Does What We Believe Save Us?


(Spectrumbot) #1

There is something attractive about a list of dos and don’ts. Lists have durability because they simplify, provide certainty and reassurance, and give us something to measure ourselves and others with. The Judeo-Christians’ sacred books contain some memorable lists, including the 613 laws in the Torah, the Ten Commandments, and Jesus’ summation of the goal of all laws – love of God and neighbor. Not to be excluded, our own faith tradition has the 28 Fundamental Beliefs.

We sense a yearning for a list in the earnest plea by Paul’s jailer in Thyatira. His question was simple and direct: “What shall I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:4) The question was in response to Paul restraining the suicidal man’s hand. Awakened by an earthquake and presuming a breakout, their jailer was ready to take his own life. Paul and his band of prisoners assured him that they had no intentions of escaping. Recognizing that Paul and Silas were God’s emissaries, the warden fell at their feet and raised the important question about salvation.

Paul and Silas’ harmonized answer was equally simple: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Unfortunately, their imprecise response did not explain what it meant to “believe.” This has been the unfortunate undercurrent for much splintering within Christianity, as different denominations, trying to pin down the essentials of salvation, have generated countless lists.

What does it mean to “believe?” And even more crucially, how do we know that our beliefs are worth believing in? Much to our loss, the jailer failed to ask Paul these clarifying follow-up questions. But we should ask such questions to test our understanding of what and why we believe.

Basically, a “belief” in anything presupposes our acceptance that a proposition is “true.” Sometimes the idea is empirically provable, like the belief that the dead do not act purposefully. In that case, any living, breathing person cannot pass for dead. But we can’t always prove the “truthfulness” of a belief in this way. Rene Descartes pointed to his conscious mind as proof of his existence. His clever dictum, “Cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am) is reassuring when faced with doubts of reality, not only of our individual being, but of existence as we know it. If we recognize our thoughts, Descartes contends, we know we exist.

But Descartes’ formulation raises its own questions. What happens when our minds fail us, and we cannot think? When mental diseases rob us of our abilities to think “straight?” Do we cease to be “ourselves” when our minds are no longer ours and we can no longer trust our recall or remember familiar faces? Is our humanity predicated only on our self-awareness that we possess thinking, discriminating minds? And what about the quality of our minds? Are some of us born with “weak” minds that can only think so far and no farther? I recognize that questions equating the mind to being itself risks a precarious turn, but we should persist since salvation itself is tied to thinking.

In religious discourse, where important concepts – existence, reality, God, death, salvation etc. – are stable, the mind is by necessity the vehicle through which these belief systems are built and conveyed. When we proselytize, the built-in assumption is that our hearers would weigh our presentations and make conscious decisions for or against Jesus after “thinking” through the ideas presented. Ideas are important and so are our capacities to grasp them. This, in part, is why we should periodically reconsider our understandings. What do we convey when we assign labels like fundamental, core, or unchanging to our beliefs?

Once we designate concepts as fundamental, we seem to lock them in and rarely reappraise them. We may add beliefs but seldom retract or remove any from the list. This leads to a hardening process ending in inerrancy, with beliefs that must be defended at all cost. Then dissenting members must simply walk away. By insisting on infallible truths, we’ve sometimes been led to hold on to ideas that were founded in and for a different era. Because we hold them to be eternal, we don’t change conceptions, even if outdated. Consequently, the denominational hemorrhage of those who question, continues unabated.

But how do we assent to a belief? Does the mind “instinctively” or independently appraise ideas on some sort of merit in order to accept them as truths? That is, does the mind recognize self-evident propositions and automatically coalesce around the “right” ideas and ignore “wrong” ones? So, does what we believe save us?

I contend that our values don’t arise from ideas only, they arise from life, from experience. And these experiences, often influenced by formal or informal education, or by our proximity to other communities of “believers,” provide the perspective to sort through conflicting ideas. And as our needs change, so too do our ideas and values. We go from believing, in one generation, that other humans could be bought and sold and used and abused by their owners, to accepting, in another generation, the improbable proposition that all humans are equal.

