Kingdom of God 2
Mission

The Kingdom of God is within you, but it is also a future promise

 

Where is the Kingdom of God? Does it matter? How can it be both within you and yet still to come? Or has it already come? And if it hasn’t, when will it come? And how will we know it has come? Or has it come and we missed it? Does anybody care?

The whole thrust of Jesus’ preaching on the Kingdom of God would have created an eschatological crisis for his audience – a bit like the apocalypse of Brexit. You know, floods, earthquakes, plagues of terrorists, and the coming of Boris the Messiah. But Jesus gave the distinct impression that ‘the end’ was imminent (Lk 9:27). He preached both that the Kingdom was near (8:1) and that it had come (11:20). He was fulfilment of Isaiah 61 (Lk 4:18f), and the disciples were urged to be ready at all times (12:40). The Kingdom of God (or the reign[ing] of God or the realm of God or the Kingdom of Heaven) was an apocalyptic image central to Jesus’ world. ‘Kingdom’ statements are found more than a 100 times in the gospels, as are mentions of ‘salvation’: the two are fused in Jesus’ essential mission.

Luke 17:21 – ‘..the kingdom of God is within you‘ – has traditionally been used to suggest an internal dimension of the kingdom which is both personal and individual. While an exclusive emphasis on this dimension would largely ignore wider society, there is no doubt that transformation begins with individual repentance and salvation (Mk 1:14f, 16-21; Mt 4:17, 18-22), and then works itself out to wider society (Mk 3:14; Mt 10:1-8). This perspective is rooted in the observation that Jesus never addressed the macro-socio-political issues of his day, but focused his mission on the well-being of individuals, restoring them to relationship with God. This salvation is a substitutionary atonement (Mk 14:24); a personal response to Christ’s work on the cross, usually called conversion, and the mission is proclamation of the gospel to an unsaved world.

It is, however, unlikely that any first-century individual would have perceived himself or herself to have been autonomous from a social network. Individualism is a relatively recent philosophy, emanating principally from the age of Romanticism which brought to the masses a new individual liberty to decide their own fate and destiny. The concern for individual self-realisation and self-development is a distinctive attribute of the post-industrial society. The Western notion of the person as a bounded, unique, more-or-less integrated motivational and cognitive universe; a dynamic centre of awareness, emotion, judgment and action organised into a distinctive whole and set contrastively both against other such wholes and against its social and natural background, is, however incorrigible it may seem to us, a rather peculiar idea within the context of the world’s cultures.

It is important therefore to view Jesus’ audience of ‘individuals’ as being situated within and inseparable from their families, communities, and larger socio-political structures. When the gospel is limited to personal salvation, the wider social issues are estranged.

While the notion of the Kingdom being ‘within’ undoubtedly has the longest pedigree in biblical translation, there are scholars who prefer it to be rendered ‘among’. This would be more consistent with an inaugurated view of eschatology, and it diminishes the emphasis on saving individual souls for eternal life without any regard for the rest of their earthly lives. Jesus is not concerned to impart apocalyptic secrets to the disciples, but to prepare them spiritually for what lies ahead. In this regard, while he is concerned to stress the certainty of ‘the end’, the thrust of his teaching was that the time of the Kingdom had been inaugurated, and that judgment was soon to fall. This was (and is) to spur believers into making good use of their time before it is too late. This is the essence of eschatology – it keeps alive the sense of imminence in a period of grace, and induces disciples to holiness. Christians are to remain vigilant, living holy lives, in the constant tensions of the ‘soon’ and the ‘not yet’.

While the timing of the Kingdom cannot be calculated, it is an assured future event, heralded by the coming of the Son of Man. Scripture talks in terms of a harvest (eg Joel 3:13; Lk 3:17; Gal 6:7; Rev 14:15) which symbolises the parousia. Jesus’ return (Lk 17:20-37) is followed by a heavenly banquet (14:15-24), and he gave every indication that it was an imminent consummation. His constant theme is ‘see and know’ – the disciples see the leaves sprouting to know that summer is near; when they see the signs, they will know that the Kingdom of God is near, and they must be prepared (cf 17:31-36; 12:35-40).

But if the Kingdom is ‘near’, and Jesus taught his disciples to pray ‘thy kingdom come’, the Kingdom was manifestly ‘not yet’. The manner in which the Kingdom comes has profound implications for understanding salvation and the nature of mission. If the Kingdom is future, there is an ultimate judgment and ultimate reconciliation. Once salvation is attained, everything in this life is perceived to be ‘of the world’ and destined for destruction (2Pt 3:10-13). While a positive dimension of this understanding includes a sense of urgency in proclaiming salvation, such an emphasis conveys a solely spiritual kingdom. The motivation for repentance becomes the future promise of ultimate reconciliation, and appeals mainly to those who are dissatisfied with their current situation in a fallen world.

Jesus expected an imminent Kingdom of God, and the fact that it didn’t appear compels us either to impose a ‘spiritual’ dimension onto Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom, or somehow to explain his ‘error’. Faced with these options, the emphasis has fallen on the soteriological meaning of Jesus’ personal destiny and the obedience he rendered to God. But the presumption of imminence is itself underpinned by the assumption that Jesus was primarily preoccupied with the end of time: the Kingdom of God would soon arrive to bring about the end of the physical world and its linear flow of natural history. On that basis, New Testament scholarship has operated predominantly in the tension between the ‘now’ and the ‘not yet’.

But it is unlikely that anyone in first-century Palestine would have defined present reality in such future-oriented categories. In the pre-Einsteinian, pre-Enlightenment and pre-Newtonian peasant societies, time was predominantly present-oriented, functional, and non-directional. Time is rarely, if ever, viewed in traditional cultural settings as an abstract concept removed from the patterns and rituals that relate it to the ordering of social life. In that sense, the past and the future do not exist apart from some direct link to a presently-experienced person, event, or process.

The Western post-Enlightenment regulation (obsession?) of life by the calendar and the clock would be distinctively alien to other cultures, past and present, and it is likely that first-century language about ‘the end’ referred neither to linear historical time nor to the demand of bringing people face to face with a promise of heaven. Apocalyptic language was directed to the qualitative dimension of life, and to the resolution of the present historical crisis. It indicated a depth experience rather than an objective future expectation. In that respect, it presented ‘the end’ as the fulfilment of a promise; God’s fidelity in the midst of suffering, frustration, and hopelessness. We are there still.

  • Individualism is a relatively recent philosophy

    Neither recent nor a philosophy. Individualism and collectivism are of genetic origin, associated with racial variations in the serotonin transporter gene.

    ‘The study, by the department of psychology at Northwestern University in Illinois, suggests that the individualism seen in western nations, and the higher levels of collectivism and family loyalty found in Asian cultures, are caused by differences in the prevalence of particular genes.’—Daily Mail

    Pity the individualistic culture, with its values of ‘uniqueness over harmony, expression over agreement,’ that is invaded by collectivist cultures with their ‘group cohesion’.

    • The Explorer

      If it’s down to genes, presumably the individualistic culture cannot help itself: it is doomed to be like that. Inevitably, it will be swamped by collectivist cultures. The question then is, why has it not happened already? Is the answer that the transport and communication facilities to enable mass immigration from Third World to First World did not exist until the Twenty-First Century?

      Alternatively, the First World is potentially in charge of its own destiny; but its politicians have made disastrous choices that were the result of bad ideology rather than bad genes.

      • @ The Explorer—why has it not happened already?

        Mediæval Europeans sensed that it was happening and expelled the collectivist culture. Today’s swamping of individualistic societies is down to a new breed of politician that sees virtue in destruction.

        • Anton

          “Mediæval Europeans sensed that it was happening and expelled the collectivist culture.”

          Please expand on that. Who or what was expelled from where by whom, and when?

          • The Explorer

            My guess is Edward I’s Edict of Expulsion 1290. But, as I say, I’m guessing.

    • Anton

      “Individualism and collectivism are of genetic origin”

      That is a giant assertion, given the alternative that these might be cultural things. What is your evidence for it?

      • @ Anton—Click on the hyperlinks ‘Daily Mail’ and ‘values’.

