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Jesus, Grace, and Christianity.

August 9, 2011

This is probably the most “Christian” post I will write for awhile.

Not that I don’t consider myself a Christian.

Not that I have rebelled against Christianity.

But because I am no longer interested in defining what is “Christian” and “non-Christian.” I still  fully believe in God and in Jesus. However, I have my doubts about what modern day Christianity has become and have come to the conclusion that it is not what Jesus meant it to be. For the most part. Some of this will be addressed below. Some will not. If you want to know more, you can ask me about it even though I won’t have all the answers and never will. Mostly just theories and shrugging shoulders. I just want to seek Truth and what is real.

Not what is necessarily “Christian.”

I apologize ahead of time for the length. There was a lot to hash out on this one.

A friend of mine (who I’d like to thank for our many conversations that helped me reach this point in my faith) recently told me about some religious conversations he has been having with a friend of his. His friend asked him two questions that he realized he had taken for granted growing up in the Christian church. I realized the same when he told me about them. It made me realize that when raised a certain way, it is very easy to take certain things and theologies for granted without ever really being able to define them. We can just accept things without realizing that we cannot even articulate them. This is why it is important to have open-minded conversations with people of different faiths, walks of life, and backgrounds. The questions brought up are concerning two of the main foundations of Christianity. It troubles me that we each had difficulty answering them right away. The two questions were something along the lines of:

What exactly is grace? Grace is something that I have always felt like I understood. Then I went to try and define it and realized that I couldn’t.

And…

Why was it important that Jesus had to come to earth as a human being and die on the cross in order for us to receive grace and forgiveness? Why couldn’t God have just decided to forgive us in the first place? After all, he is the one that made us this way: in need of forgiveness.

I have contemplated these two questions for over a week and have developed some theories. They are just theories. I’m not sure if I fully believe in all of them, but I think they are possibilities. However, I am leaning toward believing in them.

My interpretation of grace:

Grace is an act of unrelenting, genuine, and unconditional love, forgiveness, and understanding when it is most undeserving and against all natural human instinct. It is the one thing that separates Christianity  from all other religions and ways of life and the end result of Jesus’ life and death.

So why did Jesus have to come and live on earth to be sacrificed for our forgiveness?

I have a couple theories regarding this.

I think that God wanted to give us a before and an after. He wanted to give us a chance to live by law. He needed us to see ourselves fail so that we could appreciate His forgiveness and His grace.

Before Jesus, we lived by law. It was all we had to go by. Obviously, we were not capable of following the law perfectly. We needed a list of rules to tell us what was good and what was bad because at this point we had no other way of knowing.

God needed/wanted to live a life on earth for several reasons:

  • He wanted to be able to empathize with us.
  • He wanted to experience what he created and show us that experience.

It was like a math teacher going through a complex math problem and showing the class how he/she approaches it. He may have already known the right way to do things, but He needed to physically show us how to do so in order for us to try it for ourselves. The only difference is, we will never figure this math problem out perfectly for ourselves so we have to constantly check with his method and guidance in order to digress.

  • He needed to feel our pain and live the trials of a fully human life. This is an extremely difficult thing to comprehend. It is hard to see how He lived a fully human life when He was actually God in a human body. He may have been God in the flesh, but that flesh meant that He was fully human. He experienced the same level of doubts, temptation, pain, emotion, and all of the other human imperfections. The difference was that He was able to overcome all of these. He was able to obey the rules and live out the law without fault.  But how can we expect to believe that He was fully human when He relied on so many miracles to prove that He was the son of God. Notice how during his stint on earth (and correct me if I am wrong) He always referred to Himself as the son of God, not God Himself. He received these abilities from living a perfectly holy life. He was able to rely on His Father to work through Him without His human flesh interfering. And this was because of his perfect faith.

At least that’s my explanation. Maybe there is no explanation that the human mind can wrap around. Maybe He was simply both fully human and fully God. Maybe this is just something where we have to throw the white flag on and accept that it is beyond us.

