Bill Etem - ex high school teacher, ex restaurant server, ex data entry / legal coder etc. B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota. Living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Lived in Mexico, in Oaxaca, for 18 months. Spent 4 months wandering round Europe after college. Lived in Los Angeles for a few years before running off to Mexico. Pardon the length of this bio page, but I need to provide an introduction to my religious books. 'Guilty Pleasures,' my most recent book, or at least the one I revised most recently, tries to enliven my discourse on the True Faith and True Church. The basic reasoning runs as follows: if the Roman Catholic Church leads people to heaven, if Rome upholds the True Faith, if Rome is God's True Church - the Church which Christ founded on a rock - recall Matthew 16. 13-19 - then it makes no sense for anyone to rebel against the Roman Catholic Church. If Rome leads people to heaven, then why do we have Presidents and Senates and Supreme Courts? If the Roman Catholic Church leads people to heaven, if Rome is God's True Church, then it is foolish to risk hellfire by rebelling against God's True Church, and therefore we would all be wise to take our orders from Rome. But, of course, on the other hand, if Rome has fallen away from the True Faith, if Rome is not the Church which Christ founded on a rock, if the Roman Catholic Church is not God's True Church, if Rome leads people to perdition rather than to heaven, then every Roman Catholic needs to immediately renounce the Roman Catholic Church, and they need to locate the True Faith and the True Church, in order to attain heaven and to escape perdition. The same reasoning applies of course to every church, not just to the Roman Catholic Church. The United Methodist Church has either fallen away from the True Faith or else it has not fallen away from the True Faith. The ELCA has either.... 2 Thessalonians 2 deals with a man of sin / son of perdition - presumably this is the Antichrist mentioned in 1 John 2. 18, who is presumably the beast mentioned in Revelation 19. 19. 2 Thess 2 also deals with a falling away, presumably a falling away from the True Faith, and with strong delusion. As I say in Chapter 1 of 'Constitutional History of the Western World' many commentators insist that the Temple in Jerusalem will have to be rebuilt before the Antichrist can be revealed. 2 Thess 2 tells us that the man of sin will sit in the holy place showing himself that he is God. But the holy place, the temple, is found within human beings. As Paul tells us, in 1 Corinthians 3. 16-7, the temple of God resides within each Christian, or at least within each True Christian. True Christians have the True Faith, the Divine Law, the new covenant mention by Christ at the Last Supper, and prophesied in Jeremiah 31. 31-34, written on our hearts. The suspicion is the Antichrist will 'sit in the holy place' by usurping a place in people's hearts. The Antichrist might attempt to write the Law of the Devil - certainly not the Law of God - on people's hearts. Recall 2 Corinthians 11. 13-15 - Satan masquerades as an angel of light and his ministers masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Big problems began under the sign of the cross in the 4th century, when the Roman Empire, now run by people under the sign of the cross, inflicted cruel and barbaric punishments. The laws of the Roman Empire remained ferocious, but it was not pagans after the 4th century, it was people under the sign of the cross who inflicted the evil laws on people for century after century. The scriptures are quite clear: good Christians are not to hold communion with Christians who perpetrate evil. You fall away from the True Faith when you do that, recall 1 Corinthians 11. 27. 2 Thess 2, 2 Thess 1. 8, John 15. 6 and Luke 13. 3 and Galatians 1. 8 tell us perdition results for those who fall away from the True Faith. Certainly Christianity teaches there is one True Faith. Christ said at the Last Supper: 'This cup is My blood of the new covenant...'. Turn to Jeremiah 31. 31-34 and Hebrews 8 for more info on this new covenant. The Gospel of Jesus Christ / the new law / the new covenant / the Divine Law - these are all different terms which describe the same thing: the True Faith. The New Testament has lots of scriptures which damn the selfish, e.g., Matthew 25. 31-46. Acts 2. 44-5 and Acts 4. 32-4 tell us that long ago there was equal sharing of the wealth in the True Church. It is easy to imagine how economic collapse might destroy a Christian socialistic economic system if some or many Christians didn't pull their weight, but instead forced other Christians to work themselves to death trying to keep a Christian socialistic economy from collapsing. No doubt the saints will be saintly and will try to help everyone during the great tribulation - see Revelation 18 for more info on this. I mean it stands to reason the saints will not be selfish, greedy, covetous etc. St. Paul tells men to pray with our heads uncovered, and he tells women to pray with their heads covered. Galatians 1. 