        • IrishNeanderthal

          Have just come across an article

          Facebook Mobs and the Death of Individuality

          • Uncle Brian

            Thanks for the link, Irish. That’s a very interesting case, which I hadn’t heard about until now. To some extent, jumping on a cyber-bullying bandwagon of that kind must have a lot to do with what people are now calling “virtue signalling”. The bandwagon-jumpers are afraid that if their signature doesn’t appear on the latest mass online protest, things will look bad for them in some unspecified way. Nobody wants to be seen as a letter-downer.

            In His Grace’s brand-new TGI Monday product, posted yesterday, some members of the panel made what they evidently thought were the right noises about Donald Trump. In the present climate, who would dare to say anything positive about the Donald – or even to remain silent when the subject crops up, for fear of being thought unfashionably out of sync?

            Earlier today I posted a comment in the Chatroll box on His Grace’s home page, but now that the subject has been broached on this thread, I’m tempted to repost it here, with apologies to our archiepiscopal host.

            I don’t have access to the print edition of the Financial Times, so I can’t check it out for myself, but apparently in today’s paper Gideon Rachman is presenting the prospect of a Trump presidency in a favourable light. I imagine he has had to be very careful with his language. To be openly pro-Trump at the moment could mean walking into a barrage of ridicule, insults and vituperation.

        • Anton

          None of this can withstand the counter-argument that individualism of the sort under discussion is a development in Europe only in recent centuries. Europe has gone from collectivist to individualistic on too short a timescale for the cause to be genetic.

          As for differences between Europe and Asia before the industrial era, see Patricia Crone’s book “Pre-Industrial Societies”, Eric Jones’ book “The European Miracle” and Jared Diamond’s book “Guns, Germs and Steel”. Geography, climate and availability of food staples, operating over centuries, have a lot to do with it.

          • @ Anton—If you would like to write to the researchers to tell them they’ve got it wrong, their address is here, under ‘Info & Metrics’.

          • Anton

            Correlation is not the same as causation, but were I to contact the authors I’d simply ask them what I’m asking you: How can the claim that individualism and collectivism be of genetic origin be sustained when Europe’s population moved from one to the other on a short timescale?

          • Uncle Brian

            This discussion reminds me a bit of something people were chattering about at one time, back in the Cold War period, about Soviet sporting successes in team sports but not in individual sports such as tennis and golf. It was all nonsense. They’d forgotten about chess.

    • Ivan M

      Seratonin is a ‘feel good’ enzyme. It is released whenever we feel pleasure. Such as when eating chocolates. It is not a marker for social interactions. The whole idea that there is a genetic basis for the difference in collective behaviour is flawed.

      • @ Ivan M—That must be where the researchers went wrong: they were working on the assumption that serotonin was a neurotransmitter. Silly them.

        • Ivan M

          Whether they call it a neurotransmitter or enzyme, seratonin is induced to produce pleasure. More accurately it is a factor in stress release. This is something everyone has.

          • @ Ivan M—I can’t imagine how the authors, their peer reviewers and their publisher, the Royal Society, got it so badly wrong. Well done you!!!

          • Ivan M

            It is worth winging it since I am just an unemployed bum

  • Dreadnaught

    I think that many people continue to believe in a god because it gives them comfort, not because the god of their choice actually exists; it’s more an emotional response, born in a past age of human evolution when natural phenomena such as earthquakes as a result of plate tectonics or floods resulting from rising sea levels due to historic global climate oscillation, were attributed to acts of their god as punishment. It allows them to pray to their god and think that they’re actually accomplishing something. If it gives them feelings of structure and meaning in their lives, and makes them feel connected that’s fine by me: if it helps remove the fear of death that their own religion uses as a threat, then that’s for them to believe and that’s also good; but neither position contains one proton or quark of evidence. For that reason I believe that the ‘experience’ of the state of non-existence after death, is exactly what we did not experience before our birth: unless of course someone has proof to the contrary. As for the fulfillment of prophesies as proof in evidence; what is easier than inventing and claiming that a prophesy as been fulfilled, usually by a person alone up a mountain or in a dream, that cannot be demonstrated, repeated or tested but in all likely-hood originated in the minds of desert dwelling madmen and charlatans.

    Belief in the god ‘of the 3 Books’, helps remove people’s fear of the monotheistic vision of Hell that has been inculcated into their minds from childhood. Unshakeable belief in a god for them I suggest also makes the world more black and white, less confusing, and easier to deal with. Religions cannot escape the historical record that shows that they have been the consistent foundation and justification for atrocious enterprises of territorial gain resulting in uncountable deaths and misery in all of humanity in which they have engaged. This is not proof for the existence of a god, no matter how much panoply of theatrical performance, righteousness and claimed access to truth is now attached to them continuing their theological mission on Earth, to either save or condemn their fellow humans.

    A feeling of personal comfort is no indicator of the truth of external reality, any more than the reality that astrology is true simply because some people find comfort in it. The universe does not owe us comfort and meaning; we create them ourselves through our various religions or reasoning for ourselves. The fact that a believer believes in this or that, or that he or she believes is happier than an atheist, is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man believes is happier than a sober one.

    Religions are like feel-good addictive fixes and at the same monstrous tools for oppression . I think that addicts will do or think almost anything to continue getting that fix. However, some people eventually see that freedom from religious addiction can be a healthy change in our lifetimes, although withdrawal can be wilfully painful to endure.

    • Inspector General

      Right on, Dredders! Belief in the Almighty really does give a fellow a structure and a meaning in life. Where one fits into it, if you will. However, if you provide proof there is no natural organisation on earth or in the universe, that everything is in chaos, and that we are here by pure chance, then the Inspector’s god goes out the window…

    • len

      I suppose God hates religion much as atheists do but for a far different reason.
      Jesus Christ came to restore a broken relationship with God not to start’ a religion’..
      Secular Humanism is a form of faith based religion based on unprovable ‘assumptions’ which atheists accept because the alternative is unthinkable……

      • sarky

        Or non existent.

      • Dreadnaught

        Hate is such an emotive word; I prefer ‘disagree with’.

  • Uncle Brian

    While the notion of the Kingdom being ‘within’ undoubtedly has the longest pedigree in biblical translation, there are scholars who prefer it to be rendered ‘among’.

    The 24 translations listed on the Bible Hub website are almost evenly divided;

    within you, 11
    in your midst/in the midst of you, 9
    among you, 3
    within some of you, 1

    The Greek word for “you”, in any case, is in the plural.

    http://biblehub.com/luke/17-21.htm

  • The Explorer

    The Arthurian Kingdom of Logres seems to borrow from the idea of the Kingdom of God: not so much a place as a condition. Always fragile, once it is corrupted, it ceases to exist. Augustine has the same sort of idea in ‘The City of God’: the two cities co-existing through time.

    “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Heaven exists only fitfully on Earth, and will not do so in entirety until the Second Coming.

  • Uncle Brian

    1 Thess 4.15 has always seemed to me to be the most difficult verse in this connection. Paul sounds very confident of two things:

    > That he is predicting a future event that he is certain will happen;

    > That it will happen within the lifetime of many people still living at the time of writing, including himself.

    In today’s sermon Your Grace has quoted twenty-something verses from the NT, mainly from the Gospels and including one from Paul, but it isn’t this one.

    http://biblehub.com/interlinear/1_thessalonians/4-15.htm

    • Martin

      Brian

      Doesn’t seem to me that he is discussing the ‘when’ at all but rather the ‘how’ of two groups.

  • len

    What is’ the kingdom of God’? .

    ‘The Kingdom of God is within you, but it is also a future promise’?

    ‘The Kingdom of God’ has arrived when God`s plan for Mankind is put into effect.

    So how can this be now and in the future?.

    Gods plan for mankind is for Christ to have pre-eminence in all things

    ‘And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre -eminence.
    ( Colossians 1;18)’

    Christ can now have pre eminence in a believers life, but also Christ will eventually in actuality have pre -eminence in all things in Heaven and on Earth.

