Thinking Out Loud - Ms. Green

Commentaries from a female, conservative Christian worldview. Intermittent observations on human behavior and current events. Occasional bursts of personal tirades,confessions, and discoveries. Frequent discussions about my "Narrow-Minded Faith".

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Christianity is Being Forced Back Behind the Church Doors

This happened in my town last weekend, in a southern state in the middle of the “Bible Belt”.

A couple of youth pastors and some college kids decided to go out and witness. They went to the local mall, and what they did was walk up to people and say they were doing a project and needed their input. So people who wanted to stay and participate did, and others just kept on walking or said they didn’t have time. No pressure was put on anyone to take part in the survey. At any point during the survey, they were free to leave the conversation and walk away.
One of the pastors had talked with 5 people so far – 2 Muslims and 3 Catholics. The Muslims didn’t like what he had to say and left halfway through the survey. All three of the Catholics were interested and participated eagerly. All three of them at one point admitted that they were lost and on their way to Hell, not purgatory. So they were given the Gospel. Then the Mall Security guys showed up and asked what my friends were doing. The pastor they had approached told them he was doing a project and explained that no one was being forced to participate. The Security guys told him he had to stop and couldn’t do that any more. He asked politely if the mall was not a public place. They immediately got angry and said it was private property and he had better leave immediately or they would escort him out, implying that they would do so physically. My friend then asked politely, “what about the First Amendment – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press?” They got angrier and said he would need permission from the owners of the Mall, so he asked for the owner’s phone number and they gave it to him but were very angry and irritated at this point and he and the others left.

A phone conversation with the Christian Law Association confirmed that the mall is private property and that he cannot do what he was doing without the owners’ permission. This same law supposedly protects churches from homosexuals walking in and causing a disturbance by passing out leaflets and shouting down the pastor.

It’s a sad day when a Christian can’t share their faith one-on-one with an interested party unless they’re on public property or have permission to do so on private property.

When my husband and I went back out of state last week for more testing on his eyes, we found out the technician was a Christian and we had some neat little conversations during the course of the 2 plus hours of testing, but when the testing was finished and it was time to go, the tech nervously glanced around to see if any hospital personnel were nearby before laying his hand on my husband’s shoulder and lifting up prayer for his eyesight, asking God to heal either through the doctors or supernaturally. At the end of his prayer, an assistant walked up, and the tech slightly turned his body so she couldn’t see what he was doing and he said a quick “amen”. It was obvious to both my husband and me that the tech was risking his job to pray like that.

My 9 year old nephew got in trouble in school last year around Christmas. The teacher had asked the kids to take turns sharing what they were going to do during the “holiday season”. When his turn came, he proceeded to tell the different things that he was going to be doing at the church to celebrate Jesus’s birthday. The teacher got visibly upset and told him he couldn’t talk about Jesus in school, to which he replied, “That’s stupid – it’s His birthday, that’s why we’re getting out of school.”(Don’t you just love kids?) He was then escorted to the hallway and reprimanded and told not to bring the subject up again.

The persecution is coming. In some ways, it’s already here. But we’re not dying for our faith like Christians are in other countries. Not yet…

II Timothy 3:12: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

II Corinthians 4:8-9:"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed..."

Matthew 5:10:"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew 5:12:"Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

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25 Comments:

At 9:40 PM, Blogger ELAshley said...

And I'm surrounded by people who refuse to see the truth of it... Persecution, REAL persecution is coming.

And on a different note, I'm beginning to understand your aversion to arguing points of faith. It is, I see at last, pointless. But I can't just let ignorance have its day. I feel so compelled to shout it down.

 
At 9:45 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

Next time you feel the urge to engage in argument about your faith, remember these words:

"Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge." Proverbs 14:7

Then ask youself who you are dealing with and base your decision on whether to engage with him/her on your answer to the question.

 
At 2:06 AM, Blogger ELAshley said...

That is sound advice-- thank you.

 
At 8:29 AM, Blogger D.Daddio Al-Ozarka said...

You know--it's not just matters of faith. I absolutely refuse to provide documentation to back up my own views on secular matters of which I'm confident there is more than ample evidence.

I feel no need to to waste my time providing info that I already know is out there. Especially when those who demand evidence will not be affected in the least by the truth I would provide!

I'm not looking to convince any of the leftists of anything anymore--it's a useless endeavor.. I just strive to reveal the fallacy in their own positions.

