#0093 Jesus, in dying on the cross, accomplished the hard part of the salvation equation

Scripture relevant to today’s posting…

8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8: 1-11 (NIV)

Today I am posting another excerpt from the book I am writing. These posts are early drafts that I will be fleshing out and editing at a later time; but today I wanted to share the basic ideas with you as I am in the process of writing. The main thrust of the new book is to put forth the notion that a new Christian narrative is needed in the Church; so in today’s post I start talking about the old narrative: what it is and what its objectives are. In the book this material, chronologically  will precede the material in the last series of postings: Hierarchy vs. egalitarian-based communities. Technical note: When I posted #0092 last Wednesday, I realized that article #0091, even though I had fished it, hadn’t been posted; so I posted them both at the same time. That was my mistake and I hope to not do that again. Sorry.

 What are some fundamental goals of the existing Christian narrative?

The number one goal of the Christian narrative is to put forth the idea that Jesus died for our sins; in other words God has provided all humans with the chance to go to heaven when they die through a process called salvation. The process is a very simple although somewhat ambiguous one. Jesus having died on the cross did so—so the story goes—in order to atone for the sins of mankind (humanity). So in His act of dying for us, He accomplished the hard part of the equation. As for humans, our part of the deal is we only have to accept Him as our personal savior and for anyone who does, salvation is guaranteed. A common question more devout and exuberant Christians have been heard asking other people, even complete strangers is, “Are you saved?” In asking this overly simplistic question what they are trying to find out is if the person has given their life to Jesus in a ritual known as baptism or alternatively, something Christians refer to as an altar call. If the person has gone through one of these rituals properly officiated by a Christian minister they have officially been saved, that is, they have formally accepted that Jesus died for them and in so doing, they’ve received His gift of salvation. There are some ambiguities to the equation, though and I will get into those in much more depth later in this chapter and in other chapters of this book; but let me hit some of the highlights for you. As neat and tidy as this salvation package seems to be it leaves us with certain questions…

  • Why was it necessary for Jesus to die a martyr’s death and from where did this concept originate?
  • Are there specific sins for which He died?
  • What happens to the people who don’t go through a baptism/altar call ritual—what about people who don’t know about Jesus or anything about this salvation deal?
  • Is it even possible to believe in and be in relationship with God and Jesus without being a part of this salvation deal?
  • If it IS possible, how would our relationship with God be different if the salvation deal was taken off the table?
  • Could there be an alternate reason why Jesus died a martyr’s death?

Even though the salvation arrangement sounds pretty sweet as it is laid out in the narrative, there are some problems that sour the deal as you get into some of the finer points. These problems arise out of the ambiguities I mentioned before. In this chapter we will talk about these problems and what the ramifications of some of them are. The goal in this chapter isn’t to take anything away from God’s divinity; think of what we’re doing here as a tweaking or a tuning up of the narrative to make it come more into alignment with the teachings of Jesus. What makes us think that we can do something like this in the first place—who am I to propose such an endeavor and who are you to entertain it? Hopefully the answer to that question will become abundantly clear as we move forward.

Frankly speaking this salvation narrative is a come-on or a bait-&-switch ploy whose only objective is to get people in to the program. The promise of salvation is its cover story but inside, it’s filled with snares and inconsistencies. Again, I’m speaking of the narrative about God, not God. Many of these snares and inconsistencies have been put there and promoted by religions and their representative men of authority. This is true for the surrounding tenets of the Christian narrative as well. Overall the narrative has been, as it were, laced with land mines that will blow your bid for salvation into pieces if you tinker around or mess with it in any way.

Here is the existing Christian narrative at a glance…

  1. First and foremost it is based on salvation.
    1. Prerequisite for salvation is baptism or some other outward sign which signifies a person’s commitment to God and their acceptance of Jesus Christ as their personal savior. In the Catholic and other more traditional denominations baptism symbolizes the washing away of original sin. In these denominations baptism is an absolute imperative, so much so that if someone dies without being baptized they can’t get into heaven, no matter what. The doctrine of original sin says that all people are born into this world in a state of sin; but the sacrament of baptism will wash away that sin making them acceptable to God and making it possible for them to get into heaven. (cite John 3:5 born of the water)
  2. The old Christian narrative is a closed and static concept
    1. It has snares built into it which serve to shut down expansion of it as a concept (closed doctrine; closed Biblical timeline; others
    2. It discourages questions about itself by saying those who would question its doctrines are weak in their faith.
  1. It is filled with contradictions: God’s love is unconditional while His churches are built upon “doctrines” which is just another term for “conditions”.
  2. Sacraments and priesthood also act to monitor and repress the potentiality for people to build towards more
  3. It depicts God as one who evaluates people based on the way they believe in Him. upon their belief in Him.
  4. authentic relationships with God. Priesthood is a powerful and self-serving form of hierarchy which is not consistent with the Kingdom concept. Even though there are scriptures that seem to depict Jesus laying out the concept of priesthood there are others that warn of the dangers…(don’t call anyone father or rabbi: see Matt. 23: whole chapter)
  1. Myths that have gotten so intertwined into the narrative as to have taken on a sacred air about them.
    1. Peter as founder of Catholicism (Matt. 16: 13-20)
    2. Mary as the mother of God
  • The deification of the Bible (making the term Word as used in John 1:14 synonymous with the words that make up the Bible)
  1. Believing on Jesus’s name (in a literal sense) imperative for salvation
  2. Creation of the world in 7 calendar days;
  3. The Rapture (belief that Jesus will return to the earth to wreck vengeance upon the sinners)
  • Sacrificing animals to God
  • Others

If you have a question or thought about this or other postings please feel free to send them in. As always, thanks for reading.

TBC: Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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