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Gerrard Winstanley


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Hello everyone!

I have been very encouraged and blessed by several writings of a "mystic" Christian named Gerrard Winstanley.

I have many of his writings, and I am transcribing some of them for personal use.

Still, I'd love to share some of his thoughts with people here, but I don't know what copyright laws may exist.

Can anybody help?

 

Blessings,

brian

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Ok, time to start.

Gerrard Winstanley was a man who lived in the 1600's in England, time of the English Civil War. He was active in a group called the "True Levellers," or "Diggers," distinguishing themselves from "Levellers" in the sense that he considered all the earth to be given to man by God, and that there ought to be no dominion of one man over another, nor private property of "mine and thine."

His was a theology based on equality, and of the ultimate salvation of all souls to God. Some consider him the first modern Universalist.

His theology was therefore very socialistic, and he believed that God's Kingdom was to be manifest both in each individual's heart (Christ in you), and around the globe. As Jeremiah declared in 31:34: "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. "

He was against violence, and institutionalized religion. The clergy were considered part of the evil that corrupts the earth, because they preach a God who is "beyond the clouds" and which neither they nor their followers understood. The fact that these preachers were paid by the common people made them little better than witches.

 

Winstanley considered God's throne to be man's heart. The Scriptures, according to him, are only a testimony of what the writers had personally experienced of God's presence, and therefore they were to be understood as a declaration, but not God Himself. The Scriptures are to be considered symbolically, not literally. For Winstanley, each man/woman has within them, heaven and hell, Abel and Cain, God and devil, Esau and Jacob.

 

"The Kingdom of God is within you."

To me, this verse is the central verse that drew me to Christ. The heart of man as the Temple of God. "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Winstanley spoke principally of this, that man must await for the resurrection of Christ within him, in order to be set free from the works of the flesh/devil that he sees in himself.

 

Here's part of the introduction to his work where he discusses his universalism, "The Mysterie of God":

" It hath been the universall condition of the Earth (Mankinde) to be overspread with a black cloud of darknesse; and the knowledge of the King of righteousnesse hath been manifested but in some few scattered ones, which as they have had the spring in themselves, so they have been as lights in the dark world, and others have walked in their light, and rested content to drink of their streams, as if their declaration of truth had been the very Fountain itself.

 

I my self have known nothing but what I received by tradition from the mouths and pen of others: I worshipped a God, but I neither knew who he was, nor where he was, so that I lived in the dark, being blinded by the imagination of my flesh, and by the imagination of such as stand up to teach the people to know the Lord, and yet have no knowledge of the Lord themselves, but as they have received by hearsay, from their books, and other mens words.

 

I spoke of the name of God, and Lord, and Christ, but I knew not this Lord, God, and Christ; I prayed to a God, but I knew not where he was, nor what he was, and so walking by imagination, I worshipped that devill, and called him God; by reason whereof my comforts were often shaken to pieces, and at last it was shewed to me, That while I builded upon any words or writings of other men, or while I looked after a God without me, I did but build upon the sand, and as yet I knew not the Rock.

 

And now know friends, That this ignorant, unsettled condition is yours at this time, though I know, that the proud King flesh that is in you, will be ready to speak within you, and tell you, that you do know God, and Christ, and be offended with me, because I say you know him not. I do not write any thing, as to be a teacher of you, for I know you have a teacher within your selves (which is the Spirit) and when your flesh is made subject to him, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, so that you shall not need to run after men for instruction, for your eyes being opened, you shall see the King of righteousnesse sit upon the throne within your selves, judging and condemning the unrighteousnesse of the flesh, filling your face with shame, and your soul with horror, though no man see, or be acquainted with your actions, or thoughts but your selves, and justifying your righteous thoughts and actions, and lead you into all wayes of truth.

 

And this is the Spirit, or Father, which as he made the Globe, and every creature, so he dwels in every creature, but supreamly in Man; and he it is by whom every one lives, and moves, and hath his being; perfect man is the eye and face, that sees and declares the Father, and he is perfect when he is taken up into this spirit, and lives in the light of reason; and there is no man or woman can say that the Father doth not dwell in him, for he is every where; there is not a creature in the compasse of the creation, but he is in that creature, but disobedient man knows him not, and why? Because flesh is not subject to the spirit within it; his covetous flesh hath deceived him, for he either looks abroad for a God, and so doth imagine and fancie a God to be in some particular place of glory, beyond the skies, or some where he knows not, or in some place of glory that cannot be known till the body be laid in the dust.

 

Or else if men do look for a God within them, according as the Record speaks, God is within you; yet they are led by the motions and commands of King flesh within them, and not by King spirit; and here they are at a losse, not being able to distinguish between flesh and spirit, by reason that covetousnesse and self-will blindes their eyes. Truly friends, King flesh is very covetous, self-loving, and self-honouring; it likes them that say as it saith, but it would imprison, kill, and hang every one that differs from him; he is full of heart-burning, either of open envy, and bitter distemper, or else carries himself in a shew of truth, like an Angell of light, but when he gets an opportune power, he turns to be a tyrant, against the way of the spirit.

 

And so all his love was but for by-ends, to satisfie self in some particular or other: But now the King of righteousnesse within you, is a meek, patient, and quiet spirit, and full of love and sincerity, he burns up the proud and hasty flesh, he loves truth, and hates a lie; if the creature acts unrighteously, he checks and shames him, if he act righteously (according to the creation of a man) he speaks peace within, and so makes the man to walk sincerely, and warmly.

 

And when you come to know, feel, and see that the spirit of righteousnesse governs your flesh, then you begin to know your God, to fear your God, to love your God, and to walk humbly before your God, and so to rejoyce in him; and therefore if you would have the peace of God (as you call it) you must know what God it is you serve, which is not a God without you, visible among bodies, but the spirit within you, invisible in every body to the eye of flesh, yet discernable to the eye of the spirit; and when souls are made to have community with that spirit, then they have peace, and not till then.

