Let's take a look at Original Sin. There sure is a lot of controversy about the subject. Now, this discussion isn't meant to cover the whole subject, just a small part. A part that may give some relief from spiritual frustration.
First of all, we have to go back Adam; the story with Eve, and the apple. I think too much emphasis has been placed on the action itself; when Eve thought it would be okay to go against what God had said about eating the apple. A lot of people get hung up trying to prove or disprove that it was an apple. Who cares? Who cares if it was a banana? Who cares if it was a disobedient act of pride, or lust, or sex, as some would say. That kind of talk ignores the disobedient actions result: a separation from God.
Adam's sin caused a separation from God. And we've been trying to get over that separation ever since. All the searching that humanity has done trying to find that way back is staggering. In my view, that includes a whole lot more than what we normally think of; like the religions of the world. How about all the folks who abuse their bodies with everything from sugar to smack? What about all those "Causers"? How about the New Age? At some time, every person on the planet has done or will do some searching.
I've heard people go round and round about original sin because they feel put upon by the concept of someone else being responsible for them being a jerk and sinning uncontrollably. If I understand the Fundamentalist Christian teaching on the subject, we're born sinners, and we'll die sinners, and nothing will help us but to ask God for help, and repent from all our bad deeds and do Good. But even then God'll knock you on the head, if you're not careful.
If we just push aside all those silly, philosophical arguments and take an objective look at it, we can see that we're all sinners, not because we're rotten people, but because our "earthen vessel" is so weak that it can't act Right without help; if left to it's own devices. When we became separate from God, He couldn't help us in the ways He did before.
Try to picture for a minute what it was like for Adam. It says that he walked with God in the cool of the evening in the Garden of Eden. They surely had some kind of connection happening when Adam was to name all the animals. Adam and God had lots of conversations, I'm sure. You know, Adam was totally ignorant. He was a baby that had the body of a physically mature man. Somehow, you can pick the way, God taught Adam what he knew. How could that teaching not include information about the universe at large? I mean, Adam MUST have asked God where He lived when He wasn't there at Adam's place.
I'm sure that Adam knew that there were planets, and how they moved around the sun, and that the earth was one of those planets, and was round, and had seasons. I even think that God taught Adam the precession of the equinoxes; wherein the north star changes every 2000 years on a cycle of 26,000 years. I further believe that Adam was given the names of the major and minor Zodiacal signs and the basic pictures for each one.
Let's face it, Adam was one smart cookie. And he lived for almost a thousand years, learning every year. But he didn't always have direct access to God like he did at first in the Garden. He experienced that separation. He had a weak vessel just like me, so he sinned.
What is sin? That's another good one. There may be more confusion about sin than there is about God. Again, people try to make sin some big complicated and morally fatal incident. Well let my tell you, I think that just happens to be a convenient haven for the self-righteous. Most of us don't have the Big Sins happening in our lives. We don't go around raping, robbing, killing. And that let's us sidestep the "little sins" and act like we're okay.
Recognizing sin is a process of surrender and admission. Two things that people like the least. We can't find our "sin" if we don't admit that we have it. Can't look for something you don't have.
Sin, is no more than simple desire beyond need. Simple desire, beyond need. I like to call it selfishness, another button-pusher. It's when we cater more to our wants than our own standard says is needful.
Another way to look at it is to see that, out of all the actions that make up our existence, there are two types: actions that are directed TO us, and actions that are directed AWAY from us. If you hold the door for someone, that action goes out from you toward someone else. If you hold the door for yourself, that action originates in you and is directed toward you.
In terms of God, our analogy says that we either do something in God's direction or in our direction. We're going God's way or ours. When we carry our way out beyond what we need, into the territory of what we want, in excess of our need, that's sin. We're being selfish. I hope I've taken all the Bump out of the term selfishness. Remember that time when you knowingly took the bigger ear of corn and gave the other person the small one? That's sin.
And the knowing part is very important. What happens is that you are noticing that you are violating one of your own standards, not necessarily everyone else's standards. That's how sins of ignorance come to be "legal". And maybe you noticed a connection. It appears that our standards don't differ from the standards that God has set up as righteous. Looks to me like we all have that basic stuff imprinted on our brains. I've never heard of a person who truly had no sense of ought; however it may be suppressed.
