Cooper White – Cooper Black

Cooper White – Cooper Black

 

For me it has been a day of Desolations and Consolations…

The consolations came at the end of the day and this is what I want to tell you about…

 

Wink called, asking me to pick up some food for supper on the way home. I was in West End, where our business is located, and she mentioned Long John Silver’s/Taco Bell restaurant. I mentioned I did not know if it was Long John Silver’s anymore. I went by and the sign said Taco Bell, not a combination of restaurants as I do believe was once there.

 

I went in and asked the girl behind the counter, a light skinned black girl, if this was a Long John Silver’s too anymore. She said no, but offered to look one up for me. I noticed she had a Silver Christian cross hanging from her neck and sensed a common Spirit between us. I said that is OK, I will just order something here. I finally figured out what we needed, with her assistance, and she asked for a name to place on the order. I said Cooper… (BTW., I am writing this in Cooper Black type set…) [This is not showing in this font on WordPress] She said, I am a Cooper too, and explained that that is her name now or that she is related to Coopers in South Alabama and Jacksonville, Florida. I said, “Good, we may be related.” I told her my Great Great Grandfather was a conductor on the underground railroad, and asked her about her family history, but she did not know much about it..

 

I mentioned that I did not recall any of my ancestors having slaves, because we were from up North in Illinois, but that we could be related in some way. I offered her my hand and said, that it was good to meet her and we may be related.

 

When the order came up, she brought it out to me and we struck up another conversation about the family name. She told me about her second cousin in Jacksonville, FL and thought of his name. I asked her if he was fully white or partially white, and she said fully white. I said we may be related, and told her about a Genealogical book my Brother, Joe had written, about our ancestry going back to the Mayflower. I gave her my business card and asked her to email me and I could share it with her. We hugged each other, and I told her my shop was right down the street, just over the viaduct, and asked her to come down to see me one day.

 

I was thinking on the way home with our Taco Bell food, how the day had been cycles of desolations and consolations, and how this was a wonderful consolation to share one’s inner spirit with another created in
God’s image. I still do not understand why we cannot all get along in the world….

 

I think we are all related; all of us brothers and sisters, and we should all love one another… I know I am naïve, but I hope to die that way…. What is it we cannot understand about the unconditional love of God, which is supposed to be in us, if we wear the cross around our necks, or symbolically carry the cross, or even if we are not Christians at all, that we do not understand about this love of God?

 

Cooper White, – Cooper Black… What is the difference? I just can’t see any difference….

 

Grace & Peace,

 

John Cooper (White)

 

 

Peaceful Thoughts

Peaceful Thoughts

As a matter partially of time and chance this past week, I stopped by Panera Bread at a time of the day I would not normally be there because I was on my home to pick up a check out of my home office. I noticed as I sat down a Muslim man in the back of the restaurant. I have had several conversations with this man and his friend, Sammy, also a Muslim, when I used to go by Starbucks on the way to work early in the morning. (Since we were given a Keurig coffee machine, my Starbucks visits are virtually nil.) I noticed him sitting in the back of the restaurant in what appeared to be deep thought or meditation, so I did not greet him. After several minutes he came by me on the way apparently back from getting a drink refill and he asked my, knowing my beliefs in Peace and Nonviolence, this question:

“Have you had any Peaceful thoughts lately?”

“Yes, I have,” I said, and invited him to sit down with me at my table. I got out my small Samsung tablet and opened my You Version Bible App up to the place already in the memory, which I reflected on just the day before. I quote it below from Philippians 4:

1 And so, my most beloved and most desired brothers, my joy and my crown: stand firm in this way, in the Lord, most beloved.
2 I ask Euodia, and I beg Syntyche, to have the same understanding in the Lord.
3 And I also ask you, as my genuine companion, to assist those women who have labored with me in the Gospel, with Clement and the rest of my assistants, whose names are in the Book of Life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, rejoice.
5 Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious about nothing. But in all things, with prayer and supplication, with acts of thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.
7 And so shall the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Concerning the rest, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is chaste, whatever is just, whatever is holy, whatever is worthy to be loved, whatever is of good repute, if there is any virtue, if there is any praiseworthy discipline: meditate on these.
9 All the things that you have learned and accepted and heard and seen in me, do these. And so shall the God of peace be with you.
10 Now I rejoice in the Lord exceedingly, because finally, after some time, your feelings for me have flourished again, just as you formerly felt. For you had been preoccupied.
11 I am not saying this as if out of need. For I have learned that, in whatever state I am, it is sufficient.
12 I know how to be humbled, and I know how to abound. I am prepared for anything, anywhere: either to be full or to be hungry, either to have abundance or to endure scarcity.
13 Everything is possible in him who has strengthened me. (Emphasis is mine.)
The Muslim man studiously and respectfully silently read the text for several minutes in deep thought as I silently watched. After a while he looked up to me and said, “It is very Islamic, isn’t it?” “Yes, it is,” I agreed, and we started another long and mutually respectful and, by the way, Peaceful, conversation.

I told him about the Inter-Faith city wide Prayer Service I had attempted to activate a couple of months ago for the sake of the Refugees, both Christian and Muslim refugees and pointed him to my blog site, http://www.jcooperforpeace.org where I posted the Prayer Service. I told him my idea had already been shared with another of my Muslim friends, Mirza Beg, who was to forward it to the local Mosque, or Islamic Center as they call in here in Tuscaloosa. I asked him to talk it up and perhaps just a few of us could have a smaller event than the city wide event I had envisioned. Even though the Mayor of Tuscaloosa had agreed to help in any way he could, I could not garner support from the Christian churches I had contacted whom I was asking to host the event.

