Theological Insights from a Modern Perspective

Posts tagged ‘God’

Lent, Meatfare, and other things

I’m going to try posting again, see how it goes. What better time for renewal than Lent, after all that is what the season is about. No promises, but here goes. (more…)

The weights of vengeance and mercy

A beautiful story on love and forgiveness. Thanks, Karen.

Under Reconstruction

Vengeance dominates the tide of social media these days. Sometimes it comes in the form of mob justice descending upon the perpetrator of a crime inadequately punished, other times as smaller and subtler smears against those who have wronged us.

But perhaps we could spend some time pondering on the perennial tug-of-war between two opposing forces: Vengeance and Mercy.

The desire for revenge is rooted deep in us. We want those who hurt us to hurt, those who shamed us to be shamed. Whether we inflict the retaliatory attacks ourselves or by inciting others, the root of that thirst is one and the same. Sometimes we confuse the desire for revenge with the desire for justice, and certainly there seems to be an overlap. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that at some point the streams diverge. Justice ends (ideally) in some kind of restoration, whereas unabated revenge…

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Has someone sinned against you?

Sin is offending God, or going against His wishes/desires for us. When someone offends you or does something you don’t want then you could say that they have sinned against you, though we usually say that they have pissed us off. (more…)

To such belongs the kingdom of God

born_belivers_imageBabies are interesting teachers of theology, and they have a lot to teach us. They do not know hatred, bigotry, racism, sexism, all the baggage that we, as adults, carry with us (whether we see it in ourselves or not). (more…)

Why are we here?

jesus-comforting-mary-of-bethanyThis is a question that has stumped scholars for thousands of years. I would like to offer an answer from an unexpected source, (more…)

Love Conquers All

Jesus asked that we love each other with the same love that he showed to us. Love demands two things: acceptance and forgiveness.

apologizingIf we are unwilling to accept that others may see/feel/believe different that we do then how can we truly love them? God accepts that we are different from each other, he made each of us as we were when we were born, and into the families into which we were born. He did not make us clones of each other, but made each of us different, and incomplete. With all due respect to Simon and Garfunkel, we were not made to be islands, but to need each other. Man needs woman, the hunter needs the gatherer, the warrior needs the diplomat, the liberal needs the conservative, and vice-versa. The Christian needs the Jew, the Muslim, and, yes, even the Hindu and Native American. It is only by seeing God in his Infinite Diversity that we can see God in everyone we encounter. And it is only by seeing God in others that we can accept each other fully.

forgiveness

Forgiveness is the other thing that love demands. We all make mistakes, it’s part of being human. Anyone who claims to not make mistakes has just made another. From Eve to Adam, down through the ages, man has made mistakes, but God has continued to love us. But you can’t forgive them unless you first love them, then accept that it is because of your differences that probably caused the disagreement in the first place. True forgiveness requires that we put the offense behind us, and not bring it up again. We cannot forget that it happened, but we can leave it in the past.

Acceptance and forgiveness aren’t easy, but for a Christian they are necessary. God forgave mankind for abandoning his will, then accepted that it was because of our free will that it happened. Jesus was the sign of that forgiveness, and our promised eternity with him is the sign of his acceptance.

Love, acceptance, and forgiveness. All are required of Christians, and all are the signs that we truly are followers of Christ.

John 13:35 (RSV) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Will people know you are a Christian?

Love thy neighbor

love thy neighbor 3Do you have a Christian love for your neighbor? We all know the story of the Good Samaritan, and how to identify who your neighbor is: the one who treats you with love and compassion. But is that what it really means? Are we just to love those who love us back? (more…)

An Epiphany on Theophany?

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Epiphany

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Theophany

January 6, a holy day in West and East, but do we both celebrate the same thing? Not at all. It’s unusual for East and West to share a holy date, but to celebrate different events (especially when both churches celebrate the events) on that date tends to lead to confusion. So, what are Epiphany and Theophany, and how do they differ? (more…)

On the first day of Christmas…

If you have no idea what this photo is, don’t ask, I feel old enough. (more…)

Afterlife – Our Link

Some Native American religions believe that as long as someone remembers you that your spirit will live on in the afterlife, and that (using ceremonies) contact with them is possible. It’s comforting for those, like Geronimo, whose names are written down in history and will be forever remembered, but for the average person? Even so, I find comfort in their concept of the afterlife where communication isn’t just possible, but also fairly easy.

stthomasxcJesus confirmed with his apostles that the spirit world exists, and that they continue their involvement with this world. Luke 24:36-39 “As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” It is because of this that we know those who have passed on can, on occasion, interact with those of us in the physical world. But the method isn’t so easy as the Native American way, and (so far as Scripture teaches) must be initiated from the other side, we cannot simple call upon them.

Scripture, especially in the Old Testament, acknowledges the ability to conjure spirits from beyond (necromancy) but explicitly forbids its practice. In the New Testament the ban is not explicitly stated, an understanding of 1st C. language is needed:

Galatians 5:19-20 (RSV) “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery…”

Revelation 21:8 (RSV) “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.”

Sorcery covered a wide array of acts that were believed to originate in the spiritual world, such as: fortune telling, acts of magic, and the conjuring of spirits.

There are many attestations by noted people in church history (from St. Thomas’ exploits in India to the present day) that spirits can reach out to us, but it is always the spirit that initiates contact. From these contacts it is clear that they do hear us when we pray to them (pray used as “talking to” not to be confused with worshiping prayer) or for them, and that the remembrance is felt.

I remember, when I was a child, my grandmother appearing at the foot of my bed one night – something that startled me enough that I could not get back to sleep. I learned the next morning, from my mother, that she had passed during the night. This is something I have never shared before, something that is as real to me today as it was then. I can still picture her standing there and the words she always said to me still ringing in my ears. I have never experienced anything like that since, and I doubt that I ever will again.

The appearance of spirits is not to be confused with the apparitions known as ghosts. The spirits spoken of in church history appear for a reason and, when the task is completed, return to the heavens. Ghosts, on the other hand are always thought of as haunting a particular place, and stay on indefinately. The church has no proven examples of these types of spirits, and takes no position on their existance (neither does it prohibit belief).

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