Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Love Believes

posted by xscot mcknight

I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t all that receptive yesterday to the idea that Michael Vick has now “found Jesus.” The first words out of my mouth when I saw that someone had said this on my blog yesterday, was “And so did Paris Hilton.” Now here are my problems:
First, we’ve all got a track record with those who have made such claims who show no sign Jesus was making a claim on them with anything like what we could call “effective.”
Second, most of us have enough postmodernity drilled into us that we know language like this is power and it could be interpreted as claim to get people to forgive him, hope for his rehabilitation, and come back to the NFL.
Third, something “we” haven’t yet announced is that for most of the summer “we’ve” begun each day working on a book we are calling Forty Days with the Jesus Creed. It’s a short book of daily readings that show how the Jesus Creed wasn’t just something Jesus said but something the earliest Christians worked out — so we explore how it impacted Paul and Peter and James and John.
Fourth, here’s the real problem. Here was the text I wrote about yesterday morning.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Cor 13:7).
How does a Jesus Creeder respond to statements like Michael Vick’s?



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Tony Myles

posted August 29, 2007 at 12:36 am


A wise man once asked when it was Peter got saved…



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Anonymous

posted August 29, 2007 at 3:42 am


University Update – Paris Hilton – Love Believes

[...] Zac Efron Love Believes » This Summary is from an article posted at Jesus Creed on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t all that receptive yesterday to the idea that Michael Vick has now “found Jesus.” The first words out of my mouth when I saw that someone had said this on my blog yesterday, was “And so did Paris Hilton.” Now here are my problems: First, we’ve all got a track record Summary Provided by Technorati.comView Original Article at Jesus Creed » 10 Most Recent News Articles About Paris Hilton [...]



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Ted M. Gossard

posted August 29, 2007 at 4:33 am


Good point by you, Tony. This could be the beginning or somewhere in that process for Michael. Hopefully some Christian friend or friends will be there for him, and help him so that this could turn in for more than he bargained for!



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Ted M. Gossard

posted August 29, 2007 at 4:34 am


Of course I treat this kind of thing as “I don’t know.” I try not to judge one way or another but think in terms of let’s wait and see- and I should pray.



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Diane

posted August 29, 2007 at 5:09 am


This came over the wire yesterday:
” Conservative radio talk show host and media commentator Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson issued the following statement today after listening to Michael Vick’s remarks that he has turned his life over to Jesus following his guilty plea in U.S. District Court to a dogfighting conspiracy charge:
“The statement that Michael Vick has found Jesus is laughable. Like other celebrities before him, Vick is evoking Jesus’ name to stop the criticism and gain public sympathy. True believers recognize the hypocrisy in what he’s doing.
“‘Jesus’ is the most abused name in black America and Vick is following a long line of abusers. We can no longer allow celebrities and politicians to break laws and then use ‘Jesus’ as a get-out-of-jail free card. Most of these people go right back into their bad behavior and criminal activities as soon as the storm passes. …”



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Diane

posted August 29, 2007 at 5:13 am


But then Jesus Creeders might take a more forgiving stance and as Ted suggests, work with the man to develop his faith before leaping to judgment… I really haven’t followed this at all, as dog fighting appalls me.



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Brad Boydston

posted August 29, 2007 at 6:12 am


The Russians have a proverb which President Reagan was fond of repeating — “Trust but verify.” Move forward assuming it’s true but keep your eyes open and don’t be surprised if things aren’t exactly kosher.
Hopefully, some believers from the NFL world are moving in to walk with him.
Lot’s of people have found Christ through crisis. Not all have continued on in faith but plenty have.



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Jason Dye

posted August 29, 2007 at 6:32 am


Yikes. My head’s still spinning from similar alleged statements by other celebrities, most notably R. Kelly and Ma$e. so, i understand Rev. Peterson’s frustration.
but, also what i’m thinking is that i’m commanded to pray for my enemies (even before the dog-fighting, i was never a fan of his). I think Ted’s got it right here.