 

For this let me tell you, that if you subject your flesh to this mighty governour, the spirit of righteousnesse within your selves, he will bring you into community with the whole Globe, so that in time you shall come to know as you are known, and you shall not need to run after others, to learn of them what God is, for as you are a perfect creation, every one of himself; so you shall see, and feel that this spirit is the great governour in you, in righteousness; and when you come thus to know the truth, the truth shall make you free from the bondage of covetous, and proud flesh, the serpent that held you under slavery all your life time."

 

 

 

 

Blessings!

brian

 

 

 

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Brian, thanks for sharing this with us. Yes, I like this guy already - a kindred spirit so-to-speak. :)

 

If it's okay, I'll just comment in a paragraph by paragraph mode unless you want to take the conversation in a different direction. Please forgive me if I misunderstand or misinterpret the author, but I'll do my best.

 

>>" It hath been the universall condition of the Earth (Mankinde) to be overspread with a black cloud of darknesse; and the knowledge of the King of righteousnesse hath been manifested but in some few scattered ones, which as they have had the spring in themselves, so they have been as lights in the dark world, and others have walked in their light, and rested content to drink of their streams, as if their declaration of truth had been the very Fountain itself.

 

His observation is interesting here. In one sense, I agree that there have been certain "lights" or "springs." But I also think that EVERYONE has this light or spring within themselves, if they would only discover it. This would in no way infer that we don't need one another, just that we wouldn't worship individuals as THE Spring or as THE Light. While the apostle Paul had a wide variety of ideas on many different subjects, I agree with him (from Romans) that God's power is clearly evident (from creation) to anyone who would have eyes to behold it and ears to listen for it. And I agree with him that God's law, the law of love, is written on each human heart.

 

So I would interpret the dispelling of the "black cloud of darkness," not as God pulling back a curtain and shining a light from his "side," but as us awakening or becoming illuminated from our side. Therefore, I don't hold to "revealed religion" as that God reveals truth to some but not to others. If he is "no respector of persons" and shows no partiality, his truth must be available and evident to all.

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>>"I my self have known nothing but what I received by tradition from the mouths and pen of others: I worshipped a God, but I neither knew who he was, nor where he was, so that I lived in the dark, being blinded by the imagination of my flesh, and by the imagination of such as stand up to teach the people to know the Lord, and yet have no knowledge of the Lord themselves, but as they have received by hearsay, from their books, and other mens words."

 

This has been the story of my life also. What I knew (or thought I knew) came from "mediators" - Ryrie, Swindoll, Dobson, Lucado, Warren, Luther, Calvin, Merton, my pastors, the apostle Paul, and the other writers of the scriptures. But it was all "hearsay" to me, describing their faith (which was valid for them), but which eventually came to taste like stale bread to my palette. There was no life or nourishment for me there. What was, for them, "revelation" is only hearsay to their followers. I no longer wanted "second-hand" faith.

 

I am not sure I would go to the same extent as the author that almost everyone is chained to this traditions, but I would say that this traditions always seek to rule and to conform people. It seems to be part of human nature (perhaps the dark cloud part) that we worship the experiences of others instead of the One to whom the experiences point. And then we attempt to use their experiences as "blueprints" for our own lives, seeking to have the faith of Paul, or the Prayer of Jabez, the Experiencing God of Moses. Personally, I think this is doomed to failure as creation, if it teaches us anything, tells us that variety is the spice of life. Sure, there are similarities. Similar experiences can be useful pointers and signs -- but they should never be the destination. The destination, it seems to me, is to know and experience God for ourselves, even if, as we have to admit, that knowing and experiencing is very limited. At least it is ours.

 

That's enough from me for now. How about you? How have this author's paragraphs spoken to you? As signs, what do they point you to?

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Yes, I agree Bill; God has planted the "Seed" within every human heart. Winstanley would also agree:

 

"And things being thus considered, God is pleased to lead us to see a little into these two mysteries: First, the mysterie of iniquity, or work of the serpent, which was the aspiring fruit of pride, and self-love that spriung up in the created beeing, to be as God, and so to be an absolute beeing of himselfe, as God is an absolute beeing of himselfe; and so this self honouring would sit in God temple, that is, the Humane nature, which God made a Garden for himself to walk in; and if that spirit of self-love could not be destroyed, and the Humane nature recovered from that bondage, God would suffer much dishonour; because he being glorious and happy in himself, hath made a creature to be a vexation and scourge to him, and cannot subdue it: And this mysterie of iniquity, or power of darknesse, hath, does, and will fight against the beeing of God, till it be taken out of the way, and quite subdued; as the Father hath promised he will subdu it under the feet of his son, the Human Nature. Then secondly. God leads us to the mysterie of himself; and makes us able to see into the knowledge of that great work that he is in working; and that is to destroy this Serpent out of flesh, and all beeings, that is enmity against him, and to swallow up his creature man into himself, that so there may be but one only pure, endlesse, and infinite beeing, even God himself all in all, dwelling, and walking in this Garden, Mankinde, in which he will plant pleasant fruit trees, and pluck up all weeds. Cant. 4.16. (2 Thes. 2.4,5; 1 Cor. 15.25; Heb. 1.13; 1 Cor. 15. 28, 54.) " -The Mysterie of God

 

There is a verse in Romans 10: "the word is in thy heart, and in thy mouth." Now Christendom will try to "own" this verse, and say that it is only "they" who have the seed of God within them. But I disagree. Indeed, this very verse comes from Deuteronomy 30, and tells the people that the Mystery of God is that He is within them!

All of the rituals and customs of religion, which only divide man and make a mockery of God, saying "this is the house of God" or "you must circumcise yourself to please God", etc. God doesn't need a house, because everything is His. He doesn't need animal sacrifices, because every animal is already His! He doesn't need a "holy land" because His hand made all things.

 

So what I like in particular about Winstanley, is his honest exposure of hypocrisy of the church, and his clarity of simpleness in the things of God. "God is within man; God is righteousness. God is Joy. God is Love. All of these are names of God, and whoever talks about a God far away and not in the heart, is only preaching hearsay and therefore confusion.

