Being Right Vs. Being Loving

Is faith about being right or about being loving?

 

I watched a show last night called ‘God Only Knows’ which was basically a week long house swapping of a very conservative married Christian person with a gay pastor and his spouse. What stood out in the program was how the conservative person had to ‘be right’ and was extremely highlighted when he and his wife argue about this homosexuality as a sin idea – unto the point of threats of divorce. It got worked out but the point was made – is it better to ‘feel right’ versus ‘being loving’.

 

Now the conservative person was loving – don’t get me wrong – but he was a contradiction of sorts. He was adamantly against homosexual marriage – and saw it is a ‘sin – but yet overlooked that belief for the sake of harmony/unity with this gay couple. As much as he held to a somewhat definitive ideal (gay is a sin) he didn’t actually live like that (called them close friends). In essence, his beliefs meant nothing in my opinion – he loved over and above his view of this ‘sin’.

 

Which leads me to think – this conservative guy was more loving than his concern for ‘being right’. In actuality, his being right was more for ‘show’ than for any real aspect of his belief system. I could admire the guy because he let love rule versus his personal judgment. I think the guy is actually living a lie when you think about it…his being right was all ‘talk’ and all the while he held to the belief – he lived contrary to it when faced with people that are gay (either that or he was a huge hypocrite – which is also like ‘living a lie’).  

 

So what do you think – is it more important to be ‘right’ about your faith or to be ‘loving’ about your faith? I know there should be a balance (we all have to affirm our beliefs as accurate) – but if faced with something that challenges your belief system – which road do you take – the one less traveled (love irregardless) or the one more trodden (be right to exclusion of others)?

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Wolf’s Attack on Fear in Faith

Comment taken from Naked Pastor’s ‘Dung’ Blog

You mentioned Satan. He is real, and he is after us. And the evil that is in the world, and that we all have within us is bad enough.” S&M

Probably the most well know sermon ever preached is called, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.”” Fishon from I see Dead Trees walking

So satan and god are both after us. That’s what I mean. too much negativity. It seems like faith doesn’t give people a reason to celebrate or feel joy . Just sit around waiting for either the devil to get them when they are good. Or a god when they are bad or good (cause if you believe in the wrong type of god, he is still going to get you). it’s this type of thinking that lead me to be an unbeliever.

I agree that there is enough “evil that is in the world, and that we all have within us is bad enough” , but when even god doesn’t give you a break. wow. why live?

All I am trying to say is that faith should be there to step up and encourage and help a brother when he is down. Not remind him that there is a ground when he is flying high. Let him fly! (Wilfred Bird)

***I like this piece if advice – it really hits home on the aspects of fear that religion can produce. It also talks about the point of faith – it should be something ‘good’ and not something that ‘torments’.

The Great Grace Eraser

Taken from COAS’ ‘Religious Legalism and the Army Chaplaincy’ (mainly my questions on Grace)

Jesus forgives ALL sins of those who place their faith in Him alone.  Grace would not be grace if God ever took it away.” (Brad)
 
Grace would also be quite useless if it forgave intentional sins of the magnitude we are discussing.
 
For example, let’s say a kid goes to war and has to kill others – no problem – he’s trained to do that. Then they capture some stronghold and start raping women – just because some of that old ‘isolation mentality’ kicks in. Then they torture the crap out of someone to get them to speak – like an Abu Gharib scenario.
 
At which point in that scenario does one’s faith become absolutely useless?
 
Grace is good – but if grace is used as a cover for responsibility – then one is no longer serving God but serving their own appetites – which to me makes one’s faith utterly a point of non-value anyways.
 
Once confronted and made aware of their sin, all of them repented and turned towards God.” (Brad)
 
True, I cannot speak for the Tanakh literature (that would be dishonest of me) – but as for Saul – he converted and still faced the consequences of his actions. I speak of the idea no one can die for intentional sins – this is in Hebrews also.
 
