God's Politics

God's Politics


Diana Butler Bass: Believing the Resurrection

posted by gp_intern

In the early 90s, I lived in Santa Barbara, Calif., and attended a dynamic, renewing, spiritually vital liberal congregation, Trinity Episcopal Church. There, I was fortunate enough to meet the Rt. Rev. Daniel Corrigan, an aged Episcopal bishop who was also the first bishop to ordain women to the priesthood. Dan Corrigan was a unique breed: one of those mid-20th century liberal princes of the pulpit, a Protestant minister whose stirring preaching and passionate commitment to social justice pushed Christians to enact God’s shalom toward the oppressed and the outcast. He was both pastor and prophet. Even at the end of his life, Dan Corrigan wore the Holy Spirit like a mantle around his shoulders, always ready to speak for God.

One year, as Easter approached, I overheard an exchange between this octogenarian liberal lion and a fellow parishioner. “Bishop Corrigan,” the person asked, “Do you believe in the resurrection?” Frankly, I could not wait to hear the answer – like most of his generation, there was no way that Bishop Corrigan believed in a literal resurrection. He looked at the questioner and said firmly, without pause, “Yes. I believe in the resurrection. I’ve seen it too many times not to.”

Progressive Christians often stumble on the resurrection. Many will sit in churches this Easter Sunday, silently doubting or questioning the minister’s sermon. They may like the music, appreciate the tradition and liturgy, and delight in the feelings of joy – but they will not really believe the resurrection. One of the great theological problems of old-style Protestant liberalism was the doctrine of the resurrection – it defied logic, reason, and human experience that a man would be raised from the dead. Having rejected the idea of the miraculous, the liberal tradition turned resurrection into an allegory or a spiritual metaphor.

As a writer, I happen to appreciate the power of allegory and metaphor. And I thought that was the theological tack Bishop Corrigan would take with the parishioner. However, he did not. Instead, Bishop Corrigan headed right for the dicey territory of historical witness: I’ve seen it too many times not to.

The problem with trying to prove – or disprove, for that matter – the resurrection is that actual historical evidence of the event 2,000 years ago does not exist one way or the other. In his popular book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell goes through a torturous process of picking and choosing facts to establish a legal case that proves the resurrection. On the other side of the theological ledger, the recent book, The Jesus Family Tomb, likewise picks and chooses from meager data to intellectually establish that Jesus died and stayed dead. Both sides of this street are an intellectual and historical dead-end, an argument with no solution – only overheated opinions.

Bishop Corrigan’s comment – a comment upon which I have mediated for some dozen years – points to a different way of embracing, of believing, the resurrection. His answer both defies the conventional approach to the resurrection (as a scientifically verifiable event), and maintains the truthfulness (the credibility) of the resurrection as historically viable and real. The resurrection is not an intellectual puzzle. Rather, it is a living theological reality, a distant event with continuing spiritual, human, and social consequences. The evidence for the resurrection is all around us. Not in some ancient text, Jesus bones, or a DNA sample. Rather, the historical evidence for the resurrection is Jesus living in us; it is the transformative power of the Holy Spirit, bringing back to life that which was dead. We are the evidence.

There is a woman in my church in Washington, D.C., who was homeless for 15 years. Several years ago, she came to Epiphany Church and was welcomed by the congregation’s ministry to homeless people. “It was the first time,” she told me, “that I came into a church and no one looked at me as if I was going to steal something.” Epiphany’s people respected her humanity, fed her, listened to her, and helped her – all in the name and power of Jesus. Eventually, she moved off the street into Section 8 housing, secured both work and support, and pulled her life together. An active member of Epiphany, she helps run the homeless ministry, serves as a Sunday reader, and usher.

When I see her on Sunday, she is a living, breathing, historical witness that the resurrection is true.

Like Bishop Corrigan, I, too, can say that I believe the resurrection. I’ve seen it too many times not to.

This Easter Sunday, consider all the resurrections you have seen. If you are anything like me, those resurrections are not only stories of homeless people who find a home in Christ. They will be stories of your own life, of your myriad deaths and rebirths – of all the times you thought God had deserted you only to discover that God was finding you anew. The resurrection cannot be intellectually proved; it goes well beyond allegory and myth. It is the continuing, transforming power of God to bring back from death all that was lost – that ever-renewing love at work changing ourselves, our communities, and our world. Go ahead: believe.


Diana Butler Bass (http://www.dianabutlerbass.com/) is the author of Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (Harper San Francisco), recently chosen as Book of the Year by the Academy of Parish Clergy.



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Mark P

posted April 5, 2007 at 3:32 am


When you take about the Resurrection, talk about Jesus Christ, Son of God and God Himself. If you want, talk about all the resurrections you’ve seen — they are important if we are to believe that a millenia-old event matters today. In any case, the centrality of the Cross to history and to this life we live is essential. Without the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the joy and delight to be found in the Father rings hollow. Caring for the poor and living at peace with all men matters because we have a living and active Word, the incarnate and resurrected YHWH. As an aside, I do believe that if you allow the possibility of the resurrection in the first place, you will find a preponderence of evidence (some circumstantial) in favor of the historical resurrection. This is to say that most people discount the resurrection not because they weighed the evidence and found the Gospel wanting but because they found it impossible in the beginning. Yet I agree that, in one sense, this matters not. If you find the Resurrection a stumbling block, it’s because you haven’t accepted the Cornerstone.



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David

posted April 5, 2007 at 5:19 am


Let me preface this by saying that God is probably not checking a list of who does and doesn’t believe in a literal resurrection of Jesus–God has bigger fish to fry. It seems to me, though, that you’re being intellectually dishonest if you can’t answer that parishoner’s question in one of three ways: Yes, no, or I don’t know. (and “I don’t know” is a perfectly fine, and honest answer.) Liberal Christians (and that’s probably how I would define myself if pinned down) seem to have a problem with answering questions like this, and when you hem and haw about metaphor and “resurrections” of homeless people, the subtext of your answer is, “No, I don’t believe the story, but I’m afraid to admit it.” Personally, I’ve moved from “probably not” to “I don’t know” to “probably,” based on my interpretation of the scant evidence we have from the gospels. If you’re at “no,” then that’s fine, but give a straightforward answer. I’ll respect you more for it.



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Deno Reno

posted April 5, 2007 at 5:22 am


AMEN Bro. Mark. As C.S. Lewis put it either the Disciples of CHRIST told the truth or they lied. When you consider the persecution and torture they endured for preaching the “truth” and the fact that all but John faced a Martyr’s Death and none were ever reported to recant what their eyes as witnesses to the resurrection saw! They faced torment and Death more severe than Abu Ghrab or Gitmo or any other modern facility They fell victim to professional killers like the Romans whose vocation in life was written in blood, pain, and death.



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kevin s.

posted April 5, 2007 at 5:53 am


I agree with this. For me, the concept of Christianity seemed completely absurd. I was literally shocked to find that Christians believed that you had to accept that a man died for our sins and came back to life. Huh? But then I saw the miraculous transformations and, well, the proof is in the pudding.



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Joseph T

posted April 5, 2007 at 6:02 am


Beautiful, Diana. Thanks.



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Alex

posted April 5, 2007 at 7:26 am


It always seems strange to me, for some reason, that the Episcopal church seems to draw theologically liberal Christians so strongly. As far as I know, all the Episcopal churches recite the Nicene Creed at every service. I think it’s dishonest for people to recite creeds if they don’t actually believe them. (On that note, I’m surprised I don’t hear about large numbers of liberal Baptist churches.) I really hope this comment doesn’t come across as offensive, but I expect that it will. :-( That being said, I really enjoyed the original post.



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Cads

posted April 5, 2007 at 8:06 am


As a Deist, I always felt that the Resurrection was one of the many stumbling blocks in truly believing in Christianity. Since the Resurrection is the absolute cornerstone of Christianity and if you truly have doubts about its literal occurance, maybe those doubters among you aren’t truly Christians. Just a thought.



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Will

posted April 5, 2007 at 9:00 am


Thank you Diana! Amen!



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Tim

posted April 5, 2007 at 4:01 pm


I am sorry to see that I will have to leave Sojourners to find a Christian call to activism. Any Christian that even questions the literal resurrection or the primacy (the fact that Christians must believe in the literal resurrection) of the resurrection is a huge irony, that person is not much of a Christian. I’ll stick with what Paul wrote: “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is suseless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-15a The Hope of Christianity is not that we can change public policy, but that Christ indeed rose from the dead. That he is alive today. That he will come again judging the righteous and the unrighteous. Thats why Christians can loudly proclaim: “Where, O death, is your victoy? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power os fin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.



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ds0490

posted April 5, 2007 at 4:51 pm


“As C.S. Lewis put it either the Disciples of CHRIST told the truth or they lied.” Or the story was embellished over the years before it was put to scroll. Or it was embellished by later scribes with an agenda. Or other accounts were dismissed because they disagreed with the political agenda of those at one council or another. Many, many possibilities. False dichotomies do nothing to provide evidence for the resurrection.



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Aaron

posted April 5, 2007 at 4:52 pm


I do believe that if you allow the possibility of the resurrection in the first place, you will find a preponderence of evidence (some circumstantial) in favor of the historical resurrection. This is to say that most people discount the resurrection not because they weighed the evidence and found the Gospel wanting but because they found it impossible in the beginning. I think you’ve set up a catch-22 for those who don’t accept the ressurrection.



