A Day at the University
At about 7 a.m. Elisa's little house came to life as everyone prepared for the business of the day. At 8 a.m. all six of them squeezed into Elisa's little car and they made their way to the university.
"This is Rector Arnold Koop," said Elisa, presenting Stan and Hanna to a very old white haired man who looked as though he was long overdue for retirement. Elisa had warned Stan to be careful of him as he had been a communist collaborator during the Soviet era and was known to still have militantly atheistic beliefs
"Welcome to Tartu University," said the Rector. "I hear from a colleague that you are somewhat of an historian," he said smiling.
Stan raised his eyebrows, somewhat surprised.
"Ah, yes," continued the Rector, "excuse me. But you got into conversation with Dr.Moora on the train from Tallinn yesterday. He is a retired archeologist and a good friend of mine. I am, by contrast, an historian by training."
The Rector motioned them to sit down.
"What is your background, Mr. Królewiec?"
"I am an engineer by training - Warsaw University - but I have since diverged into many different fields," said Stan.
"Like history and theology," said the Rector and gave a slightly acidic smile.
"Exactly," replied Stan, "though theology is my main interest today."
"I will have to show you round the Theology faculty which has only recently reopened. It was closed down in 1940, you know," he said seriously.
"So I understand," said Stan, not wanting to get into a debate about communism, a subject that had little interest for him.
The two men exchanged formalities for a while and then the Rector rose from his seat.
"The University is reopening in two weeks so as you may well imagine we are really busy at the moment. It is a great pity you could not have stayed here a little longer as I am sure the students would have enjoyed hearing from you, and most especially those of the History Faculty. You seem to have a rather unique perspective. You see, our history has been rewritten so many times with the change of régimes. Most of the works we have in that area were written from a Marxist-Leninist perspective and so rewriting our history from the point-of-view of a liberal democracy will take time. We've been at it for ten years but there is still much to do.
"But I wonder if you might like to address some of the faculty staff for a hour one evening before you return home? We would like to hear your Christian perspective. We can arrange a time through your host, Dr.Reifman, if that is agreeable?"
The two men parted with a handshake and left the office.
"Well, what do you think, sweetheart? Do you think there's any point in addressing these people?"
"Of course!" replied Hanna emphatically. "So long as you sneak in your witness of Christ and don't make it too academic!" Salme and Stan laughed.
"If the staff is still filled by communists - which I think is a distinct possibility - then it will be more like an interrogation than an open and honest discussion. I have frankly no wish to relive communist memories. I find unregenerated academics arrogant, stuffy and boring."
Salme giggled. She liked this Pole's forthrightness and was attracted by his shere breadth of knowledge.
"I hope you speak to the faculty staff," she said smiling, "so long as I can listen to you dismantle their communist thought system, though I don't think all are communists now. Mind you, I was only ten years old when we got independence from Russia so I don't know for sure. And this is only my second year at the University. They'd get quite a shock if they learned you were a polygamist...."
"Shhhh!" said Hanna sharply, "not so loud!"
"Ooops," said Salme, "I forgot," and then giggled again, and changed the subject of conversation as they came to the enormous library. Stan was impressed.
"We have over three million books here," said Salme proudly, "though it has been larger".
"That's almost as large as your library, isn't it, darling?" teased Hanna.
"Oh? Do you have a library in your place in Sweden?" Salme was all ears, being that she was the studious type.
"Only about ten thousand," said Hanna proudly. "Stan is a biblio-whatsit..," and fumbled for the right word.
"Bibliophile," said Stan.
"Goodness," said Salme, impressed. "Do you have an economics section?"
"Er, only a small one," said Stan, who secretly loathed anything to so with money but did not want to offend Elisa and Salme.
"You'll have to bring a few shelf-fulls with you if you decide to move to Sweden," joked Hanna. "The economics section is mostly in Norwegian and Polish. Stan has tucked them into some dark corner."
