Friday, August 31, 2007

Another Post Regarding Jehovah's Witnesses and Stuff

I was talking to a guy this evening about translations of the Bible, and he had mentioned that he got some info from a University of Arkansas professor named Daniel Levine who happens to be Jewish (that's *not Christian* to any Witnesses reading this, so essentially free from that specific bias) and who has a B. A. degree in Greek and Latin and had commented on John 1:1. Now I've never thought of it this way before, having to argue the meanings of words and grammar and all, but when he looks at this verse (and not from a Christian perspective) he sees simple context, that being, that the author is talking about God, the God, and only God.

Anyway, there's a real live university professor who has a relatively unbiased opinion and a degree in Greek, which kinda negates Jason BeDuhn who doesn't have one and who was educated by a Christian founded University. I have a copy of the email and can quote Dr. Levine if anyone really needs to see it.

However, in my recent studies, I've come to the conclusion that arguing with Witnesses based on Scripture and reason are useless. They have their own version of both. Their "new light" stuff is particularly interesting. They claim that as time goes on, the light gets brighter and brighter leading toward the truth. Now in concept this is a fabulous idea. In practice however, it tends to fail as the Witnesses use it.

Lemme tell you about a great parallel that I read. Say your mother died when you were a child and your father tried to ease you into the truth because you were very young, and he didn't want to traumatize you. So over the years, he gradually told you more and more details about what happened. This makes sense in the "progressive light" model. The Watchtower's progressive light works a little more like this: same story, your mother dies when you are young, and your father wants to protect you from being traumatized, only story goes like this. You are three years old, your father tells you that your mother has gone away and won't come back. At 10 years old, he tells you that she died in a car accident. At 12 years old he tells you she didn't die after all and lives in Jersey. At 15 years old he tells you she died of cancer. At 17 years old, he tells you she died of alcoholism, and at 18 finally he tells you it was a murder suicide and that she killed your younger brother before taking her own life.

Which is the more logical definition of "progressive light?" The Watchtower's version of progressive light is not adding facts onto facts to build a newer more full version of the truth, it is to present ever more mutually exclusive "facts" and calling them "new light." If you take a minute to think for yourself about it, the first two presidents of the Watchtower Society would be disfellowshipped before they could take a step in the Kingdom Hall front door, and the third would be disfellowshipped before he could sit down. It's not that they have added truth upon truth, it is that with every new discovered "truth," they must progressively reject some older "truth." The problem with this is that the older "truth" is now falsehood, and that means that for a time, "Jehovah's Visible Organization" taught falsehood and false teachings and likely disfellowshipped people for not believing them. I cannot imagine Almighty Jehovah God himself allowing false teachings to so pervade his "only divine channel" to the point that false teachings were preached for over half of the organizations existence. Look inside the cover (or wherever it is) of the Awake! magazines for the "mission statement." It used to mention the generation alive at 1914. It doesn't anymore, why is that?

Real truth always builds on truth, and never contradicts previously established truth. For instance, Watchtower publications used to claim that as time went on, further evidence for the "torture stake" theory would be discovered. For obvious reasons, they no longer claim this. It has proved not to be true. Charles Taze Russell (founder and first president of the Watchtower) used to teach that the Great Pyramid was "God's stone witness," however later teachings "correctly" identify the pyramid as "Satan's stone witness." So whose is it?

Mistakes and corrections are different. I used to believe some things that I no longer do, but also, I no longer attend a church that teaches those things, and if still did, I would not be disfellowshipped from said church for said beliefs. And I don't think I was "lost" during those times either, but as I grew in the grace (undeserved kindness) and love (love) of Jesus Christ, he exposed me to things I had not considered before. It wasn't that the pyramid was God's witness and now it isn't anymore, it was that I could shed certain beliefs that were not necessary for salvation, an acceptance of grace and release of the law. A paring down of essentials, not continual rejection of the old and adoption of the new. The difference is that salvation is by grace, not by works or even sometimes certain beliefs. To be saved, it doesn't matter what I believe about blood, or Christmas, or Armageddon, or birthdays, or whether or not it was a cross or a stake.

