Fruit Tree’s Should Provide Fruit

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-20) 

I was thinking about this passage for some odd reason just today and figured – this is an interesting thought that I want to share.

Why did Jesus use fruit to define between a prophet and a false prophet? I ran that through my head today and it hit me ‘who wants a fruit tree with nothing they can eat on it?‘. 

As humans we love to eat – it’s actually helping to keep us alive and make us healthy…fruit being great for that I must say. The good tree will bring forth fruit for people to eat and provide sustenance. The bad tree is one that provides nothing – or fruit that is ruined/does not mature. We usually, in a very common sense way, avoid those tree’s fruit because the fruit tastes no good.

What does it say to us? False prophets are people that appear to be saying the same things as the normal fruit trees – however they are not actually giving you any sustenance – they provide you with ideas that can be deemed more harmful than helpful. I think this is a warning about avoiding people who speak in the name of God yet do not actually teach you anything useful to your moral growth – apparently this is as easy to spot as good fruit from bad fruit.

I have always heard a false prophet was someone that was off in their theology/doctrine/sayings…I am not sure this is the point of this teaching. The point seems to be aware of someone’s actions – they define the person – and if the person teaches/shows you to practice immorality – that’s not exactly the tree you want to pick fruit from (you will destroy yourself). Avoid that tree and find one where you can eat the fruit and it will provide sustenance/growth.

In a very basic way, the analogy sets up 2 kinds of trees, fruit that is edible and fruit bad for you, and what can happen when you eat rotten fruit. We are what we eat…that seems like a fitting motto to sum this up.

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69 thoughts on “Fruit Tree’s Should Provide Fruit

  1. Who’s the judge?

    Are we not all guilty of committng sins everyday? Even St. Paul said that what he should do, he doesn’t do…and what he shouldn’t be doing, he is doing.

    A person can go to church twice on Sunday and volunteer at the soup kitchen and homeless shelter everyday of the week, and their heart can be far from God. We couldn’t know it by looking at them, but God knows it.

  2. How can a person who volunteers at a soup kitchen and a homeless shelter every day of the week have their heart far from God? They are doing God’s work in this world. What could be closer to God’s heart than that? Justice, justice shall you pursue. Care for the widow, the orphan and the stranger.

    What does sin have to do with anything in this discussion? Who in the world cares? Surround me with ‘sinners’ who do good deeds rather than with ‘righteous’ people who sit on their rears while the world falls to pieces around them. Their actions show that the labels given them are reversed.

    And unless I am mistaken, this was Society’s point?

  3. Sinning or not sinning

    Flip sides of the same coin. We need the bad fruit as much as we need the good fruit, without the other you know nothing of the difference.

  4. What’s really strange is the mixing of metaphors in the first sentence of the passage you quote. Knowing ravenous wolves by their fruits.

    I think the pasage is also talking about the test of time. False prophets/trees eventually reveal themselves as being false, as you point out, by their actions. In our day, I think we can see it in the holy man/woman who claims him/herself to be holy and thus demands followers, or the one who puts alot on emphasis on the great power they have, or the overly ambitious, the money hungry, the praise seeker, etc …..

    Trees/Prophets that bear good fruit just do their job without all the fanfare and the “look at me” attitude. Eventually they stand out, because the test of time proves them to be a quality person, and thus worth the effort it takes to listen to them.

  5. “they [false prophets] provide you with ideas that can be deemed more harmful than helpful. I think this is a warning about avoiding people who speak in the name of God yet do not actually teach you anything useful to your moral growth ” – Societyvs

    I don’t agree with this analysis, because by this measure I get to call you a false prophet?!?! 🙂 I would say that your last blog falls into this category of “bad fruit”, an arguement on the Jewishness of Jesus, doesn’t bring any moral implication into my life. I am not asked to make any moral decisions on the lineage of Jesus. I am not asked to love my neighbor or love G-d becuase of the Jewishness of the gospels.

    But I think that the discussion of “Was Jesus Jewish?” was a worthwhile endeavour. Teachings tempered with discussion are good and are always needed.

    I would think that what theJust1 was saying is closer to the point of the parable. You have to watch people to really discern what their motives/intentions are.

    A person working in soup kitchen could be a ravenous wolf. But imagine a political leader trying to get more votes by having a press conference at a soup kitchen or a really evil priest who uses it to steal the jackets from the homeless, and the priest sells them to the salvation army for a quick buck.

    Anyway back to reality. Teachings are not dangerous per se, if there is a discussion about the teaching and its practical application. Its what we DO with our lives that are dangerous to others. The politician who is allowed to use homeless people for a campaign, devalues them and may devalue the way society looks at the homeless problem. “All I have to do is do my time in a soup kitchen and the homeless will be all right” Wrong! homelessness is a huge problem and requires more than just soup kitchens to correct it.

    If I beat my wife but say that hitting people is wrong. What does my son learn? He learns by what I do, not by what I believe or teach.

    Sorry, to get back on track. I think the parable is saying that it’s how people LIVE that determines whether they are a “bad fruit” or the “devil’s egg” or if they are good fruit.

  6. You know the interesting part about the bad fruit, after it falls off the tree, it rots and then helps the other trees around it to grow. 🙂

  7. I guess we need to define what good fruit and bad fruit is. In the context of the Gospel, I believe it is the proclamation of Christ, and not deeds done.

    I’m not sure that Christ would deem people doing good things (helping at soup kitchens, etc. ) good fruit…if it was done in the name of a false god, or anything apart from Himself.

  8. But you’re the one who brought up the good deeds and the bad heart scenario. Now you want to change the definitions?

    Bait and switch, man. You baited us with apples and now you want to switch to oranges? (Ok, that’s really dumb, but I’m going to leave it up here anyway. John T isn’t the only one allowed to keep it light around here.)

    So let me make sure I’m understanding you. You’re saying all the people in the world who do good things but could care less about Jesus are just producing bad fruit? If so, please let me go shop at that market. That’s good enough fruit for me and with it labeled ‘bad’ it probably will be on sale….

  9. Yael

    Did I ever tell you about when I was younger I worked at a Jewish Hospital. I met the one of the most powerful rabbis in North America at the time. Very interesting indeed. It was fun watching how the “people” reacted around him and his entourage.

  10. “Surround me with ’sinners’ who do good deeds rather than with ‘righteous’ people who sit on their rears while the world falls to pieces around them. Their actions show that the labels given them are reversed.” (Yael)

    I agree 100% – and this is the point of the fruit tree’s – in my honest and humble opinion. Yael’s point is key here for 2 reasons:

    (a) The ‘false’ tree actually resembles the ‘true’ tree (or the good and the bad look similar) – they are both fruit trees with titles including ‘prophet’.

    (b) The difference is based solely on morality and immorality and nothing more – since the only two terms that are used are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fruit – the tree’s look the same – but the fruit they are growing does not.

    That’s a very simple analogy with nothing more to it – except to warn the followers about being moral people and not being immoral.

    For example, Koresh, for as crazy as we all see him now, actually started out similar in vein to a Hal Lindsay or some other end days soothsayer – he didn’t seem dangerous in any obvious later way. But what people should of recognized was what he was trying to teach others to do and be like (and he himself was like this) – a good wad of that stuff was just immoral and strayed from normal decency. But people stayed because they truly thought this person was someone admirable – despite all the obvious signs he was teaching immorality. In the end, what happened was caused in by the Gov’t but Koresh let his immorality (pride also) ultimately bury him and many innocents.

    Thing that could be learned from it – what he was doing and teaching (the fruit of his labors) should of snapped everyone out of their stupor and admiration – this person gave off signs of immorality quite often (that went ignored by the majority of congregants). Same can be said for Jim Jones.

  11. “Flip sides of the same coin. We need the bad fruit as much as we need the good fruit, without the other you know nothing of the difference” (John)

    I’ll be honest, I could very well live without sin. Although the evil fruit teaches us from it’s existence what we don’t want to ‘look like’ – but the fact it resides inside us in a category like ‘I don’t want to be that’ says something to it’s actual usefulness. I could live without sin personally – won’t happen mind you – but I have little to no problem living without people harming me or me harming others.

  12. Societyvs.

    We all at some point teach immorality. Whos kidding who, I have this sneaky suspicion there is even be some immorality in what Jesus was teaching. If he was truly a man then we could bet on it. There is no perfectly “good” tree in this world of duality. I believe its perfection actually comes from the fact that it has both good and bad in it. Hence our dual nature.

  13. JB

    “but I have little to no problem living without people harming me or me harming others.”

    The trick is, How do you determine what harm is or isnt.\? When I lift weights to get stronger, it only happens because of the catabolic affect on my muscles. In other words I need to break down to then grow stronger. Just like the seed needs to crack to begin to flower. Its not that we need to get rid of the negative, its that we need to understand its purpose in the overall picture.

