Keeping the Faith by Losing it?

From How (Not) to Speak of God concerning the Costa-Gavras film Amen (pp. 63-64):

The film explores the failure of the Catholic and Protestant Churches when confronted with the terror of the death camps during the Second World War. We are presented with two religious figures, a Protestant youth pastor and a Catholic priest…The response of the priest is of particular interest. At one point he wonders aloud to the Cardinal whether it would be possible for every Christian in Germany to convert to Judaism in order to stop the horror, for the Nazis couldn’t possibly condemn such a huge number of powerful and socially integrated people at that stage of the war. The idea is, of course, utterly rejected. Then, in complete frustration, and with a crushing sense of obligation towards the persecuted, the priest takes his own advice. In tears he turns from that which he loves more than life itself–his own faith tradition–and becomes a Jew. By taking on the Jewish identity he suffers with the persecuted, voluntarily taking his place on the trains that run to Auschwitz.

For this priest, the singularity of the horror required an unprecedented action, one which cut at the heart of his tradition. It was his very tradition (or rather his interpretation of that tradition) that demanded that he should give up that tradition…The most powerful way for this priest to affirm his Christianity is to lay it down…And so this priest gives up his Christianity precisely in order to retain his Christianity.

I would like to thank Hineini for bringing this to my attention! What do you think – is there a nugget of truth here that we can learn from?

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34 thoughts on “Keeping the Faith by Losing it?

  1. I would suggest checking out both of those blogs also – I find the convo very intriguing – and I think this is an idea worth looking at.

  2. “To argue that right action is more important than right belief is to miss the point. That it’s not about being right, it’s about being vulnerable. Once we realize that any decision compromises love; is only able to achieve a flawed approximation of love, then it is from there we must start to speak.” (hineini)

    See this is why I must draw boundaries around a core set of beliefs. I do believe that there are mistakes and errors in the Bible, but not to the degree that we must question everything. There are some things we can see are key foundational truths, and I don’t mean to single out only Christianity. Muslims and Jews should have a core set of beliefs also. Beliefs that are rooted in mysticism, such as Budhism, attempt not to hold on to belief set and therefor believe that is no right or wrong or truth vs error.

    For example. I would say you have two choices. You either believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead or he did not. Another might say that both statements are true and false at the same time. While I love you no matter what you believe, I have to stand on the statement that Jesus rose from the dead or my faith is meaningless.

    “The most powerful way for this priest to affirm his Christianity is to lay it down”

    I will not lay down my belief in Jesus Christ to save my life or the life of another, and according to hineini my love for him is flawed because of this belief? Or better put, I would lay my life down for hineini (and even someone who hates me) because of a core set of beliefs I hold to be true and will not compromise, and for this my love is flawed?

    If having no core belief set works for you, have a blast! I am not going to tell you that you are wrong and must conform to my belief set. I will love you anyway, because I have made the firm decision that we are to love everyone.

  3. As a Jew who was once a Christian I will say that what the priest gained in becoming a Jew more than make up for his loss of life. What he did is the same thing thousands of people are doing today in walking away from Christianity and embracing Judaism. You might say easy for us to do now and I won’t disagree with you completely, but it is never easy.

    I’ve never understood why Christians can’t question everything. Why the sacred cows? What is it you’re afraid people will discover? I question anything and everything. We’re encouraged to. Wrestling with God is one of the things that enable us to make Judaism our own, one of the things that help us to truly understand. Why not let people wrestle, why not test all the boundaries? People don’t often stay at the extremes. I hear people dismiss this by saying they wouldn’t let their child touch a hot stove just to test boundaries, and I find that example telling. These are not children, these are adults. There’s a difference. Why not treat them as intelligent people who can reach conclusions on their own without having to be told this is this and that is that?

    My father is a minister. One day I went to him with sincere questions about Christianity, I had decided to convert to Judaism, he didn’t know that, but I wanted to see if there was anyway I could avoid taking this step. Surely there was something I was missing that he could point out to me. I was almost pleading with him to show me. He told me to stop questioning, to stop being prideful, to pray that God would remove the arrogance from my heart. I realized then that he knew what I suspected. It’s all a fraud. He didn’t believe any of it either, but he continued to preach because that’s what gave him power. I took all my Christian stuff and threw it away.

