Friday, June 21, 2019

What Christianity Is Not

abstract painting of crucifix
Christianity in the first century didn't embrace the dogmas pop culture appends to it today. Eusebius, a 3rd-century writer, compiled and commented on the history of the church up to his timefrom which accurate information can be gleaned. Here I'll root out common myths which should make the subject generally easier to approach, however.

Jesus gave us the parable of the wheat and the tares. "...while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way..." (New King James Version Matthew 24:25) 
This explains there will always be false converts of Christianity who, in some cases, are difficult to distinguish from true converts. Most if not all unattractive dogmas in Christianity come from false converts.

In the Beginning

The bible says, “The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 King James Version). The last part, "who can know it," implies we are blind to the extent of our potential evil. While likely offending most people — especially in this age of political correctness — it’s what God says about the natural condition of the human soul.

Self-centeredness pervades us all. We have to be taught to share, that throwing tantrums is wrong, and that lying and stealing, are wrong. Because of self-centeredness and the many evils accompanied by it, we fall short of God's transcending standard of good. 

We are helplessly lost without God seeking us. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, they tried to hide from him, because of their shame. God sought them out, however, and he does the same for us, today.

Adam and Eve hiding from God
God revealed himself to humans differently within each passed age. Although God still reveals himself through creation and nature, Jesus Christ and the completed canon of scriptures in the Holy Bible is the pinnaclegiven to use for today. 

God's human incarnation (Jesus) was not the beginning of salvation, as it existed during the old testament period as well, by merely believing in God. "...And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD, and he counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6 King James Version). God's plan of salvation was finalized in Jesus, however.

The apostle Paul wrote concerning Jesus, "...for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved"(Romans 10:13 King James Version). Take note that this is consistent with what the apostle Peter said in Acts 2:21, "...And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (King James Version). 

Peter was actually quoting from the prophet Joel who lived in the old testament period. Observing how characters like Abraham and Joel connect with the new testament is awe-inspiring. Salvation occurred in the old testament period the same way as in the new.

Those Who Haven't Heard

Often misunderstood is how those who have never heard of Jesus are saved. Acts 17: 24-27 (King James Version) says, "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us" 

The implication is that God knows who will accept him, and many of those who live in unknown regions would not accept God even if they are given more of a direct revelation than what's already revealed in nature. This could be explained from other perspectives, but this is one, for starters.

Salvation Is Permanent

Jesus' asserts authority over a demon.
The greatest fallacy of certain mainstream religious circles is that salvation can be lost by doing certain "bad" things. However, the apostle Paul says differently. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast.” If salvation is a gift, not received by works, that means our salvation is not dependent on whether we are "good" or "bad." By definition, a gift is not something that is earned.

Paul expands on it in another verse, "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (Galatians 2:21 King James Version). In other words, Jesus died for our sins in vain if it was possible to be saved by being "good."

Renewing of the Mind

Onlookers will often see Christians doing things that are generally not held in high regard, or bad. It is true that many Christians do crude and unjust things. However, when somebody becomes a Christian, God begins to renew their mind, making them more like Jesus. "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2 King James Version).

The Creation of Adam: Michelangelo
The "Christians are hypocrites" card is often played by scoffers, but what they don't realize is, nowhere in the Christian doctrine do Christians believe they are perfect. It's really an exaggerated myth, not to mention the fact that everybody, including non-Christians, are technically hypocrites. Everyone at one time or another has not practiced what they preached.

Granted there are some Christiansif they are even really Christians—who think they are perfect, but they're not right about it. Just because somebody does something "in the name of Jesus" does not mean it is prescribed as sound Christian doctrine. The crusades of the middle ages, for example, were carried out by a group of people who believed they were Christians and murdered in the name of Jesus—an act contrary to what the bible teaches as right Christian living.

As a contemporary example, there are progressive organizations promoting off-the-wall ideologies "in the name of Jesus." It should be understood, assuming you're truly saved, knowledge of the bible should come through careful reading and examination, not by accepting what it says through the lenses of one man, or "church" leader. 

The Age of Accountability

Regarding how infants or the disabled are accountable to God, it's unclearalthough, implied. "For it is written, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God" (Romans 14:11-12 King James Version).

Blind justice
A specific age of accountability isn't specified, but since an "account" is going to be given, it seems to imply knowledge of God and right and wrong must be retained, otherwise, there is nothing to give an account for. Moreover, not everybody receives adequate revelation from God by the same age, and therefore no specific age of accountability exists.

Consider King David from the old testament who had a close relationship with God. David made the mistake of having an affair with a woman through which a child was conceived. Even though God forgave David, God let illness fall on the baby, who died. After David wept for the child (while the infant was still alive) David was happy after the child died. David knew one day he would get to see the child again (in Heaven)—the infant almost certainly had not reached an age of accountability.

The bible says, "Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2nd Samual 12:21-23 King James Version)

Takeaways

Since we've established what true salvation is, I'll reiterate by explaining what it's not, with a few examples. Water baptism doesn't save, church attendance doesn't save, "resting" on Sunday doesn't save, "Tongues" doesn't save, and giving money doesn't save. These and countless other alleged salvation requirements are myths. They contradict what the apostle Paul says, that salvation is a gift, implying that it can't be earned.

When the criminal hanging on a cross next to Jesus suddenly repented moments before he died, Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus didn’t say, “Wait a minute! Have you prayed to any of my dead servants? What good deeds did you do? Were you baptized in water?” 

The criminal and Christ’s acceptance of him is an accurate portrayal of how easy God made forgiveness of sins, and how doing good deeds does not merit salvation.