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Ministry as the Cultivation of Language

July 27, 2011

The church is given the task of continually speaking the gospel anew though with continual reliance upon the normative and formative pressure of the Bible. Church ministers have a particular obligation in fulfilling this task. Their speech guides the speech of the congregation. Preaching, teaching, counseling, writing – all these things ministers do play a part in cultivating the language in which the people in that community will learn to think and speak about the Word.

Ministry of the Word is often thought to have the job of making the truths of Christ relevant to the audience, translating inert concepts into vibrant language that will gain an audience. There is a serious danger here, however, that Christ isn’t being given his whole place as an active minister of his own gospel by his Spirit. Christ is already inherently relevant; he is God having made himself relevant to humanity by becoming human. Ministers do not make Christ relevant but rather testify to his relevance for all of us. And God has already translated his own truth into human language in the speaking ministry of Christ. Ministers testify to Christ using language reflective of and in fact derived from Christ’s own self testimony.

Christ spoke of himself in terms of God’s covenant with Israel, of himself as their Messiah, their Savior, as a sacrifice for sin in keeping with their liturgy, accomplishing justification, sanctification, reconciliation, resurrection and glorification on our behalf, calling for repentance from sin and obedience to and reliance on the Father. He spoke of himself as the Son of the Father and making us sons and daughters of the Father along with him by sharing with us his Spirit. These are the ways Christ spoke of himself and so these ways of speaking are important.

Christ’s use of these terms in communicating himself and training his apostles to extend that communication sanctifies this language, setting it apart as anointed creaturely means of mediating knowledge of God to us. These words and the larger linguistic connections they are a part of are therefore indispensable for Christian faith, for thinking about the God Christ mediates to us in ways appropriate to him. They hold a permanent place in the thinking and speaking of the church; the church would not be the church without them. In their use in communicating the substance of Christian faith they apply pressure on our minds that gives our thinking a particular shape.

The minister’s job then is to cultivate the church’s language so that these sanctified forms of speech continue to exert their influence. This task must navigate between two polar dangers. On the one side, overuse and lack of concentrated attention to certain terms and phrases (“salvation”, “grace”, “repentance”, “sin”, “God”, etc) can empty them of their power to shape our thinking. They become mere sounds that we make, passwords to sanctimony. This is usually called “Christianese”.

On the other pole, the danger is that in an effort to protect against the danger of Christianese a pastor will seek to minimize as far as they can all use of the kinds of words and phrases found only in Scripture or Christian culture. There is something commendable here, the desire to “meet people where they’re at” and “engage culture” – in fact, lets call this approach “EngagingCulturese” – but something quite important is often missing here as well.

The question of the relationship between words and the things words speak of has occupied philosophers since at least the time of Plato (I just read his dialogue Cratylus this past week and could see how it has led to so much further reflection). EngagingCulturese assumes that the relationship between words and things is merely conventional – it doesn’t matter what you call something as long as those you are communicating with know what you’re talking about – and therefore we are free to translate the truths of gospel into language our surrounding culture is comfortable with. The problem here is that this approach will necessarily leave that culture unchanged. If the criterion for engaging with culture well is that you speak in ways that culture easily understands, then you eliminate the possibility of introducing anything new into that culture.

Christ came into his own culture speaking in a way that engaged his culture precisely because it challenged it. He spoke a new word, the Word he is, one that his hearers could understand but at the same time challenged and stretched their understanding. The words he used and his peculiar use of them was a part of that challenge and a part of the deposit of faith he handed on to his apostles.

Part of the minister’s job then is to intentionally use the set of words, phrases and larger patterns of language the gospel comes to us through in such a way that they preserve their power to shape our thinking. We shouldn’t be embarrassed of the strangeness of biblical and theological language; we should seek to preserve that strangeness so that the perpetual strangeness of the gospel itself, of Jesus himself as the righteous man and incarnate God, is perpetually present in the minds of the flock.

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2011 5:02 pm

    “Ministers do not make Christ relevant but rather testify to his relevance for all of us.” Well stated.

    I think Augustine and Aquinas were onto something when they described Scripture as an instrument by which God teaches the ignorant, delights the bored, and changes the lazy. The Word and our proclamation of it need not be modified in a way that hinders these effects. Spouting out Christianese as generic fluff-talk doesn’t teach, doesn’t delight, and doesn’t change anyone. The same goes for what you called EngagingCulturese – it doesn’t encourage change.