Heb 9:7 & Heb 10:26 – which is an allusion to an idea from Numbers 15:25
 
The idea there is that sins committed in ignorance can be atoned for – but the sins committed in willful disobedience there was no atonement for. It is not to say they were screwed – but that they had to go and deal with their sin both in judgment and with trying to make situations ‘right’ again (ie: charity or repentance)
 
To be honest, the Jewish system that we take this atonement idea from is a lot more responsible when dealing with issues of atonement than our own. This is my personal opinion – but from my basic studies on the issue – I would say they have a way more well rounded system (which I tend to believe is taught by Jesus).
 
Grace is never meant to be taken advantage of (Rom 6:1-2).  If it is, then there is a critical lack in understanding what grace is” (Brad)
 
Or maybe even worse, there is a critical lack of understanding by mainstream theology on what the role of grace really is (its limits and strengths). Grace is good – I agree – but to me it seems to function as God’s mercy in the way it is used. Maybe grace is not just mercy – but an idea that Gentiles were added into the community if God. The identification with that community is on the individual to make. I figure someone can as easily lose salvation as they can gain it.
 
I’d say that they are definitely linked, as salvation empowers and strengthens morality.  As a result of God’s saving Grace (salvation), morality changes from something we should do to something we want to do” (Brad)
 
Thus the reason I point to the idea Christian responsibility has weak moral foundations. Following the teachings – and I mean everything Jesus taught – is simply – a choice. It has no links to nothing in terms of one’s salvation (which is something outside them altogether). Nothing they do will mean anything – since it only matters what Christ did for them. That is the type of responsibility no parent would dare teach their child. It means your actions mean very little in the large scope of life – they are taken care of ahead of time (and are not important because of someone else’s righteousness being added to you – which is vicarious in nature). If we started teaching children this level of responsibility (to be vicarious) – this world would go to hell in a handbasket.
 
It is not enough to rely on choice or ‘want’ in this matter – this is a matter of correct standards being taught to everyone so they can rightly take their place in the kingdom of God. We teach people a ‘cop-out’ – well you call this a ‘sin stained world’ – it will only get worse.

Moral (God) – Immoral (Not God)

Great blog Dagoods – I couldn’t agree more with a lot of your points concerning the state of Christianity (I mean in a general sense obviously).

He wanted to engage in useless pontification as to all the reasons Dr. Moore was quite certain atheists are atheists. (And apparently the reason for evolution, too—so we can sin!)” (Dagoods)

I was expressely interested in this point – it’s also something I am delving more into concerning theology. The idea that people leave the faith to commit sin – this has some scriptural basis – but I think the majority of the Christian faith has muddied this one beyond reason.

In my studies, I am finding this pattern:

Moral (God) – Immoral (Not God)
Good (God) – Evil (Not God)

The church does not actually interpret the NT based on this motif – a motif that seems to shine through in Tanakh – and I think is also in the NT.

So Mohler’s inquisition is actually flawed logic. He is using someone’s label (or belief system) to identify them or say they are ‘evil and need help’ – when one cannot go by a person’s beliefs (or label) to determine this at all. It’s not even a biblical idea per se.

So Mohler equates beliefs with state of person. Now it is true what one believes becomes their likely action – but in this case – being an atheist or beleiving in ‘no God’ is actually not an action – just a mind belief. The belief does not cause you to do something – whether good or bad – it’s a belief about the nature of something (and in some sense, in the biblical sense, not really a belief – since it contains no moral concern to it).

And this is what the bible adresses through and through – that belief in God is accompanied with actions and non-belief in God is accompanioed by actions. So if someone leaves God – they are usually committing actions against humanity and God (ie: shedding innocent blood or stealing). The beliefs of the bible are directly tied to the actions of the person – defining them that way versus definition via some label or belief system per se (beliefs that mean nothing like – God is 3 in 1).

The bible is explictly overly concerned with morality/law in concerns to one’s faith in God. Actually, and this is my opinion, faith is determined in one’s actions more than in one’s beliefs alone (since in this era we have a variety of beliefs – some mean nothing and some mean something in terms of action). What you do defines you better than what you think.

