APA Volume 5
Following the Great Disappointment of 1844, a host of self-anointed teachers of Israel went forth on their own, with Seventh Day Baptists who had joined themselves to William Miller laying the foundation for both the Seventh Day Adventist Church and the Church of God, Seventh Day. From disappointment grew even stronger Sabbatarian veins of Christianity; for from a few Seventh Day Baptists who joined themselves to William Miller came the much larger Sabbath-keeping sects that have had worldwide ministries and impact.
Out of the Great Disappointment came sect-building followed by energized evangelical growth—and so it would have been mid 1st-Century CE, when the original disciples figuratively passed the baton to a second or third generation of disciples. But this sect-building also leaves many dead disciples in their wakes: the down side of energized growth is the carnage left behind as the ideology temporarily delays fossilization.
Out of disappointment with the Borgia reign over the Old Church came sect-building [the Protestant Reformation] followed by energized evangelical growth, from Lutherans to the Radical Reformers, who were the temporary pinnacle of the movement toward Christian discipleship. It is, however, in the second generation of converts where discipleship inevitably breaks down; for every generation of disciples must spiritually move beyond their forefathers as that generation makes its own journey of faith from earthly Babylon to heavenly Jerusalem. If a Christian remains true to the ideology, dogmas, and doctrines of his or her parents, the Christian makes no journey of faith; the Christian’s heart is not cleansed by faith and therefore cannot be circumcised. And if the Christian’s heart cannot be circumcised, the Christian will not be born of spirit.
The failing of the Millennium will come through generational failure to make individual journeys of faith; for every person will be of Christ, having the mind of Christ, and seemingly no journey of faith will be necessary. But if this were really the case, Satan could deceive no one when he is loosed from his chains after the Thousand Years. So the evidence contained in John’s vision is that during the Millennium, few undertook any journey of faith; few hearts were cleansed; and far too many at the end of the Thousand Years will be as Christians are today … any journey of faith undertaken in the Millennium will be voluntary, and will largely be physical. And I suspect that as in the case today with beaver, it will be the parents that leave the lodge and pond to their kits and journey out to build a new pond and lodge. It will be the parents that take repeated journeys of faith, not those to whom everything has been left, with the second and third generation born in the Millennium being in the outermost corners of this world.
The author of Luke’s Gospel didn’t have the example of the Great Disappointment of 1844 from which he could draw inferences and conclusions; thus, what’s missing from the writings of the author of Luke’s Gospel is Jesus addressing the future sect-building among Jewish converts that would have been inevitable when disappointment set in because He, Jesus, had not yet returned as He seemed to have promised, with this sect-building producing enthusiasm similar to that seen in the Radical Reformers of the 16th-Century …
I need to pause here and address the obvious reality that Luke’s Gospel doesn’t continue forward in time as far as Matthew’s Gospel does; for Matthew’s Gospel leaps two millennia and has the glorified Jesus address His disciples after the Affliction, typologically equivalent to the three days Jesus was dead in the tomb and the half day after He was resurrected but before He ascended to God the Father. Again, Jesus does not receive all authority in heaven and on earth until the single kingdom of this world is given to the Son of Man halfway through the seven endtime years of tribulation; so what Matthew’s Gospel records as true must necessarily have the Jesus of Matthew’s Gospel be the indwelling Christ disciples receive when the disciple is born of spirit as a son of God. Therefore, Luke’s Jesus cannot be this indwelling Jesus representing the disciple receiving a second breath of life: Matthew’s Jesus and Luke’s Jesus do not even share the same genealogy. It is as if Luke’s Jesus was given birth by an intelligent author to oppose Matthew’s Jesus.
Mark’s Gospel presents one Jesus, the man who seemingly appears from nowhere, while Matthew’s Gospel presents a differing Jesus that is the same Jesus but after He breathes on ten of His disciples (John 20:22). Luke’s Gospel presents a still different Jesus, one that doesn’t seem to suffer when crucified. And it is the Jesus Luke’s Gospel presents that causes theological problems—
Why doesn’t Mark’s Jesus cause problems? The answer is in the structure of Hebraic thought-couplets, where the first presentation is physical and the second spiritual. If Matthew hadn’t copied passages verbatim from Mark’s Gospel, only cleaning up Mark’s Greek syntax, it couldn’t be said that Mark was first, the source text from which the author of Matthew’s Gospel drew material. But because the author of Matthew’s Gospel as well as the author of Luke’s Gospel copied from Mark, it can be said with reasonable certainty that Mark’s Gospel was written first. For there is no reason to write clunky sentences [Mark’s Gospel] when copying a text that has good sentences [Matthew], especially not twice [Matthew and Luke].
Post resurrection, Matthew’s Jesus tells eleven of His disciples on a mountain in Galilee that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, but Mark’s Gospel has the two women who hear the angel say that Jesus had risen tell no one what they witnessed (Mark 16:8). Luke’s Gospel has Jesus’ disciples remain in Jerusalem after Jesus was resurrected. And these three endings of the Synoptic Gospels are not compatible with one another.
The entirety of the Christian era between when Jesus breathes on ten of His disciples the day of His ascension (John 20:22) to His return as the Lamb of God to lead the 144,000 (Rev 14:1–5) descendants from eleven of the twelve sons of Jacob, is incorporated in Matthew’s Gospel. Thus, disciples receiving the holy spirit and indwelling eternal life as firstborn sons of God equate to Matthew’s birth narrative of Jesus, with disciples going down into Egypt [sin] as spiritual infants being the reality of a born-without-sin son of God dwelling in the fleshly body of a person consigned to disobedience.
A pause is again warranted: no human person is born with a living inner self (an immoral soul) that needs regenerated, but the human person foreknown by God the Father and predestined to be called, justified, and glorified as a firstborn son of God will receive the earnest of the spirit (breath of God — pneuma Theou) before this son of God realizes that he or she has received a second breath of life. Spiritual birth is given to this person before repentance: without spiritual birth there would be no repentance. Thus, the person is as Israel was in Egypt in the days of Moses … before the person is a Christian that walks as Jesus walked—before the person knows God—this person is born of spirit. When this inner self of the person has matured sufficiently to repent of the lawlessness imposed upon it by the fleshly body in which this son of God dwells, the person will be baptized and raised from death as Jesus was baptized and raised from a watery grave to fulfill all righteousness. And in now walking in a newness of life (walking uprightly before God as a spiritual biped) the inner self of the person engages the fleshly body of the person in a war that must be won, and that was won at Calvary.