The "Christian" leftists I've encountered view Christ as a man and nothing more--an example for us and that's all. They refuse to accept that He is also the God of Abraham!

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

Wow! How can Christ be Christ and NOT be God?

I think that legal persecution will definitely increase until Christians are treated with the same sort of attitude that Jewish folks endure. (Anti-sematism.) This already results in Christians being martyred (and I'm not talking bomb belts, either!) abroad,and it may well one day result in a holocaust situation.

It seems that kids can learn how to be atheists, and learn all about "other cultures" in depth, such as how to be a good Muslim, but the C-word is a BIG no-no.

 
At 8:50 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

I don't understand what you don't understand about a mall being private property. Unless you would want to let a Jehovah's witness into your living room and "witness" to you, you had better be glad that the owners of the mall *do* have the same private-property rights you do.

Amusing, to me, that mean old big-business people, who your party adores, have raised your ire.

 
At 8:59 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

For the record, this is what my own "leftY' church believes. Pretty radical, huh?

The name of Jesus is above every name
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in theSpirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind,having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each ofyou look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be inyou that was in Christ Jesus,

who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.

And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-22


Then there's this. Crazy!

God's plan of salvation
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before God in love.

God destined us for adoption as God's children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of God's will, to the praise of God's glorious grace that God freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of God's grace that God lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight God has made known to us the mystery of God's will, according to God's good pleasure that God set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.

In Christ, we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of God who accomplishes all things according to God's counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of God's glory. In Christ you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in Christ, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of God's glory.

Ephesians 1:3-14


Finally:

Testimonies, not tests
of the faith
The United Church of Christ embraces a theological heritage that affirms the Bible as the authoritative witness to the Word of God, the creeds of the ecumenical councils, and the confessions of the Reformation. The UCC has roots in the "covenantal" tradition—meaning there is no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members. Christ alone is Head of the church. We seek a balance between freedom of conscience and accountability to the apostolic faith. The UCC therefore receives the historic creeds and confessions of our ancestors as testimonies, but not tests of the faith.


Yret, I still oppose Bush and the war in Iraq with all my being, and I vote Democratic.

Amazing stuff, the Gospel. It's one thing. Politics is another. Would that all, especially on the Right, would keep that straight!

 
At 9:58 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

ER, you missed my whole point, but that's ok. Glad I amused you. (smile)

BTW - I love it when JWs and LDS's come to my door. I try to keep them as long as I can and witness to them so that they aren't down the street misleading someone else.

 
At 1:34 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

ER, thanks for sharing those Scriptures.

I would differ with you in several areas.

First of all, I do not recognize the Bible as the authoratative witness to the Word of God. I recognize the Bible as THE Word of God, (not a witness to it).

Second,I do not seek a balance between freedom of conscience and accountability to the apostolic faith. I seek total submission to God's will and not my own - knowing that my heart is depraved and wicked, and not to be depended on for guidance. "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" II Corinthians 10:5

Thirdly, I respect your right to vote as you see fit, and would fight for you for the right. You also have a right to be against Bush and the war against terrorism. However, I cannot separate the Gospel and my faith from my participation in politics. As a Christian, I cannot vote for someone whose party platform stands against Scripture in its support for abortion, homosexual marriage and recognition, condoms in schools, etc. Is the Republican party perfect? Not even close. But until a party comes along that more closely aligns with my faith in these matters, I will continue to vote Republican and hope that you would support my right to do so just as I support your right not to.

 
At 3:50 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Oh, I do Ms. Green. I just find it dangerous, to the point of idolatry, for people to confuse the Logos, that is, the Word of God, that is, Christ, with the Bible, which we colloquially call "the Word of God." I think it takes a certain amount of superstition to treat the Bible as infallible, inerrant, etc., etc. That's just me plainly saying what I'm trying to say. No offense intended.

These comments, also, are in response to the notion that the on-off-again tug-of-war between the parties in this country is "spiritual warfare" in the sense that the Scripture refers to, referring to the comment that drew me here, at EL's place.

Allow me to echo this, as well:

"However, I cannot separate the Gospel and my faith from my participation in politics."

Peace.

 
At 8:07 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

ER, By your own words, then, you don't believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. I do. The Bible claims to be from the mouth of God. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:hat the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." II Timothy 3:16-17

At the risk of telling you something you already have heard, the Greek word translated "inspiration" is the word "theopneustos", which literally means "God breathed".

