What life should a Christian live to be Christian?

(Shaun) #101

I describe myself as a follower of caution.

(Mitchell W McKain) #102

Caution is good. There is such a thing as too much caution. But do you think you are too cautious?

Matthew 25:14 “For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. 17 So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’

Now if God is like the man in this story as Jesus implies, does it sound like He would want us to take the contents of the Bible and simply repeat it back to Him without out any investment of thought?

I suggest that there are different kinds of caution. There is the kind stops and thinks things through before jumping on the wagon. And there is the kind that likes to hide in a crowd, as if a whole lot of people doing the same thing makes you safe and justified. What do you think?

(Shaun) #103

I am this type. I have become cautious after being misled. I am afraid to be wrong, not afraid to think differently. The size of a crowd means nothing to me.

(Robin) #104

I have read what both you and Mitchell have said in some of your remarks here. Good discussion.

“What life should a Christian live to be Christian?” ultimately is “not” a subject to be taken lightly. I MAY have a qualifier on this issue in that I believe someone actually should have repented of their sins and asked Christ to forgive them of their sins and become their Lord and Savior – before any of the rest of this is under consideration.

. And yes, I realize that many who claim to have had this “moment” do not always seem to reflect it. And all of us have good days/bad days…But if someone IS Christian, their focus is on trying to learn — the emphasis is on learning, since it does not come to us naturally – what He wants of us, and then considering how best to do it.

There are a lot of qualifiers in there. In regards to Mitchel’s comments about “reading the Bible ourselves rather than simply following what some other person(s) dictate(s) is in the Bible” --very good. I once heard a woman tell a group of us that the Bible said that all thieves should have their hands cut off. It was a good thing, at the time, to review the Pentateuch in order to know a bit more than just what this woman said. (Yes – mouths fell open all around the room!!)

I believe in focusing on what some text meant to the original hearers (rather than the latest early 21st-century A.D. pronouncements). With some issues, there is room for debate — e.g., I could have had one of those debates with a coworker this past week who maintained that Jesus is coming again soon because there is so much hate in the world. Well, yes, there is a lot of hate, but “what’s new about that?” I do not disagree about a physical return of Christ, but I do not read the tea leaves of the newspaper for it either…

But there are other things less debatable in the biblical text…But Mitchell is right. It is best to know and read and seek to understand the biblical text ourselves.

And if such debatable things (as those I cited above, not to mention in this blog itself) did not exist, this forum would be pretty quiet.

(Shawn T Murphy) #105

Dear Robin,
I applaud you for attempting to bring Jesus’ teachings into today’s language. I will just concentrate on three points of His teaching to bring into today’s world.
“I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) He is the light for everyone in the world, all 108 billion that have ever lived.
“Not all of His teachings take root.” (Matt 13) He knew that few would understand the depth of His teaching. Many reject it and many others are very superficial with their belief. But…
“Not one sheep will be lost.” (Luke 15) Even knowing that few would understand the depth of His teaching, He still promises that all of God’s sheep will be found.

For me, being Christian is having faith that Jesus came to save every single soul. This is why we must love our neighbors and our enemies, because we all are children of the same God. (Matt 5:44–48) We do not have to know how He will do it, but believe that He has a way back to Him for every last soul, regardless of what they believe. So, being Christian for me is not criticizing other’s beliefs or calling them unorthodox or heretics, rather accepting everyone where they stand in life, and find the best way to support (love) them where they are - not wanting them to be somewhere/someone else.

(Cindy) #106

Thanks for your insights.

Yes, and it is for these same sort of reasons that I keep coming back to the idea that we just don’t know enough to understand the seemingly contradictory evidence of Evil in the world and the need for pain and suffering. I mean on one hand it doesn’t make sense to have started this Universe thing in the first place if such suffering would be required but on the other hand; to send your own son to die to make it all right? God can’t be evil so He must be good. I suppose that He could be incompetent like the cosmic tinkerer idea that keeps floating around here but I just don’t think that is so. I think rather, we simply do not have the knowledge to fully understand God, let alone His full plan. For today, let us remember Jesus who, though He was God, humbled himself and had a man baptize Him. And yes, let us love our fellow man and treat all as we would want to be treated. I agree, this is the best way to glorify God.