    ‘It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'(Romans 14;11)

  • Findaráto

    The kingdom of God is a virtual fantasy world where crystal meth grows on trees and humans are permanently tripping in a state of ecstatic bliss.

    My Little Pony delivers the drugs to them daily and Tinkerbell divebombs the rocks into their gawping, drooling and insensate mouths. Leprechauns are on hand to moisten their glazed and unfocused eyes (best not ask how…) while choirs of angels provide a soul-stirring musical accompaniment as they trip their way through eternity.

    As subjects of the kingdom live on air and crystal meth, digestive processes are all but halted and what little does come out the other end is perfumed with attar of roses and essence of ylang ylang. And fear ye not, the neurotransmitters than on earth would begin to degrade as drug abuse worsened, requiring higher and higher drug doses until the body was overwhelmed by toxicity, will in the Kingdom be one hundred percent efficient. So you’ll never grow tired of God crack. Every trip, which basically means every minute of every day, will be like the intensest orgasm you ever had. A regular knock-your-socks-off, toe-curler of a transverberation that will make Teresa of Avila’s ecstatic experiences look like a vet veekend in Valladolid by comparison.

    Ah the fond imaginings of Christians and the reward they think awaits them for crossing their legs for Christ…

    • William Lewis

      A little too early for your Pernod, isn’t it Linus?

      • The Explorer

        Pernod is probably only the base ingredient for giving himself a high.

        • They drink it with Absinthe.

          • The Explorer

            He’s probably got some Victorian original with wormwood

          • His insane ramblings would suggest he’s been indulging for some time. It sends one quite mad.

          • CliveM

            DT’s

      • Uncle Brian

        I read that as Period, as though you were diagnosing Linus’s condition as untimely PMT.

        • The Explorer

          A possibility that can’t be discounted, given his interest in transgender.

      • CliveM

        He’ll be talking to his giant bunny now. I’d leave him to get on with it.

        • William Lewis

          Yes. He’s got more rabbit than Sainsbury’s.

    • The Explorer

      I suspect Findy has been giving us the details of some of his own recreational habits.

      • It’s certainly a revealing post, highlighting his preferred sources of hedonistic ‘pleasure’.

        • Uncle Brian

          Hello again, Jack. You’ve been strangely quiet for a long time. Everything okay, I hope?

          • Please see above comment.

          • dannybhoy

            Have you returned home yet Jack?

          • Lol …. Jack has been home for six or seven weeks now.

        • Computer trouble, Brian. Dropped the laptop and have put it in for repair. Limited access to alternatives. All’s well, thank you.

          • Inspector General

            You’re lucky. The Inspector’s laptop has Gay Internet AIDS….

          • Thought you’d sorted all that.

          • Inspector General

            The Bender concerned is sending out a fined toxic…

          • Findaráto

            Divine retribution?

          • DanJ0

            Don’t click dodgy links, especially from the .ru domain, keep a virus checker uptodate, and don’t install executables required to view *cough* educational videos. I’ve never had a virus or infection as I live a clean internet life 😉

          • Inspector General

            Yes, but they have the Inspector’s IP…

      • Inspector General

        Are you suggesting, sir, that Findus is a man of lavender

        • The Explorer

          No need for me to suggest it, when Findus has given such strong indications himself. (Except his own preferred scent is ylang ylang.)

          • Inspector General

            Ah, so he could be, as they say in the ‘Mouse and Wheel’, a bender. Yes, it rings true. One is informed that the ‘activists’ of that persuasion hate Christianity, it not being complianant to their way of thinknig….

          • The Explorer

            Findus is Linus.

      • William Lewis

        He does seem rather knowledgeable.

        • dannybhoy

          I wonder which denomination he belonged to?

    • You really must get off the Pernod Absinthe.

    • Inspector General

      Well, here we are, and we didn’t get here by chance, did we ? Of course, you can put down the order of what we physically have as sheer chance, a fortunate outome of the chaos we must appreciate that would be without a higher designer….

    • Lienus

      Ah, my Findy. I am so proud. You place yourself beyond parody.
      Let us turn instead to rightly dividing the scriptures.
      It is instructive to note the difference between the terms ‘kingdom of God’ and ‘kingdom of heaven’ as they appear in the gospels.
      The kingdom of God is in one sense universal, but also refers to that glorious kingdom yet to come.
      The kingdom of heaven is the sphere of earthly profession. The parables of Mt 13 reveal the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 13:11)
      While the kingdom of God is entered by new birth (Jn 3:5-7), the kingdom of heaven may contain those who have made a false profession (Mt 13:19-22) as well as true believers (Mt 13:23).
      The two kingdoms often appear synonymous because the kingdom of heaven is a subset of the current universal kingdom of God.
      The kingdom of Christ is yet to come and will contain only true saints.
      A right understanding of these things avoids the dreadful ‘kingdom theology’ popularised by the hymnology of St Graham of Kendrick and his ilk.

      • IanCad

        I think you have it just about right.

      • Coloured a little too much by Darby and dispensational theology. Kingdom of heaven and of God are the same (as is the kingdom of Christ).

      • dannybhoy

        “The terms kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven are synonymous. It is seen in the parallel accounts of Mark 4 and Luke 8. John uses the term only twice to describe how one is to enter it. John 3:3, 5 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” V.5Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

        http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp176.htm

      • Allosexuels admirateur

        Yoo are my ero.

  • David

    This question is obviously a v.difficult one, but in a few words on my travelling iPad here we go.
    As I see it, the Kingdom is both within us,as we work with the Holy Spirit to strive towards a more Christ like state-quite a task for me – and also a future promised place, when God causes it to come to pass.

  • preacher

    I believe the answer was to the Pharisees question ” When will the Kingdom of God come ? ” They expected an Earthly Kingdom where the Jewish nation, – led by themselves would be in charge. The Lord’s answer is interesting as He unveils the fact that since the creation, the cosmos including the Earth is & always has been God’s & always will be !. The pinnacle of God’s creation was mankind – made in His image. All life is given by God, therefore He is Sovereign over it, it is His domain, or Kingdom. Thus we are all His subjects, answerable to Him, Whether we like it or not !. His Kingdom lives in the very life He gives us. Many will be obedient subjects by nature, but others will allow themselves to follow selfishness & live accordingly in a sinful rebellious way. This is why God has the right to judge all mankind according to our deeds, & will exercise His right on the day of judgement.
    God recognises that none of us can be perfect, so In His love & mercy He gave us an opportunity to be redeemed by a selfless act of Sacrifice, if we respond, repent & receive it, further, we can receive the Holy Spirit to strengthen & help us in our lives.

    All people live in the ” Now “, with a view to the future, but no matter how long we live, & what we achieve, there will be a time when we will finish here & have to move on, we have no option. The time is set & our eternal destiny awaits, only God knows when, but we must be ready.

    A long answer I know, but I hope it will help. P.

    • Lienus

      This is good. Read my erudite comment below in order to deepen your grasp of theology in this area.

    • No. His his kingdom does not exist in the life he gave us for that natural life is corrupted by sin. None of us is by nature obedient. None is good and seeks God. The kingdom of God requires a new life by a new birth, a birth of the Spirit and the water of Gods Word if we are to see the kingdom of God (Jn 3).

      • preacher

        Hi John. God is the source of all life, therefore He is Ruler over it, which means it is in His domain & He is the King of that domain, as well as the rest of the Cosmos. Man has corrupted the purity of life that God gave by choosing to sin, a choice made by all, ” All have sinned & fallen short of the glory of God “. ” The wages of sin are death “.
        Because of God’s great compassion & love for us He came as a man & died to pay that price for us, to reconcile us & restore us to Himself. The stipulation to receive this is to repent ( Agree with God about our sin & turn from it ) & accept the substitutionary sacrifice provided by the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, making Him Lord of our lives & serving Him only. If we do this, we receive a new life & are therefore ” Born Again ” We also receive the Holy Spirit. & grow by the sustenance of God’s Word & the leading of His Spirit ” The Word & the Spirit are one & agree as one “. This does not make us perfect, but redeemed, & in the sight of God the price of all our sin is paid – As Jesus cried from the Cross ” It is Finished ” – ( Paid in Full ).
        Any who reject God’s plan & choose to continue in a life of sin are answerable on the day of judgement for their rejection & choice, to the King of all things, the King of Kings, – God.

