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Old 08-23-2012, 08:55 PM   #1
Peter Debelak
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Default Organic Salvation

Organic Salvation

This teaching is something I learned in the local churches and from reading Witness Lee – and it is a cornerstone of my faith.

I agree there is a danger in mechanizing this concept into a simple “eat Christ” through defined practices like calling on the Lord, pray-reading and prophesying from the HWMR.

But when this concept of “organic salvation” is tied to the Biblical truth of God’s “multifarious wisdom” and “varied grace” – then its limitless how God can operate in one’s life.

The alternative to “organic salvation” is WWJD (what would Jesus do) – salvation by imitation. (I talk disparaginingly, but there is also a value in WWJD which James talked extensively about - but evidence of "works" seems to me to more of a "barometer" of one's health, not a prescription to "just do it.").

Thing is, when it comes to my greatest internal failings, I don’t know how to “pull myself up by my bootstraps” to be a “good Christian.” Seeing a positive model, like Jesus, and “imitating” is a recipe for self-loathing. Because I fail time and again when I attempt it (which is not to say I stop attempting).

There is a hope in “organic salvation.” But-for that hope, I wouldn’t even know how to think about the wretched man that I am. Paul’s angst in Romans 7 is palpable for me. That there is a Savior who not only overcame sin judicially, but actually indwells me – One who can be touched by the feeling of my weakness, and still overcame – that breeds hope.

Despite having paroused numerous Christian environments since I stopped meeting with the LC, no one has invoked this hope as poignantly as I learned it in the LC.

This fundamental faith in the Spirit which indwells me – albeit in humility (which I picked up after the LC) – is actually the very thing that has enabled a critique of the LC’s more abusive doctrines and practices. But I did learn it there. And it was a central teaching from Witness Lee.

Even as I rely on it to criticize the LC, I would be remiss if I neglected to emphasize that I initially learned it there.

Thoughts?

In Love,

Peter
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: Organic Salvation

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Originally Posted by Peter Debelak View Post
Organic Salvation

This teaching is something I learned in the local churches and from reading Witness Lee – and it is a cornerstone of my faith.

I agree there is a danger in mechanizing this concept into a simple “eat Christ” through defined practices like calling on the Lord, pray-reading and prophesying from the HWMR.

But when this concept of “organic salvation” is tied to the Biblical truth of God’s “multifarious wisdom” and “varied grace” – then its limitless how God can operate in one’s life.

The alternative to “organic salvation” is WWJD (what would Jesus do) – salvation by imitation. (I talk disparaginingly, but there is also a value in WWJD which James talked extensively about - but evidence of "works" seems to me to more of a "barometer" of one's health, not a prescription to "just do it.").

...

This fundamental faith in the Spirit which indwells me – albeit in humility (which I picked up after the LC) – is actually the very thing that has enabled a critique of the LC’s more abusive doctrines and practices. But I did learn it there. And it was a central teaching from Witness Lee.

Even as I rely on it to criticize the LC, I would be remiss if I neglected to emphasize that I initially learned it there.

Thoughts?

In Love,

Peter
At it's core it's the fundamental chicken-or-egg thing. Does God draw us or do we seek God? Does he choose us or do we choose him? The Bible plainly states the former, but it also seems to imply the latter (choose life, seek his face, etc).

It's too deep for me. I can't even understand why a bike doesn't fall over when it's moving forward. But I know that's what happens. Faith is like that. When it's in action it flows. When we try to analyze it it doesn't quite make sense.

Everything cannot be explained because if it could we would begin to worship the explanation and not the source. Christ is the only true image of God, the only begotten Son. Any other image of God, including our explanations of him, must by necessity be imperfect and incomplete. If they weren't we would have to worship them as we do the Son.

As to actually having learned something worthwhile in the LRC, who is to say you wouldn't have learned it somewhere else as well? Many people understand the "organic" aspect of salvation without using that term. Actually, I don't like the term "organic" because it seems impersonal and clinical and just a tad pretentious. Why not just say "life relationship?" Organic makes me think of organic compost, or a biology experiment.
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Old 08-24-2012, 06:20 AM   #3
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Default Re: Organic Salvation

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It's too deep for me. I can't even understand why a bike doesn't fall over when it's moving forward.
That would be the coriolis effect.

