Am I more like Jesus? Or a Pharisee?

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    Dec 30, 2013 10:42 PM GMT
    I'm aware this is more of a blog rather than an opening post for a new thread (RJ having a blog column does not seem a bad idea) -

    I have been a member of this site for just over five years, and having spent that long browsing and contibuting to such a variety of topics on this message board, what I have found rather alarming is the general hostility homosexuals have towards spiritual topics, especially when drawn towards organised religion.

    Most of us are fully aware of individuals such as Fred Phelps, and maybe public speakers such as John McArthur and Paul Washer - the first making a firm aggressive stance against homosexuality in America, as well published here and elsewhere. Then with the other two: McArthur was Washer's mentor, I believe, both insisting on Lordship Salvation. This is a teaching, accepted by many churches, which insist that total surrender to Jesus Christ is essentual for salvation and church acceptance, which involves the forsaking of all sin.

    Paul Washer recently delivered a sermon to a large audience of teenage church-goers at an auditorium in California (watched on You-Tube) - and declaring to these young, still immature minds that the vast majority of them will be in Hell within the next seventy years or so. This, he says, is due to the lack of surrender or commitment to God, while dallying in some sin or willful pleasure. Therefore, according to Washer and McArthur, a gay person cannot enter Heaven, but will suffer forever in Hell.

    Although, I can see the wide discrepancy between what these guys preach, and the ministry of Jesus Christ while here with us, I can't help remembering Scriptures such as Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:27, nor forgetting the story of Lot, and why he and his family were delivered from Sodom and Gomorrah. This conveys the message of judgement and punishment - characteristics that would make anyone run from God in fear, guilt, perhaps even disgust - which is the direct opposite of what Jesus Christ accomplished while on earth.

    This stands to reason, therefore, that anyone who calls himself a Christian, yet have unlawful sex - either gay or straight - must still be lost and cannot go to Heaven after death, so according to the thinking of Phelps, McArthur and Washer.

    The general result of this line of thought has been disasterous. There is good evidence that teenagers are leaving the churches in droves every week, and have been doing so for quite a number of years. Having passed the stage of puberty quite recently in their lives, these teenagers perceive God as a sadistic bully who watches over their strong sex drive, along with curiosities connected with it, together with the feeling of sin, guilt and frustration.

    This is the outcome of imposing Pharasaic conditions for church acceptance, membership and fellowship - that these young guys must refrain from all sin, especially sexual, and lead "holy" lives. As such many a teenager - and the vast majority of the LGBT community - find the churches and the faith they bear generally repulsive. This is a far cry to the ministry Jesus brought, which attracted vast crowds to himself - people which did not have any religious or Pharasaic alliance.

    For me who is a believer in Jesus, what have been my outcome. Do gays and people in general find me spiritually attractive, someone others would like to be with? Or someone so odious that I'm to be avoided like the plague?

    The crowds were attracted to Jesus before he was tried and crucified. The Pharisees, in turn, with all their rules for holiness - and believe me, there were many, many rules - did not endear anyone towards God or to themselves.

    Jesus poured out love and compassion to the common people around himself. True, he showed them exactly what the Law really is, and demonstrated that nobody can keep the Law perfectly. So his death on the cross and his bodily resurrection has opened Heaven to everyone who believes.

    Believe what? Believe in the heart that Jesus is the Christ and has risen from the dead, physically, and therefore proving that he is the Son of God. That is how a person is saved - not by "forsaking sin" and trying to keep the Law, or fulfill conditions imposed by the church.
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    Dec 31, 2013 2:42 AM GMT

    " I can't help remembering Scriptures such as Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:27, nor forgetting the story of Lot, and why he and his family were delivered from Sodom and Gomorrah. This conveys the message of judgement and punishment - characteristics that would make anyone run from God in fear, guilt, perhaps even disgust - which is the direct opposite of what Jesus Christ accomplished while on earth."

    Look in ezekiel for the sin of sodom, which had nothing to do with same-LOVE. Stop obsessing on just sex, there's a helluva lot more to it than that.