The Bible is not just a good book. It is from the mouth of God. If I did not believe that, I would not be a Christian today.

I believe the Bible is a living, breathing and Holy book. It is God's love letter to us."Word of God" is more than a colloquialism - it is what the Bible calls itself.

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." I Thessalonians 2:13

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" Ephesians 6:17

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17

"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." I Peter 1:23

"And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God."

I'm curious - and I'm not being sarcastic. If you don't believe the Bible is the Word of God, then what made you decide to try Christianity?

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Gah. Blogger just ate a lengthy, thoughtful response.

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Gah. Blogger just ate a lengthy, thoughtful response.

 
At 4:14 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Trying again.

I believe those verses from II Timothy. They say nothing about inerrancy or infallibility. But when those verses were penned, "the Bible" as we known had not been accumulated. The Canon had not been set by the Fathers. So, "all Scripture" refers to writing lost to antiquity as well as some of those the Fathers discarded, correct?

I believe all those other verses, but I will never understand how the "word of God" as mentioned in them devolved from the lofty notions of the Logos, Christ, as in John 1:1, to the level of a book that is so clearly WITH error -- not to mention horrors, including genocide, attributed to God, it's not even arguable.

And, I didn't "decide to try Christianity." I was saved at age 8 in a Southern Baptist church in rural eastern Oklahoma. I'm 42 now. I was in my mid-teens and paying close attention when the fundamentalists started purging the seminaries and SBC leadership of non-fundamentalists. The changes to the Baptist Faith & Message in 2000 (2001?) were the last straw.

I believe in church tradition. I believe in discernment, the kind that comes directly from the Spirit to individual believers, when confirmed by discernment gifted to groups of believers.

I believe in the Bible. I take it very seriously. I do not take all of it literally. I believe it is sufficient unto salvation, in that it is the most important, but not the only, foundation of the Christian faith. Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God -- in that order on purpose -- is the foundation of my faith and the sole head of the church. I believe that, rather than as a revelation by God to man, the Bible is best understsood -- and much more "alive" and "real" in some ways -- seen as a record of humankind's attempts to comprehend the largelky uncomprehendableness of God, but made attainable through the humanity of Jesus, specifically by paying close attention to what He said, in context, and striving to follow His example.

 
At 9:23 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

Open Letter to ER, Part I

First of all, ER, I am delighted that you took the time to carefully present and explain what your faith means to you. Anytime I am sharing my faith with someone else, it always helps to know what the other’s perpective is on what we are discussing. Thank you for your honesty and you willingness to help me understand where you are in your spiritual walk.

I would like to take a moment now to give you the same courtesy and explain my perspective on my faith to you as wellI would like you to know that for most of the first 40 years of my life I was an agnostic. You couldn’t drag me into a church and I thought Christians were a bunch of superstitious holier-than-thou people who used religion as a crutch. God saw fit to not give up on me, and I eventually lost the battle but won the victory. Romans 1:22 is my motto now. But I’ll save that story for another time.

For now, I would like to attempt to answer some of what you said, though one post will not be sufficient. I assure you that anything I say, I say with respect and with the ultimate goal of persuading rather than winning an argument. I hope you will take anything I say as such.

You believe those verses from II Timothy. Ok. Now I’d like to ask you this. Does God make mistakes? Is God fallible? I believe that you would answer no to both questions. So I want to point out again, that the original Greek word translated “inspiration” is not the word defined as “being inspired” as in one being inspired by Shakespeare or some other human writer. The word “theopnuestos” very literally means from the mouth of or breath of God. The writer could have chosen a more generic term for inspiration, but chose the word “theopnuestos” quite intentionally. Also, when this particular verse was penned, the entire Old Testament had already been written. As far as the New Testament writings, according to most chronologies, II Timothy was written in approximately AD 67 while Paul was in Rome, which means the only Scriptures not yet written were Jude, the Gospel of John, 1-3 John and Revelation. As to Scripture being discarded, I believe what God said when He said “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35,Mark 13:31 & Luke 21:33). A God Who spoke creation into existence is able to preserve His Word. The first century Christians knew what was Scripture and what wasn’t. It wasn’t until Gnosticism creeped in and bogus writings started appearing that councils were formed to confirm what was Scripture and what was not- not to choose, but to affirm.

You believe that the Bible is clearly WITH error. I believe that it is not. I do believe that there are some passages that appear to be in error, but upon close examination, I have yet to be convinced of a single error. I would challenge you in your belief and ask that you prove to me that Scripture is not inerrant. The most that you could hope to do would be to point to a few apparent but unproven errors.

