The ‘arc’ of the books

I am revamping the whole section on the books so that they will actually be more streamlined and ready for a ‘course’. Bit of a laugh really. So I spent a whole day writing articles that would go with each chapter. Articles to explain what I have written. Then when the groups could meet they would discuss what I had written about what I had written – ever so creative? I showed my work proudly to Gayle… And I also heard the voice of a certain brother from Leeds: ‘too much!!!!’ So I started again. A good day’s work thought, but I have found I often need to think again.

Anyway the groups will consist of a few questions to think about, maybe a podcast or a video (neither longer than 10 minutes), with any extra articles fairly short and as optional extras. No one will need to read what I have written about what I have written!! I will leave a few articles covering material beyond the books but they will be optional.

There is one article that is somewhat longer and I am publishing it here also. It is on the trajectory of the books… and of course now you will really want to buy them? BTW: if you wish to join a zoom group I hope to run a couple on book 1 Humanising the Divine in May through June.


The ‘arc’ is important to understand to grasp my intentions. I have not written for someone who comes from a fixed evangelical position. To try and engage with such a person would probably result in that person throwing stones from their corner, and I would probably try and throw stones back. They are probably smarter than me so their stones would be bigger, their aim more accurate… but when all is done and dusted the whole exercise would be fruitless, not to mention my bruises and their win! Ouch on both counts.

My overarching arc and theirs would be so different there would be no / little point of contact. I do write from that background, but probably have moved further than I realise, for often change is gradual and can almost go unnoticed.

The first book I consider is the foundation and for that reason the Zoom groups take it chapter by chapter. The first chapter is putting humanity at the centre of the discussion, suggesting:

  • that God has a wonderful focus on humanity; the Incarnation being essential so that the ‘unknown’ God might be known as revealed in the face of Jesus.
  • That Jesus, fully God and fully human was also truly human. In being fully human there is a growing process that he experienced, a growing (and learning process) through to maturity.
  • To fall short of being truly human is at the heart of sin, the aim of the demonic being to dehumanise, thus every aspect that is valuable (and God-like) is to humanise.

There are then three chapters that relate together. They focus on three individuals, Judas, Peter and Cornelius. They might bring some fresh insights about the characters but the purpose of the chapters is to sit in the arc. Judas betrays Jesus, but we all have betrayed Jesus. He betrays Jesus as he seeks to direct the outcome of his mission. The ‘I know better’ is his downfall. The narrative I give is one that I consider fits both the texts we have and also the historical setting. Peter is not too dissimilar. The betrayer or the deniar, the parallels are clear. Peter is a paradigm of those that God ‘builds’ on! Flaky and weak, yet chosen. He also gives us clear insight to the personal and corporate journey – one of facing previous understandings (clarities) and discovering through the puzzles that our convictions are not always rooted in a deep knowing of God. For there to be advances there has to be a ‘conversion’ of those who already have convictions and understandings. The Cornelius passage does not answer all the questions but the confession that someone who was formerly unclean (Gentile) can no longer be called unclean, and that there was an acceptance by God for such a person before they made a response to Jesus. Those chapters seek to track with the arc of heaven’s universal mission toward growing a new society, namely ‘a new heaven and a new earth’, not separated but integrated.

The Judas chapter is about Judas being the sharp end (of betrayal), thus he respresents us all. Our vision corporate is what often betrays Jesus… The cultural barriers that were in place, and the spiritual powers that shaped the distorted views of God, were incredible, hence the money / weakness is at one level not an issue, but the false (and passionate) vision of the kingdom is what betrays Jesus. Betrayal is necessary to lead to the cross, as betrayal of the generous vision of God took place first in the garden. Betrayal in the face of life-poured-out love. Betrayal leads to death in both situations, the gardens of Eden and Gethsemane. There is a move away from Life as the shaping framework, to one where being in control with the knowledge of good and evil was the betrayal, taking control of God’s vision. (This becomes even further perverted with Babel / Babylon where it is no longer God’s vision that is perverted but a godless vision – a tower that reaches heaven… however I think the critique of all visions that take control are that they are a form of Babylon?) The consequence of taking control is death… However the path out of Eden eastward is the walk God embarked on with them… eventually leads to Incarnation where the walk with humanity is physical and deeply intimate. This journey that God embarks on was hidden from their eyes – shame does this. The married couple on the road to Emmaus (Cleopas and Mary – Adam and Eve so to speak) finally saw this. Their eyes were opened not to realise shame but glory when they saw that he was walking with them: they saw what was always true. Until that point they had thought that Jesus had betrayed the vision of God. The cross is the end to wrong visions of the kingdom… Reminiscent of the question ‘Where is God now’ that was thrown at Eli Weisel as the young boy was hanged in the concentration camp. Where is God revealed?… There he is, hanging on the tree… was Weisel’s response. On the tree – the cross. Hence take up your cross and follow me.

