Pixar’s Movie “Inside Out”: Spiritual Takeouts

No, I don’t mean “outtakes.” Those are scenes that never made into the movie.

I’m going to serve up some tasty spiritual takeouts from the movie: scenes and themes to take with you into your day.

But first, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, do it!

It’s a computer animated kids’ movie. But don’t let that stop you. Inside Out serves up plenty of thought-provoking and heart-tugging material for adults, too. And it looks set to go down as one of the best and most original movies from one of the best and most original animation studios in the movie business. If you haven’t yet seen a Pixar movie, this would be good place to start.

What’s Inside Out all about?

The plot involves 11 year old Riley, who is going through a major life transition. She must leave behind her happy childhood home in Minnesota when her father takes a new job in San Francisco.

But the real action takes place inside Riley’s head. And the main cast of characters are her five basic emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. These five are personified and brought to life inside the spacious world of Riley’s mind, where they vie with one another to run the control panel inside her mental “headquarters.” As Riley’s outer life unfolds, we watch the story of her emotions driving all the action behind the scenes.

To get the full effect, you’ll just have to watch the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, this trailer gives you a taste:

Now here are five spiritual takeouts based on key themes in the movie.

Warning: plot spoilers below!

For spiritual takeouts from Inside Out, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Popular Culture, Spiritual Growth

What is the difference between the Swedenborgian and Oneness Pentecostal doctrines of God?

(Note: This post is an edited version of an answer I wrote and posted on Christianity StackExchange. You can see the original question on StackExchange here, and the StackExchange version of my answer here.)

Most Christian churches today, encompassing the vast majority of Christians, teach that God consists of a Trinity of three Persons called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This doctrine emerged with the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, and was stated more explicitly in the Athanasian Creed a century or two later. From there it became dominant in Christianity as a whole.

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) rejected the doctrine of a Trinity of Persons in God, saying instead that there is a Trinity of essential components in a single Person of God.

Followers of Swedenborg’s theology have historically been in a lonely position among Christians due to their rejection of the traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity. However, in the early 1900s another movement, called Oneness Pentecostalism, arose that also rejected that doctrine.

The question naturally arises, then, whether Oneness Pentecostals agree with Swedenborg’s theology about the nature of God and the Trinity.

Here is the short answer, stated from the perspective of Swedenborg’s theology:

Swedenborg does agree with modalists, including Oneness Pentecostals, in affirming the full divinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, while denying that they are three persons.

This has led to the common error of labeling Swedenborg and Swedenborgians “modalist.”

However, Swedenborg rejects the essential, defining modalist doctrine: that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three different modes or manifestations of God to human beings.

Swedenborg, and Swedenborgians, are therefore not modalist in their doctrines and beliefs.

Now for a fuller answer.

First, we need to define God from the modalist, Oneness Pentecostal, and Swedenborgian perspectives.

For more on Swedenborg vs. the Oneness Pentecostal view of God, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God

According to Emanuel Swedenborg, will a good person who rejects Jesus go to Heaven?

(Note: This post is an edited version of an answer I wrote and posted on Christianity StackExchange. You can see the original question on StackExchange here, and the StackExchange version of my answer here.)

From the perspective of Swedenborg’s theology, this is a trick question.

Technically, according to Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), anyone who rejects Jesus (“the Lord,” as Swedenborg refers to him) cannot go to heaven.

However, Swedenborg’s definition of “rejecting the Lord” is quite different from the usual Christian definitions.

By the usual Christian definitions of “rejecting Jesus,” yes, according to Swedenborg someone who has rejected and even mocked Jesus can go to heaven.

That’s why it’s a trick question (but a good one!): because it all depends on your definition of “rejecting Jesus.”

Let me explain.

For more on heaven for people who reject Jesus, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, The Afterlife

If you Don’t Believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture, on What Basis can you Interpret Scripture?

(Note: This post is an edited version of an answer I wrote and posted on Christianity StackExchange. You can see the original question on StackExchange here, and the StackExchange version of my answer here.)

The doctrine of biblical inerrancy is very recent in Christian history

First, let’s put biblical inerrancy into perspective.

Two centuries or so ago, and for all of Christian history before that, not a single Christian church, denomination, or preacher held that the Bible is inerrant. The very idea of biblical inerrancy had never even occurred to anyone.

It was only after the Age of Enlightenment (from the 1650s to the 1780s) that any need was seen by Christians for any such doctrine. This need was perceived only when the rapid development of science in the wake of the Age of Enlightenment began to call into question in many people’s minds the scientific accuracy of many stories and statements in the Bible, such as the creation of the world in six days and the Flood of Noah.

So for roughly 1,800 years of its history, all of Christianity looked to the Bible as the Word of God without the need for any doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

For more on an alternative to inerrancy, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

The Logic of Love: Why God became Jesus

I want to talk to you about a subject that is near and dear to my heart. It is also at the heart Christian belief.

Though it is delivered in the form of an article, you can think of it as my personal testimony.

Why am I a Christian? Given that I think of myself as a reasonably scientific and rational person, how can I possibly believe that a historical, flesh-and-blood human being named Jesus actually was God with us (Matthew 1:23)? How can any logical, rational, and scientific person believe such an illogical, unscientific, and preposterous thing?

The answer lies in a higher logic: the logic of love. In a previous article, I said that “God is Love . . . And That Makes All the Difference in the World.” Believing that God became Jesus, who is God with us, flows logically from the simple statement, “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).

But before we flesh that out, let’s look at things from the perspective of the skeptics.