  14. “I don’t agree with this analysis, because by this measure I get to call you a false prophet?!?!” (Wolf)

    Not true – name the immoral thing I am teaching you or asking of you – then my ‘fruit/deed’ would be able to be called out. Discussion is just discussion more or less – it may not exactly provide any real teaching – but I think what I did in the last post was commendable…making us peruse an issue concerning the historical Jesus and appreciating another culture – Jewish culture. That’s my opinion anyways.

    “Its what we DO with our lives that are dangerous to others.” (Wolf)

    I think that is the point of the analogy given by Jesus. I notice something very simple in that teaching – the words used for the fruit are ‘good’ and ‘evil’ – which are actually things someone does and likely asks others to do (being a prophet in this scenario). For me, the key is what someone is doing (and saying to some extent) and then asking for the followers to do the same.

    For example, if a pastor asks his congregants to all cheat on their wives and start some sexual swinger party amongst the leaders (which has happened mind you in certain pseudo Christian hippie movements) – should the husband and wide blindly obey or question the morality of such a gesture? Just because someone with a ‘title’ can ask and do something does not make it legit.

    To me the immorality someone is asking has to be obvious – not some small misnomer that means nothing – nor hurts anyone. Like the case about what someone believes is possibly the sin – no – what someone thinks is not the sin – it has to be what someone does or asks someone else to do with them. Fruit is not fruit until it actually starts showing itself – we cannot chop fruit off a tree that thinks it is there. That’s also part of the point of this parable – what someone does with what they believe seems to be the problem – not what someone merely believes.

    Which takes me back to the Jewish discussion – name one sin that came out of a theological and historical discussion? Nothing that I seen to be honest. Morality was not something that was talked about – but having civil conversations in and of themselves are moral; hospitality in conversation is moral; and building friendships is also moral. I think lots of good can come from convo – and I enjoy learning from everyone (on a personal level). But there was no name calling, no one’s faith got called into question, people were not discriminated against, women were not treated us un-equals, etc…as far as I can tell – nothing immoral happened.

    We all came as equals, ate at the same table (metaphorically), and left as equals and some as friends – that was the best thing that could’ve happened (equality).

  15. John T,
    Did I ever tell you about when I was younger I worked at a Jewish Hospital. I met the one of the most powerful rabbis in North America at the time. Very interesting indeed. It was fun watching how the “people” reacted around him and his entourage.

    You told me about the work, not the rabbi. I can imagine. You probably find it hard to believe but that kind of thing isn’t my style….But, I have to leave it at that.

    In an earlier comment you hit on the discussion I was involved in previously of a perfect God containing imperfection. God is seen as light yet God is said to hide in darkness (Psalms 18:12). Light can’t hide in darkness, only darkness can.

    Society,
    Don’t know if you remember this article I pointed out some months back on OSS’s blog about the necessity of an evil inclination? 13 Ways to be a Good Person. Just thought I’d toss it in here as a sort of counter view which perhaps explains better than I ever could, my understanding of what it means to be good.

  16. Yael

    You dont sound like a woman who would relate to them lol. The woman had their hair shaved, wearing head coverings, the men and boys had their locks. It was very surreal for me.

    “Light can’t hide in darkness, only darkness can”

    If theres enough Darkness, it sure makes it hard to find the light 😉

  17. “what someone does with what they believe seems to be the problem – not what someone merely believes.” – Societyvs

    – I agree. Too many people have a belief that defending their ideologies and statement of faiths means more than another’s basic human rights. For example people who blow up abortion clinics or turn themselves into bombs to defend their faith.

    “How do you determine what harm is or isnt?” John T

    Building muscle and seeding aside, because those are self inflicted pains. “harm” on a human to human or human to animal level is different.

    The person offended is who gets to cry “foul” or determine what is harm. It’s sucks, but that is life.

    For example. If I throw a baseball and miss my target and hit my friend in the face. My intention was to hit the glove, but I missed. I see no harm in that.
    He might see it differently. He may feel that it was an intentional throw because he is better looking than me and he has always known that I have been jealous of his good looks. He might break off friendship over the “harm”

    Did I mean to commit the harm? No, but the other person gets to say what harm is.

    Another ex. If I hit a dog. I can say I did no harm because I felt nothing. The dog yelps. But that could the soulless machine inside and I may broke a value or something. Surely no harm came to it. ( I think decartes believed something like this)

    I jest. but I hope I make my point 🙂

  18. Wilfred

    “If I throw a baseball and miss my target and hit my friend in the face. My intention was to hit the glove, but I missed. I see no harm in that.”(wilfred)

    Man, you and I would get along fine lmao. Anyways I digress.

    Unfortunately we dont fully understand the ramifications of what harm is. Whether I do it to myself or others. If we were created and we werent the ones doing the creating then how do we know what the purpose of both the negative and positive experiences are? We base all our experience on what is loving to us and what is painful to us. We have no real understanding of what they actually mean other than by their “feeling” to us. What if, in many cases the painful experience is actually the more Loving experience.

  19. John T,
    By the time I’m really old I may go with the shaved head and wig since my hair seems to be falling out at a rapid pace these days….Otherwise, nope, not my style at all.

    Light and darkness? True enough.

  20. “We all at some point teach immorality. Whos kidding who…The trick is, How do you determine what harm is or isnt.?” (John)

    True, but the key is to be someone of self awareness and constantly examining the things we do to others – or try to teach others.

    For example, I like to have some good drinks on a Friday with friends – and yes – I amy even get drunk…but there is no way i would push this on people – drinking is rather a choice of the individual and their personal tastes and perogative about it. If someone calls me a hypocrite concerning it – oh well – I am not exactly hurting them in any personal way anyways.

    But if I get drunk and start berating people and then causing problems for others – then yes – I have stepped from having a fun time into offending others and committing a ‘sin’ against them (ie: like calling them names or trying to fight them). To me, we can define offense quite easily:

    ‘treat others how we would like to be treated’

    That entails, we are aware of how we like to be treated and maybe even – in my opinion – concern for how others like to be treated. I think a lot of things are very obvious and common sense – we don’t like to be yelled at – so don’t yell at someone else or we don’t like to be the butt of jokes all the the time so let’s not do that to someone (all the time I mean – sometimes if it is consenting – big deal). In the end, when we do offend another – we should be able to make it right – say sorry – and repair the breaks in the friendship.

    “Its not that we need to get rid of the negative, its that we need to understand its purpose in the overall picture” (John)

    I thought about this – and although negative stuff can teach us things – it is not a teaching I could truly endorse as healthy. Cause if it is, then can we not committ some act of immorality and call it healthy for the next person?

    For example, let’s say, for example sake, me and Wolf are brothers and we find that a friend of ours continues to lie to us – habitually – a habitual line stepper – and we confront him on it. We are not satisifed with his answers on the issue – he is still ducking and dodging – so we decide to beat the tar out of him for honest answers (and to teach him a lesson). One could say what we are doing will teach him the lesson and maybe he won’t habitually lie again…but nobody knows that for sure. It may actually have an adverse effect and cause him to be more cruel to others.

    So, althought negativity can teach us lessons – the moral person will learn from those negative experiences – that is not to say all do – some actually become worse people due to the negativity experienced. This has been my experience with people that suffer traumatic events – there is about a 50/50 ratio of people that learn good from it – the other 1/2 continue to committ the same atrocities (ex: domestic abuse).

    So I cannot make a clean argument for negativity being a determining factor on teaching us ‘good’ – since, and if this were altogether true, evil would eventually wipe itself out – and we know the analogy of the kingdom divided (this is not what the intention of evil or good is – to destroy itself). Evil, immorality, sin – at it’s core is there to further promote itself in the actions of the doer – to the eyeballs of the see-er. Sometimes we get the person who learns the pain of the abuse – sometimes we get the opposite – people that cover the pain to further enhance it. Negativity does not destroy itself – rather it exists to promote itself – study gangs for more on this phenomenon.

    This is my opinion – and sometimes God may venture into the darkeness – and really rip us out of that crap – but God does not fear the darkeness – and as children we sometimes do – and cannot find the light-switch for the life of us.

  21. “The person offended is who gets to cry “foul” or determine what is harm. It’s sucks, but that is life” (Wolf)

    I believe there is a dual role at work here. Yes, the other can call something wrong for what it is – cause we may not be sensitive to that offense towards them – that’s fair in my opinion. But, I also see that role being something we do – examining what hurts us and what we shouldn’t do to another person because ‘we know what that feels like’. As you mentioned earlier (on NP’s blog) – i love myself and then I love others – well in that process is self-examination that we use to help us examine the feelings of others. Then when that fails – others teach us what alos offends them – and by that process we become compassionate one for another.

