Monday, August 16, 2010


(yeah I kind of gave up trying to come up with a picture for this subject, so...this will have to do)

I've grown up my whole life being told that sex outside of marriage was a sin. Period. Whether it be a sermon in church, a seminar at Church camp or a topic of a youth group that didnt seem to talk about much was constantly drilled into my subconscious. Like most people with most doctrines, I didnt do a whole lot of questioning on the subject and just read the Bible with the filter that what I was told was true (like so many other things). Recently, however, I have been thinking about it considerably more and have come to the realization that the Bible is rather silent on the topic of premarital sex. Which, if you're anything like me, may come as a real shock.

Most will undoubtedly point to such popular verses as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 which reads,
"Do you not know that unrighteous men will not inherit God's Kingdom? Cherish no delusion here. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor any who are guilty of unnatural crime, nor theives, nor avaricious people, nor any who are addicted to hard drinking, to abusive language or to greed of gain, will inherit God's Kingdom." (WNT)
But there seems to be some controversy regarding the word thats translated here as "fornicators", which is the Greek word pornos. That is because according to Strong's #G4205, it can also mean "prostitute" or "whoremonger" which obviously means a bit more than simply sex between two unmarried persons. So it could very well be that what we see here is merely the bias of the translator, who probably thought fornication was a sin.

Another one that is used is Matthew 5:27-28,
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (ESV)
People tend to use this to say that having lustful thoughts about a woman is as bad as actually having sex with them, and so they therefore conclude that all such thoughts and sexual actions outside of marriage are bad. But this conclusion seems to ignore that fact that Jesus is specifically talking about adultery, since that is the sin that He says such people commit. In other words, Jesus is only saying its a sin to sexually desire another persons spouse; it has nothing to do with an unmarried person wanting to have sex with another unmarried person.

Now, lets take a quick look at the Old Testament. If we go to Leviticus 18 where various laws on sex are given, we strangely do not find the act of sex between two unmarried persons among them. It speaks against incest, adultery, bestiality, and (perhaps) homosexuality, but nothing that seems to imply premarital sex itself is a sin. And we find a similar lack of condemnation on the matter in Exodus 22:16-17, which reads,
"If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife.
If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins." (ESV)
Notice how neither the man that seduces nor the virgin are commanded to be put to death, or to sacrifice any animals. This is because premarital sex, unlike the sexual no-no's in Leviticus 18, is not a sin. The man had to pay the bride-price for her, whether he went on to marry her or not, but that doesnt appear to be a penalty; it was simply a cultural practice. And presumably, if the woman was not a virgin, then the man wouldn't have to pay her father anything, because it specifically says the "bride-price for virgins".

Another thing that I've always found strange is how common things like polygamy and concubines(which were basically women just kept around for having sex with) were in the old testament. King Solomon, for example, was said to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines(1 Kings 11:3)!!! It is true that there doesn't seem to be anything condoning such practices (at least that ive run across), but there also doesn't seem to be any condemning of it on Gods part. And with all the hundreds of little laws given in the old testament, you would think God would remember to bring up such things if they were that big a deal to him. God apparently didnt like that Solomon had wives that turned away his heart from Him, but this appears to be because they were foreign women that enticed him to foreign gods, not because God thought he was sinning by indulging in polygamy and concubines(1 Kings 11:2).

Biblical matters aside, I think its also important to note that we now live in a very different time than that of the Bible. This does not mean truth does not permeate age, or that the Bible is "outdated" as some skeptics say, but it does mean that the way we live our lives in response to the world has changed. For one thing, people (in general) don't get married nearly as early as they did in those days, or even as people did 200-300 years ago. I haven't really researched the matter myself, but I'm willing to bet it was fairly uncommon in those days to be twenty-one and single, much like myself. So if one were to use the phrase "waiting til marriage" back then, you could probably translate that to "waiting til you're about 15 or 16". And thats probably because back then there wasn't really any such thing as pursuing a higher education in hopes of getting a career in which you could (hopefully) support a family with. There was also no such thing as birth-control, so it would make sense for verses, such as Exodus 22:16, to suggest marriage; because there was a much higher chance of the woman becoming pregnant and thus needing someone to help raise the child. There was (to my knowledge) no such thing as child support laws, in which the government could force the absent father to financially help the mother. It was all just a very different world.

