According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals
and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power
is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. - anon

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Personal Beliefs and How Religion Blinds Us to the Spirit of God



I wrote the other day on Facebook some thoughts for contemplation coming into the new year. Its subject was on being willing to be open to God's movement on our hearts against the stubbornness that persists against His will. It will precede the postmodernism and pyrotheology online courses I hope to study since I'm laid up for the next week or two (I had foot surgery last week before Christmas).

What I wish to get away from is the religiosity of Christianity in order to find the Spirit of God within our worship. Being symbolic human beings I realize we will always need constructs and earthly reminders to help us with our daily commitments and beliefs. But what is hoped is that the latter does not control the former. We see this a lot in Jesus' ministries when he accused the Pharisees of putting God's altar before God's people; God's service ahead of His Spirit; and their religious duties above God's grace and mercy. Jesus hated religion and wished to teach a deeper discernment in His followers that goes beyond what we see or think into His very Spirit that flows and moves beyond our symbolic realms into the heavenly.

Of course my one concern here is to not become either so cultic, or so mystical, as to create yet another Gnostic Christian group, but to see people over-and-above our "spiritualized" or "religious" commitments of doctrines and beliefs. That is what Jesus taught. That if one "loves God" it'll be seen in one's "love for one another." Where religion can blind us to the needs of the other, God's love and Spirit opens those blinded eyes to see, hear, and touch again the visible held invisible before us when bound by our own spirits of pride and strife.

R.E. Slater
December 27, 2016



Here was yesterday's post:

Before dropping into the routines of this coming year I always like to remember the possibilities for godly peace and goodwill that attempts to precede this time of year in the Spirit of Christmas. That we are as responsible for its continuation as is the "other troubling us" in listening to each other without shouting over the victim of our rants or treating the other as objects of our vilification and disdain. This can be especially difficult during this time of year when reevaluating who or what we wish to be in relationship to our families, friends, co-workers, and responsibilities looming before us. 

This personal-social net of entanglement echoes back to us its possibilities for positive Spirit-born disruption but in doing so will most certainly create tension between us and our social contacts. To be both bold and brave against the stream of public perception wishing to maintain and enforce a perceived status quo is quite unnatural. But for vision to be heard or seen requires forward movement if reconciliation is to be found when no one else is willing to lead.

In looking forward to a new year it these acts may thus require personal change where necessary; and should it not come - or we fail to remain true to that inner voice of enlightenment - than we delay or quit its affect not only upon ourselves but upon those standing in the path of Spirit-led de-construction.

R.E. Slater
December 26, 2016






Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Paul Tillich, The Protestant Principle, and Interpretive Doubt vs. Religious Authoritarianism




Because of (1) the polyvalence of words, (2) the ambiguity of time and space between ourselves and the oral traditions of the bible, (3) our own existential beliefs, behaviors, and predilections, (4) the many interpretive beliefs and experiences of the church over its history, and so forth, it cannot be said that the bible is our sole authority. It is but a cherished ideal we strive for sublimely observed in the behavior of God's people whether or not they fulfill Jesus' ministry of love and service to others. Otherwise, we must move together as the people of God observing one another's differing beliefs, striving for unity, and seeking the solidarity Jesus brought to humanity through His death and resurrection.

The rule of thumb then is this - "to resist any attempt to set up an absolute authority over knowledge." Even if it is the bible. The Roman Catholic Church teaches there are four authorities for Christians to observe: the bible, the church's traditions, its history, and our own human experience. But when this is not observed the church no longer is acting humbly but as a sovereign authority establishing (or enforcing) what it believes to be "God's will" rather than God's actual will.


Too often the church places itself into God's role of rule as history sadly attests again and again and again. As example, look at America's present 2016 elections as "Christians" elected to create a stronger church-based dominionism or reconstructionism into a secular democracy interpreting what it believes to be "God's Will" into society. This ideology goes beyond simply reducing governmental expenditures towards actually enforcing a perceived "Christian idea" of what, and how, a society should live. Some of that idea is the exclusion of the LGBT society from civil law, the just war theory of protectionism in the name of safety and security, the oppression of sovereign people groups and countries in the name of naked capitalism, and the refusal to work in joint global community with other nations of the world because of our differences with them.

It was not too difficult to envision the church's gross reaction to domestic and global events. People make up the church and it is people who need revisioning as much as society. Without repentance and humility this necessary work of the Spirit cannot come except in all its awful forms of bloodshed and corruption. Nor should we presume that God is judging us when this results but is the handiwork of our own very hard - and very religious - hearts intent on circumscribing the world in our own image. The judgment then is not of God but of our own hands. A judgment God forewarns us of - of saving us from ourselves lest we fall into the hell of our own destitute sin.

R.E. Slater
December 20, 2016




Seminary PL29: Tillich's Protestant Principle

by Ken Schenk
December 4, 2016

This is the fiftteenth post on church management in my "Seminary in a Nutshell" series. In this series, I first did a section on the Person and Calling of a Minister. Now this is the twenty-eighth post in a section on the Pastor as a Leader (see at the bottom).

The previous post in this series looked [at] Zwingli as an example of a leader who didn't compromise on a number of issues that he might very well have. This week now shifts to think about church splits and their causes. Today, we look at one of the Protestant causes of church split--having a text as the medium of final authority.

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1. There were relatively few church splits prior to the Reformation of the 1500s, when Martin Luther inadvertently caused the separation of the Lutheran church from Catholicism. Until the 300s, Christianity was not legal and so did not have any real chance to centralize its organization. It was more of a network for the first two centuries.

But it would largely be one church for over a thousand years after that point. If you were a western Christian in the year 1000, you were part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. 1054 was the first really big organizational split, when the Orthodox East split officially from the Roman Catholic West. But for the next 500 years after that you were either one or the other.

2. That all changed after the year 1517. The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) of that moment was both spiritually empty and politically weak. It did not have the power to burn Luther at the stake as it had Jan Hus a hundred years earlier in 1415. He had political protectors who were strong enough to protect him.

