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1/26/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Believe on the Lord Jesus and...

A rant on Christian salvation

By Dave, the WM

I've been thinking about something lately: Christian salvation.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians said,
"For by grace are ye saved and through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast."

The way this has been explained to me is that salvation is something that comes by grace, through faith, and not something anyone earns.

In Evangelical circles, this kind of grace is described as unmerited favor.

Unmerited: Not earned.

But I was also told that a person must believe certain things in order to acquire this unmerited favor. Without the correct beliefs, no favor is granted. In fact, unless a few mandatory beliefs are accepted and adopted, no favor can be extended. No matter how this was ever explained to me, if in order to be granted "favor" a person had to do something, even if it was only the acceptance of a few ideas, then it seemed to me that the favor was merited. It's simple quid pro quo. The "favor" is granted in exchange for embracing the correct beliefs. One is "favored" for possessing the right beliefs.

Without faith it is impossible to please God, says the writer of the book of Hebrews. So does that mean that with the aquisition of faith, it is possible to please God?

What is this thing called faith? And what is belief?

Can you touch faith? Can you taste it?

Can you see, smell or taste belief?

I believe my wife loves me. I have faith that my children will not abandon me when I grow old.

These are two statements of how I view the world. They are my conceptualization of certain things in my life. They are, in essence, my perspective — my thoughts — my ideas.

I believe I have an attractive family. I believe I have an ugly body. I believe I'll have another beer. I have faith that my car will start in sub-zero temperatures. I have faith that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning.

These statements reflect my views based on my experience, my personality, and my general self image. They are, in essence, ideas. These ideas may be correct, incorrect, or somewhere in between, but they are nothing more than ideas. They exist nowhere outside of my brain.

I have been assured on numerous occasions that one day I will find myself eternally roasting in the horrific torture chamber of a loving God because of one sin, and one sin only: the sin of unbelief.

Because I do not have certain ideas in my head, I will be tortured eternally. If I embrace certain ideas, I'll be rewarded with everlasting life in heaven.

It's not the things I have done, or the things I do that will get me into this place called heaven, says the Evangelical. It is the beliefs (the ideas) that I hold to be true that is my ticket into either heaven or hell. Nothing I do can change my status, except of course getting hold of the correct beliefs.

Does that really make sense?

First, salvation is described as unmerited, and then, in the very next breath, salvation is described as something that must be acquired through "right thinking."

I must think correctly about certain things in order to be granted the unmerited favor that will result in salvation.

This is why there is so much discussion about people who have never heard the Gospel message, and those who are below the age of accountability, and the retarded, etc. Salvation is acquired through understanding and accepting certain ideas into one's brain. Those devoid of the ability to grasp certain concepts, through ignorance or nature, are in some circles considered innocent and exempt from the requirements for meriting unmerited favor.

Now, there are those who will say that to believe means to trust. In other words, where it says "Believe on the Lord Jesus..." what is intended is "Trust in the Lord Jesus..." To my mind, it makes no difference. Something is still being required of me to merit this favor — trust. And trust is still just a concept, much like belief and faith. Trust is an idea or a feeling that only exists in the mind.

Or is belief and faith better described as magic?

What do you think?

41 comments:

Audie said...

No, It's not just the "act of believing". The book of James tells us that "faith without works is dead".

So, is there something more, asside from "just believing" that we have to do in order to escape eternal damnation?

So to answer the WM's question, I have to answer with "No". It is not grace, because it requires work

Micah Cowan said...

I was just about to say what audie said. Basically, if you mush together the various things scripture says about salvation, and ignore the implications of taking 1 John too literally, lack of belief would seem to be sufficient to send you to Hell (as, regardless of how compassionate, caring, loving and kind you are, whatever good you're doing is for the wrong reasons, or something…); but having the belief isn't sufficient if it doesn't also "bear the right fruit"...

When I was starting to get more critical of the Bible before I "turned from the faith", I did start to notice that, for all the Paulian talk about salvation by faith in Christ, not by works, Jesus' own words on the subject (at least, as recorded in the gospels) spent a hell of a lot more time talking about what you should and shouldn't do to get into heaven, than he did on believing in him.

The very same verse you quote, of course, says that even the faith we have in Him is itself a gift He gave us. So (as I said at the tail end of Lost Credibility), the way I figure it is, if I turn out to be totally wrong on this and He really does exist and is the same God as the one from the Bible, if He gave me the faith in the first place, then He also took it away from me: I didn't choose to stop believing—I fought it hand and foot. If He turns out to be legit, I figure He'll have some explanations to give (though He'll probably go with that "your finite mind is too limited to comprehend My ways" crap…).

twincats said...

My dad always said: If it's good for everything, it's probably good for nothing. I know he wasn't talking about the Bible, but he could have been.

