Avatar and Religious Discussion

No doubt Avatar has stirred up some “interesting” discussions, including some dealing with the religious aspects of the movie.

Phyllis Wheeler over at The Christian Fantasy Review gave a good review which in turn brought a comment from author Eric Wilson. In part he said:

All this to say, instead of focusing on differences, I believe we can take this opportunity to redeem faulty ideas from the film and turn them into beautiful examples of God’s love. That seems like the way Jesus did things, and I think we’d get a lot further in promoting the Gospel by taking that approach.

Or at least that’s the way He calls me to approach it.

I’m glad Eric qualified his statement with the last line. God does call His body to function in different capacities from one another, so any time we make a blanket “all Christians should” statement, unless we are quoting from Scripture, we’re probably about to step off the high dive.

However, I have to take issue with Eric’s characterization of idolatry as “faulty ideas.” I also take issue with the idea that Jesus preached a “can’t we all get along” message.

Speaking to the latter first — I just read Matthew 10 as part of my church’s 89 Chapters in 89 Days program, which includes Jesus’s instruction to His disciples for their upcoming missionary trip. He told them, in part, to take back their blessing of peace from any house that proved unworthy and to shake the dust off their feet when they left a house or city that didn’t welcome them or “heed their words” (Matt. 10:13-14).

That’s just one passage that shows Jesus did not teach a gospel of peace among men. His true gospel of peace deals with man’s reconciliation to God.

As to the “faulty ideas” in Avatar, I do not see anywhere in Scripture that idolatry is treated as “faulty” (“working badly or unreliably because of imperfections” [Oxford American Dictionary]).

And lest anyone thinks that perhaps the Na’vi were actually worshiping the true God but were ignorant about Jesus, take time to read Jay Michaelson’s post on the religious position espoused by Avatar. (I mentioned this article a week ago in “More Avatar.”)

Michaelson has no problem identifying the core beliefs writer/director James Cameron was espousing. The key philosophical/theological belief undergirding it all is “nonduality.” The idea is that dichotomies such as self/other, good/evil, male/female, mind/body are illusions. From Wikipedia:

A nondual philosophical or religious perspective or theory maintains that there is no fundamental distinction between mind and matter, or that the entire phenomenological world is an illusion.

Hence, Michaelson says

“God” becomes seen as one of many ways of understanding Being. Sometimes God is Christ on the cross, sometimes the Womb of the Earth. Sometimes God is Justice, other times Mercy. This is how sophisticated religionists have understood theology for at least a thousand years: “God” is a series of insufficient explanations of the Absolutely Unknowable, a collection of projections and dreams and who-knows-what-else which, neo-atheists notwithstanding, speak to the core of who we are as human beings.

To me, this is more comforting than old school theology, not less. It allows for multiple paths to the holy, radical ecumenicism and pluralism, and a bit less constriction around our favorite theological myths. God as Friend, Father, “motion and spirit that impels all things” – all of these become dances, tools of the inner life which are available when needed, and enriched, not lessened, by being increased in number.

Speaking as a dualist, I believe this line of thinking is opposed to Scripture, not merely “faulty.” It calls into question everything God has revealed about Himself and about His creation, about our nature and relationship with Him, about our sin-sickness and need of a Savior.

In saying this, I am not slamming the door on James Cameron or Jay Michaelson. In fact, I think it would be fascinating to dialogue with them. I’d like to see a debate between one of them and a Christian apologist such as Ravi Zacharias.

What I’d expect would be much disagreement, not unkindly so. But the two positions cannot both be true.

Take just one issue: good and evil. James 1:13 says

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt any one.

God clearly separates Himself from evil. He didn’t cause it, create it, or participate in it.

Duality exists. Time and eternity; mortality and immortality—these are issues central to the Bible.

So my question is this, What are the connection points between Christianity and this panentheistic worldview? I can think of a couple, and maybe Eric Wilson is right to say that we should find those common points.

However, I don’t see us doing so if we don’t actually understand what others believe and what movies like Avatar are truly saying.

For further discussion, see “Connection Points Between Avatar And Christianity.”

12 Comments

  1. Did you see this? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/12/AR2010011200690.html

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  2. I did see it (probably because I clicked on your link! 😉 ), thanks, Katie.

    Becky

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  3. Hi Rebecca, if u have loads of time (coz it’l take awhile), please go trough this. and help me out..