Stan looked over the top of his glasses at his cheeky young wife and she got the message.
After a tour around the University the three met up with Elisa in the refrectory for lunch.
"What do you think of our University?" asked Elisa curious to guage Stan's reaction.
"Very impressive for this part of the world and considering what Tartu has gone through over the last century. I detest modern Universities, you know, so I love your architecture"
"Which building did you like the best?" she asked.
"There were so many," mused Stan. "I love cupolas so the old Anatomical Theatre ranks high on my list. The Vetinary Institute was imposing, and for a piece of comparitively modern architecture I liked the Vanemuine Theatre a lot too. The main building is, of course, the most impressive. But I have a soft spot for giant pillars."
"What did you think of the Student hostels?" asked Salme.
"Grotesque!" Stan almost spat the word out. "Soviet architecture is amongst the worst that ever existed. We should know. We have a huge Stalinist monstrosity in the centre of Warsaw!"
Salme heartily agreed.
"Everything's old and half the time the electricity and water supply doesn't work. The University just can't afford to maintain services," complained Salme.
Stan knew just what she was going through because this was common throughout post-communist Eastern Europe.
"But there are compensations, you know, Salme," he added. "These difficulties, though uncomfortable, are actually good for your character development." He lowered his voice so as not to be heard by the neighbouring tables. "My North American wives have been spoilt by their culture, and so has Hanna here. They don't realise how lucky they are."
Hanna put on a mock indignant look whilst Salme smiled.
"They eat like kings and queens in the West and don't know what it was like in the communist days. Hélène and Sarah-Jane have lived in Poland a while so they've adjusted but Hanna here was born with a Western capitalist spoon in her mouth," and he winked to Salme who was thoroughly enjoying herself. He paused a second, and with that naughty glint in his eye, said: "My great fear, Salme, is that if you four come to Sweden you'll be utterly ruined."
Salme began to cough up her food laughing, and when she had gotten a grip of herself, said: "Oh, I don't mind being spoiled, not after the struggle we've had here in Estonia to survive. It's actually worse now than it was under Soviet occupation. There's so much unemployment, there's practically no welfare, and people really suffer in the winter. We're lucky it was so mild last winter, only we've suffered from flooding."
Stan grew serious. "Yes, I know how you in the former Soviet Republics have been suffering, and I think it'll take a long time before you get any good measure of prosperity. The only ex-communist country that seems to have made it is Slovenia."
"That's what Elisa says," agreed Salme. "She thinks we'll just become backward colonies in the European Union when we join. But we need the EU and NATO for protection because if Russia annexes Belarus, all the Baltic States will come under pressure from our former oppressors. I think that making closer relations with Sweden and Finland is very important if we are not to be absorbed by Russia again."
Stan agreed wholeheartedly with this intelligent young woman but Hanna was growing bored. With his concealed glances he tried to communicate to her that he expected her to make an effort to take an interest. Salme sensed that the conversation was not interesting for her female guest and so changed the subject.
"I've got lots of questions to ask you about 'you know what', so what do you say to taking a walk in the grounds of some local parks?"
Hanna lit up and Stan agreed. Returning their trays to the canteen serving area they left the building and made their way to the grounds of the ruins of the old Cathedral across the street. It was a lovely sunny day, the sort that compelled you to be outside in the fresh air.
"Are you happy living polygamously, Hanna?" Salme asked directly, looking her square in the eyes.
Hanna didn't hesitate. "Oh yes, absolutely. I've found the best man I could ever want and I have a wonderful family of sister-wives and their children who are my best friends."
Salme seemed pleasantly reassured but was determined to probe her with the hardest questions she could think of to test her sincerity.
"So, if you could have Stan in a monogamous marriage or a polygamous one, which would you choose?"
"Oh, a polygamous one, of course," insisted Hanna. "There's so much more love in a polygamous marriage. And besides, if I had Stan to myself, he wouldn't be Stan anymore, and I don't think it would have worked."
