What do I believe? I have been giving this some thought over the past several months and after hearing points of views from various strands of the faith…I have decided to come clean on it. Sad to say, I am not supporting either conservative or extreme left-wing lines. I am somewhere in the middle.
I believe Jesus’ basis for His teachings were laid out in the beatitudes. All of His teachings flow from that stradasphere. It’s seems to lay down an index on the rest of the things taught by Him. I don’t find places where Jesus goes against those 9 points in the gospels. I find tonnes of places where that index seems to be re-itterated again and again. Top that off, the teachings in the sermon on the mount seem to lay down every ethics afterwards and is ended with the parable about the foundation of these teachings (the rock and the sand). So in Matthew 5 through 7 you get an index, followed by some core teachings, and an ending. The rest of the teachings of Christ flow from these ideals (framed by the beatitudes) and end with saying ‘these teachings are a paradigm’.
I give full support to the gospel writer’s and the early community for saving these writings. I believe they do not contradict one another but preserve the teachings of Christ quite uniformly. I am not saying they are ‘without errors’ (these are humans we speak of) but that the message does not change book to book. The letters I place on a secondary level since they are just that, letters. They are written to certain communities and people about issues of the day. They are good for teachings but if they run contrary to the teachings of Christ then I have to choose Jesus’ words as a priority. I am not sure if they run contrary but if they do then we have to claim Jesus first and the letters for what they are. Simple, I know.
The OT is the history of Israel and the story of how God worked through them in times past. We can go from Adam, to Abe-Isaas-Jacob, Joseph, Moses and the Exodus, the Kings, the Judges, King David, the Prophets, etc. It’s all quite well an explanation of the times and how God saved a community but that all changed with Jesus. Now all people of all communities are accepted into the same line as the OT through Jesus. Jesus was the fulfillement of messianic prophecy (Matt 5:17-20) and to boot the ‘Son of God’. This is backed up by the claims within the gospels . If he was not the Messiah (or the ‘son of God’) I may see a need to become a Jewish proselyte, as it is, that’s not what the disciples claim about Jesus. Even Jesus claims people from all over will sit at the table of ‘Abe-Isaac-Jacob’ and see’s a need for all people’s to join this lineage, which is absolutely accepting through Himself. So the OT is grand with great teachings but as the disciples used it so do I, to prove Jesus was who He said He was, and on that I the gospels even rest.
I do not agree scritpural integrity can be kept by slicing up scripture to make an ideology, this is ludacris. If you take a scritpure from anywhere then it comes from within a context and that has to be respected. So if I take one scripture from Matthew, another from Revelations, and yet another from Hebrews this does not make a cohesive argument or maintain scriptural integrity. It is disrespectful to the original writers and can result in pure BS. If you wanna quote a passage from one book then do so but don’t string together a bunch of scriptures from all over the bible and say the bible was ‘meant to say this’. It doesn’t work and more often than not ‘misquotes’ these writers. So if you interpret a passage in Hebrews it should line up with the idea in the rest of Hebrews (nothing more).
I base all my beliefs on Jesus’ teachings, to say the least. If Jesus teaches to love one another and love God and those are the only 2 commandments at all you can be assured I agree. If Jesus teaches about the prodigal son and accepting that person who ‘left’ back into the family, you can bet I agree. If Jesus reams on the Pharisee’s for their strict interpretation of the OT and how they enacted law on the people around them, then challenges their basis…yes I will agree. I will not only agree I will develop such a fervant love for the ideals as to follow them and not betray their sincerity. I don’t see a single thing in Jesus’ teachings that are to the detriment of humanity but only for the support of humanity. Anyone teaching that Jesus supports any ideal that destroys human betterment has (a) read the gospels in a warped doctrinal light, or (b) never took the time to actually read those gospels for themselves.
Lastly, the idea of salvation is based in the ideals you live by. Jesus died & resurrected for all and everyone is free to follow or live contrary to His teachings. The disciples make it clear that you can choose to ‘believe’ or ‘not believe’ these teachings. By believe I actually mean live them out, not just lip-service to the faith. It is not ‘salvation by action’ but ‘salvation will not go without the action’. That is to say, as Christ acted in such manner to take Him to the cross for humanity then so should we act for those around us (in this we show we actually grasp the grace and love of God for everyone and WWJD). I term this ‘total salvation’ for lack of a better term. It means everything Jesus taught led Him to that cross, and that was based in love. So, God is love but so should we be.
I know most people will dis-agree with some of the premise I lay down but it is quite sound. Have I figured it out, no. Do I care? No. Who will ever have all the answers to life questions and dilemma’s but I know what I can do. The Beatitudes. They say 9 simple things: care for the poor, mourn (have compassion), have a meek attitude (opposite of pride), thirst for truth/answers in tough situations, show mercy, strive for pure-ness in things I do (not for the building of ego), become a peace-maker, and act in righteousness (doing the right thing) in face of non-acceptance. Those ideals took Jesus to the cross and demonstrated a full love for people, who although were altogether deemed undeserving of it, still got it. Now what do you have to give?