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Sunday, August 30, 2020

As If Doctrine Not Given, Part 2

updated 27 July 2020

Go to Part 1 

…Lessons from the Wilderness…

Volume 21

Esti doctrina mon Daretur
…(As if doctrine is not given – Part Two)…[1]



The Beginning
Hominum confusion et Dei providentia[2]
(…Man’s confusion and The Providence of G-d…)[3]



Deuteronomy 8:1-3 (Tanakh)
8.1 You shall faithfully observe all the Instruction that I enjoin upon you today, that you may thrive and increase and be able to possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your fathers. 2 Remember the long way that the Lord your God has made you travel in the wilderness these past forty years, that He might test you by hardships to learn what was in your hearts: whether you would keep His commandments or not. He subjected you to the hardship of hunger and then gave you manna to eat, which neither you nor your fathers had ever known, in order to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but that man may live on anything that the Lord decrees.[4]


…Hominum confusion et Dei providentia…


    Is this where it began and begins repeatedly? Are the words of YHVH hard to understand - are the concepts foreign to us? I don’t ask these questions just to be rhetorical – I honestly would like to have a conversation about them. There are two things which are going on here: confusion on the part of humankind and their lack of understanding the Providence of G-d. So, what is Providence? Merriam-Webster ® defines it one way as:

“…divine guidance or care…” or “…[when] capitalized : God conceived as the power sustaining and guiding human destiny…” or God as the guide and protector of all human beings…” [5]

Why then is there confusion? Does not the Scriptures say:

1 Corinthians 14:33 (NASB95)
33 for God is not a God of [a] confusion but of [1] peace,
as in [b] all the churches of the [c] saints. [6]

    If this is the case, then why does humankind find itself at odds with these words “…man does not live on bread alone, but that man may live on anything that the Lord decrees…”? 

    We have an owner’s manual, so to speak; there is no reason that this world we live in should be stumbling around in the dark, half blind, deaf and dumb. There should be food for all, a home for all, happiness and no fear, yet the words that proceed out of the mouth of the Living G-d are ignored, misconstrued, twisted or mocked. Could it be because of the plethora of what we call “religions” exit today? Here is but a small list (the top twenty, supposedly) of the 4200 or so religions in the world today:

1: Christianity (2.2 billion)
2: Islam (1.5 billion)
3: Nonreligious (Secular/Agnostic/Atheist) (1.2 billion)
4: Hinduism (1.1 billion)
5: Buddhism ( 535 million)
6: Chinese tradition religion ( 394 million)
7: Primal indigenous (300 million)
8: African tradition & diaspora (100 million)
9: Sikhism (30 million)
10: Juche (19 million)
11: Spiritism (15 million)
12: Judaism (14 million)
13: Bahai (7 million)
14: Jainism (4.2 million)
15: Shinto (4 million)
16: Cao Dai (4 million)
17: Zoroastrianism (2.6 million)
18: Tenrikyo (2 million)
19: Neo paganism (1 million)
20: Unitarian universalism (800,000) [7]

Look at category 3: the so-called nonreligious. What are they? well, let us define them.  

    Secular: Webster's Dictionary of 1913 gives this as one definition: "...Of or pertaining to this present world, or to things not spiritual or holy; relating to temporal as distinguished from eternal interests; not immediately or primarily respecting the soul, but the body; worldly..." Being secular has two main offshoots: secularism and secular humanism. Secularism is a belief system that rejects religion, or the belief that religion should not be part of the affairs of the state or part of public education. [8] 

    Secular humanism s a philosophy or life stance that embraces human reason, secular ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making. [9] regardless of how proponents of a secular worldview spin it, they all approach it with a fervor only seen in the religious.  

    Agnostics - no gods, ties to humanism. An agnostic is  someone who does not know or know believes that it is impossible to know ifkn a god exists. [10] 

    Atheist - believes in no gods, but practices abstract principles and ideas. An atheist practices atheism which is "...In general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings. As such, it is usually distinguished from theism, which affirms the reality of the divine and often seeks to demonstrate its existence. Atheism is also distinguished from agnosticism, which leaves open the question whether there is a god or not, professing to find the questions unanswered or unanswerable..." [11] 

     All of these and any other belief or non-belief systems I have failed to mention have one thing in common: like it or not, they are religions. What is a religion? Religion is defined as the belief in a god or in a group of gods with an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods; or an interest, a belief, or an activity that is particularly important to a person or group. [12] It is important to understand the differences and similarities in religious and nonreligious groups; they are all worldviews that dominate how a person lives their lives. 