If only faith were as easy as riding a bike.
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:39 AM   #4
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Everything cannot be explained because if it could we would begin to worship the explanation and not the source. Christ is the only true image of God, the only begotten Son. Any other image of God, including our explanations of him, must by necessity be imperfect and incomplete. If they weren't we would have to worship them as we do the Son.
Think how often the disciples (and the crowds) were amazed by Jesus. They couldn't explain what was happening. But surely something was happening: it was good, it was from God, and it was occurring through the man Jesus. But explanations involve concepts, and how easily our concepts got shattered by this amazing person!

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As to actually having learned something worthwhile in the LRC, who is to say you wouldn't have learned it somewhere else as well?
My journey includes some time in the LRC (Lord's Recovery Church) so my ideas are colored by that experience. What I learned, saw, thought, read, spoke. But to compare it with someone else's journey, which may or may not include the word "organic" in some fashion, is to me irrelevant. Jesus said, "What is that to you? You follow Me".
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:53 AM   #5
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Default Re: Organic Salvation

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My journey includes some time in the LRC (Lord's Recovery Church) so my ideas are colored by that experience. What I learned, saw, thought, read, spoke. But to compare it with someone else's journey, which may or may not include the word "organic" in some fashion, is to me irrelevant. Jesus said, "What is that to you? You follow Me".
If someone chooses to use the word "organic," that's his or her right. I didn't mean to say one shouldn't use it. Just wondering aloud why one would use it, when there are other more common terms in circulation.

I don't doubt Peter's sincerity. But the LC has a pattern of special language. And too much special language can lead one to believe one has special experiences, as we've seen.
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Organic Salvation

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The alternative to “organic salvation” is WWJD (what would Jesus do) – salvation by imitation. (I talk disparaginingly, but there is also a value in WWJD which James talked extensively about - but evidence of "works" seems to me to more of a "barometer" of one's health, not a prescription to "just do it.").

Thing is, when it comes to my greatest internal failings, I don’t know how to “pull myself up by my bootstraps” to be a “good Christian.” Seeing a positive model, like Jesus, and “imitating” is a recipe for self-loathing. Because I fail time and again when I attempt it (which is not to say I stop attempting).

There is a hope in “organic salvation.” But-for that hope, I wouldn’t even know how to think about the wretched man that I am. Paul’s angst in Romans 7 is palpable for me. That there is a Savior who not only overcame sin judicially, but actually indwells me – One who can be touched by the feeling of my weakness, and still overcame – that breeds hope.

Despite having paroused numerous Christian environments since I stopped meeting with the LC, no one has invoked this hope as poignantly as I learned it in the LC.
I understand your point. I certainly understand hoping, trying, failing, self-loathing.

More and more, I am neither interested in imitating Jesus, nor being organically united with Him. Rather, I just see Him before me. I hear His voice. I sense His great love for His Father. There was a Man here on earth, who loved His Father and wanted to return home. Read Psalm 27. He was surrounded by death, but He never gave up hope that eventually He would be returned to the land of the living (v.13). To me, there is only one Man who could possibly fulfill Psalm 27. Not David, not Asaph or Heman, not you, not me, not Witness Lee nor Martin Luther. Only Jesus could walk those steps.

When you see that, you are awestruck; you are still. Trying to follow Jesus is almost irrelevant. You are like Mary, sitting there before Him, going 'wow'. You are no longer Martha bustling about in the kitchen trying to do good. You are just blown away by the journey. The journey is a person. His name is Jesus.