I kind of feel like that is a cop out.

But at the same time I feel like it is not.

Because I believe in a God who at His simplest is far beyond our weak, human minds’ grasp.

Regardless of how you look at this though, Jesus’s ability to come and live a perfect life as a human being in the flesh was how the law was broken forever.

Jesus lived so that He could replace the law with grace.

And this results in a great deal of abstract living.

He came to show us a life perfectly lived.

He came to sacrifice this perfectly lived life so that He could forgive our imperfectly lived lives.

With His death came the death of law and the life of grace.

But why couldn’t God just have replaced law with grace without living on earth?

He probably could have if He wanted to.

But he decided to go through what we go through and show us and teach us how we are supposed to live.

And to experience a human death.

Also, Jesus died but he resurrected.

(This brings me to a side tangent. Jesus died on a cross. This was the method of execution that was chosen for Him. This is what He suffered on for hours until it took His last breath.

I had a cross hanging from my rear view mirror for years until a couple weeks ago when I realized how people have come to abuse this symbol. I realize that people view it as a symbol for Jesus’s forgiveness, but even then, I think it is rather ignorant.

Why did we chose such a terrible thing to symbolize this? Why not choose an empty tomb or empty cloth to symbolize His resurrection and His forgiveness? Why did we choose the very thing that caused His death and suffering?

I know, because a representation of an empty tomb would look dumb hanging around our necks.

Even though the cross is actually a horrible thing when you really think about it, I think that the cross could and should serve as a reminder for the pain He went through for us. Of the actual act of sacrifice that He made. I think it should be a holy and a sacred thing.

But it has become fashion statement. It has become a decoration and therefore is abused. Its meaning has been taken away because we think it is cool to have it around our necks and inked in our skin. It has lost its sacred mystique.

And I think that is a shame.)

In Jesus’s resurrection He is now able to live among us in a weird, abstract way. He stated something along the lines of if there are two or more of His believers together than He is with them. Because He is the High Priest and has replaced all other “high priests.” He teaches us and guides through our interaction with others. This was not the case before.

Before, all we had were human priests who would teach from the law. But that has become obsolete because Jesus is inside of us and can now guide us without the help of a middle man.

And this is where the two questions tie together.

I believe that grace comes from Jesus and Jesus alone. I do not think that grace is possible without His presence.

And sadly, grace is not something widely found in the so-called “Christian” church. At least not in my experience.

However, I continually find grace in people outside of this “Christian” church.

Far more than in the church.

This is not Jesus. You know how I know? Because Jesus wasn’t a damn white European. He did not look like a more feminine, wavy-haired Fabio.

Just as we have distorted the meaning of the cross, we have distorted the meaning of Jesus.

When it says in the infamous Bible verse, John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have ever lasting life,” does it mean that whoever believes in the above image of Jesus goes to heaven?

I am not even going to answer that.

So how can Christians say in today’s world whether or not another person believes in Jesus or not?

Where is Jesus in today’s society, over 2000 years after his death?

When I look at the Biblical Jesus, only part of Him matches up with what I was taught growing up in a Christian church.

Much of it is ignored.

So what do we say about that?

By picking and choosing the aspects of Jesus that make us feel good about ourselves, does that mean that such people even believe in Him?

I think that it is possible that Jesus is among people who don’t know it. I think that He may be among people who cannot put a picture on Him and who cannot specifically name Him.

I think it is possible that people can believe in Him without knowing that it is Him that they believe in.

I’m just saying that it is possible.

Because 2000 years removed from His life = 2000 years of distortion of His life.

And God is more powerful than we can imagine.

The greatest piece of evidence that I have for this is found in grace.

When a person repeatedly acts in grace, I believe that Jesus has to be behind that.

Because grace is developed only through some kind of relationship with Jesus.

And I think that this is where we hit muddy waters. This is where negative capability becomes prominent.

