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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Born Again"--Practical Applications

Of the 38,000 versions of Christianity emphasizing being "born again", the very idea has been reduced to a concept about as useless as "teats on a boar hog", as farmers in my neck of the woods used to say.

For those "experts" in the ex-WCG fold, it has no meaning at all, nor should it.

But that is actually what makes it of such value to every person.

Let's look at the phrase as used by Jesus in John 3. "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God".

In that context, what is a kingdom? It's a government, basically. But Jesus, in this passage, gave it a special context by calling it a kingdom of God. This was rather shocking to Nicodemus, since, as a Jew, a rabbi, he assumed that he was actually born to inherit the "kingdom of God".
It was so disturbing that he asked Jesus if it was somehow necessary that a man re-enter his mother's womb.

But Jesus didn't give much of a definition of the term. We can look at the Greek translation and see that he was actually talking about a birth "from above", but so what? Big deal.

As we see from verse 8, there was nothing significant about the idea, no process of organization, nothing that would separate a "born again" person from another.

What would be the value, if any, of such a term?

Actually, it has a great deal of value, in purely physical, pragmatic terms. Look at another reference to this concept in John 1:12-13:

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God".

If we place this alongside of what Jesus said to Nicodemus, it totally discredits any birthright inheritance of Jews. It's saying, in effect, that there can be no physical, earthly government that can represent God by virtue of any physical birth or any control imposed by humans.

The implications of these two scriptures is that they not only challenge the physical authority of Israel, but the physical authority of any government that would claim citizenship by birth.

If you are "born of God", you are not born of the will of men. That doesn't signify any metaphysical, special, otherworldy concept. It simply means that you can choose to be "born" outside any government that would be imposed by the will of men.

That would mean, as Thomas Jefferson put it, that it is a self evident truth that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights. It means that person's physical birth within any territory does not automatically make him or her subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

For a better understanding of the pragmatic applications, let's take a look at the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S Constitution:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside".

In this we see a link between "birth", "citizenship", and "subject to the jurisdiction thereof".

What does that last phrase mean? Senator Jacob Howard of Ohio pointed out that "Indians" born in the U.S. maintained tribal relations that did not make them subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Senator Lyman Trumbull, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" meant "not owing allegiance to anybody else...subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States."

The Fourteenth Amendment, therefore, implied two requirements: born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to its jurisdiction.

Now, it is possible to be "born or naturalized" in the U.S. and still not be subject to its jurisdiction. Well, John 1:12-13 would suggest a good reason. But there is also another connective issue related to this: the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

So, being "born again" in the context that Jesus spoke to Nicodemus, is one of liberation from human governments and control by human governments. "Congress shall make no law...."

But the Supreme Court has declared that the "Due Process" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment "incorporates" the First Amendment. How can any law incorporate no law? The argument is that freedom of religion is to be protected by "due process" of Constitutional law.

But here's the problem: If the federal government incorporates the due process clause in protection of the First Amendment, then suddenly the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment no longer provides protection against the federal government. What results is a kind of protection racket; "we'll protect you from us if you pay".

But Jesus himself advocated settlement of issues out of court(Matthew 5:25, 18:15-18). Paul also advocated settlement outside of state authorities (1 Corinthians 6), so that "due process" is imp;lied as belonging to religions equally to the state. In fact, congress can make no law saying otherwise.

The only limitation on this power provided by both Paul and Jesus is that religion cannot advocate vengeance. That, and that alone, is reserved to the state.

So, since due process of law has been defined as ancient law coming from as far back as Magna Carta, and since it transcends the power of Constitutional law, it is a power reserved to any person who declares freedom of conscience from the law. It cannot be a power defined by the federal government, nor the state government. It is a power reserved to the individual, a power to be "born of God" "born again" not born "of the will of men".

It is the full summation of your right to face all accusers, with the vindication of God, the right to ask, "who is wronged by my actions?"