My return home to my Father is, yes, organically attuned to Jesus' return to His Father. It is just as real in me today as it was when the psalmist penned that 3,000 years ago. But organic union means nothing, nor does economy of God, or processed and consummated. The only thing that means anything is Jesus, and His love and obedience to His Father, and that He loved us and laid down His life for us. Now the door is open. We can return home to our Father. We were dead, but now we are alive and we are going home. ~Luke 15:24
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:04 AM   #7
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Default Re: Organic Salvation

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I don't doubt Peter's sincerity. But the LC has a pattern of special language. And too much special language can lead one to believe one has special experiences, as we've seen.
Language is merely an approximation of experience, as we try to convey it to ourselves and each other. When it becomes special, i.e. too restrictive or insular in meaning, it can become a trap. We can get stuck in yesterday's experience, and the journey ends. We don't hold the language; it holds us. Jesus destroyed the special language of the scribes and the pharisees (i.e. "We have Moses"), and I daresay He'd make short work of the "high peak truths".
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:09 AM   #8
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If someone chooses to use the word "organic," that's his or her right. I didn't mean to say one shouldn't use it. Just wondering aloud why one would use it, when there are other more common terms in circulation.

I don't doubt Peter's sincerity. But the LC has a pattern of special language. And too much special language can lead one to believe one has special experiences, as we've seen.
Organic, like the word "green," is just one of the latest words that folks like to use. Kind of like "gnarly."
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:42 AM   #9
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The alternative to “organic salvation” is WWJD (what would Jesus do) – salvation by imitation. (I talk disparaginingly, but there is also a value in WWJD which James talked extensively about - but evidence of "works" seems to me to more of a "barometer" of one's health, not a prescription to "just do it.").

Thing is, when it comes to my greatest internal failings, I don’t know how to “pull myself up by my bootstraps” to be a “good Christian.” Seeing a positive model, like Jesus, and “imitating” is a recipe for self-loathing. Because I fail time and again when I attempt it (which is not to say I stop attempting).
I don't think WWJD is an alternative to "organic salvation" rather what we should do until organic salvation produces the desired result. Ideally I don't commit adultery because organic salvation has changed me and transformed my mind. But until then (with this particular issue) I ask: what does Jesus want? (And yes in my head when I ask this question is a picture of Jesus with a beard and long hair wearing a robe.) I know He wouldn't want me to do it and so I follow that.
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:37 AM   #10
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Default Re: Organic Salvation

What organic means to me is something that is allowed to grow naturally with minimal interference. Something that is given a good environment, suited for the type of organism it is. I like the word organic. To me it conveys more of the sense of allowing, rather than forcing. In psychology one organic school of thought, conceived of by Carl Rogers, utilizes person-centered therapy, which is also described as non-directive.

But I appreciate the WWJD thing as well. In psychology, an analogous school of thought would be behaviorism, the father of which was B.F. Skinner, which utilizes a very directive, prescriptive type of therapy.

I only speak of psychology as that is my field, and I see many similarities to this field and religion: The fathers, the splitting offs, the now hundreds of theories and practices... Guess what? The single most important factor in therapy is the quality of the relationship between therapist and client, not the particular school of thought that the practitioner espouses.
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Old 08-24-2012, 12:31 PM   #11
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Organic Salvation
This teaching is something I learned in the local churches and from reading Witness Lee – and it is a cornerstone of my faith.
I think the less extra-biblical words we can use the better. This is one of the major problems with the ministry of Witness Lee as I see it now. Not only did he use a lot of extra-biblical language, he, and now his followers, have elevated these extra-biblical words and phrases to the level of (and sometimes a level above) scripture itself. I am not arguing theology here per se, what I am talking about is the real life effects on the hearts and minds of those who would imbibe in a set of teachings which are so heavily laden with these extra-biblical words and phrases.

I’m going to pick on my dear brother Peter at this point. (Hey bro, you kind of asked for it with your usual invitation at the end… “thoughts?”.) Well these are my thoughts regarding such a term as “organic salvation”. I am not, repeat not, accusing you of, or even implying that you are “elevating this term to the level of scripture”. I’ve tasted enough of your spirit over the years to know that you would not do such a thing! However, you have made a pretty strong statement in testifying to us that “This teaching (organic salvation) is a cornerstone of my faith”. Them are some pretty serious words… “cornerstone of my faith”. I would submit that anything that is a cornerstone of one’s faith should surely be an essential item of such a faith. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, but I am going to try to pin you down a bit. I would ask, can any extra-biblical word, term or phrase be considered an essential item of our faith? This is not a purely rhetorical question, and I think it’s a fair one.


