Science + Faith = Christianity

Tiffany_Education_(center)Contrary to the opinions of many, Christianity is an evidence based religion. The claims of Christianity are rooted in history. Let me be clear, Christianity per se, is not about theism. It is about the man Jesus who lived in Palestine about 2000 years ago. Christianity claims that Jesus was born, lived and died and subsequently raised from the dead. This is the core claim Christianity makes. Should the body of Jesus ever be found in the desert, the whole religion will have been revealed to be but a misguided ruse. The absence of such compelling evidence against Christianity, though, does not *prove* it’s truth.
We are far removed, historically speaking, from those who claimed to witness first hand the resurrected Jesus. Because of this, we cannot consider the claims of Christianity to be self-evident. It is a certain perspective with which we interpret documented events. We cannot therefore, condemn those who do not see things the way we do as Christians. Judgement is always best left to God.
Jesus remains, imo, the most unique character in history. Not because of who the Church says he is as God Incarnate, but because of what we believe happened, historically, 2000 years ago a short while after his death. He was a great moral teacher, a miracle worker, a prophet. The very early Church didn’t know what to make of him. All kinds of theories arose about him ranging from the now orthodox opinion that he was God incarnate, to the disavowed opinion that he was a phantasm.
The fact of his blatant humanity has always been scandalous; even to many Christians. He is GOD says the pious mind in a failed effort to “preserve” his deity. In so doing and making this emphasis, his humanity is lost and we no longer have a God incarnate.
Jesus is bound to history. Demonstrate that he did not exist or was not raised from the dead, and Christianity is dead. Period. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of history and verification of historical data to Christianity. As St Paul argued, “if Christ is not raised….then you are still dead in your sins.”
I see so many Christians dismiss or vehemently object to issues like evolution because they say it conflicts with the Bible. They then have to come up with cockamamy conspiracy theories about how science is out to destroy Christianity. In doing this they do not realize that they are removing Christianity from a firm historical basis and placing it into the realm of the mythical and legend. To deny science is to deny the Faith. As St Augustine stated, “All truth is God’s truth.” Therefore science must not only be embraced, it must be revered.
Faith is not ignorance. Faith is not opposed to science. In fact, faith cannot exist without science. Science tells us the facts. Faith tells us what those facts mean for us. Science cannot answer the question “Is it right to kill?” Only faith can address this issue. Science can tell us the results of killing, the pros, the cons, the long term effects…it can provide data. But it cannot speak on the morality of it. It takes something beyond science to do this. Call it faith, intuition or what have you, it is beyond the realm of science.
Science can be performed even by lower animals. We have all seen animals learn by repeating something, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. This is science at it’s most basic. But it is faith that is unique to humanity. At least so far as we know. Lower animals do not seem to have any moral concerns. Occasionally we see animals do things that appear to approach love or care, but we really, at this point, have no way of verifying that is what they are actually doing. Humans alone among the species have the ability and drive to make moral judgments. But without science, without data or facts, moral judgments are meaningless. Lions kill their prey, but it’s not murder. Lizards mate but it’s neither marriage nor rape.
The long and short of it is that without history (science) Christianity cannot exist. Likewise, without Faith, Christianity is an empty claim. It takes both together for Christianity to live.

A Rant

Insulated people¬†are not warm.¬†They are cold as ice. I cannot bear it any longer without speaking my mind. Those who withdraw from the world have no business judging or critiquing the world, but that is what they do best. I am weary of being referred to “ancient dogma” or the writings of an obscure saint, or a literal view of Holy Scripture.

If one wishes to critique the world and those who live in it, one must participate in it, share in its life, and engage it on a daily basis. Otherwise, what knowledge does one have? You who do this, do you not realize you do not know anything? Don’t you realize that the criteria with which you judge is merely opinion? Yet you speak and act as though it were God himself who revealed these things to you. Yes, I know, Holy Mother Church has taught you these things. But your assumptions about her are flawed. You came to her and she nursed you, but you thereby became convinced she was without error; that she doesn’t make mistakes. And you, being one of her children, are in some sense, heir to the same guarantee if you but repeat her words. You either forget or never knew that the Church exists for mankind, not mankind for the Church.

I am not Eastern Orthodox, though at one time I was tempted to be. No more. After years of observation and interaction, I have found that Orthodoxy is as fundamentalist as any Baptist church. I do not believe Orthodoxy today even remotely represents the Fathers; regardless of what they say they believe. It is insular and closed minded. It has nothing to say to this generation. There is no power in its words. All it does well is repeat the words and formulas of the past and praises those who do likewise.

Pontifications on politics, world events, and what have you, drive me insane. I cannot tolerate them any further. You speak as if you KNOW everything and have the answer for every problem. You’re no different than the fundamentalism we grew up in. You’ve just changed your clothes.