Part II will have to come later. My fingers are tired and I’m headed for zzzzzzzzzzzzland very soon.

 
At 10:07 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

:-) Thank you.

I love dialogue. I am your brother. You are my sister. We will disagree on many things. Let us agree on one point, from the beginning: Jesus.

But, re: "I would challenge you in your belief and ask that you prove to me that Scripture is not inerrant. The most that you could hope to do would be to point to a few apparent but unproven errors."

You've already made up your mind regarding the infallibility of Scripture, as is clear from trhe second sentence above. I do not begrudge you that belief. I do reject the idea that I must share that belief in order to be a Christian -- and ALL that that beautiful, but much maligned, word implies. I am quick to defend because others are quick to attack.

My faith is based on nothing less than Jesus's love, blood and righteousness, which I heard from preaching, and became convinced by the Holy Spirit, not by reading, arguing over or defending the precise words in the book -- the old, old story, that a savior came from Glory -- a story that is holy, and complete, and that IS FOUND IN the Bible, but that is NOT the Bible, per se.

An error, off the top of my head: God killed babies and old women in the Old Testament. Call it "judgment" if you like, but I stand under the grace of Jesus and declare that that is NOT the God that the Saviour spoke of.

An error from the New Testament: there are conflicts and contradictions among the Gospels that are plain to see, and no amount of arguing that they are merely "apparent" will convince me that they are less than "error" -- IF, and especially if, I am expected to believe that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant, complete "Word of God."

No backtracking and clarifiying that "the original writings" are what people mean by "inerrant" and "infallible." 'Cause we don't have the originals; we have what we have; and if God is supposed to have kept it all together, then He has failed.

But He hasn't failed, because "the Word of God" is one thing, the Logis, the Christ; and the colloquial "Word of God" is another.

This is important to talk about for one reason if nothing else; To bridge the chasm of fellowship between fundamentalist and liberal Christianty.

The extremists on your side are quick to dismiss liberal Christians for what are perceived as errors of doctrine. The extremists on my side are quick to dismiss many on your side for perceived errors in application of the Gospel to life in this world. I believe both extremes are in error.

I look forward to your next.

Peace.

 
At 9:14 AM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

Open Letter to ER, part 2

Again, I appreciate your openness and willingness to exchange ideas, and the spirit in which you are doing so. My goal is to do the same, so as not to offend.

You say that I have already made up my mind regarding the infallibility of Scripture. That is true. But this was not always so. You see, I’ve come to realize that there are many similarities between an agnostic and a liberal Christian, as you call yourself. Many of your reasons for not believing that the Bible is THE Word of God are the same reasons I gave for not believing in the Bible, in Jesus Christ, or in any religion for that matter. And my challenge still stands but it isn’t crucial for us to discuss the inerrancy/infallibility issue to me. (on a side note, please read Comparing Islamic Terrorism and Old Testament Conquests)


You too have made up you mind already. I think the reason that you refuse to believe that the Bible is the Word of God is because there are things in it you don’t like and don’t want to believe. Here is where I want to focus my conversation today. You say that your faith is based on Jesus’s love, blood and righteousness, which you heard from preaching. Where did the preacher get his words? Not from many secular sources. Though there are secular writings about Jesus, they are more historical than doctrinal, and are commentaries on the influence He had on His society at the time and do not focus on His message or His doctrine. Unless the preaching you heard was from the Bible, then you’ve gotten only a partial glimpse of Who Jesus is.

You say you don’t believe the Bible literally and that the God of the Old Testament is not the heavenly Father Jesus spoke of. I suggest to you that you have formed God into an image that is acceptable to you, and that is the God you are worshipping. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. You see, you can’t have a New Testament without an Old Testament. You can’t have a New Covenant (grace) without an Old Covenant(the law). What parts of the Bible do you not believe literally? And how do you know for sure that you are not mistaken? Do you reject the miracles of the OT? Then how can you believe THE miracle of the NT (the resurrection). Do you reject the account of Genesis? Then how can you believe anything Jesus said, because He spoke of Adam. Do you reject the Garden of Eden account? Then what do you need to be saved from? And if you reject the Garden of Eden, doesn’t that make God the author of sin and of death?

