Paul, Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, & Christian Asceticism

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kdm1984
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11 Sep 2018, 4:20 pm

Oftentimes when I'm reading the New Testament, I'm astonished at just how difficult it is to live the Christian life -- and I have to strongly consider that neither I, nor anyone else I know, actually lives it out these days. I mean, if faith without works is dead, we're all pretty much dead, for NT morality is very exacting. Forget whatever popular, watered-down, cliched, and eisegetical interpretations people like to have of it in the modern day; when you really get down to what Jesus, Paul, and the NT writers actually say, and ignore the lukewarm views popular in our current age, living out the Christian life is actually extremely hard. Love your enemies (one of Jesus' most famous commands), don't return evil for evil (end of Romans 12), avoid even a hint of sexual immorality or looking at another with lust (Ephesians 5:3; Matthew 5:27-28), forsake worldly pleasures (numerous verses, including ones in 2 Timothy 3, James 4, and 1 John 2), singleness and celibacy as the highest aim (1 Corinthians 7) -- I don't know anyone who consistently lives like that, especially in the modern age with all its social media rage, sexual temptations, and entertainment saturation!

Then again, rather than simply remain astonished, I have to ask -- what factors may have influenced the early Christian church to be like this, and why don't we see people living like the early church today?

I came across a theory that the Apostle Paul in particular suffered from temporal lope epilepsy:

https://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/12/opin ... 11691.html

Among the symptoms of this condition, as stated in the article:

"(1) hyperreligiosity; (2) hypergraphia, which is the tendency to spend a great deal of time writing; (3) hyposexuality, diminished sexual drive, which could account for his not being married, and (4) epileptic seizures, which may produce a brief but intense alteration experienced as hallucinatory activity, so that some physicians have made the suggestion that Paul's vision on the road to Damascus was in fact an epileptic fit."

#3 in particular stands out to me, because of how rare it is for men in today's society. The vast majority of men and women (especially men, generally speaking, and women like me) have a hard time living up to the stringent sexual morality demanded in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, and particularly from Christ and Paul. How many men and women can avoid looking at an attractive person without lustful thoughts, or avoid even the slightest hint of sexual immorality? Remember, we're living in an age where fornication among heterosexuals is the norm, and not considered bad anymore -- but the NT is absolutely and unequivocally against this, not to mention looking at people with lust (consider the porn/modeling industries), or having even the slightest hint of sexual immorality (flirtation? masturbation? Not even the slightest hint!).

A few years ago, I remember being involved socially with people who espoused a largely Calvinist patriarchy with supposedly strict adherence to Biblical text, and they had the WORST TIME with the sexual morality demands of men in Christianity. These people tried to live a very morally stringent life -- some even aiming for theonomy and reconstructionism where many (if not most) of the Old Testament laws would be brought back! -- but the leading men had continued failures of sexual morality (look up Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips). I remember one man on social media complaining about their Christian women's demands of men sexually, saying that sin is impossible to avoid, so women just needed to 'accept' that their husbands have sinful sexual fantasies about women other than their wives (convoluted as it is, the not-so-Biblical 'philosophy' of Calvinism basically allows for this, for many Calvinists believe God created evil, and that God is sovereign, and that everything is predestined, so God created temptation, and God thus is the author of sin, and it cannot be avoided, so therefore sin can be rationalized like that). Problem is, Jesus and Paul made no such exceptions. This isn't about their women being Victorians (although some of them probably are, lol), but about guys like this fellow on social media having an inability to reconcile the strict Biblicality they like to think or wish they could have and obtain, vs. how people actually live their lives today in reality.

Of course, there's also the thought to consider: if Jesus and Paul had these views because of intense fasting, their asceticism, and perhaps some temporal lobe epilepsy, why aren't Christians living like that anymore? How many Christians actually fast, practice self-discipline, and attempt to control their desires? This was a thing in the Middle Ages, but not in this Antinomian lax Protestant age -- where you just say a prayer, talk about having some kind of vague "relationship" with God, and you're supposedly saved, works be damned.

Narrow road too hard for most people to walk, perhaps? So many are so confident they're going to heaven, but if what the NT says is true, evidence points toward most of us not getting there by our thoughts, actions, and weak justifications or rationalizations for the various pleasures of sin. And most of us don't have the discipline, the fasting, or perhaps the epileptic fits allowed by the Spirit to stop ourselves.


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11 Sep 2018, 7:07 pm

I'm somewhat forced to look at these sorts of moral and developmental paths as 'systems'. The trouble is, you're right, the stringency will bounce a lot of people off simply because their makeup won't allow them to get stronger, float the air-bubbles out of their psyche, etc, because what they're made of can't mesh with the contours of that system. On a very different note I could say similar things about Franz Bardon's IIH - many people run at his ten steps only to give up on the first or second, which is far more common than for someone to make it all the way through and it's for a whole variety of different reasons but the end result is the same.

Really to think about it at the level of being a serious problem, it's quite a challenge just go keep general integrity in our culture the way it is. I don't know whether living conditions back at these times pushed more social force behind such personal cultivation or not, probably a mixed bag. To say the least though any internal work you try to do will be difficult. I think what maybe lends to the most successful path for one to follow is that it has options to cover their problems, the unique ways in which they know they're broken and trying to mend things, and systems that are almost open-source seem to offer that variety in my opinion so long as they actually have rigor as well to back up the results.


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11 Sep 2018, 7:52 pm

To me, everything before the four Gospels was mere preamble, and everything afterwards was mere commentary.

It's what Jesus said (and did) that matters most.

The Christian life is difficult -- damn difficult -- but Christians gotta do what Christians gotta do, which is love your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind; loving your neighbor as yourself; and loving yourself (that last one is implied in Luke 10:27).