(Jay Johnson) #107

I don’t disagree with the dictionary definition. I simply think it’s too broad to be helpful. As well, “heresy” has such a strong negative connotation that it should be treated with caution. I prefer to reserve “heresy” for doctrine or opinion that places one entirely outside the bounds of traditional, apostolic Christianity. For example, ideas that would deny aspects of the Apostle’s Creed. For most other things, I simply prefer to call them “wrong.” Of course, that’s just my preference. You’re absolutely free to ignore me. :wink:

I think you’ve bought into the myth of the rugged individualist. That all sounds well and good, but it’s just another variation of the guy who thinks that all he needs is a Bible, and the Holy Spirit will guide him into all truth. Frankly, when you speak this way, all that I can hear is a lack of humility.

(Mitchell W McKain) #108

I think you have bought into the myth of the corporate identity. It may feel nice to be part of a whole even if it is anything but greater, but it’s just another variation of the guy who thinks things are ok just because everybody else is doing it. Frankly, when you speak this way, all I can hear is cowardice and corporate arrogance.

On the other hand, maybe buying into “myths” has nothing to do with it. Maybe it is just who we are. And you are having just as much trouble with empathy as I am.

On the other hand, maybe the Borg is wrong about thinking that it is the superior form of life just because it is a collective. The real character of life is found in diversity not uniformity. And what you really have in the Borg is just a disease which destroys life in a rather mindless unthinking manner because like a virus it lacks the capability of appreciating any life but its own.

It’s not like I think the individual is all. Far from it. I often point out that orthodox Darwinism misses out on the importance of the community in evolution. I definitely believe that communities are living organisms in their own right. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they are a superior organism. Frankly all the evidence suggest that human communities and societies tend to be rather primitive forms of life. People in a group tend to have a mob mentality which is both less intelligent and less moral.

It may well be that ideally there is a greater hope for salvation of people in community than individually. After all Jesus sure made it sound like it is all about how we help each other. But I seriously doubt that is anything close to reality. I see more abuse in community than support. Maybe one day it will different though. On the other hand, it may be a leapfrog sort of development, where the community improves the individual and then the individual improves the community.

(Phil) #109

That is similar to what Olsen says in this blog referenced. He states that there is a difference between believing a heresy, and being a heretic. You are only a heretic if you knowingly teach and promote something you know to be a heresy. Somewhere else, I read it said that you are a heretic only if you are promoting a division in the church with your heretical teaching.

(Shawn T Murphy) #110

Don’t you guys see that this particular discussion is clearly not Christ-like? Calling something heresy creates division and conflict.

What happened to “Judge not lest ye be judged?”

(Mitchell W McKain) #111

That was clearly referring to people not claims. The are many more passages in the Bible calling on us to be very judgmental with regards to the truth and the claims people make.

(Shawn T Murphy) #112

No, @Jay313 said “I simply prefer to call them “wrong.”” How can any person claim to know the whole truth? That is judgement. Just as bad when church fathers declare their doctrines truth, even though they contradict the words of Jesus.

the Bible tell us to look for the truth, and be very critical, yes. But this is just for ourselves, not to tell other people what to do or believe. Each person must make this journey on their own.

(Phil) #113

Well, actually I was quoting @Jay313, but agree that it is Ok to think someone is wrong, particularly in a forum like this, since that is sort of the point of the discussions, but it is wrong to call them a heretic in most cases.

(Robin) #114

Thanks Shawn…Is this what you might call universalism?? That is, do you believe everyone will be saved --somehow?? regardless???

