Thursday, April 26, 2007

should i stay or should i go

this one got going on 'northVUs' and it seemed like there might be more to say so i transplanted it here...

"How bout those who reject Jesus, or the church, or faith? It seems to me that as soon as you define the role of something, specifically an institution, then you are necessarily excluding." (hineini)

i agree that those who reject the centre of a faith community- in this case Jesus- will find themselves outside of that faith community... but that is what rejection means, isn't it? the turning from rather than towards something or someone?

does this mean that these individuals fall outside of the love of that community or the love of the God of that community? no, it shouldn't imply this at all. as a matter of fact, it is pretty scriptural that the love of God and his faith community, the Church, is offered inclusively with no expiry date and no umpire keeping track of strikes. if Jesus would implore peter and the boys to forgive seventy-times-seven then i think it would be rather inconsistent for God the Father to say

"well, yeah, that's a rule i made for you. however, with me it's down to your basic three strikes and you're out."

however, some of hineini's comment seems to reflect this understanding or characterization of God. in my view, that god is a construct, created in the image of certain members of fallen humanity who would seek to somehow justify thoughts of condemnation of the people beside them... much like the parable Jesus told in luke 18.9-14 . the reality of who God is is not limited by our sloppy theology. the only thing that is limited by our sloppy theology is our ability to experience a deep relationship with this God person... oh, and the ability to invite others into relationship with God as well, for a relationship based on misconception is going to have some pretty arbitrary limits and some therefore pretty limited appeal.

but back to rejection... it is my belief that when individuals reject that which is being offered (and continues to be offered regardless of their decision to accept or reject it) then they have no place entertaining feelings of embitterment or alienation based on their own decision to reject. they've chosen exclusion of their own design.

remember, i am not talking about somehow barring the doors or shutting the lights out and pretending no one is home when an 'other' (in the biblical sense) comes by. i am simply acknowledging that the burden of one's own redemption lands right back where the burden of damnation began- free will.

Labels: , ,

26 Comments:

Blogger jollybeggar said...

SocietyVS said:
(followup comment on original 'northVUs' post)

"as soon as you define the role of something, specifically an institution, then you are necessarily excluding." (Heinini)

I am defining the role fairly loosely though - as teaching the teachings of Jesus - and this is the aspect I focus on (and I think the church in general). It is a 'defining' of what they do - and not a 'dividing' line. I guess one could see it this way but I have found churches pretty receptive to new members.

"I see in structured religion a necessary limitation put on God, I guess to be more clear in my original post I should have asked is this limit acceptable." (Heinini)

I think the structure of religion is subject to change and always should be (this is also my belief). I find something that becomes to structured to become static and loses the intent of why it started in the first place - change. I agree with you on this generic point about the structure of the church - it has become stagnant and I think change is a good thing.

But I do agree with JB about the exclusion point he made - people are choosing to exclude themselves from these communities (sometimes quite unwillingly) but they still make this choice - which raises the obvious point - 'why can't the church change and why the limits it sets?'. So I am in agreeance with Hineini on one aspect (change) and JB on another (choice to exclude). And then I weave them together and make a dream-catcher.

4/26/2007  
Blogger BrotherKen said...

The goal of any ministry of Christ should be to invite everyone to come and hear the Word of God. In that respect we as servants of the Lord are not to be exclusionary. Yet, any human effort to gather, join together in like mind, and work to a common goal is going to be exclusive to some respect. This is one reason why there will always be a denominational structure to the church. I agree that it is not perfect but neither are we.

I suspect that Hineini is mostly concerned with the fact that (in his understanding) the core of our religion is tainted because it is exclusionary. Is God imperfect (or less than what He could be) because He is unable or unwilling to accept anything and everything that we are capable of? Does God have the right to lay down rules of acceptance and rejection? These types of queries, if that is where Hineini is going with this, come to the mind of most anyone who contemplates any religion.

Yet we are taught in our religion that there is one perfect and almighty God. This God is able to love everyone equally and completely, even though He does lay down rules and exclude those who disobey without repentance. It is not the preacher who reads God's word that defines sin and rejects the unrepentant sinner, it is God. In the same respect, it is not the preacher who brings someone to repentance and wholeness (acceptance) as only God can do that. Then we get into the way of salvation through the cross and all the rest, but that is a whole nother blog.