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Aaron

posted April 5, 2007 at 4:55 pm


When you consider the persecution and torture they endured for preaching the “truth” and the fact that all but John faced a Martyr’s Death and none were ever reported to recant what their eyes as witnesses to the resurrection saw! They faced torment and Death more severe than Abu Ghrab or Gitmo or any other modern facility They fell victim to professional killers like the Romans whose vocation in life was written in blood, pain, and death. So the unverified centuries later accounts say…



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Wolverine

posted April 5, 2007 at 5:05 pm


I have to disagree with Tim. There’s nothing anti-Christian about dealing with the fact that there are people who admire Christ and Christianity but who struggle with doubts. I fall in that category myself sometimes. And while doubts aren’t something that the church should encourage, it’s not cause to freak out. St. Peter struggled with doubts on Lake Galilee. St. Thomas is sometimes called “the doubter”. Jesus himself talked of faith like a mustard seed (as opposed to, say, a coconut) to indicate that a small amount of faith can have great power. Lord knows I’ve disagreed with DBB in the past, but on this post all I can say is: she’s found a reason to believe — good for her. Wolverine



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splinterlog

posted April 5, 2007 at 5:09 pm


Josh McDowell goes through a torturous process of picking and choosing facts to establish a legal case that proves the resurrection… The Jesus Family Tomb, likewise picks and chooses from meager data to intellectually establish that Jesus died and stayed dead. Thank you for putting it SO precisely!!!



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Tim

posted April 5, 2007 at 5:21 pm


Wolverine – I definitely was not saying you cannot doubt as a Christian. Please don’t hear that. I doubt everyday. I doubt whether or not my faith in Christ is well-placed. Life would be much easier at times to not have faith in Christ. But it is one thing to doubt or question God, it is another to deny or to change the claims he makes about Himself. If Christianity is true, then we must accept it as God hands it down to us. Although we can debate on the finer points, one of the main points is that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, Christianity is a farce that is cruelly lying to people. Read 1 Corinthians 15. Paul even says he would go out, get drunk and live life up if Christ was not raised from the dead. Doubts are biblical. You said Thomas doubted, but his doubt ended when he saw the resurrected Christ. Peter doubted Jesus when he sank in the water, but that doubt would end as he died for Jesus. Its OK to doubt the resurrection, but to deny the physical resurrection its central importance to the Christian faith is changing what Christians have believed for 2,000 years…



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Tim

posted April 5, 2007 at 5:23 pm


Splinterlog – Its a joke that Dianna would even compare the Jesus Family Tomb to Josh McDowell’s book. Although McDowell’s book is not a proof of the resurrection, it contains decently strong arguments. The Jesus Family Tomb has been discredited by every scholar (except for ones in the movie) and is being seen as a joke. For more info on that see benwitherington.blogspot.com



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Mark

posted April 5, 2007 at 5:41 pm


Responding to Alex about the Episcopal church and liberal Christianity; You make an interesting observation. I’ve been attending an Episcopal church for 5 years. Every week (not including daily eucharists) we recite the Nicene creed along with the liturgy which largely is taken from scripture, and yet so many don’t believe what they’re saying. You can’t get much more explicit about the resurrection than saying,”He suffered death and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures…he shall come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.” Of course it’s hard to believe. Yet, isn’t that what Christian faith is? I’m not juxtaposing faith and rationality, but doesn’t faith transcend reason at times where we simply can’t rationally explain an event?I fear we Episcopalians too quickly turn to reinterpreting the creeds and scriptures to conform to our modern minds. Instead of fitting the resurrection into a modern/scientific framework, why not at least attempt to understand it on it’s own terms? Maybe 1st century jewish and greek thought knew more about God than we do in our technological scientific age… I also wonder why we have such a hard time being forthright about what we’re saying about the resurrection. Can’t we be honest and say we struggle with believing, but also acknowledge that it’s fairly essential to being a Christian?If the resurrection didn’t really happen, if God didn’t really raise Jesus from the dead, then why do we have hope that God will bring bring resurrection to our world now? I struggle with believing it, but at the same time don’t see why I should hope for God to work in people’s lives today if he didn’t raise Christ from the dead. (and when looking at the scriptures and the resurrection, it’s obvious that they mean a literal resurrection, as did the early church whose faith we’ve inherited).



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neuro_nurse

posted April 5, 2007 at 6:20 pm


Wolverine “…who struggle with doubts. I fall in that category myself sometimes.” As do I. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24



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jk

posted April 5, 2007 at 6:47 pm


This kind of blog is exactly why I could never support Sojourners. I am a strong supporter of many of the issues Sojourners addresss. I appreciate the forum Wallis provides and the opportunity to read and discuss differing opinions. However, I cannot support an organization that allows blogger opinions that deny the very basics of the Christian faith. I know that Wallis wants to provide a variety of opinions and backgrounds, but where is that line drawn?



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splinterlog

posted April 5, 2007 at 7:05 pm


even compare the Jesus Family Tomb to Josh McDowell’s book. Um I actually think that they’re at about the same level, but I guess we can agree to disagree.Mark, beautifully put. The resurrection strains the categories of history when we try to describe it as an historical event. Even the narratives int he Bible strain to explain what it is that is going on!I believe that history pivots around the resurrection and not the other way around. The myth/fact dichotomy is entirely false because the resurrection has both deep existential value and a normative value for history. Having said that, I don’t expect that an historiographical method that does not begin with taking the resurrection seriously will be able to do much more than dismiss it.



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Paul

posted April 5, 2007 at 7:25 pm


I have always believed that the resurrection message that should be central to a Christian is the faith that God said yes to Jesus when the world said no. Either a physical or a spiritual resurrection satisfies that criteria. As Christians our ultimate concern should be to obey His command to love our neighbors and enemies. Let’s not allow ourselves to become unfocused on issues of lesser concern.



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Aaron

posted April 5, 2007 at 7:27 pm


Although McDowell’s book is not a proof of the resurrection, it contains decently strong arguments. Too funny.



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Mark

posted April 5, 2007 at 8:05 pm


Paul said, ” As Christians our ultimate concern should be to obey His command to love our neighbors and enemies. Let’s not allow ourselves to become unfocused on issues of lesser concern.” In speaking for myself, whether or not the resurrection really happened is the issue of utmost concern. All ethical and moral obligations proceed from Jesus being resurrected. I rely more heavily on revealed theology than natural theology. You might say my ethics and morals are founded upon the “red letters” to use a familiar term reffering to Jesus’ words. However, if I am going to trust Jesus as a moral authority, (and part of what gives Jesus authority is that he is not just a man) I have to believe that what was said about him is also true.I think dismissing Christology as a “lesser concern” is a mistake. Loving our neighbor flows out of loving God, not vice versa.



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Tim

posted April 5, 2007 at 8:41 pm


Splinterlog – See F.F. Bruce’s “The Reliability of the New Testament Documents.” This book gained credibility in academic circles as Bruce’s work crossed liberal and conservative lines. Although not all agree, all admit they have to deal with his arguments because they are strong. McDowell bases many of his arguments along the same lines of Bruce’s. I don’t see McDowell’s book as a strong or even a good defense of Christian faith, but it has some merits. The Jesus Family Tomb has none, and there are no credible academics (besides James Tabor, who a year ago published a book contradicting the Jesus Family Tomb, now he is saying the Family Tomb is accurate…this is there best scholar?) who buy into it. Like McDowell or not (I’m ambivalent) at least the source of some of his arguments find traction in scholarship. The Jesus Family Tomb does not.



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Mark P

posted April 5, 2007 at 9:05 pm


David:God has bigger fish to fry. -Oh yeah, whether or not you recognize that the Incarnate Son of God and God Himself died on a Roman cross as a propitiation for the sins of those who believe is insignificant. — Cads:Since the Resurrection is the absolute cornerstone of Christianity and if you truly have doubts about its literal occurance, maybe those doubters among you aren’t truly Christians. Just a thought. -It s more than a thought Cads everything in history of God s gracious and compassionate interaction with mankind points to the Cross. Delete it, and you must enjoy your other religion. — ds:Or the story was embellished over the years before it was put to scroll. Or it was embellished by later scribes with an agenda. Or other accounts were dismissed because they disagreed with the political agenda of those at one council or another. -Oh man. Study some Church history, pal. Yeah, there was political wheeling-and-dealing like crazy in the councils. But let s not just get silly in endorsing anti-Christian propaganda (aka any Gnostic Gospels, pretty much anything from the Nag Hamidi library) because it looks nice in a trashy novel (aka Dan Brown).Many, many possibilities. -Not as many as some would like to pretend. Considering the massive preponderance of dated New Testament manuscripts, it is difficult to argue with any seriousness that much was altered after the mid-2nd-century. So, what s in the Gospels is pretty much what was written by the original 1st/early-2nd century authors. Did they lie? You could argue that except that it makes no sense that completely false story would gain any currency so close to the actual events, that somehow all these fabricated tales would pop up out of thin air and not be disputed. As an aside, I always find it humorous that most modern historians are quick to accept Josephus as an accurate source until he talks about Jesus. Is there any *real* reason to doubt this one particular part? No, unless you ve decided the supernatural doesn t exist already — Aaron: I think you’ve set up a catch-22 for those who don’t accept the ressurrection. -So do I. If the same preponderance of evidence were in place to say that Jesus had built a building in Galilee, there would be essentially no doubt about the facts of the matter. It s human incredulity rather than legitimate proof of doubt that makes sense.So the unverified centuries later accounts say… -Lay aside Brown novels and Holy Blood, Holy Grail for your arguments. — Wolverine: -There is nothing wrong with doubt. Every dogmatic belief should begin in doubt but until you accept the Resurrection, you cannot accept the propitiation of Jesus Christ on the Cross and it s difficult to place oneself in the Christian camp if you can t swallow the means by which you get there. — Mark (not me): Of course it’s hard to believe. -I m not sure it is once you ve decided Jesus Christ is ALMIGHTY GOD it s not hard to accept He could overrule the laws of life and death established within His own creation. — Paul: I have always believed that the resurrection message that should be central to a Christian is the faith that God said yes to Jesus when the world said no. Either a physical or a spiritual resurrection satisfies that criteria. As Christians our ultimate concern should be to obey His command to love our neighbors and enemies. Let’s not allow ourselves to become unfocused on issues of lesser concern. -I think the central message of the Gospel is that we re screwed as a result of our own sin, and Jesus Christ DIED and ROSE AGAIN to ransom us from that sin. Some sort of metaphysical, ethereal idea of resurrection does NOT satisfy. Our ultimate concern should be to love THE LORD OUR GOD with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and from that well-spring, love our neighbor. There is no greater concern for the believer than whether God s ransom is up to the task of our guilt.