One of Luther's key battle cries was "Scripture only." If you could not prove it from Scripture, he could not be compelled to believe it.

Of course he was fooling himself. He continued to believe a number of legitimate theological positions that come as much from tradition as Scripture. The Bible might support infant baptism, but you cannot prove it from Scripture any more than you can prove from the Bible that you should only baptize those who are old enough to confess faith consciously. But Luther continued to believe in infant baptism. For communion, he believed in "consubstantiation," that Jesus was truly present in the bread and wine of communion. But where is that clearly stated in the Bible?

You probably cannot prove the Trinity from the New Testament, although the seeds of Trinitarian belief came from the Bible. The church answered questions like the relationship between Jesus' human and divine natures in the centuries following the New Testament, because the NT did not have explicit statements on questions of this sort. We are seeing a hint of the problem of Protestantism here.

3. The problem of Protestantism is this. Of course we would say that our final authority is God and Christ. But Protestants often operate as if the only access we have to that authority is through the words of the Bible. At the same time, we have no "magisterium" like the RCC--no authoritative teacher to give us the authoritative interpretation of the Bible. Therefore, Protestantism has as many de facto ("by the nature of the situation") authorities as it has interpreters of the biblical text.

So we have a final authority, as it were, that is inevitably co-opted by individual interpreters, individual churches, and by Christian denominations. We subtly substitute ourselves for the Bible and God without realizing it. We think we are simply reading the Bible and doing what it says, but we are as often as not bringing our own traditions, personalities, and situations to the text and reading it as a mirror of our own thoughts and desires.

4. An individual who wrestled with some of these issues was Paul Tillich (1886-1965). A German who struggled with the authoritarian context of his childhood and then Nazi Germany, he formulated what he called the Protestant Principle. In his mind, it was the extension of Luther's doctrine of justification by faith to all realms of human thought. "Justification by faith" is the idea that we cannot earn a right status with God. Rather, God accepts us on the basis of our trust in him.

Tillich applied this principle to our certainty of knowledge. We cannot know the truth with absolute certainty. Rather, as good protesters, we are justified by our doubt in any human authority that tries to establish itself as absolute, thus showing our faith in the transcendent beyond the human. We show our faith by our "ultimate concern" and our rejection of any human absolute.

He strongly resisted any attempt to set up an absolute authority over knowledge. He saw this dynamic as the problem with the Catholic system with the Pope as absolute authority, and he saw this problem with fundamentalism that sets up the Bible as an absolute authority. The heart of Protestantism for Tillich was an ongoing protest against such absolutes, including treating the Bible as an absolute.

The denominational landscape that has resulted from the Protestant Reformation is thus predictable. Tillich sees this fragmentation as a result of failed attempts to arrive at absolutes in the human realm, even in the Bible.

5. Much of Tillich's thought seems dated now. Like all of us, he was a product of his time. But we can reformulate his insight in order to shed some light on the never-ending splits that Protestantism has experienced over the years. According to Martin Marty, there are well over 20,000 Protestant denominations or collections of churches in the world. The overwhelming majority of these claim to get their beliefs from the Bible as their absolute authority. What is going on here?

Church splits tend to feed on two key factors. The fundamental cause is of course fallen human nature. We are prone to peacock. We are prone to beat our chests and to fight to see who is the stronger or to back-stab to remove a rival. We say we are fighting for the truth. We say we are fighting for God. More often than not we are fighting for ourselves, our own needs and drives.

In Protestant churches, we often play out these fallen human games as if we are fighting over interpretations of the Bible. We say the Bible is clear and our opponents say the Bible is clear. But the Bible is really just the playing field for our fallen human urge to defeat anyone who does not submit to us or who stands in our way.

6. The "polyvalence" of words enables these cock-fights. Polyvalence is the potential of words to take on more than one meaning. Words can take on many different meanings and nuances, and the Bible has many, many words. So it is not only possible, it is virtually certain that there will be never-ending disagreements over what the Bible really means at multiple points.

Protestant church splits have often played themselves out on this playing field. First, there is the ambiguity of the words themselves. Then there is the fact that the Bible is made up of dozens of books written at different times and places. These books do not say exactly the same thing, so there is plenty of room for fitting them together differently. Lastly, they were written for audiences that lived thousands of years ago, so there is the matter of bridging the gap from their time to our time.

All these factors make the interpretation of the Bible a many-splendored wonder. It is no wonder at all that we have tens of thousands of groups who all disagree with each other. Do you baptize infants or only people old enough to know what they are doing? Do you baptize by immersion, sprinkling, or pouring? Is baptism necessary or only a symbolic ritual? Does it actually change you somehow? [*In the early Christian tradition the believer identified with their faith through water baptism - res]. Can you be rebaptized? Whose baptism really counts? How soon after faith should you be baptized?

Welcome to dozens of denominations, all of whom think they are simply following the Bible.

7. Whether we admit it or not, tradition is also in play here. A non-denominational church is simply a church that isn't telling you what tradition it draws on. A few questions and you will quickly be able to tell whether it is basically Baptist, basically Pentecostal, or basically whatever. It's probably Baptist. There is no church that really only follows the Bible alone.

So one way to stop church splits is for us to become aware of ourselves, not only as fallen human beings but also as interpreters of the Bible. Not every hill is one to die on. We have been handed a historical situation in which we have countless little Christian groups. We start where we are.

