Thursday, July 18, 2019

Dave Pack: My Family Has Abandoned Me

Adult Sabbath School: Personal Freedom and The Downside of Too Much Allegory in Christian Theology

The Escape
  • One of the prisoners then escapes from their bindings and leaves the cave.
  • He is shocked at the world he discovers outside the cave and does not believe it can be real.
  • As he becomes used to his new surroundings, he realizes that his former view of reality was wrong.
  • He begins to understand his new world, and sees that the Sun is the source of life and goes on an intellectual journey where he discovers beauty and meaning
  • He see’s that his former life, and the guessing game they played is useless.
 The Return
  • The prisoner returns to the cave, to inform the other prisoners of his findings.
  • They do not believe him and threaten to kill him if he tries to set them free.
  • Sounds familiar!
However, for most, to not take the tales and myths of the Bible as literally true is a threat to faith and many New Testament and Church Doctrines that have evolved from them. 
 I personally have been told, privately, by many a pastor/priest that they know the stories are not literally true, they also know the average person is not ready to come to that kind of conclusion or  understanding and thus they cannot generally speak of it.  It depends on the denomination and whether one is dealing with the liberal or conservative wings. 

Thank you so much. Our minister announced last night during a Bible Study that Adam and Eve were just allegorical references to humanity, and that there is no evidence of the devil in the Garden of Eden. I appreciate your blog. Would love to know you better, as I teach an adult Sunday School and his statement was rocking my world.
It is really all very simple, but everyone has made it so complex. People think you have to have "religion," attend churches, do ceremonial things, etc. but the truth is, all you have to do is admit you are born of sin and are therefore sinful, (in other words believe the Genesis account) have faith and believe that God provided a way back to Him, and love God. He merely wants us to believe in Him and love Him. That's all.

Were Adam and Eve Real People or Just Allegorical?

It appears that even among very conservative fundamental churches there is starting to be a movement away from believing that Adam and Eve were real people. Is it really of any great importance whether we believe it or not? Yes. Why is that? Because if they were not real people, the entire Bible, its message, Christ's death and resurrection are completely undone. There is no need for salvation, nor reason to believe the Bible, and Christ was a liar.

Those are strong statements to make, but they are the logical conclusion of saying that Adam and Eve were not real. Let's start with the New Testament and work backwards. Jesus genealogy was traced back to Adam in Luke 3:38 “ Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.” How could Jesus genealogy be traced back to someone who did not exist? It could not. So we see that Jesus lineage is one verification that Adam was real and that Seth was his son. Luke gave us the first witness to that fact. Now Paul is going tell us that Adam was also very real. 1 Corinthians 15:45a, says that Adam was the first man that God created as a living soul. “ And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul.” He also tells us this again in 1 Timothy 2:13-14 “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” 

Then in a verse in Corinthians Paul tells us the result of that transgression. 1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Paul is saying that because of Adam's transgression all mankind is cursed to die, not only physically, but we are born spiritually dead, however in Christ we can have both spiritual life and eternal life. Paul also tells us in Romans 5:14 that death, which was brought about by Adam reigned from Adam to Moses even over people who had not sinned as Adam had. “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” 

Jude, Jesus brother, tells us that Enoch, the first man to be “raptured” or translated, was the seventh patriarch after Adam. Jude 1:14 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.” Jude was saying that Adam was a real person.

Now returning to the Old Testament, we see that Job accepted Adam as a real person from whom his original sin nature came. Job 31:33 “If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom.” Everyone believed Adam to be a real person.

Moses writes about Adam when he mentions that God divided the inheritance of the nations or sons of Adam. Deuteronomy 32:8 “When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.” Moses is saying that all people are descended from Adam

Hebrews mentions two of Adam's sons, Abel and Cain. There can be no sons, if there is no father, so Adam had to have existed. Hebrews 11:4 “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” and Hebrews 12:24 “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” Abel was real, and he was the son of Adam, so Adam had to have been real.

If Adam and his sons did not exist, then the writers of these verses are liars. Worse we have the testimony of Jesus Himself that Abel was a very real person, thereby verifying that his father Adam was real, as Abel could not exist without a father. Jesus is warning the Pharisees in these passages. Matthew 23:35 “That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.” Luke 11:51 “From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” If Adam did not exist to father Abel, then Jesus Christ was a liar

Setting aside all these verses for a moment, let us merely look at the logic of the situation. What is the Bible supposed to be? It is supposed to be a portrait of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation for man. But why does man need salvation? Because man is sinful. Why is man sinful? Because Adam sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit. But wait, what if Adam wasn't real? What if he is just an allegory. Then....well, then death, which supposedly came through Adam's fall existed right from the beginning, not as a result of Adam sinning. If death was a part of creation, then when God said everything was good, He meant that everything dies as part of the natural order. Therefore, death is not a result of sin. But if death is not a result of sin, then there is no sin. If there is no sin, there is no need for redemption. If there is no need for redemption, why would we need a redeemer? If there is no need for a redeemer, then Christ dying for our sins is a sad joke on Him. If Christ's dying was meaningless, then why believe in Christ for salvation. If we don't need Christ, and the Bible isn't true as to the whole story of sin and redemption, and death is natural and normal, then why not throw away the Bible and just live as we please? Without a real Adam, without a real fall from grace and sin, without death entering the world through Adam and mankind needing a redeemer, the whole reason for Christ and the entire Bible becomes pointless. So, was there a real Adam? Well, if you are reading this and you are a Christian, and you don't believe Adam and the entire creation account was real, your faith is useless. Christ will have been a liar, as were his apostles, and you are spending your life trying to live for something that doesn't exist, and then you will die and that will be the end. believe that God was telling you the truth about things exactly the way they happened. He created a world in six literal 24 hour days that looked as if it had been here for millennia. And He created a man called Adam in perfection, who then disobeyed bringing sin and death into the world. He then promised and gave us a redeemer to pay for our sins and restore us to a relationship with God giving us eternal life. Those are your choices. You choose what you will believe."