If you truly obey these words, then all of your "works" will arise from them.


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12 Sep 2018, 2:37 pm

Scholastic Studies of Biblical History Particularly at Divinity Doctorate Level Studies is truly Fascinating; Particularly when
Scholars Like Bart Ehrman who once was a Budding Pastor of a Protestant Church was a little too overwhelmed with the
Truth of the Studied History of the Bible to go back to a Congregation and do a Cover-Up for those with too
Little Faith to Be Satisfied with Life as is with a Resurrecting Real TheMe in Real Flesh and Blood Per
Isaiah 53 of the Archetypal Hero Journey as that Applies to moving through a Great Ordeal
as Dark Nights to Years of the 'Soul' as Storied 'Job' did too and getting to the
Light End of the Tunnel of Dark coming Back to Humankind as Love Incarnate Fearless to Give and Share for
Free as Such as that Applies to Illusory Fears in Sticks of Human Made Illusory Fears and Promises of Carrots
any other place but Love within now at Hand Always in this Generation now; as Human Arises to the Reality
of what Even Secular Sources Like Maslow Identify as Ascending Transcending Agape Love For all when Ego
Disappears and all of Existence Becomes Full of Meaning and Purpose with Holy and Sacred Feelings of Beauty
And Love About All tHere is All That is other wise felt and sensed as God in this more 'Transient Hypo-Frontality'
Way of Being in Current Science Speak; in yes an 'Autotelic' Nation of Being Within as another Current Science
Phrase that means Being Love Incarnate just about always intrinsically though Bio-Feed Back in Activities
Like Moving Meditation (Free Dance) and or Still Meditation too to escape the Neo-Cortical Problem
Solving Worry State of Mind that is more in tune with an illusion of CLocK Time as Measured
in Distance and Space too where in the other more Heaven mode of being All iS NoW
all is LoVE
Let's Go
Dance and
Sing Free and sure
Entertain 'Our' (not you and me)
Shadows and do the other Stuff Free
too for it is also worth noting in Matthew the Following too:

Matthew 22:28 thru 22:40:

"Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?"
Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
But about the resurrection of the dead--have you not read what God said to you,
I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."
When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together.
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Wow; Just Wow; so in one Quick Sweep Jesus gathers up it all into a Nation of Love For all
"iN OTHeR Words God With No Word But Love For ALL"; Quotation Here by me not Hard to
Identify as I too Follow the Biggest Law and Pay Grade and Currency of the Good Cop Version of Jesus
in the Old
Beatles
Mantra
too "All You Need is Love";
Bonobos already do this as I Will Leave a Reference
Video for that Below and as Far as Science Goes and Documentaries as Such Come A Balance of
Lust and Love in Everyday Life Brings Empirically Substantial Greater Measures of Creativity, Productivity and Yes
Even Social Cooperation too. Additionally, it's Worth Noting that a literal Heaven Built out of Gem Stones is Largely
A Materialistic Construct Made by Materialistic Human Beings as the Old Old Testament Folks Per Jewish Folks
Did NOT Believe in an Actual Heaven anywhere else but here same as Hell with Gehenna the Garbage Dump out of
the City Limits too per yes Chaos away from Order too. And on Top of that Satan was a Phrase for Any Adversary
and Lucifer was Pejorative For a Narcissist like the Common Meme now of 'Trumps' too as a Blow Hard as Such
Without Much Substance of Love within to give and share for Free for Greater Social Cooperation for the
Entire Village and not just the Empty Person inside. And Lord Knows where all that Revelation Stuff
came from; perhaps Mushrooms; or Just an all Natural Trip of Alice in the Bad wonderland of
Oppressive Persecuting Folks Like Nero with Code Names like 616 that morphed into
666 where the Local Cashiers got all Afraid when they Carded me for under 21 at
40 and saw the 6660 as my Birthdate as it really got boring that they were literally
Afraid of my Birthdate so Full of Superstitious Illusory Fears with no Basis in Empirical Fact
Other than A Story they were told perhaps in the Movie 'the Omen'; hehe; and other Imaginary
Fictions too not unlike the Story of Revelation that almost didn't make it into the Final Cut as the Bible
as it comes to be now in more Revision since then and then too where Innumerable Greek Speaking Roman
Empire Folks took up Popular Pen Names like Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John and created the Story Based on many
Sources of Information including what came from within as Detailed in the Stories of Paul the Saul of really one of
the likely only real original Authors of the Bible at all Attributable at all to an Actual Living Breathing Human Being
with the Alias of a Birth Name Historically Possibly real. Now, Back to Marriage and the Kingdom of Heaven
now and Resurrection as a Metaphor for the Still Common Secular Described Archetype of the Hero Story
that is the Basis for almost Every Super Hero Movie we come to see that is Created for our Views too.
When one comes to this New RE-Born Version of them self as Love Incarnate with this All
Encompassing Beautiful Feel and Sense about all that is as Love to Give and Share for Free this
old Idea of Owning Women with Law Papers goes right out of the Door of Old Cultural Law and Straight
into the Arms of Free as some folks do Stay Monogamous if that is what the Free of them Cares to do as
it's True some Humans are more Naturally Monogamous than others who get around all over the place their
Entire Life. And the New News is there are other more Vicarious Resources to Live Like Angels in Heaven Free
without ownership Like this now too; God yes, Disease and Siring Free too as that comes and goes too; yes the
World Wide Electronic World of Giving and Sharing Bodily Functions in terms of Human Sensuality and the Largest
Sexual Organ that is the Human Mind in Imagination and Co-Creativity too; For True this Kingdom of Heaven may
be found online literally and metaphorically these days too in terms of a place with no Sun or Moon where for all
practical Intents and Purpose at least in Relative Human Measures of time folks upload their Soul from Toe to
Head and More and Relatively Speaking will Live Long as Servers Serve up the Emotive Signatures of their
'Soul' in all the Ways Art comes and goes now too. The Jackie TreeHorn Segment of the 'Big Lebowski'
Movie comes to Mind but I do not want to Break the Rules here for I do Believe that oh no that
YouTube Video in the Wild Shows Bare Breasts as that's probably something that will Offend someone
here. Science Videos Shouldn't Hurt; hehe, so sure, i'll include those Safely per say and do too. Anyway
this is just one way to Interpret the Poetry Parables and other Metaphors of the Bible for every Word is as Metaphor
at Core anyway up to Interpretation of the Viewer of Words and their Particular Perspectives as they come and go
Continually Changing now to now too. And this in Deed is why it is more Likely that one will Find Their Personal
Truths by taking their own Hero's Darker Journey in a Desert or under a Tree or in a Cave but watch out for Angels in
there too; hehe. But True in Countries where the Ramped up Normal Sexual Nature of Bonobo Humans is Repressed
and Oppressed what we get is more Frustration, Aggression, Violence, and Rapes with Even Dreams of 72 Virgins
or whatever where Heaven Becomes one Giant Haven of many Willing Women always to Have Sex with Erections
for Men that never end. True; give it a day or too and they will be looking for another Flavor of Heaven too; perhaps
with Jewels and Gems next in Palaces of Heaven made as such or after that they might just wanna wake up
and Go Back
to the Best
there is
of Living
Loving now;
this works for me;
Mileage varies on Make
and Model of Human Housings
of Vehicle and Vessel of Love Going Ships too in Ocean Whole Life.
Anyway; there are many Languages for Love and God and Heroes
as Quite Frankly there are as Languages and Books and Words and Literal Letters too;
And other Symbols too. And there are more Intelligences yet to be explored than even
Ripley or Horatio have Sought or Run Away from now. Some are Fearful off the Dark; Some
Cynical of the Light; Others Strive the New Survive and Continue to Thrive Generating Love within
to give
and
Share for
Free and it's
true Saying Love is all that is
ain't gonna get through to those who have Never
Experienced the Pure Bliss and Nirvana of all giving and sharing Agape Love now;
Where obviously the only place for Worship and Praise is for it all as what comes round total
Grand Circle back again
to the
Most
Important
Commandment of
all and truly the only
one when one arrives reborn as
there is nothing greater or smaller than
ALL particularly in a State of Agape LoVE Within For ALL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82GUjPConiE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA0JQZn-Qw0