The spiritual birth of disciples—of Armstrong himself—was not understood by Herbert Armstrong, who spoke of disciples receiving the spirit of God [pneuma Theou] without realizing that the English word <spirit> came from the Latin <spīritus> that was the best translation of the Greek word <pneuma> and which in Latin meant “breath” or the “breath of a god”… the holy spirit [pneuma ’agion] is the holy breath [breath holy] of God, with His breath written as pneuma Theou … life is in the blood (Gen 9:4) that carries “breath” in the form of oxygen molecules to every cell of the body. And to receive the holy spirit is to receive life via the breath of God that isn’t carried to fleshly cells but to the non-physical inner selves of disciples.
If a person were to step back and take a panoramic view of all Christians individually and collectively representing the Body of Christ, each Christian would be like a cell in a human body, with Christ Jesus carrying in His breath [pneuma Christou] the breath of the Father [pneuma Theou] to every inner self. Thus, the life of every human son of God is in the breath of Christ, the indwelling of Christ Jesus. Without the indwelling of Christ, the inner self of the person would be like the cell within the human body that receives no blood—the cell dies quickly. Hence, the person who has truly received the holy spirit has been born again, or born anew, or born a second time through receipt of a second breath of life that gives to the person life in the heavenly realm: the inner self of the person has, therefore, been glorified. The outer self of the person will await glorification until the Second Advent.
The Apostle Paul in his epistles made the above analogy simple enough that even a child can understand it.
The model for spiritual birth is human birth. Thus what happened to the outer self of a human person reveals and precedes what happens to the inner self of the same human person as the visible physical things of this world reveal and precede the invisible things of God (cf. Rom 1:20; 1 Cor 15:46). And if Peter and the first disciples had been clothed with power from on high, all of them would have realized that human birth is the model of spiritual birth; for they would have been born of spirit when Jesus breathed on His disciples (not before) the day of His ascension as the reality of the Wave Sheaf Offering. None of the first disciples would have been so foolish as to declare that Joel’s prophecy had been fulfilled when there were no heavenly signs indicating that the world had been baptized in the divine breath of God.
Am I clothed in power from on high? There will be many who loudly shout, No! with me being one who joins that chorus … I was born of spirit more than 40 years ago. I spiritually went through the stages of maturation I physically saw in my children’s maturation, stages I dimly remember going through growing from a child to a young person. Miracles have happened to me repeatedly; yet these miracles were personal, private, inward. Outwardly, things just seemed to work out when they shouldn’t have worked out. I receive and have received supernatural protection that I have come to expect—and for which I am thankful. But I know that it isn’t until the ministry of the endtime two witnesses begins that any disciple is truly clothed in power from on high … oh, I can tell of seas being calmed when I cried out for help. I can also tell of seas not being calmed until I knew without doubt that I could walk the mile to shore off Lava Point, Akutan Island. Only when I no longer wondered if I could walk to shore did the seas calm. But the point here is that I didn’t have to get my feet wet.
Only when believing that the wood boat which I was taking from Akun Island to the Pacific Pearl cannery at Dutch would not hold together when hit by the next thirty foot wave did I glance toward Lava Point and know without doubt I could walk to shore when the boat broke apart—the boat was full of water, but the 3-51 Jimmie main was mounted high and was still running. And after glancing the second time toward Lava Point (the first time I glanced, I wondered if I could walk to shore or if I would have to swim), the next sea was a 10 footer; the one after that was 6 feet, hardly a sea at all. There were no more thirty footers after that second glance at Lava Point … two bilge pumps pumped full streams of water all the way into Dutch; plus, I bailed more than a hundred five gallon buckets of water out of the cabin between Lava Point and Priest Rock and more partial buckets all the way to East Point—and the boat had self-bailing decks or the situation would have been worse.
If I had never done anything—if I had held an office job, with the morning and evening commute to work being the most danger I faced—I wouldn’t have had the occasions to cry out for physical help from having placed myself in a bad situation that got worse usually because of the weather. I probably would not have realized that for genuine disciples miracles occur through things just sort of working themselves out when they ought not do so. But because I experienced many unspectacular miracles as did others whom I knew were born of God, I began to realize that the miracles of the 1st-Century (e.g., the miracle of Jesus stepping into a crowd and disappearing) were of two sorts: the exaggerated miracles of fiction writers, and the genuine quiet, almost un-miraculous miracle of the sort 20th-century sons of God experienced that didn’t result in what should have been the certain death of the disciple.
Healings occurred by prayers of faith, and healings didn’t occur at other times when the same individuals prayed for divine intervention—and what I had to learn was that a person is unusually fond of the fleshly body in which the inner self dwells, that the fastest and surest way for God to get the attention of a son is through the fleshly body, that since no fleshly body will ever enter heaven, the flesh is of less importance to God than it is to the person who occupies this fleshly house. So healings occur or don’t occur by God’s determination of what is best for the inner self that has life from heaven, life that will not be lost even if the fleshly body perishes, life that only God can give or can take. Thus, the object for disciples is to grow to spiritual maturity without the necessity of God using the person’s fleshly body against the person. And sometimes, the spiritual growth needed can only come via the person placing little or no importance on the flesh.
For a few years in the early 1980s, I had a modest living as an outdoor writer. And one of the things discussed among fellow struggling writers were big name sportsmen that would get paid good money to visit a lodge, drink whiskey for a week, pose for pictures with fish one of the lodge guides caught, then fly back to the Lower Forty-Eight to write the story of how this big name writer caught the fish in the photos, with one writer getting “caught” releasing a fish streamside that was staring straight out (the photo on a magazine cover). If a reader doesn’t know, living fish look downward when lifted from a stream or when being returned to the stream alive; dead fish stare at the horizon.