With Christianity came a paradigm shift. It was based not on paganism, but Judaism, as Jesus was a Jew. Is it simple coincidence that Christmas falls at the same time as Hanukkah or winter solstice? Which came first? Solstice is a natural occurrence that has existed from the dawn of time, so how is it pagan just because pagans decide to hold celebrations on that day, God created it. Hanukkah however was a Jewish holiday commemorating the re-dedication of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. It is even mentioned in the Bible in John when Jesus is in the Temple walking Solomon's Portico in winter. So as far as Christmas, who is copying who? Since Jesus was a Jew, and as such celebrated Hanukkah, I would vote that Satan copies God's people, not the other way around.

Peace be with you,

Sawdust Toilet Water Bill Update.

Got our water bill the other day, it was just over 2000 gallons for the month, that's a little over 30 gallons per person per day, which is about half the national average. And this with a daily sprinkler drip system that waters the tomatoes and strawberries as well as watering the outside potted plants when it doesn't rain!

This is Success!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

The KJV vs. the NIV - What Was Left Out?

I recently found some questions regarding the NIV, the challenge was to answer the following questions with the NIV, none of which you actually can because in the NIV, these are all correctly recognized as being of dubious origin or as scribal insertions. The idea here was that the KJV is more "accurate" than the NIV, but in fact, whoever wrote this just proves the shaky ground the KJV stands on. You see, you can't prove something with evidence that doesn't hold up in court, just like you cant expect a sweater vest to stop bullets like Kevlar can. So, here's a few little sarcastic answers to these questions.

Fill in the missing words in Matthew 5:44. "Love your enemies,__________ them that curse you, ______________ to them that hate you, and pray for them that __________ and persecute you." Does anyone know what "Some late manuscripts" means?

According to Matthew 17:21, what two things are required to cast out this type of demon?
Burgers and Fries. Only some manuscripts have this verse.

According to Matthew 18:11, why did Jesus come to earth?
We know why from other places, again only some manuscripts.

According to Matthew 27:2, what was Pilate's first name?
Pontius is a title, not a name people, besides, would it matter if his name were Bob? Yep, there's ol' Bob Pilate, he can grill up some goooood steak, uh huh.

In Matthew 27:35, when the wicked soldiers parted His garments, they were fulfilling the words of the prophet.
Sure were, I wonder which one. See the Book of David. Right after Second Bill.

Copy what the prophet said in Matthew 27:35 from the NIV.
You'd have to check with the prophet himself, Matt here didn't see fit to include it.

In Mark 3:15, Jesus gave the apostles power to cast out demons and to: ____________ Bust a move. We know they can heal from other places.

According to Mark 7:16, what does a man need to be able to hear?
Uh, feet? Seriously, does Mark really need to tell me what appendages I need to be able to hear?

According to Luke 7:28, what was John? (teacher, prophet, carpenter, etc.). What is his title or last name?
Does it matter, or should we name him after what he did? Then would it matter?

In Luke 9:55, what did the disciples not know?
Know? Know what? Jesus rebuked them, they obviously didn't know something.

In Luke 9:56, what did the Son of man not come to do? According to this verse, what did He come to do?
Is he supposed to save? That's what it says elsewhere.

In Luke 22:14, how many apostles were with Jesus?
Does it matter? How many are often included in "The Apostles."

According to Luke 23:38, in what three languages was the superscription written?
I guess three languages would make it a pretty big sign, it wouldn't leave any room for Jesus' head.

In Luke 24:42, what did they give Jesus to eat with His fish?

John 3:13 is a very important verse, proving the deity of Christ. According to this verse (as Jesus spoke), where is the Son of man?
If it don't belong there, it don't prove nothin'.

What happened each year as told in John 5:4?
Hanukkah. I'd have said Christmas, but this fits so much better.

In John 7:50, what time of day did Nicodemus come to Jesus?
Earlier, like the text says.

In Acts 8:37, what is the one requirement for baptism?
Water, I guess.

What did Saul ask Jesus in Acts 9:6?
He didn't have to ask, Jesus told him.

Write the name of the man mentioned in Acts 15:34.
Either "they" or "the brothers" take your pick.

Study Acts 24:6-8. What would the Jew have done with Paul?
Would 'a' could 'a' should 'a'.

