Unconditional in Calvanism
Exchanges Between Friends
Wendell Krossa (Feb 14)
I was just musing over our input into the marketplace of ideas and discussion. This is occurring in a time in history that has seen great advances in human consciousness and how we live as human. All the major trends affirm this advance (Ultimate Resource offers a summary, as do similar works). Much of humanity is embracing this advance such as the move away from violence to more humane ways of living together and relating.
But even as some sections of humanity are embracing advance, there remains a lot of darkness still lingering all over in public/private consciousness. You can see this in people continuing to embrace themes in their worldviews that promote darkness and fear. Apocalyptic is one example. People keep falling for this in new versions such as Green apocalyptic or cosmological apocalyptic. Sectarian barriers also continue in all sorts of forms – religious, political, and other. There is the lingering influence of religious beliefs such as that of Christianity. We are told that surveys continue to reveal that something like 70% of Americans still believe in hell.
Moving outside the West you can see even more severe forms of sectarian exclusion and violence.
The old narratives still infect much of human consciousness with a darkening and enslaving influence. This is evident in the impact of ideas of separation and opposition, threat from ultimate reality; coming catastrophe; need for systems of appeasement; insecurity over ultimate destiny and purpose; a basic corruption of humanity and so much more.
Without apology we have a pearl of great price, a series of insights, that can bring light and liberation to human consciousness. Something that can counter the darkness of the themes noted above.
We have been toying and experimenting with new narratives, stories that might serve as a vehicle to bring these insights to the public consciousness. Julia has suggested new stories in terms of contemporary examples and offered some, and Henry offered one on the boy born of an unwed mother.
And no, the insights we focus on are not unique to our discussion. We are in the long historical tradition of the prophets and the Palestinian sage with these themes of Exodus, liberation; promised land; dreams of a better future; of freedom; of more compassionate and peaceful societies; of more inclusive and accepting forms of human relating; of unconditional love. These are themes embraced by many in our societies and expressed in unique ways through all sorts of media.
We also understand more today how important human consciousness is and we grasp something of how the realm of ideas and perceptions influence and shape consciousness and behaviour, and hence all of life. So we have gone after residual ideas, perceptions that continue to darken and enslave human consciousness. This has been one of the purposes of our little think tank or discussion group. We have been about sharpening an axe to lay to the most fundamental root of all- those ideas that influence the deepest recesses of human consciousness and how to liberate that consciousness so we can all progress together toward an infinitely better future.
This is just musing on what we have been about over the past years and where we might be moving in a new forum.
The point of this musing is to refocus one’s mind on what the real battles are for human progress, where the real blockages might be, the key hindrances, and what might be central to liberation and advance. What is the human struggle really about? Just as it was mentioned a while back- the Palestinian sage showed us what being human was really about. Is anything more important?
Wendell Krossa (Feb 15)
Bob recommended to us Patricia Williams’ little book Where Christianity Went Wrong and What You Can Do About It. It is a thought-provoking and inspiring book. Especially so in regard to this all-too-human attitude of superiority toward others, and the endeavor to create exclusion between ourselves and others; believing our beliefs, our practices are right and others are wrong.
God is on our side and will vindicate us in the end against our enemies. This is the essential nature of much religion and end-time dreaming. And it is also something found all over in economic theories, political movements, even scientific movements. Countering this is the simple kingdom of God as envisioned by Jesus. I will paraphrase a bit further than Williams is willing to state things- all humans get the same full forgiveness (even without repentance, as Williams conditions it on, as too often repentance has to do with return to religion and other misperceptions). All people get the same full acceptance, the same full generosity. All are welcomed and get everything anyone else gets, even if they don’t believe the same things or live the same way as other’s perceptions.
This just touches the edges of things so scandalous, so much better than can be imagined, that words cannot convey even the beginnings of such infinity. Such unconditional love.
This ought to cause real offense to any residual sense of fairness, just recompense, justice, rightness, or whatever else we judge things by in a payback world.
