Friday, September 22, 2006

He didn't just say what I think he did? Did he?

I am facing down the barrell of a conundrum. I have at my fingertips the power of ideas and I am being beset by the strength of structure. I have come to grips with a new war waging, the battle between personal spirituality and personal responsibility. If something does not give I will.

I am finding an ironic situation (mindset actually) within the mainstream teachings of Christianity and it is this focus...what's so great about personal spirituality? The church teaches that God has made a situation where we are responsible for one thing, our personal walk with Him. That's groovy and all but call me an atheist if this the whole kit n kaboodle. I am being told that my faith is only to serve myself, to make myself a better person, to change my situation in life, to help alleviate my tensions, etc. All I have to do is serve God and basically He will serve me. From this comes the garbage the of church rhetoric about being blessed (singularily mind you) with goods, homes, cars, a great lifestyle, succeeding at everything I do. So? What does that do for anyone but myself?

Oh I get it go and share this good news with others about how good they can have it if they follow Jesus, mind you 'in words alone'. They can have all the good things I have of they correctly obey God. I really don't have to do jack squat as long as I TELL YOU about this faith and if you reject it, go to hell. Again the honus is upon myself and how great my words flow out and if I am convincing enough you will believe God (and me)...ironic thing is whether you do or not I am still feeling like 'all is well, look at my walk with God...it's so damn good I have to wear shades when I get to those pearly gates'. Is this faith in Christ? Is this faith in myself? What is really going on here with our attitude of 'self-serving with a purpose'?

If that is my faith, can some good fundamental Christian just shoot me now. I am going to break your every law. I am going to challenge your every basic teaching. I am going to tear down the church structure and replace it with integrity. I am going to be hated by these 'self-righteous' saints and for good cause, I don't dance when they say dance, I don't pray when they say pray, I don't put on the show when they say they are doing one. Like I said, shoot me now you fundie Pharisee's before I do enough damage that it isn't irreversible.

I ask for a faith that has some personal responsibility and that's it. But nooooooooo, this is too damn difficult. All I am saying is I read the word (the bible) they teach from and I saw a faith where helping others takes mass priority over making myself 'feel good'. I see helping the people that need it as a top priority but the church has some loophole where they can say 'but our good works will appear as if we are earning our way to heaven'...don't worry about that since you don't do nothing for nobody so I don't think people will ever think that. I see Jesus (who the Christians call God) who lives a life of helping people in so many ways I could write 4 more gospels about it, but here a few examples: heals the leper, destroys racism, accepts everyone, has no class system, heals the blind, causes the lame to walk, cures a demoniac, etc. Now if we want to be like Christ, then shouldn't we actually believe what we are saying?

I am asking one thing: personal responsibility (which is too much to ask the self-righteous) in what you believe and in who you follow. We teach that God is love and the we should love our neighbor (even have a parable describing our neighbor) but we live like that's a lie. We do nothing to either prove or show God is love to the people that need it, and who needs it, people who are troubled (depressed, sick, in prison, the poor, abused, etc). Why the hell would anyone care about a God of love or a faith built upon love if it doesn't do jack squat? How does it help me to know this if I can't recieve it from you? Oh but God will call them to the faith, they are still waiting and guess what...no call. I guess the phone is off the hook.

If you believe a single word you are saying about Jesus then live by it, plain and simple. If you see the people in need and do nothing but 'pray' for them, don't call yourself a Christian, call yourself a pray-er. If you have the opportunity to help people in need but ignore it, don't call yourself a Christian, call your self ignorant. If someone asks you for tanglible help and you send them away empty-handed, don't call yourself a Christian, call yourself selfish. If someone comes to you and needs something and you tell them go to church first, don't call yourself a Christian but call yourself Biased. Get the picture. If we live like Christ we do like Christ, if not then we are not like Christ. Sorry, I can't make it seem manipulative.

So the moral of the story is simple, live what you believe and teach and don't think because you share some words with other people that's living your faith - it's not. If you want to earn the moniker of a Christian then live like Christ. If you want selfish faith, cool but don't cut one and tell me you just planted flowers. The faith I read is not one of selfishness, it's far from that but I am hard pressed to convince any Christian to get out their comfort zone, how sad. It's fairly easy to get diluted when all you do is drink what you regurgitate.

37 comments:

chris said...