Then there were the typewriter shots, big game shot at modest ranges that when the stories were written became kills at extreme ranges … a fellow brought me a Model 94 .32-Special to repair and sight-in. I had no .32-Special ammo, and the customer left me only seven rounds. I did the work requested, test fired the lever-action rifle, then set about to check its point of aim (I also didn’t have a .32 caliber spud for my bore site scope). I set a target up at fifty yards and didn’t hit even the portable backstop. I moved the backstop closer, to twenty-five yards. And still I didn’t hit the backstop. Three of the seven rounds were now fired. I eyeballed the sights as best I could, moved the rear sight as far right as I could and the front sight as far left as I could, and I took another shot at twenty-five yards, this time hitting the white of the target. I took the rear sight off, peened the dovetail so I could move the sight even farther than I previously had. And I fired the fifth of the seven rounds, this time hitting in the black, but low. The rear sight was so far to the side that its elevation slide was over the center of the barrel and not reliable. So I worked on the front sight, which was so far to the side that after moving it more I soldered it in place so it wouldn’t fall out while the fellow was hunting. And on my sixth shot, I hit near the center of the black at twenty-five yards. My seventh and last shot was at seventy-five yards, and I hit in the black. An atlatl and dart would have been as effective as that rifle. Nevertheless, I saw the fellow late during hunting season, and he was glowing, telling me what I good job I had done. Why, he had killed a doe on his doe tag at two hundred yards. One shot. Took aim and killed the deer at—he pointed out a similar distance—a full two hundred yards that if stepped off would have been about thirty-five yards.
Video cameras brought to hunting and fishing adventures considerable honesty that had been missing. And if a video camera had been present for the miracles seen in Acts, few if any of these miracles would have occurred.
The person who has done something reads the writings of others to see if the writer got the story correct; whereas the person who knows nothing of, say, saddling a horse, when encountering the saddling of a horse in a text doesn’t read closely to see if the author knows about what he or she writes. The person with experience reads to validate the person’s experience, and pays close attention to small details that escape the attention of others; for in these small details lies the test of the author’s truthfulness. If these small details don’t agree with the experience of the reader, the suspension of disbelief comes to an end. The reader with experience will now challenge every detail for none can be trusted.
The Book of Acts has about it the feel of a lie, which is what makes Luke’s Gospel more interesting; for Luke contains a degree of fact similar to the “fact” the serpent told Eve to deceive her. And this lying through truth-telling is dangerous; for how much can be believed without ingesting poisoned fruit? I don’t know. Thus, I’m backing away from Luke’s Gospel, quarantining it as the only reasonable thing to be done in this present era.
In this world, the physical body of a human person “houses” the living inner self that has been born of God as a son; the physical body is not the son of God. And as Paul disclosed, the physical body will never enter the timeless heavenly realm (1 Cor 15:50)—the fleshly body of a person is of this world and will remain in this world where it will perish utterly.
Because of Western cultures retaining the memory of theological Gnosticism, some ballgame players will, after making a good play, glance upward and mumble words about that play to a father or brother or deceased teammate who was watching … Solomon said that the dead know nothing (Eccl 9:5), but there are very few people today willing to believe Solomon.
It is the dead that bury the dead of themselves (Matt 8:22) as well as score touchdowns and preach Sunday morning sermons, or blow themselves up in suicide bombings.
The sect-building that followed disappointment after disappointment caused greater Christendom to drift father and farther away from the man Jesus of Nazareth until now, even with binoculars, a Christian cannot be found in Sunday morning Christian-worship services. Certainly many good people by this world’s standards can be found in the churches of this world (I know many), but no disciples of Christ Jesus will be found in these churches. Disciples of differing Jesuses will be found—and therein lies the irresolvable problem of our endtime age: because of the differing Jesus in Luke’s Gospel from the Jesus in Mark’s Gospel and the Jesus of Matthew’s Gospel, the churches of greater Christendom proclaim whatever Jesus that best suits the needs of that church, with pastors preaching this Jesus today and that Jesus next week..
The sect-building that inevitably occurred among Jewish converts when Jesus failed to return as expected would have also occurred among Greek converts to whom Luke’s Gospel was directed. The zeal for piety among Jewish converts would have produced the various forms of the Circumcision Faction, but among Greek converts no comparable zeal for purity would have occurred due to the already differing mindsets of the cultures included within Hellenism.
Rather than a zeal for purity, Greek converts would have felt a zeal for including as many other Greeks and non-Greeks as possible into the Jesus Movement, something that affected even Hellenized Jews after the Seleucids were defeated (hence the conversion of Edom by the sword). And Luke’s Gospel would have been the text most used by Greeks for the conversion of other Greeks.
Most likely, Luke’s Gospel was composed after Jerusalem was razed by Roman soldiers at the end of the Great Revolt; for Luke’s Jesus doesn’t really suffer at the hands of Roman soldiers. Rather, the author of Luke’s Gospel has a centurion, witnessing the death of Jesus, praise God and declare, “‘Certainly this man was innocent’” (Luke 23:47) … in Luke’s Gospel, the Romans are good guys, not something a Jewish convert would have felt, especially after Herod’s temple was razed.
Probably because of Greek-convert sect-building, the author of Luke and Acts morphs Jesus into Paul so that what happened to Jesus in Luke’s Gospel happens to Paul in the Book of Acts—and the Book of Acts is a fully quarantined text.
Evil is nothing more than eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; evil is nothing more than mingling the sacred [Christ, the Son] with the profane [the day of the sun, or the birthday of the sun]. Thus, that old serpent, Satan the devil, who was/is more subtle than any other living entity that God created, injected leaven [analogous to sin] into the single lump of dough, the Body of Christ, via “false brothers secretly brought in” (Gal 2:4) who didn’t deny that Jesus was the Christ but who professed more loudly than others that Jesus was the Christ. These false brothers (as a little leaven leavens the entire loaf) would have declared that Jesus warned His disciples, “‘You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives’” (Luke 21:16–19 emphasis added).
But if some disciples will be put to death though not a hair of their head would perish, there must necessarily be a mingling of the spiritual with the profane …
Either death is physical and thus profane and the hair of the head is spiritual, with hair representing the inner selves of disciples, or the statement made is inherently nonsensical. Whomever kills disciples necessarily causes the dead hair of the head to perish physically … consider “hair” from what is today commonly known: hair is not composed of living cells, but dead cells that contain traces of what the person had previously ingested such as heavy metals. Hair doesn’t grow from its end by adding to its end as a tree limb does. Rather, hair grows from a follicle in the skin of the living entity, and it grows only from this living follicle. Thus, hair is always dead. To not harm the hair on a person’s head, a figurative expression that doesn’t stand up well to close examination, is to not harm the dead that know nothing. And it is this expression where revelation can occur: when the dead know nothing and are like hair on a person head, then what the dead have done [what the body that grew the hair ingested] remains with the dead and cannot be altered. The basis for judging the dead is with the dead as would evidence of slow arsenic poisoning remain in the hair of a corpse. And because the hair is dead while the body that grew the hair lived, hair decays slowly and outlasts flesh and often bone. Thus, hair forms a reasonable analogy for what has been written in the Book of Remembrance about a person.