    It seems that the Word cannot properly cut into a context without changing it. John’s use of the philosophical term logos to describe Christ comes to mind as an example. The term has cultural resonance but its meaning is shaped more by the (to us) strange reality it now conveys than its cultural baggage.

  2. July 27, 2011 5:38 pm

    Thanks Shep. Logos is a great example. It has its place in the linguistic/cultural matrix in which it is used, but its use to speak of Christ in the continuity of his preexistence and incarnation fills it with strange new meaning. I think “fills” might be the right word here even in connection with the OT language Luke/Acts picks up about the Spirit being poured out and people being filled with it: as we are filled with the Spirit beyond our natural capacity, our human language is filled with meaning beyond its natural semantic range…or something like that.

    Thanks for the comment, Shep.

  3. ken oakes permalink
    July 27, 2011 8:28 pm

    This is a pretty clear presentation of Christ’s prophetic office as it relates to preaching to ministry. So thanks for that Adam.

    A couple of things come to mind. There seems to be a slippage between what Jesus said about himself and what Paul said Jesus, which I guess is fine, but then we would have to include what Paul said about Jesus under what Jesus said about himself. But it does seem a little strange to argue that Jesus used words like “sanctification” and “justification,” even if indirectly.

    Also, I wonder about your emphasis upon “these words” and their “permanent” character. What, then, does this mean for something as simple as translation from Aramaic to Greek to Modern English? How could words be “permanent” at all, and how could words be considered apart from the practices, traditions, and actions that make them intelligible? The Word did not only remain the Word, the Word also took on flesh. I guess that I am wondering if you need a much wider account of the ministry of the Word actually to make sense of the words that the Word sanctifies.

  4. July 27, 2011 11:08 pm

    Thanks Ken. You’re certainly right that I need a much wider account of ministry and the practices, traditions and actions that make our use of words in ministry intelligible. This piece was just meant to gesture at the place of words in ministry and their relation to the Word (partial even as a gesture at that, I’m sure).

    As far as the Jesus-Paul thing, yeah, I might need to be a bit more careful there. I think Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17 has me covered on sanctification, Justification goes to Isaiah as much as Paul: “by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). It seems fairly straightforward to connect Christ’s own self-testimony with deutero-Isaiah. But more generally, I am fairly comfortable speaking of Paul’s testimony to Christ as an extension of Christ’s own self-testimony.

    On the permanence issue, of course language is translated, but the translated words, phrases and larger patterns of speech we use are translations of concrete and time/culture-bound words and phrases, not wordless and timeless truths. It is of course the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek forms that are of foremost authority; we must translate, but our translations are accountable to those authoritative forms and through ongoing translation those original forms extend their influence across the church’s life.

    My argument here is rooted in the notion that the cultural-linguistic context the gospel was originally delivered in was not accidental. In my undergrad and early in seminary I somehow imbibed the notion that cultures and languages are basically arbitrary to the gospel so that Christ might have showed up at any time in any culture and the gospel would have taken on whatever language and probably even whatever metaphysical assumptions (as language and worldview are intimately related) it found itself in. I’ve since become convinced that God’s covenant with Israel was established precisely in order to be the pre-history of Christ’s historical existence, to establish the proper cultural and linguistic context in which God intended Christ’s ministry to be interpreted. If that’s the case, then the forms of thought and speech that attend the original proclamation of the gospel aren’t arbitrarily related to the gospel’s content but will need to remain organically related to it as it crosses time and space. Of course this can’t be a rigid relation; it requires translation and the formation of new words and analogies, but these new translations serve the permanent value of the original. Put more simply. we don’t come up with words or concepts like grace and repentance – they are the result in the English language of the permanent communicative importance of hen and charis, shuv and metanoia.

  5. July 28, 2011 3:23 am

    Adam, how would what you’re saying apply to the regula fidei, or the language of homoousion etc.? I would assume that you would see this kind of Christian development as the “translation” and “formation of new words” that serve the Gospel or Jesus. But then doesn’t this take us full circle? Couldn’t we argue that this kind of translation is what we see in your “EngagingCulturese” or contexualization? Who gets to say what’s in bounds, and out of bounds; relative to the “translation” work?

