Adam Says: Do you think this guy, http://meadeskeltonmusic.blogspot.com/2008/11/im-not-religous-im-christian.html, is for genuine? It seems funny to say but the evangelical dogma has reached a point where when I here people say "it’s a relationship and not a religion", it does not sound real… like people who say they are proud to be Americans… sure, sure you are proud to be American, but why? Really why? Not the one trillion asinine reasons people before you have given, but the reasons you really feel and believe deep down in your soul… that’s not as easy is it? Same goes for the Christian Faith… it is so easy to hear people come up with something catchy and then just run with it, but it is so much harder to say what you really feel and believe deep down in your soul…
Jeremy Says: hmm....lots of thoughts here. our author seems to be just regurgitating all these thoughts and ideas from his head, and it's stuff I've all heard before, so they are probably not original ideas to him either. but, I don't think we should necessarily judge him for "venting" or "ranting". you're absolutely right, that evangelicals come up with nice clichés and what not that may be true, but about the third time you hear it, it starts to lose it's luster. I think this guy is probably spewing thoughts that are true to him, and things that he feels strongly about, but maybe he has never tried to use language that he himself has come up with? maybe he just knows how he feels when other people say things, so the best way for him to then tell someone else is to use the same communication technique. maybe he needs some more ammunition for explaining the love of Christ to other people, but his legalism prevents him from really knowing how to do that, so when he hears the next catchy "Christian" he thinks, "oh, now this will really make them understand"... but when you're not a Christian, typically stupid clichés that sound cool to us, sound like stupid clichés to non Christians.
this reminds me of the Derek Webb song, "they'll know us by the t-shirts that we wear": "they’ll know us by the billboards that we make...just turning God’s words to cheap clichés...when love, love, love is what we should be known for..." problem is...I'm guilty too. it's easier, I guess, to throw out a fun phrase or thought to get someone to stop a think instead of just loving them. I don't think we are really disagreeing with the content of our author so much as we are questioning his method, but do you find any flaws or falsehoods in his statements. in the example, I would have to say that I'm completely agree that "it's a relationship, not a religion", but so what... does that change people's lives? probably not. I often think to myself that people look as us the same way we look at Catholics, and that is: we know we do bad things, and need Jesus to save us. the problem with Catholics is obvious...people think you can fulfill any selfish desire you might have as long as you participate in confession. thus, there is no real validity to their belief system, and I think that's where we as evangelicals try to separate ourselves from them and their "religion". so how do we do that? well, come up with an end-all phrase that will catch people's attention and make them realize we have validity. alas, we probably just sound stupid. so it seems the only way to really validate your belief is to live it, which to me, means loving as Christ loved.
Adam Says: I agree, saying it’s a relationship and not a religion is basically just creating your own form of religion based on not being a religion. You are caught in a quandary, of beliefs and communication, what you really want to say is that you believe in a mystical power that is so great that it (He in our case) transcends humanly created religious structures, and at the same time this great mystical power is so in love with you that it is willing to do whatever it takes to have a daily relationship with you. So we are, unable to say what we want to say because honestly God is so mystical and so great that he seems like a contradiction. So logically you run into so many issues that you fall apart trying to think about it let alone explain it. However, this is the beauty of faith, because we know that God’s spirit is ministering to the hearts of men so that even the most unbearably cliché or awfully clumsy explanation of God’s love can penetrate straight to the heart.
Jeremy Says: Yes, and although God is unfathomable and mystical, Jesus was a human, and we can relate to him. Yes, he was unlike any other human to ever live, but he still went through temptations and faced trials and all that, we have something we can look to that's not so "out there". this kinda brings me back to: simply (or complexly) "just loving people" like Jesus did. sure, we can try to explain God to someone who does not believe, and it's hard like you were saying. it makes better sense to just love them (which is something we have all the capabilities of doing) and explain that we "know" the love of Jesus, and that's why we love you. it sounds much less religious, but when you boil it down, it is still a form of religion if you want to call it that. but it is a religion much different from a dogma such as Catholicism or Islam.
Adam Says: It’s true and it’s not; it is true that our faith is as simple as love but it is also as complicated liturgical traditions like Catholicism or Islam. If you were to ask me what you must do to go to Heaven I would say believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who sacrificed His life for your sins, where as in other religions you may get an answers like “be a good person, and try to follow the rules,” so in that regard our faith is obviously more simplistic. But at the same time we strive to have a relationship with a God who created heaven and earth, good and evil and who is so complex that we cannot even fully grasp any one figures of the Godhead. I mean hear is a God who told Job to get ready to fight like a man just for questioning God, but who then shows his scars to Thomas when he doubts… It is so difficult to understand and yet that is our entire purpose in life… to get to know God… to be his companion.
Jeremy Says: So why would people want to believe in something they can’t understand…
Adam Says: I suppose that is the element of faith that sets our belief system apart from other belief systems… you can’t work your way to heaven… our God is not something so small as to be understood by simple human minds… you can’t be good enough… but instead you can only have faith and only through this do your receive not only eternal salvation but a fulfilling purpose in life.
Jeremy Says: You know how sometimes we refer to “our faith” as a set of standards and guidelines to what we believe. It’s basically saying the same thing as “our religion”… I wonder why we do that, because that basically negates the meaning of the word “faith”. You’re right about faith being the important thing about Christianity, but I think we’ve realized that it’s hard to explain or understand something/someone like Jehovah God. So if someone asked, “why would I want to believe in something that I can’t fully understand?” I think I would respond with, “well, there are some really important things in life that I do understand (to some degree) like love and beauty and truth. And if those important things originated from God, then I can get over not understanding the little complex ideas about Him that make Him multifarious.
Adam Says: I could not agree more… knowing God is to understand what truth and beauty are. I liken it to my understanding of the electoral system of the United States when I was a child… when I was little I knew that people voted for President and whom ever received the most votes was the winner, and so I believed in the system but as I grew older I discovered that the president is actually elected by the electoral college who are chosen to represent the votes of the different localities and states. Does that mean that what I “knew” when I was younger was incorrect… not really, but it was not a full understanding… and even if I never fully understood the system I could still have faith in it and cast my vote and for the most part the person who received the most votes would win… I realize that’s kind of a clunky analogy but it is the best I can do whilst sitting at my desk on a Thursday morning.
Jeremy Says: So I think the point is that although we do believe and follow a “religion” of sorts, it does differentiate itself from all other religions. And it does that in what we feel to be a very good way, so we strive to make people aware of its difference. But we need to be more careful on how we strive to do that. Like instead of coming up with cheesy clichés, we live truth, beauty, and love, and share that with other people through our actions.