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Aaron

posted April 5, 2007 at 9:40 pm


Lay aside Brown novels and Holy Blood, Holy Grail for your arguments. Never read them, but I have read most of these primary works in translation found at http://www.ccel.org/fathers2, but if you can’t accept that people don’t follow the “orthodox” redacted history that’s fine by me.



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Aaron

posted April 5, 2007 at 9:42 pm


-Not as many as some would like to pretend. Considering the massive preponderance of dated New Testament manuscripts, it is difficult to argue with any seriousness that much was altered after the mid-2nd-century. So, what s in the Gospels is pretty much what was written by the original 1st/early-2nd century authors. Considering the far majority of such documents date later than the mid 2nd century, it’s hard to see how you reached such a conclusion.



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George Whitefield

posted April 5, 2007 at 9:43 pm


“once you ve decided Jesus Christ is ALMIGHTY GOD it s not hard to accept He could overrule the laws of life and death established within His own creation.” I thought Christ is the Son of God.



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Aaron

posted April 5, 2007 at 9:46 pm


As an aside, I always find it humorous that most modern historians are quick to accept Josephus as an accurate source until he talks about Jesus. Is there any *real* reason to doubt this one particular part? No, unless you ve decided the supernatural doesn t exist already Given that we know early christians were famous for altering stories and creating artifacts and relics out of thin air (miraculous how many biblical places were found after Constantine adopted christianity, hell they even found the True Cross (TM) and several skulls of John the Baptist), it’s not such a stretch to see them doing that to historical works. Jospehus also recounts other Jewish myths that I’m sure historians disbelieve just as much as the christianized passage about Jesus. And strange that Jospehus allegedly wrote that glowingly about Jesus yet isn’t named as a christian himself, as I recall devout Jews became christians or villified them.



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Ngchen

posted April 5, 2007 at 9:51 pm


Well, there is the interesting argument of say, for the sake of argument, that if every last one of the biblical miracles were fakes, then for the existence of the Church and its effects throughout history to be as great as they are would be doubly miraculous! Especially considering how the early Christians were without doubt persecuted by one of the mightiest empires of the day. This survival and thriving is itself nothing short of miraculous.



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Aaron

posted April 5, 2007 at 9:59 pm


Interesting?



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Hali

posted April 6, 2007 at 12:49 am


What Jesus taught absolutely stands by itself, which is why he is revered not only by Christians, but by other faith traditions as well. Whatever else you ascribe to Jesus, he was a good guy and made a lot of sense.



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lailyt

posted April 6, 2007 at 12:54 am


I mostly lurk on these blog boards, but I actually do have a story about someone ressurecting thier life. A good friend of mine was heading straight for the psych ward, do not pass go, do not collect $200, or the streets . . . we fell out of touch for a few years . . . then I met her again in my synagoge. She is almost done converting to Judaism, and is finishing her college degree, no longer near homeless, and remarkably emotionally stable, moreso then I would ever have thought possible for her . . . and much of this is due to becoming an observant Jew. I guess Jehovah works in mysterious ways. Lailyt



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Pacific231

posted April 6, 2007 at 3:38 am


So is the central “measure” of a “real/true/authentic” Christian the precision to which they believe the resurrection (and for that matter all other entries in the Holy Gospels) as fact? Because I’m sure we can rattle off names of many well-known “real/true/authentic” Christians if measured that way, who think nothing of spewing hate at those they don’t like/disagree with politically; scorning the poor and disenfranchised, etc. etc. etc…and see no problem with that. It’s almost like a metaphycial game of rock-paper-scissors — absolute certainity in Jesus’ resurrection “covers” living an integrity-free life. By the way, someone previously sarcastically referred to Dan Brown’s novel to help disparage another poster who had questioned the historical reality of the resurrection. IIRC, no one had raised “The DaVinci Code” to support their arguement, so the person who invoked Brown’s novel was making a strawman arguement. What’s more, millions of “authentic” Christians who believe in the resurrection as fact avidly read Tim LaHaye’s book series and also believe “the rapture” as fact. People in glass houses…



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Donny

posted April 6, 2007 at 6:29 am


Paul said that if you are a Progressive Liberal, then your faith is in vain. Well metaphorically speaking. That is, if you do not believe in the resurrection as fact, go believe in some other religion. “If Christ be not raised . . .” It’s nice for 21st century writers and Liberal-Progressive religiosity seekers of the warm and fuzzies, to believe that the resurrection is a metaphor, but for Christians it is not a joke or fable.You cannot put your hand into the holes in the hands and side of a metaphor. This “Easter” why not become a Christian? Like so many people did after the Resurrection of Christ Jesus.



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splinterlog

posted April 6, 2007 at 7:16 am


There you are Donny – missed you man!



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Payshun

posted April 6, 2007 at 7:21 am


Gotta love evangelicalism. You all can make people feel like crap w/o even tryin. I always thought the central message of the gospel was that we are free from death and condemnation. I could be wrong though. p



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Peter

posted April 6, 2007 at 3:24 pm


Many of you quote Paul, who did not witness the resurrection and yet made it central to the Christian faith. Well, Paul had the privilege of being knocked down from his horse by a bright light, or so the story goes. And for the past 2000 years, millions of Christians have had to tortuously believe things that are counter-intuitive based on one man’s experience so long ago. Let’s stop torturing ourselves trying to believe things that don’t make sense just because another human “told us so.” If God is as Paul says He is, let Him strike us “down from our high horses” to reveal Himself. Why is Paul good enough for direct revelation and all we get is an ancient and confusing collection of texts, and the religious right mucking things up further to boot? Yes, Easter brings this out in me every year. Pray for me.



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Steve

posted April 6, 2007 at 3:43 pm


I am a progressive/liberal Christian who has no problem with the resurrection as a time/space event. I don’t see how reducing it to a metaphor could have begun a religion that absolutely affirmed the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. The apostles did not preach a metaphor; they preached a flesh-and-blood reality that had completely transformed and convinced them. What I do have problems with is the concept of substitutionary atonement, and all the other language that goes with that–ransom, propitiation, satisfication, sacrifice, etc., all of which I find repugnant. Yes, yes, I know, it’s in the Bible, but very little of it is in the gospels, if you take note. Most of this language is in the epistles–Paul, Hebrews, John.As I read the gospels, I see Jesus sweeping away old concepts of God (as judge, concerned only with one nation, demanding sacrifice) in favor of a loving Father, concerned about all people, and who care nothing about sacrifice. I have to wonder if some of the early disciples misunderstood Jesus and could only understand him in terms that Jesus tried to get rid of–new wine in old wineskins?



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kevin s.

posted April 6, 2007 at 5:03 pm


“Yes, yes, I know, it’s in the Bible, but very little of it is in the gospels, if you take note. Most of this language is in the epistles–Paul, Hebrews, John.” Side note: Why is it that liberal Christians routinely reject the teachings of Paul?At any rate, if you find the concept of substitutionary atonement repugnant, then you are not at all a Christian. If you don’t like the “language” that surrounds it, well use different terms, but to reject the concept outright is to reject God.



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kevin s.

posted April 6, 2007 at 5:05 pm


“If God is as Paul says He is, let Him strike us “down from our high horses” to reveal Himself. ” Careful what you wish for.



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Donny

posted April 6, 2007 at 5:12 pm


Steve, Jesus “in the Gospels” didn’t present a “Don’t do anything as I have done it for you,” kind of message. Sin must repented of. Christ must be acknowledged. The fact that Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, is communicated in the Gospels and the writings as still, people have to come to repentance for themselves. Otherwise why did Jesus bother insulting and opposing so many people and making them feel so bad, if He does everything for them without their involvement in the repentance and salvation aspect? An anti-Christian antagonist named rabbi Tovia Singer, while trying to “disprove” what Jesus did on the Cross, actually helped clarify what was going on. He wrote, that the lamb sacrifice was for people to offer for what sins they may have commited unknowingly or or didn’t remember. “Father forgive them, for the don’t know what they are doing.” At least directed towards the Romans this makes a lot of sense. Remember also, Jesus proved Who and What He was, directly in adversarial situations with his antagonists. There will always be doubters, and as you can read, Jesus had no problem with that.BUT, deniers of the resurrections???? They are not Christians. No way no how. It would be better for the American Episcopal Churches “Liberals and Progressves,” to be honest and swith to the Wiccan religion. It would only take a couple of days to change the signs.They haven’t fooled any Christians anyway.Denying the resurrection in earnest, is apostasy and worse.In fact it is the very definition of Anti-Christ. Now think Islam as well as Humanism. Now go read the article in this months Christianity Today about the issues facing the Anglican Community worldwide. Secular Humanism (Liberals and Progressives in reality) and Islam. Both are in the category of those denying the resurection. See how easy this is.