    When I ask Rabbi my questions he is never bothered. In fact I have found there is nothing I ask that wasn’t asked before me. Sometimes he points me to read what others have concluded, sometimes he gives an answer but usually not, sometimes he’ll give me a variety of sources to read, sometimes I just keep living life and find the answers along the way some other day, some questions I drop as meaningless after all, some I still have, but I’m never told not to question. And you know what? I have no doubts whatsoever that God likes me and listens to my questions. Perhaps it is Jesus who doesn’t like questions. I notice the disciples never wrestled or argued with him the way Avraham, Jacob, Moses, and others did with God in Tanakh. When the disciples questioned they were told, “Oh you of little faith” and “get behind me, Satan”. I guess he set the example for you all. Such a different response than God gives….I’d rather just deal with God.

    You may marvel that a priest would become a Jew, personally, I marvel that all priests don’t become Jews! We don’t seek converts, however. Too bad for them.

    Yael

  4. Yael, your argument holds no water. It is full of contradictions. I am not offended, I just can not begin to make intelligent conversation with someone who cannot stand up for something.

    You won’t allow me to come to a firm belief in Jesus and yet you have come to a firm belief that he, and any who believe in him, are fakes. You make a clear call to everyone to see the error of there stance and yet you say you don’t seek converts.

    What is so wrong with making a decision? I can see what you mean about being told to believe blindly, I am not saying that we must do that at all. There is good reason to believe in Jesus and also good reason not to, pick one and go with it.

    Don’t sit back at say that I am ridiculous to have made a decision and then try to argue that we should not make a decision. Do you see what I am getting at? I would love to discuss our beliefs but I will not do so if you take the stand that I am stupid to take a stand. The scriptures (old and new) beg us to make a stand.

    You make all those who have gone before you out to be fools by continually questioning them. Sure they wrestled, we all do. But we wrestle to come to know truth, not for the sake of wrestling

  5. I have the same beefs with Christianity as Yael… the sacred cows, the lack of freedom to question and think for oneself. My wife has been reading some Jewish literature lately and has appreciated very much the freedom these particular writers seem to have. I don’t know enough about Jewish Scholarship to know if this is true in all Jewish circles.

    I also agree with Yael that there is much to gain in leaving traditional Christianity… namely freedom (there is an incredible amount of baggage that should be dumped – as Yael said “I took all my Christian stuff and threw it away”). It is extremely ironic that a Faith that is founded on a teacher who said the truth will set you free actually binds people up.

    Yes Jason this is a very interesting conversation. “It was his very tradition (or rather his interpretation of that tradition) that demanded that he should give up that tradition”. This is a most interesting and curiously true statement. It was taking seriously this main tenant of Christianity (you will know the truth and the truth will set you free) that has ultimately demanded that I leave traditional Christianity behind.

  6. Ken,

    You can’t hold intelligent conversation with someone who won’t stand for anything? Now I have to smile because you left yourself wide open for this one. Who says any of the conversations you have are intelligent? Surely you are making some big assumptions here!

    Who says I don’t stand for anything just because I don’t stand for what you do? Who says my questions weren’t/aren’t a quest to understand? My father refused to answer and accused me of the worst just because I had questions. Perhaps this is the usual MO for Christian leaders? Beat up those who dare to question? If so it is too bad because that is what makes you look suspicious.

    You could ask SocietyVS and he would tell you, I encourage Christians to remain Christians, to make commitments to their communities and work from where they are. But, if such places will not allow honest questioning then they’re going to keep coming to me with their questions, with their desire to learn Jewish answers to their questions since you won’t answer!

    I didn’t come to Christian blogs first, Christians came to Jewish blogs and asked questions. Christians are a never ending stream showing up at our shuls desiring to convert to Judaism. We don’t seek them out. You guys push them in our direction by your refusal to even allow their honest questions to be voiced!

    Who says I wrestle just for fun? It has been a very painful process, it is not for most people, yet all those who desire to wrestle should be allowed to do so. I have reached the point where I don’t wrestle so much, but if I need to, I will. There is no cheap faith in my book. It has come to me through many struggles and through many tears.

    Why should Judaism have to seek converts? Non-Jews don’t need to become Jews to have access to God! Pam is forever going on about how religions suck and you guys are busy telling her right and left how great her comments are, but now you get bothered because a religion doesn’t seek converts? Which is it? Do people need to belong to a religion or do they not?