Universalism is what I call “warm cinnamon roll theology.” It smells wonderful, is gooey, slathered with frosting, and delicious whether warm or not… But afterwards, you realize that you ate about 640 calories in 3 or 5 minutes, blew through all of your day’s allowance for saturated fat, sugar, carbs, maybe sodium or a few other things…and then, an hour or less later, when the sugar high is done — well, you need something else…

How many push-ups to burn off a cinnamon roll? And eventually the doctor tells you that you are developing inflammation of the arteries…

So OK…I probably have not changed too many minds about cinnamon rolls — but for me, they are not worth it!!

Universalism is like that — it sounds good or feels good…but then you start to think about the implications of it…I would think that the problem of universalism is that it defies our personal sense of justice–just as cinnamon rolls (though yummy) defy our personal sense of good nutrition (and our body is not fooled, even if we are!!)

We might like – in theory – for everyone to be saved (just because Jesus paid the price for everyone’s sins), and Jesus did pay that price…but what about those who defy or deny it? Is Hitler also saved? We could name all the “bad guys” of history. What about those who say that they want nothing to do with God? The “God is not great” people…the “Better to reign in hell than be a servant in heaven” people?

Jesus paid that price for all our bad things (intended bad deeds as well as the unintended), but what about those who deny He did any such thing or say they do not want it?

Yes, Jesus is the light of the world…(John 8:12) – a statement He made during a feast that included, as part of the observance, the lighting of four large lamps. But the Bible also says that some do not want that light – because the light makes them look bad… If they do not want it, is God going to force it on them?

In Matthew 13:20-21 it defines the seed that fell on “the rocky soil” which represents someone who falls away from “the message of the kingdom” because “he has no root, he lasts only a short time” – in other words, no maturity and nothing to help him withstand “the scorching sun” (v 6) or a bad time in their life/adversity (v 21)…so yes, superficial belief or – maybe — no belief at all…But the parable talks about other kinds of people, not just the rocky soil guy. If there is “a way back to Him for every last soul, regardless of what they believe” – then what is meant with the talk of all those weeds in verses 38 to 43? The weeds end up in a furnace “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” while “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” There is a lot of talk like this in the biblical text, which is why you have some calling, as you put it, “others’ beliefs…unorthodox or heretics…” The Bible itself puts labels on certain teachers or attitudes…there are even sheep and goats, and evidently they get divided at the end of time…

So someone evidently is not making their way back… And if you see someone not making their way back, or taking a wrong direction — why would it be wrong to say something? . I suppose this is where I part ways with universalism…

(Mervin Bitikofer) #115

I just had to give your post a ‘like’ even though I guess I’m softer toward those gooey cinnamon rolls than you are. But I nonetheless resonate with a lot of your outlook. There is a part of me too that is disappointed if medicine tastes too good. I like candy well enough, but I don’t expect it to do anything good for me. So inversely, I expect good medicine to taste nasty, and am suspicious when it doesn’t.

I would consider it cruel of others (especially my parents, teachers, pastors, or anybody who is in community with me) to generally withhold truth from me. I have a higher view of truth than just something that is my own personal “journey”. Yes it is that - but I am not alone on that journey. I am taking it with a host of others (including you all here) and all in a reality that we share. I can be / am / have been wrong about a lot of things and am thankful that others cared enough for me to correct me, and believe that I was worth correcting. One of the cruelest things anybody could do to me is to pat me on the head, reassure me that I’m completely okay because I’m just living according to my own personal truths. I hope I don’t do that to others - I want them to be able to richly and deeply partake of the real creation (reality) that we all share. Not shut themselves off from it and collapse exclusively inward!