    Why is religion so important? Why does it even exist? What purpose does it serve?
    Is not God one? Or is the God of a Christian different from the God of a Hindu, or a Muslim? Do Gods also have differences amongst themselves? I do not believe so. I do not even believe in the word ‘Gods’, for if viewed properly, that word alone plants the seed for the difference to germinate. Why can’t we imagine a (yes, ‘a’) single Supreme person sitting up there in the heavens and orchestrating His vast creation below? How much more stability it would give our whole world, our very existence if we knew that there is one master controlling everything – one conductor controlling the whole orchestra! On the other hand, imagine how ghastly a music will be produced if the very orchestra is being led by 10 conductors – there will be no harmony, no symphony.
    Why can’t it be that the same person decides how a Hindu is to give alms to a beggar and how a Christian is to wipe away the tears of a child who has lost his father? In the end it comes to the same thing – why break up the children of God into water-tight groups by means of religions? Why can’t all of us be a huge and happy family, living together, and looking towards the one focus – the One God. Being united in God, rather than being divided by Him..
    Yes, it is true that at times we (and i mean the whole of mankind) divert from the ways our Father as designed for us, and indulge into sin. And it is then that God sends us His message, through His messengers, or through His own Son.
    I read a line a few days back, which spoke volumes to me. It read, “Whatever is at the center of your life is your god”. Consider this allegory:
    God created this universe from nothing. He decorated it on His own will. Then he created human beings, upon his own likeness. However they betrayed His faith in them, and as a result God sent them out of heaven. But remember, He is a loving father. Even in his punishment, he saw to it that his children would have all the comforts they needed, and he poured all of those on the earth. However his children could not forget the agony of incurring god’s wrath and falling in his sight. So they continuously tried to gain a close relationship with Him again. They made god the pivot of their lives – the center of their lives. And god was pleased with them.
    Slowly the number of people on earth increased, and they spread out on every corner of the earth. And it was in this way that the three brothers, Joseph, Jehangir and Jagdish got separated, eac moving out to different parts of the earth. And after settling down in their new homes, they prayed to God.
    Joseph had a vision that God called upon him from among the clouds; and he went about telling this to his neighbors and praising God’s name.
    Jehangir had a vision in which God said He was in the very air he was breathing. So Jehangir praised the Lord and narrated is encounter with God to is fellows.
    God also appeared to Jagdish, telling him He resided in his very heart (since his heart was pure). Now Jagdish also did like his brothers, proclaiming the glory of God.
    Now it so happened, that after a few years the brothers thought of paying a short visit to their parents. When they reached home their parents were very happy to see how godly lives they lead. However when the brothers started sharing their experiences with God, a fight broke out! Each one of the tree said what they had been told by God in their visions. But one would not consider the evidence of the other two to be true. In the end they decided to stay away from one another all their lives.
    God had intended to show His greatness to the brothers trough different angles, so that, being brothers they would sit together and get the whole picture. However the brothers could not see beyond their own interpretations of God’s image, and a rift was created.
    Anyway, the brothers returned to their respective houses and taught God’s glory to their neighbors, such that each of the three sects prayed to the same God but by different names, and in different forms. Joseph’s group called Him Yahweh, Jeangir’s group called Him Allah and Jagdish’s called Him Bhagwan.
    Time went by. And with the change of time some new factions were added to the practices of ‘spiritual living’ by each of the 3 sects. Firstly, they announced themselves as independent groups with no link with one another. They became separate “religions”. The feeble bonds of blood which had prevented the brothers from being intolerant to each other’s vision of God (they had simply ignored each other) had got diluted infinitely, and so emerged the 3 independent religions, strictly intolerant towards one another. Secondly, as it always happens with several cooks, the image of God WITHIN each group suffered some drastic changes. Some believed God was only present in His House, the temple. The others believed God was in every individual; and yet others had a tough time imagining a formless God and in an attempt to relieve their imaginative burdens, made idols; and worshipped them.
    But then, with all these complications, the object at the center of the human heart changed. Instead of the focus on God, the center of the heart was occupied by the temple, the rituals, the idols, the human body itself, and of course, money. All the things which were supposed to REFLECT God’s image and His glory actually took over the reigns of the follower’s heart. They became the new ‘gods’.
    And the ever-opportunistic Devil (or Satan, or Saitan- whatever each one called him), having seen the perfect ground for the seeds of evil to be planted, started his work. He employed all the weapons he had in is armory – bigotry, hatred, superstitions, greed, immorality, lust, contempt, jealousy, pride, vengeance and many others. With these the devil went about putting out God’s light from the hearts of the people He had only created. A few ‘special- mention’ of the devil’s associates were money, falsehood and sensual pleasures.
    They worked overtime. And in the end, made God’s temple ‘a den of robbers’, God’s idol a means of extracting money, and God’s morality, something to be pitied upon.
    However God was not taking a break all this time. Whenever he found the devil overpowering his children, coaxing them away from Him, He intervened. For which father would not love his children so much so as to be jealous of them! Which father will see his children being taken away from him by a group of imposters, and do nothing! He announced to His children that he was their One true God, and forbade them from accepting the numerous other ‘dummy gods’ they had created for themselves.
    He kept on sending His messengers to the earth, but either they were not heeded to, or, their teachings were indeed respected, but by a few who heard them. And they again built walls around themselves and created a new and different religion.
    The Messengers themselves (take the Buddha for example) did not establish a religion by themselves. They just preached the original teachings of God, the default settings with which the first human beings were sent to earth y God, and implored the others to return to that setting. But not many of the people listened, and those who did, were out-casted by the rest, giving birth to a new group, a new religion.
    Ultimately the world was again on the verge of collapse- completely filled with sin and walking miles away from God. But even then God did not give up on is children. May be that is what a father’s love is. No matter how much his child has fallen from grace, he is always ready to bring his prodigal son back to him and hug him lovingly, forgetting everything. God had exactly this in mind.
    However the sin of the world was so great it needed a mammoth sacrifice to save it, to forgive everything. So at last, He sent His only Son to the earth. He was to serve a dual purpose – first, to teach the world to return to God’s grace, leaving behind all their immortality, and second, to die carrying their sins, so that they may be forgiven. He did his job very well, and gave up his life for the lives of others – to fulfill God’s wish.
    Now, while on earth He had Himself said that anyone who would believe in Him and His teachings, and would do the will of His Father would regain God’s favor and have everlasting life. But things came a full circle, and the cage of the term ‘religion’ was again put on this Messiah. A different way of life ensued and people outside the cage (living in other cages) could not meet the deliverer sent by God. For an entry into the cage, for a chance of salvation, one had to simply come out of his/ her own cage and get enrolled in this one.
    Did God really want this? Did God want to give a separate identity to His children in the name of Faith? Did he want Jehangir’s great-great-grandchildren to require a visa to meet their own relative, the Messiah, just because He came down into the house of Joseph’s great-great-grandchildren?
    Why can’t these cages be lifted up from the face of humanity? Why can’t i breathe fresh air, not confined by any restrictions? Why do i have to join a particular party, why can’t i be an independent candidate in this spiritual election?