Salme seemed puzzled. "How do you mean, Stan wouldn't be Stan?"
"Oh, that's very simple, really. Marriage changes you. Stan's personal qualities, his temprement, and many other things have been changed by his other wives. He's picked up character traits from all the others. It's like a company employing someone with eight different university degrees. Someone who is so well educated has a much broader understanding of things. Stan's always telling us about Winston Churchill who was talented in so many different areas so that he could run the British nation and the army at the same time. There aren't many people who are good politicians and military leaders at the same time, and he was brilliant.
"Well, it's like that with a polygamous husband. What attracted me to Stan was that he was so deep and mature, that he seemed to be able to understand all sorts of different people. And he understands women like no-one else I've ever met. I'm sure, from watching his other wives and getting to know them personally, that each and every one has helped him develop in a way that no one single wife could. And do you what I thing is great, Salme?"
"No, what?" she answered, very curious.
"Not only has Stan benefitted from his close relationship with eight other women, but I am benefitting too. We all have each other to thank for what Stan and all of us have become, and what we are becomming. And, of course, we have God to thank for creating this wonderful marriage practice! It couldn't be more perfect."
Salme was wide-eyed but then her countenance changed to worry. "But no human relationship is perfect. God says we are all sinners. Surely in polygamy it must be several times worse than monogamy when things go wrong? I've heard all sorts of terrible stories from others who have lived this way."
"Sure," answered Hanna affirmatively, "things can go wrong, and sometimes horribly wrong. We know the dangers. It's the same in any kind of relationship. If you live in a large monogamous family with a dozen brothers and sisters who are always quarrelling it can be hell. I knew a family just like that. And in that situation, it would be easier with a smaller family. But I know other large families where there's a wonderful atmosphere. I also know small families with a bad atmosphere. But I've noticed that given a choice between the two, I'd choose the bigger family. You learn so many more social skills in a larger family and it prepares a boy or girl for the real world far better than, say, a single-child family.
"For me, polygamy does that and a lot more because the relationship between wives is much more intimate than that between brothers and sisters. In polygamy we're sharing a husband sexually which is the most intimate physical thing of all. We're sharing him with everything there is in a person. I know I'm only newly married to Stan and I've probably got a lot to learn, but I've been around the family for a very long time now and know it's where I'm the happiest.
"But there are so many different factors, Salme!" Hanna was almost besides herself with enthusiasm and Stan listened as enthralled as Salme.
Salme butted in.
"But you should be telling this to the others and not just to me or you'll have to say everything all over again!" and she started laughing. "I'm being greedy interrogating you by myself as I promised I would spend the day showing you the town. There might not be much time to see more of it."
"Don't worry about that, Salme," said Stan. "There's so much to say about polygamy that you never quite tell it the same way even when you're repeating old experiences. You ask what you want to. I expect all four of you will be comparing notes after we've gone anyway as you'll have a lot to discuss. So feel free to keep asking."
"Thank you so much," said Salme, her eyes all lit up. "This is so new and exciting that I don't really want to talk about much else. I know most of my questions have been answered on your website but it helps hearing it from your own mouths so much better because you can feel the emotions and spirits of the people involved!"
"That's quite true," said Stan. "Look, what's that building over there? Why don't we wander in that direction and you can ask some more questions about polygamy as we go. If you and Hanna chatter I can ask some cultural questions now and then!"
"Right!" said Salme enthusiastically and took them across the street.
"This is Toomemägi Hill and there is the former observatory," she said, pointing to some old buildings, and then forgot her history instruction and returned to what was really occupying her mind. They all sat down on a bench with Salme in the middle, who fired her next question.
"If polygamy is as important as you claim it is on your website, why aren't more people interested in it?"