In this scheme, the kingdom of God needs no sacrifice at all; it needs no religion; no mediation; no joining of anything or believing of anything (correct beliefs that is), or correct lifestyle (whatever anyone believes this to be, whatever laws one advocates). It is a kingdom of unconditional love, acceptance, forgiveness, generosity. What will it lead to? It will inspire a similar response toward all others. By its fruits you will know it.
To clarify- yes, to Williams’ use of repentance if it means turning away from the religious arrogance of viewing oneself as right and representing God, and the religious stance of setting oneself aside from all others as commonly human. To turn from this is genuine repentance no matter how one expresses it.
The answer is no to religious repentance as leaving common humanity to join some specialized belief system and lifestyle.
Obviously, to embrace the kingdom of God as taught by Jesus will mean embracing its values of unconditional forgiveness, and unconditional acceptance of all others; unconditional generosity toward all (everyone gets anything and everything everyone else gets), and all that can be imagined of good and unbounded things.
Wendell Krossa (Feb 16)
I instinctively react to the word repentance with visceral abhorrence. A hangover from my religious past, I guess . It connotes too much groveling, self- flagellant and self-punishment and a return to religion. However, in its simple meaning as changing one’s mind and behaviour for the better, well, that’s not so offensive. As long as this is clear. Some people change their minds while laughing and joking and mocking.
More than anything- seeing something of the nature of unconditional love and wanting to experience and live that, is the most genuine form of repentance. And another word would express such change better.
Bob Brinsmead (Feb 16)
In some examples from Jesus, repentance (change of mind) is not the condition of acceptance but the fruit of it. Like the case of Zaccheus, the tax collector scoundrel – Jesus told him he would dine with him, and this acceptance caused a change in Zaccheus.
Henry Hasse (Feb 18)
I had been searching for a better way to say and understand the results of Abba’s unconditional acceptance. Thanks to a couple of dear Australian friends, I now see it as a turn-about resulting from being accepted, or a fruit of acceptance; NOT: being accepted because of a turn-about (as a repentance based on sacrifice).
Yes, this does indeed call for some mental re programing! Zaccheus is an excellent example of changing his behavior after Jesus accepted him at the dinner table – table fellowship was a very generous act in those days. Being overwhelmed by such unconditional generosity – some have called it “paying forward” – is what brings about REAL change. Abba’s justice is unconditional acceptance and it brings about REAL change. No sacrifice is involved.
Change that is the result of a threat or payback is merely superficial – a deception on the surface. And a threatening payback justice is actually unjust before Abba – as the prophets and Jesus proclaimed. Their message is the “pearl of great price” I have discovered hidden in the dunghill of human writings (scriptures) which concentrate on a threatening payback justice, gruesome and bloody at that, to somehow satisfy their sky-god.
Consider these things as you approach the dark days of Lent.
Henry Hasse (Feb 19)
Wonderful story about your Mother, Bob. Little wonder you turned out to be so “unconditionally human,” an indication, hint, glimmer of Abba’s presence among us. Some of us are hard pressed to recall such lessons in our lives you know, so we are grateful for you. Tough mid-western German/Scandinavian Lutherans who grew up among tough mid-western Catholics, both fighting the harsh Minnesota climate to eke out a living within a few months, seldom practiced being unconditionally human. But now I need to dig deeper. There must have been such stories in my past as well, stories calling out for notice. We must all have them to learn from still.
Julia Tyack (Feb 19)
Bob’s other stories certainly tell of toughness in discipline but kind of fair and no anger.
How do you all like Bob’s “unconditional consciousness” for a domain name?” Anyone like to vote. It is available too – nothing similar that I can see. This to me is the best so far.
Bob Brinsmead (Feb 20)
We can address all kinds of situations and practical questions under the banner of Unconditionally Human – it is relevant to the prison system, the police system, the political system, the religious system and everything else that comes along. Always doing the human thing, exploring what it means to be the human thing. It summarizes what ethics should be all about. It is a rule by which we can judge all things and call all things into serious and radical question.
There is nothing ify about unconditional. However, NOT with such thing as “I will forgive you if…” “I will love you if”,
“I will treat you humanly if…” “I will be compassionate and merciful if…”
There is nothing ify about being unconditionally human.