    I have no problems with you believing differently than me. I posted that I reached the conclusion Christianity is a fraud, that is MY conclusion, I’m allowed to make it. What other people conclude is their own business. The comments on this blog have been a never ending refrain of how only Christianity is the way to God, without the least bit of concern for what this lone Jewish reader might think of your blocking the way to God. Yet as soon as I post saying I discarded your one way, you don’t seem too happy. The shoe on the other foot isn’t all that comfortable now is it?

    Maybe you should just let people question and find their answers or find more questions? If people are in an atmosphere which encourages questioning they’re not going to fall by the wayside. And in the end their faith will be truly their faith! Is there something wrong with that? Telling people you can’t question this, you can’t question that, you just have to accept this, you just have to swallow that? It doesn’t work. Now perhaps Christianity may not be able to stand up to questioning, but God certainly can. Let people question.

    Yael

  7. Jim,
    My wife has been reading some Jewish literature lately and has appreciated very much the freedom these particular writers seem to have. I don’t know enough about Jewish Scholarship to know if this is true in all Jewish circles.

    Questioning is very much a Jewish thing. I can’t say how much is allowed in the most Orthodox of circles, but everywhere else there is nothing we cannot question, and I do mean nothing.

    And that is what I love. I am finally allowed me to think! I’m not a bad person. I’m not going to kick against everything just because I can, at least not all the time. I just wanted teachers to be honest with me and let me be honest with them and myself. I don’t know why some think this is such a bad thing to allow.

    Give my blog link to your wife. I’d be happy to meet her. Christians read my stuff all the time which I admit surprises me. I have my moments, but mostly I just love studying Torah and living my Jewish life connected to my community and to God.

    Yael

  8. Jesus Who never sinned became sin and laid down His life that others might live.

    However…switching from one belief system to another does not constite conversion. Conversion is inward and an invisible occurrence to those on the outside.

    Pam

  9. Jim and Yael, so I take it that since you both have made it abundantly clear that you hold strong beliefs that I should be able to have strong beliefs also. If you review your statements and those made by me I think you will be embarrassed by the lack of real conversation going on here.

    For example, I am only trying to assert one thing here and you dance elegantly around that. I only hold out to you the Christians should have a core set of beliefs that are agreed upon. I know that there is huge problems in the church as it is because they have made so many varied solid stances on stuff that should be up to each of us to wrestle with. I totally agree! I never made any such statement to make you think otherwise.

    I have also agreed that we should not be told to just have blind faith.

    I don’t have time to respond to all you wrote right now Yael, will do that later.

    And thank you, love you both!

  10. Yael,

    May I rephrase so as to be better understood? False religion comes from human imagination not God. You are right, the Jewish religion was given to the Jews by God. The NT teaches that, “Pure religion and undefiled is this to visit widows and orphans in their affliction and keep oneself unspoted by the world.” The second is practice of faith given by God through Jesus. Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion. That is what I tried to get across and failed I think. Jesus teaches us to live godly lives in the presence of God.

    Pam

  11. Yael,

    I just read one of your posts again and I just have to tell you that I continually wrestle with God. There is so much I don’t understand and I always have so many questions. I too have been told by other believers that I’m to believe and not question but to me that is not faith. Faith in Christ opened a whole new world to me how could I not have questions? Thankfully, most of my questions are eventually answered and this is how I grow in Christ.

    I think people who desire power will use any tool withing reach and many with that desire will use religion without caring at all about knowing God.

    Pam

    p.s. I wouldn’t be such an old know-it-all if I had not asked God so many questions and wrestled the answers out of Him!LOL!

  12. **I will not lay down my belief in Jesus Christ to save my life or the life of another, and according to hineini my love for him is flawed because of this belief? **

    I think the point here was that the highest way to demonstrate love was to lay down that belief –the only way this priest could join in the suffering of others, to take part in that and protest what was happening to the Jews was to become Jewish himself. In many ways, wasn’t this the ultimate sacrifice a Christian could make? To cast off something that, by conservative Christian standards would consign one to eternal death or eternal hell, in order to love others? In order to demonstrate how horrible evil was? In order to confront that injustice? Isn’t this the most radical, unselfish act one can have, to willingly cast away an eternal life? In this case, the priest’s belief in Jesus Christ was almost acting as a safety net, keeping him secure.