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12 Sep 2018, 4:54 pm

I think the relevant passage here is Matthew 19:25 - 26. Jesus effectively states here that to observe all of the requisite commandments is literally impossible. I remember recently reading a passage in CS Lewis where he says the same sort of thing, though I don't have it at hand. The only possible implication is that God accepts our failures and that the important thing is a good will in a state of grace.

The whole idea behind Original Sin is that we are born with a nature inclined to evil; if it weren't for this, then God's sacrifice of his Son would have been redundant.

Your theory about Paul is interesting, but the kind of radical asceticism that Paul and Jesus espoused is more easily explained in terms of the influence of the thought of the day; in particular, there are strong theories that Paul (and even Jesus) were influenced by, and perhaps even at one stage members of, the Essene community which thrived at the time. The Essene community is of course best known for its preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but also preserved were extensive papyri containing their views on various ethical questions, which turn out to have been strikingly similar to those subsequently espoused by Jesus and Paul.

This is an immensely fascinating topic that I have only recently been made aware of. I'd love to hear your views.



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12 Sep 2018, 7:37 pm

kdm1984 wrote:
Oftentimes when I'm reading the New Testament, I'm astonished at just how difficult it is to live the Christian life -- and I have to strongly consider that neither I, nor anyone else I know, actually lives it out these days. I mean, if faith without works is dead, we're all pretty much dead, for NT morality is very exacting. Forget whatever popular, watered-down, cliched, and eisegetical interpretations people like to have of it in the modern day; when you really get down to what Jesus, Paul, and the NT writers actually say, and ignore the lukewarm views popular in our current age, living out the Christian life is actually extremely hard. Love your enemies (one of Jesus' most famous commands), don't return evil for evil (end of Romans 12), avoid even a hint of sexual immorality or looking at another with lust (Ephesians 5:3; Matthew 5:27-28), forsake worldly pleasures (numerous verses, including ones in 2 Timothy 3, James 4, and 1 John 2), singleness and celibacy as the highest aim (1 Corinthians 7) -- I don't know anyone who consistently lives like that, especially in the modern age with all its social media rage, sexual temptations, and entertainment saturation!

Then again, rather than simply remain astonished, I have to ask -- what factors may have influenced the early Christian church to be like this, and why don't we see people living like the early church today?

I came across a theory that the Apostle Paul in particular suffered from temporal lope epilepsy:

https://www.nytimes.com/1991/02/12/opin ... 11691.html

Among the symptoms of this condition, as stated in the article:

"(1) hyperreligiosity; (2) hypergraphia, which is the tendency to spend a great deal of time writing; (3) hyposexuality, diminished sexual drive, which could account for his not being married, and (4) epileptic seizures, which may produce a brief but intense alteration experienced as hallucinatory activity, so that some physicians have made the suggestion that Paul's vision on the road to Damascus was in fact an epileptic fit."