    If you believe leviticus was right,then you cannot eat shellfish, wear blended fabrics, or cut your hair or beard. Those things are as bad as or worse than man on man love. Look it up.

    AS for Romans, that was written by a guy who was killing christians then had a vision, and then basically manipulated christian faith and teachings to suit his own proclivities.

    I think Christ knew that perfect love casts out fear, but also that perfect fear casts out love. It's not that hard to understand. Do you want your family to love you out of fear, or because they love you and desire your company?


    warmly, Doug
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    Dec 31, 2013 2:46 AM GMT
    "Do gays and people in general find me spiritually attractive, someone others would like to be with? Or someone so odious that I'm to be avoided like the plague?"

    I think many would and do find your version of faith odious indeed. I also think that you're a good man, and there are good men everywhere, some are atheists like my husband Bill.

    Please consider what I'm saying here, and please have a Happy 2014; may it bring you revelation of the brightest kind, illuminate your heart with joy, and be loved knowing God is in us and around us, like the atoms we're made of but finer than that, my friend. icon_wink.gif




    PS you're on my buddylist for a reason.
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    Dec 31, 2013 1:13 PM GMT
    Thanks Doug, for your reply.

    I'm not too suprised that many have found my faith odious. This is because, having grown up in a Catholic family with quite a strict father, I became natural to assume that my Dad reflected God's character - quick to chastise and punish, but wanting in love and affection.

    The result that during my teenage years, I became an "atheist" - the word placed within speech marks, because although I outwardly professed that there was no God, deep inside I knew that he exists and I simply hated him.

    When I was converted to Christ around Christmas 1972 - which by then I was 20, I had to undo just about everything I have learned during childhood. I became aware that salvation was through faith in Christ alone, but for many years I have perceived him to be rather impatient - hence, trying to establish my own righteousness instead of God's, imputed into me through Christ, I adopted a Pharasaic attitude, which unfortunately, can still crop up in my life to this day.

    Therefore, the likes of John McArthur, Paul Washer, and even cartoonist Jack Chick, all strike a chord in the human heart that we have to first "forsake sin" in order to be saved - hence, establishing a righteousness of our own - while in the early chapters of the book of Acts in the New Testament, the apostles assume, rightly, that anyone who has a heart-belief that Jesus is the Christ who rose physically from the dead, has already repented, and is saved.

    If I was to live by my own righteousnes instead of God's, then I'll become as odious to those around me as were the Pharisees, who not only believed that they were righteous in themselves, but felt okay to direct and judge other people's lives in the name of religion - just as the aforementioned public speakers are doing to this day.

    I have noticed that whenever Leviticus is mentioned, a natural defence springs up against the contents of this book - the forbidding to eat pork, shellfish, along with other foodstuffs acceptable today, as with wearing cotton and woolly garments together, trimming of the beard and other rules we may consider so trifling at present.

    But Jesus came, not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Therfore such laws, having been fulfilled in Christ, we are no longer bound by them, for if any one binding himself by these laws brings condemnation, since he is bound to fulfill the entire Law, something impossible to achieve, otherwise there would have been no need for Jesus to atone for our sins.

    As a believer, I uphold the Decalogue, which - except the one about the keeping of the Sabbath - are moral laws which are written into the conscious of every person born. For example, every person is aware by nature that it is wrong to steal or murder, or to sleep with another man's wife. But nobody considers how to dress or what to eat as either right or wrong, because it is not written in the conscience, neither is the keeping of the Sabbath. Therefore it is concluded that these Levitical laws were delivered to Israel only, and that was the shadow of what was to come, who is Jesus Christ.

    Let me say a hearty thanks for allowing me to be on your buddy list, and I hope the both of you will have a happy and prosperous year ahead.

    Frank.
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    Dec 31, 2013 3:04 PM GMT
    Oh hey, Frank you're welcome. I think you should consider that interpreting leviticus the way that you have is adding what isn't there. Nowhere does it say this rule is only for Israel, and this other one is for everyone else. While I can appreciate that you used a moral sense in your divvying up of those rules, such was not the case. As well, the punishments for such sins were appalling.

