Saturday, February 02, 2008

Christianity in these end times

I always wondered about people who were so sure Jesus was the only way to heaven. I used to think those people were arrogant, misguided wack-jobs who had nothing better to do than read their bibles and go to church.

Now I'm one of them. In the past, when I've observed the process from afar of gradual conversion of an individual, I used to think that they had been indoctrinated, sucked in, absorbed.

Now I understand.

When a person accepts Christ, in the manner outlined in Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" then what you are doing is agreeing that God in His supernatural, unknowable sovereignty raised His son from the dead. The word 'Lord' means you understand that you are a subject under that sovereignty and will follow His teachings and Law. The Holy Spirit then comes upon you.

The gulf then widens between the believer and the unbeliever, because the Holy Spirit is knowable to the person in whom He dwells, and unknowable to the person in whom He does not dwell. As the new Christian disciple grows in Christ, the Holy Spirit leads them more strongly and more lovingly, and the new believer naturally drifts farther from the paths trod by the unbeliever. The gap widens. Eventually, those left behind will look upon the new Christian as one who has been sucked in, they not being able to see, know, or understand the power of our Lord who now dwells within the follower.

But, O! it is so simple. And in its simplicity, it is so devastating. First, the love bestowed on us by God through His son Jesus Christ is deep and abiding. That the very creator of the worlds would care so much about us, who are ridiculous humans fumbling around the world, is amazing. It is also devastating because the more fervently the Holy Spirit dwells within a person (which in my opinion depends upon how fervently the believer seeks it, asks for it, and obeys it) the more one wants to bring all this amazingness to others.

Who do not always appreciate the message.

So there you have it, the life of a Christian.

4 comments:

christie said...

Ms. Elizabeth,
I do believe I would one day like to have a long discussion about religion with you. I find the subject endlessly fascinating. I can't tell you how long I waited for just such an experience so I could feel what all of these other people felt and it just never happened for me. So, I became an atheist. You find the claims of indoctrination to be disturbing, try having folks think you're a completely morally bankrupt person because you don't subscribe to the same faith-based belief system. I mean, I can't believe killing someone is wrong without God's existence? Give me a break!

...And here's me stepping off the soapbox...

BTW, love the new banner.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth said:

When a person accepts Christ, in the manner outlined in Romans 10:9...you will be saved.

A couple of comments. First of all, this statement has the form of a proposition, if p, then q. The only way for the proposition to be false is if p is true and q is false. So for example, if you live in Athens, then you live in Georgia would only be false if you said you lived in Athens (p), but did not live in Georgia (~q).

Note that if p is false, then the implication has nothing to say about the state of q. So if you say that you do not live in Athens, then you could live in Georgia, or indeed any other state.

Now, your original implication says, if you accept Jesus, then you will be saved. This proposition would only be false if you were to accept to Jesus, but then not be saved. If you happen to not accept Jesus, then your statement has nothing to say about whether you will be saved. You might in fact be saved, but for some reasons unrelated to whether you accept Jesus. Do you follow?

Second of all, your statement only has force if you accept some background assumptions, such as the authority of the (Greek) bible. The authority of the bible must be derived axiomatically (from a source outside the bible), since of course it cannot come from the bible itself.

You also said:

But, O! it is so simple. And in its simplicity, it is so devastating.

Devastating to whom? It cannot be that devastating, since Christianity in general, and Southern Baptism in particular, is a minority religion, when compared to the all of the others. If logical arguments for theism were so obvious (arguments that are necessarily analytic, as theistic claims are non-empirical), then there would not be the plethora of religions that exists today.

The problem is that theology lacks a methodology for resolving competing claims (unlike, say, science, which resolves disputes through experimentation). As a consequence, adherents having different beliefs cleave into rival factions, e.g. Baptists vs. Anabaptists. Indeed, Southern Baptism itself keeps bifurcating.

John said...

Hello Elizabeth,

I was having fun reading your blogs until I go to this one.

Can't you see how arrogant it is to think that only Christians can achieve heaven?

As a deist who has experienced what I am sure that you are referring to as the Holy Spirit coming upon me, I just think it is mind-bogglingly egotistic and arrogant to think the things that you're expressing here.

There are many paths to divinity, Christianity may be one of them, but the Christian's insistence that their path is the only one just turns me away from Christianity and Christians.

John

Elizabeth Prata said...

Hi John,

Thank you very much for reading.

It is not true that only Christians can achieve heaven. Anyone can. The way is broad. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. If a person acknowledges they are a sinner (not perfect), ask Jesus for forgiveness of those sins (mistakes, moral laxities, whatever one wants to call them), and pray to accept the reality of Jesus' sacrifice and then they are saved.

Even atheists recognize the existence of sin. Were it not for sin, societies wouldn't need police protection. Jack Kinsella wrote this week:

"In the sense of 'Christian intolerance' the word 'tolerant' really means 'pluralist'. 'Pluralism' is a curious philosophy, in that it holds that a number of simultaneous and conflicting truths can exist at the same time with each separate truth remaining equally true."

"To the pluralist, all religions are equally valid and all religions lead to God. All gods are equally 'god', which is the logical equivalent to saying there is no God at all -- and then making a religious worldview out of it."

Anonymous, you have constructed an interesting and complicated reply. Tortuous even. For a long time I did the same thing: tried to puzzle out my feelings about Jesus mentally, logically. But eventually I decided to take Him on faith. And the decision looking back seems so logical now!

Here is the if-then for you: If a person accepts Jesus, they are saved. If a person rejects Jesus, they perish. "No one comes to the Father but through me" Jesus said to His disciples. I believe Him.

It's pretty intersting that other absolutes are given a pass, while the absolute Truth of Jesus makes people angry. The only way to work for the Post Office is to take a civil service exam. The only way into the armed forces is through boot camp. The only way into college is with a HS degree (or equivalent). You get the idea. The only way to heaven is through Jesus.

Let me ask you, do you think will you be going to heaven? On what basis, that you have done good works? Been a good person? Gave money to church? How are good works and good people judged good?

I encourage both John and Anonymous to read the article "How do I get to heaven?" by Britt Gillette

http://brittgillette.com/WordPress/?p=73

Again, thank you for reading and for commenting.