And that scares people because people want to believe in things that they can explain and in things that are safe. But this is something beyond our grasp. It is something that is found in the dark.

And the dark is a scary thing.

This is something that is up to God and God alone.

Just as we have abused the image of the cross, I think we have abused the image of Jesus.

And I think that Jesus has the ability to overcome that.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    August 11, 2011 2:31 pm

    For someone who didn’t think that they could define Grace, you did a wonderful job! I like the Bible’s way of stating what Grace is in Romans 5:6-8, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– (8) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    While Scripture never quotes Jesus saying the words “I am God”, Jesus did claim to be God. In fact, Jesus was found guilty of the charge of blasphemy; Jesus made claims like “before Abraham was, I AM” which was a claim of being God. Jesus said that he had the right to forgive sins without an intermediary and the religious leaders of His day knew that only God could forgive sins; not only did Jesus claim to forgive sins, but He also healed people in a display of His right to that claim! Jesus had power over the forces of nature and He demonstrated this by changing the water into wine and by calming the winds and the waves not to mention the feeding of the 4,000 and the 5,000 with a few fish and some bread.

    Jesus was fully man and fully God throughout His earthly existence. I am not smart enough to know how this can be true, but I believe that it is true. He had authority over creation because He was the author and creator of creation.

    As far as why did we have the Law in the Old Testament, God wanted to show us what His holy standard is and that we could never live up to it. It points us to our need of a savoir. Paul said that it was through the law that came the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). The law was meant to be a beam of light into the darkness of our soul to expose our wickedness and sin.

    Just a few more short comments:

    • Jesus never had doubts like we do, He had perfect faith because he was in constant and unbroken fellowship with the Father until he was on the cross where he bore the wrath of the Father on our behalf
    • Jesus came to fulfill all righteous on our stead; He came to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves and then he also paid our debt on the cross (Colossians 2:14). When we put faith in Christ and His finished work on the cross on our behalf, His righteousness is applied onto our account. When the Father sees us, he sees the complete righteousness of Christ because Christ has exchanged our sin for His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
    • Salvation has always been based on faith and grace, “…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16 ESV). The Old Testament Saints were justified (made right with God) by faith in God; looking forward to the coming redeemer, and New Testament Saints are justified by looking back to the Christ and putting our faith in Him and His righteousness and not our own.
    • There definitely is not enough grace toward one another in the church among believers.
    • Please see my article on “Christian” Idolatry in reference to your picture of Jesus http://biblicalorthodoxy.wordpress.com/
    • One cannot “know” Jesus without knowing it. One needs to believe rightly in Jesus in order to be saved.

    Well, this has gone longer than I intended. I’ll be praying for you! Come over to my site when you get a chance. God Bless!

  2. August 11, 2011 3:56 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Mike. I think that you raise some good points. I realize some of my points are not quite as well thought out as I intended and that, though I have a decent grasp on the Bible, my Bible knowledge could use some work. Especially when backing up some of these points. I’m working on that though.
    I do have a few disagreements.
    Jesus did doubt. “Why have you forsaken me father?” sounds a lot like doubt to me. Obviously, He never acted on those doubts though.
    I’m also questioning your last point as well. I’ve heard your explanation thousands of times but I’ve never seen any kind of strong evidence to back it up. In stating your last point too, you never gave an answer to the question I raised concerning the correlation of grace and Jesus and how grace can be found in people who do not know Jesus. The only explanations I can come up with to explain this are either that Jesus is not the only source of grace or that there is more to Jesus than is found in the confines of a book. I’m personally leaning toward the latter.
    I think that Jesus is more of an abstract being now than He was during his stint on earth. I wonder what kind of identity Jesus goes by now though. He is no longer both human and God. He is now solely God. He was a concretely named and identifiable human being before. Now, He is beyond out knowledge. Therefore, one may be an extremely spiritual being and be in constant search for absolute Truth. Whether he/she connects with Jesus through meditation, music, prayer, art, etc., I think that it is possible (not to say that it is absolutely true or that you should believe this) that He is bigger than our conscious minds. He/she may connect with Jesus consistently and call Him a spirit or Clint Eastwood. I don’t think it matters whether they call Him Jesus or not. He is bigger than His name.
    I also cannot understand how “Christians” who worship a fabricated and washed down version of Jesus (or even no Jesus at all since Jesus if often even left completely out of church and “Christianity”) can claim that they are saved and someone like the above example is not when the latter may be a more accurate representation of Jesus.
    I think that we should seek out the Jesus found in the Bible and study and worship Him. However, there’s more to Him than that and I (nor can any other human being) cannot say that one person rightly knows Him and one person doesn’t. That’s His call. I’m just saying that all of this is a possibility that we should maybe take into consideration.
    I’m not attacking you by any means either Mike. I’m just elaborating a bit more and giving my opinions. I love these kind of discussions with a passion and that is partly why I started this blog so I really appreciate you give your opinion. I’ll definitely check out your website.

