Jeb711

Jesus made a way?

30 posts in this topic

1st time post. Appreciate feedback on this. I've long struggled with the idea that all people who don't know or believe in Jesus are damned. 

Someone who knew Jesus well, Thomas, said he didn't believe Jesus was alive. So He was saying he didn't believe Jesus was the messiah or God. Even after all he had heard from Jesus. He didn't believe but Jesus appeared to Thomas and then Thomas believed. If Jesus did this for him wouldn't it seem He would for all His children who doubt or don't know? I believe it's significant that Jesus said Blessed are those who don't see yet still believe. But are those that don't, really going to hell? Or did Jesus make a way for All?  

Thoughts?

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Jeb,

My exit from fundamental Christianity began around 18/19 years of age when as a less-sheltered young man I began to be exposed to the world through my occupation as a police officer.  I started to see the 'injustice' of being sentenced to eternal separation from a loving God and Father simply because one did not 'believe' what they had been told by others to believe.  Many of the people (criminals) I was dealing with were largely a product of their upbringing and societal circumstances.  I started to see the bible as opinion and commentary by individuals, inspired or not, who were simply writing things 'as they saw them'.

So no, for me, I can't imagine anybody being sentenced to an eternal torture chamber or being separated from their loving Father because they didn't get their short life on this planet, 'right'.

A little disclaimer - I currently label myself (if I have too) as an agnostic atheist (i.e. I do not believe in a theistic God/deity and for me I don't think there is any sort of God in a supernatural sense, but acknowledge I don't know what I don't know :) ).

Welcome to the forum and I hope you find it helpful.

Cheers

Paul

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Two Friars and a Fool did thing a few years back, 95 theses against Hell.  In short, they couldn't bring themselves, on Christian principles, to accept the idea of eternal conscious torment as a punishment a just god would inflict on anyone, let alone someone who is merely a nonbeliever.  Here's a link

 

There are lots of different ideas about the afterlife that have come from mainstream sources within Christianity.  Universalism is one.  Karl Barth, one of the greatest Reformed theologians of the 20th Century, promoted it, and the Orthodox had apocatastasis, which is effectively the same thing for most intents and purposes.

 

There's also annihilationism, or the idea that there is no afterlife (possibly for anyone, or just for unsaved).

 

My point in bringing all this up is that the tradition of Christianity is so much more than a single doctrine.  Don't get fooled otherwise.

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3 hours ago, Jeb711 said:

1st time post. Appreciate feedback on this. I've long struggled with the idea that all people who don't know or believe in Jesus are damned. 

Someone who knew Jesus well, Thomas, said he didn't believe Jesus was alive. So He was saying he didn't believe Jesus was the messiah or God. Even after all he had heard from Jesus. He didn't believe but Jesus appeared to Thomas and then Thomas believed. If Jesus did this for him wouldn't it seem He would for all His children who doubt or don't know? I believe it's significant that Jesus said Blessed are those who don't see yet still believe. But are those that don't, really going to hell? Or did Jesus make a way for All?  

Thoughts?

Jeb,

Historically (by that I mean, any 1st C CE Jews) neither Thomas or any others disciple would have been capable of conceiving a man as the God of Israel. So too, Jesus fit none of the Jewish expectation of a Messiah: they never thought that the Messiah would die, so the resurrection of the Messiah from death was also beyond them.  So, the gospel story (probably) does not reflect history: Jesus never did this for Thomas. And, he wouldn't do it for us because such an appearance and information would so overwhelm us that our believe would not be a free response to the Divine; it would force our hand. 

So I think all of us are blessed because we don't see but can choose to believe/accept: that Jesus is the Messiah; that his death (like his life) can enable us to become whole(saved); and, that such a life (and death) is Life giving and 'overcomes' death.

I admit that this view is neither literalist or theistic, so it might not answer your question. 

