Sunday, October 6, 2013

What Christianity has taught me, and why I am still a Christian

I have been told on several occasions that I am not a Christian, because I have liberal views about Jesus and the Bible. Things like hanging out with atheists to learn more about their perspective, to supporting gay rights, and more, have gotten me labeled as a heretic, blasphemer, sinful heathen, vile Christian, and many other colorful names that I won’t put in this article. Labels have never worked well for me because I cant find one that fits me perfectly.  

Before I explain why I am still a Christian, I want to take a moment to describe what being a Christian has taught me. I learned the real meaning of love, from being a Christian. The lessons of Jesus have truly changed the man that I am today. Just ask my wife. My wife and I, have a marriage that almost all of our friends, and anyone who knows us, envies on a regular basis. Not a week goes by, that someone doesn’t tell Jenise or I, that they wish we had what we have. But it wasn’t always like that. You can read all about it, if you want in my article about “my personal testimony.” In a nutshell, I learned how to love my wife when she wasn’t doing things my way. I learned to love her when she was being irrational, irresponsible, illogical, and just plain unfair. I learned to love her, the way Jesus loved us, when He was willing to die on the cross, for people who did, and would, despise Him. I learned about Agape love. I have always been told that “true love is blind.” The lessons in the Bible actually taught me that “true love is NOT blind. True love sees everything, but loves anyway.” If anyone wants to know, that is the secret to our happiness and longevity of our marriage. I didn’t know these things, before I was a Christian. In fact, I had a very “primal” attitude that only the strong had the right to survive. If someone hurt you, or took advantage of you, it was your own fault for being so week. That was the attitude my wife had to endure for so many years. Looking back, I have no idea why she was so determined to stay with me, in spite of my loveless, emotionless, and heartless beliefs.  
After reading about Jesus, and what the new testament says about how a husband should love his wife, I slowly changed my attitude towards my wife. I am indebted to my Christian faith for not just saving my marriage, but for making it a marriage that almost every person who really knows my wife and I, wish they could have. I know there are parts of the Bible that are not about love, and some parts are just outright horrible. But this isn’t an article in defense of my faith or the Bible. Some people have said things like “Well, you shouldn’t need a God to be good,” or “you are a pretty shallow person if you need ancient bronze-age fairy tales to be a good husband.” And to all those things I say “So what?” Good for you, if you can be good without a God. Good for you, if you are a good spouse without “fairy tales” and parables. I couldn’t. I needed those things in my life to change my perspective. And as a result, I have an amazingly strong and happy marriage of 20 years and counting. Every person that has ever criticized me, could not say the same, regardless if they were Christian or Atheist.

Now in regards to why I am still a Christian, who ever said that a Christian had to be perfect? Not any Christian I have ever met. Not the bible. Not any church I have attended. There seems to be this notion that “Christians” are supposed to act a certain way or do certain things. That’s all well and good, but none of this has been documented in the Bible that I can find. How about this? Being a Christian is a journey. And some people are further along in their journey. I will even retract the word “further” and replace it with “at a different place” in their journey. The bible was meant to be an experience for everyone. Everyone I know has different stories and different experiences with God. That says a lot to me. We are all supposed to have different experiences. Just like the prodigal son had a different experience than Esther. I could go on and on. The point is, I am a Christian. And for all the things I do that are “unchristian-like” in some people’s minds, is only a testimony that I need Jesus in my life. I am not as bad of a person as I was 15 years ago, and I am confident I will be a better person in 15 more years. But mostly, I am a Christian for what I believe and uphold. I uphold the divinity of Christ, the sonship of Christ, the incarnation, the fact that God the Salvation is imaged in Christ, and I hold that Salvation is by virtue of God alone; this salvation revealed as living revelation in the person of Jesus, and his actions: And that this atonement has alone been revealed by Jesus, the Incarnate Body, and all of this subsumed in the Godhead.

