Division – Salvation by Math

Division is all about taking one thing then dividing it into 2 things (or a few things). The idea is to seperate for the sake of understanding what one thing can be (in parts). There is another meaning to this word that I am all too familiar with – the division of the church from the world – the ‘believers’ and the ‘unbelievers’ – and it usually ends with seperation of the human race into parts/labels.

But is division such a Christ-like idea? If I have to ask WWJD – well what does it show him doing in the gospels? Was Jesus divisive? I think there are examples in the synoptics of a speech Jesus gives about division (the lone time this is done) but with regards to following him and how this can cause problems in families (and this to his disciples who were part of a Jewish historical context – and the whole Messiah thing – well yeah it caused some division). But that’s one speech – and that’s about it on the concept of division (the actual word).

But the church has at it’s core the idea of division and has very well made it the centre-piece of the gospel message (its an ‘us’ and ‘them’ thing). The church believes in division and that it is good somehow; it’s righteous somehow. Yet I have a tough time finding the seperation from the world as major an idea as the churches have taught over centuries. Could it be that the focus of the faith is misinformed?

Jesus seems inclusionary to me on a surface level – even the parables are about ‘what we should be’ and ‘what we shouldn’t be’. This same person was known to be amongst the ‘sinners’ of his day and it’s not presented as a problem – more like something of importance. His form of seperation always seems to reflect the movement away from values to that of vices; this is what caused problems for the person.

The church seems to think what causes problems for the person is not so much the vices (but it is mentioned over pulpits) but the idea of accepting faith (this is the foundational step in evangelism). This is where the division of ‘us’ and ‘them’ all starts – when one group can say ‘I am saved’ on the basis of some acceptance vs. the non-acceptance of another of that same label or idea. Kinda makes me wonder – why do we want to be part of a faith that goes out of its way to seperate people on the basis of judgments we are not allowed to make (ie: salvation of a person)? Seems like wasted air to me.

I have been talking with OSS about this for some time (in blogs) and we have bantered about that idea ‘anyone can be saved’ – since salvation is part of the actions we take to a better life. For example, if I am having marital problems with my wife what is going to ‘save’ that relationship? I could pray, read the bible, attend church a lot, or even be an awesome worshipper – but does any of that solve the problem? It might lead me there (via humility) but I still have actions (decisions) to do to save that marriage. And that’s the way we know life actually works – we make a decision to do something different – and things can change. Why is so impossible to believe someone that leads a ‘good life’ is actually following the pattern Jesus showed us – Christian label or not?

This is where I part with one of the capital tents of the faith I am a part of since division for the sake of division is fruitless. I am friends with people from various backgrounds and for me to believe since they never accepted my faith they are doomed –  that is stupid. I know full well what the problems concerning them are – and accepting Jesus’ sacrifice never comes up as one of the problems they are experiencing. No, we are talking about problems with decision making, perspective, focus of life, knowing the options, determining value vs. vice, developing relationships, responsbility, etc.

The real division is how we look at salvation in this faith. But isn’t the very idea of salvation to ‘save someone’ (which seems inclusionary to me)? Maybe salvation can find its way into our lives in some tangible way? Which moves away from division but to addition.

26 thoughts on “Division – Salvation by Math

  1. “The church believes in division and that it is good somehow; it’s righteous somehow. Yet I have a tough time finding the seperation from the world as major an idea as the churches have taught over centuries. Could it be that the focus of the faith is misinformed?”

    Is it possible to avoid division? Most are going to want to go there own way no matter how much truth and love you hold out to them. Whether we must accept Jesus or not to “be saved” is up to God in the end, but I have to believe that Jesus in the only way because the evidence calls for that verdict. If someone I know just wants to be “a good person” and ignore the requirement to believe in Jesus Christ, that is fine by me. I won’t tell them they are going to hell and destroy that relationship. It is not like we have to be exclusionary for the sake of the faith, the faith will stand or fall on it’s own merit. But if someone I love comes to me for advice and direction, I am going to tell them that there is only one way to be at peace with God. You must believe in and submit to His son who died so that we may have eternal life.

  2. “Is it possible to avoid division?” (Ken)

    Likely not but we can look at not enhancing the cut between our faith and what it calls the ‘world’ (which I also think they mis-define).

