Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6 (NASB)
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” -Matt 26:18-20 (NASB)
And if we really believe this, we will share this news with the world. Because Jesus told us to. Because he is the only way. And I did.
I witnessed with all the faithfulness and fervor that I could muster, because I believed it all. I would hang out at the bus depot and airport handing out Jack Chick tracts to strangers (this was the pre-9/11 world). I would pray outside bars and stripjoints, hoping to catch people as they walked outside and convince them of their sinful ways. I would tell my mother and father, brother and sister about the Jesus that I knew, our Savior who was the only way to our salvation…
Yesterday, I wrote an article which offered a radically different interpretation of the Adam and Eve story. I do love the stories of Genesis. They are obviously of timeless quality and influence. I was raised to believe that these amazing, but bizarre stories are true – literally true – the Divine account of the universal and human origins. A recent poll done by USA Today shows that 66 percent of American adults are of the opinion that God created human beings pretty much in their present form within the last 10,000 years.I now believe that the book of Genesis like much of the Old Testament, is mythology. Hermann Gϋnkel in his book Genesis long ago laid out the different types of mythology (or as he called them, legends) contained in Genesis, and how to interpret them as ancient myth that make sense to the modern reader. Gϋnkel emphasizes that myth in Genesis is not fiction, rather it is legend that “adopts and works over certain data which come from reflexion, tradition or observation”.
I want to write my thoughts on the legend of how the human language became confused – The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). As a Christian, I was taught that the scattering of the languages was a result of the pride and pretension of humanity…
And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, From the Ghent altarpiece by Jan van Eyckand brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. – Genesis 2:18-20 (NKJV)
I have always loved the creation stories in the Bible. They were probably among the first things that I read in Scripture, since I remember them from early childhood, and also they are in the front of the book! Christians have interpreted Genesis 2 and 3, the famous story of the Garden of Eden, to be the Fall of Man and the origin of Sin.
Your lips, O my spouse, Drip as the honeycomb; Honey and milk are under your tongue; And the fragrance of your garments Is like the fragrance of Lebanon. – Song of Songs 4:11
Popular Christianity places an emphasis on believers having a Personal Relationship with Jesus. As a Christian, I proudly proclaimed that I did not follow a religion, but that I had a relationship – a personal one-on-one with the Messiah. Looking back, I have no idea how to Biblically justify the idea of a personal relationship. I am pretty certain it is nothing more than modern Christian pop culture. And on a more practical level, I don’t think Jesus wants a relationship with any of us anyway. As a Christian, I talked to Jesus for years, but never heard a word back from him. That is in no way a relationship, despite all the effort I put into it.
As unsupported as I think this idea of a personal relationship is, there are times when Christians seem to think that a mere relationship is not enough. If it were not so grotesque, I think many Christians would want to change the cliché from personal relationship to intimate relationship. The relationship between the Christian and the Christ becomes so close that Jesus becomes a surrogate lover to the faithful Christian. To be a disciple and even a slave to Jesus means, to some of the most devoted, that the relationship with the Savior Jesus must be the closest relationship that the Christian is to hold. As a proud heterosexual male, this gooey GodTalk gave me the hives.
This weekend my wife and I finally finished moving into our new house. As with any hectic real-estate transaction, this one had its share of tense moments and close calls. Purchasing a new house is always a risky venture. Despite it all, I was surprised at how smoothly our purchase went, and how easily we could have lost everything.
As a Christian, I would have been praying vigorously for God’s guiding hand. Before the purchase began, I would have brought my desire to purchase a new house to the foot of the alter. I would have asked God if moving was indeed in his Will – then I would have waited for an answer.
This filmclip is from the Academy Award winning documentary Marjoe, a film in which evangelist Marjoe Gortner exposed himself as a charlatan. This type of ultra Pentecostalism is the crap that I was raised with during the late 60s- early 70s Jesus Movement. From the looks of it, it was filmed at about 1970 – about the time my mother used to frequent these types of services and bring me along to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. Watch at your own risk – this 10 minute clip includes hyper-emotional preaching, anointed handkerchiefs, speaking in tongues, pleas for seed-faith offerings, and people slain in the spirit. This is truly a pagan freakshow, and I witnessed it all as a youngster.
Salvation, as preached from Christian Pulpits seems very simple to the faithful. Most Christians insist that there is but one Name by which we all must be saved. Pastors generally have it down pat – and it makes sense if you follow the logic of Christian Evangelists and not think too hard about it. The laity trusts the authority of the Church. But if we put away our Four Spiritual Laws pamphlets and Chick Tracts and see what the Bible actually says about Salvation, it gets hairy. It is no wonder theologians have struggled with these issues for centuries.
Here are a few passages that come off the top of my head. Mind you, there are plenty more:
- John 3:16 says if we believe in him (the only begotten Son) we will have eternal life. Simple enough.
- Ephesians 2:8-9 says we are saved by God’s grace and not by works. Cool.