Wow, you are fired up!! Really good stuff, bro!

ursa smaller said...

"easy to get diluted when all you drink is what you regurgitate"

so true.

mdntwriter said...

Ok, you are mad...Breathe...I was mad too,I used to feed the homeless for years and watch my so-called "friends"hold the food hostage until they preached to them! Oh yeah, that used to fire me up!But now I know that I cannot live like Jesus did, but with (Christ in me the hope of glory)I can love the unloveable,help those who despitefully use me, and look to Christ for perfection,and holiness. You are never going to please God in this flesh(Romans8:8),you must look to Christ and Him alone for your perfection(hebrews 10:14)"For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified",And we cannot forget Jude verse 24:"now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless". Wow, that is comfort there.Enter your rest SV, and cease from your works of righteousness and look to Christ, then go and do those things. If you don't look to him as your substitute first, you will be on a road of works that will never satisfy,but if your work has been completed like the scriptures proclaim, then you are free! Here are some more freedom scriptures:Romans 4:5"But to him that worketh not , but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness"and verse 6" Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man,unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works".And remember Romans 8:5 "for they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.and verse 6 "for to be carnally minded is death ; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace".wow....take that in...ahhhmmm....Steve

SocietyVs said...

"Enter your rest SV, and cease from your works of righteousness and look to Christ, then go and do those things. If you don't look to him as your substitute first, you will be on a road of works that will never satisfy,but if your work has been completed like the scriptures proclaim, then you are free" (mdnwriter)

I really like what you shared (again about the message of salvation) but at this point it's preaching to the converted. See I get the whole salvation deal-e-o, I accept it and I believe and follow the teachings of Jesus (at least I am trying to at this point). However my writing is about what we do with our faith in Christ, about what we teach others, and who was Christ (and how did he live like?)? I would more than love to take a 'rest' and be assured about my salvation, but that's the exact problem I am pointing out - I'll feel great and all is well again.

I am not proclaiming 'my works' will save me nor will they make me a better person than the next dude. I am saying doing good deeds because we actually love our neighbor...which to the church is almost an unfathomable idea (the loophole). I am free? How do you figure that? I mean I agree in theory but free from what? How does being 'free' relinquish the fact society has problems the church won't address? I walk back into the neighborhood I grew up in and I am appalled at the lack of servitude of the church (which I challenege daily) - these people suffer in poverty, crime, abuse, racism, educational programming, etc and because we all got 'free' we should close our eyes...I for one say NOT ME!

Soul Food Dude said...

societyvs,

I'll be back to read the rest of this thing. Right now I gotta cook some dinner, but I read the first paragraph, and so far, Yes! My Brother! Preach it!

Jathan

chris said...

Faith without works is dead! Yes, salvation is free. But, what will we do with what we believe is the big question. I appreciate your conviction in these matters, society!

SocietyVs said...

Thanks Chris, I guess I am hitting a huge crossroads right now...the support for such endeavors seems quite little and is left to people on singular efforts to do (meanwhile the church could become the uniting force to bring us all together to help our communities). I appreciate your faith Chris and what you stand for, always have and always will. For me this is the Crossroads and there is nothing I can do to change how I feel about demanding the church to respect it's highest priority, being like Christ.

Scott said...

Fired up, indeed. I can appreciate your struggle, it is really hard to live a genuine life.

Soul Food Dude said...

I think that when Christians preach "God's love" to people but don't love those people themselves, they show how empty their religion really is, mostly without even knowing it.

I think this stems from a terrible misconception about "God's love." I've heard it preached over and over again that God's love is a special, mysterious, divine love that can only be accepted with a leap of faith and self-abandonment. These Christians end up trying to be "loving" to their neighbors on the outside, but they have hidden emptiness. It has been pounded into them over and over again to "deny" their selves and to "take up" their "crosses" to follow the Lord.

They don't know why they do this. They just believe that doing these things will fill them up. Problem is, they don't know what their giving their lives up for, or to what end these crosses are to be carried.

And all along, the answer is right in their faces! Love! Compassion! Benevolent concern! But nooooo, these things are not mysterious enough to be the of the holiness and divinity of God. Anything that bears any resemblance to human love can't possibly be of the good news!

