Tag Archives: Salvation

Dane Cook and Our Funny Problem with the Word “All”

(Written 1.October.2013)

Today I find myself here—ruefully admitting something that pains me every time I’m forced to acknowledge it:
There was a time I once enjoyed Dane Cook.


There it is.
Shocking, I know.

Paul rudd double take

I mean, maybe I’m alone in this, or maybe there are a few of you that are still in the closet about it. You used to have a cd or two of his as well at one point, but then you laced up your boots, moved into adulthood and stopped hanging out with(or even acknowledging)…well, those who might still say they like and enjoy Dane Cook.
If you still like him, I’m sorry.
If you at some point in your life enjoyed him, and have since moved forward but refuse to admit that you even once liked him, I’m sorry.
But if you’re like me in that you can openly—to a welcoming group of fellow individuals, admit that even though you harbor disdain for him now, you once were on that Band Wagon, you once liked Dane Cook, then you’ll understand what I’m going to be getting at.

In the bathroom of where I work is a framed copy of an old newspaper cover page from 1898. Every time I go in there and…well, do what I do, I stare at it and read the main story.
Over and over and over again this happens, as can be deduced…and every time I stand there, with a bit more than just time in my hands, I read through the Headline and I always find myself frustrated with how it’s written.
Here it is below:

Dewey's Victory

And here’s why I get frustrated, because when I read it, my thoughts usually flow something like this:

Not a serious casualty sustained in destroying the spanish fleet.
(Okay, other than that word “destroying,” there wasn’t any serious casualties. Must’ve been a peaceful resolution…)

And then I get down to the forth sub-line:

Spanish lost eleven ships and 300 men killed and 600 men wounded.
(GAH! Those are what I would call “SERIOUS CASUALTIES!”)

If you’re going to say there wasn’t a serious casualty sustained, then I’m gonna assume that means across the board. If you wish to convey that you mean specifically, “our side,” then include that. “Not a serious AMERICAN casualty sustained in destroying the Spanish fleet.”
Makes more sense to me reading it.
The meaning is clear, and right there, conveyed in the text.

Now I know what you might say, “Christian, it’s implied in it sayingdestroying the Spanish fleet. See, the Spanish fleet is destroyed, which obviously means casualties on their side.”
But then, that means you and I have differing opinions about grammar articles and the use of “definite” over “indefinite” articles. And we can debate back and forth and get all muddled up in the rules, and use the text to help affirm the rule we stand by, rather than simply looking at the text, and using it to formulate the rule…

Hopefully by now you’re guessing that I’m probably talking about more than just this old newspaper article that I—in the long run could care less about, but find useful in outlining a deeper problem.

You see, there’s this little word that pops up throughout the Bible that’s been quite a problem for many. And that word—as the title of this post might suggest, is ALL. Now, I never really took grammar in High School (as much of my writing more than likely suggests), but I’ve done a decent go-round looking up everything from grammatical articles to indefinite pronouns to quantifiers, all in hopes of really coming to some sort of well rounded understanding of that word…
And–if you fancy, HERE is just one of the great sites I found that helps both in understanding the usage, and solidifying my point.

The thing is, I’m not really wishing to argue that my point is right, or that my way of viewing the text, or my rules are the right ones.
And while I may know a lot more than I did before about all those things—while I may have gleaned some ability to aptly argue my point that many people see the use of “all” in certain Scripture passages as a partitive article, or a mere Universal indefinite pronoun that doesn’t really mean all just like when you say “everybody had some pie” you don’t really mean everybody in existence; what’s clear is that it seems we’re all just arguing the choice of rule rather than the text. You’re not arguing that the Bible’s use of the word ALL doesn’t mean all, you’re arguing that your chosen rule of definition is right in defining the Bible’s use of the word all.

So I don’t want to do that.

Because that’s not what I’m arguing.
That’s not even what I’m saying.

Because I think the problem isn’t whether or not which one of us takes the Bible literally, but that I don’t think any of us take the Bible literally enough.

Because I’m not arguing that my rule for understanding the Bible’s use of the word “all” is the right way of understanding/interpreting the text, but that I think maybe we should let the text define our rules.

I’m saying that I believe the story should dictate what we think and how we formulate our thoughts and our very existence, not used as proof that how we’re already thinking, how we’ve already formulated our thoughts, and how we already believe to be our existence is right.

Which brings me back to Dane Cook.