In the next chapter we move beyond the time of the historical life of Jesus, to the intersection with Cornelius that is also beyond Pentecost and acts as the door opener in the Spirit to Paul. (Beyond Pentecost but as a result of Pentecost.) It also is a paradigm of every move beyond boundaries, hence it sits at this point in the book. This is the Gospel touching the Gentiles (the word is ta ethne: it is the word we get ethnicity from and in mission usage is often taken to mean ethnic groups… but it is the generic term for those who are not of the covenant, i.e. non-Jews. Hence I suggest a paradigm for every boundary crossing.)

Following on from the interaction with Cornelius is the chapter on witness, that contrasts the narrow view of evangelism that can be perverted into treating people as objects to be saved, thus not being good news but aligning with the work of dehumanisation.

The next chapter is a preliminary look at the cross, seeking to make the point that the ‘when’ of the cross is important to discover ‘what’ the cross accomplished. I therefore describe the cross as a roadblock that is placed on the path of destruction that humanity has chosen; and that it is first for the Jew then for the Gentile. (The cross is looked at in more detail in the fourth book.)

The first book then ends with a joining chapter to the next books. A reminder that the tree Jesus died on was the problem tree in the garden of Eden: the tree of knowledge of good and evil; and that from his side came forth a suitable partner for the work within creation. Those chapters I consider are very foundational and open up the following books. In summary those books follow this trajectory:

Book 2 (‘Significant Other’) presents the ‘church’ as ekklesia, essentially a political term. Thus suggesting that a ‘movement’ paradigm is at the heart of the understanding of what ‘church’ was always meant to be.


The approach to Scripture (seeking to read it narratively as related to the historical context) opens up necessary possibilities to be considered. Rather than simply taking texts and approaching them as timeless truths it becomes the task of understanding them in context. Hence Jesus is addressing Jews (as is the majority of the Bible). The broad road / narrow road is related to the Roman Imperial conquest – few will find the way that is to safety / salvation, but many are and will remain on the road to destruction; I suggest his references to hell (Gehenna) by Jesus are references to AD70; ‘born again’ is addressed to a religious Jew (whose journey in the gospels is to new birth, but ever so slow!). Likewise ‘no name under heaven by which we are to be saved’ is addressed to Jews… Abraham is not the name by which they will be saved… and they have a generation in which to align with Jesus, otherwise not one stone upon another will be their experience. The historical journey is from Jew to Gentile; the theological journey likewise: first the Jew and then the Gentiles. First the Jews sinned; also the Gentiles – thus all have sinned and ‘fallen short’. Likewise salvation is historically and theologically to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles. I therefore don’t think we can simply jump from verses that we collect together and then prove our point. For even the cross of Jesus, which is totally universal in scope, is for Jews and males… They have to die – they are the ‘sharp’ end of sin. In the same way that we all betray Jesus, but Judas is the sharp end. Likewise all have sinned, but there is a ‘sharp’ end. Hence I also want in the light of new creation to purge the Bible of its patriarchy, suggesting the Bible demands we do that!

I see the whole context is from creation, creation gone wrong that needs to be fixed / healed, to the new society where there are no divides. Death is a divide, a separation; death leads to divides. Jesus death ends the divides, ends the knowledge path that religion had polished, exposing that path as empty with ‘they know not what they do’. Religion is the top layer of the knowledge of good and evil so is the first element to be touched at the cross. From there is opened up one new humanity of no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male and female. Questions of who is saved takes a back seat, not everything of the kingdom is in the church. And not all our churchiness is in the kingdom. The work of the ekklesia is in the kingdom and for the kingdom’s increase but we do not have to (and cannot) affirm that is true of what we have produced as ‘church’.