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Allegory/Literalism and the inability to focus upon the deeper meaning

Recently, Banned by HWA posted an article about an artist from our Common Heritage who had the honor of painting the Official Portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama. The portrait itself - when discussed by members of the COG Community past and present - was not received without criticism - because of the proportions, tones, and - most importantly - realism of the artistic piece - for some, made the piece "terrible". 

I have always been a creative and artistic person. A lot of my time is absorbed in photography and the digital arts - which includes digital painting. This stems from my childhood when I learned during my toddler years that I had a knack for artistic creativity. This was not by any means an exclusion from the ramming head of Armstrong's influence. As a child, I was told to avoid any artistic creativity that was not reflective of "realism" because it would become a lie if I used artistic creativity. In other words, if the sky is blue, you have to paint it blue. You cannot imagine it any other way, either in your head or on media. Doing so would then be "sin". 

Of course, the wages of sin is death - so we were told by the Church sermon after sermon. No, It wasn't threatened that I would somehow die if I used Burnt Umber instead of Orange. But the implication was clear: Obey what the Church says, and what your parents tell you, or the consequences could be enormously severe in just 3 to 5 years. Your parents would be taken to the place of safety, you would be left behind, to feel the full force of the Great Tribulation and World War III. Oh, yes, the fear was real, genuine - and it invaded every part of your life. In my case, even using artistic creativity wrongly which would become sin. Pretending and Imagination were intentionally cut off. 

Was this extreme? Yes. However, in this light, one can understand in a sense (Perhaps not nearly as extreme as the scenario I was a part of) some of the problem that some people (artists included, both in and out of the Church) have when artistic creativity is expressed. One of the commentators stated in the thread mentioned on this forum the many things that were incorrectly presented in the piece of artwork - arm length, hands, skin tone - "unnatural" form and without realism. The same commentator made a very astute observation: "The WCG demanded uniformity of thought". 

It is not about the painting. In truth, there is a reason why this painting was selected as the Official Portrait of Mrs. Obama. It is the exact reason why the portrait has been selected, in my opinion, to be held in such high esteem - to the chagrin and controversy of many. The reason? Artistic Expression, a personal voice, and allegorical image. The very concepts that our religion of Absolute Literalism strongly discouraged. 

When I look at the painting, I do not look at this painting with a literal eye. If I do, I will never understand it. I see long arms that are intended to show strength and compassion - holding many children. I see neutral pastels, conveying softness and contemplation. I see a skin tone that is pleasing when juxtaposed with the background. In short, without going into great detail, I believe this artist used her creativity and expression to shape Michelle not only how "she" sees her, but in a way that allegorically defines her legacy in a clearly artistic and powerful - yet subliminally pleasing manner. 

If you decide to look at this painting literally, you will find all sorts of things wrong with it. That's what happens when you go by the literal letter of anything. You will find and be searching for flaws. You will be inspecting every detail. You will want every aspect to be perfect. You will want every portion to be proper. You will demand absolute conformity. You will intentionally demand proper compliance with expectations. This is the result of literal-ism, and the law of legalism at work. 

If you decide to look at this painting with the mindset of imagination, creativity, and an open mind, you will see this work in a whole new light. You will not see the inaccuracies of failing to comply with realistic interpretations, but the message of creativity expressed on canvas. You will not see a gray, unrealistic skin tone, but a deeper countenance instilled with reflection. You will not see too short of a neck - your eyes will be drawn to her face. This is what excellent art does - it conveys the thoughts, emotions, feelings, and reflections of the artist. This is what makes art great. And this, in my opinion, is why this piece was selected as the Official Portrait of Michelle Obama. The artist - coming from the strict legalistic background of the Armstrong Influence - shoved all of that outside to let her creative energies flow. She painted using her expression, not a paint by number - which is, in itself, the difference between Legalism and Freedom. Legalists will debate, ridicule, dissect, and tear down this painting in every detail. Those who understand Artistic Freedom will look beyond the rules and the lines and the colors and see what the artist is attempting to convey. And this fine artist understands she has the Freedom In Art to do so - and has been rewarded justly for her spirit of artistic expression - the spirit of the paintbrush. It's the difference between a Portrait Artist - and Bob Ross. 

A Lesson many COG - types would be well to ponder in allegory and in principle, indeed, on much more spiritual issues.

submitted by SHT