19 November 2010

Faith in Your Damnation

I don't have faith in your damnation. You whose Christianity doesn't meet some standard of "good enough". Or you who are a Jew, a Muslim, a Bahai'i, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Pagan, or maybe "spiritual but not religious", I don't have faith in your damnation.

Don't get me wrong. You and I might both very well be damned. But, thanks be to God, it's not my job to decide who, if anyone, is damned. That job belongs to God.

However, you might very well have got the impression from many of my fellow Christians that the main meaning we Christians derive from our faith is that you are damned and we are not. And I don't blame you if you've got that impression because I think that's the main message that Christians have communicated.

After all, some would argue, why be a Christian if everyone else is going to get into heaven too?

We've made the "good news" into the message "Good news! God will love you if you are just like us and believe exactly what we tell you to believe." But the flip side of that belief is "Bad news! God doesn't love you for who you are."

The only people who can't seem to see through this message is us.

That's a funny kind of faith - a faith that mainly focuses on the question of who is outside the Holy Fence. To talk to a lot of Christians, it's as if there isn't actually any meaning, reconciliation with God or salvation to be found inside Christianity, so we need to find our meaning in the idea of "Thank God I am not like that sinner." (Oops, didn't Jesus have a parable about that?)

Do we Christians really believe that there is good news at the heart of Christianity? Can we stand before God, just me and God, and find forgiveness, reconciliation, transformation of life? Or can we only feel "saved" if we have the comforting knowledge that there are some people who God just doesn't like - not now, not ever?


Steven Jones said...

Hi Pam

I've really enjoyed this post, as well as the one in which you quote from Allan Bevere. Too often we as Christians base our faith on "I'm right, you're wrong" rather than on a living relationship with Jesus as Lord. We're no better than the Pharisees in that respect.

I've posted some thoughts on this topic over on my own blog (http://www.granville.co.za/2010/11/are-we-as-church-just-going-through.html), and have quoted you quite liberally. Hope you don't mind, but there's just no way I could have put it better than the way in which you have expressed your thoughts.

Regards from a hot and sunny Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

PamBG said...

Steven, not at all. I wasn't even sure if I should post this, so that feels like a bit of encouragement.

Regards from cold and sometimes sunny Northeast Ohio. (I had the good fortune to go to South Africa in the mid 1990s. Unfortunately, on business. But I was bowled over by the beauty of the natural environment.)

J A Y B said...

You said it as it is.
It is a great shame that we hold tight and fast onto that but forget to love your neighbour as ourself when it suits us.
I do enjoy your blogs Pam.
Regards from wet and very windy Brighton UK.

PamBG said...

Jay, thanks for your comment. I miss the UK although I can't say I miss the wet and windy bit or the fact that the sun sets 1.5 hours earlier in the day than here.

Jonathan Robinson said...

preach it sister!