Following Jesus Without Excess Baggage

Roger Wolsey shared this on the Kissing Fish Facebook page:

It is apparently from the website Christian Evolution. I share it for you to discuss. Do you agree, disagree, or a bit of both? Do the statements seem to you to be obvious or controversial?

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  • joriss

    You can be a follower of Jesus and not think that being gay is a sin.

    You can be a follower of Jesus and think that living a gay life is a sin.

    You can not be a follower of Jesus Christ and think that Jesus was not sinless.

    You can be a follower of Jesus and think that Paul was not inerrant in unimportant details.

    You can not be a follower of Jesus and think Paul erred in his doctrine of atonement and reconciliation that God through Jesus gave to us.

    You can not be a follower of Jesus and not believe in his bodily resurrection.

    You can not be a follower of Jesus and not believe that the law was given by God, because Jesus sanctioned the law and said he had come to fulfil.

    You can be a follower of Jesus and not reject evolution.

    You can be a follower of Jesus and think that as a follower you ought to reject evolution.

    You can not be a follower of Jesus and be indifferent and not longing and praying for the conversion of your children, family and others.

    You can be a follower of Jesus and make fully use of your intellect.

    You can not be a follower of Jesus and not submit your intellect to the words and love of Jesus.

    • Andrew Dowling

      Well I’m glad somebody has got it all figured out and can explain the rules for me . . .all of this reading of biblical scholarship and theology was making my head hurt.

      • joriss

        I was giving a response about agreeing, disagreeing, or partly agreeing with the things that were said in this blogpost. We were invited to do so, weren’t we? I partly agreed and partly disagreed. So what’s wrong?

        • Andrew Dowling

          Sorry . . I can be a pompous a$$ sometimes; I’d forgotten the post actually asked for a direct response such as yours. My apologies.

          • joriss

            No problem!

  • Dan

    If Jesus was only human how could his actions be accredited to us? If he was in tune with the nature of God he could have pleased God with himself, but that would not benefit anyone but him.

    • R Vogel

      How is the statement, ‘if Jesus was G*d his action can be accredited to us’ any more coherent? Who gets to write the write the rule of whose actions can and cannot be accredited to us?

      • Dan

        God. If a man could pay the price for another’s sins we would not need a savior to save us from sin.

        • R Vogel

          G*d is not an answer, unless you are getting secret communications that none of the rest of us are privy. You are simply assuming a position and appealing back to it. If all can be condemned by the disobedience of one man, then there is no reason that all cannot be saved by the obedience of a man. (assuming you buy that lot)

          • Dan

            How can righteousness be transferred from one man to another? Righteousness is not inherited.

            • R Vogel

              Nor is sin. Are you righteous or forgiven? I would assume a divine being that is the source of all being could forgive whomever G*d wants, without your criteria.

              • Dan

                Actually sin is inherited, it is called inherited sin. And I do not set any criteria, only God does.

                • Andrew Dowling

                  Original sin is not in the Bible. It was Augustine’s way of dealing with the problem of evil.

                • R Vogel

                  Well, as long as it has such a snazzy title it must be true. And you keep saying G*d sets the criteria, but just saying it doesn’t make it so, sorry. The entire Orthodox Church does not believe in the doctrine of inherited (or original as it is most often called) sin, nor did the author of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 18:20). It also presupposes a literal reading of the book of Genesis which is not even worth commenting on.

                  Either way it doesn’t matter, whether you inherit sin or commit it yourself, it still doesn’t prove the point that you are trying to make that Jesus had to be G*d. Nowhere in the entire Hebrew scripture does it say that G*d must sacrifice G*d in order to offer forgiveness to mankind. If it was so important you would think G*d would have mentioned it. Now I have no problem with you believing Jesus was G*d, that’s your prerogative. But have the honestly to admit this is simply something you accepted from someone else, or made up on your own based on your interpretation of the text.

    • James Walker

      You’re getting hanged up on the substitutionary atonement picture of Salvation, and thinking it’s only possible if Jesus = God. What if Salvation isn’t actually about blood sacrifice? What if Paul had that wrong?

      • Dan

        Yes, I see it only possible if Jesus is God. If Paul is wrong, the entire foundation and understanding of orthodoxy is wrong, and we are all damned.