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Despite having paroused numerous Christian environments since I stopped meeting with the LC, no one has invoked this hope as poignantly as I learned it in the LC.
I would challenge you to consider that you have actually heard about “this hope”, but it was not invoked or verbalized with the same extra-biblical language that we are used to hearing in the Local Church. “Salvation” is a big, big word. It encompasses so much of what is basic and essential to our Christian faith. I don’t believe that the Lord Jesus or the scripture writing apostle used any such modifiers with the word salvation. I would not consider the term “organic salvation” unbiblical (after all, it surely involves something of life), it’s just that I find the term organic as unessessary, or at least unhelpful, when considering all the profound and wonderful aspects of our salvation.

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Old 08-24-2012, 03:06 PM   #12
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Default Re: Organic Salvation

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I would submit that anything that is a cornerstone of one’s faith should surely be an essential item of such a faith. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, but I am going to try to pin you down a bit. I would ask, can any extra-biblical word, term or phrase be considered an essential item of our faith? This is not a purely rhetorical question, and I think it’s a fair one.

This is a fair question.

I should have made this clear in my post:

It does NOT matter to me the specific phrase used.

Actually, I agree with you (and Igzy that it would likely be better to utilize terminology directly from the Bible.

What I appreciated about what I learned in the LC is not the "uniqueness" of the terminology. Rather, as I explained, it was a way of understanding the nature of salvation.

You are right that salvation is a big, big word. It encapulated a LOT. I was trying to express that in my experience ESPECIALLY coming from the LC, there is a fundamental aspect to salvation that is important to continually be reminded of - specifically that God's salvation is through life and not form.

The concept entails a lot of important things, often in ways that other teachings/practices (e.g. "WWJD") don't always.

This "life relationship" or "organic salvation" entails a tremendous humility. Since it means that growth/progress cannot be formalized or turned into a formula, one must be humble and open to the Lord to work. It requires an interaction and a seeking. A questioning.

There's a great quote from the poet Rilke which is something like "Do not now seek the answers, for even if you could obtain them, you wouldn't be able to live them out - and that is the point, to live everything. Rather, live the questions now and perhaps in some distant day you might live into the answer, without even knowing it."

Because transformation isn't via edicts, it requires a constant petitioning of His will and His strength.

One of the unintentional consequences of the WWJD type thinking is that it has a subtle hubris to it. On one hand, it seems straight-forward (e.g. turn the other cheek). Yet, in reality, we are master manipulators. Let's say we're talking to someone who we are unhappy with. What would Jesus Do? Well, if we convince ourselves this person is like the tax collector, we would be loving and receiving. However, if we convince ourselves that this person is a Pharisee, then we're justified in telling them off.

We are so prone to want to "do Christianity right." But our tendency is to mechanize this, without the searching engagement God desires. Thus, seemingly well-intentioned people of faith who do everything "in His name" can actually fail to ever get to know Him (See Matthew 7: "I never knew you.")

Well intentioned stalwarts of the faith can be convinced they know what God wants and inadvertantly attempt to keep Christ from being crucified all while trying to serve God. (See Peter and "get behind me Satan.")

This "what is the Christian thing to do" which presumes you can actually derive an objective answer to life's messes has a touch of hubris, even if unintentional.

That is why I so appreciate an emphasis on the unfolding nature and life relationship of salvation. Tryng to sum up this concept, "organic" seems an apt word - but the word itself is quite secondary.

So - to be clear - it is SALVATION that is the 'cornerstone of my faith.' But it is this particular nature of it and how God accomplishes that is so encouraging and hope-filled to me.

Thoughts?

In Love,

Peter
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Old 08-24-2012, 03:53 PM   #13
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As to actually having learned something worthwhile in the LRC, who is to say you wouldn't have learned it somewhere else as well? Many people understand the "organic" aspect of salvation without using that term.
Its possible I may have learned it elsewhere, with different terminology. But I'm not trying to make the case that the LC is unique. It just so happens to be where I grew up and, despite now having left for innumerable reasons, I wanted to take note of things that were taught there I agree with, even cherish.