We continued our conversation and the Muslim man told me he had been looking into the Spirituality of the Native American Indians. One of the American Indian wise sayings, he said, is: “If God created you a crow, you do not have to become an Eagle.” I told him I liked that and many Indian Spiritual sayings and I had recently been through an 8 or 9 month St. Ignatian Spiritual Exercise Retreat. I told him of the many ways I personally think God can reveal himself to us humans, and concerning the Indians we were talking about, that God can reveal himself and to Indians as one walks in silence through the forest, even without a word written or spoken, God can do this, as one walks in Peace. I mentioned that to me, God has revealed himself sometimes as a Father, sometimes as a Son, and sometimes as the Holy Spirit, but still, I believe there is only one God. I shared my idea that one could take all the knowledge of the American Indians, and the Jewish religion, the Christian religion, and the Islamic religion, and all the knowledge of the Atheist religion, and put them all in a bucket, stir them all up and dump them into the ocean, and it would not be a drop in the ocean compared to the vast knowledge of an infinite God. He understood, and I mentioned again the Scripture we had just read, although I did not quote it again at that time. Here is a principle part of it below.

7 And so shall the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

I don’t think he would have agreed exactly with the Jesus Christ part of it, but then, apparently many Christians do not believe it either, not understand it, in that many Christian folk like to be guarded by weapons, guns, and “Peacemaking” six-shooters, not by the Peace of God. It appears in America that the “tougher” and more one believes in guarding oneself, the better, especially in the Political realm.

I cannot share everything now, we talked about, this is already too long, but the point I want to highlight especially at this “season” of Christmas 2015 is this:

“Have you had any Peaceful thoughts lately?”

If you have not had any, I ask, why not? Could it be the Prince of the Power of the Air is getting through to us through the Media and the Political systems of this world? Why not turn off the Media for an hour or two a day and silently reflect upon your Scriptures, either your Hebrew ones, Christian ones, Islamic ones, or, even just take a silent walk in the woods, just like the Indians and reflect on the Peace God has very clearly said he came to give us, which goes beyond understanding. This Peace is a gift of Grace and Mercy. Yes, it does sound Islamic, but it sounded to Abraham, like a gracious and merciful God, before the Jewish people, before the Christian people, and before the Muslim people. It is a Grace that has extended to all Abraham’s offspring, which by extension is all mankind.

Have you had any Peaceful thoughts lately? Accept this gift, get some of it; Let this be the year of God’s favor for you…..

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper

Don’t Let Nobody

Don’t Let Nobody

Can we, as Christians and Jews, support our largely Muslim brothers of the Arab world seeking freedom by largely nonviolent means?  Are they our brothers?

Let us think of Abraham, our common ancestor, either by blood or engrafting, and Ishmael, the son Abraham also loved…  Think how much God loved and Abraham loved and still loves Ishmael and his descendants….  Can we imagine what the world would be like now, if Ishmael had been accepted?  What if his descendants were accepted today?  Accepted by us, both Christians and Jews?  Can we see God’s love for our brothers in God in their struggle for peace, for freedom, and justice in order to set their identities free, from the largely self-appointed, unaccountable rulers, principalities, and powers over them?

To all who struggle in this world, may we say that God loves you?  To the rulers, to the principalities and powers who rule the kingdoms of this world, we call you back to the original goodness in which God created you…  Yet, you have fallen; yet you can be transformed….  We, who are Christians, hear Jesus’ cry on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”….  Rulers, principalities, powers, God loves you too….  Although God can constrain you in an instant by the Truth coming from His mouth, God is so patient to give you time, which seems to be running out now….

I am a follow of Jesus, and I only claim authority if my words are the same as His, but I am reminded, that Jesus tells us, that “Whoever does the will of God is my mother, bother, and sister”.. Note, no fathers are mentioned here…  Note that God is our Father, for all of us, and we know, or perhaps have heard, “God so loved the world that he gave his Son, that whoever believes………”  Maybe you already know the rest of the story….  I would only say, if God is your father, and you seek to do the will of the Father, I am your brother, and I love you, and hope your quest for freedom succeeds by nonviolent means….

I am reminded of the words of an American preacher, perhaps it was Billy Sunday, “Don’t let Nobody tell you god don’t love you, cause He do…”  Bad English, but the meaning is the same in any language…

Your Brother,

John Cooper

Circles of Peace

http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/

Bloody is the Lamb

Bloody is the Lamb

As part of what I do in Circles of Peace, I respond to various emails and questions regarding Peace and Non-violence….. It seems much of the misunderstanding of what I am attempting to share comes from conservative evangelistic segments. I imagine that many who read about these things simply do not care or do not understand and do not wish to invest the time involved to consider what may be contrary to what they have learned in today’s culture.

Below are excerpts from a recent conversation that will serve as a basis for what I will add to and clarify later in this essay:

[John]

Thanks for your question… I don’t think you actually responded to the whole mailing list, which is good… Let’s just you and I talk…

(Cut) also mentioned the difficulties (cut) has been having… I am not in the inside loop on things like that…. I hope and pray for the cleansing of the blood of Jesus on all matters…

As a matter of fact, what you are referring to very much concerns the blood of Jesus….

Accomplishing Peace in the world, as much as possible, is a mystery, and it can be hard to understand, even for Christians…. Let me quote a Scripture to consider:

Eph 2:11-3:1

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

NIV

[John] We see here how Jesus makes Peace, by His own blood…. He is the one preaching the Gospel of Peace, not just to Americans, but to all those far and near… This transcends nationalities…. Notice all the references to Peace in this selection… Our Peace must be founded on Jesus….. The mystery is that Jesus creates Justification, not just for individuals, but for people groups, both the Jews and the Gentiles…. All of us, Jews and Gentiles, (we are gentiles) are joined together as one people, God’s people….members of his household, the way I see it, that is Jesus’ intention… It is somewhat a mysterious intention that it is spoken of that even the Principalities and Powers did not understand… Nor do many Christians yet understand…..

Now, if Jesus makes Peace through His blood, breaking down the hostilities, the dividing walls between people groups, such as Jews and Gentiles, how is it that we should interpret Romans 13, (I just wrote an article on that subject, at https://jcooperforpeace.wordpress.com/ ), as our participating in the killing process of those He came to save? Would it not be better to mimic as much as possible the suffering Love of Jesus, in dying for our enemies if needed, and loving them, as much as we can, just like Jesus?

Now, also, if Jesus bled and died on the cross for the sins of mankind, and all the people groups, all of the world, pictured in the joining of the Jews and Gentiles mysteriously, why would he come again in Revelation 19 and start killing those he came to save, that he bled and died for, to save?