 

He also makes an interesting observation regarding Christ then and now: just as the Jews adhered to the Law and rejected Christ when He appeared, so it may happen that Christians will adhere too rigidly to the Apostles writings and thereby "crucify" the Christ who must arise in their hearts in order for them to have True Life.

 

Blessings,

brian

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There is a verse in Romans 10: "the word is in thy heart, and in thy mouth." Now Christendom will try to "own" this verse, and say that it is only "they" who have the seed of God within them. But I disagree. Indeed, this very verse comes from Deuteronomy 30, and tells the people that the Mystery of God is that He is within them!

 

I agree. Different people have tried to describe this in different ways down through time. Genesis called it "the image of God." Tillich called God the Ground of All Being from whence our Being came. I think of it as God as encoded into our very DNA. There is something there that makes us wonder "Who Am I?" and "Why Am I Here?" and we look to "God" for those answers, or at least to gain deeper insight into the questions.

 

All of the rituals and customs of religion, which only divide man and make a mockery of God, saying "this is the house of God" or "you must circumcise yourself to please God", etc. God doesn't need a house, because everything is His. He doesn't need animal sacrifices, because every animal is already His! He doesn't need a "holy land" because His hand made all things.

 

I enjoyed your statement here, Brian. I still go to "church" with my family but I can't help but chuckle when they speak of "God's house" and how we need to invite God to show up. To me, it is like a fish inviting water to come close to him. He is already IN the water and he is made up of 95% water. He is asking water to do something which water does by default and "thinks" he has some power or control of the water. :D

 

"In Him we live and move and have our being." Paul quotes this to the philosophers in Athens. And he wasn't quoting the OT, he was quoting their OWN secular philosophers. We live IN God. We move IN God. We have our being IN God. It cannot be otherwise, IMO, because God is everywhere.

 

But, yes, religion makes much of trying to compartmentalize and control God. Can you image our fish friend trying to sell water to other fishes? Or telling other fishes that he alone has the true water or more water than they? Or that God has selected him to take water to other fishes? :lol:

 

The Spirit gives life to every person.

 

And, yes, the seed is there for every person to awaken to the Spirit. When that happens, then, yes, we know what we need to know. No one has to prove God to us. And no one has to give us 613 rules to keep in order to try to make us worthy of God's presence.

 

Whoever talks about a God far away and not in the heart, is only preaching hearsay and therefore confusion.

 

Many Christians are waiting for the kingdom of God to appear. Jesus said is has been here all along. ;)

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I spoke of the name of God, and Lord, and Christ, but I knew not this Lord, God, and Christ; I prayed to a God, but I knew not where he was, nor what he was, and so walking by imagination, I worshipped that devill, and called him God; by reason whereof my comforts were often shaken to pieces, and at last it was shewed to me, That while I builded upon any words or writings of other men, or while I looked after a God without me, I did but build upon the sand, and as yet I knew not the Rock.

 

To me, the author is being a bit too dialectic, a bit too hardline, just as the claim of "Amazing Grace" - I once was blind but now I see. IMO, we live and walk in shades, not in full darkness or full light. But I would agree that the God of the Bible often seems more like the devil than the devil himself. After all, name all of the people in the Bible that the devil killed. Now think of all of the people that Yahweh killed. Who seems to be the one more prone to taking human life?

 

But I do agree with the author that is we are to have a reasonable faith or spirituality, we must come back to ourselves, to our own heart.

 

And now know friends, That this ignorant, unsettled condition is yours at this time, though I know, that the proud King flesh that is in you, will be ready to speak within you, and tell you, that you do know God, and Christ, and be offended with me, because I say you know him not. I do not write any thing, as to be a teacher of you, for I know you have a teacher within your selves (which is the Spirit) and when your flesh is made subject to him, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, so that you shall not need to run after men for instruction, for your eyes being opened, you shall see the King of righteousnesse sit upon the throne within your selves, judging and condemning the unrighteousnesse of the flesh, filling your face with shame, and your soul with horror, though no man see, or be acquainted with your actions, or thoughts but your selves, and justifying your righteous thoughts and actions, and lead you into all wayes of truth.

 

To me, this is the meaning of "Christ." It isn't Jesus' last name. :) It is the inner "annointing", of discovering God's spirit inside that enables us to live out from that union. Granted, "Christ" is the Greek form of "messiah" which the Jews felt was God's annointed warrior-king. But Jesus refused this role. His "annointing" lead him to a life of service and self-sacrificing love, not to ruling with a rod of iron from a golden throne. This is why, IMO, he didn't focus on setting up and external kingdom. Instead, most of his teachings and parables had to do with the true "throne" of God, the human heart.

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To me, this is the meaning of "Christ." It isn't Jesus' last name. :) It is the inner "annointing", of discovering God's spirit inside that enables us to live out from that union. Granted, "Christ" is the Greek form of "messiah" which the Jews felt was God's annointed warrior-king. But Jesus refused this role. His "annointing" lead him to a life of service and self-sacrificing love, not to ruling with a rod of iron from a golden throne. This is why, IMO, he didn't focus on setting up and external kingdom. Instead, most of his teachings and parables had to do with the true "throne" of God, the human heart.

 

Thanks for reminding me of the moment where Jesus refused to be crowned! It is true that God does not take respect of persons, nor of the flesh. Yet it is also true that, as you said, He came as a servant.

Just today I was thinking, does it seem that many people "accept Christ" only because they want eternal life? And if so, is this what being a follower of Christ has come to: "taking for oneself"?

 

You said earlier: "Can you image our fish friend trying to sell water to other fishes?"

LOVED it!

 

Blessings,

brian

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And this is the Spirit, or Father, which as he made the Globe, and every creature, so he dwels in every creature, but supreamly in Man; and he it is by whom every one lives, and moves, and hath his being; perfect man is the eye and face, that sees and declares the Father, and he is perfect when he is taken up into this spirit, and lives in the light of reason; and there is no man or woman can say that the Father doth not dwell in him, for he is every where; there is not a creature in the compasse of the creation, but he is in that creature, but disobedient man knows him not, and why? Because flesh is not subject to the spirit within it; his covetous flesh hath deceived him, for he either looks abroad for a God, and so doth imagine and fancie a God to be in some particular place of glory, beyond the skies, or some where he knows not, or in some place of glory that cannot be known till the body be laid in the dust.