    **is there a nugget of truth here that we can learn from?**

    Society, I believe there is. As it was stated, the priest cast off Christianity in order to retain his Christianity. The core thing I see him giving up is the doctrine/belief set, and really becoming Christ-like, and how it can help us analyze our own lives. What if our belief structures are causing us to harm others? Because the priest had a point — if Judaism had become the majority in Germany during the Holocaust, it might’ve saved a lot more lives, and possibly brought out the camps to the public eye a lot sooner. Did it mention if the priest survived the camps? If so, it would be curious to see if he retained the Judaism, or returned to Catholicism.

  13. “For example. I would say you have two choices. You either believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead or he did not.” (Ken)

    See, I hold to one of these views you mention (Jesus resurrected) – but that does not make me a ‘better person’ by believing it. But if I say this to most Christians – even if it is true – I would get cut off from community (since my believing right is valued more). This is where I am at now in my faith – not that I deny the core ideas in Christianity (I actually don’t) – but I am open to the inclusion of a lot of people that do not believe like me (since I am not that important in the whole scheme of things).

    “Or better put, I would lay my life down for hineini (and even someone who hates me) because of a core set of beliefs I hold to be true and will not compromise, and for this my love is flawed?” (Ken)

    Jolly Beggar just called this the chicken and the egg argument – the waht came first thing. I get what you’re saying here Ken – without this faith you would hold the belief to ‘lay down your life for another’ (Christ’s example). I think I also agree with you. But the example of the priest was one of growth in the faith he professed – he wanted to live out a belief he saw exemplified in the gospels – so he had to identify with the group being wronged (the Jewish people in Germany). Was it a case of his faith ‘growing’ or ‘denying his faith’? That, for me, is a tough one.

  14. “It was taking seriously this main tenant of Christianity (you will know the truth and the truth will set you free) that has ultimately demanded that I leave traditional Christianity behind.” (Jim)

    Jim, I am right there with you in some senses – finding the freedom within our faith can mean leaving the faith altogether (due to it’s restrictive nature). I think that’s waht makes this topic of key concern – maybe being faithful to Christ requires we walk away from a lot within our faith that is becoming very contradictory.

    “What if our belief structures are causing us to harm others?” (Heather)

    True – and it is known that certain aspects of our faith are harmful/hurtful – and we need to start asking those hard questions – where do these beliefs come from?

    The example could be that we as Christians know full well violence is not advocated in the gospels – yet over the past 20 years we have seen abortion doctor murders, support for ‘just wars’, and some ‘God hates fags’ parades. We can all say ‘well that’s not us’ – and we’d be right – but that is someone in our faith who refuse to question a certain belief – and to top that off people in our own faith say little to nothing to address this stuff (like ignoring it’s all good).

    So yes, we need to start looking into our own faith without blinders on and start addressing serious problems that arose from within our faith and it’s interpretations of Jesus – if not only in the past 100 years – maybe since the Reformation also – so we can find out what the hell is wrong with us.

  15. Ken… I’m not sure why you interpreted my comments as a jab at you, I simply stated my agreement with Yael on the things he said.

    Also, I was under the impression that I had entered a conversation here.

    You rightly stress this point “Christians should have a core set of beliefs that are agreed upon”. But they don’t. Ironically, this reality is one of the reasons I’ve lost confidence in the Bible as the verbal plenary inspiration of God. For the same reason I question church tradition. You are right that we should not just assume that those who have gone before us are fools. But neither should we assume they are wise and reliable guides and never question. And anyone can see that the record is very bad and that the myriad of differing doctrines are all founded on the same notoriously difficult to harmonize set of books.

    I always appreciate your honesty Jason… So, “ what the hell is wrong with us ” I suggest that perhaps it starts with an unquestioning confidence in the scripture as the divine authoritative word of God. If that is a false assumption then obviously its going to all go wrong from there.

  16. “See, I hold to one of these views you mention (Jesus resurrected) – but that does not make me a ‘better person’ by believing it.” (Society)

    I said nothing of my beliefs making me a better person. I was just trying to give an example of something Christians should be able to take a stand on.

    “I get what you’re saying here Ken – without this faith you would hold the belief to ‘lay down your life for another’ (Christ’s example).” (Society)

    No, I was just trying to give a rebuttal to this statement by hineini; “Once we realize that any decision compromises love”.

    I don’t pretend to have THE core set of beliefs and I don’t pretend to know the best way to a work toward that, but I do believe it vital that there is a core set of beliefs. And, again, I don’t maintain that everyone else must agree. I may be alone on that around here but, hey, that is me.

