Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Fundamental Error of the Protestant Faith

Many Protestant churches unquestionably assume one central principle to their faith, based on one statement of the apostle Paul, while ignoring numerous scripture and passages to the contrary. What is the error they commit? It is based on this one single passage:
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Rom. 3:28)
In all Protestant churches, they teach that one just has to believe (faith) and not do anything. They make the will of each person as nothing, that God will do everything for the person without the person having to act. But their theology has misinterpreted the writings of the apostle Paul: Paul was not talking about good deeds, he was talking about the works of the external rituals of the Mosaic law. For the problem in his day was that Judaizers were trying to convert Christians to follow these external rituals. These rituals were prophetic in nature, and had been fulfilled with the coming of Jesus and the establishment of the Christian Church. As an example, the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was fulfilled by the incarnation and birth of Jesus, the ritual of the Passover was fulfilled by his crucifixion and resurrection, and the feast of firstfruits was fulfilled by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The ritual of circumcision was symbolic of rejecting the desires of the flesh, and was replaced by the ritual of baptism (cleansing by water = removal of sin by following the truth). It is these EXTERNAL JEWISH RITUALS which Paul is calling the "works of the law." The problem with the writings of Paul is that he uses the word "works" interchangeably: sometimes he talks about the external Jewish rituals which have been abolished, at other times he is talking about good deeds. Even in his own day there was confusion over Paul's writings, and those who interpreted him wrongly he called evil liars.

So why am I talking about this? I was invited to attend an after Thanksgiving potluck at a Protestant church. Many people came from the church itself. And guess what? They did not bring any food, and there were no main dishes. A woman then told me she decided to join this church "because of their doctrine." So what doctrine would cause people to show up at a potluck without bringing food? What is the problem here? Am I pointing at something small? No, because in that small act, that tells me how most of the group behaves in how they apply their so-called faith to their lives. In the same group, there was a missionary who was preaching overseas in Turkey. And what was he telling Muslims? "Good works are unnecessary for salvation." This young man was not going to get far in his work, but that is unfortunately how he has been taught. And because of this misrepresentation of the teachings of Jesus, many were probably going to reject it out of hand (and he confirmed that). That was the last straw, I could not keep silent and decided to post this, for the truth cannot be said enough.

GOOD WORKS ARE NECESSARY FOR SALVATION

It is necessary for one to live by one's faith, merely believing is NOT FAITH. There are numerous passages in the New Testament that Protestants ignore, based on their own doctrine. For example, here is what Jesus said:
But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. (Matt. 7:26-27)
So how does Jesus consider the Protestant theology? For him it is foolishness. And Jesus said this concerning religious people who just pay lip service:
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matt. 7:22-23)
So are good works necessary for salvation? According to Jesus: Yes. According to Paul: Yes. According to James, who wrote against those who misunderstood Paul: Yes. Here is just a sample (Sometimes the word for "works" is translated as "deeds"):
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. (Matt. 12:35)Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. (Matt. 23:3)If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. (John 8:39)do works meet for repentance (Acts 26:20)For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10)And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Eph. 5:11)That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work (Col. 1:10)Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share (1 Tim. 6:18)All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work. (Titus 1:16)In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works (Titus 2:7)And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works (Heb. 10:24)Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:17)For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26)My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18)I know your works... (Rev. 2:2, 2:9, 2:13, 2:19, 3:1, 3:8, 3:15)Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds (Rev. 2:22)And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations (Rev. 2:26)Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. (Rev. 3:2)And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands (Rev. 9:20)And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. (Rev. 16:11)

EVERYONE WILL BE JUDGED ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS

Will everyone be judged according to their belief or religion? NO. Everyone will be judged according to their works. God cares about how you live. How you love and care for others. Those who have had a Near Death Experience commonly report being asked one question by the light at the end of the tunnel: what have you done with your life?  For it is in your works of love that your true character is shown:
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matt. 16:27)
All men were judged, not according to their belief or lip service, but how they did good to other people (Matt. 25:31-46)
Who will render to every man according to his deeds (Rom. 2:6)
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is (1 Cor. 3:13)
Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. (2 Tim. 4:14)
And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work (1 Pet. 1:17)
And I will give to each one of you according to your works. (Rev. 2:23)
'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' " "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them." (Rev. 14:13)
And the dead were judged according to their works (Rev. 20:12)
And they were judged, each one according to his works. (Rev. 20:13).
THE SECOND PROTESTANT ERROR: THE WILL OF MAN IS PASSIVE

There are two arguments that Protestants will use against what I just said: one, works should not be self meritorious: that is one should not glorify the self from the works one does to others. These are hypocritical works, and are not truly good as they are done for self glorification. Even Jesus spoke out against this, we are not talking about that. For every action is judged by the intent of the person. True good works are done out of love. They are done by refusing to do evil out of repentance.

The second argument that Protestant theologians make: we of ourselves CAN DO NO GOOD, but rather, God will send his Holy Spirit and it is the Spirit that "does everything." In other words, they make the will of man passive. That is how the ignore these passages of scripture, plus the entire Old Testament: their doctrine blinds them, giving them a preconceived bias. There are several passages which speak of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but that does NOT mean he made us to have passive wills, and like a statue just believe and pay lip service. What they do not understand is the more one withdraws from evil and does good, there is a reciprocal action from God and His spirit will dwell within you. But is the will of man passive? NO. To say that we our wills are passive is a great disservice and make religion and faith worthless. It goes against the greatest of all commandments:
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'" (Matt. 22:37)
Notice: you CANNOT just worship God with just your mind. The heart and soul is your will, your intent. You mus worship and serve God with BOTH WILL AND MIND. For the mind is just belief, the will is the desire to act. What is in the mind does not come to fruition until you do it. This is what scripture calls "bearing fruit":
Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance (Matt. 3:8)You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matt. 7:16-20)
Many Protestant ministers, blinded by their theology, do not understand these passages. I heard one try and twist it one time and state that bearing fruit was prayer. For them, all works of charity are seen as unnecessary for salvation, everything has become of belief only. Or they will understand these as "fruits of the spirit" - that is, the will of a person is passive, God's spirit will do everything. Does this make any sense? NO. It is also impractical. You cannot apply it to work, you cannot apply it to life, nor can you apply it to raising children. You must hear, you must obey. You must acknowledge your sin, and fulfill your responsibilities. Where does this false faith come from? It comes from a false faith in a trinity of three beings (see The False Belief of a Trinity of three beings: TRITHEISM), a false faith based on vicarious atonement (see The Error of Vicarious Atonement).

DID GOD ABOLISH THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

It is unfortunate that one saying of Paul has been misunderstood by Protestant churches. Count the times you have gone to a Protestant church - how many times did they quote from the Old Testament? Very little. For to maintain their theology, they must stick to the writings of Paul, and ignore everything else. Due to this, some scholars on Christianity call this "Paulinist Christianity." For if true, then Paul differed with the teachings of Jesus. This was also foreseen in scripture (see The Prophecy of Pauline Christianity).

So, is it true that God abolished the 10 commandments? The answer is NO. With the exception of the Sabbath, which is an external ritual which was changed to a day of worship and instruction, they are still valid today. How do we know? Again, what are the two greatest commandments?
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'This is the first and great commandment.And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matt. 22:36-40)
Why do I quote this? Because the first four commandments are related to love of God. The other six commandments are related to love of the neighbor. And what do we make of these statements:
Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:19)But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments (Matt. 19:17)If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15)He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. (John 15:10)Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. (1 Cor. 7:19)Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. (1 John 2:3)He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. (1 John 5:2)For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. (2 John 1:6)Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (Rev. 14:12)Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. (Rev. 22:14).
Do you see the error? The apostle Paul was talking about the EXTERNAL JEWISH RITUALS. Not the 10 commandments! And yet in Protestant theology, they nullify the 10 commandments. If you search, the 10 commandments are all specified in the New Testament. Was this foreseen in scripture? Yes. A religion of faith alone is described in the book of Revelation as the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. And the Protestant theology makes war against those who wish to keep God's commandments:
And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Rev. 12:17)
Any religion, which says that one is saved by faith alone, where good works is unnecessary, is a worthless faith.  According to Jesus, it is foolishness. And those who teach it will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. So the next time someone tells you that you are saved by faith alone without works of the law, tell them: they have misinterpreted Paul, for he was talking about the external Jewish rituals of the Mosaic law. They were prophetic, shadows of things to come, and when they were fulfilled they had served their purpose (see Col. 2:11-17). It is unfortunate: for the Protestant stress the reading of scripture, and yet they focus their attention on Paul, and blind themselves with their doctrine. And that is why I quoted scripture heavily here, I could have easily quoted more. And this from someone who first became aware of Christianity through the Protestant church.