 

Spirit -- if one considers Jesus to be some kind of revelation of God, this is the closest he ever comes to defining God. He describes God in parables, but his closest definition is spirit, which Jesus says is not confined to physical location. In fact, he goes on to tell the Samaritan woman at the well that worshippers of God do so in spirit and in truth, which implies to me again the internal nature or path of God-discovery. As Winstanley says, God is every where.

 

Why does Winstanley say that "his (mankind's) covetous flesh hath deceived him?" It is because he thinks the flesh is evil? I doubt it. It is just that the flesh -- which is not our physical body, but our tendency to live life from only our own resources -- thinks it is alone. It thinks it is separate from God, probably due to our sense of "self." To me, the proper relation is not the "self" absorbed into God, but the "self" living in unity with God, which makes us want to live in unity with other "selves." But many of us, even Christians, go to the grave, as Winstanley says, believing that God is in heaven, that we are on earth, and we cannot be "with God" until we leave our physical body behind. To me, this is to misunderstand what Jesus taught. He defined eternal life as knowing God here and now. None of us can do that completely, of course, because God is transcendant. But God is also immanent, so that we can still experience God or the Sacred or the More and that unity that such brings. But, as the author says, I suspect this is done through the combination of reason, not through superstition.

 

Or else if men do look for a God within them, according as the Record speaks, God is within you; yet they are led by the motions and commands of King flesh within them, and not by King spirit; and here they are at a losse, not being able to distinguish between flesh and spirit, by reason that covetousnesse and self-will blindes their eyes. Truly friends, King flesh is very covetous, self-loving, and self-honouring; it likes them that say as it saith, but it would imprison, kill, and hang every one that differs from him; he is full of heart-burning, either of open envy, and bitter distemper, or else carries himself in a shew of truth, like an Angell of light, but when he gets an opportune power, he turns to be a tyrant, against the way of the spirit.

 

This false "self" is often ruled, not by reason, but by emotion. In my own life, I am most "fleshy" when I let my emotions rule. And it is then that I seem to lose, or feel like I've lost, my connection to God and others. The walls come up. I must protect my throne. And reason is trampled to the floor as my emotions rule. Not a pretty sight. :unsure:

 

And so all his love was but for by-ends, to satisfie self in some particular or other: But now the King of righteousnesse within you, is a meek, patient, and quiet spirit, and full of love and sincerity, he burns up the proud and hasty flesh, he loves truth, and hates a lie; if the creature acts unrighteously, he checks and shames him, if he act righteously (according to the creation of a man) he speaks peace within, and so makes the man to walk sincerely, and warmly.

 

"Full of love and sincerity, loving truth, hating lies." This is where the reason of God can bring us. We don't love in order to avoid hell or tell truth to avoid breaking some 4000 year old commandment. We do it because it is built into us, if we would but look for it. It rings true. It is not true because it is some arbitrary command of a deity. It is true because it comes from Truth itself. And when we begin to experience it, as the wise rabbi said, it sets us free -- not just freedom FROM, but freedom TO.

Edited by billmc
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Spirit -- if one considers Jesus to be some kind of revelation of God, this is the closest he ever comes to defining God. He describes God in parables, but his closest definition is spirit, which Jesus says is not confined to physical location. In fact, he goes on to tell the Samaritan woman at the well that worshippers of God do so in spirit and in truth, which implies to me again the internal nature or path of God-discovery. As Winstanley says, God is every where.

 

Why does Winstanley say that "his (mankind's) covetous flesh hath deceived him?" It is because he thinks the flesh is evil? I doubt it. It is just that the flesh -- which is not our physical body, but our tendency to live life from only our own resources -- thinks it is alone. It thinks it is separate from God, probably due to our sense of "self." To me, the proper relation is not the "self" absorbed into God, but the "self" living in unity with God, which makes us want to live in unity with other "selves." But many of us, even Christians, go to the grave, as Winstanley says, believing that God is in heaven, that we are on earth, and we cannot be "with God" until we leave our physical body behind. To me, this is to misunderstand what Jesus taught. He defined eternal life as knowing God here and now. None of us can do that completely, of course, because God is transcendant. But God is also immanent, so that we can still experience God or the Sacred or the More and that unity that such brings. But, as the author says, I suspect this is done through the combination of reason, not through superstition.

 

 

 

This false "self" is often ruled, not by reason, but by emotion. In my own life, I am most "fleshy" when I let my emotions rule. And it is then that I seem to lose, or feel like I've lost, my connection to God and others. The walls come up. I must protect my throne. And reason is trampled to the floor as my emotions rule. Not a pretty sight. :unsure:

 

 

 

"Full of love and sincerity, loving truth, hating lies." This is where the reason of God can bring us. We don't love in order to avoid hell or tell truth to avoid breaking some 4000 year old commandment. We do it because it is built into us, if we would but look for it. It rings true. It is not true because it is some arbitrary command of a deity. It is true because it comes from Truth itself. And when we begin to experience it, as the wise rabbi said, it sets us free -- not just freedom FROM, but freedom TO.

 

I'm only going to follow this one thread for the moment, and leave the "deception" thread alone. It's too time-absorbing.. I should retire or something! (still too young/poor..!)

 

Thank you Bill for mentioning the difference between reason and emotion. I too have the same struggle. I think Winstanley refers to flesh deceiving him in this sense also. The flesh tempts man and pushes him towards external things, and selfish desires. And when man yields to temptation and satisfies these desires, he is then left empty (sooner or later) and betrayed. Or if he cannot satisfy his flesh, then he becomes irate and discontent. This is "hell." And only God can pull him out of this "hell" within himself.

 

But I don't want to write, I enjoy reading your reflections (and those of others here, too!)! VERY helpful indeed!!

