of faith to accept a claim like that.

  10. thegodguy says:

    You simply have not done enough scholarly research on Swedenborg’s ideas. If I had depended on mere faith I would NOT have spent more than three decades going over Swedenborg’s primary source information (which I am still unable to exhaust).

    Swedenborg’s observations of heaven and hell can be reproducible from our own first hand subjective experience and self-examination. We can each find things out about ourselves from his descriptions of things “seen and heard” in the spiritual world.

    As for true science, you seem unprepared to deal with the fact that if the current Big Bang theory is correct and the universe emerged from a singularity of infinite compression (where physical laws no longer hold), such a non-dimensional beginning makes CREATION an event without a physical cause! Pioneering physicists are now actually looking for theories of causal process that could emerge out of a pre-spatial and pre-geometrical realm.

    And finally, 11-dimensional string theory goes well beyond anything that can be experimented with or proven – it is a mathematical convenience only (and thus a huge leap of faith). So the great spear tip of science is now breaking its own rules concerning proper methodology!

    You still haven’t made clear to me the full nature of your personal research.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

  11. So what does it mean to say that the source of existence (i.e., God) is love? I would argue the question points to the metaphysics of love rather than simply saying that God creates existence (or, the world) because God loves it. If you want to check out my post, pls see: http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/10/24/deciphering-god-is-love/

  12. thegodguy says:

    Dear Free Spirit,

    God is Love and Love is God. Love is both primal reality and Infinite Being. God created the physical universe and humankind because LOVE needs to be directed towards something other than Itself. It is God’s hope that this Love (and its blessings) becomes reciprocal through humanity. So the source of existence does embrace the metaphysics (dynamics) of Love AND God’s eternal wish to share that love with others (created beings). I have written other posts that focus more specifically on the metaphysics of Love, and, my upcoming book “Proving God” focuses on the theme that Love is the ultimate science.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    Spiritually yours,
    TheGodGuy

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