Hi kaufmannphillips, er....Emmet, nice to meet you.
To answer your question above, I don't believe we are "doomed by the requirements of salvation." Actually this is a two part answer. First, I think the "requirements" are simple. Believe Jesus. Follow Jesus, Abide in Jesus. And Jesus leads one to the Father.
Even when it comes to the “requirements” that you list, few (if any) could legitimately claim perfection in all these aspects. You probably would agree?
Yes, I agree, "...few (if any) could legitimately claim perfection in all these aspects." I would add to this that I am not, nor have I met a person who lives these simple requirements to perfection. Many are like Peter. We find out who Jesus is. We commit to follow Him. We follow Him. We break fellowship with Him. We come back to Him in repentence. I have observed this in my own life (24 years of denying Jesus' diety) and in others that this process can take place over decades or in a moment--and in any duration of time in between.
kaufmannphillips wrote: I am not a biblicist, so if the bible is unclear about an issue, I won’t necessarily conclude that I am not expected to know better. There are other ways to encounter truth than on the pages of a bible, and we are not only accountable for the contents of a book.
Do you believe YHWH is the Creator of the Universe? Is YHWH your Lord? Do you believe in the Pentateuch?
Until today, I never heard of the term "biblicist." I looked it up in the dictionary and find that like you, I am not one either.
I'm certainly not an expert in the Bible and I also don't interpret it literally. Of course, I'm sure there are degrees of literal interpretation, and it seems that maybe I interpret it moreso than you.
Like you, I once believed that truth came from outside the Bible, but I learned a very important lesson about trusting my own experience. The lesson came in 1998 when Oregon voted the Right to Die legislation. I knew people would abuse this "right" and sadly, I can testify that they have. But in that moment of hearing the news that it passed, a quarter century of Godless legislation (first term abortions, gay rights, removing prayer from schools, partial birth abortions, etc. and now "the right to die with dignity") overwhelmed my sensibilities. To make a long story short, I came to recognize that I needed a compass to navigate me through life or I would continue down the path of anarchy. (Prov 14:12 and 2Kings 17:33) Be sure, I realize that we worship not only in reading the Bible, but also in spirit and in truth. I don't boil it down to words in a book, yet those words do bring life. They jump off the page, if you will imagine, and they are alive with Spirit and Truth. Yes, we can gain from experiences other than reading the Bible, but I believe all we need to know for entering into eternal relationship with the Father is found in Jesus Christ. I believe.
If this is not so, then what is the truth? What dear soul, will keep our world from anarchy--if not the truth found in the Bible?
Theoretically, it is possible for one to always make a right choice...when we recognize that low odds of success are not the same thing as no odds for success, then we might find the wherewithal to pursue success, despite the long odds.
And even if we fall short of complete success, coming closer to it is itself worthwhile.
I agree with you, even in failure, there is something of value just knowing one tried.
...we don't get to "tilt the odds" of always knowing the right theology. Only God can do that by telling us more, but He didn't do that in His word. Also, we don't tilt the odds for knowing His will --in certain matters. Some are clear, like adultery is wrong. I think everyone agrees to that, but remarriage after divorce is a matter of division. Again, knowing what is the right choice to do in life is a matter of opinion. And incredulously, the opposing opinions are based upon the same (basic) ancient texts!
There are other avenues for receiving the word of God than the bible.
Your example puts a finger on the problem with a lot of biblicism. The text itself is unequal to the task of full revelation. But it was not divinely intended to be the end of revealing God; at best, it affords a beginning.