 

Blessings,

brian

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The flesh tempts man and pushes him towards external things, and selfish desires.

 

This rings true with me as well. The flesh tells us that there is something "out there" that will satisfy us (money, fame, fortune, power, sex, even religion). But no matter how much "out there" we get, it never satisfies.

 

And when man yields to temptation and satisfies these desires, he is then left empty (sooner or later) and betrayed.

 

Exactly. Having a think is never so pleasurable as wanting a thing. ;)

 

But I don't want to write, I enjoy reading your reflections (and those of others here, too!)! VERY helpful indeed!!

 

Nope, doesn't work that way. No monologues here. :lol: You gotta give to get.

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And when you come to know, feel, and see that the spirit of righteousnesse governs your flesh, then you begin to know your God, to fear your God, to love your God, and to walk humbly before your God, and so to rejoyce in him; and therefore if you would have the peace of God (as you call it) you must know what God it is you serve, which is not a God without you, visible among bodies, but the spirit within you, invisible in every body to the eye of flesh, yet discernable to the eye of the spirit; and when souls are made to have community with that spirit, then they have peace, and not till then.

 

This has been becoming true and, I hope, will continue to be my experience. I no longer look for God "out there" or "up there" or "back there." Antony Flew, a life-long atheist until just before he died, was convinced that God has left evidence of himself right in our genetic code, in the way of molecular chemicals work. I would also apply that to the metaphysical. Once I realized that the God whom I had so long sought was within me, yes, there is a peace in knowing that "nothing shall separate us from the love of God." This is no longer a doctrine for me, but a reality.

 

For this let me tell you, that if you subject your flesh to this mighty governour, the spirit of righteousnesse within your selves, he will bring you into community with the whole Globe, so that in time you shall come to know as you are known, and you shall not need to run after others, to learn of them what God is, for as you are a perfect creation, every one of himself; so you shall see, and feel that this spirit is the great governour in you, in righteousness; and when you come thus to know the truth, the truth shall make you free from the bondage of covetous, and proud flesh, the serpent that held you under slavery all your life time."

 

Well, I am still "in process" so I don't know as that I experience everything that Winstanley is referring to here. But, yes, I believe that God is encoded into us in order that we would we brought "into community" - with knowing him, with each other, with our world. When religion, any religion, starts adding onto this truth (the truth that in Him we live and move and have our being) and starts preaching, IMO, lies that God is elsewhere or that he has favorites or that he can only be found in certain places, texts, and people, then that religion has started down the path of anti-community, of justifying war because some think they have more of God than others.

 

In conclusion, my beliefs about this are: God's exist and is our ultimate Creator. He has given us the power reason to discover and understand this. As we do, our experiences of God should lead us to compassionate community i.e. as Jesus said, loving each other. If we do this (and many of us do), then such progress leads to a better world, to something of the kingdom of God on earth. And we could all use a little more of that, couldn't we?

 

Somebody else's turn to jump in.

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I agree Bill, that God is "encoded" within us. In fact, religion in general seems quite good at trying to "own" and "claim rights" to what is already in you and me.

 

For Winstanley, the clergy/religious are by and large in the dark, because they think that they know God simply because they study the Bible. He says that they will not know God until they have a real experience, revelation, or mystical event which speaks directly to their hearts. Something that "activates the dna."

Winstanley's view regarding the Bible/Scriptures, is that they are not God, only the declaration of what people experienced directly in the Spirit. But to make the Scriptures into "the Word of God" is a mistake. From "Truth Lifting Up Its Head Above Scandals":

 

" Qu. What is the Gospel?

 

Ans. It is the Father himselfe, that is, the Word, and glad tydings, that speaks peace inwardly to poore soules.

 

Qu. But are not the writings of the Apostles and Prophets, the Gospell?

 

Ans. These writings are the report or declaration of the Gospell; which are to cease, when the Lord himselfe, who is the everlasting Gospell, doth manifest himselfe to rule in the flesh of sonnes and daughters.

 

Qu. But did not Paul say, This is the word of the Gospell, which we preach; and so left those words in writing?

 

Ans. It is true, his writings are the word of it, or the report of it; but it is not the thing it selfe: for when it was reported, that the Father would dwell in the flesh, and destroy the Serpent: this report savoured sweet: But when man comes to see, and feel, and know that the Father dwels and rules in him; This is farre more sweet: This is to enjoy the Gospell himselfe: The word of life within, and this shall never cease, but endures for ever.

 

Qu. But how doe you know, that this is the Gospel?

 

Ans. I know it by the testimony that is within my selfe, and by the sweet, peaceable and soule-satisfying rest, that I have, through communion, with the spirit; The Lord our righteousnesse; In the midst of the mad rage of the world.

 

Secondly, For satisfaction to the world, I desire all men to take the Record, and search those Scriptures, for they are they that doe testifie of the truth hereof, as well as they testified of Christ, after the flesh, to be the Lambe. And this is the mystery and testimony of the Scriptures: The spirit dwelling and ruling in flesh.

 

The declaration or report of words out of the mouth or pen of men, shall cease; but the spirit endures for ever; from whence those words were breathed: as when I have the thing promised, the word of the promise ceases.

 

"

 

So it seems that what Winstanley wants to communicate here, is that there are two types of people: those who study the Scriptures, and those who are experiencing the Spirit Himself, who authored the same.

And the individual knows and feels something inside himself/herself which confirms this.

 

Blessings!

brian

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Good stuff, Brian.

 

For me, the "Word of God" is both creation and conscience. In my experience, these are the two primary ways that God speaks to me.

 

In creation, I see God's power, God's intelligence, God's wisdom, and God's propensity towards variety. I'm awed by it, humbled, at a loss for words.

 

In conscience, I see God's moral nature, calling me out of selfish living, calling me towards community and compassion.

 

The Bible is, for me, both a bane and a blessing. I can find the worst allegations against God there. I can also find some of the best insights into God there. But I cannot, in good conscience, call it the "Word of God." I don't know as I really "study" the Bible anymore. For me, the Bible is how other people experienced God as has no more claim to be "the truth" than my own claims. I no longer have faith that the Bible is God's Word. Instead, I use reason to try to ascertain which parts of it speak eternal truth and which parts are merely the musing of a humanity that, as Winstanley says, often stumbles around in the dark.