The truths of religion are not unlike the truths of science in that both serve human needs. Therefore we should hold truths in these spheres with cautious embrace until we find something that works better, in the sphere of science, or attain better insight, in the religious domain. In both science and religion the new “better” often uses previous knowledge as a stepping stone. So Jesus would say of the law that he came “not to abolish…but to fulfil” it. Sometimes the new truth completely overturns an established one: “You have heard it said…but I say unto you.” At other times, it is an insight whose time for implementation has come: “I have much to tell you, but….”

It follows then that even when we make a commitment or assent to a given set of truths, we should do so knowing that such affirmations are tentative. Regardless of how fundamental we consider our truths today, the experiences we encounter tomorrow could render them obsolete or even scandalous. Change comes because we learn new things about “settled” positions which then necessitate correction.

For centuries, Newton and Newtonian physics held sway, that is until Einstein. And the church taught that the earth was the center of the universe until Copernicus showed it otherwise. We read accounts in the Bible that seem to affirm behavior currently universally eschewed. We have believed in the past that some humans are not good enough to participate in civil society and we acted on that belief by disenfranchising them. Historically, women and minorities everywhere have been discriminated against in this way. There are still a few Christian churches in this twenty-first century who teach that womanhood is not compatible with unconstrained service in gospel ministry.

Is there an objective truth? Only in the context of a postulated God who alone “holds true positions.” All human “truths” and understandings are imperfect because, as Paul reminds us: “we see through a glass, dimly.” I share Kierkegaard’s view that ultimately the truth that matters is subjective. Everyone should embrace their current truths in passionate inwardness as long as future “truths” and insights are not walled off. Therefore, attempts to “conserve” in perpetuity, is an exercise in futility. We can only manage what experience throws at us. The limits of our management successes have usually depended on our willingness to let go of what no longer applies. It is in this sense that E.G. White is right: “The truth of God is progressive.”

Generally, humans, over time and in all environments, have adopted and adapted models of what works and points us forward. And our ideas have generally tracked a progressive course and expanded the ideal of liberty. We have not always succeeded in eradicating many avoidable social ills – e.g. misogyny, xenophobia, discrimination – because often opposition justifies itself on grounds of conservation.

Here is where nature, in a micro-evolutionary sense, is instructive and shows us that change is necessary to survival. We recently learned of adaptive changes observed in elephants in Mozambique and South Africa. Under pressure from poachers who indiscriminately kill these majestic behemoths just for their comparatively insignificant tusks, females in Southern African elephant communities are now evolving tusklessness. A truly heartwarming development.

How is all this relevant to our church today? In a charming and uplifting way it recalls a time when our leaders changed positions on a cardinal doctrine because we gained new insight. Consequently there will always be a before-and-after 1888 tipping point in Adventism. This was the year we unambiguously became Christians. In 1888 our understanding of the meaning of “law” in Galatians 3:24 KJV, - “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” – underwent a sea change. Those were the “innocent” days when church publications were not constrained by an official line and published different, and sometimes opposing, views on the same subject, even in the same magazine.

Two years earlier A.O. Johnson published his article “The Two Laws,” in the Review and Herald, arguing that the law identified as “schoolmaster” in Galatians is the ceremonial and not the moral law. This publication prompted E.J. Waggoner, editor of the Signs of the Times, to write a nine-article series arguing that the “schoolmaster” reference was equally applicable to the Ten Commandments. At some point the debate began to expose a serious rift within the church community and Mrs. White, who was living in Europe at the time, became concerned enough to write a gentle rebuke to the “combatants” that essentially called for a cease-fire.

The excitement of the debate notwithstanding, our pre-1888 position aligned with Johnson’s in that we believed it was the ceremonial law, not the moral, that was the “schoolmaster,” and had been nailed to the cross. After A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner’s Righteousness by Faith presentations at the Minneapolis General Conference session, the church would shift and include the moral law in the schoolmaster role. Ellen White, who was conflicted and indecisive on the subject during the presentations, would be more categorical eight years later: “In this scripture [Gal 3:24] the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law. The law reveals sin to us and causes us to feel our need of Christ and to flee to him for pardon and peace.” (Selected Messages, vol 1, p. 234)

For the first twenty-five years as an organized church, we believed that we could be saved if we obeyed the moral laws perfectly. In 1888 we came to a different and liberating understanding. But the ensuing 130 years have not completely cured us of our legalistic tendencies. Last Generation Theology demonstrates our continuing flirtation with individual perfectibility. We also have in our midst Headship theologians who insist on taking the church back to Old Testament patriarchalism. They take isolated passages in scripture and E.G. White to argue that women have proscribed roles that revolve mainly around motherhood. Our youth shake their heads and walk out the church doors as soon as possible because these beliefs are inconsistent with their life experiences.

