A Brief Attempt to See How the Overall Gist of Revelation Connects to Rancho’s Radical Unity Series

The Bible is an incredible read and I wish and yearn for all of us to really see and appreciate it in its entirety and finished form, and not deal with it like a hodgepodge of institutional or self-serving doctrines or worst as a de facto god. The Bible is not a hallowed book or God’s book. It isn’t the source of anyone’s salvation and it serves no reasonable purpose to put it on a pedestal for worshipping. It’s not a weapon or a morality and ethics compass to throw or use at people to keep them in line.

One of the points I shared with the group in a recent Developmental Leadership Course discussion is the attraction people have on using labels for identification purposes which in and by itself isn’t really a bad thing except when it progresses into divisive identity affiliations. Albeit unknowingly and undesired, it likely does, unfortunately. When this happens, most often than not, the ensuing result you see is factional polarization if not polarizing factions. And we have gone through this so many times—fall into the trap of identity-labels that pull people apart. I identify as a _________. She or he, on the order hand, is a _______. And now we see we not as us but as the other.

The other point I shared was the approach by which most Christians or Bible believers have taken on the Bible reading. If we do a survey, I will bet heavily that only a very small segment of the Bible reading demographic recognizes the three-genre nature of the Bible. Genre-wise, the Bible is a 1. historical narrative (it depicts the journey of the exiled Hebrew people in search of its national identity and its land), 2. theology (it describes the relationship between God and humans), and 3. literature (it employs writing devices such as characterization, imageries, symbols, invented speeches, culturally-evoked stories, monologues, and epical depictions).

Often, we overlook that the Bible is unified writing of 66 books written in three continents over 1500 years by over 44 authors. And many of its stories bear mark resemblance to older works of literature (e.g., the Genesis flood story is strikingly similar to the flood story in Gilgamesh and Psalm 104 to Pharoah Akhenaten’s Hymn to the Sun). It should also be understood that the Bible includes a consistent paradoxical narrative flow in the sense that both human free-will and Divine Providence exist in the storytelling. To deny this information will lead to misleading assumptions and mystical perceptions. For instance, irrationally believing that everything is either divinely-willed or preordained and deliberately negating the role of human free will —thereby unwittingly characterizing the Lord alluded in the Bible in the same category as the capricious gods of the polytheistic ancient times who treat humans as pawns and puppets.

I like how both Scott Treadway and Steve Salomon would always include in their Sunday message-presentation a brief historical background and a concise definition of terms. Theirs is a combined preaching and teaching approach. Scott’s style is scholarly bright, a little of TED Talk and a little of the professorial lecture. He has straightforward expertise in how he delivers a multilayered, complex lesson. Steve’s energy is refreshing and his technique has a multigenerational appeal to it. I listened to both’s take on Revelation, Rancho’s closing on the series, Radical Unity. Although their leanings are different in their perceptual reading of the book, their messages are complementary. I get it and I do appreciate their honesty, but on one end, this particular assertion where they lay on theological perception on Revelation is a borderline needless digression (just my two cents). But then again, I also see that it’s a perfect demonstration of how supposedly two differing opinions are not so different after all. Or that you can differ in viewpoint and remain lovingly diplomatic, respectful and united. Not only did Scott and Steve’s take on Revelation in relation to Radical Unity complement each other, but they also intersect and found their way steering in the same direction.

Once you get the context and direction of the Book of Revelation and alongside a sound understanding of the previous books, you will find that there’s not really anything mystically transcendent, cryptic, or dooming about the Bible’s final writing. In fact, the overall apocalyptic narrative of Revelation markedly alludes to the everlasting and encompassing power of transformational grace. Love is the motivation by which Salvation comes upon us.

Anyway, here are the links to Scott Treadway and Steve Salomon’s closing salvo on the series called Radical Unity.

Scott Treadway Wraps Up The  Series, Radical Unity

Steve Salomon Wraps Up the Series, Radical Unity

 

 

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A Joint And Informed Look On Faith: Studying Matthew 18, 19, and 20

Huge thanks to everyone in the family group. ❤️ We tackled the lesson over hot soup, salad, bread, sweet desserts, strong coffee, and chilled wines.

In our discussion on October 11, we thematically linked the study of the three chapters of Matthew (18, 19, 20) to the topic of faith. Our opening activity was a quiz on Hans Rosling’s Factfulness. The reality is, we view our faith, form biases, and decide how we shall relate to each other and to others on the basis of the information we have or not have of the world. The activity was meant to check where we are on global awareness. Do you want to check if you have an accurate view of the world? Here’s the link to the quiz, https://factfulnessquiz.com/

Is the world better today than it was during the old times? Are we healthier today compared to our ancestors? How is subscribing to facts or accuracy on how you view the world connected to tonight’s lesson? Our awareness condition on what’s truly happening in the world affects our compassion IQ and how we view other people’s humanity. It influences the position we take on various social, political, medical, and economic issues. Our awareness condition is tied to the faith we practice and vice verse. Being that faith is a reasoned response to God’s revelation and not a blind leap into the abyss, going after the facts and continually learning helps us confront our biases and consequently strengthen and promote a Gospel-based faith. After looking into the 17 chapters of Matthew, to include cross-referential studies of the Old Testament and other books in the New Testament, we now get the following comprehensive view of faith.

