Sunday, March 28, 2010
The Brothers Karamazowsky: Two Dimensional Sin
(Link for the previous Section of The Brothers Karamazowsky.)
The time had come for me to leave Alex's cabin. We had one last exchange as I gathered the rest of my things together...
"I'm doing everything I know to do", Alex said as he stood in the doorway of the guest room.
"How does that make you different than Adam?", I retorted.
Alex gestured to the signatures on the walls and beams of the guest room, "These people don't hate me. I can still speak with them."
Alex paused, looked at me and waited for me to look at him.
"Erik," he said, glancing around the room, "I know where my emotions come from. I know why I feel what I feel. Can you say the same?" His eyes were moving up the walls to the rafters above our heads, searching for something.
A horn sounded from outside. I no longer felt obligated to answer his questions. I started for the doorway, for the car waiting in the driveway. He stood aside well before I reached him. "Don't bother looking for it," I said as I passed, "I didn't sign."
As I headed for the front door, Alex called after me, "Neither did Adam."
I left without looking back.
Alex had made arrangements for me to stay with Van, his older brother. The middle son. Van taught at a religious college. Alex assured me Van was the most intelligent person he knew and the only person, he said, who had the ability to teach the Bible accurately.
I met Van outside of a large brick building, bare of ivy or growth of any kind, in which he taught. It was hard to imagine the two as brothers, even half-brothers. Van was muscular with a very deep voice, void of charisma and energy. When he spoke there appeared to be only one possible outcome or explanation, like a locomotive engine, unable to swerve off the tracks laid out evenly before it.
I spent the evening answering his many questions about my time with Alex, though it appeared Alex had already shared his version of the series of conversations. Van was gathering both perspectives, turning each one over in his brain, seemingly in no hurry to come to any conclusions.
As I fell asleep, I intentionally recalled the conversations I had with Van. I felt, of the three brothers, he would be the least enjoyable to interact with. The next day's events left my theory proven wrong...
Van thought it was best to begin with a Bible study. I brought my Bible to his dining room table. However, Van began by talking about Ayn's belief literature was the best way to present truth. He asked me if I agreed with this.
"I guess I don't agree. If I want to make a new dish for dinner, I don't read a story...I get a recipe. Shouldn't we just speak directly in terms of principles?", I asked.
Van asked, "Is the Bible truth?"
"Is the Bible written directly with principles or as literature...as a story?"
I smiled. He was right. I just nodded.
Van continued, "One of the subtle differences with the Bible as literature is how the main Persons are presented. In a novel, we learn about some aspect of the character in the beginning...and we continue to get more and more understanding of the true nature of the character as the story goes on. In the Bible, when it comes to The Trinity, the best understanding of each Person is obtained upon Their introduction...and then They become more and more abstract as the story goes on. For example, how often does God the Father speak throughout the Bible?"
I told Van I had read my Bible, cover to cover, ten times. Being a good teacher, he intended on quizzing me throughout our interaction. I started to pull the books of the Bible into my brain, realizing how little God the Father speaks in the New Testiment. The longer I thought about it, the clearer it became. The Father was rarely even mentioned in the New Testament.
"I never thought about it, but you are right. I was just thinking, God the Father spoke during Jesus' Baptism and then I'm not sure we heard from Him directly again. Even in the Old Testament. He began speaking to people directly and by the time Moses was gone, God the Father was only speaking to people through prophets. The Holy Spirit appeared in The Book of Acts, which was the best description we got and then became more abstract through the rest of the New Testament. Very good, Van!", I applauded.
Van's tone didn't change, "Let's stick to God the Father. The best understanding of God the Father came at the beginning of the Bible. As people make more and more poor choices, God the Father adjusted to us and we saw less and less of His Nature directly and more of Him indirectly. That means..."
"We ought to look at God's first interactions with people", I interrupted.
Without any encouragement, Van said, "Yes. We should look at God's interaction with Adam and Eve."
I reached for my Bible.
"Leave it," Van ordered. "I want to illustrate something first."
Van opened his Bible and said, "Genesis chapter three began with the story of Eve's interaction with the serpent." Van read the first seven verses ending with, "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."
"I'm going to continue reading this story out loud, but when I come to the points where each person spoke, I want you to respond as you remember them speaking, first. Do you think you can do this?"
I smiled and said, "Of course! I've heard this story more than any other story from the Bible."
Van read, "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said,..."
Van looked to me and said, "That's your part. What did God say?"