The importance of the 1888 law debate is what it teaches us: that no belief is so settled it cannot be seen in another light. Time and tradition are no substitutes for new experiences and insights which require re-evaluation of our beliefs. This should be a survival issue for the church. We cannot continue to exchange the mass exodus of our youth from the church in favor of rigid “right beliefs.”

Matthew Quartey is a transplanted Ghanaian who now lives in and calls the Adventist ghetto of Berrien Springs, Michigan, home. Previous Spectrum columns by Matthew Quartey can be found at: http://spectrummagazine.org/author/matthew-quartey.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9349

(George Tichy) #2

Great statement. It reveals how much in danger our Church still is.

The “retrograde ideologies” are very powerful and influential. They even make people grow beards!.. (Men only, of course… :wink: )


(Patrick Travis) #3

Good comments Matthew. The framed question is one a bit like, “Do you still whip your wife?” Yes or No are unsatisfying answers within themselves.
As part of “the sola’s” the Bible does not stand alone apart from God, but rather it is the instrument of God by which he reveals himself for salvation through Grace by faith in Christ “alone.” So, does God believe it is important what we believe and what constitutes “the faith once delivered.” It is through that message that we come out of darkness to the knowledge of our salvation in Christ.
I understand your intents. The Bible is a finished work. It is not an expanding source. It doesn’t change. So it is not time conditioned for change. Now, of course interpretations can change and have in history. There is another element and that is confusing any creed or doctrinal statement with an absolute truth understanding of scripture. The WCF would say “ever reforming” creeds are a possibility…but must be based on a clearer understanding of a sola scriptura backing.
So, we need to separate SDA doctrine and all creeds and hold to the possibility there may be a better exegesis witnessed by the Christian community…which is also possible to improve.
So just as in every avenue of life, what we believe and learn does offer the basis for “salvation” from all types of darkness and falsely held traditions…that’s properly established true education.
Regards
Pat


(Herold Weiss) #4

Once again, Matthew has hit the nail on its head. Faith in the God who raised Christ from the dead is not tied to doctrines which, as he clearly explains, are human explications that make sense within particular cultural moments. That also applies to scriptural descriptions of the cosmos, rules of war, patriarchal social structures, etc.
Thank you very much for stating this issue clearly at a time like this, when the official pronouncements of the church have abandoned the traditional Adventist view of inspiration as not verbally free from error. In the dialogue with the Evangelicals in the 1960, the dialogue broke down because Adventists would not agree to the Evangelicals insistence on verbal inspiration. The chairman of the Religion Department at Emmanuel Missionary College, Dr. Edwin Thiele, would turn over in his grave if he knew what the official church is saying these days.His book,“The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings,” was the first and only book written by an Adventist that was used as a textbook in Seminaries around the world at that time. It clearly demonstrated the fallacy in such view.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #5

Thank you both. Ted Wilson has taken the church back before 1888. But he had done so with fists clenched: compliance is not belief. Early in my academy years I told dad I wanted to be a science teacher in an academy and then on to college level. He said—Tom get a career that gives you independence from the Church. then if you wish to work within the church but know you can walk a free man with a salable skill. Which I did. thanks dad.


(Elmer Cupino) #6

The crucial key to understand here is the word rigid, meaning having an unhealthy pattern of cognitive, functioning and behavior in an inflexible manner. The sine qua non of personality disorders is the rigidity of behavioral traits that interfere with the person’s ability to perceive and relate to situations and others. This causes significant problems and limitations in relationships, social activities, work and school. There are number of ways to hide and deny rigid personality traits, one of which is to claim fidelity to the word of God. Could this be true with our church leaders?


(efcee) #7

"Jesus is the stone you builders rejected that has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. "
Acts 4:11-12

There is no “what” that saves us, but “whom”. What damage we do when we teach otherwise! Even the teachings (doctrines) of Jesus have no power to save, but they do describe what salvation looks like. Imagine a realm of peace, joy and love. How would it function? What would you wish for it to be if you were to spend eternity there. The way I see it, the teachings of Jesus and the moral law are fitting descriptions of life in that place. The exciting thought for the follower of Jesus is this: “The kingdom of God is within you”.