So, what are we to make of all this? Do I suggest we should just go out and have sex with whoever we please, and disregard the God-given specialness of intimacy? No, not at all...because that would just be very irresponsible. So, I think the best way to approach this matter is to remember some of my favorite words of the Apostle Paul,
"Everything is allowable, but not everything is profitable. Everything is allowable, but everything does not build others up"(1 Corinthians 10:23 WNT).
Just because I could play guitar and XBOX 360 all day, doesnt mean that it would be a good idea (although if I won the lottery, I dont see why not). And likewise, just because you can have sex outside of marriage, doesnt mean that it's a good idea in all circumstances. There are STD's and unwanted pregnancies to avoid, as well as fragile emotions that you should be slow to give to another person. While sex outside of marriage may not be a sin, I still think it should still accompany an emotional commitment and an intent to marry at some point, God willingly.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Waiting for a train...

Theres a quote from the movie Inception that particularly stuck out to me today while watching it for the third time. Its one of the quotes thats repeated a couple different times through the movie, presumably to emphasize its importance in the story. It goes like this,

"You're waiting for a train,
A train that will take you far away.
You know where you hope this train will take you,
But you can't be sure.
But it doesn't matter - because we'll be together"

Of course, the quote really only makes sense within the context of the movie , but regardless it kind of made me think of how I view my beliefs and my relationship with God. All my ideas about God, how He made life to be lived, how He saves our souls from darkness and lifts us all to eternal life, represents where I hope the "train" of destiny will take me.

But...I can't be sure. No matter how much faith or conviction I may have (or seem to have) I can't be sure how my story or the human story in general will turn out. I just have, what I feel, is a well-founded and thought out hope. And therefore it sort of bewilders me how many religious people can go through life and tout their beliefs as if there isn't a chance in Hades they could be wrong. They never seem to wonder if perhaps they are the ones in err while the opposition they so openly criticize are the ones who are correct. Perhaps the "Hell" that fundamentalists spend their time cosigning everyone of different faiths to is actually the "Hell" that awaits those very fundamentalists? Who is to say? I hope it is neither. But I think if each one of us were honest, we could only call our beliefs a hope that we cant be sure of. A very strong hope...but a hope none the less.

Anyway, as the last line of the quote says, It doesn't matter - because we'll be together. Which to me means that no matter what the truth is and where it leads me, my firm belief is that God will be right there beside me, whatever the outcome of my life or this universe is. And as I read that line again I think it also has another meaning to me as well; that we, as in all humanity, will be together. Whatever God has in store, I believe we will be together in that grand experience, reflecting on our lives and the journey that God brought us through both consciously and many times, subconsciously.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why I Believe (Pt.2): Inspiration of Scripture

The Bible and why I believe it to be inspired by God has been another question Ive been contemplating for awhile now. And it seems to be the more I think about it and the more Im honest about it, the more uncomfortable I feel about the whole thing. However, after reading this blog from about a year ago, I realized I'm really on the same train of thought that I have been for some time now...I guess im just now starting to notice all the "scenery" around said train.

But before I start talking about what I think the Bible is and why I believe it, I want to talk about what I think it is not. The Bible is not (in my opinion) the "inerrant and infallible perfect Word of God". It feels weird for me to say that so bluntly, but for the longest time now Ive felt like God has been telling me that the Word of God is something rather separate from the Bible itself. And really, Im inclined to say the Bible even agrees with me on that point at least, since John 1 describes Jesus as "the word [become] flesh". And so if that is the case, the Word of God is something that manifested in the person of Jesus, not so much in the 66 canonized books that we have come to know as the Holy Bible. And even the Bible itself cannot really defend itself as being the word of God, since any verse/passage you use to justify that conclusion(such as 2 Timothy 3:16) was written before our current canonization (and even if you could prove such a thing with the bible, it would be rather circular anyways). So other than the Bible traditionally being believed to be the perfect Word of God, I do not think there is much reason to conclude that it is. And in a sense, I think there is a great danger in concluding that it is, because in the begining was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God, according to John 1:1. Therfore, if we conclude that the Bible is the Word of God, then that literally means it is itself God. And I think that is the source of a lot of Christians seeming idolization of the idol that needs to be torn down in our hearts.