There are times for Christians to agree to disagree and to go their separate ways. If we stop thinking of our denominations as the final answer on all matters of theology and practice and rather as communities who are in the same tradition and walking in the same direction, we will make great progress. We do not need to split even when we disagree on matters that are not essential to our identity--and we should not consider too much beyond common Christian faith in that bucket. [1]

The Anglican Church has found a way to exist together despite a wide range of differing beliefs. [2] Baptists of course are congregational in form, so [these assemblies] find their unity in association [with one another] rather than [in] organization [as a group]. In my tradition, the Wesleyan tradition, there are several sub-groups that could "easily" unite to form a common organization ideologically (Wesleyan, Nazarene, Free Methodist, etc). But it is just as well for us to walk together in unity as different denominations, since that is the hand history has dealt us. What we do not need is more Wesleyan denominations. [3]

So we would do well to know that we stand in Christian traditions. We are not simply reading the Bible unfiltered or without many, many influences at work on us. Much of what we think is essential Christian faith is really a matter of specific communities of faith who see faith and practice the same basic way. We can agree to disagree without de-Christianizing each other. Our attitudes toward each other are more important to God than dotting our theological i's and crossing our theological t's.

Next Week: Avoiding Church Splits and Exits

- ks

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[1] There are broad traditions that exist--Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Anabaptist, Reformed, Baptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal. Each of them have general distinctives that locate a church in that tradition. Beyond these distinctives, belonging to a specific subgroup is surely more a matter of finding a community we feel at home with than a fight over absolute truth. A Christian would ideally be able to worship in any of these churches.

[2] The Anglican Church has everything from evangelical Anglicans to Anglo-Catholics to charismatic Anglicans to non-realist Anglicans. The liturgy and geography provides the unity.

[3] Although it is quite possible we will get a "Wesleyan" split if the United Methodist church splits in the next two years. The fight here is over homosexual practice, a key ethical question of the church in general these days and a key historical issue given the virtually unanimous position of the past that is under debate. It is certainly an issue that seems more worthy of "agreeing to disagree" than what color to paint the inside of the church.


Book Review - Stephen Backhouse, "Kierkegaard, A Single Life"




Book Description

Discover a new understanding of Kierkegaard’s thought and his life, a story filled with romance, betrayal, humor, and riots.

Kierkegaard, like Einstein and Freud, is one of those geniuses whose ideas permeate the culture and shape our world even when relatively few people have read their works. That lack of familiarity with the real Kierkegaard is about to change.

This lucid new biography by scholar Stephen Backhouse presents the genius as well as the acutely sensitive man behind the brilliant books. Scholarly and accessible, Kierkegaard: A Single Life introduces his many guises—the thinker, the lover, the recluse, the writer, the controversialist—in prose so compelling it reads like a novel.

One chapter examines Kierkegaard’s influence on our greatest cultural icons—Kafka, Barth, Bonhoeffer, Camus, and Martin Luther King Jr., to name only a few.

A useful appendix presents an overview of each of Kierkegaard’s works, for the scholar and lay reader alike.



Additional Resources - Wikepedia


Book Review - Larry Hurtado, "Destroyer of the gods"




Book Description

"Silly," "stupid," "irrational," "simple." "Wicked," "hateful," "obstinate," "anti-social." "Extravagant," "perverse." The Roman world rendered harsh judgments upon early Christianity―including branding Christianity "new." Novelty was no Roman religious virtue.

Nevertheless, as Larry W. Hurtado shows in Destroyer of the gods, Christianity thrived despite its new and distinctive features and opposition to [the Roman culture].

  • Unlike nearly all other religious groups, Christianity utterly rejected the traditional gods of the Roman world.
  • Christianity also offered a new and different kind of religious identity, one not based on ethnicity.
  • Christianity was distinctively a "bookish" religion, with the production, copying, distribution, and reading of texts as central to its faith, even preferring a distinctive book-form, the codex.
  • Christianity insisted that its adherents behave differently: unlike the simple ritual observances characteristic of the pagan religious environment, embracing Christian faith meant a behavioral transformation, with particular and novel ethical demands for men.

Unquestionably, to the Roman world, Christianity was both new and different, and, to a good many, it threatened social and religious conventions of the day.

In the rejection of the gods and in the centrality of texts, early Christianity obviously reflected commitments inherited from its Jewish origins. But these particular features were no longer identified with Jewish ethnicity and early Christianity quickly became aggressively trans-ethnic―a novel kind of religious movement. Its ethical teaching, too, bore some resemblance to the philosophers of the day, yet in contrast with these great teachers and their small circles of dedicated students, early Christianity laid its hard demands upon all adherents from the moment of conversion, producing a novel social project. 

Christianity's novelty was no badge of honor. Called atheists and suspected of political subversion, Christians earned Roman disdain and suspicion in equal amounts. Yet, as Destroyer of the gods demonstrates, in an irony of history the very features of early Christianity that rendered it distinctive and objectionable in Roman eyes have now become so commonplace in Western culture as to go unnoticed. Christianity helped destroy one world and create another.



Additional Resources - Wikipedia




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Structuring Theological Revolutions

I came across this article yesterday and thought to pass it along. Basically it confirms what we have been doing here at Relevancy22 for the past many years in discovering an updated contemporary theology more congruent with today's church and world.

Peace and Mercy this Advent Season -

R.E. Slater
December 14, 2016

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The Structure of Theological Revolutions
http://postbarthian.com/2016/12/12/structure-theological-revolutions/


Theology develops over time—it seems obvious to me, but I have friends who disagree. Every theological doctrine has a history, beginning with the first person to think it and describe it, and then it is refined over centuries by many others. Hans Küng keenly compares the development of theology to the development of science in his excellent book, the Theology for the Third Millennium.

Küng says that Thomas S. Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions applies to theological development. Science has developed through different models over time; the Ptolemaic model was replaced by the Copernican model, and then Newtonian model replaced it, and then the Einsteinian model replaced it, and so on. Each scientific model was made obsolete by later models that described the world more accurately. Küng says that theology has gone through the same revolution of models, such that the Augustinian model was replaced by the Thomistic model and then was replaced by the Reformation model, and so on. Each theological model improves upon the previous model and supplants the previous models.