This, along with the trinity of three persons and vicarious atonement, shows that much of old Christianity now rests on a false foundation. Yes, Jesus did save humanity, but not in the way now commonly taught in churches, after centuries of traditions of men being added onto it. In opposition to this shadow of Christianity, a new Christianity is being formed in silence: one in which God in one person is worshiped in Jesus Christ, where the commandments are followed, and sins are removed through repentance. Moreover, the internal sense of scripture has been revealed for those who seek it. But in order to see the light of the truth, you have to recognize the false darkness of what you have been taught. And if you have not heard of Swedenborg, you now know why: for these revelations condemned the central doctrine of the Protestant churches. If you do not believe me, search the scripture for yourselves. QUESTION WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT AND TOLD.  That is the first step towards enlightenment, no matter what your background.



VIDEO SYMBOLISM OF THE CORRUPT CHURCH

Found this video of Final Fantasy VII, to the tune of "Pocketful of Sunshine" by Natasha Bedingfield.  Thought I would add it because the video shows an empty and desolate church, dark and abandoned, showing the state of spiritual truth within most Christian churches at this day.  And yet in the middle of the church there are small flowers growing, representing how spiritual truth may blossom again, but in a small but hidden manner. This hidden truth is the pocketful of sunshine, causing one to be taken away from the false darkness of the old Christian churches, to "a secret place" - the hidden temple of the New Church as revealed to Emanuel Swedenborg over two centuries ago.



"Pocketful Of Sunshine" - Lyrics

[Interlude]
I got a pocket,
got a pocket full of sunshine
I've got a love and I know that it's all mine
oh.oh,oh
Do what you want,
but you're never gonna break me,
sticks and stones are never gonna shake me
oh,oh,oh

[Chorus]
Take me away (take me away)
A secret place (a secret place)
A sweet escape (a sweet escape)
Take me away (take me away)
Take me away (take me away
To better days (to better days)
Take me away (take me away)
A hiding place (a hiding place)

[Interlude]

I got pocket,
Got a pocket full of sunshine
I've got a love and I know that it's all mine
oh,oh,oh

Wish that you could,
but you ain't gonna own me
do anything you can to control me
oh,oh,oh

[Chorus]

[Hook]
There's a place that I go
That nobody knows
Where the rivers flow
And I call it home
And there's no more lies
And the darkness is light
And nobody cries
there's only butterflies

[Chorus 2x]

[Chorus & Interlude]

The sun is on my side
Take me for a ride
I smile up to the sky
I know I'll be alright

The sun is on my side
Take me for a ride
I smile up to the sky
I know I'll be alright

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Error of Vicarious Atonement

So which is true, does God out of his love for the human race seek to save us, or does God pour out his wrath seeking to condemn us as sinners? For in one case scripture says this:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).

But in another case, as is typical in the writings of Paul, God seeks to pour out his wrath on sinners:

Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Rom. 5:9)

As is typical in Catholic and Protestant doctrine, the latter view is expressed more than the first, that God was this angry sort of God, but then sent his Son who becomes a "substitute" for all the wrath and anger he has against all of mankind. And somehow, the human sacrifice satisfies the anger of God, in a similar fashion to how the primitive Aztecs made bloody human sacrifices to appease the anger of their sun god. Forget God's commandments, just acknowledge this sacrifice and make a lip confession and you are all done! Right? WRONG.

As explained in the previous post, The False Belief of a Trinity of three beings: TRITHEISM, the first error of modern Christianity is the error of the tritheism of the trinity of three persons. I am calling it tritheism because it is what it is. It is called monotheism with the mouth, but in the idea of the mind there are three gods. So, when you have a tritheistic religion, you have to assign these different roles to each person in the pantheon. The problem is, it simply is not true. It goes against all logic and rationality, not to mention all of scripture. How should we understand this verse:

You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. (Ps. 2:7)

If you believe modern Christianity, this means somehow from eternity, there was this other person called the Son, who "was begotten, not made" - according to the Nicene Creed - which makes no sense! How did the original church understand this? They understood the only begotten Son as the son born to the virgin Mary in time, NOT from eternity. A "Son born from eternity" was unknown in the original gospels. The Son was born in time. Is the Son another person from Jehovah? NO. It is simply the incarnate form, the body, in which Jehovah descended to dwell among us. There is no "angry" God here who is "appeased" by the death of this other person. He did it out of love to save the human race: so far removed from heaven, it was necessary for him to appear in human form (why so I will explain later). The "Son of God" is simply his human form, not another person. As for God's wrath? That is simply an appearance to those who are in evil. Because every evil contains within it its own punishment.

For us, it is simply unusual for us, in our language and culture, to refer to our own body as our "only begotten." In our language, an only begotten son refers to another child that we have conceived. In the case of Jesus, he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and had no human father: the way he was created was the merging of God's spirit with human flesh, where God dwelt among us as the soul dwells in the human body. Did the ancient Hebrews refer to their own body as an "only begotten"? I have been translating the Psalms fixing mistranslations, and I came across a couple of mistranslations that took me by surprise. I thought I would take a break from that and share it, because I think these passages are significant. Here is the first mistranslation:

Deliver my soul from the sword;
My darling from the power of the dog. (Ps. 22:20)

Where is the mistranslation here? It is the word "darling." It does not say darling. Lets take a look at the New American Standard version:

Deliver Me from the sword, 
My precious life from the power of the dog. (Ps. 22:20)

Two mistranslations here. Soul is dropped and changed to "me", and now darling becomes "precious life." What is the actual correct translation?  It is this:

Deliver my soul from the sword;
My only begotten from the power of the dog. (Ps. 22:20)

That's right. It is not "darling" nor is it "precious life", it says only begotten. But we are not talking about another person here, the person is talking about himself. The "only begotten" is a word that can be used to refer to one's child, but in this context, the "only begotten" refers to ONE'S OWN BODY. Its an ancient Hebrew way of thinking that was been lost in modern times. Just as one's children become an image of your own self, so your own body becomes a reflection or manifestation of your own soul. Thus we have soul in the first line, and only begotten in the second. And what is more significant, the very first line of this Psalm has his phrase:

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (Ps. 22:1)

And this is the exact phrase Jesus uttered on the cross. He may have uttered the entire Psalm to himself: in which case, Jesus is calling his own body his only begotten. Why does Jesus pray to God as another person? Because in his human state, he was in a state of temptation, he was in a lowered state of being. Human like us, he still had to progress towards Divinity by degrees. This is because of what he inherited from his human side, from his human mother Mary. When he was in a state of union, he talks about being one with God, such as when he says all power on heaven and earth has been given to him. The confusion about that caused a lot of false theologies to arise, including those of the Jehovah's Witnesses. But I digress. Here is the other mistranslation:

Rescue my soul from their destructions, 
My darling from the lions. (Ps. 35:17)

Again, "darling" is incorrect. The correct translation reads as thus:

Rescue my soul from their destructions, 
My only begotten from the lions. (Ps. 35:17)

The "only begotten" is not another child or person here. It is one's own living body, begotten as the image of the soul. Notice how it is again paired up with the soul in the line before it. In most cases, the exact same word is used to refer to an only begotten child. Not so here: it is used to refer to one's own living body. I was sure getting tired of translating the Psalms, but when I hit these two gems, I thought it was worth continuing.