  3. Daryl permalink
    August 13, 2011 3:47 pm

    Hey dude greetings from across the pond,

    I understand your agitation with the church, but what is your response to this? To walk away from it or to engage with it and make it better? Jesus called the church his bride and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25-28). These words still hold their weight 2000 years later despite your feelings of the state of the Church.

    Other thoughts:
    – Why do you say John 3:16 is “infamous”? Seems like an odd word choice for a verse you should hang all of your hope upon.
    – In your blogs and responses you never mention repentance of sin as something to be sought after or dare I say needed in the Christian walk. Is this not the whole reason we need Jesus? To take the just punishment of sin upon himself and though that rescue us from the hold it has on all areas of our life and to give us right standing with God?

    Cheers

  4. Mike permalink
    August 16, 2011 4:35 pm

    You said, “Jesus did doubt. “Why have you forsaken me father?” sounds a lot like doubt to me.”

    This wasn’t an expression of doubt, Jesus was actually suffering separation from the Father, it was at this time that He experienced the wrath of the Father for the sins of all those that would put their faith and trust in him. While there is a sense in which the Father really had forsaken the Son, there wasn’t a total separation of Jesus from the Godhead. This is too deep for me to understand; I haven’t done much study on this.

    When I said that one cannot “know” Jesus without knowing it, and that one needs to believe rightly in Jesus in order to be saved.”, you said that you have “heard my explanation thousands of times but that you’ve never seen any kind of strong evidence to back it up.” This comment ties so closely with your other comment, “He/she may connect with Jesus consistently and call Him a spirit or Clint Eastwood. I don’t think it matters whether they call Him Jesus or not. He is bigger than His name.” that I will group them together.

    I heard Oprah Winfrey once on her television show tell an audience member that it didn’t matter what you called God or that you called His Son Jesus or not. Oprah’s spiritual teaching totally obliterates the need for God the Father or Jesus. The god that Oprah believes in is really an idol; a god fashioned after her own desires, and is not a god at all, but a way to avoid The God that will judge both the living and the dead and that will “bring to light the things now hidden darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.” The name of Jesus is of utmost importance because His name means “Saviour”. Jesus was an actual person and is a historical fact. He actually lived and died and was raised on the third day! His importance is so universal that we even date our calendars by His entry into the world! While there may be some dispute about what happened after Jesus died, and who He actually was (i.e. the Son of God; second person of the Trinity), there is no disputing that he existed.