Mohler is illogical in his discussion – not just because he was one sided and the bible actually teaches against doing that – but in that he thinks that what you believe alone makes you ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – in need of help or whatever. Although, sometimes this is true – in this case – about being an atheist – he is way off. You cannot determine someone in terms of their title or label – that is faulty thinking and very generalistic.

It may be true some atheists do commit bad acts – but the title alone does not mean they all do. So holding a belief does not mean you are ‘good or bad’…only your actions can truly reveal that. In this sense, the bible is concerned with moral and immoral – not so much with correct belief systems.

There Just Has To Be A God…A Story of Trust

Some people say the story of the gospel – well – it’s the story they are also telling. I tend to believe that you know. I tend to have lived that you know…here’s a story for you. 

It all started last Friday, my wife were in the market for a house – for about a month and ½ or so…no luck and the good one’s…well…the good one’s didn’t quite wait for us let’s say. But this Friday was a little better than the one’s before…our agent showed us a home with no offers on it – in our price range – with all the things we were looking for: a finished basement, laminate flooring, a big backyard, air conditioning, a deck, a garage, high efficiency energy wise, etc. We fell in love. We made an offer. This was our dream home. 

Usually when you make an offer there is competing offers but our agent managed to get this deal done so fast (in one night) – no one else made an offer and the house was basically, ours. That felt good. It felt better than good – I was on cloud 9. They accepted and gave us one week to meet all conditions (basically financing more or less). We celebrated that night – man we’re we happy! I think I thanked God that night.

The weekend passed and Monday rolled around and that’s when this all changed.

On Monday, our broker tells us we have been denied the financing – but he’s going to re-appeal…we stayed positive…a re-appeal must mean we are going to get approved. We let it sit for the night -some doubt crept in (he gave us a 50/50 chance).

Tuesday – it was lunch – my broker called and broke some very bad news…we were not being approved for the financing without a 5% down-payment (or $12,500 dollars in real terms). He said he would try one more appeal on our behalf with this mortgage approval place – but the chips were going down very quickly – and he begged ‘can you get that money?’.

We were devastated. This was tantamount to heartbreak. We had told everyone we were getting a home and all the joy we had – and that left us on this day. I never felt so depressed – not in such a long time. We are not rich so securing $12,500 is no easy task.

I wondered ‘why God’? I had questions for God that were not being answered – I was losing hope – and fast. But I decided, ‘I’ll cling for a bit God but I don’t get it – I have always been taken care of – and now I am not?’. I felt bad about it all…I felt the truest seeds of doubt…I felt faith being challenged on a scale I didn’t know I was ready for.

I called/e-mailed people for help (and so did the wife) – and no one could help us. We did get our line of credit upped to $20,000 – we weren’t sure if this would help. I went to bed – depressed.

Wednesday, I was at a Career Fair I help run every year and my spirit was lifted – I felt great – people were helped – the committee was all smiles – it was a new lease on life in some ways – I felt renewed.

The news on the ‘home front’ was quite the opposite – now we were denied a 3rd time – and that meant ‘no financing’. However, the broker decided he we would try one more time (with our line of credit included) and even the other mortgage approval place – and he let me know – the reason he avoided them is they were most likely not to help us without 20% down (which was their standard). We said ‘try, we haven’t a thing to lose to anyways’.

We called family, cousins, and friends in a last ditch effort to secure some down payment of some sort – we had the money in our line of credit – but the last mortgage approval place told us ‘we cannot loan against ourselves’ (thus their denial). No one came through again…and that’s a damn lonely place to be.

I figured…’it’s in God’s hands now – it’s not like we didn’t ask in persistency’. We left it at that…ate some chocolates Grandpa gave us (since he had no money to give) – and then went to bed – somewhat content – but sure of failure.  

Thursday, the call came in – denied for a 3rd time (so one mortgage approval place was definitely not taking a risk on us). Our broker went back to trying the other place.