(George Tichy) #8

Right on the money Elmer.
When we apply this magnifier (based on what you just described) to what is happening in our Church nowadays, it is horrifying to see that rigidity is paralysing people’s ability even to be civil, let alone to practice healthy religion.

That Nutcracker Clinic needs to be implemented … :wink:


#9

Thank you, again, Matthew Quartey for your thoughtful contributions
to Spectrum.
If you resided at GC HQ, Silver Spring, your ideas would sweep through its
‘musty’ corridors like a fresh, invigorating breeze.
But, alas … you might be found non-compliant, and even worse
might happen, all in the name of policy.


(Ray Smith) #10

Great article on doctrinal belief but Paul didn’t say, “Believe.” He said “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Huge difference.

Paul’s letters to the saints in Ephesus and Colossae and others are all about the faith and love that we share in Jesus Christ. Belief grows out of God’s love for us through Christ and our love for him as he pours his love into our hearts. It is a living, dynamic personal belief in a two-way love relationship with God.

Every doctrinal belief surely must be understood in the light of the crucified, risen and indwelling Christ who soon will return to claim his own


(Frankmer7) #11

To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in the NT was a call to experience a new way of being human. A new way of being human that was different than Jew or Gentile, that obliterated those walls of division amongst human beings and called for a higher allegiance than blood, tribe, and soil, and that found its source of life in the risen Christ and his Spirit. It was a call to join God’s kingdom movement, his kingdom of love, by joining up with Jesus and his people.

To me, this is the call of biblical faith, and what it’s substance was and still is. This is far from an assent to a list of propositonal truths, or trying to parse out doctrinal niceties, an emphasis that has characterized and even plagued Christianity throughout its history.

It is a lived experience at its core… individually and in community.

Thanks…

Frank


#12

The many fine points in the article caused me to think this:

Imperfect but Saved

We are a self-modifying processor of information and experience, creating internal worlds that are uniquely our own, based on hundreds (thousands, millions, billions) of accumulated experiences, interactions, thoughts and decisions. In this, we not only have the ability to regularly recreate our internal world and values but we also (actively or passively) choose to what extent we will hold ourselves accountable to our conscience (the existing values we have created for our internal world). Most of us assume that our internal world is just like that outside.

To what extent the internal, self-created, world accurately perceives & interacts with the external realities is a matter of our own cognitive abilities and our commitment to experience the external as truthfully as possible. In order to do so, we must attempt to put aside (or overcome) our ever present biases to rightly adjust our internal world to account for the realities which reside outside. However, to expect perfect perception of the external world, or even perfect creation of the internal world, is pure haughtiness. We see through a glass darkly - only perceiving a very small slice of the light spectrum, hear a small slice of the auditory spectrum and the olfactory spectrum is likewise perceived narrowly. Touch and Taste are no less limited.

Despite our limitations, the things we have been able to accomplish in the physical world is somewhat miraculous. In a similar way, despite our limitations and imperfections, God has made every effort on His part to allow us to explore the natural world & the record left from others (of their inspired relationship with Him) so that we know the truth about His love and character.

So, does what we believe save us? No! But what we mis-believe about God’s love and character may lead us to reject a relationship with Him. This is why Jesus had such a harsh assessment of the religious leaders of His day. A distorted perception of God is a dire circumstance that Jesus’ life and teachings (His Truths) were intended to mitigate. We are not to argue endlessly about minutiae, about what infinitesimal necessity allows ‘the beginning of salvation’ or what abject action or choice necessarily ends it. We are to fully embrace Him in trust and faithfulness. This is what it means to ‘believe in Him.’

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light" (John3:16-19 KJV)

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:2-6 KJV)

Jesus offers us an unimaginably exuberant eternity based on trust and a faithful relationship with Him. But, we continue to explore how little we must have (or do) in order to barely grasp that relationship (What little must I have or do to be saved?) when if we would fully embrace Him such exploration would be irrelevant. If we become thoroughly involved in relationship with Him, we will not be seeking out the boundaries, beyond which we would find the jeopardy of lost salvation.