The conclusion is that abandoning the Reformation model to return to a previous model such as the Augustinian or Thomistic models, would be tantamount to turning back from modern science such as the Einsteinian model to follow obsolete models such as the Ptometiac scientific model. Protestant theology is always returning to the bible, ad fontes, but never regressing entirely to outmoded theological models. We return to the Bible to advance our theological understanding of the Bible, but not to reject theological development, and nor to return to obsolete theological models of long ago.




Hans Küng on Theological Revolutions

In physics we can now distinguish between a Ptolemaic, a Copernican, a Newtonian, and an Einsteinian macromodel. Couldn't we make an analogous distinction in theology between a Greek-Alexandrian, a Latin-Augustinian, a Medieval-Thomistic, a Reformation, and one or several modern-critical interpretive models? [...]

Thus in physics, there would be macromodels for general scientific solutions (such as the Copernican, Newtonian, or Einsteinian model), mesomodels for the solution of medium-range problem areas (such as the wave theory of light, the dynamic theory of heat or Maxwell's electromagnetic theory), and the micromodels for scientific solutions of detailed problems (such as the discovery of X-rays).

The theological analogy for this would be macromodels for general solutions (the Alexandrian, the Augustinian, the Thomist, the Reformation model), mesomodels for the solution of intermediate problem areas (doctrine of creation, grace, the sacraments), and micromodels for solutions of detailed problems (doctrine of original sin, the hypostatic union in Christology). [...]

Even very well scrutinized "classical" theories like those of Newton or Thomas Aquinas have proved inadequate and in need of overhauling. There is no reason, then, to absolutize a method, a blueprint, or model. Instead we have every motive for an unrelenting new search, for permanent criticism and rational supervision: on the way through pluralism to even greater truth. [1]

References:

[1] Küng, Hans. Theology for the Third Millennium: An Ecumenical View. New York: Doubleday, 1988. 134-35. Print.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Heidi Priebe - 10 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You’re An iNtuitive



10 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing
Because You’re An iNtuitive

Heidi Priebe
November 29, 2016

The MBTI inventory classifies iNtuitive types as those who place more interest (and often more value) in theories, abstractions and the exploration of possibilities than they do in the concrete realities of the world around them. iNtuitive-dominant personality types (mainly ENFPs, ENTPs, INTJs and INFJs) are almost always more interested in what isn’t being said or considered than what is.

But since we live in a sensor-dominant world, intuitive behavior tends to stick out like a sore thumb. Almost every iNtuitive personality will be able to recall many experiences in which their loved ones were thoroughly confused by their reasoning or behavior. Here are ten behaviors people often don’t understand are associated with being an iNtuitive personality.

1. Spurring debates.

iNtuitives don’t fully understand an issue until they’ve considered it from every possible angle. These types aren’t debating because they want to be difficult or impolite – they’re debating because they need to test the validity of the topic by arguing it from every side. They want to see if any holes arise in their reasoning as they go, and some of their best learning takes place through the process of debate.

2. Obsessively planning for the future.

iNtuitives live almost exclusively in the future – they love considering which options may arise for them, which goals they ought to set for themselves, what their lives may look like in twenty or thirty years, etc.

Of course, it’s impossible to plan every detail of one’s life… so the plan is subject to getting readjusted. For extroverted iNtuitives (xNFPs and xNTPs), the readjusting happens almost daily. For introverted intuitives (xNFJs and xNTJs), readjusting happens as needed – but the need tends to arise regularly.

3. Viewing the rules as suggestions.

It’s not that iNtuitives are rebellious for the sake of it – it’s just that they analyze why a rule exists before deciding whether or not to follow it. These types despise arbitrary action, so if they perceive a rule to be outdated or ineffective, they have no problem casting it aside and doing things their way instead.

4. Over-analyzing everything.

For the iNtuitive, it isn’t enough to understand how a given issue applies to them – they have to also understand the globalimplications of the issue, or the underlying theory that ties is all together. iNtuitives want to know the intangible explanation for every tangible problem, and it can drive those around them a little bonkers.

5. Placing little trust in authority.

iNtuitives types trust competence over qualification, and they want to make their own judgments about how competent they find others to be. iNtuitives are highly aware of the human tendency to favor convenience and prestige above analysis, and they aren’t quick to trust any established system simply because it’s been in place for a long time.

6. Relentlessly seeking variety.

iNtuitive personalities are naturally drawn to the abnormal, the uncouth and the unconventional. These types spend their entire lives attempting to piece together a comprehensive worldview, which means that they seek to understand as many different oddities as possible. Whether they’re seeking novelty in their studies, their lifestyles or both, these types are always on the hunt for new lenses through which they can view the world.

7. Developing obscure interests.

Since what they don’t know is almost always more interesting to the iNtuitive personality than what they do know, these types are likely to take an interest in niche topics or theories. Many iNtuitives enjoy exploring conspiracy theories or other such ‘unfounded’ methods of reasoning, as they enjoy the ‘mental gymnastics’ aspect of linking seemingly unrelated things together (even though they often don’t believe the actual theories themselves at the end of the day).

8. Socializing selectively.

Extroverted iNtuitives (mainly ENFPs and ENTPs) are considered the most introverted of the extroverted types. Introverted iNtuitives (mainly INFJs and INTJs) may be more traditionally introverted in nature, but put any of these types around in a room together and the conversation is likely to flow on for hours (if not days, if not endlessly)!

iNtuitive-dominant types are often quickly exhausted by engaging with their physical environment, but they are endlessly energized by quality conversation. These types tend to consider themselves to be ‘selectively social’ – they’d rather be alone than around people they don’t connect with, but put them around other iNtuitive types and their social side suddenly emerges with fervor.

9. Playing devil’s advocate.

If there’s a sure-fire way to get under an iNtuitive’s skin, it’s to insist that basically any issue is black or white. These types are quick to assume the role of devil’s advocate in any situation where they feel as though the opposing party is forming an opinion without considering the alternative point of view. These types are prone to vehemently arguing points they don’t even agree with, just to prove that an issue is more complex than those around them are assuming it to be.