Or, as Paul states in Romans 8:33 "Who can lay anything to the charge of God's elect?"

Ah, but who are God's elect? Paul says only God knows the answer to that question, which means that you are free of the governments of men unless you harm another.

2 Peter 2:19 : "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage".

The bible is about freedom from men.


Corky said...

No, the Bible is not about freedom from men. If it was, there would not have been a God appointed priesthood. There would have been no mediators between God and men, especially like the bloodthirsty Moses and Samuel.

Also, Jesus would not have pointed out to his disciples that the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat and to obey what they say but not in the way that they do.

The leaven of the Pharisees was self-righteousness and Paul of Tarsus brought that same leaven into the Christian church. Anyone can tell from Paul's letters that he was extremely self-righteous. There is not one single place that he ever admits to being wrong. He admits to murder and mayhem but never once does he apologize or admit that his actions were wrong. Instead, he justifies it by his faith and laying claim to God's grace and forgiveness.

The very evil of the Christian church is that they believe that they can commit all kinds of crimes and then just repent and be forgiven. Then just walk away, owing their victims nothing.

Ralph said...

A very mistaken concept, Corky. The core of Paul's teaching, and the one that pisses off all christianity except those bent on using it as justification for their power, is Romans 8:29-30.

You assumne way too much, and you have nothing to back it up. If God is all knowing, and if God foreknows and predestines his elect, that automatically puts christianity as we recognize it right out of business.

There is no way that any human can claim to be one of God's elect, simply because there exists no proof, first that God has chosen that person, and second that God exists in the first place.

IF Romans 8:29-30 is true, then ALL christian professing religions are merely the imagination of men, AND they reflect the obvious confusion that would result from Romans 8:7.

Further, followng Paul's reasoning from Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, we see Romans 9:16-22, in which Paul reiterates that there exists no possible choice by which we may get from "here" to "God".

So, in fact, Paul told the truth. The only way you could prove him wrong is to show that there IS in fact a church that can demonstrate its authority, and therefore the flaws that you impose on it, or you are simply wrong.

In fact, you're wrong, simply because of Godel's theorem, which tells us that in any consistent axiomatic formulation of number theory(or any formal theory of sufficient complexity) there exists an infinity of undecidable propositions.

IOW, it is a mathematical agreement between Paul's statements in Romans 8 and 9 and Godel's theorem.

In fact, it would have been logically impossible for Paul to have brought the leaven of the Pharisees into the Christian church, since he clearly taught that there simply exists no decision procedure by which any person can freely choose to be "elect".

As for Jesus justifying the Pharisees sitting in Moses seat, he did go to great extremes to call them hypocrites, and he also told them that they shut up the kingdom of God from men(Luke 11:52). In fact, this was just a re-statement of Isaiah 29:15-16.

Further, you continue to miss the important fact that in any priesthood, the accused always had the law that said he could not be convicted unless proven guilty by two witnesses and a host of other protections which I have already listed. You have merely demonstrated the fact trhat humans are flawed, and for that reason, as Paul plainly taught, the entire plan of salvation did not rest on the law, but on the promise made to Abraham which came 430 years before.

You have, in the spirt of the WCG, presented a marvelous example of the ad hominem attack, but have shown nothing of any logical value in your assault.

Nice try, but no cigar.

Anonymous said...

Ralph said...

Anonymous, thanks for the reference, but it merely makes my point. Let's say that the arguments against biblical authenticity are correct. Let's say the bible is not the works of Paul, nor the statements of Jesus, but something simply made up.

Therefore, we would have no possible decision procedure to determine how to get to "God" even if there was a God, would we?

That's what "Paul", or whoever wrote Romans 8 and 9, actually said. It is imp[ossible to establish any finite, rational, mechanical guidelines to get from "here" to "God".

Can't be done. So, if by some chance the writings ARE of Paul, we have no possible process by which we may establish an authoritative church to represent God, and if the writings are NOT of Paul, we have the same result. Truth by correspondence.