    But plain and simple, I am just passionate for you 😉

  22. I also think that the fruits in this aspect tie to action, given the contrast between a true prophet and a false prophet. In the Tanakh, the prophets seemed very focused on actions, and for helping the oppressed and less fortunate. You can’t seperate the two.

    So in identifying a false prophet, one big method would be the fruit that the prophet produces.

    It also doesn’t make as much sense to me that the fruits would be the faith in Christ, just because that makes it so subjective. The Bible outlines what is good, and it’s concrete actions. Whereas if ‘good’ becomes a matter of one’s faith, then the good is tied to faith, and not to actions.

    **In a very basic way, the analogy sets up 2 kinds of trees, fruit that is edible and fruit bad for you, and what can happen when you eat rotten fruit. We are what we eat…that seems like a fitting motto to sum this up.**

    Do you also see this as a method of identifying one’s self? What if we ourselves are a particular tree, and we need to examine the fruits we produce?

  23. JB…….and brother

    “so we decide to beat the tar out of him for honest answers (and to teach him a lesson).”

    What if ever other nicetie and communication style that you know, just doesnt work on your friend. What if the only thing that reaches his brain and spirit is the beating, and not only that, what if it works. Would it be wrong?

  24. “Do you also see this as a method of identifying one’s self? What if we ourselves are a particular tree, and we need to examine the fruits we produce?” (OSS)

    I think this is part of the teaching – that we self examine ourselves with regards to analogy given (compare our actions and teachings in light of the teachings from God). Maybe it serves as a warning not to become a tree that is useless – where no one can find anything good anymore – so that we become diposable to the company hearing/respecting us.

    Which is something I have learned to do with regards with the stuff I write and how I dialogue – I don’t want to become someone who people ‘cast aside’ because I am saying nothing worth listening to, being outright rude, or don’t actually care about others and just become dogmatic. I think in that sense, on this blog and others, I guard what I say and what I will write – and I have made mistakes – but I always try to right those wrongs with humility and apology.

  25. JB

    I heard a good one about life. There are 2 motivating factors in life. The pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

    What do you think is the bigger motivator?

  26. “What if ever other nicetie and communication style that you know, just doesnt work on your friend. What if the only thing that reaches his brain and spirit is the beating, and not only that, what if it works. Would it be wrong?” (John)

    Yes…in my opinion. I would like to know where Jesus teaches us to use that tactic? I mean, in an honest sense, I have committed to following the teachings of Jesus so for me it makes no sense to do it. Non violence seems to be Jesus personal motif – and not only that – that of each and every one of his disciples (even Judas).

    Also, there is no guarantee that ‘beating’ will have the effects you think it will – just the person is scared to do it to you again. Who is to say this doesn’t give that same person the allowance to committ that against others whom you don’t see? It seems like a slippery slope of allowance that happens there – where what is good for the goose might also be good for the gander. Also who likes to be beat up – if the most of us say no – then why would we bother to treat someone how we desire not to be treated? At least, that’s my case.

  27. JB

    Culture dictates so much of what we see. Some cultures are based on a warrior mentality, are they wrong when they apply their truth as they see it? This may be a bad example, but I remember watching the movie The last samurai. There was a scene where the leader was cutting off the head of one of the samurais. The character played by Tom cruise basically called him an animal for doing that. The leader thought it was an Honor as did the one receiving it. Tell me how you can call that wrong? In our culture that is a mix of many, where do we draw the line? Is it by the line that you believe to be right. When Jesus talks of bringing a sword, where does that fit in with your faith?

  28. yaelbatsarah,

    Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying. Good fruit is that which extols Christ.

    When Christ walked away from the crowds when they wanted another free meal, would you call it bad fruit? Probably. Because you think the whole entyerprise is about our ‘doing’. Well it’s not. The whole enterprise is about faith in Christ.

    You want to shop at a store that feeds you a thin soup of deeds…go ahead. Christ is the living Bread come down from Heaven.

    “What is it to ‘do’ the will of the Father? Believe in the One whom He has sent.” (Gospel of John)

    Enjoy your apples and oranges…man.

  29. “I heard a good one about life. There are 2 motivating factors in life. The pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. What do you think is the bigger motivator?” (John)

    I think they are rather the same – avoiding pain will lead to contentment (pleasureable by all standards). Getting hurt will lead to pain – and pain is not a very pleasureable experience. By all going rates I would advise someone ‘avoid pain as much as you can, since this will make one more content’. The one that seeks pain – well – that’s just a little sadastic and one could say ‘a cry for help’.

    “Culture dictates so much of what we see. Some cultures are based on a warrior mentality, are they wrong when they apply their truth as they see it? In our culture that is a mix of many, where do we draw the line? Is it by the line that you believe to be right. When Jesus talks of bringing a sword, where does that fit in with your faith?” (John)

    My culture also has the warrior mentiality within it – and with many younger Aboriginals joining gangs – and problems with violence in my community stemming back to the late 60’s – yeah – I think we need to re-examine the actual usefulness of that strategy on a local and personal level. It may look glamorous in a film about Japanese society – but how often does this happen in Japan on some local level? I very rarely to never hear of it in that society (almost as if it is not a practice on a personal level).

    However, when we get into warrior societies and ‘swords’ one has to remember the original intentions of these ideas – war (thus war-ior) and protection of society. These types of ideas existed for a purpose – to protect society from attacks and enemies. I guess they will serve their place in war…war that i have tough time endorsing from a non-violent perspective but know gov’t’s have to do this or will do this.

    But taking war out of the actual into the streets and then we see serious mental problems/issues – with a lot of vets. Some cannot lose the degradation they recieved from being a part of war – coming back to a society of laws and order – when in war – the only real order is found within the camp and rules of war – and even in that many things are not considered ‘normal living’.

    For example, one of the Aboriginal peoples greatest warriors of this century was Tommy Prince – who won over 10 medals in 3 wars – including WW2 – one of the 10 highest decorated Canadians in history (maybe even amongst the top 3). Yet you want to know how this man eventually spent his life in normal society? He died a drunk on the streets of Winnipeg – living homeless and day to day. He could not transfer over from the glamour of the warrior society (where he was a hero) to that of a peaceful one (where he was a 2nd class citizen). Balance was lacking. Ira Hayes had the same problem.

    I am not sure I truly want the idea of a warrior society to be the norm of a daily Christian existence – nor is this ever taught as part of Christ’s teachings. I am not asked to go to war for some gov’t, I am not asked to use violence as a means for resolve, and I am not asked to make war for peace. These ideas do not work – and the reason any of it exists is due to humanity ignoring any basic moral dignity it has – and then we get into questionable arenas.

    The one time Jesus does say ‘get a sword’ is not for violence – but to give the arresters a real reason to arrest him – no mistakes – they would arrest him. Even when Peter uses the sword – Jesus outright denounces that use by Peter – and in the story – heals the maimed person. Does that sound like a ‘warrior’ to you? He even says something to the effect of having legions of angels that could come and help him – yet does not go that route – instead takes on the cross for humanity. Nice warrior…can’t even save his own life.

    Luke 23:36-37 “The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!”

    Soldiers man…soldiers…warriors…and yet the man that can save himself – refused. Now that’s a level of piety I dare not find out about – but admire to some great length. I would also call it non-violent to an extreme.

    I just cannot see the case for violence no matter the culture – and if violence exists – it exists not for the sake of the peace of society – but for the detriment of it.

  30. My culture also has the warrior mentality within it – and with many younger Aboriginals joining gangs – and problems with violence in my community stemming back to the late 60’s – yeah – I think we need to re-examine the actual usefulness of that strategy … (SVS)

    Just thought I would provide some perspective on the warrior society as it existed in First Nations people. The warrior society, not actually called the warrior society but for lack of a better word, was a trained group of men who existed primarily to look after the band, mostly for pupose of providing and finding resources with an element of law enforcement. War, killing others, violence, or gaining of territory was not their main purpose, although they would have had to engage in battle.

    First Nations societies were not structured in a manner that led to wars. Usually when a band grew too large (over 200 people) for the “warriors” to provide resouces for it, then the band divided and two bands were created, so that the warriors could provide much easier. This action also served an economic purpose as it also was for conservation and for a proper use of resources. Pretty tough, and kind of stupid actually, to start wars when you have only 50 men.

    It’s too bad that the warrior mentality that once existed has been corrupted, (mostly by the media, TV, and the movies), and is giving rise to a gang mentality. Its one of those cultural ideals that need to be redeemed and returned to its original purpose.

  31. Good points Just1 – I didn’t have time to get into the actual basis behind a warrior society in Aboriginal culture – and honestly – some of that stuff is news to me (thanks).