You say, leave it to mystery. What the Fathers meant was “we don’t understand”. What you mean is “I understand, trust what I’m telling you even though you do not understand. Do it/believe it because the Church says so.” Forget it! I will not waste my life believing what i do not know or understand. I will seek the truth and the truth will set me free from this fundamentalism. I do not need an answer for everything. I’m quite happy to be ignorant of some things. Moreover, the things you are so certain of, are the things I’m so certain you are wrong about! Explain that! In a world where the truth is supposedly glaringly obvious…so that God will damn those who do not assent to it…how is it that we are so radically different in belief? You must either believe I am a liar and dishonest person or you are! I am not forced into that mold. I know that for as many people as there are on the earth, there are just as many opinions and understandings of how things are.

I’m just sick of it. Either leave your Orthodoxy and get a real life or at a bare minimum, acknowledge and live as though you don’t have all the answers and are not competent to speak to every question given to you.

End of rant.

 

 

The Beastly Priest

There once was a priest
who was a little beast
His name was Daniel Brown.
Hellfire and damnation
was what he preached
in the church in the center of town.
Women would swoon
in the warm afternoon
when the heat of the hellfire was hot
Ol’ Daniel would bellow
and scare all his fellows
til repentance they had got.
The little ones cried
and the elderly died
under the hand of the beastly priest.
At judgement I”m sure
he’ll come out like manure
Because he didn’t care in the least.
When the graves open up
and the carrion birds sup
When Armageddon is nigh
Then Father Brown
will stroll into town
to watch all humanity die.
Some call him “Scratch”
others, after a match,
call him Lucifer because of his smell
But the truth, dark and sordid
Is Farther Brown always courted
The devil in his preaching of Hell.
The moral is this
you cannot achieve bliss
by threatening people with fear
For fear leads to dying
and eternal sighing
in the place where nothing is dear.
If you’re going to preach
then season your speech
with mercy and grace and love.
For this is the way
that in the end will pay
with everlasting joy up above.

The Truest Hope for Mankind

nativity-sceneThose who know me, know I take my faith very seriously.
Those who know me, know I try not to take life too seriously.
Those who know me, know I have a warped sense of humor.
Those who know me, know i am no prude or puritan.

On this Christmas night, 2015, what that means is I am again in wonder and awe that the Almighty God became human. I am not so confident in myself that I claim to comprehend what it means. My best guess is that the Incarnate God, Jesus Christ, revealed himself as human being, born in the most humble way possible, to demonstrate to us what “impresses” God. In a world full of “christians” who believe that there are a few lucky souls who will make it to heaven, with the hellish destination being the primary one for most of humanity, I find myself thinking they must be joking. God, who knows nothing but absolute bliss, perfect happiness and everlasting joy, all in Himself, with no need for anything or anyone else, THIS God, became a creature who poops, pees, eats, sleeps and does everything a creature does. He humbled himself in order to send a few us to heaven? LOL! If God is going to do a work, he does it to its fullest. He doesn’t cut corners. He never fails. He didn’t come to save a few, he came to save us all! He defeated hell and death! He holds the keys to them both! Keys are for opening locks. He opens the gates of hell and of the grave so that those who are in them can be freed.

Are you in hell? Are you dying? He holds your keys. Someday, in this life or the next, you will be freed. Freed to be all you ever dreamed and hoped for and so much more that you cannot begin to imagine it.

Jesus shows us the way. Follow him. There is no hell he cannot rescue you from. No death so thorough, you cannot be raised. Follow him. Imitate him. Do what he did. Live as he lived. Trust him.

Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word and Logos of God, the truest Hope for mankind.

The Bible Tells Me So?

open-bible-11288023214vduXThis post is to lay out my belief about the Bible, it’s authority, and it’s origin.

The Christian Holy Scriptures, the Bible, is not a single work but a collection of 66 books (in the Protestant version). Each book has it’s own unique point or points to make. Often the content of one book conflicts with the content of other books. This is to be expected since there is no single author.

These works span a history of several thousand years, yet the final canon, as we have it today, is under 2000 years old. The biblical books embody various theological perspectives and opinions based on the time they were written. There is no clear, single over arching theology that ties all the books together. That said, I believe there is a single *hope* expressed in all the books, particularly of the Old Testament, of a coming Messiah. Exactly who he would be and what he would be and do, were never agreed on. With the coming of Jesus Christ, all the Old Testament books were turned topsy turvy as the reality set in.

The New Testament books share, with their Old Testament predecessors, the theme of Messiah, and also like the older books, express various opinions and theologies to explain who Jesus is.

I do not believe, as do many today, that the Scriptures were ultimately penned by God himself through some kind of “inspiration”. I find this theory does great injustice to the nature of the Scriptures as well as to God himself.

We cannot turn to the Bible to answer anything definitively. It is the human record of our experience with God through history. It is not a letter from God to humanity. Nor is it “The Word of the Lord” as if it were authoritative and contained the blueprint for morality and theology from God’s own hand.

