Saturday, May 02, 2009

Comment on Perception

The following is (most of) a comment I received in response to the last post on Perception. I expected that the expression of the concept in such an open manner would cause some folks to think that reality is whatever I happen to think it is at the moment, I elected to post my comments without explanatory notes. Well, one of my friends from another site makes that very observation. That's a good thing because it prompts me to address some of the limits of perception in response to his comment. Below in standard font are his comments, and in italics are my responses. This gentleman is kind and knowledgeable in Scripture; I have no reason to question his faith, salvation, or commitment to God or Scripture. It is apparent though, that we do see things a bit differently perhaps. Of course, regular readers of this blog won't find that surprising. 

“It appears that your "perception" of God and scripture is no different than many others. It may be different in wording or actual commitment levels but that is your interpretation of the Word. 

It almost appears as if you are saying that God accepts you, no matter how you live your life. Kind of the old, God loves me as I am, thing. However, that is a dangerous approach to spiritual truth when it come to Gods will for our lives. Not to mention that it is very difficult to support this view of Christianity with scripture.” 

I’m glad that you included that “almost,” because that is an accurate reflection of what I believe. It is that you can almost live your life however you want and God will accept you. We might posit that there are two kinds of sinners – those that did bad stuff before they were saved and now no longer do, and those that did bad stuff before they were saved and yet still do bad stuff. For the purposes of this discussion, it does not matter the relative severity of these behaviors; the answer remains the same – God will accept you if you attempt to follow Him. We all get things wrong and we all do things on purpose that are not in line with God-character. If I expect God to accept me, I must allow Him to accept you.

I do not believe it is difficult at all to support in Scripture. I would point first of all to 1 John, where we are told that we aren’t supposed to sin, but if we do, the blood of Christ covers us. Without getting into the background of 1 John, or a discussion of Gnosticism, that truth does support that there is really very little you can do to remove yourself from the acceptance of God.

That does not mean there is nothing you can do to separate yourself from God, but there are precious few things indeed.

“I appreciate people who are intelligent. I really do. I can't imagine having to live this life with people who can't participate in an intellectual conversation. I have tried. It doesn't work. I said all of that to set the stage for what I am about to say... You and I have mixed it up a couple of times on the [Deleted by HR to protect the guilty]. I have seen instances when "retranslation" of the bible is the only correct way to do things. I think some people are too smart for their own good.”

I try not to “retranslate” for grins and giggles, but rather extrapolate and interpret specific passages in light of the whole of Scripture and its description of God. I believe it is vitally important that we understand God (that is what we are called to) and then interpret Scripture in light of that understanding. I admit this must be a reflexive undertaking – read Scripture first, see the picture, and then re-read Scripture in light of that picture. It is true that I shy away from dogmatic applications of seemingly absolute passages. I shy away from them because they generally do not fit the rest of Scripture – or in many cases the context of the passages themselves.

“I do not know if I will ever understand how you, and others like you, reconcile your beliefs with scripture. God does love us and accept us as we are, but we are meant to change our life as we grow as a Christian. Knowledge is a wonderful thing. But it can be a two edged sword as well. Saying we believe in God isn't good enough. There actually has to be evidence of it in our lives.”

Oddly enough, it seems that we agree on this one. I whole-heartedly agree that simple knowledge isn’t enough. The expectation is that we evidence changed – no, transformed – lives. We are called to become like Christ, the fullness of God. That is precisely the reason I try to find God rather than distinct rules in Scripture. God is up to something broader than giving us a written code.

“There is actual sacrifice involved when we accept Christ as our savior. We should die to ourselves. We are not the same. It is not our life to live. We were redeemed with a price. That price was our Lord and Savior being beaten, humiliated, nailed to a cross, and His side pierced. He was killed for me and you. He earned and paid for our life. 

Your approach to life as a Christian, although it is very comforting, is completely wrong. Of course, that is just my opinion.” 

Since we agree to a large extent, I’m not sure how I can be completely wrong – assuming there is some correctness in your view. Perhaps we are both completely wrong, or maybe we simply have different emphases in our view of God. Maybe we’re both a bit right and a bit wrong.

“I have concern when reading your open dislike of accountability in the scriptures when it comes to marriage and homosexuality among others. Your opinion of abortion leaves some questions as well.”

I suspect that is because these are emotional trigger topics, and that I express myself differently than you. Perhaps I understand the question being asked differently. Maybe I see the solution to be based more on understanding God and the realities of existence, more so than on finding the applicable rule. I admit that sometimes I perceive the implications of Scripture differently than the more common view would allow, but I believe my understanding to be in line with Scripture.

That however, is not to say that I devalue Scripture, or that I don’t believe we are called to higher levels of existence and behavior. I try though, to live in that higher plain with the view that I see God has demonstrated time and again. That view is one that acknowledges that you and I are imperfect and will continue to be; that we do not understand God entirely; that despite our beliefs that we have it “right,” we probably don’t. The view of God in Scripture is one that does accept those who seek to follow Him, as they are. He then calls them to an imperfect, but transforming/transformed life that will itself be punctuated by failures.

Those that are separated from God are those who push Him away; those that have no love for the Light, who seek to further Darkness. Others, who seek after God even imperfectly (to greater or lesser degrees) are nurtured and accepted by God. I hope and believe that about me and I must hope and believe that about you. As a result, I must also hope and believe that about others even if they do stuff that I think is incompatible with Christian living.

Finally, I don’t have an open dislike of accountability. I do however find that God usually turns out to have a bit more grace and mercy than He does wrath. I simply try to extend that same grace and mercy to others and at the same time try to comport myself to what I understand to be the higher standard.

I believe my friend, that you and I are much closer than you perceive.

Blessings

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