What was the chief captain's name? What did the chief captain command?
Who really knows seeing as how it wasn't recorded?

Copy Romans 16:24 word for word from the NIV.
It’s not there, know why?Because only SOME manuscripts contain it.Additionally, it is not doctrinally significant in any way anyway.

First Timothy 3:16 is perhaps the greatest verse in the New Testament concerning the deity of Christ. In this verse, who was manifested in the flesh?
He. Who do you think?

In the second part of First Peter 4:14, how do [they] speak of Christ? And, what do we Christians do?
Oh, the usual.

Who are the three Persons of the Trinity in First John 5:7?
Not sure, that verse was added well over a thousand years after the time of Christ.

Revelation 1:11 is another very important verse that proves the deity of Christ. In the first part of this verse Jesus said, "I am the A______________ and O___________, the _________ and the _______:"
Again, if it don't belong there, it don't prove a thing.

That's the whole flaw in the King James Only argument. You can use whatever verse you want to prove whatever you want, but at the end of the day, if those verses were not in the original manuscripts, and don't belong there, then all you have proven is how foolish you look using a Bible written in a language you don't speak. The only King James Bible I have is a Spanish version, and I looked up these verses in that. The thing is, I know about as much Spanish as King James Only people know 1611 English. You see, language evolves over time, and even the King James we have today is not the same one they had. For instance, the original KJV had no letter J, and included the Apocrypha, and you don't see anyone trying to roll back to those do you.

Love the one you're with, Sword that is,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Most Accurate Bible Translation Question on Jeopardy with Alex Trebek and Jehovah's Witnesses Apparent Continual Spreading of this Myth, +Jason BeDuhn

WOW, I have gotten so many, I repeat MANY searches directed to this blog on this question. I did a quick search myself and discovered that my blog is the second in line on GOOGLE on this subject.

You can check the archives for this blog for the email forward I received from my cousin. He is a Jehovah's Witness, and apparently received this email from someone else, likely a JW also. Seeing all of you here leads me to believe you either got the same email or one similar.

Now, I'd love to go into just how many issues I have with the New World Translation of the Bible, however, there are just so many questionable verses, it would be exhausting to explore them all. This is a quick and simple post, so please don't leave a bunch of comments about how I've not done my research.

Many well educated scholars have called the NWT a poor translation, a woeful mistranslation, and a few other choice words I'll not mention here. Some others, very minor controversial scholars have praised it kinda. For instance, an Arizonan professor, Dr. Jason BeDuhn recently wrote a book in which he praised the NWT as the best translation. This is what you might have heard about in those annoying email forwards. This would be a compelling case, however Dr. BeDuhn also had some sharp criticism toward the NWT for it's insertion of Jehovah into the text where it otherwise does not exist. You would not know this however because Jehovah's Witnesses don't point that out for obvious reasons. I could provide a list, but facts are, BeDuhn is in the minority opinion, extreme minority.

Anyway, on to the issue of the Jeopardy Question.

I cannot find any evidence that the question about whether the most accurate version of the Bible is on Jeopardy ever occurred. Honestly, I don't expect to. I seriously doubt a secular game show would ever touch the question. Surely, if such a question ever existed, (I recieved the email months ago) it would have appeared on YouTube by now, which it hasn't, and you can do your own search, but I didn't find it.

So, is the NWT the most accurate "translation" of the Bible? In a word, no.

Why? Very simple. It is not true to the words in the original text. You see, I'd have much less discomfort with Witnesses and their bible if they simply translated the text true to the words and then took their own meaning from it. This however, is not what they do, they translate a meaning into the text when that is not the role of translation. Here's an example: John 8:58. Jesus says "Before Abraham was, I am." Look at the "I am" part. That's the key. You see, that is a direct allusion to Exodus 3:14 where Moses asks God what his name is and he says "I am." The NWT changes both of these, John to "I have been" and Exodus to "I shall prove to be." The problem is that the very same I am that Jesus uses in this case is the very same I am that he uses when he says I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life, and I am the good Shepherd among others, even in the same chapter. You see, the pharisees and such knew that Jesus was claiming to be God when he said that, that's why they tried to kill him. And that single verse represents everything that I dislike about the NWT. It's not simple prejudice or some misguided religious fanaticism, the NWT is simply not true to the words of the text, forget what the text means, it's not true to the words of the text. There are 237 examples specifically. The divine name never appears in any manuscript of the New Testament, but it appears in the NWT 237 times. It's not in the originals, therefore it should not be there. It's as simple as that.

