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The Message Of The Cross?


JunkYard
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Are we to follow Jesus' example even unto the cross? I mean, when Jesus says to: "Pick up your cross, and follow me" What does he mean?

 

Is the cross really about personal salvation, or is there something more to the message?

 

Are we all expected to do the same as Jesus did, and give ourselves for the future of mankind, or was that taken care of when Jesus was crucified?

 

I don't know?

 

I think it is irresponsible to put our burdens on Jesus, and let him suffer for our faults, when we should be taking responsibility for our own actions. (It's about principal)

 

I have a son, and if he was punished for something someone else did, I would be angry. Why is it ok for us to let another pay for our mistakes (sins) If only in mind? Why would God honor such a practice?

 

If anything, I think the cross 'may' represent what is expected of every man...to die in his/her sins, and give themselves for the lives of others.

 

By this, I mean, to do our part for generations to come. To set examples now, spread love, and work to make the world a better place for future generations. To give ourselves for the cause of anothers gain, which I think may have been what Jesus was actually trying to do. (To simply show us the way)

 

I do believe Jesus was sent by God, but only to show mankind the way to survive 'ourselves'. Not to take away our sins, but to die so we might understand that we (mankind) are responsible for ourselves, and each individual must die also.

 

He simply set an example to follow,

 

As for forgiveness...

 

I think true forgiveness is only obtained by forgiving oneself. We don't need another to do it for us, imo. Life after death? Who knows?

 

This is my view. As you can see, it greatly differs from typical Christianity, which is why I don't know if I could even be considered a Christian at all...even progressive.

 

Am I wrong for thinking this way? I'm curious to know the progressive stance on the subject of the cross...

 

JunkYard,

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I believe that a consistent and widespread Progressive Christian belief is that the cross is as much a metaphor of radical discipleship as it is a symbol for salvation and redemption. Jesus was killed because he defied the powers and principalities (described powerfully and profoundly as the Domination System by Walter Wink) which have so much control in this world. They still do. We still need to defy the principalities and powers until they are finally overcome.

 

Wink says the principalities and powers maintain their strength through the myth of redemptive violence invented most likely by the Babylonians about 4000 years ago. Wink says that belief in this myth is still the main religion of the world. A brief and good summary of Wink's thoughts based on years of distinguished biblical scholarship can be found at >

http://www.bridges-across.org/ba/powers/index.html

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Is the cross really about personal salvation, or is there something more to the message?

 

Check out Brian McLaren's new book "The Secret Message of Jesus." It's very much about the question you asked above. And just for information: the book is NOT gnostic.

 

This is my view. As you can see, it greatly differs from typical Christianity, which is why I don't know if I could even be considered a Christian at all...even progressive.

 

Many Christians, even some that fall into the mainstream and Orthodox areas, don't believe Jesus death was a propriatory sacrifice. Some of the first views (of some church fathers) don't include propriation. There are many views, of how and why Jesus death was a sacrifice, that have nothing to do with appeasing an angry or offended God.

 

Google "Narrative Christus Victor" for an interesting interpretation.

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I believe that a consistent and widespread Progressive Christian belief is that the cross is as much a metaphor of radical discipleship as it is a symbol for salvation and redemption.  Jesus was killed because he defied the powers and principalities (described powerfully and profoundly as the Domination System by Walter Wink) which have so much control in this world.  They still do.  We still need to defy the principalities and powers until they are finally overcome. 

 

Wink says the principalities and powers maintain their strength through the myth of redemptive violence invented most likely by the Babylonians about 4000 years ago.  Wink says that belief in this myth is still the main religion of the world.  A brief and good summary of Wink's thoughts based on years of distinguished biblical scholarship can be found at >

http://www.bridges-across.org/ba/powers/index.html

 

That's an excellent website MT!!

 

It seems to me that the historical Jesus came to the realization ,that humanity is insane. In other words humanity keeps doing the same things over and over again,setting up the same kind of dominator societies and thinking we'll get a different result this time .

 

The teachings from The Sermon on the Mount, the parables and the Q sections in Matthew and Luke seem "crazy" to most people, but Jesus was trying to point us in another direction. However we continue to choose "Barabbas" and" Caeser" .

 

It's like the old joke "doc it hurts when I do this" and the doctor says"then don't do that".

 

MOW

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Jesus died in the same manner so many Jews and others died in -- he was killed by the politics of the day on a cross of some kind. In fact there was worse ways to die -- like impalement. There is nothing special about his death. It was not any more of a sacrifice than anyone else who has died for political reasons or who has died and was not guilty of the crime they were killed for. We still kill people today who are not guilty of the crime they are sentenced to die for.