So, Jehovah himself became incarnate in the human form of Jesus Christ, whom he calls his only begotten: not another person, but his own human body. So why was the incarnation necessary? In Catholic and Protestant theology, there is this theory of salvation called "vicarious atonement" where somehow the punishment of all the sins of all humanity were "transferred" to Jesus on the cross. I once heard a minister thinking to himself in front of an audience, where somehow before a sin of the future was committed it was transferred to Jesus on the cross before it was committed. He was puzzled. It made no logical sense. Why? It makes no sense because it is not true. It in fact goes against free will. That is what they nevertheless continue to teach, and at a much younger age I recognized Jesus for who he was, but also recognized that the theology that the church was teaching MADE NO SENSE.

I want to make it clear: there is no such thing as "vicarious atonement" - which is simply stating where the punishment or guilt of the sins of one person are transferred to another person. It it not true, and scripture is very explicit about this: the entire chapter of Ezekiel 18 states that no person shall be punished or bear the guilt of another person's sins. And this is partly why Jews continue to reject Christianity: not only does scripture go against the trinity of three persons, it also goes against vicarious atonement. Moreover, scripture is very clear in that it regards human sacrifice as an abomination in the sight of God.

So what is the answer here? The answer is that the reason why Jehovah took up a human form, lowly like us, is that although his soul was Divinity itself, the human body from Mary had inherited all the sinful tendencies of the human race. And when he became incarnate, the attacks from hell against this human form commenced. A battle ensued directly between Jehovah and all of hell, until he subdued every evil temptation that originated from the human body he inherited. He conquered every one, to the point where the human body of flesh and blood was replaced and transformed with a Divine Human. When he rose from the dead, he was no longer the son of Mary: the body was now a direct reflection of the Divine. And this is how salvation was effected. How do we know? Well Jesus himself said this:

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (John 17:17-19).

To be "sanctified" means to be cleansed from sin. And notice Jesus first says he must sanctify HIMSELF. It is because he had inherited these evil tendencies from his human mother Mary. How are we sanctified by truth? By living the truth, by living by God's commandments. YOU MUST acknowledge and confess your sins, and turn away from it. That is the only way sin can be removed. YOU MUST acknowledge that although you do this of yourself, that only God can help you to do it. How will God help? By sending the very spirit from the God Man who conquered all of sin in his own body. And that is how spiritual communion with heaven was restored. This is WHY the body is worshiped in communion or the Eucharist. Other than having the external Jewish rituals abolished, NOTHING ELSE HAS CHANGED. There is no free ride here. But you will be surprised at the spiritual transformation you will experience if you simply believe and try. It is a life long transformation through repentance.

So, some will probably be a bit shocked: much of modern Christian theology rests on a false foundation of tritheism and vicarious atonement. Excepted from this is the Orthodox church - although they also hold to the error of a trinity of three persons, they do not acknowledge vicarious atonement. They hold to a similar doctrine of what I just described here. The theory of vicarious atonement dates back to the 11th century or so. And by the way, the Orthodox branch is older than both the Catholic and Protestant churches. So what I am saying may be unpopular, but its the truth, and it happens to make rational sense in addition to having been revealed in visions and not dictated by tradition. So what is God's opinion of those who teach the doctrine of vicarious atonement? Or free salvation and grace without reforming one's life and repentance? Not good:

I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; They also strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah.
Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets: Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, And make them drink the water of gall; For from the prophets of Jerusalem profaneness has gone out into all the land.
Thus says the LORD of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the LORD.
They continually say to those who despise Me, 'The LORD has said, "You shall have peace"'; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, 'No evil shall come upon you.'" 
...I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
But if they had stood in My counsel, And had caused My people to hear My words, Then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.
(Jer. 23:14-17, 21-22)



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The False Belief of a Trinity of three beings: TRITHEISM

Once again, I am going to mention the false errors and beliefs that have crept into the Christian Church, specifically one: the idea that God exists in three persons. What triggered this is I heard a minister mention that we should give up traditions and always refer to scripture. Yet some traditions are "good traditions", and the Nicene Creed is an example of a "good tradition." No, it is not a good tradition, it is a very bad one that corrupted the Christian church. How so? They modified the Apostle's Creed, and introduced the idea of a "son born from eternity." This was UNKNOWN to the early Christian church. For that see The Nicene Creed: a distorted version of the Apostle's Creed. For the early church, the Son of God was NOT "born from eternity", the son was the son born to Mary in time. Thus the angel made this statement to Mary:

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:31-32)

This is WHY Jesus is called the son of God. He was BORN OF A VIRGIN, with no human father. That is why he calls God his Father! He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Before that, there was no Son of God. Did he pre-exist? Yes, because he is Jehovah, as Jesus is Jehovah in human form.

The misconception of dividing God into three persons can be seen in many churches. I will grab a statement of faith from a typical Christian church. They say this:

We believe in one eternal God existing equally in three eternal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

OK, this is nothing but TRITHEISM, pure and simple. It says one God. One WHAT? There is no one here, unless you reduce God to a substance or energy, who is not a personal being. Here is the correct doctrine, which can be seen in the New Church or New Christianity:

We believe in one eternal personal God, Jesus Christ, in whom exists the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as the soul, body and spirit exists in each and every person.

This is the main difference between old Christianity and the New Christianity described by Swedenborg: the New Christianity restores the monotheism of the original gospel. When God descended and became incarnate in a human being, he assumed a tripartite nature of soul, body and spirit. This is the Trinity. The tripartite nature of every living human is described in the following verse:

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen. 2:7).

Here we have the soul, the body (the dust of the ground), and the spirit (breath). The spirit of a person is not a separate person. The conclusion: before God became incarnate, the Trinity did not exist. And that is why you do not find it in the Old Testament: it is not there, because it did not exist yet.

But that is not enough, Christians reading this, will start to mention scripture as proof. The problem is, most people's view of scripture is seen through the lenses of doctrine: for is doctrine which determines how one reads it. Nevertheless, lets go through the scripture they will quote on this subject. I will quote from the church web site:
While the word “Trinity” is not found within Scripture, Scripture clearly teaches that: God eternally exists as three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), each person is fully God, and there is one God. The doctrine of the Trinity is hinted at in the Old Testament (e.g. Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Ps 45:6-7; 110:1; Isa 6:8; 61:1; 63:10).
Here is the problem: ignoring all the passages which teaches that Jehovah is a personal being and besides him there is no God, Christians will search out passages that prove their doctrine. The first three passages (Gen 1:26; 3:22; 11:7) is nothing more than God speaking with his angels. Psalms 45:6-7 is a bit better, which heralds the coming Messiah (anointed one), but that is nowhere close to a Trinity of three beings. In the New Church doctrine, the Messiah or anointed one is simply the human form in which Jehovah became incarnate, in which he dwells as the soul or spirit (thus is "anointed") and does not constitute a separate eternal being. Among the Jews, he Messiah is an earthly king who will establish a literal kingdom of God on earth centered at Jerusalem, which is why they are still looking. Psalms 110:1 is better, again a Messianic prophecy that Jesus himself quoted:

Jehovah says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."

So, being the literalists most people are when reading the Bible, this passage "proves" that besides Jehovah there sits at his right hand another personal being, the Messiah. Is this true? No. For one, the "right hand" is a symbol of the highest honor. Either you are going to believe here two personal beings (the old Church), or you can believe that when Jesus rose from the dead, HE MADE HIS HUMAN DIVINE. This Divine Human is an essential doctrine of the New Church, and explains the ritual of the Eucharist or communion. When he rose from the dead, no longer was his body human flesh, but Divine. When he was born, there essentially arose a conflict between Jehovah and all of hell as he could be tempted to do evil through the human flesh he inherited from the human vessel, Mary. He conquered all of hell by making his human Divine: that is the meaning of sitting at the right hand of God: his human form was elevated to Divinity, until nothing remained of what he inherited from Mary. The reason for this is that after death, the spiritual body is derived from the soul, which in the case of Jesus was Jehovah himself. How do we know this is correct? From this passage:

Thus says Jehovah, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. (Isa. 44:6)

Jehovah - ONE PERSONAL BEING - is the King and Redeemer. In the New Testament, Jesus becomes King and Redeemer, and even assumes the title of the first and the last. And besides Jehovah, THERE IS NO OTHER PERSONAL BEING. And what about this passage:

I am Jehovah, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. (Isa. 45:5)

But wait, some may say, did he create another personal being later? NO:

"You are My witnesses," declares Jehovah, "And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me." (Isa. 43:10)

As for the other proof texts this church mentions, Isa. 6:8 mentions the commission of Isaiah the prophet and is irrelevant. Isaiah 61:1 does mention the Messiah which we covered, and Isaiah 63:10 mentions God's spirit. So SORRY, TRINITY IS NOT THERE. A TRINITY OF THREE PERSONS IS FOREIGN TO JUDAISM, AND FOREIGN TO THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH. A better one for them to have mentioned is this one:

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:7)

Why is it not mentioned? It shows an example of how erroneous the Trinity is. Hey, if I want to be extremely literal here, we have four (not three) personal beings: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. I am doing that to show how ridiculous the argument is. But the other reason I mention this: this particular prophecy of the Messiah calls the future child to be born as ETERNAL FATHER. So answer me this: why would the personal being of the Son be called Father??? The truth of the matter, the Father exists in the Son as the soul exists in the body:

Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."
Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. (John 14:8-10).

