Walk the Jesus Talk

So what did Jesus REALLY say and how are today’s followers doing in following that philosophy.

The comparisons here are drawn from a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Pubic life.

You can pick and choose from Bible quotes, but most all Bible scholars agree on the following fundamental points.  So let’s start first with hopefully the facts that we can all agree on.

Jesus preached mercy and forgiveness.  He encouraged us to be loving, peaceful, and non-violent.  He said that the rich would have to work hardest to get into heaven.  In fact he advised the wealthy to give freely to the poor first before coming to follow him.

So how do the Evangelicals and Fundamentalist Christians fare on this survey.  They are the ones who claim to go to church every Sunday, read the Bible regularly, listen to Christian music, and put Jesus at the center of their daily lives.

On mercy and forgiveness, they are the most supportive of the death penalty, harsh prison sentences rather than rehabilitation, and torture of our enemies.

How about peaceful lives?  They are the most supportive of gun ownership and aggressive use of military force to advance our international interests.

What about the distribution of wealth?  They are the most supportive of an unregulated business environment and least supportive of institutional help for the poor.  They are most opposed to anything that smacks of “socialism”, even though Jesus preached a gospel of the rich being responsible for the welfare of the poor.

So how do these most devout Christians resolve this seeming dichotomy between their political views and the teachings of the person that they claim to worship?

I can provide some historical background.

At the end of WWI, the Fundamentalist Evangelical movement sprang up in populist response to the intellectual influence of the Social Gospel.  These conservative Christians claimed that liberal churches had lost their way under the influence of foreign ideas from German Rationalism, to Soviet Communism, and of course Darwinism.  In the 1950’s the movement gained some steam as it piggybacked on anti-communist paranoia.  The civil rights movement of the 60’a created a perfect storm for liberal white southern churches.  Whether it is was the knee jerk backlash to liberalism or the social turmoil caused by federally imposed desegregation, soon there wasn’t a liberal white church left south of the Mason Dixon line.  The remaining conservative southern white churches felt their whole way of life was under attack.  It’s not surprising that their Christianity morphed into a patriotic southern nationalist movement that stood firm against the integrated 50’s, the free love 60’s, and anti-war 70’s.

In the process, charity became confused with subversive collectivism.  The moral justification of Johnson’s Great Society was rejected by these churches.  They saw it as an unjust imposition of federal power, immoral social engineering, and a stalking horse for integration.  The Viet Nam debacle and Watergate only re-enforced the view that liberals viewed patriotism as unfashionable.  Even though Carter was a southern evangelical, his inability to free the Iran hostages confirmed the view that liberalism was a much bigger sin than being “unchurched”.  Reagan was the best example of that.  He embodied all that was good and true for fundamentalist Christians because he confronted liberalism, unionism, and communism.  They projected their religious beliefs onto him, even though he had little in common with them as a twice married Hollywood movie star with little interest in religion.   Under Reagan, the gospel of prosperity subtly replaced the gospel of self-denial.  The peaceful and meek Jesus was replaced by an angry Jesus who rewarded the righteous and punished the socially liberal.  This proved a particularly winning formula for a new breed of mega-church pastors.  When the Terminator gained “most favored Jesus” status, all pastors had to do was pick out a different target for righteous wrath each week.  The pulpit messages became simpler.  The congregations grew more politically polarized.  Church coffers filled and Republican candidates starting talking about social values and their personal relationship with God.

Religion in this country became a Rorschach Test.  People were able to pick and chose what they liked from their religious traditions and ignore the rest.  Rather than change their lives to follow Jesus, they were able to change their view of what Jesus would do to suit the sort of lives that they wanted to live.  They felt no cognitive dissonance with the kind, peace-loving, socialist Jesus of the Bible because that’s not the Jesus they worshiped.  They simply rejected those descriptions of Jesus as part of a pervasive liberal conspiracy to undermine the conservative political movement.  Instead their view of Jesus came from the vast echo chamber that grew up around fundamentalism and conservatism.

There are some mega church pastors who have been taking a stand in an effort to re-introduce the Biblical Jesus to their congregations.  These New Evangelicals feel that fundamentalism has lost track of the heart of Christianity.  Rick Warren of Purpose Driven Life is a great example.  He said, “”I deeply believe that if we as evangelicals remain silent and do not speak up in defense of the poor, we lose our credibility and our right to witness about God’s love for the world,”.   Rob Bell is another who has written “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” where he suggests that the Biblical Jesus didn’t consign non-Christians to hell.

