Shall we make them like us or us like them?


prisonchaplain

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Religions--especially Christian ones--face a dividing of the house.  I see it within my own fellowship, within evangelicalism, within Catholicism, and, sometimes, within some of the strings here.  Do we attempt to fashion our communities towards godly, gospel-honoring virtue, or do we modify our messaging and "optics" to better appeal to the culture?

 

30 years ago we evangelicals were confident, with our Moral Majority and Christian Coalition, our Christian broadcasting, our gospel rock bands--we were going to win America for Jesus!  By the mid-90s, some were calling for a full pull-out.  The culture is hopelessly corrupt, pull your kids out of public and secular schools, let us withdraw and circle the wagons.

 

Alas, today, some congregations are bursting at the seams.  They have discovered that if they teach grace, love, acceptance, inclusion, understanding, and authenticity, people will come.  No more talk of sin, unless it is couched as, "We are all sinners--perhaps we are worse than you.  Let's walk together."

 

Jesus was not interested in conquering culture, nor in accommodating it.  He simply spoke and acted on Truth.  Maybe we're asking the wrong questions.  Perhaps, despite our busyness, we're not completely about the Father's business.

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I have noticed a change, too, over the course of my life.  When I was a kid, I was told, "Do not break the Ten Commandments."  Today, the message is more like, "If you break the Ten Commandments, they will break you."

 

I agree that the concept of "sin" has become quite flabby in the 21st century.  It has been pushed to a back burner and seems to be evolving into the notion of karma, which has been around for a long time.

 

My belief in the objective existence of evil is what drives me forward to belief in God.  It's uncomfortable nowadays to talk about evil and sin because they are usually discussed in a context of judgement... and it's not nice to judge these days, unless you're a Democrat judging a Republican, or vice versa, in which case you can let the cannonballs fly as fast and as far as you want.

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I love this scripture from 1st Nephi 16:2

 

And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.

 

 

 

There are many examples where prophets are sought after to be killed through the Book of Mormon for this very reason. I think we ought to speak the truth. We shouldn't alter it to be pleasing to man.

In some cases I think we are also coming to understand God's word more fully, and our message is adjusted accordingly.

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Teach them correct principles and let the govern themselves.....not sure what to really say. I do get concerned when I think about the future and will more people turn away from religion. There was a time they said when the going gets tough people get religious. Based on articles I have read over the past 10 years I think that's not true any longer.

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I'm not so concerned with the political sphere--more with the household of faith.  How can we teach them correct principles if we are so concerned with how they feel, and with not appearing judgmental, that we fail to confront the need of every soul to repent?  After all, repent of what?  We dare not call sin what it is, so how can we teach correct principles.  Even if we dare to mention a sin, we quickly add, "But of course, I'm a sinner too--and mine is probably worse!"  Well, if so, then why should I follow you?  Why should I repent--it doesn't seem to have worked for you?

 

Right now, on a facebook discussion site--within my own fellowship--I'm seeing this divide.  One posts that we must call out sin for what it is, and forever banish the idea of "Gay Christian" "Fornicator Christian" "Lying Christian" etc.  If we are Christian, we ought to flee from our sins, not identify ourselves by them.  The push back was an amazing thing to see.  Several posters called for greater humility, insisted that we all struggle, we sin every day, etc.  Who are we to say who is a Christian and who isn't.

 

My bottom line:  Why are we so afraid to confront sin and call for repentance?

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LDS.NET PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT


 


FOLK PROPHET WILL BE OFFERING FREE  TACT 101 COURSES ON THE 2ND TUESDAYS OF EACH WEEK, AT       O-DARK-HUNDRED IN THE A.M., SO THAT WE ALL MIGHT BE FREE OF FOLK GETTING OFFENDED BY OUR ABRASSIVE EFFORTS AT GOSPEL PROCLAMATION.  :D


Edited by prisonchaplain
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Now, here's the real question? Where is the line between standing firmly for truth in spite of the offense it might cause, and just plain tactless and rude delivery.

 

Many of the prophet's expressions in the scriptures were, moderately speaking, somewhat tactless and rude. Even many of Christ's words could be viewed that way. (They took offense at Him and crucified Him for a reason, after all). And yet, Christ, being perfect, was able to clearly understand and choose His words in such a way that, although they were viewed as rude by some, were the right thing to say. He, and the prophets as well (I suspect by the power of the Holy Spirit) were able to draw that line.