    Now, these numbers (of the adherents of the different beliefs) are two years old – they may be lower or greater now. Even with this list, there are millions out there that go undefined. There is one thing in common with all of them, defined or not, and that one thing is that they have all decided upon their beliefs system against quite possibly the oldest religion in the world – the religion of the Hebrews. Now I understand that many will disagree with that but hear me out, for I need to be upfront about something. I am a proponent of the young earth crowd. Call it what you will, but this earth, in my belief, is only about six thousand years old. The Hebrew people have had G-d on their minds for at least five thousand of these years, not necessarily as Jews, but as a people. I’m not here to argue about the age of the earth – just being upfront with what I believe. All have the right to an opinion, and this is mine. If I’m wrong, does that negate what I say to you today? I won’t lose any sleep over it, so please don’t discount my words on the subject just because you think I’m a nut. I just look at things differently than you. (See – this is where doctrines matter. What you believe tends to mold and shape our world views – more on that later…) 

    Back to my premise: if one is spiritual in any form, there is a “religion” behind them. Religion is likened to a four-letter cuss word these days by some; to others, it is a source of comfort and light. It is, as stated before, defined in a formal way as “…an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods..”; [13] in an informal definition it simply means “…an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group...” [14] 

    However one wants to define it, religion in a spiritual sense forms the basis of much of society today across the globe. It is a source of comfort to some, to others it is a source of suffering, especially if one’s religion is either in the minority within a country’s borders, or one has to practice their religious beliefs in secret and often in fear for their freedom and literally, their lives. No matter the form, those involved decided to follow a system that was either handed down to them or chose to reject one and embrace another. In all reality, it comes down to this: the Hebrew Scriptures and the Living G-d as the guide and protector of all human beings is rejected.

    There may be an argument about my last statement from some. There will be those that say they have made a conscious decision on the worldview they hold to. Accept G-d or deny Him, that is the choice we all must make. Sha'ul in the Messianic Writings says this:

Romans 1:18-23 (NET)
1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people [39] who suppress the truth by their [40] unrighteousness, [41] 1:19 because what can be known about God is plain to them, [42] because God has made it plain to them. 1:20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people [43] are without excuse. 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts [44] were darkened. 1:22 Although they claimed [45] to be wise, they became fools 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings [46] or birds or four-footed animals [47] or reptiles. [15]

And in Psalms 14 it is stated:
Psalm 14:1-7 (CJB)
[For the leader. By David:] Fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." They deal corruptly, their deeds are vile, not one does what is right. From heaven Adonai observes humankind to see if anyone has understanding, if anyone seeks God. But all turn aside, all alike are corrupt; no one does what is right, not a single one. Don't they ever learn, all those evildoers, who eat up my people as if eating bread and never call on Adonai? There they are, utterly terrified; for God is with those who are righteous. You may mock the plans of the poor, but their refuge is Adonai. How I wish Isra'el's salvation would come out of Tziyon! When Adonai restores his people's fortunes, Ya`akov will rejoice, Isra'el will be glad!

    The situation we are all faced with today was clearly spoken of thousands of years ago. All know there is a G-d and those that reject Him? Untaught at best, fools at the worst. One might say I’m a bit narrow minded – well yes, I am. I believe in the G-d of Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya’akov. I follow the Torah of Moshe and G-d and believe my Mashiach is Yeshua of Natzeret. If you are reading this, you either believe also or are at least curious. All are welcome here, whether you believe or not. My mission is simply to raise up the name of G-d and His anointed one, Yeshua; in the process of that, I hope I can help you come to know my G-d and Savior better, but that is your choice and the Providence (there is that word again!) of YHVH. So, no matter what you believe, what your world view is, if YHVH is who He says He is – you have a choice to make.

