1 Jan 2003

When are you going to write about repentance?

Submitted by theshovel
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When are you going to write about repentance? J

Hello J,

Hey, I really do appreciate your persistence in this subject of repentance because it gives me the drive to deal with a matter that has caused many to stumble. I have started working on the theme of Repentance (though got a little held up this week with the back problems) and will be including it on the web site when I'm done with it, but let me give you some thoughts off the top of my head to consider, as I've often discovered that simply writing what comes to mind often gives me a jump-start and sometimes ends up being the basis of the whole thing. Anyhow, in no particular order, other than being my initial and/or random thoughts on the matter ...

Repentance

As you've already noted, there seems to be a discrepancy in how the word is used in both the writings of the Old and the gospel accounts and letters of the New. The fact is that just because our society has grown up around the English translations of repentance-related words we cannot assume that the Greek or Hebrew words were as connected as we sense them based on our forms of "repent". After all, neither Moses, Elijah, John the baptizer, Peter nor Paul spoke or thought in King James English.

It is rather amazing how this word "repentance" pops up and it is just ASSUMED that there is a SINGLE meaning to it throughout the whole Bible. Someone will ask, "But don't we have to REPENT?" (yep, it's capitalized in how it's said), and automatically we have that old specter of legalism haunting us as if there is overwhelming evidence to support a meaning that we have to "turn from sin" in order to get saved.

Now, my computer dictionary defines repent as:
1) Turn away from sin or do penitence
2) Feel remorse for; feel sorry for; be contrite about

But in the writings of the New Testament there are two main Greek root words behind "repent" and "repentance":
1) Metanoeo (verb) and Metanoia (noun),
The literal of the verb is "to perceive afterwards" (implying a different perception than before)
The literal of the noun is "after-thought" or "change of mind"

2) Metamelomai (verb) and Ametameletos (adjective).
The literal of the verb is "after" + "care for" and means "regret"
The adjective has the negative "a" causing it to mean "unregretted" (implying without change in purpose)

Something tells me that our meaning of repent and/or repentance has been defined more by the world's acceptance of religion's improper usagae than what the actual words really mean. But then again, this should not be surprising since the basic belief of human society seems to be the exact same as found in religious circles in this matter. In other words, regarding wrongdoing, the natural mindset demands that change will only come when people are sorry enough for what they've done so that they determine to stop doing what they've been doing. Forget examining doctrinal positions of how we think we're supposed to relate to God, and simply take a good look at how we have been trained to deal with one another. How we have dealt with one another is in exact proportion to how we think we need to deal with God.

You know, when the use of a word implies something other than what it actually means I think it's time to stop using that word and start using alternate words that capture the original intent. If the words I'm using no longer communicate what I'm thinking then I'm a lousy communicator if, after discovering this, I don't find other words that DO express my true thoughts. Trying to communicate "repentance" using a form of the word "repentance" needs to be repented of (hahaha!), that is, we need to perceive it differently. It is simply stubborn religious self-righteousness that holds onto language as if it has and always will remain unchanged.

But this is exactly how the mind of the world imprisons us. Keep in mind, this is not in any way restricted to religious organizations, but is simply an outgrowth of the basic principles by which humans have learned to exist. Those who hold that God inspired the King James Version (that's why it has been called the AV, or Authorized Version) do so with a fervor because their "belief" (read that, "opinion") allows them to establish a basis upon which they might discover what is "wrong" and what is "right". The religious mentality finds it NECESSARY to have an "authoritative" standard by which they are able to rate themselves compared to their peers, and also by which they man enforce this "rightly divided" standard upon others.

How did we learn this? Consider, as children, which made more of an impact, telling our brother or sister what to do, or telling them that DAD or MOM said to do it - or even threatening to go tell mom or dad? Now, it may or may not have brought about the desired demand, but it sure FELT more powerful, and that's why we STILL practice this habit to this day. Our authority figures evolved over the years from parents to teachers to the police to the government ... to GOD. Never confuse the simple fact that we were only looking for the ultimate backer of our demands with the illusion that we actually held to our chosen authority figure. The Pharisees played that game with Jesus, and He merely called their bluff.

and they (the Pharisees) spoke, saying to Him, 'Tell us by what authority You are doing these things, or who is the one who gave You this authority?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'I will also ask you a question, and you tell Me: Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?' They reasoned among themselves, saying, 'If we say, "From heaven," He will say, "Why did you not believe him?" But if we say, "From men," all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet." ' So they answered that they did not know where it came from. And Jesus said to them, 'Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.' Luke 20:2-8

"Repentance" is the religious man's "divine" bluff. And the religious mind has developed an incredible poker-face when throwing out their bets and raising the stakes. The simple fact is that NONE OF THEM have fulfilled this demand they declare to be "God's Will" - and they know it in their own hearts even though they make amazing claims to have done so.

For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. 1 Timothy 1:6-7

Well, I will continue on this a little later. :)

Love,
Jim

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