“Still, God doesn’t just want our outward obedience ONLY. He also wants our hearts” (Jason)
I got shocking news for you my man – from out of the heart proceeds one’s actions (remember that teaching?)…so whatever you see someone doing – you can bet this same idea resonates in their hearts and minds (also seen in Jesus’ teachings on adultery, murder, and lying beginning in the heart).
This means an atheist can do actions that are meaningful – and when they do – it is in their heart and mind firstly (same as for Christians)….there is no difference in this regards – since everyone has some level of ‘beliefs’ they build from. Now the atheist may not acknowledge God (fact) but this does not mean they do not acknowledge ‘good’. And I am hoping we agree on this – but God ordained what is ‘good’. Now if the atheist follows it – God bless them – and if the Christian does to – God bless them also. This is the same God that makes it rain and sunshine on either group (no respecter of persons). Ideas directly from your Lord and Savior – Jesus the Christ.
“Paul spoke to this idea, calling our his own moral efforts a “heaping pile of dung“.” (Jason)
I need to see this scripture in more depth and its context – but isn’t it possible Paul is making a comparison point? It’s not that his own actions are ‘dung’ but that in comparison to a good God’s actions – yeah they can look that way. It’s like saying we know a lot – but when we compare our knowing lots to what God knows – we know practically nothing at all (and I’ll be the first to say that).
“He told them that they were “sons of Satan”, and that their converts were “twice the sons of hell” as they were” (Jason)
I believe this is in John (8:58)? But maybe it is in Mark also – I am not sure. It’s harsh language for some of the leaders of his day – noting their extra rules that actually helped one ignore their religious responsibilities (see Matthew 6 for more on this ‘hypocrisy’). Jesus notes that religious leaders of his day were letting people get away from sincerity in their spirituality – concerning ideas like prayer, fasting, and even giving…it was becoming ‘showy’. Oddly enuff – that has come full circle in Christian movements this day. So can I use the same level of language when referring to some of the Evangelical movements?
“I highly recommend that you read Hebrews, because it explains so many things that you are questioning right now” (Jason)
Word to the wise – here’s some background on me. I have been affiliated with Christianity for 17 years (in Oct – I wasn’t just converted yesterday), have a Bachelor of Theology from an Alliance college, and continue to read on theology to this day. Asking me to read Hebrews is a nice gesture (and a fair one to ask) – but I am well aware of that letter/book.
Did you know Hebrews was not written by Paul – no one knows who and when they wrote it? Did you know Hebrews makes a shocking confession about sacrifice – that it cannot be used for ‘intentional sins’ (very Jewish idea actually)? Did you knew Hebrews contains a clear biblical error (or change to a text)?
Problem is Jason – I follow Jesus (not Hebrews or Paul) – Jesus the messiah himself and I make no bones about taking that position. Which means I use Matthew as a main guide and James the letter as some further explanation. The rest of the NT I also use as a guide – but I am somewhat more skeptical of some of the stuff Paul writes and the later gospels and letters (ie: gospel of John for example).
I realize there are differences between what Paul is asserting and what James, Peter, and John in the Jerusalem Council assert (see Acts 15 for more on that) – and Galatians 2 also shows they had differences. Now I wonder who is giving the best story of Jesus – actual disciples that walked and talked with him on earth or Paul – who never met Jesus nor really had much time for the people that followed Jesus (the Jerusalem council). Paul, in his letters, is actually seen demonizing these same disciples or people of that movement in Jerusalem – and maybe he has some things accurate – but some things he just got wrong.
Galatians is a great work to study – an actual letter of Paul (that is verifiably his I mean). Ever read that letter in fullness – front to end? You’d be amazed at how many Tanakh passages he uses (4 I believe) out of historical context and changes what they mean to suit his purpose for this community. Basically, Paul is making the Tanakh scriptures say whatever he ‘wants’ them to – not what they actually say…and this is a very common problem in the NT.
So when it comes to scriptural study and context – I can readily admit when I see the problems and not ‘gloss’ over them because of some perception about the ‘word of God’ making me live in ‘fear’ (which you mention we are called not to live in).
“There is great freedom in being able to say “I have been wrong about these things my entire life!” The more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know.” (Jason)
I can admit when I am wrong – like about the virgin birth for example – I thought this was true for many years (maybe my whole life) – but it ain’t true and is based on some very loose wording in Greek – not Hebrew. I am ok with being wrong scripturally – it happens – I am very human and limited in what I know. However, I will not live in denial either about what God allows me to learn and come to ‘light’. My faith is in God – not man or some religious institution and it’s precepts…I wonder these days if people can divide the 2?
***A comment to a blog on ‘Beggar’s and Bread’ post – ‘Why Love Your Enemies?’