Saturday, August 09, 2008

Mike's comment and what it means to follow Jesus

I found Mike's comment here thought provoking. Thought I'd post a couple quotes with questions and so forth:

it’s very obvious that belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus is paramount to our salvation (not just a pray this prayer and get into heaven salvation, but the entire process of being redeemed and formed into the likeness of Christ). This is not an optional belief for those who claim to belief in Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. Not because I’m a fundamentalist and need to be right, but because to think otherwise is not only contrary to the plain faith as passed to us through the scriptures but also because to not believe that is incoherent with claiming to love and believe in Jesus.


Mike--I'm thinking we might have some minor communication difficulties because it seems to me that you see the world from a more modern perspective, whereas I see it from a more postmodern perspective. Please correct me if I'm wrong. You don't strike me as a fundamentalist. But I'm wondering how you would react to getting to know someone, or a group of people, who *don't* believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, but who *do* love and believe in Jesus, the man who walked the earth 2000 years ago. Do you imagine that until the *do* believe in the bodily resurrection, they simply cannot love him, nor choose to do what he said? Or what of those who themselves believe in the bodily resurrection, but are convinced (through their experience) that believing in it isn't really nearly all that important, in terms of being a Christian, because they know and interact with lots of Christians who *don't* believe in it?

I mean to say ... why must we define "orthodoxy" or "christian" at all, much less in rigid terms? Do you see Jesus doing this? I mean where does Jesus insist that people have to believe in his bodily resurrection, or the apostles creed, or the 39 articles, or what have you, in order to love him or follow him? I just don't see him saying to the apostles when he got them "Follow me. And believe in my bodily resurrection." It looks to me, over and over again, that he makes following him about practices rather than beliefs. Things like "Love your neighbor, return kindness for unkindness, be perfect, don't sin" etc.

I guess what I mean to say is--tell me a *story* (that is, be like Jesus! =). When you say "believing in the bodily resurrection is paramount to our salvation", (no offense here), I'm just about bored to tears instantly. I mean *what the hell* does that mean? like---what's the antecedent for "our"--who is included in the group to whose salvation you are referring? Ideally, I'd love to hear about you personally, or at least a smallish group whose faces you know and can describe (as in, are they moustached?). What do they (you) need to be saved from? Is it acute or chronic (or both)? Does it hurt? How desperate are (were?) you? Was there a riveting moment when you thought all was lost? What was your heart rate like at that moment, and were you chewing gum (and if so, why? and what flavor?) and what color shoes did you have on, and did you have a tatoo, and why, and how is that related to the desperate situation from which you needed saving, and how is all that related "the bodily resurrection" (which is, you claim, paramount).

All of the above is intended in a spirit of invitation, and I apologize for my clumsiness if such a tone fails to come across.

2 comments:

michael foster said...

Benjamin,

Who is Jesus? Better yet, who did he say he was based off the best historical documents we have? Thanks. Btw, I'm a different Mike who you met briefly over two years ago.

Mike Edwards said...

Benjamin--perhaps we are having some communication difficulties. Whether it is due to postmodernist or modernist thought, I’m not sure. But if a modernist and a postmodernist both have a flat tire, I’m sure they can communicate what they are dealing with. Sometimes, it is very good to define some words. Words like “Christian.” I’m not sure what you mean by that when you say it. So, in answering the questions you present, I should let you know that I will use the term “Christian” as to mean those redeemed and atoned by the blood of Jesus and believe, by grace-through faith, that he is Lord and that God has raised him from the dead. What I’ll do here is just simply try to take the questions you asked and answer them as succinctly as I can. I think I’m inspired enough by the topic to do some writing on it myself.

You asked, “I'm wondering how you would react to getting to know someone, or a group of people, who *don't* believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, but who *do* love and believe in Jesus, the man who walked the earth 2000 years ago.” I suppose my reaction would be much like it is here: enter into dialogue and relationship without denying what I believe. I have relationships with many who do not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I also have relationships with people who believe in a bodily resurrection of Jesus yet still refuse the invitation into relationship with him. In other words, I love them and because I love them, I speak clearly about what I believe about all things, since all things are held together by Him.

You asked, “Do you imagine that until the *do* believe in the bodily resurrection, they simply cannot love him, nor choose to do what he said? Or what of those who themselves believe in the bodily resurrection, but are convinced (through their experience) that believing in it isn't really nearly all that important, in terms of being a Christian, because they know and interact with lots of Christians who *don't* believe in it?

I believe that someone who does not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus could love him in the sense that they have admiration for him (even deep admiration) and will perhaps to the best of their own ability imitate the manner in which he lived and the actions involved with that. Further, with my understanding of what it means to be a “Christian” would eliminate the possibility of not believing in the resurrection. They may be a christian in the religious or current cultural sense, just not in the biblical one. However, religious is impotent to bring about transformation in anyone, only behavior modification at best.

You go on to say, “It looks to me, over and over again, that he makes following him about practices rather than beliefs. Things like "Love your neighbor, return kindness for unkindness, be perfect, don't sin" etc.” I hate to answer a question with a question, but assuming Jesus compelled his followers to not sin, etc. why would his followers continue to put trust in such things when Jesus lied to them about his resurrection? Perpetuating a lie (which is exactly what his disciples would have done had Jesus not risen from the dead) would seem to be the opposite of loving your neighbors. So the two seem mutually exclusive. I also think this particular question pushes us off the path of discussing the resurrection into a broader issue of orthodoxy and how that relates to belief, etc. So I’ll leave that here for now.

As for my story, whew---maybe I should just post that on my blog and point you there...Or maybe we can share our stories over a pint (or two-ish) when we meet up in Seattle soon.

peace