When we are fully in relationship with Jesus, we need not be obsessed with the commandments, which are valid warning signs near the edge of the precipice. We are not without sin - but our occasional & regretted actions do not separate us from our love relationship with Him. Only when we pursue and embrace sin, beyond the warning signs where the precipice lies, will the relationship be destroyed by our separating ourselves from Him.

Devoid of that relationship, we often busy ourselves with ‘Christian’ activities as though such actions can substitute for that loving relationship. Christian actions rightly chosen (of kindness, care & concern) are not miraculous acts only doable by genuine Christians. Non-Christians regularly perform these same acts. The actions are no more salvific for the non-Christian as for the Christian. They are simply good deeds from which we and/or others benefit. They are not the currency of salvation, trading good works for God’s favor.

Despite their non-salvific nature, intentional good works and not intending to violate the commandments, can be, and will be, the results of overflowing love possessed by Christians as a result of the well developed relationship with Jesus.

God has sent His own Son to make us the offer of recovering eternal joy and peace with Him. Salvation is a choice we make to be in a faithful and trusting relationship with Jesus, believing that everything that God wants for us is the very best for us. Salvation is offered to all, but few choose to accept the relationship that is the recreating essence of our eternity.


(Allen Shepherd) #13

Paul was specific: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” The author here departs from the path of light by failing to consider the end of the statement: on the Lord Jesus Christ. The jailor asking questions would have implied unbelief, as when the Pharisees asked the healed man questions in John 9:24 and following. Questioning can be a way to avoid belief.

Instead of asking, “What does it mean to believe?” a better question would have been, “What does in mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?” A light shines on the path for that question.

Ah, the bugaboo of fundamentalism rears its ugly head! Alway wanting to get away from such thinking that could be called fundamental. Always look for a way out! But if all is in a state of flux, there is no security, or even reality to speak of. Certain beliefs are fundamental.

The problem here is not belief, but the method of dealing with doubters. The “Truth” must be proclaimed. Those that doubt should be handled kindly and with understanding. Their walk may be different than mine, and so patience and understanding are in order.

But that does not change the need for fundamental beliefs. if a group does not know what it believes, it will fragment and die because it looses purpose.

If each of us has his “own truth”, we are adrift on a sea of uncertainty in which no one can speak to another about anything. There then is no truth, as Pilate noted.

Jesus statement. “I am the way the truth and the light” seems to answer any problem here.

How do we know that her statement is the truth?

Could they be proclaiming he truth, and the author be wrong on the matter? How do we know? And if I have “my truth” about this matter, how could he refute it? Is he better than me, or has God talked to him? Etc…

This statement shows the author’s ignorance (perhaps a bit harsh here, but true). The churches that have taken a more liberal view on belief are failing and have well nigh become irrelevant. The more fundamentalist ones are doing much better. The Methodists, as I have noted numerous times, embraced WO 60 years ago, and are shrinking, especially their American portion, while their African congregations are growing. How does this fact impact the thoughts in this article?

The youth exodus will not be stemmed by altering our fundamental beliefs. it can be stemmed by demonstrating a life lived for Christ, and by loving them deeply and truly.

To make such statements as the author has is to show a certain lack of knowledge of the facts of the matter. It is not our vote on WO, or any other belief that is the problem. It is our lack of true godliness. A righteous life well lived cannot be gainsaid and has great power to influence, yes even the youth.


(George Tichy) #14

Allen,
In your book, Does “godliness” include fairness and equal treatment being extended to women as well, or is it supposed to be granted only to males?


#15

Allen, Jesus actually said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life ”.
Perhaps your misquote points to the problem.
My hope is that you understand the difference between what you and He said.


(Allen Shepherd) #16

i don’t know, George, is support for WO mentioned in scripture anywhere as part of godliness? Or did Ellen say anything like that?

I did misquote it, but not on purpose. It was a slip in remembering the quote without looking it up. I will try to be better. I don’t think it changes much of the meaning of the part where I quoted.


(Harry Allen) #17

Thanks, @PapaAfful, for this essay.

Perhaps my point of diversion comes early in the piece, when you describe Paul & Silas’s response to the jailer—“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31)—as “imprecise”; i.e., “Unfortunately, their imprecise response did not explain what it meant to ‘believe.’”

First, I’d argue that it was precise enough to begin converting the jailer, because we see the effect subsequent efforts have on him and his family.

