Monthly Archives: July 2024

True Gospel

Here is a beautiful passage by Brad Jersak:

“Christ did not come to change the Father, or to appease the wrath of an angry judge, but to reveal the Father.

“God is like Jesus, exactly like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. We did not know that, but now we do.

“Paul said God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself. It’s not the Father that needed to be reconciled to the world. It’s the world that needed to be reconciled to the Father. Jesus, perfectly revealing the heart of the Father, confronts the sin of the world this way: I forgive you.

“Even when we turn away from God, he is always there, confronting us with his love. God is always toward us. Always for us. He comes, not as a condemning judge, but as a great physician.

“Jesus was saving us from Satan, sin and death; not saving us from God.

“God never turns away from humanity. God is perfectly revealed in Jesus. When did Jesus ever turn away from sinful humanity and say, ‘I am too holy and perfect to look on your sin?’ Did Jesus ever do anything like that? No. The Pharisees did that. They were too holy and turned away. God is like Jesus, not like a Pharisee.

“The gospel is this: when we turn away, he turns toward us. When we run away, he confronts us with his love. When we murder God, he confronts us with his mercy and forgiveness.”

– Brad Jersak, ‘A More Christlike God

You Are Not Evil

One of the founding pillars of Evangelical Christianity is not so much Jesus, not so much the Church, not even a firm belief in Hell[1], but in fact the firm belief in what we call ‘Worm Theology'[2].

The whole idea is that ‘we'[3] are no better than worms; we are the lowest of the low, the dirtiest of the dirty, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9)

And I don’t believe that. I don’t remember ever believing it. Even in my Fundieculty[4] days, I may have outwardly agreed with it, but deep down I knew that most people are good. Most people would call the emergency services if you were in a road accident. Some would even try to pull you out of the wreckage, even at the risk of their own health or lives. People let you out of road junctions when it’s not really your turn, with a simple wave of the hand. People hold doors open for you, rather than letting them drop back in your face[5]. Granted, to the Fundieculty, none of this counts, because as far as they are concerned, your righteousness is ‘as filthy rags’ (Is 64:6). In fact to a Fundieculty, nothing counts, because no matter how clever you are, no matter how good you are, no matter how helpful, kind, generous or loving you are, you are simply not good enough[6]. How to encourage people 101, guys. And when challenged about this, they will produce proof text after proof text to continue driving you into the ground with the piledriver of weaponised Scripture. But by that time you should be out of earshot, because you will have walked away 😀

No. This is simply not true. Granted, when I am driving a  car, I’m afraid I adopt the same attitude that my mother had: they are ‘The Enemy’ and they’re all out to get in your way and obstruct your intended course of action 😉 But other than that, no. People are usually good. There are exceptions, of course, most of whom are well-known; there are evil people. But just your average everyday ‘man in the street’ citizen, these are good people.

So in case I haven’t hammered this home enough, here’s a great piece by the incomparable Jeff Turner. You are not evil!