The backlash from Christian Conservatives has been harsh.  These new prophets of the Biblical Jesus have been called everything from false teachers to servants of the devil, but that’s not surprising.  Jesus teaching was difficult for the religious establishment to accept during his time too because it required his followers to change their lives.  Some were willing to do that, and others, particularly those who had great wealth or great political power were not.

Christian Conservatives have every right to live their lives in whatever way they choose.  They can support corporate greed, militarism, the death penalty, and gun violence while opposing food stamps, welfare, early childhood education, and healthcare for the poor.  They can also justify those political positions as fiscally prudent or socially responsible.  They can talk about the value or personal responsibility, the wisdom of the marketplace, and the folly of big government.  In this country they can embrace all of the aspects of political conservatism without fear of reprisal.

Where they mislead themselves and the rest of the country, however, is when they call themselves Christian.

12 Responses to “Walk the Jesus Talk”

  1. jeff says:

    having attended for four or five years each two of those mega churchs in the south i will simply say you have no idea of those you are condeming.
    (your last sentence is one of condemnation and really should be retracted. it is, simply put, a shot at Gods people)

    Now dont get me wrong, sinners all, but not even close to the picture you have painted. In fact we studied in our small groups or sunday school rick warrens “the purpose driven life” and “the purpose driven church.”

    I’m left wondering what church you would suggest…….

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Jeff,

    I guess that begs the question about who the Pew Research people talked with. Happy to hear that your church didn’t fit the profile. Clearly others did or else the results of the survey would have been different.

    As far as God’s people, not sure who you are talking about. We are all God’s people aren’t we?

  3. Keith says:

    Jeff,
    You said.

    “Where they mislead themselves and the rest of the country, however, is when they call themselves Christian.”

    Who were you refering to?

    “So how do the Evangelicals and Fundamentalist Christians fare on this survey. They are the ones who claim to go to church every Sunday, read the Bible regularly, listen to Christian music, and put Jesus at the center of their daily lives.”

    and

    “This proved a particularly winning formula for a new breed of mega-church pastors.”

    You need to carefully consider your words when being “the accuser of the breathern.” Jeff you have slandered a large portion a the church. I’m asking, as you friend, you consider that again.

    As for your comment of

    “Rather than change their lives to follow Jesus, they were able to change their view of what Jesus would do to suit the sort of lives that they wanted to live.”

    I have no Christian friend who’s life has not been changed or conformed by Jesus. Do you? I have many, MANY friends who tithe and give “abundently” after the tithe as I’m sure you do too. Many who give their time and vactions to missions. etc, etc, etc…………I’ve been truely stunned, and continue to be, at your attacks on Christians. I don’t get it.

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I was referring to the people who answered the Pew Research Survey saying they support political positions that are at odds with Jesus teaching.

    Who do YOU think those people were?

    I am happy that your experience is filled with inspired Christians. Mine has been too.

    I’m not calling those folks out.

    I’m pointing out that you shouldn’t call yourself a Christian if you don’t at least accept the basic teachings of the Christ. Accepting those teachings changes your life. It doesn’t work the other way round.

    The Bible in James says pretty much the same thing.

    “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

    What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

    I didn’t write the words. Just trying to live them.

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    If you have a different translation for the quote that I posted, or even a different interpretation of it, please say so. It’s seems pretty straightforward to me. What is says to me is that you can’t be a part-way sometime Christian, which was essentially the point of the whole post.

    I don’t recall that I have said none of us know the truth about the Bible. I have simply challeged some of your interpretations and in most cases included references to scholars to support my point.

    I’ve also pointed out that the Bible is not necessarily the document that you think it is. The Gospels were probably not written by the people whose names they bear. Paul didn’t write all of the Epistles that are commonly attributed to him. The Bible is a political document as well as the religious one. All of this is well supported by Biblical research.

    None of that negates my sense that it is also God’s word come to man. What it does require, however, is study to better understand the context of what is on the page. That’s why I have a hard time with those who claim that it is any sort of literal flawless document.

    Jesus believed that the rich should give their wealth to the poor. That is clearly not capitalist.

    We’ve agreed to disagree on how we interpret the Bible regarding homosexuality, but suffice it to say the Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. He did spent a lot of time talking about the rich and poor.

    As far as mixing the Bible, Christianity, and politics – that’s what this whole blog is about. So yes, I’m guilty – but I’m also unrepentant.

    I’m not sure why this concept is so difficult for you to grasp, but clearly I’ve struck a nerve, because this is a fairly emotional response.