    Paul couldn't resist taking from them to wield a club of judgment, which he did in Romans. Which brings to mind another question, if all of us are sinners, then that would include the book's authors as well.

    Something else to ponder; why would God require a penis and testicles, making God a he? Another exercise is to imagine trying to explain things like Christ did to an ancient primitive audience. They believed heaven was on the clouds. ON the clouds. Right over your head. They believed in an all too human contrived type celestial government *jaw drops*.

    ...as for Catholicism and your Dad, go back and look at the old testament, which was full of an all too human god, rife with petty jealousies. selfishness, prone to vengeance and wrath. Catholics didn't write the old testament.

    Christ tried to tell us none of that was true. icon_wink.gif
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    Dec 31, 2013 10:18 PM GMT
    NotThatOld

    The death of Jesus on the cross and his bodily resurrection has opened Heaven to everyone who believes.


    StephenOABC

    False

    NotThatOld

    Believe what? Believe in the heart that Jesus is the Christ and has risen from the dead, physically, and therefore proving that he is the Son of God. That is how a person is saved - not by "forsaking sin" and trying to keep the Law, or fulfill conditions imposed by the church.

    Wilusa

    And in terms of probabilities: If “God” had restored a dead Jesus to life, doesn’t it seem probable He would have wanted Jesus to *do* something? The “resurrected” Jesus doesn’t “do” *anything*, except “appear” to a few agitated people! Why didn’t he confront the Sanhedrin again…confront Pilate again…go to Rome and confront the Emperor? Why didn’t he prove to those actual *authorities* – as conclusively as could be proven in that era – that he was now in a physical body that had become invulnerable and indestructible? And why, after he’d made himself the most famous man alive, did he not continue his public preaching for years?

    Steefen
    Jesus thought God had forsaken him on the cross but after he died, he really learned how deeply he had been forsaken. When Jesus died, he realized he was not coming back to Jerusalem as the Son of Man; and it did not happen. Jesus did not see his Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven. He did not see his Kingdom of God on Earth in his lifetime and after his resurrection. He was forsaken by God AND those who believed in Jesus were forsaken by Jesus because there was little truth in his advertising and because there wasn’t the power in Jesus or His Father or the Holy Spirit or his magic to manifest said Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus did not get to become king and have those who didn’t want him as king slain before him.

    So Paul resurrects him and creates a Gentile religion out of none of Jesus’ promises but out of Jesus’ death and a resurrection, as you say, marked by little accomplishment. This should tell people how valuable Paul’s Gentile religion promises are. If Pauline Christianity promises resurrection and Jesus didn’t do much of anything after his resurrection, what’s the post-resurrection quality of life for believers in Pauline Christianity? Paul reminds me of Josephus who led men to kill themselves for the promise of death, but after everyone else killed themselves, Josephus didn’t kill himself but gave himself over to Rome and lived.
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    Dec 31, 2013 10:35 PM GMT
    Bart Ehrman:

    Let me stress that Luke continues to think that the end of the age is going to come in his own life time. But he does not seem to think that it was supposed to come in the lifetime of Jesus’ companions. Why not? Evidently because he was writing after they had died, and he knew that in fact the end had not come. To deal with the “delay of the end,” he made the appropriate changes in Jesus’ predictions.

    This is evident as well near the end of the Gospel. At Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus boldly states to the high priest, “You will see the son of man seated at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62). That is, the end would come and the high priest would see it. Luke, writing many years later, after the high priest was long dead and buried, changes the saying: “from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). No longer does Jesus predict that the high priest himself will be alive when the end comes.

    Here, then, is a later source that appears to have modified the earlier apocalyptic sayings of Jesus. You can see the same tendency in the Gospel of John, the last of our canonical accounts to be written. In this account, rather than speaking about the Kingdom of God that is soon to come (which is never spoken of here), Jesus talks about eternal life that is available here and now for the believer.
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    Dec 31, 2013 10:40 PM GMT
    StephenOABC saidNotThatOld

    The death of Jesus on the cross and his bodily resurrection has opened Heaven to everyone who believes.