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This has been the story of my life also. What I knew (or thought I knew) came from "mediators" - Ryrie, Swindoll, Dobson, Lucado, Warren, Luther, Calvin, Merton, my pastors, the apostle Paul, and the other writers of the scriptures. But it was all "hearsay" to me, describing their faith (which was valid for them), but which eventually came to taste like stale bread to my palette. There was no life or nourishment for me there. What was, for them, "revelation" is only hearsay to their followers. I no longer wanted "second-hand" faith.

 

Your post reminded me of something the deist Thomas Paine once wrote in the Age of Reason.
No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a

communication if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that

something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any

other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to

a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it

ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the

first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they

are not obliged to believe it.

 

Paine then goes on to argue that the only true revelation of God is creation itself because only creation can we experience ourselves and don't need to rely on unreliable human speech to experience God.
It is only in the CREATION that all our ideas and conceptions of a

word of God can unite. The Creation speaketh an universal language,

independently of human speech or human language, multiplied and various

as they be. It is an ever existing original, which every man can read.

It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it

cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the

will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself

from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and

to all worlds; and this word of God reveals to man all that is necessary

for man to know of God.

 

Do we want to contemplate his power? We see it in the immensity of

the creation. Do we want to contemplate his wisdom? We see it in the

unchangeable order by which the incomprehensible Whole is governed. Do

we want to contemplate his munificence? We see it in the abundance with

which he fills the earth. Do we want to contemplate his mercy? We see it

in his not withholding that abundance even from the unthankful. In

fine, do we want to know what God is? Search not the book called the

scripture, which any human hand might make, but the scripture called the

Creation.

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Your post reminded me of something the deist Thomas Paine once wrote in the Age of Reason.

 

Yes, NG, Paine "speaks my language." My own philosophy is probably not as seemingly "anti-Christian" as the AOR comes across, for Christianity has done some good in this world. But I doubt that institutional religion, even Christianity, is the way forward in this world, being rooted in an ancient superstitious worldview.

 

IMO, the time is coming and has now come (ha ha) for us to take a serious look at what the fundamentalist factions inherent in revealed religions have done and want to continue to do to us and our world. For instance, the Zionist notion that God has given a certain parcel of land to the Jews and that they, therefore, have the right to kill others in order to posess that land. Or the Muslim notion that anyone who rejects Muhammed as God's prophet is an infidel worthy of death. Or the Christian notion that God will "kill" evil-doers in hell forevermore and, therefore, we have the right as God's agents to kill evil-doers here and now. These are not just religious ideas that hang isolated in the air as part of belief systems. They are ideas that translate into real world consequences - politics, ecology, sociology, psychology, and foreign policy. And, unfortunately, we live in a world where these religious factions can easily get weapons of mass destruction to help them inact their, supposedly, God-given mission of ridding the world of their religious enemies. Many of us saw this live on 9-11. Such seeds of destruction are inherent in all revealed religion where God is thought to have favorites or "chosen ones" worthy of salvation and, therefore, to also have "unchosen ones" worthy of destruction and damnation.

 

Of course, many religions also have the seeds of life and love in them. This needs to be admitted and brought forth. Karen Armstrong and Co. are trying to do just this. But these religions must "own the baby" and admit to the evil embedded within their own religions and be humble regarding their truth claims, something that they are reluctant to do because they do believe that what they hold to comes from God.

 

Paine's arguments for reason are, IMO, as strong today as they were when they were written. They appeal to a common Creator and, therefore, a common humanity. That, to me, is a message that should never go out of date. :)

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Yes, NG, Paine "speaks my language." My own philosophy is probably not as seemingly "anti-Christian" as the AOR comes across, for Christianity has done some good in this world. But I doubt that institutional religion, even Christianity, is the way forward in this world, being rooted in an ancient superstitious worldview.

 

IMO, the time is coming and has now come (ha ha) for us to take a serious look at what the fundamentalist factions inherent in revealed religions have done and want to continue to do to us and our world. For instance, the Zionist notion that God has given a certain parcel of land to the Jews and that they, therefore, have the right to kill others in order to posess that land. Or the Muslim notion that anyone who rejects Muhammed as God's prophet is an infidel worthy of death. Or the Christian notion that God will "kill" evil-doers in hell forevermore and, therefore, we have the right as God's agents to kill evil-doers here and now. These are not just religious ideas that hang isolated in the air as part of belief systems. They are ideas that translate into real world consequences - politics, ecology, sociology, psychology, and foreign policy. And, unfortunately, we live in a world where these religious factions can easily get weapons of mass destruction to help them inact their, supposedly, God-given mission of ridding the world of their religious enemies. Many of us saw this live on 9-11. Such seeds of destruction are inherent in all revealed religion where God is thought to have favorites or "chosen ones" worthy of salvation and, therefore, to also have "unchosen ones" worthy of destruction and damnation.

 

Of course, many religions also have the seeds of life and love in them. This needs to be admitted and brought forth. Karen Armstrong and Co. are trying to do just this. But these religions must "own the baby" and admit to the evil embedded within their own religions and be humble regarding their truth claims, something that they are reluctant to do because they do believe that what they hold to comes from God.

 

Paine's arguments for reason are, IMO, as strong today as they were when they were written. They appeal to a common Creator and, therefore, a common humanity. That, to me, is a message that should never go out of date. :)

 

Hi Bill,

I've been away a bit, finishing other things...

 

I've also been seeing on another forum how fundamentalist Christianity is doing a lot of harm to "unbelievers." So I confirm your views on institutional religion.

 

And that will be a good thing, I have a feeling. Because when man has to put down the Bible, and begin to be honest with his heart, he will be at a loss of words for the way he has treated his fellow man. And only then will he be able to hear Christ in him, both judging unrighteousness, and teaching Truth and Mercy.