I hesitated because God wouldn't ask why Adam was afraid or why Adam hid himself. Adam already answered that. I know God is going to ask why Adam ate of the tree, so I said, "Why did you eat from the tree? Something like that?"
Van read, "And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said,..."
I replied, "Yes, because the woman gave it to me."
"Erik, did you see any problems with what God said?"
"You mean other than I was wrong?"
Van said, "Yes. God asked two questions. However, your response accused them of eating from the tree even though you asked a question. God did not accuse them. God actually asked them if they had eaten from the tree." Then he stared at me.
I waited a couple of seconds and then said, "Continue, I'm listening."
Van said, "There were two questions God asked. You have heard them both and you didn't see anything strange?"
Van said, "Erik, God just asked Adam and Eve if they ate of the tree. Does God not know if they did or not?"
"He has..", then I stopped. Why would God ask about something if He knew about it...unless He didn't know!
Van said, "Erik, we are at the beginning of the Bible. Your unaware brain just got information about God it understands because it is a perfect modeler. However, your conscious brain is about to make a choice determining, for the rest of your life, how you understand God and the Bible. Be careful...you ought to say this out loud so your unaware brain knows what you believe. What is your answer?"
"God didn't know if they ate of the tree", I stated out loud.
Van looked straight at me and said without blinking, "You have just stated God is not God. You believe He is not omniscient, He does not know what has occured. Your unaware brain knows this is not true. Everytime you discuss God and the Bible, your unaware brain is holding you back. It cannot get over the first contradiction you chose to introduce into the Bible. Would you like to respond differently?"
"Yes", I said immediately. Anything has to be better than believing God is not God. I thought for a moment and then answered, "God knew what happened, but He wanted Adam and Eve to know that He knew it happened."
“That makes even less sense. Firstly, why would God ask a question to point out what He already knew? Wouldn’t He be direct? Secondly, your answer presents a God focused on the past. On history. On things people can no longer change. Alex taught you that Rand said this is Naturalistic. We also know it as Deterministic and Calvinistic. Erik, do you believe God is a Naturalist? Someone who is focused on the past? On things we can't do anything about?"
I was feeling overmatched. It was one verse I had read and heard preached probably hundreds of times and Van was showing me everything I had ever heard either made God not God or made God not the God of the Living, but of the Dead...of the past.
"I'm beginning to see why people feel God exists, yet they can't explain God...and why they can't make it through their Bible, let alone Genesis! Do you teach your students this?", I asked.
"No. This doctrine is not consistent with the institution...yet", he said flatly, void of any emotion.
"Then you are damaging people too!", I accused, the muscles in my neck tense.
"Indirectly, I am damaging people because I tacitly endorse the faulty doctrine taught here. However, whenever possible, I encourage my students to read the actual passages and I ask questions. I teach principles directly, just like Alex did for you", he said with the slightest bit of compassion in his voice.
And then it hit me: the compassion was for me. Why? Because Alex taught me truth and I rejected it because it didn't come from the Bible. Alex taught me principles directly and I told him I wouldn't receive it unless I was taught from the Bible; from a book that taught principles indirectly through stories. My mind felt dull and heavy. I let out a deep sigh and slumped in my chair.
"I'm a hypocrite..."
"Are you interested in what your unaware brain understands about God from this passage?", Van asked.
I nodded with what energy hadn't been drained from my body.
"God must be asking this question because He is looking forward. God is asking because there is something He doesn't know for sure. Something that hasn't happened yet. God knows they have eaten from the tree. God knows they know they have eaten from the tree. What doesn't God know that is a future event?", Van asked.
I stared at him blankly.
"I'll give you a hint...it is something else Alex taught you."
When I didn't respond, he left the room to get something. He came back with a large work of art. He laid it flat on the dining room table between us. It looked very similar to the Two Dimensional Model drawing Alex had but there was a difference.
"Does this look familiar?", Van asked.
“It looks like the medical...er, drawing Alex has in his den,” I responded, curious as to what power these young brothers had that made me feel so foolish. “This one is different”, my eyes were moving around the image, “Alex’s drawing didn’t say ‘sin’ or ‘life or death’...” The thought that came next surprised me and I felt my whole being light up, as if I had turned the corner in a grey city and suddenly found myself standing blindly at the blazing sun, “God doesn’t know how Adam is going to respond...” I started slowly, “God cares about how Adam responds to being confronted!”
