Saturday, December 15, 2007

Can The Spirit of God Dwell in 'Unbelievers'?

EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: Second, it seems to me that you have a slight case of Universalism by suggesting that the Spirit is free to all people. That is false, the Spirit dwells only in those who accept Christ. Jesus said just this very thing when he told his Apostles that the Spirit could not dwell in with the World. (John 14:15-17).

MICHAEL: Do I have a slight case of Universalism? Hell no, it is full-blown UNIVERSALISM, as you label it. Jesus called it God's unconditional love for all people with no strings attached. That is what grace is. Evangelicals try to turn justice into grace by saying that God had to slaughter his son on the cross to pay for human sins. That is not grace, that is retributive justice. Read the parables of Jesus where justice is violated over and over to prove the scandal of unconditional grace: of the workers who worked one hour and got as much as those who worked ten hours, of the welcomed home prodigal son who should have been stoned according to Levitical Law, of the adulterous woman and Sabbath breakers who should have been executed according to God's justice, of the lepers and menstruating woman who were law breakers. Why did Jesus tell these stories? Because he wanted to communicate the shocking scope of God's love. Yes, universal.

Furthermore, the 'World' spoken of in John's gospel does not refer to a group of people, or to a geographical designation, but rather The 'World' is a state of self obsession, or sectarian dedication. The 'World' (cosmos or order in Greek) is a condition of the soul, not a geographical location or literal group of believers. You are falling into the same trap as Nicodemus and the woman at the well who took Jesus literally – failing to see Jesus speaking in deeper spiritual metaphors. The Gospel of John is filled with metaphors and spiritual meat, not literal milk. Every human soul has both the 'World' of ego, self will, self centeredness, self rightness, self righteousness, etc in it. Every human soul also has the Holy Spirit in it, potentially able to 'dwell' or reign if this Spirit is allowed to supersede the ego. John also said 'he is the light that lights EVERY man', and that he draws ALL men to himself. Isaiah foresaw this 700 years earlier when he wrote, " In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance." (Isaiah 19) Why do you suppose Matthew went out of his way to say that the Assyrio-Babylonian Magi were the first to worship Jesus, and the Egyptians gave him refuge from Herod and Israel? The Spirit is free to all people Christopher, as it was to Adam, Hagar, Abraham, Melchizedek, Jethro, Rahab and a host of others who had never 'accepted Christ' or known about your Christian theological doctrines/Laws.

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