    “but I have to believe that Jesus in the only way because the evidence calls for that verdict” (Ken)

    Okay, define ‘only way’ and to ‘where’? We talking only of the afterlife? If our faith is all about where we get in the end then we will find our faith forgets about the present (even teaches against living in it). I think that is tragic and mis-guided – and for someone to tell others Jesus taught that needs to actually re-read every single line of the gospels again and be damn sure that is 100% true (since we will answer for what we teach – according to most Christian faiths and the end judgment idea). That view is actually asking people to cheapen their faith down to a single acceptance moment – and I am not sure why anyone would follow anything Jesus teaches after the acceptance since they already accepted all they really need?

    “the faith will stand or fall on it’s own merit” (Ken)

    I agree but we are the examples also of what those teachings mean to ‘us’.

    “I am going to tell them that there is only one way to be at peace with God. You must believe in and submit to His son who died so that we may have eternal life.” (Ken)

    Why not just make it easier for them – like they can ‘follow Jesus’ – why is this is a ‘must’ sentence?

    I have to say, your theology is confusing me. Why in one sentence you could care less if someone does believe in Jesus then in your final sentence this is ‘must be done’ requirement for eternal life? Earlier on you even say that decision is ‘up to God’ and yet you are willing to guarantee someone this eternity if they believe in and submit to Jesus. I don’t understand it – how can you make a promise you have no control over?

  3. One of my biggest problems is how it reduces people. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, what you try to do — if you don’t have the right belief, God’s sending you to hell. It doesn’t matter if you honestly pursued truth, if you lived a life of love, turned the other cheek, tried to see the best in people, tried to live like an “Anointed One.” God only cares about your beliefs. God is only a part of your life if you have the right beliefs. That, and if we hold that God made humanity, then God made this diverse, complex mass, with each person unique. The requirement is then that everyone must believe the same? Why bother making everyone so different?

    Plus, as soon as one makes belief a requirement, it becomes a reward system, and I see that as exactly what Jesus wanted to abolish. You start believing for the sake of getting something out of it, rather than doing good because it’s what you were created to do.

    I actually see the idea behind salvation as healing. I think the root word is “salve,” which did tie directly to healing.

  4. “Likely not but we can look at not enhancing the cut between our faith and what it calls the ‘world’ ” (Jason)

    Are you saying that There is not a clear distinction between what society (the world) accepts as truth and love is no different than what is taught in the bible?

    “Okay, define ‘only way’ and to ‘where’? We talking only of the afterlife? If our faith is all about where we get in the end then we will find our faith forgets about the present ” … “That view is actually asking people to cheapen their faith down to a single acceptance moment – and I am not sure why anyone would follow anything Jesus teaches after the acceptance since they already accepted all they really need?
    ” (Jason)

    Are you trying to deflect from the main message? Of course there is much, much more to the faith than just the coversion. Even the conversion is a lot more than just a decision. There is a real change going on in a person who recognizes his/her need for salvation from their sin.

    “I agree but we are the examples also of what those teachings mean to ‘us’.” (Jason)

    Yes, and if you see the scripture in another way than I do that is fine. All I ask of people who wish to talk religion is that they are honest and they profess only that which they live. You are much more honest about your beliefs than most I know.

    “Why not just make it easier for them – like they can ‘follow Jesus’ – why is this is a ‘must’ sentence?” (Jason)

    I am only saying what I believe God has revealed through the sacrifice of His Son and the disciples. Why is it you do not think that this is a must sentence?

    “I have to say, your theology is confusing me. Why in one sentence you could care less if someone does believe in Jesus then in your final sentence this is ‘must be done’ requirement for eternal life?” (Jason)

    All that you question me on here is confusing to me. Why would you think I care a less about someone who is not saved? Because I don’t get all bent out of shape worrying about whether someone else is saved does not mean that I don’t care? What exactly do you mean?

    “Earlier on you even say that decision is ‘up to God’ and yet you are willing to guarantee someone this eternity if they believe in and submit to Jesus. I don’t understand it – how can you make a promise you have no control over?” (Jason)

    Again you confuse me. I said I would tell them what I believe, I did not put myself in place of the Judge. I did not say that I had any control over the judgement.