Think about it; the Bible is supposed to be the blueprint for eternal salvation, the complete guide for living life, the source of all comfort and joy. All things to all people, if the faithful are to be believed.

But because it says everything, it ends up saying nothing because there are too many contradictions, too many messages that don't fit in with one another, so it has to be interpreted. But not just interpreted, interpreted with an open heart (or insert appropriate fundy phase here) WHATEVER it's actually supposed to mean, who knows?

Actually, I do know (or at least very strongly suspect) that open heart = closed mind, that "Let go and let God" means turn off your brain! Sorry, but I've never been very good at that and neither have a lot of other people.

mladyd said...

Christian salvation is where the whole thing falls about for me. I'm dumbfounded that anyone who can has a working brain can just accept this kind of thing as fact or truth. Even the people I know who claim to be 'saved' can't really express it to me except to repeat what we have all heard others say about the experience, and how to do it. I don't believe it, I have never believed it, but I am sorry to say I have faked it (it's practically the first thing you learn to do when surrounded by others who ask your salvation status upon meeting you for the first time!). My experience has taught me that most people are doing the same thing but nobody is willing to out themselves by admitting it. Those who actually do believe wholeheartedly that they have experienced something supernatural that will get them into heaven almost always have other issues they are trying to deal with. It's frustrating to have seriouss talks with people about it when nobody is being honest.

eel_shepherd said...

Micah_Cowan wrote:
"...I did start to notice that, for all the Paulian talk about salvation by faith in Christ, not by works, Jesus' own words on the subject (at least, as recorded in the gospels) spent a hell of a lot more time talking about what you should and shouldn't do to get into heaven, than he did on believing in him..."

The Perils Of The Pauline. Brett Keane has a video in which he speculates that Paul's history and methods require fewer moving parts to explain when you consider that his motive was not to _further_ Xtianity, but to undermine and _destroy_ it. I forget, just off the top of my head, which video it is, but I have it in mind that it might be the Why Do Christians Hate Jesus video, or something close enough that it will jump out at you if you do a YouTube search.

I suppose that a Xtian would explain (away) the contradiction by saying that once you believe the grace story, you'll automatically start doing cool stuff w/o any sense of striving. Whatever. Whatfuckingever.

Also...
twincats said:
"My dad always said: If it's good for everything, it's probably good for nothing..."

A friend of mine said, in somewhat less memorable terms, the same thing, when he said, "Any system which purports to explain everything conveys no information."

I've noticed that as Xtians start to move up the food chain, they start getting cute with their delivery. They stop believing _in_ Jebus and start believing _on_ him. WTF? And gradually "Jesus Christ" starts being "Christ Jesus". Maybe that's how his name shows up on their speed-dialers. Guess it's got that certain extra je ne sais quoi (je ne care quoi, personally, either). Christian tricks are for Christian kids, like the rabbit told me. (At least I think it was a rabbit. Swims around in the Sargasso Sea, with a curiously snakelike motion? Sure it was a rabbit.)

Anonymous said...

I just wonder what else can be said?
Every aspect of religions and christianity has been unequivically scrutinized and officially debunked on this website and on vass amounts of blogs.

What else can be said? Will it take another 2000 years before people will even consider the damage religions and beliefs do to the brain and society?

It seems practically nothing works to awaken people up from their mental delusion.

As every day goes by, I get a sense of how much more pathetic religions and beliefs are, it's just pure insanity, PERIOD

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you guys! Christianity is so subjective! I love it when people say well the finite cannot understand the infinite so forth. It is just a big mind game! Unfortunately I got caught up in it when I was a teenager and I now regret that I ever did! My message to the youth is this don't fall into this same mind trap that so many of us fell into. Don't let these Fundys manipulate your mind! Be strong Trust yourself and always put your education and future as #1 so you can make a real difference in the world instead of getting caught up in a mind numbing fairytale!

tigg13 said...

It works like this:

You give me $100.00.

I tell you that, if you really need it, I'll give it back to you - but only if you really need it.

You know that I will because I'm a real honest guy, and besides its your $100.00.

You ask me for the money back, but I say how do I know that you REALLY need it.

In order to show me that you really need it, I tell you to kiss my butt because you would kiss my butt if you didn't really need the money.

Faith without works, works without faith.

Jay said...

AFTER 4000 YEARS OF DAILY SACRIFICES, GOD SENT HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON INSTEAD OF A GOAT OR A LAMB THIS TIME TO BE SLAUGHTERED, BECAUSE WE HAVE GOT TO KEEP THIS GOD HAPPY, OTHERWISE HE WILL SEND HIS FURY OF WRATH DOWN UPON US!

WE MUST ALWAYS LIVE IN A CONSTANT BUBBLE OF FEAR, WE MUST ALWAYS HUMBLE OURSELFS TO THIS GOD, BECAUSE OF OURSELFS WE CAN DO AND BE NOTHING!

ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS:

WE ARE AS FILTHY RAGS, WE SMELL AND STINK, WE ARE AS RAT EXCREMENT TO THE BIBLE GOD

NOT ONE, DESERVES THE KINGDOM OF GOD

WE DO NOT DESERVE TO TAKE THE NEXT BREATH

WE ARE ALL LESS THAN NOTHING TO THE BIBLE GOD, WE SHOULD ALL BE DESTROYED

WE ARE FULL OF SIN

WE ALL DESERVE HELL

BUT IT IS THROUGH HIS HOLY IMMACULATE GRACE THAT HE LETS US LIVE

WE ALL FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD

WE ARE NOT WORTHY TO EVEN LOOK UP TO HEAVEN

WE ARE AS SEWAGE TO GOD

WE SHOULD ALL SLAUGHTER A GOAT OR A LAMB OR A HUMAN EVERYDAY, JUST TO TRY TO APPEASE THIS GOD

DONT YA JUST FEEL ALL WARM AND FUZZY INSIDE FROM THE LOVE OF GOD?

ISN'T GOD BELIEF JUST WONDERFULL??

Danny T said...

Ok...the grace we receive is a gift. It seems to be itis the faith part that you are having a problem with. For me, I hold fast to John 3:16 - in it it says if one "believes" - it doesn't say if one does works or anything else! It says whomever "believes" shall have eternal life.
So, how does one believe?
I an convinced that it is accepting in your heart and mind that all our sins have been wiped away and Jesus paid the fine for them all by HIS Blood.
Therefore, when my life is over and I stand before God - should He ask me by what merit I have to enter heaven - I will say "nothing I have done, but I have trusted (believed) that what Christ did on the cross for me has granted me entry into heaven. That, my friends, is the gospel in a nutshell. I will go to heaven because of my faith and belief in what Jesus did for me on the cross.
Now, in regards to works, hang it up - can't be done!! Sure, out of love for what Jesus did for me I will do works that might please him (love, charity, kindness, etc). I offer those back to him out of that love - but not out of obligation to go to heaven - IT IS NOT BY WORKS!


Considering this - I think churches make it very hard on folks - Jesus came not to make it hard - in fact He made it simple and easy - what a good and kind God we have.

eel_shepherd said...

DannyT wrote:
"..."

Oh, forget it; I know a troll when I see it. Don't go diving into that end of the pool, folks; you'll hit your head on the bottom.

The real reason I'm back at this thread is I went back to YouTube, and the video I was referencing earlier was the one entitled, "Apostle Paul Killed Christianity", not the one I named at the time. In fact, to repent for my earlier sin, or is it "atone" (it's all so complicated...), here's the URL:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zf5sFcO6aWo

SpaceMonk said...

DannyT, did you read anything on this page?
or just not understand any of it?

Dano said...

I don't think it is possible to UN-grow-up. When you have started to use your mind to understand the irrationality of faith, in unsubstantiated bullshit, like Danny T (above), and start to think like the majority on this thread, the only way to go back to simple acceptance of mystical, magical things, is to become intellectually weakened by some form of brain trauma such as Alzheimer's or drug abuse or even blunt force trauma to the cranium!

Because of the strange capacity of humans to be smart about some things, and dumb about others, I. E, to be intellectually capable of believing, that if there were a God who created us, watches over us, who is all powerful, all loving, knows everything, and is everywhere, and can do anything, that he would have made us perfect to start with, to think exactly the way he wanted us to, and then still be able to go through life, spouting the simple minded crap that evangelicals do, we must come to the realization that:

All of the problems we have about free will were resolved in the beginning of the universe. A creator that made every neuron in our brains and programmed them, would have programed them exactly the way it wanted them.

We are just actors on a stage with the strange capacity to watch ourselves play out the divine script, or there is no creator, no script, and we are random manifestations of infinite randomness.

What I am saying is the same thing most thinking people end up saying. I don't know how we were created or why, and neither does anyone else, and the Christian "Meme," is just a mind virus.
Dan (Life is a Riddle, Inside a Mystery, Wrapped in an Enigma.)



.

Erik said...

I've had the same thoughts as Dave here. It should be noted that his specific criticism is aimed at the version of salvation as proposed by certain evangelical protestant groups which for some reason don't acknowledge the "faith and works" versions that audie and micah cowan are referring to.

We shouldn't expect any system of salvation to make sense, because there is nothing to be saved from, and there is nothing to save. The soul, hell, sin; all are fictitious.

It's like a protection racket. If you can convince people that they are under some danger, then you automatically have a market for the insurance you're peddling. The insurance, in this case it's salvation, doesn't even have to make sense in the real world as long as it mirrors the presumed danger.

People will stop worrying about salvation when they stop buying into the lie that there is something fundamentally wrong with them.

.:webmaster:. said...

Micah said: "but having the belief isn't sufficient if it doesn't also "bear the right fruit"..."

