Tag Archive: theology


As a Gentile by birth, but a Jew by adoption, see Galatians 3:29, how do I interpret the Old Testament?  Is it to be viewed as history?  Or better said history only?  After all we are no longer under the law.  Is it only instruction in the New Testament that is required, such as dietary?  Or should I be dualist in my approach, strive to live by the law while being aware that:

1- I will never be able to fully obey or live up to the law.
And
2- realize that I can not earn God’s approval on my own no matter how good I become at following the law.

But shouldn’t I do the best I can because I desire to please God?

Isn’t that part of loving God?  I love my sons and because I love them I enjoy pleasing them.  For those of you that are married, if you love your spouse don’t you experience joy when they are pleased with your actions?
These are fallible humans capable of being greedy, self-serving, even wrong, but is it possible for God to be any of these things?  of course not.  So how much safer to strive after pleasing God?  Not in order to win His favor, or earn salvation, or force Him to bless us.  But because of loving God.

Because I love God I desire to please Him

And I please Him when I do His will.Do I fail?  Oh much more than I care to admit to anyone else.  I think I have one area down cold, and BAM, I screw it up.  Or I actually get one area of my life under control, in-line with God’s standard only to have Him point out something else and ask, “That’s great, but what about this?”

Will I ever get there?

It doesn’t seem so, but it’s not about what I am achieving as much as it’s about what I am becoming.

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At least a little part of it..

This is not about some pie in the sky lets all hold hands a create some workers paradise.  Or heaven on earth or any of these completely unrealistic expectations.  After all, “You will always have the poor” Jesus of Nazareth

Let’s just get past that we are not going to get rid of poverty and its impact.  Can we reduce it? Of course and should we as individuals look for ways to ease the suffering around us.  But how do we do that?   Our ethics as Christians mandate that we love our neighbor as ourselves.  Our Christian ethics expect, I would say even demand that we be involved.

What are some, if not easy, at least not hugly painful steps?

I would suggest that the first step is to get our thinking right about what are the causes and then workable solutions, not just throwing money at the problem.
I believe that there are two beliefs that we, yes even those of us in the church have bought into that are not just false assertions, but counter productive to impacting the issue of poverty.  First that work is some sort of curse and that to care for the poor is to care for the need instead of providing a way for people to provide for their own needs.
Let’s look at the first, work is a curse.  If your mind set is that work is a curse, where did that come from.  In recent years finding ones purpose has become a bit af a mantra.  But what does that mean?  The purpose of man is to work, to create to provide, for himself his family and community.  Paul in his letter to the church at Thessalonica made it pretty clear “If a man will not work he shall not eat”. Each of us has abilities and skills.  Maybe the ability to program a computer, or fix a car, or maybe just to make change, count money, or load groceries.  If your skills don’t provide the opportunity that you want then perhaps using the skills you do have to finance the training to develop the skills you want is where you should be looking.  But Russ what about the unwed mother, the man born blind, the cripple or the mentally handicapped?  Are you really going to tell me you haven’t heard of Helen Keller, Chris Gardner, or any of the other thousands if not millions who have come to this country unable to speak the language, with no connection, little or no education, etc and have by working, turned into successes?  Are there those that cann not do for themselves?  Of course, and I am not for an instant suggesting we as the Church should ignore or despise those.  But there are far to many that either will not work in which case see above, or those that don’t for lack of opportunity.
So what about the way?  Should we as a society just give those without, a hand out?  I would say no.  Leviticus 19:10 speaks clearly to what those who have should do for those that are in need.  And it’s not a handout.  It’s giving them an opportunity to learn a skill, to make their own way.
This is not a zero sum game.  Look around you wealth and abundance are everywhere and they are there for the earning.  Will you become rich or wealthy?  Well I am a firm believer that in this country it’s still possible for anybody willing to do the work to become if not rich at least comfortable.
Economics and the spiritual must focus on both in order to help reduce poverty and to allow a path that provides a way for those who will to move out of poverty and then able to provide and show the path out.
To see some much deeper thoughts and ideas on this read some of Father Sirico of The Acton Institute .
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While I understand that many may believe that the God of the bible expects blind faith, I wonder where this comes from?  I can not seem to find this teaching, this command anywhere in the Bible.

I recently saw a video by Aron RaFaith is not a Virtue, and he will contend that to have faith is to disengage your mind, to turn off your cognitive ability.  Just some examples are:
  1. “Faith is a secure confidence not based on evidence”.  Can’t speak for anyone else but my faith can only be based upon past experience, and the fact is the same with much of science.  After all what much of what is called scientific “fact” is taking multiple results to an experiment and based on getting the same result multiple times, believing that the results will continue to be the same ad infinitum.
  2. “Faith is unsupported wishful thinking”.  Christianity isn’t about wishing things were all puppy dogs and rainbows, but rather an acceptance of what is, not about how we wish it was.  We accept what is and make the decision to live our lives based on that, working to achieve what we believe to be the best possible outcome, even if we do not have the certainty of success.
  3. “Religion is a belief system that means you are required to believe this, and forbidden to believe that” – guilty as charged, however science is in the exact same boat, for example, if you’re a mathematician aren’t you required to believe that 2+2=4, and not 6? Or how about an evolutionary biologist?  If you don’t believe the theories of this discipline can you still call yourself an evolutionary biologist?
  4. “The real problem for empirical scientists and rational skepticism is we care more about truth than the religious do” – really? As a follower of Christ the pursuit of truth is a requirement, not an option.  The problem with scientists and skeptics is the refusal to admit, at least in public, that those data points most often used as “proof” of evolution, the beginning of the universe, and the like are assumptions, an if this then that, line of thinking.  Where is the willingness to stop and say clearly that ” We believe that The universe began because of X, therefore Y, but if the beginning is actually Z then the answer would be completely different and the truth is we can not know if for no other reason then there are different ways to get to this point and there is no empirical evidence which can say with absolute certainty that X is really the starting place.”  Will you ever hear a Hawking, Dawkins or other scientists who believe in evolutionary origins say this?  Will they freely admit to doubt or other possibilities?  I doubt it but time will tell.
  5. “All sin can be forgiven if you believe in Jesus, and simply because you believe in Jesus” – Close but not quite, yes all sin can be forgiven, however as James says “Thou believe that there is one God; thou doesn’t well: the devils also believe, and tremble”.  So no just belief is not the key, it starts there, but it also requires, a declaration of Jesus as Lord, see Romans 10:9-10, and if you think this is just some sort of lip service to God think again.
  6. “He(God) lives by those rules even when circumstances demand exception” – really and what exception would that be?