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Old 08-24-2012, 05:51 PM   #14
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"Organic Salvation" is not simply a constructed term - it was coined to replace a genuine Biblical word and teaching that you surely hear outside the walls of the LC: "Sanctification" +- the process whereby, after Salvation, we are confromed to the image of the Son of God and made Holy, as He is Holy. In thought, word, and deed. It is a long process of growth - that does not end in this life, but is completed in the next. Surely you know this Peter?
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:54 PM   #15
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What organic means to me is something that is allowed to grow naturally with minimal interference. Something that is given a good environment, suited for the type of organism it is. I like the word organic. To me it conveys more of the sense of allowing, rather than forcing. In psychology one organic school of thought, conceived of by Carl Rogers, utilizes person-centered therapy, which is also described as non-directive..
Speaking of growing with minimal interference, notice the parable of the wheat and the tares. The Master of the crop lets them both grow undisturbed together. There will be time for sorting later. The Master has great power, but also great wisdom and forbearance; He is letting the various "life forms" display what they truly are. He is letting them find full expression. Eventually they will be disturbed, they will be cut asunder. But only when they have fully revealed themselves.

And speaking of not forcing, notice how Jesus never forced anyone. When they tried to recruit him to be king, He withdrew. When someone tried to get Him to tell someone else to give them some money, He replied, "Who made Me judge over you?" Contrast that with John the Baptist, who tried to tell King Herod not to consort with his brother's wife. The power Jesus was displaying with was on a whole different level. It was the power of peace.

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But I appreciate the WWJD thing as well. In psychology, an analogous school of thought would be behaviorism, the father of which was B.F. Skinner, which utilizes a very directive, prescriptive type of therapy...
Paul said, "Imitate me, as much as I imitate Christ". A lot of what we Christians do is like little children playing at being adults. What we do lacks "life", or at least "maturity", but we see our Heavenly Father doing it so we try also. Notice Jesus the exemplar: "What I see My Father doing, I do as well." Our imitations pale beside the genuine article, but God is merciful. As we try to imitate, the Paraclete comes alongside and helps us. Our Father is merciful. If we are merciful to others around us, who are likewise stumbling, God will be merciful to us. God knows the real thing; He knows who are His. We just try our best. If you try your best, and be merciful to your neighbor, and God will be merciful to you. Actually, I think that's pretty "organic."

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The single most important factor in therapy is the quality of the relationship between therapist and client, not the particular school of thought that the practitioner espouses.
The single most important thing in the Bible, to me, is the relationship with Jesus the Son and God the Father. We here on earth should heed, I think, that once there was a man here on earth, a human being, walking around, who was one with God in heaven. The relationship between the Son and the Father was kind of hidden. You can really only see the effect, the outcome of that relationship in the four gospels. You see the power, you see the teachings. You see everyone marvelling -- "Isn't this Joseph's son?!? Who is this guy?!?" But the real relationship is hidden. It is like what Jesus taught: "Go into your private room and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." You see the "open reward" in the life of Jesus, but you don't really see the secret relationship. But it surely is there. If you sense this relationship between the Son and the Father, and you ask the Father for this, surely this request will be granted. In fact, I daresay the Father is waiting for your request.

In the church life, we too often look at the external things. "Who is on first", i.e. who is in charge. We are too superficial, too surface-oriented. We miss the hidden things, the things which are real. Things like relationships.

Mark 9:33,34 -- They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

The disciples had no idea what it meant to be "great". They were fallen creatures, separated from their Father in heaven. Jesus, however, knew that the Father was great, and never looked away; during His whole earthly sojourn, His relationship with the Father in heaven remained constant. So my question is: how can we look away from Jesus? Every time you look at Him, he is looking at the Father. If you have a relationship with Jesus, surely He will declare the Father to you.