If Luke’s Jesus intends to tell His disciples that though the body perishes the spirit lives through not a hair of disciples’ heads perishing (Luke 21:18), the message was garbled for this Jesus just gave to the “spirit” a coat of hair as Adam received a hair coat after eating forbidden fruit (Gen 3:21), not a glorified body.
Luke’s Jesus mingles the sacred with the profane in a very human manner that includes this Jesus telling disciples not to even meditate beforehand about what the disciple will say when brought before kings and governors. Thus, encapsulated in Luke’s Jesus is “evil” in a most subtle form, evil that a false brother introduced in writing two narratives to Greek lovers of God.
The expectation of the saints at Thessalonica that Jesus would shortly return would have seen these saints figuratively sitting on a hillside twiddling their thumbs while they awaited the Second Coming. They would have sold property and other assets as the Millerites did. They would have pooled resources, holding things in common and sharing a communal mentality—in other words, Millerites did in type what Christians in Acts were allegedly doing immediately after Calvary. But sect-building destroyed unity among the Millerites just as sect-building since the death of Herbert Armstrong in January 1986 has destroyed unity among Armstrong’s followers. Again, from Millerites came Adventists, Seventh Day Adventists, and the Church of God Seventh Day and an additional host of miniscule fellowships remaining together for a few years. From the former Worldwide Church of God has come a handful of major COG splinters and now hundreds of COG slivers, none ideologically capable of moving past what Armstrong preached. And from the disappointment of 1st-Century disciples, there would have been a handful of major Christian slivers and dozens of minor sects and fellowships, all claiming that the particular sect alone proclaimed the truth, thereby making themselves the dead victims of theological chaos, with these victims swept into piles and shoveled into the ash heap of history.
But from 1st-Century ashes arose a different Christian Church in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, a new Christian Church based upon realized eschatology, meaning that this new Church believed that Christ Jesus really had returned because He never left; that the kingdom of God was not only at hand but was ruling here on earth in the form of the Christian Church. However, realized eschatology was hard to sell to Jewish converts who knew that the Messiah wasn’t a minor bishop or Christian pastor. So from the sect-building that followed the laity’s realization that Jesus wasn’t going to return anytime soon came ideological pearl-building as scattered disciples coalesced around grains of sand, all that remained from the Rock that was Christ.
The author of Luke’s Gospel and of the Book of Acts turns away from the Christian commune at Jerusalem by making Paul the agent of persecution that caused the laity to forsake Jerusalem and scatter throughout the region:
And there arose on that day [when Stephen was martyred] a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. … Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. (Acts 8:1, 2)
The preceding has greater importance than is usually assigned to the passage; for according to the author of Luke and Acts, Paul, not God, not Zealots, not Romans, was responsible for negatively spreading the Gospel of Christ prior to his conversion. According to this author, Paul was responsible for the absence of sect building through his persecution of Believers when the expectation of Jesus’ return was not satisfied by the return of Christ. According to this author, Paul in persecuting the Church involuntarily spread Christianity as a type of what he did voluntarily after conversion when he powerfully proclaimed the good news that Jesus would soon return as the promised Jewish Messiah that would save all people, Jews and Gentiles.
But the author of Acts gives even greater credit to Paul: by Paul allegedly doing extraordinary miracles “so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:12), this author would have Paul distract the laity and temporarily delay sect-building as Armstrong delayed sect-building to the end of his life (January 1986) … Paul’s miracles as recorded in Acts were a work of distraction.
If the author of Luke’s Gospel acknowledged that sect-building had produced the many narratives he had examined before writing, which would have been the case, then no particular ideology would have had authority over any other Christian ideology until Christ Jesus intervened to place His stamp of approval on an ideology—and this is an important point, for Christ will intervene in the case of the two witnesses who will have power to call droughts and plagues into existence, and who will defend themselves with fire from their mouths. At no time between the end of the 1st-Century and the coming of the two witnesses will Christ place His figurative stamp of approval on a Christian ministry, meaning that to sort through the differing Jesuses found in the Gospels, endtime disciples are left with what John’s Jesus said to Jews seeking His life because of the invalid of 38 years that He healed:
And the Father who sent me has Himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, His form you have never seen, and you do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom He has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words? (John 5:37–47 emphasis added)
What is Scripture? The Law [Moses], the Prophets, and the Writings. And it is Scripture that bears witness about Jesus, not canonical New Testament texts that either correct doctrinal misunderstandings, or reveal what had been previously concealed by the physicality of the creation.
The Christian who believed the writings of Moses and kept the commandments because of Moses was not the equal of another Christian who didn’t believe the writings of Moses—and this is the importance of John’s vision, which was a direct intervention by Christ Jesus in the affairs of the Church without then returning as the Messiah.
Because of John’s vision as well as the epistles of John, Peter, James, and Paul, it can be declared with absolute authority that any Christian born of God as a son will keep the commandments. However, it can also be declared that sect-building will have occurred prior to when the single kingdom of this world is given to the Son of Man halfway through the seventh endtime years of tribulation; for in John’s visions are letters to seven churches, each a Church of God. These seven named churches on that ancient Roman mail route through Asia Minor were of God but were not identical one to another; were not of one mind. These seven named churches, though, formed the shadow and copy of seven endtime churches that are all of God, with ideology having replaced geography.
The seven churches of Revelation deviated one from another in the late 1st-Century because of geographical separation that 1900 years later becomes ideological separation in the early 21st-Century—and I will here state that this endtime sect-building began with the Great Disappointment, which had much more significance than greater Christendom realizes. It continues to this day. But saints, the holy ones, today as then are defined within John’s vision as “‘those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus’” (Rev 14:12). No self-identified Christian that fails to keep the commandments is of God.
Again, the author of Luke gives to Paul credit for spreading the Gospel even before his conversion, then gives to Paul credit for bringing peace and harmony to Christians once he begins to boldly proclaim Jesus as the Messiah: following Paul’s conversion, the author of Luke says simply, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the holy spirit, it multiplied” (Acts 9:31). Thus, for the author of Luke and Acts, Paul lays the foundation for the spread of Christianity unintentionally and intentionally.
If Paul was responsible for the spread of Christianity by dispersing Jewish converts throughout Asia Minor via his persecution of these converts, then responsible for the spread of Christianity to Greek pagans by powerfully preaching the gospel to these Gentiles, Paul would have as much to do with Christianity as Christ Jesus had, apparently what the author of Luke’s Gospel seeks to establish—
There are Sabbatarian disciples who sincerely believe that Paul stole the Christian Movement away from the first disciples, but the Paul they believe that stole Christ is the Paul of Acts, a fictional Paul that never existed.
