Posts tagged ‘Christianity’

August 28, 2011

The Oslo Massacre and Stereotyping Religious Groups

by Vince

This readers story from the Dish is eye opening:

I have a best friend who would take the shirt off his back to help (almost) anyone.  We’ve been friends since childhood (we’re now in our late 40s).  I’m a liberal atheist Democrat, he’s a conservative Christianist Republican.  Certainly if we had met as adults we would never have become friends. But because of our history we remain friends, despite our differences and our friendly, but increasingly, vehement arguments.

About a year-and-a-half into Obama’s presidency we had to agree to stop talking about politics and the world in order to preserve our long-standing friendship. He wasn’t quite a birther, but he suspected something quite wasn’t right there. Our final, incredible, blowout argument was over the “Ground Zero Mosque.” He had succumbed to the “Muslims are bad” theory and had become a bit zealous, even going as far as saying “Fox News is the only media outlet telling the truth.” Sigh. We screamed at each other, there was spittle, and HUGE anger; if we hadn’t known each other for so long it might have devolved into fisticuffs.  But, with incredible restraint, we remained friends; it was clear we were skirting around current topics and trying valiantly to stay the course without saying “you’re an idiot” to each other. We were hanging out a lot less frequently than we had previously. Sad, but necessary?

Finally, Norway was a breakthrough. I would not have broached the subject, to keep the peace, but his wife brought it up tonight at a backyard BBQ. I didn’t say a word for a long time; they talked it out. In essence, the conversation went like this:

Wife:  But he (Breivik) identified himself as a Christian.
My friend: Nope, he couldn’t be a Christian.
Wife:  I know, not any Christian we know or could identify with.
My friend:  Ridiculous how he says he’s Christian.
Wife: But it got me thinking about how a lot of Muslims say the terrorists aren’t true Muslims.
My friend (I was holding my breath at this point):  Yea, I’m starting to see that.  This crazy guy wants to represent Christians.  He’s fucking insane.  Maybe the 9/11 guys were insane too and didn’t represent Muslims?

He looked me in the eye at that point and … apologized. Ohmygod!  He said, “I never saw the other side.”  We both cried.  I’m trying not to be melodramatic here, but it was literally a life changing moment for my friend.  He had truly believed that Muslims were really bad and Christians were good, with some aberrations (he used the Tiller murder as an example of a bad Christian, but never would give that “aberration” description to any Muslim).  Anyway, tonight was unbelievable in my world.  One of my best friends, and a rabid Christianist, acknowledged that all Muslims weren’t bad.  Sounds simple?  But, really, a major breakthrough.

So maybe there is something positive to come out of the tragedy in Norway. Very sad to say that, but in my little world, it’s a positive thing.  Obviously this is incredibly anecdotal, but maybe there are other Christianists seeing that there are extremists who don’t represent all Christians just as there are Islamists who don’t represent all of Islam?

Know hope.

August 28, 2011

The Power of Adapting Hymns

by Vince


N.T. Wright reflects in his book Surprised by Hope on the final stanza in the hymn How Great Tho Art:

 “When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.”

The second line, Wright argues, might be better read “And heal this world, what joy shall fill my heart.” Actually, the original Swedish version of the hymn doesn’t talk about Christ coming to take me home; that was the translator’s adaption. Rather, it speaks of the veils of time falling, faith being changed into clear sight, and the bells of eternity summoning us to our Sabbath rest, all of which has a lot more to recommend it.

Wright’s book focuses on rethinking heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church. If you are interested in these topics or want to find a more unambiguous understanding of what the church should preach, it is worth finding at your local library.

July 2, 2011

Is This Immoral?

by Vince

To be a Rhinestone Christian?

June 12, 2011

Our Subjective God

by Vince

Paula Kirby went from being a devout Christian to an Atheist. She makes some interesting conclusions on God and how the masses have viewed the divine over the ages.

One of the things that had struck me during my Christian years was just how many different Christianities there are.  Not just the vast number of different sects and denominations (over 38,000 by one reckoning), but the huge amount of difference between individual Christians of the same sect or denomination, too.  The beliefs and attitudes of an evangelical, biblical, literalist Christian compared with a liberal Christian are so wildly different that we might almost be dealing with two completely different religions.