10. Pursing an unconventional life course.

iNtuitives are naturally drawn to the strange, the provocative and the unconventional. They may be more prone than sensing types to have an entrepreneurial streak, to engage in non-traditional relationship structures or to experiment with lifestyle choices that are outside the societal norm.

Because these types take a ‘why not’ approach to their lives (or in the case of introverted iNtuitives, their research and learning), they often find themselves unintentionally rebelling from the rest of society. It’s not that they want to do everything differently – it’s just that an iNtuitive’s lifestyle tends to reflect their mindset – and the mind of an iNtuitive is a very strange territory indeed.

Heidi Priebe
Heidi is a staff writer at Thought Catalog. She drinks too much coffee and criticizes all Myers-Briggs types equally. Buy her books or follow her on social media.


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New Girl

The 5 Friends Every ENFP Needs In Their Lives

Heidi Priebe
July 2, 2015

ENFPs – Or extroverted, intuitive, feeling perceivers – are the zany, enthusiastic idea generators of the Myers-Briggs world. Many people get along well with ENFPs but certain types understand them much more intuitively than others. Here is a list of which types in particular the ENFP couldn’t get by without.

1. The INFP

We all need that friend who just gets us on a spiritual level – and nobody understands the ENFP quite as intimately and effortlessly as their introverted counterpart the INFP. These types share all their cognitive functions in only a slightly different order – making communication between them seamlessly intuitive. These types tend to share similar values, a similar worldview and a similar sense of humor. They enjoy a natural connection with one another as one can almost always see where the other is coming from.

This relationship is strengthened by the fact that each type leads with the other’s auxiliary function. When the ENFP gets too caught up in the world of ideas and forgets to tend to their emotional needs, the INFP is happy to sit with them and help them work through what they’re feeling. On the flip side, when the INFP gets stuck in an emotional rut, the ENFP is happy to help them brainstorm ideas that pull them outside of their head and get them to take real-world action. These types balance each other out in terms of their dominant and auxiliary functions and the bond they share with each other is downright irreplaceable.

2. The INTJ

The ENFP-INTJ connection was made in heaven. While these two types are theoretically perfect matches for one another romantically, they also make for fantastic friends. The effervescent ENFP lights up the INTJ’s world with a whirlwind of new ideas, whereas the INTJ grounds the scattered ENFP and helps them focus in on what they really want. These two personalities level each other out immensely and give way to some of the most surprising yet fulfilling friendships.

In a world full of people-pleasers, the INTJ is unafraid to cut through the ENFP’s bullshit and tell them exactly what they think of their choices. When done with tact, this is infinitely helpful to the ENFP, who tends to get caught up in their inner world of fantasies and ideals. On the flip side, the ENFP is able to encourage the INTJ to open up, take a few chances and see things from a different point of view. These two types can grow immensely through friendship with one another, as they’re simultaneously able to affirm one another and grow from each other. This relationship in particular is likely to be long-lasting and deep.

3. The ESFP

If there’s anything the ENFP needs from time to time, it’s to get the hell out of their heads – and the compassionate yet fun-loving ESFP is a fantastic counterpart for doing just that. ESFPs and ENFPs are considered to be look-alike types: They enjoy the same activities, find themselves in many of the same situations and are mistaken for one another in high frequency. Both are adventurous, outgoing people-people who enjoy taking on new situations. However, these types differ in their primary function.

The ENFP leads with extroverted intuition – meaning their world is ruled by possibilities and abstract connections. Conversely, the ESFP leads with extroverted sensing – meaning their world is ruled by in-the-moment action and an appreciation for aesthetics. Because extroverted sensing is a blind spot for ENFPs and extroverted intuition is a blind spot for ESFPs, these two types don’t always understand one another but they both feel wholly unthreatened by the other. This allows for an affectionate relationship to develop between the two types – the ENFP can go to the ESFP when they want to enjoy their lives around someone they feel comfortable with and the ESFP can go to the ENFP when they need a different take on an issue they want to analyze.

These relationships are usually incredibly quick to form, as ESFPs and ENFPs can tell quite quickly that they’re very alike. They usually remain close for as long as they are in close contact with each other, but may quickly lose touch once their original reason for connection is severed (I.e. if one of the two moves away), as the connection tends to be more situational than it is spiritual.

4. The INFJ

These two types have entirely opposite cognitive functions, which they use in the exact same order – making each the yin to the other’s yang. Though these relationships may take a while to form, they tend to be incredibly long lasting once they do. The patient, analytical INFJ balances out the zany, creative ENFP in all the right ways. On the flip side, the exuberant ENFP takes the time to truly get to know and understand the guarded INFJ, which they appreciate.

Both types are intuitives first and feelers second, which means they enjoy analyzing situations in detail before coming to a value-based decision – a process both parties thoroughly enjoy. To read more about the magic of the INFJ/ENFP relationship, click here.

5. The ENFP

Try as the other types might, no type is ever going to understand the ENFP as thoroughly and as empathetically as another ENFP. These types intuitively understand the way each other thinks, feels, makes decisions and takes in information. Regardless of external influences, two ENFPs can almost always tap into the other’s mode of reasoning and understand where the other is coming from. And for a type as imaginative and unconventional as the ENFP, being understood is an incredibly rare and valuable experience.

ENFP-ENFP friendships tend to burst into existence quickly, enthusiastically and happily – in classic ENFP fashion. Both parties will be interested in doing similar activities, deliberating over similar issues and spending down time with each another when they need it. Though these two scattered types may fall out of each other’s lives now and then, they will always be keen to pick up right where they left off. The ENFP-ENFP connection is an undeniably magical thing – no ENFP is complete without a close friend of the exact same type.