 

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9 hours ago, thormas said:

Jesus never did this for Thomas. And, he wouldn't do it for us because such an appearance and information would so overwhelm us that our believe would not be a free response to the Divine; it would force our hand. 

 

 This is what I don't understand about the overwhelm logic which I've believed to but it doesn't fit with this story.  Today many don't complellty see Jesus as the messiah like Thomas.  But it describes the scene where Jesus appears to him and Jesus offers his scares so Thomas can touch. I'm sure this overwhelmed him. I'm sure this convinced Thomas. 

This and many other statements in the Bible have opened my eyes to see that Jesus died for ALL and made a way for ALL.  I don't know how Jesus is giving the billlions of people over time who don't know him a choice (not be overwhelmed choice). But he did do it for Thomas according to scripture.  Somehow He is giving all others a choice maybe without them being overwhelmed.  I don't know.  But i don't agree with many of my fellow Christians who say if you don't believe in Jesus you go to hell.  Our loving God would not breath life into his child knowing he would be in a place, not know Jesus, the end up in a place without God. Which is hell. The absence of God. Jesus is the answer to this by making a way for ALL.  I just haven't been able to explain how.  

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Jeb711 said:

 This is what I don't understand about the overwhelm logic which I've believed to but it doesn't fit with this story.  Today many don't complellty see Jesus as the messiah like Thomas.  But it describes the scene where Jesus appears to him and Jesus offers his scares so Thomas can touch. I'm sure this overwhelmed him. I'm sure this convinced Thomas. 

This and many other statements in the Bible have opened my eyes to see that Jesus died for ALL and made a way for ALL.  I don't know how Jesus is giving the billlions of people over time who don't know him a choice (not be overwhelmed choice). But he did do it for Thomas according to scripture.  Somehow He is giving all others a choice maybe without them being overwhelmed.  I don't know.  But i don't agree with many of my fellow Christians who say if you don't believe in Jesus you go to hell.  Our loving God would not breath life into his child knowing he would be in a place, not know Jesus, the end up in a place without God. Which is hell. The absence of God. Jesus is the answer to this by making a way for ALL.  I just haven't been able to explain how.  

In the story, written by the gospel author, Thomas is overwhelmed and convinced. This is a story told to deliver a truth about believing (which always comes without seeing); if you 'see' there is no need to believe. Thomas was overwhelmed by the evidence/proof presented by Jesus; there was no real choice (or need) to believe what had just been 'proven.'

I think by the very make up of our existence, we are given a choice. At its simplest, one can choose to believe (or not believe) that life is meaningful; that there is purpose; that we can become truly Human; and, that Life, once given and received, is never lost but Fulfilled. A Christian's choice for meaning/purpose is belief that Jesus is the Way; for others (Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.) their choice for meaning and purpose is belief in the same Way  - seen and expressed differently.

There are many ways that make up the Way. So not believing in Jesus in not an invitation to hell and I allow there is no hell that is eternal (the Father shown in the Prodigals Son parable waits until all the prodigals turn). 

I would put your last sentence this way: God makes 'a way' for all and the answer or 'Way' is presented by/through Jesus and by/through others - so it can find men and women in the particular circumstances of their lives. In our sameness (as human beings) we are also different.  A hat might be 'one size fits all' but it will never fit all human beings unless it is adjusted to their particular size and shape. So too the Way.

Edited by thormas
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Posted (edited)

On July 10, 2017 at 8:06 AM, Jeb711 said:

. . . But i don't agree with many of my fellow Christians who say if you don't believe in Jesus you go to hell.  Our loving God would not breath life into his child knowing he would be in a place, not know Jesus, the end up in a place without God. L . .

. . . Jesus is the answer to this by making a way for ALL.  I just haven't been able to explain how.  

1) The problem here is viewing Jesus through a non-Christian lens.  If one is not Christian Jesus was a specific carpenter from Nazareth.  The synoptic gospels are written this way forcing the reader to ponder over who or what Jesus is.  They do not force an opinion on the reader as many ministers do.