No matter what religion you believe in, you have to view God in a subjective lens:

Like every other Christian I have ever known, I had clear ideas about the kind of God I believed in and, on the basis of those ideas, I accepted certain bits of Christian dogma while utterly rejecting others.  Again, let me stress: this is par for the course.  In practice faith is always a pick-and-mix affair: believers emphasise those bits that sit comfortably with them, whilst mostly ignoring those bits that do not, or concocting elaborate interpretations to allow them to pretend they do not mean what they actually say.  So this was the question I faced up to in 2003: What was there to suggest that the version of Christianity I believed in was actually real? Was there any better evidence for the version I accepted than there was for the versions I did not?

The Bible could not help me. Both kinds of Christian – the ultra-conservative and the ultra-liberal – find abundant support for their views in the Bible provided they cherry-pick enough (and, of course, they do just that, filing the bits that don’t suit their case under the convenient headings of “Metaphor” or “Mystery”).

I myself tend to stray away from overemphasizing sin, heaven, and the like when I talk about God, my religious beliefs, and even when I am reading the Bible. Sure, the daily lectionary has me reading portions of the Bible that mention sin and heaven. I try to read up on the Greek and Hebrew, which usually have their original translation as vastness instead of heaven.

This has fostered some inner-thoughts as I have had several discussions with friends lately on the topic of same-sex marriage / homosexuality and how those two are seen or should be treated by the Bible and government. Plethora of verses are mentioned to denounce the two and I have up to this point said that they talk about pederastery, not what we know today as homosexuality. Re-reading these texts has me constantly asking questions. I try to focus on the context of the letters and laws in the Bible and keep them under the umbrellas of love, compassion, and justice. One other important topic that has played into that discussion is defining the role of marriage. Is it meant for pro-creation (child bearing) or as a covenant between two individuals? Attending a wedding can answer that question very clearly. Weddings usually mention nothing about sex or bearing children but forming a lasting relationship with your partner. If these marriage ceremonies are merely man-made, why then are they not changing in form and substance towards emphasizing “what the Bible says” about marriage?

I finish my reflection with this quote from Kirby:

This is why subjective experience cannot tell us anything about God.  Knowing what kind of god someone believes in tells us a great deal about that person – but nothing whatsoever about the truth or otherwise of the existence of any god at all.

Kirby is partially correct. Our experiences of God can tell some but not all of who God is. Looking back over time, we can see the many views of God and the roles the divine has played in people’s lives. They, just like ours, are merely reflections from a mirror, not the full picture.

June 4, 2011

Belief vs. Experience

by Vince

This brief video hits on an important topic for today’s discussion on Christianity. I had one last night with a friend where I had to make clear that I am not a “literal/factual” believing Christian. That usually is what many who do not believe in Christianity see it as.

While I can sometimes split hairs theologically, having a belief in God personally is influenced by some of the things we know (the beliefs). I appreciate what Rabbi’s of the past and present stood for: not stating certain beliefs because they ultimately limit our limitless God.

June 1, 2011

“Government Cannot Feel”

by Vince

That the government is out of the realm of Christian ethics and morals is generally what a few critics of my blog/ideas come to the table saying. Government, most notably American government, is not a human, not a Christian, not the church, and shouldn’t be (but still is in some conversations is) expected to uphold Christian morals, ethics, or norms of human compassion (James 1:27 can get us started). It is rather humorous and hypocritical, I find it, when the church tells the state to uphold ambiguous morals on marriage and life but to then ignore others such as caring for the poor, needy, stopping wars, providing safety nets, and condemning capital punishment.

We could continue with the fact that Jesus was killed for opposing a systematic domination of people by a rich, pious few. Keyword: killed, which has been muted over the last two centuries and replaced with “died for our sins”. This is due to many governments since Constantine taking up Christianity as their official or unofficial (mostly a majority) state religion. Once the state is one of ostensible Christian ideals, the tables turn from criticizing government injustices (government and their officials are now sacrosanct) to a domesticated path of radical religion. But I digress.