I'm glad you see "a lot of biblicism" in my thoughts, (2 Cor. 10:5b) but I am curious to know if you think it is of lessor value? Why or why not? I think I can wholeheartedly agree that the Bible was not intended as "the end of revealing God..." Yes, I would agree that it is the "beginning." Perhaps this point is best agreed upon when we understand what is meant by "full revelation." I believe full revelation is happening in a continuum, perhaps beginning with the Bible (or the inner yearning for something more than earthly satisfaction, thus leading once again to an inner experience in the conviction of sin) and progressing onward into eternity. I suppose we will never know everything about YHWH, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the Creator of our universe. All the doctrine we need to know is in the Bible. (And that's not
a lot of conclusive, non-contested theology.) It leads me back to Jesus' words, "Unless you be like little children, you will in no wise enter the kingdom of God." (paraphrased) I believe we need to hold fast that truth (from the Bible) which we have and remain open, trusting for the next revelation (non-Biblical experiences) to come...
kaufmannphillips wrote: We can tilt the odds by a number of means. Prayer and communion with God is essential. It is also challenging. But many essential aspects of being human are challenging, and take a lot of time and experience to develop.
We can also tilt the odds by godly living. The more we practically live out the paradigm(s) of God, the more we develop innate sensibilities about his way(s).
I absolutely agree on both counts, prayer and communion with God as well as living within His paradigm are essential for gaining more revelation. Once again though, how does one know His paradigm without reading the Bible? More specifically, how do we even know how to pray and commune if we don't refer to the Bible? For example, before becoming a Christian there was a season of time when I prayed to a "female goddess within"
but when I humbly wanted to please the One who saved me from the ravages of eternal separation from God, then I learned to obey the instructions and pray to our Father, as outlined in Matt 6:9 and I also now acknowledge Jesus as Eph 3:14 leads us to do.
As you may know, I work extensively with children. For children, life is a recurring exercise in learning how to engage the dynamics of communication and interrelationship with other people. For many children, this process takes years and years; and indeed, for many people, it continues into adulthood. There are often missteps and misunderstandings along the way - sometimes embarrassing and painful - but the process is essential to human existence in the company of others.
How much more so is this the case with learning how to communicate and interrelate with God, who is less tangible (in ways that we are accustomed to experience)?
No, I did not know that you work with children. Are you a doctor, a counselor, or a foster dad? We are like children (I am more like a foster daughter.
)before our Creator. We learn to communicate and interrelate with Him, yielding to His steps and leaning not on our own understanding (again, taking instruction from the Bible in Prov. 3:5,6) Upon reading your quote above, I am remembering a conversation I had with my pregnant daughter yesterday. Our conversation seems to have been a perfect example of "missteps and misunderstanding along the way- sometimes embarrassing and painful - but the process is essential to human existence in the company of others."
I must add to this though, that a beautiful relationship is only accompanied by a heart of resolution. (I appreciate this "heart" within my daughter.) Is this not unlike our Father to resolve the matter with us--whatever the matter is--He is ready to resolve it with us and abide with us. (Is 1:18; Is 43:25,26)
When I was Christian, I would argue that since Jesus was perfect, it is apparent that humans can be perfect.
I did that too, more than once, until a few years ago. I took a two year ministry course through a Charismatic denomination and one of the instructors "accused" me publicly (in class) of trying to be perfect! I was somewhat intimidated by his forceful statement (probably out of his own discomfort with his possible perception that I "held his feet to the fire" seeking Biblical counsel? I was known for asking, "where in the Bible does it say that?"
I think he grew tired of my inquiry. ) However I "gave in" in public, but in my heart I have always thought his extra-Biblical theology leads students to potentials of each doing what is right in their own eyes. I am remembering one such visiting prophet (not to the school, but within charismatic "circles") who in this instance, happened to report having had an encounter with a dead man in a vision....and needed our (the listener's) financial support to get the word out to the world. I turned to the Bible for counsel, "Does it please our Father to consult with the dead?" The questions continued. The sisters that I posed these questions to balked at my inquiries. Who was I to question "the Lord's anointed?!"
they asserted. Well, I was questioning the spirits to simply line the spoken word with the Word (like a plumline) to see if it was approved.