Do you have that expression in America or is it only an Australian thing. When we say something is “IFY” we mean that it is very uncertain, it depends on other factors, it is doubtful, you can’t really trust it or commit to it. If we way you are an IFY member un UH, it means we can’t say of you like it was said of the Man from Snowy River, “I’ll warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end.”
There should be nothing IFY about being human, because to be human is to be in the image and likeness of God – and here is the basis of it all – there is nothing IFY about God as religion makes God out to be – God’s gifts and calling are without repentance (it says well in once place). There is nothing IFY about God’s love etc. There is nothing IFY about JBA’s kingdom of God.
Religion is all about qualifying God’s love and forgiveness with a lot of IFY bits. If we get rid of the IFY bits there is no place for religion to operate, no need for priest craft and mediators, no blood paybacks for human failures, no dark shadow across the face of the Abba Father.
Tim Smith (Feb 20)
But Bob, it “sounds” too simple. Anything that “sounds” simple is anathema in the minds of our ruling elite. Our ruling elite realize how vast and complex modern societies are, and therefore know much better than little old you and I, what is right and good and best for all.
This concept of unconditionally human, these intellects will freely admit, works fine on the interpersonal level, but as a fundamental for society as a whole? Why, humans simply cannot be trusted in the larger context of society. Things are just way too big and too complicated and need to be managed by those who know better.
Plus, and this bears mention, a significant percentage of this class (intellectual ruling elite) see “the human” as precisely the opposite of what you are describing. The human thing, in their eyes, has been a destructive blight on the planet
Henry Hasse (Feb 21)
Simple is the best! I don’t know you well enough, Tim, to tell if you wrote all that with tongue in cheek or not, but you do make a case for us to know what (who) we are up against. Me thinks simple drives the elite intellectuals nuts and some may even consider it further as a result. Sort of like Hogan reported about many neurologists, physicists, and psychologists going crazy over trying to find consciousness or “mind” in the meat of the brain, Your Eternal Self.
Bob Brinsmead (Feb 23)
The Calvinists or Westminster people try to deal with the Unconditional Love of God through the doctrine of Unconditional Election. I will illustrate this with an issue that arose during the 70’s in America:
Bill Bright’s organization, Campus Crusade for Christ, published a little booklet to be used by its youth evangelists under the title of Four Spiritual Laws. The first law stated: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” This was the first thing that the advocates would say in confronting a person with their message. The Westminster purists objected to this statement on the grounds that this could not be said to everyone because it was a statement which could only be truly and honestly said in reference to those whom God had unconditionally elected. It could not be said in reference to those whom God had passed by to go to Hell. Fair enough in the context of their theology of Double Predestination. But that kind of doctrine makes the devil a saint (Saint Lucifer) by comparison with this concept of God
Julia Tyack (Feb 24)
Looking at the fruit of a theory is so powerful in understanding its root. This sure makes a conscious impact, “Oh, Wow”, God’s love qualified by Bill Bright’s followers was but the root but also conditional. As we know in Bill Bright’s next laws the conditions were laid out. Bob, you have shown what the full blown concept of something conditional is like, quite inhuman. This sure drives one back to gratitude and excitement for the privilege of life in the concept of unconditional, nothing required. Luther went half way in saying, “Who-so-ever will. Take hold of your nose and see if you are a who-so-ever will. But surely we can say, “Who-so-ever is. Human, yes, so you are an “is” and unconditionally loved with nothing, not a thing required for love and acceptance. No conditions, No Barriers, Not Iffey, No obligations!!! Can we really say that, we might need to pinch ourselves every now and again to be sure the concept isn’t a dream. Wendell, thanks again for the lengthy article which no doubt you are sharpening. I read it thinking you must have had a lot of fun and a big smile writing that. In fact if we could half conceive it and the mind believe it, the kingdom would take over our lives in new and wonderful ways.
Wendell Krossa (Feb 24)
Many of the NDEs give the sense that we are not even beginning to approach the incomprehensible, unspeakable wonder of what it (unconditional) really means. All we say about it is just the beginning of infinity, the outer edges. Like anything really divine, it is transcendently above what can be imagined. That is why I would hesitate to use exaggeration in regard to Jesus’ comments on this, as exaggeration carries the connotation of something inflated falsely. This is something where the truth or actual reality is so far above what can be comprehended, that no superlative can do proper justice. The ‘surprise’ element is always just starting.