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MartyS

posted August 29, 2007 at 6:39 am


Good point Tony
Also like your point Brad about fellow NFL Christians coming around him now.
By his fruit everyone will know – words are cheap. But we got to give a person time to let the fruit grow…



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Anonymous

posted August 29, 2007 at 6:52 am


“I Found Jesus”: Exegeting a Popular Confession in Popular Culture « Provocations & Pantings

[...] * WorldMag Blog * Christianity Today * Phil Ryken * Scot McKnight * Ben Witherington * Tony Reinke * Explore posts in the same categories: Gospel, Evangelism, Jesus, Personal Commentary, Culture [...]



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Joel Frederick

posted August 29, 2007 at 6:58 am


I heard the soundbite as well. My first thought was skepticism. Because of the situation, it does sound like a “jailhouse conversion”.
On the other hand, because Vick is one of “the mighty” who has fallen, I am sure he did a lot of introspection while being tried for his crimes.
My thought? Does he show any of the fruits of the spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, etc?
I hesitate to judge as I am not “I AM”.



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WJY

posted August 29, 2007 at 7:33 am


Scot said:
“…most of us have enough postmodernity drilled into us that we know language like this is power…”
Exactly. At this point the response of the church is, well, not much. Why doesn’t Vick just stop the dog-fighting business and leave Jesus out of this? For me, it’s such a ridiculous claim in the midst of a publicized American hullabaloo that it’s better to leave it alone.



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Fred Peatross

posted August 29, 2007 at 7:36 am


I wonder what we are looking for from someone who says they have “found Jesus.” Salvation is partial to process. And guess what? The Divine enters into the process before we ever think “Jesus”, much less say, “I’ve found Jesus.”
If I drew a line representing a point in time where I entering into salvation’s process many would be surprised to see a line that is anything but linear. It would be squiggly. It would jump all over the chart. There would be some forward progress, frequent valleys, and many, many relapses. Salvation is a process. We know that. But even so, we humans still think in a linear fashion looking for that consummating point where we can either verify or deny someone’s “I found Jesus.”



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Helen

posted August 29, 2007 at 7:47 am


I think a Jesus Creeder would say “I hope he has found Jesus; I’ll pray for him”; also that A Jesus Creeder would want to hear his own first-hand testimony rather than being swayed by what others say – to give him a fair chance to speak for himself.
But I could be wrong :)



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Matthew

posted August 29, 2007 at 7:48 am


I am also skeptical. However, I hope for the best. If it isn’t for real, I genuinely hope that he will yet “find Jesus.”



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Helen

posted August 29, 2007 at 7:49 am


p.s. if a Jesus Creeder said what I just posted, they would be simply mirroring the language ‘found Jesus’ rather than necessarily embracing the meaning any specific other people give it.



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Bob

posted August 29, 2007 at 8:07 am


I agree with Helen (#14). By the way, what exactly IS Tony’s point (#1)? That Peter was never saved? That Peter was always saved? That he “got saved” somewhere along the way? Before the denial? After the denial? When he stepped out of the boat? When he got back in? When he was nailed upside down on a cross? Yes, there is process, but dear God, there just might also be a crisis entry point (Michael Vick detractors, are you listening?) Like I said, I’m with Helen on this. Too many here are too quick to judge (maybe even me)…just my two cents worth.



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Georges Boujakly

posted August 29, 2007 at 8:25 am


We can remain passive and suspend all decision on his faith.
We can become active and chose to give the benefit of the doubt. As a Jesus Creeder I want to go there.
Or take a more active approach:
A proverb in Arabic goes like this: From your mouth to the gate of heaven (min timmak labab a’sama). When hearing such a statement (confession) as Vick makes, we can actually wish and pray it is true and thus say the saying with him or on his behalf. Come on Jesus Creeders, say it with me: Min timmak labab a’sama (The a is open in every case).