        I hope we are in agreement. Thank you for your response.
        Blessings. P.

  • Inspector General

    One can imagine the scene. A vast building site above the clouds. With a ‘Coming soon – the Kingdom of God’ sign in front of you. As if.

    No doubt God put something in place as soon as he took compassion on his prime earthly creation (that’s us, don’t you know) and decided to salvage a few of us, not many perhaps, just a few who are putting in a good attempt to live on this planet despite the daily evils. Those who accept Jesus and what he requires of us.

    And yes, the Kingdom of God really is imminent – for some, such is our limited lifespan. When an angelic presence rescues the soul on death, or not, as the case may be. We are of course judged by the second while alive. It cannot be any other way, can it?

    By the way, knicker wearing bishop Treweek has used her maiden speech in the Lords to decry the misery of womyn worldwide and also in the UK. Apparently, it’s hell to be a girl. (All the fault of men, so it must be).. Never mind, sweetheart, there’s always the Kingdom of God. Men on one side, and women on the other, if you’re lucky, but until then, you keep fighting for the sisterhood, especially those who reject marriage and want to go it alone, usually the root cause of their distress in this world…

    • Ivan M

      Imperialist, it is more accurate to say that the root cause of misery for women in the Third World is the demands of their marriage duties, whereas for women in in UK it is the lack of seriousness about it.

  • len

    Those who arrive at the Kingdom of God will have lived on this Earth and seen the effects of sin and have been saddened sickened and horrified at the levels of human depravity that they have witnessed.From the death camps at Auschwitz, to the Gulags of Russia, the capture of defenceless people tied up brutalized and then beheaded by Islamic terrorists.The killing fields of Cambodia the list is endless .

    There is something intrinsically evil that resides in mankind and Jesus Christ offers the only solution to this problem.A new nature and a new heart is the only solution to the evil within mankind.
    The old creation stands condemned and nothing of the old creation can or will pass into the new creation.The old creation cannot be allowed to carry forward the same problems into the new creation.

    The old creation was judged and condemned at the cross of Jesus Christ…

    • sarky

      “A new nature and a new heart is the only solution”

      So why do Christians still do bad things?

      • Ivan M

        The Kingdom is not within those Christians yet, myself for instance.

        Revelation 3:20,21 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him…

      • chiefofsinners

        Because we have both the old and new natures struggling within us. Read all about it in Romans chapter 7.

        • Agree we have struggle of natures but that is not Romans 7. Romans 7 is the absolute powerlessness of law to produce anything spiritually good.

          • cacheton

            Romans 7 – I find this the most pertinent book of the bible. It describes what is known in psychology as projection. Paul recognises that he does not always act as he would ideally like, and therefore projects the part that does not act as he would like outside of himself. He says that it is therefore not ‘him’. And by doing so splits himself, and destroys any chance of him becoming whole. This is what I understand your ‘absolute powerlessness of law to produce anything spiritually good’ as meaning, for if part of yourself is projected elsewhere, you cannot be whole, and are stuck in eternal ‘struggle of natures’.
            We know now that the way to be whole is to take back one’s projections. With love and understanding and forgiveness.

          • Anton

            He is describing the struggle within himself between the old self and the new Christlike self, and repudiating in words the former. Quite right too: it has to die, in an inner crucifixion.

          • cacheton

            No, it cannot die as it is part of yourself. You have life energy invested in it. It has to be healed and integrated, not judged and rejected. Like Jesus’s crucifixion yes, but from God’s point of view (Jesus was integrated) not from the human point of view (Jesus was judged and rejected).

          • Anton

            It is too marred with sin, of which it cannot be healed because it IS sin. It has to die – or in your terminology, the person’s life energy has to be de-invested from it and invested in the Christlike self.

          • cacheton

            Sin can be healed. Jesus demonstrated this. Sin does not exist without the life energy on which it is based, which has been suppressed to a greater or lesser degree.

            Once the life energy has been divested from it there is nowhere else TO invest it except in the Christlike self!

          • Anton

            Amen to your second paragraph, but please give an example from the Bible of what you mean when you say Jesus demonstrated that sin can be healed.

          • The Explorer

            The answer will be interesting, but to me it all sounds a bit like Blake’s ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’. Hell is energy, and reason fears energy But if only reason could see that energy is good then it would realise that Heaven and Hell are simply different names for the same thing. Or something like that.

            Put it to the test. Lots of inmates of Auschwitz probably felt they were in Hell. How many of them would have felt they were in Heaven? If someone has a a lot of energy with which to torture you, that doesn’t of itself make energy beneficial.

          • Anton

            I agree. I don’t know what cacheton meant by saying that Jesus demonstrated the healing of sin, so I hope he’ll say more.

          • cacheton

            Jesus was a human without sin, showing that this is possible. I know you will have many reasons to argue that he was ‘different’, because your religion depends on it, and that sin cannot be healed or transformed, because your religion depends on that too…

          • Anton

            I asked for an example, not a restatement of your principle, which I don’t understand. Certainly the *effects* of sin can be healed, but how can you “heal sin”? Sin is sin.

          • cacheton

            I realise you do not understand, or rather do not agree with me, that Jesus IS an example. THE example. Not a principle.

            ‘Sin is sin’. Objective is it? Like truth? God made it did he?

          • Anton

            God created all that is not him. Isaiah (45:7) says he created evil, although he is not evil.

          • cacheton

            And why would he do that, create objective evil (I am assuming of course that you think evil is objective)? And also HOW could he do that? Please do not duck responsibility for answering these questions by saying that we cannot know the answer because we are not god.

          • cacheton

            And why would he do that, create objective evil (I am assuming of course that you think evil is objective)? And also HOW could he do that? Please do not duck responsibility for answering these questions by saying that we cannot know the answer because we are not god.

          • cacheton

            And why would he do that, create objective evil (I am assuming of course that you think evil is objective)? And also HOW could he do that? Please do not duck responsibility for answering these questions by saying that we cannot know the answer because we are not god.

          • len

            We should not try and redeem what God has condemned.
            God did not try and redeem the sin nature He executed it.Crucifixion is an execution let us not forget that…

          • cacheton

            God does not condemn. I know your religion teaches you that, to manipulate you, but how could god be unconditional infinite love, and at the same time condemn?

          • Martin

            Cacheton

            So why do you think God is “unconditional infinite love”?

          • len

            How can love exist without any sense of justice?. That is the downward path to blind acceptance of sin death and all that is wicked in this world.

            The Cross is a focal point between the old fallen creation and the new creation.Jesus passed through death into life leading the path that all who follow Him must take.
            The sin nature is left at the foot of the Cross not carried into the new creation because it would only repeat the same errors.

            If God cannot bring any good out of our old nature how can you expect to do better than God?.

          • cacheton

            ‘How can love exist without any sense of justice?’

            It doesn’t.

            ‘Jesus passed through death into life leading the path that all who follow Him must take.’

            Yes, but the teaching here is not ‘you must all be physically crucified on crosses in order to follow Jesus’, is it? If it was there would presumably be no christians left!! The crucifixion symbolises ‘death’ of the human ego in order to render it transparent to our higher (god) nature, otherwise known as spiritual awakening and various other things. Jesus showed, by being physically crucified, that this ‘death’ is not what humans consider to be death, it leads to life.

            ‘If God cannot bring any good out of our old nature how can you expect to do better than God?’

            So your god is not omnipotent then?

          • cacheton

            ‘How can love exist without any sense of justice?’

            It doesn’t.

            ‘Jesus passed through death into life leading the path that all who follow Him must take.’

            Yes, but the teaching here is not ‘you must all be physically crucified on crosses in order to follow Jesus’, is it? If it was there would presumably be no christians left!! The crucifixion symbolises ‘death’ of the human ego in order to render it transparent to our higher (god) nature, otherwise known as spiritual awakening and various other things. Jesus showed, by being physically crucified, that this ‘death’ is not what humans consider to be death, it leads to life.