So what is a good version of the Bible to read? Just about any one that suits you except the NWT. I myself prefer the English Standard Version, because it tries to follow the subtle nuances of the original text even following some grammatical errors. There are a few places where I disagree with the translation because of the use of specific words or phrases which I think are significant, but even in those places, it still has the notes at the bottom that says what the word for word translation or alternate translations are. Otherwise, if you'd like to get a good idea of the original text, or just a good read, get a parallel edition that has two to four versions side by side. But honestly, any version that does not confuse the reader with ancient language (KJV) or obscure the truth (NWT) is a good version. It used to be that people complained about the KJV because you couldn't understand it, but that is no longer an excuse.

So that's all I got to say about that, for now. Keep studying, keep checking. Email forwards are almost invariably dishonest. No Jeopardy question by Alex Trebek, Jason BeDuhn is in the minority opinion, and the New World Translation is NOT the most accurate "translation" of the Bible. Much more to be said, but this is just a quick post that explores a single verse, and points out the obviousness of the Jeopardy! question. Please do read other posts on the subject, there are several.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What Would Jesus Do: Review of God's Politics: Why the Right gets it Wrong, and the Left Doesn't Get it. By Jim Wallis

Ok, I'll go right out and say it, if you are a Christian, or a Jew, or a Liberal, or a Conservative, or a Human, this could quite possibly be the best political book you will ever read. If you are not political, this book could make you political, but the best thing about it is this: It will make you Political in the best way.

I first became familiar with Jim Wallis while watching some videos on the Veritas Forum. What he said just struck a chord with me. I had been listening to conservative talk radio, and I did not like all that I heard, you see, I like listening to Christians, and when you listen to talk radio, you get not Christians, but conservatives. Republicans are not necessarily Christians, though they have courted the Christian vote for decades. The rhetoric of the "Christian Right" has become quite pervasive in our culture, seemingly only concerned about issues of abortion and gay marriage on the moral front while giving tax breaks for the rich and slowly dismantling the safety nets under the poor. This is the "How the Right gets it Wrong" part of the subtitle.

But then, the Democrats have often steered me the wrong way as well. They support the poor, but seem determined to remove God from public life. I've heard politicians say things like "I believe in God, but it won't affect my political stance." What do you think about a person like that? Do I really want to vote for someone who does not always act according to their beliefs? Do I want to support someone who wants people to be able to legally kill their babies? Do I want to support someone who would like to remove any representation of Christianity from the public view? This is how "the Left doesn't get it." The answer to bad religion is not no religion, it's good religion.

The politics that Jim Wallis offers us is what he calls prophetic. Not prophetic in the sense of the prediction of the future, but prophetic in the sense of what the Biblical prophets did the most often, and that was to tell God's truth. To tell the people to shape up, to not take advantage of the poor, not to defraud widows and orphans (pronounced single mothers and children without fathers.) Prophets insisted on justice, and that the blessings of God be spread around more or less evenly. This is the kind of politics that Rev. Wallis wants us to believe in. The the belief that says we've had enough of trying to clean up the trash of the world without trying to figure out who's dumping the crap here to begin with.

Also Rev. Wallis asks us what Jesus would do. The Right would like us to believe that Jesus is pro rich, pro war, and only pro American. Over 30,000 children around the world die of starvation each day, and we are supposed to be concerned about capital gains tax? You see, it's not that there is any shortage of food or water in the world, it's that there is a shortage of people who care enough to give it to someone who needs it. Millions of women still die of complications in child birth, the vast majority could be prevented by modern medicine. Wars still rage in the poorest countries in the world because of stupid things like diamonds and money. And there is still the epidemic of HIV/AIDS.

