Monday, July 30, 2012

the Shepherd of Hermas: Alas

This reminds me way too much of Alice in Wonderland, or the Shack, or maybe both.  I'm very glad it did not end up in the New Testament, yet very sad how Shepherd of Hermas has influenced the Church.  I could not bring myself to even finish reading the visions, but what I read was appalling.

Vision 1: Hermas sees a woman bathing and desires her.  Then he falls asleep and the same woman appears in heaven and yells at him for sinning against her.  I think in the end, he is forgiven, but she says, “Be a man, Hermas.”  Also, an older woman talked to him.

Vision 2: The older woman returns, gives him a book to translate, and when he does, it is snatched from his hands in an utter Joseph Smith moment.  Then, they come back in a Howler to Hermas saying his wife and sons have blasphemed God and he just sat there and let them do so without chastising them.  And there’s some tribulation coming.  Hermas has been careless and wicked but he didn’t leave God so he was saved.  But now he must lead his children and wife/sister in the coming tribulation.  The idiot thought the old lady was Sybil, from a completely different religion, but no, she was the Church.

Me: This is way too Old Testament and written by someone who does not understand Christ’s grace.  Though it is good that God saved Hermas when he did not leave God.  However, his simplicity and self-control saved him, not God’s grace.  I agree, God created the Church first and she is old, but we are all the Church who believe and love Christ.  We are the Bride of Christ, the new Eve, and dare I say, Christ-bearers.  So, Hermas should be part of this woman.

Vision 3: “And touching me she said, Hermas, ‘cease praying continually for your sins; pray for righteousness, that you may have a portion of it immediately in your house.’” 
From what I can read, six young men built a tower and then it fell, scattered all over the world. 
“The tower which you see building is myself, the Church, who have appeared to you now and on the former occasion. Ask, then, whatever you like in regard to the tower, and I will reveal it to you, that you may rejoice with the saints.”  Also, you will be saved through water which equals God’s Name and power. 
“In reply I said to her, This is magnificent and marvelous. But who are the six young men who are engaged in building? And she said, These are the holy angels of God, who were first created, and to whom the Lord handed over His whole creation, that they might increase and build up and rule over the whole creation.
“Those square white stones which fitted exactly into each other, are apostles, bishops, teachers, and deacons, who have lived in godly purity, and have acted as bishops and teachers and deacons chastely and reverently to the elect of God.”
“Who then are those whom they rejected and cast away? These are they who have sinned, and wish to repent. On this account they have not been thrown far from the tower, because they will yet be useful in the building, if they repent.  She then describes the stones in a similar manner to the way Jesus describes the four soils.
“Repentance, said she, is yet possible, but in this tower they cannot find a suitable place. But in another and much inferior place they will be laid, and that, too, only when they have been tortured and completed the days of their sins. And on this account will they be transferred, because they have partaken of the righteous Word. And then only will they be removed from their punishments when the thought of repenting of the evil deeds which they have done has come into their hearts. But if it does not come into their hearts, they will not be saved, on account of the hardness of their heart.
And then, seven ladies have names.  One is Faith, and the rest are her daughters: Self-Restraint, Simplicity, Guilelessness, Chastity, Intelligence, and Love.  The lady then says she will pray to the Father for the people on earth.

My commentary, mostly line by line: I can’t disagree with that saying.  Don’t dwell on your sins but focus on righteousness.  It’s also notable that he believes in the elect and reprobate.  I really wish there was more commentary on this.  In this vision, I mostly read “blah, blah, blah.”  Again, I can’t really disagree with what the lady says, but once again, it’s a lady giving a vision and not an approved Apostle or Prophet of God.  So far, I think Hermas wrote an allegory about the church that’s okay, but he write as a false prophet who received a revelation that no one else received.  While it does not necessarily contradict the Bible, this does not happen after the Apostles have died.  If God sends revelation, he sends it indiscreetly and by many eyewitnesses, not some guy walking out of the woods.  And then, God started building a tower/the Church, but now these angels have to finish it?  Did Christ not say, “It is finished”?  I don’t think this guy even has a concept of who Christ is.  Basically, this woman says you can only have salvation if you belong to the Church.  I do agree, but, again, this is because Christ draws us in.  We are the Church, not this woman.  I repeat, this man has no concept of Christ.  And now the rejected stones must perform penance and even then, placed on the inferior parts of the tower.  Ugh.  Hello, Purgatory doctrine.  And the seven ladies – more ugh.  I’m sure Faith does produce all those qualities in a believer, but again, they all come from God.  Love is what defines God, and through faith we can have that kind of love and possibly other areas of discipline and self-control.  To Hermas’s credit, these are a result of faith, not a way to be saved.  Even further to his credit, God gives this qualities to the believer out of his mercy, not out of the believer’s actions.  Then the lady says she’ll intercede before the Father instead of Christ, who God sent to be our intercessor.  By definition, this lady is an anti-Christ, and we do not need to listen to her.  I don’t think I can read any more; I’m starting to tremble with anger.

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