Apr 2 2019

This is ground zero

I don’t know why me.  (Is that proper English?)
Continue reading

Be Sociable, Share!


    Mar 20 2019

    This I Know

    About 10 years ago I wrote a little post about a little revelation I had about my faith that has really impacted me. Somehow, the original post was deleted–I have no idea how or why. But, as chance would have it, I discovered the following, which appears to be an updated version of that post. So, here it is.

    This I Know

    Over my nearly 60 years of life, I have had only a handful of revelations that have had a lasting impact on me. I can recall specific details about each experience and by and large they were fairly mundane, but the specific epiphanies would change how I saw things from that point on. I mention this only to provide a little background on one I had perhaps 5 years ago.

    As with the other, it was not a Damascus Road experience; rather, it was more of an Emmaus Road revelation, like having a mist lifted so that you see more clearly where you are already walking. And, as much of my brilliant thoughts do, it came while I was thinking about something entirely unrelated.

    My revelation was simply this: I still believed in the same God I believed in as a child.

    That’s it.

    It may seem underwhelming to you, but 5 years or so later, I am still aware of this reality. It is now foundational to who I am.

    Now, this doesn’t mean that I have simply maintained my death-grip on my childhood beliefs, because that’s not true. My theology has changed over the years – several times, in fact. I have been around the block, so to speak, more laps than most. While I, out of youth and ignorance, was impacted by various pop theologies and trends over the years, I have maintained my simple belief in God, and that Jesus loves me, this I know. I have rejected more doctrines and beliefs throughout my life than many people have ever encountered. Many were illogical in some form or other, some were stupid, and a few were just bat-shit crazy (that’s a common theological term).

    In spite of traveling in and out of various evangelical, charismatic, sometimes wacky, ancient liturgical, emergent, and often boring intellectual Christian churches and groups, in spite of moving from moderate to conservative to something else, and in spite of being led through a morass of theological trends, I believe in the same God I believed in as a child.

    I’ve had many, many people try to talk me out of it. I’ve been dispensationalized, fundamentalated, legalized, charismatized, jeopardized, and tribulated. I’ve gutted my library of trash theology more than once. And in the end, I believe in the same God I believed in as a child.

    Now, smart atheists will tell me this proves that religion is a product of our environment, that if I grew up believing in Some Other God, that’s who I’d believe in today. Granted, exposure is an obvious factor in belief. Paul says this himself in Romans 10:14, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” However, I know many, many people who believe differently today than they did as children. Tons. So, I’d have to say that while I truly appreciate the fact that I was raised a Christian, I’d have to say that what I believe today is not because of what I believed as a child (I believed in Santa Claus then, too).

    Now, I have heard and read many testimonies of people who have rejected the beliefs they were raised with, and as a result they have concluded that they don’t believe in God. Some of them even have blogs where they love to talk about what they no longer believe. This unbelief in God is an understandable leap of logic, I guess, but generally I find that it’s lazy as well as illogical. I hear these stories and think, So what? I reject those things, too, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God. You don’t reject all pizza because you don’t like anchovies.

    So back to the profundity of my revelation, specifically related to current belief and unbelief trends. When people are leaving the church and faith in droves, is it perhaps because they were never taught the truth about God in the first place? When the illogic and absurdity and hype and the control-freakism of religious traditions come crashing down, is there anything left to believe in?

    For me, there was. I rejected dispensationalism and God was the same. I rejected legalism and God was the same. I rejected penal substitutionary atonement and God was the same. I rejected literalism and God was the same. I rejected wacko-ism and God was the same. And in fact, not only was God the same, but it was specifically because God was the same that I rejected these errant beliefs.

    If I had to pick a theme song, I think it would be Sting’s If I Ever Lose My Faith. My faith is not in science or progress, or in a church, or theology, or, as odd as it sounds, even in the Bible. My faith is not in a political system or the definition of marriage. I don’t care if evolution is true or if there’s life on other planets. My faith is in God and the truth of the Gospel, that Jesus loves me, this I know. The same God, and same Gospel, I was taught as a child.

    Be Sociable, Share!


      Mar 19 2019

      Foreword

      If I were to write another book, it could be another, even clearer, presentation of the gospel.

      If I were to write another book, it would be because my wife told me I should, because the good news is way better than even I thought it was a couple of years ago.

      If I were to write another book, this could be the Forward.

      Foreword

      It is coincidental that here, in mid-Lent, I have just finished reading my fourth book in a row on the atonement, besides listening to various sermons and lectures online. It’s not that unusual for me to lock onto a subject, but I don’t think I’ve ever locked on to something this meaningful and relevant, for it relates to everything (if you happen to be a spiritually-minded person). For that matter, it’s relevant even if you’re not, but that’s a topic for another time. It’s relevant to everything because at the heart of the atonement issue—and the larger issues of life, death and everything—is the nature and character of God.

