Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Untruths in My Religion (Part 4)


From the beginning of this exercise that began almost a week ago on Thursday, April 14, when I began reflecting on the practice of sharing “untruths” in their religions by the “Interfaith Amigos,” I invited you to share what you felt were untruths in your religion and said that I would share them in Part 4.

On April 15, I said I believed it untrue that God required Jesus’ death as a sacrifice in order to forgive our sin.

One of you wrote what many could have said,
Your blog about Jesus not having to die for our sins is another 'truth' that I grew up thinking. I thought He was the sacrificial lamb for us, just as in the Old Testament they sacrificed animals. The more I hear the more at sea I am . . .sigh

Jim wrote from another perspective:
God's need for a blood sacrifice creates a fear of God that unless Jesus is in the room to intercede God becomes vicious in holiness and consumes us out of vengeful purity. Jesus literally becomes greater than God… Your blog makes me wonder who is working through new understandings of the cross and salvation?

On April 17, I said the claim that Christianity is the only way to God I believe to be untrue.

One Julia wasn’t so sure it is an untrue claim:
I can certainly see your point, but I have also found validity in the explanation for the TRUTH of this has to do with why the Lord "tarries" so that all WILL have an opportunity to hear of Him, believe in Him and receive Him as Savior.

Charles spoke volumes with one line about his ancestors,
I find it hard to believe early Inupiaq (pre-contact) had no chance of going to be with their maker.
What audacity to believe by accident of birth they couldn’t be with their maker! And yet that is often exactly what they were told. I can only hope they were wise enough not to believe it!

Bill wrote,
You have to admit that holding an exclusive path to salvation is a great recruitment tool. I can identify with Christianity because Jesus, through his ministry, showed me a path towards God. But for this white, western, man to think that this path is the only path is pretty arrogant.

Another Julia wrote in response to both of my untruths:
I have never believed Jesus is the ONLY way to God, just one of many paths up the mountain. That's one way in which I identify as a progressive Christian. But Jesus is MY way to God, as Jesus "saved" me, not by being the sacrificial lamb that gets me into heaven, whatever that is, but because he taught me the true nature of God, who gives me a new chance every day to forgive myself for my sins, and thus begin again to try to be the best person I can be. Jesus saves me from myself, from my self-condemnation, and frees me to start each day a new sin-free person, thus I can enjoy heaven right here on earth.
I think it's so important to let people know that... there are MANY Christians out here that believe in the message of Jesus, but not in all the mythology that humans have added to his story. I have been tempted many times to leave my faith because of Christian atrocities, such as bigotry, righteousness, intolerance of God's beautiful diversity, but have always come back to Jesus, and have decided to work from within the church to make change and to invite people to think and experience for themselves what truths their own hearts can embrace.

Sandra said
it can't be because I think God allows EVERYONE into heaven, because not everyone had the chance to know Him on earth.

Dan, who ignited this exercise, wrote:
We must take the exclusivity claims and triumphalist claims OUT OF CHRISTIANITY's doctrines, if those doctrines and faith are to mirror the essence of the real Jesus…
Thanks to all of you who took time to participate!

For those observing Passover, I wish for you a renewal of the sacred memory of a God who cared about a slave people and freed them, and who still cares about suffering people whoever and wherever they are.

For all observing Lent, I wish for you a re-discovery of Jesus, perhaps for the first time, as one who died because of his identification with politically oppressed and religiously disenfranchised people, not because of some cosmic chess game God was playing.

And for those not at home in either Judaism or Christianity, I wish for you new friends in both traditions.

- Milo

10 comments:

dan said...

this has been a fantastic discussion, as a Jewish onlooker, I really enjoyed reading all the comments here and above. I see a book here, a book by you, sir, someday in the future. I hear a book calling you...... this discussion is VITAL

re

One ''Julia'' [1] wasn’t so sure it is an untrue claim:

"I can certainly see your point, but I have also found validity in the explanation for the TRUTH of this has to do with why the Lord "tarries" so that all WILL have an opportunity to hear of Him, believe in Him and receive Him as Savior."