  32. Theoldadam,

    For someone to turn their back on hungry people when they have the means to provide them a meal? What good is such a person to the world? Wasn’t that the whole point of the ‘Good Samaritan’ story, that running off to do religious work when someone needed your help was not the right thing to do? Now if he didn’t have the means to feed the people, well, that’s neither good nor bad, since it wasn’t then his responsibility.

    Torah tells us over and over what God requires of us and never once does it use the word believe, but instead tells us something we are to DO. Society and others see the NT in this same light, that it’s all about what we do.

    I guess I have to feel kind of sad about your response, that you think the world around you if filled with bad people doing bad things just because they don’t hold to your religious beliefs. Truly? You look at all the billions of people in the world and dismiss most of them and their lives so readily?

    You don’t seem to like that I called you out on your switch. I would have ignored it except you were so firm that we were all off track when it was you who started the conversation in the very direction you were now dismissing. Perhaps next time this happens you could just say, “Let me backtrack….” and then go in another direction? It happens to all of us you know, we start out one way and realize, hey wait, that isn’t what I should have said, what I really think is this….It’s not a big deal.

    Anyway, I should have used a different approach myself. I was actually going to post another comment going along with the first scenario you presented and then try analyzing some possible outcomes, but alas, I was at work and had to actually do something for which I was being paid. By the time I returned the conversation had moved on and that moment was lost. I think that approach perhaps would not have been so disagreeable to you and maybe we could have had a more pleasant exchange. My apologies.

    As far as beliefs go, we’ll never agree because there will never be any Jesus in my life. That’s just the way it is. Everyone here knows the score and most of us still find some meaning and enjoyment in talking to each other anyway. If you don’t see yourself in that category, just say so and I won’t say anything further, OK? 🙂

  33. “Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying. Good fruit is that which extols Christ” (Steve)

    I would ask – where is that idea inherent in the actual analogy in and of itself? If we get to talking how the good fruit is something that ‘adds to our faith and is faithful to the teachings’ and in that sense extols Christ – I won’t disagree.

    “Probably. Because you think the whole enterprise is about our ‘doing’. Well it’s not. The whole enterprise is about faith in Christ” (Steve)

    Finish this sentence from one of the prominent church fathers in Jerusalem, James – Faith without works/deeds is….?

    Faith is nothing at all without the deeds that are suppoed to accompany it – this seems to be James sole argument – and argument he bases on the Torah and is very similar in vein to Yael’s words.

    James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

    Matthew 25:35-36 “‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

    Acts 6:3 “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. (Task being – serving all the widows).

    Galatians 2:10 “They only asked us to remember the poor– the very thing I also was eager to do.” (Paul on his instructions from Peter, James, and John in Jerusalem)

    Yael comment #2 “What could be closer to God’s heart than that? Justice, justice shall you pursue. Care for the widow, the orphan and the stranger.”

    Uhm, yeah – that’s a perspective from James’ letter in the NT, a Matthew parable, Acts community, Paul, and Yael’s comment – a Jewish lady studying the Torah – similar in intent for each passage…no? Each one is calling faith something at it’s core that is about others and our actions towards them – namely to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, or the stranger.

    These are the deeds that should accompany any good person of faith – and we get our teachings from the Torah – which Yael reittirates in her comment – how close we really are in intent/deed. If someone’s church ignores these ideas – and many do – then I wonder why they overlook the obvious in scripture?

  34. yaelbatsarah,

    No problem. I am not thin skinned (or anything else about me for that matter..).

    I hope I did not offend you.

    God has the ability to feed and clothe everyone in the world…right now. For whatever reason, he has decided to leave the distribution up to us. He could do it Himself, though. But He doesn’t.

    You don’t want Jesus…no problem. He won’t force Himself upon you, and neither will I. (I do realize there are many Christians that probably have or will try to do that to you…that is a shame)

    The reason that we tend to ignore the plight of the needy around us and concentrate on ourselves is because we are sinful. If it wasn’t for that fact, then Jesus would not have had to come and die in the firsrt place. But we are…so He did.

    It would sure be nice if we could love God, and our neighbor as ourselves…but we can’t. I know I can’t, and when I look around, I see that everyone is pretty much in the same boat on that score.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it.

    Thanks much, Yaelbatsarah!

    – Steve Martin

  35. Steve

    “The reason that we tend to ignore the plight of the needy around us and concentrate on ourselves is because we are sinful.”

    I think maybe you should talk about your sin instead of mine. I dont necessarily see myself as “sinful”.

  36. John T.,

    That’s too bad.

    It’s too bad because Christ came for sinners.

    If you are not a sinner then you have no need of Christ. Jesus said it Himself, “I have not come for the healthy, for the healthy have no need of a physician, but I have come for the sick.

    “If we say we are without sin, we decieve ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (John 1:8)

    Keep up the good work, John T.. You are a much better man than I.

  37. Steve

    Heres one for you.

    “The world is 50% Shit, 50% sugar, you choose where you put your focus, but just remember if you stand in Shit long enough it dries around you”

    People who think they are inherently “Bad”, are neck deep.

    I like to tell my daughter shes a good, loving person, not a sinner.

  38. Steve

    Sinners have a hard time making smiley faces, when you think youre bad theres usually not much to smile about lol. 😉

  39. **If you are not a sinner then you have no need of Christ. **

    I’ve never found this applicable. I find people can say they are a good person, and still find themselves in need of help from God. What about the sin of others that harms you? What about being resuced from war, famine, oppression? What about needing help in seeing the goodness that God created?

    Plus, it also depends on how Jesus meant that quote. He was speaking to the religious leaders, and they were acting as though everyone but them were sinners. What if Jesus was being sarcastic towards both how he used “sinners” and then grouping the “healthy” as the religious leaders?

  40. John T.,

    A life is a paradox. So are we. We are both saint and sinner, fully, at the same time.

    The focus depends on the context, of course.

    If we are speaking in the context of what the Bible means by “good fruits”, then we have to decide if it is our good works, or the good works of Christ.

    I think theology must be applied to find the right answer.

    I don’t think of myself as a worm, a horrible sinner that has nothing good to offer. But in the context of biblical good fruits and good works and ‘doing’ the things that God demands of me, I have nothing good to offer God, only my sin.

    I think the good fruits that scripture is talking about is the testimony to the One who truly provides the good fruit.

    To answer your questions about being sinners, or being good and the need of God, I’ll defer to St. Paul in the first three chapters of Romans. He tells us that “all fall short of the glory of God and that no one seeks for God and that no one is righteous…no not one.”

    There are actually people that don’t believe this. I do, because I look into the mirror. The goodness that god is after is the perfect righteousness of Christ. This perfection is laid out very neatly in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus was exposing those who thought they were good enough.

    Anyway, John, I’m kinda under the gun with my work schedule lately, so forgive me if my responses seem a little herky-jerky.

    Thanks John! 😀 (hey…I did it!)

    – Steve

  41. I’m with John T on this one. I find it interesting those Christians who claim Jesus did such great things for them but then still define themselves as sinners and seem quite obsessed with sin. I thought they were supposed to be freed from all of that? I don’t get why anyone wants to spend all their time wallowing in that stuff. If someone claims to be free, why don’t they live like a free person?

    Now me, the Jew, I’m supposed to be living under some law of death which purportedly makes me want to sin constantly and be obsessed with doing wrong, hating my neighbor and all of that. Only that doesn’t even come close to describing my life, nor the life of any of the Jews with whom I am regularly in contact. I don’t spend my time thinking about sin; when I study the law codes in Torah I don’t feel this sudden urge to go out and break them.

    Why would reading I not to steal make me feel like I should steal? Now it does make me think, but in a different way. If I find $20 on the ground is it stealing to keep it? Am I required to try to find the owner of this money? Does it make a difference where ‘the ground’ is located or if I really need the money? This isn’t some woe is me I’m so awful inside pondering, but is instead an intellectual activity of learning what does this law entail.

    My conscience isn’t bothered by any of this as I study. Why should it be? I’m not stealing and I’m learning that when I find money there are times I can pick it up and it’s mine, there are times when it isn’t automatically mine, and there are times when it isn’t mine at all. In cases where things are really obscure and not so easily defined, I would ask Rabbi and he would give me a ruling and explain how he reached such a decision so that I can learn more as well. I know the rules so I don’t have to beat myself up or wonder if I did right. I am instead free to enjoy life. The money was mind to keep. Great! Or the money wasn’t mine to keep so I didn’t keep it. Great! I’m not wondering about it anymore.

    (This is probably at least a somewhat rambling description, but I think it’s of value to show what it’s like to live under a system of law. I want to paint a picture quite different from the one given by Paul since his description Torah is something I wouldn’t even recognize.)