    Paul-Josephus talks about believing in the crucifixion and the resurrection. The Gospel of John does not say this. Do not base your salvation on ANYTHING Paul-Josephus says.

    Here is what I want to share re: The Gospel of John vs. salvation, as you state, coming from St. Paul:

    Bart Ehrman:

    The kingdom is not future, it is available in the present, for all who have faith in Jesus. Those who believe experience a “heavenly birth” (John 3:3, 5); they already have eternal life and do not have to face any prospect of judgment in the future, for good or ill (5:24). In this Gospel, Jesus does not utter his apocalyptic message at all except for in a couple of older traditions, like the one found in John 5:28-29. In fact, the older view – that there will be a day of judgment and a resurrection of the dead at the end of the age – is here debunked in view of the newer view, that in Jesus a person can already be raised into eternal life. For example, when Mary, the sister of the dead man Lazarus, tells Jesus that her brother will “be raised on the last day,” Jesus corrects her by saying that he, Jesus himself, is “the resurrection and the life,” and that anyone who believes in him “though he die, yet shall live” (John 11:23-26).
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    Dec 31, 2013 10:42 PM GMT
    Bart Ehrman (Continued):

    If we were to tally up these data to this point, we’d have a fairly compelling subtotal.

    1) Early traditions record apocalyptic teachings on the lips of Jesus.

    2) Later traditions generally mute this emphasis.

    3) The latest of our early sources explicitly argue against it.

    I’d say we have a trend.
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    Jan 01, 2014 4:25 AM GMT
    Not That Old:

    The references and people you cite:

    Mccarther, Jack Chick etc are severely extreme in their faith interpretation and fall under fundamentalism in the extreme.

    The problem with this sort of fundamentalism is that it creates an idol out of the bible where if you read widely beyond this kind of teaching you see that the bible is not inerrant by any means.

    1) biblical inerrancy was never a moot point in the early church
    2) not even literalists take the bible to that extreme.

    My suggestion is for you to read

    "what the bible really says about homosexuality " by Daniel Helminiak- an ex catholic priest . You can also look at his writings on www.visionsofdaniel.net

    There is also "thou shalt not love " by Patrick Chapman- a Christian and an anthropologist.

    These books are fully available on Amazon
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    Jan 01, 2014 4:36 AM GMT
    NotThatOld said That is how a person is saved - not by "forsaking sin"


    Not by forsaking sin?

    How do you rehabilitate and lower the recidivism rate?

    BY FORSAKING SIN.

    re·cid·i·vism
    [ ri síddə vìzzəm ]

    relapsing into crime: the tendency to relapse into a previous undesirable type of behavior, especially crime
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    Jan 01, 2014 4:27 PM GMT
    StephenOABC said
    NotThatOld said That is how a person is saved - not by "forsaking sin"


    Not by forsaking sin?

    How do you rehabilitate and lower the recidivism rate?

    BY FORSAKING SIN.

    re·cid·i·vism
    [ ri síddə vìzzəm ]

    relapsing into crime: the tendency to relapse into a previous undesirable type of behavior, especially crime


    I don't think you understood what he was saying. *sighs*
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    Jan 02, 2014 4:56 PM GMT
    NotThatOld, just as a test of biblical literalism and inerrancy, find the parts in it where it condemns woman on woman love and sex.


    You'll only find it once in Romans 1:26. Again, Paul - and only Paul.
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    Jan 03, 2014 1:54 AM GMT

    Here, NotThatOld, I read this today and thought of you, and that it may help you understand where I'm coming from:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/micah-j-murray/why-i-cant-say-love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin-anymore_b_4521519.html

    warmly, -Doug
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    Jan 04, 2014 12:51 AM GMT


    icon_eek.gif.....
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    Jan 04, 2014 1:05 AM GMT
    Dear Doug,

    Micah J. Murray's article is one I fully agree with, and I think, corroborates with what I said in the opening post.

