PERCEPTION and CONDITION

BY: JOHN R. GAVAZZONI

SEPTEMBER 20-23, 2012

 

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PART ONE

SEPTEMBER 20, 2012

 

Possibly more than any other time in the development of concepts presumed to be truly Christian, it is in our present day that the following questions need to be addressed: What is the relationship between perception and condition? Is reality unopposed by any contrariety (contrarianism, adversarialism, hostility, opposition, enmity, alienism) except by that which exists in our minds? Though, while the importance of right-thinking is undeniable, have searching believers become infected by the notion that evil can be cured by a re-programming of our thinking? Are we continuing to be perversely influenced by men and women who have been given gifts by God (the gifts and calling of God are without repentance), but have forsaken the giftedness that would make them truly edifying to the body of Christ in favor of an ego-driven compulsion to be known as elite teachers possessed of a special knowledge?

 

It seems to me that if we can be favored with the wisdom from God to answer the first of the above questions, we will be on our way to clarity re: the remainder. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first, a problem in Eve's thinking leading to our present existential condition, or was she---and subsequently Adam---subjected to a condition leading inevitably to stinkin' thinkin'? Did Eve, out of her (supposed) sovereignty of will, decide that it was her female prerogative to think differently than God? Of course, maybe a problematic, existential condition doesn't even exist. Maybe it's all just a bad dream from which Adam/humanity hasn't yet awakened since being put into his/our "great sleep," as some within our restorationist-community have actually proposed.

 

OK, here's this man's proposition: By our very creaturehood, we are pre-disposed to a condition that inevitably led to/leads to the kind of thinking that supports and reinforces our deviant condition. The serpent in the garden was/is integral to creaturehood itself, and it was/is there by divine placement within the garden that Adam and Eve were IN, AND within the garden which they/we ARE. Any attempt to remedy the present Adamic condition through any of the forms mind-reprogramming discipline will act like a drug, providing instant (but extremely shallow) gratification which leads eventually to a dead end, rather than the fulfilling destiny that is ours in Jesus Christ. Jesus wasn't raised from the dead to end up sitting at the right hand of God as the Source of glorified humanity by thinking Himself there. He was raised up by the power of God, out from the helplessness of death into authority over all things heavenly and earthly.

 

Yet, I hasten to acknowledge the sovereignty of God in the matter of dead ends. Those who have reached their dead ends are those who understand grace. Classic example: Saul of Tarsus practiced great discipline in his determination to be pleasing to God through obedience to the law. Talk about a dead end. BIG, BIG, CLASSIC dead end. If the Spirit of Truth will permit you to discern what's actually going on in the present scene of mind-reprogramming notions, you will see that it all contains the insistence that it's our choice to enter enlightenment or continue our stinkin' thinkin'. It's law, plain and simple. It's the demand that we straighten out the way that we think. The gospel is about God, in His Son Jesus, entering into our condition and becoming so helpless as to suffer within that condition, the terror of feeling abandoned by God, and then being delivered out of that condition by the Spirit of the Father.

 

How utterly humiliating---but ultimately beneficial---is the fact that much of our present theology rests on the same foundation as was propagated by books such as Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, and more recently The Secret, and the Law of Attraction. As I have said on a number of occasions speaking at conferences, if Jesus had mastered the mental discipline taught in such books, what He would have managed to do was to avoid the cross. They're all dead-ends. They all glorify autonomously human determination. Few words more vividly portray to us that there is "an existential condition of lostness and helplessness," and the only way out as do the following words to a great old hymn:

 

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound by sin and nature's night.

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,

I rose, the dungeon flamed with light.

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

 

PART TWO

SEPTEMBER 21, 2012

 

Our eonian, existential condition is one wherein the essential goodness of our creaturehood bears within itself an imbedded contrarianism. God, according to the Genesis record, saw that what He created was good, and upon placing over it the crowning jewel of His creativity, man, He saw that it was VERY good. So where do I get this concept of an embedded contrarianism, and is it a contradictory concept? Can a thing be good, but bear in its body that which is alien to its intrinsic goodness? I maintain very strongly that such is not only possible, but actual. As you consider what is to follow in this article, keep referring back, if you will, to what is implied by Jesus bearing our sins in His own body.