My view, and those of some others who have tried to understand Revelation in view of all the other revelations of Jesus, about loving our enemies, blessing those who curse us, praying for those who despitefully use us, etc. is that the war of Revelation in which Jesus participates follows after His ethics in the rest of the New Testament, that of sacrificial love… True, there is blood everywhere, the rider of this horse is soaked in blood… I believe the rider of this horse is Jesus, and it is His own blood in which He is soaked…. This is the blood that saves us…. Then, He sends one angel out to seize Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet…. The sword Jesus uses is the sword of the word of God…..

All this is in symbolic language, not literal language….. It is written in Apocalyptic genre….. I do not think we can take this as proof text that Jesus is actually going to be killing those He bled and died to save, generally speaking…. Certainly, there is no way we can interpret it to be that WE should go about killing our enemies in opposition to what Jesus expressly says, to Love our enemies….. All the things in Revelation were written as to have “shortly come to pass”… Although there are four views of Revelation, one of them is that these things have already occurred, shortly, as it says, in the destruction of Jerusalem… I think it is a stretch to interpret this in any way to justify our own warfare….

In the past, it seems every time I respond to you in detail, it seems you just drop the subject, and you never respond….. Would you please consider reading my response, thinking and praying about it, and responding to tell me if you do or do not understand my viewpoint?

Also, If you would like for me to copy the group you mentioned, for their response, let me know, and I will forward it to them… I would be happy to do that… Maybe they all have some valuable input….

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper

https://jcooperforpeace.wordpress.com/

[John’s Friend wrote:]

“John,

Thanks brother. I appreciate it. I wanted to ask you and the folks on

your mailing list this question.

How can those who hope to achieve world peace before Jesus put their trust

in Jesus when He promises to come back to wage a bloody war with His

heavenly saints following? See this scripture below.

Is not Jesus the Price of Peace and a mighty warrior?

The Coming of Christ Revelatoin 19:11-20:

11And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it

is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

12His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has

a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13He is clothed

with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14And

the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were

following Him on white horses. 15From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that

with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of

iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

16And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS,

AND LORD OF LORDS.”

17Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a

loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble

for the great supper of God, 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings and

the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses

and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and

slaves, and small and great.”

19And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies

assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

Doom of the Beast and False Prophet

20And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who

performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had

received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two

were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21And

the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat

on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”

[John – additional ideas:]

Let us explore this a little more than we did before…..

Let’s quote the original reference, Revelation 19 in more of its context:

Rev 19:6-20:1

6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!

For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

7 Let us rejoice and be glad

and give him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come,

and his bride has made herself ready.

8 Fine linen, bright and clean,

was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”

19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

NIV

I would like to point out a few different ways of thinking of these verses…..

1.) This is a time of rejoicing… This is a time of the wedding supper of the lamb.

2.) The saints, the righteous ones, the church, who have met the Lamb in the air, have clean, white robes as they accompany the Lamb into this “battle”. They do not appear to be participating in carnage. Their robes remain clean and pure.

3.) The armies of Heaven, or, the good angels, not fallen, are also accompanying the Lamb, and their robes are also clean and white, hardly the type of robes one would wear to battle, but the type one would wear to a wedding.

4.) Those who are militaricalisticly minded, such as my friend who originally brought this Scriptures from Rev. 19 up to me, to support his militarialistic viewpoint, are the ones who are apparently not pleasing this Lamb riding in robes dipped in blood, upon a white horse and are figuratively to be eaten dead or alive by the birds of the air, NOT the ones clothed in pure and clean white linen who accompany the lamb. Why would one want to be in the military at this point?

5.) Note that the lamb comes to this “battle” clothed in robes already dipped in blood BEFORE the “battle”….. One might imagine the robes were already dipped in blood before they were put on. Was this blood already shed? Is it Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross that defeats Evil? Has the “battle” already been won? Is it already finished? Maybe that is why in Rev. 20, only one angel, a nameless one, at that, comes to restrain Satan for a thousand years…. What is the meaning of “dipped in blood” as opposed to being spattered in blood, as if one were cutting off people’s heads and blood is spurting out and spattering one’s robes? Why do the saints remain spotless, pure, and clean?

6.) The sword coming out of the Lamb’s mouth is apparently the word of truth. Jesus had already advised his disciples what to do with the sword… Put it away… No more….

Let us go back to the beginning of Revelation:

Rev 1:4-7

4 John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

7 Look, he is coming with the clouds,

and every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;

and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.

So shall it be! Amen.

NIV

What could the Apostle, John mean, wishing us Grace and Peace, and going off on this long tangent, saying that all these things are to “shortly” come to pass? Why, many are looking for them to come in the future… Maybe there is a dual meaning, but why would we want to ignore the clear words that these things will “shortly” come to pass? What about even the mention of Grace AND Peace? PEACE? If the Apostle, John, tells us that Jesus has already, in the past, freed us from our sins by His blood, so that we will be clothed in white, clean, and spotless linen when He returns, why the hell :):) would some of us want to be a part of the militants, on the ground, getting figuratively eaten up by birds; perhaps having our eyes plucked out by vultures? I personally, would rather ride with Jesus on this one…….

I feel the world has been deceived. I feel fundamentalist Christians have been deceived and “deluded” along with most everyone else who subscribe to the theory of redemptive violence…. I feel we are living in a culture dipped in blood, That blood of our children sent to and going ro be sent to war….. violence in the streets, violence in the home, and our eyes cannot see clearly…. I feel we need a Revelation like this one…. Let us not ask the questions, as Coleman McCarthy would say, but as he would say, Question the Answers…. The main answer we have been given throughout history is that we defeat Evil with Evil. This is the Myth of Redemptive Violence…. This is simply not the message of Jesus. His message is that Evil is defeated by Good, by suffering Love and sacrifice.

Is there really any battle at all? I hope not. I believe the battle has already been fought and won, on the cross….

While we come with Jesus, in the air, will we be reminded of the ancient text?:

“Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.”