"For the same reason that science was such a late starter in the history of the world," replied Stan. "When you have a model of the universe which you believe is perfect, then there is no reason for smashing it to pieces and substituting it with another one. People hold on to cherished beliefs even when a belief system is obviously a failure and beyond recovery. Look at communism - the whole doctrine hung on the assumption that you could make a perfect, selfless communist man by altering economic conditions within a socialistic framework. But man isn't at all as Marx, Engels, Lennin and all the others envisioned him. Man belongs to a different reality. You can't reform him by force. And when you try to change him by an appeal to reason, he remains stubbornly unreasonable. Not until his whole universe starts collapsing is he forced to re-evaluate his ideas and faith-premises.
"Polygamy is unnatural and so the natural man is naturally repelled by it. But it is only "unnatural" in the carnal sphere where thinking and logic is governed by sight. But in the spiritual dimension, where faith in principles deriving from an invisible Infinite and Perfect Mind is required, polygamy assumes a completely new dimension of reality, revealing itself to be not only 'natural' and 'normal' but the way the entire universe is structured.
"The only people who will be interested in polygamy are those who learn to adapt their thinking to the thinking processes of Yahweh, the heavenly Father and Almighty God, something man can only ever do by believing implicitly in everything that he has revealed about Himself in His Word, the Bible. If you study the Scriptures stripped of inherited tradition and bias, you will discover that it is a polygamous work from cover to cover. The two mirror principles that describe the true relationship between man and God are unambiguously polygamous - the Father's relationship to the Theocratic Nation of the Redeemed, Israel - and the Son's relation to the Spiritual Fellowship of those who have received the New Birth, the Church. And those two principles are of one to many, of a singular Male principle of rulership to a plural Female principle of those submitted to its rule.
"Polygamy is a microcosm of the divine macrocosmic principle, a reflection of that principle in its most intimate form - marriage. It is the only human institution that most closely parallels this divine allegorical marriage. There are others, to be sure, as of the Pastor and his congregation, the President of a Republic to the citizens of that Republic, and so on, but neither of these are as imtimate as the marriage relationship, and neither of them is everlasting. Pastors come and go, as do Presidents, but marriage, if it is in Christ, is indissoluble.
"The reason polygamy doesn't attract more people is because people don't want to know God as He really is. They want to adapt Him to their own wants and expectations. They want to see and understand Him through the lenses of their own finiteness and fallibility. Polygamy - and by polygamy I mean polygamy which all the parties enter into of their own free will and desire and not because of any compulsion - will therefore only ever attract those who are fully submitted to God."
Stan held both Salme and Hanna in wrapped attention and for a while, after he had finished, neither of them spoke.
"Well, that's what I think," said Stan, breaking the impasse.
"In the discussions we've had in our Wednesday group," continued Salme, "we've usually analysed polygamy in terms of social economics, psychology, gender ratios, and that sort of thing and we've never had agreement."
"That, I'm afraid, is inevitable, because you then start seeing marriage through the eyes of earthly realities instead of heavenly ones. In terms of gender statistics, for instance, there is no justification for polygamy in your country whatsoever because there are actually more men than women in Estonia. I don't quite know what the explanation is. Most countries have a surplass of women. One exception is China but the cause of that is known, viz. the policy of the communist government of limiting each family to one child, though there may be other factors too. It is also my view that another reason for the surplass of men in that nation has something to do with the rôle it will play in the bloody battle of Armageddon. It may also have something to do with the foul Chinese tradition which maintains that a baby girl is worthless, and as you may know, there is a still widespread practice of murdering or abandoning newborn baby girls in both India and China. Hence the surplass of men."
"How awful," said Hanna with a look of horror on her face.
"Is it not true, Stan, that you believe that the only kind of marriage in heaven will be polygamy?" asked Salme.
"Yes, it is, but I have to admit that very few polygamous Christians actually share that belief."
Salme suddenly realised what the time was and interrupted him.
"Oh, goodness, look at the time! We're supposed to meet the others at 4 p.m. by St. John's Church," and hurriedly stood up. "I wish I had brought a taperecorder for them to hear what we've discussed."