    There is nothing wrong with owning a gun. There is also nothing wrong with having a military. But you didn’t read the post very closely. There is something wrong with supporting the use of our military to invade other countries. Some may view that as patriotic, but it is in no way peaceful. As far as what would Jesus do, the example we do have is when Peter cut off the ear of one of the men arresting Jesus. Peter thought he was defending Jesus. Jesus REBUKED him and then healed the wounded man. This was the same man who was going to take him to prison even though he knew he was innocent. In another part of the Bible, Jesus rebuke was described as fearful. There’s also the example of the congregation that wanted to throw him off a cliff because he called them out for their hypocricy (sort of like what you are going to me). He didn’t fight back. He just calmly walked away and they didn’t touch him.

    Your Ex#2 is exactly what I’m talking about. You need to go back and read the new testament my friend. Jesus rejected the judgemental law of the old testament. He said we have to LOVE our enemies, not kill them, torture them, or put them in jail.

    Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matt 5:38-48

    He doesn’t leave much to interpretation here. If you want to be a Christian, leave the judging to God. If you want to be perfect, love everyone including those who want to do you harm. That means that you can’t buy a gun so you can shoot them when they invade your house, you can’t execute them for their crimes, and you can’t send an army after them because you don’t like what they do. They only thing you CAN do is love them. This isn’t love, like have a nice day love either, this is love like the deepest emotion and “be willing to die for” love, because that’s the sort of love Jesus demonstrated.

    This is really tough stuff. You are probably thinking that this is crazy too. But it IS what He said. He never said it was going to be safe or easy. He said you were going to have to give up everything if you really wanted to follow Him, and he also said it likely was not going to be for everyone. This, my friend, is the REAL core of Jesus teaching.

    I thought Ex#3 would be the most obvious. Jesus said that it is our job as Christians to take care of the poor. That doesn’t just mean give to charity and Sunday and then screw them in business and in politics the rest of the week. This, like everything else, is an all or nothing sort of commitment. So when you support a business environment where others are able to take advantage of the poor and powerless, YOU have failed in your responsibility to care for the poor. If you want to be a Christian, you have to be one every day in every activity.

    Ex#4 – Are you SERIOUS? Do you actually read the Bible? He told the disciples to “freely give”. That wasn’t about money at all, but an encouragement to go out an preach to all the good news that they had learned. You should go back and read it again. It is a beautiful passage.

    Here’s what he told the rich.

    “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matt 19:23-24

    Your response is a perfect example of what I referenced as the gospel of prosperity. It’s a perversion of Christianity.

    Concluding.

    I have taken results from a poll, which you haven’t disputed, which show that a particular set of Christians who self identify as conservative fundamentalists have a set of political beliefs which seem to be at odds with that basic tenants of Jesus philosophy. I’m not the only person who has called these people out. Rich Warren has done so and Rob Bell does so also in his latest book.

    The hypocricy is not lost on our young people either. There is a new movement of young thoughful people who prefer to call themselves Christ Followers rather than Christians because they feel the term “Christian” no longer describes someone whose life has been changed by the Christ.

    Gun owning in and of itself isn’t a violent act unless you are planning to shoot someone with it. If you are willing to shoot someone, purchasing a gun for that purpose is a violent act simply waiting for an opportunity. If all you want to do is hunt, I agree completely that there is no violent intent.

    Supporting military invasions of other countries is clearly not a peaceful act.

    The same thing is true about political positions. It is our responsibility, if we want to call ourselves Christians, to care for the poor. Jesus doesn’t give us any leeway there. There is no wiggle room. You may not like the politics, but that’s what changing lives is all about. You don’t get to remake Jesus to fit your politics.

    So YES, if we have to support higher taxes to support the poor, then I’m all for higher taxes.

    And YES, wealth should be redistributed to support the poor. The only label that commitment deserves is Christian.

    And YES, I believe that we are all going to be MUCH richer in spirit as well as in matter if the poor are richer and the rich are poorer.

  6. Keith says:

    Jeff,
    Please consider this link….
    It is well said and all I’ve tried to suggest to you.
    WE must defend the church and our brothers.

  7. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I DO believe that we are all one in Spirit because we are all made in God’s image and likeness. That includes every person on this earth regardless of their religious persuasion.

    When Dr. Rogers spoke about discord in the church, I think he was talking about the petty squabbles that affect many congregations. I don’t think he was talking about whether or not those who attend his church really understand Jesus and are willing to follow Him.