I was broken by this time (again) – it hurt you know – that was our dream house and all our plans and stuff – down the drain. I talked to the wife and we both let each other know how we felt…very disappointed and hurt. We decided ‘we lost, let’s move on’. So we made plans to move on (for this Friday) – shopping, shopping, some drinking, shopping, and more shopping (hell, we had the money – mine as well use it).

My faith was broken also – I was like ‘I give up…literally’. Not on God mind you, just on ever asking anything again. People failed us and it really felt like God had abandoned us…left us to the wolves or something. We helped so many in our time – and I never gave up on any of them – but now we ask – no one can help? I had a smoke at lunch and almost laughed at this whole thing…’me, own a home – man was I ever dreaming out of my league’ – I should be just grateful to be alive, I was poor, maybe I am a nomad (I took some pride in that). Screw this…let’s have some fun.

After lunch, the wife calls…’you will not believe this’…’uh huh’…’The most unlikely thing that could have happened – happened’…’we got approved’!

Time stops sometimes – but you knew that already.

A million thoughts raced through me during and after that phone call. I cried and I laughed…I died and resurrected (my wife’s actual name)…I was heartbroken and I felt healed. I was happy – I felt vindicated – I felt…the only correct word is ‘blessed’.

It’s rather funny what a week does and the lesson you learn from it. I love my wife more than I ever have – it was this situation that did it (and things came around full circle for us from when I first met her and helped her out of a jam). I let my guard down and let my emotions hang out – and it broke me – but it also made me a better person for the experience. I also clarified my focus in the process – I love people – not things – people are what matters – I was going to help the world even when this fell through. I realize dreams are meant to be dreamt – hope is not hope unless it is really hoped! You have to live this one out to really see it.

Most of all, relationship with God is more than just a ‘happy moment’…no it sucks sometimes (believe me). I felt like Abe you know, I argued man – I really did. I was mad, sad, happy, and content – I took my faith for granted for a long time. I took a lot of things for granted for a long time. But man was I happy when from nothing – came something. I really appreciated that God (I know I don’t say that much).

It’s funny, all the debating I do on-line is nothing compared to just living these teachings – they just mean so much to me and maybe God saw that. I didn’t cling for no reason…

***Written on the week of  May  2 to 9, 2008

Church – What Is It Good For? The Proverbial ‘Axe To Grind’

Taken from Mind over Matters – a Naked Pastor Production.

And if by chance it was a wacko, that does nothing to future your rage against the Church of Jesus.” (Fishon)

He is a wacko – which makes him not a good example (I admit) – but he was one portion of the example – an extreme point. Most people in churches are not like Fred obviously – likely not even 1% – but some have those extreme feelings so let’s not forget about them.

As for ‘rage’ or ‘anger’ – I am not mad at the church whatsoever. I am stating what I see as the obvious holes in community in the church and that’s about it. And yes, it is from my perspective alone…people do not need to agree with me – but if I am making sense on some level – it would also be wise to not dismiss it altogether.

I am guessing you have not even visited one percent of the churches in North America. Please tell me if I am wrong. You make such a bold statement—-when imperical evidence do you base your statement on?????????” (Fishon)

You are right – I haven’t. But I have visited a lot of churches in my time – and if a lot of churches keep on looking the same from province to province and state to state – then I can only base my conclusions on what I know and see.

I find the same services, same messages, same structures, and same concerns. And although I may not have visited 1% of all the churches in Canada or America – what more should I need to know – even surveys only hit a sector of society and not the whole thing? I should go on what I have seen from churches – this is honest and real – beyond that i can guess and hope for the best – but that’s all supposition.

Don’t hear me to say the church should not help in some of the areas you suggest, but it seems as if you are calling for the Church to be a huge social service organization” (Fishon)

I am only asking they check their focus – are they about the preaching the words or living them? The church is a lot of talk in my opinion (and it’s good talk mind you) – I even think it is a culture of talk in some ways. My concern is the church has left some of the basic ideas of caring for humanity behind – both within their community and outside it. That’s a fear of mine I see in churches – they perceive they do the works of God – when Matt 25 (sheep and the goats) leaves them open to sharp criticism.

