Letters to a Pastor, Experiencing Resurrection: Volume One

Do you believe in life after death? Do you believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ? How about Lazarus? Or the many dead who were raised simultaneously during Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:52-53)?

Earlier this year I attended a church called “The Garden” in Chatsworth, CA at the behest of one of my dear friends and co-workers. The sermon there was on resurrection—more specifically on “experiencing” Jesus’ resurrection in a physical way. The message, simply put, was that Christians need to grieve just as much as normal people do when they lose a loved one and that God understands this grieving process. The lesson was taught via the story of Lazarus as detailed in the Gospel of John (John 11).

Naturally, I had some problems with the message. It’s my personal opinion that any Christian who truly believes the gospel accounts of Jesus Christ, and the Bible as a whole, should be positively delighted when a loved one passes away. After thinking about this for quite some time, I decided to e-mail the pastor my thoughts on the matter. The body of the e-mail, edited slightly due to extraneous personal information, is below:

 

Dear Pastor Kim,

I’ve listened to the sermon three times now and the overall message seems to be that we should be “real” with God. We should be okay with airing our grievances when we’ve lost a loved one. We should come to Him first and allow ourselves to make requests, feel hurt, be angry or anything in between. You said many times that Christians shouldn’t just say, “praise Jesus” when someone they love passes, to which I couldn’t help but ask myself—why not?

For the Christian who’s lost a fellow believer, the idea of traditional mourning seems, at best, unnecessary and, at worst, an indictment on the mourner’s faith. Christian or not, you will undoubtedly miss your loved one and their company once they’ve passed away. But for the Christian, a newfound feeling of emptiness can’t compare to how ecstatic you must be to know that said loved one has been reunited with their perfect Creator. Your loved one is watching over you in a place of unfathomable and unending ecstasy. If anything, this should be cause for celebration. And how selfish would it be for us to wish that person were back on earth, slugging it out in a fallen world, simply to assuage our feeling of loss? The Christian will be comforted by the belief that in the relative blink of an eye, they will be reunited with their loved one—in God’s glory—for all time. So, what on earth does the Christian who truly believes in the afterlife have to grieve for?

Maybe they lost someone close to them who was not a believer? This is somewhat more understandable, but even here the grieving process for the Christian should be mitigated in a major way by their faith. Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So the believing Christian isn’t able to say that the loss of an unbeliever was somehow a “mistake” or that it was not intended to be a benefit to them (and other believers) in the long run. Indeed, the unbeliever’s death is all part of God’s perfect plan for those who love Him. But more than that, the Christian knows the attributes of God—perfectly loving, perfectly just, all-knowing—so on and so forth. Even though it may seem unfair from the human perspective, we know that because God exhibits these qualities the unbeliever got exactly what they deserved—no matter how good of a person they were, or how much we personally miss them. So again, for the Christian who truly believes in the afterlife—and who also truly believes in God’s sovereignty—what is there to mourn?

Even if this very “human” (as you called it) grieving process turns out to be necessary, it’s still unclear why we should be telling God how we feel and what we want. After all, He already knows what’s written on our hearts and minds without us having to form those thoughts and feelings into words. And since prayer doesn’t usually utilize speaking anyway, why is it so important that we think these thoughts specifically to God? Can He only respond to thoughts when we bow our heads a certain way or clasp our hands? Beyond the logistics of communicating those thoughts to Him, what could we possibly ask for that’s a tenable solution to our problems? Why is it important to let Him know what we think when He’s already fashioned a superior plan? How comforting is it to ask for something and interpret a “no”—or not get any answer at all? Since He’s sovereign over all of creation, how much sense does it make to be upset about a situation that He manufactured in the first place?

I don’t have good answers for any of these questions, but I can say that as an atheist I happen to believe in the efficacy of the grieving process. Much has been written about effective ways of dealing with our emotions—studies show it’s generally better for our happiness to write feelings down, rather than talk about them for instance—but these approaches are rather “worldly” and rest firmly on the notion that the loss of a loved one is permanent. So, I’m a bit surprised that Christians, despite laying claim to spiritual knowledge of life after death, can’t (or choose not to) circumvent the normal steps of the grieving process. Why don’t the truths of Christianity better equip believers to deal with death than the truths of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or atheism? It appears that the promises of Christianity aren’t truly believed—even by Christians—and so they must suffer through the heartaches of life like everyone else. If this were not the case, Christians would be deeply consoled by the simple and elegant truth that God is sovereign over all and salvation comes to those who accept it from Jesus Christ. But no human knows—beyond the shadow of a doubt—what happens after death. For this reason I think we all want to experience a resurrection, even if it’s just to ask “what’s it like on the other side?”