"You'd better summarise it for them when we meet," suggested Stan.
Elisa, Hilda and Silvia were waiting by the ruins of an old church and waved when they caught sight of Stan's little entourage of three. After exchanging greetings, the six squashed into Elisa's little car again and made their way home, keeping an anxious look out out for the police who would not take kindly to seeing so many people in a single vehicle. Salme began rehearsing all that they had discussed in Estonian whilst sitting on Silvia's lap and the others interjected with odd questions and remarks. The car disgorged its cargo of human sardines at Elisa's home and the party made their way indoors.
"Do you mind if we taperecord our conversations with you from now on?" asked Elisa. "There's so much we're going to forget after you've gone, and none of us is much good at shorthand. I promise they won't be played to anyone but ourselves."
"That's fine, Elisa, so long as they don't get into the wrong hands. Perhaps later a transcript could be made and the tapes erased. We could then use the material on our homepage though changing your names. What do you think?"
The others talked it over and Sylvia, the secretary, agreed to word process the tapes in her spare time in English and Estonian so they could make an Estonian homepage too. Hilda had brought a cardboard box from the car which was full of cassette tapes. Stan grinned. He liked the organisational efficiency of these women.
The remainder of the afternoon was taken up with preparing for the Sabbath which was due to start in an hour-and-a half. Stan had been surprised to discover that they were copying New Covenant beliefs for he had expected them to follow the gentile patterns.
"How long have you been observing the sabbath?" asked Stan curiously.
"About a month," replied Silvia. "There's so much to absorb on your Church's website and we have so many questions but we decided to make a start. And so we thought we'd start with what we understood and could easily implement."
"I'm proud of you, ladies," beamed Stan. "I like your pluckiness and determination!" and they in their turn beamed back at him. Hanna and Salme went off to the kitchen to prepare the evening meal to give the others a chance to talk to Stan.
"Are you strong enough to answer some difficult theological questions, Stan?" asked Hilda. "We've got a number that we haven't been able to resolve in our Wednesday Bible meetings. Though we four try to follow New Covenant teachings as best we can, the others come from different traditions - Lutheran, Russian Orthodox, Baptist and Pentecostal. We even had a Mormon join our group for a while but he got us all very confused." Stan nodded and she looked at Elisa to get the ball rolling.
"This is the problem we have," started Elisa. "We don't understand who Jesus is because we can't understand how He can be both God and man at the same time. To us that is like being a lump of gold and a bottle of gas at the same time, or being hot and cold at the same time, or being in Tallinn and Tartu at the same time. That's one question. The second question has to do with your teaching about pre-existence. If man had a pre-existence, then so did Jesus. That would mean that in the world of spirits there was a pre-existent spirit called Jesus and also the Eternal God as two separate beings. In other words, two Persons. What's confusing for us is working out just how many persons there are. Did two persons become one Person in the incarnation? Or did Jesus, the God-Man, pre-exist too?"
Stan's head spun, and he thought to himself: "My goodness, what women these are!"
"And there's one other thing. In your Church's teachings you say that Jesus was God in His spirit but man in His physical body. Most Christians say that the two natures were completely mixed - that His spirit was God and man, and that His body was God and man. This confuses us as well."
"Ladies, you ask some of the most difficult questions ever formulated by theologians, questions that they had to think about for at least three centuries before they were able to formulate crystalised creeds. And I'm not sure I can give you the answers you want because there are so many questions in my own mind. My beliefs about this seem to be evolving all the time. But there are some things we can be quite certain about."
Elisa interrupted him. "Do you believe that Jesus was divine before He was born on earth?"
Stan sighed. "The answer is yes, and I don't know, because your question makes presuppositions. We know that God pre-existed and we know that the Word pre-exististed. Yah'shua Himself constantly intimates that "He" existed before Abraham. But was it the Incarnate God who existed - that is, the "Yah'shua" or "Jesus" speaking those words about His pre-existence, or was it the divine part of "Jesus" only that pre-existed? Did the personality "Jesus", who was very human, pre-exist, or was that a unique creation?