You see, if I still believed that the Bible was written by men and merely “inspired” as in “inspired to write something”, instead of that every word of Scripture was given to these men directly from God, guided by His Holy Spirit, I would not be a Christian today. And I submit to you that you are practicing a form of Christianity, but that you don’t truly grasp the significance of the faith yet, because you are worshipping a god that you have made in your own image, that is acceptable to you.

God doesn’t say anywhere in Scripture that we have to like what it says or what He does, or what He commands us to do. He does say that we are to obey. It’s His way, not ours. The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. That, ER is the difference between your faith and mine. And I think I know exactly how you feel and what you are thinking, and I want you to know I am not attacking you – but I’m asking you – without believing every word of the Bible, how can you know for sure about any of your faith? If you are basing your faith on “feelings”, what about the next guy whose “feelings” are different or even diametrically opposed to yours? You can’t both be right. You have to have a foundation – and that foundation is the Bible. And if you don’t believe all of it, then how can you believe any of it?

I didn’t realize this exchange was going to be so lengthy or that my own responses would be so long. Too bad we can’t sit down face to face and discuss this.

 
At 8:21 AM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Haven't left the discussion!

My faith is based on the Jesus told of in the Bible, and testified to by 2,000 years of faith, and today by the presense of the Body of Christ, screwed up as it is, in the world today.

I submit to you that if you wouldn't be a Christian today without the "inerrant, infallible" Bible, then you're not trusting God but are leaning on "your own understanding" and, in fact, are basing your faith on the Bible itself, perhaps even deifying it.

Maybe not. It's OK with me, either way. Because, to be honest, doctrine doesn't save. Jesus saves. What that means to individual believers is something to be "worked out" -- in the Jamesian sense.

When I say I don't believe the Bible is inerrant, I don't mean I "don't believe the Bible"! I mean I believe it for what it says, taken into full historical, cultural and spiritual context, as much as possible. "God-breathed" is a great metaphor! The Greek language is great at metaphors!

When I say that the God of the Old Testament is not the God that Jesus spoke of, what I mean is that human perceptions of God have evolved as HUMANKIND has changed, not God -- and that Jesus's revelations about God are THE end-all, be-all of it.

Conservative Christians are quick to fall back on the law, and Jesus's "fulfillment" of it. What does that mean to one who has never been under the Law, but under Grace. Not much. So, I reject it as something I should consider very important. I consider ti as a fact of Jewish history, and, as such, informative as to how all believers should interpret the meaning of Christ in all its fullness. But it's clear to me that only inasmuch as the law is placed "in the hearts" of all men is it to be fussed over.

The following GracEmail came today. Forgive me for dumping it here, but it speaks to my own attitude about how Christians of various traditions and interpretations should strive to get along -- ar at the least, refrain from attacking one another, doubting one another and
casting aspersions.

Peace.

(gracEmail) Churches, changes & controversies - 2
Edward Fudge
Sep 19, 2006



CHURCHES, CHANGES AND CONTROVERSIES
(Part 2 of 3)



The Jerusalem church had a uniform look (Acts 21:20). Everyone there was Jewish. All males were circumcised. Everyone kept the Sabbath. All households were kosher. These first believers in Jesus had heard about Gentiles and their pagan ways, but there were no Gentiles in their church. Then the gospel spread northward to Antioch in Syria. These people were largely Gentiles. They had never kept the Sabbath, observed Passover, circumcised their baby boys, eaten kosher foods or kept the Law of Moses. Yet the first Christian church of Antioch was growing, gifted, grace-based, evangelistic and generous (Acts 11:19-30). Its leaders were prayerful, Spirit-led and obedient to God (Acts 13:1-3). But trouble was on the horizon.

One day some men came to Antioch from the mother church in Jerusalem, insisting that circumcision was necessary for salvation, as was keeping the Law of Moses (Acts 15:1-2, 5). After some controversy, Paul and Barnabas led a delegation to Jerusalem to discuss this matter with the apostles and elders. The assembled leaders did three things which are worthy of our imitation today. First, they refused to compromise the gospel. Salvation comes through trusting in Jesus Christ, they said, and on no other basis. God had demonstrated that at Cornelius' house in Caesarea when he gave the Holy Spirit to Gentiles who believed (Acts 10-11; 15:7-9). No one can obtain God's approval by his or her own performance -- not in the past, not now, not in the future (Acts 15:10). All who are saved are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus (Acts 15:11).