 

So why do we remember Jesus' death? Because of his life. It was Jesus' life that is significant. It is how he lived his life that matters. It is the way he treated those around him.

 

Somewhere, someone or some group of people have perverted Jesus message. They've forgotten his life and only pay attention to his death which was so common. His death is as insignificant as his birth. Neither are important.

 

It is JESUS' LIFE that matters!

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But doesn't the Bible say that Jesus died for our sins?

 

Indeed it does.

 

What are we to make of passages that speak of Jesus dying for sins?

 

One possible explanation is that some of the writers of the NT (especially the apostle Paul) did in fact believe that Jesus' death was somehow a propitiation for sins. They looked back at the death of their messiah and saw "the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world." This view of the cross presupposes that Jesus death changed something about God, something about how he viewed his relationship to us, something about settling an inner conflict that God had between his love for sinners and his holiness. But I think this is a rather "Old Testament" atonement view that, while offering us some comfort in God's mercy, actually presents a very disturbing view of what God can and cannot do where sins are concerned.

 

Another explanation, which seems much more reasonable to me, is that Jesus, in a sense, did choose to die rather than to lead an armed rebellion against the Roman government in Israel. Rome would have squash such a rebellion underfoot much like we would do to a cockroach. And it did so in AD70. In fact, one of the Jewish leaders said that it was better for Christ to die than for Rome to come and take away what little freedom the Jews and their leaders had at that time. Possibly, in reprimanding Peter for his eagerness to wield a sword, Jesus knew that a show of violence was fruitless and chose to die himself rather than to see all of his followers slaughtered. Maybe this is how he laid down his life for his friends.

 

If such is the case, then the message of the cross is quite different from the way some Christians have interpreted it through the ages. The message of the cross could be more about dying to one's own selfish desires and sacrificing for the sake of others instead of seeking to use one's relationship with God to justify war. Odd that Christianity chose the cross as a lucky rabbit's foot to try to ensure victory in battle during the crusades. Odd that, even today, many Christians think that God is mainly a god of war who will, at some point, slaughter all of his enemies. If anything, I think the message of the cross is that God refuses to send fire from heaven to destroy his enemies, even when they are as wicked as can be.

 

Whether we see the cross as accomplishing peace between God and man or as Jesus' way of embracing non-violent revolution or as level ground where we all stand in awe of his love, I think the message of the cross is one of peace. Peace on earth, good will toward man. Such is the kingdom of heaven. Too bad it is not that way down here. This old world could use some.

 

wayfarer

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Another explanation, which seems much more reasonable to me, is that Jesus, in a sense, did choose to die rather than to lead an armed rebellion against the Roman government in Israel. Rome would have squash such a rebellion underfoot much like we would do to a cockroach. And it did so in AD70. In fact, one of the Jewish leaders said that it was better for Christ to die than for Rome to come and take away what little freedom the Jews and their leaders had at that time. Possibly, in reprimanding Peter for his eagerness to wield a sword, Jesus knew that a show of violence was fruitless and chose to die himself rather than to see all of his followers slaughtered. Maybe this is how he laid down his life for his friends.

That is an interesting theory, but I'm not sure it harmonizes with history and with what the disciples themselves wrote about the events. I don't see how Jesus submitting to a state-assisted suicide would inspire his followers to write about his bodily resurrection and to preach "repentance and forgiveness of sins" "to all nations" (Luke 24). It seems Jesus' plan to protect his disciples actually backfired, considering that most of them were murdered for what they believed and taught.

 

Odd that Christianity chose the cross as a lucky rabbit's foot to try to ensure victory in battle during the crusades. Odd that, even today, many Christians think that God is mainly a god of war who will, at some point, slaughter all of his enemies.

The Crusades are indeed a blight on Christianity but thankfully have been relegated to 1000 year-old history. For a religion with a strong "god of war" motif, I point you to modern-day Islam.

 

If anything, I think the message of the cross is that God refuses to send fire from heaven to destroy his enemies, even when they are as wicked as can be.

I agree 100%. As the apostle John, one of Jesus' "inner circle", put it, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

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  As the apostle John, one of Jesus' "inner circle", put it, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

 

 

I don't see how murdering someone or letting someone be murdered shows love.

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It seems Jesus' plan to protect his disciples actually backfired, considering that most of them were murdered for what they believed and taught.

 

I wouldn't say that it backfired. If anything, it would seem that they also became willing to die for their faith rather than to take up swords and inflict bloodshed in the name of God.

