Thanks both for your comments.
Peter wrote:There are plenty of other suttas which address this point very directly. Is there really a reason to twist this one to do so as well?
Certainly not, Peter. There is never a reason to twist the suttas.
My attention on this one stems from my understanding that it is one of four "summaries of the Dhamma that have been taught by the Blessed One," as noted in the translation I initially referenced. Since this passage is a summary of the Dhamma, I believe we need to be very careful and thoughtful about how we present it. It appears to me that this beautiful summary of Dhamma has been taken out of context and used as a bludgeon to rebut those who wish to discuss their understandings of the God concept here. In that respect, it appears to me that this entire thread twists this beautiful sutta passage. In the context of this present discussion here in this thread, the translation being offered does not appear to reflect a "summary of the Dhamma that has been taught by the Blessed One." Instead, it appears to be flavored (or twisted, if you prefer) with an undercurrent of debate about the viewpoints of theism versus atheism. That, in my personal opinion, is a misuse of this beautiful Dhamma passage.
Undoubtedly, each of us has our own imagined abhi-issaro, whether we acknowledge it or not. May we all come to a greater understanding that there is no abhi-issaro.