Van nodded, "The only explanation for this passage is God was focused on Adam's response to his own actions...not on the actual action of Adam eating of the tree. Your unaware brain is a perfect modeler. Your unaware brain knows this is the correct explanation. Every attempt to justify or teach a different explanation is actually damaging your own conscious brain...and the conscious brain of others. Do you agree?"
"Erik, I would have thought Alex would have taught you the value of responding with words..."
I said, "I agree. God was focused on Adam's response to his actions."
"Good. Now, don't you feel better?"
I did feel better. I began to nod, but stopped and said, "Yes, I feel better."
"Let's continue", Van read aloud, "And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto...who? Erik, who did God speak to...Adam or Eve?"
My brain went blank. I suddenly couldn't remember the story!
"I..I don't know."
Van said, "Believe it or not, that happens a lot when I go through this story with pastors. Guys who get paid to know this story, suddenly can't remember the most obvious aspects after they admit they were wrong about their view of God. God spoke to Eve and asked her what is this that you have done. Notice, Adam didn't repent, he justified himself and blamed God and Eve. Adam said it was the woman that you, God, gave to be with me. This was the original sin. The first sin committed by mankind against God: the justification of one's self. This sin was the cause of every other sin leading to eternal damnation. It is second dimensional sin, not first dimensional sin. God didn’t judge Eve based on Adam’s accusation. He asked Eve the same second dimensional question."
Van read, "And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the serpent,..."
I replied, "Why did you cause these people to eat of the tree?"
Van asked me, "So you think God asked the serpent a question?"
Van read, "And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field...God judged the serpent. God did not give the serpent the opportunity to confess and repent. God spoke in a very specific and intentional way. Your unaware brain understands this. However, what our conscious brains are taught is man-made tradition...explanations contradicting what our unaware brains know to be true. Are you ready for one more passage?"
“Yes.” I sighed, hoping to answer correctly, for Van’s sake and my own.
Van said, "Let's look at the very next interaction God had with humans. Genesis chapter four."
"Cain and Abel", I answered.
Van read, "In the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell."
Van stopped reading and looked to me, "Did Cain sin?"
I answered, "I don't know, but I can tell you what my conscious brain has been taught. Cain sinned because he gave God something less than Abel. Abel gave the best and Cain didn't give the best. Not giving God our best is a sin. Now, tell me what my unaware brain knows."
"Well, since you have read Matthew chapter six, your unaware brain knows giving to God is a right what. Your unaware brain knows Cain gave to God with a wrong how and why, so Cain already has his reward according to Matthew six. Your unaware brain knows Abel gave to God, which was also a right what, however, Abel also had a right how and why...so, like Jesus repeatedly stated in Matthew chapter six, Abel was due a reward from God. In this case it was called respect. I have also heard the preachers who teach Cain has sinned at this point. They are focusing on Cain being wroth and his countenance falling. They will say this proves he did sin or even being wroth and having a poor attitude in itself is sin. Cain gave to God and people want to call it sin? That would mean people are sinning when they tithe with a wrong attitude! Do you think these preachers would also teach people they are sinning when they tithe? Let's dig deeper."
Van looked back to his Bible as I thought about the preachers who focused on the wrong things. I wondered what had made Van begin focusing on the right things.
Van read, "And the Lord said unto Cain,..."
"Don't be wroth and don't let your countenance fall. Repent", I answered.
"So, you believe God spoke in statements. God judged Cain? You think Cain sinned at this point, don't you?", Van asked.
“Apparently. Let me guess, God asked more questions?”
At this Van actually smiled. It was one of the most sincere smiles I had ever seen. It didn’t contradict his sternness, rather underlined it, as if to say, "This is how I have always felt, and how all humans ought to feel, this is the natural state of things."
He continued reading, "And the Lord said unto Cain, Why are thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."
Van stared at me, his eyes growing wider. For a moment he looked wholly related to Alex, his energy and excitement matching his brother’s. He pushed his chair from behind the table and stood up. He began pacing, moving his arms around to illustrate the importance of his point. His movements were abbreviated and a bit clumsy, starkly contrasting from Alex’s fluidity.