If the story of Lazarus is to be taken as literal history, rather than metaphor, then Mary, Martha, Jesus and even the Jewish mourners who were present during Jesus’ miracle could’ve asked this question. But sadly they did not. Or if they did, the scriptures leave that detail out. Which is pretty striking considering the power of the question and it’s potential answer; it’s something mankind has asked itself since we were capable of doing so. If this answer had been recorded then perhaps Christians would have the depth of faith required to truly believe in the doctrine of life after death—rendering the grieving process useless, or at the very least reduced in severity. But, unfortunately, the Lazarus story is glaringly without conclusion. Jesus’ final line, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” is hardly a fitting end. We don’t know if Lazarus praised Jesus—or if Mary and Martha did. We get no picture of what Lazarus’ life was like after the resurrection. How many more years did he live? How did he die? Was he miserable, having already experienced heaven?

But I believe the most important detail is that God (via Jesus in this case) intentionally creates the suffering of Lazarus, his family and the “many” Jewish mourners present from Jerusalem to prove a point—namely that he is the Son of God and everything is part of his master plan. As soon as Jesus hears about Lazarus, he says, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” He goes on to tell the disciples before they reach Bethany, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So we know that he was intentionally waiting for Lazarus to die by staying in “Bethany beyond the Jordan” for two days after hearing the news.

But is the contrived grief of waiting for Lazarus to die really worth it? Wouldn’t the healing of Lazarus on his deathbed be miraculous enough to prove who Jesus was? In fact, it’s incredibly easy to imagine a situation in which Jesus could prove beyond doubt that he was the Son of God—without the emotional trauma of inflicting death on his close friend’s family. He could’ve just as easily gathered all of the people that needed to get the message, brought them into the middle of the desert and had God rain down fire that spelled out “I am real and Jesus is my Son.” No life lost. No grief induced. The notion that Mary and Martha had to lose their brother in order for people to believe Jesus was the Son of God strains credulity—especially since they themselves never lost faith after Lazarus’ death, and the disciples had already witnessed a litany of miracles firsthand.

Naturally, we assume Jesus had good reason for inducing the emotional collateral damage that a funeral caused over four days for Lazarus’ family and friends. But if some “higher” inscrutable plan was at play here, it again begs the important question: why is it necessary or fruitful to mourn? We know from the story that Mary and Martha were deeply upset at the loss of their brother. But we also know that if that was part of the plan to begin with, no amount of suffering and grieving on their parts could’ve changed it. If Mary and Martha had not been sad at all, Jesus still would’ve raised Lazarus. In fact, the moral of this story seems to be that we should trust completely in Jesus at all times, even when the consequences look particularly dire. Potentially the exact opposite of “being real” with God about what we want to happen and how we feel about a given situation.

So even after hearing your sermon multiple times, I’m still racked with questions about how effective it could possibly be to mourn as a Christian—if indeed it’s necessary given the beliefs held. I’m sure if we could see God’s plan laid out before us we would probably be content, but since we can’t we have to rely on blind faith. Blind faith in, not only what happens to us when we die, but in God’s overall plan for the good of His believers. And when our faith isn’t strong enough, God’s plan is still present and active, so what is the ultimate point of being frustrated with it? Ultimately, would we want to change God’s perfect plan—even if we could? This is not a new problem for Christianity; just one that I believe is illustrated rather well in your sermon, and I’d be curious to know how you and your church answer these questions.

Thank you for your time and I hope this letter finds you well.

Sincerely,
Mike Wierzenski

 

So, any Christians out there have compelling answers to those questions? How do you feel knowing that a believing loved one will go to heaven when they die? Why do you feel this way?

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10 Responses to Letters to a Pastor, Experiencing Resurrection: Volume One

  1. Emily says:

    Covered so many points that I find disconcerting as an Atheist in a Christian and Mormon family… Great read.

  2. Kelly says:

    A straight forward, considerate, and provocative response to a fundamental cornerstone of the Christian faith. Thank you for highlighting ideas and external perspectives.