"We are in the realm of the philosophical and the etymological1 and we shall probably go around in circles. If the best minds took centuries to figure things out and still leave important unanswered questions, it is unlikely that six heads in Tartu are going to figure it out."
They all laughed.
"I find this topic gives me headaches. One can arrive at all sorts of neat solutions but everyone of them is built on one or more untestable assumptions. And it seems to me that if God had wanted us to know the answers, he would have given us more information, though I somewhat doubt that would have helped. No matter how much data you give fallen human beings, they still have a tendency to mess it all up. Goodness gracious me, look at all the evidence there is for God's existence, and yet billions don't believe there is a God! He calls such people foolish in the Book of Proverbs!
"We could discuss this question for many days by proposing a number of different theories. We would have to underline all the assumptions and then invite ourselves to choose by faith which assumptions we believe in. Even the doctrine of human pre-existence is an assumption, though it is strongly hinted at in the Scriptures. Orthodox Christianity largely rejected it even though some of the early Church fathers embraced it. As a result, the so-called orthodox doctrine of Godhead is limited by its major assumption that there was no human pre-existence.
"If they are right, Elisa, then your question about the pre-mortal existance of a human Jesus in addition to the existence of the "Word" (however you care to define that, which is itself no simple matter) becomes a lot simpler, since there was no pre-incarnate human Jesus - he came into spontaneous existence at conception. But that still doesn't solve other nerve-wracking problems.
"Like how can a small baby who can't even take care of itself be the all-powerful Creator and maintainer of the Universe? The way theologians have got around that problem is by suggesting that He temporarily lost His divinity, but afterwards regained it. But since God is unchangeable he cannot stop ceasing to be God. A way out of that is to say that God was only partially revealed in Christ - that only some of His divinity - a small part - was actually present in Him. But that is contradicted by Paul who declared that the fullness of Deity resided in the body of Christ! Unless we become Arians and deny that Christ was divine, or become semi-Arians and say that he was only a secondary god, we can find no solution. But in adopting Arian positions we deny other Scriptures. We are forced to say that somehow that Yah'shua - Jesus - was fully man and fully God. The problem lies in the boundary or interface.
"As we read about the life of Christ we are struck by the fact that for the most part he behaved as an ordinary human being who displayed divine characteristics. In otherwords, He did not behave like God and show human character traits from time to time. Though Christ was fully God, that Godhood was somehow limited in its expression. His mission was to bring the Law of Moses to completion by living it sinlessly as a human being. That means that He was capable of sinning at every point of temptation like a true human being. Many say that His Godhood prevented Him from sinning - that the cards were stacked up in His favour, if you like. But if that is true - if His Godhood was in full control, then there would never have been any chance of sinning and He would have ceased to really have behaved as a human being. It would have been God living the Law of Moses and not a man.
"No, I am utterly convinced that He was, as the Bible teaches, tempted in every respect as we are. The choices he faced were human, not divine. And whilst the divine was present, it did not intervene. He did not behave as pure God but as pure man even though the pure God was there. I would say, then, that His divinity was present more as an "observer" than as a participator, until the time for the Act of Atonement came."
"But what about all the miracles He did?" asked Hanna.