"This passage is huge! God asked two questions. Then God asked an if/then question. Then God made an if/then statement presenting the opposite results of the previous if/then question. More than that...more than that...God Himself just told us Cain had not sinned...yet! Your unaware brain knows Cain had not sinned and God didn't judge Cain. However, your conscious brain has been told Cain has sinned and God judged him. Your unaware brain understands God. Your conscious brain has reached the conclusion God is not God...because people have justified and rationalized their contradictory conscious beliefs. God actually made Cain aware of the second dimension. God asked Cain questions in line with Cain's first dimension response...that he was wroth and his countenance had fallen. Nothing in this passage was a judgment. It was all presented as questions and if/then's. God tried to help Cain not sin in the future."
I sat still, remembering what uneducated notes I had written in my Bible for this passage. embarrassed by my ignorance, I slumped even lower in my chair.
"Do you know what the next verse began with? Do you know what Cain's response was to this?"
"That Cain killed Abel?", I answered.
"No. The American Standard Version stated the next sentence was: 'And Cain told Abel his brother.' Cain told Abel about his interaction with God! Cain confirmed he had heard God and understood Him."
"I never knew...well, consciously knew", I replied.
"Now, this story takes on a completely different perspective than what is normally taught", Van continued, "Cain has told Abel about his interaction with God. Basically, Cain's actual problem was he focused on Abel instead of God. Look again at everything God taught Cain. If Cain did what was right with respect to God, then Cain was not going to have a problem with Abel. Your unaware brain knows Cain's problem was with God and the effect was Cain's problem with Abel. God focused Cain on the cause. Cain realized this and told Abel, so this ought to have made Abel trust Cain."
Van continued to read from his King James Version, "And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain,..."
"Well, before hearing the story with Adam and Eve, I would have said God judged Cain. Now, I'm thinking that God asked Cain a question and it dealt with the past event in order to find out how Cain would now respond to his past action", I answered.
"Excellent", Van said, "And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?"
"Thanks Van. I needed that", I said.
"Notice, the phrase 'came to pass' occurs between Cain talking to Abel and Cain killing Abel. It looks to me like Cain could have asked Abel for help in picking the best from the field to give to God because Cain told Abel his problem was with God and not Abel", explained Van.
"I can see that", I nodded.
Van read, "...Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said,..."
Before I could ask, Van said, "The he is God. Notice, God asked Cain a question about Abel...and Cain's response was to lie. So God had seen Cain's response. However, Cain supported his response with a question. So what was God's response to Cain?"
“I believe God judged Cain at this point,” I said confidently, though I considered I could be wrong.
"And he said, What hast thou done?..."
"Another question?", I said, mostly to myself.
"...the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand:..." Van stopped reading. “I have heard people say they believe God didn’t have respect for Cain’s offering because the ground was cursed. What we just read clearly showed the ground was only cursed for Cain after he sinned.”
“Why doesn’t anyone else preach these stories like you do?” My frustration for preachers came out in the tone of the question and I could feel myself tense up.
"All I'm doing is what Ayn wrote about: interpreting art. Determining the principles resulting in the literature we read in a non-contradictory manner. The key? Use the Bible to interpret the Bible. Pastors and teachers don't do this. People use other people to interpret the Bible. When a teacher reads a Bible passage and uses what another person wrote to interpret the passage instead of using the Bible, the interpretation is going to contradict another part of the Bible. Most people don't want to take the time to find and read the supporting information for themselves. They would rather someone summarize it, which gives the opportunity for the truth to be diluted. What we saw in these two stories occurred consistently throughout the Bible and people interpret the other parts of the Bible just as incorrectly. Let's look at the model...", Van adjusted the drawing.
Van pointed as he explained, “In this image we see what came out of the person was a sin. Reality is we all sin. We are not perfect and will always have this first dimensional sin. The Bible consistently stated there is nothing we can do, in our own power, to completely avoid first dimensional sin. Instead, the Bible told us we ought to focus on our response to sin. It is a subtle point, but when people miss it, they are in danger of damaging themselves and others...to the point of losing their salvation.”
“Van,” I wanted to scream, but what came out was barely a whisper, “what are you saying?”
“The individual’s unaware brain completes the second dimension without any intentional effort...the unaware brain files away what occurred. If the individual chose to ignore this step they created a disconnect between their unaware brain and their conscious brain. The result is brain damage and in most cases, physical illness. Jesus specifically told us, in Matthew eighteen and again in Luke seventeen, if a believer sins against us...this is first dimension...we have to confront him. Not confronting a brother or sister who sins against us is actually harming him or her. It is the opposite of love.” Van put his hand on his Bible, as if he were being sworn in.
"I've seen people confront sinners. It doesn't look healing to me!", I argued.