I thought of this topic when I saw John Boehner criticized by his own flock when he came into Washington D.C. to give a commencement speech to Catholic University:

More than 75 professors at Catholic University and other prominent Catholic colleges have written a pointed letter to Mr. Boehner saying that the Republican-supported budget he shepherded through the House will hurt the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable, and that he therefore has failed to uphold basic Catholic moral teachings.

“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the church’s most ancient moral teachings,” the letter says. “From the apostles to the present, the magisterium of the church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.”

May 26, 2011

“People are more interested in Apocalypse Now than the Holy Ghost”

by Vince

So said Bob Dylan in April of 1980:

Transcript

PARK PLAZA HOTEL

Dear Steve —

We are up in Toronto singing and playing for about 3000 people a night in a downtown theatre — the Spirit of the Lord is calling people here in this beautiful and clean city but they are more interested in lining up for Apocalypse Now than to be baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost —

Wanna thank you for that Bible as it is helpful in discerning a few phrases from and shedding some light on what the King James version reads —

God will lift up your head as you begin to realize that “… He thru Christ has reconsiled man unto Himself” (II Corinthians) You are in basic training and bootcamp and I thank God you are and your commitment runs deep and you will be used to minister and break the hold of darkness on those you become face to face with — “Study to show thyself approved”

You will be strong in the land and seeing that looks are deceiving, you will work miracles that way — He has called you to be a saint and your responsibility is to Him and Him alone —

Be praying and not look back no more — press on toward what is ahead — I send love to you and will pray for strength and more strength for you — Always

In the name of Jesus Christ
Son of God, manifest in the flesh

Bob Dylan

May 25, 2011

The Rapture and Religious Faith

by Vince

Andrew Sullivan has some amazing readers. They write to him in legions and include great thoughts. One of his threads gets to the point of asking this: is it nuttier to predict the date of the Rapture or to actually believe it will happen one day? You could even add on to the latter the belief that a man was revived back to life after three days of being dead.

To clarify, there is a difference between the literalist-factual camp of belief and the metaphorical-historical camp. Marcus Borg, a Jesus scholar, would fall in the latter category and his work is worth reading (and is highly accessible) if you want to parse this subject.

I believe that there is far less Biblical support for the Rapture than for Jesus’ resurrection. The multiple gospels speak well of the resurrection while the book of Daniel, Ezekiel, pocket verses from the Epistles, and the book of Revelations are questionable sources for those looking for literal answers.

Also, the prediction of the day when the Rapture will happen has dated back to at least before 1000 A.D. I myself see little point in predicting a date and am similar to Sullivan in that I question if a sudden apocalypse as we’ve come to think of it will really happen.

I am, however, a skeptic of the end-times altogether. Partly because I don’t believe that salvation has such a temporal quality. It is outside of time, as God is. That makes me a heretic in one respect.

Of all people, Harold Camping sums up this point quite well:

Radio evangelist Harold Camping said in a special broadcast Monday night on his radio program Open Forum that his predicted May 21, 2011 Rapture was “an invisible judgment day“ that he has come to understand as a spiritual, rather than physical event. “We had all of our dates correct,” Camping insisted, clarifying that he now understands that Christ’s May 21 arrival was “a spiritual coming” ushering in the last five months before the final judgment and destruction.

If you think about it, how often does Jesus “come again” into our lives? How often does He return, rise again, and bring new life into our beings? We can debate forever on whether the Rapture will happen or the exact date of it. What if we changed gears and got past the back and forth debate and asked: what does this actually means for us today? I would think those living in the early church would have little to take from this subject if they knew the world was going to end on some distant day or if the book of Ezekiel was speaking 2000 years into the future about present day Russia.

God intends to meet us in our lives, here and now, and of course still has some plan for the future. Thinking of the future is fine until it gets out of control and fabricated (Left Behind series).

May 24, 2011

Same-Sex Marriage: “A Choice, Not a Fate”

by Vince

Andrew Sullivan explains like almost no one else can:

It has always seemed chilling to me that gay leftists – when pushed to say what they really believe –  want to keep gays in some sort of glorious, oppressed, marginalized position, until the majority agrees with the gay left’s view of human nature, and revolutionizes straight society as well. This will never happen (and in my view, shouldn’t).

