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Judgment or Explanation

Autor: Joe Bates
Datum: 04.04.2011
Category: Wahrheit & Pluralismus, Persönliches Zeugnis, Welt-Glaubensgruppen

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Ursprünglich geschrieben in Englisch

Judgment or explanation

There are many things that people judge and call it taking a stand.  You will get no argument from me that there are times where we must take a firm stand.  When there are views that are quite obviously opposed to what is intrinsically and Biblically correct such as slavery, physical abuse, genocide, rape, etc., then there must be a contingent to protect the innocent and weaker population.  There is another perspective, however, which needs to be addressed and that is one of limited revelation.

Too often Christians will picket or make bold statements (such as burning the Qur’an) which are nothing but divisive.  Is there a way of communicating some information through explanation and enlightenment rather than finger pointing and chastisement?  My answer would be yes.

I have studied many different religions with the intent of understanding what they believe, why they believe it and how it compares to the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  I have listened to and participated in many debates about whether God created anyone with the only option being that of damnation and Hell.  (This debate is founded upon a culture not having heard the Word of God and/or dying before the time of Jesus.)  Discussions with pantheists and pluralists have continually begged the question of God taking on the different personas of many religions.  Many of these religions mirror some of the traits of God as described in the Bible.  I have had very lengthy discussions, some ongoing, about God being an example of an immoral God and setting a poor example.  Many of these discussions, most by highly educated and very rational people, are very well formed with some form of merit from a superficial perspective.  So where is the truthful common ground and how should we address it?

Virtually all of the highly effective missionaries that I communicate with are non-confrontational.  In other words, they do NOT encounter a person with fingers out and a Bible prepped for attack.  They instead communicate on a very human level, a greater understanding on the truths that people already KNOW to be true. 

Rom 1:18-20 ”For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown [it] to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible [attributes] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” It continues but I’ll stop there.

Jesus is for everyone:

Rom 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

Rom 2:26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?

Rom 2:6-16 (I’ll only post part) “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves [their] thoughts accusing or else excusing [them] in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”

Stichwörter: missions, pluralism, effective outreach, communication, evangelism, dogmatism

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Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten jdb11583 (2)
Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika

This is always a difficult topic for me to discuss. I will admit that I am still in the infancy stages of developing my answer to this question. As a Christian brought up in the Southern United States, I was taught that the only way to enter into God’s heavenly kingdom was by accepting Christ as one’s Lord and Savior, which I still believe. However, I have a hard time saying who God is and who God is not going to let into his heavenly kingdom. I cannot speak directly for God.  We have the scriptures and through them God does reveal himself. But, God is too “complex” for all of his character and ways to be disclosed in the scripture and we are too simple to understand all of who God is. Therefore, we do not know all things about God. When I am faced with a difficult question like this I respond in two ways. First, I do not know God’s ways, but I do know that he is good and just. I once heard it put this way, “We serve a good and just God. Therefore, when I get to heaven, if I see that God has decided that some must spend eternity in hell, I know that that decision is good and just because it was decreed by God.  If I get to heaven and every person that ever has ever walked the earth is in heaven, I know that that decision is good and just because it too would have been decreed by God. Either way, I will rejoice in the presence of God!” So if Rob Bell is right, great! If Rob Bell is wrong, also great! One might ask, “if that is the case, why worry about spreading the Gospel of Christ?” To this question I respond with a statement put forth by my theology professor, “God has given me the light of the Christian faith. Therefore, I will carry that light throughout the world and will offer it to any who seek it because that is what he has called me to do.” Therefore, I will continue on in my Christian faith and pray that all find their way into God’s heavenly kingdom. 


12.11.2011
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@ jdb11583:

I also find this topic challenging and difficult for many reasons.  I know that God wants us to be with God.  God wants us reconciled to God. God created us to love, to be loved, to share love and to be in relationship with God and each other.  I believe it grieves God when we choose to do something different. 


