The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Without faith it's impossible to please God


#61

Paidion,

While I agree that alcoholism is a sin and not a physical disease the Bible is clear that all sin is a spiritual disease. As far as not drinking again, I’ve lost all desire for drugs and alcohol. I don’t WANT to drink anymore.


#62

Holly, I congratulate you! God has delivered you, and in part used A.A. to do it!

I have taken a couple of drinks per week since I was in my early twenties until my present age of 80. I have never had the desire to drink to excess. I usually have one or two ounces of dark rum with a Coke Zero twice a week. I actually like the taste.


#63

Paidion,

In all honesty I didn’t understand A.A. until after I read “Future Grace: The Purifying Power of God’s Promises” by John Piper. It took me years for it to finally click to where the lights came on. I now understand the AA big book and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. I see the similarities between that and the Bible. But the groups I’ve been to of A.A. for the most part don’t go by the literature. They have their own unbiblical ideas about things. Don’t get me wrong. There are a few who have undergone ego collapse and understand humility and can see that the principles of the AA literature are in line with the Bible. But for the most part the majority have their own ideas about God that are contrary to Christianity. A.A has played a part in me finding my sponsor who is Catholic but he’s not at all in agreement with A.A. either. It’s helped me get out and around people when I had no where else to go though. Not all groups are the same either. Most hate it when you mention Christ or the Bible. They are ignorant of the similarities between the Bible and the principles in the literature of A.A. Most don’t even read the literature. But I still go because it helps me get out and around a fellowship of people even if we don’t all agree on God or the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.


#64

Just a couple of footnotes here.

The scientific community is divided, on whether alcoholism is a disease or not. And even on what role, environment and heredity factors - play into the equation. And I can cite experts and articles - on both sides. I have had many discussions on this subject, with my friend Dora. Who is a retired counselor… with her masters in social work, from the University of Chicago… and her Ph.D. from Oxford, in Biblical Archaeology. And one of her sons is a Harvard professor. And one of the world’s foremost experts on genetic modeling. And my only brother was a lifelong alcoholic (now deceased).

Both of us coped with traumatic life events - in different ways. For me, it was embracing things like homeopathy, Eastern Medicine and Anglo-Orthodoxy. Hanging out with Natives, on the Red Road. And embracing the Christian orientated, contemplative traditions of Mindfulness, Yoga, Zen.

Nietzsche said it well:

“Whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stronger”

Thank God for Holy Foolery.

“Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans. It is lovely to be silly at the right moment.”-- Horace


#65

Thanks again, Hollytree,

I have read the 12 steps several times, and am cognizant of the fact that an alcoholic needs “a higher power” in order to stop drinking. We Christians, of course, recognize God as that “higher power.” We know that through Christ’s supreme sacrifice, we are enabled by God’s grace to cease from any and all sins which we may be committing.


#66

I see human nature as a mixed bag, but like Jacob Wright’s recent piece on our worth:

"Human beings are good because we are made in the image of God. As the story goes, the first thing God said about us was that we are good. It is nonsensical to say “Any goodness I have doesn’t come from me, it comes from God” because that is separating goodness from yourself, as if you and goodness are two separate things. No, you are good, because that’s how God made you. The image of God is good. It is hardwired for love, compassion, hope, beauty, peace.

To say “We’re not good apart from God” is also nonsensical, because there is no “apart from God”. You live, move, and have your being in God. To be human means you are an offspring of God and therefore carry his likeness of love. You carry the genes and DNA of God. It’s your nature. It’s who you are.

Don’t start the story with the fall, start it with creation. Your original nature is not evil, it is good. You are wired for love. Yes there is such thing as sin and corruption, but it’s not who we are. Who we are is goodness, made in the image of love, and Christ leads us to the restoration of our original goodness."


#67

Good post imo. I have a book from a long-ago garage sale, which actually got me thinking along EU lines, though the book is not EU at all.
“Original Blessing” by Matthew Fox is the book, a not-so-subtle dig at the emphasis on 'original sin" in much XN dogma.
Fox classifies his theology as ‘Creation Theology’, which was a big thing back in the 70’s and 80’s, and I still find it refreshing to read now and again.
It is not imo a sound theology on the whole, as he all but rejects the Fall and its consequences, but the emphases and the joyful conclusions are good for the heart.


#68

Thanks for sharing, Bob. That was so simple, yet brilliant.


#69

In support of this, consider Richard Murray’s essay, Jim Carrey and the Lake of Fire.”

In it, Murray argues that we are passionately loved by God without limit, and that we need to cast off false identities that impede us, by the renewing of our minds in the biblical truths of our true identities in Christ.


#70

Bob,

Without faith and dependence on God we lose hope. We revert to our survival instincts that are based in the fear of death and the future. Fearing that life has no meaning we strive to prove to ourselves and others that we and life have worth. We pursue a self-esteem project that is rooted in these fears. These fears are the source of egoism, paranoia and therefore sinful practices that are contrary to love. It’s a selfish pursuit of survival and self-preservation. It become our highest good leading to self-aggrandizement, acquisitiveness, and rivalry, and violence. These survival fears create the experience of the satanic in our lives. The power to love is the confidence that God will take care of our future. It’s faith and dependence on God. God promises to work everything together for good for those that love Him. And we love Him because He first loved us in His Atonement. The Atonement secures the future. All those who Trust in Christ have hope as they become children of God. With our sense of dignity and identity being found in Christ we no longer pursue self-esteem or try to prove our worth. The new self is received as a gift from God with gratitude. The paradox of the cross is that we must die by losing and letting go in order to find life and resurrection. We let go and trust God as we let Him have control of our lives. When my future is in the hands of an all-powerful, all loving God who promises to work all my circumstances together for my good, Anxiety is broken and the heart opens up to love. Faith - Hope - Love. The desire for sin is pushed out of the heart.

