Realizations

Philosophy in the Middle of the Desert

The god of Embarrassment October 22, 2014

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 1:48 pm
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I worship the god of Embarrassment.  Not in the same way I worship Jehovah.  For I worship Jehovah in praise and great joy and love and gratitude and rest.  But I burn incense on the altar of Embarrassment in great fear, so as to appease his spirits, to pacify him a little longer that I might have partial relief.  And yet Jesus said, you cannot serve two masters.  For you HAVE TO love one and hate the other.  You cannot serve both God and Mammon.  But I don’t serve Mammon; I serve Embarrassment.  And that HAS to change!  For right now I’m not open to doing ANYTHING God tells me to do, only those things which don’t conflict with my previous commitments to Embarrassment.  And so I bind the hand of God from healing this suffering world.  Just so I can live in an illusory comfort zone, hiding behind my rituals and tradition, trying to worship a man-made idol.

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My Valentine February 15, 2014

[written on 1/25/14 with my left hand, during 24 hours of silence; posted in honor of Valentine’s Day!]

If you’ve gone through a whole day without loving God, trusting God, or truly focusing in on Him/tuning into His voice… then you failed your top priority of the day.  The day was a failure.  You got an F.  You didn’t pass the test of loyalty.  After all, isn’t this the greatest commandment in the Old and New Testament, and indeed the meaning of life?  “Love the LORD your God with all your heart…”

If you don’t feel love for God in your heart something is wrong.  Stop everything you’re doing; take off from work if you have to.  Until you’re right with God, until you get to the place where you can honestly ask God to give you opportunities to proclaim His name today, to proclaim your Love.  And then go out actually looking for those opportunities.

God wants us to love Him like a lover — like in Song of Songs — consumed with Him as if we have a crush.  God wants me to run out through the fields to find a tree that I can carve a heart with both our initials in it.

We always put God on the shelf, getting Him out when it doesn’t conflict with anything else.  But why not put everything else on the shelf until it doesn’t conflict with God?  Why not love God and trust Him even if it means we die?  [21514- As my friend, Spencer Argow, pointed out to me last week, the last time I saw him before he died:  “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” ~Job 13:15]

[I should note that writing this article is my very act of living out my advice, as this came to me during a time when I have so much stuff people want me to do, and I chose to put it on the shelf until I’m right with God again.  It’s kind of corny, I know, but that’s the point!]

 

The Paralysis of Analysis November 29, 2012

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 12:26 am
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[Written on 112812- while on a spiritual high after seeing Shane Claiborne speak, and then having an extended time of devotion/meditation]

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” ~Heb 12:2

The Christian life is a race.  In a race you can’t think about how weak you feel, how tired you are, but you ignore those thoughts and just keep running.  Otherwise you start to dwell on them and then think how to soothe the pain: “just slow down a little, you can still win, or maybe you can go all out to win a later race.”  No, this is the only race we have to run.

Likewise, don’t even entertain negative/depressing/pessimistic thoughts, because once you allow them in, you inevitably start to dwell on them and then on how to soothe them, aside from God.  When in reality God is what you need to soothe them.  And He will soothe them if you give them to him.

Negative thoughts are never from God.  Why would he ever have reason to put a negative thought in your mind?  What good does it do?  Does it increase your faith?  Make you more in love with Him or others?  Make you more likely to share the gospel or serve?
No.  Never.  Negative thoughts are always from the enemy.

Some argue that they aren’t pessimistic, they’re just being realistic. “I’m a realist.”  But since when does God want us to be “realistic”?  Is the Holy Spirit’s intervention in our lives realistic?  Is the supernatural realistic?  No.  God has told us to hope beyond hope (Rom. 4:18).  Have hope even when it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem realistic.  After all, we really do have something to hope in that should trump all our current circumstances (salvation from sin/judgement, God’s presence and bliss in Heaven, the love and peace of God, the promise that all things work for our good).

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.”  ~1 Cor. 13:13

This is what you’re supposed to believe is realistic:  that you have to do it yourself, you’re helpless, God won’t supernaturally intervene for you, he won’t give you a supernatural filling of peace, you’re left on your own to fight for your whole life trying to survive (finding happiness, not in God but in food and entertainment and your job and comfort).  But is that really more realistic?  Of course not.  But the enemy plants the thought in your mind and once you entertain it, your emotions embrace it.