    God’s name was so sacred and precious that the people of God (Israelites) would not even say His name, in fact, they left out the vowels so that it could only be spelled. God has many names because he has many attributes His primary name is YHWH or Yahweh, but he also is named Jehovah, El, Elohim, Adonai, etc. Here are a few verses that talk about the importance of His Name:

    “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8 ESV)

    “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12 ESV)

    “Then the Levites…said, ‘Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.’” (Nehemiah 9:5 ESV)

    “…you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.” (Isaiah 12:4 ESV)

    “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him [Jesus] the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (Philippians 2:9-10 ESV)

    “and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name–by faith in his name–has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.” (Acts 3:15-16 ESV)

    You said, “In stating your last point too, you never gave an answer to the question I raised concerning the correlation of grace and Jesus and how grace can be found in people who do not know Jesus. You also said, “I believe that grace comes from Jesus and Jesus alone. I do not think that grace is possible without His presence.” And “However, I continually find grace in people outside of this “Christian” church.”

    Grace, in the horizontal relationship between God and man, is unmerited favor. Mercy and Grace go hand in hand; God displays grace and mercy by saving undeserving sinners through faith in Christ by accepting the payment of Jesus’ death on the cross on their behalf. In regards to man’s behavior towards their fellow man, man does have the ability to some degree to be gracious to their fellow human beings. I don’t deny that mankind can and often does exhibit goodness, kindness, mercy and grace to others. On a human level there can be much good and much kindness toward one’s fellow man. What have you experienced in the church that leads you to say that “grace is not something widely found in the so-called “Christian” church.”?

  5. August 18, 2011 5:40 pm

    Daryl. Thank you for the feedback.
    With that said, my response:
    The definition of “infamous” = 1) having an extremely bad reputation. 2) deserving of or causing an evil reputation.
    Not exactly what I interpreted that word to mean. Poor word choice on my part and I apologize.
    With that said, I think the word I was looking for was either “overused” or “abused.” This is a holy and powerful verse. However, even the most holy of words and actions can be misused, overused, and abused. Take a bilboard on I-90 by Laramie for example. It says the following, “Where are you going when you die? Heaven or Hell” and then has “John 3:16” printed at the bottom while heaven is featured with a picture of a blue, cloudy sky and Hell is featured with a picture of fire. What I meant in my comment concerning John 3:16 was that we have we use verses like itself as an attempt to scare people in to converting to Christianity. I could probably write a lengthy blog just on this topic itself so I am just going to leave it at that.
    As for the topic of repentance, I agree with you. It is very important. However, repentance has not been the focus of my blogs thus far. I have been covering other topics. Maybe I will write a blog about it in the future but forgive me if I have not yet covered all of Christian theology on this blog.
    Regarding your comment about the church, I will have more to come.
    Thanks again for contributing to the discussion Daryl. It is appreciated.

  6. August 19, 2011 3:28 pm

    Thanks for the second comment Mike.

    As for Jesus’ doubt, I’m not really sure what to make of it at this point. I understand what you are saying, and mostly agree with it. It is also too deep for me to understand at this point so I’m just going to let it be and accept that I really have no idea on this.

    Concerning the next point, I do have to admit that “Clint Eastwood” was another poor choice of words. I should have picked something with no prior connotation because I do not think that we should call Jesus Clint Eastwood and vice versa.
    I am a little disappointed to hear that my possible views are closely related to Oprah Winfrey’s. But I guess it is what it is.

    Isaiah 42:8 – God states in this verse that His name is the LORD and follows it with “my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” He does not say “no other name” but just says “no other.” If He does not, cannot, or will not respond to any other name, then why do Christians have the right to call Him God, Abba Father, Allah, Yahweh, Elohim, Jehovah, etc. According to this logic, we should not call Him anything other than the LORD or else we are not worshipping Him. Also, idols have nothing to do with this. I’m saying that someone can actually be in contact with God but not know that it is the Christian, Biblical God. That is not an idol. That is God. The person is just unaware of His title.