What Paul wrote about “faith/belief” can be easily misconstrued by persons with no spiritual understanding; by persons who do not understand the movement from things physical and of the outer self to things spiritual and of the inner self. The commandments that regulated the actions of hands and body of outwardly circumcised Israel move to being written on hearts and placed in minds and regulating the desires of the heart and the thoughts of the mind, thereby causing the inside of the cup [the clay vessel that is a person] to be clean. And every disciple born of God understands this movement from outside to inside (from hand to heart) even if the disciple cannot adequately express the concept in uttered words; for every disciple genuinely born of God comprehends the difference in him or herself that has come from spiritual birth, a difference others will not necessarily see for decades.
The person not born of God doesn’t understand that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of living ones (Matt 22:32—gave to physically living Israel commandments that were the shadow and copy of commandments the God of dead ones would give to His sons when He raised them from death through giving to dead inner selves “life” via His breath [pneuma Theou] in the breath of Christ [pneuma Christou] … the God of living ones created physically what was living; the God of dead ones creates spiritually by giving to the physically living life in the heavenly realm. And this is the great mystery that Jesus came to reveal to His disciples; the mystery concealed by the Great Disappointment of William Miller and by the disappointment of Herbert Armstrong; the mystery that has kept the dead Body of Christ “dead” and without indwelling heavenly life.
The disappointment of the 1st-Century produced sect-building that contributed mightily to the death of the Body of Christ seventy years after Calvary, but this sect-building was temporarily delayed by immediate concern by disciples for their own physical safety. It was not possible for Christian fellowships to dwell peacefully when men such as Saul of Tarsus, empowered by temple officials, persecuted these fellowships. Note what else the author of Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts wrote:
Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1–2)
Again, Acts is a Sophist novel that seems historical but lacks historicity; thus an endtime disciple should not be surprised to find in Acts persecuted saints dwelling peacefully in their homes as they were being scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria because their homes were being entered and they were being dragged off to prison … that makes no sense at all, but many 2nd and 3rd Century disciples didn’t think to question what was presented to them as the true history of the Church a hundred years, two hundred years earlier.
If Americans will permit their President and Secretary of State to declare that their Ambassador to Libya was killed by over exuberant rioters carrying AK-47s and RPGs when no rioting occurred on the night the Ambassador was murdered, then these same low-information Americans as “Christians” will never think to question why the author of Acts seemingly simultaneously has saints dwelling in the comfort of the holy spirit and being dragged from their homes and imprisoned for their faith. They will not realize that the author of Luke and Acts has Paul physically and spiritually spreading Christianity throughout Asia Minor, thereby having Paul do what Jesus didn’t do when He failed to show up when His return was expected. Paul did what Jesus didn’t do in spreading the Gospel, the good news that all who believed that Jesus was Lord would be saved.
The above isn’t entirely fair to the author of Acts; for there is a passage of time between Saul entering homes to drag away Believers and when Believers dwelt peaceably in their homes. How much time? Not much. Enough that people could forget about Saul being their persecutor? No, not according to Paul:
And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, "He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." And they glorified God because of me. (Gal 1:14–24 emphasis added)
What Paul writes about himself, about his visits to Jerusalem, about whom he met with in Jerusalem disagrees with what is found in Acts …
When stories are changed, there are reasons for the change: e.g., if for apparent political reasons no one in the State Department or in the White House would admit to knowing what occurred as they watched one of two live televised feeds of the American ambassador being attacked and killed in Libya for days after the attack, it isn’t surprising that endtime Christian leaders know nothing about discrepancies between Paul of Acts and Paul of his epistles. It behooves them to be ignorant and remain ignorant, ignoring 1st-Century sect-building or the need for saints to walk in this world as Jesus walked. Such knowledge wouldn’t be convenient. Thus, as a story about overly exuberant rioters killing the Ambassador better suited the political needs of the President as he sought reelection than did admitting that his State Department was derelict when it came to protecting their own personnel, a story about Paul speaking with the authority of Christ Jesus better suited the needs of lawless 1st-Century Christians than did what Paul wrote in his treatise to the saints at Rome: “For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law … it is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified” (Rom 2:12–13).
Peter, probably by his own hand (which would account for the roughness of the inscribed Greek), wrote,
But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 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. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 3:13–18 emphasis added)
The same hand—that of Silvanus, a faithful brother to Peter (1 Pet 5:12)—that wrote 1st Peter did not write 2nd Peter, a realization that nearly caused 2nd Peter not to be canonized.
But the point is that Paul was greatly loved by 1st-Century disciples even if he was less willing to forgive himself for persecuting the saints. If Paul would have been the terror to righteousness that the author of Luke and Acts claimed he was before conversion, there would have been less willingness to accept him into the fold, even by the faithful who were not the stupid. If Paul would have been dragging saints from their houses in a manner analogous to how state police in the former Soviet Union or in Nazi Germany dragged perceived enemies of the state from their homes in the first half of the 20th-Century, forgiveness and acceptance by the faithful would have been harder to come-by, even considering the example of the Radical Reformers who were also hunted and captured by the state as if they were vermin … you do not find Mennonites expressing kind words about 16th or 17th Century theologians of the Roman Church or of the Reform Church.
As President Obama has escaped culpability in the murder of America’s Libyan ambassador through professing ignorance of how the ambassador was murdered, Christian leaders today escape culpability for teaching the Christians laity to walk in this world as lawless Gentiles by professing ignorance. They cannot explain the trinity, spiritual birth, why Paul would tell saints at Rome that the lawless among them would perish without the Law. There is so much that they cannot explain that what they learned in college, in seminary becomes a mystery. They consciously do not preach from pulpits anything they learned in graduate classes concerning New Testament criticism. It is as if once they were awarded their degrees, everything they learned was erased from their memories—and this multitude of Christian pastors includes my own nephew, Peter, who doesn’t remember the Greek he was taught in graduate school and who has no valid explanation for why he attempts to come before God on the 1st-day of the week. Again, it is as if the education for which they paid so much was flushed from their memories once they were handed their degrees, and they returned to the adolescent nonsense they learned in Sunday school when they were youths, a sure sign of dementia.
