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Yesterday, I went to watch the movie Risen. I knew it was going to be a good movie because of the reviews I have read and the connections it had to the “Passion of the Christ” movie made by Mel Gibson. I was sitting between my niece and my mother awaiting for the movie to start.

The movie opened up with the main character tired and worn out. You could tell that this man had a lot on his mind as he sought refuge in a strangers home. The man notices the ring on his finger is a signet ring for a Roman. As he looks at his ring with a look of lost he starts to tell his story.

The story begins with him working under Pontius Pilate. A high ranking Roman solider. He comes off as a man who is strong in character, but wishing and wanting a life away from the war, violence that plagues the life he lives. Soon, you get the impression that you will be living this part of his life through his eye’s.

So far, I am thinking that this movie gets really historically accurate, not just with the violent past, but with the people. Taking this view in mind, I find that the way it starts off just at the death of Jesus is an interesting twist. The conversation that sends him there is met with Pilate ordering him to watch over the unrest of the unstable environment and the eye’s Tiberius had on him to keep the Jewish State in control. This is a very important historical fact that many scholars believed weighted on his decision to have Jesus executed.

He is dispatched to make sure that everything is in control. More importantly, Pilate who met this Nazarene gave the hint of the position he was in putting an innocent man to death. Pilate mentioned the pressure from Rome and what would happen if he didn’t keep the piece in the region. A fate alluded to in this movie that he will face in future history, but not in this movie. What becomes apparent, they don’t know his name for a long time in this movie. He is called the “Nazarene”. It shows how unaware they are of this man.

Once he shows up he is looked upon the “Nazarene”. He speaks to the Roman solider who tells this commanding officer the words in scripture “This man is truly innocent”. In the beginning of this movie you get hints that supernatural events have transpired. Even quiet hints, something this movie is good at. When the main character looks upon the dead “Nazarene”. The Nazarene’s dead eye’s pierces his soul.

Soon the resurrection happens, but you don’t see it. What you see is a man trying to obey the commands of Pilate as he hopes to make it up the ranks far enough to find the peace he is looking for. He is called to Pilate to see an interchange between him and the corrupt religious leaders. You get the picture that the Romans were aware of the hypocrisy of the religious establishment. A good parallel the movie gets right to what we experience with the religious establishments today. That, it was well known and had a huge effect on the governments view of all Jews. You are left with the impression that if they were not so corrupt that they may have had a better life with the Roman government.

Through the mid part of the movie the man searches through primitive “CSI” work to uncover the body of the Nazarene. What stands out is that when they discover the name of this Nazarene. They identify him not as Jesus but Yeshua. This is a startling small point the movie makes. That it strays from the Churches identity of Jesus but stays true to a more historical interpretation.
As the movie continues, not being able to find the body, he starts his quest to stop the spread of this “revolt”. Although, what he finds is something different on his journey. You start to piece together the character of the figurative Yeshua. At one point when interviewing a disciple he asked what would happen if he met this Yeshua. The solider wanted to know how he would war. The disciple replied that he would call him brother. You get this since that the solider is confused on this and dismisses him. You also get the message through all of the interviews that this Yeshua did not hang out with the elite but with those who would be rejected in society.

Soon, the solider through running the men down runs into Yeshua. The movie does a good job with the person who plays Yeshua’s part. A man who you would expect to live in that area and time. Looking through the eye’s of the Roman, you sense fear but also curiosity. He goes at it alone and starts to join these 11 followers. He asks them questions and watches. But the moment you start to get close to Yeshua he disappears and you must go to a different location. Through this discovery you realize, the disciples don’t know who Yeshua is but just the messiah. It hints to a supernatural person who cannot be defined. Trinitarians and those who hold to a strict human “Jesus” would have issues in this movie because it doesn’t fall into either direction. The movie begs the question but doesn’t answer it. Although, he does come off more divine, but more directs the questions to questioning yourself and your standing with Yeshua rather than his identity. That is very reflective in the texts. In that, you just want to follow this man.

Yeshua is shown as the person who would sit next to you in a bar while you smoke a cigarette. A person who would be with you regardless of your condition. While following Yeshua, you see that he is never concerned and that he is in control of everything while everything falls apart. It comes to this point in the movie when the Roman Solider almost willfully forgets what he was doing and just follows. He is soon befriended by Peter, in this through all of his questioning Peter of who Yeshua is, you just get a “I don’t know” answer. This would upset many Christians but I believe this is very reflective of what was truly going on in scripture. All they knew was that he was the Christ, the anointed one, the messiah, and beyond that they were clueless. These questions were mulled over after he left shown in the later letters of Paul and John. So, the answer to them was to just follow him. It was not his power that brought them to him but his eminence love that shown through the movie. You could say it was just his mere presence.

Finally, near the end of the movie, you have the Roman Solider talking to Yeshua. The interchange was short but moving. The solider told him that he was there when he died. Yeshua gave him the impression he was there too, just not in his body. Then Jesus spoke to him recounting the exact words he spoke to Pilate earlier in the film about him wanting to make it to a point of piece in his life. You get this sense that Yeshua just didn’t have the understanding because of some revelation and not just because he was there at that moment in some supernatural means, but It was more of Yeshua knowing him more than he knew himself. Through simple words, Yeshua told him that he was the piece that he was looking for.

After everything was done, Yeshua has ascended and everyone is going out fulfilling the great commission almost directly quoted by Yeshua. Peter comes to the Roman Solider and asks him to join him on spreading the good news. The Roman Solider gracefully declines and you get this sense that all was for nothing. The movie comes back to the beginning where he ended up telling this story. There is almost a sense that there is something drastically different. Right at the end without the host asking, he gives up his signet ring to pay for the food. Before, as a Roman Solider it would be free and taken at will. It symbolizes something more than most people would realize if not knowing Roman culture and what the ring means. This Roman Solider didn’t “follow the christians” but what he did was something more, something outside of church. The ring symbolized who he is or more so who he was. It was his own identity being laid down. Think of how ever you identify yourself. It is as if you say “I am” and then fill in the blanks “I am an American, Caucasian, male ”. You may be surprised I put “American” in that list but to the Roman citizen, being a Roman was more than a place where you live, it was who you are. In a way you could say at the end of the movie he stopped being Roman. This doesn’t mean he was converted but that he was forever changed by Yeshua. He was so changed by Yeshua that his identity changed, he no longer was who he thought he was and now he is on this path to discover who this Yeshua is and who he really is.

In review, I believe this has been one of or “thee” best “Christian” movies about Jesus produced. In some ways it is better than the Passion of the Christ. Although, these two movies had different objectives. This movie captures at the heart who Jesus is better than those who try to tell the story though his own life. I believe the reason for it is that this movie is seen through the eye’s of someone like most of us. We are not following Jesus through the words of scripture but through the eye’s of someone who doesn’t believe and was there. That difference is why it is so good. It is something we can identify with.

