Metanoia: Be Transformed!

Elder Gideon
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Metanoia: Be Transformed!

#1 Postby Elder Gideon » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:46 am

Shalom Beloved Companions:

With the Feast of the Baptist already within a month and Tau Malachi having shared an alternate meaning of "Repent" in Greek as "Be transformed," I looked into the history of the word "repent" from the Jewish Bible through gospels and have a sketch for your contemplation. With God's help, may this benefit many in search and need of genuine repentance.

My source in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament surveys an impressive narrative of the changing connotation of the verb repent. Simply, its oldest meaning is a conscious change of mind, attitude, or life. The oldest Hebrew word for this principle—zōm—suggests penance in response to a spiritual emergency such as drought or pending political doom. Fasting, sackcloth, and ashes were the practice of this earliest sense of repentance.

Critics of outward, even superstitious acts of penance are the early prophets Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah. They are outspoken against the superficiality of penance because the breach in the relationship with God remains unchanged. Rather than burnt offerings and solemn feasts, the prophets demand a conversion to God from within the heart. The prophets shift this deeper sense of repentance away from cultic penance to a conversion with the word shūv: "return" or "turning back". For I desire steadfast love [Chesed] and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings (Hosea 6:6). Isaiah reaches even farther into Chesed:

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

With the later rise of the Greek world and its Hellenizing influence on the language of Philo and Josephus, the Jewish sense of conversion surfaces two new words in rabbinical writings of the time. In Hebrew, shūv develops into teshuvah, confirming the enduring sense of shunning sin and returning to God. It is here when teshuvah is even given a metaphysical nature that precedes Creation. For Greek readers of Judaism, rabbis translate teshuvah with a word that heretofore was very rare: metanoia. It is here with Philo when metanoia came to connote transformation. While carrying the same connotation of a change of mind, a stage was set in the time of Greek translations of gospels for a more radical demand of metanoia.

While parallel with the early prophets, Yohanan exceeds their intensity of repentance or conversion with the principle of the Kingdom of Heaven. This immanence of God carries with it a far greater demand and consequence. No where before is an ultimatum of this scale as the End of Days implied in conversion preaching or calls to repentance. The consequence for not doing so is irreversible doom for the soul. To fail to see and respond to the Kingdom of Heaven is self-annihilation. In addition to heralding the Kingdom of Heaven, Yohanan innovated the merger of the remission of sin with metanoia in the sacrament of baptism. What was once a simple penance in water purification, Yohanan amplified into baptism: the complete metanoia of human nature in return to God.

Yohanan pointed to the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven and prepared its way in the person of Yeshua. Yeshua is the Kingdom of Heaven speaking. The Way is not theoretical or penitential, but personal. With Yeshua, metanoia came to require the whole of one's being. Anything less than the total transformation of the person is a lapse into everything the prophets criticized of cultic superstition. Hedged transactions with metanoia are complicit with the world and evil itself: bearing fruits worthy of metanoia alone are revealed for the full inward turn one continually makes. The gospel allows for nothing other than a new allegiance with the Divine nature lived from inside out.

Yeshua grounds this unequivocally with the image of authentic metanoia: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). Metanoia requires the humble spaciousness of being small. We are powerless to give metanoia to ourselves. To recognize metanoia as the free gift it is demands that we receive it as something we could never give ourselves. To fully enter the kingdom of heaven—metanoia—comes by no other way than a gift we receive in response to metanoia.

Though the use of the word metanoia tapers in epistles, its gift of God continues with Paul, as the radical metanoia that Grace alone can effect. Faith becomes synonymous with metanoia, for faith, like metanoia, is a gift. Paul and John seems to largely equate metanoia-repentance with pistis-faith.

I was intrigued to learn that by the later second century, the word metanoia and exhortation to repentance in early Catholic Christianity fatefully "relapses...into Jewish legalism." Conversion becomes "moralized...for the second time...Penance must be done and suffered. The development of a penitential discipline analogous to that of the Synagogue is the inevitable result" (IV, 1008).