 

That line has been pushed harder and harder by society. And in some ways, I suppose, it behooves us to accommodate that line, because rudeness is, after all, a cultural thing (things are only perceived as rude -- it is not a concrete reality).

 

I don't know. It's a challenging thing for sure.

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J_A_G, many thanks for the link.  The author's perspective is Orthodox Christian, so I can see why much of what he says seems quite removed from our experience.  However, the most relevant part was found in the first commenter's response:

 

then there are useless commercial feel good consumer churches, pseudo-conservative churches, which have pages telling how politically correct they are in every way

 

 

I fear that some of the congregations in my fellowship--especially some of the larger ones--are going the route of "commercial, fell-good consumer churches.  Some of the comments from our official webpages can sound uber-PC-sensitive.

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But, herein is the problem: If a church isn't "feel good" then what's the use? Right?

 

The problem is what's been trained into us that the "good" part of "feel good" means. It's become associated with pleasure and comfort rather than with "right".

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I'm not so concerned with the political sphere--more with the household of faith.  How can we teach them correct principles if we are so concerned with how they feel, and with not appearing judgmental, that we fail to confront the need of every soul to repent?  After all, repent of what?  We dare not call sin what it is, so how can we teach correct principles.  Even if we dare to mention a sin, we quickly add, "But of course, I'm a sinner too--and mine is probably worse!"  Well, if so, then why should I follow you?  Why should I repent--it doesn't seem to have worked for you?

 

Right now, on a facebook discussion site--within my own fellowship--I'm seeing this divide.  One posts that we must call out sin for what it is, and forever banish the idea of "Gay Christian" "Fornicator Christian" "Lying Christian" etc.  If we are Christian, we ought to flee from our sins, not identify ourselves by them.  The push back was an amazing thing to see.  Several posters called for greater humility, insisted that we all struggle, we sin every day, etc.  Who are we to say who is a Christian and who isn't.

 

My bottom line:  Why are we so afraid to confront sin and call for repentance?

It takes a brave soul to confront sin. It engenders persecution from many sides. It matters not that ones aim is simply to lift the human family to a "more excellent way". When we label wrong action what it really is, it causes people to confront what they already know is wrong but have avoided even admitting to themselves. And that can hurt. They are then faced with two choices, they can either recognize the sin and repent in humility before God, or accuse those who have brought their pain to the surface. So many choose not to change and instead lash out. The Savior himself testifies of this very thing to his disciples, "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. (John 15:22 NIV). Or as the KJV puts it, "they have no cloke for their sin." As more people lash out even those who are living the right way can join the crowd. 

 

Elder Holland says this persecution is, "the burden of those called to bear the messianic message".  He further states:

 

Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.

 

Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes—and this seems the greatest irony of all—these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of “comfortable” God. Really? He who said not only should we not break commandments, but we should not even think about breaking them. And if we do think about breaking them, we have already broken them in our heart. Does that sound like “comfortable” doctrine, easy on the ear and popular down at the village love-in? https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/the-cost-and-blessings-of-discipleship?lang=eng

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I thought to respond with some of my strong LDS upbringing and thoughts on this - but then an idea came to offer a very different perspective.  That is to put on my engineering and science hat and offer some thought that may not be considered and then see if there is something spiritual to benefit us.  To be quite frank religion has not kept pace with the secular scientific world.  I do not mean that as a criticism as much as an observation.

 

Today if war is to break out - it is likely that a religious conflict is somewhere behind it.  But this is not new - it has been the trend of history.  If differing societies and cultures are finding ways to get along and make peace - it is likely that they have put aside their religious differences and worked out economic arrangements.  But to most devout religious (including Islam) economic wealth is founded in pride and other sins.

 

If there are advancements in human understanding - in general religion has opposed both the changes and the process of learning and discovering new things that bring about change.  Technology is shrinking the world and we are having to deal more and more with each other and divergence in thought.  Religion in general is failing.  I believe there are some but few in religious circles that are even willing to consider the vision necessary to deal with what is going on.  The bottom line is that religion is failing its followers and is dooming them to obscurity and bitterness towards those that disagree with them.  Religion is breaking down and breaking apart - it is not uniting or developing a culture of oneness.