            ‘If God cannot bring any good out of our old nature how can you expect to do better than God?’

            So your god is not omnipotent then?

          • cacheton

            ‘How can love exist without any sense of justice?’

            It doesn’t.

            ‘Jesus passed through death into life leading the path that all who follow Him must take.’

            Yes, but the teaching here is not ‘you must all be physically crucified on crosses in order to follow Jesus’, is it? If it was there would presumably be no christians left!! The crucifixion symbolises ‘death’ of the human ego in order to render it transparent to our higher (god) nature, otherwise known as spiritual awakening and various other things. Jesus showed, by being physically crucified, that this ‘death’ is not what humans consider to be death, it leads to life.

            ‘If God cannot bring any good out of our old nature how can you expect to do better than God?’

            So your god is not omnipotent then?

          • The Christian is someone who has agreed with God’s verdict on him as a natural person. God has said there is no true good in us ( all is corrupted by sin). The Christian agrees (repentance) when he says as Paul does in Roms 7 ‘in me that is in my flesh dwells no good thing.

            All God can do with what is essentially corrupt and evil is destroy it (put it to death). Death is the inevitable end of all that is sinful and corrupt. At the cross, in Jesus, God carried out the sentence of death on our old humanity.

            The only way forward was a new humanity, a new beginning, a new creation, a new life. This new beginning is Jesus, the first of a new order. The nature/life of Jesus is gifted to the person who trusts in Christ. In Christian is a new creation. He lives and operates within this perspective.

            Psychologically this is most liberating and healthy. On the one hand, he does not hide from his moral failure. Indeed he sees it more clearly than others do. He sees it his failure is not just a few mistakes or inconsistencies. He sees moral and spiritual failure is much more profound within him; it is endemic. He is not only guilty but powerless to change at all but a cosmetic level. If he has any moral sensibilities at all he will loathe who he is, what he is. Depression and despair should be his daily food.

            Only the gospel provides a way forward. The gospel tells him that he can be finished with who he is. It tells him he can have a new beginning with a new nature/life/heart that is incapable of sinning and loves to be holy. Is this not liberating? Is this not glorious news to a man drowning in failure. It tells him this old person is not the final tragic story of who he is. He can hope. He can have a life/heart that is truly good and that is a new identity, one in which he can rejoice, one fit to live forever; he can be holy. Psychologically this is liberating.

            So what about when the Christian sins? Well he repents of it, confesses it and forsakes it. In the language we are discussing he sees this sin as belonging to the old nature which he has repudiated. Thus he repudiates it. He condemns it and hates it. BUT, he refuses to treat it as a function of his new and now true self. It belongs to the old. He need not despair. He need not accept the accusation that this is who he really is. He is the new person who loves God and yearns for and pursues holiness. He has failed but he can pick himself up, assert by faith his true identity, and move forward in hope and confidence. Psychologically this is wholesome and nourishing. It is just the kind of message we sinners need if we have to have any hope.

          • cacheton

            A very long, detailed and coherent reply. Thank you. Difficult to know where to start as so much came in to my head when I read it, but I suppose the beginning is the best place to start. Not sure how much I will get through at this sitting!

            ‘The Christian is someone who has agreed with God’s verdict on him as a natural person. God has said there is no true good in us ( all is corrupted by sin).’

            I find this very honest. But it depends on god having said this, and not some 2000 year ago human taking advantage of an opportunity to manipulate the masses. It also depends on a robust theology explaining how god is unconditionally loving and condemning at the same time – difficult. In today’s world we know that self-judgment, which is what agreeing with god’s supposed verdict effectively entails, is a barrier to psychological wellbeing, not an aid.
            So a christian agrees that he is inherently BAD and the only way out of this is to believe unfounded and self contradictory things. This tapping into the unconscious self-judgment which we all have to a greater or lesser degree is very powerful, and many will welcome (feel better) for having a conscious belief system they can graft on top of it which tells them there is a way out of it. I can see that this sort of christianity is better than nothing for many. But it is not the way to spiritual and emotional freedom, which entails deconstructing and integrating belief systems, not embracing them, and many westerners now know this which is why this sort of christianity is on the decline in the west.

            ‘Psychologically this is most liberating and healthy.’

            Yes it can seem like that, but for the reason which I have already explained, it does not lead to true freedom. It keeps you stuck in constant self judgment, which is not liberating and certainly not healthy.

            ‘He is not only guilty but powerless to change at all but a cosmetic level.’

            This is just wrong, as many people have experienced.

            ‘If he has any moral sensibilities at all he will loathe who he is, what he is. Depression and despair should be his daily food.’

            Yes, the effects of extreme self judgment. Not healthy.

            ‘Only the gospel provides a way forward.’

            No, it provides him with another conscious belief system he can take on and live by. As I have already said, taking on belief systems, especially consciously, is now widely considered in the West as going backwards, not forwards, for the reasons I have already given.

            ‘Psychologically this is liberating.’

            It may be better than ‘before’, but it is a false liberation, because the self judgment, underlying despair (how do I know if I have repented ENOUGH to make it into god’s kingdom, keep repenting repenting etc etc) issues remain unresolved, with no possibility for demystification. I may consciously ‘know’ I am ‘saved’ because I reckon I have done and continue to do and say all the right things (some of those on this blog) even though I cannot explain why I believe what I believe, but unconsiously I am pedalling away like mad. And I am in denial about the pedalling, and will never dip beneath the surface to discover why I am pedalling – why should I?

            ‘He condemns it (his sin) and hates it. BUT, he refuses to treat it as a function of his new and now true self. It belongs to the old. He need not despair. He need not accept the accusation that this is who he really is. He is the new person who loves God and yearns for and pursues holiness. He has failed but he can pick himself up, assert by faith his true identity, and move forward in hope and confidence. Psychologically this is wholesome and nourishing. It is just the kind of message we sinners need if we have to have any hope.’
            So, like George Bell, he can continue to sin knowingly and repeatedly, and not dip beneath the surface to discover the reason why he is sinning and integrate it. ‘By faith’ he can assert that this is not his true identity, and still have hope and confidence. This is not psychologically wholesome and nourishing, it is self-deception, denial and manipulation (using a conscious belief system) of oneself and (in this case) others aswell.

          • Anton

            OK, Romans 4-8. But I agree with Chiefofsinners that the old and new natures contend within us. The old is to be crucified, in an inward sense. The question is: Why does Paul mention law in that connection?

          • Hi Anton I agree with the conflict of natures but that is Gals 5 and in that conflict through the Spirit we can win the conflict. In Roms 7 there is no victory only perpetual defeat for the law (and it is the function and limitation of the law that is the focus of Roms 7) has no strength to promote holiness it can only expose and excite sin; it always leads to the realisation ‘the good I would I do not and the evil I would not that I do,. This is not warfare, this is defeat. It is death and death is all law can produce. Life is the product of the Spirit and this is Romans 8.

            Romans 7:1-6 is Pauls basic thesis; if we are married to law the result is death but if married to Christ then the Spirit gives life. The rest of Roms 7 is simply an exposition of how the law brings death and it is not until Roms 7 he develops how the Spirit brings life.

            We escape the inevitable condemnation and despair of law by recognising that in Christ we have died to the old covenant of law. By faith we are free from its accusations. We serve not in the old way of the law and flesh but in the new way of the Spirit.

            Not even the law can bring a charge against God’s elect. And not the law but dependence on the Spirit is the way to holiness. We live in the Spirit so let us walk by the Spirit.

          • Anton

            I agree! My deeper question is: How do we get our old selves to be made less within us, to die, so that the Christ-life becomes ever more predominant? Is Paul mentioning law as a possible aid to that process? In fact who are “we” – the old self or the new or both at once?

          • We don’t get it to die. We reckon/consider ourselves dead. It is firstly a matter of faith. Then we put its deeds/desires to death on a daily basis. And we do this by the Spirit.

            ‘For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.’