Now Adam and Eve were told that if they ate of the tree they'd die. Someone else said they wouldn't. That didn't mean that they'd get the ptomaine and drop on the spot. That meant that if they disobeyed God, they were going to have to work it out on their own. How's that fit? God knew that the thing He'd created was susceptible to age, rot, etc. That if the human body wasn't given some kind of outside help it would eventually dry up and blow away.
God stayed in the Garden. You could get in touch with Him there. In the outside world, it was tough going, and the direct contact with the Creator was not possible. When Adam and Eve left the Garden it was the beginning of the end. And people have been dying ever since. The point is, that if we don't have God to help us out, we die. As long as we're separated from God, in that way, He can't help us, in that way. In a very personal way.
God's hands are tied. You see, once God makes a rule, He never goes back on it. He may change the rule, but will never go back on His Word. He may be able to work out a way to do some miracle and, without breaking His own rule, help us anyway, but He never breaks rules. That's why He's so dependable. Even when it seems harsh, God's behavior can never be said to be unrighteous. Every time I read of someone getting in trouble with God, it's after He's told them they would. Given them plenty of warning.
Well, Good Old God. He's really disposed to helps us. He figured out a way to help us and not remove the separation; which He couldn't legally do. He invented Faithing. Faithing leaps the barrier and allows God the opening He needs to send over a little help. Actually, it's just like the Garden of Eden. We're on one side of the wall, and God's on the other. The wall is too much for us puny humans to get over.
Well, God didn't knock down the wall, but He lets us throw a rope over with a basket on it. Now, any time God sees a basket come over the wall, He fills it with some Help. But two things are important to see: one, God can't fill your basket if you don't throw it over the wall. Two, you have to pull the basket back or the Help just sits there on the other side.
Now, what happens when we pull our basket back? We use the Help that God put in there. UH, OH! Empty basket. I see the light in your eyes. Right. Once you throw your line over the wall and pull back a basketful of God's Help, you'll need to throw your rope over again before God can fill your basket and help some more. So much for the idea, "Once saved, always saved."
So, the separation isn't taken out of the way. We just circumvent it temporarily. I'm sure there are those who are able to throw a very big rope over the wall, and maybe even climb up a little and get a glimpse of the other side. May even be a tiny number that have built little step stools. I guess the larger the faithing act, the bigger your rope, or basket. All I know is, Abraham acted in enough faith of God's Word that God gave him a whole land for him and his family to live in.
So you see, God's not sitting on your shoulder just waiting for you to make a mistake so He can beat on you. Look at all the trouble He went through to give us that rope. We fell, and God's been trying ever since to rescue us. His Law He couldn' break, and we couldn't keep. Stalemate. Time for that miracle.
Enter Jesus. Jesus fulfilled all of God's laws. He fulfilled the law of kinsman redeemer. By taking on a flesh body, He stepped into the family of Human-kind and could redeem us humans. Being one of God's most precious creations, even God Himself, his life was worth enough to make up for all the bad stuff that we ever did or will do. And He, God, was able to reveal to us His message of how to get back over the garden wall. Being human, Jesus was able to communicate God's message in our terms. He had to talk and act like a man. He was one!
Now, I don't call that kind of behavior on God's part as any kind of guilt peddling or punishment. He's a God of Grace and Peace, not Guilt and Punishment. I just marvel at all the guilt and punishment that Fundamentalist Christianity has blamed on God. So much so that millions have fled the church, and millions more have a good laugh at Fundamentalist Christians for all their Do's and Don'ts and fire and brimstone preaching. But there's only one way to tap into the Grace and Peace. Faithing
Faithing is the way to connect with God. That's what the Good News was all about. We have a way aback to God; that was hidden from the general Old Testament saints. It wasn't preached and revealed in so specific terms.
So don't get all hot and bothered over original sin. It's not that we're rotten to the core and have to go around sinning all the time, it's that we can't, because of our weakness, get it very Right. We can't help acting like a jerk sometimes. And out of the Goodness of His heart, God made up a way for us to get enough extra strength to overcome our jerkiness.
I never really had any definite opinion about re-incarnation. I'd heard what it was, but didn't know whether I'D had any past lives, or anything.
Just recently, the need for re-incarnation presented itself. The concept of needing re-incarnation. Or, who, what kind of person, what kind of teaching depends upon re-incarnation? And more to the point, what are the manifestations of a system of belief that encompasses re-incarnation?