So, that is why I enjoy the movie so much. I feel much like that Roman, I don’t call or identify myself as a “Christian” nor can I say I believe, for the simple reason I don’t know what I believe. Although, like him I find peace with this Jesus. I am a skeptic in many respects. This movie didn’t change me back into being a “Christian” but it helped me see a little bit of who I was, where I was and where I am now. I really don’t like speaking of what I believe because I don’t know what I believe and it becomes a emotionally charged conversation to those who are close to me for such fate of me should I choose to walk away completely. I can’t explain it, but in some way this movie has done both drawn me and at the same time pushed me away from this person of “Jesus”. All I can really say, what ever I end to, if I ever get there, will not be what I was.

 
 
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This blog post will be different than my previous blogs. A blog without edit. A blog that will explain the honest transition of what faith I have or do not have. That answer, will be determined by the reader.

Last year, January 1st 2014, my mother suffered a massive stroke. I was in the middle of my first year of Seminary. I was going after a Masters of Theological Studies degree with a thesis. At that time, I was ending my semester on a high note with excellent grades. My father, Ron Greene was in a nursing
home and we rushed in the middle of one of the worst winter storms in Indiana
history to Ohio where my mom was suffering from her massive stroke.

At school, I was studying the Greek philosophical impact on the New
Testament. My studies into the Greek language was opening my eye’s on the flaws
within our English Bibles we read. I used to believe that the bible was 100%
literal with few exceptions. As my understanding of the Greek language grew. It
becomes apparent that direct literal translations are impossible with the
logistics of the Greek language. Translating from Greek to English is not like
switching puzzle pieces that fit each other. Greek is a fluid dynamic language
that changes upon not only using different words but by sentence structure and
word placement. English on the other hand is more fixed. There is not disorder
in the structure of the language, but Greek speaks in broad strokes of thought.
English on the other hand, speaks in short finite bites.

The problems do not stop with Greek but Hebrew as well. This includes
interpreting things by pulling out of the text (exegesis) or reading into the
text (eisegesis). In my studies over the opening of Genesis. I find the  
church uses heavy eisegesis. The church continues to read into such texts to
force a creation that never was to be told. The construct of the beginning of
Genesis mimics Canaanite creation. The word for firmament means "iron dome". It
was common thought in that region that the heavenly bodies were held up by an
Iron dome and that there was a "foundation" underneath the Land. As a result of
such facts and others, I have had to relent that evolution is a highly probable
answer to the creation of humanity. At least some mix of it. I am not speaking
to micro-evolution. I am speaking to some mix of macro evolution. It seems as if
Christians force this section of scripture to be some event. Honestly, Genesis
is not the book to go to creation for Christian faith. I argue, if using
scripture to defend creation, Christians should use Colossians, when Paul uses
Greek Stoic cosmology/philosophy to argue Christ creating the world and his
Divine nature. 

So, here I am. In the middle of this tragedy. At that moment, questioning the
validity of the book I claim to believe in. In that same moment, changing my
belief in creation. Watching my mother suffer from a brain injury that I
continue to help her with today. Yet, my year was far from over.

As the seasons changed and winter moves itself away with spring coming in,
March brought a new tragedy. My mother was just barely getting her feet up and
being able to cope with the reality of just having a major stroke. Ronald
Greene, my father, went into the hospital as he stayed with his sister in
Cincinnati, OH. I got a phone call late one night telling me to get to
Cincinnati because my Dad was dying. We rushed, the whole family, tried to get
the message out. There just wasn’t enough time, to get everyone. I jumped in my
car and sped down to the hospital two hours away. In that room, he was laying in
the hospital bed 3 times his size all swelled up. All of those machines around
him keeping him alive. A tube in his mouth keeping him from suffocating on
himself. My Dads greatest fear, I remember his request that he never be taken
off of that machine if found in that position. So, here he is, my mother
distraught and a mixed family dealing with all of the emotions that come with
such a hard death. I remember their last kiss. My Dad trying to kiss through the
breathing tube and my mom clutching his body trying to kiss his lips. Holding my
Fathers hand, I tell him stories, I tell him how much he has meant to me and I
paint a beautiful picture of heaven for him. More importantly, my last words,
were words of love. It soon came time, my mother handed over control of his life
to me as she could not handle everything. Speaking with the doctors and his
sister, I sign that paper to let my Father go home. We all stood in that room,
holding him as he moved from this life to the next. 

Watching a loved one die is not easy. That is a understatement right? A year
prior to my fathers death. I had to put my first dog to sleep because of
aggressive cancer that was going into his brain living in his nose preventing
him to sleep. I held my boys paws as I watched his life slowly leave his body.
Something happens when something you love dies. A part of me died that day when
I had to put my beloved dog to sleep and a part of me died when I watched my
father pass away. It isn’t the object of the love, be that a human or your
beloved fur child. As my pets are like children to me. For River to die today
would be the same as if anything else past away. It is the bond that is broken.
We all have bonds to the lives we share this existence with. Whenever a death
occurs that bond is broken.

 At this point, I was struggling with school. It was a heavy depression.
 The depression was so bad that I could not keep my focus on
anything. It was hard to keep really anything together. One of the largest
changes to my faith began to come to the surface. My research in my Masters
program was the main focus of such a change. It started in my previous blogs,
reviewing the book "Jesus Christ is NOT God". Now, this book, is not the best
written book in the world and is far from accurate. The author is not honest
with the historicity of the 1st century and makes huge language errors in his
translation of the Greek texts. With that said, in my review, it began questions
regarding the validity of the Trinity. If I were to critique one book, I should
do the same with my own.

 Researching 1st century philosophers and falling in love with the Greek language. I found
direct parallels from them to what we find written in the pages of the New
Testament. I have papers published on academia.edu, but I will give a short synopsis of where I am.
Reading the works of others in the same time period put my primary passage I was
focusing on in context (John 1:1-3). When ever I speak about the Trinity to
someone, I usually find two opposing people. On the one hand, I find someone
brainwashed into the idea of the Trinity and on the other someone brainwashed to
never consider the Trinity. When one steps back and takes an honest view they
find the reason why I created this web page in the first place. Each side of the
debate forces the interpretation of a certain text to be what it is not. A good
example would be my blog on John 8:58, categorized as "Jesus Preexistence". 

It comes to the point where I have a hard time speaking on this subject  
with people who are not willing to challenge their teachers or presuppositions.
I either hear people tell me the idea of the Trinity is stupid or that the
Trinity is clearly taught in scripture. Both of those sentiments shows ignorance
and a unwillingness to face the truth that what they have been taught may be wrong.
Further proof of this is that when speaking to people on either side, I find
that most cannot give the correct definition of what they support or
reject. I am not speaking to say I am right but rather the unwillingness to be
wrong. This cult like attitude flourishes in the churches.

The conclusion I have come to is that the Bible doesn’t not support the
concept of the Trinity. I am not saying there isn't evidence for it. Rather, it is clear that
the disciples used Greek philosophy combined with Jewish thought to explain someone
they themselves did not understand. Jesus was clearly more than human and angelic to the disciples.
Those who hold that he is just a mere man can only do so by rejecting at the
very least the Gospel of John and the works of Paul who use heavy Greek
Philosophical influence when speaking of Jesus. The influences are so strong
that people in those circles suggest that Colossians was not written by Paul
because of the Greek influence with in those pages. I argue against such ideas,
but I believe it is Paul needing to go to another system of thought to explain
something that can’t be explained.