  17. “I was just trying to give an example of something Christians should be able to take a stand on.” (Ken)

    If the resurrection is something we need to take a stand on – how far do we go with the stand? I guess – at some point – is there a need to cut people out of our lives for this belief?

    I am not disagreeing with you on the ‘set of beliefs’ idea – I think that is a given in discussion. But do you disagree or agree with what that priest did? He did do it out of love.

  18. I’ll ask a basic question – is it a core belief to our faith that everyone has to agree with us? I mean I am thinking this is also part of the problem in our faith – and I know we all like to be agreed with – but is it an essential?

  19. Ken,
    Please, I don’t need your cheap love which comes along after condescending remarks and insults. When I say I love someone, it means something to me. I don’t throw it around lightly on blogs. If someone respects me, if someone likes my writing, that is good enough for me, but I get really suspicious of people who claim to love me when they don’t know me from the next person.

    If you have a core of beliefs for which you do not allow questioning, so be it. In Judaism we allow everything to be questioned, even questions! Different strokes for different folks. If you want to quell the questioners, go for it. They’ll just end up going elsewhere.

    Is this clear enough communication for you? Is so, fine. Let’s quit while we’re ahead!

    Pam,
    Thank you for your clarifications. Your confidence in your beliefs is confirmation of what I have been saying. People who wrestle, people who question, make their faith real. It is theirs and they aren’t left wondering.

    Now about conversion. First off, I have to say to all, I’m a bit suspicious of this conversion story. Conversion to Judaism is a long process and I don’t know any rabbi who would convert someone to a death sentence. There were people during the Shoah who wanted to throw in their lot with the Jewish people through conversion but rabbis turned them away. It was better for these people to live and help Jews than to die with Jews. I would want to see the sources for this story because to me it smells like a “pastor’s story” with the good Christian laying down his life for the Jew. Now there is nothing to say the priest didn’t claim to be Jewish and thus lose his life, but….saying he’s Jewish doesn’t make him Jewish.

    Back to Pam,
    My turn to clarify about conversion. I didn’t switch from one belief system to another, nor does anyone else who converts to Judaism. Judaism isn’t a belief system. There are no belief requirements for conversion at all. The requirement is to renounce all prior beliefs, identify as a Jew, become part of a community, and live a life of mitzvot from here on out. At my Beit Din Rabbi did ask me if I believed in God and I said yes. Afterwards I asked him what his response would have been if I had said no. He would have said building a relationship with God is a long process, I would have gone on to the mikvah and he would have continued to encourage me to build that relationship.

    Conversion to Judaism takes a long time. It was 2.5 years from the time I decided to seek conversion until I went to the Beit Din and Mikvah. During that time I started attending shul, started studying with Rabbi, moved into the community, got my kids started on their Jewish learning, and then studied like you wouldn’t believe. It was a difficult, nerve-wracking process. I thought it would never end. Jews don’t welcome converts. Rabbis turn you away, don’t show up for appointments, ignore your phone calls and emails. A person has to be determined and tough! They pull you in with one hand and push you away with another. It’s very different. Studying with a rabbi is not like taking a class. He didn’t lecture and me listen. We talked about books, ideas, God, Torah, kids, community, history, ritual, holidays. He asked me questions about my thoughts. I was raised with the mentality of giving the right answers. With him I never knew what the right answers were supposed to be! He never told me there were no right answers, I finally figured that out.

    Towards the end of our studies Rabbi had me write a paper about my journey into Judaism and how I intended to live my life as a Jew. This paper was submitted to the Beit Din, a Jewish court of three. I appeared before this court, answered questions about my paper and fielded any questions the members of the court had for me. When they determined that I was serious in my desire to convert and that the Jewish people would be better off for my belonging, I went to the mikvah. During that time I said blessings and renounced all prior beliefs. Afterwards I signed the conversion documents with my new Hebrew name and was welcomed to the tribe.

    The inward part of conversion began while studying, the outward change was immediately visible after the mikvah. Rabbi said that before conversion he saw a spark, afterwards he saw me come to life. And that is true. I was born to be a Jew of that I have no doubt. Along with the Jewish heirlooms I inherited from my mother, I have to say I inherited a Jewish soul. This is the only life I can live and will ever live.