  5. “One of my biggest problems is how it reduces people. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, what you try to do — if you don’t have the right belief, God’s sending you to hell. It doesn’t matter if you honestly pursued truth, if you lived a life of love, turned the other cheek, tried to see the best in people, tried to live like an “Anointed One.” God only cares about your beliefs. God is only a part of your life if you have the right beliefs. That, and if we hold that God made humanity, then God made this diverse, complex mass, with each person unique. The requirement is then that everyone must believe the same? Why bother making everyone so different?” (OSS)

    I have wrestled with these questions also. Most do who study the Bible. But the fact is that belief in Jesus as Lord has solid foundation Biblically and in my own spiritual experience. Your understanding is different? Great!

    “Plus, as soon as one makes belief a requirement, it becomes a reward system” (OSS)

    Oh, I don’t feel that way. I see the salvation of Christ as much much more than what you describe.

    “I actually see the idea behind salvation as healing.” (OSS)

    Yes, that is certainly part of it. And the healong will continue until there is no more pain and suffering. Praise God.

  6. Ken,

    **But the fact is that belief in Jesus as Lord has solid foundation Biblically and in my own spiritual experience. Your understanding is different? Great!**

    I would say it more has foundations in a NT sense. If one just read the Tanakh, it would be a lot more difficult to pick up that perception. 🙂

    I think it also depends on how one defines “Jesus is Lord.” If we go back to the sheep/goats parable, what made the decision in terms of salvation had nothing to do with beliefs, or acknowledging Jesus as Lord. It had to do with actions and actions alone. What condemned the goats were actions, not beliefs. If we look at the Samartain — he had what would be deemed heretical beliefs, and yet he was the one Jesus praised. The Sermon on the Mount says that those who are peacemakers are the children of God, it refers to people has the light of the world in present tense, even though they don’t believe the right things about Jesus. Jesus praises people’s faith for saving them, even though he hasn’t died and resurrected yet. So I think Jesus is Lord can be taken very symbollically. If one is constantly turning away from sin, if one honestly desires to live a life of love, then Jesus is Lord to them, even if they’re an atheist. We can see the fruits of the Spirit in atheists, Muslims, Buddhists. We can know people by their works, without the correct belief set.

    **Oh, I don’t feel that way. I see the salvation of Christ as much much more than what you describe.**

    And I think that’s great, because your comments indicate that you see it as a life-changing decision. But people have those conversion moments, those moments of radical change for the better, without a proper belief in Jesus. And I do see a subtle danger, because if someone asks what they need to do to live eternally, and the response is believe in this certain way, then it’s about rewards/escaping punishment. As soon as there’s the idea of escaping a death or punishment based on a belief factor, the rewards concept seems to creep in.

    ** I said I would tell them what I believe, I did not put myself in place of the Judge. I did not say that I had any control over the judgement.**

    But what if someone already has peace with God, without belief in Jesus? It goes back to the whole seeing fruits of the Spirit or knowing people by their works. That might be where judgement comes in, because by saying the only way to have peace with God is through belief in Jesus, it is a judgement call on their type of peace with God, even though it is the same type of peace that you personally experience. It’s like saying that it doesn’t matter what the person has experienced or encountered, it’s false until they believe the right things.

  7. “I would say it more has foundations in a NT sense. If one just read the Tanakh, it would be a lot more difficult to pick up that perception.” (OSS)

    I have read the OT. I have spent much time studying it, and I consider it as important as the NT. But I believe that Jesus and His salvation are the fulfillment of the prophecies of the OT. His ministry, as represented by the NT, text makes sense only in light of the OT history. Most churches fail miserably in this area.

    “If we go back to the sheep/goats parable, what made the decision in terms of salvation had nothing to do with beliefs, or acknowledging Jesus as Lord. It had to do with actions and actions alone.” (OSS)

    What is wrong with viewing our conversion as “faith plus works”. I don’t think we can eliminate the faith part. I think we are told that “If Jesus was not resurrected then our faith is in vain” or something along that line (I don’t have time to look it up). But certainly you must recognise that there is a strong focus on faith as a key element in the forgiveness of sins. As I read the NT, the good news was spread around and then there would be a follow-up to see if there was fruit. The fruit was indicitive of whether they had remained in the faith, not the other way around.