And this bit:

See the thing is, when it comes to stories that are outside ourselves, we don’t really have any way of knowing whether or not what is said is what is. We believe there can’t have been 1000 firefighters in one street, or someone took a hundred hour nap because our logic and our experience and our philosophies and our theologies and dogmas and rules say that it just isn’t feasible—it’s just not possible.
So passages like Isaiah 45:22-23 (and it’s parallels: Rom. 14:11, Phil. 2:10) are read, where it says things like EVERY tongue will swear allegiance, or John 12:32 where Jesus says that on the Cross is where He will draw ALL to himself, or Rom. 5:18, Rom. 11:32, 1 Cor. 15:22, Col. 1:20, and so on, (For more on this subject and all the references, here’s some reading) and then argue how–like 1000 firefighters or a hundred hour nap or not a [single] serious casualty sustained in destruction, it’s just not possible to mean ALL.
And you argue about context and implication, and when and what and why and how “all” literally means “ALL” and when it means “some things” or “only the new things, the saved things, the things that have chosen…wisely.”
Decision Monk

But then…you’re not arguing the text.
You’re arguing your rules.

You’re not arguing THE LOGOS (The Logic—the Word, made Flesh and dwelt among us).
You’re arguing YOUR logos, your logic.

It’s impossible to have 1000 firefighters on one street or take a 100 hour nap or for God to restore, redeem, reconcile ALL things, ALL men, ALL. Everyone.

With God, ALL THINGS are possible.

And now you have to further ask yourself, what’s your definition and rule about this use of ALL? Matt. 19: 26, Luke 1: 38, Cause this–like your definition and rule of the other uses of ALL will make or break your definition and rule about God.
And now you see that how you “choose” what the definition of ALL (in the Bible) means, shapes just what kind of God you may “choose” to follow.

Does “ALL THINGS are possible for Godnot really mean ALL THINGS?
Well then God isn’t Sovereign.

Does the redemption of ALL THINGS, the restoration of ALL THINGS, the reconciliation of ALL THINGS (Yes, even Dane Cook) not really mean that ALL THINGS will be redeemed, restored, reconciled?
Well then God isn’t Love.

But if we take the Bible more literally than it seems we do, if the story means–literally, ALL THINGS; then God IS Sovereign, for *literally* ALL THINGS are possible for God. And God IS Love. For *literally*, God WILL (and–by Jesus, HAS) redeem ALL THINGS, restore ALL THINGS, reconcile ALL THINGS.

And while Dewey’s Victory may contain the implication that the Spanish fleet looses 11 ships and 900 men are either dead or seriously injured, God’s Victory is not the same as any of man’s victories.

And so then the question is this:

What does it look like when God is Victorious?

UPDATE (20.February.2020): You can now find my official book proposal and finalized introduction (as well as a free chapter, by visiting the valuable resources, links, reads, and views link)

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I Gave Up Lent for Lent

(Written 3.March.2012)

Very few of us ever see the history of our own time happening. What more of our view of an event that happens outside of time? Of an event which—to us being in time is, at least, ever happening? What then?

I was outside my job a Wednesday morning not too long ago doing carpool—kid drop off for my school, when a number of parents brought to my attention the overwhelming amount of cars in our shared parking lot with the Catholic church next door. It was one of those overcast, grey days which you one can easily find all too uneventful, yet which is a prime environment for “an event” to happen.

“Why’s it so busy?” “I don’t know,” I responded, until—randomly, it hit me an instant later. “It’s Ash Wednesday.”

Then came the questions. Apparently, there’s this view out there that I am the “go-to” source of information on everything Theological.

To be frank, I had no clue what Ash Wednesday or Lent fully meant to Catholic parishioners until I took the time this last week to look it up. The most I ever knew was that Ash Wednesday the day Catholics put an ash cross on their heads to compete (so my mind made up) with the Hindu Bindi.

And as far as Lent was concerned, well, that was the time McDonalds brought back the McFish (Filet O’ Fish) so that it wouldn’t lose money during the 40 day period.

Beyond that, was only jokes I had made in High School to Catholic kids that they seemed to have a little smudge on their head, and need to go wash. And that Lent was where you gave up something you liked but could do without—something you liked, but not so much that it would be a real burden to go without it for 40 days.
So I’d joke about giving up Lent for Lent. I’d give up (in my eyes) the act of giving up.

But as I said, that day not too long ago, was a day ripe with historical significance—even if to me then and now, I cannot [fully] see it. The only thing I have the ability to do, is tell the story of what I saw; while all the while, something went on outside of my scope of view.

There’s a funny refrain which is sung in the background when your life is consumed with the thought of something else entirely. And it becomes quite clear (at least at some point in life or ultimately, in death) that it isn’t a song of refrain—as if life had suddenly been put on hold whilst you figured out what you needed to, but ultimately, that it in fact, kept going despite.

The nerve of such a thing.