And yet this kind of thinking directly contradicts Jesus’ whole attitude on Earth, who said: “Do not be afraid anymore, only believe.” ~Mark 5:36, Luke 8:50

Just stop the introspection and live!  Just keep running!
Believe that God is good and really does love you!  Believe that He will actually keep the promises He made to you in the Bible.  Believe that if you resist the devil he WILL flee from you.  Just try it and see that it actually does work.  It gets easier each time, and the first time’s always the hardest.

When that little man in your head starts nagging again just tell him that you aren’t listening today, and keep running the race.  If he starts up again later, then tell him again and ignore him again.  Who is he anyways that you should believe him instead of God?  Instead of listening to him, listen to God.  Embrace the love, peace, truth and goodness of the things of God which he wants you to embrace.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” ~ Col. 3:1-2

Look up, not down.

Be others-focused, not self-focused.
(But don’t become judgmental towards others as you focus on them, be judgmental of your own sin first.)
Be others-serving, not self-serving.

You can’t change others, so don’t try to change others.  Only God can change them, so ask God to change them.  And leave the ball in His court.  Or does He not truly care for them more than even you do?

Ask that God would create a time of silence in their lives when they can hear Him clearly, hear what He wants to say to them, and ask that He Himself changes them, according to His will, in His timing.  That’s if they even do need to be changed the way you think they do.

Don’t criticize others; encourage them.

If you’re convicted about an area of their life, judge yourself in that area first.  And then let God change them.  If they’re to be changed by you at all, let it be by your love and their own love for God, and His spirit drawing them, convicting them so that they change by their own choice, by the Spirit’s enabling.

And remember that while the Christian life is a race, it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

Think only good things all the time.

🙂

 

These Elaborate Machines November 6, 2012

[as written 81311 – 31712, with additions on 11612]

 
On 81011 during our Bible Study prayer time, when it came time for my prayer requests, my small group leader prayed over me and lifted up my requests from the night, and I just started praying for the requests myself as if I wasn’t me.  As if from my universal, eternal soul that is not confined to a body or circumstances or personality, but the universal spirit that we all have before being shaped by our lives.  As I (the spirit, of God Himself perhaps, which is universally the same but individually molded depending on each person’s nature and nurture) was praying for Miles Prowers, who he is and has become, all that makes Miles Prowers Miles Prowers, that particular character in God’s story of Earth History.

And it produced in me a bizarre sympathy for me, as if I was praying for a dear friend who I knew more intimately than anyone else.  I prayed for his job, knowing just how stressful it was and how it conflicted with his extreme desires to be an artist.  I prayed for his brother, whom he’d always known and loved since youth.  It was a surreal experience that had no reason for happening, it just happened.  Since then I’ve never attempted to recreate that perspective, because it was kind of weird, and I’m not sure it was God-honoring, though I have no reason to believe it isn’t either; it’s just that I’d never thought or heard about something like that, so I don’t know what to think.

 

Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

 
But what are we really?  I can’t figure out how to distinguish between soul and spirit and mind and heart and body.  All I know is that in the beginning God created Adam from the dust and then breathed life into him, as if breathing in His own Spirit into him.  As if he constructed all these little organic machines and then turned them on by breathing His electricity into them.  So then do animals have spirits?  Do they have the spirit of God in them, keeping them alive?  Or was it just His Spirit that sparked them into motion and got fate in motion to carry itself out?  Obviously there is a stark contrast between the most sophisticated animal and the dumbest human, in that the dumbest human is still a human being.  Is the contrast because man has a spirit and animal does not?  As if when you took away the spirit in man he became an animal?  Or do they both have the breath of God’s Spirit in them both keeping them alive and man’s body is just that much more elaborate than the animal’s to allow for consciousness?  The electricity through these elaborate machines of ours.

 

Or do man and animal still have spirit at all after the initial God breathe?  If man is cloned will it be an animal version of man, with no consciousness?  I used to think so, but I doubt it now.  He’ll still have all the functions for consciousness that the physical brain allows.  He may be mentally retarded, as a copy is never as good as the original, but that doesn’t make him unconscious.  We are truly unique, self-conscious beings, but are we only machines made to resemble the one true Being?

 

[11612- An interesting note, made by an old, pot-smoking hippie I randomly met in The Parthenon while writing “Fade To White”: The Bible doesn’t say God breathed animals into being, only humans.  So there is a spiritual difference between us and animals, whatever that may be exactly.]