#3 in particular stands out to me, because of how rare it is for men in today's society. The vast majority of men and women (especially men, generally speaking, and women like me) have a hard time living up to the stringent sexual morality demanded in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament, and particularly from Christ and Paul. How many men and women can avoid looking at an attractive person without lustful thoughts, or avoid even the slightest hint of sexual immorality? Remember, we're living in an age where fornication among heterosexuals is the norm, and not considered bad anymore -- but the NT is absolutely and unequivocally against this, not to mention looking at people with lust (consider the porn/modeling industries), or having even the slightest hint of sexual immorality (flirtation? masturbation? Not even the slightest hint!).

A few years ago, I remember being involved socially with people who espoused a largely Calvinist patriarchy with supposedly strict adherence to Biblical text, and they had the WORST TIME with the sexual morality demands of men in Christianity. These people tried to live a very morally stringent life -- some even aiming for theonomy and reconstructionism where many (if not most) of the Old Testament laws would be brought back! -- but the leading men had continued failures of sexual morality (look up Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips). I remember one man on social media complaining about their Christian women's demands of men sexually, saying that sin is impossible to avoid, so women just needed to 'accept' that their husbands have sinful sexual fantasies about women other than their wives (convoluted as it is, the not-so-Biblical 'philosophy' of Calvinism basically allows for this, for many Calvinists believe God created evil, and that God is sovereign, and that everything is predestined, so God created temptation, and God thus is the author of sin, and it cannot be avoided, so therefore sin can be rationalized like that). Problem is, Jesus and Paul made no such exceptions. This isn't about their women being Victorians (although some of them probably are, lol), but about guys like this fellow on social media having an inability to reconcile the strict Biblicality they like to think or wish they could have and obtain, vs. how people actually live their lives today in reality.

Of course, there's also the thought to consider: if Jesus and Paul had these views because of intense fasting, their asceticism, and perhaps some temporal lobe epilepsy, why aren't Christians living like that anymore? How many Christians actually fast, practice self-discipline, and attempt to control their desires? This was a thing in the Middle Ages, but not in this Antinomian lax Protestant age -- where you just say a prayer, talk about having some kind of vague "relationship" with God, and you're supposedly saved, works be damned.

Narrow road too hard for most people to walk, perhaps? So many are so confident they're going to heaven, but if what the NT says is true, evidence points toward most of us not getting there by our thoughts, actions, and weak justifications or rationalizations for the various pleasures of sin. And most of us don't have the discipline, the fasting, or perhaps the epileptic fits allowed by the Spirit to stop ourselves.


You have to remember that Christ was a millenialist, and so were the first few generations of his followers.

The world was supposed to end any minute, and Christ was supposed to return, any minute.

In Paul's letters to Corinthians about the very subject of sexuality it is clear that that is how Paul thought about it. He advised the folks he was addressing that celibacy and singlehood was the preferred way to go. However ...if you have randy young folks in your congregation -sure go ahead and encourage them to get married to take care of lust because that's better than fornication. But getting married is pointless and silly because marriage is all about children, and about inheriting property, and stuff like that. Stuff that has to do with the future. And we all know that its already almost the second century -so we all know that there aint gonna be no future to prepare for -because the world is gonna end any second.



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12 Sep 2018, 7:51 pm

So Paul was an "Abstinence-Only" teacher, as well as a misogynist ("... women should remain silent..."), and pro-slavery (he sent the slave Onesimus back to his master, Philemon).

This is one reason why I consider everything after the Book of Acts to be mere commentary.


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12 Sep 2018, 8:13 pm

I'm not a Christian believer, but it sounded to me like you were developing an argument in favor of Calvinism. Total depravity is real, and there's nothing we ourselves can do to escape it.


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12 Sep 2018, 10:16 pm

Great discussion, folks. I had no idea where this thread might go after I posted my thoughts, but happy to find out this provoked some good commentary.

To touch on one of the things mentioned, yes, Paul did genuinely seem to think the world could very well end soon, and encouraged the flock to live in such a manner. Peter reminded that a day could be a thousand years with God, and Jesus Himself said no one knows the day or hour except the Father (not even the Son Himself, so Jesus doesn't know, either, which I've always found interesting--the Trinity may be equal and One in substance/importance, but apparently there are things that God, Christ, and the Spirit know or do that are specific to them as well).

After having parents who got overly obsessed with eschatology, IMHO (my mother kept thinking the world would end in her lifetime, and she hoarded lots of things--it didn't, and my dad and I had to sort through all the things she hoarded through the years), I think about it less these days, and I had no problem moving on from premillennial dispensationalism to the amilennialism of the LCMS. Seems each human processes it in the way they see most fit. Regardless of our zeal for it, or lack thereof, God's gonna do what He's gonna do.


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13 Sep 2018, 10:49 pm

kdm1984 wrote:
Great discussion, folks. I had no idea where this thread might go after I posted my thoughts, but happy to find out this provoked some good commentary.

To touch on one of the things mentioned, yes, Paul did genuinely seem to think the world could very well end soon, and encouraged the flock to live in such a manner. Peter reminded that a day could be a thousand years with God, and Jesus Himself said no one knows the day or hour except the Father (not even the Son Himself, so Jesus doesn't know, either, which I've always found interesting--the Trinity may be equal and One in substance/importance, but apparently there are things that God, Christ, and the Spirit know or do that are specific to them as well).

After having parents who got overly obsessed with eschatology, IMHO (my mother kept thinking the world would end in her lifetime, and she hoarded lots of things--it didn't, and my dad and I had to sort through all the things she hoarded through the years), I think about it less these days, and I had no problem moving on from premillennial dispensationalism to the amilennialism of the LCMS. Seems each human processes it in the way they see most fit. Regardless of our zeal for it, or lack thereof, God's gonna do what He's gonna do.