Granted, some versions of Christianity see things this way. However, even your version contains the main point of my thought: If the correct ideas are not in a person's head, regardless of anything else, he or she will be tortured mercilessly for eternity.

In other words, if I don't "believe in my heart" certain things about reality, I'm doomed. Maybe I have to do good things to demonstrate my sincere commitment to these ideas about reality and maybe I don't -- that's determined by your denominational affiliation -- but with or without the good works, I still have to embrace the correct thoughts in my head.

When a Christian uses the words "believe" or "faith" the words quickly take on a mystical, or magical, definition. Danny T's answer is illustrative of that. He (she?) doesn't even see that belief and faith are words describing things that happen in a person's brain, much like comprehension, understanding, love, anger, and so on.

Faith and belief are simply two words that are helpful in making statements about how one views a particular segment of reality. That's all.

So, if I don't have the correct comprehension (belief, faith) of how invisible spiritual world (if there even is one) works, then I'll be sadistically punished for unending hundreds of billions of years without chance of parole or release.

It's all a mind game.

What's especially strange, now that I'm not trapped by this odd way of thinking any more, is to admit that for 30 years, all this made perfect sense to me.

How does it make an sense to punish or reward people for lacking or possessing certain ideas about how the world works?

Sarge said...

Ah, yes, the "message", or at least people's different interpretations of what is alleged to be.

In the late 1970's a General Blanchard then one of the senior commanders in Europe, saw something needed to be done to increase unit cohesion, increase morale, and also to build up personal fitness. He instituted the "Two Mile Rune" in which units would, in a certain ammount of time, be able to run two miles in seventeen minutes. Members were to encourage each other, help one another, records were to be kept, etc.

Very soon Things Started to Happen. Some commanders decided that their units would accomplish this in half the time, others, that this should be accomplished wearing full field gear, others added that a gas mask would be worn to accomplish this. People not measuring up were barred from reenlistment, punished by article 15, given poor efficiency reports, thrown out of the military. Some who were forced to run with injuries injured themselves further, some people actually died. This didn't seem to be going well, there were many complaints. The Gen'l made several clarifications, but things went from bad to worse.

Ge. Blanchard 's airplane landed at our airfield, and he and his staff came up to my control tower just to take a look, accompanied by the airfield commander. He noticed several groups of people engaged in certain activities, one was a bunch running around the airfield perrimeter, another was sort of milling about in a circle on the ramp, and another group was in formation leaping up and down like a school of demented salmon. The Gen'l asked what they were doing, and the airfield commander said, "They're doing the two mile run, just like you ordered."

The gen'l got this odd look on his face, he turned to his staff, and said, "This is what I wanted??!!" and inquired, insisting on truthfulness, as to whether he'd been in his right mind when he had the idea. He hadn't been, visibly intoxicated, or had a stroke or something, had he? All he wanted was for units to come together, and actually accomplish something. He then began fulminating in an alarming manner. The program was terminated not long afterward.

All of this from something very straightforward, very clear and concise, with guidance where he thought it was needed.

This occurred in just a couple of months among people who shared a culture and language. It's no surprise that the 'by bull' comes out the way it does.

.:webmaster:. said...

Great story and salient points, Sarge.

Still, the main point I'm trying to communicate here is that Christian salvation is really nothing more than a cluster of ideas housed in a person's head.

In your story, it could be argued that although people were not unified by the 2-mile command, they none-the-less had the 2-mile gospel idea in their heads. They were still "believers" in the efficacy of the directive. Therefore, they were still "saved" from punishment, even if somewhat split over the interpretation and application of the 2-mile idea.

What I'm getting at, or attempting to get at, is that Christian salvation is really nothing but a cluster of ideas in people's brains. I say that I "believe" a group of facts about Jesus. That, accompanied by any number of actions that may be thought necessary by the myriad of competing spiritual "commanders" out there, gets me into heaven. In no case will the various actions alone get me into heaven. I MUST have the proper cluster of ideas bouncing around in my skull if I am to have any hope of escaping eternal damnation.

Salvation is a thought experiment: Do you have the correct thoughts in your head? Do you have the correct ideological lens through which to measure reality. If you don't, then GOD will hammer you forever.

Think about it. Would an all merciful GOD, as supposedly believed in by Christians, everlastingly torture anyone just for lacking the correct combination of thoughts and ideas?

When viewed for what it really is, Christianity (and for that matter, all religion) is lunacy.

Alan said...

The difficulty in talking about faith is the word itself is ambiguous. From the American Heritage Dictionary:

1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.

2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

Definition 1 allows for belief based on evidence, definition 2 does not. Dave can have "faith" that his car will start in cold weather, since he has experience with the car. This "faith" may be just an idea in Dave's head, but he can give the car to me, I can gain experience with the car, and it is likely that I will develop a similar "faith." People in general can develop a "faith" in this particular model's starting ability based on accumulated individual experience because the car is an objective entity whose properties are independent of whoever is examining it.

