rebuilding the walls that Jesus tore down

rebuilding the walls that Jesus tore down June 28, 2013

promise no walls cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

Why did something that was intended to be all-inclusive become all-exclusive?

Fear? Pride? Error? Money? Power?

We believe it is for the whole world. We say it is for the whole world. We act like it’s just for us.

Before Jesus died he said the Spirit would come in his place. The wild, uncontrollable, uncontainable Spirit that recognizes and obeys no wall.

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  • klhayes

    I would say it is all of the above. The people who are in power and make a living in the Church as it is now do not want change. It also helps when you have an “other” to target. That allows you to stand out and marktet yourself to those by saying “be like us and life will be perfect.”

  • If only Christian scripture would continue the No Walls theme in the here-after…

    I think that since many Christians believe that God separates people in the here-after based on what they last believed in the here-and-now, that they believe they are merely being God’s hands and feet in the here-and-now to start to separate those people right now as well. They merely tolerate the “hippy talk” of Jesus’s sermons but really relate to the Chick comic caricature of Jesus casting non-believers and wrong-believers down to hell at judgment day.

  • Steelwheels

    That’s a little vague on the all-inclusiveness of Jesus. He tells us in Matt. 7:13-14 that few will find Him. Since Christians are disciples (Acts 11:26), it seems as though in Luke 14:25-33, Jesus is pretty clear who cannot be a disciple. The gospel is inclusive in the sense that anyone who follows Jesus is included. “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!” That is available to all.

  • Michael

    I believe that what Jesus is saying, that in many translations appears vague, as you put it, is that anyone who does not have full commitment cannot be a true disciple. In a sense we are all making a living in the Church – we stand and recite creeds, but which of us can put our hand on our heart and honestly say we follow creed and gospel to the letter?
    What klhays says below is so true. Most times a person enters a church that is what they hear, “be like us” – and perhaps it should, as Pope Francis has suggested, be the other way around – go outside the church buildings andbe the Church.

  • Michael

    Such language must surely be taken in the context of how it was said in the tradition of the time. Judgement day is every day for the individual – the God given choice to go the way you choose. But when it comes to Paradise, I do not believe there are any walls. Jesus said to the good thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” But he didn’t say to the thief on the other side of him, today you will not be with me in Paradise.
    This all boils down to the choice we are given – follow Jesus, or don’t follow Jesus.

  • “This all boils down to the choice we are given – follow Jesus, or don’t follow Jesus.”

    I understand that there is the belief among many that Jesus imposes no walls or separation in the afterlife. His sermons were to help people make the right choices so that they could enter the kingdom and this admittance is available to all who choose to accept Him. This would be somewhat analogous to an erupting volcano in a populated area with one road to safety and Jesus telling all people to go down this road to save themselves. Those that choose to follow get saved. Those that don’t perish. The problem is if you consider Jesus to be the cause of the volcano. Then his guidance doesn’t seem so noble. Similarly, why would a loving God create a world with an eternal afterlife where finite and fleeting choices you make now have eternal consequences? I think these are real problems unless one believes that Jesus/God just stumbled upon the ontology of a world with such a system already in place and then He merely reacted appropriately to save as many people as possible. That would be commendable. But if He created the ontology in the first place, it is problematic. I consider the whole ontology of such a system like a big wall.

  • Carol

    As St. Augustine pointed out, “The God who created us without our help will not save us without our consent”; but that does not change the Biblical witness to the Reality that the Jesus of history is also the Christ of faith, the Cosmic Christ, Savior of the world, not just the Church.

  • Gary

    I believe St. Augustine was wrong.

  • Carol

    …and I believe he was correct; but then I am philosophically and temperamentally inclined toward freedom over determinism, although both are equally valid. Life would be so much simpler if it weren’t so paradoxical.

  • I believe that St. Augustine had a very fertile imagination along with many that came before him including all the people who wrote scripture. I believe that anything said about an afterlife and the need to be saved all comes from the imagination.

  • Gary

    See I guess it all depends on your definition of freedom and determinism. A god who creates an eternal torment called hell and HE HIMSELF chooses to send people there and to hold them there for an eternal torment, sounds like a god who is determining the the fate of individuals. THAT sounds much more like determinism to me. (And no…the bullshit that people CHOOSE hell is just that…bullshit.)

  • Carol

    So much of the theological formation for the laity is extremely simplistic.
    To begin with, there is no space/time continuum in Eternity. Most informed believers now understand “heaven” and “hell” to be psychological/spiritual “states” rather than “places.”
    “Heaven” would be becoming our true selves or reconciliation with God ourselves and others. “Hell” would be alienation from God, self and others.
    God has gifted us with a free will, but it is only in communion with God that we have the discernment to choose correctly between good and evil. The original temptation was a choice between an interdependent relationship with God (eating from the Tree of Life) or independence from God (eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil). We don’t “choose hell”, our selfish choices make our lives a living hell.
    The tragedy is that, even with the best of intentions, our egoistic narcissism (falling excessively in love with ourselves rather than a Divine [or even a human] Other blinds us to justice which is the minimum requirement for love.
    Too often the churches teach that the “cure” for this is self-hatred. It is interesting that Jesus teaches that we should love others as ourselves, not hate ourselves so that we can overcome our narcissism and love others, but love ourselves and others with equal passion. We should not love ourselves more than others, but not less than others, either. We cannot survive very well in this world without a HEALTHY sense of self-worth. The Church has often encouraged a self-hatred that sets people up for exploitation by others. Not exactly what I would call a “Good News” Gospel.

  • Carol

    Gary [and others], you might enjoy this article:

  • The problem with mixing spirituality with science is that anything that can be free added (like spirituality) can be freely removed without changing the science. Also if one person adds spirituality version A and another person adds spirituality version B, it makes for a complicated messy science. There is no way to test for which one is correct. It is preferred to keep science more narrowly focused. You don’t see the various scientific journals arguing back and forth on which God concept is appropriate to mix in. People will also want to mix in spirituality versions C,D,E,F,G,H,….. There is really no limit to what people can imagine and want to mix in. It usually starts with some generic Deistic notion of God and then quickly narrows to one of the multitudes of theistic belief systems such as one particular strain of Christianity.

  • Carol

    Religion/spirituality and science are two different categories of “knowing.” They cannot be “mixed”, but, when their insights are valid [i.e. “true”] they are complementary, not conflicting.

    The “hard” physical [empirical] sciences rely on the physical senses for observation as there methodology. The “soft” social sciences, which includes spirituality as well as psychology and sociology, rely on the statistical evidence that has been tested in the crucible of human experience.

    Although the two categories cannot be “mixed” they can both contribute complementary perspectives that bring a deeper and more balanced understanding to our collective human knowledge.

    “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” –Albert Einstein, “Science, Philosophy and Religion: a Symposium”, 1941