I enjoy reading your posts. :)

You mentioned the difficulty in living a consistent NT life. What should be abundantly clear from studying the Bible is NO ONE can follow every commandment perfectly. The point of the NT is God’s grace and mercy through Jesus. You do the best you can because you love Him. Grace is already given to us regardless of what we do. We aren’t given grace because we love God. We have grace because God loves us. Thus works (based on OT law and sacrifices) are irrelevant to salvation. HOWEVER, works (based on our concern for others, among other things) are evidence of what we believe (faith). Christian faith demands action. Our faith is alive, active, and demands a response from the believer. If you believe Jesus saved you from your sins, it stands to reason that you love Christ and wish to wilingly follow in obedience.

The works/faith debate is often shrouded in out-of-context quotes and personal agendas. I think it’s useless to make too much of it.

Hot vs cold vs lukewarm theology: I always thought that referred to various water sources known to ancient times. Hot refers to hot springs the ancients believed had medicinal properties. Cold refers to water that was refreshing for those who were thirsty. Lukewarm referred to water that had picked up a high mineral content and had become bitter or salty, hence undrinkable. It was neither hot nor cold, and it was undrinkable, therefore it was useless. Do we as believers work to heal souls, are we refreshing to those thirsty for the gospel, or are we bitter and useless in God’s kingdom?



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14 Sep 2018, 7:56 am

AngelRho wrote:
kdm1984 wrote:
Great discussion, folks. I had no idea where this thread might go after I posted my thoughts, but happy to find out this provoked some good commentary.

To touch on one of the things mentioned, yes, Paul did genuinely seem to think the world could very well end soon, and encouraged the flock to live in such a manner. Peter reminded that a day could be a thousand years with God, and Jesus Himself said no one knows the day or hour except the Father (not even the Son Himself, so Jesus doesn't know, either, which I've always found interesting--the Trinity may be equal and One in substance/importance, but apparently there are things that God, Christ, and the Spirit know or do that are specific to them as well).

After having parents who got overly obsessed with eschatology, IMHO (my mother kept thinking the world would end in her lifetime, and she hoarded lots of things--it didn't, and my dad and I had to sort through all the things she hoarded through the years), I think about it less these days, and I had no problem moving on from premillennial dispensationalism to the amilennialism of the LCMS. Seems each human processes it in the way they see most fit. Regardless of our zeal for it, or lack thereof, God's gonna do what He's gonna do.

I enjoy reading your posts. :)

You mentioned the difficulty in living a consistent NT life. What should be abundantly clear from studying the Bible is NO ONE can follow every commandment perfectly. The point of the NT is God’s grace and mercy through Jesus. You do the best you can because you love Him. Grace is already given to us regardless of what we do. We aren’t given grace because we love God. We have grace because God loves us. Thus works (based on OT law and sacrifices) are irrelevant to salvation. HOWEVER, works (based on our concern for others, among other things) are evidence of what we believe (faith). Christian faith demands action. Our faith is alive, active, and demands a response from the believer. If you believe Jesus saved you from your sins, it stands to reason that you love Christ and wish to wilingly follow in obedience.

The works/faith debate is often shrouded in out-of-context quotes and personal agendas. I think it’s useless to make too much of it.

Hot vs cold vs lukewarm theology: I always thought that referred to various water sources known to ancient times. Hot refers to hot springs the ancients believed had medicinal properties. Cold refers to water that was refreshing for those who were thirsty. Lukewarm referred to water that had picked up a high mineral content and had become bitter or salty, hence undrinkable. It was neither hot nor cold, and it was undrinkable, therefore it was useless. Do we as believers work to heal souls, are we refreshing to those thirsty for the gospel, or are we bitter and useless in God’s kingdom?


What you wrote makes a lot of sense, and it's what I wish I could keep in mind more often, but I struggle because of past associations.

I think it's very easy for people to fall into agendas without even realizing they are. It's also much easier to point out everyone else's shortcomings rather than admit one's own.

One of the hardest things for me to reconcile has been my own upbringing vs. the extremely rigid and doctrinaire, patriarchal, Lordship salvation kind of Calvinistic milieu that some online friends I had for a number of years in my twenties were into. Due to my own naivety and lack of experience, when I was first associating with these friends, I assumed that conservative Christianity was fairly monolithic, so I thought we had a lot in common. I have since learned that is not the case whatsoever. I didn't realize how wide the gulf really was between their way of viewing and doing things, and how my parents raised me. My parents were almost Antinomian, emphasizing faith much more than works. I was taught the basic morals, sure, but my parents were all about the big picture, and End Times prophecy, not so much trying to fit every theological issue into a pre-existing framework that dictated thought and behavior down to the minutest details.

Over time, a lot of animosity developed between my family and the Calvinists. The Calvinists happened to believe a very particular version of the 16 type Myers-Briggs system, and championed their methodology of it over all others (the guy who came up with this view of the 16 type system, Jon Niednagel, has a large following in sports, although he's tried to branch out his methodology of type into every other avenue of life as well). I and my parents were deemed ENTPs. They believed half of the human population was ENTP (the ENTP type is considered to be only about 5% of the populace in most Myers-Briggs circles), and that ENTP people were inherently less moral and less able to follow moral boundaries. They were much higher on the morality of the ISTJ and ISFJ types, which they said are actually uncommon in the populace despite those being common results people pick on the tests. They said the ISTJ and ISFJ types can follow the moral rules and boundaries of Biblical ethics better. They were very driven to explain why their 16 type system methodology, and their Calvinistic view of the Bible, was the objectively right and true one, and that the ENTPs and other types were too deluded by imagination and the right hemisphere to view things the proper, realistic, black-and-white, and analytic way.