Yeah right. What's the good news? That God has human love, and has that love better than any human does. He doesn't have some cruel, distant "love" that our hearts do not understand. No no no! Jesus brought good news precisely because we recognized this man. He made our hearts burn. Yes, we've seen this love before. But now it is cast in a new light, because it is part of God's very eternal character. He is not tossed about on the waves like humans are. We're so easily distracted and discouraged. God is not. He's hardcore. Jesus was hardcore.

It's the eternal perspective that changes the consistency and determination of our love. Yet this love is so stinkin' simple. Take care of widows and orphans. Give a cool cup of water to a thirsty child. Comfort people. Make them smile. Make them know that you love them. Take care of them.

I love this post, Societyvs.

Jathan

SocietyVs said...

"Take care of widows and orphans. Give a cool cup of water to a thirsty child. Comfort people. Make them smile. Make them know that you love them. Take care of them" (Jathan).

Exactly, real love (kind of like that Beatles song) so simple yet cluttered by theology. Jathan I have to give mad props to you, you really get the message and for that I am most grateful.

chris said...

Speaking of songs has anyone out there heard of Keith Green? He wrote a song called asleep in the light that pretty much sums up the discussion hear. If you can give it a listen. It might be hard to find since he passed away in the eighties. But definately worth the effort!

SocietyVs said...

Funny you should mention that Chris, I blog with my buddy from NorthVUs (a link of mine - from the same city as me) and he just wrote a blog on that same thing...same day I wrote mine. I would also suggest looking at his site, he's a little deep but a very cool guy...actually he mentioned the song 'open your eyes'...http://northvus.blogspot.com/2006/09/green-foodhis-words-top-mine-any-day.html#comments. I would say check him out, he's one of the good guy's.

SocietyVs said...

But yeah, Keith Green is part of the reason I mave the views I have to this day, I was headed down the path of fundamentalism and then I played a Keith Green tape - I had the epiphany of changing my direction (like about 1994). Steve Taylor was the other musician that did that for me (around the same time).

mdntwriter said...

I know you believe the bible and the whole deal-e-oBut there is something more here to the term,"enter your rest".We are always trying to live more godly lives and this is good, but first, he must be First, and he must be God manifest in flesh, or we will just keep striving with religious duties.So when he states in Isaiah to "come out of her my people" he is talking about a religious system"Harlot". The harlot(in my opinion )is modern day evangelicalism, judaism ,Catholicismand any other ism you can think of. Now before you think I'm completely off my rocker, take a tape of any pastor, of any sunday, anywhere(except for a handful of "Gospel" preachers) and I will challenge to say they will not be preaching Christ in their message. Oh, they allude to him, and say his name now and again,or they have a banner saying Jesus is lord, but he is not the subject, and point of their preaching.Check it out.What was the message at your church last sunday about?I listen and monitor all the time(15 or 20 min at a time) to Greg Laurie,Raul Ries,Chuck Smith,or even Rick Warren.They have a few jokes to loosen the crowd, talk about what a great guy Paul was, or Peter's shortcomings.That is not the issue. Christ is the issue, not marriage, or how much prayer to do,or how much tithe to pay(before taxes or after taxes)or in Rick Warren's case a double tithe!So when I said, to enter your rest, I really meant it.It is all done and that is why the preachers I listen to, preach of His finished works,and Him, everytime they preach, the same thing all the time(philippians3:13)and have no confidence in this flesh, look to Christ ,and his finished work.I am not being repetitive for no reason here, think long and hard about this, read the Philippians verse and go back and read Hebrews 4:1-11.It's the real "Good News", that Christ preached. Did they all believe it? No. Do we believe it? I surely hope so.I proclaim that I believe it often but my flesh states otherwise, so that is why it is spiritually dicerned , not of the flesh, the flesh profits nothing.I know you don't believe your works save you , I am just trying to get you to see that even trying to find evidence apart from faith in Christ is futile. We need to believe,and enter our rest, and rejoice in His completed works that are now our righteousness.There is more than we are seeing on the surface, this to be spiritually discerned and remember "FAITH" is a gift..Steve

mdntwriter said...