 

Creatureliness belongs to the dimension of the ages, to the dimension of the space-time continuum, to materiality. The creation might be described as Eternal Spirit-Goodness made to suffer the confines of being hedged about by forces intent on restraining It by keeping Its Infinity contained within the finite. Creaturehood is good, but forced, as it were, by God Himself to be a kind of fish out of water. In God's formation of the ages, the intrinsic goodness of creation was forced to live outside its environment, and to continue the analogy of a fish out of water, the creature's frantic attempt to get back into its water-element is a picture of creation's out-of-its-element struggle to get back to its home environment. The challenge is to get back home without being divested of our creaturehood, and having it--- INCLUDING its embedded contrarianism---converted to become intrinsic to its eternal home. I propose that this comes close to explaining the origin of evil---hobbled goodness.

 

Creation is good. All good theology has affirmed that. Some forms of Gnosticism hate that truth, for the Gnostics hate their own creaturehood, and cannot understand the difference between BEING evil, and being SUBJECT to evil. Thus theirs is a religion of trying to escape creaturehood in order to live as pure spirits. Goodness needs to be understood according to one sense, and another sense. First there is intrinsic goodness, and then there is the goodness of instrumentality. Don't confuse them. There is intrinsic goodness, and then there is instrumental goodness. Evil is instrumentally good in that it serves a purpose in bringing intrinsic goodness into it full bloom of glory.

 

Some teachers play around the edges of this truth, and have come to the conclusion that there is really no difference between good and evil. Please, back off that perversion. It's theologically crude and sloppy, and it leads away from that maturity which discerns both good and evil. Both good and evil stop at God's desk. He originates both, but not in the same way. Evil is not intrinsic to the essential goodness of the Divine Nature, but traceable to God's determination to put His Being---and our being within His Being---under stress, in order to draw forth all the fullness within His depths. The glory to which Jesus was shortly to return to as He was hanging on the cross was already magnificently present, when, under the stress of the violent abuse of His goodness, He responded with "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Ask yourself, did the Father ever view His Son as more glorious than in that moment?

 

The best of God is evoked out from the depths of God, by that which is most contrarian to all that He is, and to all that we are in Him. I think we are on the threshold of a new reformation, and what I'm discussing here is at least near the heart of what needs to be clarified if we are to cross that threshold divested of as much God-misrepresenting presumptions as God will allow us in this present stage of His onward move.

 

PART THREE

SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

 

Does one come to be by perceiving himself to be, or does one have to be in order to perceive that he is? Clearly, being precedes perceiving. Thought rests on the ground of being. We need to get down to basics here folks. Are we the product---both in respect to the (eternal) being which we have in the Being of God, and in respect to our present existential condition---of a God who IS and therefore perceives, or did some universal but essentially impersonal mind/perception give birth to us and form us in this world? Eternal Being is the ground of all of our being (Paul Tillich), out from Whom proceeds that pure expression of the thought of God, the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

God birthed our spirit-being, and formed our CONDITIONED creaturehood. As I have so many times affirmed: We are the fruit of His loins, and the work of His hands. Our eonian fashioning by the hand of God produced a condition of existence within the space-time continuum, within the dimension of materiality. Our out-of-the-gate existence was conditioned by a measure of deprivation. It just is not true that, before their seduction by the serpent, Adam and Eve lived with their hearts flooded with the light of God. It takes some measure of heart-darkness (ignorance) for deception to gain a foothold in our lives, and God designed it to be so for His ultimate glory. Humanity, in Christ, IS the glory of God, and for us to realize the fullness of the glory which is ours, we must suffer a deprivation of the "knowledge of that glory." How to the point is Jesus reckoning of those who crucified Him: "Father, forgive them FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO." How to the point is Paul's observation that mankind's problem lies "in the ignorance of their hearts."