            Paul always views the I/we as the new man/self. We must not think of ourselves as the old but the new. This is how God sees us and faith lives with God’s perspective. Psychologically this is liberating. I am no longer the urchin on the street I am the prince living in the palace and I must think and act like a prince. When I see urchin characteristics I must put them away/to death for these do not belong to the new me, the Royal son.

            All this has nothing to do with law. Law is not my friend but my enemy. If I take it as my hope it kills me. It does not kill sin, it kills me. Thus the cry of wretchedness. It tells me that I am condemned and guilty and gives me no way out. Law always treats me as a natural man, a man in the flesh (see Roms7:1-6). But the gospel/faith says that man is no more. It has already been condemned at and in the cross. I don’t need to be condemned again and again. Rather, I realise that sinning like this belongs to the old me, to sin that dwells within, and not to the new me.

            This does not mean I take no responsibility for my sin, I still must confess and forsake it, but it does mean I refuse to be identified and categorised by it. I refuse to accept it as the real me. As I say psychologically this is liberating. It gives me a positive way forward. It frees me from the tyranny of sin. It gives me daily a fresh start, a launching pad for the war against the world, the flesh and the devil.

          • Anton

            Yes, indeed; we take off the T-shirt that says “sinner” and put on the T-shirt that says “holy one – even if I commit a sin”. That is our new identity. But does not law help us to reckon the old self dead?

          • Well no, I don’t believe so. It is faith that enables us to consider the old self dead. The law kills ME. It always treats me as in the flesh and as a result if I make it active in my life it always condemns and leaves me wretched. When we read Romans it is by faith I consider myself dead to sin (and law) and alive to God. We believe that God has achieved this in the gospel.

            I am not the urchin in the street who breaks the law and faces the consequences for doing so. I am the prince in the palace who is beyond law and outside of it (in this analogy at least). What controls me is an awareness of who I am, the character of my father who reigns and whose nature I have, and the sons desire to be like his father and please his father.

            To have died to sin/law/world/flesh means to no longer be in relationship with these authorities. They have no authority/rights over me. They cannot dictate to me.

      • The Explorer

        We are work in progress, not the finished product.

        • sarky

          So when Christians say only Christianity can change this country. .it’s not strictly true.

          • The Explorer

            I didn’t know Christians said that. As far as I can see, any number of things could change the country: leaving the EU, staying in the EU, a tsunami, a new form of the Black Death, continued mass immigration, Islam…

          • IanCad

            (among whom there may well be surprises)
            As when Stephen meets Paul.

          • sarky

            Even when it was ‘more’ influenced by Christianity, it wasn’t a nice place was it?

            It seems that when Christians get power they then use it to settle old scores.

            Also, with regard to your second paragraph, wouldn’t Christians do the same?

          • The Explorer

            Paragraph 1. Give a specific example, and I’ll comment.

            Paragraph 2. Yes. It seems to be a thing about humans. Denis Healey on obtaining power: “I’ll squeeze the rich until you can hear the pips squeak” Look at cabinet reshuffles for perceived disloyalty, the French Terror, the Soviet Show Trials, the Nazi Night of the Long Knives. Christians should be exempt from such sentiments and actions, but the old nature can kick in.

            Paragraph 3. Liberal Christianity wouldn’t. Real Christianity would, but Islam is a more likely to gain future power than real Christianity is.

          • preacher

            Hi Sarky. Becoming a Christian is a matter of individual choice & freewill. So it saves the individual which can influence the society around us, then if enough choose to embrace it, our society will benefit. But it will always be a personal choice.

      • dannybhoy

        It’s the freewill thing Sarks. A person may become convinced of their sinfulness/hypocrisy/failure, and receive God’s forgiveness and new life through the Holy Spirit.
        Then the battle begins..
        As a young Christian I suddenly became aware that my habitual (and cruel) sarcasm was at odds with my new sense of God actually in my life, and I started realising how much it hurt those I directed it at, and began saying “Sorry”.
        Now that was I believe the Spirit of God starting His work of renewal in my heart, or if you prefer consciousness.
        But there were other things that took much longer to change. There are things that I sometimes overcome and sometimes relapse into. But the point is that in the flesh, the natural man, the old ‘me’, I will always fail at some point or points.
        Salvation is not so much about moral perfection as it is about a relationship with the living God, and starting each day with Him as the centre of your life.
        We walk with God in the same way that Abraham and Joseph and King David did.
        Aware of our faults, able to access God’s forgiveness and be changed to be more like Jesus.
        Alleluia!

      • len

        So why do Christians still do bad things?
        Good question.
        A person consists of spirit, soul, and body that’s all of us.

        A Christian is saved, being saved, and will be saved.
        When a Christian is born again born from the Spirit of God their Spirit is recreated perfect as it will be for all eternity.
        Their soul (mind will and emotions) is ‘being saved’ being perfected by being led and guided through the indwelling Spirit.This is an ongoing process.
        The body once dead ‘ will’ be raised again in newness of life. All that are by faith united to Christ, are by his resurrection assured of their own.

  • Mike Stallard

    Glory be the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and every shall be. That takes care of the timing.
    The Lord is King. That takes care of the Kingdom.
    Sorted.

    • IanCad

      Short and sweet Mike.
      That great doxology celebrated by both Catholics and all – I think – Protestant denominations.

  • cacheton

    ‘How can it be both within you and yet still to come? ‘

    Because the christian religion does not give it’s adherents the tools with which to look for it within themselves, so those adherents are therefore not aware of it yet. And because said religion teaches that truth is objective, therefore those adherents are constantly looking outside of themselves for it.

    • len

      Biblical Christianity gives everything that the believer needs for salvation and to live a life following in the footsteps of Christ….How could God ask us to follow Christ if He did not give us the ‘tools’ to do so?.

      ‘His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life
      through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and
      goodness.’ (2 Peter 2.3)

      ‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will
      he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?(Roman 8:82)’

      • cacheton

        So you think that christianity gives the tools merely because it SAYS it does? What do your powers of observation tell you? I am talking about practical tools here, not ‘believe’, which I do not consider to be a tool.

        • len

          My powers of observation tell me that God does exactly what He says He does.

          Refer to Bible prophecy for your proof. ‘Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets’.(Amos 3:7)

    • carl jacobs

      I thought you said you weren’t your own authority.

  • The Explorer

    “For every Christian that you claim has been perfected by the Spirit.” That’s exactly my point: I make no such claim. It’s an ongoing process, incomplete at death. I was, after all, responding to the question of why Christians still do bad things, and agreeing with its premise.

    With your longitudinal study you sound just like Dawkins: praying for one half of a hospital ward and not for the other half to test the efficacy of prayer as if God were some sort of genie.. Three examples of transformed life: St Alban, Nicky Cruz of ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’, and God’s Smuggler Brother Andrew. For myself, I know the point I started from, and you don’t.

    You find people on this blog quarrelsome. I don’t. Argumentative, yes. This is a blog for the exchange of ideas: of course people will be argumentative. Given the different traditions of contributors, for the most part I find a remarkable tolerance of other viewpoints: remarkable if one considers the mutual vituperation on secular blogs I have visited, and that seems to be the more–normal language of the Internet.

  • Lienus

    Tu et moi, Findie, we are the best advertisement for atheistianity.
    See how we show love and care by deigning to insult these ignorant worthless peasant people. Atheistianity does what it says on the cretin!
    P.S. I love it when you talk about bald men plugging. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=plugging

    • It seems your (cough) ‘friend’, is an atheistian fundie who likes to think about bald men and spotty teenagers. This is not healthy.

      Findie the Fungi Fundie.

      • Ivan M

        Pray for him. He does seem to have serious issues with his life.

  • Martin

    Um

    “Luke 17:21 – ‘..the kingdom of God is within you‘ “

    nor will they say, Look, here it is! or There! for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. (Luke 17:21 [ESV])

    Seems slightly different to me.

    • The Explorer

      Agreed, “within you” is a misleading translation, or has become misleading with language change over time.. It is addressed to the Pharisees: hardly illustrative of the Kingdom. “Among you”, or “in the midst of you” (ie, it has arrived) is a much better rendering.