Just some thoughts from a pilgrim on the road.
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:45 PM   #16
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In the church life, we too often look at the external things. "Who is on first", i.e. who is in charge. We are too superficial, too surface-oriented. We miss the hidden things, the things which are real. Things like relationships.
Mark 9:33,34 -- They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?" But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Reminds of all that talk about who is our "Deputy Authority."
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:50 PM   #17
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"Organic Salvation" is not simply a constructed term - it was coined to replace a genuine Biblical word and teaching that you surely hear outside the walls of the LC: "Sanctification" +- the process whereby, after Salvation, we are confromed to the image of the Son of God and made Holy, as He is Holy. In thought, word, and deed. It is a long process of growth - that does not end in this life, but is completed in the next. Surely you know this Peter?
I do understand that the term was coined to represent Biblical truths. This is what I am arguing. And moreso, that this process of Sanctification does not take place through a life-long process of imitation, but is rather a matter of growth in life. I don't think I have contradicted this.

That said, it was a "constructed" term. Indeed, what is the difference between "constructed" and "coined" - in your sentence "not simply a constructed term - it was coined..."

These mean the same thing. I don't personally have an issue with taking a rich set of Biblical principles and using a single phrase to express them (the "trinity" is a good example of this). Which is why in my first post I didn't flinch at using the term as it wasn't an issue for me.

But the term itself does not hold any particular import for me. It is the Biblical truths that are entailed in its definition that matter.

Some here bristled at the "coining" of terms, because they believe that this can, sometimes, lead to a sentiment of being "special." I agree there can be this tendency. If someone is taking issue over a matter that isn't critical to the argument I'm making, I don't see a reason to fuss over it. That's all.

In Love,

Peter
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:05 PM   #18
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"Organic Salvation" is not simply a constructed term - it was coined to replace a genuine Biblical word and teaching that you surely hear outside the walls of the LC: "Sanctification" +- the process whereby, after Salvation, we are confromed to the image of the Son of God and made Holy, as He is Holy. In thought, word, and deed. It is a long process of growth - that does not end in this life, but is completed in the next. Surely you know this Peter?
Yes, this is the long form explanation of "organic salvation". The problem is that in the "stand up and be quick and living", sound-bite world that has always been encouraged in the Local Church, much is lost, especially the "In thought, word and deed" part. Again, "salvation" is a big, big word. Sanctification is a big, big word as well. They are related, to be sure, but not to be confused. "Work out your own salvation" (Phil 2:12) sure sounds like it involves more than accepting Christ as your personal Savior, but this should not deter us from realizing and maybe even apprehending all the profound and wonderful aspects of the salvation we received at the moment we believed through saving faith.

As usual, Peter has gotten us into some deep quicksand here. Darn you, Peter, you got us into this mess....you are now responsible to get us all out!:rollingeyes2:
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Old 08-25-2012, 01:24 PM   #19
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I don't personally have an issue with taking a rich set of Biblical principles and using a single phrase to express them (the "trinity" is a good example of this). Which is why in my first post I didn't flinch at using the term as it wasn't an issue for me.
Neither do I. Organic salvation, trinity, incarnation, etc. can be useful to describe in brief larger subjects. But IMHO a legitimate complaint about Witness Lee and the Anaheim Politburo is they got lost in the language of theology in lieu of the reality.
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:56 PM   #20
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If someone chooses to use the word "organic," that's his or her right. I didn't mean to say one shouldn't use it. Just wondering aloud why one would use it, when there are other more common terms in circulation.

I don't doubt Peter's sincerity. But the LC has a pattern of special language. And too much special language can lead one to believe one has special experiences, as we've seen.
The term "organic salvation" is something I initially heard in the local churches. By no means is it a term unique to the local churches. In the time since I had left, I have heard it with other Christian assemblies. Most recently in the home meeting group with the saints I meet with from East Renton Community Church.
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:55 AM   #21
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What I find interesting is that I am regularly reading in mainstream Christianity about the hollowness of WWJD. And like some of the posts here, they are not dismissing it, just putting it in its place.

The problem is that if you are talking about the source of salvation, it is by grace (and depending on where you are reading, with additional descriptors like "by faith"). But if you are talking about the ongoing salvation, it requires that we do. And we have been instructed in both the gospels and the epistles to follow and imitate. So there is an aspect of WW[w]D (what would [whoever] do). Not saying that we can follow just anyone. But we have been instructed to follow Christ, as well as follow those that you know are following Christ.