8-12 tells us Paul learned his doctrines directly from Christ, and one is accursed if one corrupts those doctrines. There's nothing complicated here! We're supposed to obey Christ's and Paul's doctrines, and we're not supposed to take a prideful attitude where one says something like: 'I am already saved. I'm born again. I'm saved by faith not by works. I am a saint destined for heaven. I am not a damned soul destined to be damned! Therefore, I don't need to obey any legalistic rules, because I'm already saved, I'm saved regardless if I pray with my head covered or with my head uncovered!' By that logic one could announce that one is a saint destined for heaven even if one violates Sabbath, even if one violates the Commandments against murder and theft and idolatry. One will never understand the last 2,000 years of Western Civilization if one can't understand the most remedial teachings of Christianity, such as the doctrine that there is a True Faith and a True Church, such as the doctrine that good Christians must excommunicate Christians who perpetrate evil, or else the good Christians fall away from the True Faith and go to perdition along with the evil Christians. Protestants often insist that Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believers worship Mary and other saints. Whereas Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox insist they venerate saints, but worship only God. The human heart is not equipped with a digital instrument which displays the strength of ones adoration for some object, so that, with this instrument, one can distinguish in ones heart between love, veneration, adoration and worship. Christians are to love Mary but we are not to worship her. To a Protestant, if you bow down before an image of the Virgin Mary, then you worship that image of Mary, or you worship Mary herself, though you insist you don't worship her. The tradition of bowing down before images of saints is a long and revered tradition in Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, but it's just a long tradition of idolatry in Protestant eyes. Again, Protestantism makes no sense if either Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy is God's True Church. But if both lead people to perdition, if both have fallen away from the True Faith, if neither one is the Church which Christ founded on a rock, then Protestantism has a chance of making sense, unless it too has fallen away. Matthew 25. 31-46, Matthew 19. 23-26, Luke 16. 19-31, Acts 2. 44-5 etc., pertain to money and sharing. Suppose the prophecies in Revelation 18 come to pass - economic collapse, famine etc., - one then asks oneself: have the Protestants under the sign of the cross fallen away from the True Faith on money issues, or have they not fallen away from the True Faith on money issues? If a Protestant sect leads people to heaven, because it obeys the Gospel / True Faith, then there is no reason for that Protestant sect to change. But if a Protestant sect leads people away from heaven and straight to perdition, because it has fallen away from the True Faith, such as in regards to money issues, then it has reason to change! Other problems which point to perdition: the Protestants don't excommunicate anyone. They don't excommunicate Sabbath violators, pro-choice people, pro-gay marriage people, they more or less give the Eucharist to anyone who asks to receive it, and 1 Corinthians 11. 27, and 2 Thess 1. 8, and John 15. 6, and Luke 13. 3, Galatians 1. 8 etc., etc., say what they say. Suppose a bishop decrees that two men playing grab-ass not only don't have to spend a night in the box, but they are not to be excomunicated, then you have to determine if this bishop upholds the New Law / True Faith or if he corrupts it. Evil Protestant traditions cause Protestants to fall away from the True Faith and therefore end up in perdition. It's simony to put a price tag on Bibles and on books which teach Christianity. The apostles didn't sell their epistles! Matthew, Mark, Luke and John didn't try to make a profit off their gospels. It's evil to sell Christian books because it's evil to sell Christianity. It's also evil to pass round a collection plate in church. Recall Christ and the money changers in the Temple. Evil traditions really drag people down. Excommunication means being given the silent treatment by the saints, and exclusion from the Eucharist, until the sinner repents. In theory if not always in practice, excommunication is an act of love not an act of spite or hypocrisy. If the sinner is never disciplined he might never repent. And everyone who refuses to repent will perish, that is, go to perdition. Luke 13. 3, 2 Thess 1. 8, John 15. 6, Revelation 20. 15 etc. Everything depends, you know, in terms of attaining heaven and escaping perdition, on not falling away from the True Faith and being a member of God's True Church. Recall 2 Thessalonians 2 and the man of booksin / son of perdition - who is generally seen as the Antichrist mentioned in 1 John 2. 18, and also generally seen as the beast of Revelation 19. 19 - and recall the strong delusion, and the 'falling away' also mentioned in 2 Thess 2. In 2 Corinthians 11. 