So what do I believe? An honest answer is, I don’t know and I don’t think you
can. I do know what he is not. Jesus clearly saw himself more than human and
those around him saw himself at the very least as Divine or at the most God in
human form. I believe the disciples could not grasp nor know the question of
"who is Jesus". This is evident in their use of Greek vernacular and thought to
describe Jesus. A concept I will explain more fully later or in another
blog.

As the seasons changed, again. Unknowingly to myself, life was changing
without me. Not only did I suffer from a motorcycle accident and having my
precious dog licorice go to court twice. A day after Thanksgiving the words separate
came up in the marriage I was in. Those words threw me back into a heavy
depression. Soon, I was living with my mother. If it wasn’t for good friends
like Thomas Horrocks, I don’t really know what would have happened. Now, I am
sitting here writing this blog with these divorce papers by my side.

So, where does this leave me? Church wise, I have lost faith in church. It
has not been easy for me to endure the year I have been through but everything
"religious" has failed. This isn’t a slant against religion and please don’t
tell yourself "it’s a relationship not a religion". It isn’t what I am getting
at. Granted, I have many good friends from church, but I have become
disenchanted. Through working in Chi Alpha with the politics of church and how
everything has transpired in the last year, I find it hard to get back into that
type of system.

I don’t agree with how the church functions or their lack of discipleship. I
find it that pastors don’t really embrace what the word discipleship means. I wrote a blog on discipleship too.       It is the whole alter call mentality. There is no such thing in the pages of
scripture. How were peoples saved by Jesus? Following him. That was it. No
prayer or anything. Simple faith and the act of following him. The quoted
scripture of Romans 10:9 is totally misunderstood. Not to go into a tangent on
that verse but it means more than what we read in scripture and that isn’t a
prayer at the end of service.

Concerning the top of Sin, I find we live in a world that needs such a word.
It is not just my present experiences that has lead me to such a decision.
History has proven over and over again that humanities evil is just as present
as good. So much so that it can be argued over powering. I find it odd that
those who argue that humans are basically good or there should be no "morals"
are those who have committed acts of Sin considered by most religions. It is
within us like a burnt meal. Have you ever cooked a meal and burnt some of it? I
just did the other day. Yes, 90% of the meal is "good" but the 10% makes the
whole thing bad. That’s what it does. If we were honest it is more like 50/50 or
40/60. Those who try to tell me that we are good are like people who pour a
bunch of hot sauce on it to "remove" that bad taste.

I don’t need "religion" to make me aware of such a reality. It just needs to
be observed. Reality shows that we are not essentially good. I am not saying
that we don’t do good things or never have "good" motives. It just seems to me
we are the child that says if I say "_____" enough times it will become true
when there is evidence is to the contrary.

As I finish this awfully long post, I wrote this piece to share with you who
I am and the reason for the deleting my Facebook account. 
 I am not the same person I was last year. I believe in Jesus but not in
the same way "Christians" do and so I can’t identify myself as such. Life
doesn’t make since without a creator even though he has been absent in my life
for a long time. So, I don’t know what to call myself. Maybe that is a good
thing?

All I am now is a man who takes his days with his beloved dog River. River
has been essential to my mental health and even now as I continue to get back on
my feet from a devastating year that has not just wrecked me mentally but put me
in a bad financial situation. I pray, continually that I don’t loose my boy. I
don’t really know who I pray too but I pray none the less that River will stay
by my side. I think it is called hope. It may sound futile or silly, but it is
what keeps me going. I still go to church, but I am not involved with anything.
I just go to listen to a good sermon and have some friendly people to talk to. I
have basically lost all of my friends due to them moving on in life with
marriages and kids. Starting over isn’t easy, especially when you are in the
hole, but I will get up.


 
 
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A couple weeks ago, my wife and I happened to go to Uncle Bill's because it was a date night, and she really wanted to play with some puppies. Ginger (my wife) begged to go to Uncle Bill's. I resisted at first because of all of the hype I have read about its use of puppy mills for their “breeders”. Finally in the store, after much fussing on my part, we were greeted by a large four-month-old German Shepherd puppy in a cage on the floor. We could hear all of the birds chirping as we wandered back to where the puppies were. They were living behind a glass window, in cages stacked about three high for the smaller puppies and two for the larger pups. We peered through the glass, looking at all of the lonely puppies. Our family has three cats and two dogs. Two of the five came from shelters, and the others came to us on the street. Seeing dogs in cages smaller than my crate at home was a little disturbing. Although, I thought to myself, if they are not in the cages long, it can’t be that bad. 

Ginger got her eye on a cute eight-week-old Boston Terrier. The lady that helped us was a nice lady. She was of average build, young, with curly blond hair and blue eyes. You could tell by the way she spoke and held herself that she had a rough life. She told us her life story about how she was in jail or something of the sort and did hard drugs. Now, working where she does, she told us it is a new beginning and she has been sober for a good amount of time. In spite of that, she seemed to genuinely care for the animals. Then she opened up about how they take care of the dogs. You know that moment when you are with your best friend or significant other and you can speak to each other without actually speaking. This was one of those times. The lady started to tell us how they take care of the dogs. 

The first astonishing fact we learned is that the dogs are not allowed to interact with each other. For older dogs, this isn’t as huge an issue as it is for puppies. Puppies have short windows of time when they learn the needed lessons or rules of dog interaction. Our puppy, River, was placed in puppy classes at three months (12 weeks). These animals are cycled. If they are not sold in the time allotted, they are taken back to cages away from customers' view and kept there. I don’t know what happens when a puppy is not sold as we could not get an answer to that. We could hear that there were many dogs behind the displays and puppies---a situation that made us wonder what really happens. 

Another problem we learned was that they were never allowed to go outside of their cage. It is total isolation. The only time they get out of the cage is when someone wants to see them, potential adopters. Some of these animals might have never touched the ground. This would be especially true if they came from a puppy mill. These dogs never get to run out of energy. Also, dogs need to go outside for the sake of their psychological nature. At  minimum they need to be able to run around in an indoor controlled environment.  Most of the shelters I have visited, contain enclosures adequate for the dogs and some even let you take the puppies outside. This is not a shelter with limited funds, but a business. Think about how you get when you are stuck inside for months all winter. At least you get a window to look at the sun. The last bit of information the lady gave us was that they “broke the rules” with the German Shepherd puppy, allowing him to run in the store---a sad glimpse of what it is like to be a dog there. 

One would think we should pay those high prices to get those puppies out of there. The reality is that we would just continue to spin the wheel. I never recommend shopping there based on this limited information. If you want to get a puppy of a specific breed. I recommend to go to a licensed breeder who you know raised it well. Better yet, there are so many dogs that need to be rescued. We used petfinder.com to find our puppy River and our previous dog Jeremiah (pictures on the about me page). Both dogs were a blessing to our family. I am sure rather than spinning the wheel you will find the perfect dog/puppy for you at your local shelter.  