Having oversimplified a sketch of some thirty pages of professional philology on the word metanoia, a picture finally forms for me of what went so wrong in my own earliest experience of conversion. Had I come to the metanoia that the Baptist, Yeshua, and Apostles transmitted—Light Transmission—I would have had no need to approach the altar call week after week as I did (and was encouraged) to atone for my sins. With more mystical awakening, I would have come to stand in and identify with metanoia—the Divine nature indwelling me. Without this full gift of God through a Gnostic Apostle, I was still a product of sin. My evangelical beginnings derive from the Catholic relapse of conversion to penance, the very kind of legalism the prophets criticized and Messiah abolished. My heart therefore must be open as a child's to the implicit suffering of penance that continues to transact in the temples of my siblings' souls in Christ.

May we turn
and call upon this gift of metanoia,
remember this as the present
and only reality in Malkut.

Elder Gideon

Tau Malachi
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Re: Metanoia: Be Transformed!

#2 Postby Tau Malachi » Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:05 pm

Grace and peace to you in Hayyah Yeshua, the Risen and Ascended Messiah!

These are delightful insights and teachings you have shared dear brother. Over the years we have spoken often of teshuvah-repentance, as it occurs in Hebrew, and much has been drawn out. To consider the word metanoia-conversion, however, can help draw out further insights into the secret mysteries of repentance, turning or returning to God, and it is good to contemplate this, as repentance, spiritual conversion, is central to our spiritual life and practice in Messiah. Indeed, for from the very outset, receiving the gift of faith in the Messiah and Holy One and being set upon the path of seeking God, or enlightenment, so we are called to the ‘baptism of repentance for the remission of sin.’ It’s important to understand what this is and what it means according to our Gnostic Gospel.

As you have well pointed out, this repentance, this spiritual conversion - transformation, has little, or nothing to do with penance, outward devotions or works, though indeed, devotions and works are the natural result or response to the experience of a spiritual conversion, the reception of Divine Grace, the direct influx of Word and Spirit of God. It is not about penance, however, but rather it is about an inward transformation, being changed, being healed and made whole in the Messiah and Holy Spirit. I will say this, as much as repentance means ‘turn to God,’ or ‘return to God,’ so it means ‘return to being one’ - being whole, in God; this naturally is a radical conversion, transformation in consciousness from a state of apparent separation and fragmented consciousness - the soul being divided against itself, to a state of unity, oneness, wholeness of being in harmony with one’s Foundation and Source - God, the True Light.

Understand, as long as we are two, or divided, or fragmented, there can be no realization of oneness with God; until we return to being one, until we are one in ourselves, it is not possible to recognize and realize our innate union with God Most High, the Absolute Light. Thus, truly, to enter into the kingdom of heaven, to remember and realize our innate oneness with the Messiah in God Most High, we must ‘repent,’ return to being one, and undergo the corresponding conversion, transformation, being whole and complete in ourselves and in God. Going down in the living waters of baptism and rising up, so if in God, if in faith and love, we receive the Holy Light and Spirit - our anointing, and this Holy Light and Spirit will bring about our spiritual conversion, it will transform our mind, heart and life, awakening the holy soul that is within us, giving birth to the Word, the Messiah, in us - very truly through water and the Spirit we are reborn. In this you may understand “repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near” to also mean: 'Be reborn! For the kingdom of heaven has come near!'

Just as it is not by our own power that we are born of the flesh, neither is it by our power that we are reborn of the Spirit - all of this, all conceiving and birthing life, material and spiritual, comes from God and is in God, it is the manifestation of the power of God, the Spirit of God. Praise God!

I’d dare say that it is not I who can repent, but rather, it is the Messiah and Holy Spirit in me who brings repentance, who brings transformation, rebirth into the Kingdom of God. Indeed, I must engage in a conscious response to the Divine Grace I’ve received, and I must engage in a complete and total active and dynamic surrender, submission, to Divine Grace, and I must co-labor with the Messiah and Holy Spirit, following the leadings of the Spirit in the Way; but it is the Mother Spirit through which the Living Word is conceived and born in my heart and soul, and through which I am reborn in the kingdom of God - hence through which a true spiritual conversion, transformation, happens in my person and life.