    Long before Jesus’ time, a stranger came to Hillel and asked Hillel to teach him all of Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel told him to love God with all his heart, soul and might and to love his neighbor as himself. Hillel then said, the rest is commentary, go and study. The reason the stranger needed to go study is that these are very vague statements, loving God and loving you neighbor. How does one show love to God, how does one show love to their neighbor?

    So, if Steve doesn’t mind, I have some questions. Or maybe the questions can be left unanswered, just as thought questions or something. I kind of like unanswered questions better anyway…..

    How do you define loving God and your neighbor?

    Can you name very specific ways that a person shows they love God, very specific ways that a person shows they love their neighbor?

    Could you then explain how each of these specific things could only be done by believers in Jesus?

    Is there any possibility that some, or maybe even all, of these things could be done by others who reject Jesus?

    If so, how would you explain this phenomena within the context of your statement that they could not?

  42. Societyvs

    ‘I think they are rather the same – avoiding pain will lead to contentment (pleasureable by all standards). Getting hurt will lead to pain – and pain is not a very pleasureable experience. By all going rates I would advise someone ‘avoid pain as much as you can, since this will make one more content’. The one that seeks pain – well – that’s just a little sadastic and one could say ‘a cry for help’”

    Pain is very different for everyone. And in fact, pain for most is based on emotional connections or disconnections of experience. That is why smoking for some is painful and for others pleasurable. How you view a situation will determine your level of pain or pleasure. Now as with anything else how are we to determine the difference. I think tackling and being tackled in football is pleasurable, but my wife thinks im nuts because its “painful” for her. So can you tell me whos right in their perception. Dont you think its a slippery slope when you try to determine for others what is or isnt pleasurable or painful?

    Now the idea of a Warrior mentality, isnt based on malicious violence. I truly believe it is based on a respectful violence. I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but here me out. When I used to train Martial Arts, we would spar, and in the process of sparring we would hit each other, which at times was painful. Now each of us accepted this and would bow to the other acknowledging the hurt. Yet we still continued the training. I believe the level of Violence we see with kids in gangs is because we have taken the spiritual signifance away from the combative things we do. The essence of a warrior is to do what is best for the community even in the vanquishing of their opponents. And even when you hurt another you can still honor them. That is why you hear soldiers very often talk in glowing terms of their enemies. This world is a world of duality, always has been, always will be. How do you as a Christian make that work? I would bet money there are instances where you hurt others and will continue to. How do you reconcile those instances?

  43. Yaelbatsarah,

    No one loves God and their neighbor ‘ as they do themselves’. Those last few words are the key. We put ourselves first. Jesus did not. He put us first. He died for enemies. We would never do that.

    Those of us in Christ have dual natures. Saint and sinner, at the same time. Isaiah 64 tells us that ” all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.”

    The good that we do is good for the neighbor, but accounts us nothing where God is concerned because it is tainted by self-motivation (or sin).

    Unbelievers (in Christ) do lots of good in the world, and that’s great for all concerned. But what God is looking for (I believe) is faith in the One whom He has sent.

  44. Steve

    If you truly believe that we are the “Body of Christ”………then doing a good deed for somone else is doing it for myself as it is the same for them. We all breathe the same air so its in my and your best interest to clean it up. Dont you think? Jesus said it best when he stated……..

    ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    Your actions will show me much more about what you believe than what your words will.

  45. Hi Steve,

    Just a few more questions about your answers.

    Where are we told to love God as we love ourselves?

    What is your basis for claiming no one puts others first before themselves, that only Jesus did such a thing?

    Dying for enemies: Billions of people have lived and died through the ages, many have been killed through the ages. How do we know how many of them might have died for their enemies? How are you able to know all of their various motivations, especially those who died the death of a martyr?

    Where does Torah tell us our deeds are as filthy rags? Doesn’t Torah instead tell us God’s commandments were given to us in love and that all will be well with us if we live a life of Torah and mitzvot?

    If a prophet exaggerates to make a point, does that point trump all of Torah?

    Where in Torah does it tell us that we are incapable of doing good? That we must look for someone else to do everything for us?

    Why is Torah filled with what we are to do if we’re not even capable of doing any of it? Doesn’t that sound like a very sick God to you who would tell people whom God claims to love that God is just messing with them to make a point about how wretched they really are?

    Why does God spend so much of Tanakh telling us how to act, if God really only cares about us believing in someone?

    Personally, I have to say I consider it much more meritorious that there are people who would LIVE for their enemies, for the stranger, or the widow, the orphan, the poor and needy. Anyone can be a martyr, it doesn’t take long to die, but how many can live a long life filled with compassion for others even when the others sometimes kick you in the teeth?

    OK. I’ve had my say. We’ll just go round in circles anyway. I’m leaving on a short vacation need to get ready. I’m going to be visiting my sons at a Jewish camp where they have been since school got out. I can’t wait to see them again, hard to believe it’s already a month since I saw them. They are a couple of truly fine young men. I tell them often that they are my treasures and that I feel honored to be their mom. I’m glad your way of thinking works for you, Steve, but I have to say, I’m really, really glad I don’t have to go along with it, and I think my kids would say the same.

  46. ** Isaiah 64 tells us that ” all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags.”**

    This is also assuming that Isaiah 64 is speaking for everyone in every single aspect of time, rather than the certain amount of people that lived when Isaiah 64 was written. Nothing in that verse itself indicates that every single righteous deed that one does is as a filthy rag, especially since the Bible labels quite a few people as righteous pre-Jesus sacrifice.

    We also need a definition of “righteous” here. A righteous deed is doing justice, caring for the widow, helping the orphan, resucing the oppressed. The righteous deed is defined by the action itself. However, Isaiah 64 links the deeds done to iniquities, which leads me to believe that they weren’t in fact doing any deeds that qualified as “righteous.” They were not living in a just society, they were not caring for the widow/orphan/oppressed.

  47. “That is why you hear soldiers very often talk in glowing terms of their enemies. This world is a world of duality, always has been, always will be. How do you as a Christian make that work? I would bet money there are instances where you hurt others and will continue to. How do you reconcile those instances?” (John T)

    The world is marred with immorality and thinking that is not very helpful – and we have to live in that real world. However, that is not to say we cannot ‘rise above’ that stuff even while in the midst of it. Although I despise violence and always have – it does exist in the world I live in and I have to decide how I want to view that. I decide I will not be violent towards others and always seek a peaceful resolution to all things. I have a standard I want to keep – being a peacemaker or loving my neighbor.

    However, my stand on violence is a basic standard – I will not committ acts of aggression against others. Now you mention martial arts and sports – now that’s different…that’s controlled sports replete with refs and rules. Go outside those arenas with the same aggression where no refs and rules exist – and we start seeing uncontrolled acts of violence – and that is destroying society. Sports – are for fun – violence in the streets – that isn’t. I have to consider each scenario for what it is – which I try to do.

    I don’t find war a ‘good thing’ because it is not. If you get stabbed in combat – that is not the ideal life planned for you I am guessing (by God or by yourself). War is about death and nothing more. Although one samurai is honored with the way he dies – he still dies – honor schmonor – he’s dead. That is not seeking life – but seeking to take away from life. War is the human corruption of the ideal society and lack of diplomacy/cordialness. It exists but it exists because people cannot live by a higher ideal/standard – ie: a peaceful and just society.

    Don’t get me wrong though – I watch UFC every month, watch a lot of hockey, and football. Those things do not bother me in the slightest – I enjoy every one of them. But I would cease enjoying them if the sport became violence unto death (ie: like Roman gladiators) or unchecked violence. And certain things in sports that bother me – like the Bertuzzi and Steve Moore hit/fight – I did not defend that incident one iota. But the sport in general does not exist for these incidents – that why they have rules/laws.

    I try not to hurt other people nor do I wish this upon people – so I check myself daily on this. It’s not to say that I don’t hurt people – emotionally or mentally (never physically) – and I have some responsibility for my actions and making situations right. I usually make things right via apology or trying to make it up to the person – and as weak as it seems sometimes – that is what I am asked by the teachings to do (in every and all situations I am responsible for). To me, that is not a problem – I enjoy having a system of checks and balances – or accountability to others – from the teachings of God. Reconciliation is just that – trying to reconcile with the one we hurt.

    I sound like a saint when I write (I find that odd) – the opposite may be truer…but faith, for me, serves as catalyst for change in me and to call my actions to account (a system of comparing to a standard). The funniest thing in all of this – I rarely in reality ever talk about faith with anyone – only if it is called for and asked about…whereas on the net I seem like a junkie of theology…it’s odd but my writing encapsualtes my thoughts (and how I do live) but in some pseudo real way.

  48. I think we are chasing our tails here. If you folks want to believe that we are good in the perfect sense that the goodness of God requires for righteousness…then go ahead and believe it. I don’t believe it for a moment.