To a Christian who sees Jesus as an alloy of Divinity and humanity one must see Jesus in every person.  To the Christian Jesus is an aspect of every person regardless of their religion or lack of it.  

This is what it means to "believe Jesus is divine".  One who thinks Jesus refers only to the historical character is not fully Christian.

2)  Complicated for a forum post, but the keys are in the book of Hebrews.  Jesus essentially turned a cosmic key which enabled God to dwell within humanity for the first time since the Abrahamic priesthood of Melchizedek.  

The good news (evangelion) is that the duality seperating humanity from God has been pierced and that direct contact with God is now available to everyone.  It is not relating the narrative about how that happened or insisting on a particular intellectual conceptualization.

Edited by Burl
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1 hour ago, Burl said:

1) The problem here is viewing Jesus through a non-Christian lens.  If one is not Christian Jesus was a specific carpenter from Nazareth.  The synoptic gospels are written this way forcing the reader to ponder over who or what Jesus is.  They do not force an opinion on the reader as many ministers do.

To a Christian who sees Jesus as an alloy of Divinity and humanity one must see Jesus in every person.  To the Christian Jesus is an aspect of every person regardless of their religion or lack of it.  

This is what it means to "believe Jesus is divine".  One who thinks Jesus refers only to the historical character is not fully Christian.

2)  Complicated for a forum post, but the keys are in the book of Hebrews.  Jesus essentially turned a cosmic key which enabled God to dwell within humanity for the first time since the Abrahamic priesthood of Melchizedek.  

The good news (evangelion) is that the duality seperating humanity from God has been pierced and that direct contact with God is now available to everyone.  It is not relating the narrative about how that happened or insisting on a particular intellectual conceptualization.

Burl,

Interesting comments and I would be interested in greater explanation: the alloy piece is intriguing but not sure I fully understand your point. As is the conclusion of #1 about what it means to believe Jesus is divine. So too, the cosmic key.  Does the latter mean that before the key was turned God did not dwell within humanity? Again, very interesting.

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37 minutes ago, thormas said:

Burl,

Interesting comments and I would be interested in greater explanation: the alloy piece is intriguing but not sure I fully understand your point. As is the conclusion of #1 about what it means to believe Jesus is divine. So too, the cosmic key.  Does the latter mean that before the key was turned God did not dwell within humanity? Again, very interesting.

The alloy analogy refers to the apostolic conception of Christ as God-man.  Not man, not God, not man+God or God in man but a unique being in a completely different category.  Compare to bronze which is an alloy of copper, tin, zinc and antimony.  The individual elements are not an admixture but are transformed into a new substance with properties very different from the original elements and which cannot be reversed.

I think the twist of the key was a restoration of God's earlier relationship with mankind.  God typically communicated directly with mankind until the tower of Babel.  Moses and Aaron saw the beginning of the Hebrew system of seperating prophets, priests and judges.  Then God spoke only through prophets and when God appeared in life it was as the burning bush, pillar of cloud, tabernacular presence, ark of covenant type Shekhinah manifestation.

I can't say how to weight how much of this is veridical or is literary license but by the second temple period Israel had in fact degenerated into competing sects with the Pharasaic sect acting as Rome's Vichy government.  Humanity had derailed, but Christ put us back on track.

And now, time for another type of alloy.  A Botanical gin gimlet.  

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Posted (edited)

14 hours ago, Burl said:

The alloy analogy refers to the apostolic conception of Christ as God-man.  Not man, not God, not man+God or God in man but a unique being in a completely different category.  Compare to bronze which is an alloy of copper, tin, zinc and antimony.  The individual elements are not an admixture but are transformed into a new substance with properties very different from the original elements and which cannot be reversed.

I think the twist of the key was a restoration of God's earlier relationship with mankind.  God typically communicated directly with mankind until the tower of Babel.  Moses and Aaron saw the beginning of the Hebrew system of seperating prophets, priests and judges.  Then God spoke only through prophets and when God appeared in life it was as the burning bush, pillar of cloud, tabernacular presence, ark of covenant type Shekhinah manifestation.