    Jesus spoke about this when he talked about the sheep and the goats in parable of the Good Shepherd. The sheep are the ones who hear his voice and follow him. The goats are the ones who think that they are following, but they really aren’t.

    Here’s what he said to them:

    “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Matt: 2541-46

    I AM defending the church and our brothers who have lost their way by hopefully calling them out. Their politics has made them blind to the poor, hard hearted to those in prison, cruel to the stranger, and uncaring of the sick.

    When they support political positions that not only drove more people into poverty, but also made the rich richer, they have become goats.

    When they support political positions which increase the number of people in prison and oppose the programs which help convicts build a new life when they get out, they have become goats.

    When they seek to limit the rights of Muslims and immigrants they have become goats.

    When they oppose extending healthcare to those who can’t otherwise afford it, they have become goats.

    What do you think Jesus meant when he said we should give drink to the thirsty? Isreal is a dry place. Water is precious. Those that have it are well off. Those that don’t are not. He didn’t say, only give water when you’ve got extra. He also didn’t say that it was OK to withhold water from those who disagree with you, or maybe are from a different tribe, or maybe are too lazy to dig their own wells, or maybe for some other reason don’t deserve it. He also didn’t say that it was OK to refuse to share your water if you gave somebody else water yesterday, or perhaps you gave money last Sunday in church. He also didn’t say that it was OK for you to wait around until a thirsty person knocked on your door. He said if I’m thirsty and you have water, it is your responsiblity if you want to get into heaven to share your water with me, no questions asked.

    As I’ve said before, you don’t have a choice of what parts of Jesus philosophy you are going to live and what parts you are going to ignore. Either you strive to live it all, or you are living none of it.

    It is not loving to ignore the actions of the goats and leave them to their fate. The most loving thing do is follow Jesus example by loving them and holding them to a higher standard than they may be willing to hold themselves. If I didn’t do that, I would be witholding water from a person who is obviously thirsty.

  8. Keith says:

    Jeff
    You said;

    “I DO believe that we are all one in Spirit because we are all made in God’s image and likeness. That includes every person on this earth regardless of their religious persuasion”

    I don’ think that to be scriptural. Christians and Hindus, as an exmaple are NOT of one spirit. A Christin believes Jesus is the Savior and the Son of God and in Fact GOD. A Hindu does not. We are all created in Gods image and he loves all of us but we are not all of one spirit and we are not all Gods children. A child of God is a Christian. I dont think you’ll find a Jew and a Muslim to believe they are of a like spirit either.

    Now more directly, You posted as a conclusion to the original post the following;

    “Christian Conservatives have every right to live their lives in whatever way they choose. They can support corporate greed, militarism, the death penalty, and gun violence while opposing food stamps, welfare, early childhood education, and healthcare for the poor. They can also justify those political positions as fiscally prudent or socially responsible. They can talk about the value or personal responsibility, the wisdom of the marketplace, and the folly of big government. In this country they can embrace all of the aspects of political conservatism without fear of reprisal.

    Where they mislead themselves and the rest of the country, however, is when they call themselves Christian.”

    With your wide brush you said “Christian Conservatives.” Thats a definitive and all encompassion statement. I read that to mean all conservitive Christians as you intended. If you didn’t you might have said “some,” “many,” “a few,” “those Christian conservitives who,” etc, etc, etc. Then you give your political points as i pointed out above. (I’ll make one more illistration later to try and wipe the fog off your glasses.) You end with “Where they mislead themselves and the rest of the country, however, is when they call themselves Christian.” So at this point you are say the are not Christians.

    Following then, all Christian Conservitives who do not see politics as you have pointed out are not Christians. Jeff, if they are not Christians, they are going to hell. Get it now? In your blog you have condemed to hell all Conservitive Christians……

    Let me try this with you…Progressives want condums in the schools. The bible clearly forbids premarital sex. Kids 15 -19 are raging with hormons and for the opposite sex. (remember that?) Its not a stretch to say providing condums increases sexual activity. I know it did with my friends as the consequence was being removed. A conservitive would say its wrong to give the condum because it will incrase the temptation for sexual activity. So using the principle of condeming to hell you have use above, for not supporting different forms of regulating business, all progressive Christians who support the issuing of condums to teenagers as a way to protect from deseise and unwanted pregencies is “Where they mislead themselves and the rest of the country, however, is when they call themselves Christian. Therefor they are going to Hell.

    Do you want to scriputally compare providing condums, adding to the temptation of pre-maritial sex for teenagrs, and now junior high and grade school kids, with regulation of business?

    Will you now reconsider your remarks?