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joe

posted August 29, 2007 at 8:37 am


Lieutenant Dan: Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?
Forrest Gump: I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him sir
Faith is messy. We all come to Jesus when we realize our deepest need for him. Any time a celebrity “finds jesus” we are quick to be suspicious and cynical. Unless your a Baldwin.



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Anonymous

posted August 29, 2007 at 8:50 am


Michael Vick Finds Jesus at PastorBlog

[...] Scot McKnight: Love Believes [...]



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ChrisB

posted August 29, 2007 at 8:51 am


A wise man once said, “Trust but verify.”



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rob

posted August 29, 2007 at 8:54 am


Everyone is invited to the Kingdom banquet. If Vick has decided to follow the Messiah, awesome. It’s not for me to say whether it’s a valid and heartfelt commitment or not. That is between he and God and the community of folks that he will chose to surround himself with (and who choose to come alongside of him).



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Pat

posted August 29, 2007 at 9:11 am


I too am very skeptical of Vick’s statements. But, I agree with Rob that it is now up to Vick and his future behaviors will determine if he’s changed. As Scot said yesterday, “The kingdom of God is in your midst if you have eyes to see and a heart to believe.” Let’s hope Michael will recognize this.



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john page

posted August 29, 2007 at 9:12 am


Why does it matter to any of us if Vick “found Jesus?” Why should it be up to us to verify his claim or not? If he said he did and he’s lying, he’ll have to deal with it. If he really did then his journey will go forward.
I guess to flip it around to folks: Are you a Christ follower because other people believe that you are, or confirm that you are?



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rob

posted August 29, 2007 at 9:16 am


But, on the flipside of what I said, and respondig to JohnPage(who does make a good point), what about this aspect of things: people in the public spotlight who throw around phrases like “I’ve found Jesus”, and then in public live a life that is anti-Kingdom? Does it make it more difficult for those of us trying to help people (and ourselves) see and come to know the Kingdom of God in the ordinary of life…especially when their (people who are not at the banquet yet) understanding of Jesus is shaped so strongly by what they see in the media?



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Richie (Old Barbarian)

posted August 29, 2007 at 9:18 am


Two things:
#1 – Why do we even worry about such things? Is Vick or Hilton anyone whom we can personally disciple or make a disciple? No. Therefore stick to your mission and your personal sphere of influence and stop worrying about folks who really have no impact on how or why we do what we do personally? Celebs are just people like you and me.
Pray for them yes.., but fuss and worry about this and that – naaaa!
#2 – I agree with Rob #22, he seems like a pretty smart guy! :-)
Richie



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John W Frye

posted August 29, 2007 at 9:34 am


I remember these same skeptical views about the “I found Jesus” statement of Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man” Chuck Colson.



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cas

posted August 29, 2007 at 9:42 am


As someone who has done jail ministry with women who often “found Jesus” in hopes of a better outcome, I would say you take his statement at face value, then gently challenge its shallowness if that emerges as a reality, explaining the true nature of faith and discipleship. You bear up with him until he either quits or grows some roots.



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RJS

posted August 29, 2007 at 10:08 am


While all others here are sticking to the question with admirable tenacity – I am still having trouble getting past: Third … Forty Days…



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kent

posted August 29, 2007 at 10:11 am


I hope and pray that Mike Vick has begun a relationship with Jesus and will follow him. I say the same for Paris Hilton. I also hope the same can be said for the young girl Lohan before she completely deconstructs. Is there a question of motive and timing? Probably, but how many others whom on one will ever hear of can that be said of?
I think of this who have asked for their children to be baptized and they have no affiliation with the body or the person of Christ. I also think of when and why I came toi a relationship with Jesus.
I do not know Mr. Vick, but Jesus does. Love does hope all thing and believes all things and bears all things.