    Acts 4:11-12 – I think that this passage is open to interpretation. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” He is saying here that Jesus is the only one who can save us; who salvation comes from. When he says “there is no other name under heaven,” I think that he is referring to no other god, idol, person, etc. As I stated in my previous comment, I think that Jesus is bigger than His name. If someone believes in Jesus but does not call Him Jesus or know that it is specifically the Jesus from the Bible, he/she is still believing in Jesus. Yes, His name means “Saviour” but it is still His name. It is till just a title put in front of Him for recognition. That is all a name is anyway isn’t it? Who’s to say that names are even relevant in heaven? Jesus was never concerned about the physical ritual about things. He said numerous times that it is what is inside that counts. I think that this applies to identification. The name is external, the person/God/Saviour is internal and that is what Jesus looks at.

    Nehemiah 9:5 – This a description and an expression of how the Levites were worshipping God. There is nothing in here that implies that this is the only way to do so. “Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessings and praise.” This is also in the new testament, before the arrival of Jesus. Rules, laws, names, etc. were more important. It is also the name referring to the actual God. Just as Christians can rightly call God Jahovah, etc. I believe that it is possible that someone can call Him “air” or “spirit” and because he/she is referring to the true God, though he/she does not consciously acknowledge that it is the Biblical Jesus. The name is only Holy because it is the name of God, not because it is the name God. It is God that makes the name holy, not the other way around.

    Isaiah 12:4 – Same concept as above. “Call upon His name” is just how the author says to call upon God. I feel as though I am becoming repetitive, so I will just refer to the philosophy of above. “His name is exalted” in the context of the verse just means that He Himself is exalted. Once again, His name is exalted because He is exalted. Not the other way around.

    Philippians 2:9-10 – “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Notice the use of the word “of.” This verse says “at the name of Jesus,” not “at the name Jesus.” These mean two completely different things. Also, “every knee…in heaven and on earth and under earth” implies that all people should be saved by Jesus. Not just people who believe in traditional Christian theology. Every means every, not select.

    Acts 3:15 – This is referring to a specific case in which a man had been healed by God. Acts such as these can only be performed through God Himself. I believe that, though it could be possible to find God without doing so consciously, one is much more capable by doing so consciously. I think that his is making this distinction. If one calls on God specifically, God can work through in more powerful ways through that person. This does not mean that by taking the other route, that one cannot be “saved.” It also goes on to say just a few verses later, “And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.'” I think that Peter is telling these people that they have been given this gift from Jesus’ sacrifice and they need to wake up, repent, and take advantage of this. This is not a case of who is going to heaven and who is going to hell.

    Also, in 1Timothy 2:1-6 it says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is on God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time.” God wants “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.” Notice the repetition in these verses of “all men.” Also, the use of truth. It does not say “a knowledge of the name Jesus” but rather, “a knowledge of truth.” It also doesn’t say “the knowledge” but “a knowledge.” There is no way we, as humans, can even fully comprehend “the knowledge” because that is beyond us. We are only capable of “a knowledge.” We cannot grasp the entire truth, only part of the truth. Only God can know everything.

    As for the last bit, I still do not understand your explanation. How can there be a level of human grace, when grace comes solely from Jesus. I do not think that man is capable of grace without Jesus. I included, in my understanding of grace, “against all human instinct” because I believe that humans are not capable of grace without Jesus. Jesus is the sole provider of grace and grace cannot be found without Him. Therefore, evidence of grace is evidence of Jesus. At least that is my understanding of grace.

    I do not feel the need to give any personal experiences of the lack of grace in the Christian church (and forgive me for grouping all churches together because they all are not like this). All we need to do is look at the church’s attitude toward homosexuality, abortion etc. It’s not the disagreement with the ideologies, it is the attitude and hatred toward it, i.e. “God hates fags” signs, etc. I could go on for ages on this but I don’t feel the need to get myself worked up at this moment. If you want more examples I can give them, otherwise, I think that they are pretty evident.

    Thanks again Mike. I have really enjoyed this conversation and hope that it is not over.

  7. Michael D. Morth permalink
    August 21, 2011 3:29 pm

    You said, “why do Christians have the right to call Him God, Abba Father, Allah, Yahweh, Elohim, Jehovah, etc.”