  9. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    You may be using the word Spirit in a demoninational way rather than a Biblical way.

    Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

    “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26)

    So if God is a spirit and he made man in His image and likeness, then man must be a spirit too.

    It is in this sense that we are all one in the spirit with our creator.

    It has nothing to do with creed, and everything to do with who created us.

    “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” I John 3: 9-11

    What this says to me is that God created man as His perfect spiritual reflection. It’s only when we turn away from God that we lose sight of this relationship. The way that we turn away from God is by hating our fellow man. The way we find our way back to God is by learning to love.

    Based on this, our job isn’t to sort out who is a child of God and who isn’t. God will do that. It’s our job to learn to love everyone and live the best life that we can.

    As far as the broad brush characterization of conservative Christians, you’re right. I could have worded that better by saying those Conservative Christians who held the political views that I outlined are misleading themselves and others when they call themselves Christian.

    Sorry I also don’t believe that non-Christians are going to hell. It just doesn’t jive with and all loving all knowing God. How could that God create someone that He knew was going to go to hell?

    Also sorry, it IS a stretch to say providing condoms increases sexual activity. Here’s a link to a government study which says it has no effect.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1615376/

    Recent data also shows a decrease in overall teen sexual activity even though condoms are more widely available than ever before.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/04/134249803/study-more-young-people-scorn-sex

    But let’s get back to Jesus teachings, because that’s what it means to be a Christian. What did Jesus say about sexual relations outside of wedlock?

    The one that comes closest to the mark is in John 8:3-11 when the scribes and pharisees tried to trip Jesus up with a legal question. Very similar to what you are trying to do.

    In this case they had a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses said that she should be stoned. They asked him what he thought they should do. He said that if there was any one of them who was himself perfect, he should feel free to throw the first stone. In other words, who are you to judge? But then something else wonderful happened after all the men left.

    “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” John 8:10-11

    So in summary, what would Jesus do? He would say that it is not our job to judge the choices of others. It is our job to love them all, live the best lives that we can, and leave the judging to God.

  10. Jeff says:

    Jeff,
    It makes no sense for you and I to talk abut the judgement of Conservitives if we don’t share a common understanding of just what that means.

    Your understanding of the Kingdom is not something we share. This is fundemental. Jesus came to earth for a reason. The Jews are waiting on Messiah, or Savior. Jesus said He was that Messiah. He came to “save.” Well Jeff, save from what? If there is no hell then what am I to be saved from?

    Sorry I also don’t believe that non-Christians are going to hell. It just doesn’t jive with and all loving all knowing God. How could that God create someone that He knew was going to go to hell?

    Jeff, you’re going to have to ask Jesus that for he said;

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the ETERNAL FIRE prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to ETERNAL PUNISHMENT, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    And in Luke
    19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
    21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;23 AND IN HELL he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; fo FOR I AM TORMENTED IN THIS FLAME.

    How would you explain to Jesus there is no hell?

  11. Keith says:

    Jeff,

    If Jesus didn’t come to save us, then
    what was He doing up on that cross?

  12. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith and Jeff,

    I didn’t say that there was no hell.

    I just said that I didn’t believe that non-Christians were going to hell.

    I also didn’t say that everyone was going to heaven, I’ve just said that the concept of God consigning people to eternal punishment didn’t make sense to me.

    It really comes down to how you understand life after death. Very few people have come back to life after being dead. Jesus may have been the only one who predicted that this would happen to him. So all we have to go on is what he told us. The rest is speculation on our part based on our understanding of what he said.

    I’ll post something a little a later today which goes into greater depth on the whole subject of heaven and hell.

    But this discussion does also bring up the question why Jesus came here in the first place.

    YES he did come to save us, but save us from what?

    My sense is that first and foremost he came to save us from the fear that death had any power over us. By overcoming his own death and raising others from the grave, he proved that death doesn’t have the final word. There must be a life beyond the grave, otherwise how could he and others have returned from being dead. That validated everything else that he preached, which was how to prepare yourself on earth to enjoy the reward of an enternity of joy. In other words, it gave purpose, beyond a basic altruism, to live a pious obedient selfless life. You can wrap this all up with discussions of sin, but that in my mind is so much dogma.

    If you believe that the Christ was God’s word come to man and that Jesus was the perfect embodiment of the Christ which made him the Son of God, then you also belive that he had the power to overcome death, and he had the wisdom and compassion to share with us that even if we can’t overcome death ourselves, we can overcome the temptations of this world and be blessed with a better life after we die.

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