    “But what if someone already has peace with God, without belief in Jesus?” (OSS)

    Then we should leave them be. Just as we should leave them be if they are not at peace but do not want any of what we are professing. I do not agree with the way most churches are promoting their faith. We should just go about doing good works ane BE PREPARED to give testimony to Jesus Christ and salvation by faith – where there is an obvious working of the Holy Spirit going on.

  8. I think where I struggle is that “the church” (organized religion) tends to “focus” on the division, somehow assuming that our “differences” make us more holy, righteous, whatever. Jesus walked among the masses, right? He went about his life, so “integrated” into his culture that the Pharisees needed a “sign” from his disciples to find him. He didn’t stand up and say, “I’m the son of God” to draw attention to himself; in fact, he mostly left those decisions to those around him … he wasn’t about “standing out,” but rather relationship.
    I believe it’s so much easier to throw up walls because then our faith is never tested “in the real world.” And “the church” doesn’t want to take God at his word when he says what he (or the Holy Spirit) will do. They want to control the situation; to have a part in the salvation of others. That’s just arrogance — believing God “needs” the church to accomplish his plans.
    I’d challenge brotherken to go a step further in his understanding of OT. We look at the OT as a “prequel” to Jesus’ story. Really, that’s a very “Christian” interpretation. Remember that the OT was Jewish literature long before Jesus made the scene. For centuries, it has stood a part from Jesus’ story for many cultures. I think it comes soley back to our perspective. However, I do agree with the “preparadness” of sharing what we believe … not the heavy-hammered “one size faith fits all” that churches are notorious for propigating (to their financial and prestige advantage).

  9. lostgirlfound said:
    “That’s just arrogance — believing God “needs” the church to accomplish his plans.”

    I don’t know anyone that believes God “”needs”” the Church to accomplish his plans. The operative word, “needs.” However, like it or not, that is the “living organism,” the body of Christ, that He implymented.
    fishon

  10. I am with Ken on this subject, not that anyone is blaspheming mind you, but I see the necessity both of renewing your mind through focusing on the Word and at other times reaching out to others. Kierkegaard called this “in, but not of, the world”.

    To someone who has trouble believing Jesus is the only way I explain that He is the specific hand of God extended to us. The last hurdle for me in accepting Christ was this very point of exclusion. It took a less than 5 minute visitation from the Holy Spirit to wipe that worry out of my mind. Knowing that God is real is enough. Our attitude should be an invitation to people we meet to come and see the peace that we have. Indeed that is exactly what Jesus is doing in the gospels, inviting us into His realm.

    Christ is the specific hand. What other picture of God is more complete or as flawless? Through His teaching and understanding why He came and did what He did we can grow in our relationship with God. Following Jesus is necessary in our spiritual growth. We should not worry about the exclusion of others but instead focus that energy on including others, inviting them to know Jesus.

  11. Ken,

    **I have read the OT. I have spent much time studying it, and I consider it as important as the NT. But I believe that Jesus and His salvation are the fulfillment of the prophecies of the OT. His ministry, as represented by the NT, text makes sense only in light of the OT history. **

    I would agree with you in that I feel most churches don’t focus on the Tanakh enough. But I also agree with lostfoundgirl, in that it has stood apart from Jesus for centuries. If we read the Tanakh without any knowledge of the NT, I do think we’d find an expectation of the Messiah. But half of what is considered propehcies by Christianity does not seem to be considered actual Messiah prophecies. Rather, it was a re-interpretation (or giving new meaning, depending on one’s perspective) of what was in the Tanakh.

    **What is wrong with viewing our conversion as “faith plus works”.**
    I’m not advocating that it’s all about works, or that faith plays no part. Yes, if one has faith, it must be proven through works. But even in reading the Gospels with the examples I provided, I don’t think we can say only those with the correct faith are “in.” I would take an atheist doing good works over a religious follower with the right beliefs only any day, because the atheist is, to me, living a much more God-centered life. The atheist is putting others first, putting a higher concept of love first. I don’t think that one needs to acknowledge God in order to have God in one’s life. If there is an atheist who has feed the hungry, provided drink, visisted those in prison, then according to Jesus, they’re going to be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven. It’s not a matter of earning salvation, because the atheist clearly didn’t set out to earn anything. But the atheist demonstrated where his/her heart lies, just as a Christian would. The atheist had faith that love was a better way to life a life than selfishness. To me, that’s choosing God. That’s choosing a narrow way.