      • dannybhoy

        Isn’t it that through salvation we as individuals are brought into the kingdom of God, and that as citizens of that kingdom we represent that kingdom in the world?

        • The Explorer

          That’s a good way of putting it. In that sense the kingdom is very like the Church: the believers who together constitute the body of Christ in the world.

          As I understand it, The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven are different names for the same thing. Christ’s point to the Pharisees was that he did not bring the political kingdom they were expecting.

          • dannybhoy

            ” Christ’s point to the Pharisees was that he did not bring the political kingdom they were expecting.”
            I don’t know what Hannah, Shmuel and others would say to that, but my own thinking is that just like with us, there were different factions in the religious community.
            Lets start by saying that there was a faction which would want to stay ‘tight’ with whoever was the current occupying power.
            However they would explain themselves, they thought the best way to ensure the survival of the Jewish people was to cooperate just as much as was necessary to keep things calm, and wait it out.
            Then there were the Zealots: a much smaller group who wanted to take direct action to throw out the occupying force. Much admired by those who were afraid to join them..
            Then there were the Jews who were looking for the Meshiach; the One who by divine, God given power would deliver the Jews from the occupying force and as King establish world peace with Israel the first nation..

            If you think about it in these admittedly crude terms, it might help to realise how complicated the whole situation was. Why for example Judas may have lost faith in Jesus when he realised that Jesus intended to die as the ultimate ‘Corban’, passover sacrificial lamb.

          • preacher

            Tricky isn’t it danny ? I think you are right, but it needs to go further. I tried to unravel it a day or so ago, but felt there was more to say, but not the time or space to do so on this blog.

          • dannybhoy

            Indeed preacher. One tries to cover all the bases whilst being aware that by the time you have developed your thoughts, events on the blog will have moved on anyway!
            One of the values of Archbishop Cranmer is that we are challenged to think more carefully about what we do believe and what we may have unthinkingly imbibed with our mother’s milk.
            I don’t know about you but I like the fact that we discuss so many aspects of faith, life and society in a friendly manner without resorting to verbal fisticuffs..

          • dannybhoy

            Indeed preacher. One tries to cover all the bases whilst being aware that by the time you have developed your thoughts, events on the blog will have moved on anyway!
            One of the values of Archbishop Cranmer is that we are challenged to think more carefully about what we do believe and what we may have unthinkingly imbibed with our mother’s milk.
            I don’t know about you but I like the fact that we discuss so many aspects of faith, life and society in a friendly manner without resorting to verbal fisticuffs..

          • dannybhoy

            Indeed preacher. One tries to cover all the bases whilst being aware that by the time you have developed your thoughts, events on the blog will have moved on anyway!
            One of the values of Archbishop Cranmer is that we are challenged to think more carefully about what we do believe and what we may have unthinkingly imbibed with our mother’s milk.
            I don’t know about you but I like the fact that we discuss so many aspects of faith, life and society in a friendly manner without resorting to verbal fisticuffs..

      • cacheton

        I see. Great example of interpretation changing what the bible actually says, because it doesn’t fit with what you would like it to say. Truth has really GOT to be OUTSIDE it has REALLY just GOT to be

        • The Explorer

          Interpretation is not the issue here: the issues are accuracy of translation, and semantic change.

          • cacheton

            How very convenient. So people spend hours and years and millennia cogitating about those. What a waste of time. I disagree – interpretation most definitely IS the issue, as it always is.

          • The Explorer

            Where doctrine is involved, scholars, theologians etc don’t rely on translation. They go back to the original langauge

      • Uncle Brian

        Explorer, I think there is a legitimate difficulty here. The Greek word here is entos, which in some translations appears as “within” and in others as “among” or “in the midst of”:

        http://biblehub.com/interlinear/luke/17-21.htm

        In the whole of the NT the word occurs in only one other verse, where it can only mean “within” or “inside” and is explicitly contrasted with ektos, “outside”:

        http://biblehub.com/interlinear/matthew/23-26.htm

    • Sybaseguru

      The same word (entos) is used to describe the inside of a teacup (Mat 23:26), so “within” is a much more accurate translation than “among” or “in the midst of” which could imply being a somewhat nebulous cloud effect.

  • So what are you selling Linus? It’s certainly not love and peace. You are a poor soul. Isn’t it about time you came up with some new material?

    • Findaráto

      But what new material can there be when talking about the cynical demagoguery of those who peddle the emperor’s new clothes?

      The story is simple, and it’s the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Manipulative crooks like you claim to see something that doesn’t exist in order to influence the naive and gullible into following you and hanging off your every word.

      That’s the rip-off you’re trying to hawk. There are no innovative ways to point this out because everything that can be said about your scam has already been said.

      Think of me as one of those consumer shows on TV that warn new generations about age-old rip-offs. Don’t buy the product that Happy Jack is peddling because you get literally nothing for your money except an unpleasant old man telling you how to think and feel and behave.

      • But it’s all sooo repetitive and boring, Linus. You keep saying the same things over and over and over. Surely you’re getting bored by now? We all are.

      • Ivan M

        You’d be better off sorting out your own life. After your scatological dream sequence. below I doubt if anyone will ever take you seriously. You don’t believe in God, think He is a figment of the fearful imagination of the Christians yet you are obsessed with Him in such an unhappy and unhealthy way.

  • sarky

    I know that divorce rates among Christians in the US is higher than that for atheists.

    • The Explorer

      Don’t forget that a lot of atheists don’t get married in the first place.

      • sarky

        When comparing divorce rates you have to be married in the first place?

        • The Explorer

          If they got married, they’d get divorced; but since they don’t get married they don’t feature in the statistics. Add co-habiting couples who split up to the data, and things level out.

    • Findaráto

      So where’s the perfecting influence of the Holy Spirit working to make Christian marriages more durable than those of non-believers? Even if perfection is never attained, you’d expect the journey towards it to cause divorce rates to drop well below those experienced by non-Christians.

      • The Explorer

        It’s a good point. I’d have to check out the data again, but I think of those who stay married, the bulk are Christians.

        Cultural Christians (who mock the ‘born again’) divorce at about the same rate as conventionally-minded secularists. No-fault divorce has enormously expedited the process.

        Serious cultural revolutionaries don’t get married in the first place.

        • Ivan M

          Explorer you have got to the nub of the matter. The US is the most religious of the advanced countries. We then have a very large population to select from. Christians come from all sectors of society. This includes those who marry when very young, are unemployed and generally the losers. Self described atheists who marry are a select bunch. In the first place the atheists don’t see the need for marriage. Those who then choose to marry are a small proportion of the self described atheistic set. It is the usual case with these type of motivated studies. They compare the “best” representatives of one set, against the norm of the other set.

      • sarky

        Exactly my point.

  • The Explorer

    Good point. So was Christ saying that the Pharisees had the spirit of the Kingdom within them?

    • Uncle Brian

      There you take me into deep waters. I suppose perhaps he was, conceivably implying something like, “It’s been there all along. You’ve never seen it there because you’re not looking properly. Open your eyes!” But the main thrust of the saying, I think, is that Jesus is making a point about present and future time, and the exact shade of meaning of entos is probably a secondary question .

  • dannybhoy

    “If you were a work in progress, one would expect to see improvement over time.”

    Personally I already started above with Sarky, but I shall continue just for you..
    The very first thing that resulted from my surrender to God’s grace was…. sleep. I couldn’t sleep for reasons I won’t go into.
    Second I stopped smoking because when I asked Him, God completely took away the desire to smoke.
    Third thing was a sudden awareness from the Holy Spirit of the way my interaction to siblings actually hurt them. I began to apologise and ask God to change me.
    Fourth was the way He began to draw me out of my inner unhappiness and shyness towards other people.
    He did this by leading me to travel and live abroad, He led me to an evangelical Christian organisation living in communities and sending them out onto the mission fields. Through community living I became more aware of the things that were holding me back and acting as blockages in my Christian life.
    Now I couldn’t give you exact dates and times for these changes and adventures, but I can testify that they actually happened.

    • Findaráto

      I’ve spoken to Muslims who say that belief in Allah helped them to turn their lives around.