Monolatrism - Israel's Early History of One God Amongst Many gods


Virgil's Solis - God's Council

Monolatrism
http://www.peteenns.com/petes-bible-trivia-bonanza-7-in-which-im-sure-someone-out-there-is-going-to-get-upset/

by Peter Enns
November 30, 2016

Did you know that the ancient Israelites believed in more than one god?

I’m sensing I should explain that.

What I mean is that the Israelites, at least for part/most of the biblical period, assumed the existence many gods. They were not monotheists (belief that only one god exists). That would come later in their story. But neither were they polytheists (worship of multiple gods).

They were monolatrous (Greek latreuō = worship): many gods exist, but only one God, Yahweh, is worthy of worship.

That’s why the 10 Commandments begin “You shall have no other gods before me”—which is better understood as “don’t worship other gods besides me.” And if the Israelites were to bow down and worship them, then God would become “jealous”(Exodus 20:3-5).

Rather than saying, “There are no other gods, so get that thought out of your head,” they are told not to worship them.

The Israelites, after all, lived in a world where every nation around them had its own high god. The Moabites had Kemosh, the Ammonites had Milcom, the Canaanites had Baal, and on it goes.

Gods were as plentiful as fire hydrants and traffic lights.

The Israelites expressed their faith in Yahweh by way of contrast to these other gods who were understandably assumed to exist, not by discounting their existence—that would be asking too much of them.

Imagine today a decree coming down from the top saying, “You may only do your banking in one specific branch (Main Street) of one local bank (Springfield Savings and Loan). You may not bank anywhere else, neither at Wells Fargo, nor Citizens Bank, nor even Bank of America. Nor may you do your banking at the various ATM’s that dot every street and mall.”

To have told ancient Israelites that they were to worship only Yahweh because, actually, no other gods existed would have been as absurd as expecting us to believe that these other banks, branches, and ATMs don’t exist. “What do you mean they don’t exist?! We see them all over the place!” Same holds for the ancient Israelites: high places (altars), temples, and images/idols were part of their landscape, an “assumed reality.”

And so we see (to name a few more examples) Psalm 95, a psalm that calls Israel to worship Yahweh alone and describes Yahweh as “a great God, and a great king above all gods” (v. 3). It’s hard to interpret this as anything other than what it looks like: Yahweh is praised for being greater than the other gods.

Or look at the “divine council” in Psalm 82. Yahweh is the “Most High,” like the chairman of the board over the other gods and chiding them for not doing their job of ruling justly over the nations: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?” (v. 2; see also Psalm 58:1-2).

Next, the gods find themselves out of work.

I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.” Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you! (vv. 6-8)

This divine council shows up in Job 1-2, another “heavenly board room” scene.

One more example is Exodus 12:12. On the first Passover, just before the 10th and final plague, we read:

"For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Yahweh."

The plagues are judgments on Egypt’s gods. Turning the Nile to blood is an attack against the Nile deity; the plague of frogs is an attack on the Heqet, the goddess of fertility, depicted with the head of a frog; the plague of darkness is an attack on the sun god Ra, the high god of the Egyptian pantheon.

To say that the Israelites were monolatrous is more than simply making an academic observation. It helps us makes sense of some passages and pulls back the curtain to help us understand a bit more of Israel’s theology.

To say that Yahweh was above all the other gods and the only one worthy of worship may not mean much to us. It may even seem uncomfortably wrong for such a thing to be in the Bible.

But for the ancient Israelites such a claim was counter-cultural and odd looking. It was a bold and theologically potent declaration.

If we want to understand Israel’s theology, we need to take these and other passages at face value.

- Peter Enns
*I’ve written more about the Bible in its ancient setting in The Bible Tells Me So (HarperOne, 2014) and Inspiration and Incarnation (Baker, 2005/2015).


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Amazon Link

The Origin of Elohim and Yahweh

I began reading Michener's Source several years ago and unfortunately put it down because of other projects requiring my attention. Having read a couple hundred of pages I had pleasantly discovered that Michener was attempting to piece together how a "consciousness of God" was to arise amongst Israel's earliest inhabitants. Well, of course, I was hooked right then-and-there.

At Relevancy22 we have examined the evolution of creation - a process divinely chosen by God as explained in many, many articles. But what hasn't been examined in any thorough manner (though I had began this task several times starting in the "Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve") was the idea of how evolution provided to our species a "God-consciousness." Or, when stated in a more biblical fashion, "How God provided to mankind a sense of Himself to our being."

Many Christians think this process simply "dropped out of the sky" when reading Genesis 1-3. That when God "instantaneously" created man He also "instantaneously" provided to man revelation about Himself. This is the traditional Christian view of humanity's creation unafflicted with the truths of evolutionary science. But when coming to God's divine process of creation by evolutionary means the entire ball games changes. And with it must our mental and religious "muscles" change too.

How Evolution affects Theological Thought

Let me sum up in very brief paragraphs what I know from six years of studying evolution from a Christian perspective (my apologies to first timers as we enter into this pool of infinity filled with innumerable questions). In essence, as evolution was a steady, slow process moving from the "spark of biologic life" to billions of species eventuating in the rise of our hominid species, so too did it take lots of time to evolve human consciousness (cf "conscience" interlinked with "eusociality"; and don't forget the metaphysical v. biological neuroscience/physics articles on how "consciousness may have resulted as a byproduct of the Thermodynamic Law of Maximizing Entropy"). Once these fundamental adaptations had been made within the human brain than God had the added task of developing within humanity its sense of "God-ness."

