Tag Archives: religion
Friends: I have been corresponding with an unsaved friend of mine for years. We’ll call him “Mike.” You might find the following dialogue interesting. I’m open to your comments or questions:
I take you up on your last sentence: “I think that a genuine friendship gives the other permission to share his thoughts and deepest convictions”.
You understand my frustration….
You understand my request…..
Do you really???
We both believe in a higher authority that governs our life. We give it different names, but it is the same authority. It is the same authority that all the hundreds of different religious belief systems are based on. You enhanced your conceived system with ideas that are not shared in the same way by all the other different religions. This does not change the fact that there is only one authority and it is wrong to take the position that ones own interpretation is better than every other.
I fully accept the Christian value system, but cannot accept the detailed descriptions of paradise, the creation of mankind, the original sin, the love of God, etc.. similar as I cannot accept the idea of a Santa Claus, or an Easter bunny.
Whenever you talk to me in terms of converting me to your views, it always implies that your views are better than mine. Do you think this is right?
You talk about my world view. I don’t have one!
I simple accept the higher authority without having any thought of trying to understand. I know without doubt, that this knowledge is outside my capability.
Hope you will not give up on me for being blunt with expressing my views.
Good morning, Mike.
I received your email and wanted to jot down a couple of thoughts to you. On some things we agree; on others, not so much.
1. On the issue of “a higher authority” — If you mean “God,” then on the surface you are right. All religions claim to believe in “God” (although Buddhism believes in many gods or none at all). The Bible talks about “false gods” and bluntly says that those who don’t worship the God of Israel are worshiping idols. Your comment reminded me of a long conversation I had with a leader of the Ba’hai movement. He believed that all religions were really believing the same things.
But that’s not true, is it, Mike? Apart from the specifics of Jesus, etc., the various conceptions of God (a Trinity? not a Trinity?) differ dramatically. To say that all religions believe the same thing when it comes to “God” is actually not taking those religions seriously in what they claim.
2. I would love to know what you mean by “I fully accept the Christian value system.” Which parts? On what basis do you pick and choose which parts you will believe — and consign the others to the level of the Easter Bunny?
3. Thank you for your honesty in asking me the question: “Whenever you talk to me in terms of converting me to your views, it always implies that your views are better than mine. Do you think this is right?” I’m sure some of your views are better than mine, and maybe some of my views are “better” than yours. What’s the problem? Isn’t dialogue and discussion a way to get to “better” views (those more consistent and in tune with reality)? For example, isn’t the Christian idea of love not better than the Hindu practice of sati, the forcibly burning to death of a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre? Mike, I’m certainly not saying that you hold to sati, but if you did, wouldn’t love dictate that I try to dissuade you of that idea?
4. You write, “You talk about my world view. I don’t have one!” Au contraire, mon ami! Every person has a way of looking at life, of understanding reality. Your worldview does not include recognizing Jesus as God’s Son who gave His life for you. Mine does. That’s a pretty big difference in worldviews, wouldn’t you say?
5. Lastly, you write: “I simple accept the higher authority without having any thought of trying to understand. I know without doubt, that this knowledge is outside my capability.”
Mike, don’t you see that this is an assumption that you make? What if that higher authority has revealed Himself to man in order to draw people into a relationship with Him? Of course an exhaustive knowledge of this “higher authority” is impossible. But our knowledge need not be exhaustive to be sufficient. I don’t ever want to be one who has given up the pursuit of the knowledge which He has revealed.
I will not give up on you for being blunt about your views. And I hope you won’t give up on me. But please don’t expect me to leave my Christian convictions outside, to stop praying that you will understand and believe the gospel, that you will come to know my Jesus.
While in years past, the vast majority of the country pretended to be Christian, that number is shrinking every year, and now only a minority of the country fakes faith in Jesus Christ.
“This is extremely troubling,” said evangelical megachurch pastor Jack Lindsey. “A decade ago, our pews were full of people who went through the motions of pretending to be Christian. But now, the fake believers are all acting like the atheists they are, and our churches are shrinking because of it. If only we could have a fake revival.”
Pastors are trying to come up with ways to combat the decline of fake Christianity, from hosting big carnivals and preaching through movie franchises to serving better coffee and naming their churches after shopping malls and retirement communities. But nothing seems to be working so far, stoking fears that fake Christianity is on its way out permanently. Some have considered preaching the gospel to the unreached, but these people are obviously nuts.
“We’re in a brave new world where people don’t even bother paying lip service to a Jesus they don’t believe in, and I’m not sure I want to live in that kind of country,” said Lindsey.