  3. Jeremiah says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It seems evident that you have spent a lot of time thinking about these things and posing your thoughts into well formed questions. I do appreciate the writing. As a practicing Christian, I have responses to each of your questions, although they are merely personal convictions. (I don’t presume my beliefs are universally shared by other Christians.) I’m curious to know why you ask these questions and are engaging in this form of dialogue. If you are thoroughly convinced in what you know and believe, what is the benefit from engaging in a conversation like this? Are you trying to be open-minded about what Christians believe? Or are you trying to help Christian’s see the misguided-ness in their belief system? Or do you just enjoy health intellectual dialogue? Or are you just processing your thoughts externally, and your Blog is a forum for helping you think? The answer to that question is important because it affects who actually ends up responding to your questions; You’re only going to get nods and agreeable posts from fellow atheists (or super-defensive posts from Christians). Being a critical thinker is good and important, but if a Christian (or any rational thinking person) feels like their values are being attacked, they will be defensive. I personally would choose not to respond to this letter (even though, yes, it is polite, well articulated, and attempts to approach religion on common ground) simply because I sense you have already made up your mind about this issue, and my response to you would simply be a waste of my time. In the same way many Atheists have had bad experiences with close-minded bigoted Christians who push their manipulative agendas on to others, I too have had many encounters with close-minded Atheists with a superiority complex on a crusade to mock and expose feeble-minded Christians. I’m just saying, it goes both ways. So I’ll repeat my questions: What is the purpose of this blog?

    • The primary purpose of the blog is to synthesize in writing (hopefully) new ideas and perspectives. A natural byproduct of this (also hopefully) will be honest, intellectual discourse.

      Jeremiah, you’re right in observing that my mind is rather made up, just as a Christian’s mind is undoubtedly made up. However, taking a hard stance does not mean that my mind is closed to new evidence. The position of atheism is to disbelieve until adequate evidence is presented — that’s why discourse is so important. One hopes that an atheist wouldn’t continue disbelieving in the face of strong evidence for god’s existence or vice versa. No Christian will tell you that they believe entirely based on faith. Christians have reasons and evidences for their belief. My primary concern is discussing what these might be. You yourself mentioned having reasons of “personal conviction” for your belief to which I must wonder why these convictions are strong enough to form your belief but not strong enough to objectively justify that belief? Does that speak to a problem with the belief or with our sense of evidence? What could we present to prove our case either way?

      Additionally, I’m not particularly worried about the idea of attacking beliefs. The fact is that beliefs are unceremoniously attacked all the time, but culturally we’re trained to treat religious belief differently. Would a right minded person not “attack” racism as a morally bankrupt and rationally indefensible position? Would not the racist feel some sense of offense? If someone is going to get defensive about a belief they hold, I can only hope they have the intellectual honesty to realize why they need to get defensive in the first place. Whether or not they share these thoughts publicly is, of course, their prerogative but reflection on an ill-formed belief cannot happen unless we first take the initiative to challenge belief by sharing our own thoughts.

      Ultimately that’s the purpose of the blog and I thank you for your thoughts.

  4. Jeremiah says:

    I did not respond to your posed questions and share my beliefs in my initial comment to gauge what type of discussion you wanted to engage in. Your response has given me a clearer sense of it.

    To clarify a few of the questions you directed at me: You yourself mentioned having reasons of “personal conviction” for your belief to which I must wonder why these convictions are strong enough to form your belief but not strong enough to objectively justify that belief? Does that speak to a problem with the belief or with our sense of evidence? What could we present to prove our case either way?
    I think some discussions are pointless and circular, especially when the two parties have already strongly formed opinions on the issue and are close-minded. I choose not to participate in such dialogues. I don’t have any issues with sharing my beliefs and convictions in an objective manner, but not with someone where I feel the dialogue will not be fruitful.