I think another reason that Christians tend to believe the Bible is the infallible word of God is because it brings a certain amount of comfort and convenience; its comfortable to think that everything God wants to say to us has been perfectly preserved in a single ancient text, by which we can then build our rituals, beliefs and whole lives around. And its convenient to think in our minds "everything this book says about God is true, but everything in every other book is nonsense" because then we dont have to take any other religious/spiritual claim besides our own seriously. We dont want to think that the Bible may not be perfect and all true, because then we must undergo the unconvient task of determining what of it is really true (if any of it).
Now some will argue perhaps that the opposite is true; that its more comfortable to think that the Bible is not the infallible word of God, because then you can pick and choose out of it what you want to believe. But I've begun to wonder if the people that accuse others of this, arent themselves doing much the same thing? If one decides to believe that the Bible is true while everything else is false, then arent they "picking and choosing" what to believe and not to believe as well? The only difference is picking the text you want to believe from among the various sacred texts of the world, as opposed to picking the verses/passages out of a single text that you want to believe (which I think every Christian does anyways, whether they realize it or not).

So with all that said, I suppose one would ask why I still read the Bible and search it for truth, even though I see that there are errors and have come to the conclusion that its not all true? If part of the bible isnt true, why think any of it is? Well, that is the very question I think that kept me bound to thinking that the Bible was the infallible word of God, but then I realized I didnt treat anything else in life quite like that. For example, I may not agree with the Pastor of our church on every doctrinal matter, but still think he speaks alot of truth. Or I may not agree with every idea a politician has, but still vote for him because I agree with him far more than his opponent. So in the same way, its quite logical to believe there is immense truth revealed through the bible, even if much of it is colored by the writer's opinions and perceptions.

Anyway, I think there are many things about the Bible that intrigue me enough to look to it (or I would say, through it) to find truth; a few in particular that I would like to touch upon breifly. One such reason is that it paints us pictures of God and experiences with God from many different people's perceptions(and sometimes, multiple perceptions on the very same events, as we find in the gospels). And all of those people werent merely clergymen sitting around wondering what God may be like; the authors of the bible consisted of everyone from wealthy kings to tax collectors to simple fishermen. Having such a book with a broad palate of experiences given on God is valuable to say the least, but what makes it even more valuable is that there are timeless themes that seem to get repeated over and over throughout the book. Just a few examples of those themes would be love, forgiveness, mercy and salvation. Granted, there is a fair bit of tension on and around these concepts because there are different authors (hence where some of the error lies), but we shouldnt let that bother us anymore than the peeling paint on an old mural. We should look at and appreciate the overall picture we can see from a distance. Looking at that overall picture, or common themes, among many authors over many generations I think attests to a very real truth that is most likely inspired by the Creator himself.
Lastly, and probably most influentially is simply my experiences. I grew up in a family that honored the bible and the christian tradition, so of course it influences me from that angle. But one of the reasons I think the bible still has a great influence on my search for truth, is that its wisdom has visibly shown itself to be true and have a positive effect in my life. An easy example would be Matthew 6:31-33, where Jesus says "Do not be over-anxious, therefore, asking 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For all these are questions that Gentiles are always asking; but your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things--all of them. But make His Kingdom and righteousness your chief aim, and then these things shall all be given you in addition." I cant tell you how many times I've really needed something in my life, and it actually comes to me once I stop worrying about it and instead try and dwell on what God wants to do in my life. Perhaps it's just coincidence, but I feel its much more than that.