 

So, quoting another small piece of Winstanley's insight into the heart of man:

 

 

But the same Anointing, or power in-dwelling, and ruling whithin us, and thus the power of love in man, is the power of God in man; and this sets us free from envy; the power of patience, and of a meeke spirit in man, is the power of God in man, and sets us free from discontent; the power of humilitie in us, is the power of God in us, and sets us free from pride; the power of peace, joy, and sweet resting of heart in God, is the power of God in us, which sets us free from sorrows, and inward bondage of minde...

 

 

And truly let me tell you, That you cannot say the spirit is your God, till you feel, and see by experience that the spirit doth govern your flesh; for if Envy be your Lord that rules your flesh, if Pride and Covetousnesse rule your flesh, then is Envy, Covetousnesse, or Pride your God: If you fear men so greatly, that you dare not do righteously for fear of angering men, then slavish fear is your God: If rash anger govern your flesh, then is anger your God: If Uncleannesse rule in you, that is your God: Therefore deceive not your selves, but let reason work within you, and examine, and see what your flesh is subject to; for whatsoever doth govern in you, that is your God: If the curse in the flesh govern you, then the devill is your God, and you are servants to him, for the curse is the devill: But if your flesh be subject to the spirit within it, which is Reason, and which made the flesh, then is the Father your God, and you may lawfully call him your God, for you know now what you speak, and that your words are words of experience... -"The Saints Paradise," 1648

 

 

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And that will be a good thing, I have a feeling. Because when man has to put down the Bible, and begin to be honest with his heart, he will be at a loss of words for the way he has treated his fellow man. And only then will he be able to hear Christ in him, both judging unrighteousness, and teaching Truth and Mercy.

 

This is, IMO, a timely message, Brian. I am rereading my old copy of Robertson's "Honest to God" which contains a lot of Tillich also. One of the things he mentions about Christ is that Jesus was "a man for others." This is, according to the author, how the power of God is truly displayed; not in miracles or in deus ex machina interventions, but in laying down one's life for the sake of others because one sees that the other is part of one's self. Far too often, the Bible has been used as a carte blanche that supposedly justifies whatever our personal agenda might be, often rooted in selfishness and greed. But the Bible also demonstrates what happens when people think they have a corner on God and try to use Divine sanction for the baser drives of humanity. It is time we outgrow this.

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This is, IMO, a timely message, Brian. I am rereading my old copy of Robertson's "Honest to God" which contains a lot of Tillich also. One of the things he mentions about Christ is that Jesus was "a man for others." This is, according to the author, how the power of God is truly displayed; not in miracles or in deus ex machina interventions, but in laying down one's life for the sake of others because one sees that the other is part of one's self. Far too often, the Bible has been used as a carte blanche that supposedly justifies whatever our personal agenda might be, often rooted in selfishness and greed. But the Bible also demonstrates what happens when people think they have a corner on God and try to use Divine sanction for the baser drives of humanity. It is time we outgrow this.

 

The problem is quite insidious, I saw it a lot in the States. Many Christians have almost a "legal contract" view of Scripture, as if "God said it, so He has to do it" is the underlying attitude.

Having one's head in Scripture all the time, memorizing verses, etc.. all of this is useless in Winstanley's view, since the Scripture is only a testimony, and cannot save the individual. Only personal experience of God in man's heart can save and set free from sin/devil/flesh (all the same thing).

 

In other words, better an ignorant person with an ounce of personal experience in his heart, than the most noble scholar who is deaf to God's voice within him!

 

People are often afraid to leave their Bibles. They think that God has said everything He needs to say, read it and believe it, period.

And by swallowing this doctrinal medicine, they commit spiritual suicide.

 

Blessings,

brian

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Having one's head in Scripture all the time, memorizing verses, etc.. all of this is useless in Winstanley's view, since the Scripture is only a testimony, and cannot save the individual. Only personal experience of God in man's heart can save and set free from sin/devil/flesh (all the same thing).

 

I find I have to be "in the mood" to read my Bible anymore, quite the opposite from King David who meditated on the Pentatuech day and night. :D

 

What about you, Brian? Does the Bible still have a place in your spiritual life? If so, how so? Any thoughts as to what the "rightful" place of the Bible might be for progressive Christians?

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I find I have to be "in the mood" to read my Bible anymore, quite the opposite from King David who meditated on the Pentatuech day and night. :D

 

What about you, Brian? Does the Bible still have a place in your spiritual life? If so, how so? Any thoughts as to what the "rightful" place of the Bible might be for progressive Christians?

 

I am in a similar situation, Bill. The Scriptures are certainly an encouragement, although I believe God must show each of us the spiritual meanings of what is said. Fundamentalists basically believe in a literal fire and literal physical people who are physically burned. But Jesus said that "the flesh profits nothing," and that we "know no man after the flesh." And "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God."

 

To me, the Bible talks of spiritual things. I don't attend a normal "church group" since I see that much of their doctrine is quite "carnal" and not very "spiritual." To me, church is communion with others, like you and I right now. This is my "church!"

 

Also, I can say today, that when I focus on God within me (and not a God beyond the sky), I have much less struggle with the flesh and its temptations.

I think this is where Winstanley is right, and perhaps it has always been the basis of what drew me to Christianity: that God is to be looked for within the heart, not beyond the clouds... as it says in Romans 10: "the Word is nigh thee, even IN THY HEART and IN THY MOUTH."

 

Focusing within instead of without.

 

This means that every man and woman has access to this experience. Every one of us can be a true witness of God, by listening to Him within us. Even if we don't have a Bible within miles from us!!

 

Here's a link to a video (there are others by the same preacher) who have a very similar message to that of Winstanley. This preacher is always focusing on God IN man, not anywhere else..

 

 

Let me know what you think...

 

Blessings,

brian

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Let me know what you think...

 

I haven't had a chance to watch the video yet, Brian, but I do have a couple of thoughts on the topic.