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kevin s.

posted April 6, 2007 at 5:14 pm


“So is the central “measure” of a “real/true/authentic” Christian the precision to which they believe the resurrection (and for that matter all other entries in the Holy Gospels) as fact?” That it is necessary to believe that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected does not indicate that it is the central measure.



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Steve

posted April 6, 2007 at 5:14 pm


“At any rate, if you find the concept of substitutionary atonement repugnant, then you are not at all a Christian. If you don’t like the “language” that surrounds it, well use different terms, but to reject the concept outright is to reject God.” How very charitable and Christ-like of you, Kevin! Why is it that hard-core conservatives want to define who is and who isn’t a Christian, especially on the basis of whether they believe certain dogmas? “Side note: Why is it that liberal Christians routinely reject the teachings of Paul?”Because his teachings are very different from Jesus’.



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Bert

posted April 6, 2007 at 5:48 pm


Oh gosh Steve, the teachings of Paul are actually much more “liberal” than Jesus. It was Jesus who said “Anyone who divorces for anything other than infidelity is living in sin.” It was Jesus who said, “I come not to bring peace, but a sword.” It was Jesus who said “Anyone who looks at a women with lust has committed adultery with her in his heart.” I don’t mean to be a smart alick, but I can’t stand this notion that “Paul was a total bigot who perverted the teachings of Jesus.” Even someone as liberal as Bishop Spong won’t go that far. Anyone who thinks Paul was divorced from the message of Jesus is engaging in serious intellectual dishonesty.



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Pacific231

posted April 6, 2007 at 6:04 pm


I asked: “So is the central “measure” of a “real/true/authentic” Christian the precision to which they believe the resurrection (and for that matter all other entries in the Holy Gospels) as fact?” kevin s. replied: That it is necessary to believe that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected does not indicate that it is the central measure. Sure it is. Many postings above have stated if you do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus as an actual, literal, non-allegorical fact, then you are not a Christian. This belief precedes everything else, including how one actually chooses to live their life and how they choose to treat others. I suggest the disconnect between what a “genuine” Christian believes and how a “genuine” Christian chooses to act is nowhere more crystal clear than the remarks made by Gerald Kieschnick, national president of the “Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (“LCMS”)” shortly after 9/11, after a multidenomimational service was held at Yankee Stadium. Kieschnick first responded by suspending Rev. David Benke of Concordia College for participating in the event, because the LCMS regards praying with non-Christians as an egregious sin (I don’t think they even tolerate praying with non-LCMSers). This is standard practice for the LCMS if you can imagine. Kieschnick then shared with the world this little steaming pile of self-gratifying, intolerant, unforgivable cow pucky: The real tragedy of the 9/11 attacks “is that in all likelihood, many of those people who died in that atrocity are not in heaven today they’re in hell because they did not know or accept Jesus Christ as Savior.” - above Words of Hate by Kieschnick. Now clearly Kieschnick is an “authentic” Christian, believing in Jesus’ resurrection the same way we all believe water is wet and cow pucky stinks. Kieschnick is also a disgusting monster whose “authentic” Christian beliefs did not stop him from spewing hate at the innocent victims of those 9/11 attacks and their loved ones. On the contrary, his “authentic” belief ENCOURAGED him to spew this disgusting hate! AND that hate was directed first and foremost at non-believing victims of 9/11, not the murderers themselves!! Let me put this as clearly as I can: Show me a God that is so vain, so self obsessed that he will send people to heaven or hell based based only on whether they believed in him and without regard for their actions in life, and I will show you a false God. I do not want to be “transformed by the Holy Spirit” if the likes of Kieschnick is what one runs the risk of being transformed into!



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Donny

posted April 6, 2007 at 6:32 pm


Jesus pointed out “the faith” of the Roman Commander. Paul also alludes to non-Christians whose actions and behaviors show they are “saved,” so to speak. Doing what is right “by nature.”But anti-Christ’s are not in the running. They follow their choices to the eternity God has decided on.



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Donny

posted April 6, 2007 at 6:37 pm


Steve, some “hard core conservatives.” Peter, Paul, John, Jude, James, Timothy and the other “Christians” in the New Testament. Jesus of course, being the Christ they taught so conservatively. It is time to widen the schism between Liberal/Progressives and Christians.The Anglican Community is on the right path there.



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Pacific231

posted April 6, 2007 at 7:01 pm


It is time to widen the schism between Liberal/Progressives and Christians. I rest my case.



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Steve

posted April 6, 2007 at 7:10 pm


To Bert: When I read the gospels and move to the epistles, I see two completely different worlds, almost two completely different religions. Paul says little about Jesus and his teaching; for him, Jesus is more the celestial savior than the earthly, earthy Son of Man that M,M,& L present (yes, they do see a heavenly side as well). In the gospels I see a lack of the dogmatism that would later creep in and largely destroy Christianity. Paul is not a dogmatist, but certainly his teachings (and to be sure, those of the gospels) would be used to support dogmatism and other things that Jesus had nothing to do with, including substitutionary atonement.



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JohnH

posted April 6, 2007 at 7:15 pm


Sojourners should stop the illusion that it is a Christian organization. Very sad. Very, very sad to see this.



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Deno Reno

posted April 6, 2007 at 7:42 pm


For an enlightening dissertation on the Ressurection go to http://www.genescott.com



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Pacific231

posted April 6, 2007 at 7:43 pm


JohnH, do you mean the Sojurners (to borrow from the dull-wit and anti-wisdom of the LCMS guy quoted above) ‘will not be in heaven in the future they’ll be in hell because they did not know or accept Jesus Christ as Savior’? IOW, heaven is a metaphysical gated community for “authentic” Christians only?



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Deno Reno

posted April 6, 2007 at 7:59 pm


Study of Ressurection @ http://www.universitycathedral.com by Dr.Gene Scott



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Hali

posted April 6, 2007 at 8:17 pm


We are the saved ones. Everyone else is going to hell. And pride is the worst sin.



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Steve

posted April 6, 2007 at 8:24 pm


To JohnH: What I find very sad is the reduction of Christianity to a narrowly defined set of doctrines that one must hold to unflinchingly if one is to be called a Christian. The God of Jesus is much bigger than that–he transcends any and all dogmas. If I may be so bold as to borrow a Buddhist concept, doctrines and dogmas are the finger that point to the moon that is God and Christ. The finger is not the moon. The problem with conservative Christianity is that it has turned the finger into the moon–doctrine becomes an end in itself, even an idol, and orthodoxy becomes true religion. Jesus never, ever taught anything like this. He was an non-dogmatic as a religious teacher can be. All the other stuff, including substitutionary atonement, has been added on.



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Deno Reno

posted April 6, 2007 at 9:51 pm


Its probably very fortunate that the virgin Birth is not included as a tenet at the same level as the resurrection is. Many more would falter in their faith than the doubters of the resurrection. Perhaps we as Christians should not be so demanding of others in requiring belief in that principle (res.) right here and right now! but Faith is a lifelong struggle and we have no right to test others or judge them. GOD does ; we on the other hand do not have that right.



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kevin s.

posted April 6, 2007 at 10:04 pm


“How very charitable and Christ-like of you, Kevin! Why is it that hard-core conservatives want to define who is and who isn’t a Christian, especially on the basis of whether they believe certain dogmas?” It’s not my definition. It is not charitable to deceive you into thinking you are a Christian if you are not. The Christian faith does entail certain dogmas, and it isn’t simply “hard-core conservatives” who hold that view.Brian McLaren’s “A New Kind of Christian” has a whole set of venn diagrams to illustrate what the difference between what is and isn’t Christian faith.”Kieschnick is also a disgusting monster whose “authentic” Christian beliefs did not stop him from spewing hate at the innocent victims of those 9/11 attacks and their loved ones. ” I don’t know much about the guy, and I think his comments are (obviously ill-timed). That doesn’t make them false. “Let me put this as clearly as I can: Show me a God that is so vain, so self obsessed that he will send people to heaven or hell based based only on whether they believed in him and without regard for their actions in life, and I will show you a false God.” God is vain, jealous, and many of the things you just described. He also created the kindness and compassion you ask of Rev. Kieschnick. He is the beginning and the end, and he believes that of Himself. If that is narcissistic, he’s been called worse. I can assure you that he is anything but false. “The God of Jesus is much bigger than that–he transcends any and all dogmas.” This is logically impossible. That God exists at all is, in a sense, dogmatic. Therefore, God cannot transcend all dogma. Christ spoke to the fact that he was the son of God, and that he would die and be raised from the dead! How dogmatic can you get?