13-15 St. Paul tells us that Satan masquerades as an angel of light, and it is therefore no big surprise that his ministers masquerade as ministers of righteousness. So watch out for Pharisees masquerading as Christians. In 'Amanda's War' a character changes after a traumatic incident. The theme of people changing after trauma is one of the themes of Robert Altman's '3 Women.' In 'Amanda's War,' where a character named Haakon Sovant changes after a traumatic incident, readers are left to wonder if he changes because of benevolent natural forces or because of malevolent supernatural forces. The setting is the north shore of Lake Superior. I like that path between Fitgers and Canal Park in Duluth, espessially on a hot summer day when the wind is blowing cold spray off of Superior...I once drove up to the Canadian line in late summer. Isle Royal was a big golden rock rising out of the blue inland sea. From atop Mt. Josephine, then wonderfully lush and green, u get a view of thousands of square miles of Canada. It's a beautiful sight indeed, one that would make any American wish that, at the Treaty of Paris, Ben Franklin had not capitulated but had instead insisted that the British fork over to the USA all of these beautiful and intoxicatingly fragrant pine forests that extend up to the arctic regions. I know I ought to talk in this Personal Information, Bio Section about the jobs I've had, and whether or not I'm in a relationship, and what she's like. I know i ought to explain why I'm crazy mad in love with her, and explain what color her eyes are, and what sort of highlights she puts in her hair etc. I don't get how some people find the time to write and do research and also work at a job to pay the bills, and find the time to have a family, and find time to stay in touch with old friends, and always finding time to make new friends etc. I got 45 hours tied up every week working and commuting. Then i need to pump iron for at least 2 hours every day or else I feel weak and out of shape. And I got to find the time to keep up with the news, and find the time to stay abreast of literature and films. Anyone who wants to write in a professional way about History has to read tons and tons of material. And one must read lots of theology to become an expert on theology. Every now and then i get inspired to read advanced math and physics. Math is the language of engineering, physics, finance etc., and you feel good when you finally understand something that had you mystified - u feel sort of like how a gladiator feels after he survives a tough opponent when you solve a tough math problem - well, sort of. Recall those scenes in 'My Night with Maud' where Jean-Louis Trintignant is captivated by math books, if you want a cinematic reference. And there's the great Spanish film, 'Death of a Cyclist', where that beautiful girl is working the math problem at the board, but then the professor with the guilty conscience is rude to her, and then later she helps him to do the right thing. Regarding economic collapse and famine and the Great Tribulation - Revelation 18 - I saw this movie called 'The Island of the Fishmen' where this doctor and some others are famished and dying of thirst on a small boat at sea. Then they reach an island full of voodoo worshippers and mutant fishmen, people who, I dare say, had certainly not found the True Faith and the True Church. They meet a mad scientist played by Joseph Cotten - he was great in 'Niagara' and 'The Third Man.' Anyway, the doc is rescued at the end of 'The Island of the Fishmen.' Things weren't looking so good for him when he was dying of hunger and thirst at the beginning of the movie. Of course some other people the doc was with got slaughtered by the mutant fishmen, but the doc didn't give up. He hung in there and was finally saved. When times get tough but even when you got it soft you always have to count your blessings. Look how tough Paul Newman had it in 'Cool Hand Luke' - that's where the line 'two men playin grab-ass spend a night in the box' came from. Look how tough Alain Delon had it in 'M. Klein'. He plays a Gentile who the Nazis think is a Jew, and he ends up in a concentration camp. I love those Rene Clement and Jean Pierre Melville films Delon starred in, Plein Soleil, Les Felines, Le Samurai, Un flic, Le cercle rouge etc. They're so chic, so artistic. Charlton Heston didn't have it soft and easy when those talking apes captured him in 'Planet of the Apes,' or when he was kneeling on the beach and looking up at the ruin the Statue of Liberty had become. You just have to hang in there, like Evander Holyfield hung in there while Mike Tyson was chewing his ear off. Look at how Katniss Everdeen refused to quit when times got tough. Just look at all the tyranny, trauma, bloodshed, anguish, hunger and heartache that hit her over the head in the 4 films in 'The Hunger Games' series. Despite a dad who died in a coal mine and a mom who checked-out and left her kids to starve, despite a tyrant and tributes and a hijacked boyfriend all trying to murder her, she hung in there