 

Humans are in a class of their own, caught between the animals and the angels, but the choice is ours as to which end of the spectrum we fall on.

 

And yet there is something supernatural in us that allows us to transcend nature and have intuition, feelings and other supernatural capabilities.  So do we each have individual spirits of our personalities, and that’s who we are?  Or are we anything at all?  Isn’t our individuality just the unique combination of our two parents’ previously-existing traits, mixed together and shaped through our surroundings in life?  If we do have individual spirits, where do these spirits and personalities come from?  The only logical conclusion is that they must have been directly assigned to us by God Himself who put certain spirits in certain bodies to have certain outcomes to make History go according to His great plan.  So it all comes around to the fact that we have nothing God has not given to us and we are nothing that God has not made us.

 

But there is no evidence of individual spirits that give us our personality aside from our nature/nurture make up.  I think perhaps more logical is that there is only one Spirit, that is, God Himself, who, according to His will, moves in us individually to give us those supernatural capabilities in certain times.  He periodically manifests His spirit in our hearts and minds and the natural realm to intervene and guide us away from the natural path of fate so that by divine inspiration we change our natural course, that we would naturally go down aside from His intervention.  Of course if there is only one Spirit, then what are we when our bodies die physically (the breath of life leaves) and yet we live on separately?

 
Ecclesiastes 12:7: “then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.

 
In Heaven what are our souls if we no longer have the body that created our personality?  Without our bodies what’s left?  If we do each have souls are they all the same generic soul/spirit that manifests differently given a different body to come out of, a different-shaped outlet?  It’s a mystery no mortal can solve.  So then, when those bodies die, wouldn’t the Spirit of God return to its source (God)?  This is the equivalent of Nirvana, where we exist in the afterlife, conscious, but not as our individual personality.  Rather we all exist as The Personality of God Himself.  And yet, there’s no mention of that concept in the Bible (our only sure-fire source of truth on the subject).

Isn’t it interesting that the Apocalyptic Bible passages all refer to us having bodies in Heaven.  Almost implying at times that we have no consciousness until our bodies are resurrected/glorified.  So, “we” are nothing without our bodies, but in Heaven our bodies are there, therefore our bodily-induced personalities live on through the bodies that make them.  Still, it’s entirely possible that at some point in the future of eternity even our glorified bodies will fade away, leaving behind the One Spirit in all of us, and “we” return to experience the euphoria of existence in oneness with The Spirit.

 

John 17:22:The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me.

 
Our bodies are simply our parents’ bodies combined.  God breathes spirit into us, giving us life, but it’s just the natural mysterious energy as it naturally flows through that machine of our parent-combination bodies.  However, when we’re born again, God’s Holy Spirit indwells us, which is not just the spirit of life, but actually God’s own personal Spirit living in us, actually Christ Himself.  So it’s not just our natural bodies at work, but Christ living and working with that physical body.

Which is why you actually witness people change to become different people after they’re Christians.  Non-believers can try to change and do self-help formulas and show signs of change, but they’re still the same people they’ve always been with the same tendencies they give into.  Only when another being comes into your body, living through you and changing you (not of your own energy and will-power), then can a person actually change into a real different person.  Because it really isn’t them anymore. It’s the perfect spirit of someone else, His mind living in our bodies, making choices and offering an alternative to our natural bent.  I am now partially Miles Prowers and partially Jesus Christ, but gradually becoming more of Jesus Christ and less of Miles Prowers, to the point where Jesus Christ is me, just with the looks, personality and memories of Miles Prowers.

 

Who am I? What am I? What even is “I”?  I don’t know.  Something between a random combination of atoms and God Himself.

 

[The mysteries expressed in this essay were condensed into a song entitled “Fade To White”.  You can hear it at soundcloud.com/terremotoothers.  Enjoy!]

//

 

CASTING [BAL]LOTS September 25, 2012

[as written 51212-61312, with additions on 92412]

 

Is it wrong to vote for something good, if it means that that same vote will support something bad?  When it comes to voting, it’s always a packaged deal.  And unfortunately, while politics used to just be about how the government operates, now America is so perverted and complicated that you’re forced to vote for and against moral issues.  And it’s come down to voting for the lesser of 2 evils.  Every single election. There’s just too many things you have to vote for these days.  But voting for 3 out of 4 good things isn’t bad, right?  I mean, if abortion is really the same disgusting holocaust in God’s eyes that it is in ours then it trumps all other political issues.  Shouldn’t we do whatever it takes to stop it just like we would stop Hitler if given the chance?  It seems obvious!  But it isn’t.  If killing a baby is murder and intrinsically wrong simply because it’s killing a human life, then why is it less evil to kill Hitler?  Is it less intrinsically evil to kill human lives if those lives are evil (or what your country sees as evil)? Maybe.  Maybe not.  Jesus is silent about it and so people are forced to disagree.

