Monday, April 18, 2011

Hell & Manipulation

What if the Pharasees in Jesus' day taught the idea of hell (borrowing it from other religions - Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Zoroastrian and Greek) in order to manipulate people to be good, so that the Messiah could come?  What if Christians started to do the same thing, causing a seperation between people who go to heaven and people who go to hell?  What if Jesus is all about breaking down this seperation, by hanging out with the 'sinful' people and turning the idea of hell onto the religious establishment?  What if Jesus was only ever warning religious people about hell?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A bigger God

Jim Palmer wrote on his blog "Shedding Religion to find God":

"What if God isn’t a belief system? What if God is bigger than any theology that religion can produce? What if God is bigger than self, bigger than family, bigger than church, bigger than tribe, bigger than nation, and bigger than any creed or set of doctrines we might wrap around him? Could the vision of a bigger God cause us to place higher value on expanding our circles of care and compassion, and working toward a more peaceful world? What if God is love? What if God is peace? What if God is unconditional acceptance? What if God is empathy and compassion?"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Predestined to what?

What if in the New Testament being 'chosen' or 'predestined' or 'the elect' does not so much refer to holding a valid ticket to heaven, as it does to being picked out in order to be a blessing to God and to people?  What if Christianity's failure is the same as that of Israel:  We still don't get that we're chosen, not for our individual gain (personal salvation), but in order to be a blessing to the world?
What if being "a chosen people, a royal priesthood" does not seperate us from and elevate us over our neighbor?  But instead it unites us with them, as we join them in their mess, the same mess that we came from, helping them up into a loving relationship with Father?  Isn't that what Jesus did and still does?  What if he continues to come alongside people, even in the place of the dead (Hades) to which he holds the keys?  What if (his)"love never fails" and never gives up?
What if there can't be an eternal bliss for the elect in heaven (in this life and after), while people are still suffering in whatever hell they are in (in this life and after)?  What if the shepherd doesn't rest until all his sheep are safe?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Freedom from fear & shame

What if we, in western Christianity, don't understand anymore what it really means for Jesus to forgive our sins?  What if it's not just about a 'Ticket to Heaven' or a 'Hell-Free Card'?  What if for Jesus, when he walked this earth, forgiving people their sins used to be all about freeing them from the bondage of shame which seperated them from Father (ie. the paralyzed man in Luke 5)?  What if "Do not be afraid" and "your sins are forgiven" were some of the most spoken words of our big brother?  What if it really is fear and shame that keep us away from a loving relationship with Father?  What if sin is this seperation caused by fear and shame?  What if, trying to manage our own sin, we get sucked deeper and deeper into it by fear and shame?  Would it be enough to just deal with the sin?  Or do we need to allow Jesus to deal with the root of it: fear and shame?  What if religion is just using fear and shame for its advantage, instead of, like Jesus, removing the burden of it?  What if I can live in a loving relationship with Father without fear and shame?

Friday, April 1, 2011

One IV

What if the existence of approximately 38000 Christian denominations in the world today is kinda opposite to what Jesus had in mind when he prayed: "...that all of them may be one, Father, that the world may believe that you have sent me."? (John 17)