DANNY NOTES WITH RESPECT: this "tarries" thing is just what makes Xianity sound like it is superior and exclusivistic and triumphalistic vs all other religions and this TARRIES thing must be put to bed, Julia 1, as an untruth of your inherited beliefs. a good belief, but wrong headed...IMHO

re Charles spoke volumes with one line about his ancestors, ..."I find it hard to believe early Inupiaq (pre-contact) had no chance of going to be with their maker."

yes, and to echo Charles, what about the souls of all the 50 million people who lived on earth before Jesus was ever born from the womb of Miriam his mother with his father Joseph's seed combining with her eggs to create a boy named Joshua? Do those 50 million pre-Jesus soulds get condemedn to cold stone hell? no way! BRavo Charles!

and Julia [2} says it so well here below: danny COMMENTS in CAPS and ****

re Another Julia [2] wrote in response to both of my untruths: "I have never believed Jesus is the ONLY way to God, ***just one of many paths up the mountain*** YES. That's one way in which I identify as a progressive Christian. But Jesus is **MY way*** to God, as Jesus "saved" me, YES YES not by being the sacrificial lamb that gets me into heaven, whatever that is, but because he taught me the true nature of God, who gives me a new chance every day to forgive myself for my sins, and thus begin again to try to be the best person I can be. YES YES ...Jesus saves me from myself, from my self-condemnation, and frees me to start each day a new sin-free person, WOW THIS IS BEAUTIFUL! thus I can enjoy heaven right here on earth. " YES YES YES BE HERE NOW.

danny

sweetmeow said...

I was given this link by my friend, Claire (you know how she is!) - and I had hoped to have time to write out something for you, as I have lots of questions and doubts about certain tenants of the Christian faith. It's been a crazy busy week, and I wasn't able to give it the time it deserved, so it didn't get written.

Whatever the case -- this is a wonderful exercise, and it's something I don't believe that we do enough of within the Christian faith. Few seem to want to talk about doubt, unbelief or disbelief (untruths) -- at least not within the "walls" of Christianity, so many of us keep these things harbored inside.

Wendy

David and Robin said...

Milo,
I am late to this conversation but have been blown away! What a freeing principle to consider that Jesus is "one way" to God!
As my children have grown and learned about the world; I have struggled with their questions about Buddhist or Non-traditional christians. Do I really tell my children that these people who are choosing another path are condemned to hell?
It seems very UN-Christian!
I agree with Julia's comments and appreciated her suggestion to change from within and invite others to re-think these concepts! What a glorious Easter it will be!!

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Milo Thornberry said...

THIS FROM JULIA 1:

The antecedent for my thinking about "tarrying" comes from a hymn (that I don't much care for - there I said it - more heresy, I guess) - "In The Garden". Some years back, I did a "word study" for something I wrote about what it means to "tarry" as opposed to "coming right now".

The words to "In The Garden", of course, ask "Why Should WE Tarry . . . " but I did a lot of thinking about why the Lord tarries and doesn't return to claim His kingdom (if indeed he is going to do that at all, and I'm not sure about that either). I came to the conclusion that He might REALLY be waiting (tarrying) for US to get OUR lives together and become more "fit for the kingdom" . . . to CHOOSE eternal life and HIM and to return to our home in God. (ONE definition of "tarry" includes the following: to stay for a time, especially longer than originally intended; remain temporarily; to wait.)

I fail to see how that applies to what Danny says about exclusivity and superiority. I don't see the connection. I think Danny is wrong about some things, and I KNOW he's wrong about me. I wish he had taken a less belligerent attitude in responding. Actually, what I *inherited* is pretty awful, and can't be written about openly online and certainly not in a discussion about religion!!!

Another thing I'm never sure about is whether or not ANYBODY has such an "exclusive" on the Truth (big T) that they can tell another person that THEIR hold on the truth (little t) must be thrown out. I try never to do that. I try to concern myself more with what's "right" for me and my life and how I will live it to glorify God and NOT with what's "wrong" with everybody else!!