 
 
                      On any typical Sunday most congregants file into their churches to sing a few songs, pay their tithes and listen to a 30-40 minute message. Afterwards, if it is a good church there will be fellowship out to lunch and a farewell to each other till the midweek bible study. If it is a good bible study, it won’t be another sermon, but a group of friends gathering around a table to hash out and discuss certain biblical topics in scripture. 
Even in this best case scenario, this is not discipleship. It is a traditional system that is not bad, but it isn’t discipleship. The problem is not what I described is wrong but that it isn’t what Jesus called his followers to do. Jesus in his commissioning statements said, “to go and make disciples." In most circles, we interpret that as “go make saved people." That is something that scripture just doesn’t warrant because we can’t make people saved. 
Our wrongful interpretation of Jesus command “go make disciples” not only harms ourselves, but our representation of who Jesus is at school and the workplace. Jesus called us to be light in the darkness, not to make darkness light. This distinction is the primary cause for our reputation by those outside Christianity. Christians too often try to find the 5-step method of making people Christians by various means, but Jesus never meant for us to “make” them saved but to be light shining vessels who represented him on this earth. So the goal isn’t when we are at work to “make saved people” but to love people, all people. Even if there is a disagreement in serious doctrine, the call to be light and love should overshadow the shared view of consequences. What our co-workers see are two Christians fighting each other and then both of them trying to make the rest of the employee’s read a book that is awkward and worse than the book they had to read in college for theoretical mathematics. 
                     Let me step back a minute, I am not saying that we don’t “confess Jesus as Lord” or “Proclaim the good news." What I am saying is that Jesus taught us to do it when it was called for. If someone would ask me who Jesus is I would confess that he is Lord, but I am not going to try to argue someone into believing that he is. A perfect example would be when all of your coworkers are looking at porn and ask you to take a look. Christians are not called out to tell them how wrong they are, but we are called to not partake and give an answer as to why, an honest answer. Most of us would give an answer of science or a vague morality stance when in reality we don’t partake because our Lord says to look upon a woman with lust is committing adultery in our hearts. That is being light in darkness. 
                     What did Jesus mean when he said “go and make disciples”? Disciples in that time period were not congregants who showed up to church twice a week. Rather they were those who followed a certain teaching of a certain teacher or Rabbi. These disciples would be with their teachers consistently, not only teaching them doctrine, but telling and showing how to live that doctrine out in day to day life. The disciples were constantly questioning the teacher's logic and belief. This was not an effort to undermine, but an effort to learn. Jesus meant to go and make communities and families out of those who are saved by being light in a dark world. 
We must be able to be in darkness. Most people look to go be leaders in youth group or do bible studies at church. That is good, BUT if those activities neglect living lives with those who are around us day in and day out who don’t know our Lord, we fail the call to be light in darkness. We are not called to youth group, bible studies, children's choir’s e. e. If we are not hanging out in the dark places where Jesus went to shine his light then we are just religious Pharisees playing church with teenagers in youth or seniors group. It isn’t a call to put a spiritual notch on our belt, but a real outpouring of love for those who work and live around us. The disciples of Jesus werefound in light at the alter of the synagogue but in the darkness.
                      Lastly, we must walk away from the traditions of our past to what Christ called us to from the beginning. A life where we are discipling. Everyone is called to be a teacher as everyone is someone's disciple. I am not saying Sunday services or bible studies are wrong, but they are not exactly what Jesus called us to. We were called to be light in the bars, workplaces, schools, ext. There should be no need for youth leaders in youth group because the youth would be their  leaders being light in a dark world discipling one another. I am not speaking to pastors who are the shepherd of the flock nor the help they need from adults, but I am speaking to those who leave school or work to be youth leaders taking the role of discipleship that should be given to the teenagers. If we are honest they can handle a lot. How is that obtainable in our youth? 1st we don’t give our youth enough credit and 2nd the parents would have been doing this since they were born. If Mary can have Jesus at 14 years of age our teenagers can comply with the commands of Christ. This example of youth is just one example of all the other ministries taking away from our call to "go and make disciples". It is easier to go "witness" to some kids at youth group than to care and love those at our work places and then invest time in their lives, daily, when Jesus (not us) saves them. Our culture is church centric not Christ-centric. Our current church culture doesn’t allow for true discipleship pictured by Jesus. That needs to change.
 
 
Inside every human is a natural desire to know. It is, an inquisitive gene that is intrinsic to who we are as a people. The natural desire to know was known to the early Greek thinkers like Aristotle.

 This paper will explain how I will engage in theological reflection. This engagement starts with the human desire to know, avoiding the temptations of orthodoxy, and ends up with a solid epistemological model to answer the theological questions of our day. 

Life is a complex puzzle that is dazzling to the newly born child. The newly born child engages his or her new environment with curiosity. Just about everyone has seen an infant stick his or her finger in places that it should not go. We do the same thing epistemologically. Like infants, we are curious about our world as we build upon our own worldviews. In the beginning, it is good. In the end, this compiling of information can be damaging to our ability to move forward: it is a temptation to hold onto incorrect data that will be mixed in with good data. I personally have seen this problem cause most of our ills in the Christian Church. 

The temptation to hold on to certain beliefs is strong. It is an element of pride in our hearts not to be wrong. Growing up in church, the theology that revolved around certain denominations or religious organizations was often the only view that was presented. When presented countering perspectives, it was to prove the falseness of the opposing view. The Christian is never taught how to think; rather the Christian is taught what to think. This pattern is predominate in most theological circles.

Orthodoxy reigned as the starting point in almost all theological circles. This is not the Greek Orthodox Church. Orthodoxy as it applies to “authorized or generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practice”.
 Every Christian organization that does any form of theological reflection or research has a structure of its own orthodoxy. The Christian organizations or denominations as in Baptist, Assembly of God, The Way International, Christian Church, Catholic, Mormons, Jehovah witnesses all have differing Orthodoxies that they cling to. The question is, In Theological Reflection is the student willing to question the Orthodox teaching it has been taught in order to verify or know what is reality?

Here are a couple good examples, first from Dr. R. C. Sproul. 

“Sovereignty is a divine attribute confessed almost universally in historic Christianity”.

Sproul, in What is Reformed Theology is explaining or defending Reformed Theology. He assumes sovereignty to prove a point. Sproul is teaching his students to take Sovereignty for granted. Based on the Orthodox teachings of the past, sovereignty is believed as a fact. The issue is not that God is not sovereign; rather the student never knows why or even can confirm Sproul is correct, without figuring out why God logically is sovereign.

Dr. Jack Cottrell does the same in his book The Faith Once for All Cottrell explains his reasoning a lot deeper than Sproul, but his starting point from his Orthodox position is the same problem. He quotes Descartes, “I think therefore I am,”explaining that Descartes can prove God exists through our ability to prove we ourselves think, and so are real. If we exist, then we must have a cause, whom is God. This is an argument from causality, but Cottrell misses the point of why Descartes said those words and therefore undermines it all. He does not take his student through the same epistemological process to arrive to that conclusion that Descartes did. That is the essential problem. Descartes realized that he made errors of judgment in certain beliefs. Not only did he come to that conclusion. Descartes found that he built beliefs upon false ones

This realization led to his epistemological journey of rejecting anything that he knew. He Assumed nothing, and then asking the question,  How do I know I exist? This is the foundation for his famous statement, “I think, therefore, I am.” In my experience in theological reflection it is more often than not a step we skip. Both R.C. Sproul and Jack Cottrell should have had one chapter about getting to a place where we do not assume. 
   

