Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What are Spiritual Beings Actually?

The Angel of the Annunciation 1527 Lorenzo Lotto

There is so much to consider when trying to unlock the Bible. Firstly, there are many concepts that are not part of modern understanding. In a science driven society we are told that if we can’t touch it, it’s not real. However, more people probably accept rather than disagree that angels are real. Unless we open our mind to possibilities we will never understand the vast unseen world that surrounds us and maintains physical life.

Close examination of some of the words in the bible reveal that there are many unseen spiritual beings at work in the heavens and in the earth. To gain some understanding of this we can look back to the work of Dionysius the Areopagite, the anonymous theologian and philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century who described these beings in his work called The Celestial Hierarchy The Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner, also described their functions very clearly and relateably.

This is what I wrote several years ago at the beginning of my detailed study on TheRevelation, the last book in the Bible.

“Before we continue we should take a moment to consider the many spiritual beings mentioned in these first six verses of this Revelation of Jesus Christ to John. Our modern intellect has difficulty straddling the concept of beings that are not visible. Although, consider that for some people, God, Jesus Christ and the Devil are perfectly acceptable spiritual beings, and, for some others, angels exist. For the most part we don’t really have adequate images of the different spiritual beings or powers that are an integral and essential part of life in the universe. As we travel through this Revelation we will meet many of these beings and come to understand something of their role in our existence.”
Ed Smith, in his wonderful reference book, “The Burning Bush” lists them. He explains them in this way, 
“Between (the) Trinity and Humanity were the Hierarchies ... The Hierarchies are ninefold, being in three ranks of three. The highest rank comprises, in descending order, and using their names as reflected in scripture, the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones; the second rank (though variously ordered by different Christian authorities) comprises the Dominions, Powers and Authorities; and the third rank the Principalities, Archangels and Angels. (Rudolf) Steiner gave each of these a name in keeping with its character in the creative process. The Greek terminology corresponded with the English terms, but it is noteworthy that the Hebrew term for “Authorities,” or for the “Exousiai” in Greek, was “Elohim,” the plural term used for God in Gen 1.”
It is these Elohim that John refers to in The Revelation when he says “and from the seven spirits who are before his throne”. See my post about the Elohim Who or what is God? 

Many of the spiritual beings in the Bible are broadly considered to be God. However, understanding that God can have different expressions gives us a much clearer picture of the spiritual company we keep. Then we start to see how we are affected by the actions and functions of these beings who we could say stand above us (as we stand above plants and animals) yet exist in our environment - but in a different dimension. We could also say that these beings have a greater or different experience of the universe than we do.

We should not take lightly the different ways these beings are referred to, for here we find the clues to their roles e.g. dominions, powers and authorities.

In the following blogs I will try to explain the functions of the different beings and show why they are mentioned in the Bible and how that relates to our life today.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Does Jesus Save us?

Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) by Leonardo Da Vinci

After considering the topic of God in several posts it might be helpful to look at the other end of the spectrum to the role of Jesus. We looked into the life of Jesus in some detail previously.

Jesus is regularly referred to as a savior. Mainstream churches use the catch-cry, “Jesus Saves”. Really! What does he save? Some say, “He saves me from my sins.” I cannot believe that every time I sin Jesus will save me – and everyone else who is sinning. What would be the point of that! What would we learn from it – it seems to me that when people say that they are not really thinking it through.

If I have learnt anything about the Bible, it is that every word single makes an important point. The Bible is so clever that no translator has been able to skew the real meaning. So what is the true meaning of referring to Jesus as a savior?

The idea of Jesus saving is first mentioned in the New Testament in Matthew chapter 1, when the angel announces the birth of Jesus to Joseph.

“... she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 1:20-21 

Nativity by Giotto

The meaning of the name Jesus is savior or deliverer. The question is: does the savior do the actual saving? A deliverer simply takes something from one place to another. It seems to me that we must save ourselves now made easier because Christ was able to unite himself with this earth; in fact, Jesus delivered him here!

We might be able to make more sense of this if we understand the word ‘sin’ See post about sin. The Greek word for sin is hamartion and means ‘to miss the mark’. Imagine if we had a quiver full of arrows, and these arrows represented our thoughts, how often would we hit the mark because our thoughts were true? We must admit that, left to our own devices, we don’t know what to think about certain things. There are many things in this world that we don’t understand. Essentially, the birth of Jesus heralded in a new era of human consciousness. Unless we understand that human consciousness changes we cannot understand the significance of the birth of Jesus, or the crucifixion of Jesus so that he could receive the Christ spirit into himself fully, and the subsequent resurrection.

In a nutshell, before Christ (BC) we didn’t think our own thoughts. Whatever thoughts we had were instinctual and we depended on the tribal leader for guidance. We did not have the ability to make our own concepts from all that we saw in our environment. This instinctive process began to fade away and we started being able to put two and two together in our own minds, a process that has reached its zenith in present day sciences.

David by Michaelangelo

Now many scientists are admitting that they see concepts that are beyond their ability to prove. We could say that a higher instinct is entering into human consciousness, but this time it must be thought through. We could call this awareness higher imagining, higher inspiration and higher intuition. These three represent our ability to create pictures from our own ideas, our ability to hear new ideas echoing within us, and our ability to experience something new so that we know it intimately. Many people who invent things will tell us that this is how they came to understand their invention in the first place.

So the term “Jesus Saves!” doesn’t mean that we can sit back and hand over responsibility to him. It means that we must understand what he did, and the implication of his deed for our consciousness. We could say that Jesus has saved us from the abyss between the death of unthinking instincts by instigating the birth of these higher faculties of picturing, hearing and experiencing beyond what physically meets our five senses.