    Would a right minded person not “attack” racism as a morally bankrupt and rationally indefensible position? Would not the racist feel some sense of offense?
    I absolutely agree with you. There is no objection from me. I think it’s fair that every person examine his or her own belief system, as well as be able to defend it. But like I mentioned earlier, sometimes I feel like the rhetoric is pointless when no meaningful communication can be made. Not all people can communicate effectively with one another. I prefer not to waste my time on close-minded people (and this is true whether the person is religious or Atheist). The irony is that I don’t support super-defensive Christians, I’m merely stating that these are the types of responses you are likely to receive (dependent on the tone of your writing.)
    You had a slew of questions, which I will try and articulate my belief regarding. To preface my responses, I must inform you that although I profess myself to be a practicing Christian, I DO NOT identify with the mainstream Christian culture. We probably agree on 90%+ on all the criticisms of Christian culture, and how harmful Christianity is as an institution. I have had terrible experiences with organized religion, but I do consider myself to be a student of the teachings of Jesus. And yes, occasionally I do even study the Bible.

    Do you believe in life after death? Do you believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ? How about Lazarus? Or the many dead who were raised simultaneously during Jesus’ crucifixion (Matthew 27:52-53)?
    To answer the question “Do I believe in life after death?”  I would say I believe some form of consciousness does exist, even after the death of our bodies. Objectively speaking, I think scientifically it’s improbable, but still possible. And it’s also something I choose to believe in because of things Jesus says. I acknowledge it may be scientifically irrational, but this is one fact I choose to trust without evidence (aka faith).

    Do I believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ? Yes, I believe in his return. In what form will he be? I’m not sure. If a God in the universe exists, and I believe God once took the form of a human being, how much harder is it to extend my belief that he could take human form again, even after death? It’s not that much of an extension.

    So, what on earth does the Christian who truly believes in the afterlife have to grieve for? … So again, for the Christian who truly believes in the afterlife—and who also truly believes in God’s sovereignty—what is there to mourn? … why is it necessary or fruitful to mourn?
    This is a great question that you pose, that I myself would pose to those who profess to believe in the teachings of Jesus. I personally believe grieving is a physiological process that happens in the body (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/220427.php). Whether Christians authentically believe a loved one “lives on” in the next life or not, they will still miss that person. Ask any attached mother who is sending off her child to college. She feels a sense of loss, and it has nothing to do with what she believes about whether or not she will ever see her child again; Moms will still cry. The child may still even be a part of her life, but psychologically, her body is trying to find a way to cope with her newly presented circumstances. (I liked the articles and the points you made about the grieving process, by the way. I agree with you about those articles and the grieving process.)

    I was once involved in a mildly traumatic event the year I graduated college. I was traveling abroad with a group of friends, and one of my friends (who was older than me and was a bit of a mentor to me) drowned while we were at the beach. It was traumatic for all of us who were there when it happened. All of us were Christians. Although we grieved together, we also took joy in the life he lived. (Those that experienced post-traumatic stress from the experience of dragging him out of the water and tried to resuscitate had to receive counseling for quite some time after the incident.) I personally took joy in his life, and I would not mind living and dying in the same way as my friend. His life and death continue to stay with me, even after all these years.

    So to respond to your fact about why religious people grieve, it’s not because deep down they are faithless and don’t actually believe what they profess to believe (although I’m sure that happens plenty), it may simply be a physiological, human process happening to them.

    After all, He already knows what’s written on our hearts and minds without us having to form those thoughts and feelings into words. And since prayer doesn’t usually utilize speaking anyway, why is it so important that we think these thoughts specifically to God? Can He only respond to thoughts when we bow our heads a certain way or clasp our hands? Beyond the logistics of communicating those thoughts to Him, what could we possibly ask for that’s a tenable solution to our problems? Why is it important to let Him know what we think when He’s already fashioned a superior plan? How comforting is it to ask for something and interpret a “no”—or not get any answer at all? Since He’s sovereign over all of creation, how much sense does it make to be upset about a situation that He manufactured in the first place?
    I don’t subscribe to the belief that prayer must be done a specific way. I do believe God is capable (and does) hear man’s thoughts at all times. So in my world-view belief system, my life and thoughts are in constant, continuous communication with God. There is no thought that goes unheard and no action (good or regretful) that goes unseen. In fact, I don’t make distinctions of what types of acts people do as being something “religious” or “non-religious” (aka secular). I believe it’s all the same to God, whether we’re confiding and processing our thoughts (aka praying), or eating, or taking care of our responsibilities, or doing “charity”, or just living life. My belief is that life is precious, and God sees it as precious, and takes joy in ordinary pleasures much like a father takes joy in seeing their toddler take joy in simple pleasures.
    I’m not sure if I address most of your questions ( I know I didn’t address them all), but one thing I want to mention is that I believed people are flawed. People in the Bible are flawed. Christians are flawed. Even what Christians think or believe is often flawed. Jesus himself has on occasion rebuked the mindless mob following him and criticized them as not understanding him even though they profess to follow him. By the own admission of Christians themselves, Christians believe that to be human means to inherently be flawed. So even if individual Christians act inconsistent with their beliefs, the integrity of what Christians believe is still consistent. I hope I communicated my convictions in a way you understand.