"Organic" is a term that just gets me riled-up. But I will refrain from my typical comments and just say that I don't think that carbon molecules are very relevant to the discussion. "Organic," in this context, infers that that it is something that is actually changing about the person, not just behavior. And there is clearly truth in that. But the record in the scripture is that we also are never actually changed, but instead must apply ourselves to the task at hand. But note that I said "also" rather than "instead." The overall record is that we are being changed, but that we are never completely rid of the fallenness of our being. So we have something changing in us (you can call that organic if you like) yet we also have something of us that remains in its fallen state. There are no fully transformed people in this life.

And so we use both what comes natural and what we must exercise our wills about to walk according to the way. And, like John said in one of his letters, if we think we have no sin, we are fooled. So we will fail.

And we will continue to fail.

And sometimes using our good minds to consider what someone else would do . . . or what we would not be ashamed for our mother to see . . . is part of how we make our way toward righteousness. It's a little like the old saying that if you don't plan to succeed, you have planned to fail.

Yes, just thinking "WWJD" won't answer every question or decide what action to take in all cases. But at least having that frame of mind is necessary to any kind of move toward righteousness.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:12 PM   #22
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Yes, just thinking "WWJD" won't answer every question or decide what action to take in all cases. But at least having that frame of mind is necessary to any kind of move toward righteousness.
Indeed it is necessary! And frankly I would rather have a neighbor or coworker or spouse who is asking and following WWJD (or better yet WWJHMTD - What would Jesus have me to do?) than one who is waiting for that organically produced spontaneous outflow.
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Old 08-28-2012, 03:34 PM   #23
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Yes, just thinking "WWJD" won't answer every question or decide what action to take in all cases. But at least having that frame of mind is necessary to any kind of move toward righteousness.
I may be misunderstanding this WWJD, but to me it was a good thing for young people -- a bracelet with letters to remind them to consider the Lord in every situation they encounter. I first heard about it, of course, from within the LC, so the actual intentions of WWJD were skewed into some form of imitation, like a monkey imitating a man.

The ministry loved to twist everything in Christianity for the worse, as a constant reminder that we alone were the pure testimony of the Lord. It was always encouraged to find flaws with outside Christians, but within the Recovery, finding flaws was discouraged as negative, cold winds, unbelieving, opinions, etc.
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:16 PM   #24
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Yes, just thinking "WWJD" won't answer every question or decide what action to take in all cases. But at least having that frame of mind is necessary to any kind of move toward righteousness.
I don't disagree with this. This, of course, acknowledges (in different words) that while "WWJD" has a place - perhaps even being a necessary mindset - the ACTUAL "righteousness" is not derived from asking the question or your own answer to it. Indeed, it is a change of our very person (call it "fundamental change", call it "organic growth" - whatever) that brings in any modicum of TRUE righteousness that might come out of us.

The responses here reflect an acknowledgement of the subtleties of the Truth as it is experienced in imperfect human lives. The Scripture says that Salvation is by faith; and it also says that faith without works is dead. It says to "work out your own salvation" and it says (in the SAME VERSE!) that God is both the willing and the working.

God's way IS one that requires us to engage in real ways (not just a "mysitical eating") and our faith can be measured by its fruits (indeed, if you claim spirituality while abusing others, then there's something unhealthy there).

But the actual CHANGE to our behavior, to our beings - is by a slow (often unnoticed) growth in life. It IS important to consider "the right thing to do," but "thanks be to God!" my salvation isn't dependant on me having the "gumption" to "make it happen."

The next right(eous) thing isn't always clear (as it is in the case of adultery, as someone used as an example). God's way, it seems to me, is to require us to petition Him - to seek, ask, knock. Not ask a question as if it is answerable BY US.

And perhaps that's my issue with WWJD: the way I see it employed is that it is asked as if the asker can answer the question. This is hubris ,and often goes the next step to turn into judgment (because human nature - and I see all the time - is to ask the question for others).

God's way is difficult. It requires faith while we engage as best we presently know how. But we don't like God's way. Because its not linear, not "practical". We would prefer to use mystical language to mechanize "eating God" to change us. Or we take a question which could be healthy ("WWJD") and actually think we can get "right answers" from it or justify our behavior simply because we ask it.