That essay needs a major rewrite and will get it. I will do a compromise with Bob’s suggestion- I have more I want to add in that piece so I will break it up into four parts (thanks for the help on this Henry) and put it on the new site a bit at a time, and then do a brief summary (just a few pages) for weaponry or axe use as per Bob’s suggestion. Something to send out around the Net as a time bomb.
It’s such a neglected topic with such vast potential for liberating humanity and moving us all toward the better unlimited future we all want. Dare I suggest, it gets to the very heart of why we are here for this little venture of human life and story. It speaks to the very reason the universe exists and why conscious persons exist. So, sorry Stephen Hawking, but you have missed the real theory of everything. A Jewish peasant got it right long ago. And sorry Christianity but you also missed with your theory of everything oriented to payback.
Is this arrogance? Nah. Some things are just right…and what is the point of apologizing for stumbling across such treasure.
Wendell Krossa (Feb 24)
To imagine the superlative quality of this issue, think of this great Being of Light that NDErs speak of. This Being that fills the entire vista of the Beyond with an indescribably brilliant light and an overwhelming and inexpressible sense of unconditional love. Then think that this Being is the Source of all, the Creator of an infinite universe of energy and uncountable, innumerable galaxies. What power this must be that holds all this in existence. Then take this incomprehensibility back to this issue of unconditional love . What love that really must be coming from such incomprehensible infinity and greatness and power. As Campbell says, such thoughts are not even beginning to grasp what actually is. What actually is, is beyond all concepts, all thoughts, all ideas, all comprehension, beyond even the term God.
Ring notes this one lady named Peggy who tries to express something of this wonder (see quotes below). As Ring says in The Near-Death Experience: A Reader, “No wonder the ordinary person returns from the NDE stammering hyperbole”. Peggy below tries to express the inexpressible using capitals extensively.
She was shown, “The all-pervading and primary nature of love in the universe…’The light told me everything was love, and I mean everything. I had always felt love was just a human emotion people felt from time to time, never in my wildest dreams thinking it was literally EVERYTHING!…I was shown how much all people are loved. It was overwhelmingly evident that the light loved everyone equally without any conditions! I really want to stress this, because it made me so happy to know we didn’t have to believe or do certain things to be loved. WE ALREADY WERE AND ARE NO MATTER WHAT! The light was extremely concerned and loving toward all people…if only people could know how much they’re loved, maybe they wouldn’t feel so scared or lonely anymore”.
“Then as if to drive home the incomprehensible immensity of this love so that she would never forget it, Peggy received an infusion of the light’s energy: I vividly recall the part where the light did, what I felt was like, switching on a current of pure, undiluted, concentrated unconditional LOVE. The love I experienced in the light was so powerful it can’t be compared to earthly love, even though earthly love is a much milder version. It’s like knowing that the very best love you feel on earth is diluted to about one part per million of the real thing. As this stream of pure love went through me, I felt as if the light was saying simultaneously, ‘ I love you COMPLETELY and ENTIRELY as you are, BECAUSE YOU ARE…It was like being bathed in energy particles of pure love….I knew there was nothing wrong with me in any way. NOTHING! …I WAS PERFECTION”.
Ring adds, “Peggy…took home an important lesson about the healing power of unconditional love” (p.45-46).
Julia Tyack (Feb 24)
Wendell, thanks for the dialogue on the subject at hand and best ways forward (it is like the best super tonic in all the world that one never tires of hearing or seeing from a new angle). The suggestion of a group (maybe four) papers to break it up like the JBA series sounds like a positive way of presentation. Also thank you for sharing your thoughts on rewriting and adding.
What a wonderful NDE account and how true to what is we are seeing as self evident truth. Have you come up with how to break this up into four sections/topics? Like:
A theory of Everything.
A Truly Human Adventure.
Unlimited future (NDE’s)
Pay- forward. (living in the unconditional, forgiveness)
Just examples, there are no-doubt better break ups which would tell the story from four distinct angles.