Have you heard of something called American civil religion? It says that if you don’t do anything real bad, or if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, you go to heaven. We’re all familiar with its teachings, yet no church officially teaches them. Yet if you deny its teachings, people look at you funny, as if you’re being uncharitable or heretical. Continue reading “American civil religion”
My 93-year-old, blind, deaf, arthritic grandmother hates to be helped. We finally learn to stop replying to comments such, “Don’t go to any trouble!” “I hate to have you wait on me,” “I’m just a lazy bum.” I wonder if, when she arrives at the gates of Heaven, she will say to Jesus, “Now Lord, please don’t go to any trouble for me! I can help myself.”
So many Christians think they’re supposed to inject religious words into their conversation (“After all, he says his word will not return void!”) – the Chinese water torture method of evangelism. But I don’t think that bears any fruit. We’re supposed to not cast pearls before swine, to refrain from saying things that people wouldn’t understand or appreciate anyway. I like the times when an honest answer to their question unavoidably gives glory to God. When I really did trust God, not just was supposed to have trusted to God. “Well, you know, I just need to depend on God’s strength day by day” but I have to be careful to say that only when I do.
Like practical universalism and proportional atonement, parousial sanctification is another doctrine I invented one night when I had nothing else to do. Well, actually I didn’t invent it. A lot of Christians seem to already be living in expectation of it. However, I have not yet found any Scriptural evidence for this doctrine. Parousial sanctification is the inward transformation of the soul that evidently occurs at the second coming of Jesus Christ (Gk. parousia), presumably during the Rapture.
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Universalism is the heretical teaching that everybody will go to heaven, even if they don’t want to. Practical universalism (a heresy I invented one night when I was bored) is stricter. It means that if you want to go to heaven, you have to be sincere or you have to be religious. But that’s okay because everybody is sincere or religious, aren’t we? Continue reading “Practical Universalism”
Tempocentrism (thinking our own generation is always right) causes some of the same problems as ethnocentrism (thinking our own culture is always right). It makes the mistake of assuming that Bible teachers know more about God than Bible characters. Really. There are teachers who claim that Paul just didn’t get it, but that we know better now. All this without the inconvenience of being tested in Arabia, stoned, shipwrecked, flogged, or visited by the presence of Jesus.
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Ethnocentrism is the problem of thinking that your own sub-culture is right and that other sub-cultures are wrong. It’s a problem that leads to prejudice, bigotry, imperialism, even genocide. And it’s not completely avoidable. As much as you tell yourself that someone else acts differently because he was raised differently, you can’t always prevent feelings of impatience and judgementalism. And it’s even worse when you (and/or the other person) think you’re dealing with issues of absolute truth, not relative opinions, and won’t give in.
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