There may be other ways to state it. But the message is true.
Jesus said as much Himself.
Repentance and forgiveness. The shape of the life of the believer. A picture of Baptism. (Romans 6)
We are all dying, which means we are all perishing. If the father could not raise Jesus from the dead, what hope is there for those who are dying? And if God does not punish sin, what kind of God s he?
But we confess a God who punishes sin, and already has, as we are all dying, as was said–but who also loves and redeems. Both must be kept in mind. There is hope but only one. If he cannot punish and cannot raise then we can just go over to the atheist or nihilist or epicurean.
From my understanding in the context of Luke 13, Jesus was speaking to Jews who believed in God, not atheists. He also refuted their theory that non-Jews were “sinners”. So to me, repentance in that context is simply to change their mind to recognise the kingdom of God is already within them so that they would not perish (become lost in their consciousness) but rather know they were one with God.
Thanks for the thought-provoking illustration.
You expressed my understanding exactly.
There are spiritual and moral laws as well as physical laws that are “built into” the mystery of Creation. They are called karma. There is no reason for God to have to “punish” us since “what goes around comes around.” The tragedy is that we are also created not only unique, but also interconnected within the web of nature and sometimes those innocent of the wrong-doing are caught up in the karmic affects initiated by others.
Of couse, we receive unearned benefit from the good actions of others, also. It’s just that we are hot-wired to notice remember the negative painful experiences more deeply than the positive pleasurable experiences since pain serves as a warning signal in our psychological survival kits. I believe I read somewhere that it takes quite a few positive experiences to offset the affect of a single negative experience which may explain why hope is so easily lost even by people of faith and they may become “prophets of doom” rather than proclaimers of the Good News.
I agree (though I wouldn’t use the word karma); and, though I have nothing to back this up, it seems that indignation is a much more powerfully motivating factor than gratitude, which is why customer service reps hear many more complaints than compliments even when the company they work for is performing really well 95% of the time. This also means that our destructive actions tend to have more powerful ripples than our positive actions. When we hurt someone, knowingly or unknowingly, they are then become more prone to hurt someone else, passing along the hurt. This is why we need God to save us from ourselves. It’s only the grace of God that gives us hope to escape this cycle of destructive behavior. This is also why sin can be a such a big deal, just a little sin can cause enough hurt to perpetuate itself through society like cancer. If we are to ever reach a utopia, then we must first attain a state of complete sinlessness; this is not possible outside of the grace and action of God.
That is also why we probably won’t achieve an earthly utopia this side of the parousia. Until then, we will just have to resort to forgiveness to fill the gap between the “is” and the “ought.”
IMO, we need more pragmatic visionaries and fewer romantic idealists in the Church. I count myself among those who have become recovering perfectionists. The older I get the more I find myself thinking and saying, “Not perfect; but it’s good enough.” It keeps me from wasting my declining energy reserves by majoring in the minors. Wisdom is usually born of necessity, not superior intelligence.
I’ve been toying around with the different eschatologies and becoming more and more infatuated with an a-millenialist/pre-millenial view of the parousia. I think Craig Blomberg called it an inaugurated eschatology; a view in which God is gradually sanctifying all of humanity (in addition to the more widespread undersanding of God sanctifying individuals). Of course the danger of any pre-millenial view is to fall into the trap of humanism, which you have alluded to before, that is trying to build Heaven on earth on our own. But the idea that God might be building Heaven on earth Himself, but utilizing human instruments and human cooperation; that gives us something to work toward. The idea is fraught with dangers of arrogance and humanistic pride, legalism and the like; but I think it has great potential to get people off their comfortable rumps and out into the world to accomplish some good.
Carol if everything is karma, tell me the good news. — ??? What is it? And Jimmy: what is “lost in consciousness” and how is it like perishing?–???
Brigitte, “Everything” isn’t karma. Grace, yes Grace Alone is correct in this sense, has the power to heal a repair the damage done by negative karma. Exactly how God pulls this off is still a mystery to me; but I don’t have to know the scientific explanation for why my lamps light up when I click the switch. “Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace.” –Simone Weil
“For the Almighty God, who, as even the heathen acknowledge, has supreme power over all things, being Himself supremely good, would never permit the existence of anything evil among His works, if He were not so omnipotent and good that He can bring good even out of evil. For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good”? – Augustine, Enchiridion
“Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.” — Anne Lamott
“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” — Anne Lamott
Everyone like to use the word “grace”. But what is the news? What is the bad news and what is the good news? Bad things happening is the bad news? Good things coming out of it, like beauty and truth… is the good news?
Grace is the good news, grace is God taking our sinful hopeless selves and making something beautiful. I love the song “Beautiful Things” by Gungor for this message. We were lost in our transgressions and sins; but God showed us His love in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He gave His life to redeem us. That is the good news, that sin does not have the final word; that our feeble efforts do not carry the burden of salvation; but that God carries us on His shoulders. The bad news is that not everyone will trust in God’s grace and love; some will and have rejected it in favor of their own freedom and self-sovereignty.