Oh,and about doing works of lovingkindness to people around us,I love the idea.I used to feed the homeless when I went to my pentacostal church for years. I made this huge pot of soup that dished out about 125 bowls to hungry people in the Santa Ana civic center.I still want to do that. There is nothing like giving food to someone who is hungry and really appreciates it(and even if they don't).But I want to do it free from religion this time, and just give them the food. If they ask about Christ , then I'll tell them, if they don't, I'll love them anyway. So I'm not saying we should become dormant. I just think spiritually it is a done deal and now I am free to go and love and forgive, freely.I don't have to start tallying in my head,(I'm not saying you do this , but I did)that God would be happy with me feeding the homeless. Now I know that he is pleased in Christ and him alone, and now I don't have any "merit" thinking to do. He loves me,and I am his son, and I am accepted in the beloved.So maybe now I can get back to feeding hungry people again.I hope this wasn't too A-D-D for you, I can ramble...Steve

Soul Food Dude said...

Societyvs,

You seem to a have a very analytical mind. I would love to talk to you about the ongoing issue of the relation between Christian faith and history.

And thanks for stopping by. :-)

peace,
Jathan

SocietyVs said...

"But I want to do it free from religion this time, and just give them the food. If they ask about Christ , then I'll tell them, if they don't, I'll love them anyway" (Mdnwriter)

I think 'being free from religion' is noble and I tend to agree with you there but it leaves me isolated in helping others...when there is a perfectly good religion that proclaims belief in Christ also (yet do not change their neighborhoods). My debate isn't about merely doing 'good works' but also about getting mainstream church to pick up that mantle also and start becoming an effective change agent in society. I can't even imagine how all the churches might change society if they only worked together and pooled their resources (time, money, and people) for programs in their neighborhoods...which would also be responsible evangelism.

I am aware of the teachings of Christ and salvation, I reference them very often. I am only calling for widespread change in the churche's outlook and challenging that has to be done by somewhere and at sometime...seems to me I am reading a lot of dis-enfranchised people's blogs lately (with mainstream church and it's narrow vision). I am asking for something to be done to revitalize the focus of the church and I see the gospels as working on behalf of others and acceptance (ex: servanthood). What we have now is not that and is something resembling 'selfish' servanthood...it's self-serving but with a purpose...that purpose being serve God and Him alone (nothing else seems to matter after that). I think something matters after that and is focal to what Christ did and taught...as seen in Matthew 25:31-46...and in the life Jesus lived (Matt 11:4-5). Call it a challenge to the self-righteous system that does very little in the way of building programs for the 'poor' around them.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you completely with Issue of the poor and helpless, but if you are looking for mainsream churches to do it, you are going to drive yourself mad.They niether care or want to do anything but get their "sunday" duty done.I'm not trying to be heartless here but it is the truth, I have witnessed it for over twenty years being involved with many churches..Steve

Soul Food Dude said...

I feel very much the way mdntwriter does, as he wrote just above.

societyvs, you said:

"What we have now is not that and is something resembling 'selfish' servanthood...it's self-serving but with a purpose...that purpose being serve God and Him alone (nothing else seems to matter after that)"

I'm not so sure that these selfish purposes are really directed towards God. I would think that instead they are directed away from God. For if God is Love, then his heart is outward and giving, healing and redeeming, and certainly those who seek such a God will not seek only a personal relationship with God. Such a God is a phantom. What is such a God's righteousness?

The righteousness of God is his faithfulness, his love, his unending benevolence toward mankind. Now if these followers of Jesus don't understand that about God, what kind of righteousness are they seeking in their souls? What kind of spiritual milk are they feeding on? How could it be of God at all?

BTW, thanks for you comments on my most recent post. I responded to you with another comment there. But I have a few more thoughts right now. It seems to me that you cannot believe the crazy story of Jesus without first believing in the possibility that God DOES exist. So having assumed that for this long, and having my life changed because of it, can I deny the God I've come to know if one day the bones of Jesus show up? Heck, I can't even deny Jesus! If Jesus is not WHO God is, then will I be able to worship God at all?

Regardless of how much evidence from history you pile up, there still remains that something that is impossible to pin down, and that is faith. Where does faith come from? Where do hope and love come from? If I must presuppose the possibility of a good God to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and after having lived my life in the light of faith in this good God for some time, could I abandon this faith? I highly doubt it.

Especially after having seen all the significance and rightness that this faith pours into everything around me. You said that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then all the good that comes from me is simply from me. If I still have faith in a good God, however, I can still believe that God works in mysterious ways, sending covert messages through life experiences and stories and whatnot. If there IS a good God like the one I'm believing in, then naturally I'll seriously consider that these "thoughts about a God" that I've been having truly DID come from God.