    **But certainly you must recognise that there is a strong focus on faith as a key element in the forgiveness of sins.** Yes. BUt this is different than saying faith is in vain if Jesus is not risen. That particular faith that Paul advocating was in the risen Christ, and in a resurrection. Part of that faith contained the hope that they, too, would be resurrected. When Jesus said that faith allowed people to be forgiven, it wasn’t involving a risen Christ. He was saying that before the crucifixion had ever occured.

    **We should just go about doing good works ane BE PREPARED to give testimony to Jesus Christ and salvation by faith – where there is an obvious working of the Holy Spirit going on.**

    This, I agree with. 🙂 But I think you can have that working of the Holy Spirit in non-Christians.

  12. “I’d challenge brotherken to go a step further in his understanding of OT.” (lostgirlfound)

    What exactly do you think I am missing? I ask this because you seem to be agreeing with me more than disagreeing. I am sure there is a lot I don’t know but I have studied it more thoroughly than most Christians.

    Jim, Amen!

    “I would agree with you in that I feel most churches don’t focus on the Tanakh enough. But I also agree with lostfoundgirl, in that it has stood apart from Jesus for centuries.” (OSS)

    We must all decide what to believe on this. As for me, I believe Jesus is the Messiah and fulfillment of the OT.

    “This, I agree with. But I think you can have that working of the Holy Spirit in non-Christians.” (OSS)

    You could be right.

  13. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, what you try to do — if you don’t have the right belief” (OSS)

    Heather I have to give you much respect for leading me down this path and understanding this idea more in depth – and I think you are right on this. I have given it quite a bit of thought in the last year and to be honest – it has helped me focus more clearly on what Jesus is saying quite directly in his teachings.

    “I actually see the idea behind salvation as healing. I think the root word is “salve,” which did tie directly to healing.” (OSS)

    I like that – it ties almost perfectly into the idea Jesus talks about concerning those in sin needing help (almost as if medically) – and Jesus came for them.

  14. “Are you saying that There is not a clear distinction between what society (the world) accepts as truth and love is no different than what is taught in the bible?” (Ken)

    I would say, in all honesty, what the church teaches from that bible about that distinction (concerning the world and ethics) is so blurred it’s actually quite hard to see much of a difference anyways.

    “Are you trying to deflect from the main message?” (Ken)

    What is the main message from the gospels? Conversion – as an actual word is actually only mentioned twice in the gospels and ‘born again’ appears only in 2 verses in John 3. Now conversion could very well be the main point in those gospels – but what that means is what I am willing to question unabatedly (or how that looks and what it means). I think conversion is a lefit process – but I also am very sure it is not a one time thing.

    “Why is it you do not think that this is a must sentence?” (Ken)

    Because Jesus said he was ‘the way’ and we want to define that narrowly in our faith to meaning the person of Jesus as being ‘the way’. It’s legit but again it’s not the full meaning behind that passage. Could not ‘the way’ be following Jesus as outlined in Matthew – which would include enacting Jesus’ teachings and would also be defined as happening through-out your whole life. I see the word ‘way’ being used in the same vein as a ‘path’.

    The reason it is not a ‘must’ is because people have to choose to follow Jesus (as a rabbi or leader or whatever) – or follow his teachings. Society, in the West, is very endued with these teachings in all honesty and yet some rejct them for vice. Then let them have the recompense for their actions – least we can do is try to shine some light on a better decision making process.

    “What exactly do you mean?” (Ken)

    For me it’s confusing because it does seem like your theology requires that someone accept Jesus (ie: as in the actual person) into their lives for their faith to have meaning – or to find that ‘only way to heaven’. Yet at the same time you are quite ambivalent about someone not doing this and you say ‘leave that up to God’. I would say you are pretty sure that ‘the only way’ is this ‘acceptance’ so that would leave no room for those who don’t (which is making a statement about ‘how to be saved’ – ie: judgment about salvation and how it works). Am I correct?