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kevin s.

posted April 6, 2007 at 10:08 pm


“Sojourners should stop the illusion that it is a Christian organization. Very sad. Very, very sad to see this.” I don’t have a problem with what Diana wrote here, and I’m a “hard-core conservative”, apparently.Hali: “We are the saved ones. Everyone else is going to hell. And pride is the worst sin.” But being save requires repentance, and an acknowledgment that we are insufficient, but that Christ is. It is only prideful to believe you are going to heaven if you believe it is because of something you did. If you believe that, because you did a lot of good things, you will go to heaven, you are indeed prideful, and that is an egregious sin.



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Hali

posted April 6, 2007 at 10:31 pm


The resurrection is a continuing Christian experience. It was and is profoundly real. Personally, I don’t it’s very “scientific” to dismiss outright the idea of a physical resuscitation for Jesus. Even now in the 21st century, our definitions of life and death aren’t exactly clear. How can we apply them to events two thousand years ago about which we have very little information? However, there are some who insist on defining reality in a limited, physical way and then define Christian faith as a belief in their version of physical reality. It is not relevant to me whether those people consider me a Christian; what matters to me is my relationship with God and the incredible love of the living Christ (yeah, that’s the Baptist in me talking). I do not see him physically, but he is real, and he is eternal.



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Albert S

posted April 6, 2007 at 11:05 pm


I started to look at the resurrection from Jesus point of view in the garden. Jesus was not a robot extension of God, he was a Son of Man with the ability to decide whether he would follow his understanding of God’s strategy for saving the world or not. We’re told that as he struggled he sweat drops liked blood. I suspect that he had doubts about his resurrection, doubts about whether he really understood God’s salvation strategy but was willing to gamble his life on that belief. To my understanding this isn’t just about resurrection, but about whether there really is a Creator God who has a viable strategy to save our world. Looking at our world today, that is hard to believe, yet I think that was the choice that Jesus faced, and the reason he didn’t just walk out of the Garden and save his own life.



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Bert

posted April 6, 2007 at 11:19 pm


To Steve, If Jesus was merely a great teacher, what makes him any greater than Socrates, Plato, Confucius, or Aristotle? Other than the sermon on the mount, Jesus didn’t say anything on purely ethical matters that wasn’t taught elsewhere. The primary message of Jesus is that he proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God. Of course many people have had various interpretations of this, but it largely centers on human departure from the will of God, and God’s subsequent forgiveness in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Grace, forgiveness, and transformation were the heart of what Jesus preached. Paul understood this and spoke of it as eloquently as anyone. Paul was human like all of us, and he wasn’t Jesus, but let’s quit making Paul and Augustine the boogeymen who ruined Christianity. Such a view is highly arrogant. They weren’t right about everything, but we can still draw tremendous wisdom and inspiration from their writings.



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Bert

posted April 6, 2007 at 11:23 pm


Another thing, Dogmatism is in the eye of the beholder. To say that the resurrection never happened is just as dogmatic as saying it did happen. And one can be an evangelical Christian without believing in substitutionary atonement. C.S. Lewis didn’t believe in it, contrary to what Liberal Christians usually think about him. Read The Great Divorce if you doubt it. Wallis, Campolo, and Mclaren are evangelical, but they reject substitutionary atonement.



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Steve

posted April 7, 2007 at 4:42 am


To Bert: “If Jesus was merely a great teacher, what makes him any greater than Socrates, Plato, Confucius, or Aristotle? Other than the sermon on the mount, Jesus didn’t say anything on purely ethical matters that wasn’t taught elsewhere.” I never said anything like this, i.e., that Jesus was only a great teacher. For the record, I do believe in the Trinity, the incarnation, the virginal conception, and the resurrection. I don’t believe in substitutionary atonement, original sin, predestination, or the Second Coming (for me, the resurrection is the Second Coming).To people like Kevin S., that makes me “not a Christian,” since I don’t adhere to all the doctrines he believes are sine qua non to be a true Christian. For me, being a Christian is not about giving intellectual assent to statements of faith, some of which I find repugnant and immoral, and which can be demonstrated to have done far more harm than good to countless generations of Christians, namely original sin and substitutionary atonement. To Kevin: You have said that I am not a Christian because I do not accept substitutionary atonement. Does that mean, in your expert, authoritative, omniscient opinion that I am going to hell? As for Mclaren, I care nothing for his diagrams. God is not only bigger than dogma, he is bigger than any scheme we can cook up to define who’s in and who’s out. My words: “The God of Jesus is much bigger than that–he transcends any and all dogmas.” Kevin’s response: “This is logically impossible. That God exists at all is, in a sense, dogmatic. Therefore, God cannot transcend all dogma. ” Utter nonsense. You obviously know nothing about mystical spirituality or apophatic theology, or you would never say such a thing. That doesn’t surprise me; dogmatists rarely have any kind of deep inner spiritual experience. Ultimately, what are all these doctrines? They’re words. Semantics. Flatulence. Or, as Thomas Aquinas said at the end of his life when his own mystical experience turned him away from dogma, “straw.”



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kevin s.

posted April 7, 2007 at 7:00 am


“To people like Kevin S., that makes me “not a Christian,” since I don’t adhere to all the doctrines he believes are sine qua non to be a true Christian.” If you have accepted Christ as your savior, and repented of your sin, relying on his grace, then you are a Christian. But if you don’t believe he died for your sin, I don’t see how this is possible. “Does that mean, in your expert, authoritative, omniscient opinion that I am going to hell?” Let me answer the question behind your question by saying that believing some people are going to heaven and some are going to hell, based upon their faith in Christ, does not require me to be omniscient.In fact, if I were omniscient, why would I bother with an opinion. I don’t know whether you are going to heaven or hell because I do not know the nature of your faith in Christ, and I do not know what you will continue to believe about him.”Utter nonsense. You obviously know nothing about mystical spirituality or apophatic theology, or you would never say such a thing. That doesn’t surprise me; dogmatists rarely have any kind of deep inner spiritual experience.” You have labelled me a dogmatist simply for disagreeing with you. How could we disagree if you did not subscribe to a certain dogma? What you want to do is have your own ideas about faith, and pretend that yours are not dogmatic and that mine are. That is semantic gamesmanship.”Ultimately, what are all these doctrines? They’re words. Semantics. Flatulence.” All doctrine is flatulence, then? Your making less and less sense.



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Payshun

posted April 7, 2007 at 10:38 am


Since when does God fit into human logic? steve is right here. God is way bigger than the logic you are throwing out Kevin. he is infinite and transcendant meaning “This is logically impossible. That God exists at all is, in a sense, dogmatic. Therefore, God cannot transcend all dogma. ” God can do whatever HE/SHE wants. p



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kevin s.

posted April 7, 2007 at 6:17 pm


“God can do whatever HE/SHE wants.” Not if you believe the Bible (God, for example, cannot break a promise), but has nothing to do with my point. Steve defines anyone who believes in (for example) substitutionary atonement as dogmatic. He gets away with this by replacing the word “belief” with “dogma”. Therefore, if you believe God exists, you subscribe to a dogma. If God exists, then, the dogma to which you adhere is correct. You could apply Steve’s “God is beyond dogma” point to virtually any tenet of the Bible. Perhaps Christ’s helping people was an allegory, bet we shouldn’t be so dogmatic as to think that we should replicate his actions by helping others.To the extent that the above example is absurd, it is only abusrd to the extent that we know it is good to help people, and therefore reject any notion to the contrary. This is pure humanism.I don’t see where subsitutionary atonement fits into human logic, by the way. It seems rather an affront to all things logical. I also don’t see why believing in the concept demonstrateda belief in human logic. Again, the “human logic” bludgeon could be applied to any section of the Bible, if we accept your definition.



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Pacific231

posted April 7, 2007 at 8:48 pm


There are a lot of rhetorical flatuence flying around here (thank you Steve for that apt metaphor). I will quote only one specific exchange: I wrote: “Kieschnick is also a disgusting monster whose “authentic” Christian beliefs did not stop him from spewing hate at the innocent victims of those 9/11 attacks and their loved ones.” (And I stand by these comments.) Kevin S. responded: I don’t know much about the guy, and I think his comments are (obviously ill-timed). That doesn’t make them false. I think I can rest my case that far, far too many Christians use their “authentic” faith to spread a very potent cruelty toward others that they could not get away with under any other scenario EXCEPT as a matter of “authentic” religious faith. I had more comments, including elaborating on Steve’s spot-on commentary that “dogmatists rarely have any kind of deep inner spiritual experience” and more, but I will stop here. I think we have established that far, far too many “authentic” Christians in America regard their believe in Jesus’ resurrection as an absolute fact as a “license to ill” – their metaphysical permission to spew hate at those who are not “authentic” Christians and holy exemption from compassion towards non-Christians and even “non-authentic Christians,” and, for that matter, ignore/forgive all sorts of human transgressions of fellow “genuine” Christians. Now THAT is “very, very sad” indeed.



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Bert

posted April 7, 2007 at 9:51 pm


I’d like to briefly address the issue of Original Sin. When Christians say they can’t believe in Original Sin, do they mean that there a difference between the doctrine of Original Sin as taught by Augustine and the reality of sin we encounter in the world? Or are they saying that they don’t believe in sin altogether? I understand the problems associated with the Doctrine, namely the unhealthy ways it leads to individual guilt, but I’m not willing to go so far as to say as there’s no such thing as sin. To my perspective, it seems the world today is as full of sin as it’s ever been. I think people are repelled when Christians talk about the sinful nature of the world because they think they’re referring only to sex, alcohol, and drugs. But these are only minor sins, and perhaps not really sins at all. Real sin is much more serious than these trivial things. The Iraq War was a sin. Environmental degradation is a sin. The neglect of the poor and disenfranchised is a sin. That’s why we need Jesus to invade us and transform us. We need Jesus, not to instill guilt in us, but to show us the true way of God’s kingdom.