It's difficult to explain to people how this obscure and very systematic way of looking at things has affected me, because there aren't many people who are aware of it. I learned their entire methodology, and how to apply it. But rather than bring me closer to what would seem to be the crux of Christianity, it's made it harder for me to love people. Instead, knowing that every other person is an ENTP, and knowing that ENTP is not viewed highly by these people, my natural tendency now is to judge the common generic ENTPs as people who cannot see reality and who are deluded by overactive imaginations and right hemispheres. In addition to viewing them as inherently less moral in general, Niednagel has harshly criticized ENTP as overly leftist, Darwinist, prone to be unethical lawyers or Hollywood actors.

He has taken no responsibility for the damage this kind of view can cause, insisting dogmatically that it's the true, real, analytic way of seeing things, and simply needs to be accepted no matter how many toes are stepped on. Each of the 16 types can be ranked morally, and he is the judge and jury of all the people in these 16 type categories due to his ISTJ ability to see and analyze logical reality properly.

So yeah I guess you can see why it's been hard for me to parse through all that.


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14 Sep 2018, 10:40 am

kdm1984 wrote:
Each of the 16 types can be ranked morally, and he is the judge and jury of all the people in these 16 type categories due to his ISTJ ability to see and analyze logical reality properly.

Interesting, since I myself tend to think (secularly) of E/ISTJ as one of the sources of evil — people who do whatever an authority tells them to do.


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14 Sep 2018, 11:04 am

Darmok wrote:
kdm1984 wrote:
Each of the 16 types can be ranked morally, and he is the judge and jury of all the people in these 16 type categories due to his ISTJ ability to see and analyze logical reality properly.

Interesting, since I myself tend to think (secularly) of E/ISTJ as one of the sources of evil — people who do whatever an authority tells them to do.


Niednagel started really offering a lot of commentary in the 2010s on type and morality. Prior to that, his Brain Types web site focused primarily on the types of pro athletes, and how the 16 types performed in sports. He also uses his own acronyms now based on perceived function in the brain, so introversion is now B (back brain), extroversion is now F (front brain), sensing is observation Empirical (E), intuition is abstraction Conceptual (C), feeling is Animate life/people-focused (A), thinking is Inanimate logic/systems-focused (I), judging is Left brain analysis (L), and perception is Right brain synthesis (R). So, for example, an ISFJ would now be called a BEAL (Back, Empirical, Animate, Left).

This is how they view type morally (also keep in mind that Niednagel types many famous figures differently from how other Myers-Briggs experts do, so if you see any people here whose types you dispute, remember these are Niednagel's contentions):

*most moral type=ISFJ/BEAL or ISTJ/BEIL, followed by INFJ/BCAL (they say on the web site type descriptions that ISFJ and ISTJ rarely misbehave morally, but what they don't realize is this logically violates their Calvinistic view on the total depravity of mankind--God and the writers of the OT/NT made no such moral rankings and disctinctions of people in such a way)

INTJ/BCIL is most unpredictable in morality of the revered and godly Back Lefts (B__Ls) -- can range from Jimmy Carter and Elisabeth Elliot to the Unabomber and Howard Hughes (!)

The Front Lefts, F__L types, such as ENFJ/FCAL and ENTJ/FCIL also generally moral, but ENTJ in particular can at times go very bad and become murderous dictators (Hitler, Stalin, Apostle Paul before his conversion). ENFL/FCAL, meanwhile, is the third most moral type after the ISFJ and ISTJ; they never really go bad, but they can get annoying (the famous Scientologist actor, Tom Cruise, is said to be one)

ESFJ/FEAL is an odd type. The abusive NFL player, Greg Hardy, and Princess Diana somehow share this type.

ESTJ/FEIL is another odd one. John Boehner and the wild NBA player, Chris Andersen, supposedly share this type. You mentioned ESTJs and authority; they can occasionally become president (Ford and Nixon are said to be this type), but most presidents historically have been ENTJ (Niednagel typed Trump as ENTJ for years before he even became president, and unlike mass media, Niednagel was not surprised when Trump became president due to his type)

Of the right brain types, the BCAR/INFP and BCIR/INTP are said to be the most moral, although JN has frequently ragged on BCAR/INFP for being emotionally immature. Moses of the Bible, Michael Jackson, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul, Tiger Woods, Julius Erving, and Charles Schultz are examples of BCAR/INFP. BCIR/INTP is said to be principled; John Lennon, Arthur Ashe, Albert Einstein, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are said to be examples of this type.

BEAR/ISFP and BEIR/ISTP are common among top athletes. The SP types (including the extrovert FEIR/ESTP and FEAR/ESFP) are very sensual and in tune with their physical bodies. I've noticed some of the men of this type are really hot (Kevin Love, w00t). When ISTP types go bad, they are often serial killers. ISFP type doesn't serial kill, but usually is just negligent and prone to sulking, like missing child support payments and being extremely lazy.

ESTP and ESFP are considered the least moral, along with the generic 50% ENTP. ESTPs generally abuse steroids, beat their wives, go on gambling sprees, embezzle money, have sex with everything (Madonna and Wilt Chamberlain), and are impulsive maniacs in general, but aren't as emotionally or stupidly impulsive as the ESFP (Dennis Rodman and Draymond Green brain type). Somehow, though, the ultra-moral A.C. Green is also the ESTP type. Supposedly also Peter of the Bible (most Myers-Briggs sites are in agreement with this).