    “Again you confuse me. I said I would tell them what I believe” (Ken)

    Then is what ‘you believe’ true or false? I would have to think you see it as ‘true’ otherwise why would you bother believing it. But this same ideology leaves little room for someone that does not accept Jesus (personally) – and they would have to be doomed at the final judgment. I may be wrong here – but does that sit well with you that many people will be punished for Jesus to be ‘the way’?

  15. “What is wrong with viewing our conversion as “faith plus works”.” (Ken)

    I would say that makes no sense in light of the theology that says you are saved at the point of conversion (born again). From that starting point you are ‘saved’ – why have works at all to be honest? Once saved always saved – unless we control our own salvation in some tangible way (ie: actions)?

    I know we can use the seeds parable to explain ‘false Christians’ but I am not sure there is such a thing as a ‘false conversion’ – only that the definition of conversion is false. Even in the seeds Jesus never once mentions that word ‘converts’. I think even that parable is referring to accepting Jesus teachings (ie: seed that would bare fruit).

  16. Jason,

    Hey, there is no problem that you and I can not see the same thing regarding conversion. I do care about all people. I love everyone Jason, but I have chosen not to worry about that which I have no control over. I don’t feel that diminishes my love, I have just let go of any notion that it is up to me to save everyone I know. If God leads me to someone who is looking for answers, I am ready to tell him exactly what I believe. I have no doubt in my mind that Jesus died on the cross for me and the whole world. Take it or leave it. Period.

    I know others that have this confidence too, and I don’t agree with them on all things. But the basic understanding of who Jesus Christ is and what he did for us is quite clearly recorded in the Bible, and I don’t just mean the NT. Types of Jesus and forshadows of His ministry and sacrifice are throughout the Jewish feasts and temple.

    But as for worrying about people, I have been there. You can’t have a relationship with anyone based on judgment of them. I do what I can for people, what more do you want?

    Do you suggest that I should just leave out that Jesus said “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” ? John 6:29

    Do I leave out the miracles he performed? The way He could see what was in a man’s heart? How He promised to provide us with a Holy Spirit that would guide and teach us?

    Pleae tell me why I should not tell these things to someone who wants to know what I believe.

    “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

    And if someone says thanks but no thanks, fine. Just be a nice guy and we can get along.

  17. Society,

    **Heather I have to give you much respect for leading me down this path and understanding this idea more in depth – and I think you are right on this. I**

    You’re welcome. However, I now feel like I should keep a close eye on my surroundings, should a mob come and chastise me for dragging you down my heretical path. 😉

    As it is, I do see Jesus as the only way. Not in the sense of a right belief about him, not in the sense as a person or a sacrifice like penal substituion, but as a representative. Paul contrasts Jesus to Adam, and says that those like Adam do not inherit anything. Adam is not the way — Jesus is. So when Jesus says that he is the way, the truth, and the life, I take that in terms of what he taught and demonstrated, and in terms of the Logos. The Word of God is the way, and Jesus was that Word manifested in flesh. But I don’t think you need the name “Jesus” attached to that, or a concept of the man who walked around 2,000 years ago. We are clearly told how to identify good fruits, and what the fruit of the Spirit is.

  18. OSS,

    I hear you and it is as good a way to take the person Jesus out of the picture as I have heard. But what if Jesus the man was before the Word, is now, and always will be? Do you not reject the Word when you reject the man, or diminish His importance?

  19. Ken,

    **But what if Jesus the man was before the Word, is now, and always will be? Do you not reject the Word when you reject the man, or diminish His importance?**

    Based on how the Bible sets up humanity, I don’t see how the person who walked around 2,000 years ago was, is, and always will be. The Logos doesn’t need Jesus the man to be valid. It doesn’t add or subtract anything to the Logos. Without Jesus the man who walked around 2,000 years ago (Perhaps I should create an acronym for this), the Logos still exists. The Logos loses nothing. Jesus the man existed in a specific point in time. The Bible says that the Word was made flesh. If something is made, then it was not-made before that. If Jesus the man always existed, then how could Adam be the first man?