    But is is a fact that the vast majority of churches would feel uncomfortable about a gay, or a couple of gays, sitting among them during a typical Sunday morning service.

    It is also interesting that a straight couple suffering a divorce receives a greater sense of sympathy and acceptance within the congregation than a gay person, or at least this seems to be the case with some, if not all churches.

    This is a simple fact that I cannot deny, that nearly every Christian has some extent of pharasaic attitude within them to a greater or lesser degree. It's wrong, but it's also human nature.

    Dear StephenOABC,

    The common error found in much of modern theology is "You must forsake sin to be saved" often defined as "Repentance".

    There are, I believe, several errors in this line of thinking. Firstly, when I say that "forsaking sin" is a prerequisite to being saved, then one is not saved through faith in Christ alone, but a need to clean up or shape up his life is required beforehand. This is salvation by works, and it is a false doctrine, as we shall see, to clean up or shape up is an impossible task.

    As for one who has to "forsake sin" after one is saved, the natural result of this is fear: For example, would he lose his salvation if he sins after conversion, or if the believer sins after professing faith, does this show that he wasn't saved after all?

    To add to this, such thinking would make a believer wonder just how sinless he is trying to become, which is an impossible feat when you consider that one has only need to dislike a person without cause is equated to murder, or to just look upon a woman with a degree of lust is adultery, or to speak an idle word is subject to judgement. Then Paul says in his letters that even if a perfect Law keeper stumbles at one point, he has broken the Law, and is in line for judgement.

    The result is that the believer has no assurance whether God is pleased with him or not, or how far he needs to go before he is assured that God has accepted him, creating doubt and fears, especially of the afterlife. The direct offshoot of this is feeling judgemental whenever he sees a fellow believer not living up to the standard expecting of him - the very basis of a Pharisee.

    The Greek word for "Repent" is "Metaneo" - change your mind. (The root word "Meta" is "Change" - thus "Metamorphosis" - the changing of a volcanic rock such as lava to granite, for example.) In the second chapter of the Book of Acts in the New Testament, the Apostle Peter demonstrates that this Jesus whom they crucified as an imposter, has risen from the dead, proving that he is the Christ, prophesied by King David and other O.T. prophets. Therefore, to be saved, his listeners had to repent - change their minds - from insisting that Jesus was an imposter to believing that he is the risen Christ.
    Nothing said about "forsaking sin" here!

    How one's attitude towards sin becomes relevant here. Does a believer "forsake sin" out of fear? Or out of love?

    Consider a dog with a dry bone. Try and take the bone away from the dog. It will pose a very threatening look, ang growl as it clinches its jaws tighter to the bone. But then show the dog a fresh cut slice of T-bone steak. Then watch how the dog will willingly drop the bone and go for the steak.

    The love of God is like the dog. Knowing God's love will cause us to willingly obey him. A threat of punishment not only makes foresaking sin impossible, but is the cause of falling deeper into sin.

    This could be the reason why the Pharisees were considered the worst in hypocrisy.
  • metta

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    Aug 28, 2014 2:57 PM GMT
    Christians: More Like Jesus or Pharisees?


    "The study explores how well Christians seem to emulate the actions and attitudes of Jesus in their interactions with others."

    bu_043013-infographic-1.jpg


    https://www.barna.org/barna-update/faith-spirituality/611-christians-more-like-jesus-or-pharisees
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    Aug 28, 2014 3:28 PM GMT
    The breakdown by Christian "community" is also interesting:

    bu_043013-infographic-2.jpg
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    Aug 29, 2014 1:14 AM GMT
    I've known more atheists and agnostics who were more like Jesus. Ironic, huh?
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    Aug 29, 2014 1:55 AM GMT
    paulflexes saidI've known more atheists and agnostics who were more like Jesus. Ironic, huh?

    And possibly not a few Jews, either, as I have known. Yeah, ironic.