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  4. Hi, arindam,

    As it happens, I don’t have loads of time, but I’ll try to give your questions some attention. I think they’re important.

    Why is religion so important? Why does it even exist? What purpose does it serve?

    Christians often say Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship. There’s a lot of truth in that. The short answer to what purpose does religion serve is that it aims to connect Man with God. It exists because Man feels the need to connect with God. It’s important because it deals with the big questions: how did we get here, what are we here for, how are we to live, where are we going?

    Why can’t we imagine a (yes, ‘a’) single Supreme person sitting up there in the heavens and orchestrating His vast creation below?

    We can imagine anything we want, but that doesn’t make it true. Hindus believe in many gods. Muslims, Jews, and Christians believe in one sovereign God. Both views can’t be right. Do we just say to the Hindus, Snap out of it? Imagine what we’re imagining! Of course not. If it’s our imagination that is at question, each person would have the right to his or her own creative contemplation.

    But if there is something real in the spiritual realm, then my believing or not won’t alter it. On a cloudy day, for example, when I can’t see the sun, my saying it’s left the universe does not make it so. Others can offer evidence to me that the sun is still in place, but I have to believe in what they tell me or in my own eyes which say the sun is no longer in the sky. What authority am I going to trust? That’s the real question.

    So too with religion and God. He exists. He’s made Himself known, but it’s up to each of us to believe the authority that would know best.

    That’s the strength of Christianity because God Himself came to earth that we might know Him. He went further and gave us God-inspired revelation that predicted and explained His coming.

    But why religion? Religions are systems to connect Man with God. We know that connection has been broken. Since ancient times in various cultures Man wanted to please the gods or atone for offending the gods. Even those cultures that think Man is the answer understand that something needs to change, to get better, to be fixed. Religion simply puts together a system of fixing the broken.

    Once again, however, all the ideas about how to fix the broken can’t be right. Islam believes in Muhammad as the one true prophet and that Jesus was a good man. Christianity believes Jesus is the Son of God and no one comes to God but through Him. Both can’t be right.

    Jews don’t believe Jesus was the promised Messiah. Christians believe He was. Both can’t be right.

    While it sounds like a great goal to bring all mankind together believing in one God—and in fact, the Bible says that one day everyone will bow the knee to Jesus—the reality today is that not everyone is convinced God exists or that there is a reliable authority telling them how they can know God. Instead, people hear many different ideas and must think through which is consistent with the evidence. Some get it right. A lot don’t.