Which is where we are at today. God is still at work in our heads and our hearts, in our bodies and our spirits, pushing the evolutionary story of God-ness forward throughout mankind's narratives. But now we have the further salient foundation of Christ's atonement to help us forward towards mankind's recreation with God, with each other, and towards a new society. Typically we interpret the bible's recreation of mankind in Christ through terms like redemption, love, and eschatology. And in newer 21st Century terms like pyrotheology, process theology, relational theology, and the work of His Spirit within humanity (John Caputo's idea of insistence where he takes God to be metaphysically dead but sublimely transformed into His creation whereas I take God to be metaphysically alive but similarly transforming His creation through His atonement and resurrection back into creation). Thus my interest in developing a new language, a new hermeneutic, a new way of thinking and speaking to these incredible divine revelations. If you've seen the alien movie "The Arrival" you'll understand the need of learning a new language in order to perceive imperceptible truths. So too is the task of the Christian to speak God's God-ness to one another in ways that are healing, healthy, and renewing. But however it plays out God is pushing His agenda forward to redeem mankind in itself, in its relationships with each other, with the earth, and with Himself.

The Early Development of Religion in Humanity

And so, this is where there is a gap in Relevancy22's topical articles indexed alongside every blogpost I write or create. I simply haven't taken the time to write about the "early evolution of religion" within humanity - NOR, its specific biblical development within ancient Israel. These would be areas typically found in the university departments of the "sociology of religion," or "religion's early evolutionary development," or even, "how Israel's monolatrous religion evolved." You can imagine the many Google links which can be discovered and read on these many topics from their many points of view and then sifting through each one to find some plausible direction that can be helpful to the interested Christian. I might suggest besides my own website here that when doing the hard work of research to use the Biologos site as a good benchmark. They have many staff members compared to myself, working alone, and might eventually tag into these discussions when quitting from their continual apologetic work of helping Christians to understand the necessity of God's creation from an evolutionary framework. Another source I've recently discovered is Science Mike's podcasts and blog entries. These three web-related resources would be useful when benchmarking the wealth of material on the Internet re "the early development of religion."

Early Religious Development in Ancient Israel

But I digress, in James Michener's book he tells in very simple, easy to understand terms, how current academia think "religious consciousness" arose specifically to become a "monotheistic religion" centered on one God - rather than no gods, or many gods. Of how the ideas of "Elohim" and "Yahweh" arose concurrent with the time and place of geography amongst Israel's earliest nomads and settlers. For the time-and-effort it takes to read its opening chapters I think it is as good a place to start as any.

The storyline imagines with the reader the life of a stone age family, and specifically its members, as a sense of God-ness enters into their thoughts and breasts to transform succeeding generations. And slowly, through time, trials, and tribulations of wars and famines, these thoughts accumulate into the biblical portrayal of a monotheistic kingdom known as Israel that we read of in the First or Old Testament. Michener told a credible story - as he always does - with patience and wisdom by interviewing many academics, priests, and theologians in the development of his storyline. A storyline filled with wisdom and insight.

R.E. Slater
December 2, 2016


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Wikipedia - The Source
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Source_(novel)

The Source is a historical novel by James A. Michener, first published in 1965. It is a survey of the history of the Jewish people and the land of Israel from pre-monotheistic days to the birth of the modern State of Israel. The Source uses, for its central device, a fictional tell in northern Israel called "Makor" (Hebrew: "source"‎‎). Prosaically, the name comes from a freshwater well just north of Makor, but symbolically it stands for much more, historically and spiritually.

Unlike most Michener novels, this book is not in strict chronological order. A parallel frame story set in Israel in the 1960s supports the historical timeline. Archaeologists digging at the tell at Makor uncover artifacts from each layer, which then serve as the basis for a chapter exploring the lives of the people involved with that artifact. The book follows the story of the Family of Ur from a Stone Age family whose wife begins to believe that there is a supernatural force, which slowly leads us to the beginnings of monotheism. The descendants are not aware of the ancient antecedents revealed to the reader by the all-knowing writer as the story progresses through the Davidic kingdom, Hellenistic times, Roman times, etc. The site is continually inhabited until the end of the Crusades when it is destroyed by the victorious Mameluks (as happened to many actual cities after 1291) and is not rebuilt by the Ottomans.


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Monolatrism
Part of a series on God

Monolatrism or monolatry (Greek: μόνος (monos) = single, and λατρεία (latreia) = worship) is belief in the existence of many gods but with the consistent worship of only one deity.[1] The term was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.[2]

Monolatry is distinguished from monotheism, which asserts the existence of only one god, and henotheism, a religious system in which the believer worships one god without denying that others may worship different gods with equal validity.[3]

Atenism
Main article: Atenism

The ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep IV initially introduced Atenism in Year 5 of his reign (1348/1346 BCE), during the 18th dynasty. He raised Aten, once a relatively obscure Egyptian Solar deity representing the disk of the Sun, to the status of Supreme God in the Egyptian pantheon.[4]

The fifth year of Amenhotep IV's reign is believed to mark the beginning of his construction of a new capital, Akhetaten (Horizon of the Aten), at the site known today as Amarna. Amenhotep IV officially changed his name to Akhenaten (Agreeable to Aten) as evidence of his new worship. In addition to constructing a new capital in honor of Aten, Akhenaten also oversaw the construction of some of the most massive temple complexes in ancient Egypt, including one at Karnak and one at Thebes, close to the old temple of Amun.

In his ninth year of rule (1344/1342 BCE), Akhenaten declared a more radical version of his new religion, declaring Aten not merely the supreme god of the Egyptian pantheon but the only God of Egypt, with himself as the sole intermediary between the Aten and the Egyptian people. Key features of Atenism included a ban on idols and other images of the Aten, with the exception of a rayed solar disc in which the rays (commonly depicted ending in hands) appear to represent the unseen spirit of Aten. Aten was addressed by Akhenaten in prayers, such as the Great Hymn to the Aten.

The details of Atenist theology are still unclear. The exclusion of all but one god and the prohibition of idols was a radical departure from Egyptian tradition, but most scholars see Akhenaten as a practitioner of monolatry rather than monotheism, as he did not actively deny the existence of other gods; he simply refrained from worshiping any but Aten. It is known that Atenism did not solely attribute divinity to the Aten. Akhenaten continued the cult of the Pharaoh, proclaiming himself the son of Aten and encouraging the Egyptian people to worship him.[5] The Egyptian people were to worship Akhenaten; only Akhenaten and Nefertiti could worship Aten directly.[6]

Under Akhenaten's successors, Egypt reverted to its traditional religion, and Akhenaten himself came to be reviled as a heretic.