 

Now for my religious hat.  We do live in a most interesting time.  Without question something is happening and the world is changing.  I honestly believe that we could see Jesus return within a year.  But I am not saying it is so - only that it is possible.  There has never been a time in history when the covenants of G-d should be taken more seriously - not so much doctrine but covenants.  I believe that in the discussions of doctrine we have lost purpose of covenants.  For example we are letting our marriage covenants fail thinking that it is the individual that is important to G-d and blaming others for their corrupt marriages of personal convenience and satisfaction. 

 

There is a very interesting talk in the last general conference by Elder Lynn Robbins of the presidency of the Seventy  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/which-way-do-you-face?lang=eng titled Which Way Do You Face?  I find the article most interesting and applicable.  

Edited by Traveler
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I've noticed many people don't take the time to focus on defining themselves outside of their actions.  If you can't define your soul outside of your actions, then of course you're going to get super angry and offended if I tell you your actions are wrong!  This is very sad to me, A) because you're unnecessarily offended and B) if you can't see the worth of your own soul outside of your day-to-day routines, however are you ever going to find the desire to improve your actions?

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Thanks, Traveler.  You said much that inspires good thinking (meditation).  Perhaps the most understated thought you slipped in is that you would not be surprised if Jesus returned within a year.  It may be 100, but I'm tracking with you--it will be a time very much like today when Messiah comes back.

 

Jane_Doe, I agree that people are defining themselves too much by what they do--especially the bad things they engage in.  I affirm the great ministry of AA, which calls on those afflicted to admit their sin...I am an alcoholic.  However, addicts are people who struggle against an addiction.  Believers should know better.  Yet, we have those today who wave the banner of their sin, declaring they are X-Christians.  I can't help but believe that in so doing they are attempting to transform their struggles into mere characteristics, or personality factors.  Ah...you said it better--they are defining themselves by what they do, rather than by who's image they bare.

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Thanks, Traveler.  You said much that inspires good thinking (meditation).  Perhaps the most understated thought you slipped in is that you would not be surprised if Jesus returned within a year.  It may be 100, but I'm tracking with you--it will be a time very much like today when Messiah comes back.

...

 

Getting back to the original question.  I think the question is wrong and that the correct answer is that we should encourage others and we should ourselves strive to become more like Christ or more like G-d.  Now I have a question - why is becoming more like Jesus (G-d) not offensive but becoming a G-d is offensive?

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Now, here's the real question? Where is the line between standing firmly for truth in spite of the offense it might cause, and just plain tactless and rude delivery.

Many of the prophet's expressions in the scriptures were, moderately speaking, somewhat tactless and rude. Even many of Christ's words could be viewed that way. (They took offense at Him and crucified Him for a reason, after all). And yet, Christ, being perfect, was able to clearly understand and choose His words in such a way that, although they were viewed as rude by some, were the right thing to say. He, and the prophets as well (I suspect by the power of the Holy Spirit) were able to draw that line.

That line has been pushed harder and harder by society. And in some ways, I suppose, it behooves us to accommodate that line, because rudeness is, after all, a cultural thing (things are only perceived as rude -- it is not a concrete reality).

I don't know. It's a challenging thing for sure.

Christ wasn't killed because he was rude, he was killed because some thought he would gain power and used "blasphemy" as justification. Overall he was kind. The sermon on the mount and the woman taken in adultery point to this. He did cleanse the temple, but we talk about it a lot because it seems uncharacteristic. In general he taught kindness and was seen by the judgemental as kind of out there (again, woman taken in adultery). I take this as a warning, when someone comes teaching peace and kindness, so long as they stick to the gospel as I understand it, I listen, and don't criticize.

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I thought to respond with some of my strong LDS upbringing and thoughts on this - but then an idea came to offer a very different perspective. That is to put on my engineering and science hat and offer some thought that may not be considered and then see if there is something spiritual to benefit us. To be quite frank religion has not kept pace with the secular scientific world. I do not mean that as a criticism as much as an observation.

Today if war is to break out - it is likely that a religious conflict is somewhere behind it. But this is not new - it has been the trend of history. If differing societies and cultures are finding ways to get along and make peace - it is likely that they have put aside their religious differences and worked out economic arrangements. But to most devout religious (including Islam) economic wealth is founded in pride and other sins.

If there are advancements in human understanding - in general religion has opposed both the changes and the process of learning and discovering new things that bring about change. Technology is shrinking the world and we are having to deal more and more with each other and divergence in thought. Religion in general is failing. I believe there are some but few in religious circles that are even willing to consider the vision necessary to deal with what is going on. The bottom line is that religion is failing its followers and is dooming them to obscurity and bitterness towards those that disagree with them. Religion is breaking down and breaking apart - it is not uniting or developing a culture of oneness.