Until then, the gay left focuses on demonizing those gays who argue for those who want to belong to their own families as equals, serve their country or commit to one another for life. In this, in my view, the gay left mirrors the Christianist right: they insist that otherness define the minority, even though most members of that minority are born and grow up in the heart of the American family, in all its variations, and of American culture, in all its permutations. No one should be marginalized for seeking otherness. But we are fighting for it to be a choice, not a fate.

He was responding to this piece:

Nobody is saying gay people have to get married—only that it should be a legal option if they want it. If you disagree with marriage, don’t get married.

This is good for the U.S. to think about because just as there are many nuances and shades in different religious groups (literal factual readers of The Bible vs. metaphorical historical readers of The Bible), there are some in the GLBT fold as well.

May 23, 2011

1 John 4: 7-21 // God’s Love And Ours

by Vince

To engage in this post, read the cited Holy Scripture (bold emphasis by me):

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Let’s point out a few things.
When I read this part of 1 John, I thought it spoke in polar extremes.
One side (If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God) can almost suggest a form of exclusivity for who “knows” God.
The other path (Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God, God is love…Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them) can promote an open and free way for those outside the Protestant Christian fold to seek God.

A few other thoughts. Most likely Jesus’ followers attributed to him the title “Way, Truth, and Life”. Yes, Jesus said this in the Gospel of John. However, John’s Gospel, mind you, is filled with plethora metaphorical terminologies. Jesus said, for instances, that he is the bread of life and the word made flesh. Was he literally a loaf of bread or a letter on a page? Obviously not. Many Christians will agree on this: Jesus was the only way made flesh, in that no other religion had their God in the flesh live a way or follow a path. Other religions have a prophet or mouthpiece for their God but were not their actual God in the flesh. That doesn’t diminish other religions or smugishly elevate Christianity but separates the latter from the former in content. For more on this specific topic, read some of Marcus Borg’s books.

In the end, I come away with a more ambiguous understanding of what John means about who can know God than before. Then again, are we meant to come away from reading The Bible with more answers than questions or vice versa? Your thoughts are always welcome – vgiordano at gmail dot com.

May 21, 2011

Rapture Reads

by Vince

If the image is blurry, click on it to enlarge it.

This is also a fun read: talking to Tim Lahaye (author of the Left Behind series) about the rapture.

May 17, 2011

UnCatholic Quote of the Day

by Vince

“…everything I’ve read shows that we would not have gotten this information as to who this man was if it had not been gotten information from people who were subject to enhanced interrogation. And so this idea that we didn’t ask that question while Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was being waterboarded, he doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they’re broken, they become cooperative”, Rick Santorum as he calls out former prisoner of war and tortured soldier John McCain for not understanding torture and its role in American foreign policy. (emphasis mine in the quote).

Foreign policy aside, what does the emphasized quote by Santorum say about treating others made in the image of God? Santorum, sadly, may on purpose conflate torture with Christianity.

May 16, 2011

The Moral Duties of the State

by Vince

N.T. Wright (New Testament scholar) and some others duke it out over the theological complexities of killing Osama Bin Laden. Follow up with the links – they are worth mulling over.

May 12, 2011

A Christian Proposal for the American Debt Crisis

by Vince

Interesting:

  • We must cut federal spending. That will include corporate and agricultural subsidies, the defense budget and salary increases of federal employees. But it does not mean cutting effective programs that empower poor Americans or contribute internationally to economic development or the advancement of health. Neither does it mean neglecting appropriate investments in things like education and infrastructure.
  • We must control healthcare expenses. This is a most difficult problem and it cannot be ignored. We must find a way simultaneously to respect individual choice, ensure quality health care for everyone, and stop spending an ever-higher percent of our GDP on medical costs. Everyone must be willing to sacrifice.
  • We must make Social Security sustainable. We can slowly increase the retirement age, modestly reduce benefits for more wealthy seniors, and increase the amount of income taxed to pay for Social Security.
  • We must reform the tax code. We should remove many special exemptions, end many special subsidies, and keep the tax code progressive.
May 12, 2011

Is Soujourner’s a Progressive Christian Group?

by Vince

I would lean towards saying yes, they are. However, they rejected the above ad.