There is but one Word of God, and that is Jesus Christ himself. He alone is the testimony of God in whom are found all the answers of wisdom, theology, and morality. He is the penultimate Revelation of God to mankind and it is upon Him that the faith of believers is set, not on words written about him.

The Bible serves the church, not the other way around. As Jesus pointed out in a similar principle, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Since Jesus is the ultimate Sabbath Rest, it is in Him that we find meaning for the questions we ask; not in the Bible.

The Bible is able to be used by God, yes, as a medium through which he speaks to us. But then, so is any other literature or medium. God speaks through the creation and that includes things made by man, such as the Bible.

At any rate, those are my thoughts.

The Narcissistic Jesus

Jesus-Loves-Me1“Jesus loves me this I know.” How many times have we sung that children’s hymn? The message it teaches is wonderful; Jesus loves us all regardless of color, race, or any other defining characteristic. He loves us when we are weak or when we are strong. It doesn’t matter; his love for us is unconditional.

As we grow older, though, childhood memories fade and those which we can still recall to some degree, we look at through the eyes of experience; reinterpreting them. All too often we fail to retain our childhood understanding of Jesus’ love for us and replace it with something disturbing: The love of a narcissistic Jesus.

Through preaching, teaching and our own reflections on life we often come to feel if not outright believe, that Jesus only loves us in so far as we are like him. If you recall the ancient myth of Narcissus, you will remember that he drowned after falling into a pool of water while admiring his own reflection.

This is narcissism: loving oneself so much that one cannot love anything else that is not in ones own image. The end of narcissism is self-destruction. Death.

Is this really how we want to think of Jesus? Do we really want to cast him as one who only loves those who are like him? Surely this is an affront to the Love of God and twists it into an abominable thing. God is not a monster! He is kind and forgiving, loving, gentle, gracious. He does not love us by twisting us against our will to be what we are not. He loves us as we are. Yes, he offers us transformation, sanctification, theosis. He gives us grace to become beautiful as he is beautiful. But he does not love us on account of how much we are like him. He love us unconditionally. “But God showed forth his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”, says Saint Paul. That is to say he considered us friends, even intimate friends, before we ever sought him or knew him.

Jesus, the REAL Jesus, is not a narcissist. He loves me, this I know. Just as I am without one plea. He loves you. Just as you are. He calls you to higher, better, more beautiful things, but he loves you NOW. Do not give in to the narcissistic Jesus: THAT Jesus will drown you in guilt and grief.

Jesus loves me, this I know…

The Opposite of Fear is…

The opposite of fear is not bravery. Bravery is acting heroically in spite of ones fear. No, the opposite of fear is love.
We live in a society that talks a lot about love; it seems to be everywhere. But, in reality, there are few who love. Those few are brave souls who make the most of what they have and shout their good news from the mountain tops. The rest of us follow their rhetoric but seem to never get anything really accomplished. Why, when love is in the air, is our society teetering on the brink of self destruction?
It is because, with the exception of those few, we live in fear. Not just superficial fear, but deep, profound fear. Fear of one another, of the future, of ourselves. We have deep uncertainties because of intellectual commitments that no longer ring true for us but which we cannot rid ourselves of without risking our social status, often within our own families.
Jesus Christ taught us to love one another. Holy Scripture tells us that “where there is fear, love has not yet been made perfect, for perfect love casts out fear.”
In order to save our society, it will take more than a few voicing their love over the media. It will take listening and doing on our part. Self giving is the truest fruit of love and we can all make a difference by putting others first and giving of ourselves, our time, and our resources to those who are less fortunate than we are.
We can be brave and give place to our doubts. Listen to those who’s ideas provoke you to deeper thoughts. Doubt can never be gotten rid of by suppressing or denying it. It can only be gotten rid of by answering the question that has been put to us. Moreover, a pat answer will not suffice. We must examine the question thoroughly and answer just as thoroughly. We must be willing to accept rejection by those who disagree; those who are not willing to step out of fear into love.
Let me make one thing clear, love is not emotion. Love is more than mere commitment, too. Love is determined, resolute, steadfast self-sacrifice. Love never fails. The emotions and the commitment to another come with love, but they are not it in themselves.
Do not do anything out of fear. If you cannot do something in love, then feel no obligation to do it at all until you can do it in love. This is the gateway to personal freedom. It can liberate you from all that binds you. When we act in fear, we are in bondage, but when we can act in love we are truly free. Endeavor to do everything out of of love. Never in fear.
Are you afraid of God? Are you motivated to obey him because of fear of hell or punishment? God will not condemn you for this kind of obedience, but it is not what pleases him most. He wishes you to be free, not in bondage to fear. Serve him in Love and you will be free to experience all that he has prepared for you in this life.
Above all, love one another. For Love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He that loves not, does not know God, for God is love. Beloved, let us love one another.