As a side note: How "safe" are listeners in following a new "wind of doctrine?" Didn't those first listening to Jesus hear new doctrine? Indeed, a new covenant was being described! We have the luxury of looking backward and seeing more fully, but we do not have the same luxury to see the accuracy of today's "new" pulpit-assertions, other than through one of two means. (1) What does the Bible say? and (2) In what directions do ones personal experiences lead? I recognize the value in both but feel the word of God "trumps" my personal experiences.
If you don't adhere to the deity of Jesus Christ, then perhaps you don't recognize the NT as scripture, yet you might the OT. Hmmm, writing to a stranger who is Jewish, liberally Jewish at that, is interesting. I must be traversing a mountain of misinformed assumptions. Forgive me, please.
I spent a lot of time as a Christian. I still remember how I used to think
. And I went through ministerial training and studied at seminary. I can engage situations pastorally – which means it is a priority to engage people where they are at. You are a Christian, so at times it may be worthwhile for me to communicate in terms that are meaningful to a Christian perspective.
Those who genuinely love God, God genuinely loves. So it is my privilege to interact with somebody who loves God and who is beloved of God. And it is appropriate for me to engage them where they are at. But I should be honest about it: I may share a Christian idea with them, if it seems profitable, but I should not pretend to hold that idea for myself
My interactions with Jehovah's Witnesses are in like fashion. When in conversation with Jehovah Witnesses, I refer to "God" as "Jehovah" more often with them than I do when I am with "Evangelicals" and "Charismatics." However, I have hopefully made it clear to them that I believe He is our Father, not to be approached as "Jehovah," but "Father." Indeed, He invites us to call Him "Daddy" in personal close relationship together. This guidance from the scriptures goes back to Jesus calling us to be as little children, and as you pointed out, to be like children trying to learn to communicate and interact in trust and in growing maturity. (On the other hand, I recognize that Evangelicals, Charismatics, Catholics and LDS call our Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, "God." Why?
, I have asked in my heart. I thought gods are fake idols.)
There is in fact, that verse that says "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect."
What is your understanding of the scripture I quoted above?
It is not only as children that we try and fail
. But it is harder for us to deal with, psychologically and emotionally, when we have become adults. We tie a lot of our sense of self-worth to our competence.
But Christian tradition correlates being like a child and entering into God’s kingdom. Children are familiar with trying and failing and trying again. And failing again and trying again. And again and again.
Even for children, this can be frustrating and can lead to tears and despair. But they must overcome this in order to grow.
Your bible speaks, in a famous passage, of three things: faith, hope, and love. And it says that the greatest of these is love. But we should not ignore the silver and bronze! Through faith and hope, we conquer despair.
In our faithfulness to God, we persevere despite the setbacks that we experience. And in God’s faithfulness to us, he perseveres even when these setbacks are matters of our own shortcomings. He perseveres in forgiving us, and he perseveres in attempting to empower us. This gives us hope. And where there is faithfulness and hope, despair cannot reign.
If you don't believe in the Bible, then how can you conquer despair? How can you be empowered and have hope?
Now I want you to know that I agree with you to remember the three, and to recognize the greatest, and to never ignore the two lessor of these three!
With regard to the scripture you have referenced – here is an instance where it would be nice to know what the diction would have been in an original language. This statement might not have been made in Greek, originally.
Let me tentatively construe the passage in the vein of being complete/entire/going all the way. As such, the point would be not to be something and do something part-way. In particular context, do not love some people and hate others. More broadly – do not speak reliably in some cases, but not in others; do not respect a marriage in one way, but not in another; do not attempt to repair one relationship, but not others; do not withhold from harming somebody in one way, but not in another.
"Diction" according to the Am. Heritage Dictionary, "choice and use of words...degree of clarity and distinctness...arrangement and expression of words." This factor--the idioms of language--may be a perfect place to begin. Do you think that this passage could be spoken in hyperbole?