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kevin s.

posted April 8, 2007 at 5:38 am


“There are a lot of rhetorical flatuence flying around here (thank you Steve for that apt metaphor).Actually, he said that doctrine was flatulence. I will quote only one specific exchange: … Kevin S. responded: I don’t know much about the guy, and I think his comments are (obviously ill-timed). That doesn’t make them false. I think I can rest my case that far, far too many Christians use their “authentic” faith to spread a very potent cruelty toward others” How was my statement an indication of this? I said it was a poorly timed statement that had truth to it. If you believe heaven is tied in anyway to faith, then his statement is largely correct. Was it appropriate? No.”I think we have established that far, far too many “authentic” Christians in America regard their believe in Jesus’ resurrection as an absolute fact as a “license to ill” – their metaphysical permission to spew hate at those who are not “authentic” Christians” This authentic vs. inauthentic dichotomy is one of your own construction here, so it is curious that you continually use quotes. That said, I don’t see where hate has been poured on the heads of inauthentic Christians here. I don’t see this question as a delineation between authentic or inauthentic Christians, but rather a quetion of whether you are a Christian. If you do not believe that submission to Christ, and acceptance of grace through his death on the cross, is necessary for Christianity, we have radically different ideas of what Christianity is.That is a greater gulf than you imply with your authentic/inauthentic scenario. “and holy exemption from compassion towards non-Christians and even “non-authentic Christians,” and, for that matter, ignore/forgive all sorts of human transgressions of fellow “genuine” Christians.” While there are examples of this throughout the country, there is no part of belief in subsitutionary atonement that implies such an exemption. In the lives of the Christians (what you call “genuine” Christians) I know, there is a compassion for non-Christians.We are called to forgive the human transgressions of other Christians. I don’t know why you conflate forgiveness with ignorance. That there are Christians who disobey the scriptures is not evidence that the scriptures ought not be obeyed. “Now THAT is “very, very sad” indeed.” I think you are entirely too pleased with a very incomplete argument.



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Payshun

posted April 8, 2007 at 8:09 am


But we are not talking about human logic we are talking about God. He is transcendent and bigger than any logic save his own and even then that logic based first and foremost on lovingkindness and grace. p



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Payshun

posted April 8, 2007 at 8:19 am


You are right in a small way. God cannot break a promise but he can change the circumstances of any promise to fit whatever purposes he has. Just look at the Hebrew understanding of Messaih and the differences w/ Christians or… God’s promises (since you brought it up) are defined by his creativity, honesty, love and transcendance (among other things.) Some of his promises are conditional meaning if someone acts one way he will then react another. He can choose to hold to them or break them depending on his righteousness. A great example of that was during the Exodus and Israel’s sin. God was so angry he was going to destroy it and yet Moses interceded or the story of Moses nearly being killed by God for forgetting to circumsize his son. Why would God risk his servant Moses life. If it had not been for a timely save by his wife Moses would have been dead. Then you have many other examples thru out scripture about what the Messiah would look like and the Jews rightly thought that he would be political and spiritual based off of the world. They had Moses, David and others to go by and yet Christ was something completely different. God fulfilled his promises to the world and yet the majority of the Jews are still waiting. God’s promises are his and his alone. How he handles them are his affairs and we as humans should do our best to respect them and stay out of the big stuff. p



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kevin s.

posted April 9, 2007 at 4:29 pm


“God’s promises are his and his alone. How he handles them are his affairs and we as humans should do our best to respect them and stay out of the big stuff.” God’s promises are his alone? They are promises to us! What, precisely, do you mean by staying out of the big stuff?



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Payshun

posted April 9, 2007 at 8:24 pm


Promises to us that are sometimes conditional based off our own behavior, our own faith, and (most importantly) his grace and love. God’s promises are his alone to do w/ as he pleases. he can do whatever he wants guareeteeing one promise in a way that is completely foriegn to how we think they should be fulfilled. Look at Joseph. His dreams about his success were only fulfilled after he spent years in prison.My point is that God will fulfill his promises w/ or w/o us. He can turn stones to flesh to be his new Christians. he doesn’t need us. By his grace he includes us. By his love he sticks to it but if pushed too far by us he can and will break his contracts w/ us. Look at Israel or Ananias for that. p



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j. michael s.

posted April 9, 2007 at 9:35 pm


for a different take on the ‘intellectual’ side of the Resurection see the article ‘String theory and the Resurection -http://www.web-books.com/GoodPost/Articles/Resurrection.htmn’.



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nad2

posted April 9, 2007 at 9:48 pm


substituionary atonement originated with st. anselm roughly 1000 years ago (that’s right, only half of our time as a tradition has embraced this idea, & far fromm all of the tradition has embraced it during this time) & IS NOT the only understanding of our relationship with God in existence today among christians (eastern orthodox do not think kindly of anselm, for example), nor has it the only view of our relationship with God within our jewish/christian tradition, FAR FROM IT! i will quote from john o’donohue from an interview in this month’s sun magazine on the broader point because everyone needs to hear it: “One of the difficulties in Western religion in general is that we are inclined to take current manifestations of the tradition as the whole truth about the religion. I don t think that is a responsible or honorable way to engage with a tradition. Tradition is to a community what memory is to the individual: a huge archive of knowledge that is tested over time. The questions of the human spirit are perennial, but they come in different forms at different moments in history; we shouldn t equate contemporary, and often banal or inferior, manifestations of the tradition with the depth of the tradition itself. Sometimes the people who represent a religious tradition at a particular moment will masquerade as the absolute owners of the tradition, but they are not. They are only good or bad servants of the tradition.” know your whole tradition, or at least a goodly bit more than its present manifestation within your cultural subset before you spouting off that certain beliefs are required to be a part of it!



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nad2

posted April 9, 2007 at 9:53 pm


http://www.thesunmagazine.org/376_O'Donohue.pdf this is a link to the entire odonohue interview, he is about as sharp a thinker as we have in modern times. it is brilliant & well worth the read. i highly recommend it to all!



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kevin s.

posted April 9, 2007 at 10:25 pm


“substituionary atonement originated with st. anselm roughly 1000 years ago (that’s right, only half of our time as a tradition has embraced this idea, & far fromm all of the tradition has embraced it during this time)” Defined broadly, it originates in the new Testament. Steve defined what I believe about salvation through Christ’s death on the cross as substitutionary atonement, which is reasonable enough for this discussion, so I went with it. ” nor has it the only view of our relationship with God within our jewish/christian tradition, FAR FROM IT! ” Obviously a tradtion that includes both Christianity AND Judaism has more than one understanding of this question, by definition. Neither does my belief dismiss the history of my faith. Understanding history does not mean that I understand all historical traditions and beliefs to be equally valid.



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nad2

posted April 9, 2007 at 11:55 pm


without intending imitation to be flattery, allow me to pull a kevin & pull out some quotes of his & respond, these of course i think are ones that actually show pretty clearly what he means & i do my best to not take him out of context, so i guess the imitation thing really doesn’t apply… “At any rate, if you find the concept of substitutionary atonement repugnant, then you are not at all a Christian. If you don’t like the “language” that surrounds it, well use different terms, but to reject the concept outright is to reject God.” – kevin s. so, for the first 1000 years of christianity, those folks really weren’t christians, nor are the countless folks in the last 1000 years who don’t ascribe to anselm & aquinas? rejecting substitutionary atonement is rejecting God? this is poor even for you kevin, again, i think the mental exhaustion of posting here constantly has caused you to slip a bit in your reasoning. take that break i’ve been suggesting! i did! “Understanding history does not mean that I understand all historical traditions and beliefs to be equally valid.” kevin s. i think you just talked right past the problem – YOU DON”T UNDERSTAND THE HISTORY BECAUSE YOU HAVE NEVER TAKEN THE TIME TO KNOW IT! i can say this with relative certainty from reading your posts. you have a very narrow understanding and narrow exposure to this faith, we can skip back over to the mlk post where you were spouting off about how the jewish high priests & the romans weren’t in collaboration in the death of jesus as a recent example of your ignorance OF THE FACTS much less the theology that actually engages the facts! i said it there & will say it again, ignoring things you disagree w/ about this tradition has nothing to do w/ faith & everything to do w/ intentional delusion. on conservative dogma and the present manifestations of conservative christianity, you have made it abundantly clear that you are a heavyweight rivaling perhaps the good doctor dobson, but on understanding the tradition as a whole or its historical context, you have made it equally clear you are as much a lightweight as him as well.i regret to come off to everyone as angry but dammit i am angry – it makes me angry when people in ignorance disparage a faith they know so little about & go around claiming to be the holders of the one eternal answer when they don’t even know how their own answer came about. and yes, it especially infuriates me for people to say others are not christians because of an absence of mental assent to some doctrine they have christened of singular importance. below is the link to where this whole believe in the resurrection conversation went down last month so i won’t go through that again here. http://www.haloscan.com/comments/godspolitics/7236083926154849390/ in any event, there are much earlier understandings of atonement (at-one-ment) and jesus’ mission & purpose than substituionary atonement as reasons apart from the disturbing theology it imparts as reasons to not hold on to anselm’s late view as ‘gospel’



