Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Christian Hope?

In my very first post, I told a story that involved a Believer asking me what my world view offers, what kind of hope I could pass on to my children, and the reward that would be given by living life on my terms. I’m going to answer all of those questions… in my next post. First I would like to address the Christian message of hope and see what it can do for me.

If I were Christian, I would have to believe that I am a sinner, brought into a sinful world through a sinful sexual act, and that I have zero chance of being sin-free. That’s OK though, because even though I would have to see myself as a wretched excuse of flesh – I can be loved unconditionally and all I have to do is ask. It’s that simple. If I just open my heart to Jesus, accept Him as my Lord and Savior, and follow His teachings all of my sins will be forgiven.

My horrible wretched sinful life can be redeemed by the sacrifice Jesus made to save us all. It doesn’t matter if I am rich or poor in this life because what happens here on Earth is for only a few short years. If I follow Jesus, I can have an eternity in Heaven. None of the pain, sorrow, or loss here on Earth can equate to the joyous Heaven that awaits for me by accepting Jesus.

If my wife leaves me, if my toddler son dies, if I lose my job – that’s only temporary. Heaven is forever. Anyone can get to Heaven by seeing the truths inherent in the Bible. This gift that Jesus gave humanity should be cherished and kept close to our hearts and carry us through the hard times. This gift gives us hope even to a wretch like me.

So that’s Christian hope. I may not be a good person, but Jesus is. If I love Him, he will give me an eternity in Heaven next to God. This gift is free and all it requires is faith. The faith I have in God’s plan can carry me though the worst trials of this Earthly life. I’m deliberately making this post short because I want to be sure that I have accurately captured the notion of Christian hope. If any of this is wrong, please correct me.

18 comments:

MasterJediDan said...

Looks good to me, exactly what would be taught in the church today. One thing though, I don't think it would be called a "sinful sexual act" that brought you into this world. According to the Bible, God made sex for married couples, so doing it isn't a sin if you're married. Other than that though, I'd say you hit the nail on the head. :)

Glenn Kachmar said...

@AW

Yes, for an atheist, you have written a pretty good synopsis of the idea of the hope Christians have. I doubt you will get many arguments.

Bible student said...

@AW

I would agree that you have a pretty good take on what taught in the church today.

I have a story, from my youth, that I didn’t think about for years.

Because of a nun shortage, my 4th grade Catholic school teacher was responsible for our religious education. This young lady, obviously began talking to non-Catholics, because what she let us know, wasn’t in the catechism.

She informed us that though some would go to heaven, that wasn’t the whole story.

At Matthew 5:5, when Jesus taught, “Blessed the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” he was passing along what he had learned at Psalm 37:29.

He surely aware of Psalm 115:16 that says: “The heavens are the LORD's, but the earth He has given to the human race.

In fact a heavenly reward wasn’t mentioned until the last day of Jesus life when he made a “ a covenant…for a kingdom” with eleven of his apostles. (Luke 22:28-30)

What great news! At 9 years old, the thought of spending eternity with the crotchety old priests and nuns, harps an fluffy clouds, was not at all appealing.

But the idea of eternal bliss, in paradise on earth, that was an idea we could wrap our mind around.
Years later when this idea was again presented as Bible truth, I felt like I had come home.

Though not a popular belief, there is no lack of scriptural backing. With their reputation for getting scriptures wrong, it was no surprise to me, that this was not the dogma of my mom’s church.

brenden said...

@ bible student

How can you possibly say "reputation for getting scriptures wrong", when there are so many different Christian sects who all interpret it slightly differently? They are no more likely to get them 'wrong' as you are.

Bible student said...

@brendan

WRONG as in mass murder. Killing the “infidel” by papal decree. The flight of Jews and Muslims from the inquisition. Backing two world wars from all sides. Condoning pederasty in the name of church unity.

Defend that!

Miracle said...

Of course you knew I would disagree Wager. Damn me for being liberal and well a purist :).

As a Christian I believe I am a sinner (sin defined as purely mistakes or hiccups in life) in a world where everyone makes mistakes and truly none of us could really ever not make a mistake. Its just how life is.

I don't believe in original sin. It is a belief that stemmed from Aquinas or Augusinte who read one verse in Psalms out of context and made a theological assertion from it. I don't have sin dna. I, as well as everyone, screw up just fine on my own.

The hope comes when someone, like someone in the ancient Hebrew faith, believes that we are not worthy enough to even talk with God. God is so far beyond us, holy and perfect that we couldn't ever compare with our mistakes.

Its in this context that Jesus said, "Hold on a minute. Every person makes mistakes. God knows that and is fine with it if we just own up to them." Jesus described God relationship to us like one of a good father and I like the analogy. As a father, I love my son. I know he'll screw up sometimes and as a child he won't be able to do the things I do, but I'll still have a relationship and talk with him.