Neither Christian pastors nor theologians address the great disappointment of 1st-Century disciples when Jesus didn’t return in the lifetimes of the Apostles, this great disappointment necessarily followed by localized sect-building that saw seven distinct Churches of God along a rather short mail route. Why no curiosity?
Situational dramatizations in self-identified novels are required to be believable: they are not permitted to deviate so far from reality that an ambassador can be killed while government officials watch without the president being held responsible. In fact, the President blaming rioters for the death of the Ambassador would be adequate plot material for a modern novelist to construct a narrative in which a rogue Federal agent discloses the truth about the Ambassador’s murder and takes down the Administration that obviously has secrets it needs to conceal such as the Ambassador running guns for the President. Only this time it isn’t Colonel North sending guns to anti-Communist rebels in Central America for President Reagan, but the American ambassador to Libya trying to recover weapons supplied by the President to anti-American Islamic fundamentalists who had overturned the Libyan dictator.
Acts is a pseudo history that was canonized long ago, and as such, the narrative bears a similar relationship to the truth that a modern novel about the Libyan Ambassador running guns from Libyan rebels to Syrian rebels would bear—and there would be considerable truth in such a story, but important elements of the narrative would have to be fictionalized for President Obama will never publically admit supporting America’s sworn enemies. And if such a novel were written about the death of the Libyan ambassador, many Americans would accept the novel as factual truth, probably the same Americans that accept Acts as the factual history of the early Christian Church, the same Christians that accept as true whatever is declared to them from the pulpits of America, even that Saul as Paul went in and out among the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 9:28), preaching boldly in the name of the Lord, disputing against the Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews) before the brothers sent him off to Tarsus (vv. 29–30) when Paul himself tells a very different story. Again, Paul’s words versus the words of the author of Acts:
For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I [Paul] persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. (Gal 1:13–21 emphasis added)
And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he [Paul] regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." And all who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?" But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. (Acts 9:18–31 emphasis added)
Galatians is universally accepted as a genuine epistle of Paul. And what Paul writes about himself in Galatians disagrees with what the author of Luke and Acts writes about Paul, disagrees enough that it would be difficult to reconcile the two accounts in any semantic dance of oneness. An informed endtime disciple can accept the epistles of Paul while rejecting Acts, or can close his or her eyes and literarily swallow honey and gall as if truth mixed with lies is somehow spiritual medicine for whatever ails the Christian.
Americans are presently witnessing President Obama getting away with covering up the security failure that resulted in the death of the American Ambassador to Libya and three others in an all night long firefight; so it should come as no surprise to endtime Christians that 2nd and 3rd Century lay Christians permitted their “shepherds” to pass Acts off as genuine history. The uninformed laity of the early Church were truly uneducated men and women who had, a century after Calvary, accepted the claim that the kingdom of God was not only at hand when Jesus said, “‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:15), but that the kingdom of God was here on earth in the form of the Church and its clergy. And as millions of Americans voted to reelect President Obama despite his administration’s lack of transparency and utter contempt for honest discourse, tens of thousands of Greek converts to the Jesus Movement really didn’t care about understanding the mysteries of God but cared about getting to heaven after death—Christianity was for the converted Greek laity all about what Jesus could do for them personally. Therefore certain assumptions can be made about the 1st-Century Christian Church in the post-expectation period, equivalent to what Millerites experienced in 1845 through the 1860s. And foremost among these assumptions is that sect-building occurred, with the Circumcision Factor holding sway in Jerusalem until the Rebellion began, and with a Lawless Faction at work in predominately Greek fellowships. There was also a One-God Faction as well as a Two-God Faction. There was a Secret Knowledge Faction in addition to the proto-orthodox faction. And within all of the capitalized factions were many splinters, slivers, even single fellowships following the teachings of one man [or woman], with the Jesus Movement having begun with one man, Jesus the Nazarene, and with His disciples following the teachings of this one unique man.
The gullibility of human persons can never be over estimated. There is really nothing that many people will not sincerely believe. Hence, it is not surprising that endtime Christians willingly accept what the author of Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts wrote about Christians being persecuted—
Why were 1st-Century Christians persecuted in Hellenistic Asia Minor? It wasn’t because they believed that Jesus the Nazarene was the Messiah. Considerable diversity of belief already existed throughout the region, and what Jesus taught wasn’t particularly radical if the person already believed people were born with immoral souls. So the principal way that Christians attracted attention to themselves so that localized persecution happened was through Christians not worshiping the deities of the State, which meant that the person did not support the State or the Roman Emperor—and this is the importance of what Paul wrote about civil authority.
What ended the persecution that Paul is alleged to have brought upon mid 1st-Century disciples? Certainly not additional conversions which would have resulted in increased persecution while these saints dwelt securely in their homes from which they were being dragged [this is what the author of Luke and Acts would have you believe]. Thus, the question must be asked, did Paul’s conversion alone end persecution? If it did, then there really wasn’t much persecution.
When a community of Believers comes together in anticipation of a phenomenon, this community cannot long sustain itself on the sale of property and assets of the Believers and will, without some form of industry, fall apart from want of money to sustain the idleness of true Believers. The Christian commune at Jerusalem about which the author of Luke and Acts wrote would have fallen apart simply because Jesus did not return when expected.
The money generated from the sale of disciples’ assets would have been exhausted within a very few years, especially if the number of converts alleged in Acts would have really become Believers … if the Church at Jerusalem still believed that Christ would return as the saints at Thessalonica had believed that His return could occur any day, there would have been no need for many narratives to be written, the narratives that the author of Luke’s Gospel read before writing yet another narrative, a better retelling of what had already been told.
Circulated within the Christian Church of Luke’s Gospel, filled with converts that can be identified as Greek Lovers of God, were many narratives having already been composed detailing what had happened to Christians and to the Church in the previous fifty or so years, with these many narratives functioning for future converts as eyewitnesses and early ministers functioned for converts in the second half of the 1st-Century CE (see Luke 1:1–4). In other words, the many narratives were written for the future when there would no longer be living eyewitnesses or those able to remember what converts had accomplished in the previous half century—
Writing a narrative about what has happened is always a political act, and usually an act supporting one side or another in a controversy … a novel about the President running guns to the enemies of America would indeed be political. Any novel about morality, about ideology, about governance of a people cannot help being political. And without an event that exposes the corrupt underbelly of a political administration or ideology, there is no need to write historical or pseudo-historical narratives—and the same can even be said about epic poetry and novels, with Homer’s Iliad being a virtually unmatched anti-war statement.