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JACK

posted August 29, 2007 at 10:15 am


My reaction was simple: it was completely irrelevant to the speech he was making.
I’m serious about that. I would be the first to be thrilled to know that he is going to follow the Lord now. Time will give evidence to whether that was just a phrase or something concrete in his life.
But precisely what purpose did it serve in that speech? Am I supposed to be more forgiving to him, more merciful to him, more accepting of him, because he follows Christ now than if he wasn’t?
I suppose the benefit of him saying that was that it served as a reminder to me that I claim to follow Christ and that that means something about how I live and even how I should respond to this situation. But what it suggests to me, quite simply, is that, even if it is a true statement, the guy is naive and has much to learn.



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Dan Brennan

posted August 29, 2007 at 10:30 am


I agree with the skepticism of the language and the Jesus card.
That said, I think one’s response would be dependent upon what level of communication one has had with him. If you are an immediate person who has been a mentor in his “finding” he or she may be less skeptical than those of us with no communication. Perhaps in recent weeks his crisis has led him to reconsider something that was signficant in his culture when he needed deliverance. Many have found Jesus when they needed deliverance–some have continued, some have not.



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Diane

posted August 29, 2007 at 11:26 am


John,
This dates me but I remember Colson too and being very doubtful that he was sincere. Of course, he was.



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Howard Walters

posted August 29, 2007 at 12:14 pm


In Jesus Creed (I confess to having underlined so much of it that my copy is nearly unreadable now), there is a terrific paragraph about Peter’s conversion beginning on p.95 and following, and its worth typing here:
“The unserious can humor themselves with this: number-counting groups might like the first sign of life in Peter in scene one, confession-oriented theologians hear “I am a sinner” and smile ever so slightly, while creedal Christians stand up at Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ. Surely the charismatics finally find a brother when Peter is flooded from above with the Holy Spirit’s fire, and the socially active churches are unenthusiastically satisfied when Peter finally embraces the multicultural acceptance of Gentiles! Only utopians wait until the end of someone’s life to make a ruling. But this is humor…perhaps.”
When I hear any public use of “Jesus” I try to stop myself from over-analyzing the external, and immediately look inside myself. If Mr. Vick’s use of the language of Jesus and salvation is only an example of power through language–then where I am also guilty of talking about Jesus and not walking after Jesus? I am in no position to directly influence this man–other than by interceding in prayer on his behalf. But I do have the responsibility to live incarnationally myself, and to examine my own heart for the tendency to talk religiously and not be Jesus.



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rob

posted August 29, 2007 at 12:32 pm


Amen Howard!



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MarkE

posted August 29, 2007 at 1:18 pm


It is either genuine or a power play. In order for us to act “properly” we would need to make judgment about which it was.
If I take the “loving” default and accept what he says at face value, I either get it right or I enable the use of such power plays, which basically would be an injustice.
If I judge it as a powerplay, I either don’t perpetuate an injustice, or in my cynicism I sin.
My reason doesn’t help too much since a case could be made for either.
Is there a third alternative to not make a judgment and just ignore it?
hmmm….



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JACK

posted August 29, 2007 at 1:44 pm


I do think there is an alternative, Mark, and that is to ask what purpose did it serve for him to tell us that he has turned his life over to Jesus.
I think that question is too often ignored.
But that question could lead to a conclusion about the situation that has less to do with the “Did he really?” question.
Again, for the life of me, I see no relevance to the purpose of that speech in making that announcement.



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Mykl Krause

posted August 29, 2007 at 2:12 pm


On a slightly different tack, the concept of forgiveness has come up a number of times. Yesterday, a neighbour (with whom I have been discussing some issues of forgiveness) asked me if I forgave Michael Vick.
My response was “What is there for me to forgive?” I don’t know him. He has never hurt me. He hasn’t harmed my world (any more than a thousand others who have committed crimes). He may have harmed some dogs (or allowed them to harm each other). He may have done something that I find morally wrong. He confessed to doing something illegal.
But I don’t understand how I could forgive him, or refuse to forgive or have any need to forgive him. Doesn’t a long distance (ie not personal or relational) forgiveness or unforgiveness put me in the position of God and Judge – just as the Pharisees accused Jesus of doing?
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:6-7
Do we have any responsibility or right to forgive the sins of someone we have never met or who has never wronged us?
Just thinking.