I wrote about this here:

I also recommend “The Slavery of Death” by Dr. Richard Beck. His insights have helped me tremendously:

I know it’s true because I have experienced the healing and deliverance from my fears and sin. Not that I have never messed up. My faith is more stronger at times than others. So, I have to say that I go along with Dr. Beck. I’m not buying into your gospel of self-esteem Bob. Been there done that. I’ve been delivered from that insecurity. No need to try to glorify myself anymore. There’s peace in being a child of God and not pursuing your self-esteem. Like the holy Saints and mystics I don’t judge myself as being good or bad. Rather, I’m an empty vessel for the love and joy of the Spirit to fill. It’s no longer I who lives but Christ lives in me. My value is a robe. I put on the new self cloaked in holiness and righteousness. As Christ in the flesh said:

Why do you call me good? There’s no one good but God. ~~ Mark 10:18

I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. ~~ John 8:50

God gives us a glory when we don’t seek it for ourselves. We seek the glory of God. God isn’t selfish for seeking His glory for He is the greatest most glorious being in the universe. Moreover, in seeking His glory He breaks the bondage to the idol of self in His creatures. Therefore this is an act of love on God’s part. Not selfishness. He knows we won’t be complete until we give Him the glory. The glory the creature receives is in humility. In giving God the glory we receive a glory. We keep it by giving it away. My main motive for loving and being kind to others is to glorify God.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. ~~ 1 Cor. 10:31

When we seek our own glory (self-esteem) out of fear we become aggressive bullying and egotistical.


#71

[quote=“Hollytree, post:70, topic:13168, full:true”]
"Bob,

Without faith and dependence on God we lose hope…"

Hollytree, I fear you are reading in your own anxieties here. Are you hearing any of us who just affirmed Jacob Wright’s piece as arguing against faith and dependence on God? Bob


#72

I’m not falling for your self-esteem gospel that ascribes goodness to my essential nature. Jesus said:

Why do you call me good? There’s no one good but God ~~ Mark 10:18

As the mystical saint and Doctor St. John of the Cross states:

Humility has the effects of charity: It neither esteems nor seeks it’s own, it thinks no evil save of self, it thinks no good of self but of others.

Furthermore, persons receiving these apprehensions often develop secretly a special opinion of themselves - that now they are important in God’s eyes. Such a view is contrary to humility.

Those who trust in themselves are worse than the devil.

Even locutions caused by the Devil are sometimes difficult to discern and recognize. Ordinarily, indeed, the leave the will in dryness as to the love of God, and the intellect inclined toward vanity and self-esteem or complacency; still, they can bring about a false humility and a fervent tendency of the will rooted in self-love.

The humble are those that hide in their own nothingness and know how to abandon themselves to God

I am a child of God and therefore cloaked in a robe of value and dignity. In and of myself I’m nothing. I don’t see myself as having intrinsic worth. It’s in being united to Christ through faith:

John 15:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

There is apart from Christ contrary to what you quoted. We bear good fruit because we are united to Christ through faith in God.

.


#73

You have such a negative view of humanity, hollytree. It must be awful being you.


#74

If so. I think he should read more… of the works of philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer - to cheer himself up. :wink:


#75

In the words of the poet and Sufi Mystic Rumi

If only you knew what bliss I find in being nothing


#76

Hollytree, I love your Rumi Sufism quote, “Gamble everything for love!” That too is what I experience realizing that we are “a true human being” leads to. And I’m glad that you personally have realized how loved you are.


#77

In the words of Rudolf Otto in "The Idea of the Holy: An Inquiry into the Non-Rational Factor in the Idea of the Divine and it’s Relation to the Rational, Chapter 3, pp 9-10:

It may perhaps help him if I cite a well-known example, in which the precise ‘moment’ or element of religious feeling of which we are speaking is most actively present. When Abraham ventures to plead with God for the men of Sodom, he says (Genesis xviii. 27) ‘Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.’ There you have a self-confessed ‘feeling of dependence’, which is yet at the same time far more than, and something other than, merely a feeling of dependence. Desiring to give it a name of its own, I propose to call it ‘creature consciousness’ or creature-feeling. It is the emotion of a creature, abased and overwhelmed by its own nothingness in contrast to that which is supreme above all creatures.

It is easily seen that, once again, this phrase, whatever it is, is not a conceptual explanation of the matter. All that this new term, ‘creature feeling’, can express, is the note of self-abasement into nothingness before an overpowering, absolute might of some kind; whereas everything turns upon the character of this overpowering might, a character which cannot be expressed verbally, and can only be suggested indirectly through the tone and content of a mans feeling-response to it. And this response must be directly experienced in oneself to be understood.