Narratives are written for immediate and for further support of a particular political position. Luke’s Gospel and the Book of Acts are not exceptions. So it can be said with considerable certainty that widening schisms in a Christian Church that no longer believed Jesus’ return could occur any day existed when Luke’s Gospel was written, with each of these schisms preaching a differing Jesus, a Christ that had similarity to the one preached by another schism but that also had significant differences as if the way to salvation were a wheel of many spokes, a salvation very different from the one John the Baptist proclaimed in making straight the way of the Lord.
A Christian cannot ignore Moses [the Son] and walk in this world as the man Jesus the Nazarene [the Son] walked. Can’t be done.
John was a Levite. He was a priest who should have been serving in the temple once he turned thirty years old, but when he was thirty he began a ministry in the wilderness, an antiauthoritarian statement that couldn’t have been more effective.
John’s ministry that was not of the temple. His ministry was truly anti-establishment, a disrespecting of the authority of Sadducees and Pharisees alike. In making straight the way of the Lord, John by preaching repentance declared that Judaism itself did not believe the writings of Moses. And this agrees with what Jesus declared during Sukkoth of the year immediately preceding the Passover when He would be crucified as the Lamb of God:
My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me. If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of Him who sent Him is true, and in Him there is no falsehood. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me? (John 7:16–19 emphasis added)
If none of the Jews keeping Sukkoth in the autumn of 30 CE kept the Law, how were they breaking the Law? Jesus added,
I did one work, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well? Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. (John 7:21–24)
By Jesus’ own words (as recorded in John’s Gospel), He did one miracle in Jerusalem in the first three years of His ministry. The other miracles He did were in Galilee of the nations [Gentiles] (from Isa 9:1), analogous to John ministering in the wilderness along the Jordan River, the reason he could be arrested by Herod the Tetrarch who ruled the Galilee.
A juxtaposition begins to emerge: Jesus said He did one miracle at the temple in Judea and the Jews there wanted to kill Him … Jesus had one disciple from Judea, Judas Iscariot , and eleven from Galilee where He did many miracles. The healing of the man who had been an invalid for 38 years just before Passover of the year before He was crucified was this one miracle, and by extension becomes analogous to Judas Iscariot—
John’s Gospel from chapter five to its end represents one chronological year, which will now have Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand before telling them that He was the bread of life forming the shadow and copy of Jesus telling seven of the disciples to cast the net to the other side of the boat, the side not usually fished, before telling Peter to feed His lambs, tend His sheep, and feed His sheep, the narrative structure of Peter’s two epistles. The relationship between Jesus miraculously feeding the five thousand with two fish and five barley loaves, seven items in number, and seven disciples going fishing in the Sea of Galilee after having received indwelling spiritual life and just as day was breaking, being told by the glorified Jesus to cast their net on the right side of the boat where they were not able to haul it in, such was the quantity of fish netted.
John, son of the priest Zechariah, wasn’t so-named accidentally; nor was the disciple who loved Jesus [the better translation], John son of Zebedee, one of the two sons of thunder, a mere coincidental naming … when God spoke to Jesus, who heard the words of God, the crowd that followed Jesus heard thunder (John 12:29), heard the words of John.
The preceding word play will take a moment to digest: when God’s words are heard as thunder, then the one who speaks God’s words speaks as a “son of thunder,” speaks as John spoke.
When John the Baptist preached repentance in the wilderness where he baptized many in the Jordan, John baptized with water and as such baptized the person into the death of the old self so that the person could be raised a new man [male or female] when baptized with the spirit of God into life. Thus, in baptizing Israelites into death as a type of Noah’s baptism when the entirety of the world was baptized into death, John the Baptist was returning Israelites to being sons of righteousness of the sort of righteousness that Noah had—Noah’s sons were all sons of righteousness. For as the Ark carried Noah and his sons and their wives alive from one world [age] into the following world, voluntary repentance and baptism by John carried physical Israelites into a new age where receipt of indwelling eternal life would become possible.
As Matthew’s Gospel contains an imbedded element of spiritual understanding in its relationship to Mark’s Gospel, the seemingly added-on chapter 21 of John’s Gospel bears a similar relationship to the first 20 chapters of John’s Gospel … Matthew’s Gospel is to Mark’s Gospel as John Chapter 21 is to John chapters 1–20, with the tonal change in Chapter 21 of the Gospel reflecting the separation that exists between Matthew and Mark. Thus as Matthew’s Gospel assigns a genealogy to Jesus the Nazarene, John’s Gospel assigns a better genealogy to Jesus. But Luke’s Gospel also assigns a genealogy to Jesus, but not the same genealogy as Matthew assigns [however, Luke’s genealogy is probably the more accurate biological genealogy; for Matthew’s genealogy is symbolic]. The genealogy Luke assigns to Jesus seems to be without a spiritual purpose. While it links Jesus to the God of Abraham through Adam, it doesn’t go behind Adam or around Adam as John’s Gospel does; nor does it link Jesus to the kingship line of Israel or of the House of Judah. Rather the genealogy of Jesus found in Luke’s Gospel identifies a man, not a king of Israel nor the unique Son of God.
In that book I picked up in Anchorage about the 1960s (see APA V3, “Introduction” section 2 first paragraph), I found a different 1960s than I experienced … during Jesus’ ministry and in the first few years immediately following His ministry, a Jew living in Jerusalem would have lived through a different decade than a Jew living in Galilee. And a Greek living in Ephesus would have lived through an even more distant decade, with each location having its own heteroglossia, reflected by Peter being identified as a Galilean by the words he spoke: he could no more pass himself off as a Jew from Jerusalem than a Cajun today could pass himself off as a farm boy from Iowa. And a particular mindset is formed by the heteroglossia of the region and age. Jesus’ eleven disciples from Galilee did not think like Judas Iscariot thought, with Judas Iscariot’s treachery forming a shadow and copy of self-identified authentic Judaism’s treachery.
Fifty years ago I began my senior year of high school to which girls wore pleated wool skirts and had ratted hair held stiff with hair spray. John F. Kennedy was President, and Russians were putting nuclear-tipped missiles in Cuba, missiles that could reach all of the continental United States but for the Northwest Coast where I was. Income tax was paid by most everyone, and the number of deductions permitted effectively limited taxable income to being what a person spent on him or herself. Commodity foods were distributed on Saturdays. Stores were closed on Sundays. Merchants signed fair trade agreements so virtually every store had the same price on an item. And it was Laos that was the Southeast Asia nation people knew a little about, thanks to the presidential debate of 1960.