See the error? Philip was thinking of the Father as another personal being. Jesus corrects Philip. So he would correct anyone who would think of the Father as another personal being. The Father is the invisible Divine, the Son is the visible form of that Divine. And that is why Jesus could do nothing apart from the Father: he resided in him as the soul does the body, and directed him to say and do whatever he said and did. How can Jesus be a separate being who has no separate will?  But lets proceed to other proof texts, I will again quote from a church website:
[The Trinity is] more fully developed in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of John (1:33-34; cf. 14:16-17,26; 16:13-15; 20:21-22). The three persons are intimately inter-related (John 1:33-34; cf. 14:16-17, 26; 16:13-15; 20:21-22). The three distinct persons of the Godhead are seen, for example, in the baptism of Jesus (Matt 3:16-17), the Great Commission (Matt 28:19), and the Upper Room Discourse (John 20:21-22).
All throughout the above paragraph, scripture is being seen through the eyes of the Nicene Creed, not the other way around. Another issue is literalism. Since personal pronouns are used to reference the different aspects of God, they then assume its another person being:

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17)

Does this prove that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person? Because personal pronouns are used to refer to it, in what is probably a Greek translation of Aramaic? NO. In fact, Jesus clarifies this in the very next passage:

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:18-20)

See how scripture is distorted. The first passage (John 14:16-17) says of the Holy Spirit, HE will come to you. In the other passage, Jesus says, I WILL COME TO YOU. The conclusion? The Holy Spirit is another aspect of his personal being. And it clarifies something else: just as the Holy Spirit resides in us, so JEHOVAH (the Father) resided in Jesus (the Son). The Trinity is not three persons, it is the emanation of the one Divine from the eternal down to us. Lets move on to the other proof text:

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. (John 16:13-15)

What is this saying? The Holy Spirit has no will or initiative of its own. This proves its not a distinct separate being, it is simply God's spirit. Its an aspect of the Divine which communicates directly with us. It is NOT a distinct personal being. Is a spirit of a person a separate distinct person??? No. The Trinity is the emanation of the Divine through the soul, body and spirit of Jesus. Each is a lower state of being, in that the prior state of being must exist before it and in conjunction with it. How do we know that the Holy Spirit emanates from Jesus? Lets mention one of the church's own proof texts:

So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:21-22)

How was Jesus sent? Does that mean there was this other being and God the Father told him to go? No. Jesus was sent by Jehovah becoming incarnate in a human being. As Jehovah resides in Jesus as the soul to the human body, so the Holy Spirit resides in us. That the Holy Spirit is an aspect of the personal being of Jesus is shown by Jesus breathing on them: it is a separate person? No. It is the spirit of Jesus, flowing from the Divine Itself (the Father) through the body (the Son) and out towards us (the Spirit).

So what does that leave us with? It leaves us with the baptism passages. In no other passage is the trinity made clear in the baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3:16-17) and the great commission (Matt. 28:19). Again, with the baptism of Jesus, there is NOTHING that shows these are distinct personal beings. You either believe in multiple beings, or have different aspects of God being shown in a REPRESENTATIVE VISION. To believe in multiple beings means you have to take the Bible extremely literal and out of context, AND, you don't elevate your mind above time and space. When it is understood that scripture is representative (especially visions), and that God is beyond all space, and that there is an emanation of the Divine through Jesus, one can understand the Trinity. That leaves us with one final passage to discuss, the great commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19)

In no other place do you have Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Many Christians understand from this three personal beings. But how did the original apostles understand it? If Jesus gave this commandment, then I ask one question: WHY DID THE ORIGINAL APOSTLES DISOBEY THE GREAT COMMISSION? How did they "disobey" it? Not once did they baptize using this formula. Instead, they always baptized in the name of Jesus or Jesus Christ:

Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. (Acts 8:12)

they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 8:16)

And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:48)

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:5)

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? (Rom. 6:3)

So answer me, anyone: if Jesus is a "second person" of a trinity of three beings, how is it the apostles only baptized in the name of Jesus Christ? Does that not mean the apostles baptized only in the name of the Son? Or, does it mean, that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit reside in Jesus Christ? The latter is correct:

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9)

And that is why the apostles baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. So what is the "name" of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Do they each have different names? NO. They have one name: Lord Jesus Christ. For in the Lord we have the Father, in Jesus he have the Son, and in Christ we have the Holy Spirit. We are dealing here with an emanation of the Divine, where different aspects of the Divine have different titles. What happened with Christianity happened with the ancient religion of the Middle East: it began as monotheistic, and degenerated into polytheism from priests who were in love with religious power. And that is where we are now, TODAY. And this was foreseen in Biblical prophecies:

Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand) (Matt. 24:15)

The above does not speak of a future desecration of a Jewish temple. It speaks of the desecration of the Christian church, when one God is removed from its worship. And you have this prophecy:

And another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Dan. 7:24-25)

Don't look for a political overthrow of three kings or kingdoms. Look for a SPIRITUAL CORRUPTION where a trinity of three beings are taught. As for the meaning of "time, times and half a time", that is recognized by many as a 1260 year period which came to an end around the time a spiritual revelation was given to Emanuel Swedenborg to correct the Christian Church. For that see the following blog posts:

Prophetic Time Periods of the Bible: Part 1
Prophetic Time Periods of the Bible: Part 2
The Prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation
The Prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation, part 2
The Spiritual Meaning of the Abomination of Desolation

Look in your own church, look in your own heart. For when you pray, who do you pray to? How do you read the Lord's prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name

Do you pray to a separate personal being other than Jesus? For what is the Father's name? The Father's name is none other than Jesus Christ. Pray to him, none other. Remove the idea of three personal beings, for in so doing, one crucifies Jesus. That is the hidden meaning behind the crucifixion: you have Jesus, and two robber thieves on each side of him. When one sees the error, that they did not see Jesus for who he is, the following prophecy becomes fulfilled in one's heart:

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (Rev. 1:7)

WAS THE TRINITY BY REVELATION OR CHURCH COUNCIL?

I was curious, in the last 2000 years or so, was there any revelation of a Trinity of three beings?  The answer is no. The only time it is explicitly stated in that way is in a church council of the fourth century A.D. It led to further controversies, to the point where all the original Christians of the Middle East were declared heretics! That's because whatever the Pope and Emperor dictated was supposedly "Orthodox."  The only time we come close to any visionary revelation of the nature of God was in the visions of Hildegard of Bingen of the 11th century.  When contemplating the Trinity, what did she see? She saw this, which was drawn as an image in one of her books:


You have ONE PERSONAL BEING, from whom emanates the Divine in layers of concentric circles.  Unfortunately, governed by the Catholic doctrine, she then subverted her own vision and sought to explain it in terms of the Nicene Creed.  And that is where we are today: people trusting in tradition, rather than seeking God for revelation.