And of course the generic 50% ENTP is also considered immoral (this means every other person you meet!) -- manipulative Hollywood lawyer sorts who subscribe to evolution, have turned America into raving leftists, who distort reality continually without being able to analyze it objectively, and rely on teleprompters or comedy to convey their disorganized, rambling thoughts (Niednagel said Obama was an ENTP and often mocked Obama's reliance on the teleprompter). Somehow Charles Spurgeon, Solomon of the Bible, and Martin Luther were this type, though. You reading this are probably an ENTP, too! If you somehow aren't an ENTP, it's almost guaranteed that at least one of your mother, father, or siblings are.

The ties they make with this to the Bible are very tenuous at best. If type was so instrumental in morality as they think it is, it's curious that God never gave the Bible authors revelation about the 16 Brain Types (or Myers-Briggs types, as they are most commonly known).

I realize I went on a rabbit trail with this, but it's something I studied for many years, and trying to connect it with faith has been a challenge.


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14 Sep 2018, 1:15 pm

kdm1984 wrote:
AngelRho wrote:
kdm1984 wrote:
Great discussion, folks. I had no idea where this thread might go after I posted my thoughts, but happy to find out this provoked some good commentary.

To touch on one of the things mentioned, yes, Paul did genuinely seem to think the world could very well end soon, and encouraged the flock to live in such a manner. Peter reminded that a day could be a thousand years with God, and Jesus Himself said no one knows the day or hour except the Father (not even the Son Himself, so Jesus doesn't know, either, which I've always found interesting--the Trinity may be equal and One in substance/importance, but apparently there are things that God, Christ, and the Spirit know or do that are specific to them as well).

After having parents who got overly obsessed with eschatology, IMHO (my mother kept thinking the world would end in her lifetime, and she hoarded lots of things--it didn't, and my dad and I had to sort through all the things she hoarded through the years), I think about it less these days, and I had no problem moving on from premillennial dispensationalism to the amilennialism of the LCMS. Seems each human processes it in the way they see most fit. Regardless of our zeal for it, or lack thereof, God's gonna do what He's gonna do.

I enjoy reading your posts. :)

You mentioned the difficulty in living a consistent NT life. What should be abundantly clear from studying the Bible is NO ONE can follow every commandment perfectly. The point of the NT is God’s grace and mercy through Jesus. You do the best you can because you love Him. Grace is already given to us regardless of what we do. We aren’t given grace because we love God. We have grace because God loves us. Thus works (based on OT law and sacrifices) are irrelevant to salvation. HOWEVER, works (based on our concern for others, among other things) are evidence of what we believe (faith). Christian faith demands action. Our faith is alive, active, and demands a response from the believer. If you believe Jesus saved you from your sins, it stands to reason that you love Christ and wish to wilingly follow in obedience.

The works/faith debate is often shrouded in out-of-context quotes and personal agendas. I think it’s useless to make too much of it.

Hot vs cold vs lukewarm theology: I always thought that referred to various water sources known to ancient times. Hot refers to hot springs the ancients believed had medicinal properties. Cold refers to water that was refreshing for those who were thirsty. Lukewarm referred to water that had picked up a high mineral content and had become bitter or salty, hence undrinkable. It was neither hot nor cold, and it was undrinkable, therefore it was useless. Do we as believers work to heal souls, are we refreshing to those thirsty for the gospel, or are we bitter and useless in God’s kingdom?


What you wrote makes a lot of sense, and it's what I wish I could keep in mind more often, but I struggle because of past associations.

I think it's very easy for people to fall into agendas without even realizing they are. It's also much easier to point out everyone else's shortcomings rather than admit one's own.

One of the hardest things for me to reconcile has been my own upbringing vs. the extremely rigid and doctrinaire, patriarchal, Lordship salvation kind of Calvinistic milieu that some online friends I had for a number of years in my twenties were into. Due to my own naivety and lack of experience, when I was first associating with these friends, I assumed that conservative Christianity was fairly monolithic, so I thought we had a lot in common. I have since learned that is not the case whatsoever. I didn't realize how wide the gulf really was between their way of viewing and doing things, and how my parents raised me. My parents were almost Antinomian, emphasizing faith much more than works. I was taught the basic morals, sure, but my parents were all about the big picture, and End Times prophecy, not so much trying to fit every theological issue into a pre-existing framework that dictated thought and behavior down to the minutest details.

Over time, a lot of animosity developed between my family and the Calvinists. The Calvinists happened to believe a very particular version of the 16 type Myers-Briggs system, and championed their methodology of it over all others (the guy who came up with this view of the 16 type system, Jon Niednagel, has a large following in sports, although he's tried to branch out his methodology of type into every other avenue of life as well). I and my parents were deemed ENTPs. They believed half of the human population was ENTP (the ENTP type is considered to be only about 5% of the populace in most Myers-Briggs circles), and that ENTP people were inherently less moral and less able to follow moral boundaries. They were much higher on the morality of the ISTJ and ISFJ types, which they said are actually uncommon in the populace despite those being common results people pick on the tests. They said the ISTJ and ISFJ types can follow the moral rules and boundaries of Biblical ethics better. They were very driven to explain why their 16 type system methodology, and their Calvinistic view of the Bible, was the objectively right and true one, and that the ENTPs and other types were too deluded by imagination and the right hemisphere to view things the proper, realistic, black-and-white, and analytic way.

It's difficult to explain to people how this obscure and very systematic way of looking at things has affected me, because there aren't many people who are aware of it. I learned their entire methodology, and how to apply it. But rather than bring me closer to what would seem to be the crux of Christianity, it's made it harder for me to love people. Instead, knowing that every other person is an ENTP, and knowing that ENTP is not viewed highly by these people, my natural tendency now is to judge the common generic ENTPs as people who cannot see reality and who are deluded by overactive imaginations and right hemispheres. In addition to viewing them as inherently less moral in general, Niednagel has harshly criticized ENTP as overly leftist, Darwinist, prone to be unethical lawyers or Hollywood actors.