In ancient Israel

Some historians have argued that ancient Israel originally practiced a form of monolatry or henotheism.[7] Both Frank E. Eakin, Jr. and John J. Scullion believe Moses was a monolatrist rather than a monotheist,[8][9] and John Day suggests that angels are what became of the other gods once monotheism took over Israel.[10]

"In the ancient Near East the existence of divine beings was universally accepted without questions.… The question was not whether there is only one elohim, but whether there is any elohim like Yahweh."[11]

The Shema Yisrael is often cited as proof that the Israelites practiced monotheism. It was recognized by Rashi in his commentary to Deuteronomy 6:4 that the declaration of the Shema accepts belief in one god as being only a part of Jewish faith at the time of Moses but would eventually be accepted by all humanity.[12]

A similar statement occurs in Maimonides' 13 principles of faith, Second Principle:

"God, the Cause of all, is one. This does not mean one as in one of a pair, nor one like a species (which encompasses many individuals), nor one as in an object that is made up of many elements, nor as a single simple object that is infinitely divisible. Rather, God is a unity unlike any other possible unity. This is referred to in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4): "Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one."

Some scholars claim the Torah (Pentateuch) shows evidence of monolatrism in some passages. The argument is normally based on references to other gods, such as the "gods of the Egyptians" in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 12:12). The Egyptians are also attributed powers that suggest the existence of their gods; in Exodus 7:11-13, after Aaron transforms his staff into a snake, Pharaoh's sorcerers do likewise. In the ancient Near East, the existence of magic was generally believed[13] though the Israelites viewed it as being malign in origin and were forbidden from it. With regard to miracle and prophecy, the Bible commands the Israelites to not follow false prophets (those who compromise the law) and not to refrain from putting them to death.[14] The miracles of false prophets are, like those of the Egyptian sorcerers, regarded by the Israelites as a divine test to see if the Israelites "love the LORD [their] God with all [their] heart and with all [their] soul". Jews and traditionalist Biblical scholars interpret the mention of other gods in the Bible as references to nonexistent entities, which the Israelites were forbidden from worshiping.

The Ten Commandments have been interpreted by some as evidence that the Israelites originally practiced monolatrism.[15] Exodus 20:3 reads "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," (Hebrew:לא יהיה־לך אלהים אחרים על־פני),[16] and they argue that the addition of "before me" at the end of the commandment indicates that not only other gods may exist but that they may be respected and worshiped so long as less than Yahweh.

Most scholars agree that the Hebrew Bible describes a monotheistic religion in principle. However, there is evidence that the Israelite people as a whole did not strictly adhere to monotheism before the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BCE. Much of this evidence comes from the Bible itself, which records that many Israelites chose to worship foreign gods and idols rather than Yahweh.[17]

During the 8th century BCE, the monotheistic worship of Yahweh in Israel was in competition with many other cults, described by the Yahwist faction collectively as Baals. The oldest books of the Hebrew Bible reflect this competition, as in the books of Hosea and Nahum, whose authors lament the "apostasy" of the people of Israel and threaten them with the wrath of God if they do not give up their polytheistic cults.[18][19]

In Christianity

Paul the Apostle, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, writes that "we know that an idol is nothing" and "that there is none other God but one" (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). He argues in verse 5 that "for though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth", "but to us there is but one God". Paul distinguishes between gods that have no authority or have a lesser authority, "as there be gods many, and lords many," and the one God who has universal authority, "one God, the Father, of whom are all things" and "one Lord, Jesus Christ, of whom are all things". Some translators of verse 5, put the words "gods" and "lords" in quotes to indicate that they are gods or lords only so-called.[20]

In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul refers to "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), which is generally interpreted as referring to Satan or the material things put before God, such as money, rather than acknowledging any separate deity from God.[21]


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Related Articles

Does Evolutionary Psychology Explain Why We Believe in God? Part 1 -

Early Development of Religion (Google Search)



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Science Mike + Mars Hill - The Psalms + The Stars



I recently met and spoke with Mick McHargue not long ago and would recommend his podcasts and science critiques of sharing God's "evolutionary creationism" and the searching questions he asks in the context of the bible. Like myself, Mike went through a period of spiritual crisis in his life where God turned his world upside down before propelling him forward into the teaching of his Word.

Now evolutionary creationism is not the pseudo-science-7-day-creationism-stuff but the real, hard-core, Darwinian evolutionary schemata placed into a post-evangelical theological context as we have discussed here at Relevancy22 in hundreds of past articles. My church, Mars Hill, recently began its science series in the late fall of 2016 starting with Science Mike whose vimeo link is listed first with an introduction by our newest pastor AJ Sherrill. The remaining three vimeo links are from AJ himself, but the deep stuff, the scientific stuff, can be found on Science Mike's website that I've linked directly below.

Enjoy!

R.E. Slater
Thanksgiving 2016


More on Science Mike - http://mikemchargue.com/





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The Series: "The Psalms + The Stars," by AJ Sherrill

I.
The Psalms + The Stars: Psalm 147
Posted on October 30, 2016 | Pastor: AJ SherrillScience Mike



II.
The Psalms + The Stars: Psalm 8
Posted on November 6, 2016 | Pastor: AJ Sherrill



III.
The Psalms + The Stars: Psalm 13
Posted on November 13, 2016 | Pastor: AJ Sherrill



IV.
The Psalms + The Stars: Psalm 133
Posted on November 20, 2016 | Pastor: AJ Sherrill

11/20/16 - AJ Sherrill - The Psalms + The Stars: Psalm 133


"Don't you just love it when coming to God's Creation
to discover that He SINGS all the time, and especially
when creating both the worlds and our own souls!?"
- R.E. Slater