Another one that comes to mind is James 1:2-4 "Reckon it nothing but joy, my brethren, whenever you find yourselves hedged in by various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith leads to power of endurance. Only let endurance have perfect results so that you may become perfect and complete, deficient in nothing." Several times I've gone through various trials and it really tests my faith and me as an individual, but I eventually see the good that comes of it and feel like a more "complete" person in general because of it. And I could go on and on with similar examples, but those are just a few.
In closing, while I dont think the Christian scriptures are without error, or should truthfully be called the Word of God, I also dont think that they have to be to find them immensely useful in my own spiritual journey. Its relevance and importance has shown itself to be true in my life and the peoples around me, and thus, I comb them for truth.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why I Believe (Pt.1): Belief in God

Lately, I've been trying to deal with a question that has really been floating around in my head for quite sometime now, but just recently have felt more compelled to think upon. The question being "Why do I think I'm right about Christianity in the first place?". (Of course, I use the term "Christianity" loosely here, as I do not adhere to all the fundamental beliefs commonly held by Christians. Rather, I'm referring to the core ideas of Christianity that I still find to be true...such as the belief in God, divine inspiration of scripture, and obviously the teachings, atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ.) Which I suppose is the inevitable result of questioning/reexamining other long held beliefs, which I've been doing for almost two years now anyway.

But I'll be blunt, this is a scary question and one that I've greatly neglected; not only in writing about but in thinking about. Its one thing to question and reexamine a brick in the wall of your faith yet it's a whole nother thing to question the whole wall upon which your perceptions about life are built upon. But as uncomfortable as it may be, it's an extremely important question to ask. Because if I do not deeply understand why I believe all that I do, then I cannot expect myself to commit my life to said beliefs, let alone help anyone else to consider the same. So with that, I would like to take you on a little journey through a short series of blogs where I will investigate my core beliefs and why I believe them. And what better place to start, than at my belief in God.

The existence of humankind
Macro-evolution tells us that man evolved through several upon several mutations over a period of billions of years...from a tiny single celled organism to the complex multi-celled organism we are today. And while we do not possess superior abilities/mutations in comparison to all other animals, none-the-less we are very unique; particularly in our advanced intelligence and ingenuity that has caused us to dominate this planet.

This, from an atheistic standpoint, is said to have happened merely by chance. It just so happened that a universe came to be, with not only the right conditions for life to form, but also the right conditions to sling us high above the rest of the Earth's organisms; all because of one big multi-billion year long string of luck. And while I cant doubt the possibility, it all just seems much too unlikely and much too coincidental. Atheists such as Richard Dawkings must be conscious of this unlikely-hood as well, for them to suppose that there are an infinite number of universes and, what-do-you-know, this universe so happens to be the one that can sustain life and has caused humans to excel. But as interesting as this proposition is, I think the existence of just our one universe (without a creator in the formula) is puzzling enough on its own, let alone trillions of universes without one. Even Stephen Hawking admits in relation to our universe "it would be very difficult to explain why [it] would have begun in just this way except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us".

The beauty of life
Another thing that points me towards God is simply the very beauty that surrounds us and is in us. The amount of it in nature is astounding; whether it be scenery, majestic animals, the stars in the sky, or ourselves. Beyond that, the things we do and create bring in a whole new level of beauty into what already exists. We create art and music, think of theoretical and abstract ideas, construct breath-taking architecture, high-tech machines and have modeled the laws, agriculture and monetary systems that enhance our everyday lives. None of which any other organism (to my knowledge) does. And while nothing is perfect per say, and there are also many "ugly" things in our world (though I'd say this typically results from beautiful things being abused) its quite hard for me to see how this could've come together simply at random, with no supernatural intelligence(or God) involved. Even the simplest things like a child grow and learn over the years or seeing a beautiful girl smile, I find to be a clue that the splendor of existence had an intelligent source. Otherwise, as Tim Keller says "if we are [merely] the product of accidental natural forces, then what we call 'beauty' is nothing but a neurological hardwired response to particular data". And personally, I cannot accept that as an adequate answer for why such beauty exists at all.

the existence of morality
I'm pretty sure that just about every person I've ever met believes some things are right, while believing other things are wrong. Where does this sense of right and wrong come from? Certainly society and personal upbringing has something to do with it, but isn't it interesting that most people hold to the same general sense of morality and seem to have all throughout known history? Most societies in most times have taught that things like stealing, murder, cheating and lying to be wrong. And most societies in most times have taught that things like courage, justice, kindness, honesty, mercy, forgiveness and respect to be right (of course there are exceptions to this, but I'm saying in general). So it would appear to be that there is an inate sense of morality that supercedes that which is defined personally and culturally.