  20. “I don’t see how the person who walked around 2,000 years ago was, is, and always will be.”

    “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31

    This text (and others) say that we will be judged by Jesus. I understand that you do not agree, but what if you are wrong. What would you say to this Jesus when you stand before Him in judgment?

  21. Ken,

    I just wanted to clarify what we both mean by “was, is, and always will be.” I’m interpreting that as you mean the man Jesus is eternal and has no beginning/ending.

    It doesn’t say that Jesus always has been or that Jesus is eternal like God, simply that God will judge the world at a particular time by a man that He as appointed, and the proof of this judgement is that God raised this man from the dead. Technically, this verse is saying that the ultimate judge is God who raised Jesus from the dead. And since Paul is describing Jesus as a “man,” then that would automatically include the idea that the man didn’t always exist as a man — that’s part of being human. This verse is also tying to the concept of ignorance into an idea of God, in that since we are God’s offspring, we shouldn’t think that God is like gold or silver or something made by man’s hand. We can’t make God out of material things, and that’s one of the things God calls for repentence in.

    So I’m unsure why I would have to say anything. God will already know everything, why I believe the way I do, the experiences that have determined this, and everything about my life/desires, such as an end to evil, justice, healing and so forth (No, I’m not talking about earning salvation. I don’t do what I do or believe what I did to work my way into an afterlife). If we go by the sheep/goats concept, everything would already be known. And if I am told I’m wrong, then I would accept that.

  22. OSS, that is cool. I just ask because there are other texts that say that Jesus the man will be coming again in person and will judge us. Peaople believe different things about this and I am not going to tell them they are wrong. I can only say what I believe.

  23. “Take it or leave it. Period” (Ken)

    Why can’r we go deep into discussion about the issue for no better reason than to do so? So Jesus dies on the cross for everyone – as in those who accept Him or like universalism?

    “But the basic understanding of who Jesus Christ is and what he did for us is quite clearly recorded in the Bible, and I don’t just mean the NT” (Ken)

    I agree, but what that adds up to is where we actually disagree – and only in shades to be honest. I think Jesus was real, taught people, was crucified, and resurrected – yet I do not think the same as you do on what he was saying. Since the message and focus from book to book does change – not for bad – it’s just different. I will not tow the line of current doctrine in churches since they make their beliefs based on pulling scriptures from various books, letters, and the Tanakh (as if they line up perfectly) – which might make sense but they do it in such a weird way their point lacks any credibility (ie: see Trinity doctrine in any denomination and scriptural back-up). And churches make doctines to protect it’s own structure – which needs no protecting.

    “what more do you want?” (Ken)

    Me, not much…I just ask questions.

    “Do you suggest that I should just leave out that Jesus said “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” ? John 6:29” (Ken)

    Well you could also interpret it from the chapter it is from – that might help. As far as I am concerned that one scripture makes a good case for what you believe but it also backs up my belief system (which is different). It all depends how we define ‘believe in the one he has sent’. I have suggested for quite some time ‘believe’ means more than what our culture uses the word as. Ex: I believe gravity is real – states something about the which is not a belief (it is). I believe Jesus is the son of God – also not a belief – its a ‘just is or isn’t’ thing. I believe sharing with others might make the world a better place – I think this is how belief is used in the gospels (belief plus something to do to show we believe it).

    “Do I leave out the miracles he performed? The way He could see what was in a man’s heart? How He promised to provide us with a Holy Spirit that would guide and teach us?” (Ken)

    I am actually not taking a single thing away from the faith in all of my critiques – yet for some reason I am being read this way by you. I am both enhancing and diagnosing what is really meant by our faith from those gospels/letters – and all I am asking is we re-think the way this faith ‘works out’ (because many people are finding it does not work out – which means there is a definite problem within it and it has infiltrated many areas of the faith).

    For example, I watching a story on Carlton Pearson last night and how he rose to fame in Evangelicalism (form Oral Roberts University) and was part of some mega-church – he had it all. Except he dis-liked the angry God he was serving and the idea his grandparents might be in hell. He followed his convictions and lost everything for one simple belief – all are saved (universalism). People he thought were close to him – were actually not – and any credibility he had – was also torn to pieces by former friends. This is how church actually works in some Christian circles – is this Christ-like? If not, then my critique is actually more than valid – the church is in dire need for some serious theological change ASAP. I am merely going to see that process out and contribute where I can.

