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my faith


kimblanchard

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I had sent this to my brothers this weekend at the same time I posted it for the board. I don't want to restart an old fight, but I have been asked to post it again. I would be happy to talk about it some more, and I am not sure if that would be best done by pm or on the forum itself.

So here goes.

You have to take the "noone comes" passage seriously. Quite frankly, it is one of the most troubling passages in the entire Bible, especially after Jeremiah.

There is always one other option. Jesus could have been both the Messiah, and wrong. Being wrong doesn't make you a liar. And since God has been wrong plenty of times, why is it impossible to believe that Jesus himself was wrong, too?

But I don't think Jesus was wrong there. But what does it mean to come to Jesus? Jesus, after all, didn't found a religion. He didn't order his followers baptized; he didn't ask for particulars of religious observances. He trimmed the ten commandments continually.

A young man asks Jesus what a person must do to attain eternal life, and Jesus replies "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments." "Which ones?" asks the young man. This in itself is startling. There are a pretty clear set of ten given a few books earlier, but here is what Jesus replies:

"You shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother. Also, you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 19.

Notice which commandments Jesus keeps and which ones he doesn't mention - you shall have no God before me, you shall honor the Sabbath, you shall not make for yourself an idol, and you shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God. (That, and the bit about coveting is replaced with the Golden Rule.) It is precisely the commandments that speak about the establishment of religion that are not included by Jesus. And from what I have read, he did very little accidentally.

Later, now Matthew 22, Jesus was asked which commandment in the law is the greatest? Jesus replied, "You shall love your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. One these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Notice what God wants from man; no longer veneration and sacrifice, rather heartfelt spiritual love. Worship, once asked for, is inherently between unequals, while love is between kindred spirits. And Jesus gives the love of neighbors standing analogous to the love of God Himself. In Luke, this passage is followed by the greatest story ever told; that of the Good Samaritan. "Who is my neighbor?" asked the lawyer. He must answer the one who showed mercy. Go and do likewise.

Finally, after resurrection, Jesus simplifies it all into a single sentence: "this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." And follows it with, "I have said these things that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete." This is his final address to his disciples, and there is nothing of religious observation. No setting up of the papacy, no discussion of being baptized or receiving sacraments.

So now let's look at John again. Yes, noone comes to the father but through Jesus. But it is not through religious observation that one comes to Jesus. There is no formula. To come to Jesus, and to the father through him, we "love one another as I have loved you." And that love is available whether man or woman, slave or free, Greek or Jew. Jesus fundamentally abolishes the need for religious observation to come to God.

No, I do not envision a perfect God. The God of the Bible is himself on a journey of discovery, of learning what the best way to communicate with mankind is. He starts out all blustery, with death and destruction, only to realize - like we all did as parents, too - that people don't respond to force. It was a surprise to God, too. Force only works while present, while love and example continue throughout. May we all use that as parents. So I see the Bible as God's own spiritual development, and it makes the world a lot easier to deal with. Because if God is all powerful and perfect, then there is a real trouble with evil in the world. There is a real trouble with accidents in the world. Why on earth would a perfect omnipotent God allow Snowflakes' beer truck to run rampant?

No, there is plenty of room between being way more powerful than us puny humans on the one hand and perfect on the other. It is somewhere in there I believe God resides. He could create carbon based life, but he couldn't figure out how to keep it from attacking itself, both from within and from without. He could give us consciousness, but only at the price of vanity, pigheadedness, and greed. He couldn't stop cancer from taking Becky from me, but he can weep with meand share my pie. From his spiritual transformation and journey, I know mine is possible too.

And that is my consolation. That is our consolation. And, I believe, it is fully independent of any particular religious doctrine.

Curtis

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I guess that is why Jesus said to nicodemus, You must be born again. For flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God. His words are of spirit and those who want to worship God must do so by the spirit. Our spirits are what is reborn, and our reborn spirits are eternal and are fed by his words. Book of John is very clear on that. These are His words, not mine.

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