On the other hand if you are religious, what you have is a book (which has to be interpreted,) various secondary teachings, and the subjective psychological experiences of others. There is nothing objective to refer to, except perhaps the body of "evidence" created by religion to legitimize itself. You might pretend there is evidence, or else think there is some way of knowing that doesn't require evidence. You can compartmentalize your mind, so your religious beliefs don't follow the same set of rules that you use to understand the everyday world, or you can place yourself in a magical world, where you see everything around you as evidence that God exists. Either way you are operating with a self-imposed mental handicap.

Sarge said...

leyljmWebmaster,
Thanks for the kind words. When I was a youngster and unable to escape, my parents (Southern Baptists) made me take a bible history course which actually came in quite handy when I gave reasons for my rejection of the proffered doctrines. The man who gave it was a Dr. Clarence Goen, he taught the bible at Wesleyan Theological in the DC area where we lived. He published many books, I used to drag race with his son who was the typical PK (aka 'preacher's kid'.)

As he put it, and others which he cited, this thing about original sin hit the western world like a bombshell. Mithra, Tamuz, Dimuzi Apsu, had a fairly limited scope, all had the god who died for mankinds sins, to save the world, etc. were known, but had small followings fairly localised. No Greek or Roman could take this seriously, not from "Asiatics", anyway.

Here comes a new mystery cult that actually includes the poorest of the poor, slaves, offers a bit of mystery, fellowship, risk, and a "reason" for the problems in the world which put you in the place you found yourself. There's hope! Even the person who owns you might believe it. But, what is the true canon? What does it mean? What's important?

So, a political hustler named Constantine figures out that this thing can be used, and he can gain from it. Athanasians against Arians against Donatists against...who knows? But, take the 'with Adams fall we sinned all' and are thus unworthy, form a concordiat between church and state with an imposed orthodoxy (lots of in fighting, jockeyings for position, unification is only on the surface) and an arm of church/state which enforces matters of faith, ensures that there IS faith...or else... and you have a good start. That, plus keeping the reference book out of the hands of the laity as long as you can. I understand that the LDS actually went to court and has made many documents which support their faith legally inaccessable to the laity by court order.

Good works, faith? Well, plant that seed of doubt, that nagging worry about what dreams may come in that sleep of death, (and no one to wake you) and the construct is pretty well fixed.

It's like about a century ago, christianity and darwinism had a sort of melding. The robber barons believed in christianity and salvation, some insisted that their workers attend sabbath, and they donated to certain charities, but the golden rule? The beatitudes? Don't be obtuse. Darwin was considered blasphemy even then...unless they were justifying their success and rapatiousness, then it was merely that they were the fittest. THAT they believed in. They had a great interest in making sure their underlings believed it, too.

Piprus said...

A very vivid imagination you've got there, Danny T...

Gilbert said...

Hi Dave,

In christian fundamentalism, that’s the way it is. You have to say the right words. You got to have the right confession.
People will take a lot for granted as long as you acknowledge Jesus as saviour.
If you don’t have the right confession, you’re on your way to hell...everlasting fire and eternal barbecue. And you're disappointing your loved ones too. And you tell them: but I’m still the same person, I’m treating humans just the way I did. I’m still trying not to be selfish, I’m still helping others. Well, they sure appreciate that. But in their book, you’re not going to make it. And you hurt them a lot. You’re on the broad way to damnation. How could you do that to them??? They love you so much and now they will not see you in heaven.
So, unmerited grace, biblical spoken, does not exist.

Gilbert

Gilbert said...

What the bible tells us

The new testament of the bible tells us that unmerited grace does not exist. There are conditions you have to meet.

You certainly must believe that

…”if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved ( Romans 10:9 )”

and…“he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned(marc. 16:16 )”

This automatically holds that anyone who does not have these convictions ( = thoughts in their brains ) will be damned.

You got that right Dave, such a god could not be love at all.

Gilbert

Doug said...

The bible did a great job of describing things like faith to the general masses of the 3rd and 4th century. In general, it did a pretty good job of helping manage the ignorant masses in many ways. It completely fails to apply to anything beyond that in the same way that urging my teenage kids to behave or Santa won't bring them toys fails to motivate them now that they have a more advanced knowledge of the world.
The next renaisance of man will be the final realization that this well told fable, despite its common themes of good over evil (and a few other weird themes too), is nothing more than a fable. It contains many nice, inspiring stories, but our religious friends believe more in the mystical details of the stories than the morals they were originally intended to teach.

jfraysse said...

Dave: Very Good article pointing out how insidious the mind games can be.

Doug: Amen, bro!