– Psalm 85:10-11

I am writing this at the beginning of the traditional Advent season, 2011…. If I remember my Latin from years ago correctly, advent means coming to…. It happens in these passages that Jesus is coming to us in the clouds, riding a white horse, with robes dipped in blood… We Christians look forward to that, and even speak of Peace, the majority of us only once per year around this time…. I think as we consider these things Jesus could come to us now, and is coming to us, as we read of His words that may be cutting to the heart of those of us who realize we have been deceived by the Myths by which we have lived for so long…

Just thinking, … again…. Feel free to disagree or add your input.

Grace AND Peace,

John Cooper

http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/

Who is John Cooper?

Who is John Cooper?

John grew up in a large Catholic farm family in central Eastern Illinois, about 15 miles West of Terre Haute, Indiana, between two small towns, Marshall, IL, and Paris, IL.

His boyhood days were spent working with his Father and Uncles, who both owned farmland, and walking in the woods, seeing the beauty of nature, and living close to it.  He grew up poor, but had plenty of food to eat.  He attended school in the Marshall, Illinois school system, graduating in 1967.

John used to love to fight, winning all but one fight he was in, when the whole Marshall, IL basketball team got hold of him at once, slamming his head into the gym floor because John had beaten up one of the tallest and biggest basketball players.  He was also avid reader, (his brother, David referred to him as a “bookworm”), perhaps he read so much because his family could not afford a TV until after he left home.  There was no indoor plumbing or running water in the Cooper home either, until John left home.  He excelled in school and decided to attend Samford University, in Birmingham, AL, largely because his uncle by marriage, Dr. Everett Lemeron, taught accounting and business there.  His plans were to be a psychologist, getting his Doctorate at the University of Alabama, and perhaps working at the VA hospital in Tuscaloosa, AL, which was and is a VA mental health facility.

Things did not quite work out that way however…..  In the last two years of High School, John entered the beginnings of a conversion experience that brought him to crisis of conscious regarding what he had been taught form childhood regarding many facets of religion and faith.  He had been fully supportive of his nation’s war ethics before this crisis of conscience began to occur.

John attended Samford University in 1967 and 1968, while living with his aunt and uncle, working part time, and paying for his own education with funds he had saved working on the farm in Illinois for his uncles. His uncles, and the whole McCulley family, proclaimed that one should not work in the fields on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, even though the many animals they owned had to be taken care of…  In the final year of high school, he came to knowledge that Saturday, the seventh day of the week, is actually the Sabbath, and has been, from creation….  Having been raised with a high regard for the 10 Commandments as being normative for Christians, upon this discovery, he began to have a crisis of conscience regarding this matter…  In beginning his studies of the Christian Bible, John began to see other ethical problems with the systems (Kosmos) of the world, and the teachings of Jesus, one of which regarded the ethics of warfare which seemed to him diametrical opposite the teachings of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, whom John understands to be the exact representation of God, the essence of his being…

Therefore, John began to observe the Sabbath on Saturday, and other Old Covenant Feast Days, and often spoke of the personal conflict he had with warfare, during this period of the Vietnam war.  He was kicked out of his aunt’s home for observing the Sabbath, (on Saturday) and had to find a place to live and pay for on his own.  He could not afford to continue his education at Samford University and choose to take action upon the new beliefs he had come to understand.  He became a member of the a Sabbitarian church with historic peace church roots at that time, and began attending church in Birmingham, AL.  Also, during this time he was convicted to apply for conscientious objector status, and received paperwork from his draft board to approve his request.  He served two years of alternative service in Birmingham, AL, beginning at Spain Rehabilitation Center, caring for people who had been paralyzed.  While there, he moved into the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Cabinet Shop, and found he was gifted in and enjoyed woodworking.  He decided to enter a carrier in this field and in Ca. 1977. After moving to Tuscaloosa, AL he established Cooper Cabinet Shop, where he still works today.  In addition, he established Cooper Wood Specialties, which currently imports cabinetry from China.  Business links for the companies he has help found are: http://www.cooperwoodspecialties.net/; http://www.coopercabinets.com/; http://www.tuscaloosacabinetgroup.com/.

John met Wynema Walters at a church picnic, and after a period, they were married in 1973.  John and Wink have no children, although both have numerous nieces and nephews.  John was an avid tennis player until he was 42, then he took up golf and has played that game ever since.  He would rather be a sports participant than and observer….

John remained in the same church fellowship, now renamed Grace Communion, International, http://www.gci.org/ He served in many offices such as deacon, (his wife, Wink, was also an ordained deaconess), Elder, and Co-pastor….  When this church as a group began to understand the New Covenant around 1994.  John just could not understand how the 10 commandments could be abolished and the New Covenant could be a replacement for, not an addition to, the Old Covenant, at first, and studied and prayed late into the night until he too finally, after about six months, he began to understand these matters…  John still respects individual’s choice to observe days, times, and food laws if that is their understanding…

John now attends Grace Church in Tuscaloosa, (http://www.gracenews.org/index.php) where the thought of something like Circles of Peace has brewed in his mind for several years.  Having met resistance in the community to his ideas regarding Peace and Nonviolence, he put those thoughts on the shelf for a while as he became active in other venues such as assisting the International student community in Tuscaloosa…. He also helped in the formation of Compassion Coalition, with others in the community, an organization to organize faith based groups across religious divides to assist in disaster relief.  He served on the board, and as Executive Director for over two years, and is still serving on the board and the Executive Council of this organization.  Circles of Peace FOR, (http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/) is an officially recognized Affiliate of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest active Peace, Non-violent, and Social Justice organization still active in these areas in the world.  (http://forusa.org/)

John now feels strongly his calling is to serve in the area of Peace, Social Justice, and Nonviolence, helping to return the Christian community to its historic peaceful roots, and to develop common ground across religious divides of all types to bring peaceful cooperation to our community, the nation, and the world.