Clodovis Boff said, “What we have here is a certain ignorance with respect to the particular epistemological identity of a given discourse, or a consequent erroneous epistemological consciousness. The distortion comes to be expressed in a zeal for orthodoxy, indicating a basic insecurity in the face of the instability of external reality."

Boff is correct in his statement. There seems to be a zeal for orthodoxy in our subconscious that disrupts or distorts the pursuit of knowledge. In knowledge, that pertains to anything, not just scripture. This zeal is more detrimental when it is applied to theological reflection. It is even more prominent in that of our local church’s. 

This zeal in my own previous personal experiences is overwhelming. On numerous occasions I have had educated pastors and teachers give a response in so many words “We must stick with orthodoxy”.  This is the zeal, of which Boff is speaking, and Descartes was trying to avoid it. Those who sit under these leaders start from a position of faith. This faith resides in those who teach them what to believe. God, by consequence, is not the object of the faith. 

The answer to this problem in theological reflection is to copy Descartes. Obviously, it is not possible to erase memories and information in our brain. The Answer, an open admission that whatever has been taught is subject to change and must be at the foremost of every thought. All books that are opened by the student should be pictured as if they were opened for the first time. Each competing thought will be able to be critically analyzed. Consequently, the truth will rise to the top. 

Coming to know what one believes and being able to articulate it clearly in his or her own words is foundational to having a true faith. The zeal for orthodoxy prevents this from happening. Being ignorant and assuming certain propositions based on what someone has been taught and not learned is the cornerstone of a borrowed faith. The difference between being taught and learning is imperative. When a student is taught a topic, they are only downloading the information that is provided regardless if it is true or false. On the other hand, learning is when the student verifies on his own merit, weighing all the information to see if it corresponds to reality. The best teachers in theology help the student learn rather than teaching them a certain dogma. If not, the students theological reflection is based on knowledge that may be an illusion to reality.

This is exactly why theology should start from philosophy. Starting theological reflection in the mist of theology without going through an epistemological process already assumes logical premises that may be a weak structure on which to build a theology 
  

Pride is at the center of this theological box. This temptation of pride creates the zeal that ruins the philosophical pursuit in epistemology. In order to come to the correct knowledge of any subject in theology, humility must be at its foundation. When exploring theology on a foundation of humility, every false truth will be exposed by fairly weighing every proposition either metaphysically or empirically to arrive at reality.




 
 
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Why am I a Christian? A good friend of mine asked this question on his Facebook page. Ever since then, I have been pondering “Why am I a Christian?” The more I consider the question, the more I realize how hard it is not to answer it with a “how” rather than a “why.” I find that most people do this because it is almost impossible not to fall into the trap. For Christians, most of us will say, "I am a Christian" for the following reasons:

 1.   They will recite this verse: “If you confess the Lord with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”  (Romans 10:9). This is not really a “why” someone is a Christian but a "how."

 2. Someone may say, "I go to church and Bible study." This does not answer the question "why" either. Instead, it describes what a Christian does.

 3.  They will blindly quote their church or ministry leaders or repeat certain Bible verses that are regularly heard as if to “enlighten” the questioner.

 4.  Lastly, and possibly the most common, people will say, "My parents are Christian, and so that makes me a Christian." This question does answer the "why," but it also shows that we as Christians are brainwashed followers only believing what we have been brought up to believe. This does not show there is any evidence that what is professed is true.

 When we answer these questions to those who are inquiring about our faith with a “how” when asked for a “why,” we fulfill the stereotypes that plague our religion. It comes off as insincere, ignorant, uninformed. The questioners in many cases are right. When we answer a "why" question with a "how," it gives the questioner three facts about the person being asked:

 1. The person answering the question never really wrestled with the validity of the faith being professed.

 2. That the person answering was “brainwashed” and is not thinking independently.

3. Whatever the respondent's faith may be, it does not have the answers to the deepest questions in life and thus should be avoided.

Possibly one of the most impactful classes I had in my undergrad was Christian Worldview. This class was not what you would think. It was a philosophy class. I had one book on metaphysics, another on epistemology, and a book by a Christian philosopher. In our first class, our professor, Dr. Aaron Burgess, asked us this question. Just about everyone in the class moaned and groaned. It was the first time anyone really challenged this precept. Just about everyone in the class failed this lesson as Dr. Burgess went around the room asking all of us to explain why we were a Christian. It was a class on thinking and logic. How do we know? While pondering the question, my friend posted on Facebook the direct question to my heart. Remembering my answer to Dr. Burgess, with years of growth to modify, 
I have come to five points as to why I am a Christian.

1.  I have seen Christ do miracles in my life so that I cannot deny his work in my
life.

My mother, years ago, had a massive heart attack. The doctors said she would never be able to work again. Her heart had a huge scar. The doctors told her it would never heal and that she would have to live with it. She told the doctors that she knew of another doctor who heals. The heart was so weak she couldn’t walk. My brother and I took her to my youth service, and the pastor laid hands on her telling her, “If you let go of everything tonight, God will heal you.” The following day, she could walk on her own to the mailbox, and her heart was healed.

2. I have studied many religions, and their philosophies do not answer the questions of life like that I find in scripture.
a.   Who am I?
b.  Where am I going?
c.  Why am I here?

3.  No other religion has the amount of historical reliability that Christianity does with its texts.

Christianity has over 5,600 copies of its New Testament. If we only had the church fathers, we would still produce most of the New Testament minus some chapters. Compared to comparable historical documents, there is no comparison. There is even the possibility of a New Testament fragment in the first century being confirmed now. No other system of thought answers for the evil that I find in my own heart so well and deals with it.

Scripture pinpoints what I find in my heart, answering the question of who I am and communicating that what is inside of me is wicked beyond comprehension. The only way for me to be redeemed is to be saved.  No other system of thought answers for the evil that I find in my own heart so well.

 4.  Scripture pinpoints what I find in my heart, answering the question of
who I am, that what is inside me is wicked beyond comprehension. The
only way for me to be redeemed is to be saved.

Buddhism teaches that, in order to deal with our “sin,” one must purge it through reincarnation and Karma to attain enlightenment. Islam says we need to hope for the forgiveness of Allah with no guarantee. Atheism says these concepts hold no value in all reality. The only religion to bind all of reality is Christianity. Leading to my last
point.

5.  No other system of thought pulls together Love and Justice except Christianity.

God, who is justified in wiping all of humanity off of the face of the earth, did not just forgive humanity but rather paid the price on the cross with the words “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” When insults and violence were thrust upon him, it did not bounce back; it stopped. This is why I am a Christian.

The question then is: Why are you a Christian? Think about it. Meditate on it. I look forward to hearing why you choose to follow the Lord.


 

 
 
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Possibly one of the greatest statements that Trinitarians use in support of the Deity of Christ is John 8:58. I have held to this verse most of my life. Although, while peeling back the pages of Victor Paul Weirwille’s book, many of his objections have made me second-guess the teachings I was given as a child.

Just as in any pursuit for truth, the person in the Church or “The Way” should not assume what has been taught is right, but allow the Words of God to speak for themselves.

John 8:58: “Truly truly, I say to you before Abraham was I am” - Jesus

On page 141 Weirwille completes his explanation of John 6:20 and makes this statement.