You are not evil.
Your heart is not deceitful, wicked, or untrustworthy, despite how badly Old Testament verses, taken out of their contexts, have been preached at you.
You may have been told this your entire life, including at those pivotal moments in childhood when your brain was in pure receiving mode, and was storing and creating the program that would later run your life.
You may have had it suggested, if not spelled out plainly, that you were conceived and brought forth in original sin, and would occupy a space of total depravity until you were able to make a conscious decision to follow Jesus and accept salvation.
This is pure fiction, and not even a part of the narratives found in either the Old or New Testaments. But it doesn’t matter what’s true as far as your experience of life and reality is concerned, it matters only what you believe is true.
When you believe you are of a fallen species, hopelessly bent in the direction of evil, unrighteousness, and sin, and, ultimately, a target of the eternal wrath of God, it’s difficult to trust yourself, recognize blessings and opportunities when they appear, and to take decisive action when you need to.
Such thinking and programming can literally take a life that could have changed the world, and turn it into one that goes unrecognized, both by the liver of said life, as well as by those sharing a planet with it.
Not that changing the world and greatness according to certain standards is even the goal, but I think most would like to live at least slightly above mediocrity, and mediocrity is, at best, what a mind convinced of its broken and untrustworthy nature can hope to achieve.
This week, speak to yourself of your goodness, trustworthiness, and ability to see a good opportunity when presented with one.Think on these things morning, noon, and night, and then anticipate opportunities to test them out.
One can hear corrective theology and deconstruct the bad all day long, and still have the stymying effects of the bad clinging onto them like barnacles.
It is often only in the arena of real life, wherein we act, move, and see for ourselves that what we thought to be true of ourselves simply is not, that real change occurs.So study theology, correct the errors in your belief system, but, also, prepare yourself to experience practically the truth of who you are. Once you begin to see, little by little, that you are capable of recognizing the good, acting on instinct and intuition, etc., you will naturally begin to know yourself for who you truly are.
You are capable of so much more than the program you’re likely running on is able to help you achieve.You are good.Your heart is trustworthy.
So, may opportunities find you, and may they find you prepared to take hold of them.
Life doesn’t have to be one drag after another.
You were created for more, and have the capacity for more.
Peace.
 – Jeff Turner, shared with his kind permission.

Wow. How do you follow that?

Maybe only by quoting St. Paul, who seems to have been of a similar mind, when he said this:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” – Phil 4:8


Header picture is of one very relaxed Jeff Turner. On a bench.

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 Which, sadly, is in some places a more required belief than a belief in Jesus
2 How the hell did we get to that point in our belief system??
3 I despair when I see forum and Facebook posts referring to ‘We’ as if everyone in the entire world, and certainly the readers of that particular post, are all somehow collectively included in whatever nefarious plot the poster has in mind, whether it is a ‘We must…’ leading insidiously back to legalism (or into more legalism), a ‘We are…’ which ropes everyone into the same category of whatever misery the writer is pushing… and so on. I’m sure there are many other examples.
4 A fundamentalist Christian with a cult mindset. I’ve just invented that word now, and I like it 😉
5 My friend Richard has a great story to tell on this point. Out on lunch break, he was just coming out of the Merrion Centre in Leeds and as he went through the door, he looked back and saw a young woman a few yards back, and heading in the same direction. True to his generous nature, he held the door for her, only to be given the admonition, “I hope you’re not doing that because I’m a lady!” Quick as a flash, his rejoinder was “No, I’m doing it because I’m a gentleman”. No answer for that, of course! 😀
6 Actually, I sometimes think that peple like to drag others down to their own level of misery, which, apparently, loves company. In effect, they don’t like to think of anyone else as being better than them, so they find ‘Biblical’ proof to show that others are, indeed, just as bad. What it must be like to live like that…

Bits and Pieces

More bite-sized[1] pieces of wisdom, insight, humour and just general sagacity from across the Internet. I’m afraid a lot of them are from that character ‘Me’ again 😉


We are so blessed. No matter how hard we try, there are no loopholes [in salvation]. – Me

The religious fanatic is not one who takes religion too seriously, but one who does not take it seriously enough, and so never realizes that it is not to be taken seriously. They who cannot laugh at the inherent silliness of their own belief system, while still seeing its inherent value and beauty, are they who will be tempted to over compensate for their lack of joy with an abundance of zeal. The most dangerous people are those who will kill in the service of a joke, whose only purpose was to make us laugh, and in the process heal our hearts. – Jeff Turner

The idea of infant damnation and infant baptism is just as ridiculous as its counterpart, the equally non-Scriptural idea of the ‘age of responsibility’. You see, if people invent doctrines like Hell, they then have to invent other doctrines to prop it up. Sooner or later it gets too implausible and it implodes like it’s doing today. – Me

Sometimes I wonder if people like those quoted in the OP [who say, “What’s the point of being a Christian if eternal hell isn’t real?”] have any proper knowledge of God at all; if they ‘know’ Him or have experienced Him. That’s not for me to judge, of course, but they often seem to assume that everyone else’s experience of God stops at the same place theirs does. – Me