    The world is confused over who its Maker is. That is the sole cause of darkness today. Many are what the Word says they are:
Romans 1:28–32 (NASB95)
28 And just as they did not see fit [1] to acknowledge God any longer, [a] God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are [a] gossips, 30 slanderers, [1] [a] haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, [b] disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, [a] unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of [a] death, they not only do the same, but also [b] give hearty approval to those who practice them. [16]

    We have walked away from the old paths, the paths that lead to life to embrace the wide and broad road to destruction. By embracing the doctrines of man, we have sacrificed our souls on the altar of the golden calf. That is the purpose of this series, to help us see with open eyes and open hearts, to end confusion and fear and embrace the Light of the World. There is no longer any need to stumble in the dark, to let our sins overwhelm us and drive us to our knees – no, the Living G-d will bring us to our knees, but not in sorrow; we will come there to our secret place with joy in our hearts for we have been redeemed from the dead and thrust into the embrace of life. Time is getting short my beloved. Choices and decisions must be made. Let us not be like the people of Israel on Mount Carmel:

1 Kings 18:20-21 (NET)
18:20 Ahab sent messengers to all the Israelites and had the prophets assemble at Mount Carmel. 18:21 Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision? [30] If the Lord is the true God, [31] then follow him, but if Baal is, follow him!”
But the people did not say a word. [17]

You can only make a yes or no decision – there is no middle ground that is safe. If G-d be G-d – follow Him! But if your heart, eyes, and ears are focused anywhere else – you have chosen death for your soul. There is no other way to put it. These are the doctrines of G-d we must get to know and follow with all our hearts.

    I hope, nay, I pray this series will draw all back into the way of the Living G-d, through faith in the Son of Man – Yeshua. We will close for today but come back and take the first step into letting G-d set the doctrines, not man.

Till next time, may Elohim richly bless you my beloved.
Amein



[1] Credit where credit is due: this epistle is inspired in part by the writings of David Bentley Hart.
[2] Barth, K., Bromiley, G. W., & Torrance, T. F. (2004). Church dogmatics: The doctrine of the Word of God, Part 1 (Vol. 1, p. xi). London; New York: T&T Clark.
[3] Author’s loose translation…
[4] Jewish Publication Society. (1997, c1985). Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures : A new translation of the Holy Scriptures according to the traditional Hebrew text. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
[5] Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, s.v. “providence,” accessed April 6, 2020,
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/providence.
a 1 Cor 14:40
1 Or peace As in all...saints, let
b 1 Cor 4:17; 7:17
c Acts 9:13
[6] New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
[7] Examples are based upon answers found at https://www.quora.com/How-many-different-religions-are-there-in-the-world; numbers are approximates, based upon 2018 statistics.
[8] Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fifth Edition Copyright © 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved
[9]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism#:~:text=Secular%20humanism%20is%20a%20philosophy%20or%20life%20stance,Secular%20humanism%20posits%20that%20human%20beings%20are%20capable
[10] https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/agnostic
[11] https://www.britannica.com/topic/atheism
[12] “Religion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion. Accessed 21 Jul. 2020.
[13] Definitions from Babylon software v. 11.0, Premier Dictionaries, Copyright © 2008 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
[14] Ibid...
39 tn The genitive ἀνθρώπων could be taken as an attributed genitive, in which case the phase should be translated “against all ungodly and unrighteous people” (cf. “the truth of God” in v. 25 which is also probably an attributed genitive). C. E. B. Cranfield takes the section 1:18–32 to refer to all people (not just Gentiles), while 2:1–3:20 points out that the Jew is no exception (Romans [ICC], 1:104–6; 1:137–38).
40 tn “Their” is implied in the Greek but is supplied because of English style.
41 tn Or “by means of unrighteousness.” Grk “in (by) unrighteousness.”
42 tn Grk “is manifest to/in them.”
43 tn Grk “they”; the referent (people) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
44 tn Grk “heart.”
45 tn The participle φάσκοντες (phaskontes) is used concessively here. 
46 tn Grk “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God in likeness of an image of corruptible man.” Here there is a wordplay on the Greek terms ἄφθαρτος (aphthartos, “immortal, imperishable, incorruptible”) and φθαρτός (phthartos, “mortal, corruptible, subject to decay”).
47 sn Possibly an allusion to Ps 106:19–20.
[15] Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
1  Lit to have God in knowledge
a  Rom 1:24
a  2 Cor 12:20
1  Or hateful to God
a  Ps 5:5
b  2 Tim 3:2
a  2 Tim 3:3
a  Rom 6:21
b  Luke 11:48; Acts 8:1; 22:20
[16] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ro 1:28–32). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
30 tn Heb “How long are you going to limp around on two crutches?” (see HALOT 762 s.v. סְעִפִּים). In context this idiomatic expression refers to indecision rather than physical disability.
31 31 tn Heb “the God.”
[17] Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.






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