The trajectory moves us toward a greater and challenging understanding of the universal mission of God. A mission / vision for the new heaven and earth.

Church, in that sense (ekklesia), is important but not the form / shape / structure of it. And I am more than open to the strong possibility that Paul only had vision of the first step. Even the first step might be very different today, and the second, third etc. might be beyond the biblical record… not beyond the biblical story, but beyond the biblical text.

Book 3 (A Subversive Movement) seeks to explore how all of this ekklesia as movement embeds in society. It has to be subversive, from the bottom up, rather than a vision to impose values on society. Any truly apostolic vision will therefore have to have patience, transformation will not take place overnight. It also has to engage the ‘little people’ for the work of God is done through that ‘that is not’, marked by ‘not many wise, rich, powerful’ having been chosen.

The final book in the series Life Line is a push into Pauline theology, with a final re-visit to the cross where alongside the ‘road-block’ suggestion from book 1 I put at centre is the need for ‘cleansing’. I push away from any split in the Trinity (angry God, loving Son) which leaves us with a conflict within God, and a conflict between the Persons of the Godhead, even if we were to stretch it to a creative conflict, it nevertheless remains a conflict!


Being an exploration in theology there are directions that could be pursued (indeed that seems to me to be the nature of the Bible with its many wonderful internal dialogues). Issues related to sexuality and gender are certainly implied as new creation does not consist of ‘male and female’, exhibited I would suggest in the resurrection (or if not resurrection, the acension) of Jesus who rises as a human, this resurrection I would consider being neither ‘male nor female’.

The four books lay a foundation for such discussions and perhaps other volumes could have been added that address issues of eschatology, though the intention of the four volumes is to suggest a direction that would be appropriate on these subjects.

(I intend to write on eschatology but to publish them solely in eBook format.)

Let your kingdom come

Well known, and very focusing, words from the prayer we were taught. Who has not repeated it over and over again? So what are we asking for?

We can probably answer it two different ways (very broad and simplistic little division coming up).

We can easily say – righteous laws passed, abortion removed, the presence of ‘false’ religions reduced / removed… etc. Yes, been there and done that.

Or if we consider what makes up the culture of heaven… it is the place that exists in light and is full of uncontrolling love, to such an extent that it is love for the enemy.

So I am leaning toward the heart of the prayer is to call for a community on earth that loves the enemy. ‘Let your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. It will indeed see a reduction in some of the classic things we want to see reduced in society… but if there is a resistance to a community that is marked by the uncontrolling love manifesting we have prayed something with our lips but resisted it with our being. (Reference the post from a few days back on Roman Religion.)

The cross brought to an end certain ways of being… we cannot quote some easy Scriptures concerning how the times vary, and there is a time for war (not getting into non-violent resistance within society… I appreciate the difficulty governments have). I am considering the tendency that seems to be rising (or simply manifesting more clearly) that defends use of physical force to bring in the kingdom of God. But we pray… let your kingdom come. A kingdom of uncontrolling love… now is that manifesting… or is it Roman (imperial) religion that wants to rise?

Four years before the angels came with the proclamation:

Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests (Luke 2:14).

there was almost certainly a similar proclamation in Rome. The altar to Peace (pax) was dedicated in 9BC. It was built on the field (in the video interview with Stephen I said ‘hill’, I was confusing it with Mars Hill in Athens) that was known as Mars field (campus Martius), the field that was dedicated to the god of war. The altar was to honour the peace that Augustus Caesar had brought after 100 years of war. If this was not the declaration that was literally made it was certainly ‘made’:

Glory to the gods and to the great goddess Roma,
and on earth pax (Romana) to those who are now favoured by Rome’s benevolent rule.

All enemies gone. They are in submission… or eliminated.

Roman religion… or your kingdom come?

Roman religion

Christendom is that religion

No, not a post on the ‘what did the Romans ever do for us…’ but I have just come off another interview with Stephen Hill (I will put a video up here when it is available). He has a way of asking questions that provoke thought and today was no exception. First though a dream.