(Shawn T Murphy) #116

Dear Robin,
The key tenets of Christianity are as follows:

  • Not one will be lost! ( Luke 15:4-5 ) and even the Prodigal Son will be celebrated when he finally comes home ( Luke 15:11-32 ) .
  • We must repay our debts to the last farthing ( Matt 5:21-26 ) and become perfect as God created us ( Matthew 5:43-48 ). We need to learn to love our neighbors and eventually our enemies before we have become perfect.
  • While the only way to gain eternal life is by believing that Jesus is the King of Heaven. ( John 3:15 )

This is not universalism, but Christianity. It is just that modern Christians cannot reconcile the three tenets in the limit of one lifetime. They avoid repaying all their debts and becoming perfect with the Grace doctrine.

“Not one will be lost” does not conflict with “repaying all our debts and becoming perfect” as you describe your cinnabun. No one gets off light in this scenario as you suggest, but modern Christianity does not accept multiple lifetimes and fate through which all debts are paid.

(Jay Johnson) #117

Poor Phil takes enough flak on his own, without having to take mine. haha. It’s not such a bad thing to be wrong. All of us are wrong all the time. Since my own opinions about doctrine(s) have “evolved” over the years, I judge myself as having been wrong about a great deal of things for the majority of my life, and I’m certain that my opinions on some topics will change in the future, so I don’t judge anyone as “bad” for being wrong about this or that doctrine. For instance, if Mitchell is as determined to try to do good as he seems, then God is glorified by his actions whether Mitchell intended that outcome or not. One measure of God’s greatness is his ability to use imperfect tools to accomplish his ends. I place myself into evidence as Exhibit #1.

True. What you have said is basically the message of the Tower of Babel story. I would modify your statement about diversity/uniformity to say that the character of life is found in unity in diversity, which is the model of the Trinity. It is also what Christ pointed toward in his prayer of John 17:

"I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Skipping over the rest of the “glory” stuff in the passage, which seems to be a sore point with you (sorry! haha) …

Always. Takes one to know one, as they say. We aren’t so different as you might think. :wink: But my motives aren’t to dispute with you. I simply took you seriously when you said,

It’s often been observed that the temptation is to remake God/Christ in our image, instead of vice versa. In telling your story, you highlighted the fact that you are an individualistic type. You have enough self-awareness to recognize that this affects your take on Christianity. I agree. It’s the same for me and everyone else. Our personality and experiences shape all of our reactions. I brought up culture simply because it is an often overlooked factor. We overlook culture like a fish overlooks water.

Now, I’ll attempt to cut to the chase, rather than continuing to ask you to read between the lines. Our Western culture, under the influence of Protestantism, with its focus on justification and law, viewed God primarily as judge. The heaven/hell individual judgment was primary. The positive result was the “rule of law,” but the negative was a culture that ultimately focused on the individual. We see this in our pop culture worship of the entrepreneur, the inventor, the scientist, the individualist who goes against the grain and stands out from the crowd.

The remainder of the world – about 70% of the world population – still lives in the honor-shame paradigm that marked every human culture until Luther and Calvin. Within those cultures, the family, the community, the group inform your personal identity. (You did not spring from nowhere, a fully-formed individual.) In their world, you literally are who you know, for you are identified by your network of relationships, whether by blood, by friendship, or by trade. This, as well, has its positives and negatives, a few of them pointed out by you, and a few of them pointed out by Christ (see my post #72).

Skipping to the conclusion, the kingdom of God is a synthesis. Among the many metaphors for “salvation,” just as many are corporate as individual. Spiritual birth is by individual decision and God’s grace, but once on the “other side,” we find ourselves part of a community and a conversation that stretch back thousands of years. And the end of the story is not the individual bliss of the “beatific vision” of God, but the collective union of all with Christ, such that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

I have some thoughts to tie this to the Christian life that I will try to add shortly (metaphorically speaking, in case it takes until tomorrow) …

(Jay Johnson) #118

Neither does medieval or ancient or any other brand of Christianity.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #119

Let’s take a moment with you here to think about what you’ve said. :thinking:

…so does that mean this was the exception?

(Shawn T Murphy) #120

It existed until 543 AD in Christianity and it was called the Apokatastasis.