    We don’t die for our enemies. If you have examples of people willingly dying for ones that want to kill them, then you are looking at a different species of human than I’m looking at.

    The scriptures are replete with verses describing our sinful ‘condition’, and the world we live in and the mirrors we look in bear witness to that fact …if we are honest about.

    For those that are doing fine on these scores without Jesus…no problem…you don’t need Him and He will not force Himself on you.

    You can stand before a righteous God and He will recount your deeds to see if you pass muster. Good luck…for the bar is straight and perfect.

    Thanks for a great conversation. I think I know where you stand. I don’t agree with it, and you don’t agree with my assessment of things either. That is ok. I do think we have achieved a bit of calrity, though, and that is a good thing.

  49. The oldadam,

    **If you folks want to believe that we are good in the perfect sense that the goodness of God requires for righteousness**

    So are you saying that the definition of good is such that good means perfect? If that is the case, then we run into a different problem with God describing what He created as good. If good means perfect, and the definition of perfect means that one cannot sin — such as God being perfect and lacking the ability to sin — then how can humanity also have been originally created to be good, if good means perfect? It would mean that Adam/Even literally could not have rebelled against God.

    **The scriptures are replete with verses describing our sinful ‘condition’, and the world we live in and the mirrors we look in bear witness to that fact …if we are honest about.**

    And there are verses describing people as righteous, such as the first chapter of Luke describing Zecariah and Elizabeth. Job was considered upright and blameless. The 2nd letter of Peter calls Lot a good man. The psalms are constantly contrasting the righteous verses the unrighteous as well, and the writers would have had righeous people in mind, people considered righteous in that day. And it would have been based on actions.

    **For those that are doing fine on these scores without Jesus…no problem…you don’t need Him and He will not force Himself on you.**

    But it sounds like you are again saying that the only purpose of Jesus is for personal salvation from some inside sin, and that a good man would have no need of God. What is this based on? We can see in the Psalms again that the righteous cry out for deliverence from their enemies — however, given the comparison you are going with here, it sounds like you would say that if they are righteous, they wouldn’t need God, period.

    **You can stand before a righteous God and He will recount your deeds to see if you pass muster. Good luck…for the bar is straight and perfect.**

    But this again ties back to Yael’s question — is it just of a God to give laws to people when they are incapable of meeting those laws, and then condemning them for it? Where in the Torah does it say that man is incapable of doing any of those things?

  50. given the comparison you are going with here, it sounds like you would say that if they are righteous, they wouldn’t need God, period.

    This is assuming that the only way to God is with Jesus. Jesus is nothing to Jews but that doesn’t mean we have no place for God. I’m pretty sure that isn’t what you’re saying here, OSS, but this is a couple times now you’ve said this and made me wonder if I didn’t misunderstand your stance on Jews and Jesus?

  51. JB

    “Although one samurai is honored with the way he dies – he still dies – honor schmonor – he’s dead.”

    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. We cant even begin to fully comprehend what our morality will be in the next phase of our existence. But hey its fun trying 😉

  52. Yael,

    My understanding is that when a Christian says that we need Jesus, they are also saying that we need God, given the orthodox view that Jesus is God. So when a Trinitarian Christian tells me that if I don’t need Jesus, he won’t force himself on me, I’m interpreting that as I’m being told that “if I don’t need God …” It’s like I’m being told that I have no need of God, period, even the God found in the Tanakh. Or that I would only need God if God made some sort of sacrifice for me in order that I could get into heaven, but that becomes the only way in which you need God. If you’re already a good person, then the logic comes across as you wouldn’t need God at all. The only “need” for God arises from inherited original sin. If a Psalmist considers himself righteous, then he would not consider himself a condemned sinner. So would the Psalmist still even have a place in his life for God? I would say yes.

    So if the two are combined, then it would come across to me as saying that it should also mean that any righteous person in the Tanakh would also have no need of God. Yet this is clearly not the case. In many of the Psalms, they were crying out for justice because they were oppressed. Or deliverence. You can be a good person, and still need God.

  53. OSS,
    Kind of interesting to me that in Torah there is also no mention of ever having to give an account of our deeds at some future date. We are told to obey and all will go well with us now and that is we disobey our lives here on earth will be miserable.

    It was only later on when people began to question, why is it that righteous people still suffer and bad people still can prosper, when Torah teaches this won’t happen, that the rabbis came up with the idea of future reward or punishment. Otherwise, how does one convince people to remain faithful to Torah? What’s the use if nothing we do even matters?

    Is there any place prior to the exile where future reward or punishment is spoken of? (It was during the exile that the synagogue and rabbis came into existence.)

  54. Steve,
    I don’t worry about standing before God in judgment. Jewish tradition is that every year on Rosh Hashanah God sits on God’s throne of judgment and opens the books to weigh our deeds. On Rosh Hashanah the books are opened, on Yom Kippur the decree is sealed. God is a merciful judge.

    I don’t know if I really believe God is sitting on some throne judging us every year or not, but it is the best going through the High Holy days, a great time to make peace with God and our fellow man, not some superficial thing, but instead a true digging in and taking care of business. Not some quick fix, please God forgive me for being angry with Joe, but actually having to go to Joe, even when you can’t stand Joe, and work things out, to look like a fool, to take the chance that Joe is just going to mock you some more. In the end, the slate is clean and we start over fresh.

    You don’t know where I stand, Steve. You actually know next to nothing about me or how I live my life. You merely know a few words on the screen of a computer, words with which you take issue. Please don’t presume to know me and thus place me in some convenient box which you will then dismiss. You claim that only with Jesus can one love their neighbor, yet because I disagree with you, you tell me well good luck standing before God who is going to kick your behind. Why throw people in front of the God train? Is that truly what it means to love your neighbor? Threatening them with some fire-breathing God in the sky?

    If you think you’re right about God, then why not just talk about God in terms that would get people to think about God and desire to make a connection with God? I mean, if all there is to God is that God’s going to get you some day if you don’t think like me, who needs it? Most people really aren’t that interested in a message of accept Jesus because he’ll keep that psycho God in the sky, who really loves you, BTW, from beating the crap out of you, and as a result you’ll get to spend all eternity worshiping at the feet of this same psycho God. Wooo-hooo. Where do I sign up? Sounds like one hell of a heaven to me! You know what I’m saying?

    Your way of thinking doesn’t work for me, Steve. It’s too pat, too I-know-all-the-answers to interest me. My way of looking at things isn’t for you, either. Does that motivate me to threaten you with God? No. I’m perfectly fine with you living your life in a way that is meaningful to you. I’m going to question you when you say only Christians can be good people, but I’m not going to claim all of the good side of God for myself and leave the bad side of God for you. The righteous of all the nations have a place in the world to come.

    I take to heart the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:

    It is tragically true that we are often wrong about God, believing in that which is not God, in a counterfeit ideal, in a dream, in a cosmic force, in our own father, in our own selves. We must never cease to question our own faith and to ask what God means to us. Is God an alibi for ignorance? The white flag of surrender to the unknown? If God a pretext for comfort and unwarranted cheer? a device to cheat despondency, fear or despair? Significantly, the Shema, the main confession of Jewish faith, is not written in the first person and does not express a personal attitude: I believe. All is does is to recall the Voice that said: “Hear, O Israel.” (Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion, pp. 160-161)

    I will continue to question until the day I leave this earth, I will continue to re-think everything I’ve been taught, and I will continue to resist answers which don’t stand up to Torah, even when those answers are my own. Turn it and turn it again, in it you will find everything. (Pirke Avot on Torah)

    I’m outta here. Wish me safety in travel rather than wishing me to be run over by that train. I am your neighbor after all. 8)

  55. Jesus said that “there is no one good but God”. I believe that there are degress of goodness, but when we speak of the goodness that God requires for salvation and justification we are in God’s realm, and that is perfection.

    To all my friends that do not believe in Jesus, I say that your sins are still forgiven for Jesus’ sake. That’s about all I can say. You not going to get big apologetic responses from me.

    This coming to faith in Jesus stuff is not up to us, anyway. Jesus said that they saw Him do miracles and even raise the dead, and yet did not believe. Jesus said, “I choose you, you do not choose me.” “No one can come to me except that he be drawn (the Greek word is more accurately, ‘compelled’) by the Father.”

    People say to me, “You cant say that I’m going to hell if I don’t believe in Jesus!”
    I have never said that to anyone in my life, nor is it even in the Bible, including the New Testament. No where does it say that if you don’t believe in Jesus you are going to hell.

    Jesus says, (in essence) that ‘I will decide who goes to the Father’. The text reads, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no will get to the Father but by me.”

    Most Christians are totally wrong on that score.

    Take care and safe travels to all!

    – Steve

  56. “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.