Van said, "Actually, that is my next point. If a person confronts sin with a statement, a projection, a judgment...or even a question having nothing to do with the sin, this confrontation is treated like a new first dimension event by the sinner. The focus is on the confronter and the original first dimension sin is ignored by the conscious brain, but not the unaware brain. Not only is the effect the same as not confronting, but now there is an additional first dimension sin to deal with!"
“How ought we to confront sin?”, I asked, curious to see if he had a better answer.
Van pointed to the arrow with if written next to it and said, "We ought to ask a question or make an if/then statement including the words or actions consisting of the first dimension sin!" He showed how arrow number four and the if arrow combine.
"The second step of the confrontation process of Matthew eighteen consisted of the sinner 'not hearing' the confronter...not consciously processing! Most people today make this step, a step Jesus Himself taught, about agreement. Actually, this process is only looking for the sinner to consciously acknowledge the first dimension sin. If they do, that is all that is required. They don't have to admit they are wrong. Which begs an interesting question: If this first dimension sin did lead to the loss of salvation, why didn't Jesus require us to get the person to admit the first dimension sin was wrong?"
"Well, it sounds like either Jesus was wrong or the first dimension sin doesn't result in the loss of salvation. I don't think Jesus was wrong", I replied.
"Excellent thought process! Throughout the Bible, you will see first dimension sins didn't result in loss of salvation." Van pointed to the sin arrow. "They resulted in the loss of reward. There are two types of sin. Sins we do to each other which will get equaled out at Judgment Day with reward. Then there are sins we do in response to God and others confronting us about the first dimension sin. These sins result in eternal damnation." He pointed to the life or death arrow. "Realize, the end of the Matthew eighteen process resulted in the person being treated as an unbeliever if they didn't hear. Notice, in Revelation twenty, there are two judgments. One involves books and is for reward. The other involves one book and is for salvation."
"I think I'm going to need to see for myself."
"Good. Let's look at it, but before we do, let's bring this model full circle", said Van. "Love is a second dimension response. Jesus said non-believers will know us by our love for one another. Jesus was saying non-believers will objectively experience this secondary cause, our love for one another, which is an effect of our first cause, which is belief! It won’t be able to be denied."
The next three days were spent continuing this Bible study. The two of us sat hovered over our Bibles, flipping wildly through pages, pausing to respond (out loud of course) to each other’s questions. I was beginning to wonder why I had thought Van would be my least favorite. He was incredible! It could have gone on forever.
Van was able to back up everything with the Bible. Along the way, I ended up learning even more about how to interpret the Bible in a non-contradictory manner with the Bible. Here are some of the key points that I wrote down...
I learned grace is "the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life". This is a perfect description of God's second dimension response to first dimension sin. Salvation is by grace through faith!
Paul wrote where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. This means for all the first dimension sin we do, there is plenty of response from God to handle the sin well. The right way to handle the sin is with both brains: confess (which are words and involves our conscious brain) and repent (which are actions and involves our unaware brain).
Paul even wrote people will misunderstand grace by thinking the only way to grow in grace is to sin more. This would be true if God did not influence us when we don't sin. However, God does influence us even when we don't sin. We have grace without sinning. We saw Cain got grace before he sinned. The Bible also showed Jesus and Paul both got grace without sinning! The Book of Titus stated grace teaches us. The Bible also stated grace resists the proud, which means we can choose to ignore God's influence. Just like Cain did.
Van showed me how people didn't use the Bible to come up with this definition of 'grace'. He showed me how most people used a man, Martin Luther, to come up with the definition of grace as 'unmerited favor'. The greek words for 'unmerited favor' are not anywhere near the word that was used in the New Testament, which was charis.
Unmerited favor is only needed when a person sins and all it does is cover the first dimension sin. It attempts to erase the sin so the person doesn't have to process it. Think about that. This doctrine of 'unmerited favor' tells the person's conscious brain not to process the sin while their unaware brain does process it and makes the person more brain damaged. That didn't sound like God's doctrine to me.
We found Jesus' definition for love according to Luke was "giving without expecting anything in return from the person you gave to".
Notice, if I sin against you, the way God wants me to deal with this is to confess and repent to you, not to God. God wants me to admit I did something wrong to you which is a conscious statement leading to me being healthier and repenting. Repenting is doing an action repairing the damage I did to you. This is looking forward.