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My 2 Cents

posted August 29, 2007 at 2:29 pm


The “creeder” would forgive his debts. And those keeping the holy habits would hold out hope for him to be an imitator of Jesus.



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John W Frye

posted August 29, 2007 at 2:36 pm


Diane (#33),
Oh, c’mon, wasn’t it just a few years that Colson converted?:)



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Tom Hein

posted August 29, 2007 at 2:41 pm


The parable of the soils tells us that a seed of the gospel has been planted in his life. Now it remains to be seen whether the seed hits dry ground, gets rooted, and bears fruit. I hope and pray he bears fruit a hundred fold.



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Julie

posted August 29, 2007 at 2:52 pm


Seems to me people want to credit these testimonies when the person making the conversion is one we admire, and we want to distance ourselves when it is someone we disrespect (or want to distance ourselves from).



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Mykl Krause

posted August 29, 2007 at 2:55 pm


My 2 Cents (#39)
“The “creeder” would forgive his debts.”
What debts? All his debts? To whom does he owe those debts? Not to me unless I consciously “took” offense.
I really am wondering about this issue. Maybe it is a result of the media’s hanging out everyone’s dirty laundry and once we see it we feel we have an obligation to respond or judge. I’m wondering what my (or any sincere Christian’s) responsibility is in extending forgiveness to what is really a private (or at least personal) wrong.
The same question stands before us in evaluating his faith commitment. How can I possibly evaluate it? How can I make any judgement on it at all? Do I know him? Does he know me? Can I see his daily life? Is he accountable to me?



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Peggy

posted August 29, 2007 at 3:12 pm


John (27 & 40),
My first thought was of Chuck Colson, too! And it’s been a few decades, brother ;)
I would hope that Jesus Creeders would pray for his faith to increase rather than judge, and move to encourage hope rather than doubt, but above all love–because if we fail in faith, hope and love we’re pretty pathetic.
Now, that doesn’t mean we have to by suckers and make a big deal out of the whole episode prematurely. But we can work to improve his “soil” disposition with our prayers that others will walk along side him and that this seed grows strong enough to bear fruit.



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Jason

posted August 29, 2007 at 4:14 pm


Judas found Jesus in the garden… But just because you find him doesn’t mean you align yourself with his mission…



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Scott Watson

posted August 29, 2007 at 4:22 pm


What do we make of this language,then, when it comes from someone,say, George W. Bush,our President?



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Howard Walters

posted August 29, 2007 at 4:26 pm


This thread has really stuck with me all day long–and became the topic of dialogue in the faculty lounge this afternoon and thought I’d share the story. I walked in for tea and a couple of fellow professors were discussing the evolution from dog fighting to Jesus following. I took the opportunity to enter the conversation and enjoyed a deeply thoughtful dialogue about what following Jesus would look like and would not look like–from the perspective of historic values and practices of faith communities and the gospel narrative attributed to Jesus Himself. This conversation was amazingly free and open, and would not have happened outside of the media coverage of Mr. Vick’s statement. Could we see in all of this a terrific opportunity to create conversation as a way to encourage kingdom living during this window of “culturally correct” Jesus-conversation?



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Mark Eb

posted August 29, 2007 at 5:13 pm


If I were to err, I would prefer to err on the side of grace especially considering that I do not know the man and he has not had enough time to reveal the Christ within through a changed and changing life.
However, confessions by celebrities that turn out to be forms of manipulation do create difficulty in some of my relationships with people who make no confession of knowing Jesus especially with my homeless friends who often are suspicious if not cynical of those who “play the Jesus card” when in trouble.
As for Mr. Vick, time will tell. Truth tends to rise to the surface. I pray that he finds the joy through the trials of living as a citizen of kingdom and does not abandon the confession when things do not work out the way that he expects. Then I again, I pray that for myself and all of those I love.
In Christ,
Mark



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My 2 cents

posted August 29, 2007 at 7:20 pm


Mykl, also agree with you in that too many of our current culture people take on some issue that really isn’t theirs…the media hypes people into thinking it has something to do with them.