 

For a religion with a strong "god of war" motif, I point you to modern-day Islam.

 

I disagree. For a strong "god of war" motif, just look at our great United States being led by the Bush administration in invading another country, slaughtering it's people, and sacrificing it's own young men and women -- all in the name of God -- while the real issue is money and oil. Conservative Christianity stands behind the war because it believes that war is just and holy, that "God's enemies" should be erradicated rather than loved.

 

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

 

And we are right back to the notion that God must inflict violence and bloodshed in order for his will to be accomplished. As long as our theology is based upon God's supposed demand for human blood, an unsatiated desire for human sacrifice, we will continue to make war with each other in the name of God. When will we grow up?

 

wayfarer

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Jesus died in the same manner so many Jews and others died in -- he was killed by the politics of the day on a cross of some kind. In fact there was worse ways to die -- like impalement.  There is nothing special about his death.  It was not any more of a sacrifice than anyone else who has died for political reasons or who has died and was not guilty of the crime they were killed for.  We still kill people today who are not guilty of the crime they are sentenced to die for. 

 

So why do we remember Jesus' death?  Because of his life.  It was Jesus' life that is significant.  It is how he lived his life that matters.  It is the way he treated those around him. 

 

Somewhere, someone or some group of people have perverted Jesus message.  They've forgotten his life and only pay attention to his death which was so common.  His death is as insignificant as his birth.  Neither are important.

 

It is JESUS' LIFE that matters!

 

 

Hi October

 

I love your quote "It is Jesus life that matters".

 

That is my feeling EXACTLY!

 

Why can't we see that it is OUR life that matters also...not our politics...our dogma..or our "spiritual pedigree".

Max Lucado writes about some hungry people coming to a bakery to buy bread.But the baker says to them..."before I give you the bread,,,let me show you our bakery...WE ARE SO PROUD OF OUR BAKERY".

So he shows them the new oven,explaining all the latest tecnology,and they answer,"but WE JUST WANT BREAD". But he continues to show them several more pieces of machinery,again they say, "we just want bread". Finally, as he is showing them the last feature of the bakery, he notices that they are starting to leave,and says to them, "wait,don't you want some bread?" They answer,"NO, WE

HAVE LOST OUR APPETITE."

So it realy is our life ALONE that matters!

 

Blessings my friend,

 

Jerry

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  As the apostle John, one of Jesus' "inner circle", put it, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

 

 

I don't see how murdering someone or letting someone be murdered shows love.

Picture it this way... you're on trial, and you've been found guilty of a capital crime. Just before the judge pronounces your sentence, someone else steps forward and offers to pay the penalty in your place. That's exactly what God the Son did: paid the debt in your stead. That is how God shows love.

 

I wouldn't say that it backfired. If anything, it would seem that they also became willing to die for their faith rather than to take up swords and inflict bloodshed in the name of God.

Right, because they knew the real purpose of Jesus' mission was to establish a heavenly kingdom, not an earthly one. Which is why, as I stated, they went out to "preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins". That was their faith.

 

I disagree. For a strong "god of war" motif, just look at our great United States being led by the Bush administration in invading another country, slaughtering it's people, and sacrificing it's own young men and women -- all in the name of God -- while the real issue is money and oil. Conservative Christianity stands behind the war because it believes that war is just and holy, that "God's enemies" should be erradicated rather than loved.

I see no evidence whatsoever that Bush or conservative Christians have invoked the name of God to justify the war. Please provide some material highlighting their belief that "God's enemies should be erradicated rather than loved". (And no nutcases, either -- I want to see documentation of the Bush administration and mainstream evangelicalism making such outrageous claims.) On the contrary, one needs only to watch the news to see almost daily examples of such statements coming from militant Islam. How about the 9/11 hijackers' shouts of "God is great" as they murdered thousands?

 

And we are right back to the notion that God must inflict violence and bloodshed in order for his will to be accomplished. As long as our theology is based upon God's supposed demand for human blood, an unsatiated desire for human sacrifice, we will continue to make war with each other in the name of God. When will we grow up?

I don't know whose theology claims that God has "unsatiated desire for human sacrifice," but it's certainly not "ours". The New Testament authors belabored the point that it was a one-time thing:

 

"But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people" ... "by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy".

 

So you see that when we get our theology right, it doesn't at all follow that "we will continue to make war with each other," but rather, as I said above, "preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins to the nations".

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  As the apostle John, one of Jesus' "inner circle", put it, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

 

 

I don't see how murdering someone or letting someone be murdered shows love.