"Yah'shua behaved just as we as disciples should, except that we cannot do such things as forgive sin, except those sins committed against us. Every miracle that Yah'shua performed, with the exception of rising from the dead in resurrection, countless Christians have performed also. Now don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that we are the same as Yah'shua. We are not divine. We are mortal. We cannot choose to go into "divine mode", like your Mormon friend probably taught, because we don't have that. Yah'shua was very restrained in the things He did. There were no fantastic partings of rivers like the Red Sea, no crumbling walls of Jericho - nothing like that. His miracles were restricted basically to the kinds of miracles that He expected His disciples to imitate through faith in Him. In short, He revealed only certain attributes of Godhead, namely those which His disciples would be entitled to call down from heaven, such as the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, and the casting out of demons. Occasionally He did startling things like multiplying fishes and loaves, calming storms, and supernaturally locating hidden shoals of fish in the sea. Similar miracles have been done by His disciples. I know of one Christian missionary in Africa, to give you just one example, who confronted a tribe controlled by witchdoctors and demons. The witchdoctor caused the Missionary's Bible to spontaneously combust and reduced it to ashes. The Missionary, in order to demonstrate the power of Christ, called upon the Lord to restore that burned up Bible, which He did.
"This is my point, ladies. Yah'shua was fully God but he only revealed a tiny, tiny bit of that Godhead in the miracles He performed. All these miracles were performed to be signs that he was the Christ - God incarnate - and everyone of them He promised His disciples would be able to imitate after he had gone, and that they would do even greater miracles. Only in the matter of the atonement for sin and the resurrection did He perform a mriacle that only God could do and which no human being could ever imitate, with or without God.
"It is my belief, which I believe is entirely scriptural, that Yah'shua - Jesus - was 100% human being in his physical body and sensations, his feelings, and his thinking. He was every bit as limited in these areas as we are. He was not, therefore, able to see into the past, present and future simultaneously. Many things were not known to Him. He even said that he did not know when He would be returning again - that only the Father knew this - and this is perfectly consistent with the idea that His knowledge was limited. His Godhead was there but lies very much in the background, as it were - one might almost say it was imprisoned in the body of flesh and bones, only revealing itself in the same way as Christ might be revealed through us when it was the Father's will that He performed a miracle or was given a prophetic insight. He was probably not conscious that He was God whilst a human being on the earth. Even on the cross He did not have much of an idea of what was happening because His atoning act - though cosmic in its effect - was experienced by Him as a human being.
"Not until He was resurrected was the human side of Him swallowed up into His Godhood. Before this, He was conscious as a human being. Afterwards, He was conscious as God. That is my view."
"Do you think the resurrected Christ knows when He is returning?" asked Hilda?
"I am sure that He does," said Stan. "If we want to know what the resurrected Christ is like, we only have to read the description of Him in the Book of Revelation. There He is no longer depicted as a man but as Almighty God. And as Almighty God He must know all things, even when he is coming back."
"So you're saying that that Jesus the man was fully divine but acted and lived out of a human consciousness?" asked Elisa.
"That's pretty well my view, yes," replied Stan. "I'm reminded of the story of a young man who inherietd his uncle's factory upon the latter's death. He decided, though, that he would not turn up at the factory as the boss but apply as a humble worker of the lowest rank so that he could get to know all his employees as an equal. He soon discovered who the honest and dishonest were. The foreman at the factory was a tyrant and treated both him and the other workers abominably. Finally, he revealed his true identity, sacked the wicked foreman, and assumed his position as the boss. The workers loved that man and followed him loyally.
"This to me is a picture of what God did. At any time the owner of the factory could have intervened and revealed himself but he didn't, yet he was always the owner inspite of being an employee. In a way, God employed Himself as a man in the form of Christ, not revealing Himself openly but allowing the good and decent - the faithful - to discover His messiahship for themselves, as Peter did. God wished to be loved on a human level because He wished to be seen as one willing to limit Himself and to serve as an equal even though He never was an equal. He wants us to love and obey Him because of His heart and not because of His authority. He is capable of cowering anyone into obedience because of His power but that is not the kind of follower He wants. He wants us to obey Him out of love and not fear.
"Now your Mormon friend caused a lot of confusion because what he probably taught you was that Christ had the same nature in body and spirit as we human beings. Is that right?"
"Yes, exactly," replied Hilda. "He said that Jesus was a spirit brother who was appointed to be Saviour, and that Satan had wanted the job but had been rejected because his private plan of salvation involved compulsion."