I can't say how to weight how much of this is veridical or is literary license but by the second temple period Israel had in fact degenerated into competing sects with the Pharasaic sect acting as Rome's Vichy government.  Humanity had derailed, but Christ put us back on track.

And now, time for another type of alloy.  A Botanical gin gimlet.  

Interesting point on alloy. I guess my take is that Christ is God-man and that this, indeed, is a unique being. However, and here we might differ, I don't understand it in traditional theistic terms (or perhaps it is fairer to say that divinity has too often been given priority over the humanity of Jesus in some Christologies).   I start with the real humanity of the man, Jesus (truly, just like us in all ways) who became open/attentive/obedient to Divinity and he freely allowed Divinity/Love to live in him. I take this to be Jesus 'incarnating' or literally giving flesh/presence to Divinity in the world (although I won't get into it here, this is only possible because of God's self-gift or self-revelation to creation; incarnation is God's action). Jesus then is man who becomes a truly Human Being by living or incarnating Divinity. This Human Being is a unique being, different in degree but not in kind (although it can be said that a great difference in degree can, seemingly, result in a difference in kind) but it is because he is not different in kind that we too can do/be what Christ is: God-man (this is what we are called to be as true sons and daughters of God). So I agree that there is transformation although I would not characterize it as substance. 

The twist of the key: not sure if you understand pre-Babel literally or not (I do not) but using the image of key, I see Jesus as standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before him (Moses, priests, prophets and the people) and his life turns the key that opens the door for all to be Human Beings. So it is restoration if there was an earlier time when man's relationship with God was what it was intended to be. However, since that was not the case, I think it is not restoring what was - but creating/realizing what was always intended.

 

Edited by thormas
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Spot on, Thormas.  Simply add salt to taste.

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I don't understand how 'the key' to being 'fully human' is meant to work then for people who didn't know anything about the key for 1500-2000 years (American Indians, Australia Aborigines) and perhaps those who still don't (maybe another Amazon tribe who has never been exposed to the 'outside' world).  Did/does God not want the key turned for these people?

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

I don't understand how 'the key' to being 'fully human' is meant to work then for people who didn't know anything about the key for 1500-2000 years (American Indians, Australia Aborigines) and perhaps those who still don't (maybe another Amazon tribe who has never been exposed to the 'outside' world).  Did/does God not want the key turned for these people?

Ancient Hebrew literature can't address that.  You would need to go to the best sources in those cultures and make comparisons.

Thormas spoke of literary interpretations of the Tower of Babel myth.  One common one is that the tower signifies the imposition of a hierarchical social control structure.  It does seem to be factual that when human groups grow to around 250 individuals they must either adopt a hierarchial structure or divide mitoticaly into seperate tribes.

The way the top to down pyramidial social structures function requires a surrender of control and individuality and is often referred to as Babylonian.  The implementation of those social controls is the first place I would look for parallels.

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Posted (edited)

12 hours ago, PaulS said:

I don't understand how 'the key' to being 'fully human' is meant to work then for people who didn't know anything about the key for 1500-2000 years (American Indians, Australia Aborigines) and perhaps those who still don't (maybe another Amazon tribe who has never been exposed to the 'outside' world).  Did/does God not want the key turned for these people?

I believe there are others, in other cultures/times, who have also been key turners. 

Edited by thormas
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14 hours ago, Burl said:

Ancient Hebrew literature can't address that.  You would need to go to the best sources in those cultures and make comparisons.

Thormas spoke of literary interpretations of the Tower of Babel myth.  One common one is that the tower signifies the imposition of a hierarchical social control structure.  It does seem to be factual that when human groups grow to around 250 individuals they must either adopt a hierarchial structure or divide mitoticaly into seperate tribes.