    Btw, I agree with you and TFT, in principle. 😉

  6. July 28, 2011 9:56 am

    Adam – I think I see your larger point: history is not incidental to revelation. But how does it follow from this that the particular words, phrases and concepts we find in Scripture must be preserved in their specific form for church speech? Do you think there’s something about the way they “are” that enables them to perform the discipling function that you think is so important? And if so, what sort of doctrine of inspiration would you need to underwrite such a view?

  7. July 28, 2011 2:50 pm

    Bobby – As a fellow student of Torrance, you’ll find my answers here entirely unsurprising. The language of the regula fidei and creeds aren’t merely examples of contextualization but attempts to summarize the fundamental logic of the gospel with specialized compressed language some of which, like homoousion, is forged for the special purpose of expressing the gospel’s inner logic. How are we to judge whether these developments are legitimate translations/summarizations? This is a super important question and ,maybe I’ll write a later piece seeking to answer it, but I’m not as interested in that question as I am in the point I’ve been trying to get at here – the permanent value of the vocabulary of the New Testament. I suppose there are several ways of establishing criteria both for “translation” work, and I’m fairly invested in saying that creedal language like homoousion is good and useful, even that it also has a permanent place in the church’s life, but I don’t think I could do a good job here in a comment of laying out what a proper set of criteria would look like. Briefly, I suppose it would have something to do with shedding light on the whole of the biblical language, articulating the shape of the interconnections between its various parts, and having a holistic persuasive power, though all of this would really only be open to intuitive evaluation. The larger point for me here is, though, that the real criteria for translations and creedal formulations is their ability to show through themselves and bring us to the text of Scripture with understanding, to give the vocabulary of Scripture contemporary significance for us so that we can use it in our ongoing lives of worship and communicating the gospel.

    Justin – I do think a relationship is established between words and the things they express. In the case of God, I don’t think knowledge of him can be established by the mere exchange of words – he communicates his actual self in Christ, rather than just things about himself with words. But the self-testimony Jesus offers and extends through the apostles is an integral part of God’s self-communication; taking on human language is a part of taking on humanity. If we want to say that Jesus did a good job of testifying to himself, I think we’ll want to say that words and patterns of words he put together bear in the logic of their interconnections a correspondence to the logic of his own reality. As we move further and further away from those patterns and introduce foreign frameworks of thought through language having no very direct relationship to his language (our doesn’t translate his), we bring in assumptions that don’t fit the reality and thus distort it. Now, as I’ve said, translation is inevitable so there is no comprehensive way to shut out distorting elements as time goes on, but the obligation I think we’re under is to constantly press ourselves back to the original language of Christ and the apostles as we go forward with new translations and recontextualizations of the truth they’ve passed on to us. As far as inspiration goes, well, to whatever degree I haven’t already answered that implicitly or explicitly in this post or my last one, I’ll have to leave that question for another day.

    Thanks for the questions all!

  8. July 28, 2011 4:18 pm

    Adam,

    If it’s the biblical vocabulary that’s of “permanent value”, doesn’t that just amount to either a historical-critical foundation for interpretation and doctrine, or otherwise require a theory of inspiration that makes the creed/regula fidei itself the interpretive key to what norms our understanding of Christ’s “self-testimony”? Even to make the normative “text” the NT in its “original languages” is problematic, because you still have to account for what gives those texts/that text its doctrinal (and thus interpretive) coherence.

    Emphasizing Christ’s self-testimony doesn’t seem to me to get you out of the hermeneutical circle, since that testimony is mediated through historical traditions of interpretation. I guess I’m not clear here what makes the canon, rather than the process of canonical formation, the norm for speaking
    “Christianese.” I’m not sold on the basic concept of Christianese itself — i.e., that there are any specific words/set of vocabulary that are of “pernament value” — so I’m wondering about what’s really grounding this account. I think Justin is right that what you’re really arguing for is a theory of inspiration and (I’d add) an apostolic era that ended with canonical formation.

    I also worry about the idea that Israel happened as a kind of providential pre-cursor to Christ showing up when and where he did. Doesn’t that make the existence of Israel itself accidental to (or at least sub-par) to the covenant? This seems to cut against a view that Gentiles are engrafted into, rather than superceding, the Israel of God.