Wallis tells us that the monologue of the Right wing is over. I think it is close, but not quite there yet. Our current presidential situation is a bad one, and hopefully it will be over soon, but it seems that on so many fronts, we have lost ground instead of gained it, not only as a country in a world, but as a faith. I want to see Prophetic Politics gain some ground, not a politics of complaining about problems and passing the blame to the other party, but a politics of solutions, of ideas to fix problems, not just to throw money at problems, but to guide passionate people into their life work of helping other people. Because I think it's what Jesus came to do, help people, and not the rich ones, but the ones who really need it. The poor.

In conclusion, I'd recommend this book to anyone, especially if you have become discouraged by the current political climate. It is a pretty long book, it took me quite a while to read, much longer than normal and you can tell just by the last time I did a book review, but it is well worth it. It's a great book written by a man fully qualified to write it. It will change your view of things.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Radiant Barrier Insulation in the Bathroom.

As I mentioned before, a statistic I read said that 70 % of the heat lost out of an average house is lost due to radiant heat loss. Now I know that most of that is windows, but there are significant other "holes" elsewhere in the house.

Knowing this and having a remodel project, I decided to incorporate some of this technology into my construction. I purchased two rolls of radiant barrier insulation from and I placed some in the floor I was replacing. I did this to see if it made any difference in the heat retention of the bathroom tile once that gets in. I am sure some of you know the horrors of cold tile floor in the morning.
Next I placed some around where the tub will be. I have lived in a couple of houses that for various reasons lost a ton of heat out of the bathtub. As a fan of long baths (get your money's worth from the water and the heat) I didn't like that, so I thought this might be a good idea. I've only had one bath so far, but I think it has worked well, it definitely does keep the heat a little better. however, I cannot be exactly sure in a scientific way because I never bathed in this tub without the radiant barrier. I do know for sure though that the radiant barrier works because as I was putting it up on the ceiling before the drywall, I could most definitely feel the difference between the area with the barrier and the area without as the heat beat down on me through the roof a few feet above.

The real test will be when I put the radiant barrier in the attic, either on the underside of the roof, or over the insulation, or both. Either way, I am hoping for a reduction in heating and cooling bills. And if I ever get to build my dream house, this stuff will be all over it.


Sawdust Toilet Pictures!!!

At long last, I have pictures of the sawdust toilet. These were taken the day I finished it. It's a beauty, works like a charm, and the compost is getting nice and hot. Enjoy!

It is made of thick oak plywood, with a solid oak seat with brass hinges, and stainless steel hinges on the box lid. The bucket it is sitting on is a regular 5 gallon bucket that is used under the seat.

My wife has been pleasantly surprised at the lack of odor other than that of sawdust, and if I can convince my wife to use this thing, you can convince yours. It's really an excellent sustainable idea that eliminates contamination of groundwater and loss of nutrients into the water table.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Why I Believe in the Trinity

I was challenged recently by a Jehovah's Witness to explain the Trinity because I had consistently asserted that Jehovah's Witnesses have a horrible time understanding it. Here is the lion's share of my response edited so as to not be directed at any one person or group.

Sometimes when I say I don’t believe in the Trinity I don’t mean that I don’t believe in the Trinity. The words I use are something like “I personally believe that God is so much further beyond a simple one word definition than we can even understand, but Trinity is as close as many people can get”. For instance, I hold to the majority of what the creeds (Nicene, Athanasian, Apostle’s, etc.) say but I would say that I hold to none of them, because I believe not in models of doctrines, but in methods of study. “Models” cause us to play loose with Biblical interpretation, but proper methods of biblical and historical interpretation reveal the truth.

Now, I will mention of the word catholic a few times but don’t be put off by it. Catholic means universal, where as Roman Catholic is what he pope is.