The way the top to down pyramidial social structures function requires a surrender of control and individuality and is often referred to as Babylonian.  The implementation of those social controls is the first place I would look for parallels.

What I mean is that if as you say "Humanity had derailed, but Christ put us back on track", how does it put back on track anybody who has never heard of Jesus?  Are you saying Jesus is only the key for cultures who are somehow connected to the Hebrew scriptures?  Do other cultures have other 'keys' for restoring their relationship with God that have nothing at all to do with Christ then?

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2 hours ago, PaulS said:

What I mean is that if as you say "Humanity had derailed, but Christ put us back on track", how does it put back on track anybody who has never heard of Jesus?  Are you saying Jesus is only the key for cultures who are somehow connected to the Hebrew scriptures?  Do other cultures have other 'keys' for restoring their relationship with God that have nothing at all to do with Christ then?

Not related to hearing about Jesus or culture first.  There was an actual change in mankinds ability to act as a vessel for the divine.

In the narrative things happened.  Earthquake, thunder, rending of the temple veil, destruction of the second temple.  These events, real or symbolic, indicate a universal change.  Even the Roman guard was affected.  Universal, undeniable change.

Definitely not only for cultures related to Hebrew scriptures.  That is the point of evangelization.  Bringing news of this change to the four corners of the earth.  At Pentecost everyone understood everyone else - the confusion of Babel was undone.

Kinda like Netflix.  Netflix did not always exist, but one day it did.  People cannot access it unless somebody tells them it is there and that they now have a new capabilty.  A weak simile, but all cultures were enabled.  Not all cultures realized that they had been enabled.

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6 minutes ago, Burl said:

Not related to hearing about Jesus or culture first.  There was an actual change in mankinds ability to act as a vessel for the divine.

In the narrative things happened.  Earthquake, thunder, rending of the temple veil, destruction of the second temple.  These events, real or symbolic, indicate a universal change.  Even the Roman guard was affected.  Universal, undeniable change.

Definitely not only for cultures related to Hebrew scriptures.  That is the point of evangelization.  Bringing news of this change to the four corners of the earth.  At Pentecost everyone understood everyone else - the confusion of Babel was undone.

Kinda like Netflix.  Netflix did not always exist, but one day it did.  People cannot access it unless somebody tells them it is there and that they now have a new capabilty.  A weak simile, but all cultures were enabled.  Not all cultures realized that they had been enabled.

Possibly the indigenous population of America never realised they were now "enabled" until Columbus turned up on their doorstep. 

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Posted (edited)

Anyway, whatever, as I see it, the "way" is eternal, forever available. If we want some Biblical authority, then "the lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world" will do. The whole idea of any human being needing some missionary of a particular Faith to turn up before being "enabled" is distorting. To think in this way appears to me to imply that Christianity is uniquely unique (!) and that every other Faith in the world is somehow, in someway, lacking. It further implies that Grace itself is not adequate ( and if such is not realised then, as I see it, Grace is not understood and the life of grace is not lived)

Edited by tariki
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3 hours ago, Burl said:

........  A weak simile, but all cultures were enabled.  Not all cultures realized that they had been enabled.

Thanks for explaining that Burl.  I think you are saying that Jesus turned 'the key' for everybody, regardless of culture and whether they knew he was the key or not, and that is what has opened up mankind to being able to reconnect to God.

But isn't this position a little egocentric around the Hebrew scripture?  You seem to be taking for granted that Jesus was required to 'unlock' something (that in my opinion was perhaps actually never locked in the first place).  You earlier mentioned that God stopped communicating with mankind after the Tower of Babel.  Then moving on he only spoke through the prophets.  Did God not have a relationship then with Australian Aborigines some 40,000 years ago?  If he did, might they have thought it strange that he abruptly stopped this relationship with them when some construction project, that they didn't know about, on the other side of the world, collapsed?

Or do you see stories like Babel as a myth by a particular culture simply as a way of trying to explain why they think they are separated from God?

