Theological Insights from a Modern Perspective

America a Darwinian Nation

Wednesday I was at the annual Darwin Day at Duquesne University, the presentation was by the eminent professors Drs. Rosemary and Peter Grant on the continuing evolution of the Darwin Finch. It was an amazing presentation on the rapid evolution of the species due to the continuing environmental changes in the Galapagos Islands. If you are interested in the presentation it will (at some time) be uploaded to their site: Darwin Day 2018.

Anyway, after the presentation my mind started to wander (happens more often than not) on how everything evolves from external pressures and changes. Even Christianity has evolved over the centuries from small home-based churches struggling with keeping a unified church following the same systems of beliefs (delivered by tweleve Apostles (including Paul) and numerous disciples) to the modern day with thousands of denominations having little desire to interact with each other, some with teachings barely reflecting anything we find in the New Testament.

Would that my mind could stay there, but such was not to be the case, I started to think about America (United States of, as we fail to remember that Canada and Mexico are America as well). The US was a great experiment in self government (not Democracy, but self government), a people who cast off the imperialistic government almost 3,500 miles away so as to take control of their own destiny.

The new government was set up in such a way as to allow the country to be ruled, no, governed, by represenatives elected by the states (exact method varied from state to state). Sixty nine electors voted for George Washington, the first and only unanimous vote ever recorded for President. John Adams won 34 votes, making him the Vice President (each elector had two votes, one for each position). At that time only six of the thirteen colonies allowed for a popular vote. The only citizenship requirement is that you be a citizen of the United States (immigrant or natural born) for no less thatn fourteen years.

Our leaders then were smart, they knew that the Consitution had to be a living, breathing document in order to allow this young nation to grow, so they provided a method for future generations to change it to meet their needs, and change it we have (27 times). Fortunately, they were also smart enough to allow that one or two largely populated states (ex: NY and Ca.) couldn’t run roughshod over the rest of the country simply because they had more people. No, they were bright enough to know that in a true Democracy (one person, one vote) the little guy (or small state) would have no voice in this new nation, so they put in safeguards.

America has, over her 241 years, seen massive changes in law, culture, and ideology. We have moved from a country where the ownership of an individual was considered part of the natural order, to a time where we look upon it with disgust. We no longer allow for the treatment of women as property, or as the part of society that stays home “barefoot and pregnant”, but are looked upon as a valued partner in this great experiment. America has long welcomed immigrants to her shores – not. In the early nation Catholics were not accepted in most states. Chinese laborers brought over to build the railways (and other projects) were treated as sub-human. In the great state of diversity (NY) Irish were not allowed to hold jobs in many fields. Eastern Europeans brought to work in the mines and steel mills were treated poorly. Oddly enough, immigrant Mexican workers were welcomed, indeed they were not restricted by the immigration quotas of the 1924 Immigration Act. It was not until the Great Depression that Mexican immigrantion went, well, south. Now we are in a struggle caused, not by migrant workers, but by the drug cartels and 9/11. Prior to these events Mexican workers flowed freely between the two countries as seasons, and job availability, changed. Closing of the borders trapped these workers on one side or the other of the border, leading to the Mexicans on this side being classified as “illegal” immigrants, and those on the other side finding their choices limited to life in poverty and danger, or sneaking across the border hoping for a better life, much as millions of immigrants before them.

America continues to undergo Darwinian Evolution, like the Darwin Finch, changed by both external pressures and internal ones. This evolution comes to us in two forms (as all evolution does) – gentle evolution of an evolving species through inbreeding and natural progression, and through the violent changes brought about when the natural processes are interrupted. For the finch this comes about during those periods of drought and excess; in America this comes as societal segments become impatient (sometimes rightly so) at the slow progression of a developing nation (we sometimes forget that we are but 241 years old, unlike countries hundreds of years our senior).

So, we continue to grow and change again, this Great Experiment we call the United States. As we do so we must do it with the wisdom and foresight that our first leaders put forward – in changing to meet our needs and desires those in the majority must remember that this country was created not just for them, but to shelter and protect the minorty as well. We must understand that the desires of the majority cannot but used to overpower the rights of the minorty, for we are all equal citizens of these United States.