I think Jesus would include your perspective as part of His meaning, even if He had further points to make. What if He also meant, "My Father is perfect. You should grow to be like my Father." Perhaps knowing we fail at this, He still wants us to try. Have you ever tried to do something that is practically (or predictably) impossible, but you just HAD to try anyway? I have a perfect example from my own life. My mom has been diagnosed with the beginning stages of dementia. She lives across the U.S. from me. My brother who lives there tells me there is no hope; she will get worse no matter what. However, I just HAVE to try to reverse or stop it. So, she is flying here for a three week visit and I will be taking her to a doctor or two (of my choice--with her consent) and we will see! This goal (perfection) may be impossible to meet, but I have to try for Mom's (Jesus') sake! Can you think of an example from your own life? Do you seek to please your heavenly Father with that same attitude?
Under an “orthodox” Christology, Jesus was completely human. His divinity in no way compromised his human being. Of course, being Jewish now, that argument is not so relevant from my perspective. But it still may cut ice for some Christians, within their theological worldview.
Christians should not be so cold as to break fellowship with the unbeliever.
kaufmannphillips wrote: I am liberally Jewish, so my thought about God does not conform to every classic Jewish conception. But I do not hold to the divinity of Jesus.
Who is Jesus then, if He is not the Messiah?
kaufmannphillips wrote: One way toward tempering division is to recognize values in each other that we can respect. Another is to remain sensitive to God’s patience for and esteem for other people, even when they are imperfect.
Exactly as I think (and you used the word "imperfect."
) I see it this way, either the one I am in conversation with is right, which means I am the one who must humbly seek further revelation, or the one I am in conversation with is wrong, and this would be for one of two reasons. One, if he is wrong due to his sincere but failing efforts to grasp truth, then I should be faithful to Jesus' example to remain patient and pray for him. Two, if he is wrong due to his stubborn rebellion before God, then he is a sinner of whom I am called to pray for him. Either scenerio, the Christian (Jesus follower) is called and instructed to pray and have patience. Unless a Christian is called by the Lord to stand before counsels and rebuke leaders, as Paul was but I am not (except for once), then the Christian attitude toward the proverbial "you" is assuredly with patience and esteem for others, "even when they are imperfect," (as I am also imperfect and seek to be treated patiently and prayerfully.)
kaufmannphillips wrote: I think that we can be perfect now in the same way that we can become perfect later: personal choice that leads to personal transformation. I do not hold out hope for an instantaneous transformation from the outside.
Perhaps a definition for the word "perfect" is in order. I remember telling my little children they made their bed perfectly but there were still wrinkles in the blankets. If this is perfection as you see it, then I agree we can be perfect in the eyes of our Father.
kaufmannphillips wrote: I see personal choice as a cosmic hinge. The success and/or failure of our world turns upon personal choices. Yesterday, today, and forever, we have the ability to make choices that threaten or nurture our world. So we seek to live in ways that encourage and conform to the right choices. And God helps us.
Our personal choices do indeed have an effect upon the world.
Who is God to you?
How can one know God's will in every single matter?
We learn to identify God’s will through companionship with him. And failures along the way can be opportunities to learn how to succeed.
We must not be so intimidated by failure that we do not dare to succeed.
My apologies, but I feel as though I am reading an enigma. How do you have companionship with "him?"
I've never spoken at length with a Jew so I don't know too much....but I LOVE your last statement. It reminds me of enduring through illness and prayer, adhering to the healing power of Jesus, and persevering in the mercies of our Father, thanking Him for greater health, and it reminds me of helping my mom, even in the face of intimidating odds, and moreover it reminds me of forgetting past mistakes (sins) and pressing toward the prize (eternal relationship with our Father in heaven).
Shalom defined: "used as a greeting or fairwell among Jews" meaning "peace"
Okay Emmet, "Shalom"
And now the word "selah" defined: "pause and think upon these things"