    “Pleae tell me why I should not tell these things to someone who wants to know what I believe.” (Ken)

    I asked you if they were ‘true’ – to which you replied…(sound of air). I don’t know if you should tell them to others – if they make sense then yes – if not – then why lead someone into the despair you recieved at church?

    “I have told you these things…” (Jesus)

    Interesting ‘peace’ in that verse is also tied to ‘these things’ he has said or his teachings/sayings. I read stuff like that and that’s why my viewpoint is a shade different than yours – since I see the teachings as salvific (healing) also.

    Sorry Ken if it seems like I am ‘busting you up’ on things – I don’t mean to sound too critical – but good discussion that gets our brains a thinking has to push some boundaries.

  24. Jason, no need to apologise. Your questioning is polite and considerate, I am on pretty shaky ground if that offends me.

    “Why can’r we go deep into discussion about the issue for no better reason than to do so?”

    I will go into it as deep as someone wants me to, but what I was addressing here is your concern that I don’t seem to care. What I meant was that I have no problem discussing what I believe without getting all hot and bothered that people don’t agree with me. Our differences in understanding should not prevent us from having a respectful relationship. I believe this, you believe that. Great! Doesn’t mean I don’t care, just that I have realized I am not in control.

    “I am actually not taking a single thing away from the faith in all of my critiques – yet for some reason I am being read this way by you.”

    To be more exact, you are not taking anything away from the faith according to your understanding of the faith. I am also trying to stress what is most important to the faith based on my understanding. We may see some things in different ways or having different proirities, but we both recognise a problem and want to see the faith change for the better. When you, someone else, the scriptures, or the Holy Spirit can show me that my perspectives are scewed, I will change. In the mean time let’s continue to grow together in our knowledge of who God is and make every effort to to good works.

    “I asked you if they were ‘true’ – to which you replied…(sound of air).”

    Sorry, I missed that one. Are my beliefs true? All I can say is that I believe them to be the truth. You also asked if it sits well with me that many people will be punished for Jesus to be ‘the way’? No, I can say that does not sit well with me at all. But what can I do about it? Do I ignore what I believe to be true? Do I change my beliefs so that I can get in synch with the crowd that sees it differently? Do I argue with God and tell Him I don’t like what He has put into play? There are many things I don’t like about the way things are, but I cannot do anything but look to that which holds out the most truth and light.

  25. Ken you know…I agree 100%. I can say I know for a fact most people with any semblence of power in any church wouldn’t waste their time with us…we’re not important to them. But I think we are important to one another. And that’s where I always rest my flag at the end of the day.

    “Do I ignore what I believe to be true?” (Ken)

    I would say ‘no’ – but then I would say test your beliefs as best you can in this world we have around us. For example, the idea of forgiveness is interesting. I remember people telling me in church about how God can only forgive those ‘who know him’. I thought about that and found it to be utterly false. God forgave me at some point and I never knew Him…I was able to forgive people ‘doomed for hell’…isn’t God greater than me? That’s when I noticed for most people God isn’t greater than themselves (they pretend He is).

    “Do I argue with God and tell Him I don’t like what He has put into play?” (Ken)

    Yes. Moses did it. Abraham did it. Jacob even wrestled with God. Now these may be great men of the faith mind you – but who says your not just as important?

    “There are many things I don’t like about the way things are, but I cannot do anything but look to that which holds out the most truth and light.” (Ken)

    I agree – most of us (if not all of us) do not like the way things are – it’s bloody horrible. But I know that a culture of fear perpetrated by what ‘hell’ is supposed to be isn’t helping things whatsoever (everything in out faith is skewed by this one belief). Love isn’t as great, forgiveness is limited, mercy is found in judging others, peace is for some, etc. Hell – in and of itself – as it is taught is single-handedly the worst idea going on in churches up to this day. Now hell may be real (or it may not) – what I do know is Jesus never once used hell to scare his followers into better discipleship.

    So I think we still have a lot to peruse in our faith – and a lot of things to both challenge and support yet – but these are good steps we are taking.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s