 

This lies at the heart of God subjecting all creation to futility. HOW did God do that? Well clearly, by subjecting all creation to ignorance. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." How are we to interpret, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he"? What's really being said by that is that according to how (presently, existentially, creaturely-wise) I am, consequently I perceive. Our creaturely condition worked itself out from a seminal ignorance into the full flower of becoming "poor, wretched, miserable, blind and naked." YOU need to be saved from your condition. Your right thinking will follow the saving, healing, restoring, enlightening touch of God on YOU. God thinks rightly about all things because He is who He is, and it is only by that touch by which He causes you to participate in who and what He IS that you will begin to think as He does.

 

Beware of the latest deeper-life hustle knocking at the door of your seeking heart. Look for this common thread. The speaker or writer will lay on you some idea of spirituality that suddenly occurred to him, and he'll insist that following that idea will lead to a victorious Christian life. That wasn't the message of the early church. That wasn't the teaching of the apostles that the early Christians sat under as they broke bread from house to house. They weren't frantically taking notes on HOW to live victoriously, hoping that some important point might not escape them. They sat enraptured as the apostles focused their attention on their Lord as crucified, entombed, risen, ascended, enthroned and glorified. The realities of all the elements of HIS experience were spiritually conveyed by the rhema-words of spirit and life heralded by His chosen messengers. They were heard by those chosen to hear and began to work within them, translating the heavenly reality into eonian existence. The very reality of the Christ event was conveyed within their words.

 

What was it about the declaration of Jesus as Lord, and as risen from the dead, that made that early believing community so spiritually dynamic? In fact, what was it about that same declaration that caused men to believe initially and to become – and continue as – members of the believing community by continuingly believing into Jesus? It was that by the communion of the Holy Spirit they actually were ushered into experientially participating in The Way – the Way of death leading to life, and life more abundant (resurrection life) – under the leadership of their Owner, Jesus Christ. The totality of Jesus' human experience incorporated into His glorified Person brought them into all that He is, and all that God accomplished in Him.

 

If you have been following a path of trying to bring correction to your life by merely re-training your mind, what will follow is that this kind of adjustment will occur. You will end up masking one form of "stupid" for a more subtle and sinister one. One expression of your ignorance will in effect just treat the symptom, leaving the disease to continue, finally to manifest in an uglier form. It may not be considered ugly within our culture, but it will be ugly to the Kingdom which is not of this world. You may become, as the psychologist would say, "a well-adjusted individual," but you will have simply made a more accommodating adjustment to cultural madness and have the respect of this present evil system.

 

I recently assured a young believer that the behavior that accompanies his addiction has a more high-profile revulsion to those who reckon him to be a loser, but I assured him that his problem is only different in that it is more OVERTLY dysfunctional. There are those who have written him off as hopeless, while they, not having any boils appearing on the outside of their lives, are actually more soul-diseased than he. Judge not by outward appearance. God sees the heart. Often faith is being purified by not being given – during a God-imposed season which is the means to lance its boil. There it stands, ugly as hell, a taunting accusation against the effectiveness of God's grace. But he will be made new by the One who makes all things new, and that renewal will be the renewal his self, not a mere manipulating of a continuing alienated mentality, not a re-clothing of the old man trained to appear to be pleasing to the eye of those who admire the vanity of this world.

 

"One sat alone, beside the highway begging,

His eyes were blind, the light he could not see.

He clutched his rags, and shivered in the shadows,

Then Jesus came, and bade his darkness flee.

 

"So men today, have found the Savior able,

They could not conquer passion, lust and sin.

Their broken hearts, had left them sad and lonely,

Then Jesus came, and dwelt Himself within.

 

Chorus:

"When Jesus comes, the tempter's power is broken.

When Jesus comes, the tears are wiped away.

He takes the gloom, and fills the life with glory.