Jonathan, I agree with everything you post here, except that self-sovereignty can only bring us an illusion of freedom, never freedom, because without grace we remain slaves to our own disordered passions and wills.
“Human beings know many forms of slavery. In some places people live under political systems which are virtual bondage. Other people are hemmed in by economic systems which permit them no freedom of movement. Others find themselves suffering physical disabilities that restrict their mobility. But the worst form of slavery is slavery to one’s self and one’s passions. That is the way to solitary confinement, cut off from people and from God. Christ has given himself to save us from such slavery.” –Richard E. Koenig, Christian Living Isn’t Easy: Studies in I Peter
In our natural state, we are all the slaves of SELF. Self in its various forms . . . proud self, lustful self, covetous self, righteous self, self in some shape or other, is the idol before whom all carnal knees bow, the master whom all carnal hearts serve. -J.C. Philpot
That’s good Carol. Better than what I got at Lenten service tonight, actually.
“sinful HOPELESS selves”?!!!!!!
HOPE, along with FAITH and LOVE are the theological virtues.
It is hope that provides the basis for the leap from faith to love.
No wonder the Church is so seldom able to be a transformative presence in the world when Christians have lost the theological virtue of hope.
“In order to avoid the sin of reviling the world, we have to love the world…(We must love it) the more desperately the more horrible and irreducible it becomes. Then, little by little, we shall see the universal horror relax and enfold us in more-than-human arms.” ~ Teilhard de Chardin
“sinful hopeless selfs” I think the idea here is that we have no hope without God; that is simply to reiterate what you have said before that all our attempts to reach utopia are doomed to failure when we attempt to reach it on our own. We are left helpless against our own sin and “survivalist instincts” (is a phrase I think you used) without the grace and power of God to overcome them. We have hope, we have great hope, but it is founded in God, not in our own strength, will, or power.
You could be right; but how does the phrase sound to those who, although they have God [or perhaps I should say God has them], but are not yet consciously aware of the Divine Presence.
No one is “hopeless”, since our hope is firmly founded on God, universally present and active among us, believers, agnostics and atheists alike.
Most American churches, whether liberal or conservative, seem more interested in church-building than in proclaiming the Gospel. It is not only individuals who become too self-absorbed. Collective narcissism leads to alienation between sectarian religions, ethnic groups, nations, etc. When these groups possess political power it can also lead to wars and ethnic cleansings.
If we do not recognize the universality of grace along with the universality of sin; then our religion too easily becomes a justification for dehumanizing those whom we believe to be “without grace” and so “hopelessly” unworthy of our concern as fellow children of God.
“self-sovereignty can only bring us an illusion of freedom, never freedom, because without grace we remain slaves to our own disordered passions and wills.”
I think we agree but are using different words for the same basic idea. Complete self-sovereingty is, in my personal theology, another word for Hell. Those who attain it only belatedly realize that complete self-sovereignty is also, of necessity, complete isolation from all other meaningful contact; and, as you say, really just slavery to one’s own distorted heart. Self-sovereignty would then be the uninhibited rule of our distorted nature.
Brigette, for example in the parable of the lost son, I would say that the younger son who left home was “lost in consciousness”. He lost his sense of true identity as a beloved son of the father. When he finally came to his senses and returned home, the father rejoiced and welcomed him home. That to me is a picture of “repentance” – to change his mind and know his true identity and worth. “He was lost and is found, and he was dead and is alive again”, as the father said.
I see. He also sinned grievously. It was the father who was good. What the young man remembered was that the father is good. That’s a really good footing.
The “sin” doctrine that is perpetuated in evangelical or mainstream christianity is the problem because it puts people in bondage to fear and self-loathing. On the contrary, the problem is not with human nature because human beings are created in the image of God and our intrinsic nature is innocent, blameless and complete. Our true nature is love, compassion, kindness and grace. People do “bad” things not because they are “sinful” but because they don’t realise that their true identity is love. When we awake to our true identity, we will live in inner peace and harmony, and others around us will also benefit from our peace and well-being.
In theology class, my professors taught us that human nature was like a mirror that reflected the image of God into the world; the mirror itself was flawless because of the power and care of its creator, but sin was like dirt that got smeared onto the surface of the mirror. It didn’t affect the integrity of the mirror itself, but it did distort/muddy/screen the image of God’s reflection.
Or again, whereas the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity would teach that humanity’s heart has become black and rotten due to sin; I was taught that our heart is still white and pure, but has been covered in an oil like slick that must be washed away. The heart of humanity is still good, just as God decalared us good at creation, and sin can’t nullify the godness of God’s creation, but can get in the way of that goodness being manifest.
You’re right, when we can fully realize who we really are and believe what God says about us to be true: that we are loved, that we are good, that we are worth dying for, then we can rest in God, we can rest in the knowledge that our identity is safe in Christ.
Wow! You’re a moron!
Thanks for your intelligent response Bob.
Bob, several of us posted to this cartoon. Which one of us is, in your opinion, the *moron*? Or is it all of us? And on what basis do you judge a comment or comments to be moronic? If you were not just having a bad day and needed to vent, but wanted your post to be taken seriously, you really need to be more specific.