 

First, whether or not Jesus and Paul were wrong about Jesus' physical "second coming" during the first century, I think there is evidence, both biblical and spiritual, that the "parousia" or "presence" (which, IMO, is wrongly translated as "second coming") is the continual presence or manifestation of Christ in all of us who seek the Way. In other words, Christ "came again" when the Spirit was poured out and the community called followers of the Way began to live the same kind of compassionate and selfless life as Jesus did.

 

Second, this "parousia" of Christ continues in those today who awaken to be led by the Spirit. This is, IMO, where the "Left Behind" stuff goes so terribly awry. It envisions a "second coming" of Jesus where "God's kingdom" is established through violence. This goes, again IMO, completely against the teachings and way of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

I no longer wait for a "Savior from heaven" to return and kill all of my and God's enemies, despite the fact that some scriptures support this view. Instead, I try to live in such a way that Christ continually comes in me each and every day. I fail often. But the endeavor, I believe, leads me to be a better person and to experience God's grace and show it to others in tangible ways.

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I haven't had a chance to watch the video yet, Brian, but I do have a couple of thoughts on the topic.

 

First, whether or not Jesus and Paul were wrong about Jesus' physical "second coming" during the first century, I think there is evidence, both biblical and spiritual, that the "parousia" or "presence" (which, IMO, is wrongly translated as "second coming") is the continual presence or manifestation of Christ in all of us who seek the Way. In other words, Christ "came again" when the Spirit was poured out and the community called followers of the Way began to live the same kind of compassionate and selfless life as Jesus did.

 

Second, this "parousia" of Christ continues in those today who awaken to be led by the Spirit. This is, IMO, where the "Left Behind" stuff goes so terribly awry. It envisions a "second coming" of Jesus where "God's kingdom" is established through violence. This goes, again IMO, completely against the teachings and way of Jesus of Nazareth.

 

I no longer wait for a "Savior from heaven" to return and kill all of my and God's enemies, despite the fact that some scriptures support this view. Instead, I try to live in such a way that Christ continually comes in me each and every day. I fail often. But the endeavor, I believe, leads me to be a better person and to experience God's grace and show it to others in tangible ways.

 

Wow!

I wish Christians today had that same hope, Bill.. They're so busy waiting for something to happen outside them, that they are not aware of what's happening (or not happening) inside them!!

 

We are all precious in God's sight, imo. That is "fundamental." (In this sense, I am a "fundamentalist!" :) )

 

Christianity in general has become so "selfish!" Everyone hoping to "escape" the rest of humanity.

 

I would take this thread one step further, Bill, and add this: I am quite attracted to what I see here on this website, because since I believe (and it appears that you do, too) that God is to be seen in the heart, then I can imagine that there are perhaps many people of other religions, who indeed hear the voice of Christ in them, and even though they do not call it "Christ," they are not against Him at all.

"He that is not against us, is for us."

 

So I can imagine many who are seeing Christ (although they may not use the name Jesus Christ) who are doing what is well-pleasing to Him.

And some so-called Christians, who are not listening to Him, even though they use the name Christ.

 

See what I'm trying to say?

 

Blessings!

brian

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See what I'm trying to say?

 

I believe so.

 

When I was growing up (not that I am done yet, ha ha), "Christ" was Jesus' last name. But the exegetical truth of "Christ" is that it simply means "anointed." The NT writers, whatever else they may or may not have thought about Jesus, thought he was anointed by God to speak God's words and to do God's works. And the term which it harkens back to, "messiah," was definately used in the OT of kings, etc. through whom, it was believed, God spoke and worked.

 

Christians have, IMO, made the term "Christ" too exclusionary. If I recall correctly, everything Jesus may have claimed for himself, he also claimed for those who followed his Way. He was a light, we are lights. He forgave sins, we forgive sins. He was "the Word", we are "living epistles." He went to the cross, we carry our cross. He laid down his life for others, we are to forsake our own lives in the same way. In fact, the word "Christian" means "little Christs." And yet Christians, ironically, though claiming that Jesus lives in them, also claim that he was unique and that there is no way they can emmulate him. :blink:

 

Now, I'm too much of a rationalist to believe that the "ghost of Jesus" lives inside me or posesses me. And yet...(struggling to find the right words here)...and yet there is a part of me that, in religious language, wants to continue what Jesus began, that wants to see God's kingdom more and more manifested here on earth. I'm not talking about more churches or more Bible studies. I'm talking about things like justice, mercy, forgiveness, caring for the poor and sick, standing up for the oppressed, even understanding and working together with "enemies" for the sake of common good. And I see this "Christ" in others, also, no matter what faith or label they may hold to. This, to me, is the "second coming of Christ," not in the air accompanied by angels, but in people accompanied by "Christlikeness." This "Christ's" purpose is not to be separate from humanity, but to go deeper into it. This "Christ's" purpose is not to divide humanity and our world, but to unite it in compassion.

 

I wish Christians today had that same hope, Bill.. They're so busy waiting for something to happen outside them, that they are not aware of what's happening (or not happening) inside them!!

 

Exactly, Brian, just like the disciples. "Lord, when will you..." Jesus: "You do it!"

 

I would take this thread one step further, Bill, and add this: I am quite attracted to what I see here on this website, because since I believe (and it appears that you do, too) that God is to be seen in the heart, then I can imagine that there are perhaps many people of other religions, who indeed hear the voice of Christ in them, and even though they do not call it "Christ," they are not against Him at all. "He that is not against us, is for us."

 

To me, your thoughts on this are key, Brian. There is a scene in the Bible which I believe is metaphor, but it describes people from every tribe and tongue coming to the mountain of God. These are not "Christians" in the religious sense of the word. These are, IMO, people are are drawing nearer to the reality that we call God (and many other names) and are, therefore, drawn closer together.

 

So I can imagine many who are seeing Christ (although they may not use the name Jesus Christ) who are doing what is well-pleasing to Him.

 

I agree. The label or title is not important. It is the heart. But the heart can only be "seen" through actions. This is why, IMO, Jesus wasn't interested in people worshipping him. He wanted people to realize that they had the same union with God as he had and then to live out that union in living in unity with others as much as possible.

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