  9. July 28, 2011 6:51 pm

    Scott – More great questions, thanks! Let me just begin by saying I haven’t attempted to give an account of the foundations of anything or a comprehensive account of anything – I’m just trying to get at an articulation of the reason there might be such thing as a peculiarly Christian vocabulary and what they could be a good thing. I get the feeling like most of your questions are suggesting I’ve left something out and I certainly have – it might be as simple as that, but probably not.

    As far as the first either/or you’ve suggested, no I don’t think so. I don’t think I’ve given historicism a foothold because though I’ve asserted the importance of these words, it is a derived importance, not foundational. So, yes it does require a theory of inspiration and yes, it would be one that points to the content of the regula fidei as the key to biblical interpretation, but only to the degree that the person of Jesus Christ himself is that content, not the particular words the rule/creed. Jesus himself as the original speaker of the gospel stands behind the permanent place of his apostles’ testimony, having given them their place as his authoritative witnesses. It is likewise the person of Christ that gives the New Testament canon in its original language its doctrinal coherence.

    On the canon vs. processs of canonization as norm question, I want to say that it is ultimately the speech of Christ himself that is the norm which then norms the apostolic speech, the apostolic texts, and the reception of those texts. At every step we are called to a decision about whether these things are both faithful to the speaking of Christ himself and authorized by his speaking; to the degree we believe they are authorized and faithful to their calling, we grant their normativity for us. I might be missing your point, but I’m not sure what it would mean to normativize the process of canonization without seeing the canon itself as normative. Ultimately what we’re saying is that the texts were called forth by Christ and faithfully reflect what he said about himself and thus are profitable for us in learning how to speak faithfully about Christ. I’m not trying to get out of the hermeneutical circle or to somehow circumvent the work we have to do in seeking to speak faithfully about Christ in light of Scripture; I’m trying to clarify why we have that work to do. Perhaps what I’m lacking is a clear suggestion for the trajectory that work ought to pursue.

    I’m honestly trying to figure out how I might be slighting Israel’s place in the covenant with God; I thought I was giving them their full place. My head is being rigorously scratched here. How is seeing Israel as the covenantal pre-history of Christ, seeing Christ as the Saviour first and foremost of Israel and of the whole world precisely through them making them sub-par?

  10. July 28, 2011 9:30 pm

    Adam,

    Thank you for your response. I think folks just need to read some more TFT 😉 .

    As far as Scott’s point on “circle,” isn’t “Christian” hermeneutics and “Christian” theology admitting, up front, that we are in a specified kind of circle? One given its shape by “He” who broke into this world as the Son of the Father? Isn’t this what the analogy of faith is all about? That’s my understanding, anyway.

    I hear TFT dripping from your response to Scott (and all of us), and while I agree with what you said about Christ being the reality of the regula fidei etc.; I wonder how you, Adam, would make a distinction—based on this logic—between the regula fidei’s witness, for example, and the Apostolic one deposited in Scripture? So I suppose this does get back to a theory of inspiration. Why not just say that the Scriptures, regula fidei (which is simply the audible correlate of the Apostolic deposit, or Scripture), the creeds, and the canonization of sacred Scripture are all inhabiting the same ground; since these are all purported to be functioning the same way (in their reception)? Is there an “annexation” of the regula fidei etc from the canon of Scripture, that somehow makes Scripture’s witness more special (in intensification maybe?) than the creeds et al? I am working through this still, a bit, even though I know how TFT answers this.

  11. July 28, 2011 10:53 pm

    Adam,

    I’m just pointing out that your account of “Christ’s self-testimony” has to touch the ground somewhere. I don’t think saying it is given first in “the words of the Bible” answers the question of where he attests himself, because one could certainly have any version and/or translation of the Bible, in a historical vaccuum, and not come away thinking we need to use (English) words like “justification” or “regeneration” and “sin” and “grace” in order to convey the central biblical message.

    So I do think your account of Christianese, insofar as it’s claiming that it’s the biblical text that is of “permanent value” for the actual terms Christian ministers should use, presupposes something “foundational”, i.e., some hermeneutical rule that is the key to understanding what kind of things get said in “Christ’s self-testimony” through scripture. So far, I’m just reading your claim about this self-testimony as an empty cipher, holding in place whatever that key fills out. And you’ve suggested it might be some regula fidei/creed, although you want to distinguish Christ’s person from the regula/creed.