    • I think some discussions are pointless and circular, especially when the two parties have already strongly formed opinions on the issue and are close-minded.

      I don’t see any reason to assume that either of us are too close minded to participate in such a discussion, if that’s what you’re suggesting. The trouble is we can never be certain that a conversation will be “fruitful,” as you say. People are not usually quick to change their opinion on religious matters, so even if I inveigh my opinion repeatedly and observe no outward effect, it doesn’t mean that there categorically hasn’t been an effect—just that I’m not witnessing it. There’s no dictum saying a person can’t reassess their position following a verbal or written debate. In other words, without powers of prognostication, it’s impossible to determine which of our conversations will in fact be fruitful.

      I DO NOT identify with the mainstream Christian culture.

      Then I’m particularly interested in what you have to say and particularly interested in making sure I properly understand your worldview.

      So to respond to your fact about why religious people grieve, it’s not because deep down they are faithless and don’t actually believe what they profess to believe (although I’m sure that happens plenty), it may simply be a physiological, human process happening to them.

      I couldn’t agree more. And the whole point of my line of questioning is this—does it make sense that god grants spiritual truth and knowledge to Christians about life after death only to condemn them to the same fate of physiological grief as everyone else? Or is it much more likely that there is no such thing as a comforting god or spiritual truth and that humans all deal with grief in the same way?

      So even if individual Christians act inconsistent with their beliefs, the integrity of what Christians believe is still consistent.

      The problem with Christianity (and probably any religion) is that any pillar you point to as “central” or necessary for belief will be disputed by another—equally as Christian—Christian. Did Jesus exist? Did Jesus literally rise from the dead? Is Genesis a literal account of creation? Can an unsaved soul go to heaven? Is hell a real place? On and on we could go, ad infinitum.

      That’s why I’m curious why you call yourself a practicing Christian despite the fact that:

      We probably agree on 90%+ on all the criticisms of Christian culture, and how harmful Christianity is as an institution.

      Which beliefs do you specifically hold to be core tenets of your faith? What exactly does it mean to you to be a student of the teachings of Jesus? Could you still be a Christian but also be a student of the teachings of Buddha? Do you believe that the Bible as a book is special over other books? The answers to these questions must have a profound effect on your worldview and so I’d be very interested to hear what they might be.

      And if I’ve skipped over points from your previous response it’s because you provided cogent, satisfactory responses—well done.

  5. Jeremiah says:

    Before I respond to you question(s), I’d like you to tell me what you perceive Jesus’ main contribution to humanity/society is. And while we’re at it, I want to hear your thoughts about the contributions of Buddha, and the Prophet Mohammed as well (in the aspect of these people as social figures, what message they speak about, what ideas/values they promote). If you want, you can add your thoughts about modern figures like MLK, Ghandi, Malcom X, Che, etc., but really, I want to hear what you think about the first three figures. I’m curious.

    • As far as burden of proof is concerned, it rests squarely on those who claim any of the individuals you mentioned were “more than men.” That they were either partly divine or had access to divine knowledge. While my knowledge of the historicity of Siddhartha Gautama and Muhammad is lacking, the beauty of empiricism is that I don’t have to know every facet of their lives to assess whether the beliefs they advocated really work. If Muslims had special access to divine knowledge we should be able to look to their culture and their lifestyles and see something worth admiring. I do not. I do see something worth admiring in proscientific studies of human empathy and morality, where they derive from and what they can tell us about ourselves.

      As far as Jesus is concerned, I believe that it is probable there was a man named Jesus (Eashoa) in and around ancient Israel who may have taught something similar to the lessons we now read in the Bible. Unfortunately there is little to no evidence that this man existed and absolutely no evidence that he was in any way divine. We can again view the Bible through the lens of empiricism to see that it’s patently clear there is no knowledge contained within its pages that couldn’t be attributed to common sense or life experience. So even if Jesus did exist, and even if he was divine, I have little reason to believe in the efficacy of what’s been left behind in the Bible.