The first use of the word “Trinity” came from a guy named Tertullian who lived from 155-230, long before the Nicene Council codified the creed in 325. However, the concept existed before him. He would not have needed a word for a concept that didn’t exist. In fact the concept had existed since before the temple fell in 70 AD when most of the apostles were still alive. The Didache (70 AD) mentions the Trinitarian formula for baptism. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107) who was a student of the Apostle John, and was appointed to the see of Antioch by Peter himself, speaks of the Father, Son and Spirit as equal and separate entities in several of his epistles. Justin Martyr (100-165) places the Father in first place, the Son in second place and the Spirit in third place. Theophilus of Antioch who died before 185 used the concept of the trinity before the word was created, in fact the in contemporary translated works, most authors translate the word he uses into the word trinity because it fits so closely to the doctrine of the trinity. Irenaeus who was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John continues down the same road, and espoused the same three part formula. He also said “Whatever is begotten of God is God.” Then came Tertullian who coined the word Trinity. Origin (185-254) said that the Father, Son, and Spirit were all eternal, and spoke of the Trinity. Hippolytus of Rome who died in 235 said “…also the Word is God, being the being of God.” Novatian who died in 258 wrote that Jesus was God and also the Son of God, and spoke of Jesus as being God and man. Pope Dionysus who died in 268 wrote against people who spoke of there being three gods rather than one. He also said it was blasphemy to say that the Son was created. Gregory the Wonderworker (213-270) in his Declaration of Faith espoused exactly what people today do, that there is one God, a Trinity, who is forever existent. And the kicker is that all this was before the Nicene Creed, when many people say the “Trinity” came to be.

Here is how I understand the concept of the Trinity. Understand that I am not arguing from a majority Christian viewpoint, but from what I believe is defensible using the Bible only.

Before we get to it though, I must make a few points. Firstly, how I define God matters not. God can no more be defined by me than you can. God is self defining as a being self aware and with freedom of choice. We can only define someone as much as we can recognize them when we see them, or we can recognize their work or writings when we see those. Secondly, I don’t believe in “Jehovah, Jesus and the Holy Spirit” as the Jehovah’s Witnesses do. The Bible says Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one (feel free to insert Jehovah, I do sometimes to hear how Witnesses might say it). Jehovah (or probably better Yahweh) is God, and there is only one God, and no other gods. It is of the essence of Jehovah (Yahweh) that the Father, the Son and the Spirit Exist. The Father does not equal Jehovah as Witnesses see it.

Best put I think is this: The rope of the Trinity contains three strands. First, there is only one God, second, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God and third, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not the same but distinct. Don’t bump me for plagiarism here, I admit it, many of these concepts are borrowed from other writers but I have tried to explain it in a way that is original as possible. I am sure those writers borrowed some of their ideas from other writers because the whole thing goes back a long way.

Let’s explore these three strands Biblically. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, which is a corruption of the other two, are all fiercely monotheistic. Isaiah 43:10 says, “Before me, no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am Jehovah (Yahweh or the LORD,) and besides me there is no savior.” I think we can all agree that the Bible claims only one God. Second, there are loads of places where the three are declared to be completely and fully God. Paul says “there is but one God, the Father” (1 Cor. 8:6). The Father, speaking of the Son says, “your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:9). And in Acts 5, when Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit, Peter declares “You have not lied to men but to God.” Thirdly, we see a number of clear portrayals of relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father and the Son love one another, and speak to one another (John 17:1-26) and together send the Holy Spirit (John 15:26). Modalism, Oneness or Sebellianism says that the three are one who merely fulfills three purposes at different times, but this makes no sense because of these obvious relationships. And the three separate beings of the godhead in Mormonism is clearly polytheism.

So what was the incarnate Jesus? I believe that people are body-spirit unities. When we die, our body is separated from our spirit, but our spirit is not a thing or does not have place and time like our body does. Just as God is Spirit, as the Bible says his followers worship him in spirit and in truth, he is omnipresent, or is present everywhere, or perhaps nowhere because he is spirit. So humans are an image of God, not because they look like him because he doesn’t have a “look” (indeed, we are close enough to monkeys or other animals) but because we are in spirit, like him, in his image because without a body, he has no physical image. Jesus, in the only way he could take our place as an atonement sacrifice, was to be exactly like us, consisting of a body and a spirit, only his spirit or essence was that of the almighty Yahweh (Jehovah.) That’s why Christians claim that Jesus was the God/man, fully God, yet fully man, being like man having a body and a spirit. Thus when Jesus was resurrected he told his disciples that a spirit did not have flesh and blood as they clearly saw that he had, and when he was taken into heaven, he remained as a body spirit unity, he could not have shed his earthly body after telling his disciples that he had one because that would make him a deceiver. Like saying “see, I told you I had a body” just to get rid of it when nobody was looking.