Sarge: Nice Story and you really nailed the Constantine/Christianity connection. Every time I heard about how “wonderful” Constantine was, I wanted to throw up. What if this had never happen? I wonder what Christianity would be like today or if it would even exist as a religion.

Ian said...

The more and more i've thought about it, I cannot fathom how the christian method of blood sacrifice is supposed to save us.

I do believe in God, just not a religion, christian God. And if God is infinitly better then us, that is, more compassionate, more loving, more forgiving then we are, then God is like our father. What kind of father gives birth to his children, then hates his children because they make mistakes, casts them out, and only accepts them back if his other son is killed to appease the father so the other son's mistakes can be forgiven?

In other words, why does dad need to slaughter his son to reconcile his daughter to himself? Many christians have tried to explain it, but when you get down to it, it just doesn't work. It falls apart. If we are God's children, and God is more perfect then the most perfect parent, then he loves and accepts all, regardless of belief. And i'm sure that an all-loving, forgiving God can forgive tiny humans of thier mistakes and still accept them.

I still maintain that Jesus's followers, in an effort to get more converts, started using the Jewish idea of blood atonment and added it onto Jesus saying "Hey look! He's the big lamb who died for you, so you never have to kill another lamb ever again!"

If we are God's children, and God loves us, then we need to learn how to peacefully live together and not worry about who is saved or who is not.

Anonymous said...

Danny T said; "I have trusted (believed) that what Christ did on the cross for me has granted me entry into heaven."

You were not even yet born then, that was over 2000 years ago, your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpa wasn't even born then, Jesus does not know who you are or anyone living today from over 2000 years ago.

Get real people!!!!!

Jesus gladly laid on the cross because he thought he would not die and would come back to Earth ref: Mark 9:1, he got fooled along with his followers and his Mother.

On the third day Jesus said; My God, My God, Why has thou forsaken me?

Yet he believed all along that he was sent by a God, because he had been told all his life that he was sent by a God.

Please click on my link and read the whole true story about Jesus.

Zen said...

Dave, The WM:

What I'm getting at, or attempting to get at, is that Christian salvation is really nothing but a cluster of ideas in people's brains.

Zen:

I agree with you. It is only an idea in brain/mind.

Well, maybe we can take the saying of Buddha in this topic: “Mind is everything.” That’s the magic!

It’s always interesting me to compare Buddhism with Christianity because I am very curious that Christianity was influenced by Buddhism in some teachings/thoughts.

Some (if not “All”) Buddhists believe that if you believe in Buddha you have an opportunity to end this circle of birth and death and go to Nirvana. If you believe in Dharma you will not reincarnate as animals. And if you believe in Sangha (Elders) you will not reincarnate as devils in the hell.

These faiths sound similar with Christianity, except that Buddhism doesn’t believe in so-called “God” and Christianity doesn’t believe in so-called “Reincarnation”. But the basic idea is same: “If you don’t believe it/him, you will not be saved (from hell, samsara/ unending reincarnation, etc).”

The only great difference is Buddhism allows the skeptical mind first before we believe it but Christianity not at all.

Buddha: “Do not believe merely because it is traditional or ancestor teaching.
Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely to respect your teacher.
Do not believe merely because it is written in the old scriptures.
Search the truth by yourself.”

And I think Buddha prefers GOOD WORKS:

Buddha: “And whatever you will find in your search, just remember to be conducive to the good, to the benefit of all beings.”

In my opinion, we can say that although both Buddhism and Christianity are religions or cults but Buddhism gives a room to be skeptical, and in the contrary, Christianity doesn’t give a chance to be in doubt, we must 100% believe.

And me myself tend to be agnostic because agnosticism gives a BIGGER room to doubt everything (not to believe everything 100%).

I think agnosticism is the Middle Way between theism and atheism. I think agnosticism is the path that Buddha tried to show to us (I believe Buddha is the great anti-religion / cult, but then his followers built a religion / cult. It's ironic).

You are what you think.
You are what you believe.

Danny T said...

OUCH! I guess I really touched a sensitive nerve. Please know that if I offended in any way - that was not my intentions - I was just sharing my thoughts and heart about faith. Hey, I stuggle too - sometimes I wonder why God is so silent, I wonder why He refuses to answer a much needed (desperate) prayer, and at times I feel as if He is a million miles away from me - yet(...and you can call me a fool - or whatever) I just can't seem to find it in my heart to give up or turn away from the faith that I have acquired over the years.

Yes, I understand many of the comments on this blog - I too question and doubt at times. I can't live the Christian life as prescribed by the modern church. However, I can live in the one belief that He has covered me for all my sins. Again, call me a fool or just one stupid guy trying to believe that God is alive, He is good, he is kind and compassionate - and that He has paved the way for me to have an eternal home in heaven - I assure you - satan certainly doesn't offer anything better than that.

.:webmaster:. said...

Danny, it's obvious you don't even realize how offensive your latest post was.