        • R Vogel

          There’s no reason to frame this in such black & white. Paul doesn’t have to be wrong, although I have no problem accepting that he is, just reframed. You probably have no desire for this, which is fine. I think Paul articulated more than one atonement theory, as he struggled to communicate it to different churches which has led to difference in opinions over the history of the church. Substitutionary Atonement seems to have gained ascendance, thanks to the power of Calvinism, but it is nowhere near universally accepted. But when you are taught a certain interpretive lens for reading the bible, it is very difficult to see it any other way. It’s like those illusions with 2 images – it is very hard to unsee whatever you first see.

  • Matt Brown

    Jesus said many times about the consequences of denying him as the Son, whom the Father sent, and this upset a lot of people because they didn’t want to believe Jesus was God

    • Andrew Dowling

      Matt . . in your time here have you been too busy debating with atheists to read James’s posts on John? I highly recommend them.

      • Matt Brown

        Hello Andrew, yes, I have read some posts/comments that Dr.M has made on the Gospel of John and I’m not entirely convinced. I think that Larry Hurtado makes a very good argument about Jesus divinity being displayed and believed by the early church.

  • Christian Evolution

    Hi James, I noticed a surge of hits from your site and clicked over. Thanks for sharing my image, I’m glad it’s stirring up lots of conversation. The physical resurrection bit is proving to be the one that most are digging their heels in on :-)

    By the way, great site you’ve got here, I will be checking it out more.

  • R Vogel

    I am interested how not believing the G*d commanded genocide in Canaan loses a lot of what it means to be a Christian? I don’t recall Jesus putting a lot of emphasis on it. People throughout history have thought G*d commanded them to do all sorts of things, the vast majority (if not all) were wrong. Why should this be a special case?

    • Marta L.

      To be clear, what I was trying to say was that it would change what I mean by being Christian, and particularly how I read the Bible. It’s my belief that the Bible is true and accurate if it’s properly interpreted. This doesn’t mean people can’t mess up. (Just because Abraham or Moses did something doesn’t always mean I should.) It doesn’t mean we should ignore genre or that we shouldn’t take the times something was written in into account. But when there’s a literal from-the-word-of-God command, I think that does mean that God actually made that command.

      (I get that not everyone will agree with me here. I’m a bit on the young side, I’m only thirty-one, and I also grew up in a fairly conservative Christianity. So this may be more about where I am in my life right now, more than anything.)

      To answer your question, the reason this would be a special case (again IMO) is that it’s the set of events the Bible identifies as actually being commanded by God. I can’t (e.g.) take seriously the Bible’s command to fair court systems and a preferential love for the poor as what God commanded, and just deny that God also commanded a specific group of people to go to war at a certain time I consider in no way justified. What I can do is question whether that means God would still command people in the modern age to do similarly (which I would very much do! I’m essentially a pacifist largely because I can’t see how war, certainly modern war, is consistent with Biblical ethics) – but because of how I understand the Bible, that has to be for some reason other than “God didn’t command what the Bible quite explicitly says He did command.”

      I know lots of Christians make the move you suggest. What I’m saying is that such people seem to understand Christianity and particularly what it means for the Bible to be true very differently than I do. Whether both qualify as Christian? That takes more wisdom than I can currently lay claim to, I think.

      • R Vogel

        Gotcha. Thanks. So just reading back to you, so I am not mis-characterizing you, it would mean ‘giving up a lot of what it means to be a Christian’ for you, yeah? Which is perfect valid in my opinion. (not that you need my opinion to validate you)

        I try, as much as possible, not to simply write-off things in the bible, as I believe the authors included them for some purpose. But when something seems not to fit, I ask myself, like Abraham, ‘Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ In that vein, I would invite you to look at an alternative view of the book of Joshua, where most of the genocidal texts are located. Given your obviously keen mind, which I say without a drop of sarcasm (with me it is often hard to tell), I think you might find it interesting. I know I did.

  • DScott

    I just finished reading Bart Ehrman’s “How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee” ( Some commenters here may be interested in this excellent introduction to the development of Christology and the divergent beliefs about Jesus in the first few centuries of Christianity.

  • R Vogel

    It’s interesting the number of scrabble tiles I see making trollish drive-byes on different blogs. Can they really not come up with anything more interesting than a single letter?