I have been struggling personally, with the possibility that I may have Adult ADD. To some, this is a meaningless term shrouded in mumbo jumbo, psycho-babble which actually under all that “white-washing,” really just means that you have issues with self-discipline, or control, motivation.
It has also been assumed that someone of such a stature only wants an excuse and a prescription for stimulant and nootropic drugs, if only to experience a fictional life seen in films like, “Limitless.”

Within this struggle, my mind has been focused on nothing but what I’ve come to believe to be a sense of healing. Knowing that what I thought to be normal, a life personal to me, a struggle I must face, and then coming to a place where I found out it may not be the case; further coming to a place which stressed a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, a treatment, I cannot seem to focus on anything else—not passions and pleasures, not hobbies, not anything.

My eye was too fixed on the hopeful light at the end of the tunnel, and my mind too focused on bringing that light into proximity, that I not only couldn’t see the tunnel itself, nor the things in it I’d stumble over, but that that light wasn’t something at the end of a journey, but something which surrounded that journey, if only seeming to be at its end.

While I’m stuck in a place of dying and rebirth (as the “light at the end of the tunnel” is consistently associated with), life—the light, itself is occurring outside my poorly constructed viewpoint.

So I found myself, waking one day (that’s today!), in to the middle of Lent. As I became aware after searching and studying, Lent is a time of preparation and penitence for the coming of Easter. And, Easter, as is understood in the West, is the time associated with the death and resurrection of Christ. I specify “the West,” because it is apparent that inconsequential of your belief in the mere (small) man known as Jesus, or the God (giant) who is known as the Christ, we are all too close in knowledge of Him to be unbiased in our opinions of Him. This has led to the formation of two great armies—battling not only about the man Jesus, but fighting to the end on the vital point of Easter; whether it fits into the celebration of Spring, or whether the celebration of Spring fits in to it.

I myself, am in the camp of stating that both are a symbol, and that neither do what they are symbolizing [complete] justice. Whatever you consider to be the myth, the error lay in the simple truth that the deliberation of the mythology something more mythical than the myth itself.

It has always seemed the case that ‘people of intellect’ have thought that religion and beliefs to be this way. That while they know the truth of all things, those that practice religions are not in on the truth. Let them believe in a symbol of what is actual and real, to be God.
The truth lay in that Jupiter is no God, but a mere planet. Neptune is no deity, but merely the ocean.
The coming of Spring is no return of a God, but a mere cycle of our planet’s rotation around the sun.

Quite plainly, of course, it is in fact the other way around. Jupiter is a representation of the planet, but the planet is a representation of something even greater. Neptune is a representation of the ocean, but the ocean is a representation of something even greater.

The celebration in that Spring represents the returning of the God, and the fertility in that homecoming; and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead to life are, admittedly, both mere representations of something “no eye has yet seen, and no ear has yet heard.”

Jesus spoke of the coming of Easter—His death and resurrection as the Now. He spoke of it presently, before it even occurred historically. That that extra-temporal event which was occurring was “the time for judgment on this world;” that it was when “the prince of this world [Satan] will be driven out;” and a time when, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” [John 12: 30-33]

I know many to believe and preach that Judgment will occur at the end of time. These are also the same to believe that it’s at the end when evil—Satan, will be finally done away with. But what if this is already occurring? What if it’s an event that is outside of time and thus, taking place regardless and quite independent of what transpires in our lives?

Well then it would mean that it isn’t something which could occur in our lives—as if we choose it, but that our lives occur in, as it choosing us.

And those people that believe it happens at the end of time are at least partially correct, but genuinely miss the scope of it. They see the earth as flat, and that someday, we’ll fall off the end of it—when the timeline ends. But what they don’t see is that the universe—the space we fall in to is all around us, is holding us up, is occurring just outside our scope.

History in the making, outside of history itself.
An event which [seems to] make us; not us making it.
Ash Wednesday is a day of mourning and repentance to God, sacramental in the mythos and doctrine of a return of focus and contemplation of Christ’s sacrifice.
Yet frankly, that sacrifice occurs whether it’s observed or not.

I have not myself been in a state preparation for the coming of Easter. It’s truly been one of the last things on my mind—as it seems all holidays have been right up until their occurrence. Yet Easter has been occurring without my focus on it; and in a sense, my lack of preparation doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been preparing for me.

If Jesus’ words were true, every moment (the Now, and…now, and…now) is a moment where I am not only being judged, but drawn (the Greek word is helko—which is commonly associated with “romance,” thus, I’m being romanced) to Him.

And this which occurs, occurs without me even having the ability to perceive its occurrence.