Some suggest that morality is the result of individuals surviving in greater numbers when they displayed the above "right" characteristics, as opposed to those who displayed above "wrong" characteristics. Thus, the favorable genes of the more unselfish individuals got passed down, causing most of us to feel these universal ideas of right and wrong. In other words, its only natural that our instinct tries to compel us to do the right things over the wrong things, because the right things help us survive. But do they always help us survive?

Stealing is considered wrong, yet if I'm a starving hobo the best course of action for survival may indeed be me stealing some guys hot dog, or robbing a convenience store. The right thing to do (which would be to not steal at all) wouldn't aid me in my survival in this instance. Helping people stranded on the road with car problems is considered courteous and right, yet doing so may cause me to be late to work and lose my job; and certainly the risk of losing my job or putting it in jeopardy wouldn't aid my survival in any way either.
So the question still remains; where does this universal sense of right and wrong come from? Why do we feel inclined to adhere to it, even when it determents our survival? Well, my answer is that perhaps there is a God, who put it there in order to teach us what is good, and help lay a path for living life that goes deeper than even any religious text or life philosophy. Not only that, but it seems to imply there is some real purpose to our existence beyond just living and dying (purpose being something I talked about in a previous blog).

The unfulfillable void
Perhaps the evidence I find most compelling for the existence of God, is that each human seems to have a particular void in them that appears to leak whatever they put into it. And the hunger that void creates, I contend, drives us to do all that we do in life. We try to fill it with money, success, relationships, possessions, fame and even video games...but all of it fails at keeping this void satisfied. This is perhaps why many musicians who've dominated the charts and seem to have all that you could ever want, still sing about emptiness and fall into life-shattering things like drug addictions. If there is nothing beyond the physical and said void is purely an evolutionary mechanism to help us survive, such situations really make no sense. After all, most of those musicians have all the food, sex, money and fun they could possibly ask for, let alone why should they continue to find themselves so unsatisfied and broken? From an evolutionarily perspective, they are surviving very well and probably reproducing, so how are we to explain this phenomena of emptiness?

I've heard some say that it is merely a fluke or just "evolutionary baggage" we acquired over time, as I believe Carl Sagan said. And while I suppose thats possible I just don't find that answer to be satisfactory. I think that the void is unfulfillable by any worldly thing for a much more significant reason. That reason being that it was purposely put there to show us we need something other-worldly to complete us; and it is my strong feeling that this other-worldly thing is a creator God who wants to have relationship with us.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Pair of Divine 3-D Glasses

The "trinity" is one of the most sacred and cornerstone beliefs of the Christian faith...but is it true?

If you're not familiar with the term "trinity" I'll try and give a brief run down (though to be honest I still don't understand very well, even after attending a church with "trinity" in the name for several years). As with anything, there are various view points and ways of describing it, but in a nutshell the "trinity" states that God is one deity, composed of three distinct persons...Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is argued however that these are not three separate gods, for each one represents God in totality. One is three, but each of the three is equal to the one all by itself...somehow. So in math it would be something like this I guess,


Now I may have only passed Algebra II by the skin of my teeth, but I'm pretty sure none of the above mathematical statements work. In other words, the "trinity" really makes no sense. And oddly those that advocate it usually admit that. The justification? "Well its just how God is, because He's higher than us. You're not supposed to get it". And if there is one thing I've learned about statements like that, is that they are nothing more than giant rainbow-colored tarps draped over the elephants in the room of religion. Nobody really gets it or understands exactly why it is true, so rather than actually test its validity, we just explain it away with theological gibberish. This is probably why every time I've asked someone to explain the "trinity", or read a scholars opinion on it, its always just a confusing garbled mess of words that really don't add up to anything at all(which looking at the math above, seems to show why). I was reading one theologian's definition last night, for example, and I honestly thought he was trying to weave such a confusing web of ideas, as to purposefully make the lay person go "yeah, well, he used a bunch of big words, so I guess he must know what hes talking about!". Please understand, I don't say this to poke fun at people that believe in the "trinity"(after all, I believed it myself), but rather to be honest about how I've come to see the idea.

