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Panentheism 101

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WindDancer,

 

Great info thanks! Looking forward to reading it.

 

Clayton's views on divine action (page 6)

1) Since everything is in God, then every event in the world is a divine act. Using the world as God's body analogy, he calls this autonomic divine action, like the breathing and blood circulation that our bodies carry out without conscious direction

2) But in other cases God chooses to exercise a conscious influence on events, (intentional divine action) similar to the intentional actions we engage in.

 

I really like that.

 

PS: Sounds like Clayton is very close to what I'm currently thinking, including all the little "non-Process" twists.

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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"I advocate a dipolar doctrine of God in which the eternal nature of God preceded the world and the consequent (personal, responsive) side of God has emerged in the course of universal history. This assertion reflects my debt to Charles Hartshorne, who followed Whitehead9 in distinguishing between the primordial and the consequent nature of God, and to Schelling10, who identified the Ground and the Consequent in God. p. 5"

 

There is nothing in this claim which differs from Process Theology.

 

Eternal nature of God preceded the world ...

 

Isn't that the same thing that Fred and I have been attempting to say only to have it labeled "Gobbeldedgook God"? :huh:

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Lily,

 

I don't have a problem with intuitive ways of knowing. I just believe that reason validates the truth of our intuitions. It's when I see the claim that the less rational, the more true that I object.

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This is definitely NOT panentheism 101! 

 

Definitely not!

 

It strikes me that the polytheist has a distinct advantage over the monotheist in these matters. So much of what I'm hearing here boils down to an attempt to make One God coherent. (snip)

 

I am not conversant (yet) with "process theology" or the language of panentheism, so I can not participate in this discussion at the same level as you guys are discussing. But i do understand the discussion and I can see that the difficulties arise as a result of dualistic thinking in many cases. The effort to avoid contradiction and incoherence is endless...only the language of paradox can suffice...and the language of paradox is metaphor. (snip)

 

I offer these ideas in hopes that they will aid this discussion (not that you guys need any help :blink: ) and not as a statement of my own belief per se. Although I will admit to intuiting and Panta...you seem to have a problem with non-rational ways of *knowing* which perplexes me. Intuition is built upon reason. (snip)

 

I hope you guys don't mind this intrusion outside the confines of this discussion. These are things that occur to me in enjoying and learning from this thread and so to avoid bursting at the gills I express it here.

 

lily

 

Lilly, great post!

 

On monotheism posing problems ... I read somewhere recently about the Trinity having flowed out from the early Christians trying to deal with the same problem. Interesting.

 

On intuition... Great points! It's "intuition" and mystical experience that brought me to the place I'm currently at spiritually. I credit intuition to leading me to a more (not less) rational God. I know that my views will continue to evolve and the conversation here has helped me much.

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Aletheia: Ok, you REALLY freaked me out with the sushi thing. As I was riding the train home last night, trying to process this stuff and figure out to better express what I wanted to say, I produced exactly the same scenario. What are the chances that we would both come up with the illustration of "whether God knows I am going to eat sushi tomorrow"??!! This alone makes me doubt whether space-time causality is the only means of influencing events in the universe! :blink:

 

Now then, ahead we go.

 

Fred wrote: A choice isn't free because no one knows I'm going to do it; it's free because I choose to do it. My wife knew I was going to vote Nader in 2000 and 2004, but it was still a free choice. Knowledge had nothing to do with it. In fact, one might well reason that the more fully someone knows me, the more they would know what my free choices will be.

 

Isn't that what I said? :huh:I think that anything that can be known by God IS known by God, God having an all encompassing view of, well, everything.

 

I don't think we are actually disagreeing about anything here. :)

I would say you're only dealing with the immanent aspect of knowledge here. When you say that "anything that can be known by God IS known by God," what I hear you saying -- and please correct me if I'm wrong, I sincerely don't want to stuff words into your mouth -- is that 1) God perfectly knows the past and present, and 2) God conditionally knows the future insofar as perfect knowledge of the past and present is to some degree indicative of the future state of things. In an immanent mode of knowledge -- i.e. knowledge within the causal realm, about the causal realm -- I agree 100%.

 

However, transcendental knowledge is not knowledge within the causal realm, based on inductive or deductive extrapolation from facts about the causal realm: it's knowledge of the causal realm in its totality. Panta, you believe that no such vantage point exists, and so God therefore by nature must be contingent on the nature of the universe, just as we are. I submit that this makes the universe ontologically prior to God, which in my opinion makes no sense. You seem to believe that space-time is all there is, or could be, and that any other claim amounts to rain-dancing; but I find it even more illogical that the contingent reality of the space-time-event fabric should be foundational. In fact, I would say a "contingent, foundational reality" is an oxymoron.