Now I know some churches do get out there and do a lot of good – Fishon I have never denied that. I am making the hypotheses that most churches do not focus on this…and the hypotheses next to nil do these types of things for their local community to build the community in a solid body. I am open to being proven wrong on the whole issue – but I have not seen one myself. I have seen nice churches and all that – some that function without community in my opinion and yet give a lot – and others that give nothing but have community. It’s just rare to see a chuch community that is both a close knit community and also very giving.

If there is a few – show me their websites – I will go and visist (via the web) and ask questions.

However, a little googling will find for you stats on what churches in America give to the poor, the hurting, the unfortunate, not only in America, but to the World. Find something else to complain about.” (Fishon)

My biggest complaint is concerning that exact thing – we have money to give to the rest of the planet but we can forget our own backyards. That’s a the problem I have with it also. It’s not like America(s) do not have sick, poor, needy, depressed, elderly, widows, single mothers, etc…that need as much or more help. Yet they get the short end of the stick in my opinion – which churches care about other countries on the planet except their own.

But the biggest complaint I ever here is – what exactly are churches doing that is productive then? The message is cool – but without actual works it is dead. One could make the argument the church is in fact also dead (in some regards). What has the church done for societal ills in the past 50 years exactly? Things have been gettig worse and not better – and for as ‘good news’ as the church proclaims – what ’s so good about the change they are not making in overall society?

Think about it – there are at least 250 churches or more in a big city. They are all over the place from the suburbs to the inner city – and can meet the moral and societal needs of many people in that city. To me, it looks a great web of churches that can change society for the better – and help make their city a much better place. Ideally, in 50 years a huge change in the morality of society should have taken pace.

However, this is not the case. Crime rates rose, prisons got filled, violent crime rose, divorce rates sky-rocketed, abortion became an accepted practice, single mothers have risen astronomically, poverty is something that went from small to problematic, etc. Society, for as much churches it has within it, has not gotten better but worse – and by far – worse. So, if the church is so grand and awesome an institution that is represeting God and all the glory therein – why exactly is society getting worse and not better?

Faith Perspective/Focus – Here, There, and Everywhere

Youre assuming in this statement that life is only about being in the physical form, that once you die, youre dead zippo. If our experiences follow us as spiritual entities, then maybe their honor follows them too. And maybe thats the significance behind, even our violent actions. How you perceive and give and receive them will help shape your “LIFE” in its spiritual form. Your view on Morality seems to be skewed by your physical presence.” (John)

I would answer quite easily – the physical idea is all we can go by – we have no clue if there is actually a second dimension to this when we all ‘pass on’. But we are quite sure we exist and live ‘right here – right now’ – it does make sense to base our actions on that alone.

It is true I am skewed, and limited, by a human frame – but it’s also stark reality in my opinion. I have not seen heaven and nor have I seen great evidence for it – however – I believe it exists (purely by faith). Those same kind of wonderings I need not make about my neighbor, my work, my marriage, or my passions – I see how those things really exist and work out in real life.

That is why I come from a very human perspective when approaching faith – I also think the scriptures (the gospels anyways) are doing the same thing. Which is to say my actions and what I do have more value here and now – then there and then. If I am being judged – I am being judged in the here and now – not on what happens in the next life. My perspective reflects that.

As for some spiritual form of life – I don’t know if I even buy into that anymore…to me spirituality is just how you live – each and every moment. We either choose to do good or we can choose to not good – but the choice is always ours to make and live by. I just think life is a spiritual thing. I don’t worry much about some spiritual existence outside this existence (although there is likely something to it) – it would put my focus on other worldly things when I was born to this world.

What do you think – faith – a ‘here and now’ perspective or a more ‘there and then’ focus? I have stated my opinion – but I would love to hear where people put their faith and that focus.