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BOTH/AND!!


I remember as if it were yesterday, the first time these words sunk into my spirit, in contrast with the either/or approach of my religious persuasion.


It was the latter part of the 90's, after years of reinforcement by a number of well respected pastors, who had shepherded my life upon my re-entry into church in 1974.


As a fourth generation Pentecostal, though by then exposed to multiple denominational and theological approaches, my years of indoctrination from a quite literal approach to scripture had always been that of either/or.


Let's just say, you were either all in, or you were out! Sadly, any sense of patience with other thoughts was simply courtesy, until you came around or left the church. Ironically, we called it 'grace'!


You can only imagine how my orientation toward the sciences would often throw up red flags when fully voiced, often in contrast with where others might be coming from relative to their understanding of scripture.


Restraint becomes less likely as one matures, both physically and spiritually.


Both/and thought soon became as much a gift as my understanding of the stark contrast between grace and wrath! The latter, I now believe to be a carry over from the idolatry God first began to address in Abraham. The same, later re-instilled post-Samuel, as Isreal pursued her sense of need for a King. The contrast between Saul and David surely symbolic of the nature of the true King, one day born of Mary!


He would topple all that religion had come to represent!


To say that God is Love, and then hold over those cherished like children a threat of wrath, as a means to assure that some religious dogma be accepted is far from love and grace, the core values of the Christ!


Yet, even the disciples had such tendencies, thankfully, also recorded in scripture for our benefit when we err toward that end.


Justice surely plays a part in this Good News of grace, and injustice is sin, whether it be, sexual abuse or ignoring the growing wealth gap of our day. I'll just let that sit for a while.


My last year has been about framing a theme for a book, entitled, "Come Let Us Reason Together." Some of those reading my thoughts have even suggested a devotional, designed for those prone never to open a devotional!


My heart however, is geared moreso toward those, like myself, seeking to deconstruct rigid religious beliefs, many that now seem less and less transformational.


It's as if the God of the Ages, the Creator of our now known millions of galaxies, is again saying, as has been the case about ever 500 years, "How's that working for you?"


When Abraham was called out of Ur, as Moses writes, he was accustomed to child sacrifices. Thus, a request for the sacrifice of his firstborn, (not the child of handmaiden Hagar, but of his beloved Sara) was likely assumed by him, given his ready acceptance of the request.


Unbeknownst to this devoted follower of YAHWEH, the request was simply to set up the concept of substitutional atonement, a means to satisfy the thought of anyone who might feel undeserving given their past.


Atonement was a necessity in the eyes of the people of his day, accustomed to wrathful management of lesser gods, demanding their all, but providing no remedy for comfort and peace.


Abram himself certainly felt most unworthy, given his disbelief of the promise made by three angels who showed up at his tent. They even brought laughter to his wife! Yet before the birth of Isaac, Abraham was named, the "Father of Many Nations."


As mankind would tend to do, a practice soon emerged, not of child sacrifice, but of a spotless lamb. Again, guided likely by YHWH, walking mankind toward a day of attempting, even more necessary after the Law was given to Moses.


Even that "tablet of stone" was a setup, then came the tabernacle, the ark and even the Temple, all schoolmaster-like, as Paul the writer of Galations lays out.


A means of frustrating us toward grace and eventually away from the hundreds of rules soon devised in the window from Moses to the days of Jesus. To be exact, 613 commandments, to include "positive commandments", to perform an act (mitzvot aseh), and "negative commandments", to abstain from an act (mitzvot lo taaseh).


Jesus, the Logos of God would then become flesh, a stark contrast to the Law, yet able to fulfill the righteousness of the Law, and to the nth degree, so that none could ever refute the length God's love would go on mankind's behalf.


Yet still, after centuries have now passed, we struggle with grace. Surely even that simply another message of grace, given how long it takes for we humans to reach even a minimal aHa!


To this day, we still tend to apply the Law to justify our walk with God. The Church and its Canon, derived in Constantine's day still carried over the Old Testament, consolidating it with the New, the justification being to preserve two covenants with God.


Still yet immutability is declared, which would seem to be in conflict. Perhaps that too was within the mystery of God, a means of contrasting grace with religion, which seems to constantly "bewitch us," to use the words of the Apostle Paul.


“For whoever keeps the whole law but stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” James 2:10, his point like Paul's, if you regard the Law as a means of righteousness, then you come under the full letter of the Law, which no man can keep on his or her own volition.


So, if you dare choose the Law as your standard of righteousness, rather than the righteousness imputed to us freely through Christ, the gift of God, you will in fact prove the Law as more powerful than your best of will, failing repeatedly, though one try their best.


However, when we accept the love of God as demonstrated by the Christ, grace then affords empowerment such that we find ourselves keeping the law. Even when we fail, no condemnation occurs, but rather a growth in spiritual communion and maturation.


We become as it were the very Body of Christ and at times then find ourselves surprised by our response to former temptations and occasionally our response to even our enemies!


God's will is less about religion (read the disgust expressed in the prophets) and moreso that we become to those around us, "a Jesus with skin on him!"


Back to my Both/and approach, along with the beauty and mystery of scripture, capturing in "types and shadows" a forecasting of Jesus, all easily discovered when one listens to the Spirit while reading the text. A book that for millennia has provided a progressive generational maturation within the Body of Christ. The Institutional Church, sadly not always the same.


At the risk of another run-on sentence, let me be candid with the many of my friends frustrated by the either/or dogma of their past, the fundamentalist's approach of continual and willful denial of what God is revealing, even through the sciences.


There are things once unheard of that are now a reality, all far beyond what the early scribes could have put into words. Their message inspired, but their vocabulary and knowledge base limited. Thus, many of my younger friends ("Nones" as they are referred to) and frankly some Boomers my age, the "Dones", now actively engaged in the deconstruction of their theology, finding a deepened sense of freedom as they follow grace! That would be just like Jesus! Just ask one of the Pharisees!


My response to all, is that we not throw out the "Babe" as we the deal with the wash of religion! Just be open and Love will find you! That's how inspiration works, as we pour over these ancient words of scripture.


Selah!

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John Bost
John Bost
Mar 24

https://youtu.be/OXlA7gFQazU?si=RFJBSQYfusoIlb6X

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Happy Palm Sunday Teacher- Jesus Entered Jerusalem

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