As for morality, as far as I can see, it becomes a wholly tentative thing if a God of love indeed exists. The acknowledgment of the existence of God immediately separates all human strivings toward capturing the good from the Good itself in the following way: that no matter what we think we've learned, it's only what we think, and the truth of God still hovers out there ahead of us, as something we can hope for but not know. That is why faith is being certain of what we hope for, and sure of what is unseen. Such sureness does not come from without, but from within, since there is nothing to be seen from without.

Jathan

SocietyVs said...

"if you are looking for mainsream churches to do it, you are going to drive yourself mad.They niether care or want to do anything but get their "sunday" duty done" (mdnwriter)

I agree but I'd rather die trying to make the world a better, more responsible place than accepting that 'status' quo for the church. I do believe Jesus does mention giving our lives for Him, or in righteousness (Matthew 5), I figure I'll believe what he says.

SocietyVs said...

soul food dude I'll comment on your blog about the history issue, which is in itself a very deep discussion. Thanks for coming over.

jollybeggar said...

i think that you would really get into the teachings of emmanuel levinas. he speaks of serving the 'other' as our raison d'etre.

a friend of mine who is also very passionate about social justice turned me on to the writings of this man. they are life changing.

shalom, my friend

SocietyVs said...

Thanks JB, I will have to check into those writings, however, my beliefs have grown out of just merely reading the bible for what it says and not adding doctrine upon doctrine to the mix. I guess I wanted to see it for what was there and this is where it took me.

Soul Food Dude said...

Hey again,

Thanks for the comments. I replied with a comment to you and James...

"Why either [Islam or Judaism]? I think SteveW has some things worth taking to heart.

Societyvs,

I'm not sure I can currently talk of history being one leg of my faith, and personal experience being the other. If anything, right now they are at odds with each other. Either I throw my weight into the past to uphold the present, and thereby ignore the significance of the present, or I acknowledge this real love and hope that I have NOW, this real burning desire for a God who is NOW...in which case the ancient past matters a heck of a lot less.

Perhaps we were made to be one-legged, because right now I don't know what to do with two legs, and I see a lot of other fellow believers struggling with two legs as well. [added just now: Or perhaps I'm a fish, and I shouldn't have legs at all! Maybe my one foot is growing into a fish-tail!]

Good discussion! I welcome more! Steve, thanks for stopping by. James, good to see you here again. Societyvs, always a pleasure."

Jathan

Soul Food Dude said...

Not sure where to post the replies to your comments, since I don't know how often you check my blog. :-)

Anyhoo, I feel what you're saying. Yes, it would seem to make sense that we could build upon the past in the present, adding history to history. Yes, it would seem that whatever is going on now has had some beginning somewhere.

It seems to me that you're coming from a position where you're comfortable with the historical evidence, and so your position flows naturally from that. However, I do not have that luxury right now. I have not received a doctorate in history, and even then, I would think that my opinions on such matters would be tentative. All I know is that somebody says there's a lot of evidence for such and such, and they pull out the examples to show me. Now I can believe these folks, much like I believed my professors in school, but all this seems to stop severely short of the stuff that makes up the real faith that I've experienced in my life.

That faith came almost completely out of seeing it in other people's lives, and what it did to them. I cannot deny that this faith movement came from somewhere, and as a person with faith, I surely believe that God had/has his hand in it, but I cannot say that my faith hinges upon a few historical events, as you claim that yours does. My primary concern is: is God real and is he good?

I don't see how I can believe the resurrection without first presupposing that God is real and good, and if I do that, does my faith really hinge upon that event 2,000 years ago?

Doug said...

I convinced that Jesus would be thrown out of most of the churches in the US. M. Scott Peck said that if we really and truly taught what Jesus said and did, our parishioners would be screaming for the exits.

SocietyVs said...

"My primary concern is: is God real and is he good?" (Jathan)

If someone asked you to prove any of that statement you'd be struggling mightily to do so. Up to this point no one has proved God is real, except for the fact Jesus stepped onto earth and proclaimed it (as he was claiming He was the son of God - pure blaphemy in his day). Even in this question of supposing there 'is a God or not' you have to look for credible stories, and I think the Jesus one is quite credible.