 

Stereotypically if I vote against abortion I’m also voting for a government with tendencies to enforce capital punishment and prolong war.  So it ultimately comes down to killing the unborn vs. killing adults.  With something as important as people’s damnation on the line, if you’re going to truly determine the “lesser of two evils”, you need to over-analyze all-case scenarios, taking logic as far as it can possibly go; and you’ll inevitably end up on metaphysical grounds.  It’s wrong to kill, as God commanded in the Ten Commandments right from the start, but which is worse: killing the unborn or adults?

 

Looking at it from a politically conservative side, the unborn are innocent and have absolutely no guilt worthy of punishment, whereas a criminal on death row has been tried and convicted for a crime which the country/state’s majority has deemed deserving of death.  It’s not unfair for the man on death row because he knew the consequence for his action before he did it; it is unfair for the innocent infant.  And when it comes to war, the soldiers that die died for a cause, usually a noble cause like defending their country and family or liberating an oppressed people group, and they also die with honor as a hero in their country (most of the time freely signing up for it).  Whereas the “noble cause” of abortion is to retain people’s careers, convenience and money.  And in the miniscule cases of rape, incest, or potential birth defects (which is often a wrong diagnosis on the doctor’s part), the benefit of abortion is that the child won’t have a potentially miserable life (by not existing at all).

 

But now we get to the crux of the whole issue.  As Christians we don’t live according to a physical perspective, but we need to see everything through the lens of eternity (aka salvation and damnation).  Our first and foremost goal in life should be to help the most possible souls go to Heaven and the fewest possible souls to go to Hell.  This includes the area of politics.
But coming from this traditional Christian perspective, if you’re completely honest, which is really worse: abortion or just war?  What happens to an aborted fetus in the spiritual realm?  Sent to Hell for the sins it didn’t exist long enough to commit?  Most Christians I know (clergy and laity alike) consider this unjust and they assume there must be an age of accountability, in other words a soul isn’t responsible for its sin until it becomes old enough TO sin, or at least consciously reject God’s salvation.  If this turns out to be how God really does things, then all abortees (over 50 million by now) are in Heaven.  But what happens to a “soul-dier”?  Chances are he goes straight to Hell, especially if he’s from a non-Christianized country.  And Death Row?  If they committed a sin worthy of capital punishment they probably ain’t going to Heaven.  Legalize abortion, no one goes to Hell.  Outlaw war/capital punishment and people have a better chance of finding salvation through Christ.  Outlaw abortion and you’ll possibly get a sudden surge of juvenile delinquency.

 

By that reasoning infanticide must be good!  And why stop at the infants?  Why not take it up to the very age of accountability?  Some say it’s 13 as that’s when a Jewish boy officially becomes a man, but other, more lenient, Christians point to the Biblical passage of men going to war at age 20, as if that’s the age that they truly became adults.  So then we should exterminate all people under 20?  And then we’d have to keep people from having any more kids lest they go to Hell.  So amp up the birth control and abortion, and bring back eugenics.  And soon there would be no one to repopulate the Earth and we’d all die.  But surely less souls would be in Hell!  With that line of reasoning you might as well just nuke the whole Earth right now because inevitably there are less people to go to Hell now than in 100 years when the population is doubled!

 
Hold on.  Take a breather.  How’d we start with “who should I vote for’ and end up with nuking the Earth?  Isn’t it always right to save a soul from Hell no matter what it takes?  At that rate it’s better to kill them and essentially save them from Hell in doing so (Hell being infinitely worse than death).  But then we’re playing God.  Taking vengeance when “Vengeance is Mine,” says the Lord.  Breaking His clear, certain commands for an uncertain greater good.  Isn’t there something intrinsically evil about murder?  Should you ever do evil, even if it produces a good deemed as more significant/influential than the evil?  Isn’t there really absolute truth and morality?  So that if it’s wrong to kill then it also must be wrong to kill Hitler, even if ending 1 evil, guilty life saves 6 million lives.  But isn’t that essentially the sin of omission?  You personally commit no murder, but by your refusal to murder you murder 6 million innocent people instead.  And here we are back to the “lesser of two evils” stale mate.