I have heard national pastors teach repentance is a say. Specifically, admitting you are wrong. That is confession. I have heard pastors and teachers say repentance is feeling so bad that if you had the opportunity to do the sin again, you wouldn't do it. That is actually a not do and is still looking backward. It still has the Deterministic perspective nothing can be done as we move forward.
Repentance is a do. It is still in front of you. Repentance is giving to someone you took from. So you wouldn't expect to get back from him. Repentance is love. Repentance would erase the sins between people.
Peter wrote love covers a multitude of sins. Love covers the first dimensional sins. Is part of the reason things are so evil in this world, we have pastors who don't know how to handle the sins God left to us to handle? Are we asking God to handle sins we're actually responsible for and God will sort out separately on Judgment Day?
You may still want to say all sin affects our salvation. In I John, John wrote there are sins that are not unto death! In fact, one of the clear lessons Van taught me about I John is our first dimension sin does not determine our salvation. We all sin and saying we don't sin means we don't have the truth in us. How can that alone affect my salvation?
John actually showed our salvation is proven by two effects:
1. How do we respond to our sin? If we confess and repent, we are saved. If we rationalize and justify and don't process our sin, then we are not saved.
2. How do we respond to the sin of others? If we confront in love, then we are walking in the light. If we judge and condemn, we are walking in darkness.
CS Lewis wrote life is "the ability to repair". I believe this is the Biblical definition of "life", not because CS Lewis said it. I believe this is the Biblical definition because it fits every use of the word life in the Bible without contradiction. For instance, "eternal life" does not mean "exist forever". People who do not have eternal life, people who are in the lake of fire, are going to exist forever. People who have eternal life will have the ability to repair eternally, which is what is needed in order to grow eternally. People in the lake of fire will not have the ability to repair. This means the best moment people in Heaven will ever have experienced is always the present. This also means the worst moment people in the lake of fire will ever have experienced is always the present.
How much pain and suffering do we Christians cause in this world because we attempt to be perfect and have no first dimension sin (which is really a work of the flesh) and because we focus on judging others who have first dimension sin?
What would the world look like if we realized God is focused on how we respond to our sin? Wouldn't people be more focused on repentance and repair instead of wearing themselves out hiding their first dimension sin?
Our culture teaches us admitting our sins is a weakness. Our culture teaches us how to rationalize and justify our first dimensional sins instead of encouraging and even rewarding us for confessing and repenting. Is our culture causing people to lose their salvation?
Jesus said He is the Way and the Truth and the Life.
There is no other way to get grace than by the Holy Spirit. The only reason we have the Holy Spirit inside of us is because of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus is the Way.
Jesus did not say He came so we would never sin again. Jesus did not come to stop us from doing first dimension sin or judge us. John 3:17, the verse immediately after the verse most Christians quote, showed us Jesus came not to condemn people. Why do we think this means it is our job to do this?
Jesus said He came that we might have life (the ability to repair) and life more abundantly. Jesus came so that we could handle the second dimension perfectly everytime. Are we experiencing and encouraging more repair?
God and Jesus asked a lot of questions. A lot more than people give Them credit for asking. They were interested in our response to our sin; in our thought processes. They did not judge our first dimension sin. They were focused on repair. We are focused on perfection and our attempts to achieve lack of first dimension sin is actually idolatry. It is an attempt to justify ourselves.
One more thing Van showed me that was consistent throughout the entire Bible was Truth is a right what with a right how/why.
Deception is a right what with a wrong (or no) how/why. It is a subtle point, but deception is subtle.
I saw it for myself. Many people do not interpret the Bible correctly. They do not use the Bible to interpret the Bible. Many people use other people to interpret the Bible. Some people even say we can't know the reasons why because it is all a mystery. This brings in a wrong (or no) how/why, which is deception.
Finally, I realized God wrote the Bible in story form so both our conscious brain and our unaware brain can experience Him or, to answer Van's original question, "Yes, I believe the best way to present truth is through literature. Through story form."
God is a Romantic who presented His Word (how) in an artistic/story form so (why) our entire being can (what) experience Him.
You may be surprised to find, as incredible as our time together was, this Bible study would not hold a spot in the top ten Bible studies I have ever been a part of. You may be surprised, but then again, that would be getting ahead of this story.
I was learning so much from Van. His insight gave me such incredible revelation. I had no way of knowing what ultimate revelation was soon to come. After dinner, on the third night I stayed at Van's house, he handed me a book that has forever changed my life.