 

By the way, please don't confuse supernatural as ontologically prior with the everyday meaning of supernatural as interventionsist. They're two completely different meanings. I've already claimed that the whole question of whether God can or does intervene in the natural world is based on a confusion. But on the meaning of supernatural as ontologically prior to nature, I am a supernaturalist staunchly and unabashedly.

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all great thoughts... but if time is a human construct......?????

 

Can God see across time/without time/from outside time, however you want to phrase it.  Basically God's omnipotence makes sense if time is not a variable in "His" perspective.  Y'think????

Well, it's not a human construct, it's a created construct. God created it, but isn't bound by it. Otherwise, yes! :)

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The question is, does such a God exist?  If God has no experiences, God cannot experience our existence.  Conversely, we cannot experience such a God.  Only that which we can experience can have any meaning for us.  Therefore, the concept of a God without experience is meaningless.

This is where the classical Christian claim differs from the Perennial/(Neo-/)Platonic one. God freely offers God's very own Being, by way of incarnation, in the form of the physical universe, and takes on (i.e. "suffers") our experience. Not making an argument here, just tying the classical claim into the discussion.

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"I advocate a dipolar doctrine of God in which the eternal nature of God preceded the world and the consequent (personal, responsive) side of God has emerged in the course of universal history. This assertion reflects my debt to Charles Hartshorne, who followed Whitehead9 in distinguishing between the primordial and the consequent nature of God, and to Schelling10, who identified the Ground and the Consequent in God. p. 5"

 

There is nothing in this claim which differs from Process Theology.

 

Eternal nature of God preceded the world ...

 

Isn't that the same thing that Fred and I have been attempting to say only to have it labeled "Gobbeldedgook God"? :huh:

 

No, it is not the same thing. God is dipolar having both a "primordial" and "consequent" nature. It is true in one sense that God's "primordial" nature (the integration of all possibilities) precedes (logically) God's "consequent" nature but since God has no beginning it cannot be said that God's "consequent" nature (the unification of all actualities) had a beginning point in history. God's "consequent" nature also preceded THIS world, but God was not related to this world until it "emerged". It gets back to the idea again, that God precedes this world, but there has never been a lack of a world to which God was related. We can think of the "Big Bang" as the beginning of this epoch of time, but were there quantum events prior to the "Big Bang"? If so, those quantum events were the only "world" at that time in existence.

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all great thoughts... but if time is a human construct......?????

 

Can God see across time/without time/from outside time, however you want to phrase it.  Basically God's omnipotence makes sense if time is not a variable in "His" perspective.  Y'think????

Well, it's not a human construct, it's a created construct. God created it, but isn't bound by it. Otherwise, yes! :)

 

Again, I disagree. From my perspective, we are co-creators of time. Every experience, every event is a creation of time. Every event is an object which has been added to the past.

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The question is, does such a God exist?  If God has no experiences, God cannot experience our existence.  Conversely, we cannot experience such a God.  Only that which we can experience can have any meaning for us.  Therefore, the concept of a God without experience is meaningless.

This is where the classical Christian claim differs from the Perennial/(Neo-/)Platonic one. God freely offers God's very own Being, by way of incarnation, in the form of the physical universe, and takes on (i.e. "suffers") our experience. Not making an argument here, just tying the classical claim into the discussion.

 

Classical Christian theology claims that God is unchangeable. Experiences of an "other" (the world) would change a "Being". This led to the doctrine that God is "impassive" - does not "suffer our experience".

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It is true in one sense that God's "primordial" nature (the integration of all possibilities) precedes (logically) God's "consequent" nature but since God has no beginning it cannot be said that God's "consequent" nature (the unification of all actualities) had a beginning point in history.

 

OK, I get that. I said earlier in the thread, somewhat retracting what I had said prior to that, that I get the idea that God's consequent/concrete pole not having a beginning because God didn't have a beginning.

 

I even tried to show that I GET THAT, by pointing to the dialectical monism page which itself says that God, as "potential" ALWAYS had a finite pole because if not, God wouldn't be "potential".

 

THEY AROSE SIMULTANEOUSLY - so to speak (because I KNOW God didn't "arise".)

 

I think language and metaphors are being picked apart in this thread to the detriment of dialog. I, like Cynthia, am truly to the point of GIVING UP! :angry:

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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Aletheia: Ok, you REALLY freaked me out with the sushi thing. As I was riding the train home last night, trying to process this stuff and figure out to better express what I wanted to say, I produced exactly the same scenario. What are the chances that we would both come up with the illustration of "whether God knows I am going to eat sushi tomorrow"??!! This alone makes me doubt whether space-time causality is the only means of influencing events in the universe!

