According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Friday, January 4, 2013

Where Does Jesus Fit in with Other Religions?

For all my sci-fi friends: you're welcome!  ;)
Is Christianity the One True Religion?
by Rebecca Trotter
January 3, 2013
Arg – I was going to try to shape this all into a nice, creative post, but I’m busy, y’all. Olivia gave herself her 3 year old hair cut today and I haven’t even gotten the lovely curls up off the bedroom floor yet. You should all send money and buy my books so I can hire a baby sitter.
Anyhow, after my last post on witnessing, Dan Rial of This is My Story sent me an email wondering about my ideas regarding the particularity of Jesus. You know – the claim by Jesus that “I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the father but by me.” In many Christian circles this is used as a proof text to show that all other religions are false (and probably demonic) and that only Jesus believing Christian folks can get to heaven.
I asked him if it would be OK if I shared my response with the rest of y’all and he said yes and I said that I’d tell you all to go check out his blog. He’s a very good writer and I really enjoy his perspective, so you really should too. After you read this, of course!

- Rebecca
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"[Hi Dan.] About your concern re the particularity of Jesus, I’m glad you brought it up. As is usual for me (and I swear I don’t do this on purpose!), I affirm the orthodox position while also understanding it a bit differently than is common. And you may not agree with my understanding – which is fine. I don’t believe theology ought to be something which divides and angers us unless our theology defames God or causes actual direct harm to people. So, please be assured that disagreements and challenges don’t upset me in the least.
"So what I believe is that Jesus is THE way, THE truth and THE life and that no one comes to the father but by him. However, most Christians basically change that text to read that “no one comes to the father but by believing in” Christ. Now, I do believe that there are benefits and rewards for those who affirm Christ knowingly and by name. Scriptures promise us that. I also believe that it is desirous that every man would know and serve Jesus in that way. However, it is also true that God, like the land owner in the parable of the talentsreaps where he did not sow and gathers where he did not scatter seed.” Anyone who seeks after and submits themselves to love is seeking after and submitting to God. God is love. There is no expression or experience of love apart from God whether he is known or named or not.
"I see other religions very much along the lines of what Paul told the Athenians when he said that the unknown God they worshiped was God himself and then quoted pagan poetry in order to illustrate the fact that although they did not know this God by name, tradition or doctrine, they had still attained some measure of understanding about him.
"It is my understanding that any time someone is are able to find some measure of love and truth, this is due to the work of Jesus – both his salvic work and his creative work – “through him all things were made”. But this reality is not dependent on human knowledge, understanding or even acceptance of Jesus. I think of it as being a lot like oxygen. Oxygen existed and was sustaining our very lives for a long time before anyone knew it was there or what it did or even that they depended on it for life. The life sustaining work of oxygen doesn’t depend on human knowledge, acknowledgment or understanding. I think that the truth that no man can come to the father – or can even know love – outside of Jesus is much the same. It is a truth which exists all on its own regardless of whether we know or accept it as true.
"I do believe that the day will come when it is revealed to all mankind that every good thing in their life – all the love, the joy, the beauty, etc – exists because of Jesus and no other teacher or prophet can lay claim to those things. And I believe that will be the day when every knee bows to Jesus. Those of us who know Jesus personally don’t have to wait for that day and I believe that is a great blessing on our lives and for our standing in the Kingdom. Other prophets and teachers may have been able to testify to whatever truth they knew, but Jesus is the truth through which every good thing comes into existence.
"All of my life I have been close friends with people who are Muslim, Buddhist or even atheist. In fact some of the smartest, best, most honest people I have known have been atheists. They have all known that I think they ought to be Christians. But they also know that if they aren’t going to be Christians, my hope for them is that they would be the most devout, loving Muslim, Buddhist or whatever that they can be. God and Jesus will take and receive the credit in due time. (FWIW, I’m also fully aware that my non-Christian friends believe that time will prove that I am wrong. Which is fine. We can disagree and leave it at that. Time will tell that I’m right. ;P )
"It’s not that I hold to the idea that there are many paths up the mountain. Rather, I believe that there is only one path up the mountain and you can call it different things and you can bring different baggage with you as you climb it, but the reality is that there is no other way up the mountain except for the way that Jesus offers – love, sacrifice, humility, patience, peace, forgiveness, endurance, etc. God’s truth is written into reality and we all carry his image within us. Anytime someone looks for divine love, they will find whatever measure of that love and truth which they are able to hold. So there are many faith traditions which hold some measure of truth – nothing which you can’t also find in Christianity as well, to be sure. But I think this we do see so many commonalities between religions despite wildly different ideas about the reality of life and our spiritual existence.
'Ultimately, I believe that the Christian faith is the truest, clearest, least encumbered revelation man has for how to walk that path, know it and understand it. It is without any doubt in my mind, the surest way to make the climb to God, to our salvation and to the redeemed world we’ve all been seeking.

"And for those of you wondering, “but what about hell?”, please check out the series I did last year on just that topic.
"BTW, have you “Liked” The Upside Down World on Facebook yet? You should. And if you like something you read here, please pass it on – those of you who are regular readers know I don’t just need a babysitter – I need an editor as well. Just look at the egregious use of dashes going on in that last “sentence”!
- Rebecca

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