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My View After Several Days......


darby
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I mentioned in an earlier post that I read this board to understand where others come from, to be able to challenge my beliefs, etc. I earlier described myself as a "fundie," but realize (after an excellent post by someone) that I probably identify myself as an evangelical.

 

Let me first start off by saying I agree with much of what I see posted--the extreme love, grace and mercy of God, the desire of many of you to reach out to people (especially the "outcasts" of the world, the same ones Jesus went after), the desire to research and firmly understand your beliefs, etc. I share all of those with you.

 

After reading the 8 points, and many posts, however, I also disagree with many things that I read. There appears to be a tendency to "believe" in the goodness, grace, love, mercy, etc." of God, which again, I agree with wholeheartedly. I see people even posting verses which espouse these views. But I see a general denial of other, less attractive, views and verses from Jesus.

 

I just went to the first few chapters of Matthew, and below are some verses from Jesus himself:

 

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

 

In the sermon on the mount, He talks about the "danger of hellfire" and being "cast into hell." He also discusses the "narrow gate" to life

 

"For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners TO REPENTANCE"

 

"Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword."

 

I could go on, but you get my point. Jesus had harsh things to say to certain people. He also sounds "exclusive" at times. We can argue forever the specific meanings of these verses, but we could probably agree they show another side of Jesus. I will even confess I don't personally like some of those verses, but they are there, just the same. If we dismiss this side of God / Jesus, why are the other verses/characteristics not up for debate? Or even that Jesus ever lived or said any of the things attributed to him? Or do we just flip past the verses we don't like?

 

I hope this post is received with the love with which it is written. I am certainly not trying to convince/convert anyone--I realize you are all pretty firm in your beliefs, as am I. I'm also not trying to "win" an arguement. I am just asking--if you poke (rightly so) at fundamentals or evangelicals about hypocrisy or not following Jesus' teachings regarding compassion, mercy, etc., is it not intellectually fair to ask what you do with this side of Jesus?

 

In the meantime, I'll just keep trying my best to "walk as He walked."

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Darby,

 

I hope you aren't leaving?

 

But I see a general denial of other, less attractive, views and verses from Jesus.

 

I think these verses are just as important as the "love" versus. I agree. I would love to discuss them.

 

My post on Evangelicalism was an attempt to open up dialogue with the conservative ones who post here and with conservative "lurkers".

 

I hope you stay. I think we all have a lot to teach each other. :)

 

Aletheia

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Darby,

 

You've hit on a really good point. I think that many progressives do struggle with some of the depictions of Jesus while easily accepting others. We get squirmish with words like sin, repentence, and hell.

 

 

I don't speak for anyone here but myself, but I find those words and this part of the Jesus in scripture to be very useful. I might view them differently than an evangelical or a fundamentalist, though.

 

Sin

Anything that I do that results in unnecessary suffering. I say 'unnecessary' because I want to distinguish between sending my kid to his room and humiliating him with hateful words.

 

Will I be punished for my sin? Well, not exactly. The difference between punishment and consequence is in the intent. In either case I may suffer for my sin through the natural law of cause and effect, but if I view it as punishment, then if becomes about what God did to me. If I view it as consequence, it becomes about my sin and the need to repent. So I would say I may suffer for my sin, but I am not punished.

 

Repentance

To turn away. Repentance is very important in any religion. Religion is not just about belief, it is about behavior. When we behave in a way that just doesn't work for us, we need to turn away....try something that might actually work for us instead.

Maybe I'm feeling anxious. I might try drinking. Eventually I'll find out that it is not going to work for me. I need to turn away. I'll try meditation instead.

 

Hell

I wish I knew. My current thinking is that it is an after-life place (or state of consciousness) where all my worldly attachments prevent me from going to paradise. I will not escape until I let go.

 

I would like to note that these words were off limits at my former church (very liberal).

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Hello, Darby-

 

I pretty much agree with Fatherman's views here-- except for hell, which I'll get to in a minute. I think that these teachings of Jesus' you have mentioned are very important and that much needless suffering has been created in the world as a result of these teachings being misunderstood.

 

I don't think progressive Christians selectively edit the bible-- we just haven't talked about these issues much here on this forum, at least not yet. I welcome the chance to do so.

 

I don't think that a loving father (as God is depicted by Jesus in the New Testament) would have wanted harm to come to his children. I think that Jesus' teachings on sin, repentance, and hell are important ways to point to how we, as human beings, can find our way to peace. And yes, it is a narrow gate indeed, for very few can find their way there.

 

As for hell, I tend to see this as a metaphor for the mindstate which occurs if a person is out of step with God. I should say that I don't believe in a literal heaven or hell. I believe that heaven is the way the world is experienced when our lives accord with God's will for us, and hell is the way the world is experienced when our lives do not.

 

Of course, those are just my current thoughts, and as I learn, my thoughts on all this might very well change.

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Hey Darby,

 

I hope you don't leave, even if you may disagree with many of us. For one thing, I sense you are a nice guy. And they are always nice to have around. :-)

I'm not sure that I would stick around if just about everyone disagreed with me, so I admire your stand of gently bringing things up in a true ecumenical spirit.