He has been planting the seeds of peace, social justice, and nonviolence for many years, struggling against resistance, but hoping to garner the vision of a younger generation to help bring peace, mutual love and respect, to other people and religious groups in this world, before we destroy ourselves with hate, and it is too late…

Transforming the Powers

Transforming the Powers

Recently a friend and I were discussing the interpretations of the Romans 13…..  I have been thinking more about this chapter in the past few days and I am putting some of my thoughts to paper…[i]

I was thinking about how some Christians believe the governments of this world and this age is ruled by fallen, although not completely fallen, Powers.  A Scripture selection, Romans 13 appears to indicate these powers are ordered, (not ordained, in my view), by God, and that every Christian should be subordinate to those Powers excepting when those Powers’ commands cross the lines of suffering love spoken of in the same text, just before, as our radical submission to God first.  It is stated that Good is to overcome Evil by this radical submission to God first, exhibited by our outward suffering love to all mankind created in God’s image.

The majority opinion of Christians by name post Constantine have even believed submission to these Powers include going to war for the State and killing others, even other Christians, as we prioritize our allegiance to these fallen Powers over our allegiance to God, because we have been taught this is what this passage means and that we are submitting to God when we submit to everything the Powers tell us to do, including killing….  This, most think, is God’s will…..  However, in the same passage, we are exhorted to Love our neighbors…. (Note that I am reading both Romans 12 AND Romans 13 together, in context, not isolating Romans 13 from all of Scripture and isolating this passage from the words of Jesus who said to Love your enemies, etc.)

How can this be?

Obviously, I do not agree with the majority opinion of the interpretation of Romans 13, nor do a substantial number of not mainstream individuals such as John Howard Yoder, one, among many others…  Also, there are many Peace churches, and Peace organizations linked in the Circles of Peace link below that also have another opinion.  The majority opinion does not read Romans 13 in view of the culture to whom it was written, where Christians, slaves, Jewish people, and occupied peoples were never required to serve in the military to begin with.  the military was for Roman citizens only, and was actually viewed as a privilege for the privileged few…..

What then, are we doing, if we interpret our submission to governing Powers in view of the whole of Romans 12 and Romans 13, let alone all of Romans, let alone all of the Old and New Testament, including the words of Jesus?

Could it be that our suffering submission, (and that of the early Christians), to God first, and our love for one another, and our love for our enemies IS the Good that defeats Evil spoke of just before in Romans 12?  The early Pre Constantinian Christians must have believed this….

Could it be that the vision of Jesus in His commands, such as love your enemy, were actually meant to transform these same Powers, therefore helping place ALL things, (including the Powers, once created good, but now fallen to some extent more, and some extend less), under His feet, even those fallen Powers, and those Powers who may be able to be transformed?

Throughout history we have had many opportunities to try this preemptive tactic, that of suffering love, of loving our enemies, but have generally speaking, failed miserably….  I believe we will always fail when we, as Christians, read Romans 13 to mean that we can defeat Evil by doing Evil ourselves, and killing it….

That is not how Jesus did it….  He died in complete submission to His Father to defeat these Powers….  Perhaps with and idea in mind to even transform any of the Powers He could.  The principal Power once took him to a high Mountain, offering Him this world, if He would be in submission to that Power…. Jesus chose not to do that, but to worship God alone….  From then on, those who understand, understand that the Kingdom of God is coming, one not of this world…  (Come soon, Lord Jesus)

That is how Jesus did it, here and in other recorded instances, and probably in so many more instances that books of the earth, that essays such as this, could not contain them….

Grace and Peace,

John Cooper

http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/


[i] Note: I do not normally do extensive quotations in my writings of this type because I believe they break the train of thought.  I am not writing in a scholarly genre, and I am aware of that fact.  I know how to use footnotes, but normally refrain from doing so.  My writings assume those reading them are fundamentally founded in the topics I write about,  For instance, references to Scripture assume the reader has read the passages already and know what I am referring to…  If not, you may wish to read the passages… I welcome discussion and other viewpoints.  Feel free to respond to anything I write.  Let’s talk!  Let’s think!

Not a Good Provider?

Not a Good Provider?

I heard a sermon recently, by a friend of mine, Dan Arsenhault, entitled, “The Answer to the Question that No one is Asking”.  Dan spoke of the time Jesus was asked by the religious folk, “Should we pay taxes to the Emperor, or not?  Jesus asked to see a coin, and answered the question with a question, as He most often did, asking, “Who’s image is on the coin?”

Dan asked a question that apparently did not occur to the religious folk in this story, “Whose image is on you?”

He went on to explain that we are all created in the image of God and that God’s indelible stamp is on each of us.

In this context, Dan reviewed the message of the Scriptures, which we should, if we carry God’s image, love one another as (as much as) we love ourselves…  He admitted his guilt in not doing so, and all who understood his message came to the point that, neither do we, and we must fall back on the justice and mercy of God.

We all have a God, in whom we are carriers of His image.  To NOT render to our fellow man, created in the same image, all that we have, without condition, without limit, is a failure to render what rightly belongs to God.

At least, that is my take on the sermon today….

It got me thinking, did Jesus actually answer the question about whether we should pay taxes to the Emperor, or not?  I think perhaps, Jesus leaves it up to us….  Some would say, no, we should not pay taxes, where about 40% of our spending goes toward military programs designed to kill those created in the same image of God that we are, including, according to what I heard from Dan, (I am hard of hearing, correct me if I am wrong), we spend 40 Billion Dollars to kill other Christians each year.  I would add, let alone the Trillions we spend to kill other humans likewise created in the image of God.

So, after the sermon, I thanked him…  It was a very good sermon and there is another point to it which Dan did not yet share…..  Regarding what happens to the image of God in a person if he goes to hell, whatever definition of hell it is….  Maybe we will go there and find out if we do not love one another…

Well, I was reminded of something else, since I have been wearing an orange plastic bracelet the past couple of months, which also asks another unanswered question related to our discussion of whose image is on the coin, and other things we are speaking of….  The bracelet is from Sojourners, http://www.sojo.net/, and the question is: “What would Jesus Cut?”  To me, a very good question in view of our budget crisis, and any image on our U.S. coins or paper currency, being pretty much worthless, anyway….   Should we cut our military budget, or our Social Justice Budget, intended to care for those created in the image of God?  Which is it?  I gave Dan the bracelet I was wearing, since I had one more, and, being the ex hippie I imagine him to be, he put it right onJJ..   Now, I have given away all my plastic bracelets, but most of those, except my wife, Wink, to whom I gave them, (Wink put hers right on), were apparently not thinking it was exactly the best thing to be wearing around with such a question on it, “What would Jesus cut?”  Is it only those of us who are just a little out of the box, slightly off our rockers, according to the Emperor, (who himself, wears no clothes), who appreciate and understand such things as this…  (I also wore my St. Louis Cardinals red logo shirt under my jacket when I went to a friend’s wedding recently:):))  After all, it was the day after the Cardinals won the World Series, what else is one supposed to wear? :):)