Second, these early Christian leaders sought out common areas of practical fellowship (Acts 15:22-29). The Jews had long associated with honorable Gentiles who maintained basic standards of morality and decency -- standards which the Jews believed God had revealed to Noah long before there were Jews or Gentiles. This Noahic covenant, they believed, prohibited idolatry, sexual impurity and eating blood. These restrictions were acceptable to the Gentile Christians (who were not required to become Jews) and they enabled even the strictest Jewish believers to join with Gentile Christians in table fellowship.

Third, these leaders acknowledged that diversity was acceptable, useful and good. There was no reason for the Jerusalem church to cease its "Jewishness" or to change its distinctive practices and observances. But there was no reason for the Antioch church to adopt Jewish customs or to imitate the ways things were done in Jerusalem. So long as one put no trust in the ordinance itself, circumcision and uncircumcision occupied equal ground (Gal. 5:6). So long as one trusted in Jesus as Savior and sought to please him, one could eat kosher food or eat anything else. The same was true for observing traditional Jewish religious holy days (Rom. 14:1-13). There is enormous room for diversity among churches today, consistent with the gospel and the broad teaching of Scripture. Within those parameters, we should do whatever best advances God's kingdom, leads others to faith in Christ and builds Christian character and maturity (1 Cor. 8:19-23).



__________________

Copyright 2006 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby granted to reprint this gracEmail in its entirety without change, with credit given and not for financial profit. To visit our multimedia website, click here or go to http://www.EdwardFudge.com .

 
At 1:14 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

ER, I have copied and pasted below all of your latest post with the exception of the news letter. I really don't want anything but poster's own words here on this blog, but didn't want to keep you from saying what you wanted to say. I mean no offense by leaving that part out, and have left every one of your words intact:

Haven't left the discussion!

My faith is based on the Jesus told of in the Bible, and testified to by 2,000 years of faith, and today by the presense of the Body of Christ, screwed up as it is, in the world today.

I submit to you that if you wouldn't be a Christian today without the "inerrant, infallible" Bible, then you're not trusting God but are leaning on "your own understanding" and, in fact, are basing your faith on the Bible itself, perhaps even deifying it.

Maybe not. It's OK with me, either way. Because, to be honest, doctrine doesn't save. Jesus saves. What that means to individual believers is something to be "worked out" -- in the Jamesian sense.

When I say I don't believe the Bible is inerrant, I don't mean I "don't believe the Bible"! I mean I believe it for what it says, taken into full historical, cultural and spiritual context, as much as possible. "God-breathed" is a great metaphor! The Greek language is great at metaphors!

When I say that the God of the Old Testament is not the God that Jesus spoke of, what I mean is that human perceptions of God have evolved as HUMANKIND has changed, not God -- and that Jesus's revelations about God are THE end-all, be-all of it.

Conservative Christians are quick to fall back on the law, and Jesus's "fulfillment" of it. What does that mean to one who has never been under the Law, but under Grace. Not much. So, I reject it as something I should consider very important. I consider ti as a fact of Jewish history, and, as such, informative as to how all believers should interpret the meaning of Christ in all its fullness. But it's clear to me that only inasmuch as the law is placed "in the hearts" of all men is it to be fussed over.

The following GracEmail came today. Forgive me for dumping it here, but it speaks to my own attitude about how Christians of various traditions and interpretations should strive to get along -- ar at the least, refrain from attacking one another, doubting one another and
casting aspersions.

Peace.

(news letter deleted)

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

I understand. :-)

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

I understand. :-)

 
At 9:44 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

On the other hand, I ask that you respond to the assertions *in* the newsletter as you see fit, so if you don't mind, please quote directly from it as you do, so it will make sense to me, to you, and for posterity. I didn't put it here just to take up space. If you don't address any of it at all, then you will be ignoring some of the major points I meant to make. :-)

 
At 10:36 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Please let me know at my blog whether you wish to continue here. I've checked several days now. If not, that's cool.

Peace.

 
At 11:00 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

ER, I guess at this point I'm at a loss on how to proceed, because our beliefs are based on such different premises that I don't see a middle ground here. I believe because of the Bible. You believe in spite of it. I'm not sure we can continue to discuss this and be productive. I will say that your courtesy and thoughtfulness in your posts is much appreciated, and with that spirit, you are welcome here any time even though I disagree with more of what you say than I agree with. I look forward to future dialogues, but at the moment, I think we've exhausted this one, don't you think?

 
At 10:24 PM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Fair enough. :-)

 

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