 

[Checkmate:  While it’s wrong to kill, isn’t it worse to assist in someone going to Hell?  In the case of the holocaust, it isn’t as much about saving the lives of 6 million Jews as much as it is about saving 6 million souls from being sent to Hell early.  Isn’t it better to send one undeniably evil man to Hell in exchange for the souls of 6 million Jews ?  Surely many of those 6 million (though many were undoubtedly Christians), if they were rescued, would have sought and found Christ after the horrors of the holocaust.  This is the one valid argument for killing I can think of.  Still I feel safer not killing anyone and leaving the mysteries of the after life to God.]

 
All this to say, no one really knows what’s truly right and wrong on these issues, because quite simply we don’t know for certain exactly how the after-life operates.  We outlaw an obvious evil like abortion (only for it to cause more souls to go to Hell), and we hasten the hand of God’s “obvious” justice by wiping out the Hitlers and Charles Mansons (but they, along with the evil and good soldiers fighting around them, go to Hell in the process) before they murder the innocent (which are more likely to go to Heaven when killed than the enemies when killed).

 

But abortion is an obvious evil which surely God wants stopped as soon as possible, and war is a less obvious evil, some would argue a necessary evil (as it’s always been around, has been used for many noble causes, and was even God-ordained in the Old Testament).  And when you consider how many deaths we’re talking about here, when it comes down to it, nothing touches abortion.  All the murders of Hitler and Stalin combined are less than the number of abortions in America alone.  And there’s no way to know how many executed criminals and fallen soldiers will actually go to Hell, versus how many un-aborted juvenile delinquents will go to Hell.  Maybe one is more than the other, maybe they’re the same.  But the whole point of this is to show that you can only follow the logic so far before you get sucked into a whirl-pool of circular arguments where philosophical speculation is the basis of your conclusions.  Are you willing to take the gamble?  There’s nothing in the Bible that definitively says “there is an age of accountability” or how many “infidel” soldiers go to Hell.  But you make your theoretical calculations and cast your lots.  Inevitably voting for someone’s damnation.

 
So.  When all the arguing dies out, you’re left with one question:  Is it right to support something that seems good even though it will have some consequences that seem bad?  Good luck with that one.  In other words, which would you vote for?  Blowing up Africa, Europe and Australia, or just blowing up Europe and Australia? Obviously I’d never vote for Hitler, but if he was running against Stalin, I’d have to think about it.

 

Or should you wash your hands of the whole thing, being innocent in your own eyes but essentially assisting evil by not stopping it? It’s because of your uninvolvement that the world keeps getting worse and worse.  The sin of omission again, perhaps even worse in this case since you did no good at all, neither to the 1 man nor the 6 million.  Was Pilate really guiltless just because he publicly washed his hands of the whole affair, protesting it?  No.  The blood of the Son of God was on his head as well, even though he didn’t scream with the jews “his blood be upon us and our children”. (Matt. 27:25)

 

But what if by voting for the lesser evil you’re withholding your vote for good, withholding your vote from a candidate who is not evil?  Who would you vote for: Hitler, Stalin, or Jesus?  Jesus has no shot at winning, because he tells the truth and not what people want to hear.  By voting for Jesus (who won’t win) you’re essentially voting for whichever candidate does win (which is inevitably going to be a worse candidate than Jesus, but more than that will promote some form of evil).  But wouldn’t Jesus want you to vote for Him?  Your vote for Jesus is a vote for the right thing in every area of politics.  Even though he doesn’t win you are still voicing your opinion as to who you want to win, and what policies you want the government to have.

 

After all this, past all the questions and ambiguity of my own personal opinion, politically I’m leaning towards finding the best possible candidate (even though he isn’t likely to win) and getting involved to do whatever I have to to make it likely for him to win.  Even if he doesn’t win this election, I’ve made it more likely for independent candidates like him to get elected in the future, outside of the 2 party nominations.  Isn’t that what Jesus would want?  If He was running for president, we’d feel obligated (but excited) to vote for Him (a vote for nothing evil, unlike the other candidates), but also forced to realize that the only way for Him to get elected is for us to get involved and make people want to vote for Him.

 

I end with an open-ended statement:  Vote for the candidate that will allow the most souls to go to Heaven, and the fewest souls to go to Hell, but is there any way to truly know which candidate that is?  I know one that definitely is, but he won’t win…yet.