    It’s this latter move that confuses me. It seems like you are presupposing some traditional regula or creed as the epistemic key to understanding who Christ is (and thus what scripture/his contemporary self-testimony through is “about”), but you’re simultaneously distinguishing his person from that regular/creed as some distinct “content” these words point to.

    Perhaps it would clear things up for me if you just answered: what do you mean by “Christ’s self-testimony”? Does it have an original historical locus (i..e, the words of the historical Jesus himself)?

    We can leave the Israel point aside, I think. I was just responding to this claim in your response to Ken: “I’ve since become convinced that God’s covenant with Israel was established precisely in order to be the pre-history of Christ’s historical existence, to establish the proper cultural and linguistic context in which God intended Christ’s ministry to be interpreted.” This seems to say quite clearly that Israel is but the means to getting God’s historical ducks in a row, so that Christ could come at the right cultural-linguistic moment (which is not Hebraic, but Greek).

  12. July 28, 2011 11:08 pm

    Bobby,

    I don’t think hermeneutical circles are problematic in and of themselves; I do however think intellectual honesty requires reflection on the foundations of the particular circles we are (or think we’re) in. It’s in that spirit I’m taking Adam’s post, and trying to engage it.

  13. July 28, 2011 11:30 pm

    Bobby – Yes indeed, I seem to just become more and more of a Torrance repeater as time goes on. I neck deep in Theological Science right now and so all the connections in my mind are just echoing his insights. There are certainly problems with his thought, but for where I’m at, they are the right problems.

    I suppose I would be comfortable saying that the NT, regula fidei, the creeds, etc inhabit the same ground in that they stand in organic relation to one another, the NT extending the voice of Christ, the regula fidei arising as an interpretive decision about what the principle of unity is among the NT texts, the creeds arising as verbal formulations of the regula fidei, and thus a structure of Christian thinking arises that holds these things together in an organic structure. Saying all that, it would then be important to me that in our situation it is the NT texts themselves that we want to be primarily concerned with. We use the creeds as articulations of the regula fidei and judge them good or bad based on our evaluation of their ability to illuminate Scripture as a whole, or better, their ability as interpretive keys to allow Scripture to show Christ through them. So I think that though I’m saying that all these things share ground in that they belong together, for us the formal authority behind them all is the text of Scripture and the material authority behind that is Christ himself (meaning, I think, we’d have to say Christ’s own verbal testimony is the formal authority behind the form of the NT, though his verbal testimony isn’t directly available to us). Am I still just parroting TFT here, probably. Sue me.

    Scott – Be patient with me – I’m trying to keep up with you. Here I go: “what do you mean by “Christ’s self-testimony”? Does it have an original historical locus (i..e, the words of the historical Jesus himself)?”

    I do mean the words of the historical Jesus himself when I speak of Christ’s self-testimony. But as I am not contemporary with the historical Jesus, his historical voice is mediated to me by the voice of his apostles. Hearing his apostles through their texts as preserved through history (to the degree I believe what I have in front of me is readable as their historical testimony), I am faced with a decision about whether I accept their witness as apostolic, not arising from their own genius but from a commission laid on them by Christ. If I do accept it, which I do, then though I will differentiate their testimony from Christ’s own, I will still believe that what I have in their testimony is a faithful passing on of what Christ said about himself, that in hearing them I hear him not just in a spiritual sense (though certainly the Spirit is important here) but also as disciples verbally trained by their rabbi to speak as he spoke. So yes, historical Jesus, but a historical Jesus who appointed his apostles to mediate knowledge of his historical life and ministry through their testimony.

    Israel: I think I see your point. Though I’d of course say that the people of Israel have their own integrity like any other nation, I’m fairly comfortable saying that their covenant with God was a means to an end, the end being the reconciliation of creation with God. I suppose this can be stated in a reductionist way, but it needn’t be. To say that their existence as the covenant people of God was for the sake of mediating the humanity of Christ is, I think, to say something quite glorious about them.

    Good stuff, fellas. Hopefully I’m getting a bit closer to clarity, whether or not I’m right!