 

As for your points. I think two things:

 

a. I do think Progressives and Liberals are more likely to bring out the positive side of Jesus. Perhaps some of this is a reaction against some of the more negative elements we read about (End times, hell, etc.) But the point still is we have to know why there is evil in the world, and what we do about it, and what Jesus' (and God's) response are. It is a fair critism, for whatever the reasons.

 

b. HOWEVER, since we don't take every word as literal (or even as spoken by Jesus necessarily) some of the quotes that you give are not, imo, literal:

discussions of hell fire and the like (in fact, 99% of them are in, I think, Matthew). So why are they there? (that's another subject).

 

Repentence. I think it is fair point that Progressives and not quite as interested in that as we should be. Just because I dont' believe in a literal "hell" doesn't mean that repentence is not an issue. Should we only believe in repentence to "avoid hell"? Surely that would be a very shallow reason. I think to let the Kindom of God come into our lives and hearts is a good reason-- and we should be more interested in it.

 

 

Hell, without the hell fire bit are really us separated from God, imo. I think we have discussed this quite a lot, but I don't think it is maybe such a key part of progress. theology.

And prob. in error.

 

 

Also I think I might tend to interpret these things differently than you might.

 

However, I see some of the verses as not likely to have even been spoken by Jesus. But I agree that it is good to figure out which we don't think is, and why and not eliminate something because we might not care for it. So I think it is quite a fair comment, about being more attracted to the positive comments (not all of which I consider to have been really spoken by Jesus either).

 

I'm glad that at least one of us could figure out where he was on the basis of the Evangelical discussion. :-) Yes, I think that if I understood what it was you might be more that. :-)

(Too bad, I'm not sure what it is still.)

 

I think you're a brave guy, which I admire as well.

 

 

--des

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Matthew 5:22 - "... and if you say, 'You fool', you will be liable to the hell of fire"

 

Hell in this verse is the word "Gehenna".

 

Wikipedia has this to say:

Gehenna is a word tracing to Greek, ultimately from Hebrew Gai-Ben-Hinnom meaning Valley of the Son of Hinnom, though this is sometimes shortened to Gai-Hinnom in rabbinical texts. An alternate way to translate this word is Gehinnom.

 

Originally it referred to a garbage dump in a deep narrow valley right outside the walls of outside Jerusalem (in modern-day Israel) where fires were kept burning to consume the refuse and keep down the stench. It is also the location where bodies of executed criminals, or individuals denied a proper burial, would be dumped.

 

In the Book of Matthew, 23:33, Jesus observes,

 

"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”

 

Jesus used the word gehenna, not hell, and his audience understood quite well that gehenna meant a place of condemnation ... Human garbage, sinners, would be consumed and destroyed forever.

 

In Matthew 10:28, Jesus says that God can kill the body and the SOUL in Gehenna. If the soul is DESTROYED, how can it suffer?

 

Another websight had this to say:

The meaning of Gehenna must be established from facts furnished by the Scripture, not by falsehoods foisted by human tradition.

 

To the reader of the Hebrew Scriptures themselves, Gehenna can only mean a verdict which, besides condemning a man to death, also ordains that, after death, his body should be cast into the loathsome valley of Hinnom.

 

This being the sense of Gehenna in the Hebrew Scriptures, we may be sure that this is the sense in which Christ used it.

 

“Gehenna” appears in the Greek Scriptures twelve times (Matt.5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6).

 

Matthew's gospel, more than the others, is directed at Jews. Jews would have known what the word Gehenna was.

 

Sheol and Hades are another discussion. :rolleyes:

 

Alethiea

Edited by AletheiaRivers
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I'm glad that at least one of us could figure out where he was on the basis of the Evangelical discussion. :-) Yes, I think that if I understood what it was you might be more that. :-) (Too bad, I'm not sure what it is still.)

 

LOL!

 

You're not alone Des. I started the thread and I'm still not sure. One thing I appreciate though, is that Fundementalists have and are still trying to steal the term "Evangelical".

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I am plagerizing this statement about repentence, but I can't remember who to attribute it too! Sorry. Basically when asked why repentence is so painful, they replied that it is not as punishment but just the real consequence of having turned away from God and having to give up our will (perhaps again).

 

As for the verses you quote Darby - I would agree with Des. I look at the bible as being written in a time when stories were told to make points and were regularly and honestly changed to suit their audience. For example, I find it very interesting to understand more about the culture in which parables were told and the specific audience of each gospel. The prodigal son: the father runs to his son when he returns. Ok, nice. My Dad might run to me... I've seen him run. He'd be excited and happy if running, and we get that. In the Middle East, then and now, adult men do not run. It is/was (apparently) a beyond apalling sign lack of dignity. We don't always place much importance on dignity, but that culture did. It changes the story. In this case, we get the same point, but that is not always true. Many of the parables were apparently told in such a way as to be funny and keep their audience's attention. We miss most of the jokes.

 

Personally, and I know I've said this before, I go with the sum of the law.

 

Glad to have you here - Cynthia

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He forgot to mention the trinity. To the Fundamental Protestant..in order to accept Jesus as savior you HAVE to believe in the trinity...But it interesting that on The Progressive Christianity board on Beliefnet 6 Progressives there said they were non-trinatarian. :o

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