This is the hope of those who follow Jesus' way (maybe not traditionally, but at least for me). God is not consumed by our imperfections, mistakes and problems that He cannot converse with us. God wants us to talk, grow, listen, learn, love and live with her. Screw heaven. Screw dogma. Screw four spiritual laws and romans road. This is the basic hope of my following Jesus' way

brenden said...

@ Babble Student

Sending people to a "lake with burning sulfur" because they don't believe something inherently irrational. Defend that! The bible is full of violence condoning and it's practically anti-christian to suggest otherwise.

Bible student said...

Gladly! At Eden God’s sovereignty was challenged. Satan let Eve think she could be independent, without consequence. Adam followed. The story could have ended there with 3 dead. Two for disobedience the other for disturbing the peace. But a good question was raised, whether God’s rule was applied in a worthy way, righteously, and for the best interests of his subjects or not.

God did not end mankind that day, but has allowed us to choose. Most choose independence from God. He does not ride hard on those, but offers “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45) His impartiality has turned some hearts.

Unfortunately, despite the good they receive in life, it can be said, “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, He did not make me? Can the pot say of the potter, He knows nothing? (Isaiah 29:16) No respect.

Unrepentant opposers of God’s sovereignty, who choose, even after a resurrection into paradise, to follow a slanderous rebel (Satan), will not get everlasting life.

Don’t worry, “lake with burning sulfur” is as symbolic as a seven headed beast. What is thrown in before, is death, which doesn’t burn, and Satan and his demons who being spirit, cannot be hurt by literal fire.

Or maybe you have been taken in by the falsehood called “hellfire doctrine”.

I know how well your “church” uses scriptures. Let me drag over yesterdays comment from http://atheistwager.blogspot.com/2007/05/unlikely-mormon-apologist.html

@zilch

“The one who sins is the one who will die.”--Ezekiel 18:4 (Today's New International Version)

Adam (and so his offspring) lost the gift of everlasting life, through disobedience. In Today's New International Version of the Bible Genesis 2:17 quotes God: "but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die."

The immortal soul doctrine has it’s origin in Genesis 3:4: "You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman.”

Tell a lie often enough, and you could confuse even a great thinker, in Vienna.

Plato also pushed the idea that the body dies, yet the soul is lives on.

Hell is just bad-mouthing God. Who could love someone, who forever tortures imperfectly born people, for their imperfection?

The ruse has worked for years. Choose life!


Either way.

zilch said...

@Bible student: say what?

Bible student said...

@ zilch

Whre did I lose you?

Bible student said...

@ zilch

By the way, your last post, on the other page, is answered.

zilch said...

@ Bible student: ditto.

superzombie said...

I never understood the concept of everlasting life--- or at least could not grasp on to it.

I think is an oxymoron because life is inherently impermanent. As I understand it, you have birth, growth, and death. You learn some shit during the process and meet some people but the end is an end.

Everlasting on the other hand--- nothing is that. There is continuous which denotes change. I see everlasting as without a start and an end; an existence or fairy tale.

I gather that when you put the concepts of everlasting and life together you have a continuous existence with a clear starting point with no ending. That is neither everlasting nor life.

I am digging heavily into semantics here but fuck it. That's all anyone (faithful or nonfaith types) really has to go by; you believe the words in the story or you don't. I mean, there is no concise brochure about Heaven/Nirvana.

Or is religion (grouping all religions into one big turd lump) trying to redefine life, living and time to fit a soggy belief? I say redefine because life, living and time were around before the big turd lump.

A little off topic but I think it does tie into the 'Christian Hope' bit a little.

Atheistwager said...

@Mircale
Darn you for your Christianity light. It's so close to reasonable.

brenden said...

So close, yet so far.

zilch said...

Indeed. If you keep all the good stuff, and throw out the bad, the Bible is a pretty good guide to living a good life. Of course, keeping the good and throwing out the bad is exactly what evolution does. Or rather, "good" and "bad" are evolved descriptions of what works to further life.

Miracle said...

thank ya for the near compliment :)

I realize alot of loud christians totally ruin the message of Jesus, but purely reading the gospels in the context they are written without theologizing or prooftexting them shows the great truth he plainly taught. I don't think that believing in a God is unreasonable. Some very intelligent people chose to believe and other intelligent people chose to not believe.


a few things:
I have heard many good and bad reviews from people with faith and people without faith about THe God Delusion. I would like to read it so if anyone has an extra copy that they would like to send me let me know.

I want to clarify something about me. I am faith, God, and Jesus heavy. Definitely Churchianity light.

@zilch, I believe in evolution. I think that a baby in the womb proves it. The ministry site I co-run ginkworld.net actually has evolution as part of its slogan

zilch said...

@ miracle- if you're a Christian who believes in evolution, you're in good company. While there are fewer Christians among scientists than among the general population, there are still quite a few, including such luminaries as Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.