Now for my religious hat. We do live in a most interesting time. Without question something is happening and the world is changing. I honestly believe that we could see Jesus return within a year. But I am not saying it is so - only that it is possible. There has never been a time in history when the covenants of G-d should be taken more seriously - not so much doctrine but covenants. I believe that in the discussions of doctrine we have lost purpose of covenants. For example we are letting our marriage covenants fail thinking that it is the individual that is important to G-d and blaming others for their corrupt marriages of personal convenience and satisfaction.

There is a very interesting talk in the last general conference by Elder Lynn Robbins of the presidency of the Seventy https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/which-way-do-you-face?lang=eng titled Which Way Do You Face? I find the article most interesting and applicable.

I see the same thing you have, but religion is being tasked to do something it was never designed to do: be science. Religion in its essence is chosen beliefs that make us feel like we're becoming better people, sometimes by drawing closer to a deity. The beliefs are experience mixed with perspective, impossible to convey to anyone else. Science is set up to explain the world around us through didactic reasoning. We are taught that is science says it, it's true. Putting it on a pedestal. So, we ask religion to do what science does, something it will never be able to do.

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Christ wasn't killed because he was rude, he was killed because some thought he would gain power and used "blasphemy" as justification. Overall he was kind. The sermon on the mount and the woman taken in adultery point to this. He did cleanse the temple, but we talk about it a lot because it seems uncharacteristic. In general he taught kindness and was seen by the judgemental as kind of out there (again, woman taken in adultery). I take this as a warning, when someone comes teaching peace and kindness, so long as they stick to the gospel as I understand it, I listen, and don't criticize.

 

You don't know the scriptures.

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Becoming like God or like Jesus is not offensive.  However, the original perjorative "Christian" mean, "Bah...they are just like Jesus."  We took it as a badge of honor, and have been trying to keep it up ever since.

 

Oh, I didn't miss the actual question though...yes, traditional Christians remain uber-surprised at the notion of actually becoming Gods.  Like?  Yes!  To actual become what He is, in our minds, messes with our monotheism. 

 

Traveler's question goes deeper, but I contend that my concern in the OP is more urgent--more immediate.  Although, if I am wrong...if there are none in LDS circles who strive to improve the faith so it is more palatable to the culture, let me know.  It could just be us Protestants and Catholics that struggle.  :-)

 

Getting back to the original question.  I think the question is wrong and that the correct answer is that we should encourage others and we should ourselves strive to become more like Christ or more like G-d.  Now I have a question - why is becoming more like Jesus (G-d) not offensive but becoming a G-d is offensive?

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Becoming like God or like Jesus is not offensive.  However, the original perjorative "Christian" mean, "Bah...they are just like Jesus."  We took it as a badge of honor, and have been trying to keep it up ever since.

 

Oh, I didn't miss the actual question though...yes, traditional Christians remain uber-surprised at the notion of actually becoming Gods.  Like?  Yes!  To actual become what He is, in our minds, messes with our monotheism. 

 

Traveler's question goes deeper, but I contend that my concern in the OP is more urgent--more immediate.  Although, if I am wrong...if there are none in LDS circles who strive to improve the faith so it is more palatable to the culture, let me know.  It could just be us Protestants and Catholics that struggle.  :-)

 

I admit to playing with ideas - but the problem for a Christian society as I understand is not so much to change everyone else but to change ourselves - from a creature trying to better themselves and their fellow man to a creature willing to condensed and sacrifice what we could be for those that do not deserve our sacrifice and may never even care enough to to benefit from our effort. 

 

I believe that the question is itself a distraction that confuses the point and purpose of Christ and a disciple.  Perhaps the sad problem is that we all want to convert everyone to our version of a Christ and disciple rather than let (enable and encourage) the discovery of Christ and discipleship from the master.

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Jesus told us to get the logs out of our own eyes before going after the specks in others.  Amen.  The Master spoke.  Afterwards, though...ought I not try to help the fellow get that speck out?  The difference is that once I've had the log removed from my eye, I have become humble enough to help the fellow with the speck, without condecension....hopefully.

 

The problem today is that people like their specks, and don't appreciate having them pointed out.  So, some in Christianity are thinking, "If we had specks maybe we could get more to come to our clubs...er churches..."

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