 

ROFLMAO! :lol: Mmmmm, spicy tuna rolls.

 

However, transcendental knowledge is not knowledge within the causal realm, based on inductive or deductive extrapolation from facts about the causal realm: it's knowledge of the causal realm in its totality.

 

I guess I just don't see the difference. What does "causal realm in its totality" mean? :huh: What does God have knowledge of except of "himself" and all universes or possible universes (that might exist as ideas in God's mind)?

 

I can imagine God's "stepping outside time" and looking at the universe. I think what God would see is the universe as it exists RIGHT NOW, in its "Isness": Events, change, people "becoming".

 

I'm really trying to understand what you are saying! :D I promise!

 

PS: I wasn't really planning on getting sushi today, but now I am. What does that mean I wonder? :wacko: (Just kidding. ... On the "what does it mean" thing, not on the "getting sushi" part. :D )

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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Fred,

However, transcendental knowledge is not knowledge within the causal realm, based on inductive or deductive extrapolation from facts about the causal realm: it's knowledge of the causal realm in its totality. Panta, you believe that no such vantage point exists, and so God therefore by nature must be contingent on the nature of the universe, just as we are. I submit that this makes the universe ontologically prior to God, which in my opinion makes no sense. You seem to believe that space-time is all there is, or could be, and that any other claim amounts to rain-dancing; but I find it even more illogical that the contingent reality of the space-time-event fabric should be foundational. In fact, I would say a "contingent, foundational reality" is an oxymoron.

 

I believe that the mystics intuited God and we should not dismiss their knowledge. I also believe the traditional interpretation of their intuition is incomplete. The best model of reality that I am aware of that integrates mysticism and rationalism is, to this point at least, Process Theology. If God had only one "pole" (the Primordial pole) your understanding of God would hold, but their would be no integration of the rational and the mystical.

 

I don't claim that space-time is all there is because I accept the process understanding that God has both a Primordial and Consequent nature.

 

The final summary can only be expressed in terms of a group of antitheses, whose apparent self-contradictions depend on neglect of the diverse categories of existence. In each antithesis there is a shift of meaning which converts the opposition into a contrast [a synthesis].

 

It is as true to say that God is permanent and the World fluent, as that the World is permanent and God is fluent.

 

It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God many.

 

It is as true to say that, in comparison with the World, God is actual eminently, as that, in comparison with God, the World is actual eminently.

 

It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World.

 

It is as true to say that God transcends the World, as that the World transcends God.

 

It is as true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God.

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Alethia,

 

You are definitely "getting it". Please don't get discouraged.

 

I even tried to show that I GET THAT, by pointing to the dialectical monism page which itself says that God, as "potential" ALWAYS had a finite pole because if not, God wouldn't be "potential"

 

What I understood about dialectical monism is the claim that the potential must be able to actualize the finite and I provided reasons why that cannot be. I think it is an important distinction, but maybe you are right - it may not be profitable to take these ideas apart any further.

 

How do we get back to Panentheism 101 and find agreement on some main points?

 

As Whitehead said, "Seek simplicity but distrust it."

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Aletheia & Fred - sushi... yum! Spicy tuna rolls sound perfect!

 

Panta - Occam's razor

 

Panentheism 101: Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. John 14:16-20 NIV

Edited by Cynthia

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For a different perspective...

 

I know many on this board need to completely understand. Please don't take offense at this, but I just don't. As Paul said, now we see dimly, etc. etc. As I have watched this post go on and on, do any of you just get more frustrated? Is there a point where you'll say, "aaahhh, that's it, now I've got it?"

 

Understand, I'm not arguing for an ignorant, non-questioning approach to Christianity. It just seems like a thread like this could go on forever, with no one person being completely satisfied. Like arguing how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. Again, I'm not trying to insult your quest for understanding....just wondering, to what end?

 

During a post like this I'm also reminded and impreseed by the extreme intelligence represented on the board...and how I fall woefully short!

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I can imagine God's "stepping outside time" and looking at the universe. I think what God would see is the universe as it exists RIGHT NOW, in its "Isness": Events, change, people "becoming".

Ok, that helps. :) By analogy then, imagine transcendentally seeing the universe as a complete multidimensional totality. Not a pre-determined totality, but a real genuinely open universe where choice and chance are genuine realities -- only grasped in a single act of "perception." Weird, from our perspective, perhaps, but perfectly logical if we don't confuse knowledge with determination. That's something like the idea I'm trying to get at. But I'm not trying to convert anyone.

