Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Boo yeah

Oppressive theology, or a theology that welcomes those who fit a normative definition of the dominant culture while excluding those who do not, is a ball and chain on the heart of the body of Christ, and with it we keep each other in bondage. The church of Jesus Christ is in the midst of change, not all of it for the better. Any theology that suggests that God receives some and rejects others is not reflective of the ministry of Jesus Christ.
- Yvette A. Flunder

11 comments:

chrish said...

So what happens to the people who say, "I don't want God in any form?" Does that matter to God? Is this a universal salvation sort of thing, or more of a God will receive you if you choose Him sort of thing?

Niels Teunis said...

I have come to realize that even when I didn't acknowledge God, God never abandoned me. God's love truly endures forever and there is nothing we can do to separate us from the love of God. I haven't only read and believed that, I have lived it.
Niels

chrish said...

Niels,

I'm gratified to hear this part of your story. I would wonder, I suppose, about your experiences after death. I will absolutely and without hesitation, equivocation, or exception argue that God's desire for all people to come to be reconciled to Him has no limit this side of the grave. After that, the Bible says pretty plainly, we face judgement if we have rejected the salvation offered and paid for by Christ.

Sabrina said...

Been thinking of you lots the past week or so. I think fb suggested you were kidnapped by parents while sick? Hope you are doing better. I like you.

bre said...

Hey Chris,

thanks for your comments. I think the main point in the quote is "normative definition of the dominant culture" - an objection to the assumption that Christians all need to look the same and "fit in" to a particular culture in order to be following Christ. It is hard to explain my words in a quick note. I think the theology the author is referring to in this particular instance is not a "future salvation" theology, but a "present acceptance" theology - the need to accept that Christianity can look very different, and that God calls us to a heart transformation and not to a cookie cutter model of how Christians are "supposed" to look and act.
I'm not being thorough or clear, but thought i would try to do so in a limited space.
thanks again all,
bre

chrish said...

Hey Bre,
You were very clear, and I see the point you're making. I suppose I come to the last sentence - "Any theology that suggests that God receives some and rejects others is not reflective of the ministry of Jesus Christ" - and see the word, "Any," and I begin to wonder just how serious the author is in using that word.
I'll agree that the Christians don't have to wear this tie or that ripped t-shirt, have this tattoo or that hairstyle, it's just vitally important that we don't start applying that word "any" to salvation after death, as opposed to acceptance on Earth.

Peaball said...

I love this quote. I'd be more interested in the author's background, what kind of theology in general she is coming out of.

As for my own, I do think there is a strong Christian argument for universal salvation - or if not, at least for salvation outside the narrow confines we've defined as "Christian."

This is speaking as someone who used to be an atheist/humanist. Even though I consider myself a very committed Christian now, I do know that so much love, compassion and radical discipleship (and even prayer - I've seen it) can be fostered in anyone.

But if Jesus Christ's ministry was about opening the table to all, widening the circle, and bringing in the outcast - proclaiming justice for the poor and oppressed - then I wonder how God would justify cutting out those who, in every fibre of their being, work for these very same things if they are not professed Christians or even religious for that matter.

Yes, the Bible says "no one shall come to me except..." but I think we need to look beyond a doctrinal understanding of the Trinity and understand God as mystery beyond our definitions and understandings.

chrish said...

Peaball,

I think understanding a universal salvation ignores large chunks of the Bible, and especially Christ's own words. He spoke more about Hell than anyone else, after all, and often spoke about people who are condemned to places of weeping and outer darkness. I read Revelation and I see John witnessing people who are not saved being tossed into an eternal torment.

Put simply, we're told by Paul that there is no name under Heaven by which we may be saved. I either take him at his word, and so deny a universal salvation, or I do not, and then have to wonder about everything else he said that maybe I don't agree with.

Looking beyond doctrine is a bad policy. Doctrine teaches us what is true about God; staring wide-eyed at the "mystery" teaches us nothing of any use about how we ought to live.

Further, if God is as you say, "beyond our definitions and understandings," then He is more than able and within His right to condemn to an eternal Hell whomever He chooses, and does not need to justify it to us. I recognise this is a harsh statement, but it is the gospel of salvation: repent, put your faith in Christ alone, and be saved. Beyond that - for all the exceptions and examples - I leave it to God to judge in the end, and Christians to use the Bible to discern in the now.

Peaball said...

Hi Chris,

Perhaps this answer won't be very diplomatic, but I don't mean to be rude. I do appreciate that you read my friend's blog so you must have an open heart to hear new ways of understanding.

I do agree that staring "wide-eyed at the mystery" often leads to no clear way of choosing how we live. I have come to believe in a pattern of life, which ever-more means discipline for me, modeled on what Jesus taught. I have lost some of my naivete about doing "whatever we want with our lives." Some paths clearly lead to darkness and weeping. I know because I have spent parts of my life in that place.

I think that you don't understand Christ's ministry to be "about opening the table to all, widening the circle, and bringing in the outcast - proclaiming justice for the poor and oppressed" - am I wrong? I suspect these are secondary or after-effects of your rather different approach to belief.

I'm sorry, I can't say this any other way:

Rigid adherence to cerebral, rule-bound doctrine has been precisely what gets my dear friends kicked out of their churches for being followers of Jesus before they are followers of the rules.

That is a HEART-BREAKING experience and it destroys faith and the goodness that God blesses us with. Many never return. God's mercy has allowed some of them to stay Christians and to be stronger for realizing that Christ is not in the confines of our human rules.

It's also the attitude that led to someone in my church being sexually assaulted in residential school by a minister of the Lord as he tried to 'civilize' her. Their doctrine refused to allow that God dwelt in the original people's of this land, long before the rather ungodly Europeans 'discovered' them.

Sorry, I don't mean to be rude but on this point I will never budge. Christ is love, not rules.

(And the people Christ described Hell for were the religious authorities, the doctrine-holders of his day).

Peaball said...

Now that I go back and read Flunder's original quote, it pretty much says what I just said. Oh well. I stand by it.

chrish said...

Peaball,
I don't mind straightforward talk, and I appreciate your candour.

I do not deny that there are many who adhere only to rules rather than to the Bible, and in so doing, wreak terrible havok on the world around them. I will not defend the people who do terrible, unBiblical things, no matter the name in which they claim to act. For you and for your friends who have been harmed by such people, I am truly sorry.

But my point is not that everything anyone has ever done in the name of Christ is perfectly acceptable. My comment was about the original quote's phrase, "Any theology that suggests that God receives some and rejects others is not reflective of the ministry of Jesus Christ."

Universal salvation simply does not hold up in light of an intellectually honest reading of the Bible. How is Rev 20:11-15 to be understood as Christ "opening the table," etc? If some will not find eternal home in Heaven, why would Christ use Hell as an example in His parable about the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31)? Why would Acts tell us that there is no salvation outside of the name of Christ (Acts 4:11-13)? Is Christ confused when he talks about some finding eternal punishment (Matt 25:46)?

I have no problem with accepting the outcasts into our fellowship, in breaking bread with people the world does not want (the ones the world DOES want), and in preaching Christ and Him crucified for our reconciliation to anyone who will hear.

I will never budge in this: Not everyone will be saved on the last day.

In an effort to not hijack Bre's blog (unless she doesn't mind), I am more than happy to move this conversation to email (you'll find it on my own blog, I believe). If she doesn't mind, I'm also content to carry this discussion on here.