    To me, again this is my opinion, violence does not redeem much of anything – so I am not sure of it’s actual usage for godly purposes. I am not saying don’t play sports or train in the martial arts – i actually respect commrodary – but violence in real life is messy – bloody messy. It’s also the worst way to hurt someone in my opinion – it’s like the graduated step from emotional and mental violence – to a 3rd step – actual physical violence – which (most of the time) builds on the last 2 things. People can get over actions not committed against them (emotional and mental hurt) – it’s when those 2 things are added to with physical formation violence – things graduate in intensity.

    For example, I know that I emotionally and sometimes mentally hurt my wife – she has forgiven that each and every time (we usually discuss what I did and how I need to not to do that – plus other solutions). However, if I actually was to build on that emotional or mental violence – and graduate it into a physical manifestation – then we get into serious issues – which may not be easily forgiveable – like cheating or domestic abuse. I think it is quite obvious there is a step up from saying and thinking things – to actually doing them.

    Even the worst of abuse cases I have read through – have a form of mental/emotional torment wholly accompanied by physical acts that prove the accusations – like sexual or physical abuse – making the crime that much degraded.

    It is my opinion violence cannot serve a living God.

  57. “If you folks want to believe that we are good in the perfect sense that the goodness of God requires for righteousness…then go ahead and believe it. I don’t believe it for a moment.” (Steve)

    Me neither, then again we live in an imperfect world (yes?). God meets us where we are at – in an imperfect existence on the planet earth. Did He not love us while we were yet sinners? If this is so, how can this same God be demanding perfection from us when He is willing to move towards us with or without it?

    “We don’t die for our enemies” (Steve)

    Physically, we can only die once so we might not use that dying for our enemies – then again maybe this is exactly the case. However, by the teachings of Jesus we are asked ‘to lover our enemies’ – is he making a statement he wants us to enact or something to let us know how weak we are? I would say if ‘we take up the cross’ we also are making a commitment to die for our enemies – or better yet – kill off the idea there is such a thing as an enemy.

    “The scriptures are replete with verses describing our sinful ‘condition’” (Steve)

    True – we are ‘sinners’ – in that we committ acts of immorality against others often enough. But we cannot remove this condition – unless for some odd reason – choice dissipates and we no longer have that freedom. Is this what a good God does to us when we come to Him? No…choice is still in tact – thus the ability to sin. Yet, God still loves us even with that power of choice. So while we sinners God loved us…and while we are still with the ability to sin – God loves us. All God is asking we use our life to follow the teachings of God to make the world a better place.

    “You can stand before a righteous God and He will recount your deeds to see if you pass muster. Good luck…for the bar is straight and perfect” (Steve)

    Firstly, the bar is straight and perfect for those that measure that way – for as one measures they will also be measured that way. But just so we both know, nowhere in scripture does it say ‘the bar is perfect’ when it comes to the judgment – end of days scenarios…that is a doctrine made from scripture chopping and then sewn together.

    Fact of the matter is, we will all stand before God to give account for what we have done. God is there to judge all things we have ‘done’ – and those are the things that will be looked at. You mention ‘belief’ a lot – but if belief does not translate into living something – then what good is belief? For example, ‘I believe in Jesus’ says nothing about the person – except they like Jesus. If they truly believe in who and what Jesus is – it will be seen in how they live what Jesus taught/lived – that is a fair measure of the situation…belief without actions is dead.

    “Jesus said that “there is no one good but God”.” (Steve)

    I agree with Jesus’ honest sentence – but it is in comparison to God that Jesus is making this statement – when someone calls him ‘good teacher’ – ie: Jesus claiming he is not good in comparison to the good God. This type of comparison is also seen in Luke when Jesus says to ‘hate mother, father, brothers, etc’ – this is not a literal hate – but in stark comparison about one’s love commitment to God versus commitment to family – it is God that has the teachings that can save us – not our family.

    ““Jesus says, (in essence) that ‘I will decide who goes to the Father’. The text reads, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no will get to the Father but by me.” Most Christians are totally wrong on that score.” (Steve)

    I don’t get the point here – what does it mean?

  58. “If you folks want to believe that we are good in the perfect sense that the goodness of God requires for righteousness” (Steve)

    If this is so, how can this same God be demanding perfection from us when He is willing to move towards us with or without it? (SVS)

    Every so often, in the discussions in this blog, the concept of perfection arises and what God requires or expects of us in meeting His perfection standard. The concept of perfection gets overstated and we make it to be something that, in my view, is not an accurate reflection of

    Perfection (like holiness) tends to come across as a bunch of rules. Do this and don’t that and you will be perfect. Hang out with these people, don’t hang out with those people. Go this place, but stay away from that place. Believe this, but not that. And so on, and so on………. Then we place God’s name on it, just to make sure its carried out

    The proble, is we are placing our understanding, or even worse some evangelical church’s understanding, of perfection into this discussion rather than looking at what perfection truly means and how we can and are able to achieve it. Now, I can’t help but place my view of perfection into the discussion, so for whatever it is worth, my study and years of experience leads me to believe that perfection simply means to be complete or whole.

    Perfection means that I have, in my being or at my disposal, anything and everything that I will need to be perfect and to meet God’s standard. I am only perfect when I actually use or apply the abilities, the teachings, and/or the elements that make me whole.

    So, if God does require me to be perfect, then He must also be making it possible for me to attain and maintain such perfection.

  59. Jesus did not overstate ‘perfection’ in His sermon on the mount. He emphasised it. he laid down the straight bar (perfectly straight), and He laid it down hard.

    He wanted to make it painfully obvious that no one can, or does measure up.

    So what then? If perfection is the standard that must be met, then what of us? “The wages of sin are death.” We die …that’s what. But Jesus has died for sin that we might live again. He has paid the price for our inability to measure up.

    He does move towards us and our imperfection…in Christ and Christ alone. ” No one will be justified in sight of the law.” But we might live again through Christ.

    Societyvs,

    We Jesus says that He will be the one to decide, it means just that. He will decide who goes to the Father and who does not go. The scriptures say that He will turn many away that He does not know. Many in the churches, will be shocked when He says, “depart from me, I never knew you.” And ther will be those that He will let come in that didn’t know anything about religion at all, but Jesus will know and love them and let them enter the Kingdom.

    Thejust1,

    God has given to you the ability to be perfect…in Christ Jesus, and Christ Jesus alone. He is our perfection. Aside from Him, we are merely sinners. In Him, we are justified sinners for whom there will be no condemnation for our imperfection.

    Those bunch of rules you spoke of to attain some sort of Godliness are in place (the ten Commandments are hard to live up to). In fact, no one can get past the first Commandment, for we all place things ahead of the living God from time to time. He just does not come first with us (at all times).

    There are rules, but there are no rules. The rules must be lived up to, for judgement requires that…for all those subject to God’s law. For believers (the chosen), God will not punish, but grant eternal life in His Kingdom.

    While on earth, the consequences for sin cannot be escaped. We all live under the law as creatures. But as believers, “Christ is the end of the law, for all those who have faith.” (Romans 10:4)

    We must be perfect (“as our Father in Heaven is perfect.” -Jesus), but Jesus Christ is our perfection.

    That is why it’s (the gospel) called the “good news”! If there was something left for us to do, it wouldn’t be “good news”. The “good new” is that it’s all been done for us! On the cross, and in your baptism! Christ has fullfilled all the law for you, and He give this gift to you.

    Now is the time for the happy face 😀

    – Steve

  60. “God has given to you the ability to be perfect…in Christ Jesus, and Christ Jesus alone.”

    “That is why it’s (the gospel) called the “good news”! If there was something left for us to do, it wouldn’t be “good news”. The “good new” is that it’s all been done for us! On the cross, and in your baptism! Christ has fullfilled all the law for you, and He give this gift to you.” (Steve)

    Its not that I disagree with you (I just like theological discussion is all), but if my perfection is totally in Jesus and there is nothing that I am required to do, then why would I bother to do anything. The logic leads to the slippery slope of evil activity.
    If evil action one is covered, then evil action two must also be covered, and evil action three and so on…

    So, If I hurt someone its okay because I’m still perfect, since Jesus has it all covered
    If I steal someone’s property …..
    If I drink alcohol to excess and pee on someone’s flowers….
    If I rob my company of their computers….
    If I give bad advice…..
    If I teach others its okay to be mean….
    If I take a child’s food….
    If I choose not to pray, or go to church, or partake in any sacrement….

    These are all okay, because Jesus has it all covered and I’m perfect regardless of what I do. That kind of reasoning doesn’t sit well with me, (I don’t think you are advocating the slippery slope either), but for me to have a healthy relationship with the Father and to be perfect, I must have to do something. It can’t be as simple as Jesus did it all for me and I do nothing.