You cannot have a God who seethes in anger awaiting his day of vengeance but has also already forgiven you. One is love. The other is not – Barry Smith

[Legalism] of course presumes that having a joy-filled, happy life on this Earth is incompatible with the idea of ‘attaining’ paradise. They are not incompatible. It also presumes that anything that makes us happy in this life is inherently bad. This too is incorrect. I have the assurance of going to that Paradise when I die, *and* I am living that future paradise life – the life of the age to come – here on this earth right now. This is the life in all its fulness; the life of the age to come that Jesus taught. It’s something a great preacher I know once said is ‘…not just pie in the sky when you die, but meat on a plate while you wait’. – Me

I became a Christian because I felt a strong sense of God’s love, and of His call on my life. I didn’t need the Bible, nor anyone telling me I am a ‘sinner’; I simply responded to the love of Jesus. Belief was automatic; how could I not believe, given what I had experienced? [Hint: This is a rhetorical question; no answer is required] – Me

Wheat and tares (weeds) always grow together, and true freedom is not feeling the need to uproot the latter in the name of saving the former. The obsessive weed-picker is a person who is chained to insecurity and fear, and feels as though it falls to them and them alone to keep the field pristine and clean. The truth, though, is that in their scramble to set things right, they uproot and destroy the very things they aim to save. – Jeff Turner

[In response to a post that claimed that a Satan does not exist] Even ten years after my fifteen-year deconstruction, though, I have to say that I still believe there is a ‘master’ evil spirit, whatever it’s called. Tbh I don’t give it the time of day (this is the first time I have done so for ages) but I do believe it exists. But it is impotent because of the Cross, however that works. Far more potent, I believe, is the ‘accuser’ which to my mind is a religiously-indoctrinated conscience which never feckin’ shuts up – Me

Not all of us Christians think our way is the only way. Many of us respect people of all faith traditions or none at all. We don’t think we have the answers, and we’re on a journey of discovery. Not all of us belong to or attend a church regularly. Some of us are much more spiritual than religious. -Rosalie

I actually no longer believe that God cares about ‘correct doctrine’. Let’s face it; He shows up at the church down the road as well as at this church, and He shows up with people alone in their houses, He shows up in eclectic groups like this on the Internet. All these people will have ‘incorrect’ doctrines somewhere in their persons. But He doesn’t care; He shows up anyway. To me, that’s the evidence. – Me

There’s nothing righteous in being more committed to your beliefs than you are to the people they are supposed to benefit – Barry Smith

To me it says a lot about the perceived authority of Scripture when our modern translations require interpretations from concordances, which then are (in a way) placed above the ‘inerrant’ translations we hold in our hands. In reality, the only true arbiter is the Spirit of Truth. – Me

If Paul was being honest when he said “Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more”. Then how has religion duped us into thinking that sin will send you to eternal torment? – Don Keathley

Just seen a great new word out there: ‘Upseterosexuals’. People who get upset about others’ sexualities – as if it’s any of their business. If anything, they’re the perverts for being nosy about such things in the first place! – Me

You can’t accurately critique your beliefs until you step outside of the religious system that forms and reinforces those beliefs – Mo Thomas

[In response to someone saying that anything that goes against Mother Nature is a ‘sin’ (especially homosexuaity)] Mother Nature isn’t married, yet she’s still a mother. This means Mother Nature is a SINNER! Either she’s become a mother out of wedlock, or she’s divorced, both of which are SINS. Who’s going to condemn her, then? – Me

It is not “religion” that makes men feel like worms, but men who feel like worms who make “religion.” – Jeff Turner

I do believe that much of what many of us write [in spiritual forums] is inspired, and that also teaches me about where the Bible came from – from people just like you and me who have had encounters with God and try to put into words our experiences, and what we have learned. – Me, in response to a forum poster

Fundagenitals: Christians who have an unhealthy obsession about other people’s private parts. – Anon

[And the related] Evangenitals: Christians who consider it their business what other people do with their private parts – Anon

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 Although Lego, like that featured in the header photo, is indeed bite-sized, I do not recommend that you eat it. 😉