Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Response to Not_Crunchy

Below is a humble, much-too-short response to Not_Crunchy's questions.

Hey N_C. First, I've got to let you know that each of your questions is worthy of a book-length answer, so anything you get in the comments is very much a Readers' Digest version, ok? And I can guarantee you'll get some differing answers to these questions. :) By the way, I am from the South too.

1. Do you believe that I am going to hell because I do not accept the divinity of Christ?
Well, yeah. Here's the thing, though--Christians aren't telling you that because you're some kind of jerk that they can't stand. (Forgive me; I know you've heard at least some of the following stuff before.) We have ALL sinned against God. That means we've broken His commandments. He gets to make the rules because He made everything, including you. That gives Him authority to do whatever He wants. He is completely holy, though: set apart, perfect, without any wrong or evil in Him. That's a problem for us, now, since we've rebelled against Him (it's happened since Adam. You've done it when you lied, cheated, or were rebellious to your parents, etc.). We deserve, because of our rebellion, to be without God for eternity (we were created with souls that are eternal, so obliteration isn't happening).

Hell actually was created for the devil and his angels, according to the Bible. Not for people. Jesus made it clear in his teachings, though, that rebellious people will be placed with the rebellious angels in the lake of fire at the resurrection. I'm not going to lie to you. If you respect Jesus' teachings, why not believe what He said about Himself, and about the end of our lives? What did He say to do? 'Repent,' (which means to turn and change), 'for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' The fact is that the Son of God, the Messiah, tells you in His teachings what's going to happen. You will face God someday at judgment, and Jesus has indeed paid the price that none of us could (see my previous post). You have the choice to reject that or to believe that. Sounds to me like He's calling to you.

2. Do you believe that every word of the Bible is true? What about the parts that contradict one another?

Yes, I believe the Bible is true and infallible in the original Greek and Hebrew (and a lil Aramaic). However, people seem to fall into some traps when considering this issue: Hebrew and Greek, like any other language, employ idioms, poetic devices, parables, laments, songs, and proverbs. Each type of communication should be understood as it was meant to be, not forced into a box of literalism where it's clearly absurd. Jesus says that unless I hate my mother and father, I cannot be His disciple (Lk 14:26). Ack!! He's contradicting the command to honor my parents!! No, that's an erroneous assumption about what He means. Compared to our love for and devotion to Him, all other 'loves' in our life are like hate...they pale that much in comparison. Also, Jesus is talking about the cost of discipleship (following Him and learning from Him). If you accept and follow Jesus, you suffer rejection, often from those closest to you. Your love for Christ has to be greater than for your family or whoever would try to get you to leave Jesus.

Jesus very often spoke in parables, or in ways that make you dig for understanding. Also, understanding is given by the Holy Spirit.

So, the short answer is yes. And I don't think there are any parts that truly contradict each other. There are, however, lots of people who don't interpret correctly.

3. What is your ultimate authority on the fact that the Bible is divinely inspired?
My absolute conviction of its truth (simply knowing it), my own testimony (changed life, empowerment through the Holy Spirit in often miraculous ways), and the historical accuracy of the text and the events depicted in it.

Part of the way the saints in the end times overcome the devil is 'by the word of their testimony.' That and the sacrifice of Jesus. Going back to your first question, can you see why it's really important to believe Jesus is the Son of God? There is power in what He did. Denying who He is recognizes nothing about what He did for you. He wasn't just a teacher.
Rev 12:10-12
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death."

4. Does God offer only one path to salvation? If so, what about all those people in the non-Christian world? Did God allow their creation so that they can go to hell?

a) Yes, knowing and following Jesus is the only way to salvation. The Bible makes that clear. Check it out:

1 Tim 2:4-6a
[God] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.

Because of our standing before God, we needed a sacrifice for sin. The temple and sacrifices in Jerusalem--and the office of the High Priest--were symbols and signs of the fact that blood is required to pay for sins. Animal blood doesn't do it, though. We needed something more, a replica of us, perfect and sinless, to agree to take the punishment. That's what Jesus did.

Hebrews 9:6-7
the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.

Instead of a high priest, we have the fulfillment of that system: Jesus. His blood is what was required to pay the sin debt.

b) What about those who have not heard? First, it's important to understand that everyone is without excuse before God for their deeds:

Romans 1:18-20
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

God made everyone, and He inscribed in all of us some basic understandings. For example, when I look at the complexity of life on earth, I see a Creator, a Designer. That is evident from just looking at what's here. Across almost all cultures, there's a sense of what justice, perversion, and righteousness are. Sure, all cultures are screwed up, because the world is fallen. But the things people are doing wrong are done against their consciences, the knowledge of God placed in their hearts.

My friend Robert has an excellent response to this at This Gospel.

c) No, the above scripture (1 Tim 2:4) shows that God did NOT create some people just for hell; He desires all people to know Him, and the blood of Jesus was spilled for the sins of all men (1 John 2:2--"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world"). You'll get different answers on that one, but if you read the Bible without prejudice, you'll see what it says. Like I said, hell was created originally for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41). We choose either to follow God or to reject Him in this life, and we choose our eternal destiny in the process. That's the short answer.

N_C, you'll probably receive better answers than mine from others. And I encourage you to ask God. Seriously. His answers are the best. :) Thanks for asking the questions and for being interested.

21 comments:

jaygee said...

Do you mind that I linked to your post? I've invited seekers to my blog, and I want to redirect them to any other useful blogs that will help them in their search.

Todd said...

Kristen,

I think you are wrong when you say he will probaly get better responses than yours. You don't give yourself near enough credit, you are very well read,and have strong convictions that easily come through in your writing. The one reason I will not respond to NC is that I don't believe I could state my answers better than you have here.