Note that this brings up the whole cycle of; if God can bring a person to wholeness then why does He not bring everyone to wholeness and the free will thing. Questions like these will plague the mind as long as one is not completely submissive to the fact that God is God and there are some things we can not know or understand. If an earnest reading of the bible does not bring you to the point of complete submission to God then keep looking, there are other religions. As for me, nothing else is as convincing and sensible as the teachings of Christ as they line up with the teachings of the prophets of God (all of which had exclusionary aspects).

4/27/2007  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

"This is one reason why there will always be a denominational structure to the church. I agree that it is not perfect but neither are we." (Ken)

Yeah but they have gone overboard with their structures in some sense and it's about high time we all spoke out. Insert chant here or newly written song denouncing the structure. Hippy's.

"This God is able to love everyone equally and completely, even though He does lay down rules and exclude those who disobey without repentance." (Ken)

This is whole nother blog on it's own I think. Ken, my darling, whatever do you mean by this saying?

"If an earnest reading of the bible does not bring you to the point of complete submission to God then keep looking, there are other religions" (Ken)

Ken, you should be saving Hineini's soul and not pushing him into the tolerant's dream society. He'll get eaten by ravenous wolves out there - without mercy - and like chewing gum. I thought we all wanted him to be 'saved'? I was trying my best and he never caved yet - but I think he was closer than ever - then this happened - we gave him a road out? Hineini will you accept Jesus tnight, with Ken, me, and even Jolly Beggar? I even have the booklet with a prayer in it I can read to you - you just have to nod 'yes'?

4/27/2007  
Blogger BrotherKen said...

Nah, I think the only way he'd be saved tonight is just to spite my callous attitude. Seriously though, I should have clarified that I wasn't addressing Hineini directly, just making a statement. And I do not think that we must be so concerned as to making invitations to join the group, when a person is ready you will know it. And also, If Hineini were to take something I said in the wrong way and turn from the discussion, I would not take it personally. I have faith that God can overcome anything that I screw up. If God wants a person saved will He fail?

4/27/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"If God wants a person saved will He fail?" (brotherken)

what the heck? doesn't God want to redeem everyone?

great- it's like picking teams on the elementary school playground again... only for eternity.

why would God bother to assign an eternal soul to anyone that he didn't want to save? what would be the point of that?

(is it my imagination or are things getting rather weird around here?)

4/29/2007  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

'It got weird, didn't it" (Dr.Evil)

Yeah JB I was playing around with some sarcasm elements from within my mind - and basically making the same point you just made. I agree, but salvation is something we need to define more closely.

4/30/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"salvation is something we need to define more closely." (societyVS)

you might be onto something here. what does salvation mean?

pearly gates, streets of gold and eternal bliss?
promised health, happiness and prosperity everlasting?
righteousness made possible by a state-assisted suicide?
a completely undeserved relationship with a Holy God?

or something completely different?

4/30/2007  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

I question salvation because I have a lot of questions about it and have made no definite conclusions (I should study it more to be honest - my bad).

What are we being 'saved' from? Saved for? Is it eternal or is it 'here and now'? Are we called to the same sacrifice as Jesus (it seems so)?

How do I know what it means in extreme depth when our sacrifical system in Canada is non-existent? It basically is giving up money and goods, not killing an animal or anything of the likes. It's quite the foreign system to us here and now. I know some of the Hebraic roots of this and I accept that as the best answer - Passoevr idea - but again some people want Jesus' death to be 'once and for all' - and just maybe it is? The mind wanders 40 days and 40 nights in the desert - then I found a Casino.

5/01/2007  
Blogger hineini said...

defining salvation was the whole point of my initial posting. I'm not sure how but somehow I was read as attributing to God that God excludes and includes. This may be the case but I try my best not to speak for God; I was referring to us, to religion. My point was exactly that the urge to define salvation is a necessarily violent action. Maybe this is all we have, maybe it's a necessary evil that one has to choose a God. What I am hoping for is a little more openness, maybe a little more humility. As opposed to brotherken's "I'm right and I know it and here is my token love" maybe we could put those beliefs we hold most dear to the test, put them at risk and meet our neighbour as an equal, someone who has as much to offer me, where they are now, as I have to offer them; not after they convert or after we agree or even after they agree to play by the rules and lay down their weapon.

I wanted to turn back to the original posting. I wanted to point out that I wasn't talking about an individual rejecting a faith community, I was talking about the community's requirements for membership, what you have to say, do or believe to be included, counted as one of, to belong. Jolly, when you speak of seventy-times seven in forgiveness terms why can God not look past a rejection anyway?