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kevin s.

posted April 10, 2007 at 12:35 am


“so, for the first 1000 years of christianity, those folks really weren’t christians, nor are the countless folks in the last 1000 years who don’t ascribe to anselm & aquinas?” Again, and I repeat, I believe that you must repent before Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, in order to be a Christian. This concept (later dubbed substitutionary atonement) has been around for more than 1,000 years. Since you ignored my clarification, I don’t know how to respond.”you have a very narrow understanding and narrow exposure to this faith, we can skip back over to the mlk post where you were spouting off about how the jewish high priests & the romans weren’t in collaboration in the death of jesus” My point was that Jesus was not murdered for his message against the leadership of Rome. He said “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” and, again, Pilate washed his hands of his death. That is not collaboration, and it is not ignorant to suggest that it is not.”ignoring things you disagree w/ about this tradition has nothing to do w/ faith & everything to do w/ intentional delusion.” So, is believing that Christ died for our sins intentional delusion? You don’t say this, but it is the inescapable conclusion of the preceding sentences. “but on understanding the tradition as a whole or its historical context, you have made it equally clear you are as much a lightweight as him as well. ” You haven’t made it clear. You have just shouted it over and over again. “i regret to come off to everyone as angry but dammit i am angry – it makes me angry when people in ignorance disparage a faith they know so little about & go around claiming to be the holders of the one eternal answer when they don’t even know how their own answer came about. ” Your explanation above of how it came about is manifestly false. I simply do not embrace your understanding. “in any event, there are much earlier understandings of atonement (at-one-ment) and jesus’ mission & purpose than substituionary atonement as reasons apart from the disturbing theology it imparts as reasons to not hold on to anselm’s late view as ‘gospel'” So my theology is disturbing, but heavens, if I dare criticize your as even being inaccurate, or unscriptural. You are throwing a fit.



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kevin s.

posted April 10, 2007 at 12:48 am


I would add that the date at which a certain concept coalsced into a doctrinal viewpoint is not necessarily an indicator of the relative merits of that concept. Justification through grace was not widely accepted until that time either.However, I don’t see too many ways to read (for example) Ephesians 1:7 absent any idea that Christ died that we would be forgiven. As such, your point is not the trump card you might think it to be.



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nad2

posted April 10, 2007 at 1:24 am


kevin, thank you for the childlike reference to my response as a way of drawing attention away from your bad theology. you honestly think ‘render unto caesar’ was an affirmation of roman authority? the context of the story renders that absurd. jesus was being constantly interrogated by jewish leaders, trying to be tricked into saying something to turn the crowd against him or something on which to convict him of treason, this was in the middle of that. the jews were very resentful of the taxes they had to pay. mark goes on to say right before this that he knew their hypocracy, so jesus asks for a roman coin and the pharisees bring it to him. jews did not carry roman coins, jesus didn’t have one on him, the pharisees were shown as hypocrites to be carrying one, and jesus folows up ‘give to caesar things w/ his image on them’ w/ ‘give to god what is god’s’ – everything else. again, very anti-establishment. tell me truthfully if you can, were you aware before i told you that jewish high priests were appointed (& could be replaced at will) by rome? i could go on & on w/ you. many things i’m sure we can agree on, many we will not and i will have either a scriptural or historical contextual disagreement w/ you. i have been reluctant to do so because it takes some explaining, unlike the slogan chrisitanity we have come to embrace, plus what’s yours in yours & mine is mine. repent before jesus…we may have common ground here, that is IF YOU MEAN BY REPENT WHAT WAS MEANT WHEN IT WAS WRITTEN. do you mean as the greek and hebrew roots of the word mean, “to go beyond the mind you have” or “to return, particularly from exile” or do you mean to feel really bad about your life and what you have done wrong (usually on a personal piety level) and beg forgiveness? how about jesus died for your sins? do you mean, as i think substitutionary atonement folks do, that god demanded blood for our sins & jesus stepped in & took the punishment to spare us the rod of eternal hell? or do you mean jesus sacrificed his life (sacrifice – ‘sacrum facere’ – ‘to make sacred’) to offer us in his death & resurrection a new world & a new hope that includes experiencing him still to this day? anselm is undisputedly responsible for the rise of substitutionary atonement, it simply has not always been a part of the tradition until the latter part of it. when words and phrases are understood in the original context, you really don’t hear it much in the new testament either. for a group that thought jesus was coming back any day, it really wasn’t what they were preaching, they were (as jesus was) preaching the kindgom of god on earth! we can dance around this all we want. i have tried repeatedly to say that you are entitled to your views of scripture and your theology & we can agree to disagree & there is room for many views & beliefs in our tent, but you have not relented, & when you start saying other people are not christians based on your understanding of our religion, you are hitting below the belt & i will now start hitting back.



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kevin s.

posted April 10, 2007 at 2:28 am


“kevin, thank you for the childlike reference to my response as a way of drawing attention away from your bad theology. ” Childlike how? I am according your insult-laden tirades the respect of dignified answers. “you honestly think ‘render unto caesar’ was an affirmation of roman authority?” Nope. But it was a certainly wasn’t the statement of someone who was calling on his followers to thwart the Roman leadership. Your exegesis is the same as mine here. It does not contradict my statement.”how about jesus died for your sins? do you mean, as i think substitutionary atonement folks do, that god demanded blood for our sins & jesus stepped in & took the punishment to spare us the rod of eternal hell? or do you mean jesus sacrificed his life (sacrifice – ‘sacrum facere’ – ‘to make sacred’) to offer us in his death & resurrection a new world & a new hope that includes experiencing him still to this day?Both. His death was a sufficient sacrifice, and his resurrection allows us to experience the new world you describe.”anselm is undisputedly responsible for the rise of substitutionary atonement, it simply has not always been a part of the tradition until the latter part of it” Which doesn’t address my point… “when you start saying other people are not christians based on your understanding of our religion, you are hitting below the belt & i will now start hitting back.” I disagree that I am hitting below the belt. I am disagreeing with you about what constitutes Christianity. However, I have no doubt that you will continue to hit back. Let me ask you some questions, since you seem eager to provide answers. What is a Christian?Is there anyone who is not a Christian?If there is such a person, who is that?Does that person’s status as a Christian have any bearing on whether they understand the truth about Christ?Does that understanding have any bearing on their salvation? Does that salvation have any bearing on how that person will spend eternity?If it does, how so?



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nad2

posted April 10, 2007 at 6:39 am


kevin, i will answer your questions though you have yet to attempt an answer at any of my more pressing quesitons, like the one about how you peceive repentence, which i take to mean the concept of understanding the word’s origins is probably a new concept for you, as it is for most people, me included. or whether or not you knew of roman appointment of high priests – again, probably a new point, which is my point – modern faith of a particular stripe claims ‘absolute knowledge,’ to use your own words from a prior post, about things we really have no business making such claims on based upon our collective ignorance of much of our own tradition and the truth claims it has made, as well as our own humble limitations as errant beings. and your point about when something develops as doctrine has no bearing on its truth is well-taken, but within the church, things closer in time to christ are given more weight, & it simply is not accurate to say the authors of the new testament collective ascribed to substitutionary atonement. likewise, we need to realize ours is a vast & diverse tradition spanning the globe, the last two millenia, & all modes of literary, artistic & all other types of human communication, & pinning it down to one set of ideas beyond ‘jesus lives’ is virtually impossible without excluding countless people we weren’t taught by our founder to exclude. now onto your questions: What is a Christian? if by this you are looking for a listing of the things i believe are necessary before you can objectively be identified as a christian, like ‘who can run for president of the us? only natural born citizens over the age of 35,’ i cannot give such an answer. i think the identity of ‘christian’ is an individual label & one only that individual can make for him/herself. i cannot tell you if you are a christian, you have to make that determination and proclimation for yourself. but broadly speaking, a christian is one who seeks to engage the eternal within this particular tradition, a tradition growing out of judaism that affirms the existence of a ‘more’ & that ‘more’ has been revealed to us through the life of jesus who is still experienced by many of his followers today. that is about as specific i am will go because within that framework there are as many different experiences as there are individuals for god to engage, & like i said, it really is not the kind of question i think i can answer for anyone else, only me, & i can resoundingly say i am a christian, i have made that choice. Is there anyone who is not a Christian? see answer above, yes i suppose, those who do not identify themselves as such. If there is such a person, who is that? i am a christian, i assume you would claim yourself as a christian, bin laden would not, nor probably would a rabbi, or sam harris. Does that person’s status as a Christian have any bearing on whether they understand the truth about Christ? this one is difficult, we clearly see truth as encompassing different things (that is a topic for another post), but my own experience has been that while i have claimed to be a christian my whole life (& yes, for those of you for whom it matters, i invited jesus into my heart in junior high, & for those of you for whom it matters, it didn’t stick), i don’t think that declaration has had anything to do w/ my understainding of jesus – that has taken much more. i know christ much more today than at any point in my life & it has been hard & wonderful. it is a jounrey, a ‘way.’ are there people who have personally and truly experienced jesus (not in an emotion-induced benny-hinn way) who have really gotten to know him & the truth he brings & then said, ‘this isn’t for me'”? again, i am limited to my own decision about being a christian & from personal experience i cannot imagine that happening for me (for me the reality & ideals of god for us are revealed in jesus), i suppose given human free-will one may well be able to overcome the divine spark in them’s desire for itself & turn away, though i just don’t know – i’ve never really thought about that one this way! Does that understanding have any bearing on their salvation? again, a loaded word with a plethora of meanings. i assume you are not equating salvation with going to heaven based on your next question, or maybe you are. salvation…i don’t think one needs to be a christian to have salvation, to be saved from despair, to be born again (to die to one way of being & rise anew centered in god), again, i am not comfortable talking outside of myself on this, because in such affairs it is truly all we can know, but i think it would be foolish to believe that god does not engage people of all religious traditions who truly seek. the fact is that there are countless souls who have walked this earth that have had zero exposure to christianity, i have difficulty thinking those people (& people like me who are bred into a tradition) cannot encounter the life-changing power of the eternal. Does that salvation have any bearing on how that person will spend eternity? If it does, how so? i have no idea about what lies hereafter, nor really does anyone else. we have hopes, some have beliefs, but no real knowledge. i have my leanings based on my own experience of a loving and all-encompassing god that says we are all loved & we will all be brought into glory, at least i hope so, but that is all, an experience-informed hope. salvation – i think this has much more to do with life in the here & now – being saved, being born again, is about the here & now, i think we miss out on opportunities to put it into action here & now, to answer the call to daily be in relationship with and daily serve god when we focus on what is to come.