Not having the answers doesn’t make you wrong

Oh don’t get me wrong there are far too many who call themselves Christians, and even claim to speak for God espousing some of the things mentioned above.  Even saying some incredibly ridicules things as if they were a prophet.  Maybe according to some I am a heretic for even questioning their beliefs.  I think however that those of us that dare to claim Jesus as Lord should be neither closed-minded to what science has to say, or to take it on blind faith.
Unlike Mr. Ra I can freely admit my prejudices but also accept that at this point there are some things that neither science or Christianity can answer.  Things like how exactly was the universe created, when the Bible speaks of a 6 day creation is it 6 literal days?  Or is it like Peter spoke of that a day is like a thousand years?(2Peter3:8). Only time will tell.

I’ll keep looking for answers,thank you very much.

For now I must be content with not knowing all the answers, but continue to search for them.  I don’t believe God gave us a brain only to turn it off when the questions get tough.  Although I am a little frustrated with others, especially non-Christians, trying to define Christianity, I will continue to do my best to point out the flaws, even glaring errors in their definitions.  Maybe it won’t matter to them, but it matters to me.
What about you, have you encountered people mis-representing what Christianity is?  Did you speak up?  What did you do about it?

Love your enemies.

Turn the other cheek
Bless those that curse you
Feed and nourish your enemies. – Romans 12: 17-21

Who does that?

Christianity calls for an extreme and radical lifestyle.  A way of life that is vastly different from the main stream.  God comands us to not just be a little different from everyone else.  I am not just asked, it’s not some suggestion, but a command.  Directed to be so different from everyone else that there can be no mistake as to who’s I am.
It does not say don’t hate, dont be mean to, it isnt even be nice to your enemies, it is LOVE YOUR ENEMIES.

It is supposed to be extreme.

Right now and for the past several years there has been a lot of talk about extremism in religion especially in regards to Christianity.  Now I am no expert on Christianity.  But here is what I do know.  The failings of the Christian church in society and culture is not because of people who call themselves Christian acting or being too Christian.  It’s not because we are taking the teachings of Christ too seriously, or working too hard to be like Christ.
In fact the way I see it is just the opposite.  The world, society, even the church is suffering from a lack of extreme Christianity.  Before you start the hate mail or trolling in the comments section.  Notice I did not say extreme Peter-anity, going and cutting off someone’s ear thinking God needs you to physically defend him.  I said extreme Christianity.  Real live dyed in the wool Jesus Freak Radical.

Loving people more than I humanly can.  To stop looking at people in the same way.  Instead to see people we meet as C. S. Lewis described them.  “You have never met a mere mortal.  Everyone you have ever met is either an eternal horror, or an everlasting glory.”

If I looked at everyone from that prospective, and refused to be anything less than an extreme, radical Christian.  I wonder how my little neck of the woods would change?
What about your neighborhood?  Your church, your city?  Does it need a healthy dose of extreme Christian hood?

Theology

Defined- The study of the existence, nature, and attributes of God. To know God

Now I am no theologian, I only know an infinitesimally small aspect of who/what God is. What I know is only because this magnificent, beautiful, all knowing all powerful being has, for a reason I cannot fully grasp, chosen to reveal himself. Not just to me or just to a few, but wants to be known by everyone.

And yet today so many seem to want to place this immense being (how else do you describe infinite) into a neat little box. But how can we do that? That somehow if God is not completly and wholly understandable he must not exist. Maybe trying to understand the Father is messy, not because God is messy and all over the place, but because we are. Ok maybe not you, you probably have it all together. Let me rephrase that I am messy.

Because I’m messy, when I try to know God I fall short of understanding. Some of it I get, but a lot I don’t. I get that God is love, but other things are beyond my ability to understand. As I try to see the face of God I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by who & what God is & overwhelmed and mightily aware of what I am not. Like David searching to know God better I can only say “What is man that you are mindful of him?”

Is it really any wonder that some search for God, and upon facing what God must be, can not wrap their heads around it and pronounce “There must be no God? Is it because while searching they are expecting to be able to confine and define God inside some neat little box, only to find that He won’t fit? Still others lightly say they believe in God yet make no effort to know who God really is.

Christ says to know God is eternal life (John 17:3) This doesn’t speak to just some book knowledge; this is about an intimate knowledge, a knowledge that permeates everything.

No I’m no theologian, but I want to be.