May 8, 2011

To Be Christian and American

by Vince

I just finished Marcus Borg’s new book Speaking Christian. It is, as all of his books that I have read, very readable (not very wordy or heavy on technical/fluffy terminology) and relevant to not only Christians but those of other faith paths. I hope this post can be accessed by those readers of my blog that adhere to other religions beyond Christianity.

In the final pages of Speaking Christian, Borg summarizes what the heart of Christianity should be centered on. In that summary, he delves into what imperial American has become. Think about the following:

We are the most Christian country in the world – and yet we are the world’s greatest military power. With 5 percent of the world’s population, we account for about half of the world’s spending. We have over 700 military bases in about 130 countries. Our navy is as powerful as the next thirteen navies of the world combined. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Air Force is the most powerful air force. More surprising is the second most powerful air force: the U.S. Navy. As a country, we are determined to be as militarily powerful as the rest of the world put together. Though our national motto is “In God We Trust”, clearly what we really trust in is power, especially military power.

Borg does not end there:

We are the most Christian nation in the world – and yet we have the greatest income inequality of any of the developed nations to whom we typically compare ourselves. Our income is – literally – almost off the charts. On the graphs portraying it in relation to that of other industrial nations, we are almost an outlier. Moreover, income inequality in America has been growing for about thirty years. The wealthy have become more wealthy and powerful, and the middle and lower economic classes have seen their well-being decline – in the most Christian country on the globe.

Borg finishes with a final question:

Are we as a nation to become more and more like the domination systems of the ancient and not so distant past, all of which have passed into history? Or might we, as the most Christian nation in the world, change our course and become committed to compassion, justice, and peace?

This short bit is what I try to get across – both explicitly and in less explicit terms – in each of my blog posts and in my outlook towards life and the world. The domination system is what Jesus stood up against. Jesus eating meals with outcasts broke the mold between the clean and unclean. He was killed by the rulers of the world, the powers that were. That comes first and before him dying for our sins (which Jesus never speaks of).

Caring for this world that we have is so much more important than looking to the rapture, the next life, heaven, or the second coming. If we focus on those four, this life will easily seem pointless, addressing the injustices will seem futile, and the gospels will be defanged, domesticated, and mostly muted.

May 5, 2011

David Barton on The Daily Show

by Vince

The “religious historian” for Glenn Beck was on last night. Check the videos.

May 2, 2011

Part 1: Christianity is Not Pro-Firearms

by Vince

Consider this the beginning of a series of blog posts dedicated to pointing out what Christianity is not about, not for, and not in in support of.

Let’s start with guns. Everyone has their opinion on gun regulations, the right to bear, and the impact they have on America. Mike Huckabee, a 2012 presidential hopeful and un-ordained “minister” issued some criticisms of Barack Obama as he was speaking at an NRA convention in Pittsburg, PA. The first line drew me in:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called himself a “gun-clinger and a God-clinger”.

Putting both of them in the same sentence and in that same framing nearly aligns the two as a duo.

Where Huck nearly ties in guns with his God is in this segment:

He spoke mostly about how he had come to Pittsburgh to “celebrate America and celebrate its values”—including God, family, and a Second Amendment meant to safeguard freedom, not just hunting and target-shooting.

But he suggested that the next election would determine the future of the country, by telling a story about a comment his daughter wrote in a guest book after his family visited a Holocaust memorial in Israel years ago.

“Why didn’t somebody do something?” Huckabee said she wrote.

“Today, you will not find a spunkier activist than my daughter, and I don’t worry about her but I sometimes worry about us,” Huckabee said, referring to conservatives who don’t mobilize fully in national elections and for other political causes. “We cannot afford to be a generation that leaves our children with a huge debt and a very erosion of our values.”

Not only is he elluding to what has been going on in America (most likely under Obama) as comporable to what the Nazi’s did, but he is using his daughters words to ask us why we aren’t arming ourselves and fighting back.