Do you realize what you just said? You just said that everyone who is not a Christian is following Satan. You just called everyone who does not subscribe to your religion, devil worshipers.

That's quite rude.

Regardless, all your "beliefs" are only thoughts in your head. What your religion is telling you is that if you don't cherish certain thoughts in your head, then you will be doomed to eternal misery. And those who cherish certain thoughts will have a glorious good time in heaven.

Doesn't that sound silly?

rickyusvi said...

Danny T wrote:
"... IT IS NOT BY WORKS!"

Well what did Danny's own lord and savior say, according to the gospels?

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." --Matthew 7:21

"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." --Matthew 19:16-19

"And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother." --Mark 10:17-19

"And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." --Luke 10:25-28

"And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother." --Luke 18:18-20

"Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." --John 6:54

Meanwhile, most biblical scholars believe that the letter to the Ephesians is a pseudepigraph. (For the confused, "scholar" and "apologist" are mutually exclusive; and for those not up on their Greek, pseudepigraph is a euphemism for "forgery.") IOW, St. Paul did not write that letter.

Danny T wrote:
"So, how does one believe?
I an convinced that it is accepting in your heart and mind that all our sins have been wiped away and Jesus paid the fine for them all by HIS Blood.
Therefore, when my life is over and I stand before God - should He ask me by what merit I have to enter heaven - I will say "nothing I have done, but I have trusted (believed) that what Christ did on the cross for me has granted me entry into heaven. That, my friends, is the gospel in a nutshell. I will go to heaven because of my faith and belief in what Jesus did for me on the cross.

[...]

Considering this - I think churches make it very hard on folks - Jesus came not to make it hard - in fact He made it simple and easy - what a good and kind God we have."


A "good and kind" God would not create a pit of infinite torture, condemn Its beloved children to this furnace because their distant ancestor ate a piece of fruit, and then require them to believe impossible things in order to avoid it. It would not hide all trace of Itself from us and then punish us when we conclude (unavoidably) that It ain't there. It would not expect us to trade in the demonstrable results of scientific observation and experiment for an anthology of ancient myths. Maybe it's "easy" for you to believe that torturing and executing an innocent person can absolve the rest of us of our own responsibilities, and that we don't deserve credit for our good deeds, but some of us find these teachings offensive to our sense of justice. Maybe it's "easy" for you to believe that a dead person came back to life and then floated off into the sky, and that people who are dead can experience happiness, but some of us can no longer get past the part where those things don't happen in real life.

Danny T wrote:
"...satan certainly doesn't offer anything better than that."

Well, of course he doesn't. Satan is just as imaginary as Yahweh/Jesus.

SpaceMonk said...

I recently came across the amazing artworks of Akiane, a young christian child-prodigy who has been painting and drawing since age 4, and also writing some pretty impressive poetry, all of which you can marvel at here:
http://www.artakiane.com/home.htm

Anyway, I thought my christian parents would be interested in seeing her site, so I emailed them the link.
My Dad's reply was frustrating, and sad, "It's nice, but I don't think she's a real christian..."

wtf?!
Some of the images are a bit New agey for my Dad.
I asked, "By 'not a real christian' are you implying she's going to hell? Do you really think this beautiful, innocent girl, who devotes her life to Jesus, is actually destined for hell? That she would deserve it?"

Dad replied, "Yes, her material is nice, but it's 'naive'."

So, innocence is no excuse.

Because she doesn't have the same ideas in her head as my parents she must be deserving of hellfire... no matter how innocent, or naive, or even worshipful of Jesus, that she is.

rickyusvi said...

This is why the Catholics felt moved to invent limbo. Isn't it supremely ironic (and fortunate!) that most Xians have a keener sense of morality than the god that they claim is the source of morality?

It's also pretty sad that some Xians are so narrow and literal-minded that they would condemn a 4 year old girl to eternal torture for the crime of, essentially, choosing her parents poorly.

Lee said...

Not only by "works" and by faith does salvation seem to be available in the bible, but also by predestination (Acts 13:48 and Ephesians 1:4-5)...also I've found scriptural basis for predestination in 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 1:11; Matthew 24:24 and :31; Proverbs 16:9 and 20:24; 2 Timothy 2:10 and 1 Peter 1:2 and 2:8!

Faith, works, now salvation by presdestination! Let us not forget the WHIM OF GOD, as well...four DIFFERENT ways to reach heaven and find salvation...all in convenient and confusing tome! And where, people, can the whim of god be evidenced in scripture?! How about: Psalm 65:4--

"Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts."

See also:
John 6:44 and :65 and 17:9;
Acts 22:14;
Romans 9:16, :18;
Psallm 86:13

Even if you surrender everything about yourself to christian teachings, you STILL would have no clue as to go about getting entry into the sky-club.

An interesting note: It is PAUL, primarily, that makes statements about being saved by grace, where it is CHRIST who makes more statements that one is saved by works. Interesting, that.