"it is my belief that when individuals reject that which is being offered (and continues to be offered regardless of their decision to accept or reject it) then they have no place entertaining feelings of embitterment or alienation based on their own decision to reject. they've chosen exclusion of their own design." (jollybeggar)

There is a hope in christianity to move past this "you've made your bed now lie in it" idealogy and embrace a vulnerable unlimited forgiveness that accepts that I am responsible even for the choices of rejection the other makes. I realize your theology is a very cause/effect one jollybeggar so this is going to sound odd but there is room there for the miraculous, for something new and unexpected entering into the cause effect, thats whats so wonderful about the gift of forgiveness.

5/01/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

cause/effect theology?
dang- does it show?

ha ha- yeah, i guess i cannot get past the idea that there must needs be followup to our rejection of God's provision for redemption. i mean, remember that old petra song from your youth group days, hineini?

all over me
all over me
i've got the blood of an innocent man all over me...

that one sticks for me because the whole 'passion' fiasco seems so pointless if simple forgiveness/cheap grace was easy and available all along. seems kinda like overkill on God's part just to make a point... although i'm not sure what the point would be other than perhaps some major guilt thing designed to manipulate people into choosing God (which isn't really choosing then, is it?) where's the integrity in that kind of choice being posed?

however, having said that, i must also say that i expect to hear God pointing out when the credits roll that a whole bunch of us were right about a whole bunch of things by accident and dreadfully wrong about a bunch more in all of our piety and devotion.
***

"the urge to define salvation is a necessarily violent action. Maybe this is all we have, maybe it's a necessary evil that one has to choose a God." (hineini)

sheer bloody poetry, man.

5/01/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"embrace a vulnerable unlimited forgiveness that accepts that I am responsible even for the choices of rejection the other makes." (hineini)

although i LOVE this as it stands up in human terms between people, i fail to see how God is responsible for the decision to reject God that so many make. for me it still falls into that whole blaming-God-for-everything-we-don't -like-about-life-on-this-planet thing.

however, i think that we've spoken a fair bit about this in other posts, so i'm fine with not doing more laps around the same indoor track when it's a beautiful day out.

5/01/2007  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

"maybe we could put those beliefs we hold most dear to the test, put them at risk and meet our neighbour as an equal, someone who has as much to offer me, where they are now, as I have to offer them; not after they convert or after we agree or even after they agree to play by the rules and lay down their weapon." (Hineini)

You know what - I agree 100%. I think I stand in the same theological strain as Heinini - 'doing unto others' has no side to pick there - seems both are equals. But I have more or less dropped my idea's about conversion so I am quite open to this dialogue.

"I realize your theology is a very cause/effect one jollybeggar so this is going to sound odd but there is room there for the miraculous, for something new and unexpected entering into the cause effect, thats whats so wonderful about the gift of forgiveness." (Hineini)

I think I am very close to this strain of thought also - after a very careful read of it. I like the idea being proposed - it just might be the one the pulls us out of our churches and into the communities we represent. I want to be involved with people on all levels of life and in all aspects of it - and not give them 'pat' answers for real problems. Best answer seems to be involvement - this is the one where we see the mniraculous happen - people start to shed old ideals for better ways of doing things - which can happen as we embrace those in our communities struggling - and not for conversion purposes - but for salvific purposes (to heal all of us together).

5/02/2007  
Blogger hineini said...

"that one sticks for me because the whole 'passion' fiasco seems so pointless if simple forgiveness/cheap grace was easy and available all along. seems kinda like overkill on God's part just to make a point..." (jollybeggar)

But this is still that cause/effect theme no? Why does the "passion" need to have a meaning that is clearly (or even unclearly) deliniated. I can agree that if we attribute to the passion some sort of payment for forgiveness/grace then there is something wrong with an easy forgiveness because it would be disporportionate. But what if they are unrelated? It's possible to read in the "passion" many "lessons", many different meanings (see all the various christologies out there) but it is also possible to see in the passion the complete lack of all meaning. This is one of the major problems when people look for a meaning in the Shoah. Its possible to read meaning into it, the event certainly demands this, but each attempt seems to leave an absurd and obscene result. One might also imagine that the murder of God (if we are going with the traditional understanding of the passion) might face similar difficulty?

" although i LOVE this as it stands up in human terms between people, i fail to see how God is responsible for the decision to reject God that so many make." (jollybeggar)

I don't have much use for keeping definite separations between God and humanity and so I don't share the same reservations about this I guess. I just figure that with all the talk of love, and propitiatory gestures attributed to God then maybe God might be capable of a radical forgiveness. I'm not sure I follow you about the "blaming God" thing, I have in mind more of a constructive, positive attribution. Not that it's God's fault for rejection but God willingly taking the rejection upon God in order to relieve human responsibility in all, some, or one case.