A few weeks ago I had a dream (short version here) where I went to a city that I knew well. I walked past a big church building that had been built when church-going was at its highest. I almost walked past it as I did not recognise it, the whole place – outside and inside – had been changed beyond recognition. I went down the hill to where I knew there was a cathedral. I went inside it and the inside (formerly impressive but not personal) was transformed. Carpeted, arm chairs, sofas. It felt as homely as any home could be. I am looking at this when someone comes past me that I recognise. This person was from a ‘new church’ background and was working inside the cathedral, absolutely buzzing with the responses of the people. I was very positive in my response, but said, ‘This is not for me I am off to get involved in what I have to do.’ I knew somehow that the transformation was not simply surface but deeply interior, and that it was connected to a decision taken some 30 years before that ‘christendom is over’, and to live in the light of it. (More to it – short version.)

Back now to Rome. ‘Peace on earth and goodwill to all’ – a message from angels or from Rome? Pax Romana, peace on earth, and in the light of it goodwill to all… just imagine and experience the quality of life as a result of this peace. Let us be grateful and offer up our sacrifice to the god of peace. So we make our way past / through the field dedicated to Mars and on to the temple. (Mars – the god of war.) Of course there is peace, there are no enemies, all comply willingly, unwillingly, or are removed – and that included a certain young Jew from Galilee.

Christendom is the result of the ways of Rome. Christianity became the state religion, so it is no surprise that Christendom is peace through war. Our Temple is built on the mountain of war. (The so-called ‘religious’ mountain is exactly that, and the idea that Christianity / the church is to be the top of the mountain speaks volumes… Christendom is long-since over but the war to see it re-established is far from over, though in its last crazy stage, comparable to the many prophets inside Jerusalem in the closing days of the end of Jerusalem – 70AD. God will act as he always has, he is the God of the ‘red sea’; yes another exodus, but this one is a Jesus’ exodus.)

Peace on earth… what happened to the enemies? We saw them differently, we saw them no longer according to the flesh. The contrast of the two ‘gospels’ is absolute.

Only an embrace of the end of christendom can bring about a change to the interior. Embrace, not reluctant acceptance. And an embrace of ‘new creation’, for that is all that counts says Paul.

[A sidenote – the speech on Mars Hill, Athens, by Paul is very instructive. War centralises and controls and unifies through elimination. There on Mars Hill Paul speaks of distribution, freedom and expansion.]

Podcasts

I am adding a few podcasts that are intended to sit alongside the ‘Explorations’ series of books. I will post them at:

https://3generations.eu/explorations-podcasts

I currently have four there and the first two are a kind of introduction to the books with a focus on volume 1.

I won’t post them all here but here is the first one – they are only 10 minutes long so not too arduous.

In this podcast (and the subsequent one) I give a few aspects with regard to the overall flow of the books, focusing on Humanising the Divine. Why start with the focus on humanity? One of the reasons being that no theology appears water-tight!! The bigger aspect though is that Jesus, as human is key to our knowledge of who God is, and that God has a high view of humanity.

I had a call recently to a very honest guy who is involved with a Bible College, had to laugh. He is the opposite of me on virtually every point. (I never was a fan of the acronym TULIP – indeed that took some effort to type those letters!) However, no theology is water-tight. Even mine probably leaks… just a little.

Conspiracies

I receive every week the ‘Weekly Word’ from Jeff Fountain (YWAM and The Schumann centre for European Studies). They are always informative and today he tackles head on ‘What is it that makes ‘evangelicals’ so susceptible to conspiracy theories?‘.

https://weeklyword.eu/en/evangelicals-and-conspiracy/

He has felt compelled to write as the silence of ignoring it he now considers is to be complicit. Are there decisions taken behind closed doors that if we found out about them would cause deep concern? Without doubt. Yet when we propagate conspiracy theories that cannot be substantiated are we really promoting the hope that entered the world when the proclamation that Jesus’ body is not in the tomb but that he is risen? Or are we feeding distrust (leads to suspicion, hatred and violence) and fear?

I have had many shocking experiences in a Christian context. One that sits up there quite highly was in 2008 prior to the USA presidential elections when I heard from a pulpit a youth pastor proclaim that no-one should vote for Obama because he ‘was a Muslim’. I challenged him afterwards saying that there is no evidence for that claim. He replied, acknowledging what I had said, and then added, ‘I know, but it helps our cause to say so.’