If the "sins" of man have already been paid by jesus' sacrifice, what incentive is there to sin no more? Conversely, if god has "predestined" those who will go to heaven, then judgement day has come and gone, preachers are unnecessary and their preaching is in vain.

No preachers...I like the sound of that.

Lee

Danny T said...

webmaster wrote:

""Do you realize what you just said? You just said that everyone who is not a Christian is following Satan. You just called everyone who does not subscribe to your religion, devil worshipers.""


I went back over everything I wrote, I did not find anywhere the above statements! I would never say anything like that!

However, you made me smile to know that you were offended (by your misunderstanding) that I was probably saying you were a devil worshiper. Well, again, that comes no where near what I wrote...
It does say a lot about you - that deep down you know that God does offer something better though we do not fully understand HIS ways. I am sure you would never consider worshipping the evil one - but you would definitely worship God!

Thanks for your remarks...

.:webmaster:. said...

Danny,

You spoke about your faith, your god, your views on religion and you ended it with this: "I assure you - satan certainly doesn't offer anything better than that."

In other words, you are stating there are only two positions: Christian or Satan's minion.

You are so blinded by your religion that you don't even realize how offensive your either-or, black-white, Christian vs. everyone else, mindset might be.

.:webmaster:. said...

Oh, and Danny, I see as much evidence for the reality of your god as I do for the Muslim god, the old Pagan gods and all the other 10,000 gods people have bowed down to worship -- none.

Micky said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my "psychological prison." I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He's a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Micky

tigg13 said...

Micky, I had an experience very simular to yours.

I prayed and prayed to jesus, god and the holy ghost to help me.

Not a damn thing happened until I got off my ass and started being responcible for my own life.

Sounds to me like you've just traded one mental disorder for another.

Astreja said...

Micky, you are not "cured". The very fact that you stated "I deserve to go to hell" indicates to me that you have merely paved over profound childhood trauma with a comforting illusion.

Please continue to seek guidance from qualified non-religious therapists.

Chris Tian said...

Isn't it ironic that both intellectual sides of the argument, believing and non-believing, say everything to prove their point but is completely ineffective to the "happy medium", "the ignorantly blissful", the followers (sheep) and not leaders. So, I must pose the question, "Who's agenda are you serving?"

Anonymous said...

I just think that there's something missing:

If there is a God that is all-knowing, all-powerful, created everything we see, is eternal, and loves us with a love that is beyond comprehension...I think that He would be the one in charge.

I think there is a disconnect. What happens is that we all have our own ideas...our own preconceived notions and philosophies that we live by whether we recognize that or not, but God is not subject to our beliefs, God is not restricted to the box of our understanding. Like I said..."If" this God does, in fact, exist...why should I [His creation] be able to say how it should be? I am not talking about blind faith...I am not talking about just throwing logic and reason out the window and saying, "oh, you just have to have faith, brother." What I'm saying is that if God created everything...we can't hope to understand everything about him.

For instance, We try to use the transitive property to define things. "God created Lucifer...Lucifer had evil in his heart...therefore God created evil." How about, God isn't math. God is outside of our understanding...God created our understanding!

I am not saying that we cannot know God or experience God or understand Him at all. But I am just saying that it is futile to build an anti-God philosophy based on an incomplete method that we developed to define Him. God is way more complex than that.

What's the point?
There are so many aspects to this faith in Christ thing. Here's what I believe. We are all damned to suffer for our sins. God calls us to be holy (perfect) as He is holy (perfect)(Lev. 11:44). This is not an option. The thing is it is obviously impossible for any of us to be perfect. That is why Christ came to die for us. He was the sacrifice that satisfied the wrath of the Father and allows to stand before Him. The command to be holy (perfect) does not go away though. We are still called to be perfect...but we can't...but through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Father can look at us and see us as perfect. The beautiful thing is that it is not because of anything we have done or could do, but only by the grace of God. There's that word again: GRACE.

Grace doesn't mean that God's commands no longer matter. And accepting Him does not mean that grace wasn't enough. Grace is the only way to be saved...but there is still something required of us (not for salvation, but for living a life devoted to God).

"It is by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves...it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast."

It doesn't say that you need faith because grace isn't enough. Faith is the avenue through which that grace is able to take place. Faith isn't some super-spiritual, up in the clouds thing. You decide to believe in God, and accept what He did for you...but it is only His grace that allows you to accept it and to receive it. It is open to everyone, but not everyone will receive, and a truly loving God will not force His love on anyone. Every man is free to choose...and as far as hell goes...hell is such a terrible place because it is completely void of the presence of God. He does not want anyone to be there...to spend eternity outside of His presence. He desires that all know Him and spend eternity with Him, but when you choose to reject God, hell is exactly what you have asked for. And how is that unjust?