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About Truthfulness

Although there is a great deal of posturing against lying and deceit by members of human society, the fact of the matter is that there is a certain level of it which is not only accepted by people but is positively expected by them as an indication of normality. No one is expected to be completely honest at all times, and under certain circumstances deceit is even considered commendable. This natural penchant for dishonesty, which is also exhibited by our primate relatives, manifests itself both as verbal lying and as behavioral dishonesty (i.e. dissembling or assuming an artificial persona).

God, however, is incapable of lying (Titus 1:2), and those who partake of His nature should be equally veracious- not just in word but also in having a true and sincere spirit which is free from all manner of hypocrisy, pretense, or affectation- and this veracity must have love as its underlying motive. Under no circumstances is deliberate dishonesty justifiable. Christ said,"as you desire that men would do to you, do so to them" (Lk 6:31). This is a fundamental rule of love, and its negative form- do not do to others what you would not desire them to do to you- is equally valid. I certainly do not desire to be deceived by others, nor do I appreciate it when I am.

In addition, those who belong to God must not participate in the practice of swearing oaths (Mt 5:34) because it is part and parcel of a lying spirit. It is something which liars do to assure others that they are being honest, but a direct consequence of it is that it allows them to be less honest at times when they are not 'under oath'. In other words, it establishes a place for dishonesty in one's life.

This last point is related to another matter which I believe is also worth mentioning- namely, the tendency among religions to divide space and time into that which is sacred or holy and that which is profane or unholy. That is, certain places (such as temples or churches) or days are considered to be holy, and consequently adherents are more circumspect about their behavior there or then, while others are considered to be unholy or less holy, and consequently adherents feel freer to behave in an unholy manner there or then. It is an evil practice. A Christian should make no such distinctions.

About Pacifism

Not too long ago I had a conversation with someone who had just recently been reading in the New Testament for the first time. He was rather perplexed because in his judgment Christ seemed to be teaching complete pacifism. I told him that I believe that Christ did actually teach just that, but he was still doubtful about it because he felt that it simply didn't make any sense. It would not surprise me if, at a later time, he spoke to someone who belonged to one of the mainstream churches he would be informed, and perhaps persuaded, that he had misunderstood what Christ said. I do not believe that. What Christ and his apostles said and did in relation to this subject is quite clear and unambiguous, as this representative sample of statements demonstrates:
"You have heard that it has been said,'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth'. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." -Christ (Mt 5:38-39)
"Repay no one evil for evil." -Paul (Rm 12:17)
"...overcome evil with good." -Paul (Rm 12:21)
"...not rendering evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary bless, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing." -Peter (1Pe 3:9)
Christ's doctrine of absolute pacifism is indeed a revolutionary step beyond the norm of the world, including the type of ethics set forth in the Old Testament and adhered to by most Christians today. As is made clear by such statements as those I have cited above, this opposition to violent, harmful behavior applies not only to acts of aggression but also to self defensive acts which could in any way be injurious to the perpetrator of violence against oneself. It also precludes participation in conflicts between groups (i.e. warfare), or engaging in any sort of profession where such behavior is a necessary requirement (e.g. law enforcement).

Contrary though it may seem to common sense, absolute pacifism is an essential component of true love for others. Love does no harm to a neighbor (Rm 13:10)- ever, and that includes enemies. Nonresistance to evil, or returning good for evil, can affect the conscience of the aggressor, and may have a positive spiritual effect upon them either immediately or eventually. It is akin to fighting fire with water rather than fighting fire with fire.

Moreover, I believe that all- and I mean all- manner of competitive behavior is incompatible with the spirit of love. It is, by definition, egocentric. As might be expected, being of such an attitude in a society where competition is elemental and all-pervasive can have a very serious impact on one's life. It is one of the main reasons that I live in the way which I do. Only by this means have I been able to find a sufficient degree of peace of heart and mind.

About Purification

Quite simply, salvation involves a process of spiritual purification, and those who are saved are those who have been completely purified (i.e. perfected). This is much more than just the normal sort of moral development that people undergo as they age- it is a radical spiritual transformation. Moreover, from the standpoint of New Testament doctrine, this process is something which must be accomplished while a soul is alive on earth. There really isn't anything in the teachings of Christ to indicate that it can be started or finished in any other domain. On the contrary, the absolute and immediate need for disciples to become perfect is a recurring theme in the books of the New Testament.

I believe that the bottom line on this subject is that, as Paul said in Romans 8:9, if a person does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to him.

This fact does not seem to be appreciated by most professing Christians. Either they have an erroneous, debased conception of who Christ is (which is essentially just a projection of their own spirits), or else they believe that being spiritually perfected in this life is not really possible and the process of purification is completed after death by some poorly defined or unknown means. As a result, although it may not be explicitly stated, there can be an attitude of disapproval towards anyone who actually desires and strives to be completely like Christ and live on earth in the way that he both taught and did.

Contributing to the complacency about spiritual impurity that many people seem to have is the quality of forgiveness which is inherent in the Christian conception of God. It is important to remember, however, that although forgiveness is an essential component of true love (and therefore of God's nature) Christ said that all manner of sin could be forgiven except one- blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:28-30). What does this mean? As I see it, to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is to reject it, either in whole or in part, and it is impossible for those who reject God's Spirit to be spiritually reborn or saved.

Of course, believing that spiritual perfection in this life is a requirement for salvation necessarily entails having to deal with some difficult questions such as: What about those souls who lived and died without ever having so much as heard of Christ? What about souls who die as children? What about people like Abraham, David, Jeremiah, or even John the Baptist who, though they may have been righteous according to Old Testament standards, died without having the Spirit of Christ? etc. One possibility that I have seriously considered is that spiritual purification may be a long process that involves more than one lifetime. In other words, souls may reincarnate. However, lacking conclusive objective evidence as well as clear scriptural support for this position, I do not assert it as a fact but only suggest it as a possibility. But if it was the case, it would have to be understood within the parameters of Christian doctrine- including the characteristic of immediacy mentioned above.


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