  14. July 29, 2011 12:46 am

    Adam,

    To be clear, I wasn’t saying that your TFT’nese was a bad thing; in fact I like it! (which you know). But I am just trying to grapple with this, and with what TFT is saying (alongside what you’re saying in your own constructive way); trying to be a little more “critical” than I have been with TFT (it is hard for me to do that when I’m reading TFT because the way he communicates, for some reason, grabs me, and places me into a TFT fog 😉 which has been a life changing fog for me). Anyway, I am just trying to press what you’re saying, in order to punch holes in “my own” appropriation of what TF has articulated. I’m trying to “test all things, and hold fast to that which is good.” And for the most part I think what TFT says is good! So no, I don’t want to sue you … so there! I only wish I could drip TFT like you do 🙂 . Is this clear enough? And I appreciate and like your response back to me. I like the formal/material distinction you made; I think that is a helpful one.

    @Scott,

    I agree with you. It just seems to me that saying “Christian,” provides, at least, a sense of specificity for what the “foundation” might be. Doesn’t this take us back to the Apostolic faith, which takes us back to the source of the Apostle’s faith, Jesus?

  15. July 29, 2011 7:12 am

    By the way, Adam, there is a really important point in the beginning of your post that I just wanted to mention, and that is your point on Jesus already being relevant. I don’t think this point can be made enough! It seems to me (in our context, American Evangelicalism) that so much of pastoral ministry and preaching today is shaped exactly by what your point about Jesus’ already relevance cuts against; and that is a desire to “make” Jesus relevant to our culture. This seems to rely upon an adoptionistic christology, and a pelagian soteriology. Anyway, excellent point!

  16. July 29, 2011 2:53 pm

    Amen, Bobby! I’m reading Andrew Purves’s book The Crucifixion of Ministry right now and getting that point so strongly from him. Though I’m really just beginning as a pastoral minister, I see the need to remember this everywhere! There is so much temptation to be the bridge between God and whatever/whoever; faith has to begin with the conviction that God has already crossed the gap and is present and active where I hope to be present and active.

  17. July 29, 2011 5:56 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read that book by Purves ever since I heard him interviewed by GCI. I have 3 other books going right now, but when I’m done, that is next … thanks for the reminder. Anyway, amen and great words on being present and active where Christ already is; how that looks and works out is definitely the challenging part as a minister! Hope your transition back to CA is going as smooth as could be expected. Blessings, brother.

  18. July 29, 2011 6:05 pm

    The great thing about the Purves book is that it has a strong Torrancean sense of Christ’s vicarious humanity as mediator between God and us but is the kind of book I can recommend to friends in ministry that wouldn’t get through a Torrance book. That said, being a student of Torrance, most of the stuff in it will be familiar to you.

  19. July 29, 2011 7:22 pm

    I look forward to it, Adam! Thanks. In his interview with GCI TFT’s idea of vicariousness comes through loudly. His chapter for our book also is on vicariousness in Barth’s commentary on the Scots Confession (it is also good!). Why, do you reckon, is it so hard for so many of our pastoral brethren to make their way through TFT? I can understand why with some of his “science” stuff, but with his theological stuff (like Mediation, Edinburgh Lectures, CDG, TTF, etc.) I don’t get it. Once his basic lexicon is grasped I don’t see reading TFT any harder than any other Reformed dogmatician … he is much easier, for me, than Barth. Anyway.

  20. John permalink
    August 13, 2011 4:02 am

    Of course Saint Jesus of Galilee was not in any sense a Christian. He was an outsider, a radical Spiritual Teacher who appeared and taught on the margins of the tradition of Judaism as it was in his time and place.

    The entire religion of Christian-ism (the religion about him) was invented by others after his brutal execution. And mostly long after by people who never ever met Jesus up close and personal in a living-breathing-feeling human form

    Jesus certainly could not have created any of the “death-and-resurrection” dogma that became the central idea of Christian doctrine.

    CORPSES are intrinsically incapable of creating religions!

    While he was alive Saint Jesus taught and demonstrated a universal, non-Christian, non-sectarian Spirit-Breathing Spiritual Way of Life that can be practiced by all heart-sensitive beings in any time, place, and world.

    This includes all of the countless billions of non-human beings!

  21. August 13, 2011 4:32 am

    John, with all due respect, the account you have given here of who Jesus was is more clearly an invention by people far removed from his living-breathing-feeling existence than the apostolic writings.

  22. August 13, 2011 6:00 pm

    John,

    Have you heard of Gnosticism? What you are describing is that, and not this: The Christian Faith.

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