I will go back to translating the Psalms now, I got up to Psalm 22 which speaks of the crucifixion, and as I heard a minister making a public declaration promoting the Nicene Creed, I thought I would post a blog to counteract it. If you really have to have a traditional creed, stick with the Apostle's Creed. If you want additional logical explanations of the Trinity existing in one person, see True Christian Religion by Emanuel Swedenborg, which happened to originate from revelation unlike the church councils.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Prophecy of President Bush and Barack Obama

Last year I published the first half of my research on the prophecies of Nostradamus, which covers in detail the prophecies that have been fulfilled from the time of Nostradamus in the 16th century to the French Revolution.  This research was separate from my studies of the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, but in a strange coincidence, one of the prophecies of Nostradamus may concern Emanuel Swedenborg himself.  How is this so?  Many of the quatrains of Nostradamus focus on the fall of the French monarchy and the execution of Louis XVI at the end of the 18th century. This was such a turning point in history that Nostradamus focused much of his attention to it - for his interest was in the future of his nation France, and of the Catholic Church.  It just so happens that one of the nobles who voted for the execution of Louis XVI was Swedenborgian. One of the prophecies of Nostradamus mentions him by name, and it looks like in picking up on the event he picked up some information on Swedenborg. Initially many of the Freemason societies of the 18th century had developed an interest in the visions and writings of Swedenborg, but as the French Revolution turned and became extremely violent, much of the public became horrified.  The Freemason movements died out, and as a result of the political turmoil of the 18th century and the wars of Napoleon, Nostradamus saw that Swedenborg would become unknown and obscure to the public at large. Swedenborg had foreseen the fall in power of the Catholic Church in his visions, and the French Revolution sealed the fate of the political rule of the Papacy.

How did Nostradamus see such things in detail?  Some people have the ability, most people do not.  As most people do not, they will claim it does no exist and is not possible: my book The Decoded Prophecies of Nostradamus disproves those who say prophecy is not possible.  I happen to know some people who do have this ability, and in this case it occurs through dreams. As an example, in a dream one person saw a beautiful white book open before me, but on this book was a very deadly spider - navy blue in color. They then gathered some cleaning material from a kitchen and threw it on the spider, and killed it - it sort of became splattered, and its blood was the color of blue ink. When I heard this dream, the meaning was quite clear to me. In dreams, and in the visions of Swedenborg, spiders represent falsity, and their poison represents a false idea that can mislead people. Killing the spider means removing the falsity - but for it to be splattered on the book shows that anyone opening the book could see the falsity that had been removed. I was a bit amazed at this particular dream, because little did this person know I had begun translating the book of Psalms in the Bible.  What I have discovered is that all English translations of the Bible contain many mistranslations (see the post The Mistranslations of the Bible). The effort of what I started was not to create a new translation, but to fix the mistranslation - and DOCUMENT it. So basically anyone reading it will see the change, and it will be documented as to why the change was necessary to fix the mistranslation. It will be a digital translation, with a hyperlink of the change that will explain the mistranslation. So this is killing the spider: not only is the spider removed from the book, its blood is left on it as evidence. This is the hyperlinking I had been doing exposing the mistranslations: from now on, no one will be confused as to which translation is right. The person who had the dream had no idea I was doing this. The hyperlinks to the explanation of the mistranslations of the Bible in the tool I am using are navy blue in color.

So, if anyone is curious, what was the mistranslation I happened to uncover?  It was a particularly bad one, in Psalms 17, and it is present in most English translations. Here it is, from the King James version:

Thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. (Ps. 17:3-4)

There are a number of mistranslations here, the worst one is the phrase "I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress."  One can take it to mean that even though one should wish or think to say something evil, just cover it up in front of others and not deal with the desire to do it. So what does this passage say? It actually says this:

You have refined me and shall find no wicked device (intent);
Nothing has gone out of my mouth according to the works of men.
By the word of Your lips I have kept away from the paths of robbers.

Quite different, isn't it? One should try to purify oneself from within, to remove evil intentions: appearance before others is nothing. In the dream, cleaning material was used to kill the spider, and the particular line uses the word "refine" as in refining and purifying metal. Problem is, all the modern translations continue to follow the King James Version. It happens to be translated correctly in the Septuagint. The book in the dream was white, and the Psalm ends in this manner:

As for me, I will observe Your face in righteousness: 
I shall be satisfied when I awake to Your manifestation.

Which speaks of how one awakens after death to see the glory of God's light at the end of that dark tunnel - God's "face." Instead of manifestation the KJV has "likeness" which does not do the word justice; the Septuagint translated it as "glory" which is more accurate. For each change I am making, I am creating a hyperlink to a note explaining the mistranslation and the correction. This is the white book with the splattered blue spider in it. So Psalms 17 is done, I have hit Psalms 18, and as it is a long one I decided to take a break and blog a bit.  I include this story here because like the dream, many of the quatrains of Nostradamus are highly symbolic and one does not know what they mean until one reaches the time they are fulfilled.

THE PROPHECY OF PRESIDENT BUSH AND BARACK OBAMA


Peace and Freedom to Iran, photograph by Negar Daneshfar

Returning back to the subject at hand, in the second half of the book on the prophecies of Nostradamus which I haven't published yet there is this prophecy, one which I happened to interpret on the very day that President Obama one the Nobel Peace prize - a well deserved one, for reversing the war path of the previous administration.  And now just in the past few days an agreement has been reached between the United States and Iran to reverse Iran's uranium enrichment program.  And I think it will be successful, despite the protest of Israel and Saudi Arabia who would just love it if the U.S. would bomb Shiite Iran to smithereens.  This is not being said to the public, but I believe these negotiations were initiated once U.S. intelligence - and an inner circle of politicians - became aware that Saudi Arabia had initiated a false flag operation in Syria, and was responsible for the chemical attack in August 2013 in order to pull in the U.S. to bomb Syria.  Here is the quatrain (VI-24) with its interpretation:

Mars and the scepter will be found conjoined,
Under Cancer, a calamitous war:
A short time after a new King will be anointed,
Who will pacify the earth for a long time.


Back in 1926 the author Wollner first recognized that the astrological configuration in line 1 would take place on 21 June 2002 when Mars and Jupiter (the scepter) were in conjunction in Cancer.  In 1989 Dolores Cannon  (another author on Nostradamus) stated that the astrological configuration symbolically refers to an American President (the scepter, a ruler or the planet Jupiter) who is hungry for war (signified by Mars), where Cancer will be a strong influence in his horoscope.  Afterwards a new President will come along who will work for peace, and there will be peace for a while after.  This will be during the strength of the American union, before it wanes in power. This interpretation of the quatrain is interesting as the President during 2002 was George W. Bush, who was born on 6 July 1946 under the sign of Cancer.  In 2002 preparations were begun to invade Iraq following the attack of September 11.  George Bush was succeeded by President Barack Obama in 2009, who turned America around to follow a policy of peace.


So there you have it. The above paragraph is from a draft of the book. Looks like we are in for a period of peace for some time, to the disappointment of Israel and Saudi Arabia.  As for Saudi Arabia - and that chemical attack they did on the children of Syria, there is this saying concerning Medina in a book within the hadith of Bukhari titled 'virtues of Medina'. Sahih Bukhari says:

Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, "Medina is a sanctuary from that place to that. Its trees should not be cut and no heresy should be innovated nor any sin should be committed in it, and whoever innovates in it an heresy or commits sins, then he will incur the curse of Allah, the angels, and all the people."


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Mistranslations of the Bible

You would think that in our digital age that we would have an accurate translation of the Bible. What I am finding is something very different: very sloppy scholarship.  I guess I was surprised to discover that the Masoretic text is missing a line in Psalm 145, which was present in the Greek Septuagint; and the accuracy of the Septuagint in this particular case was confirmed by a Hebrew text found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. I discussed this earlier in the blog post Is the Masoretic Text of the Bible the Most Reliable?). So I decided to start comparing the rest of the Psalms, to see what other textual corrections are contained in the Septuagint. I am finding some corrections, but when going through this exercise in translating the Psalms I had another major surprise: all the major English versions of the Bible contain mistranslations of the Hebrew text. It is so obvious it is ridiculous. Most people can figure it out using Strong's concordance. This I am using in conjunction with Leningrad Codex of the Masoretic text - somebody spent the effort to digitize this and make it available as an add on module to theWord Bible software.