and finally triumphed. Imagine how she felt in 'Catching Fire' - in that scene where she's sitting on the sofa while Snow announces on TV that the tributes for the Third Quarter Quell will be reaped from the existing pool of victors - meaning Katniss has to go into the arena of death yet again, into the arena where 24 people walk in but only 1 walks out! It's too bad her sister and lots of other people had to die in the Revolution, but Katniss finally triumphed. She finally destroyed Snow's evil regime. You wouldn't believe how much Christian symbolism there is in the 4 films and the 3 novels of the 'The Hunger Games' series. For instance in 'Catching Fire' we have some words that get you thinking about Revelation 18 and the Great Tribulation. When Katniss and some other Tributes are fighting for their lives while figuring some things out on that island at the center of the big clock, making some discoveries which will help them fight for their lives, Plutarch Heavensby / Philip Seymour Hoffman says, 'Spin it. Let's see how well they tell time now.' Of course, at heart, Heavensby was Pro-Katniss and Pro-Insurgency, but he had to make it seem as if he was Anti-Katniss and Anti-Insurgency in the presence of Snow or Snow's minions. The Germans have produced in recent years some great films dealing with conflict in the love lives of people living under totalitarian regimes - this is a huge theme in 'The Hunger Games' series. Look for instance at 'The Lives of Others' and 'Barbara'. The 4 films in 'The Hunger Games' series have of course far more mass market appeal than those films. This is not to suggest that 'The Hunger Games' series is a mass market sellout. Not at all. The 4 films in the series are masterpieces of cinematic art. They're just not art house mode masterpieces. I saw Claude Chabrol's 'The Bridesmaid' the other day - French title of 'La demoiselle d'honneur.' The bridesmaid, the 'the girl of honor', is beautiful but super twisted. She is played by the daughter of the woman who played the prostitute in 'La Balance,' an artistic French film from 1982. She, the bridesmaid not the prostitute, and this nice young guy are crazy about each other - but it's a fatal attraction - so you know she'll drag him down to a bad end. On this theme I saw a really good British film from 1958 called 'Tread Softly Stranger.' Diana Dors plays a gorgeous femme fatal. This one guy is crazy about her but she doesn't care two cents about him. Then he and this other guy get busted for murder because of her. Talk about throwing your life away chasing after someone who will only drag you down.
Constitutional History of the Western Worldby Bill Etem
The Christian scriptures tell us there is a True Church. In Matthew 16. 13-19 Jesus tells us He founded His Church on a rock, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. In John 14. 23-26 we're told that those who love Christ keep His words. John 14. 23-26 gives those of us who are Christians yet another reason to respect Matthew 16. 13-19. John 15. 6 more
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The Christian scriptures tell us there is a True Church. In Matthew 16. 13-19 Jesus tells us He founded His Church on a rock, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. In John 14. 23-26 we're told that those who love Christ keep His words. John 14. 23-26 gives those of us who are Christians yet another reason to respect Matthew 16. 13-19. John 15. 6 more or less says that those who abide in Christ are the True Church. Those who don't abide in Christ are like sticks which are gathered and given to the flames. Ephesians 4. 4 says there is 'one body,' and in Paul's terminology this means there is one True Church. Revelation 20.15 mentions a Book of Life. At the Last Judgment, those people with their names written in the Book of Life are the True Church, and they enter heaven. Those who don't have their names written in the Book of Life are cast into a lake of fire.
The Church of Rome either leads people to heaven or else it leads people to perdition. The Church of Rome has either fallen away from the True Faith, and is not the Church which Christ founded on a rock, in which case it leads people to perdition, in which case everyone should renounce the Church of Rome, or else the Church of Rome has not fallen away from the True Faith, and Rome is the Church which Christ founded on a rock, and therefore Rome leads people to heaven. If Rome leads people to heaven, if Rome is God's True Church, then everyone should obey Rome and her teachings.
Chapter 1 focuses mostly on the Church of Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy. 2 Thess 2 mentions a 'falling away'. A church, any church, is either the Church which Christ founded on a rock or else it is a false church which leads people to perdition. Any church, or any person for that matter, has either fallen away from the True Faith or else he / she / it has not fallen away from the True Faith.
You have to weigh the probabilities. You have to weigh the evidence for and against the churches.
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