For more on the logic of love, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God

Spiritual Tornadoes

Tornado with Lightning

Tornado with Lightning

The month of May is peak tornado season across the U.S. plains and southern states. Already this year five separate tornadoes have caused fatalities, in Cisco, TX, Van, TX, Nashville, AR, Fairdale, IL, and Sand Springs, OK. Just over the weekend several tornadoes touched down in southwestern Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle, damaging buildings and causing power outages.

Every region of the country, and of the world, has its dangers and its natural disasters. For those living in Tornado Alley, it’s twisters.

In my younger childhood years, when my family lived in the states of Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri, we got used to the sound of tornado sirens piercing the air from time to time. Fortunately, our town was never hit. Others have not been so lucky. Even when the tornado warnings give local residents time to take shelter, tornadoes are a devastating experience for those who live through them.

Then comes the monumental task of rebuilding shattered buildings, shattered towns, and shattered lives.

A tornado causes more than physical destruction. The terror of the experience itself, and the heartbreak of destruction and loss in its aftermath, also create huge emotional, even spiritual devastation. The physical destruction is often mirrored by a sense of wreckage and desolation in the soul. This requires a painful process of psychological rebuilding.

And even people who have not experienced a tornado or other natural disaster sometimes experience spiritual tornadoes and hurricanes.

For more on storms of the soul, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Spiritual Growth

Is there a Biblical Basis for Wives Divorcing their Physically Abusive Husbands?

(Note: This post is an edited version of an answer I recently wrote and posted on Christianity StackExchange. You can see the original question on StackExchange here, and the StackExchange version of my answer here.)

Divorce Petition

Divorce Petition

Since the Bible was written in a very different time and culture than that of today, it is difficult to draw a straight line between the few biblical injunctions about marriage and divorce on the one hand, and marriage and divorce as they exist in today’s society on the other.

For example, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 speaks of a man who is displeased with his wife writing her a certificate of divorce. According to Matthew 19:7-8; Mark 10:2-5, this was interpreted as a commandment of Moses that allowed a man to divorce his wife. However, there was no similar commandment allowing a woman to divorce her husband. For all practical purposes, in Old Testament times only men, and not women, had the right to divorce their spouse.

However, by the time 1 Corinthians 7:8-16 was written in New Testament times, women had apparently acquired the right to divorce their husbands as well.

For more about the Bible on divorce and domestic violence, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex, Marriage, Relationships, The Bible Re-Viewed

Faith Alone Is Not Faith

My post two weeks ago titled “Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does” drew a strong reaction.

Most of the reaction was positive.

But since the article assailed a fundamental defining and distinguishing doctrine of Protestantism, it also drew some negative responses.

Some of the people who objected insisted that faith alone does save, and quoted various Bible passages in an effort to support their contention. However, none of those Bible passages actually says that faith alone saves.

That’s one of the big problems with the doctrine of salvation by faith alone: the Bible never says it. In fact, the Bible specifically denies it (see James 2:14–26).

There’s another big problem with the doctrine of salvation by faith alone:

Faith alone is not even faith.

For more on the non-faith status of faith alone, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

The Spiritual Anatomy of Physically Abusive Men

Yet another woman has been murdered by a physically abusive man—this time in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Janessa Spencer, 1989-2015

Janessa Spencer, 1989-2015

On April 12, 2015, Janessa Spencer was at home with her boyfriend, Samual Cook, when they heard a loud banging on the door. As Spencer feared, it was Daniel Guajardo, her previous boyfriend and the father of her three young children.

There’s no need for a blow-by-blow. You can read all about it in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle here and here. Short version: Guajardo broke into the house, shot Spencer’s boyfriend non-fatally in the shoulder as he escaped through the bathroom window, shot Spencer dead, then fled to Fort Collins, Colorado, where he was arrested and charged with first degree murder.

What struck us about the story was that Janessa Spencer thought it was all about jealousy, and that she could calm her ex-boyfriend down if she just got her new boyfriend out of the house. And also that Samual Cook felt tremendously guilty and a coward because he had run away instead of protecting his girlfriend from a man with a gun who had burst into the house.

Unfortunately, they were both laboring under common misconceptions about abusive men. It was not about jealousy, nor was it about anger or “calming him down.” Spencer probably saved Cook’s life by getting him out of there just in time. But by staying herself, she was only facing her executioner.

There are plenty of good resources out there about domestic violence. In this article, we’ll take a look at the spiritual anatomy of physically abusive men.

For more on the spiritual realities behind domestic violence, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events, Pain and Suffering, Sex, Marriage, Relationships

Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does

“We are saved by faith alone.”

The Bible doesn’t say it. In fact, the Bible rejects it.

It was not part of Christian belief for the first 1,500 years of Christianity.

Even today, only about one-fifth of Christians belong to churches that teach it.

And yet, the minority of Christians who do believe in it think it’s the most important, essential teaching of Christianity.

Justification by faith alone” is the Protestant doctrine that the one and only thing that saves us is believing that Jesus Christ died for us on the cross. Our “works,” meaning what we do and how we live, do not contribute anything to our salvation. If we believe that Jesus died for us, we will go to heaven. If we do not believe that Jesus died for us, we will go to hell.

I have been told that I am going to hell because I am unwilling to say and believe that faith alone saves.

Now that could be a problem!

For more on the fallacy of faith alone, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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Earlier Posts
Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly, Fryeburg, Maine, August 2012

Lee Woofenden speaking at Fryeburg New Church Assembly

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