    That others find meaning elsewhere doesn’t bother me in the least. I just hope that when people interact with me they come to realize God is bigger than any one group. There are people just as connected to God elsewhere and their connection is just as important and meaningful to them, just as important and meaningful to God.

    Once people realize I don’t need ‘saving’ we can then go on to more interesting discussions. Such as your text teaches, Blessed are the peacemakers. What does that mean? Is peacemaking always appropriate? These are areas in which I think it can be fun to interact. There is an interesting midrash on Aaron, the example of a peacemaker in Judaism, which brings in some other issues and the conversation goes on from there. SocietyVS says this is the kind of conversation he’d like to see on this blog, but I say it would be a tough go. I’ve never seen Christians talk this way. It always ends up a never ending presentation of the gospel and fights over who has the most correct version.

    So, good luck SocietyVs!

    Jim,
    As a Jew I don’t hold that scripture contains the words of God either. Most Jews do not, but some do. Tanakh teaches me much wisdom, I don’t need it to be the words of God in order for it to do so. My take is that Tanakh contains the record of a people’s experience of God, some of which may be historically accurate, some of which may not be.

    I find Torah absolutely fascinating, there is nothing I love better than studying Torah. I think building this kind of relationship with Torah takes time as well, time and work. I hope that you don’t toss out Torah just because you doubt it is word for word from God. That would be a tragedy, IMO. For thousands of years Jews have delighted in studying Torah, surely that must mean something is there that could be valuable to you as well? I hope you will hang in there and find that value.

    And I’m not sure how it came across to Ken that I don’t value anyone who came before me. I have an acute sense of connection to the history of my people. I love nothing more than studying the wisdom of Torah and the sages down through the ages. That I don’t agree with Christianity has nothing to do with not valuing the wisdom of the ages. I think Christians should learn Greek, Latin, and German so that they can take hold of their own history and the wisdom it contains. I think much has been lost along the way. If I can learn Hebrew and Aramaic, you guys can learn languages, too. It’s a great thing to be able to study in original languages rather than in translation.

    OK. My dissertation is ended.

    Perhaps we now understand each other just a little better?

    Yael

  20. “But do you disagree or agree with what that priest did? He did do it out of love.” (Society)

    To do things out of love is to do them for the most noble of reasons, yet we often do the wrong things for the right reason. I don’t really know enough to say whether I would agree with what he did, but if he did it out of love his motive was admirable.

  21. Yael, thank you for that. I do know you better and that is a good thing. I apologize for my approach in this conversation. I got my back up and said things in a way I wish I hadn’t.

  22. “I’ll ask a basic question – is it a core belief to our faith that everyone has to agree with us?”

    Nobody must agree with us. Even those who come to us seeking truth should not be expected to agree with everything we believe.

    Say let’s get off of that, it seems to be a sidetracking issue here anyway. I am sorry I made such a big deal about it.

  23. Ken,
    No problem. I also get my back up. Every time I start thinking I’m getting better at these interactions I guess I have to remind myself I can use a bit more work…

    I’m adding a link here to something I wrote about a year ago, not to beat a dead horse; I just think you might like it.

    The Abyss

    Yael

  24. Yael,

    Thank you for that, it is beautiful. Really not unlike what I call sanctification which is the process of my faith in Christ. I too am becoming. I was born for Jesus and reborn in Him and in Him am working out my reltionship with God.

    I agree that what Jason wants will be tough. We all take God so personally! It is hard to get people to realize that He doesn’t need us to defend Him. I do however, think He often uses our conflicts to teach us of Him. It sure isn’t fun though!LOL!

    Pam

  25. Jason,

    It would be good if all people could agree that we are not God and God doesn’t need us to go to war defending our view of Him. However, human beings have a common desire to BE God and getting them to lay down their own desire of godhood that they are seeking to obtain through their beliefs…well, I think that will take a work of God. I wish God would just zap us and cure us of sin but He has chosen a process and it is a looooonnnnnggggggg one. He is working it out but until then “Everybody must get stoned” and that will continue until we all look inward and then lay those stones down.

    Pam

    I’ve got serveral bumps,bruises, and contusions this morning. How about you? Darned rocks!

  26. “I’ve got serveral bumps,bruises, and contusions this morning. How about you? Darned rocks!” (Pam)

    Me – I am alright – I am not letting any of this stuff really rock me – plus everyone is fairly nice in the convo’s (it’s not too judgemental).