      Allah led them to travel, Allah drew them out of theirselves, etc., etc.

      Apparently a non-existent deity can do just as much for his believers as your one true God can. I find that extremely surprising. Logically those who believe in the wrong god should be consistently disappointed when their prayers aren’t answered and their lives aren’t turned around. The fact that they’re convinced their god is doing just as much for them as you claim your god is doing for you can only have one of three explanations:

      1) their god is false and they’re fooling themselves (which of course could also be said of you)

      2) their god is real and you’re the one who’s fooling himself

      3) neither god is real and the good things attributed to them by their respective believers are the result of their own actions. God and Allah are just convenient labels for the believer’s own subconscious will and his desire for omnipotence.

      Given that both Christians and Muslims make the same claims about how their respective gods help them, the third option seems the most likely to me. If God were real, Christians would be noticeably and measurably more blessed than Muslims. And if Allah were real, the reverse would be true. The fact that there’s no difference between the two groups of believers in terms of the claims they make means there’s no evidence for the existence of either god. Which means the blessings must be coming from somewhere else.

      Believing in a god may be a psychological trick that brings certain benefits to certain kinds of benefits to certain kinds of unenquiring minds, but the belief itself is proof of nothing except the belief.

      • dannybhoy

        Yes I have reflected on your points myself, and I would say that God is real and He will answer the fervent prayer of a sincere heart.
        There are instances of this in the Scriptures, and it makes sense as God wants a relationship with all mankind. That doesn’t negate (imo) that Christ Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God’s love, and is the only way to salvation; but many Christians believe that God judges men according to their hearts and the light (or understanding) they have of Him.
        I also think that what this shows is that there is more to life than simple materialism. There is a spiritual dimension as well which is equally real.
        https://www.opendoorsusa.org/takeaction/pray/tag-prayer-updates-post/after-dreams-of-jesus-imam-renounces-islam/

        http://www.gospelherald.com/articles/62826/20160310/muslims-embracing-jesus-christ-after-hearing-gospel-witnessing-visions-of-man-in-white-this-harvest-has-not-been-seen-in-history.htm

        http://www.bibleprobe.com/islamapostates.htm

        • Findaráto

          Maybe Allah is real and it is he who will answer the fervent prayer of a sincere heart.

          I don’t know much about the Qur’an, but I’m guessing that those who do could probably show me instances of this in Muslim scripture, which would make sense because Allah probably wants a relationship with all mankind too.

          As for revelations, well I wasn’t there when Jesus (or is it Isa?) was walking the earth, so I don’t know what if anything was revealed, or not. All I know is what some non-divine and fallible people wrote down a couple of generations later. I know what they want me to know, not what actually happened.

          Which of course begs the question, if your God (or Allah) has to rely on second, third or two-hundredth hand witness to get his message across, how omnipotent can he be? Couldn’t he whip up a few miracles for every generation to witness so that we wouldn’t need to rely on dodgy stories written two thousand years ago in language so stilted that no translation has ever managed to make them readable? Would it really be that much trouble? I mean, if he loves us so much, why does he make so little effort to persuade us that he actually exists? It can’t be anything to do with free will because his presence didn’t stop Adam and Eve from falling, so why would it interfere with our choices?

          No, it just doesn’t seem likely. No loving father I’ve ever heard of hides himself away from his children completely leaving as their only guide an instruction manual written not by him or anyone who ever met him, but at best by friends of friends of his friends. It’s like he doesn’t even care enough about us to take the trouble of writing the instructions himself! And then he condemns us to eternal torture for failing to be convinced by this doubtful collection of rumour and hearsay? That’s no loving God you worship. If he really exists, his actions speak of a cruel, demanding and unreasonable tyrant who clearly only knows what it is to love himself. Even this so-called selfless act of giving his only son in sacrifice is hooey. Basically all he did was take a few days out of eternity to play-act his way through a sacrifice and a resurrection, knowing full well that his existence was never in jeopardy. And we’re supposed to fall to our knees and worship him for it?

          Only a brainwashed conservative could fall for it. Like they fall for any kind of ritualized nonsense that promotes the idea of a place for everyone and everyone in his place.

          • dannybhoy

            “….which would make sense because Allah probably wants a relationship with all mankind too.”

            “As Muslims, we often hasten to answer this question by quoting the verse of the Qur’an where Allah tells us: “I only created human beings and jinn to worship me.” [Sûrah al-Dhâriyât: 56] ”

            “The most complete system of worship available to human beings today is the system found in the religion of Islam. The very name ‘Islam’ means ‘submission to the will of God.’ Although it is commonly referred to as ‘the third of the three monotheistic faiths,’ it is not a new religion at all. It is the religion brought by all of the prophets of God for mankind. Islam was the religion of Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. God addresses this issue in the Quran with regard to Prophet Abraham, saying:

            “Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was an upright Muslim who did not worship others besides God.” (Quran 3:67)”

            All I know is what some non-divine and fallible people wrote down a couple of generations later. I know what they want me to know, not what actually happened.
            That’s a valid point my friend, but in accepting it we would have to apply it to the prophet Mohammed also.
            And Buddha, and every other historical religion.

            Our Lord Jesus said,
            15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

            “Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)

            Only a brainwashed conservative could fall for it. Like they fall for any kind of ritualized nonsense that promotes the idea of a place for everyone and everyone in his place.
            This para is not up to your usual standard so I shall ignore it.

          • Findaráto

            “I only created human beings and jinn to worship me”

            Sounds like Allah and Jehovah have something in common then. God is a worship junkie too, considering that we’re all commanded to bow down to him and never question his divine judgment. It’s one of the least attractive aspects of religion. Why on earth would an omniscient being want to be worshipped anyway? What sort of ego trip are these gods on?

            “That’s a valid point…”

            Ah, so now you understand why I believe all religions are codswallop. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism … they’re all the same. Fictional accounts of what humans want to be true but have absolutely no supporting evidence for.

            “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

            My point exactly. All these Christians claiming that God has saved them look no different from anyone else. And when a non-Christian does something that would qualify as a fruit of the Spirit if a Christian did it, the rationalizations are almost too comical for words. They’re a bad tree because they don’t believe in God, but the inconvenient appearance of good fruit has to be explained away somehow … but how? By attributing it to God’s intervention, of course. Thus their good works count for nothing and they’ll still go to hell, but in the meantime God gets the credit for anything good they do. Only their bad behaviour is their own responsibility.

            What a joke!

  • len

    We surrender out natures to God and He transforms them.This is the massages of the Cross.We cannot transform ourselves (if we could then then Jesus the Cross the Gospel would be irrelevant)…

  • len

    We surrender out natures to God and He transforms them.This is the massages of the Cross.We cannot transform ourselves (if we could then then Jesus the Cross the Gospel would be irrelevant)…

  • len

    We surrender out natures to God and He transforms them.This is the massages of the Cross.We cannot transform ourselves (if we could then then Jesus the Cross the Gospel would be irrelevant)…

    • cacheton

      Yes we can transform ourselves. That does not render Jesus, the cross and the gospel irrelevant.
      And there is plenty of evidence that this surrendering our natures to god does not lead to transformation – see OP on this blog about George Bell for starters.
      I think we are going to have to agree to disagree.

      • len

        I think we probably will because if we could transform ourselves mankind would have done so by now?.

        • cacheton

          How defeatist! And how do you know that?

          It starts with individuals anyway, and as you are the only individual which has the power to transform yourself, it starts with you!

  • Anton

    Perhaps it is a consequence of giving people (and angels) freedom to choose to disobey God. But Aristotle would say that deciding not to means evil is already latent in their minds. What do you think?

    • cacheton

      By ‘deciding not to’ I assume you mean ‘deciding not to disobey god’.
      In which case I agree with you, and Aristotle, because that makes evil not objective, but subjective, a choice (sometimes unconscious). This ‘evil latent in their minds’ is a consequence of this physical dimension where we are incarnated, where polarity is a ‘fact’. Jesus was aware of evil, he just never chose it. Being aware of evil means you are conscious of possibilities, it does not make you, or a part of you, ‘objectively evil’!