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Payshun

posted April 10, 2007 at 6:51 am


Nads2, Thanks for having the courage to write your story and your responses. We have similar ideas. Great stuff. p



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nad2

posted April 10, 2007 at 6:56 am


thanks p, though i reckon i have not ever put it to ink, i often really appreciated your thoughtful perspective as well.



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nad2

posted April 10, 2007 at 7:07 am


let me pose a question – what does it mean to be a follower of jesus?



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kevin s.

posted April 10, 2007 at 5:09 pm


“like the one about how you peceive repentence, which i take to mean the concept of understanding the word’s origins is probably a new concept for you,” No, not new. I don’t know that it is a pressing question. I believe we must confess our sins and ask for forgiveness (which isn’t about feeling bad, per se) by way of accepting Christ’s death as a sacrifice for those sins. In this sense, then, repenting means acknowledging the new truth. In this case, that new truth is the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Either meaning of the word can accomodate this concept, but it does illuminate an important distinction that we must repent before Christ.”modern faith of a particular stripe claims ‘absolute knowledge,’ to use your own words from a prior post, about things we really have no business making such claims on based upon our collective ignorance of much of our own tradition” In what context did I use these words? I don’t think I have to have absolute knowledge to understand the significance of Christ’s death. “but within the church, things closer in time to christ are given more weight, & it simply is not accurate to say the authors of the new testament collective ascribed to substitutionary atonement.” In terms of what is scriptural, this is true. In terms of how we interpret scripture, I don’t see any reason why this should be. The entire new testament repeatedly refers to Christ bearing our sins for us.Matthew 20:28 tells us that the Christ came “to give his life as a ransom for many”. Whether you want to call that substitutionary or not is up to you. “likewise, we need to realize ours is a vast & diverse tradition spanning the globe, the last two millenia,” But the notion that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected holds each of these diverse traditions together. “pinning it down to one set of ideas beyond ‘jesus lives’ is virtually impossible without excluding countless people we weren’t taught by our founder to exclude.” We weren’t taught to exclude anyone, but Jesus does acknowledge that exclusion will occur. He said it was harder for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven. Would a merciful God make decisions about who goes to heaven and hell, all while making it impossible for us to discern between that which would send us to each?Thank you for answering my questions. I think you might find more answers in the scriptures than you think, but I cannot tell you what to believe.



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nad2

posted April 10, 2007 at 5:57 pm


i think i find many ‘answers’ in the scriptures thank you, more than you might think or somehow presuppose in your final comments kevin (as though i am not looking, or at least not hard enough, or looking incorrectly). however, i think we see the scriptures differently. your ‘absolute knowledge’ was that the bible was true, which i can agree w/ (though the language of ‘absolute knowledge’ i am uncomfortable w/) though i think we really mean two somewhat different things, overlapping in definition, but nowhere near the same. i think things can be true, profoundly true, without being factually accurate, apparently so did jesus the great parable teacher. i think a critical reading of the texts shows that they are far from straight history texts intended to have only one straigtforward interpretation, but each individual author’s way of telling the story of encountering god in all its form on earth. you simply cannot be confined to factual language to do that with my experience and i think many people’s experience of god & i don’t think anyone pre-enlightenment would have had a problem with seeing truth beyond factuality. nor do i really think we get into their meaning when we put a 2007 meaning on a word that had a much richer meaning in the first century, ‘ransom,’ ‘repent,’ & ‘believe’ for example. that ‘christ died for our sins…holds each of these diverse traditions together’ as a substitution from the wrath of an angry god i think is just not accurate, it may so in a large majority of the modern western way of seeing our tradition, but not in the broader sense of our tradition. ‘we must repent before christ’ or what? we will spend eternity in hell? or we will, within our tradition, not fully experience god and hasten the coming of the kingdom of god while we are here on earth? last i checked, grace was given freely, no strings attached. to put a condition of ‘we must give our mental assent to acertain way of seeing things’ or ‘we must beg forgiveness’ is to put a condition on grace, & grace w/ conditions is no longer grace.i have a much more relationship-centered view of this tradition than a belief-centered view. the transformation is in the relationship i think, not in the belief. i think there are mounds of common ground for liberal & conservative christians to meet on, relationship being one of them, likewise, what the stories mean & the truth contained therein beyond questions of whether or not things really happened.



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nad2

posted April 10, 2007 at 6:03 pm


& likewise for daily trying to enact the kingdom of god while we are here, is another place we can all meet as followers of jesus, & we are ignoring our greatest call if we don’t. how about that followers of jesus thing, what does that mean to you? anyone please feel free to join in if you are reading!!



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Payshun

posted April 10, 2007 at 8:47 pm


The truth is we can never repent enough before God so it must be grace and grace alone. That’s not to say repentance is not important but I think the difference in definition needs to be stated here. Repentance is not turning from unrighteous action to righteous action as if any amount of right behavior can get us forgiven. That’s why jesus came to fulfill that nifty catch 22. Repentance is turning to accept the love God has for us. That love is what changes our behavior. p



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Deno Reno

posted April 11, 2007 at 1:12 am


Flavius Josephus has been reliably called an EBIONITE Christian.



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Deno Reno

posted April 11, 2007 at 1:21 am

kevin s.

posted April 11, 2007 at 5:37 am


“Repentance is not turning from unrighteous action to righteous action as if any amount of right behavior can get us forgiven. ” No it isn’t. However, if we do not recognize our sin, how can we accept grace that we don’t believe we need?To answer the question of what it means to follow Christ, it simply means that you must believe him and follow him. That means recognizing that his purpose is your purpose, and understanding the significance of his death and resurrection.He died for our sins, and his rebirth signifies ours.



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Sue

posted April 11, 2007 at 3:51 pm


The question is always kerygmatic: have you see the risen Lord? As long as we frame our discussions as theological or historical questions, as interesting and as helpful as those discussions might be, we miss the power of the ressurrection to transform our lives and our human communities. I have seen the Lord! He saved me from the pit of despair. He went to the place of rejection, of victimization, of total human degradation, so that in the worst moments of my life, I found him. He reached out to me with love and compassion for my suffering, because he was completly free from every form of human condemnation. When all others abandoned me, he was there. Sue



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Carl Copas

posted April 11, 2007 at 8:08 pm


Sue: “I have seen the Lord! . . . When all others abandoned me, he was there.” Beautiful Sue. Praise God.



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Payshun

posted April 11, 2007 at 8:18 pm


Sue I am sharing your story. Thanks for reminding us of the humanity and divinity of the gospel. p



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Payshun

posted April 11, 2007 at 8:20 pm


Kevin, No it isn’t. However, if we do not recognize our sin, how can we accept grace that we don’t believe we need?Because grace starts w/ love which creation needs to survive. Even if a person is unaware of their own deep sin or brokeness or mortality (my favorite definition of sin) they still need love and as long as that is being shown grace for forgiviness is always offered. p



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James

posted May 4, 2007 at 3:25 pm


Why are so many people caught up in emphasizing “supernatural” miracles that are supposed to have happened in the past and which historical study can never provide enough evidence to verify? We are matter and yet we are conscious and can think about and discuss these things! Lives of despair are turned around! With so much that is “natural” also being wondrous and a motive for awe and reverence, doesn’t that give us enough to focus on and keep us busy for the foreseeable future? http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/blog/



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Theodore A. Jones

posted November 30, 2007 at 10:13 am


According to Jesus the doorway into the church he is head of is very small and narrow. And to narrow it down even further he says only a very few ever find this door. Which of you are of those few?



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Sue Harris

posted May 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm


Thank you for these inspiring, heart stirring words on resurrection! They ring so true.
I am currently journeying through Christianity After Religion for the second time. You have clearly identified where we as a church find outselves – as more religious than spiritual – and have given me more hope that we can let ourselves relax into “experiences of and with God” and with those around us. We were also blessed to have many in our congregation read and discuss Christianity for the Rest of Us. I first became acquainted with your witness when you spoke to a group at our church in Rio Verde, AZ.
Thank you so much!



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