    I was re-considering the blog topic again and I asked myself ‘what in this faith is not working and why is it being kept around?’. I think that is the key – dropping things that do not work for us or changing them with values that mean something.

    A good example would be the outdated idea within churches that ‘works is generally a bad thing – usually gets confused with earning salvation so it gets dropped’. I have looked into that for quite some time now – and I think that focus shift has created Christian communities that are primarily concerned with believing ‘the right things’ and not so much ‘doing anything with their faith’ (is in programs for the poor or something). And when someone does this – it’s usually a small, isolated thing – not fully supported by the church since it might look like ‘they support someone earning their salvation’.

    I mean that’s the kind of stuff that makes me feel like that priest in the story – wouldn’t it be better to follow my faith than to follow some perception that means nothing? I guess I that story resonated with me on a lot of levels – since I have been asking questions about the contradictions of what I see in certain doctrines and what is actually written in the texts.

    **and for me the focus in salvation is something we have to live out – as Jesus set an example for us to also follow. How can one say they understand salvation if they are not willing to find out what it looks like or how it feels – but just what it sounds like?

  27. Jason,

    Faith in Christ is working; the thing is it is about God working within individuals within communities. The church has never been very functional from the beginning there were tons of problems. The sin we are to fight is our own but most of the time we waste time fighting it in others.

    Faith in Christ is a process of inward change that produces obedience and that obedience produces a nature that God’s Laws are natural to and no longer require the obedience of a child but are the outpouring of a heart changed by the life of Jesus.

    We grow in stages and when I was young, oh brother! was I on a crusade to clean up the church!LOL! I nearly got beat to death and I spent a lot of years being angry but that beating was God teaching me that He is in charge of the church and it is Jesus Who will present her as a spotless bride. I’m only responsible for taking my own garments to Him to wash out the spots…

    Salvation is an experience, a process of living. Actually, it is the process of eternal life that is our gift in Jesus. We from our limited horizon of time often think of eternity as not having an end but it also does not have a beginning. I know in Christ I’ve been made eternal but my mind still slips off truly grasping what that concept means in terms of my relationship with God. It is awesome to ponder though and in the Way of living, I like to say, “This moment is eternity” whatever I am doing in the moment has eternal consequence even if it seems minor and passing to me. In eternity there are no passing moments, time doesn’t pass, all remains and is complete. In Jesus, we are complete.

    I can’t tell you all the answers for how God is forming Christ in you. There is only one you and God’s purpose for your life will be brought to pass. The things you yearn for, the things you dream of, the things you long to give, will come to pass according to His purpose.

    I know you want to live faith and not just talk about it. If Jesus is living in you, that will just happen, Jason. Some only talk because that’s all they have. They are yet to truly experience God. They use the form of faith to futher their own earthly means but they are ignorant of the substance. They can’t help it. God reveals Himself to us in His own time for His own reasons.

    We are so small! And oh, we often think we are so big! Jesus loves us even when we are small and thinking we are big. He loves you, Jason. Rest in Him and His work in you will manifest.

    If I sound like a know-it-all, I’m not. I still have lots of questions. I am just at a different stage of life with different questions than are being asked on these blogs. I guess I find purpose in hanging out with kids and boring them with my answers to questions I also asked long ago. Thank you for being patient with me.

    Pam

  28. Yael, I have read ‘the abyss’ and I am definitely going to have to think about it before I respond. For now I can tell you I feel no need to argue my faith over yours. As I can see it we are both seeking to know the same God and neither of us has any want or need to change the direction we are heading. Unlike mainstream Christianity, I do not see how God could stand to lose anyone earnestly seeking Him; regardless of which man-made religion they choose. Hmm, maybe I do not need to say any more. I will think long and hard about what you wrote though, that is just the way I am with anything that touches my heart. Blessings.

  29. I must recant that last statement about not seeing how God could stand to lose anyone earnestly seeking Him. I do not know why, but Jesus made it clear that there is no other way but by Him. My human understanding continually looks for an out for those who opt for another way. But “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

    Think of me what you will, this is not about me. I would love to have Yael understand me, but I would rather die alone than forsake the Lord.

  30. Thanks Ken. I wrote it from the heart.

    I think life often comes down to us marvelling with Jacob, “Wow! God was in this place and I didn’t have a clue.” And I’m not always sure what to do with that anymore than the next person.

    Yael

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