Picture it this way... you're on trial, and you've been found guilty of a capital crime. Just before the judge pronounces your sentence, someone else steps forward and offers to pay the penalty in your place. That's exactly what God the Son did: paid the debt in your stead. That is how God shows love.

 

Why demand death? God is the judge so if God demands a life than God is a murderer. Sorry, I know the song and dance already. The God I know does NOT demand blood.

 

Believe what you choose to believe but the god you believe in is not the God I know nor a god I'd care to know.

 

You forget that I was once in your shoes and I asked questions and when those questions were answered the answer was that God is not a murderer. I left the shoes you stand in and found something else, a God who loves. Not a god who kills.

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Picture it this way...  you're on trial, and you've been found guilty of a capital crime.  Just before the judge pronounces your sentence, someone else steps forward and offers to pay the penalty in your place.  That's exactly what God the Son did: paid the debt in your stead.

 

Thanks, but no thanks. I believe that justice only works when the guilty are reformed and/or restored, not through the punishment of the innocent. Your "court room scenario" falls apart when compared to how real courtrooms work (or should work). We don't punish innocent people for the crimes of others. I don't need (nor do I believe) that Jesus paid some kind of "sin debt" to God. God forgives. He is a forgiving God because that is his nature, not because Jesus "paid him off."

 

I don't want or need God to punish someone innocent for *my* sins. What kind of God punishes innocent people for crimes committed by others? A God who refuses to forgive. At the heart of "atonement theology" is a God who cannot forgive. Sin cannot be forgiven, it must be "paid for", paid with human blood. It is no different than pagans sacrificing their children to Molech in order to appease his wrath.

 

Even IF this "substitutionary atonement" theory were true, the way it is portrayed in conservative, evangelical Christianity is that God doesn't accept Jesus' payment UNTIL we give it our okay. It is like God, as the judge, leans over and says, "Now, my son paid for your sins, but YOU must accept his payment. If you don't, I will punish you, despite what he did."

 

I want to see documentation of the Bush administration and mainstream evangelicalism making such outrageous claims.

 

Just look at all the bumperstickers that say on one side something analagous to "America - in God we trust" and on the other side "Support the killing in Iraq". The message is pretty clear. Bush claims to be a committed Christian. He has led this country into an unending war. Jesus never supported war. If you can't already see the inconsistencies, nothing I could post would convince you otherwise.

 

The New Testament authors belabored the point that it was a one-time thing:

 

The point still stands. Just because the Holocaust was a "one-time thing", doesn't mean that it was right. And most Christians who do believe that Jesus died to save the world also believe that he won't ultimately do it anyway.

 

So you see that when we get our theology right, it doesn't at all follow that "we will continue to make war with each other," but rather, as I said above, "preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins to the nations".

 

Sorry, DCJ, but I disagree. The message that is currently preached is still a message that God is at war with humanity. If you don't agree to his terms (that he killed his own son), then he will put you in an eternal "prison camp" where you will be tortured forevermore. THIS scenario portrays a "God of war", no matter how much you may deny it.

 

wayfarer

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The truth of the matter is that Christianity did not form in a vacuum. Nor did Judaism.

 

Neither Christianity nor Judaism fell from the sky in a completed form. Both religions developed over time. And both religions integrated pagan beliefs from surrounding cultures into its worldviews.

 

It is well known that Judaism came out of pagan cultures where people were sacrificed to the gods in order to appease their wrath or to gain their favor. Abraham did not get a sudden revelation that the gods did not require human sacrifice. But I suspect the idea dawned on him when, according to the Bible, God did not let Abraham kill his son. But the notion that some type of bloodshed was needed and the ram in the thicket served that purpose.

 

The ancient Jews eventually built up that notion into a full-fledged sacrificial system, complete with bulls and goats. Yes, the notion still prevailed that some peoples and tribes -- enemies of God -- deserved to die or to be "sacrificed", but such notions definately go against the teachings of Jesus on how enemies should be treated.

 

Christianity did not cast off its sacrificial roots either. It came out of a Jewish culture where sacrifices were still being made, blood was still being shed to, supposedly, take away sins. But Jesus definately seemed to be anti-Temple and forgave sins WITHOUT any shedding of blood whatsoever. Radical. Blasphemous. Now, one can say that he looked forward to his own shedding of blood at the cross, but I think that is reading to much "atonement theology" into the scriptures. Every time Jesus mentions that he would die, the disciples rebuke him for it. They didn't expect his death or look forward to it. And when he was arrested, they ran and hid. They deserted him. They did not call a church meeting and say, "This was the foreordained plan of God and we have known this all along." It is only in hindsight that the church tried to make some sense of Jesus' death.