Faith is a reasoned response to God’s call. It is based on knowledge and insight (of who and what God is), belief (in his being), and trust and confidence (safety under his care). Faith doesn’t stop with a confession or declaration just like what Peter demonstrated in Matthew 16. From the confession of faith, we move into the expression of faith and then to the interconnected communal and intra-personal growing of it.

Faith in accordance with the Gospel as we learned from the Ministry of Christ was the backdrop by which we looked at the stories and parables written in chapters 18 to 20. In the discussion, we reaffirmed the foundational basis of reading the Bible as a unified literary work and studying it in it’s final and finished form while at the same time bearing in mind the following imperatives:

1. The thrust to bring together what’s been pulled apart. (In reference to the Bible’s continuing theme)

2. Left to their own accord, human beings are incapable of overcoming sins. (The consistent conflict is seen in the Bible’s narratives)

3. God’s Plan of Salvation —The premise that Salvation is solely by God’s Transformative Grace received through faith alone. The Gospel is consistently shown in the Bible’s storytelling. (The reflected conflict resolution from Genesis to Revelation)

4. The Foundational Interactive Direction (FID) of the conversation is that the GOSPEL is the heart and the very point of every discussion. The Gospel, literally translated as Good News, is defined in the Bible as the person and the works of Christ. The person of Christ is about his life, death, and resurrection. The works of Christ pertains to his Ministry which revolves around three things: TEACHING, PREACHING, and HEALING. In short, this is about us coming together as a unified unit, bringing the promise of God’s Kingdom available to all herein and now.

Here’s the Study Guide to Matthew 18, 19, 20 discussion, https://1drv.ms/w/s!AoY5dWd1NI-dulbUnaIMbWxm7X7N

Here’s the powerpoint presentation we used to moderate the lesson’s Socratic-style study, https://1drv.ms/p/s!AoY5dWd1NI-dumGF9XdKzZ1IJ0P-

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

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TOWARDS A JOINT AND UNIFIED OBJECTIVE-LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

In Bible studies and casual conversations, we have people asking how to better understand the Bible without falling into the trap of a tribally dogmatic and deeply religious mindset. How do we avoid romanticizing or mysticizing and over-spiritualizing the passages? The answer to this is in the form of another question. Is the way we are learning or being exposed to the Bible encourage openness, investigation of literary strategies, critical-mindedness, and cross-referential and evidence-based reading?

These questions are real questions and curiosity that connect to achieving real unity. Connect— in the deepest sense of belongingness. The questions require a multilayer and also specific approaches. So allow me to tackle this by offering practical and direct suggestions.

First, look at your book and material library. Honestly, calculate if you have a well-balanced catalog of diverse books. If you aren’t into reading, check your media (TV viewing and online visits). If 50% or more of your reading list is comprised of faith-based authorship, chances are you are already indoctrinated. And indoctrination is not education. Education encourages critical thinking whereas indoctrination closes the mind.

People who are indoctrinated are also highly predisposed to a tribal mindset whether these individual admits it or not. In matters of highly-charged topics, they are unlikely to be open to a position they don’t follow even when an argument is strong and objective. They can argue this, but the truth is, there’s no arguing with biases or unbending hardlines.

On the same token, you may argue from a moral standpoint and say that at least what you are reading is faith-based or that you are generally a good person compared to those who overtly offend others. But how is this mindset working out in today’s environment? Most conversations we have, even polite ones are marred with biases, both implicit and explicit.

Next, see the company we choose to hang with. Aren’t most of our chosen groups and associations look or sound just like us? Do we eat the same type of cuisines every time and are reluctant to venture outside comfort zones? The thing is, a great number of us devour the same informational materials and stay within comfortable familiar zones even though we subscribe to a variety of platforms. The diversity talk is just that —talk. And then we wonder why we are so disintegrated, tribal. By tribal (and tribalism), I refer to an extreme sense of loyalty to one’s own group and belief system to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. Anything outside the person’s tribe is perceived as a potential threat or enemy.

Bear with me, a little. You can unfollow me later if that’s how you feel, but in the meantime, give the following the benefit of the doubt.

In this digital age of information, my advice: 1. Consume less. 2. Acquire new learning skills and tools that work. 3. Contribute to the promotion of a joint journey of learning together.

By the above I say, strategically limit your subscription of podcasts, Scriptural commentaries, sermons, and books. Consuming more and more opinions and interpretive information is just counterintuitive. You don’t have to devour every bible-inspired material in the market to understand the Bible and to get closer to God. Because really, when you read the Bible side by side with countless commentaries, analyses, and multiple sermons, what you’re basically doing is endorsing a highly subjective process of elimination. The criterion used here is always based on what resonates more to you, what preaching-style or prose you liked the best.

In order to break tribalism, we have to get rid of our own deeply ingrained biases and confront our tribal thoughts and ways. Then and only then are we able to commit to a joint journey of learning —learning together as a joint community that is committed to the truth even when that means finding out your long-held belief is wrong.

And so what I am strongly proposing is for us to get back to the basics of reading comprehension and learning together. Focus instead on reading and learning about literary techniques, acquiring reading comprehension skills, checking out historical and ethnographic data for adjunct learning. And READ. Really, read and learn together the Bible’s text sans bias-magnet commentaries. This may not outright solve the problem of tribalism, but it’s a foundational start to a long-term and sustainable goal of loving everyone everywhere. ❤️

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

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