Some questions I’ve heard:

  1. Are the three separate individuals with separate feelings etc.?

Yes and no. From eternity past, God was a perfect unity and communion of love and fellowship. If Jesus was at some point created, then for an eternity past beyond that Jehovah was alone. When the Word came to earth, he spent a huge amount of time by himself communing with the Father through the Spirit. There are a number of accounts of him getting up early in the morning or going up a mountain to pray. So on earth, he lacked that constant communion. He was therefore at times not in perfect communion and in reality as a human was not able to be infinite in any way, as we are not. He therefore was able not to know the day or the hour of his coming, something you would expect that God would know. But now that he has returned to sit at the right hand of the Father (figuratively since a spirit has no hands) he once again is in constant communion however he retains his human body and will return in the same way that his followers saw him go at the resurrection at the end.

  1. Equal in power?

Not so much when Jesus was on earth. But united in power now, there is no difference in power, infinite is infinite, you can’t have a third of an infinity. There is no reason for God’s power to be divided. Certainly if God is perfectly just then all decisions he would make would be equal, congruent, and synergistic. Rain all falls in the same direction eventually right?

  1. Equal in authority?

See #2. See also Matthew 28:18 which Jesus spoke after his resurrection. Some translations use Power synonymous with Authority.

  1. Always existed, none created?

Yes, as I said before, if at any point in history, whether it be a gazillion years ago or last week, the Word was created, then for an eternity past beyond that, Jehovah was alone. A God that desires to be in communion with his creation just does not seem like he spent an eternity completely alone to me.

  1. Physically separate bodies?

Spirit is not physical. Category mistake. Check the Jehovah’s Witness tract “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” Look for a statue of three bearded men with only four legs between them. Not like that. According to Jesus, spirits do not have flesh and blood, no bodies. If you do not have this tract, get one, everyone should have one. It is available online.

  1. Fleshly or spirit?

I guess you could say some of both. The Father and Holy Spirit were never flesh. However Jesus retains his human body.

  1. Spirit is person or what?

As much as the others are. Though in the case of the Spirit, as with the others, there is a difference in work. Jesus said that when he went he would send the Comforter. I don’t believe a person can be comforted by something that cannot empathize, and impersonal force. And if Jesus had meant that he’d send the Father to comfort, that would create a few problems because the Father sends the Son and the Spirit, not the other way around. Plus, he could have just said that. Many people seem to ignore the Father and the Spirit, however, you must realize that many do not. There are a great number of churches and denominations who put a much greater emphasis on the works of the Holy Spirit. I personally was taught to begin my prayers with “Our Father in Heaven.”

The Roman Catholic religion was not the only one that existed from the time when Constantine was alive. In fact there have always been either sects separate or people who wanted to be separate from the Roman church. The council of Nicaea was an ecumenical council convened to try to come to an agreement on some divergent beliefs. The biggest one in particular was the question of whether Jesus was of the same substance as the Father, or of similar substance. Arius (from which is derived the term Arianism, the belief that Jesus was created) took the opposing view. The end vote was something like 318 to 2. This doesn’t seem like tattered remnants of Christianity to me, but more like a gathering of Bishops (not like today’s Bishops, but what you might call church elders) who really just wanted to rein in the wild ideas of some.

Far from it being formed by Constantine, the council was convened by Constantine upon the recommendation of a bishop named Hosius of Cordoba. And far from being based upon Pagan beliefs and customs, it affirmed the Christian faith that already existed. Arianism was the minority dissenting opinion, it was said to have been causing much strife in the newly legalized Christendom. Additionally, even the condemnations handed down by the Council to the Arians were later all but rescinded by Constantine himself, allowing nearly all of those exiled to return. After Constantine’s death in 337 his son, Constantius II encouraged the Arians to attempt to reverse the Nicene Creed. To that end, he used his power to exile bishops who would not accept the Arian point of view, especially Athanasius from whom the Athanasian Creed takes its name. He even exiled Pope Liberius and installed Antipope Felix II. The whole thing got way messier than it had been before Nicaea. Jerome even remarked that the world “awoke with a groan to find itself Arian.”