I remember a sermon I hearn in one of the groups I attended after leaving the LC. It was on Colossians 3:17: "do all things in His name" This is a great admonition. But the speaker gave a whole narrative on how to live the Christian life based just on this verse. But the speaker didn't mention Matthew 7 at all - that some who did works in His name were told by Christ, "get away from me you workers of lawlessness." "I never knew you."

I like the truth of "organic salvation" (substitute something more palatable if you like) because it gives this wretched man hope. I appreciate it not despite the Book of James, but precisely because there is a book of James. It is not a "free for all" of "life life life" regardless of what kind of human living that produces. It is an engagement with God daily that changes me - but if my living isn't producing good things, I know that my engagement with God is not a healthy one. If I change in the direction of righteousness, it won't be because I "learned" what is righteous and implemented it. It will be years from now, after years of engaging rigorously with my Savior daily, that I am a different person and I won't be able to pin it on this or that "realization." I will simply be different and more like Him because it is more He than I.

Enough of my rambling.... Thoughts?

In Love,

Peter
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Old 08-30-2012, 11:57 AM   #25
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I don't disagree with this. This, of course, acknowledges (in different words) that while "WWJD" has a place - perhaps even being a necessary mindset - the ACTUAL "righteousness" is not derived from asking the question or your own answer to it. Indeed, it is a change of our very person (call it "fundamental change", call it "organic growth" - whatever) that brings in any modicum of TRUE righteousness that might come out of us.
I don't want anyone to think that I am in disagreement with what Peter has written here.

But at the same time, I think that the focus on some intrinsic change being the requirement for "true" acts of righteousness is a kind of error. Almost like a "bait and switch" sales pitch.

There is a call to be righteous. While we do have something "going on inside" that is beneficial to our efforts in that way, the point is more nearly that we be righteous than that we be "intrinsic."

I think that a look at what Paul wrote to the Galatians about being crucified is a decent example. He was out to direct them back to the right kind of living. But he didn't just say "do it," although he could have. Instead, he pointed to a spiritual fact for them to hang their metaphorical hats on. "I am crucified with Christ . . . and the life I now live, I live by . . . ." Paul did not tell the Galatians to get more crucified. Or to work on their source. He pointed to a fact. Then he said that because of that fact they should do what Paul was directing them toward.

I think that we have erroneously concluded that true righteousness can only happen through some "organic" or "intrinsic" thing. And when you read things like the "abiding" stuff, you might conclude that it is simply true.

But I think that there is less "activity" associated with "abiding" than we have been led to believe. I think that maybe it is more like "I have been" than "I need to be." The latter is how we were taught to treat all of these "spiritual" things by Lee and the LRC.

I'm convinced that God wants righteousness. And there are quite a lot of unbelievers that are, overall, just as righteous as the best of us believers.

But there is one more thing. God also wants followers, worshipers, believers. And being one of those is like accepting a commission to be a police officer. Anyone can actually do the job. And if they actually did it well, it could be a good thing. But only those who have been hired for the task are acknowledged by the justice system as actual police officers.

Not a very good example. But where I'm going with it, and the previous thoughts, is that the bulk of the scripture seems to argue for believers and followers who, as part of following, obey. Obedience will be righteousness. Abiding is necessary. But what is abiding? Is it really some separate activity to do before obeying? Before producing fruit? Or is it about remaining in your position as an obedient follower? Before Jesus told us to abide, he said that those who obeyed and loved would have abiding.

In closing, have we taken the whole "organic" idea too far? Is it really about believing? Is it more about position than disposition? Does believing and doing trump "spirituality"?

Have we created a religion that does not resemble what was in the first century? (And while it may be that "inner life" groups are worse at it, this seems to point at us all.)

I'm not saying. I'm just asking. I'm reading and beginning to wonder if we have colored everything with a presumption of "organic-ness" that really isn't there. Not saying that there is no such thing, but that it is not the kind of primary thing that we have learned and presume is there.

I see enough that it makes me wonder if we are all standing in a field mooing. If we have been reading "red" and saying "yellow."
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