After the mediation of Paul and Silas—“they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house”—the jailer and his family are all baptized. Verse 34 says, “He was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”

Second, I think understanding what it means to “believe” is fairly straightforward: To believe is when one’s speech and/or actions correspond with one’s mental state. One could say that, objectively, corresponding speech and/or actions are the only way to know that a belief exists. Put another way, it’s possible to generally tell what another person believes by what they say and/or do, even though we have no other access to their minds.

At a critical moment in the 1999 film, The Matrix, the protagonist, Neo, stops and turns to take on his antagonist, Agent Smith. He does this when, at earlier moments, he’d merely run, when confronted by this oppressive being.

Confused by his new stance, his partner, Trinity, asks their leader, Morpheus, “What is he doing?”

Says, Morpheus, “He’s beginning to believe.”

What is Neo beginning to believe?

He’s beginning to believe that he is The One; the person who will save the underground city of Zion, and, thus, humanity. Neo never says this. But his awesomely strong actions against his mortal enemy clearly render his thoughts…believably.

Meanwhile, in the 1987 film, Wall Street, financier Gordon Gekko fights no one, but merely speaks:

"In the last seven deals that I’ve been involved with, there were 2.5 million stockholders who have made a pretax profit of 12 billion dollars.

(applause)

Thank you.

I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them!

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good.

Greed is right. Greed works.

Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.

Thank you very much.

Gordon Gekko believes in capitalism, and in the power of the market. We know this by the words he says. We even know it by his actions: He’s delivered immense profits to investors. He’s wearing a custom-made suit, expensive leather shoes, an exclusive Swiss watch, and a $200 haircut. He’s giving this speech in front of stockholders at a meeting, not pigeons in the park. Gordon Gekko believes in money.

A Latina teenager, “breakdancing” in a New York City park to electro beats played by a large radio, believes in hip-hop.

A white guy with a shaggy red beard, driving through muddy Alabama in a massive 4x4 pickup, flying Confederate flags, hoisting a gun rack and dead animals believes in “'Murica.” Not America, necessarily, but in a more circumscribed version of it, almost certainly.

Each of these people, all of them, believe in something, and we know, or are able to tell, in what they believe.

This is not to say that every person who believes in something is so obvious in what they believe. The Alabamian, or the Latina, may also believe in the future promise of quantum computing. But it is to say, again, that, generally, we do and say what we believe. In other words, if they do believe in quanta, at some point they will act and/or speak in such a manner, even if that only means reading about them on a web site.

What are the implications of this for Christianity, then?

I’d say that a person who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ lives out the things Jesus said and did, almost in an imitative way. That person is consistent in this manner, and, when they fail to be, they seek Christ’s remedies for inconsistency…thus, paradoxically, maintaining consistency.

When Paul & Silas told the jailer to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” they weren’t saying anything different than what people mean when they say to believe in anything else—hip-hop, capitalism, 'Murica, being The One, or quantum computing. They meant: Learn about Jesus, think about Him a lot, hang around people who believe in Him, and do what this dictates. This is what Neo, Gekko, the white Alabamian, and the Latina New Yorker all did, and do.

So, the real question isn’t, “What does it mean to ‘believe’?”

The real question is, “Who is ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’?”

HA


(reliquum) #18

Perhaps our conceit in our belief that our beliefs are somehow exclusively correct condemns us-and hinders the over-arching message.

I certainly see this, not only by various posters here in this thread, but I get it weekly from the pulpit and the pews.

Relegated to irrelevance by our irreverent pride


(Allen Shepherd) #19

Hmmm… Who said we were exclusively correct? I personally have been blessed by other denominations’ views and thinking. But if one is not convinced of his own beliefs, he should change them, or stop talking.

The people wondered at Jesus because he spoke with authority (Matt 7:28,29)

I have never been impressed by those who are unwilling to commit themselves to their on convictions.


(reliquum) #20

@ajshep i suggest that you exhibited my point quite well. Pretending we do not have exclusivist views-internally or externally- is risible. Especially coming from you!

My intention was to highlight what we do internally, more than extra-denominationally (but we do that well, too, perhaps we do that the best, too).

I am glad you are impressed by your conviction, not only in the correctness of your beliefs, but also in the abject wrongness of mine (or anyone else who fails to see things your way)