Huck is one of a few conservative Christian hopefuls in the presidential field for 2012. He, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum intertwine their take of conservative with their view of America as a Christian nation (On a side note, I find it ironic that these three Christians are always so mad and vengence-filled).

This all reminds me of the Gospel of Matthew:

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. (Matthew 26:47-56, emphasis added).

Jesus did not advocate for pacifism to corrupt powers. On the contrary, his life symbolizes giving ones life so to address the corrupt powers of the day.

Again, it is ironic that these conservative theocons slyly advocate for toting guns and violently fighting against their government just as, gasp, Osama bin Laden did with the Pakistani government.

April 17, 2011

What “Saves” a Christian?

by Vince

I finished last night Rob Bell’s book Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived. I have mixed reviews about the book; I appreciated some of the questions Bell asks but I didn’t always agree with some of his conclusions. In the end, it is a somewhat choppy read (his writing style is as if he is giving a sermon) but lighter than what I’ve been reading lately.

Chapter 1 asks a lot of good questions. The general question asked is this: how is a Christian “saved”, meaning how do they get to heaven and have their sins forgiven? I grew up in the Protestant faith the past 6 years with the idea that you are forgiven as a Christian by believing Jesus is your Lord and Savior, that he was born a virgin birth, performed miracles, suffered on the cross, died, was buried, and rose on the third day. I also have been taught to believe that being “saved” requires you to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus.

I don’t see anything wrong with believing the above tenets. A problem that arises is that the second one – having a personal relationship – is written nowhere in The Bible.

If we are to go back to The Bible, most notably the Christian New Testament (and not simply the beliefs of The Bible that have arose over the past 100 or so years), we will find some “unorthodox” ways of being “saved”. An important note to add: it can be questioned whether some of these people listed are even Christians!

Luke 23: the man hanging next to Jesus on the cross is assured that he and Jesus will be together in paradise. Is it what we say that saves us?
Matthew 6: forgive others, you then are forgiven. Don’t forgive others, you won’t be forgiven. Do we have to forgive others to be saved?
Matthew 7: not everyone who says ‘LORD, LORD’ will enter the kingdom, but only those who do the will of the Father. Do we have to do the will of the Father to be saved?
Matthew 10: those who stand firm till the end will be saved. Do we have to stand firm to be saved?
Luke 7: a woman who has lived a “sinful life” washed Jesus feet with perfume. Jesus tells her that her sins have been forgiven. Will washing Jesus’ feet with your tears and perfume get you saved?
Luke 19: Zacchaeus tells Jesus that he gives half of his possessions to the poor and he pays back anyone he has cheated four times the amount due. Jesus responds: today salvation has come to this house. Does saying what we are going to do save us?
Mark 2: Jesus is teaching, some men cut a hole in a roof, lower their friend down to be healed, and Jesus sees their act (the friends of the paralyzed man in need of healing) of faith and responds ‘son, your sins are forgiven’. Are we saved because of who our friends are or what they do?
1 Timothy 2: women will be saved through childbearing. Are you saved as a woman through giving birth to a child?
Acts 22: Saul (soon to become Paul) has his conversion on the road to Damascus. The gist of the story is this: Paul is asked a question, he then responds with a question, and then he goes into a city to do something. Are we saved by the questions we are asked, by what questions we ask in return, or by going somewhere and doing what we are told?

*

So in the end, Christian community, what saves us? It doesn’t seem so clear and unambiguous after all, does it?

P.S. – read Rob Bell’s book for yourself and don’t simply be told what the book says or stands for.

April 6, 2011

Muting the word “Justice” in The Bible

by Vince

“One reason (for justice being almost left out of much of today’s Christianity) is the long period of time during which Christianity was the religion of the dominant culture. It began with the Roman emperor Constantine’s embrace of Christianity in the fourth century and lasted until recently. During these centuries, the “powers that be” were Christian. So long as the wedding of Christianity and dominant culture continued, Christians seldom engaged in radical criticism of the social order. Instead, personal salvation in the hereafter was the primary message, an emphasis that continues to this day in many parts of the church.” -Marcus J. Borg in The Heart of Christianity (p.127)

This then goes on with America’s view of the word justice, which usually ties in with criminals deserving punishment.