I am realizing that in the big picture I think I am describing a universalism of sorts. A God that can look past the particularities of relgious dogmas but I also see no reason why God can't look past rejection, especially if this rejection is based on humanity's limited knowledge which everyone is eager to constantly remind me off. Maybe this time, instead of a pat answer and a wet blanket on devotional contemplation humanity's limited knowledge may serve emancipatory ends

5/02/2007  
Blogger hineini said...

sorry societyvs I saw your post just after I posted again. I'll get back to you

5/02/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"Why does the "passion" need to have a meaning that is clearly (or even unclearly) deliniated." (hineini)

quick personal answer? because otherwise it wouldn't really be worth going on and on about would it. people are tortured to death all the time on this planet.

now whether and how the meaning is clearly or unclearly delineated is up to the individual trying to sort it out for her/himself.

anyway, i'll read the rest of your post later, buddy...

5/03/2007  
Blogger hineini said...

"people are tortured to death all the time on this planet." (jollybeggar)

I'm really glad you brought this point up. I have always thought christianity does itself a disservice when it tries to emphasis the torture and suffering of Jesus. As you point out, people are tortured to death daily around the world, and many of them put the suffering of Jesus to shame if we were to indulge in an obscene comparison.

"because otherwise it wouldn't really be worth going on and on about would it"(jollybeggar)

No, I have to disagree, we go on and on about plenty of things, the things important and significant for each of us. I hear you argueing for a universal significance of the death of Jesus which must be adhered to in the prescribed way (however broad we're willing to go on this maybe another question entirely) for forgiveness and salvation to be legitimate. What I am asking however is the possibility of a God whose criteria isn't that narrow. It's a bit hard for me to translate I must admit because I have little need for a soteriolgy that delivers from anything other than suffering, the here and now type. But if we read the passion as just one of the possible events that foster or encourage or compel a relationship with the divine then not only can we do away with exclusionary religious dogmas but also with our violent conceptions of the divine, conceptions that as pointed out earlier, actually get in the way of our sincere attempts at communion.

5/03/2007  
Blogger hineini said...

"You know what - I agree 100%. I think I stand in the same theological strain as Heinini - 'doing unto others' has no side to pick there - seems both are equals."(societyvs)

Oi! I'm not sure what your agreeing too societyvs but I certainly didn't explain or mean any sort of equality or reciprocity between myself and the other. I understand I guess where that idea comes from, mostly from my sloppy writing now that I read it over. The point I was trying to make is that the other not be denegrated from the outset simply because they are of a different religious persuassion or confession which is the consequence of brotherken's theology. I was simply trying to urge a radical openness that puts us and what we love at risk, our loved ones, our faith and our God should all be vulnerable to our responsibility to the other.

"and not for conversion purposes - but for salvific purposes (to heal all of us together)."(societyvs)

I'm not too sure what you mean here. But isn't there a danger that if we are looking at the ends (healing or conversion or salvation) then we have a tendency to slot in the other as a means to that end. This really doesn't get out out of the problem I was explaining. Whether your trying to convert, save or heal the other you are still putting your conception of the other to the fore, your acting on them. This in my mind is not the vulnerability of love, this is another aspect of colonialism (which was always trying to help, if only in rhetoric).

5/03/2007  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

"The point I was trying to make is that the other not be denegrated from the outset simply because they are of a different religious persuasion or confession which is the consequence of brotherken's theology" (Hineini)

And this is the point I agree with...there needs to be a lot of room for each's personal perspective and experiences with God. I seem to be quite against the idea of a narrow view of faith - which I am - I think there is a lot of room for discussion on a lot of idea's within in any faith (inclusing mine - which is Christian). I am quite open to that and accept it as part of the journey.

"I was simply trying to urge a radical openness that puts us and what we love at risk, our loved ones, our faith and our God should all be vulnerable to our responsibility to the other" (hineini)

So a big focus on the 'neighbor' in the scenario 'love your neighbor as yourself'. I can't say I disagree and see this 'here and now' idea from Christ's teachings - and they need more focus irregardless of one's view of the afterlife...since this is what we actually have with us and deal with.

"But isn't there a danger that if we are looking at the ends (healing/conversion/salvation) then we have a tendency to slot in the other as a means to that end." (Hineini)

I agree there can be an overlooking of the individual in that scenario - but I speculate about the end not knowing it (ex: conversion). I don't put much into the 'ends' to be honest - I rather like the experience we share one with another - and how we can all get involved one with another.