When Constantius died in 361, he was replaced with Julian who followed the Roman gods. He allowed exiled bishops to return and cause even more confusion and dissent. Julian was then replaced by Valens who supported the Arian point of view, and renewed the persecution of the Nicenes, exiling bishops and using force. It wasn’t until 378 and Emperor Theodosius I that a Nicene Emperor returned to the throne. It was during his reign that the second Nicene Creed was completed that added the section on the Holy Spirit to the original. Theodosius somehow convinced the dissenting bishops to agree to the Creed despite a great portion of the population still adhering to Arianism. This was the end of the dispute in the Roman Empire at the time.

The debate still raged among the Germanic tribes however. The Germanic ruling class were Arians while the populace were Nicene. Arianism didn’t die out in popular belief in the Germanic tribes until the 8th century.

So, as you can see, according to history there were no tattered remnants of Christianity, no pagan beliefs melded with Christian beliefs, and Christianity as the state religion didn’t come around until much later in 391 under the edict of Theodosius I. It wasn’t Constantine at all, in fact under Julian, the state religion was returned to the old Neo-Platonic Hellenism in the early 360’s. At the council of Nicaea, Christianity was as strong as ever, and was getting stronger, recovering from persecution. The Nicene Creed didn’t introduce anything. It was an attempt by the church leaders at large to unify the people under common belief and expunge something that was causing serious problems among the people. It was an attempt, and unsuccessful attempt at that. Remember, the word Trinity had been coined back around 200 by Tertullian.

Jehovah’s Witnesses say that the Trinity is a mystery to those who invented it, but who invented it? The Roman Catholic Church as we know it today didn’t exist at the time of the creation of the concept of the Trinity. Tertullian didn’t think it was a mystery, nor did the rest of the persecuted Christians from the time of Christ until Constantine and beyond. You see, a persecuted church doesn’t have time to quibble about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. In a persecuted church, you are either a true believer or you are not, there is none of the apathy like in American Christianity today when the church is persecuted.

This is why I believe in the Trinity. History shows it, the Bible shows it, and the Spirit tells of it. I’m not one of those Christians with the Sunday hand-me-down faith. I don’t have the faith of my fathers, I have sought and found my own. Faith in the Living God, in the Gospel once and for all delivered to the Saints, and in Jesus Christ, the Savior and Lord of all.

Peace and Love


Sawdust Toilet and Radiant Barrier Insulation

Without our bathroom, the sawdust toilet is doing fabulously. I do have a few problems to report, there's not enough rain to keep the compost pile moist right now, so when I empty the bucket, I take a gallon of water with me. This also helps to rinse the bucket by the way. As was expected, smells are virtually non existent, and the water bill is on it's way down. Like many people, I just never realized how much water gets flushed down the toilet.

By doing some simple calculations (this was before the sawdust toilet) and not including the filling of the wading pool, I found that we have just over half of the national average per person water consumption. This was a result of a rainy first half of summer and modifying our bathroom behavior to flush less. After the sawdust toilet, I expect our consumption to go down an additional 20-30%, though I have had to start watering some of the plants so that may make a difference.

While recycling, er remodeling the bathroom, I decided to put some radiant barrier insulation in some important places. Our last house was absolutely horrible for the cold tile floors, and I am hoping that the radiant barrier in the floor will help at least some of that problem. I have also decided to put some up in the roof and wall sections that are being removed, and the rest of it will go in the attic, hopefully to cover the whole ceiling and reduce heating and cooling bills. I read one figure that claimed that 70% of our heat loss was due to radiant heat losses. Additionally, I will be adding some more insulation to the attic in the fall because there is only something like six inches of rock wool up there, barely worth even mentioning. The former owners claimed to use 600 gallons of propane per winter, and with the state I am finding things, I don't doubt that the central heating system ran constantly. I've also decided to install radiant barrier surrounding the shower. In my reading of technologies like the German Passivhaus, I discovered that a major source of heat can be the shower. Additionally, I like baths that stay warm, so I am interested to see where this will go.

After the move, I am still unable to find the mini-USB cable to get the pictures off the digital camera, but I have pics of both the toilet and the floor. I'll get them up as soon as I can.