"don't see how I can believe the resurrection without first presupposing that God is real and good, and if I do that, does my faith really hinge upon that event 2,000 years ago?" (Jathan)

Even if you pre-suppose there is a God and He is good, it's merely a supposition, a guess. You have no proof to make that statement and it's based on faith alone. I have heard atheists that claim God is 'cruel and laughing mockingly at humanity' due to what we expereince globally (this based on supposition). Who's right? They both suppose something based on one thing, their experience or view of God. If you entertain God is good then you must entertain He could be inextricably the other way too (them both being equal and based upon personal viewpoints). So no, from faith alone God is not good and why? There is absolutely no proof whatsoever to make that claim.

But if we add some historical events in there and the one about Jesus more specifically, then we have some basis for saying things like 'God is love or God is good', since He said them and practiced them (according to disciples anyways). We have a proof of something like this faith we now practice as having some realism - somewhere in some other time at the least. Does it mean that history makes us what we are?...yes. If Jesus exists = this faith; if Jesus does not exist = no faith whatsoever would exist. How can we pretend to speak about a Jesus that never existed? Well, we don't have the answer to that because apparently to some He did and that passed from generation 2 generation unto this time. We're so far removed now it makes sense to doubt now and we have to question the validity of the disciples claims (having never seen Jesus).

But i am there with you in the questioning and the struggles with authorship and what not in history about the bible. I don't really know because I wasn't there when Jesus existed...so who am I to speak anyways? But if you do discredit the bible you discredit your faith, nothing wrong with that as long as it's true.

SocietyVs said...

Doug, so true. And I am going to see if the church can change, I bet my life on it..actually stake my life on it.

Soul Food Dude said...

Societyvs,

Good comments. It seems to me that we're talking about two different things.

You said: ""My primary concern is: is God real and is he good?" (Jathan)

If someone asked you to prove any of that statement you'd be struggling mightily to do so."

If someone asked me to prove that statement true, I would laugh. Then I'd start talking about my faith.

You said: "Even if you pre-suppose there is a God and He is good, it's merely a supposition, a guess. You have no proof to make that statement and it's based on faith alone." and later: "So no, from faith alone God is not good and why? There is absolutely no proof whatsoever to make that claim."

That is precisely the magic of faith: believing in what is not seen. If I had faith in what was obviously there, it wouldn't be faith. Faith doesn't make something true. It has to do with me moving forward in some direction, despite what I don't know. It is trust, and the notion of trust entails the notion of uncertainty.

You said: "But if we add some historical events in there and the one about Jesus more specifically, then we have some basis for saying things like 'God is love or God is good'"

So you're talking about throwing something in, in addition to faith, right? See, this whole time I've been talking about the forming of faith itself, not something in addition to it. Sure, I'd love to talk about the historicity of certain events and whatnot, but if I have faith already, I'm not going to worry about them too much.

You said: "We have a proof of something like this faith we now practice as having some realism - somewhere in some other time at the least."

Can you explain to me what you mean by "realism"? From the eyes of faith, God is already real.

You said: "Does it mean that history makes us what we are?...yes. If Jesus exists = this faith; if Jesus does not exist = no faith whatsoever would exist."

I'm a little confused here by what you mean. If God is real, then he made history, and so God made us who we are. Otherwise, I wouldn't give a rip whether history made me or not. The significant idea for me is that God made me. I'm not sure what you mean by the "=" sign. Are you saying, as it appears to me here, that if I have faith, it must be true that Jesus exists? In that case, Jesus exists, because I have faith! No need to worry about the evidence anymore! :-)

You said: "We're so far removed now it makes sense to doubt now and we have to question the validity of the disciples claims (having never seen Jesus)."

Now it seems to me that this presents a pickle. For I surely want to encourage people to seek the truth, and if seeking the truth means reading lots of volumes about the historical evidence for the resurrection, then that means I'll be encouraging lots of people to read lots of books. I'm not sure this is what Jesus would want me to do. I'm not sure I can sincerely tell people to just blindly trust their pastors, who in turn trust scholars, who in turn trust other scholars. Not everyone can go through all this research. Not everyone has the time or the patience or the acumen. Shall I tell them to trust me and my opinion, given what I have studied? I surely hope not! I surely hope that there is a better, more direct way to encourage people into faith in God.