What the heck does the darn stuff accomplish? Do I really need it?
Before going any further, I think it would be wise to establish a frame of reference. I come from a place that says, "There really is the God of the Bible, and He has super-natural beings helping and trying to hindering Him. I mean, this is a Christian discussion.
Additionally, I've studied the Bible a lot, and don't remember reading anything about re-incarnation. That doesn't prove anything. And I'm not, by a long shot, saying that there's no such thing. Not sayin' there is, not sayin' there ain't. Just trying to make a little logical sense out of a big gray void. That brings us back to what re-incarnation does.
I've heard that the "corporate mind" or "racial memory," etc., is proof of re-incarnation. But I'm not convinced that's a proof. If God breathed His Spirit into a certain two-legged thing, and it became the first of it's "race", it didn't remember things that happened before it was "born." On the other hand, God may have breathed in some little bit of basic "racial understanding" that allows us to function in a way that makes us feel like we have this "racial memory" thing.
Maybe this little bit lets us bridge some gap and open a door to timelessness, allowing us to scan the ages.
Seemingly unrelated to racial memory, is telepathy. Surely no one is going to try and say that telepathy is just a lot of hooey. Not only is telepathy accepted, but also clairvoyance, precognition, deja vu, etc. Well, aren't all those things forms of communication? We seek some information, and it comes in one of those ways. And they say that we all have the seed for those abilities.
Let me digress. I'd like to take a flesh and blood look at Adam. First the name Adam is unique. It doesn't off-handedly mean Man. The Bible really says, "Let us make Adam (not Man) in our image." Now Adam was God's first. He was closer to God than any other Adam. All the Adams that came after the first, were progressively farther away from the Creator. But Adam walked and talked with God in the cool of the evening there in the Garden of Eden.
If you'll notice, the Bible doesn't say that God took the form of a man and appeared to Adam. Well then, how did God talk to Adam without a mouth? When God brought Adam all the animals to name, and they sat by a tree, and Adam would call out the names while God took them down, if God missed a name and had to have Adam repeat what he'd said, how did He say that?
I'm sure God just thought at Adam and Adam heard Him in his brain. I even think Adam's answers were received telepathically by God; even though Adam did have a mouth. And doesn't it make perfect sense for God to "create-in" ways for His creations to deal with their environment? Seems to me He even built in a way for us to overcome the physical world, so we could accomplish things without dragging our bodies around with us.
If you subscribe to having a higher self of any kind, soul, spirit self, whatever, then out-of-body experiences, waking or sleeping, fit any need we might have to travel around getting information that will help us in our in-the-body experiences. So it appears to me that "racial memory," paranormal communication, and the like, don't have to depend on re-incarnation to explain their existence.
I think we can dismiss out-of-time experiences, too. The Bridey Murphy stuff? This is where angels come in. I know people have a real hard time with things Eternal. God is about as far as some folks can get. But, if I can accept angels, I have to accept devils, demons or whatever dumb name is put on them. Angel means messenger, by the way. Angels, are simply super-natural(more than natural) beings, doing certain kinds of things. Well, demons aren't any different. They're supernatural beings doing certain kinds of things.
The thing is, if you throw out of the Bible all the stuff that has angels or Dark spirits in it, you could read what's left in a week.
Now, supernatural beings seem to have the ability to move at will through time. To be outside of time. It's as though there was this giant movie that contains all the things that have ever happened in time. Well, God or an Angel has the ability to stand on a spot where He can see the whole film stretched out. He can see from the blank blue leader, all the way over to the black frames at the end of the film--the place after time ends. Well, the Angel also has a powerful telescope, and can zoom in on any single frame of the movie. Each frame is one day, say.
Well, if that's true, then our supernatural being can see what happened right after the Flood, or what the stock quote was for September 23rd. He has access to all time. And I don't think I have to spend any time showing that supernatural beings have the ability to communicate with Adams. The point is, that angels (and other beings) can transmit any information, on any subject, from any time. Again, no need for re-incarnation.
If God has a reason for using reincarnation, it doesn't seem to be one of the more commonly accepted theories as to why we reincarnate. Let's look at some of those reasons and see if they relate to God.
Reason one. We re-incarnate for the gaining of knowledge of God through the physical reality. Know the creation, know the Creator. I admit that some people are very slow, but I think that most of humanity allows that there is a Creator of some kind. And they've all gained this knowledge of God in one life time.