“It is I: is “I am” in the Greek. This no more shows that Jesus Christ is God than saying “I am” proves that I am God”

Earlier on in the book, on page 135, Weirwille explains Exodus 3:14, where God says, “I am that I am.” He interprets this as, “I will be what I will be”. I looked over all of my Dictionaries that I have used in the previous blogs and looked at comparable verses. Weirwille does not provide any resources for his claim. I searched elsewhere to authenticate his words. As of yet, I could not find an explanation for his interpretation in any of my resources on and offline.

Before looking at the Exodus explanation used by many Trinitarians, let’s look at how Jesus had used this word in common Koine Greek. When Jesus typically says, “I am”, it means something very different from English's use of the word "I am".

In John 8:58 and others, the Greek use of the word I AM looks like this.

Εγω ειμι (ego eme)

In English,  the words may seem to match up, but they do not.

Ειμι by itself, means I am. Εγω, is the word for I.

Jesus is saying in English “I, I am”. The next logical question would be “What does this mean?” Jesus uses both ways of saying "I am" in scripture, either with ειμι alone or as εγω ειμι. When Jesus is using I with a 1st person singular verb like εγω λεγω meaning "I, I say". Jesus is saying that he is uniquely communicating the next phrase and that no one else can. It is as if Jesus is saying, “I alone say”.  Jesus  is communicating the same concept with εγω ειμι (I, I am), “I alone or uniquely am”.

The word for ειμι means more than just “I am”. The Dictionary of biblical languages defines it as “to be or to exist”. In most cases, all forms of this word deal with existing and being (of).

A good example is with the verse in the last blog John 17:5. “Before the world came into existence”. The Greek word for existence is ειναι. This is the present active, infinitive form of the word ειμι. This word is used to translate existence. The Greek word ειμι is translated in various word forms, not including all of them as “is, are, was, be, being, were, am, been, become, exist”. This list of words shows that ειμι carries with it the definition that the dictionary of biblical languages defines it. The different forms in Greek build upon the essential definition, giving depth and direction to the word itself.

If Weirwille’s rendering of Exodus 3:14 is correct, why would the translators of the Greek Septuagint in 200 B.C. use εγω ειμι? It could be that the Septuagint writers got it wrong. In either case, many Trinitarians use the “I am” to refer to God. Since the Greek Translators of the Old Testament translated "I Am" for "εγω ειμι", it is taught that this is what Jesus was referring to in John 8:58. Knowing the Septuagint would be the most common translation of the Old Testament, the first century Jews would use this more than the Hebrew.



Weirwille continues on 141 "Christ was with God in His foreknowledge before Abraham was born."  Anthony Buzzard comes to the same conclusion from an 1800's Professor Wendt from his the article on his website. 

Buzzards Website.

Is this where Weirwille got his Idea since Wendt is about a century before him? Wendt kept circling around the Jews wanting to know how did Abraham see Jesus. Is that the real question? Is Orthodoxy correct? 

With this information, let us take a look at John 8:58 in its entirety in the ESV.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you before Abraham was, I am.”

“Ἀμήν ἀμήν λέγω ὑμιν πριν Ἀβραάμ γενέσθαι ἐγω εἰμί”

The context of this verse is going back to verse fourteen. We must remember that Jesus is having a dialogue with those who are following him. In the course of this dialogue, Jesus makes some astounding statements. Jesus creates a heated debate over how he knew Abraham looked forward to this period  when Jesus would be born.

Explaining Jesus's last words needs to be understood with verse 56.

“Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”

The Jews asked this question, “You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?” The question to Jesus was not centered around how Abraham saw Jesus. The question is, how did Jesus see Abraham? Then Jesus answered how that was possible.

“Before Abraham was, I am.”

Jesus responded with two words, “αμην αμην”, pronounced amen. This word means “Indeed, in formulas of certainty and solemnness “it is the truth”, formally translated amen, usually beginning of a statement of truth” [Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains (DBL)].

The use of this word and its repetition shows us that Jesus is communicating an empirically true statement. The repetition communicates to the audience that this is very important. Therefore, we know that Jesus is not going to be mixing words in his following sentence. A good example occurs when Jesus says he is the door (Jn 10:7). Even though Jesus was not saying he was made out of wood, Jesus was saying very literally that he was a literal door. There are no added thoughts to change what is being said. Jesus is communicating the straight facts. The result of this observation of Jn 10:7 is that we must conclude that Jesus is speaking literally, which gives the exact definitions or communication of each word to the hearers in that time.

The next word we need to look at is “γενέσθαι”, the word used in the ESV for become, translated in John 8:58 as “was”. The stem of the word is “γεν”; this indicates a coming into existence, and even the DBL defines this word as “come to exist”. If the stem looked like this: “γενν”, it would communicate an idea of being born. When we look at this, Jesus is saying, “Before Abraham came into existence”.



The large problem I have with Exodus 3:14 is the use of the word "was" in John 8:58. John used the word "γενέσθαι" meaning "come into being or existence". Most English translations translate the word as "was". The problem is that the typical use of the word for "was" is "ἡν" (hen). If that was the word being used then I would consider "I AM" referring to Exodus 3:14. The emphasis would be on the "I AM". John specifically picked this word to describe what Jesus is communicating to his hearers.  Complementing the definition of "εγω ειμι" so that the sentence fits well in context declaring Jesus existed prior to Abraham existing. 

 Continuing with “εγω ειμι”, what have we learned about this phrase? It first communicates uniqueness, that no one else can do whatever is being done.. Second, we know that even though this word can be translated to “am”. It carries with it the idea of existence and being.

When reading what Jesus said, it should go through our mind just as it would in the context of the hearers.

“I tell you the literal truth before Abraham came into existence (I uniquely exist) or (I am uniquely present).”

This is precisely why I have problems with the general interpretation of this verse being tied to Exodus 3:14. It just does not fit the context. The only hint that we could use is the following verse in John that pictures the Jews' response by picking up rocks to throw at Jesus. We conclude that it must be Jesus claiming deity by their reaction. Is this an assumption, hypothesis or the straight truth? There could be multiple reasons why that statement would be "blasphemous" to Jews.  

If Jesus is the “I AM” speaking in Exodus to Moses. What does that say for the Trinity? Does that mean God and Jesus are more than co-equal? It would support a more oneness theology rather than a Trinity. In exodus 3, it is clear that God the Father was speaking, not Jesus. For Jesus to make that claim, it would mean that he is God the Father.

It is possible that the Jews reacted in that manner, not with Exodus 3:14 in mind, but because they thought Jesus pre-dated Abraham. The Jews concluded that Jesus was claiming that he was God although that is speculative, and proof cannot be based on an assumption. 


Jesus was answering a simple question. How did he know Abraham? Jesus's answer was straight to the point, giving us only two possible scenarios.

  1. Jesus is claiming both that he existed prior to Abraham, and, by result, Jesus is, therefore, God in the Trinitarian view.
  2. Jesus was directly answering their question “How did he know Abraham?” Anything beyond Jesus's declaration of his existing prior to Abraham's existence is pure speculation.