"Yes, that is their belief," said Stan, "and it is utterly false. If Christ originally had the same origin as man, then He could not have been eternal Deity as John teaches. That is why the Mormon founder Joseph Smith changed John 1:1 in his mutilated version of the Bible so that it reads: 'In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God.' But what John actually said was: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.' Joseph Smith robbed Christ of His eternal deity by removing John's original testimony and substituting for only one sense of that very deep revelation.
"Joseph Smith's error lay in looking at the word Logos in the way the Greeks did. For them logos meant not only the spoken word but also the unspoken word, the word which is still in the mind, or the reason behind the spoken word. When the Greeks applied the word logos to the whole universe, they meant the rational principle that governs everything. But the Hebrews looked upon logos which in the Hebrew is dabar or memra in Aramaic - as referring to Yahweh's expression of Himself. So why does John the Hebrew use the word logos which he must have known would be interpreted by Greeks in an abstract way? Because, I believe, he wished to convey both the Greek and the Hebrew concept. Since I believe the Gospel of John was orginally written in Hebrew, and since in any case it goes without saying that the Person of God is more important than the abstract principle, then I would say that the Hebrew meaning is the primary one.
"So we can translate John 1:1 in two ways and both are correct. First the Hebrew one: 'In the beginning was the expression of Yahweh, and the expression of Yahweh was with God, and the expression of Yahweh was God.' Where people have problems is understanding how the expression of Yahweh - which is Christ - can be both with God and actually be God. And the way it is written is not going to help us in our European mindframe. John expresses a Hebrew thought pattern which is difficult to convey in English. For the concept here is both/and, not either/or as the Arians and Jehovah's Witnesses teach. Christ is both with God and God. Thus the Word is not a created Being as we are.
"The Mormons put an unsual twist on this. Whereas the Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus was created like we are, the Mormons teach that we are like Christ and are uncreated! They say that Christ, Satan and human beings have always existed as intelligences, which is the same as saying that all are gods, only Christ and Satan were given different 'callings'. But the Bible clearly teaches that the difference between us is not simply one of 'calling' but the fact that Christ is eternally God, and that Satan and humans are created beings.
"Now the Mormons have a doctrine of pre-existence just as we do but it is completely different. We teach that as human beings we had a beginning as spirits - that we are created. That is a vital difference. The angels, including Lucifer, were also created. Only the Father and the Son have eternally existed.
"So, back to the concept of logos. By using this word - whether originally dabar or memra is not important - John is telling us that Christ is both with God and God, and that He is the full expression of who Yahweh is. Christ is both with Yahweh and is Yahweh. Now the repercussions of that truth are deep indeed and we could discuss that for the whole of our trip here but I don't think that would be a wise use of our time."
Elisa was beaming with gratitude. "Thank you, Stan, that has been a real help. I don't know what you think?" she asked looking at the three others.
They all nodded vigorously.
"Yes, that's a big help, Stan. Thank you!" said Hilda.
The clock struck 6 p.m. and the Sabbath candle was lit as the six gathered around the little dining room table. Stan blessed the meal and they tucked in.
"You know," said Stan, "polygamy and the patriarchal movement in general are meaningless unless we understand who the Person of Christ really is. It's our relationship to Him as the Divine Son of God which is the justification for the whole practice of plural marriage. Were He just a man, then I don't think polygamy would have too much meaning."
The remainder of the Sabbath evening was spent quietly relaxing. Stan and Hanna retired early while the four Estonians put their heads and hearts together to discuss the future. Already, only after a couple of days, things were beginning to happen.
The meaning of words
This page was first created in 2002
Last updated on 5 March 2009
No part of this work may be reproduced or stored on any
medium without the express permission of the publisher.
Violators of this copyright will be prosecuted
Copyright © 1987-2009 Chavurat Bekorot
All Rights Reserved | Alle Recht vorbehalten