We might not like a candidate or their policies but we also need to realise that the world we live in is messy. Charles Strohmer interviewed a Christian pastor (Joel Hunter), way more conservative than I am, who was one of Obama’s spiritual advisers. It is worth a read, not to endorse Obama, but maybe to slow us down a little in our assessments:

It is as Alexandr Solzhenitsyn said that when we draw the line of good / bad between ourselves and someone else we will inevitably live it out with great error. The line does not run between us but runs through us and through them. Let’s assume the line comes through me and I am 55% ‘good’ (go on be generous to me and it is only a hypothetical example) but the part that is not on the ‘good’ side is pretty significant also. (How do we measure the ‘good’ part? I think the level of love in difficult situations I show, and to what extent I am able to see, as that is a measure of ‘those who are in Christ’.) That good / bad dualism stems from the garden and came to an end in the Garden, so that the future ‘garden’ might be where there will be no more tears, no more sorrow…

Paul seemed to expect that the touch of Jesus would be transformative. He exhorted us not to speak a falsehood. That is challenging. Not to lie is not too difficult, for we can bend the truth and still not tell a lie. But not to speak a falsehood… not to leave someone else with a wrong impression.

Time to stop, otherwise I will be reviewing the generous 55% ‘good’ level.

Why I am not a Universalist

I am writing a few articles that stand alongside the books and are at times a response to questions from a Zoom group. It is not uncommon for a version of ‘why are you not a universalist?’ to come up. Understandable as I am not an exclusivist; I do anticipate that most who claim to be ‘born again’ will partcipate in the age to come (I do not use the ‘go to heaven’ langauage as that is not found in the Bible)… I anticipate that as God is gracious – hence my faith for myself is that I will ‘be’ there as through the cross God is gracious to include me… I also expect to be surprised who also is included!

These articles I am uploading at https://3generations.eu/explorations, but I thought I would include this one here as a post.

First I cover my back!!

I am not a Universalist (all will be ultimately ‘saved’) though I have a sneaky suspicion that God might well be. I am not only covering my back, though, as I consider that the Scriptures give us a picture of God that shows his generosity to all. Generosity is seen in the garden of Eden with the permission to ‘eat of all the trees’, or we can consider one of the reasons that Peter gives as to why Jesus has not yet appeared:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:10).

If only a few were to be saved the longer the delay would simply mean that more people were to perish. This Scripture seems to present an optimism in the delay. Likewise in 1 Timothy 2:3 we read,

who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Apart from not viewing the cross as a transactional exchange mechanism that acts as the answer to the wrath of God, these Scriptures are some of the reasons why I do not subscribe to a ‘limited atonement’ perspective (that Jesus died for the ‘elect’; those for whom he died will therefore necessarily be saved). There is a consistent ‘died for all’ that comes through in Scripture, and for anyone who approaches the Bible as a Calvinist to avoid the universalist perspective, I find it difficult that the uncomfortable (and to me unavoidable) conclusion is that God wants something (all to be saved) but chooses something very different (only an elect are saved). If Jesus died for all, and he pays the price for all, then I find a universalist position the most natural one to take, if we view the cross through the lens of penal substitution.

There are many ‘universalist’ texts, with the ‘as in Adam’ / ‘as in Jesus’ texts being core ones. Alongside those we have the ‘reconciliation of all things’.

Through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.(Col. 1:10).

to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ (Ephes. 1:10).

Another Scripture to consider is the description of Jesus as the Saviour of all, especially those who believe (1 Tim. 4:10). There is a parallel verse, language-wise, in which Paul asks Timothy to ‘bring… the scrolls, especially the parchments’ (2 Tim. 4:13) indicating that he is asking Timothy bring as many as possible. He is not asking just for the scrolls (‘only the parchments’), but is asking Timothy to take as many as possible. If salvation is only by the choice of God and he can save whoever he chooses, then it would seem he does not have to make the choices that Timothy might have to make! ‘How many can you bring Timothy? If you can’t bring them all make sure that you bring the parchments.’ If you can’t bring them all. But if God can save all he does not have to make that choice. Timothy, limited by capacity and ability, but God limitless.