I also believe that God can and will do anything God wants and deems to be good.  So it is possible that God can reveal God’s self to others who have never heard the name Jesus Christ.  It is possible that others know Jesus in ways that only they understand with God’s guidance. 


My point is that it is wrong to ever limit God to what we know, believe or think is possible.  God gave us everything here to live here and in God’s kingdom in the ways that will be best for all of us. When we don’t do that, there are consequences for that behavior and those choices.  Human beings have created hell on earth in so many forms and every one of them has to do with the bad choices we make (ours or someone else’s that affect others).  God did not want that for us.  I am convinced of that. 


Is there a real place called hell?  Can God be known in some other way than through Jesus Christ?  Those and other questions continue to dog us and cause others to question faith.  I don’t know that some of us can help asking the questions.  We just have them.  And, we are going to have to live with them to some extent because only God has all the answers.  We do not. 


It is not my intent with this post to create further conflict.  This is a topic that reaches into so many places in our hearts and minds.  The best I think we can do is pray for discernment and wisdom and ask God to give us what we need to live as God wants us to and to be the servants God calls us to be.  We (human beings) will never be able to provide all the answers and solve all the riddles.  But, God can and will in God’s own timing.  We have to step aside and create no barriers so that God can show us the way, the truth and the life.


Peace,


L. Sills 


07.12.2012
PhContributeBy
Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten gwu_stevens (1)
Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika

In passing, this article mentioned one question that has yet to be answered satisfactorily by Christian scholars (to my knowledge at least).  What about those who never hear or who were alive before the time of Christ?  Were the essentially created to spend a life in hell?  This is a question most Christians avoid since it cannot really be answered, but it is a difficult concept to reconcille none-the-less.  If nothing else, it is certainly motivation to spread the word to the ends of the earth.  But past that, I simply say that we have to trust that God knows what is best.  It doesn’t feel like the most comforting of answers, but then again, maybe it is.


04.11.2011
PhContributeBy
Antworten Kennzeichnen 0 Daumen hoch Daumen nach unten Mojoe (7)
Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika
@ gwu_stevens:

I personally believe that "little Running Bear" as I like to call him (the one not introduced to the Gospel due to timing or location), will be saved.  I base this on scripture and the nature of God as described by a tremendous amount of scripture.  I do agree, however that precious few pastors are prepared to answer questions such as this one, which many, many people are actually asking without the advantage of a well articulated question.


07.11.2011
PhContributeBy
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@ Mojoe:

I tend to agree with you, but I stop short of truly incorporating that into my theology for fear that it will take the edge off of my desire to share Christ with others. 


For certain, Christ is more than ’fire insurance’ as some call it, but I believe it remains a powerful motivator to share the Good News if we have concern for the eternal well-being of our fellow man.


07.11.2011
PhContributeBy
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I agree with your assessment that there is an incomplete picture of God around the world in different cultures and religions. I feel that for a complete personal witness, at least on my part, learning about the different religions and cultures is a plus. Then I personally could have a friendly conversation with others even in the United States that I may have conversations with who have different beliefs. The goal is to present Christ in the most friendly, loving and personable manner possible; not to argue that mine is better than yours. It fascinates me that every religion somehow expresses Christ in their own way. It may be that this may be the open crack in the wall or door for a missionary/minister to step thru and proclaim the Gospel.

Your point about creation was spoke of by one the Early Church Fathers, Athanasius who claimed that there was 3 ways a person would get to know God. first was through creations as you stated. Secondly was through the prophets and lastly was through the Law and statues. These are ways we can use to reach others who may only see God through the lense of creation!


11.07.2011
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@ MzBoom:

Sure, we have an incomplete picture of what/who God is, and, since we’re having a difficult time processing the incomplete picture we have, maybe this is something of a blessing.  Do you think that every religion expresses Christ, or maybe some more general shade of ethics that Jesus touched on in his ministry?  I’m not sure that any other religion I’ve heard of has an identical idea of salvation from eternity.