Does God really expect us to spread the good news through dry history lectures?

Here's the funny thing... Jesus seems to tell of a different way to apprehend the Kingdom and to know God and to have faith in him. And so naturally I seek that. In the process of seeking this, I start to realize that I'd have faith in God even if I found out that the resurrection didn't happen... and in turn, I see a disparity between the objective knowledge that the modern church seeks and the simple faith that Jesus preaches.

And the church might say to me that I shouldn't defend that simple faith, since I don't even rely on the historical existence of Jesus, and so I annull his teachings because I annull his reality with my own faith.

And then I would say to the church that it shouldn't defend Jesus, since it doesn't even rely on the simple faith that he preaches, and so it annulls his teachings because it annulls faith with its own certainty.

Then it would say that I can't listen to him unless I believe he really was THERE.

Then I'd say that the church can't listen to him unless it believes that he really is HERE.

Then it would say that I can't believe that he is HERE unless I believe that he was THERE.

And I'd say that the church can't believe that he was THERE unless it believes that he's HERE...

since the 'he' that was 'there' is only a peculiar artifact of history unless he is from the God who is always HERE.

You said: "But if you do discredit the bible you discredit your faith, nothing wrong with that as long as it's true."

You seem to assume to know what my faith is. And in turn, I have assumed to know what your faith is. But perhaps we are talking about two different things when I say "faith" and you say "faith."

So then, what is the faith that Jesus speaks of? To me, it is well put in Hebrews..."faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

I am rather enjoying this. It's helping me think things through. And I am always asking myself whether I'm missing something here in regards to faith, but so far, I am not convinced that I need ancient history.

peace,
Jathan

SteveW said...

Hey Svs, Just wanted to say hi. I've been reading your blog on my lunch hour and tried a couple of times to make a comment but after hitting 'publish' it got lost in that blog twi-light zone that we all encounter every now and then. Sorry, I don't remember what I said. That comes with getting older you know.
;-)

Anyway, lots of good luck in trying to change the church. I hope you succeed.

SocietyVs said...

Thanks SteveW, you rock and you encourage me, I'll check you out from time to time too.

Jathan thanks for all the blog comments (most I have had yet) and I really enjoy your perspective, which I think is rather refreshing. I am challenging ideals but I really like your comebacks and I will try to digest them as I read through them. Thanks for all the insight your providing me, I think I can only continue to learn from you.

But here is my rebutal, if that's what I can call it?

"That is precisely the magic of faith: believing in what is not seen. If I had faith in what was obviously there, it wouldn't be faith. Faith doesn't make something true. It has to do with me moving forward in some direction, despite what I don't know. It is trust, and the notion of trust entails the notion of uncertainty." (jathan)

Faith is believing, I agree, in what is not seen. But faith does something true, or a reality. If you have an idea (and it's merely in your mind) then you start to believe it, it will become true or real. It goes from idea to faith/believing to reality. That's how it always works. I have an idea but if I have faith and do nothing about it, it goes nowhere. It's like asking the mountain to move but if you doubt it, it will never move. But if you actually believe you not only can move the mountain but live like it moved, it will. It sounds weird but quantum physics has some interesting ideas on the topic. So I agree with the notion of faith. I don't think the church 'might' change, I am living like it already has - and it will. Could be deluding myself but what's the use of faith then?

"Sure, I'd love to talk about the historicity of certain events and what not, but if I have faith already, I'm not going to worry about them too much." (jathan)

I get it and I agree. I am more or less in the same position.

"Does God really expect us to spread the good news through dry history lectures?" (jathan)

No, but he never denied historical roots neither (Matt 5:17). He was still more then alive teaching on something old and worn, the OT. He gave it some life like to was meant to be.

"And then I would say to the church that it shouldn't defend Jesus, since it doesn't even rely on the simple faith that he preaches, and so it annulls his teachings because it annulls faith with its own certainty." (jathan)

I agree, strusture is getting in the way of that faith.

"So then, what is the faith that Jesus speaks of? To me, it is well put in Hebrews..."faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (jathan)

True, I speak of faith as being the total Christian nation (as in whatever person claims to be a Christian world-wide), in some senses - the kingdom of Christ. But I get your view also and it is true, faith in God. I am part of the Christian faith (history) that has faith in God (unknowable).