The texts in favour of universalism cannot be taken in isolation from other texts. God’s saving purpose has universal scope but people may refuse to enter into that purpose. In Col. 1:19-23, for example, the Colossian believers enter into the reconciliation effected by Christ ‘provided they continue in the faith’. Universal reconciliation does not, in and of itself, necessarily imply that all will voluntarily submit to Christ. All ultimately confess the Lordship of Christ, but not all might do so willingly. Although Paul says that all will acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus, including that which is is under the earth (Phil. 2:9f.), yet when he speaks of ultimate reconciliation he does not include that subterranean sphere (Eph. 1:9f.).

Ultimate reconciliation could mean that of individuals (and demons, the devil) are included, or it could indicating that all rebellion in all spheres comes to an end. If the former then Universalism is a given, if the latter ultimate final inclusion of all as participants in the age to come is not implies by the use of such terms as ‘the reconciliation of all things’.

The ‘as in Adam’ / ‘as in Christ’ Scriptures (Rom. 5: 12-21; 1 Cor. 15: 22-23) could imply a universalism. All are in Adam (by birth) and all are in Christ (by the work of the cross). Perhaps the Corinthian texts are the strongest with the repeated ‘all…all’, but the final verse in the reference above makes us ask a question as to who ‘belongs’ to Christ. The two verses with an emphasis added are,

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

Those who come with him are the ‘dead in Christ’ (1 Tim. 4:16), those who will be raised from the dead. The ‘all’ are the all who are in Christ. Not all are in Christ, we read,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

We read if someone is in Christ. The ‘if’ suggests that this is not automatic, and in the Pauline letters participation in Christ seems to be conditional on a response to Christ. Being included in his death, we read in Romans, was conditional:

We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Rom. 6:2-4).

This ‘belonging’ to is not too dissimilar to verses in John ch. 1. Jesus came to ‘his own’ but they did not receive him. But to those who did they were born of God. Later using the same terminology in the Gospel of John we read that he sat at table with ‘his own’ (the disciples at the Last Supper). Responding to the offer of salvation seems to be the criterion that determined if those who were ‘his own’ were truly ‘his own’.

There does appear to be the belief in a final judgement,

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5:12).

Perhaps there is a post-death opportunity to respond to Jesus, but Scripture is not explicit about that as a future possibility, with the strong emphasis that our lives and responses pre-death determine participation in the age to come.

Finally, the warnings (particularly in Hebrews) I consider are not theoretical warnings to keep us in line but warnings of the consequences of rejecting Jesus. Those two final words (‘rejecting Jesus’) also give me an optimistic hope that many will be included in as participants when the renewal of all things take place, for I place the emphasis on the exclusion of those who (in some way actively) reject Jesus, rather than a narrow approach that insists that only those who have received Jesus (and how is that defined depends so much on one’s tradition) are included in.

Those in summary are reasons why I am not a universalist. I think I have left sufficient in the above paragraphs to show that I am not of a simple ‘all born again are in’ and ‘all not born again are out’ belief. (Of course that begs also a huge question of the use of the term ‘born again’ and to whom that applies.) I am optimistic, I believe as Clark Pinnock described it in ‘a wideness in God’s mercy’.


Addendum

I consider that the strongest appeal to universal salvation would be if a penal substitutionary view of the cross is held to. If Jesus paid the penalty for all, then all are free, irrespective of their acceptance of that. Certainly for God to endlessly punish people for their sin that has been ‘paid’ for I would consider is a gross injustice. The ‘limited atonement’ perspective (Jesus only died for the elect) seems the only way to protect a penal substitutionary from becoming a substantial piece of the pro-universalist argument. Hence on the cross, I consider we have to find another way of understanding what took place there.

Gardens, couples and sight

Always a few aspects that come up in the zoom groups that provoke a little expansion. So here are two related aspects from last night’s zoom.

[BTW I add a few articles from time to time that are drawn from the books and they can be found at: https://3generations.eu/explorations. For example there is one there on Jesus always sinless, but becomes mature. I will also probably expand this post into an article for those pages.]