 

 

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4 hours ago, Burl said:

Not related to hearing about Jesus or culture first.  There was an actual change in mankinds ability to act as a vessel for the divine.

In the narrative things happened.  Earthquake, thunder, rending of the temple veil, destruction of the second temple.  These events, real or symbolic, indicate a universal change.  Even the Roman guard was affected.  Universal, undeniable change.

Definitely not only for cultures related to Hebrew scriptures.  That is the point of evangelization.  Bringing news of this change to the four corners of the earth.  At Pentecost everyone understood everyone else - the confusion of Babel was undone.

Kinda like Netflix.  Netflix did not always exist, but one day it did.  People cannot access it unless somebody tells them it is there and that they now have a new capabilty.  A weak simile, but all cultures were enabled.  Not all cultures realized that they had been enabled.

Although I follow the idea of change in our ability to act for the divine, It was an actual change for Jesus and made possible for others who heard the word. However, there are others who have not heard or, having heard, it either does not resonate or they have heard and prefer another way (of the Way). There are others who turn the key. 

I have Netflix but I also have Amazon, iTunes and have dallied with Hulu and others.  People can access Netflix (once they know about it) but for others Amazon is the answer - there is no need to know about any others or, even if they do, the preference is not for Netflix.

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I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything other than the fact that Christianity is deeper and more intellectually meaningful than the oversimplified, cartoonish version we teach to children.

Christianity integrates faith, reason, science, history, literature, ethics, culture, community and so much more.  It is far more than a simple belief system.

I think I have earned the right to ask, "How comprehensively does your belief system integrate the various aspects of reality, the unknown, the imagination and the artistic?".  Is there any aspect of life your belief system is not concerned with?

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Posted (edited)

On 7/14/2017 at 8:15 PM, Burl said:

I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything other than the fact that Christianity is deeper and more intellectually meaningful than the oversimplified, cartoonish version we teach to children.

Christianity integrates faith, reason, science, history, literature, ethics, culture, community and so much more.  It is far more than a simple belief system.

I think I have earned the right to ask, "How comprehensively does your belief system integrate the various aspects of reality, the unknown, the imagination and the artistic?".  Is there any aspect of life your belief system is not concerned with?

Burl,

I'm not sure if you're asking that question of me, but if you are, then I would say my 'belief system' fairly comprehensively integrates various aspects of reality, the imagination, and the artistic, with consideration for possibilities that are unknown.  And I am always trying to understand if there may be reasons for changing my belief system.  Hence why I ask questions of other people who tell me what their belief system entails, how it works, and how they substantiate it.  That's how I see any of us growing - by trying to understand things that we don't.

For me it's okay of you don't have an answer, but I was trying to understand that if, within your belief system, you believe that God stopped communicating with mankind after the tower of Babel, what do you think that meant for the millions of other cultures and people around the world that new nothing of the Tower and who presumably may have been left scratching their heads at the sudden ceasing of communication from God, if indeed God was even communicating with anybody else outside of the Israelite.  Again, an "I don't know" is fine too.

 

Edited by PaulS
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I'm asking everybody.  I don't want to dominate the conversation.  Everybody should take a turn sharing their thoughts.

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I personally don't see how God could ever stop communicating with people of any faith. People could ignore communications but to me it would be impossible for God not to be present regardless of religion or lack of, past or present. My view is that by one method or another God is speaking always to all people in all places.

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1 hour ago, JosephM said:

I personally don't see how God could ever stop communicating with people of any faith. People could ignore communications but to me it would be impossible for God not to be present regardless of religion or lack of, past or present. My view is that by one method or another God is speaking always to all people in all places.

The biblical imagery is God becoming closer or more distant.  God approaches as holiness increases and distances himself as it decreases.  Never a full stop of communication or complete lack of presence.

The imagery changes with Jesus and God exists within humanity.  A dramatic qualitative improvement.

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