So this year, I really am giving up Lent for Lent.
I’ve given up attempting to understand a mystery which—by all rights, wants to remain so.
A mystery that I cannot figure out, but seems to me, one that has figured me out.

By doing so, I’ve realized that it is not so much the mystery which I’ve given up, but myself.

And that, it seems, is the true heart of the observance of Lent.

(Part 2…of Sorts)

There will come a time when I—as we all will be, am faced with the Truth, that is, what is real. The funny thing about it will be that I feel it will turn out to be exactly what we all never could completely understand it to be. The mystery of Truth is that even when it will stare into our eyes, we will be no less astounded by its mystery; that is, even when it ought to no more be a mystery that is precisely what it will remain.
For it is not it (Him) who will change, but us.

Many under the impression (dogma) that when the Bible speaks of Justice, of Judgment, it refers to us “getting what we deserve.” Yet this view is inherently flawed for it is still based on our view of what Justice truly is. If this were the case, we would not be in reception of something wicked, but of nothing at all. For what we truly “deserve,” if you want to call it that, is not a bad something, but nothing. We are “deserving,” of neither good nor ill, Heaven nor Hell, paradise nor punishment, but merely non-existence at all. The opposite of God is not Satan, not Hell, but nothingness.

So what is Justice? And ipso facto, what is the “judgment” Jesus refers to? It plainly does not entail humanity, “getting what it deserves,” but must entail God getting what God deserves.

And what is God getting what God deserves? What about, “all glory and honor and praise?” Well what would give Him all glory and honor and praise short of a completion of what He started–namely, the Creation of Man in His image.

This is to say that, while scholars and theologians have got it right, God is good, and we are not (and further, they squabble over which point is more important to focus on); it is in them both which we see the “light.” For God is indeed good, and I indeed am not good–that is to say, my sinful nature “keeps me from Him,” but it is in the very heart of my sinful nature that I come to rightly see just how good God is.

As William James concluded, the only reason for God to create would be out of Love. So why create a man (me, and ipso-facto, mankind) destined to fall short? Why, if for nothing save for the revelation to that man–through falling short, through sin, through never being good enough, never earning it, that He (God) loves him (me, mankind) for no reason at all.
It is in this light which make my sinful nature something to be viewed not as a curse which keeps me from God (though it does, there should be no denying that fact–no remaining on that as the focus should also be avoided), but as a necessity–one in which, through I am able to truly see how much God loves me. And that, at the heart of it all, who and what I am is loved by God for no reason.

With this, the thought of being created with a sin nature, having a story of the “fall,” being set up to fail, fall, miss the mark (vastly) is for nothing but to prove the aforementioned to me (and by me, I mean to include all mankind).

In this, the “judgment” that Jesus refers to occurring “now,” is a revelation to all that we are created for no reason but love, and loved for no reason but being created.

Thus, that “judgment” which occurs can take many forms and even look like destruction. And perhaps it is. Perhaps I am being “destroyed,” but perhaps this only looks this way from my perspective. A slow and steady destruction of the me which—as I get older, there seems to be more and more of, to the point where even when all my mind can focus on is that me, destroyed to see a love of me completely outside of anything I can build up of myself that I deem lovable.

Maybe what is really happening is that I am actually being “created.”
Created in the image of God.
And what to me seems like a lifetime—my lifetime, is to God merely one day.

The ashes placed on the foreheads on Ash Wednesday come from the burnt palm leafs of last year’s Palm Sunday. Traditionally, the palms were a symbol that was laid down when Jesus entered Jerusalem to die; but more symbolically, a symbol of us laying down our lives for Jesus. As such, the act of burning the palms to create the ashes of next year’s observance of Lent can be taken as symbolic of us being burned to ash.

Many can point to the Jesus who said that there are those that God will utterly destroy, basing not only their views of others and their fate on this, but their views of God. Yet this is the same Jesus who says in other places (without distinction or specification as to whom) that he has come to save the sick, the lost—thedestroyed.

Perhaps this-destruction and salvation, is all part of God’s original intention to create mankind in “our [God’s] image.”

Maybe when Jesus said in the Book of Revelation that, “Behold, I am making ALL THINGS new!” This entailed them first being burned, being destroyed.
It is then feasible, that I (and all I’s in this world)—whether we observe it or not, are in Lent every day. Something that does not need to be observed, but something for us to be observed by; something far beyond a 40 day period of fasting and sobriety, but that life itself can be considered Lent. For we are all in lacking, we are all in a missing of what is real, what is true, what is good.

But Easter is coming. And whether I’m prepared for it or not is moot: for it is preparing me. And when it finally comes, ALL men will be drawn to being made new,
to being made [completion],
to celebration,
to thanksgiving,
to truth,
to Jesus.

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