Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Christianity Growing Up

I just read an provocative article on Since it is short here it is:

I tried to heal someone this week.

I have a friend who is extremely sick, as in die-any-day type of sick.  Furthermore, he doesn’t believe salvation is for him and rejects Jesus as his Savior and Friend.  Lately it has become nearly impossible for him to feel any type of love from God, his family, or his friends because his sickness is clouding his thoughts.

I have done, quite literally, everything I can think of in order to show him the love of God.  I have prayed the tears out of my eyes.  I’ve tried Bible studies.  Prayer circles.  Different doctors.  Just being a listener.  Pastoral counseling.  I can’t list all the things I’ve tried.  But he got worse, not better.  With every change in tactic I expected some type of improvement, yet there has been no change in his sickness or in his soul.

There is no prayer like a desperate prayer.  At one point I got so downcast that I asked God to violate his free will and save him no matter what he wants.   I was, and kinda-sorta-but-not-really still am dead serious about that despite how I know that the destruction of free will precedes the destruction of true love.

Lately, my best friend and I have been talking about miracles.  About how Jesus essentially said that even a little faith could move a mountain if it was hindering the work of God.  About how Jesus said His disciples would do greater and more things than He ever did.  About whether these and other statements were meant specifically for His 12 disciples in that cultural context or if they are timeless principles.

I thought to myself:  If only my friend wasn’t sick, he still might not choose God, but at least the choice would be clearer.  If only my friend wasn’t sick, maybe he could feel love again.  If only my friend wasn’t sick, his judgment would be normal…

I asked God to give me the authority over this type of disease.  I told God He could take the authority away from me after the disease was gone.  I had almost asked God that question earlier this month, but I didn’t yet trust myself to ask not out of caring for my friend, but out of doubt that God would do it on His own.  I just wanted to give him a clear mind, so that maybe, possibly, prayerfully, he will choose to follow Christ.

So I tried to heal someone this week.

Didn’t work.  And I feel dumb.

Thy will be done……so easy to say.  So difficult to mean.

Go ahead and read through the comments as they are about as provocative in what they say and don't say. The author in the comments states that his main concern is the salvation of his friend.

What I have come to think is that we have as Christians taken a view that it is all about coming to believe in God as we ourselves believe. The author of the article wants his friend to view God the same way he does. But his friends mind is cloudy or sick or whatever he does not see God the same way. In fact this is the problem we all face. We want people to think just as we do. If they think like us then they will see the truth. But many Christians have created a religion where that truth...that specific knowledge is what everyone must have to be saved. Salvation then becomes the product of correct knowledge.

Yet none of us actually have correct knowledge or really any method of determining correct knowledge. We like others have a set of beliefs some of which are based upon reason and suppositions and some of which are based upon tradition and upbringing. But we do not “know”.

In many Christian churches they are dealing with how they can deal with science which presents a view of an ancient earth and constant change. Evolution may not tell us where we came from but it presence is pretty well established and it is at odds with a young earth creation as interpreted by many in the book of Genesis. If the story of Genesis is alluded to by Jesus then many Christians will interpret that to mean that it is a divine expression that the Genesis stories are literal truth. Much the same as many look at New Testament verses about woman and authority in the church. How does the church deal with such things when the culture is more equitable and more knowledgeable.

Churches develop their structure and form by their claims to knowledge of revealed truth. When one church finds different truth in their Bibles then they form a new church based upon their new revealed truth. Thousands and thousands of differing versions of truth. Yet often to be saved you have to acquire the correct view of truth. Which often finds itself revealed in my version of truth. Insert your own views as the “my” in that sentence.

I think there is a growing movement of people who find this troubling and who can't grant themselves the privilege of the belief that their version of beliefs represents the truth. If only others could be freed from their delusions and upbringing or traditions they could realize the truth and be saved by God. But this view seems to not work with that of a God of love. Salvation based upon what you know or what you live up to because you believe it seems different from a salvation based upon a love of God that seeks to save the lost.

We often suspect that if there were miracles all the time that might make us believe in the presence of God. Just look at the miracles the legs amputated regrown etc. Yet all it would suggest is that there is supernatural forces in the world. It would not be evidence of a God of love unless all legs were regrown or no one died. Even supernatural experiences would not give us knowledge of truth. We are in a very weak and limited state when it comes to truth. Science has to slowly build it's knowledge and it is forced to regularly redefine its propositions. Religion is far slower to redefine its propositions. But it seems we are way past time to begin redefining what our knowledge of truth is. A little more humility and a lot less surety are in order.

God could very well save every living creature for a new life, would that be out of the character of love to be accepted. What may be the future of Christianity is not the traditions of the past but a new view of what religion can do for us in the now. How can it be used to encourage better and fuller lives for people. Whether they believe in Christ or God or the supernatural. Leaving salvation entirely up to God the Christian would then focus on helping others here and now. No longer soul winning as we have no ability to win a soul anyway even if we knew what it was. Perhaps Christianity is really as easy as the story of caring for people that Jesus taught*. Perhaps the idea of damnation was just sticks to prod people into doing something that they were reluctant to do. Rather like the promises or threats a parent gives to a child for doing what the child should do. But at some point the promises and the threats don't become the impetus to action. Can Christianity actually grow up?
*Matthew 25:34  NIV“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

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