Sunday, August 14, 2005

Apologetic Wars 2:Attack of the screwed up Christians


Maryellen posted this great comment on my last post, “Apologetic Wars.”

"Wes, how can doubt that Jesus ever existed not exclude you from being a
Christian?If Jesus is not who He claimed to be, if the Biblical account of Jesus
is not true, than being a Christian is pointless.If He were not born of a
virgin, than was he completely human? If His life and death did not fulfill the
ancient prophesies then who is He? I peter 3:15: always being ready to make a
defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you
yet with gentleness and reverence...There are some bad teachers out there, and
some bad teachings...but the fear/respect/reverence of the LORD and of His Word
is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. I think that leaders, teachers, should
be apologists."

Maryellen’s comment is awesome and I hope she won’t mind my responding to it in a post.

Maryellen,
I first of all believe all these things are true, but I don't think that faith is dependant on these things. there are those who believe in a sort of metaphorical Jesus (so they don't believe He actually existed) they still call themselves Christians and claim to have the same sort of relationship we do with Him. I can't be arrogant enough to say "well, no ya don't."

The virgin birth is interesting. There are many Christian scholars who believe that Mary was impregnated on her first time having sex, which classified her as a virgin in the language of the first century. Another point: In that time there were two popular cults in the regions that the gospel writers wrote to. The Mithra and Dionysian religious cults both worshiped gods who were born from virgins. Maybe the gospel writers were simply making a point to these cults. (Do I believe that? not really, but I don't think I'd care if that were proven somehow. I could still be a Christian, and Jesus could still in some mysterious way be God.)

I believe that Jesus is "completely human" (and completely God) so there's room in my theology for that. His being "completely human" does not negate His deity, which is not essential for Jesus to be messiah anyway so it would not make Him a liar if He wasn't God. (Yes, I believe He is God.)

These things should all be argued, yes, apologetically. Now, in arguing these things I might be arguing with a Christian (hmmm, interesting...). If anything is true it's worth discussing, but let's not send the message that unless someone agree with us on these thing they can't be a Christian. There are people out there that would probably be Christians if they could do so and still believe in evolution. The beautiful truth is that they can. They can be really screwed up and still be a Christ follower moving closer and closer to what God wants them to be, to the life of beauty and peace and hope that we are living.

Let's stop arguing them in and start inviting them in. Let's invite them, and then worry about all the other details of knowledge (if you think it's worth worrying about). Send a message knowing Jesus is not the same as knowing about him.

14 comments:

Stephanie said...

Amen!!! Your post brought to mind the End of Times discussion I've been in several times recently. Christians can all have separate views as to how and when Jesus is coming back, but it doesn't change the fact that we're Christians, which goes along with all of the other items you were listing. Sometimes I get so fed up with how many topics in the Christian faith have so many different sides/angles to them. I am in a class on Sunday mornings that is a theological/apologetics/bible class. I love hearing some of the debates, but there are times when I think "who cares" where I stand on that issue. It isn't something that changes my faith or what I believe. Anyway, I love this post and your previous one Wes. Keep it up. You always make me think and I love it.

Ashley said...

I think that it is so important as Christ followers that we don't exclude our faith to "being convinced" if you will, by things that are suppose to be. Let me explain... the virgin birth, to me, so what if Mary concieved Jesus the first time she has sex? It all gets back to really searching the true meanings of the words we all study in the scriptures, because the cultures have indeed changed so much. I have been learning to not have such a brick wall theology and more so a trampoline theology (if you have read Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell you are probably tracking with me, if not I plan on posting on it in the near future). I think it is so important that we do not confine Christ to a set of our cultures rules. Are you all tracking with me??? I know I kinda went off topic as far as Apologetics goes, but I think we have to first understand what we ourselves believe before we go and start trying to defend it. Make sense?? Great post Wes and great thoughts to all!

Maryellen said...

ok, i'm listening and i hope to hear some serious debate.
i think it is very important to believe that Jesus is who the Bible says he is or else, you aren't believeing in him at all.
Did this metophorical jesus die on a metophorical cross?
I don't think the blood of Christ was/is metophorical.