In the former blog post The Best Bible Translation in English? I indicated that the New American Standard version of the Bible (NASB) was probably the best - but even here I am finding mistranslations on the few occasions I bother to check. I probably should have titled that blog the "least worst" translation of the Bible. So let me provide some random examples. Lets look at Psalm 7:13. The King James Version (KJV) has this translation, speaking of God judging the wicked who pursue the righteous:

He ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors

As typical with the KJV, it uses some old English.  So modern translations try and fix this, but in the process they try to be creative.  The NASB has this:

He makes His arrows fiery shafts

So which one is correct?  Neither one.  But the KJV, giving it allowance for older English, is more correct. Translating from the original Hebrew, I arrrived at this:

He makes his arrows against those who hotly pursue

So, the NASB made a mistake because the Hebrew word for "hotly pursue" can in certain cases mean "fiery." So which is correct?  From examining the Psalm, one can determine the meaning if one knows the parallel structure of the lines in the poem: lines will repeat in a certain pattern in each Psalm.  Once one does that, the meaning is obvious: it concerns those who are in pursuit to overtake the righteous. So the KJV version is correct, it just uses old English: the English word persecute used to mean those who were in pursuit, but now it means something slightly different.

So the KJV of the Bible is better, right? Well no, wrong. It not only uses outdated English, but it has its fair share of mistranslations as well.  So here is another example - I will take it from Psalm 10, as I have already translated 9 Psalms and I am in the middle of the tenth Psalm. Here is a line from Psalm 10:4 from the KJV, speaking of the evil:

God is not in all his thoughts

Sounds like a very simple sentence, right? How could one get that wrong? Well, here is what the NASB has for the exact same line:

All his thoughts are, "There is no God."

I stared at this translation, and just said WHAT??? That was the last straw, I decided to post a blog and criticize the NASB translation.  The Hebrew does not say that at all!  I looks like they were trying to be creative with the KJV and did not look at the Hebrew. In fact, the word for "thoughts" is not thoughts.  And this is where it got very confusing, as multiple Hebrew words are taken by translators, and sometimes translated into the same English word, sometimes not. I am finding that the Hebrew is actually precise. Here is the translation, going to the original Hebrew, and regarding the context:

God is not in any of his devious plans

So that's right, it is not talking about thoughts, its talking about intentions above our thoughts. Mostly evil intentions - the best I could come up with is "devious plans" - as from the context, it is speaking of evil plans of the wicked. Its an important point, as Swedenborg stated that in heaven the thoughts and deeds of each person is always regarded from one's intention or purpose. This is an example where neither the KJV or NASB is correct.  So why is this happening?  I am thinking that as each new translation is made, the translators assume the previous translators were correct. I have just shown two examples, I can provide many more. And this is just after translating the first nine Psalms (which is why I have not been blogging lately.)

So why not do a machine translation? That is dangerous, as machine translations do not regard context, nor idioms.  For example, it was tried on this phrase:

Out of sight, Out of mind

The machine translation came up with this:

Invisible Idiot

Or what about this passage from Matt. 26:41:

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

The machine translation came up with this:

The liquor is good, but the meat is spoiled.

WHY IS A GOOD TRANSLATION IMPORTANT

For those familiar with the biography of Swedenborg, one of the first tasks he had before him was to find a good translation of the Hebrew text.  As he knew Latin better than Hebrew, he went with a translation in Latin by Schmidius. So although he knew Hebrew, he sometimes went with a reading from Schmidius that was not so accurate - this I discovered in some footnotes when I was working on publishing his works for Amazon and Barnes & Noble  (see The complete works of Emanuel Swedenborg - on your tablet or smartphone). Why is an accurate translation important? Here is what Swedenborg had to say on the Hebrew language, and the internal spiritual sense of scripture:
They who are in the internal sense can know instantly, and indeed from a single word, what is the subject treated of; and especially from the connection of several words. When a different subject is taken up, at once the words are different, or the same words stand in different connection. The reason is that there are words peculiar to spiritual things, and words peculiar to celestial things; or what is the same, words peculiar to matters of understanding, and others to matters of will. For example, the word desolation is predicated of spiritual things, and vastation of celestial things; city is predicated of spiritual things, mountain of celestial things; and so on. So it is with the way in which words are connected. And, what need not be a matter of surprise, in the Hebrew language the words that belong to the spiritual class are very often distinguishable by the sound. In these the first three vowels are usually dominant; in words that are of the celestial class, the last two vowels. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 793)
So, anyone examining translations with a Hebrew concordance will see how translations often use multiple words to translate the same Hebrew word, and this just will not do. Literal word-for-word translations do not fare much better: in many cases a Hebrew word will have multiple meanings, and the meaning has to be determined from context. And the other unfortunate news is that Strong's concordance of Hebrew did not catch all the words. When I look at the actual Hebrew, I am finding what Swedenborg is saying is correct: the Hebrew is precise, and will mention a particular word in a similar context.  Most churches are stuck in the literal sense of scripture and do not see this as a problem. Also many are completely unaware of the hidden knowledge is contained, which Swedenborg revealed in his work Heavenly Arcana (aka Arcana Coelestia). He begins that massive work with this introduction:
The Word of the Old Testament contains arcana of heaven, and each and all things therein regard the Lord, His heaven, the church, faith, and matters of faith. This no mortal gathers from the letter; for from the letter or the sense of the letter no one sees anything more than that in general they regard the externals of the Jewish Church. And yet everywhere there are internal things which do not appear at all in the external, save a very few which the Lord revealed and unfolded to the Apostles — as that the sacrifices signify the Lord; that the land of Canaan and Jerusalem signify heaven, whence they are called heavenly; and so also Paradise.
But that each and all things, even the least, to the smallest iota, signify and involve spiritual and heavenly things, the Christian world is to this day profoundly ignorant, and accordingly it pays little regard to the Old Testament. Yet they might know it from this alone, that the Word, because it is the Lord's and from the Lord, could not but contain interiorly such things as relate to heaven, to the church, and to faith, and could not otherwise be called the Word of the Lord, nor be said to have any life in it. For whence is its life except from the things that are of life, that is, except from this, that everything in it relates to the Lord, Who is very life itself. Whatever then does not interiorly regard Him does not live; and whatever expression in the Word does not involve Him, or in its manner relate to Him, is not Divine.
Without such life the Word as to the letter is dead; for the Word is like a man, who, as is known in the Christian world, is external and internal. The external man separate from the internal is the body, and thus dead; but it is the internal that lives and causes the external to live. The internal man is his soul. So the Word as to the letter alone is as the body without the soul.
From the literal sense alone, when the mind is fixed in it, no one can ever see that such things are contained therein. Thus in these first chapters of Genesis, nothing else is learned from the sense of the letter than that the creation of the world is treated of, and the garden of Eden, which is called Paradise, and Adam as the first created man. Who supposes anything else? But it will be sufficiently established in the following pages that these things contain arcana which have never yet been revealed (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1-4)
Not only does scripture contain within it hidden spiritual truths, but when read it allows a link or communion to take place between a person's mind and the angels of heaven.  Swedenborg saw this repeatedly in his visions - from which he was able to immediately determine which books of the Bible were Divinely Inspired and which were not. The ones that were inspired always contained within them a spiritual correspondence, in a series. Swedenborg described the communion with heaven as follows:
When the Word of the Lord is read by a man who loves the Word and lives in charity, or by a man who from simplicity of heart believes what is written and has not formed principles contrary to the truth of faith which is in the internal sense, it is presented by the Lord before the angels in such beauty and in such pleasantness, with representatives also, and this with inexpressible variety in accordance with all their state at the time, that every particular is perceived as if it had life; which life is that which is in the Word, and from which the Word had birth when it was sent down from heaven. From this cause the Word of the Lord is such, that, though it appears rude in the letter, still there are laid up in it spiritual and celestial things which lie open before good spirits, and before angels, when the Word is read by man. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1767-68)
So this is why translation is important - a good translation should at least convey the meaning of the original.

PRINCIPLES FOR A NEW TRANSLATION

After repeatedly encountering mistranslations in whatever version of the Bible I picked, I decided to start translating it myself, especially after discovering the extent of mistranslations in the Psalms. They're mostly minor, but they add up. A good reason to start with the Psalms is that they contain a poetic structure, where lines repeat each other. This has been very helpful in translation when the meaning was not clear. I don't think modern translations paid much attention to this. The other reason why I am starting with the Psalms is that I want to restore the poetic structure of each Psalm. It should be apparent from just looking at it by any reader, and not just left to scholarly journals. Unfortunately for this blog, I am now spending my time in translation. And this all began from a simple investigation of a missing line in the Masoretic text.

