Friday, April 30, 2010

Keep your eyes on Jesus ...

I met with a group of people last night, discussing what Roman Catholics believed and why. There was some segues, that included the aspect of Jesus walking on the water, and Peter coming out to meet him. Peter's doing fine, until he realizes how strong the waves are, and then starts to sink. He calls for Jesus to save him. Jesus does, while telling Peter that he was of little faith, and asking why he doubted (Matthew 14:22-33)

The discussion then went into the area where "keep your eyes on Jesus" has sparked song after song after song, about how things are fine so long as you keep your eyes on Jesus. As soon as your gaze goes elsewhere, you start to sink.

The discussion swirled in my head for a while, and now I'm wondering ... if Peter had a physical Jesus in front of him, physically violating the laws of nature, physically calling out to Peter to join him ... and Peter still took his eyes off Jesus, what hope do Christians have 2,000 years later when they just have the spiritual aspect? When keeping one's eyes on Jesus is essentially a mental effort, because there is no physical Jesus to look at and to hear? When keeping one's eyes on Jesus is dependent upon what reads in a book, as opposed to Peter, who had daily encounters with Jesus and the works Jesus performed?

That, and Jesus wasn't kind to Peter at this loss of confidence. The more I read the Gospel, the more Jesus comes across as unsympathetic to human frailties.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Even 0.0000000001% of sin hellbounds you.

By now, I'm sure everyone is aware of all Catholic Church scandals, in terms of some priests raping children, and then the church hierarchy essentially covering it up.

The defenses used by the Church have infuriated me. One is that other organizations also have their problems, and yet the Church is singled out due to anti-Catholicism. Well, other organizations don't claim that the head of their organization is the "Vicar of Christ," or that their organization is infallible or has a direct connection to God, or is the light of the world.

The other defense I see in some circles is that we also have to take all the good the Church has done into consideration. While these crimes are evil, it doesn't make the entire Church evil.

I don't know enough about Catholic theology, but from what I've read in standard evangelism, God can't stand even a micro spot of sin in His presence. It doesn't matter how many good works you do, those good works don't cancel out the sin/s. The sin is enough to taint all the good works. So if, in evangelical theology, the Church was an individual standing before God, asking God to take into consideration all the good works, even though said individual had either raped children or participated in a cover-up ... the Evangelical Theology would say the good works were essentially meaningless, as the crime tainted everything.

If Catholic Theology operates differently in terms of good works somewhat compensating for sins, then my question is meaningless. But if it doesn't, then I have to ask ... if your own theology, your own God Himself, cannot use good works to overlook sin ... why in turn are your defenders requesting that the world at large do something that goes against God's character? That goes against your very theology?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jennifer Knapp and a closet ...

... so apparently,Jennifer Knapp has announced that she's a lesbian, and has been in a same-sex relationship for eight years.

The results from her Christian fanbase are what one would expect in this situation. So far, I think my favorite comment -- not in the link above -- has been someone advising fellow Christians to refrain from bashing her, but to also not support her, instead. This includes refraining from purchasing her upcoming album, as well as her prior albums. This commenter also said that all Christians were to remember that only God can judge, and they have no place telling her she's a sinner, and thus don't pass earthly judgment on her.

Now, where I come from, advising people to not purchase an artist's material because the artists lifestyle or belief system is immoral is passing judgment on that artist. I am judging that artist to be incapable with my system of morality, and so refraining from associating with said artist. But that's just me.

Or another one about how Christians don't judge people, they judge actions. I'm uncertain how the two are separated -- there would be no actions to judge unless the people were committing the actions. It's like calling someone a liar, and then saying, "I'm not judging you, I'm judging your action." The two can't be distinguished. Or in a murder trial -- you are judging what the person has done, and then holding that person accountable for the action.

There's also the standard "We just have to pray that God will help her/use someone to show her the truth." So far, my favorite pray comment is "We have to pray that God would help her to pray to Him ... " I was hoping for a comment along the lines, "God is using this to tell us to pray to Him that Jennifer will come to God and be healed."

I do admire Jennifer's courage in confessing this, and I'm glad that she's reached a point where she can be honest about who she is. And that she had the courage to do this, even though she had to know the backlash that would result.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The poor will be with you, always.

Only I can't help but hear that title in Obi-Wan Kenobi's voice where he says, "The force will be with you. Always."

I've been reading some non-fiction lately. One is The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government and the other is Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

The first one did deal mostly with the rise of lobbyism, but one of the other areas it explored was when Newt Gingrich did his whole Contract with America back in the 1980s, and how Tom Delay really worked to cement Republican control of Congress. Part of the tactics used to gain that control, in terms of getting the Republicans voted in, was the use of negative ads. Before, many of the ads focused on the positive traits of the candidates running: what they stood for, what they would do, what they had accomplished. Now, the ads shifted towards negative aids involving the opponents -- and these ads weren't always truthful.

I started thinking about this in terms of the conservative Christian movement, and how drawn they were to the Republicans. I try and put that pull in context of verses such as these:

And now, my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable -- fill all your thoughts with these things. Philippians 4: 8-9

Live like men who are at home in the daylight, for where light is, there all goodness springs up, all justice and truth. Try to find out what would please the Lord; take no part in the barren deeds of darkness, but show them up for what they are Ephesians 5: 8-12

Then put to death those parts of you which belong to the earth -- fornication, indecency, lust, foul cravings, and the ruthless greed which is nothing less than idolatry ... but now you must yourselves lay aside all anger, passion, malice, cursing, filthy talk -- have done with them! ... Then put on the garments that suit God's chosen people, his own, his beloved: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience ... Portions of Colossians 2: 5-13.

And, of course, the ever famous fruits of the Spirit passage: Anyone can see the kind of behavior that belongs to the lower nature: fornication, impurity, and indecency; idolatry and sorcery; quarrels, a contentious temper, envy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, party intrigues, and jealousies; drinking bouts, orgies, and the like ... but the harvest of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control Galations 5: 19-21, 22-23

Based on those passages alone, I would expect that conservative Christians would've been the last to have been drawn in by the party that first used the negative ads and the lies. Especially as the use of both demonstrates a less than stellar character. Instead, the conservative Christians come across as almost attracted to the very thing that should repel them.

Now, I know there were a lot of complexities behind the marriage of Republicans and conservative Christians. I simply found the correlation interesting, as it doesn't match what -- per the Bible -- one is expected to see.

In the case of the latter book, the author mentioned in the afterward how at one college, the conservative students and state legislatures protested her book in the college curriculum, as they felt it promoted "Marxism." I'm wondering how many of those conservative protesters would claim to be devout followers of the One who inspired their Holy Book -- the same Book that emphasizes, over and over again, how exploited the poor are and how much they need help. And the Nickel and Dimed book operates on the same vein: how exploited the poor are, and the help they need to lead better lives.