In the past fifty years, a relatively short time ago, the morals of the United States of America plunged over a cultural cliff. Certainly there was teenage sexual relations resulting in pregnancies: of the 114 students that were in my freshman classmates fall 1959, only 57 graduated in June 1963, with most of those not graduating having married because it was the thing to do when a girl became pregnant. And it wasn’t an absence of sex education that caused half of my freshman class to not graduate four years later: no boy got a girl pregnant by accident, and none were such dunces that they didn’t know pregnancy was a possibility every time they were alone with their girl friend. Rather, marriage, children, job, working for the remainder of one’s life seemed inevitable. If it happened early, say when 16 or 17, fine. It happened. A fellow could get a job somewhere. At 17, he probably already had a car — when I was in high school, a 1950 Ford (ten years old), cost $50, wasn’t difficult to rebuild, and with a flathead V-8 was plenty fast. An older Chevrolet was even cheaper. Used electric stoves were common for $25., used refrigerators were under $40., and there were many small older homes and cabins that could be rented for a few dollars a month; so a young couple could afford to set up a household on even gas station wages, and many did until the fellow turned 18 and could go to work in the woods setting chokers.
Even as late as 1968, I rented a 140 acre farm with a four bedroom house for $45./month. I had been paying less for a house in-town in Siletz.
Was there not more to life than raising children and setting chokers? Certainly. There was Rock Creek Ladies Club, the Congressional Church or the Seventh Day Adventist Church at Oceanlake, even the local non-denominational church. There was deer season and steelhead fishing. What else mattered? A college education? For what purpose? So you could wear a white shirt and suit, live in the Willamette Valley, make more money and spend even more than you made, but spend it on what, vacations to where you presently live? That made no sense at all. You were better off living where you wanted to live, buying, say, a power troller and fishing for salmon out of Depoe Bay or Newport—Bob Ellis bought his for $1500., and made $1800. in just one week trolling the 60 degree thermo cline offshore. You were better off buying a used TD14 for about the same $1500 and cat-logging second-growth. There were enough self-loaders around that if you got up a deck of logs, you could get them hauled and make a little money, enough to do another job until you could buy a used yarder, one you could afford to park in your backyard when the log market collapsed, and the log market was certain to collapse every couple of years. Such was life along the Oregon Coast fifty years ago for my generation. Thus, jobs at Georgia-Pacific’s plywood mill or pulp mill were valued; for when I started at the pulp mill in 1965 (when I was 18 years old), I made $2.62 per hour, enough money I could afford to open a little gunshop by March 1967. I could afford to buy a used Logan 11x36 inch engine lathe for $1100, the Logan being the lathe of choice for its large hole through the headstock.
The psyche of a people in a particular location (central Oregon Coast) at a particular time (1962) was not truly accessible-to or understandable by someone living even a hundred miles (e.g., Ken Kesey of Springfield, outside of Eugene). And this would certainly have been true in 1st-Century Galilee, from where the eleven disciples loyal to Christ Jesus grew to maturity … again, Judas Iscariot was not from the Galilee and could never think the same thoughts that the disciples from Galilee thought. He saw the ministry of Christ Jesus differently than did the disciples from Galilee, with this difference reflected in him having the moneybag and making whatever transactions were necessary for Jesus and His disciples.
The subject of Judas Iscariot being from Judea and holding the moneybag and betraying Jesus is rich with symbolism … if disciples had remained in Judea rather than returning to Galilee after Calvary, they too would have betrayed Jesus.
Peter in Jerusalem denied Jesus three times before Jesus was crucified; thus, Peter having tasted the fruit of denial, remained in Jerusalem and was there when Paul came three years after his conversion (Gal 1:18). Peter was still in Jerusalem when Paul came again fourteen years later. And whereas Paul only met Peter and James, the brother of Jesus, when he initially went to Jerusalem after being called, he met with James, Peter, and John (Gal 2:9) when he went a second time with Barnabas and Titus … those who seemed to be influential (vv. 2, 6) were, most likely, not apostles, and they were certainly not pillars.
When I entered Willamette University, Salem, Oregon, fall 1963 as a 16 year old freshman on an Honors Scholarship, my perspective on those things that were important to other incoming freshman, most from large Portland or Seattle area high schools, differed considerably. At the time I didn’t know to analyze the difference, and I wasn’t of a personality that would jettison what I believed and adopt urban perspectives or values—such thoughts never occurred to me, and their absence was part of the mindset of the central coast that Ken Kesey sought to capture in Sometimes a Great Notion.
There was commonality between incoming freshman from Portland and from Seattle, even from Pasadena, California (from where my dorm roommate came), commonality that I lacked having with them. However, the students from Hawaii, smelling the mustiness of my clothes that had been stored on the Oregon Coast for the summer, stopped by my dorm room, asked where I was from in Hawaii, then invited me to come and share in the care packages they received from home for I was the only student in the dorm that had a knife large enough to slice pineapple … I had my hunting knife with me, as well as a rifle, but then, there was nothing then against a student having his hunting rifle in his dorm room.
There is no way for an endtime disciple to recover from New Testament texts the heteroglossia of Jesus’ first disciples; for the production of New Testament texts themselves comes from the authors’ loss of the heteroglossia of the first disciples, all Galileans. If the authors of canonical texts truly believed what the saints at Thessalonica believed when Paul wrote his epistles to these saints, there would not be the Gospels. No New Testament biographies of Jesus would have been written … we have, in 19th-Century Millerites, encountered what Paul addresses in his second epistle to the Thessalonians; i.e., people who have sold all they have and who have come together to await Jesus’ return, walking in idleness, not working but expecting to receive reward for their many fervent prayers as they continue daily in prayer and study of Scripture. And it is this expectation of reward for idleness; for sitting, waiting for Christ Jesus to return that characterizes a person or a people that truly believes the Messiah is already on His way and will arrive momentarily.
To keep believers working at whatever tasks have been given them, from prophesying to supporting a prophet, there needs to be a squirt of unbelief mixed in with faith, this squirt of unbelief causing the Believer to not expect Christ’s return today or tomorrow, but sometime in the near (not distant) future. This squirt of unbelief will, however, cause mini schisms to form that will over time become chasms separating disciple from disciple.
Luke’s Gospel was written for the false side of a chasm separating the faithful from the false Christian.
(Chapter Nine will be continued in section #7.)
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"Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."