      At this point in my studies, I am more than ever convinced that a majority of evangelicals around the world have been taught things about the atonement—and subsequently the nature of God—which are heretical. In this, I am in line with most of the church throughout history. It is unfortunate that so many church attendees will have to listen to sermons about justice and wrath and how God abandoned Jesus on the cross because He couldn’t look on sin, about how we are all worms saved only because God poured his wrath on Jesus instead of us.

      This kind of thinking not only portrays God as being not at all like Jesus (and somewhat schizoid), but pits God against Jesus, antagonist versus victim, dividing the Godhead. This thinking, by the way, came from Calvin, who was forced to this conclusion to make sense of his other heretical ideas.

      This is not good news. If anything, this should cause us all to wind up on Easter with a case of PTSD. Even after being saved by the skin of our teeth, we still have to deal with the fact that our God would have crucified us, and will still go on to throw most of the world into hell for all eternity. This is supposed to make us happy? Rejoice! We’re saved, but the rest of the world will burn forever!

      With this kind of thinking, it’s no wonder that some of evangelical Christianity (if it can be called that) has turned into a kind of war-mongering hate group, fostering various “us against them” mindsets and acting not at all like Jesus (who, by the way, is not coming back on a white horse to smite anybody).

      Thankfully, none of this wrath-based thinking is true. It doesn’t even make sense. (Part of the problem is that words like wrath, ransom, and hell have been mistranslated and the English words mis-defined.) If God was paid off by Jesus, that’s not really forgiveness, is it? If someone else pays off my mortgage, the bank hasn’t forgiven the loan; it was paid in full. Calling it forgiveness is not being very honest. Plus, it makes God into someone other than who Jesus said he was.

      The Good News is so much better! Here’s a basic outline of the true story, which (with various nuances) has been believed since the early Church (if I were to write another book, these are topics that I would explore in depth):

      • God is exactly like Jesus (the Bible tells us so).

      • God is love. Period. (It’s all about the love, ‘bout the love, no wrath…). The wrathful God is a myth.

      • There is no original sin/guilt as invented by Augustine/Calvin. Mankind is not totally depraved. Sin is a plague, and we are victims.

      • God never wanted sacrifices. (This was news to me, but a couple of later OT writers—and Jesus—make this point.)

      • Jesus was born (incarnated) to join man back to God.

      • Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in Jesus (they are not like Legos that can be pulled apart).

      • God forgave us apart from Jesus’ death. He forgave us without payment or incentive. (There’s no forgiveness if payment was required.)

      • God did not turn away from Jesus because of sin; God looks at sin all the time. The verses in Habakkuk need to be read in context, which actually is making the point that God does indeed tolerate sin. 

      • Jesus died to save us from sin (the plague) and death. He basically blew death up from the inside when he rose on Easter.

      • Jesus died “for the sins of the world.” Yeah, that’s everyone.

      • We don’t become saved to get into heaven or escape hell; we are saved from sin and death so that we can become one with God (at-one-ment is an English word made up by translators to try to capture this meaning).

      • God is not sending anyone to hell (which is nothing like Dante described it). 

      • Jesus is not coming back to destroy anything (forgiveness and wrath don’t mix). Revelation is not meant to be read literally. And those looking forward to future violence are more apt to tolerate it on Earth now.  

      • God is good. Always.

      • God is love. Always. No qualifiers.

      Now isn’t that so much better? It should be, because this is what the Bible actually teaches, if we really look at it apart from those screwy notions we’ve accepted as truth.

      The Good News is that God loves [all of] us and forgives [all of] us because that’s who God is; exactly like Jesus showed us.

      Be Sociable, Share!


        Nov 23 2017

        Why Me? A Thanksgiving Meditation

        Why me, Lord? ~Kris Kristofferson

        “Why me?” is an interesting question. For many, it’s wondering why bad things happen, and I’ve been there, wondering why people close to me die, why I was “chosen” to suffer with diabetes, etc. It’s easy to look around at people living seemingly wonderful lives, and feeling less than blessed.

        But for me, “Why Me?” has taken on a different twist. I am profoundly aware that I have been “blessed” more than I deserve. In spite of health issues, job stress, etc., I am aware that I am a very happy man, and I continue to ask, “Why me?”

        On a global scale, why was I born a white male in the most powerful white male country in America? Why wasn’t I born a minority, or homeless, or in a country plagues by war and disease? I don’t know; it wasn’t my choice.

        Why was I allowed to survive major health battles, and live long enough to see my grandchildren (my father didn’t). Why do I have a job I enjoy, a great wife, and wonderful children?

        Nothing I have done merits me having good things in my life. I’ve done nothing to earn a better place in life than the millions of refugees. I’ve done nothing to earn any special blessings from God.

        And, I definitely don’t believe that God loves more more than anyone else.

        So, I still think, “Why me?”

        It makes me incredibly thankful for what I have, no more so today than any other day. But, today I’m especially thankful for turnkey and stuffing. It doesn’t get much better than this.

        Be Sociable, Share!