Then, in my random thoughts I thought of how many, who knew my Father, think I am created in his image.  One family friend called me Lawrence, which was my Dad’s name, one time…  Now, as I spout off such craziness as this and other essays and articles, they are sure I am definitely created in his image.  I remember a faded out old farm truck, a 1939 KB5 International, I think I recall, with hand lettering by my father, signs on the side of the door, Lawrence B. Cooper & Son….  I was his first son, and the other sons never got added to the doors on that old truck….  My Dad did all he could to provide, given the very difficult economic times on the farms he farmed in those years…  I remember a statement my mother mistakenly made one time, in front of my Dad, actually, and in public, that “Lawrence is just not a good provider”..  I am sure that cut him to the heart, having done probably all he could for us, a large family of 7 children…..  I have not been such a good provider, myself, recently, in these worst of economic times for housing in recorded history…  I don’t think the U.S. Government needs to look to me for assistance…

Then, after those thoughts, I was thinking, I am created in the image of another Father, God, who owns the whole universe, and I am a member of a family, called the Church, whose husband, Jesus, is a very Good provider…  Also, I am left with indelible marks of this God, the Holy Spirit, I believe with all my heart….  I believe we have a good provider, a husband who owns  the whole earth and all that is in it…..  Maybe the problem is not God’s provision, but our own failure to provide and share in a loving manner for ALL those created in God’s image, as much as lies within us…  I think we have enough…  We are well provided for…

Dan’s original premise that we are all created in God’s image was based upon the book of Genesis, where man is also early on instructed to “dress and keep” the earth.  Would God’s original mission and vision for those created in His image not be that we should not only take care of God’s provision for us, but also dress and keep, cloth the naked, feed the hungry, etc., of those likewise created in the same image?  ALL of them, not just those who look and believe exactly like us?  Oh, and for those who do believe just like us, if we are Christ followers, for instance, should we not be known for the same character of Jesus, of His unconditional love and forgiveness, of His Peace in us, which He left us?

What are we going to do with this provision?  If the U.S. thinks it is running short on funds, which it definitely is, might we soon develop and answer to another question that apparently not a lot of people are thinking about answering, “What would Jesus Cut?

Thank you, God, for all you continually provide, and thank you, Dan, for serving as a tool in His hands, working for Goodness in God’s own garden…..

YBIG,

John Cooper

http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/

Grace AND Peace

Re-coupling Grace and Peace

I often wonder if Christianity would be more effective if it returned to its Historic Roots….

I got to thinking about all this again, as I am wont to do….  It seems to me that a foundational problem in Christianity is the de-coupling of what seemed to be a very important association by the Apostle Paul, as well as Peter and John, concerning Grace AND Peace.  Many greetings are dressed with the term grace and peace….

It seems both Grace and Peace together were very important as a pair in the early Christian Church as seeds of the Kingdom of God and the Gospel, including the Gospel of Peace were preached….  Maybe it was because they had warfare back then….  Maybe because a commitment to Grace and Peace and refusing to worship the Emperor and the military-political systems of the day could result in becoming lion feed……  Don’t we have warfare now also?

Some are aware of my concerns for Peace, Social Justice, and Nonviolence….  I believe we find all three of these concerns as also concerns of the Early Christian church up until around 170 AD, at which time the teachings of the foundational fathers of the church dimmed, and in Ca. 320 AD, the Christian church allied with Constantine and became the official Roman religion.

Since that time, it seems the subject of Grace has been well studied, and preached, partially by the less than perfect and less than grace filled individuals such as Martin Luther and Calvin….  As far as I know, those adhering to nonviolence, such as the early Anabaptists, were actually persecuted and even killed for their beliefs, often by the very “Christians” who espoused the Grace of God most adamantly… (I have the book, “Martyr’s Mirror”, for instance, that chronicles some of these events.)  So were the Muslims, for that matter….. How about the Jews also????  So were they…. And, the Aztecs, to whom it was agreed they were cannibals, so we could kill them…  I hate to bring this up, but; Where are all the American Indians?

Has anything really changed, even today in our largely Post Christian society?  When we think of Grace, how many of us think of Grace AND Peace?  If we study the Gospel of Grace so much, why not also study the Gospel of Peace?  Now, I like Grace a lot, but I also like Peace….  I recall the word of the Poem, “Fire and Ice”, by Robert Frost…

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great,

And would suffice.

Therefore, not for destruction, but for living eternally, it seems to me that if I can like Grace, and I can also like Peace….

For perishing people, (and all of us are perishing…) all of us who from birth have believed in the Myth of Redemptive Violence, from the God of Babylon, Marduk, on to the cartoons of Popeye and Pluto, to the solution to Evil offered by this world’s fallen governments, that is, we can solve violence, we can solve Evil, by killing it….  That fallen philosophy was not that of Jesus, nor of the Early Christian church…  The Jesus who suffered and died to defeat Evil.  The early Christian Church who followed in Jesus’ steps, also suffering and dying to defeat Evil, seemed to believe also in this other way, the way of peace and nonviolence.  Grace, AND Peace, if you will….

Why, we Christians actually consider it once per year, on average, and make some mention of it, generally around the Christmas season, we manage to add Peace to our vocabulary….  Grace, all the time, we need it.., but Peace, well… we do not seem to need it so much….

Therefore, let us call out today, for the Christian Church (and all people, for that matter) to return to Christianity’s Historic Roots, and to re-couple both Grace AND Peace.  Perhaps is so doing, we will regain the respect of unbelievers who see this separation of Grace and Peace, to be inconsistent with the ethics of Jesus, even if most of Christianity appears not to see this inconsistency, and blindly goes on in the systems of the world with which it is most comfortable.