Judas Hate said...

Thanks for sharing that with me.

Karen said...

preach it, man!
I guess what you've said is the reason I left "church" and decided that there was plenty of "Christian" stuff to do outside of walls.

Christian Eye said...

everyone has said what I wanted to say! LoL! I can only add that growing up my mentor told me "If you're going to be a Christian - be one." Its not been easy but no one ever said Christianity was easy (at least no one who actually practiced what they preached)! I still hold those words true though. I can't preach love, joy, faith and purity if I don't at least attempt (with God's help) to live it.

God bless!

sandytrif said...

hello, Guess what song the building I attend played this morning for all of us to hear?? Keith Green's Asleep in the Light. We are going through the book of Revelation~and the speaker asked us not only to think about what kind of letter Christ would write to this group, but what kind of letter he would write to me personally. Would I fit into one of the seven churches? I totally get your point~and for years upon years I sat in a building that seemed to be very much like the churches you are all talking about. The pastor surrounded himself with yes men on the board etc. I really think we have christianity back ward~it should not be to bring glory to me or what can I get out of being a christian, but to really glorify the Lord. We often tend to magnify ourself and call it Christianity and in reality we should be taking our BIG God and making us smaller instead of bigger.
Great stuff~I have read most of your other stuff~fasinating.
sandytrif (from Dorsey's blog)

kevin beck said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing it with us.

When we get so caught up in the smaller stories of our lives, we lose sight of Gd's larger story. Maybe the best thing we can do is die to ourselves and not worry so much about "my religion." Instead, we ca rest in knowing that the Knower know us all.

Soul Food Dude said...

(comment from my Barth post)
Hey Societyvs, good to see you again.

"So faith is a cornerstone but that alone is not much. (even love is rated higher by Paul - but the greatest of faith, hope, and love (charity) is love)."

Yeah, I agree, and so far I'm pretty sure that Barth agrees as well. He described faith as the ground, the beginning, of the life of faith. It is creative, and out of it comes love and hope and service, etc.

"But faith is a decision. We have to choose to be faithful or not to have faith at all."

I agree here too, and I'm positive that Barth does. However, Barth calls this decision of faith a decision both made by God and by the person. It is fully under the person's consent, since it is their willful transformation, yet they have been moved here. At a distance it might look like a paradox, but I think experience shows this to be true, at least in my life and the lives of other Christians I know.

Barth is adamant that any decision made by a person that is simply an attempt to find God will fall back upon itself in failure. There must be an answering to a call, and in hearing the call, there is the believing that this call actually IS from God. Barth also, I think, states that this call is like a pull, and it is powerful, and eventually leads those called to repentance, even though repentance is their decision.

"but Paul mentions even 'faith' comes from hearing about something - he says the 'word of God'."

Yes! This is exactly Barth's stance. Barth loves talking about the Word of God, and he seems to think that it is revealed to us solely in scriptures. He does not equate the word of God with the Bible, rather he equates Jesus with the word of God, and the Bible is the word inasmuch as it relates Jesus to us...same goes for preaching.

I think this is what Barth means by God instilling faith in us. He does it in a very mysterious, indirect way, so that choice is involved.

But the main point I got from this excerpt was that if we conceive of faith as anything that is even slightly possible to boast about, we conceive of it wrongly. I've kinda come to some similar thought as these from Barth, just before I read this passage, which made this kinda funny and exciting.

Basically, I think faith cannot itself be a work in anyway. Faith cannot be an attempt to remold our own minds, or focus onto some proposition in a particular way. These are all just feelings and concepts, and as soon as we think that this is all that faith is, it collapses. Faith is more like a personal relationship, I think. I simply trust that you're there, otherwise I wouldn't be writing to you. I don't know for sure, but I step out as if it's true. Yet it's not just action, rather action is the fruit of it. There is a steadiness inside me that came from no effort of mine that says, "Yes, there's somebody behind the screenname 'Societyvs.'" I faith in God is like that. When I speak to him, I acknowledge that he's there, and I feel in my gut that he's there, and I didn't put such feelings there. This relationship started really with me saying, "God, if you're there," and in that case, it was something of a crying into the dark, but the movement in my soul that brought me to that point was immense. It was no superfluous decision. It just flowed right out of me. This is what the decision of faith looks like to me, or should I say decisions.