I think Jonah might have been an introvert. Seriously. He had gone down below deck. Perhaps he was seasick. Perhaps he was hiding. It appears he was taking a nap. It’s exhausting to run away from God!
But the one piece of cargo that is napping below deck is causing the ship to sink! The rebuke from the ship’s captain is direct: “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish!”
Jonah’s conscience (an interesting side study in this book) allows him to sleep like a baby. A baby running away from his god. It’s kind of hard to call on one’s god when in rebellion. Disobedience has a way of stifling one’s prayer life.
“All hands on deck!” in Jonah’s situation meant everyone must, right now, call on their chosen deity to save them from perishing. And Jonah appears to not care about the life of these sailors — or himself. An infection of apathy has taken root in Jonah’s heart. (to be continued)
A prayer for today: “Lord of the winds and the sea, show me my apathy toward Your concerns for this drowning world. Please take away from me my spiritual slumber and re-deploy me in Your service! In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Jonah’s call is clear — and his response, though unspoken, is equally clear. He ran away from the omnipresent God. He might have felt that he was successful in “fleeing” from the Lord. But he was wrong.
We always are when we think we can escape God. He is no wimpy celestial parent who wrings His hands at the rebellion of His child and says, “Oh, no! Whatever shall I do?” God acts. He has the whole universe at His disposal to deploy against His mutinous missionary. God uses, or rather “sends,” a “great wind on the sea.” We read in Psalm 135 that “He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.” (v. 7, KJV)
Great winds produce great storms and this storm caused hardened, nauseous sailors to panic and become incredibly religious! As they called out on their “own” gods, they divested themselves of the very cargo they were paid to transport. They did everything they could to preserve their own lives, even resorting to religion in their despair. But where is Jonah? (to be continued)
113 I hate double-minded people,
but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
do not let my hopes be dashed.
117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees,
for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
I stand in awe of your laws.
Ah, the miracle was done on the SABBATH! The Pharisees saw themselves as the keepers of the Sabbath and their logic or lack of logic got them into a lot of debates with Jesus over the purpose of the Sabbath.
Jesus did not check the calendar to see what day it was before He spat on the ground, made mud, put it on this man’s eyes, and told him to go wash. For Jesus the time was always right for a miracle!
The religiosity of the Pharisees blinded them from the truth about the Sabbath, the truth about this blind man, and the truth about Jesus. Religion has a way of doing that.
Religion can be a substitute for the righteousness that is offered freely in the gospel. Religion can take the place of compassion. Religion can poison one’s mind and cause one to think that he or she can work their way to heaven. Religion can seduce one into minimizing God’s mercy and trampling on His grace. Religion nailed the Son of God to the cross, didn’t it?
There is indeed a God-consciousness built inside each of us that is either met by God’s mercy or twisted by man’s own religious efforts.
The Creator of man, the Second Person of the Divine Trinity, stooped to make mud, much like man’s original creation in the beginning. He can make mud and He can fashion it any way He chooses. But man can judge Him by man’s religion and condemn His creative intervention into our world of darkness. In a world of dust and dirt and precious little spiritual water, He spits on the ground He made and does something wonderful. Which religion condemns. (to be continued)
The problem here is that process is all-important to the religious leaders — and the people they have taught. The real issue in this interrogation — for the friends and later especially for the Pharisees — is the day of the week in which this miracle took place. THE SABBATH!
As the neighbors and those who had formerly known the blind man discover, Jesus had MADE MUD on the Sabbath to put on the man’s eyes so he could go wash and so he could — for the first time in his LIFE! — see! The man born blind is succinct in his response: “The man they call Jesus . . .” He knew next to nothing about Jesus, not even His whereabouts.
“The man they call Jesus” — Soon this man would be calling Jesus “Lord”! But first he has to go through a series of interrogations — and they will not be pretty.
Thank God that our ignorance does not inhibit the God of glory to do works of power in our lives! He who made the deaf, the mute, and the blind (Ex. 4) can reverse the effects of the Fall and give sight where there had only been darkness.
Could it be that this man was actually wanting to find “the man they call Jesus” to thank Him? And his searching gets side-tracked by this series of inquisitions? He certainly becomes irritated and agitated (as we’ll see later) as the questions are hurled at him like stones at the public stoning of an adulteress.
But for right now, he tolerates the questions and will be led to the religious authorities, presumably to give their stamp of approval to his miracle. However, religion can become ugly. Quite ugly. (to be continued)