Reason two. Through our many incarnations we are to learn ALL about the physical life; actions, emotions, everything. When we finally learn it all, we can move on to something different. In light of the frame of reference for re-incarnation, that reason doesn't seem right, either.
Frame of reference for past lives, that includes God the creator, puts the creation of the soul earlier than the birth of the body. That's more important than it sounds. If we put flesh and blood on our Creator and Spirit, we can imagine this conversation. "Well, Soul, you're doing real good. In the past seventy-four hundred lives you've learned a lot, I'm pleased with your progress. Now this next time, I want you to work on......"
You see, both the above reasons for going through re- incarnation don't work when the spirit in question can be in direct contact with God, or can view creation from a distance. The spirit will know, going in, how God's creation works. It'll also know more about God than it could ever get out of some number of lives here on earth. I just can't imagine God setting up a system that uses re-incarnation to any advantage. And have you thought of how impersonal such a system would have to be? That God just creates, and then turns His back?. My everyday Christian life proves that untrue. My God is a personal, available God. How much more personal and available to the spirit realm?
Well, we don't need re-incarnation.God doesn't need re- incarnation. Then why is it? What does it do?
In the teaching of re-incarnation, I find a basic concept of self-improvement. "Be good in this life so your karma won't get you." "We just have to do it again and again 'till we get it right." We get on this "Wheel of Life" and have to go around through maybe a million lives before we've learned enough to get off. Learned enough what!!??
The outward signs of re-incarnation seem to reinforce the "live right" concept. People who practice systems based in re- incarnation appear to be doing three main things. Meditation, self-denial, and what I like to call determined love--good works also fits.
Through meditation, we can clear our minds of the garbage and irrelevance in our thoughts. But you can't sit in your closet all day waiting for the good thoughts to come. And I've found that the best thing I can do in any situation is listen to myself. So I try to work on picking out the good stuff as it goes through, not trying to clear my mind of everything. And how can I learn about myself, if I deny my thoughts? Selah!
Another thing I see Re-Incarates doing, is giving up everything that's physical. Anything that can form an attachment. Go sit in a cave in the mountains and fast and pray. OK, but not as a way of life! By cutting myself off from the creation, don't I lose an exceedingly large amount of information; a big area of study? And all God's creation tells us of Him, and how to lead better lives.
Don't get me wrong. The concept of meditation, is fine. The idea of denying, or being able to "unattach," is a necessary part of growth. I use both these things regularly. What I don't do, is Good Works, or determined love.
Doggedly pursuing the Right Thing, going out of my way to treat other people fairly and honestly, volunteering my time to worthy projects are all good, but of limited use to me. To be sure, those loving, giving acts help me keep my head above water here on earth. I just don't find evidence to support the idea, that they help me with Eternal things. In fact, my Bible study shows that the Eternal stuff is gained through a thing called faith. Very specifically it says that we're saved by faith, and NOT by works. So, I conclude that if I can't get my faith in on the Good Works, those works only help me in the physical world. I think it's false thinking to say, Be Good, Do Good, End Good.
Here comes the hard part, the conclusion. The conclusion that says, "Somebody's getting something out of re-incarnation. If it isn't God, who is it? I told you this was the hard part.
Here's the logic. If there's a God and angels, then there's a Satan, and his cohorts. If there's a Satan, he's always trying to defeat God. Satan beats God every time he wins a soul away from Him. Satan doesn't care about anything but keeping us away from God. Plain and simple. If, as I've outlined, my Right Living doesn't help me get next to God, then Satan would be a bigger fool than he already is not to do all he could to promote "Right Living." I'd have Do Right clubs everywhere, if I was Lucifer.
Satan has a double edged sword to use where re-incarnation is concerned. First, the de-activation of my two main accesses to God: I'm denied His creation, and my thoughts. Secondly, the activation of a process that runs parallel with the path to God, but misses the mark. We're fooled into thinking we're on the Right track--pun intended.
So, I don't know about you, but I've given up on re-
incarnation. I just can't find any good reason for it. And,
I've found some disturbing reasons against it. I'm just going to
try and finish up this present life, and hope God sees me acting
in faith on His word. My life shows me that God is looking for
trusters. And I don't need more than one life to trust God.