Friday, December 4, 2009

The mirror tells no lies ...

From Frank Schaeffar's book, Patience with God: Faith for People who don't like Religion (or Atheism)

My aunt Janet -- my mother's older sister -- joined the U.S branch of [the Closed, or Exclusive, Brethren the Taylor/Symington/Hales] group in the late 1950s. Aunt Janet was ordered to leave her husband and two young sons, because they didn't join the group and she could have no fellowship with them, including even eating in the same room. She moved out, once my aunt was forbidden to sleep in the same house as "unbelievers"...
That gap, which all evangelical/fundamentalists say they believe is established between the "saved" and the "lost" -- now and for eternity -- was enforced here in this life by the Closed Brethern. In the midst of the Closed Brethern's ever-shrinking world, followers like my aunt were totally walled off from their families ... it must have been a nightmare of self-revelation for Mom because my aunt Janet was doing nothing more than practicing an exaggerated version of what Mom believed herself. My parents believed that the lost were to be eternally separated from the saved. And my parents always said that in this life, no one could be complete as a person without accepting Jesus, so the separation began right here on earth ...
My mother never did get over her sister's betrayal of her family. It must have been shocking for my mother to see the logic of the sort of Christianity my parents believed in lived out to a radical extreme.


Back when I was in college, an evangelical friend and I were in a bookstore, and found ourselves in front of the Left Behind series. She had already read the first one, and aside from finding it just bad writing overall, she hated the theology within it and said that it distorted what the Gospel actually was, as well as distorting what God was like.

I didn't say anything at the time, but that was because I was too stunned by her comment, and didn't know where to start. This was someone who went to a Baptist church, who believed that the death of Jesus was to satisfy the wrath of God and he took the punishment we all so justly deserved. This was someone who believed in the "saved" and the "lost," and that those who were "lost" had a one-way ticket to hell. This was someone who believed that that if you were "lost," God couldn't stand the sight of you, and you were disgusting in His sight. She believed that Jesus would return, and when he did, he wouldn't be in that great of a mood towards the vast non-Christian majority.

The Left Behind series was the "logic of her belief system taking to it's most radical extreme." If God was so wrathful that only the bloody death of His son -- the son who took on all the sins of the world -- satisfied Him, who believed that every person He created deserved to be tormented for all eternity, who was disgusted by His creation ... why *wouldn't* He behave in the manner the Left Behind series depicts?

3 comments:

Xander said...

I never read the series. I started watching one of the movies, but lost interest in it. It is amazing how many people are fascinated by the end of the world and what the signs are of its impending doom than living now.

I have heard a lot of people base their theology off these series. I think more people read these than the Bible. It is sad.

“If God was so wrathful that only the bloody death of His son -- the son who took on all the sins of the world -- satisfied Him, who believed that every person He created deserved to be tormented for all eternity, who was disgusted by His creation ... why *wouldn't* He behave in the manner the Left Behind series depicts?”

That is a contradiction and non-Biblical. Glad I didn’t read it.

OneSmallStep said...

Xander,

Do you not hold with the penal substitution atonement theory? I ask because that is standard fare for any evangelical I come across, and they would say that it is in fact Biblical. And I do see them saying pretty much what I said in my paragraph you quoted, where God demanded justice in the form of the bloody death of His son, the death was the only way to satisfy that justice, that He can't tolerate sin in His presence and thus that's why everyone needs Jesus ...

Then again, I'm assuming you are an evangelical.

Xander said...

I am an evangelical, but I also believe in the active manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so I am not an everyday evangelical.

It is more complicated than justice was on the cross though. I might get a little preachy here, so bare with me.

Adam sinned and God still talked to him and made him clothes, so God was in the presence of sin. Cain murdered and God still talked to him and marked him so he wouldn’t be killed. He had to be in the presence of sin for that one too. Original sin right. Abraham was born with the sin nature, but God made a covenant with him and was even his presence physically. The burning bush with Moses; He was still in the presence of sin. That was before the law. Ok. David, a man after God’s own heart. He lusted after a woman had her husband killed and married her. God was still with him.

God has always been after a personal relationship with us (mankind). Before the law was given, He told the people to enter in to His presence on Mt Sinai. They said they would rather God tell Moses what He wanted the people to know instead. You tell me what to do and I will do it is a performance based relationship. Now people are trying to be good enough to be worthy of God.

Jesus was forgiving sins before the cross, so what was different about the cross? He became sin. He took all of the sins from all of mankind, up until the minute of judgment, on to Himself and became the last sin sacrifice that was ever needed. Sin is really anything that separates us from His presence; anything that is not of God.

It doesn’t stop there though. When Adam was created, he was given the authority over the earth. When Adam sinned, his spirit side died and his authority was lost. The death and resurrection allows the spirit side to be resurrected in us. The devil was defeated, so Jesus reclaimed the authority over the earth. Acceptance of Jesus means we follow God and submit to Him. By doing this, we become adopted sons/daughters and share the inheritance of Jesus. I think most people don’t like this part. They don’t identify with it.

With heaven and hell, we all are eternal. Jesus even said all sins are forgiven us except one. Sin doesn’t send us to hell. Rejection of God does that.

Of course, if you don’t believe it, it doesn’t matter.