13.07.2011
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@ MzBoom:

I agree that there is an incomplete picture about God around the world. In order to witness to others we have to first show love. People use to say one thing you do not discuss is religion and politics. They say that because sometimes conversations about religion and politics start arguments. If we witness to someone of a different faith, we should do it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and that will lead you to bring a complete picture of God to someone.


Rachel


16.07.2011
PhContributeBy
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@ weinzierl_diomedes:

Sorry for the delay in response.  Christianity is quite unique in that of salvation.  It is the only one which offers any type of payment for debts incurred.  It is the answer to the question and the solution to the problem.  This is what needs to be explained to those who already have a partial understanding of God.  


07.11.2011
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I aqgree that God has introduced himself to all humankind in some kind of way. However, there are more that needs to be done, so they can know God and not just be introduced in some kind of way. Everyone is introduced to God when he/she wakes up in the morning, when he/she sees the trees, flowers, sun, moon, the wind, the rain and other aspects of nature. Other cultures I believe may experience some spiritual feeling when they worship some unseen deity. However, feeling alone is not enough. Everyone needs to receive salvation, have a relationship with God not just rely solely on a introductory knowledge of God.

Rachel


16.07.2011
PhContributeBy
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@ Rapture7:

There is a void that needs to be filled and that is Christ. Athanasius explained that God shows who He is in creation to those who do not know His Word nor have heard His prophets. Love does indeed conquer all.


16.07.2011
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You are certainly onto something.  God’s self-disclosures among the cultures of the world have been incorporated into many different faith traditions.  There are many similarities in the characteristics of the biblical God ascribed to the supreme beings of other religions.  It just goes to show that even before the first evangelist sets foot in an area, the Holy Spirit is already at work there.  In many cases, our missionary task is simply to help illuminate the local concept of a divine being with the reality of the biblical God.  Exhibiting a heart of humility is always the best approach (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).


20.04.2011
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@ B_Robertson_NC:

Brian,


Key word...humility.  The fact that the Spirit is already at work where we are called to go is a testament to our "smallness".  Also thats fascinating and a cause for a lot of joy.  I love that.  I always think of it as ministers are to set the table the best we can in order for others to feast on the truth.  Who sets the table...servants.  Good stuff.


24.04.2011
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Mojoe,

I have given this a great deal of thought. Jesus said to his diciples go and make diciples of the world. I do not think it was just for that time. I believe we should continue what was started then.

We as Christians are to spread the truth. what is the truth. John 17:17 says "sanctify them by the truth; your word is the truth. There is only one truth and that is the Bible. The first commandment says "thou shalt have no other gods before me."  the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. Jesus is not a profit as Islam says. When the Israelites went into the promise land they were to kill all the men women and children. However, some were not.

So my answer is that there is only one God and you get to him through Christ. This is the truth and the only truth. Therefore is our responsibility to bring the truth (God’s word) to everyone including other religions.


09.04.2011
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@ dunybec:

Dunybec


I apologize if I left you with the impression that I was suggesting some sort of pantheism.  I was in fact attempting to explain that Jesus IS the complete and final solution.


In the US primarily, there is far too much aggression and judgement when it comes to evangelization.  We live in a rational world where God is quite evident to those who are not Christians.  If we can only say that "you are completely wrong and I am completely right" then we have already lost their attention and therefore have no hope of discipling them.  


My suggestion was that we should emulate Paul and introduce the ’unknown God’.  We should explain the enigmas of their faith on the understanding of the Old and New Testaments.


Thank you for your attention.  Hopefully this will further explain.


11.04.2011
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@ Mojoe:

Mojoe,


I’m sorry I misunderstood. I agree with what you are saying about not acting like storm trooper because would lose chance to witness. I do however think we should live the truth. I hope I have not misunderstood again.