The very inclination to repent comes from the Spirit of God, and the fruition of repentance is accomplished by the Spirit of God, yet, it is true that if we have fallen into sin, error, negativity, we need to have regret for it and no longer desire it, and so turn to God, seeking forgiveness and healing from God - ‘redemption,’ and seek help from God that we might overcome the challenges and temptations we face. This has nothing to do with the legalistic idea of penance, however, and the self-imposition of various penalties or self-inflicted sufferings, but rather having fallen into sin, error, negativity, repentance is the action of turning away from it, not returning to it, and instead, turning to God - returning to be one in God, and opening to the Holy Light and Spirit, we seek and receive our redemption from God. This is not something earned or deserved by way of any devotions or works we can do as a penance, but rather, it is a manifestation of the grace and mercy of God, it a ‘gift’ from God to God that we receive simply through turning to God and opening to Divine Grace in the Messiah.

Clearly, though, if there is sincere repentance a faithful person will make changes, do something different, and more so, in praise and thanksgiving for the mercy and forgiveness of God, the grace of God in the Messiah, the natural response to the reception of Divine Grace will be manifest in devotions and good works, enacting what is good and true, enacting the Gospel - love and compassion, and following the leadings of the Holy Spirit.

If we understand metanoia, this word for ‘repentance’ in the gospels, as spiritual conversion, transformation, and more so as rebirth - to be reborn, than we may consider the action of repentance as an experience of being born again. If we consider the mystery of the gilgulim, the reincarnation of souls, when souls reincarnate, being born again and entering into a new incarnation, a new life, essentially they are given a fresh start, a new beginning with new opportunity to seek enlightenment or God and live life in a different way, and so continue in evolution and realization. In our spiritual life in Messiah repentance is very similar to this, choosing to repent, choosing to turn to God - returning to be one in God, we have a fresh start, a new beginning, free from whatever burdens we were carrying before, free to do something different, to enact what is good and true - faith and love,’ righteousness.’ There is no legalistic issue of penance at all in this, but rather a gift of forgiveness, a setting free in the grace and mercy of God - the love of God.

The action of turning to God, returning to be One, is this: it is turning inward and upward - Godward, for turning downward and outward, we are fragmented and scattered, but turning inward and upward we are ingathered, reintegrated, in ourselves and in God, and we may say that we are ‘reborn’ as who we truly are in ourselves and in God.

Now there is something that needs to be said of this action in the Life Divine. As the action of creation is ongoing in God, and God continues to intend, envision, speak and breathe all creatures and creation into being moment to moment, day to day, so it is with our rebirth in Messiah, so it is with this returning to be one in the Messiah with God - it is ongoing. From the very first movement of metanoia, spiritual conversion, transformation, there is an ongoing self-transformation, rebirth, of the soul in the Messiah, and so an ongoing birthing of the Messiah in the soul - a ‘continuum of repentance.’

This, of course, is a very different understanding of repentance than what’s typically taught in the outer and unspiritual church, but if we study the gospels, this is exactly what Adonai Yeshua preached and taught. In this regard we may simply consider a common instruction he gave to many that he healed, “Go and sin no more.” Alternatively, to many others he would say, “Your faith has healed you.” Neither statement has any indication of a legalistic idea of penance to follow, but both do indicate the great and immediate blessing of repentance in Messiah, and the movement of the Spirit of God healing, making whole, and setting souls free - restoring to life, or fullness of being in God, the True Light.

Here I’m inclined to pause, waiting in silent love upon the Spirit.

Having been reborn, let us walk with the Lord and in the Lord, and rejoice in our freedom! Amen.

Yeshua Shalom!
Tau Malachi
Sophia Fellowship
Ecclesia Pistis Sophia

Kelly Ann
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Re: Metanoia: Be Transformed!

#3 Postby Kelly Ann » Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:16 am

Greetings to you Tau Malachi, brothers and sisters,

Although I am restricted by time, just now needing to get ready for a day of work, I feel compelled to briefly enter a few words in response to your last note on repentance and metanoia. I am hopeful I will have the time I need to more thoroughly and more thoughtfully respond this coming weekend. I simply wanted to convey to you that your words here are utterly, utterly beautiful. And inspiring. Deeply, deeply provocative. I was aware of such an immense opening within my heart as I was slowly reading the passages. Of course, more meaning will come to me as I read this over again, and again, and mull over, and reflect on, and dwell in, the various points you have made.

In gratitude for your offerings.


Kelly Ann

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