Grace AND Peace,

John Cooper

http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/

Got Peace?

Got Peace?

This past weekend Wink and I traveled up North to family farm and an event my High School class was hosting…  It happened to turn out that a first cousin, once removed of mine on the Hinkle side of my family, Mary Bowers, had died at the age of 91 years and we were able to go to her funeral that Sunday afternoon…. In Salem, Indiana. (Salem means Peace)

We always enjoyed speaking with Mary and would visit her in her home and later in her Assisted Living Facility when we were close to the area.  She was the last living relative who knew a lot about my Hinkle side of the family, excepting Earl Hinkle Jr. who told me he does not know nearly as much as Mary did.  My Grandmother, Florence Hinkle, was her Aunt.  She was a kind and gracious woman….  We have heard her stories, seen and heard her cry, and we shared what each of us knows about our ancestry….  People who know me know of my concern for Peace, Nonviolence, and Social Justice….  I am particularly fond of telling of my Great Great Grandfather, Alexander Hinkle who was a cabinet maker, (in my possession is a chest he made out of Cherry with hand cut dovetails) as I am…  He was also a conductor on the Underground Railroad, the North Salem route, (there was also a South Salem Route) and he would put up runaway slaves in the home he built himself, in which Mary lived as a child, hauling them to the next Underground Railroad stop in his wagon underneath the stacks of loose hay…  I am particularly proud of his concern for Social Justice, and that of the Quaker community on both sides of Salem in those years….  I am not so proud of my Great Grandfather, Calvin Hinkle, who ran away underage at 16 years old to fight in the Union army….

Both my Great Great Grandfather, Alexander Hinkle, and my Great Grandfather, Calvin Hinkle as well as other relatives are buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Salem, IN…

http://cityofsalemin.com/burialdatabase.html

You can look them up on the link above, as well as others in the Hinkle and Bowers family….

Now, so is Mary Bowers buried there also…..

I am a Christ Follower and what I believe about Peace is based upon the ethics of Jesus firstly and primarily….  At the funeral I was thinking about the Scripture, about In Him we live and move and have our being….  And, about how the whole world and ALL things, physical and spiritual, was created by and for Him…, meaning Jesus…  I was thinking about how mankind is all, everyone, created in God’s image…

I was thinking about how we are created to function as God designed us, of the Genesis account of creation in functional, not literal scientific terms, and how God desired to rest in His temple on the 7th day, and from a New Covenant perspective how we who believe in Him believe He has come to rest in us also and indwell us….  Also, how He, if one believes that Jesus is God, asks us to come to Him, and He will give us rest….

I won’t bore you with all the Old and New Testament references to support this position and bog this down right now… If you want to know, Let’s talk….

All of the ideas above would take a book to explain, and years to explore, eternity, actually…..

One thing though, when we die, we are at rest, we are at Peace…..  Got that?  Got Peace? Want Peace?

I believe we can get Peace while we are alive also….  Mary had Peace with God while she was alive, and definitely has it now….  There is nothing she can do to fight anymore against flesh and blood, there is nothing people who are flesh and blood can do to fight against her….  She is not at war… She is at Peace…, whatever you may believe, even if you are an atheist….

Mary talked a lot about Jesus… She expressed to me how she wondered why she lived so long and expressed in the same sentence that she did talk a lot about Jesus…., and share her faith with others…  I talk about Jesus a lot, the Prince of Peace… I have even been rejected by some of my friends, even Christian friends, (essentially disfellowshipped, actually) because of my radical beliefs in the Gospel of Peace it seems to me so few Christians can understand in our Post Christian culture….  It is so sad, to me…  I pray a lot about it…

I firmly believe one can get Peace while still alive…  It seems we all get more of it as we age and attempt to bear fruit that will last into eternity… Not just Christians get it…  I have seen Christians of all persuasions get it, I have seen Jewish people get it, I have seen Muslims get it…. I have seen so called Atheists get it…  I really do not think the Spirit of God can be limited in time and space by one’s religion.  He can enter into and give Peace to anyone He wants to….

The Gospel of Peace proclaims God is no longer at war with mankind..  God offers us Peace…. He has already absorbed all Evil into Himself when He died on the cross…. Good has already defeated Evil… The Myth of Redemptive Violence taught us form birth by the Prince of another Power is defeated…. God has entered into His Temple, His rest, His Peace, and offers us the same, if we will only believe…  He will enter into us…

Mary Bowers Believed…

She Got Peace…

Grace AND Peace,

John Cooper

http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/

My Brother in a Box

My Brother in a Box

Recent happenings in the Evangelical world and the world as a whole have piqued my thinking to write about my brother, whom the last I knew, was in a box.

I quote from another of my brothers, Joe Cooper, who wrote in his book “Cooper History”, the following:

” If Lawrence Bernice Cooper had any honors, it would be that he sired eleven children.  they are Faith (b. 10/22/1946, d. 11/15/1946), Hope (b. 10/22/1946, d. 10/22/1946 – born dead), John Anthony (b. 1/15/1949), David Allen (b. 7/11/1952), Joseph Ray (b. 4/1/1956), Jannelle [sp] Marie (b. 6/28/1957), Marita Carol (b. 10/31/1960), Angela May (b. 11/26/1962), Paula Florence (b. 7/21/1965), Paul Lawrence (b. 7/21/1965, d. 4/30/1966).  As can be seen, Lawrence and Charity had two sets of twins.  Only one (Paula) survived.  At nine months of age, the lastborn, Paul, contracted quick pneumonia and died in a Terra Haute hospital.  It was an extremely sad time for the family.  Joe remembers how his father sat at his place at the end of the table and cried uncontrollably while he tried to talk to Myrtle Taylor.  Myrtle tried to console him but only time could do that.  Joe remembers Lawrence telling her as he sobbed, “I would rather have lost my whole farm than to have lost Paul.”  Myrtle responded by saying, “Oh now Lawrence, you would not!”  Lawrence thereupon replied, “Oh yes I would!  I would rather have lost my whole farm than to have lost Paul!”  Joe remembers to this day the agony and pain and misery in his father’s face.  It was the only time he saw him cry.