I believe both scenarios have merit. However, in intellectual honesty, I believe the second scenario holds the most integrity in hermeneutical study. This position is not against a pro-deity position. I believe this verse gives strong evidence to Jesus's being God, but I do not believe this verse is proof. There is a stark difference between evidence and proof, and we should not mix those two concepts up. To sum it up, it is a fact that Jesus believed he pre-existed Abraham and the picking up of the stones is evidence towards him being God. 

Now learning that foreknowledge has no place in this sentence, it simply does not make sense in the context. If Weirwille’s interpretation of 1 Peter 1:20 were true, then it would contradict these statements. We must conclude, then, that these verses agree with 1 Peter 1:20 picturing Jesus's existing with God physically (as we concluded in the blog on foreknowledge), prior to the existence of the world.




 
 
In my last blog, over whether Jesus Christ is God,  we were looking at the meaning of  foreknowledge.  I am looking at two of the common 'evidences' for Jesus' pre-existence in my next two blogs, to see what Victor Paul Weirwille has to say about the two verses that I have personally held to, concerning Jesus' pre-existence.  

John 17:5: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

Many use chapter 17 in John to show that Jesus could not be God because he prays to him, but neglect this powerful verse. Looking into Weirwille’s index, this verse does not come up. Therefore, I could not find an explanation by him about how to handle this objection. Why would he leave out such a powerful verse against his own proposition? The context is a prayer, therefore, we know Jesus (whoever he is) is not going to use parables or figures of speech. This is literally what he believed, that he had glory prior to this world existing. In order to be fair with my conclusion, I turn to Sir. Anthony Buzzard to explain this verse.

Http://21stcr.org/multimedia-2012/1-articles/ab-professor_wendt_john-8_58-17_5.html

Buzzard uses a professor named Wendt from the 1800s to defend his stance, quoting mostly from him. 

Matthew 6:20 “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” 
Matthew 25:34 “Come, you blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world";
Colossians 1:5 “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven about which you heard in the word of Truth, the Gospel”;
1 Peter 1:4 “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, which does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you”.

He compares the rewards in those verses to the glory that Jesus “had” in heaven. Wendt states that Jesus is not looking for a “return” of what he possessed. Rather, he is saying Jesus wants what is promised to him. In short, he is claiming that this is just speaking of Jesus's pre-messiah status to be rewarded at the time he said that prayer. Wendt's conclusion just does not make sense in the context. Wendt's whole point would be to show that Jesus was not physically present with God. The question is: what does the verse say?

John 17:5c “with the glory that I had with you before the world existed”. 
                       Δόξη η ειχον προ του τον κοσμον ειναι παρα σοι
                     "The glory I had before the world existed from you."

The Greek word ειχον, meaning “to have” or “to possess,” is the imperfect, active, and indicative form of the word εχω, meaning “to have.” The indicative form indicates a real action, being an action of assertion. The imperfect indicates an action in the past. Using this word, Jesus is communicating something that he possessed in the past. Wendt says that this is not literally the case. He says, “Such a reward is destined for human beings and already held in store, to be awarded to them at the end of their life.” Wendt is communicating that Jesus never “had” it, but that It is more figurative. He is just recalling what is promised to him. If this verse were to communicate Buzzard's interpretation through Wendt, the verse would resemble the verses he gave about rewards, using the phrase, “I have” and switching the word order around. Words would need to be added, as in Matthew 6:20, in which the phrase “Lay up” that indicated the “glory” that was in store for Jesus prior to when the world existed. The resulting “ειχον” would never be used. Buzzard's explanation seems to fall short in the critical study of this verse. My study, thus far, proves a literal reading of the text. If we were to find verses that seem to contradict this verse then there are three possible outcomes.

  1. The conflicting verse is interpreted or translated wrong.
  2. There is a way both can operate at the same time that does not violate the law of non-contradiction, a paradox that has not been figured out yet.
  3. Falsifying the bible. Therefore, not the word of God.

We must be honest in the interpretation not to force clear scripture into something to make the Bible fit our “logical” presuppositions. For instance this verse does not "prove" Jesus is God. It only states that Jesus was present prior to the world coming into existence. We may not understand how Jesus prays to God and exists prior to the creation of the world works out together. It just is. If we believe these are the Words of God Divinely inspired, and even if we do not understand the apparent paradox in that situation, we must accept this as true. We must believe that both can exist even if it is incomprehensible in the human mind. In the same manner for everyone to pursue the truth all three realities must be viable. Truth isn't found by forcing but discovering, allowing the chips to fall where they may lay. If it is not done, it would push against rational thought, forcing an interpretation that would violate basic principles in logic like the law of non-contradiction. I believe God is big enough to allow both to logically exist in the individual contexts as it is presented in scripture. Do you believe God is big enough?



 
 
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   Everyone knows that  discussing religion, politics and money gets very heated. It is even harder to keep the heat down when online, like a thread on Facebook. I have had many people comment on my ability to have great fruitful conversations with people who believe differently. I admit I do not always hold up to the highest standard. The rules that I have posted in the picture (click to enlarge) are dear to my heart even if I fail at following them one time or another. These are the seven criteria that I not only look towards myself, but ask of others when my Facebook thread is getting a little out of hand.
I do my best to approach any conversation with the attitude to learn. The result being, I try not to teach everyone. This comes from Pride. As if I know it all.           
      Those who speak most in my life know volumes more than I do and still allow me to challenge their even most fundamental beliefs. Considering every objection I give as a valid argument. It is my hope to operate in like manner from the example of the intellectual giants in my life. Who have treated me with great Christ like humility.
Just like those who spoke into my life, I do my best to discuss differences with humility and respect. Especially, when what I believe in the heart of my heart I know is the absolute Truth. Humility is grounded in knowing that you can always be wrong. This includes those topics I have the most conviction on. No matter how much you have studied or learned, there is a possibility I can be wrong.
      Let me be clear, I believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the life as I write this. I am willing to die on that, not just because of intellectual investigation. I have seen and tasted the work of Christ in my life supernaturally. My faith in Him is confirmed with both premises addressed. The issue is even though I believe Christ is "The Truth". Christ demands ultimate humility. 
      Through my own research, I have been convicted of my own arrogance. Especially in the realm of Theology. Studying scripture, I have found it is easy to believe a lie when you do not consider even your most deepest beliefs have the possibility to be wrong. A battle I struggle with consistently.
      I love to have my beliefs challenged by those who truly consider my own as possibly being true. Even if we don't agree in the end, we come out closer than before. Please click the picture and check out the seven rules. I look forward for us to become closer friends in the days, months and years to come.


God Bless
Nathan Lauderback

 
 
Reading over Jesus Christ is not God. I realized that I have skipped over one of the crucial foundations of Wierwilles interpretation of Scripture regarding Jesus Christ. Jesus existed in the foreknowledge of God is Wierwilles starting point. He begins his argument for his interpretation on page 30.

“Where was Jesus Christ before he was born to Mary? Jesus Christ was with God in His foreknowledge. The first epistle of Peter makes this clear.”

His supporting verse is 1 Peter 1:20 
“Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”  

His first response to this verse is by defining the word foreordained.

“The word “foreordained” is the Greek word proginosko which means “to foreknow”. God foreknew Christ; Christ was in God’s foreknowledge before the foundation of the world, but Christ was manifested when he was born” 

He is correct, the word for “foreordained” is proginosko. 