      We can extract prudent teachings from the Quran, the Bible or Buddhist Sutras if we examine them not as literal truth but as metaphor and mythology with life “lessons” contained therein, but the same could be said of Harry Potter. So why go through the trouble? Why don’t we just cut out the inferior middleman? Let us look forward using science, logic and empathy for our fellow man. These three will take us further than any Bronze Age thinker or literature ever could.

  6. Jeremiah says:

    The problem with Christianity (and probably any religion) is that any pillar you point to as “central” or necessary for belief will be disputed by another—equally as Christian—Christian. Did Jesus exist? Did Jesus literally rise from the dead? Is Genesis a literal account of creation? Can an unsaved soul go to heaven? Is hell a real place? On and on we could go, ad infinitum.

    That’s why I’m curious why you call yourself a practicing Christian despite the fact that:

    We probably agree on 90%+ on all the criticisms of Christian culture, and how harmful Christianity is as an institution.

    Which beliefs do you specifically hold to be core tenets of your faith? What exactly does it mean to you to be a student of the teachings of Jesus? Could you still be a Christian but also be a student of the teachings of Buddha? Do you believe that the Bible as a book is special over other books? The answers to these questions must have a profound effect on your worldview and so I’d be very interested to hear what they might be.

    I have no qualms with losing the label of being a Christian, because to me the label means very little. It’s just by convention, many people would label me a Christian because of the tenants of my belief. Of course I don’t believe many of the same things that Catholics believe and I don’t believe in many things that Protestants believe, but the core tenants of my belief categorically describe me as a Christian. (I follow the teachings of Jesus.)

    I believe the spiritual truths that Jesus shares with the world are true. (Am I suggesting these presented evidences are “proof” that Jesus is a deity or “proof” that Jesus had access to divine knowledge? No. I’m not having a discussion in this forum to prove anything. I’m simply here to share my worldview as you requested. Proof regarding theological beliefs is a futile endeavor because there is none.)

    Could I be a student of Buddha, or Mohammed? The answer is no, simply because there are specific messages Jesus shares that resonate deeply with me as spiritual truths. Jesus specifically claims that he was divine, which sounds odd, but he does. It’s the worldview that Jesus presents about why God brought him into the world and save mankind that I identify as a a follower of Jesus.

    As far as the role of the Bible in my life. I don’t subscribe to it as if it were a set of rules and laws. I take each book at face value. Some books of the Bible are letters written from some followers of Jesus to another. Some books of the Bible are ancient cultural laws passed down through the centuries for cultural preservation. Some of the books are poems, and others are accounts of events. There are texts that are prescriptions (telling a person what they should do in specific events, how they should live their day-to-day life, etc.), and there are descriptions of events that simply happened. Jesus does himself study ancient scriptural texts, and some of the accounting of Jesus has become scriptural texts in themselves after Jesus’ life and death. Do I subscribe to the belief these are divinely inspired texts from God? Well.. I believe that these people had real encounters with God, so sure, God inspired them. But I believe God continues to have real encounters with us, so there could be modern texts that are also “divinely” inspired. My problem with ancient texts is that many of them present cultural bias in them, and to me, it is a misinterpretation of the message Jesus spoke about. But in my worldview, man-kind is a broken, messed up race of individuals. And if that were true, the accounts in the Bible would record a history that reflects this, which in my opinion does.

    In your next post about moderate Christians being ignorant, you quote 1 Corinthians.

    “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person…Therefore put away from yourselves the evil person.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-12

    Jesus himself was described as associating with sinners, tax-collectors, and those you describe as having alternative-lifestyles. Are there contradictory messages in the Bible? Sure, as someone looking at it objectively, I’ll admit that. Can these contradictory ideas be reconciled? In my logic and reasoning they can, but that is a different conversation. I will repeat my initial reasoning for responding to your post: I am not here to prove anything to you. I am simply sharing and presenting my worldview to you per your request. I responded to your post because I enjoy hearing about other people’s ways of thinking and other people’s worldviews.

    Thank you for the engaging discussion. Best of luck with your blog.

  7. Jeremiah says:

    Opps, I relieve I skipped over the core tenants of my belief:

    Jesus claims he is one with God, and that he was sent to reconcile mankind with God.

    This is at the heart of what I believe. Pretty simple.

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