Dunybec


13.04.2011
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@ dunybec:

dunybec,


I understand your mis-understanding, if that makes sense.  However, I do believe the heart of the article is spot on.  It is SO difficult to separate relationship from boldness.  I feel as though the past couple of decades have produced many Christians who think that boldness is telling someone they are wrong.  Boldness has also been described as leaving a tract for a tip at a restaurant, or intense door to door evangelism.  In my opinion, leaving a tract is the last way to reach a waitress who at the moment just needs to know that someone cares.  I feel as though that method has just led to more paper waste.  I do believe visitations are great, but dang, we are relational people.  Very rarely do I have a captive audience before they know that I care about them.  Once again, there are times where the Spirit said, "GO...NOW".  It’s all about relationship, with the lead one being between us and God, which will give us guidance on the best way to approach other people.


24.04.2011
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I think that the “pointing fingers” and “proving” have greatly diminished the influence of Christianity in many places, definitely within other religions.  I just recently got married and on our honeymoon we met and hung out with a lovely Indian family.  They were of the Hindu faith and claimed this without any hesitation.  The cool thing is, is that me and my wife sat and talked with them about Jesus for a long time (they asked what I do for a living…I travel and preach…therefore the conversation-those are always fun).  I told them what I did and what I thought and how I get to preach it.  We talked for hours; about what I believe and what they believe.  It has been two months now, and me and my wife have received to invites to go up to Chicago and visit.  We still keep in touch via facebook.  I LOVE this.  What if I just pointed a finger and said they were wrong.  Relationship would have equaled…done.  Instead, we loved on them and their kids and listened to what they had to say.  There were no heated moments, although I thought there would be as me and the lady (wife) were about equal in passion.  But we got through some great conversations, extending our relationship and influence to today.  As an evangelist, and a loud one at that, I COULD tend to just throw it all out there and defend our God, and to diminish theirs.  What good would that have done?  Of course, if God asked me to be bolder I certainly would have.

            It was great to appreciate some of their beliefs.  For instance, the emphasis on excellence was huge, which is something missing among our faith in Jesus.  Another example, their belief of gift giving and hospitality was so loud to me and Becca (my wife).  The way I look at it as this, and I have said this to an angry homosexual, a drug addict, and to many others in a situation where pointing fingers could be done is:  If Jesus were sitting right here in front of you, what do you think He would say.  He wouldn’t start arguing, pointing fingers, or proving.  He would say, “I love you”.  Everything else like differences or views would fall into place as a result of really hearing those three words.  I love the view that Jesus is the completion of other religions thoughts.  My friend recently went to Jordan and was taught how to witness to the Muslims.  He was taught to teach Jesus as the completion of what they initially believed.  I love it, but yes I know there are times when boldness is needed, especially when destructive behavior is at hand.  

Thoughts?


17.04.2011
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@ christopherhaymes:

Christopher,


Thanks for sharing your success story.  These are the things that we need to make sure that our ideas aren’t just theories, but are practical and effective.  


My flesh actually still gets very frustrated when speaking with people who simply point fingers.  I had a conversation this past week about how to address an issue teaching slavery and after my fairly lengthy explanation, he simply said, "You still don’t understand, it’s just wrong".  (what he said was wrong was how this person explained/taught about slavery).


Thanks again!


18.04.2011
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@ Mojoe:

ps...I am from Simpsonville, SC.  and just preached in Chapin.  not too far off from each other.  Global conversation...shoot, this is in our back yard.   love it


18.04.2011
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@ christopherhaymes:

That’s very cool!  We will have to catch up for lunch some time.  I keep an office in Chapin for Real estate.  I’m not there as much any more.  Do you preach there often and where was it?  Too funny!


19.04.2011
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@ Mojoe:

Mojoe,


I was at Chapin United Methodist Church.  I have done a couple of youth nights for them, and me and my wife had the privilege of teaching on their highschool winter retreat.  We will also be doing their middle school retreat.  Me and my wife go there often as she has family down there.  We should get up sometime and chat.  That would be great.  What all are you involved in?


24.04.2011

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