The short version is You Rock!

Todd

Kristen said...

Wow, guys...thanks.

John--I'm honored. Absolutely.

Todd--I'm speechless. (Did you ever think that would happen?

Christie said...

Hi Kristen,

I got to catch up on some of your recent entries tonight. Way to be willing to answer the tough questions.

peace,
Christie G.

Not Crunchy said...

Kristen, Thank you for your response to my questions. I appreciate your bluntness (answer 1: "Well, yeah.") and honesty in presenting your beliefs and interpretation of Christianity to me. I found the answer to my last question most interesting - that God will present himself to all people. -NC

Kristen said...

Thanks, Christie. I need to get back over to your blog, too.

NC, I figured you would appreciate honesty. I do. I can smell someone trying to sugar-coat something a mile away. You seemed like me in that way, maybe. :) Thanks for listening (reading, I know, I know...).

Dan said...

Kristen, good stuff. You tell it the way it is. I remember when I first believed. Someone just showed me what the Word said and let God do the rest. By trusting in Jesus rather than myself, I became "free indeed". I let God handle the details, I just seek His will for my life.

Kristen said...

Right on, Dan! That's the best way to do it. Thanks.

Enjoyed your blog, by the way. :)

Shane said...

This is my first trip to your page. The way you handled your answers is a blessing the the evangelical grouping. With love, but not compromising what you hold as His Truth.

If I may, I would like to add my two cents.

Cent 1... I do not find any contradictions in the Word of God. Tho' I used to before I gave my will over to Him. I do find many weak translations with an agenda in mind. The example, for instance, of hating your mother and father is a poor translation in my opinion. In the Aramaic would translate it as to "set aside" your mother and father. Not "hate"

Cent 2... In NC's questions, it was stated the (s)he believes in Yeshua's (Jesus's) teaching but not the divinity. Although I do not share this view, I can understand the confusion. Even Orthodox Jews believe in Yeshua but they do not believe He was Messiah. The flaw, in my opinion, with this view is that you would have to believe that He is a liar. They would tell you that He was a good prophet and man but not the Son of Man. However, since He claimed that the Father sent Him over and over... this would make Him either a lunatic or a liar or both. So He must be who He said He was or a false Messiah. I obviously do not believe the latter.

I'll end it there as I don't want to put full posts taking up your comment space. Sorry for any type-o's!

Shalom aleikhem! (peace be upon you)

Kristen said...

Thanks, Shane. You know, I probably should have clarified that I don't necessarily call myself an "evangelical"--but, then, would I have been allowed to answer the questions? (kidding)

Regarding cent #1--thanks for providing that alternate translation! Interesting!! And that would make more sense with what the Spirit tells me Jesus meant.

Take up my comment space anytime. I love your site.

Rachel said...

Kristen, that was SO well-put. All of it. I have added you to my daily reads and I can tell I'm going to be really glad about that. Thanks for standing for the truth so strongly, simply, and yet with eloquence too.

Kristen said...

Rachel--I looked at your "about me," and let's just say that I can tell we have a LOT in common. And are almost the same age (I'll be 31 in April--ACK!).

Thanks so much for your kind words.

Grace. said...

Dear Walking!
Terrific answers. The questions were great too. Nice to see such a well written post.

Although N_C didn't state her question in this way, a frequently asked question is "How can a loving God send people to hell?"

The truth is that God doesn't send anyone to hell (well, except the devil and his angels). But God doesn't send people to hell. Rather, people choose to go to hell, rather than bow in repentance to God, their Creator. The Bible says: God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Walking, you did a terrific job with explaining how we are in rebellion to God and how restitution can be made.

I admire N_C for asking the questions.

Grace, just a reader.

Kristen said...

Grace, thanks for your great comments.

What you said reminded me of some scriptures in Revelation that tell us that even in the very end times, some will refuse to repent:

Revelation 9:20-21The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood–idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Hope you come back, Grace.

rev-ed said...

Good answers, Kristen. It ain't easy keepin' 'em short, is it? ;-)

molly said...

Hey, whaddaya mean? That WAS short!
(exits Molly, the blogger novelist)...
*sigh*

:o)
Great post, Kristen.

Kristen said...

Thanks, rev-ed. Your responses rocked. Thanks for rising to the occasion.

Molly--LOL! :)

JP Manzi said...

Hey Kristen, a little late on the response here, but I want to reiterate what everyone else has been saying. Great, to the point answers, with a little dash of wit and charm....Good stuff.

Kristen said...

Thanks, JP. I just want to be honest with people. One of the things that made the gospel hit me more forcibly--as well as a right understanding of my own sin--was total honesty from disciples.

Anonymous said...

Those are some tough questions to answer. I do have a query. Your answer to 3. (What is your ultimate authority on the fact that the Bible is divinely inspired?) left me a little puzzled. I'm not saying that those things are bad, but your ultimate authority ends up being yourself and historical accuracy, and not the fact that "thus saith the Lord". I went through a time of searching and doubt and had to come to that fact that the Bible is self-authenticating. It has no higher authority than itself. It's the truth because it says it's the truth, not because history verifies it (though that shouldn't surprise us) or because it has worked for me. Any other authority falls apart. I hope this makes sense. I enjoy reading your blog very much and am not trying to be disagreeable. Perhaps I don't fully understand the question or whole context.
Leigh Ann

Kristen said...

Leigh Ann, thanks so much for your comment and the sweet spirit you wrote it in. You're absolutely right...the Bible is self-authenticating, and the things I listed are certainly secondary to the fact that God said it, and that makes it so.

That's the problem with trying to answer big questions like that in a short form. I knew I was going to inadvertently leave something out, or say something amiss. Thanks for the addition/correction. :)

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