Anyway, now that I've told you a bit about the "trinity", I want to begin talking about the view that I am coming into by quoting Colossians 1:15(a), which states,

[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God...

Simple enough, right? Yet it sparked a divine revelation in me in regards to what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit actually are. In regards to Jesus, it simply means that His purpose was to be a tangible, visible, and audible representation of God to mankind. In this respect, what Jesus actually was/is goes well beyond the apostle Paul's analogy of an "image", but since no one had any idea what a video or hologram was back then, I think it was the best term he could use (haha). I also have a curious feeling that Paul used that term to allude to the creation of man story in Genesis 1:26, which states,
And God saith, `Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness

I always thought this meant we were made to look like God the Father, but how are you made to look like something that is (according to Col 1:15) invisible? However, if Jesus is the image of God, it seems to make a bit more sense what we have been modeled after; Jesus is the archetype for humanity. And really this goes back to the second part of Colossians 1:15(b) which calls Jesus the "firstborn of all creation". Jesus was, in some sense, in existence before Adam and is what Adam was made "in". This is affirmed in verse 16 which says, "because in [Jesus] were the all things created...all things through him, and for him, have been created". I feel this is key to understanding not only what Jesus is, but also what we are and our relationship to Him.

So I suppose the million dollar question is "Is Jesus God"? To which I answer: in a sense, yes, in another sense, no. If Jesus is the "image" of God, then he can not logically be God simultaneously. If my mother shows a picture of me to someone and says "thats my son, Eric", the person seeing it perfectly understands that I am not literally that thin piece of paper with a colorized image on it. The picture is just a photographic capture of all my features. In a similar way, Jesus the man is not literally God, However, Jesus perfectly represents God(as perfectly as one could represent God in our physical realm, anyways).

This is why Jesus could rightly say "He who has seen me has seen the Father"(John 14:9). But Jesus himself is not God the Father, otherwise how could He say "the Father is greater than I"(John 14:28)? Or how could He say that "concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only"(Mat 24:36)? According to the "trinity", the Son, the Father and the Holy Spirit are "coequals", but to be equals one cannot logically be greater or wiser than another. To be equals one cannot be the "head" of another, as we are told God is the head of Christ in 1 Corinthians 11:3. And to be equals, one cannot be made subject to the other, as we are told Christ is made subject(or literally "put under") to God as we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:28. So while the man Jesus displays God by His words and actions, His unique nature causes Him to be limited in providing an all-encompassing display of God. It's still confusing to me, but I think its fair to say that Jesus is sort of like a divine pair of 3D glasses, if you will. Humanity previously had the words of the prophets and the Jewish religion that provided humanity with an intro to God. But God, being an invisible spirit, was still probably a hard to grasp concept for them(afterall sometimes He was a burning bush, other times a pillar of fire or cloud, it was all rather mysterious) making it hard to really have relationship with God or understand Him truly. So the Son of God comes upon our eyes and upon our hearts, and projects a previously hard-to-look-at, red, and blue reality, into an image we feel is right in front of our faces so that we can begin to grasp who God is and how personal He is. Christ is our way of seeing God in a new way, within our reality.

I've always liked Carl Sagan's simple illustration of the 4th dimension, and have heard it related to Jesus before. I'll post it here if you want to see it,

You could say that human existence is in "flat land" while the apple is God in Christ, displaying His image for us to know and follow. God in totality cannot be fully realized in our world, but Jesus is our glimpse at Him, His characteristics and plan.

This makes Jesus's existence really quite unlike anything else, and while I dont think the "trinity" paints it completely accurate or logical, I don't wish to diminish the complex miracle that He is. Jesus is the logos, or reasoning/expression of God (translated as the "Word" in scripture) combined with a human embryo, which gives the logos of God a physical vessel by which to display Himself to mankind and speak His will for us. Perhaps one could say Jesus's persona is literally the logos of God, which according to John 1:1, was with God in the beginning and yet was God. To be honest, I'm still figuring out what the Hades that even means exactly, but I think the idea of Jesus being a combination of a man and God's logos actually gives some weight to the mainstream idea of Jesus being "fully God, yet fully man". That never made sense to me previously, but now I think it simply means the logos (which is God) embodies Jesus(which is a man).