He has taken no responsibility for the damage this kind of view can cause, insisting dogmatically that it's the true, real, analytic way of seeing things, and simply needs to be accepted no matter how many toes are stepped on. Each of the 16 types can be ranked morally, and he is the judge and jury of all the people in these 16 type categories due to his ISTJ ability to see and analyze logical reality properly.

So yeah I guess you can see why it's been hard for me to parse through all that.

I’m certainly no Calvinist. I do believe in predestination in the sense that God already knows every choice we will freely make. I disagree that there is no harmony between the two. Free will and predestination are not mutually exclusive.

The advantage that Calvinism has as a worldview is it poses an intellectual
alternative to Catholicism. It makes you “sound smart” and gives Christianity a sleek, sophisticated sheen. However, the goal of Christianity is not high, academic intellectualism. It’s not ANTI-intellectual, but rigorous approaches to Christianity as a discipline distract from its most vital tenets.

For me, conservative Christianity is faith at it’s most fundamental level. The first question is: Are you saved? This is followed up with questions of what it means to be saved, why should we be saved, and how we know Jesus is the Way of salvation. THEN you get deeper into studying the Bible and living a life pleasing to God, making disciples, etc. But none of those questions matter without resolving the first one.

I hold to a literalist interpretation of the Bible, which IMO is foundational to understanding faith. I also believe that the Bible is largely self-interpreting, while some elements of eschatology won’t be apparent until we actually see it happen.

And finally, I think conservative theology is still dependent upon social currents, helping us understand the Bible in relevant ways amid cultural shifts. To that end, I reject extraneous dogma (e.g. Catholic tradition) and encourage people to study for themselves and make up their own minds. While that may seem progressive, bear in mind the fundamentals never change. Thus Biblical standards of morality still apply. The debate comes down to “what is meant by ...?” And so on. Southern Baptists such as myself evolved from being racially inclusive to permanently racially divided after Gentry politics moved into the church, and gradually shifting back to diverse congregations as the need for new Baptist churches has grown. The “fundies” have been pushed to the fringe and more and more old school churches are closing their doors. Groups of churches that are sharply divergent from Southern Baptist practices have broken off and, IMO, are hardly recognizable as such.

Oddly enough, I’ve started writing a book (fiction) that explores some of the real-world variation in Baptist thinking and behavior. It’s really fascinating to see the light, dark, and grey areas of any given church denomination.



kdm1984
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14 Sep 2018, 4:44 pm

AngelRho wrote:
I’m certainly no Calvinist. I do believe in predestination in the sense that God already knows every choice we will freely make. I disagree that there is no harmony between the two. Free will and predestination are not mutually exclusive.

The advantage that Calvinism has as a worldview is it poses an intellectual
alternative to Catholicism. It makes you “sound smart” and gives Christianity a sleek, sophisticated sheen. However, the goal of Christianity is not high, academic intellectualism. It’s not ANTI-intellectual, but rigorous approaches to Christianity as a discipline distract from its most vital tenets.

For me, conservative Christianity is faith at it’s most fundamental level. The first question is: Are you saved? This is followed up with questions of what it means to be saved, why should we be saved, and how we know Jesus is the Way of salvation. THEN you get deeper into studying the Bible and living a life pleasing to God, making disciples, etc. But none of those questions matter without resolving the first one.

I hold to a literalist interpretation of the Bible, which IMO is foundational to understanding faith. I also believe that the Bible is largely self-interpreting, while some elements of eschatology won’t be apparent until we actually see it happen.

And finally, I think conservative theology is still dependent upon social currents, helping us understand the Bible in relevant ways amid cultural shifts. To that end, I reject extraneous dogma (e.g. Catholic tradition) and encourage people to study for themselves and make up their own minds. While that may seem progressive, bear in mind the fundamentals never change. Thus Biblical standards of morality still apply. The debate comes down to “what is meant by ...?” And so on. Southern Baptists such as myself evolved from being racially inclusive to permanently racially divided after Gentry politics moved into the church, and gradually shifting back to diverse congregations as the need for new Baptist churches has grown. The “fundies” have been pushed to the fringe and more and more old school churches are closing their doors. Groups of churches that are sharply divergent from Southern Baptist practices have broken off and, IMO, are hardly recognizable as such.

Oddly enough, I’ve started writing a book (fiction) that explores some of the real-world variation in Baptist thinking and behavior. It’s really fascinating to see the light, dark, and grey areas of any given church denomination.


I've seen various attempts to balance free will and predestination.

Calvinism is indeed very systematic. On the spectrum of conservative Protestantism, I see them on one end (rigid, formal, aloof, law and system-oriented in approach to God) and Pentecostals on the other (theatrical, emotional, expressive, relationship-oriented in approach to God), with the other groups somewhere in between.

To answer the conservative Christian questions, the salvation question is answered differently depending on whether or not one believes in decision theology. I've wrestled with monergism and synergism in recent years. I became more "aware" of what salvation means in 2005 when I had a series of dreams where I became convinced God was telling me I would fall away and go to hell if I didn't repent of and turn from my current way of living. I studied Scripture, followed what I believed the Spirit was convicting me of, and went from there. I may have momentary doubts now and then, but I haven't identified as an agnostic since then.

I haven't been to a Southern Baptist church; my only association with Baptists was when I went to an independent fundamental Baptist church for six months late last year and earlier this year. I do keep up with Michelle Lesley's blog; she identifies as Southern Baptist with Reformed leanings (she isn't completely Calvinist).


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