//

 

[Interview] Miles Prowers: “Judaism is the one true religion.” May 30, 2012

Filed under: Christianity/Theology/Spirituality — milesprowers @ 12:44 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

R: Miles, thanks for taking the time to do a short interview for us.
M: Anytime!
R: It seems that on your latest album you had more blatant Christian references than usual.  Would you consider Christianity to be the one true religion?
M: No.
R: Really.  I’m sure that will surprise a lot of our listeners.  So, I’m guessing you’re one of these philosophical types that see all religions as having the same purpose, leading to the same place, and you just try to be devout with the one you’re raised in?
M: Not really.  I’m actually anti-religion altogether.
R:  Wow.  ‘Cause all your lyrics appear to point to a consistent, conservative religious background.  So I guess it’s more of just an artistic form for you, whereas in reality you’re agnostic?
M:  No, I’m not agnostic.  I believe there is one truth, and the same reality for everybody on Earth, and anyone who doesn’t believe that truth is deceived.
R:  But there isn’t one true religion?
M: No, there is.
R: [Laughs]  Okay, now you’re just messing with me!
M: No, I’m being serious.  There is one true religion.
R: Okay, you just said there wasn’t!
M: No, I didn’t.
R: Then which one is it?!
M: Judaism.
R: ………
M: This may surprise a lot of people but Judaism is actually the one true religion.
R: I would have never guessed you’re Jewish!
M:  I’m not.
R: …….. Okay, enough with the questions.  I guess I should just let you explain.  What is it exactly that you do you believe?
M: So I believe in one God who created man, then man rebelled against God, forever separating God’s presence from Earth with man.  God then set up a system to atone for man’s sins so he could once again dwell with man.  This system for atoning man’s sins is what’s known as Judaism, and it’s the one true set of laws that God created to allow man to atone for his sins.  But it still wasn’t anything like the perfect relationship God had with man in the beginning, and depraved mankind continued breaking God’s covenant, thus incurring God’s judgement.  This system of obedience and sin, blessings and curses was frustrating to God, so he told his prophet Jeremiah he wasn’t satisfied with the current covenant and he was going to establish a new covenant and a new law, this time written on man’s heart.  This new covenant would be so much better and easier than the old one that all the world could easily take part in it and have that perfect relationship with God again.  And so God told the prophets that a man would rise up from among them to establish this new covenant, as the Jewish prophet Isaiah said: “A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on his shoulders.”  But what’s interesting about this man whom the prophets refer to as “The Chosen One”, is what Isaiah says next:  “The government will rest on his shoulders; and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father.”  So what child is this that will be called God, Eternal Father?  What they were prophesying is that this Chosen One would be God himself, born as a man!  God himself enacts the first covenant, God himself enacts the 2nd!  Of course this Chosen One already came in the person which the world knows as Jesus, and he established God’s new covenant.
R: Aha!  So Christianity is the one true religion!
M: No, I already told you it’s not!
R: [expletive]
M: See, that just goes to show that most people don’t understand what Christianity really is, including many people who label themselves as Christian.
R:  Alright, alright.  I’m sorry for interrupting you in this interview.  Keep on going.
M: Most people think Jesus came to start a new religion, but in reality he did just the exact opposite!  Being God, he lived a perfect life, fulfilling every law in the Old Covenant, and though he was perfect and didn’t need to atone for personal sin, he took all the sins of the world upon himself and sacrificed his perfect body as one final sacrifice, atoning for sin once and for all.  This is the New Covenant God mentioned through the prophets, and so all people need to do now is simply believe that God did this and accept this final atonement for their sins. Then God will see them as having the perfect righteousness of Jesus, and with no sin separating them from God anymore he will once again live among all believers of this covenant, as he did in the beginning, only this time inside of them.
R: Okay, hold on a sec.  So you said you believe Judaism is the true religion, yet it seems you believe Judaism is obsolete.  How do you reconcile this?
M: Yes, Judaism has been made obsolete, but it also remains the only true religion established by God, because it was never replaced with another one.  Now the Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant, but unlike the Old Covenant, the new one wasn’t a religion of rules you have to follow to be made right with God.  Just like Jeremiah prophesied that the New Covenant would be written on our hearts, when we believe in Jesus’ sacrifice our sins are instantly atoned for, and in our perfection God begins a relationship with us; there’s no need for religion anymore.  And interestingly enough, secular history even verifies this because only a few years after fulfilling Judaism, God affirmed its obsoletion by destroying the Jewish Temple, making it so the Jews were incapable of trying to atone for their sins anymore through the Old Covenant.
R: Okay, before you go any further we’ve got to start wrapping it up here.  So to recap, it seems to me in the course of this interview you said, 1. You’re not a Christian, 2. Judaism is the one true religion, but 3. You’re not Jewish, in fact you’re anti-religion.  And then you go on some spiel that makes you sound like you’re a devout Christian after all.  Do you have one consistent world-view, or are you changing your mind as we speak?
M: Yes, I have one consistent world-view.  No, I’m not changing my mind as we speak. [Laughs]  But you only got 2 of the 3 right.
R: [Laughs] Alright!  At this point I’ll take what I can get.  Which one was wrong?
M: I actually am a Christian…
R: But you just…!
M: Hold on, hold on.  Let me try to clarify myself and wrap all this up in a way that people can understand.
R: Please, by all means!
M: So Judaism is the one true religion, but it was fulfilled and made obsolete by Christianity.  However, Christianity is not a religion, in fact it is the freedom from religion.  Jesus kept every Jewish commandment for us and then with one final atonement God traded his righteousness for our sin, making us righteous simply by our faith in him, so that we no longer have to keep the Jewish laws.  Essentially Jesus abolished religion.  Therefore, to be pro-Jesus is essentially saying you’re pro-abolition-of-religion and thus anti-religion.  The end.
R: Wow, okay, well, that’s not the direction I thought this interview was going to go, and it seems that took all of our time.  But you left us enough to chew on for a while, so I guess that’s it for now.  Thanks for taking the time to have this monologue…uh… interview.
M: Anytime.  [Laughs]  Sorry about that.  But it is the most important thing to me and there’s nothing else I’d rather talk about.  Thanks everyone for taking the time to listen!