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ron

posted August 29, 2007 at 9:00 pm


Given what Jesus had to say about “practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them”, one might expect true Christians to be naturally skeptical about someone who overtly publicizes his faith, especially when doing so can easily be seen to have beneficial temporal consequences. That would be true for Michael Vick or George W. Bush (comment #46).



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Phil

posted August 29, 2007 at 9:15 pm


As I wrote on my blog, I think it’s too soon to know what Mr. Vick meant by his statement. James said very clearly that words alone do not define Christian faith. Actions define the validity of faith, or show it to be empty. I pray that Mr. Vick’s future deeds will be sufficient, beyond all reasonable doubt, to convict him of being a follower of Christ.



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PFKnight

posted August 29, 2007 at 9:48 pm


So this lady came up to me recently and asked me what she should do about her mother-in-law “who says that she is a believer.” ’cause she didn’t believe it was true. My response was “begin to treat her like what she says she is. Either she will recognize that she is not or you may recognize that she is.”
I am not saying that we should ignore the “laughable” professions when they are truly unbelievable, but until we know they are unbelievable maybe we should help them live what they proclaim. Truth is sometimes I find it a bit “laughable” that I believe….



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Rich

posted August 29, 2007 at 11:32 pm


When I finally admitted my need for Jesus and capitulated to his call on my life, 22 years ago, I found it very difficult to confess, even to those that I knew would be most supportive. I pray that Mr Vick’s confession is genuine, arising out of his recent humiliation. I am sure that our Lord has the ability to call even the vilest among us to himself, and he that is forgiven much…
Those who have said we should look for the fruit, amen, but I will pray for fruit. Lord, let not this soil be rocky, weedy, or pathy… let the seed grow and bring forth fruit…



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discokvn

posted August 30, 2007 at 8:43 am


maybe it’s not about believing all things but that love hopes all things…
don’t really care about sports or sports figures, but why would i not want to hope that someone has embraced the savior? even if i’m proved a fool for believing a lie.



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Anni

posted August 30, 2007 at 11:19 am


Scot,
Will your new book be published before Lent next year? Sounds like a great Lenten study…



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Henriet Schapelhouman

posted August 30, 2007 at 11:21 am


It’s been said that part of leadership is optimism. I’m very optimistic and always think things will work out for the best. I want Vick to be a Christian. I figure all of us have done bad things at some level…at least thought about it.
My encouragement: Let’s pray that Vick chooses to walk with Jesus, to grow in his relationship with Him, and to change his life for the better. Let’s withhold judgment and let’s pray for Vick and his family.



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Scot McKnight

posted August 30, 2007 at 12:27 pm


Anni,
I’m not sure. I haven’t asked but I will.



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jason

posted August 30, 2007 at 5:29 pm


i think cas #28 put it best.
i want to believe michael vick, but frankly it isn’t possible to know from such a distance. so, i believe the best. however, my first thought upon hearing the news was, “i preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”
for those in close proximity to him, they can be his friends best by gently keeping him accountable to prove his sincerity.



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grace

posted August 30, 2007 at 10:23 pm


I pray that he continues to “find Jesus.”
It’s not a one-time deal for any of us.



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Mariam

posted September 1, 2007 at 4:15 am


I like PFKnight’s comment #52. Sometimes when you treat a person as if you expect the best of them, they will rise to your expectations. Jesus accepted and loved people in spite of their sin and lies. He forgave his best friends when they abandoned and denied him. When the thief on the cross had a end-of-life conversion Jesus in his own suffering accepted and loved him and didn’t question whether the thief’s conversion was self-serving. Jesus is our example.



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