"Whether your trying to convert, save or heal the other you are still putting your conception of the other to the fore, your acting on them. This in my mind is not the vulnerability of love, this is another aspect of colonialism." (Hineini)

I see nothing that bad with 'acting' with the other - in such a manner that helps to benefit them and not destroy them. In my mind, this is all we really have (unless we got a palm-reader in the house - who knows the ends of our actions?). But again, I place little focus on the end result - each can make that decision on their own (whether it be changing one's values or not). I think I think for myself and that's all I have but I hope the best for anyone - and treat them thusly (but again it's not about the ends - but the relationship).

5/03/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

"I just figure that with all the talk of love, and propitiatory gestures attributed to God then maybe God might be capable of a radical forgiveness." (hineini)

it is probably a fairly simple theological difference that separates us on this one. i believe that in past posts you have stated a theology of 'divine fallibility', so to speak. because i can't subscribe to this, i cannot see how one who is completely holy and completely perfect can just 'forgive and forget' without winking at something that must needs be removed in order for true relational communion to take place. how can the holy and the unholy come into direct contact without the perfection of the holy being blighted or smeared by the imperfection of the unholy that is permitted to remain? i'm probably just theologically closed to arguments which would imply the possibility of forgiveness without the sanctification of the forgiven.

"we go on and on about plenty of things, the things important and significant for each of us." (hineini)

nicely put. the things we go on and on about are those things which are meaningful to us in some way- whether we have actually come to a place where the personal meaning is that which we can articulate or not is probably part of why we are going on and on.

"if we read the passion as just one of the possible events that foster or encourage or compel a relationship with the divine then not only can we do away with exclusionary religious dogmas but also with our violent conceptions of the divine, conceptions that as pointed out earlier, actually get in the way of our sincere attempts at communion." (hineini)

although this could be read as a bit universalist (which you mentioned earlier anyway) and therefore difficult to lock in on for those outside of this lifeview, it does open up possibilities for a picture of God's love and the communion offered to us in many different ways rather than closing them. thanks for wording this idea in this way.

so i am feeling drawn back to the question of salvation- or at least a related spinoff: are salvation and communion with almighty God the same thing?
***

"I seem to be quite against the idea of a narrow view of faith - which I am..." (societyVS)

ha ha- glad to know that you are what you seem to be. i think that that's called integrity.

anyway, enough smartassedness from me...

"it just might be the one the pulls us out of our churches and into the communities we represent. I want to be involved with people on all levels of life and in all aspects of it - and not give them 'pat' answers for real problems. Best answer seems to be involvement - this is the one where we see the miraculous happen..." (societyVS)

i like this- especially the 'best answer seems to be involvement' bit. the challenge is always to enact our love, not simply have it- to apply our convictions, not simply hold them. all that 'pat answer' stuff usually exists because people continue to see the church as a cozy, escapist-bubble-like land of ideas. you know: a nice weekly holiday from everything that drains us of our energy. a brief vacation to a place where all of the rules are different and all of the faces are wearing masks... that's not church- that's my hockey team! the cultural misuse of the word 'sanctuary' is tragic.

the church is a place to leave, taking the ideas cultivated there to a life outside of its walls where they can exact needed change through love and service.

5/04/2007  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

"anyway, enough smartassedness from me..." (Jolly Beggar)

I thought I condemnest thee a whilst back...hmmm. oh well...one must needs get the Bishop involved in such matters...pretty sure he would take an interest in this rhetoric of yars...argh mate-y...the whole lot of us done.

5/04/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

condemnest? when and on what grounds, pray tell?

and is it me or have we all turned into pirates?

there goes johnny depp and keith richards, affecting change once again through pop culture.

as for my beloved bishop, yes, he does take an interest in this rhetoric of ours. he has been leading us as a denomination to think missionally- that we would be a 'go-to' movement, not a 'come-to' (effectively tractor beaming) church...

or are you simply referring to the use of the term 'smartass'?

sorry- my bad. it's off to the bathroom to wash my typing hands off with soap.

5/05/2007  
Blogger SocietyVs said...

JB, I just had a sense of hunor and used it - figured the convo could use some of that.

5/07/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

arrrrrrrh! ;)

5/07/2007  
Blogger hineini said...

I miss my sense I humor, I wish I still had one

5/07/2007  
Blogger curious servant said...

You guys always seem to get some good discussion going!

5/15/2007  
Blogger jollybeggar said...

nice to read you again, cs

5/17/2007  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home