 

Panta: I can't see any sense of World in which the World is permanent, one, or transcending or creating God, but I understand that this is orthodox Process Philosophy, and I do need to understand it better. If for no other reason than to more fully grasp how utterly brilliantly it handles some of the most difficult questions of metaphysics. For now, I still stand by my belief that God and the world are asymmetric. :)

 

But I do really want to say how thankful I am that we can bring a discussion like this out in the open, and really genuinely argue about it, without it degenerating into a shouting match. (Not that we don't all experience frustrations at times!) I think everybody here really does want to know God, and know how we relate to God, more fully, and that makes all the difference.

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The final summary can only be expressed in terms of a group of antitheses, whose apparent self-contradictions depend on neglect of the diverse categories of existence. In each antithesis there is a shift of meaning which converts the opposition into a contrast [a synthesis].

 

It is as true to say that God is permanent and the World fluent, as that the World is permanent and God is fluent.

I think this is what I was attempting to get across in my post regarding God being infinite and actualizing the finite. I should have followed that with saying that = God being finite and actualizing the infinite. MUTUAL NECESSITY. A synthesis. I know I used the word synthesis. :P

What I understood about dialectical monism is the claim that the potential must be able to actualize the finite and I provided reasons why that cannot be.

I'm going to go back to that post ...

This is where "dialectical monism" goes astray (other than the fact that dialectical monism is an oxymoron):

 

Why is it an oxymoron? I think it's a clever way of saying that there is ONE GOD with TWO POLES.

 

Remember on the Heart of Christianity thread, when I said: "However, it's not just the struggle of opposites that is the point, but that these opposites are actually ONE THING, not two. Yin/Yang is ONE THING (the circle), within which the polarities swirl and blend and are always changing."

 

You said: "This is one of the best description of God/dess as understood by process thought that I've seen. God is BOTH infinite and finite, absolute and relative, personal and impersonal..."

 

One yin/yang = monism

Swirling polarities = dialectical (creating a new synthesis)

It denies the Ontological Principle. This Principle is not the invention of Whitehead but has been well-tested by philosophers going back to Aristotle. DesCartes said that, ""For this reason, when we perceive any attribute, we therefore conclude that some existing thing or substance [actual entity] to which it may be attributed is necessarily present"'

I can conceive of God as being a perfect pink unicorn. I think that to be considered perfect (which the ontological argument depends upon), God must necessarily be a pink unicorn. Does my conceiving of God as such bring this unicorn God into existence? (I know this is a ridiculous example with flaws, but I don't believe in God because of the Ontological argument. I believe in God despite the Ontological argument.)

Whoever came up with this "dialectical monism" has to be credited with understanding the dilemna that the "substance monists" are in. However, s/he commits the logical fallacy of assuming that his/her argument is a necessary conclusion because the other's argument fails. Dialectical monism may be found on the internet, but I doubt if it has any history in philosophy.

And it not having any history in philosophy means what really? Philosophy is about PEOPLE asking the big questions and working out answers. Did every idea Whitehead or Hartshorne discussed ALREADY exist in philosphical history?

The question which must be answered is whether agency or creativity is an attribute of potentiality. In order for "potential" to be capable of actualizing, it must have the power to do so. John Locke argued that only "substances have the power to produce".

Don't some process philosophers put Creativity BACK into God?

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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Darby wrote: As I have watched this post go on and on, do any of you just get more frustrated? Is there a point where you'll say, "aaahhh, that's it, now I've got it?"
Fred wrote: But I do really want to say how thankful I am that we can bring a discussion like this out in the open, and really genuinely argue about it, without it degenerating into a shouting match. (Not that we don't all experience frustrations at times!)

 

I'll admit - today is my "frustration day". :( It doesn't help that I totally feel like CRAP today.

 

I've enjoyed the conversation. I wish it could have remained a little more amicable in spots, but that's just me. :)

 

I don't feel the need to have all the final answers. As I've said, I'm perfectly willing and satisfied to let God, ULTIMATELY, remain a mystery.

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Not a pre-determined totality, but a real genuinely open universe where choice and chance are genuine realities -- only grasped in a single act of "perception." Weird, from our perspective, perhaps, but perfectly logical if we don't confuse knowledge with determination.

 

The "grasped in a single act of perception" bit helps alot. Thanks. :D

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For a different perspective...

 

I know many on this board need to completely understand.  Please don't take offense at this, but I just don't.  As Paul said, now we see dimly, etc. etc.  As I have watched this post go on and on, do any of you just get more frustrated?  Is there a point where you'll say, "aaahhh, that's it, now I've got it?" 