So what are the principles I am following in this translation? For this project I am following these simple rules:

Rule #1: Base translation on KJV to be familiar to readers.

Most people are familiar with the King James Bible, with the way it is worded. As much as I can, I want to retain that familiarity. The other reason for that is the text is public domain, so it forms a good base.

Rule #2: Update KJV translation to modern English for readability.

No reason to retain the old English. It should be updated to modern English - many  other translations do this, but just this, and stop at this step. The other issue to fix in this step is to remove words that were added by the KJV translators, which were not in the original text.

Rule #3: Base Old Testament translation first on Masoretic, then the Septuagint. Base New Testament translation on the Aramaic Peshitta and the Greek Majority Text. 

Masoretic text should have priority for the Old Testament. Next I am looking at not just the Septuagint, but also the Vulgate and the Peshitta text.  So far I am not finding much additional value in the Vulgate (which in itself was an ancient translation into Latin from the Septuagint), but the Peshitta is valuable as it does contain corrections of the Masoretic - and precedes that text by at least 500 years.  As for the New Testament, the Aramaic Peshitta resolves a lot of issues found in the Greek texts, as that is what it was originally writen in - Aramaic. This view is not recognized by most western scholars.

Rule #4: Fix mistranslations. If Masoretic is overruled, note in italics. Also note important variants.

Actually I started this project to just fix mistranslations, not create a new translation. So that is the focus: retain the original familiarity as much as possible, and fix the mistranslations. Unfortunately, many translations are not precise in how they translate the Hebrew.

Rule #5: Improve translation with more equivalent words, if apparent.
Rule #6: Improve translation consistency if apparent, regarding context.
Rule #7: DOCUMENT the changes of translation.

The above rules are self explanatory, but the last one is probably the most important: how many times have people wondered which translation is correct? That will no longer be the case. All changes will be documented, in footnotes. This will expose the mistranslations, and also show why a new translation is needed, and allow for future corrections.  I am starting with the Psalms, and not sure how far I will get, but I am already seeing a lot of value in exposing the actual meaning of the original Hebrew in readable English, as well as restoring the poetic structure. I will probably publish a digital edition of the Psalms with the research, and if there is interest, take it further.

Unless, of course, someone can show me a good translation...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Spiritual and Poetic Symbolism of Scripture

Most who open the Bible do not understand what they are reading - this is because hidden behind the literal sense, there is a spiritual meaning. And once one sees the spiritual meaning, one can immediately apply it. Some may wonder why am I focused on the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. It is because for the first time, it was revealed to him in visions the spiritual sense of scripture. Mystical sects of the past and the modern New Age movements have been seeking for this, never able to grasp it. Due to the symbolic imagery involved most churches avoid the Old Testament altogether, and are constantly stuck in the letters of Paul.

One local Bible study I visited at a Protestant church they were trying to interpret Psalm 46. A verse or two they could figure out, but the rest, they got lost in the literalism of the words. They thought that Psalm 46 was speaking of some world cataclysm or earthquake in certain verses, and this is where they got lost. Coincidentally in the blog post Is the Masoretic Text of the Bible the Most Reliable? I had just discovered that the Masoretic text had dropped a line in Psalm 145. The Psalms follow a poetic structure known as parallelism - one line will repeat what the previous line just said. Unfortunately this poetic structure of Hebrew parallelism is completely lost in most Bibles. As I looked at Psalm 46 I was trying to convert it into its poetic structure, but something was not right. A line was missing. So later I brought up theWord software and compared it with the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Peshitta, other ancient translations of the Old Testament. Sure enough, there is a missing line in the Masoretic text that is present in all three of these other translations.  Here is Psalm 46 (based on NASB), with its poetic structure:

PSALM 46 POETIC STRUCTURE

(A) God is our refuge and strength,
    A very present help in trouble.
(A) You have been with us always,1
    Therefore we will not fear.
    (B) Though the earth should change
        And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
    (B) Though its waters roar2 and foam,
        Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride,
       (C) There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
           The holy dwelling places of the Most High;
       (C) God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
           God will help her when morning dawns.
    (B) The nations made an uproar,2 the kingdoms tottered;
        He raised His voice, the earth melted.
(A) The LORD of hosts is with us;
    The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
    (B) Come, behold the works of the LORD,
        Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
        (C) He makes wars to cease3 to the end of the earth;
            (D) He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
                He burns the chariots with fire.
        (C) "Be still4 and know that I am God;
    (B) I will be exalted among the nations,
        I will be exalted in the earth."
(A) The LORD of hosts is with us;
    The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

One can see from the above that in the Hebrew, the lines tend to repeat the previous one. Repeating patterns are marked with the letters A, B, C, D.  Lines A concern God as protector, lines B discuss a conflict and disaster, lines C concern peace within God's church, and lines D sort of repeat lines B but in reference to weapons of war. When laid out as above, the pattern that was now hidden is now explicitly obvious. When I was reading it, I was having a problem with the phrase "Therefore we will not fear" (second line A). Where to put it? There is no matching line. Perhaps combine it with the next? That did not fit either.  Then in the Aramaic Peshitta I saw it, it has the missing line right above it: You have been with us always (note 1). If we look at other lines A, this is in exact parallel to the phrase The LORD of hosts is with us. So what about the Septuagint and Vulgate? They have a similar line, but it is mistranslated, either in the original or the English. They have "which has come heavily upon us" continuing from "trouble" in the previous line. It would be interesting to get a second opinion on this from someone who knows the original Greek Septuagint, and even better the Aramaic from the Peshitta.

Other observations: the word for "roar" and "uproar" (note 2) are the same Hebrew word showing the parallelism, the NASB did a good job of using a similar translation (KJV translated the word "uproar" as "rage"). The word for "cease" (note 3) is the Hebrew word for Sabbath, which corresponds to the word for "be still" (note 4). The latter was mistranslated by the NASB as "cease striving", perhaps to come up with a word for "cease" to match the parallelism.

One other note, showing the cleverness of the author: lines D split the parallelism of the last lines marked as C. In the middle of the split, lines D then state a bow is broken and a spear it cut in two.

THE PRINCIPLE OF LOVE AND TRUTH

Now, when it comes to actually interpreting scripture, this is where the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg come in useful. The first verse is easy enough to interpret, and readily applicable: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. If one were to follow the opposite advice, one would being to trust in oneself: a common saying is people should have "self confidence".  Without an acknowledgement of God, we will have a tendency to trust in ourselves.  When Swedenborg's vision was opened, he saw that our concept of a "selfish ego" was somewhat of an illusion. Every thought that came into the mind, he saw had a spiritual origin, either from good or evil spirits. As for our life, which causes our body to live, there is an influx of the Divine into our soul. Our soul is a recipient of life. There are two aspects that make up the human soul: our will and our thought. We think automatically that our will and our thought are our own: but the more we fight against our selfish ego, the more that allows a Divine influx to flow into our thought and will.

One cannot will something unless one thinks about it first, and thought does not become living until we act upon it. Our will and our thought correspond to Divine Love and Divine Truth. The Divine Love and Divine Truth are two aspects of God, which are united together in human form. In scripture, the word LORD, Jehovah or Yahweh is used for the aspect of Divine Love, and the word God is used for the aspect of Divine Truth. That Divine Love and Divine Truth are united in one Supreme Being is shown by God's name in scripture: "LORD God." In the New Testament, these two aspects of God became known as "Father" and "Son." When the Council of Nicea decided they were distinct persons, in a word, they screwed up. Much of Christianity has been corrupt ever since. The principle of love and truth can be found throughout scripture, and they must always act as one. The Protestant church, although it does well in reading scripture, contains within it the false doctrine of faith (truth) separate from works (love), misinterpreting Paul who was referring to the Jewish rituals. Love without truth becomes perverted, and truth without a life according to it becomes forgotten and dissipated.