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FYI

I haven’t forgotten about the Spirit series I am (supposed) to be working on. Unfortunately I am having issues with my entire computer system. I did a software update a few weeks ago and, now, nothing is working properly. The WP app keeps asking to apply a new update, then crashes when I try. The online keeps freezing on me (browser). My Bible research software also keeps crashing. I am working with Apple to resolve everything, but so far not so good. I can get replies to people done, but anything of any length will eventually crash and lose everything.

Amazing how we have become so used to these devices. I am doing the research using my books, but it’s going amazingly slow. Reminds me of the old days when I was in college (before personal computers) and everything had to be done with pencil and paper. Only then I didn’t have arthritis to deal with, and I had a whole library of research aids. This is about where the app crashes, so ending this for now. Hope to be back in full swing soon…3 weeks and counting.

The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son from the view of the son.

Church Set Free

maxresdefaultLuke 15:11: And he said, “There was a man who had two sons; and the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.’ And he divided his living between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living.

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Before we can begin looking for the Spirit of God in Sacred Scriptures we need to know what the Spirit is called. Just as there are many names for Jesus throughout the Bible (Son of Man, Light of the World, Prince of Peace, …) so Scripture has different ways to refer to the Holy Spirit, knowing these helps us to discover just where in the Bible the Holy Spirit appears. Again, this is not an exhaustive treatise, so the intent here is not to provide a complete list of names, it is to give you a starting point for your own research into the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.

As Maria says in the Sound of Music, when learning to sing we “start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” And so with discovering the Holy Spirit we start at Genesis, a very good place to start. In Verse 2 we find the first reference to, and hence the first name of, the Holy Spirit – Gen 1:2 the Spirit of God (πνεῦμα θεοῦ). This is the most direct reference to God’s Spirit anywhere in Scripture.

Another name given is the Breath of Life (ψυχὴν ζωῆς) (first appearance Gen 1:30) which is given by God to man and, interestingly enough, to everything in creation that breaths. To find everywhere that the Breath of Life is mentioned we need look not only for Breath of Life, but also for the root of Breath (ψυχὴν) which is ψυχὴ (Soul). Yes, everything that has breath has a soul and, as we will discover later, the Soul of God (spoiler).

Paraclete (first appearance John 14:16). This is an interesting one, it is a Greek word with no good translation into English. Comforter, advocate, encourager, mediator, helper, all fit the bill and describe different aspects of the Holy Spirit of God, but none, by itself, fully encompasses the meaning of Paraclete. Appearing only in the writings of John, and each time exposing a different meaning to the word, doesn’t help. But it is a commonly used name for the Holy Spirit.

Additional names begin with “Spirit of” and end with truth, light, wisdom, judgement, fire, etc. The key words we will use in this treatise are Spirit and Breath (πνεῦμα , ψυχὴν), examining the surrounding text to determine if the words refer to the Holy Spirit, or just to spirit or breath in general. Again, as this is not an exhaustive examination of Scripture, I suggest you continue the study on your own to find out where else the Spirit of God has been active in the history of humanity. As always, please feel free to ask questions, make criticisms, offer enlightenment.

 

01-06-theophany_-_iconpentecost1When Christians think of the Holy Spirit their first thought tends to go either to the story of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan (Matt 3:16) or the story of Pentecost (Acts 2:3-4), but the Spirit of God can be found throughout the Old and New Testaments. We will be beginning, here, a stroll through Scriptures highlighting some of the key places where the influence of the Holy Spirit can be found. This will not be an exhaustive trip, but will hopefully inspire you to look deeper into Scriptures to find how God’s Holy Spirit has been at work throughout mankind’s history. Read the rest of this entry »

A New direction

Hi. You may be wondering what happened. Well, I have been moved to take this blog into a different direction. The old site has been downloaded into a PDF and as soon as I finish tweaking it I will upload it for those who want to read the old posts. In a short time I will begin posting again (most of my health issues have been addressed now), but in a different way than I have been. Please have patience as the dust settles and I get a firmer feeling for how I am to go.

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