I guess this is why I'm not "fit" for the Mission Field or Proactive Evangelism and why I use a quieter approach. I try to live my faith so that others may want to KNOW what makes me different. When they ask, I am open to speaking VOLUMES . . . I'm just a lousy volunteer.

I'm "curious" what people who dismiss this part of the conversation that seeks to "throw out" the "One Way to God" theory, actually DO about Hell. I *do* believe in eternal life somewhere, and I *do* believe that we have the permission of God to send ourselves there for eternity.

I meant to affirm (like anybody else cares) that the one thing I hold EXCLUSIVE and TRANSCENDENT about Christianity - - - the thing that makes us different from ALL others - - - is the Resurrection of Christ. No other religion makes that claim, and I *do* believe that ". . . had Christ not risen from the dead, our faith had been in vain."

Julia 1

dan said...

re Julia 1 second response:

First, sorry if I was not clear Julia 1, I didn't mean to sound belligerent or arrogant in my criticism of triumphalism and Christian Supremacy, and if i did, i apologize to you. Sorry. If tarrying means that YOUR GOD is tarrying while YOU and other Christians get their acts together, then fine and that makes sense. I only meant that we should be careful not to think that God or Jesus tarries so that ALL humans can get ready to accept Christ, because Julia 1, that is just not in the cards nor should it be. Jesus is for Christians. He is your God, he is your Son of God and I am glad you have Jesus for your life. Really. I do not want to take away any of your beliefs and I really see how they make your life meaningful.

But...my only point is, please don't PUSH Jesus on everyone else, we are fine with our non-Jesus beliefs, and it might surprise you, Julia, but our lives are just as meaningful and full of grace and reremption as your life is, you with your beliefs and we non-Christians with our beliefs, and it it my deep belief that Chrianity is a wonderful religion for thsoe who follow it BUT it should not be thought that Jesus is the only way or the superior way. So God is tarrying for other Christians to ge their act togehter, good idea....but He is not tarrying for me, Julia. This is the trouble with Christianity, IMHO, it has a built-in WE ARE SUPERIOR TO ALL OTHER PEOPLE belief system and that is not only wrong, it is an injustice. Just my two cents. Lova ya.

DAnny

re: "I meant to affirm (like anybody else cares) that the one thing I hold EXCLUSIVE and TRANSCENDENT about Christianity - - - the thing that makes us different from ALL others - - - is the Resurrection of Christ. No other religion makes that claim, and I *do* believe that ". . . had Christ not risen from the dead, our faith had been in vain."

NO NO, Julia, even if Jesus had NOT risen from the dead, and I am 100 percent sure HE DID NOT RISE FROM THE DEAD, but even if he did, he did this for your FAITH yes, but not for the faith of others. Hundus, Moslems, Jews, Jains, even atheists and agnostics, they do not need Jesus's resurretion to be good human beings or to go to haeven. If you can accept that, Julia, I love you. If you cannot accept that, them you are part of the Christian Supremacist Movement and that is wrong wrong wrong. just as White Supremacy has been shown to be unjust and wrong, Christian Suprmacy will someday be understood by all to be wrong and...un-Christian. Agree or disagree?

your friend in LIFE,
Danny

dan said...

Julia 1, two more questions:

1. ''I'm "curious" what people who dismiss this part of the conversation that seeks to "throw out" the "One Way to God" theory, actually DO about Hell. I *do* believe in eternal life somewhere, and I *do* believe that we have the permission of God to send ourselves there for eternity.''

danny says: DON'T WORRY ABOUT HELL. JUST CONTONUE TO BE THE GOOD PERSON YOU ARE. THAT's ENOUGH! SMILE.