But pain was also felt when his first children were born.  They too were twins.  The date was October 22, 1946.  Charity screamed and yelled at thirty-year-old Lawrence to get her to the hospital.  Dad rushed her to the hospital and in the process collided with a city bus.  Hope was born dead.  Faith lived only three weeks.

But for those children who survived – perhaps that is the measure of Lawrence’s success in the world.  He worked hard in an effort to provide.  Not only did he farm his acreage, he also helped area farmers as a farmhand and grain hauler.  He was also an excellent gardener, raising more than enough for the family.”

I can add a little to that story my brother, Joe, may not know about….  I was the one at about 17 years old who drove my mother and brother, Paul, to the doctor when my mother first realized his sickness was serious.  I remember my father, Lawrence, telling me between the time Paul died and before his funeral, that my father had carried his son, Paul, my brother, out of the hospital that night in a little box.  My dad said in a chocking voice, “that is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life”….  I can remember now, that at my brother Paul’s funeral, it was the saddest thing I had experienced in my life at that time.  It was not an open casket funeral, to my recollection…

The last I remember, my brother Paul was still in that little box……

I think what prompts me to write about this is the virulent disagreement among some Christians concerning Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins”.  In the book Rob Bell offers hope for humanity, that all is not lost, that in the end, Love Wins.  Only a few will “go to hell”  and hell is not permanent, and other such thoughts that to some smack of the label, “Universalism”, perhaps first attributed to the early Christian father, Origen.  The criticism and controversy began even before the critics actually read the book…  The mere thought of the labels “Universalism”, and “Post-Mortem Evangelism”, and other such labels that have been applied to some Christians for centuries, seem to have brought this criticism out quickly.

May I ask, Is Evangelical Christianity locked up cognitively in a box?

Although Love Wins is written from a populist style, not a scholarly genre, can we as Christians, and others who have different belief systems at least imagine that God could even think this way?

Mr. Bell claims in his book that he is not a Universalist, and his reasoning is essentially, as I understand it, that man, given free will, will of necessity have a free will choice to reject God.  The vast majority, however, will be won over by God’s love in the end.

I could write in detail and bring up scriptures that support Mr. Bell’s viewpoints, and well as other scriptures that seem to disagree, but predominately, my viewpoint is the same as Rob Bell’s.

I will only refer to some of the scriptures I am thinking of and quote them from memory to avoid bogging down this article for now:

“As in Adam, all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

“All things in heaven and earth, and under the earth will be put under His feet.”

“At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess”

And, concerning Hell lasting forever, “death and hell will be cast into the grave”

“there shall be no more tears”

There are many, many others…..

I have discussed lately some of these Scriptures with my Evangelical brothers in Christ….  Some of them have said, and will say, “no, that is not what those scriptures mean”  Some have even been provoked by even thinking such thoughts…  Good!

Let’s all, including myself, get our minds out of the box we are in…..  Can we imagine that God might even change His mind, and so to speak reprogram the future, in view of our willingness to think of all the good things He could possibly do, as the God of possibilities?  Can we think of some good news, not bad news?

Can we think of a God who comes to judge, opening up the book of life, and will predominately judge almost everyone, excepting those who reject his goodness, Not Guilty!?

Can we think of this God, who scours the universe, and the those cast into the sea, perhaps the sea of Japan, and those beheaded and the head cast to pigs to eat, the body thrown into the river, the women and men impaled upon a stake, herded into a barn to be set on fire, fed to lions in the Roman Coliseum, or, even my brother, Paul, put into a box and buried before he ever had an opportunity to hear the Gospel (Good News, I might add), and either accept or reject Jesus?  Or, how about those aborted, or born dead?  How about those before the cross?  I am reminded of Isaiah 45, that one of my close Evangelical friends thankfully brought to my attention which also confirms that “every knee will bow and every tongue will swear”….Among other wonderful concepts of the Goodness of God portrayed by the prophet, Isaiah…..

Well, what about my brother, Paul, will he, or won’t he?

Will he be in hell forever?

I was thinking of this quote from C.S. Lewis:

“Do you mean then that Hell – all that infinite empty town – is down in some little crack like this?”

 

“Yes. All Hell is smaller than one pebble of your earthly world: but it is smaller than one atom of this world, the Real World [Heaven]. Look at yon butterfly. If it swallowed all Hell, Hell would not be big enough to do it any harm or to have any taste.”

 

“It seems big enough when you’re in it, Sir.”

 

“And yet all loneliness, angers, hatreds, envies and itchings that it contains, if rolled up into one single experience and put into the scale against the least moment of the joy that is felt by the least in Heaven, would have no weight that could be registered at all. Bad cannot succeed in being bad as good is good. If all Hell’s miseries together entered the consciousness of yon wee yellow bird on the bough there, they would be swallowed up without trace, as if one drop of ink had been dropped into that Great Ocean to which your terrestrial Pacific itself is only a molecule.”

– The Great Divorce

 

To me, although not exactly the orthodox view of hell after Dante, this seems more like what I believe the Holy Spirit I personally believe I know would think about hell, if hell is not annihilation……  However, not having perfect knowledge, I yield to God’s Truth, whatever it is…

To me, to go to hell must be a choice, and to reject God who loves us must be a choice….  I believe hell is a choice we ourselves make, a choice we choose to live in now, and a choice we choose to inhabit if hell were to last through eternity.

Will the Scriptures be fulfilled by every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord, by force?  Or, will it be willing Love for Jesus, our Savior, once we see Him in the light of His glory?  Does Love win?  Or, does it not?

Which is it?

I am not God, and whatever it is, I Love God and believe He is just…

If I had my preference, I would like to see my brother, Paul, out of the box, again….  That would make my father happy too, and wipe away every tear from his eyes, forever….  unless he too is consigned to hell, as some who knew him believe….. (I do not.)  Will a father ever forget the ones he loves?  Will a Father ever forget the ones he loves?

If I had my preference, I would rather see some of my Evangelical Christian friends out of the box, again….  cognitively speaking…

I would like to see the whole world out of the box….  That would make me happy, and I really believe that would make my Father happy too!

For all, who have loved, and lost, let us hope together…  God is Good…

 

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/