 

One of the attempts to make sense of Jesus' death had to do with atonement theology. We find this most blatantly in Paul's writings and in the book of Hebrews. In fact, the writer of Hebrews, openly going against OT scripture, said that God NEVER desired the blood of bulls and goats. Even the OT says that God doesn't desire sacrifices -- what he desires is a broken and contrite heart. Yes, the book of Hebrews speaks of Jesus' sacrifice as a one-time blood offering. But again, Christianity did not form in a vacuum. It incorporated much of the beliefs of Judaism, including atonement theology.

 

Modern Christianity, so much wanting to return to OT ways (look at all our temples), is enamored with atonement theology as a central doctrine to the cross. It says that God DID demand human blood. God DID desire human sacrifice, even if it was just one human (which atonement theology contradicts by insisting that Jesus was sinless).

 

What do we see when we look at the cross? Do we see a God who demanded human sacrifice and who was finally satiated by human blood?

 

Or do we see in Christ the incarnation of a broken and contrite heart?

 

Which was God more pleased with? The shedding of blood? Or the sacrifice of Christ, not to God, but to US?

 

It is not that Jesus' blood means nothing to me. It does. It means that he would rather die loving, forgiving his enemies than to call down angels to slaughter them. But it doesn't mean that God finally got his bloodthirst satisfied.

 

As Jim Burklo says, atonement theology is an idea whose time has come -- and gone.

 

If Christianity is going to mean something in this new century and millenium, if the death of Christ is going to have relevance and an impact on people, we need to drop this notion that God demanded the blood of Jesus. Yes, this notion pervades conservative, evangelical Christianity. It is rampant in our hymns. But it says some awfully disturbing things about a God who is supposed to be love, about a God who is willing than NONE, not even his son, should perish.

 

wayfarer

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I believe that a consistent and widespread Progressive Christian belief is that the cross is as much a metaphor of radical discipleship as it is a symbol for salvation and redemption.  Jesus was killed because he defied the powers and principalities (described powerfully and profoundly as the Domination System by Walter Wink) which have so much control in this world.  They still do.  We still need to defy the principalities and powers until they are finally overcome. 

 

Wink says the principalities and powers maintain their strength through the myth of redemptive violence invented most likely by the Babylonians about 4000 years ago.  Wink says that belief in this myth is still the main religion of the world.  A brief and good summary of Wink's thoughts based on years of distinguished biblical scholarship can be found at >

http://www.bridges-across.org/ba/powers/index.html

 

CHRISTIAN WITNESS

 

Jesus said the darnedest things, at least in Luke. He says to hate our parents, he curses the rich and blesses the poor. In fact, if you look at his words generally, you can see that he is given to hyperbole in order to make a point.

 

I have a quarrel with the witness of SOME Evangelicals, because sometimes it seems to be the program of the Republican Party rather than that of the Bible. They simply disregards certain pointed sayings of Jesus and instead prefers a Republican spin. Even tho Jesus indulged in hyperbole, yet he is making a point, the point that Cardinal Bernardin called “the preferential option for the poor.” You cannot serve God and Mammon (possessions).

 

Certainly the poor—or “destitute” in Greek—are not all saints, and they frequently commit the same sins we all do. And they too can be infected with greed. Nevertheless, they are the victims of social injustice, and to deny them such justice because they are sinners is to upset the whole Christian message. Wolfgang Stegemann says “The first followers of Jesus, like their master, were from the poor and hungry, not as the result of any renunciation of possessions but because in fact they possessed nothing.” He adds that this may be hard to take because social criticism then is “voiced not by ethically motivated heroes of renunciation but by probably very unattractive characters.”

 

Arer Jesus’ words against wealth are in the same category as his warnings against the pursuit of power and of physical pleasure. I believe they are, and they come under the rubric of “worldliness,” a fixation on “the things of this world.” As Jesus in John says, Satan is the prince of this world.

 

But Christians are called, in a sense, out of this world. They are to work for a world transfigured, the Kingdom of God. That is why I have great respect for the ideals of monasticism, whether of the East or West, with its vows and ideals of poverty, chastity and obedience—designed to fight our natural lust for wealth, sex, and power. Instead, their practice was ORA ET LABORA, pray and work.

 

I don’t think God or Jesus is either a liberal or a conservative. I think he is a <i>radical.</i>. And Christians are called to be radicals. We disagree with one another all the time, of course, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s done in the spirit of what St Paul calls <i>agape</i>, love or charity.