I uphold that God's Love, and Justice, and all of God's divine attributes work in one accord, one unity, for divine purpose in harmony, not in dichotomy.  I do not deny, or pit any of God's attributes against one another.  I hold that Salvation is a simultaneous work of God's Love, Justice, Mercy, and Grace in one unanimous accord, and will, for the holy, and righteous purposes of God.

I uphold that Christ was born of the chosen virgin Mary mother of Jesus, crucified by Pontious Pilate, dying, was buried, and resurrected to sit at the right hand of God the Father.

I affirm, and confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, and is God the Son, beloved son of the Father, conceived of God by the overshadowing of God the Holy Spirit; and established through his being, and actions, the Kingdom of God in Earth, as it is in Heaven.

I affirm that Salvation is by God and the exercise of God's power, nature, and agency - through Grace and Faith given by God to the Human, and uphold Monergism, and Monistic Agency whereby God achieves his will in the Human.

That I hold that Salvation is for all and achieved in all because of the majesty, power, nature, and attributes of God does not deny saving faith, nor does it imply "damnable", and it certainly does not mean that I am worshipping a "different god".  I worship the God.  Ho Theos.  Being itself.  The God of All in All, which the Bible testifies of, and which the God gives revelation through, as God also gives revelation through Creation, Revelation, Prophecy, Divine Encounters, and the Truths of God.

In so far as Universalism goes the only thing it does is take the issue of Eternal Damnation, Eternity, or Aion-Aionios (from the approach of both Temporality, or Eternality) and approach it from a different angle.  Which is that God's actions are corrective, and restorative (which is perfectly in line with his attributes in unity, and his personhood) rather than merely afflictive, or even anticorrective as in the case of Damnationalists who believe that "Hell increaseth the sin, and where sin increaseth, the wrath afflicts abounding all the more".

It is possible to derive Universalism from the spirit of the Biblical themes, and it is especially possible to derive from Philosophical approaches to Ontology, especially in light of Monism, and Monergism.

For example it is possible for a person to hold to both Eternal Damnation, and Eternal Salvation for all persons simultaneously.  One need only take the verses as saying, expressed by the Apostle Paul, that the "old man" (sin, and our identification with a sinful nature) is eternally damned, and destroyed.  It (by Christ) is put to an end in us.  It is by virtue of God's renewing power that the "new man" (righteousness, and our identification with the righteous nature in unity with Christ, as children of God, etc) is by Christ given life, and freedom in the Lord as silver is purged of dross, or wheat is purged of chaff.

I hold that God's Justice is so thorough that it will not allow sin, and a sinful identity to remain even in a state of imprisoned affliction.  And in doing so restores through Christ the very health, and holiness of that which God has expressed through his Creation.  In other words: God is not content to enshrine sin in a closet, but destroys it, so that the goodness of his workmanship (all of creation) shall live restored to him. 

God is not content to contain crime in a prison designed to afflict.  The purpose of God is to achieve the end of crime altogether such that the prison has served its corrective purpose, and the prisoners (by the omnipotent power of God, and the omniscient knowledge of how to achieve restoration in what he himself has made) rehabilitated, and reconciled through Christ to the Father.  Just as we, once being prisoners to evil, and in allegiance to the Enemy, were by that very merciful Christ reconciled back, for the glory of God, and all the goodness that is of his Name, and Nature.  Even as we were saved back to ourselves, seated in Heavenly Places in Eternity beyond Time, saved to Christ with whom, and in whom we have unity in God, for Christ, and through Christ, and in Christ; so too will "all be reconciled" and "all be restored" to the glory of the Father.  Whereby for the glory of the Father true worship will be expressed (in Truth [life, and way] and in Spirit) by every knee, and every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord.  A confession which can only be given by one who is indwelt by the Spirit, which is the seal of Salvation, and given upon Salvation, by the Lord God Christ Almighty and Beloved Son of the Father.

To add to this, if the thief on the cross can make his declaration just hours before his death, when he saw Jesus, then I contend a person can make the same declaration to save themselves, just hours after their death. When they have witnessed Jesus. 

1 comment:

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