For all is changed, when Jesus comes to stay."

 

PART FOUR

SEPTEMBER 23, 2012

 

It is true that we are pilgrims and strangers in this world, aliens estranged from our true homeland, but we rarely hear in that regard that in a sense God shares this predicament with us. It is within the capability of God, most certainly, to undergo an estrangement from His natural element, while still remaining at home. He is the God of both dimensions. He is the eternal God, and as long as His wisdom dictates, He, and we with Him, will be given over to an eonian existence. That's a tearing experience. The God who is perfectly at ease with Himself in His solidarity with Adam gave Himself over to DISease in the transference of eternal, limitless, boundless Spirit Being into eon-constricted, bounded and measured existence within material mass. Know that such eon-existence is powerless to access the Spirit Being, due to being incapacitated by the effects inherent in the transference. The world of the flesh, as Karl Barth would put it, upon coming to the very frontier of its best (especially religious) efforts to reach to the other side, is faced with an unbridgeable divide (apologies to Brother Barth for my feeble attempt to interpret him). Sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste cannot penetrate the veil between the two dimensions -- BUT FROM the other side, God can break through any time it pleases Him, and suddenly what He touches is changed.

 

That is our condition folks. We are so subtly affected by our five-sense existence, that our perceptions are at best a mixed-bag. We are given to know God (as God), and then proceed to live with Him as if WE are the God in the relationship. We can easily imagine that our perceptions are right and true and that we have crossed over the great divide when, to a great degree, we're living in vain imagination. We talk about others playing religious games, while we TALK a good game of "raising our consciousness." The first sign of God getting through to us from the other side is that earliest stage of transformation when we begin to seriously distrust ourselves. That's the first sign of the prevenient crumbling of the self-confident self.

 

Interestingly, it is in the areas of very practical matters that our confusion is exposed. Hand in hand with having been genuinely blessed by revelation, we nevertheless live as if this world is our home in that we gullibly swallow hook, line and sinker what the hustlers of this world tell us. We boast in having come out of institutional religion while falling for every trick that all the other fields of institutionalism play on us. Our genuine revelation gets stuck in a very narrow application to life, resulting in an often strange blindness of inconsistency, one that has very practical ramifications in the matter of discerning how pervasive the lie is across the whole gamut of our culture's institutions, the results often being that believers suffer grievously as those institutions acculturate us to conformity to their lies.

 

You ask, "What hustlers are you talking about John?" Well I'm not talking about the small-time hustlers trying to sell you cheap, shoddy stuff. I'm talking about the big-time hustlers: The politician who promises you if you'll vote for him, that he---of such sterling character that he has only your interests at heart (gag)---will tirelessly work to make you healthy, wealthy and wise; the doctor with that practiced demeanor of confident wisdom, who insists that if you put your health in his hands, he will tirelessly research all available literature on the subject of your affliction before doing everything he can to convince you to agree to the surgery that will let him trade in his year-old Mercedes for a brand new one (double gag); your college professor who insists that since its in the text book he uses in your course, it must be true (the dung is reaching chin-level); and then there's the attorney-at-law, that paragon of fastidious ethical behavior, right? Yeah---right. And let's not forget, the present mantra that sells you on the idea that in the present working of the political system, your vote actually counts toward changing things. Yeah, sure. Oh will you look at this....I just threw up on my lap. And I must not forget: Just hand your kid over to the public educational system, and he'll be taught how to think for himself, so as not to be intellectually manipulated into believing that unquestioning tolerance is next to godliness. Oh, yeah, definitely. Oh no!!!! There I go all over my lap again. Another example is that we have – completely inconsistent with the Lord's revelation of Himself to us – mingled our Christian ideals with militaristic Americanism. We have actually for a time justified our empire's killing of so many innocent civilians, and bought into the pride of American exceptionalism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERCEPTION and CONDITION, Parts 1-4 [John R. Gavazzoni] 9-20-23-12          5

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