Pilot Mom said...

Hi, Wes! One thought that came to my mind regarding Mary being a virgin. For Jesus to not have a sin nature then Mary had to be a virgin overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. If she had relations with a man and Jesus was the product of that relationship, then Jesus would have had a sin nature and then would not have qualified as our perfect sacrifice.

I'm enjoying your blog. I'm going to look around and read some more, if you don't mind. :)

WES ELLIS said...

ok, first of all it's hard for me to argue things I don't believe. The metaphoracle Jesus requires no historical acuracy and to them (those who believe this) the blood of Christ is also mataphoracle. They follow the same things we do, they claim the same faith we do, and have the same kind of relationship we do. (relationship is much deeper than intellectual knowledge. Read my post "The journey" from I think April)

Again I believe Jesus was of a virgin but the messiah was prophesied to be the son of David adopted by God making Him the son of God, the ulogies in Luke and Matthew establish these things. (Again remember the word virgin in old testament did not mean the same thing it does to us). The idea that Jesus would have to have sin nature if he was born of two people makes sence and I like it but it's not the only plausable explainatin for His "perfection." In Jesus so called "adoption" by God it makes sence that He was cleansed of that. In other word just cause he was born of two people doesn't negate Gods ability to be His father, and therefore it does not mean Jesus had a sin nature. (do I believe this idea? again, NO) And sin nature in itself is an argument, is it really "sin nature" or could it be "good nature gone bad" or "free will taken advantage of?"

These things are woth discussing as doctrines leading us to better understanding. but could you be arrogant enough to say "hey you're not a Christian" to someone who believes Jesus is symbolic or wasn't born of a virgin and yet claims to love Him? Yeah you might say "their doctrine is wack" but don't judge their salvation. Who knows besides God anyway?

Pilot Mom said...

I guess where I am coming from is that people cannot add to or delete from the Word of God. It IS important which Jesus one has. Probably one reason we (my husband and I) are so adament about this is because the mormons profess to believe in Jesus. But, he isn't the Jesus of the Bible. One glaring fact is because, according to them, he is the spirit brother of Satan. They do not realize that Christ created satan. Well, they won't acknowledge it, anyway. I do agree with what you are saying....a person really doesn't get anywhere without loving someone to the Lord. But we do have to know and understand the Truth so we can share at whatever point the Lord opens up avenues for us to do that.

Thanks for an interesting discussion!

Maryellen said...

How can someone who doesn't believe in a literal Jesus, ie the Jesus of the Bible, have the same faith as someone who believes that Jesus actually lived, died and rose again? Faith is believing right? If their faith is in something else, then they do not have the same faith I have.
Will those who believe in a metaphorical Jesus spend eternity is a metaphorical heaven?
And can I be a postmodern, emergent, fundementalist?
I better take that survey to find out...love ya wes!

Stephanie said...

Maryellen,

It's funny that you asked that last question in your comment, because I took Wes' quiz and actually I came out as an emergent/postmodern/fundamentalist. Kind of funny. I put a short post on my blog about it.

Wes, I keep seeing your mentionings about the word "virgin" and it's different meaning during the time we are discussing. I've never heard that before. Is that a poor translation that leads in our bibles that uses the word virgin because it is the clossest word to what they were trying to say? It's very fascinating to me...I'd love to hear more on that particular topic.

WES ELLIS said...

Stephanie,

Virgin is not a poor translation, I really didn't mean that it was "different" just broader. I believe that Mary was a virgin (meaning she didn't have sex at all) when she had Jesus. The word we get in the gospels comes from the book of Isaiah and could, hear it... could also be defined as a woman who was inpregnated her first time having sex. there's room for both definitions in biblical language.

Pastor Art said...

see part one for commit tchnology eats my brain
Pastor Art

Pastor Art said...