  61. “Perfection means that I have, in my being or at my disposal, anything and everything that I will need to be perfect and to meet God’s standard. I am only perfect when I actually use or apply the abilities, the teachings, and/or the elements that make me whole” (Just1)

    I like the definition of perfection meaning wholeness – I tend to agree with your definition as put here. I think Jesus teachings are all about that – finding the way to wholeness in our own lives and the way we live (and the areas we need to deal with for wholeness). I think it is all about being ‘well rounded’.

    “Jesus did not overstate ‘perfection’ in His sermon on the mount. He emphasised it. he laid down the straight bar (perfectly straight), and He laid it down hard” (Steve)

    Here is what doesn’t make logical sense about this statement: Jesus provides us with a bunch of cool teachings leading up to the perfection statement in Matthew 5. Why would he even bother teaching if his life takes care of the whole thing and if his teachings were only to show what we couldn’t measure up to? That’s a very horrible teacher in my opinion – setting a bar so high the students cannot even reach it. Then to top that off, the students remember it and write it down to show others what they cannot measure up to?

    That’s non sensical through and through. No one writes down their teacher’s writings not to follow them – if this is so – then the gospels are a first of their kind – namely in religion.

    “The scriptures say that He will turn many away that He does not know. Many in the churches, will be shocked when He says, “depart from me, I never knew you.”” (Steve)

    I don’t disagree that Jesus will be at the judgment – given that position by God. However, people will be turned away according to that scripture – but there is a qualifier in that passage in Matthew also – explaining what they were turned away for. It’s not like this will be some mysterious reason – it may catch the people turned away off guard – but they have been warned. The thing that acts as the qualifier is the term ‘immorality’ or ‘lawlessness’. The people were turned way because they refused to accept a standard of living for their life that was moral versus immoral.

    “Aside from Him, we are merely sinners” (Steve)

    What does it mean to be considered a sinner…that God doesn’t love us? That we are not perfect? That we cannot make it to heaven without what Jesus did 2000 years ago? What does it mean exactly? It’s nice to know we are ‘sinners’ but that’s an obvious point and there is not much clarification about these terms in your writings.

    “We must be perfect (”as our Father in Heaven is perfect.” -Jesus), but Jesus Christ is our perfection” (Steve)

    Vicarious righteousness/justness…we are made right by the acts of someone else…I find this position extremely irresponsible on a moral level. It’s like saying the acts of another make me right so I have nothing asked of me – I can actually do anything I want and no one will be the wiser. It’s a system that can be abused.

    “If there was something left for us to do, it wouldn’t be “good news”. The “good news” is that it’s all been done for us” (Steve)

    Then shouldn’t religion not exist at all – by that – I mean this Christian faith in general? If every single thing we ever need to do is done by what Jesus did 2000 years ago – and there is absolutely nothing we can add or take away from that event – then there actually is no use for this faith at all – everything is done for us, by another, for all time. This religion is finished – there is no need for anything we do – all done already – we can only accept that fact (and even then – acceptance is an action/belief on our part). The good news then would be – religion is finished – we have been freed from that. In some ways – that actually sounds good.

  62. Societyvs, Thejust1,

    It does sound good, doesn’t it. Very good. And you are so right, there is now no need for religion. My pastors (and others) says, and I agree with him, that God can’t stand “religion” , because He has completed all that need be done (for our righteousness).

    God’s ways are not like our ways. If we think something doesn’t make sense, it makes sense to God. A man lives a perfect life and gives His life in order to save the ones that killed Him? That makes no sense. God chooses to love sinners and not those that are keeping the laws (outwardly – the Pharisees…and any modern day Pharisees) . That makes no sense either. Pelagius was branded as a heretic (even though many churches adhere to his theology) for saying that we have the ability to do as God has commanded and that we carry within ourselves the means to help save ourselves by our actions. Many churches today are Pelagian, or semi-Pelagian…a little bit of God and a little bit of me. only it turns out to be a lot of ‘me’ and a little bit of God when I need Him (the God of the gaps).

    God’s ways are not our ways. Why does God command us to do things we cant do? Because He is a righteous God and must command righteous behavior. He could just wipe us all out because we are not perfect in keeping His standards, but instead He has chosen to save us through the blood of His own Son. Why did He choose this method? Who knows? We would never have done it that way. We would probably just line everyone up and judge then on their performance. That’s religion.

    Why would anyone ever do anything ‘good’ for anyone, seeing that now, because of Christ, they don’t have to? How about out of gratefulness? Or, how about because the Spirit of God is working good through them in ways we can’t comprehend?
    Or how about because it’s just the right thing to do?

    I know that there is nothing that I could possibly do to add to what Jesus did for me. I don’t just lay around on the couch and eat bon-bons all day, I’m out in the world, living, loving, screwing up, doing some good here and there for my neighbor, and through it all, good and bad, God is there with me, loving me, working through me, forgiving my mistakes. He loves me (and you) before I get out of bed and start my day.

    I really appreciate the chance to discuss these theological issues here. Everyone here is so sharp and well spoken (written) . It is fun and you put my pea brain to the test. Sometimes I don’t quite measure up and for that I apologize, but I want to thank you for putting up with me.

    I’ve got to get back to work. itook on the job of photographer for a surf camp in town, and it’s a lot more work than I thought it would be.

    My work is no where near the caliber of work by the other photographers on the Eppicsurf.com (I’m under the name Steve Martin) I haven’t had the time to properly contribute to the great conversations here, you can go there and check it out what I have been doing that keeps me so busy. Some of these little surfers are the cutest kids in the world!

    Sorry for getting off track…

    – Steve

  63. Theoldadam,

    **Jesus said that “there is no one good but God”. I believe that there are degress of goodness, but when we speak of the goodness that God requires for salvation and justification we are in God’s realm, and that is perfection.**

    But that’s not what any of my examples said. It didn’t say they were good to a degree, or somewhat good. It said that those people were considered blameless and upright. Lot was simply called a good man. The degree of goodness would depend on a word modifying the “good,” and that’s not what we see. Otherwise, we’re making the definition of good relative to who the word is describing.

    To see even more examples, there’s Matthew 10: 41 – 42, with Jesus saying that whoever receives a good man because he is a good man receives a good man’s reward. Or Matthew 12: 34-35, with Jesus saying that a good man has a store of good in himself, and an evil man a store of evil.

    **Why would he even bother teaching if his life takes care of the whole thing and if his teachings were only to show what we couldn’t measure up to? **

    Not only that, but no one in the crowd reacted with horror or panic that they couldn’t live up to this. No one flocked to Jesus, sobbing about how they couldn’t do this, they were doomed, and so forth. Instead, the crowd was amazed, and I get the impression that they were amazezd in a good way. Perheps they felt they were getting a better picture of God, and it gave them hope.

    Also, this seems to be assuming that the word “perfect” meant the same back then as it does now. We associate the word “perfect” with without flaws, doing everything correctly. Except there’s no word or concept in Aramaic for the idea of “perfect” as we understand it. The Greek word used there refers more to be complete/whole/mature. It was a call to fully understand how to act like God, not to show people how imperfect they were, or how they needed a Savior.

    **God’s ways are not our ways. Why does God command us to do things we cant do? Because He is a righteous God and must command righteous behavior. **

    But is that what a just God would do? Would a just God lay down laws that no one could follow? Or even a righteous God? Because in those times, righteousness was hugely connected with justice. In fact, the Greek word can be translated as either righteous or just.

    Because Society is raising a good point — any good teacher is someone who gives rules/examples that can be followed, that can be attained by the student. We can see that in ideas such as Psalms 119, where the Torah is praised, and the psalmist is grateful it’s provided.

    Plus, we have a God that commands righteous behavior, and yet creates people in such a way that they are incapable of living up to that righteous behavior.

    **A man lives a perfect life and gives His life in order to save the ones that killed Him? That makes no sense. God chooses to love sinners and not those that are keeping the laws (outwardly – the Pharisees…and any modern day Pharisees) **

    It does make sense, though — those who killed Jesus didn’t know what they were doing. They were acting out of ignorance — the whole “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” And it does make sense that God chooses us — we’re His image/likeness, no matter how blurred that sometimes gets. And God rescues those who are oppressed. We see that theme constantly in the Bible.

  64. OSS,

    Jesus said that there are none good but God.

    St. Paul tells us that there are none that are righteous.

    That’s good enough for me. If the living God says there aren’t any that measure up…I’ll take his word for it.

    What about those of us that do know what were doing? Do we not willfully sin against the living God? Does not that sin implicate us in His death?

    What about all those that God does not choose? Are they not made in His likeness as well? He chooses some and not others…and not on the basis of our works. That doesn’t make sense to me…but then again, I might be just a tad slower than the avereage bear.

    Thanks OSS!

    – Steve

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