 

John Dominic Crossan sees the birth of Christianity taking place in the episodes in Luke where Jesus sends out first twelve, then seventy itinerant apostles (missionaries). Crossan makes a case that these are the homeless destitute being sent to the merely poor householders practicing subsistence farming. Both are victims of the political/religious power structure centered in Jerusalem, with satellites in such Galilean cities as Sepphoris and Tiberias.

 

The Jesus Seminar (!), BTW, said at least one good thing: “For Jesus, God’s kingdom is a modest affair, not obvious to the untutored eye. It offers little by way of earthly reward. Its demands are staggering. He apparently did not want it confused with traditional mundane hopes.”

 

Crossan also says that there was always dissension such as we have today in the Church: He speaks of the commercialization of Palestine under the Romans, and adds “That commercialization process set against one another those poor peasants who might be dispossessed tomorrow and those destitute peasants who had been dispossessed yesterday. It is these destitute landless ones and poor landed ones that the Kingdom of God movement brings together as itinerants and householders.”

 

“Compassion, no matter how immediately necessary or profoundly human, cannot substitute for justice, for the <i>right</i> of all to equal dignity and integrity of life. Those who live by compassion are often canonized. Those who live by justice are often crucified.”

 

IOW, almsgiving is restitution. As St Vincent de Paul said, “You must have great love for the poor in order that they may forgive you the bread that you given them.”

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When we read the Bible with an open mind, we see the ideas are true for all times and for all places, even though these ideas are clothed in modern and ancient terms, use English and other language phrases, and is represented in different cultures. The ideas are universal, when Christ said, "Why has thou forsaken me," this statement represents the tremendous tension in the human mind. It also signifies the dark aspect still present in the lower layers of the mind with doubts just waiting for a chance to jump up. I feel this is the cross Jesus wants us to take up. All these doubts and accounts have to be settled in the mind where they must be relinquished before proceeding into the future beyond the mind. When faced with such disagreement when we take up the cross, I think it is good to look back at former states of mind and see how our life and our attitudes have evolved, arriving at the present realization of God's purpose. This strategy helps one to be sympathetic with one's present situation, the people who oppose it, the natural flow of things, and also to understand and have compassion for those that obstruct these developments. When Jesus was being nailed on the cross he said, "Forgive them for they know not what they are doing." We have so much to learn and so little time.

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  • 1 month later...
What kind of God punishes innocent people for crimes committed by others? A God who refuses to forgive. At the heart of "atonement theology" is a God who cannot forgive. Sin cannot be forgiven, it must be "paid for"

What kind of a God refuses to punish evil? What kind of a God would simply "forgive" Hitler for all the millions he slaughtered? Sure, God would be sad, but he certainly wouldn't hold him accountable. Throw a few more babies in the ovens, it won't matter; it will just demonstrate how "forgiving" God is. Is there no ultimate justice in your worldview? A God who is unwilling to punish wickedness is not good at all, but a monster.

 

Every time Jesus mentions that he would die, the disciples rebuke him for it. They didn't expect his death or look forward to it. And when he was arrested, they ran and hid. They deserted him.

 

It is not that Jesus' blood means nothing to me. It does. It means that he would rather die loving, forgiving his enemies than to call down angels to slaughter them.

Yes, the disciples fled when Jesus was arrested. They were dejected and demoralized when he was crucified. Do you really think that Christianity would have survived that first century if Jesus' followers saw his death as merely a demonstration of forgiving one's enemies? Would we even be having this conversation right now if that's all the early church had to cling to during the beheadings and tortures? Just look at the liberal church in American today, which preaches a similar message about the cross. Those churches are losing members left and right, and this in one of the world's most religiously tolerant nations! I'd wager that the pews would be nearly empty if believers faced half the persecution the disciples did. Far from atonement theology being "an idea whose time has come and gone", the modern liberal church would be revitalized if it embraced the gospel that has been preached from the very beginning.

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Nice to see you around, DCJ! As usual you've raised some very important points to consider. I don't have much time right now, but I want address the following point (briefly):

 

What kind of a God would simply "forgive" Hitler for all the millions he slaughtered?

 

This is not a simple question, is it? The easy liberal answer might be "A God who offers unconditional love and forgiveness"; but as a parent, I know that it's not that simple. Because I want my children to learn, I make sure that they encounter a logical consequence (all the better if it causes discomfort). I believe that God has a deep desire for us to grow and learn in love. So to say that if God loves Hitler unconditionally, he wouldn't punish...well, that's not an easy argument to make either.