The Dictionary of Biblical Languages defines the word as “know beforehand; select in advance. The NASB Dictionary defines it similarly “to know beforehand” A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and the Hebrew Bible. Defines that word again as “to know beforehand” This word is a verb looking like this προεγινωσκω. Although reading it in Greek, it will not look like this. It is in the perfect, passive and participle form. 
 
This is what it looks like 
προεγνωσμενου

This tells the reader how the word is applied in the sentences. In the perfect tense, indicates a continual action and the passive voice tells us that the emphasis is on the “who is doing the foreknowledge” rather than the “He”. To put an active spin on it, the verse would read God foreknew him. Putting the emphasis on the “him” rather the “who” God. 

Lastly, it is in the participle form, meaning that it is circumstantial. This indicates to the Greek reader that what is coming up ahead is more important than what is currently read. It is giving information prior the conjunction “but” later in the sentence. 

How does Wierwille get “Jesus Christ was with God in his foreknowledge”? 
He continues on the same page 
“Jesus was with God before the foundation of the world, meaning that God foreknew him. Since Jesus Christ was with God before the foundation of the world, then by the usage of this word ‘foreknow’ which is the same as “foreordain” we, believers were also with God in the beginning. Ephesians 1 corroborates this.”

Then quoting Ephesians 1:4 
“According as he [God] hath chosen us in him [God] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him [God] in love.”

A little side note. The in him could be referring to Jesus. Since the previous verse says that God our Father blessed us in Christ. It would follow suit that the he and him would be referring to two different identities. Wierwille adding the brackets forces the reader to assume the context without verifying the he and him. 

Giving Romans 8:29 as an example. 
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.”

He uses this verse to illustrate that everyone existed in the foreknowledge of God before the world came into existence. 

The problem I find. None of these verses is saying what he is concluding. Ephesians 1:4 is not communicating we did not exist prior to our birth. Rather, it is simply stating that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Neither is Romans 8:29, it is communicating those God knew beforehand he predestined. The “how” of the foreknowing is not communicated in the text.

These verses could go both ways depending on other verses that give direct origin. God could have foreknew them because the people could have existed prior to their birth. God could have “foreknown” events in the future in order to predestine things in the future. These concepts of the humanity of Jesus or him just existing prior to his birth are absent. Since this verse could go in either direction at this point. Then it should not be the foundation of any argument. 

Through these pages he gets you to infer that this word for foreknow “προγινωσκω” means not “to know beforehand”, but through the paragraphs changes the definition of the term reflecting an “exist in thought beforehand” idea. Without ever defining it, this is the idea you get when reading through the pages He builds it in the backdrop of the readers mind. It seems when speaking with people from The Way International that they define this word in that manner

In that manner, I looked for other similar views. Anthony Buzzard a well-respected Unitarian as far as I can gather. Who has debated James White over the subject the Deity of Christ. Makes similar remarks to Wierwille but does not take it to his extreme. 


“Peter’s doctrine of future things is permeated by the same thought that all is foreordained in God’s great Plan. God sees everything laid out before Him. Those who have the gift of the spirit will share God’s outlook and in faith recognize that the realities of God’s plan will in the future become realities on earth. According to Peter the Messiah himself wasforeknown, not just his death for our sins but the person Messiah himself(1 Pet. 1:20).Peter uses the same word to describe the "existence" of the Son of God in God’s plan as he did to describe the "existence" of the Christian church (v. 2).”
 “http://www.21stcr.org/multimedia-2011/1-articles/ab-nature_of_preexistence-pg2.html

Note: I will consider Buzzards arguments to verses supporting a pre-existing Christ later. For right now, I am focusing on Weiwilles foundational argument for foreknowledge defining it as “existing in the thoughts of God”.

Buzzard is stating that Peter’s view of foreknowledge is only equated as looking or knowing the future. There are many times that Jesus gave clear indications of his own existence before this world existed. I will consider some of Buzzards points and Wierwilles in my next blog. 

Although, I do not think Buzzard is truly taking into account the whole verse. The word manifest means to display or show. The Greek word used is φανεροω meaning to “cause to be seen; make known” from my DBL. I have five other dictionary/lexicons that agree with that definition. It is hard to view the conclusion of Jesus being revealed or to be made known in a prophetic sense if he never existed prior to the revealing. 1 Peter 1:20b could be translated in this way.

“but was revealed (made known) in these last times for the sake of you”

In order for something to be “made known” or “revealed” it must exist prior to the revealing. 

This word φανεροω was used by the early church fathers..

Epistle of Barnabas 5.9
And when He chose His own apostles who were to proclaim His Gospel, who that He might show that He came not to call the righteous but sinners were sinners above every sin, then Hemanifested Himself to be the Son of God. 

Here Barnabas (different than Paul’s companion) is saying Jesus who didn’t reveal who he already was until after choosing his apostles. Jesus did not become the Son of God when it was revealed that he was, makes no sense. Jesus already was the Son of God. He made it known he is the Son of God at that time.

How did Greeks and Jews use the word for foreknowledge? 
 
Kittels is one of the most respected Dictionary volumes over Greek New Testament words. It gives not just the definition but also the etymology of the word. Kittels gives a few definitions with examples of uses outside scripture. 

1. “Is referred to God. His foreknowledge, however, is an election or 
Foreordination of His People.”
  • - Hermas, Man. IV, iii, 3: “To those then that were called before these days the Lord has appointed repentance. For the Lord, being a discerner of hearts and foreknowing all things, perceived the weakness of men and the manifold wiles of the devil, how that he will be doing some mischief to the servants of God, and will deal wickedly with them. 

2. “Another possible meaning in Gk. Is that of knowing earlier, i.e., than the time of speaking”
  • - Wars of the Jews 6.8 (by Josephus) “for the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste; nor, it anyone that had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would”
  • - “This is found in Ac. 26:5, where the meaning is strengthened by the addition of ανωθεν.”
  • - Kittels also references Justin’s words in his writing in numerous places in his Apologia I,28,2; I, 45, 1; 1, 44,11. Referencing prophetic knowledge.


Kittels is showing us that the meaning of this word outside of the New Testament was used as a way to show someone simply having the knowledge beforehand a specific event either because of being physically present as in Josephus’s writings or in knowing future events before they happen. 

 2 Peter 3:17 
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability” (ESV)

Acts 26:6 
The have known for a long time, it they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. (ESV)

In Conclusion
     “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you” (ESV)

The phrase “He was foreknown” is not communicating Jesus existed in the thoughts of God. That would be inserting words into the text that are not there nor implied in the context. It means what it clearly says. God knew Jesus before the foundations of the earth.


I have to be honest. Just until a couple of days ago I thought this verse could go both ways (either prophetic foreknowledge or knowing Jesus physically). I was firmly convinced of it. Until I started looking at what the word manifest means. I must make a more solid conclusion. 


We now know that the word “προγινωσκω” (proginosko) was used by Josephus the Jew historian to describe knowing an object personally beforehand. Learning what is communicated in the rest of the sentence with the word φανεροω meaning to reveal. The weight of the contextual evidence in scripture points towards a Jesus who physically pre-existed.