 

Understand, I'm not arguing for an ignorant, non-questioning approach to Christianity.  It just seems like a thread like this could go on forever, with no one person being completely satisfied.  Like arguing how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.  Again, I'm not trying to insult your quest for understanding....just wondering, to what end?

 

During a post like this I'm also reminded and impreseed by the extreme intelligence represented on the board...and how I fall woefully short!

 

Darby,

 

If we were discussing calculus I would be lost. In order for me to participate in a discussion of calculus I would need to be familiar with the terminology, the principles, and its application or purpose. In order to even get to that point, I would need a background in mathematics. So, it might be, since I lack the basics needed to understand calculus, if I attempt to get in on a discussion, it will seem to me that those who are versed in calculus are being hyper-critical in their explanations.

 

There is a sense in which it could be said that everyone could benefit from calculus in daily life. It provides answers to questions that are frequently presented. For example, suppose that I have a bottle of solution that I need to mix with a specific quantity of water to be effective but not toxic for my purpose. I have an assortment of unlabeled bowls to mix the proportions in. Only calculus can adequately determine the volume that each bowl can hold so that I can safely dilute the solution.

 

There are theological questions that I would like an answer to - for instance, can prayer be effective? Does God know I exist? Does God care that I exist? Can I experience God? Does God determine my future? What is the basis for moral values - or is there a basis? Did God create the world? Is there hope for the brokenness of this world?

 

How do I get answers to these questions? Some believe that all the answers are found in the Bible - and yet those who read the Bible can't seem to agree on what the answers are. I would suggest that in order to get answers to these questions I need to have some background in various theologies and their history - just like in calculus, I need to be familiar with the various branches of mathematics. The more inclusive my knowledge of mathmatics, the more likely it will be that I can find answers to solve my problems. In the same way, theologically I need to be inclusive. Unfortunately, most of Christianity has been exclusive of other branches of thought.

 

I also see the need for a systematic and disciplined approach in theology. Most of the frustration on this board comes as a result of the ad hoc nature of the discussion. And finally, there is a need for dialog - a need to be in community. Too much of our reading and searching is done in isolation, and as a result we don't develop our critical thinking abilities (I think Paulo Freire showed us the connection between community and critical thinking).

 

To what end is all this discussion directed? I believe we are all in a search for wholeness and paths which will connect us to ultimate reality. I believe we are at a critical period in the history of our species, that if we don't find what we are looking for, we face the likelihood that we will destroy ourselves and this planet. So, it's kind'a important. More important than understanding calculus, imo.

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Alethia,

 

You must have just skimmed over my post explaining the Ontological Principle. :( It is not the same as the Ontological argument of Anselm. It is critical however, for understanding Process Philosophy.

 

And this discussion has been one of the rarest discussions I've had. Somehow there has got to be a way that I can learn to put Process into "plain english". But, thanks a whole bunch for putting up with my gobbledegooks! :)

Edited by PantaRhea

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Panta-

 

Guess you can count me as one of those who DOES believe those answers can be found in the Bible! :D (who would have guessed).

 

Obviously, I dont' have much too add to a thread like this, but I still wonder--what would ever answer sufficiently if God cares that you exist? The Bible obviously says that He does, but I'm guessing that alone does not satisfy you. What fact, or group of facts, could ever PROVE to you that God cares about you?

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It's a point well taken Darby. I think the intellectual searching and quest for understanding is noble (in the right spirit :) ) and is a form of worship. It is fun, engaging, and truely fascinating. For me, it is not a form of doubt or questioning. It is a form of getting to know more about my beloved. (sounds really hokey - seems really honest - sorry! :D )

 

On the other hand, there is experience. It is often, as we keep finding, beyond words. I think that Ephesians 3:19 sums it up best. Here are a variety of translations

 

and to know Christ's love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. WEB

 

and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God. ASV

 

And to have knowledge of the love of Christ which is outside all knowledge, so that you may be made complete as God himself is complete. BBE

 

and to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge; that ye may be filled even to all the fulness of God. DBY

 

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. KJV

 

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fullness of God. WBS

 

yes, to attain to a knowledge of the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ, so that you may be made complete in accordance with God's own standard of completeness. WEY

 

to know also the love of the Christ that is exceeding the knowledge, that ye may be filled -- to all the fulness of God; YLT

 

 

 

the love can be experienced. That's what lead us here. It cannot be fully grasped by the bit of gray stuff in my skull. :P It's still fun to try; for those of us so bent!

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That is a GREAT verse....I may not be able to explain it sometimes, but the love of Christ feels more real than anything else I've experienced!

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