 

Hitler is a great figure for these kinds of discussions because everyone can agree that he doesn't deserve forgiveness or grace or paradise. Many would agree that if there is a hell, that none is hot enough for a man who did what he did.

 

It's easy to support a punishing God with scripture, and it's also easy to support a forgiving God with scripture. So instead, I'll give you my own personal new age, flaky answer.

 

God created a Universe that is self-balancing. It knows how to keep every aspect of itself in balance. Hindus call this Karma. Christians and Jews speak of the cause and effect metaphor of reaping and sowing as well as the Judgement. How will the Universe deal with Hitler? Most likely as severely as he dealt with with humanity. His afterlife will be of his making and his imagining. When will he pass on to God's loving embrace? As soon as he reaches out to receive God's grace. What then? Who knows? What can be more transforming than Grace?

 

(If reincarnation is true, this dude is in for a lot of difficult living)

 

So in this scenario, if you care to consider it, did God punish Hitler? Did he get what he deserved?

 

Fortunately, God doesn't always give us what we deserve. A traditionalist might argue, in fact, that Christ died on the cross to save us from getting what we all (as sinners) deserve.

 

As for me, I believe that no matter what we do, "neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord".

 

Also, DCJ, would you consider joining our prayer group? (see the thread entitled "Experiment in Prayer") My suggestion for how to prayer is just a suggestion, we'll take any kind of prayer you have (as long as it's out of love).

 

In Christ,

 

Fatherman

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Nice post Fatherman!

 

For my two cents I would like to say that it is sometimes deceptive to always bring up extreme examples like Hitler in discussing evil. Herod, Hitler , Stalin, Pol Pot etc are depicable figures, but they did not kill all those people by themselves. They were helped by the uncounted thousands of people who go along , or are just following orders , or who secretly admire these "strongmen and live vicareously through them.

 

Humankind is one day going to have to deal with our secret attraction to thugs ,rogues ,and roughnecks . We always end up choosing Barabbas and Cesar.

I've known a few conservative,saved , Christian women who've "fallen in love" with drug dealing thugs. They let them live in their houses or apartments, and drive their cars to do their "bidness". Sure we can point fingers at the drug dealer,but what about her.

 

MOW

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I feel the evil persons have not realized the differences between the concerns with true value and the affairs that are insignificant so they often invert their interest, giving the greatest value to the things that are worthless. A developed person will see the genuine value of his affairs and will know what is good and what is bad in his life. He or she will be charitable because he will see good and bad in all people and in all things. If a person has acted right, he has done well and will feel happy; misery lives after evil is finished. Corruption and temptation are in the lower layers of the mind where one misunderstands, fails and suffers for one's own stupidity. It is up to us to return to an honorable, happy, peaceful existence by correcting our human mistakes and entering the higher layers of our minds through a consciousness of unity. As Christians this consciousness of unity is Christ consciousness or the way of the cross.

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I feel the evil persons have not realized the differences between the concerns with true value and the affairs that are insignificant so they often invert their interest, giving the greatest value to the things that are worthless. A developed person will see the genuine value of his affairs and will know what is good and what is bad in his life. He or she will be charitable because he will see good and bad in all people and in all things. If a person has acted right, he has done well and will feel happy; misery lives after evil is finished. Corruption and temptation are in the lower layers of the mind where one misunderstands, fails and suffers for one's own stupidity. It is up to us to return to an honorable, happy, peaceful existence by correcting our human mistakes and entering the higher layers of our minds through a consciousness of unity. As Christians this consciousness of unity is Christ consciousness or the way of the cross.

 

Yes, it our job to ascend and transcend. Hitler created a Universe out of his own ego. Any one of us has the potential.

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Hitler is a great figure for these kinds of discussions because everyone can agree that he doesn't deserve forgiveness or grace or paradise.  Many would agree that if there is a hell, that none is hot enough for a man who did what he did. 

 

Isn't it possible that Hitler was sociopathic and not responsible for his actions? That he was incapable of knowing right from wrong? That his brain chemistry was such that while his actions were evil he can not be held accountable for them because he could do nothing else?

 

So many of these questions (How can God forgive Hitler?) are superficial. They fail to recognize the complications of human beings.

 

How can God be God and NOT forgive Hitler? If one believes in the afterlife those who were murdered by him only lost a few years of their natural life in comparison to eternity. Really, once 10 or 20 or 50 years compared to forever? And what is life on earth compared to life in Heaven/Paradise?

 

If one believes in the afterlife it seems that they have to recognize that this life is but a second. And what happens here really is quite insignificant.