 

Religion: √ Other February 18, 2012

[As written on 012912]

“What religion are you?”

This turns out to be a loaded question.
How would the first Christians have responded?  That was before the term “Christian” existed.
How would Jesus (does Jesus) want you to respond?
“Christianity.”
Oh, so Christianity’s a religion?
In most cases, Christianity is a person’s religion…that is, for a person who isn’t really a Christian.  Christianity is the religion of someone who doesn’t understand what Christianity really is.  Of someone who makes Christianity into a religion.

Or you could say, more appropriately,
“I have no religion.” “I don’t follow a religion.”  “I don’t believe in religion.”
As someone at work asked me,
“Are you religious?”
To which I confidently regurgitated the theologically-sophisticated answer I had been taught to believe:
“No.”
Wow.  I thought he was a Christian.  I didn’t realize he’s an agnostic. 
As I realized what he was probably thinking, all I could do is just stand there, stumped, unable to jump back on my train of thought and explain myself.  I just passed up the perfect Gospel opportunity.

In an ideal situation, their question would be:
“What is your religion?”
In which case, the simple, yet theologically profound, answer is:
“Jesus.”

Most people aren’t theologically aware enough to even realize what Christianity actually is, so most people would think,
Okay, Jesus = Christianity, so Christianity is his religion.
…and be on to the next thing.

But hopefully there would be someone who would at that point question you further.
“You mean Christianity is your religion.  A Muslim’s religion is Islam, not Muhammad.”
And then in that glorious, life-changing opportunity you fulfill the meaning of life, you obey the Great Commission, you plant the seed, you preach the Gospel to them in one sentence:

“Jesus didn’t start a religion; He personally took the place of religion.”
And if they question you further, you answer further.

It’s unclear exactly what the minimum is that a person must believe in order to be saved.  The best example of salvation in the Bible is the thief on the cross in Luke 23, who, to my knowledge, is the only instance in the Bible of someone who is clearly, definitely saved.  Of course the apostles were and all that, but I mean, the thief is the only person God Himself ever told “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”  You are saved.

Specific details aside, the Gospel as simplified as possible is this:
Christianity = Salvation by God’s grace through Jesus.

[42112- Perhaps the next time we fill out one of those forms that requires us to specify our religion we should check the box “Other”, and if it provides a blank to clarify we should write in “Jesus”.  That would throw off the nation’s statistics, perhaps for the better, perhaps for the worse (as it would seem to indicate Christianity dying off, when in reality it’s being resurrected in a new form, stronger and more alive than before).]

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