Guys

As far as “virgin” is concerned from Isaiah 7:14 the Hebrew ’almah can carry the concepts put forth in the posts and commits. However the LXX - Septuagint the Greek translation of the Torah Panthenos is used instead of neauis - normally used in the LXX to mean “young woman” and among other Greek writers of that day. The use of Panthenos chosen by the translators most scholars agree reveals the intent of one who as Mary put it had not known - had sex with - a man. Therefore the Fatherhood of Jesus is Yahweh through the Holy Spirit per Scripture not an adulterous affair our the result of rape.

The visiting of Elisabeth solidifies this because the High Priest had to rule on the validity of Mary’s innocence concerning sexual sin. Moreover Joseph being a righteous man in addition to putting her away quietly would have sought the Priest’s decision.

Consider this; what High Priest other then Zacharias would even consider Mary’s claim?
Pastor Art

WES ELLIS said...

Pastor Art,

I thank you sincerely that you took the time to post such a thought provoking and inspirational comment.

I agree and see the beauty of a proper understanding of Jesus. It provides strength, faith, steadfastness...

Apologetics is truly benefitial. I'm simply interested in the relationship between intellectual knowledge and salvation.

Now, let's say I intellectually believe in things that contradict, or don't really make sence. Let's say I love Jesus and follow His teachings but I don't believe He came into history. Am I a Christian? Yes!... Now let's say Jesus really did come into history... should an appropriate study lead me to that belief, will I be closer to truth if I believe that? Yes, but I will still be a Christian (if being a Christian is in fact about faith). That's where appologetics comes in, to strengthen us. But appologetics does more harm than good if it DEMANDS, demands that we believe somehing to be a Christian that a Christian really need not believe intellectually. It might ask us to believe things in order to be closer to the truth but let's not hang salvation on it. It's a message that has kept evolutionists from being Christians for far too long. let's invite them in and all the science and history lessons will take care of themselves.

Art,
I think we might actually agree. what do you think? Thank you again for your insight.

Everyone... read Pastor Art's blog! he is obviousely an extremely intellegent man and every dissagreement we may have (though there may, actually, be fewer than you'd think)I hold with the utmost humility.
-Wes

WES ELLIS said...

my last comment was to Pasor Art's comment on the first "apologetic wars" which is the post right before this one

Pastor Art said...

Wes

The problem with bloging is that what may appear as disagreement on the screen in conversation could be a “hook” to draw out more from someone. Between breaths interjections often interfere with the exchange and to often distract from the dialog at hand.

If one means by apologetics, “Doctrine” then I think those with this confusion do create more problems then good. However what I understand apologetics to be is a forum for questions to be looked at. Part of this forum needs form. This is where the parameters of logic, philosophy, and science belong. Each discipline has a role in understanding the “natural revelation” Paul works from in the opening of Romans. Most of the problems leading to irreconcilable conflict derives from people searching out answers and crossing disciplines improperly. I used the idea of the law of none contradiction which says that an argument inside of an issue must be consistent within the system of thought/ idea to be true. If there is contradiction then there is no truth in the conclusion. As Christians we base who we are on “truth” do we not? Therefore to accept something that is untrue or not truth as consistent with our commitment to Christ and His established truth statements, puts us in a state of contradiction revealing untruth somewhere.

Now in fallible claims the fault may be in the integrity of the claimant either overtly ie false assertions or conclusions based on incomplete observation or research, therefore examination of the statements may reveal the contradiction. Except any claim put forth by Yahweh that can be tested proves Him reliable and not a liar. So I perpose that anyone actually seeking truth “by faith” will continue to endeavor to satisfy resolution to the conflict in the contradiction.

Thus people working out their Salvation earnestly seeking a resolve to contradiction I see no anathema from Scripture and therefore right with Yahweh who will continue to draw the inquirer unto Himself.

The problem arises when evidence reveals the contradiction has a satisfying probable answer but because of the researcher/inquirer’s predisposition the contradictorily proposal is held unto. Scripture does speak to rejecting Yahweh’s revelation as grieving the Holy Spirit/ Spirit of Truth.

Apologetics aids us and needs open honest interchange as apart of evangelism and discipleship. As an inquisition tool NO! is that agreement?
Pastor