2. ''I meant to affirm (like anybody else cares) that the one thing I hold EXCLUSIVE and TRANSCENDENT about Christianity - - - the thing that makes us different from ALL others - - - is the Resurrection of Christ. '"

BUT JULIA, Christianity is NO DIFFERENT FROM OTHER RELIGIONS, get over it. We are all in the same boat, seekers all. Drop your claims to superiority and you will see. but you cannot see until you drop the claim. Keep the Res of Jesus for yourself, that's cool. But don't say others cannot find God in multiple other ways. that is merely WRONG.... very wrong. just say XIANITY is one wonderful religion among many others.....SEE?

Darrel said...

Hello Milo:
Thank you for speaking out and turning this stone over at this time. Challenging God’s “sacrifice” has a “don’t talk” rule that we will do well to disregard.

As we from Christ’s life know, Methodism keys on using Scripture, tradition, reason and experience to guide our lives. I am not a Bible scholar and my comments are mainly based on my experience with God and putting faith and love into action. They are also based in being a parent.

I believe God is fundamentally about creation and love. From Christ’s life, I see living love as my key value and example. To find my way through my days, I try to ask myself what would a heavenly parent (God or Christ) do.

Sacrifice theology is my greatest issue with Christianity. I usually skip Communion services because I see it as incomplete, outdated and misdirected. To me Communion appears to glorify unhealthy sacrifice and sanctify guilt that goes beyond reason.

Why did Jesus die? Would a loving parent (or God) sacrifice a child to make a statement to others? In my very human opinion only a psychotic person would justify murder of their child. Would God be any different?

God can be all God is without killing anyone.

In my opinion, Jesus was part of God’s transition to move us from sacrificing animals to learning to do love without killing.

Living love is a constant balancing act. I do sacrifice for people I love and I must give good care of myself in order to live love. Where are the boundaries of each; how do I walk the line and love both others and myself? It is taking me a lifetime to answer these questions.

Guilt has a razor’s thin edge. On one side, it tells me when I have crossed a reasonable boundary. On the other it is a destructive emotion that destroys love of myself and others. Overplaying guilt hurts and makes me less effective.

What about Easter? For me it represents triumph of good over evil. It also is the opportunity to ask myself where in my life do I need to transcend, change or mature to be more of God’s faithful child.

dan said...

re DARREL SAID..."In my opinion, Jesus was part of God’s transition to move us from sacrificing animals to learning to do love without killing.''

that is powerful statement. WOW!

Happy Easter

danny , watching

dan said...

I also hope you will offer some untruth in your faith for Part 4.

and YES, Milo, i will offer some untruths from my inherited belief system for part 4......in Judaism, they misunderstood concept of the CHOSEN PEOPLE has to be done away with......the Jews are not any Chosen People......no, what that term really meant in the old sages chats was the that the Jews of old CHOSE to follow God, they CHOSE to follow one god, one monotheistic god belief system, and NOT that GOD chose them, but that THEY chose GOD, the correct translatiojn should be that the Jews were a CHOOSING PEOPLE WHO CHOSE TO FOLLOW GOD.....not the chosen people but the choosing people, the people who CHOSE GOD.....

and 2. i hate to say this, but truth be told, something must be done about the state of Israel. It does not represent ME. It is a nation like any other, except that it was created by the Imperial Powers in cahoots with the fanatical Zionists of yore, and it was placed in the WRONG PLACE. Israel should never have been placed smack down right in the middle of the Middle East, on land that belonged to Arabs and Palestianians for centures...it was wrong wrong wrong for the UN to put Israel there amd it is wrong for Israel to be there now...SIGH.....better to have created a Jewish homeland, if one was really needed in 1945-1949 in Argentina or Alaska, where there were plans for this, did you know? yes.

3. there is no God.

I rust my case.

danny the unbeliever yet deeply
Jewish dreamer who loves all people and hates prejudice in all its forms, especially Christian antisemitism. A curse on Christianity for writing those ugly antisemitiic Gospels that have caused so much suffering of the Jewish people for the last 2000 years.....Before the Gospels, there was not such thing as AntiSemitism. CHristianity must atone for this major major sin.

SIGH