The resurrection. A cosmic event, that changed the world. Marked by an earthquake and ‘saints’ in the grave coming out (I actually think they came out with resurrected bodies, unlike Lazarus who came back to life with the same body. If I am right then we also have a time warp aspect that took place at the resurrection of Jesus, an event destined to occur at the parousia taking place significantly ahead of time!) The resurrection, that which we bear witness to, is what opens up sight. So…

First starting at the end of the trajectory that I want to touch on. Jesus appears on the road to Emmaus. I put in the books that this was to a married couple (Cleopas and Mary). Mary the wife of Clopas (either a variation of spelling, not uncommon in the ancient world, or the influence of Hebrew / Aramaic coming through) was one of the women who remained at the cross (John 19:25)… more to come, so the two disciples seems to me to be those two, consoling each other, trudging away from the bitterness of disappointment. But before this we have the first sight of Jesus being by Mary Magdalene who identified him as ‘the Gardener’. I put a capital ‘G’ there as her identification is not corrected for I believe there is something very profound going on. Adam, the Gardener leaves the Garden with his wife, with the word ‘death’ ringing in his ears. They leave life behind. Jesus rises in a garden that is full of tombs of death, leaving death behind, so that the word ‘life’ will ring throughout the cosmos. First, visitation is to a woman… the resurrection sets some priorities!

From the woman he visits the couple. For Mary Magdalene he lifted her status (‘my Father’ = ‘your Father’ / ‘my God = your God’ – John 20:17). To them… well their eyes are opened. At evening, just as God used to visit in ‘the cool of the day’, so on the road to Emmaus they come to the close of the day. The original couple had their ‘eyes opened’, opened to see the nakedness of their state (literally and metaphorically) now this couple have their eyes opened also. No longer shame but true sight. True sight as natural sight was kept from them. Sight that dealt with corporate shame, corporate personal disappointment. Looking back on Eden there was fire preventing them returning, now there is fire in their hearts pressing them forward.

The resurrection, ‘it is already the third day’ being on the lips of Cleopas, gave sight. Sight of the future, for ‘there is new creation’; sight on who they are; and sight on who God in Jesus is, that being sight on the past. The resurrection allows sight to go all the way back to Eden. Three left Eden, just as three walked to Emmaus. When there was an exile from Eden, hidden from their sight, was a third companion; humanity never left Eden alone. God travelled with them, the sentence of ‘death’ might have rung in their ears but it was carried for them in the heart of God. Expulsion ends at the cross. The death consequence was truly fulfilled. The resurrection makes that plain.

The resurrection opens eyes to see where God has been all this time. Not locked up in a Temple, nor a ‘holy’ land, but trudging in the dust with the rest of us, even drawing boundaries for the people so that they might find him (!) and not be hidden from them (many implications in that!). The revelation of God is not found in a holy place, nor a holy land – Acts 7 and Stephen’s speech makes that point in a very profound way by selecting the revelations of God that took place outside the land of Israel… oops he should have re-written that speech cos that provokes certain people to pick up stones. (Oh and maybe we should add that the Pauline Gospel is birthed at the gates of Damascus and then nurtured in the desert.)

The resurrection opens sight on all of creation, and all of those who inhabit creation, including the plant life, the animals (even the wild animals, the promise of Old Testament restoration, wonderfully fulfilled in Mark’s account of the temptations of Jesus).

Tonight I am on ‘Witness’ chapter in book 1. Witnesses of the resurrection. If we have seen the resurrection we will see where God has trudged; we will see ‘new creation’ and we will see all others differently. Not according to the flesh, just as the two on the road did not see / recognise Jesus among them, so until we see differently we will not see Jesus among us.

An Interview

I was interviewed by Stephen Hill (New Zealand) a week ago and I will embed the YouTube below. Stephen wrote an excellent prophetic commentary on John’s Gospel that I read and benefited from during the beginning of the lockdown. I have the highest respect for Stephen, he is honest and transparent, and his insights come from his clear relationship to God – and also to himself. He knows God, and he knows himself. Here is his site:

https://www.ancientfuture.co.nz/

Check out his interview with Andy Glover – I watched that this morning, and I valued greatly his down to earth but profound revelations about 2021:

https://www.ancientfuture.co.nz/post/conversation-with-andy-glover

https://www.ancientfuture.co.nz/post/some-prophetic-thoughts-for-2021

Perspectives