So, once one understands the principle of  love and truth, or will and thought, or doing and thinking, the very first verse begins to open up: God is our refuge and strength. The Hebrew word for "refuge" also has the meaning of hope or trust. The word for "refuge" thus corresponds to truth, and the word for "strength" corresponds to love. So on a deeper level, the very love inside of you, and the very truths that you know, originate from Divine influx into your soul. Inasmuch as we follow the selfish ego, this influx is perverted where we think it all originates from our selfish ego. The influx gets blocked, selfishness perverts Divine love into selfish love, and truth is perverted into false thinking which elevates our ego. Every evil must be accompanied by some falsity, for we tend to think of "justifications" to prove to ourselves that our actions are right. Truth is a refuge, for it is truth which defends and fights against what is false. Once one knows the truth and recognizes the falsity, one can fight against it.

THE SYMBOLISM OF SCRIPTURE

If one is stuck in literalism, Psalm 46 means very little beyond the first verse, perhaps referring to some future event.  But if we get literal, things get ridiculous, or we will ignore certain lines thinking it is just poetry. This is not true: every line and word has a spiritual significance. In the literal sense, Psalm 46 describes an earthquake, mountains sliding into the sea, a city with a river, and somehow, God will break someone's bow and snap a spear, and then burn someone's chariot.  Which is problematic: we do not have bows, spears or chariots. Is this just poetic? Is it only applicable to ancient warfare? Or is there symbolism involved?

First, when scripture speaks of "earth", it is not talking about the physical earth, much less our planet earth. By earth it means land, specifically the land of Canaan or the land of Israel. The earth is a symbol of the spiritual church. Those outside the church are known as "Gentiles," here translated as nations. The land of Israel, and the Jewish people, were a symbolic representation of the spiritual Christian church that succeeded them. That earth means the spiritual church one can actually derive from the parallelism of Psalm 46:

I will be exalted among the nations (Gentiles)
I will be exalted among the earth.

Where earth is in reference to one's own land, thus the church. Here God will be elevated, in opposition to the mountains in the parallel lines. So, what do "mountains" signify in scripture? That mountains are not literal mountains, can be seen in this passage:

Let the rivers clap their hands, 
Let the mountains sing together for joy. (Ps. 98:8)

Obviously rivers do not clap their hands, and mountains do not sing. Is it just poetic? No.  Following the principle of love and truth, rivers of water signify spiritual truth, mountains signify love.  The first line speaks of a spiritual love for the truth, the second, a more deeper joy for love towards the Lord. The reason why water corresponds to truth is just as water cleanses, so truth cleanses us from sin. Thus, entrance to the church is signified by baptism by water: for one must first cleanse oneself from sin. That cannot be done unless one first knows the truth. Knowing this, a mountain corresponds to love towards the Lord, or in the opposite sense, selfish love and pride. This can be proven repeatedly from scripture, I will just mention one verse:

Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; 
Your judgments are like a great deep. (Ps. 36:6)

"Righteousness" pertains to the will, "judgments" pertain to the truth. Mountains are associated with righteousness, and again, water is associated with knowledge or truth. Most do not notice this as they think it is just poetic, and then pass over the comparison, not noticing the pattern. As a mountain signifies in the highest sense love towards the Lord, in the opposite sense it signifies the love of self, the selfish desire to rule over others. Thus the greatest temptation of Jesus took place on a mountain:
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, "All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me."
Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'" Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. (Matt. 4:8-11)
Overcoming the temptation of the love of self is the greatest temptation all face daily. That a mountain can signify selfish pride is shown in Psalm 46 itself:

Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. (Ps. 46:3)

The above translation in the NASB makes the association obvious: the mountains are associated with a Hebrew word that is often used for human pride. So what do earthquakes and a mountain slipping into the sea signify? An earthquake signifies a change in state of the church, where it becomes destroyed from evil within. Thus when the sons of Korah rebelled against Moses, the earth opened up and swallowed them (Num. 16), there was an earthquake in Jerusalem at the time of the resurrection, and in Revelation 11, there was an earthquake in a city after two witnesses were rejected and slain. An earthquake signifies a change in state of the church, where it has become so corrupt it can no longer be said to worship God. A judgment occurs, and one's state sinks toward hell. What causes this? Evil and selfish pride. Thus the mountains are said to quake and slip into the sea - the sea and its depths in this context a symbol of hell, or a lower state.

What about the rest of the Psalm? A city with a river, the dwelling place of God, is a symbol of the true church which lives by true doctrine (the river). That a city represents the doctrines and teachings of the church, is shown in several passages where the city of Jerusalem (teachings of true doctrine) is mentioned alongside Mount Zion (love towards the Lord). The New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation, which is again a city with a river in it, represents the New Church which will succeed the Protestant and Catholic churches. This is because it has a strong foundation in doctrine, and in interpreting scripture.

So what about the symbolism of the bow, the spear, and the chariot?  Weapons of war represent truth fighting against falsity, or falsity fighting against the truth. There are several passages of scripture which prove this, I will just mention a few:

They bend their tongue like their bow; 
Lies and not truth prevail in the land. (Jer. 9:3)

Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows 
And their tongue a sharp sword. (Ps. 57:4)

Behold, they belch forth with their mouth; 
Swords are in their lips, For, they say, "Who hears?" (Ps 59:7)

And, the Word itself if often described as a sharp two edged sword. Because the Word is Divine truth, which fights against what is false. You can take this symbolism to the smallest of details: a bow is the doctrine of truth or falsity, its arrows the truths or falsities derived from doctrine; a spear is the power of truth or falsity as it is held by the arm (power), a chariot, one's understanding, based on the reasoning (horses) which lead it. The chariot is burned, as one's spiritual understanding becomes destroyed by hatred towards others in favor of the love of self. Every evil contains within it its own punishment.

So how to summarize this Psalm? There will be protection of those in the lowest good when judgment upon the evil comes. For in the church, towards the end when it becomes corrupt, there will be good people who still follow the truth in its most literal base form (represented by Jacob), and these will be separated from those within the church who have used religion for their own selfish pride, and have fallen into false doctrines. Eventually, their own selfish pride causes them to sink towards the more unhappy state of hell. The ones in the church of true doctrine will be unaffected during the judgment. Those outside the church will seek to infest the church with their falsity, but will be unable to do so as the truth will fight against them.

Another point: There are three levels of worship: the first or lowest level is merely obedience to God's commandments. The second level of worship is based on love towards the neighbor based on the spiritual truths we have learned. The third, and highest level of worship, is love towards the Lord. In his spiritual visions, Swedenborg saw that these three degrees of love formed three degrees of heaven. If one looks closely at this Psalm, one can see these three levels or states in the lines marked A, B and C respectively. And what is amazing, in the spiritual world one's internal psychological state becomes reflected in the spiritual world around them. Thus angels who are in love towards the Lord appear to dwell on high mountains. Those who are in true doctrine tend to dwell in cities. Before the spiritual judgments take place, hell begins to creep upward into the lower levels of heaven: this occurs because many who were outwardly good, are inwardly evil. When their interior evil of selfish pride is exposed in a spiritual judgment, the area in which they dwelled begins to quake, and they actually sink towards hell. They will fight against it with their own falsity, thus weapons will appear during this conflict. This is the most deepest spiritual level of the Psalm, but one would never know unless one was familiar with the spiritual world.

So that is the hidden symbolism of this particular Psalm. I have not done justice to it, Swedenborg is much better at the symbolism which he explains in detail in Heavenly Arcana. For his exploration of the spiritual world, how it corresponds to our internal spiritual states, see Heaven and Hell.  I put them together in one work, The Divine Revelation of the New Jerusalem, and there are other online resources. Knowing how to interpret scripture, seeing the spiritual symbolism, one can immediately apply it. Should I trust my self, or put trust in God? What mountains of selfish pride lurk within our heart? How has our selfishness changed our previous state, ruining a relationship, where we are now in an unhappy state? Should I be concerned when I see churches following false doctrines, or knowing the truth, fight against it? What false ideas do we hold onto that we should question and fight against? What is that river that can make us internally happy - perhaps we can find a reflection of the truth, when we open scripture and apply it? Rarely do visions occur any more, but few people know what is readily available if they just happen to open scripture and read it with an open heart.