It is symbolic of the divine union that God has always had in mind for Him and humanity. Jesus was the original design from which Adam was created, but then God allowed sin to temporarily disrupt the union between God and man. God did this in order that man attempt to live a holy life according to God's law; a feat that was also meant to fail and to show us that we can never do enough good things to overcome our fallen condition and separation. So God sends His logos into our physical dimension to teach us, to show us a new and beautiful picture of Himself and to ultimately fulfill the law(because He was perfect), so that our salvation from sin and separation would not be based on our actions but on Christ's sacrifice on the cross. This has paved the way for Gods new covenant of humanity, in which those awakened to the truth become "one, as [the Father] and [Jesus] are one"(John 17:22) and ultimately will come to completion within all of humanity, at the time when God becomes "all in all"(1 Co 15:28)

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Comfort of Faith

(Yeah, how's that for a typical christian blog title!? Oh yeah! lol)

A comment I've heard at least on a few occasions from atheists is how they do not (or no longer) understand how people honestly find comfort in their "Christian" beliefs. While I think such accusations depend entirely on which particular beliefs and interpretations one associates as "Christian", I thought it might be fun to blog about what I find comforting about my particular beliefs, and then relate that to how I see the atheist perception. Please note that I am not saying Christianity (or my version of it) should be believed over atheism or any other belief system simply because it may be theoretically more comforting. Rather, I simply mean to describe some the ways I do find it more comforting and leave it at that.

Comfort of purpose
One of the things I find comforting about my faith is the comfort of having a purpose in life. The atheist will argue they have purpose as well, but the difference is, is that they personally create and define what that is...where as mine (at least, I believe) was created and defined by God. Which one is more comforting is, of course, up for debate and really depends on how you look at it. But I think there is something much more comforting about the belief that I was created with a divine purpose, rather than purpose just being some abstract and imaginary concept that I can construct to justify my existence.

Even if I were to find the later take on purpose as more or equally comforting as the first, there would be the whole issue of my constructed purpose being completely "on my shoulders". In other words, the fulfillment of my purpose would rest entirely on me and thus the possibility of me failing my self-made purpose would be very real. However in my view, while I may be able to mess up minor details in regards to my purpose, I believe that God will not leave it unfulfilled(at least in the big things). He will work through me and my life circumstances to bring about the tasks He wants me to complete, ultimately ending in my main purpose which is to love and fellowship with Him long after I am physically dead.

Comfort of Afterlife
The idea of an afterlife has always been comforting to me to a degree, though looking back on my traditional Christian views on it (where some experience unending paradise while the mass majority experience unending suffering) I can certainly understand how some don't find the idea as particularly comforting. But now that I believe that all will attain fellowship and paradise with God in the afterlife eventually, its much easier for me to grasp the overwhelming comfort that the idea of the afterlife brings. Knowing that I will still exist in some form consciously even after my human life is over is part of the comfort, as I must say that does seem more appealing than the atheistic alternative of just ceasing to exist altogether. But even more comforting is the thought of seeing loved ones again, along with the rest of resurrected/perfected humanity and being able to look back on all our successes and failures to see the glorious outcome it created.

Comfort of Unconditional love
Unconditional love is one of those abstract concepts that I don't think we as humans are truly capable of demonstrating, at least not in our earthly/imperfect selves. I think its certainly possible to love someone your whole life no matter what, but it is so very rare. And because of our imperfect nature and imperfect can also never be guaranteed. Even when unconditional love does exist, I think the one who loves (consciously or subconsciously) still has a line where, once crossed, all hope of relationship will be abandoned or at least postponed. This is perhaps why so many people who get married and commit their lives to each other end up in divorce, because while there may always be love, it has reached an impasse.

And while in traditional Christianity, God does reach such an eternal impasse with humans if certain conditions are not met, it is my belief that He does not. It is my belief that God will continue loving us and working on us as moral beings throughout this life and the next. And to know that at least one person will never give up on you, and never stop loving you even after you die, is perhaps the most comforting thing I can think of.