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  • 3 months later...
Are we to follow Jesus' example even unto the cross? I mean, when Jesus says to: "Pick up your cross, and follow me" What does he mean?

 

Is the cross really about personal salvation, or is there something more to the message?

 

Are we all expected to do the same as Jesus did, and give ourselves for the future of mankind, or was that taken care of when Jesus was crucified?

 

I don't know?

 

I think it is irresponsible to put our burdens on Jesus, and let him suffer for our faults, when we should be taking responsibility for our own actions. (It's about principal)

 

I have a son, and if he was punished for something someone else did, I would be angry. Why is it ok for us to let another pay for our mistakes (sins) If only in mind? Why would God honor such a practice?

 

If anything, I think the cross 'may' represent what is expected of every man...to die in his/her sins, and give themselves for the lives of others.

 

By this, I mean, to do our part for generations to come. To set examples now, spread love, and work to make the world a better place for future generations. To give ourselves for the cause of anothers gain, which I think may have been what Jesus was actually trying to do. (To simply show us the way)

 

I do believe Jesus was sent by God, but only to show mankind the way to survive 'ourselves'. Not to take away our sins, but to die so we might understand that we (mankind) are responsible for ourselves, and each individual must die also.

 

He simply set an example to follow,

 

As for forgiveness...

 

I think true forgiveness is only obtained by forgiving oneself. We don't need another to do it for us, imo. Life after death? Who knows?

 

This is my view. As you can see, it greatly differs from typical Christianity, which is why I don't know if I could even be considered a Christian at all...even progressive.

 

Am I wrong for thinking this way? I'm curious to know the progressive stance on the subject of the cross...

 

JunkYard,

 

Jesus here.

 

JunkYard, you raise excellent points. Should you be interested, here's what the meaning of the cross is to me. (Despite the fact that 2,000 years have passed, the meaning of my time as a human being continues to deepen for me as I understand ever more about the beautiful, ancient heart of our Mother and Father.)

 

I've seen many interpretations of what my time on the cross symbolized or taught. Each individual must take responsibility for what he or she chooses to see in the death and resurrection of one man. I choose to see the greatest possible message of hope, wonder, and divine love. I choose to see one man whose trust in both God the Father and God the Mother was so complete that they asked the healing angels to preserve the link between my soul and my physical body so I would not actually die on the cross. The bodily resurrection I experienced was the message they wanted to teach. The true power of God's miraculous power was the message -- just that.

 

They chose to resurrect me so others might see that in a violent world full of pain and suffering, God's angels had the power to confer miracles. To most people, you must remember, this has never been a sure thing. Few people, now or then, actually dare believe in the quantum power of the Mother and the Father to reshape living matter. But I did believe. I'd seen it many times in my ministry. But to be honest, I'd never seen anyone brought back from the actual edge of death, which was where I was hovering when the angels swept in.

 

You must understand it wasn't my return to life that was important. If that had been the message -- that God had granted me a special exemption from the natural part of human life called death -- I would have lived for many long years afterwards. Presumably I would have outlived Methuselah. But I didn't. I actually only lived among my family and friends for a few short weeks before I quietly died and returned Home.

 

The message was about the intimate reality of God the Mother, God the Father, and the angels. It was no picnic for me to be cruelly tortured, emotionally abandoned, and utterly terrified. But I was a real person -- not a mythical figure, not a tale from ancient religious texts, but a real man with real pain. And the angels who kept that thread of life going while I was lowered from the cross and placed in a crypt -- they were real people, too. Real quantum beings who had a task to carry out to heal me. Their miraculous healing of my body was pure science and talent, from their point of view. But to me it was wonder, awe, amazement, and indescribable humbleness as I eventually opened my eyes . . . and found myself alive and in a crypt.

 

Why did I merit a chance at a few extra weeks of life, when so many others have to die without apparent angelic intervention? Why me?

 

Because God the Father and God the Mother trusted I wouldn't misuse their gift when that crypt door opened.

 

Love Jesus

September 23, 2006

Edited by canajan, eh?
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Hi canajan,

 

Interesting how you adopt the voice of Christ --"Jesus of Montreal," perhaps?!

 

Seriously, I think you make an important point that when Jesus came back after his cruel execution,

he chose to comfort and guide his friends, rather than confront his enemies. For the human half of him that must have taken enormous self restraint. I was surprised you said he "died" after those 40 days or whatever, and went to heaven...I expected you to say he ascended. Also I don't believe as you do in angels. But I enjoy your posts.

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