    First, I don’t think that any true Christian would call God Allah; Allah is the specific name of the false god of Islam. Please see my latest post on http://biblicalorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/284/ it’s a blog post from my former Pastor, John Piper.

    In answer to all your concerns about names and titles, you must remember that the God of Israel and Jesus are very specific persons who have eternally existed in tri-unity (trinity) eternally. If you were to ask a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jehovah Witness, or Mormon whether they agree with this statement they would all disagree. We don’t all worship the same God with different names! When Paul and the other Apostles were preaching about Jesus, they preached about a specific person that was the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament prophecies given by the Father through the prophets

    “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:1-14 ESV)

    Jesus was an actual person that lived, ministered, suffered, died and was resurrected in fulfillment of God the Father’s plan of redemptive history. The Apostles didn’t just preach and teach about a god that is just “out there”; the God that they preached and taught to the people did some very concrete and identifiable things. Jehovah had a history, in fact, He created history! Jehovah had a people and did specific things for these people throughout history. He had a plan of redemption in place before Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden because He knew that Adam would sin. In the Old Testament, he made promises to save both Jews and Gentiles through a suffering servant; this servant was none other than Jesus, the 2nd person of the God-head that eternally existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit! If you were to ask the followers of these religions listed above if they would sign on to that belief, at best you might get a pleasant “no”, or at worse you could loose your life!

    Just one last thing before I go, I will write again, but I have a tendency to get a little long winded. When I pray, I don’t use all of the names of God that I listed. I usually pray to the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, I call them Father, Lord Jesus, and Holy Spirit respectfully. I’ll address some of your other points later. God Bless!

    • August 23, 2011 9:12 am

      I never said that we all worship the same god, or that all religions worship the same god. I believe that there is one true God and He is the God you are talking about. All I am saying is that I think that it is possible that a person can have some kind of relationship or belief in that God without consciously knowing that it is the Biblical God.

      I have no disagreements with the last three paragraphs.

  8. Michael D. Morth permalink
    August 23, 2011 3:44 pm

    You said, “Also, “every knee…in heaven and on earth and under earth” implies that all people should be saved by Jesus. Not just people who believe in traditional Christian theology. Every means every, not select.”

    So then, do you believe that all people can and will be saved by Jesus, even if they didn’t put faith in Jesus and repent of their sins? I’m just trying to get a better handle on what you believe salvation is. What are your views on being “born-again”?

    You said, “All we need to do is look at the church’s attitude toward homosexuality, abortion etc. It’s not the disagreement with the ideologies, it is the attitude and hatred toward it, i.e. “God hates fags” signs, etc.”

    Please see my blog post about the “God Hates Fags” sign people. http://biblicalorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/the-god-hates-crowd/

    • August 24, 2011 6:58 pm

      I am questioning that. Not sure what I think yet.

      Here are some points though that I have worked out.

      Isn’t the whole point of grace that it is not earned?

      If you have to ask for forgiveness and therefore salvation then doesn’t that defeat the purpose of grace?

      Just a thought.

      I just started the book “Love Wins” by Rob Bell a few days ago and in it he talks about the instance in Matthew 19 where a rich man asks Jesus, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus responds with, “Why do you ask me about what is goo? There is only one is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” He then proceeds to say, “Go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

      Perfect opportunity for Jesus to end discussions such as our own. But, of course, in classic Jesus fashion, he does not give a straight answer.

      Rob Bell gives a similar interpretation of this instance, but here is mine.

      Jesus is not concerned with making it to heaven or hell after death.

      He essentially tells the rich man (who were not very common during that time) to not worry about the afterlife and do whatever you can now to bring good (heaven) to the world.

      Therefore, he should not be concerned about all this and neither should we.

      We should not be concerned with “saving” people. We should be concerned with helping and loving people.

      I have a lot more to say about this but am choosing to hold off for the time being.

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