    God said it would stay that way because He’s giving as many people as possible a chance to come to Him.

    I don’t know if this is helpful or not. Please feel free to ask more questions if you want.

    Becky

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  5. Thanks a lot Becky, for squeezing out some time to reply to me. i was waiting for your answer. and yes, that WAS helpful. you answered my doubt regarding the necessity of religion, from an individual’s point of view. however, i also wanted to know particularly about the lack of freedom for people posed by religion(s). i mean, the last few paragraphs of my previous post. i’l be very grateful if you respond to that as well (in your own sweet time).
    God bless you.

    Arindam

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  6. Arindam,

    While the parable you told in your first comment was interesting, it doesn’t reflect reality as the Bible explains it.

    So we’re back to my point that the first thing we need is a reliable authoritative source from which we receive truth.

    Anyway, that’s why I didn’t answer the questions about whether or not God wanted separate identities for the different sons. As God revealed history in His Word, that parable is far from the way things were. If you aren’t familiar with the Biblical account, I’d encourage you to read Genesis.

    But to your final questions: Why can’t these cages be lifted up from the face of humanity? Why can’t i breathe fresh air, not confined by any restrictions? Why do i have to join a particular party, why can’t i be an independent candidate in this spiritual election?

    The cages, as you describe them, are man-made systems to connect Man with God. The fact is, they are broken. They don’t work. Consequently, you should lift them up and escape. But that will still leave you unconnected with God, and I suggest that’s the real problem of the human existence.

    Why can’t you breath fresh air, not confined by any restrictions? I suggest the restrictions of religion aren’t the problem. It’s our disconnection from God that weighs on our chest and squeezes breath from our lungs. Sin, guilt, a set of moral laws, ultimately death—these are the things religious systems cannot help us with, try as they might. Once a person frees himself from the set of laws, there’s still sin, guilt, and death.

    Why join a particular party, why not be an independent in the spiritual election? Because it’s not an election. God doesn’t take the throne based on how many choose Him. He is God and He will reign supreme if five or fifty or fifty-five billion choose Him.

    Here’s the key Bible passage as I see it. Note especially the part I’ll emphasize:

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    In essence, then, there aren’t many cages. There’s one cage with freedom beyond. The only way to freedom is through Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who introduces us to His Father.

    The stuff of Christianity, however—going to church, reading the Bible, praying, giving an offering, taking communion, baptism, and so on—may seem like a cage, and actually can become one if the people who practice those things believe those create a connection with God.

    Why then do them? If seen in the right perspective, they are valuable.

    It’s like chocolate. Nutritionists now say there is value in eating chocolate. But what if you start eating chocolate only because you think you have to in order to be healthy? What if you forget that chocolate actually tastes good? You can feel burdened to take yet another dose of chocolate when in fact you’d really rather not have any for breakfast. You can start feeling trapped, walled in by what you have to do to be healthy.

    There’s one difference, however. Instead of being focused on what I enjoy, think instead about being focused on what the Person you love wants, much like a young man newly in love does. He’ll go to the date movie instead of to the ballgame, take her to his parents’ house for dinner, all kinds of things.

    The perspective about religious things should be this, I think: If
    God wants it, commands it, then I should want it because I love Him. And the more I love Him, the more I want to be with Him and love what He loves. So I should love His Word, His Church, but I should also love the widow and orphan and the poor, the stranger.

    I should also love His commandments—the Bible says that’s how we show that we love God. So if He says to pray (and He does), then I should love to pray. If He says to do communion in remembrance of Christ, then I should love to do communion, and so on.

    The things I love to do are not burdensome. I don’t find it burdensome, for example, to blog, whereas other writers think it is.

    As those who put their faith in God through Jesus Christ and His atonement for sin grow closer to God, the things of God (which we often think of as religion) grow more enjoyable, for lack of a better term. They become what we want to do, not what we have to do.

    In other words, I have never been freer than I am now. I do what I want, but more and more, what I want is informed by what God wants for me.

    No, I’m not perfect. But I know more now than when I first believed. I love God better, and consequently, I love what He loves better.

    I hope this makes sense, Arindam. Again, please feel free to ask questions.

    Becky

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  7. Becky,

    Thanks again, especially for the deep, yet ‘sweetly’ simplified piece of thought. As you asked me to, i have a few more questions for you. (hope i don’t tire you out with my stupid doubts)

    Did not Jesus want to change people in the very circumstances they were living in? did he want people to come to him and follow his teachings, or to follow his religion? did he want everyone to be converted to Christianity, or did he want to make better people from every religion? That is to say, did he not want to make a jew a better jew, and a muslim a better muslim, by practicing his teachings?

    We know he went about cleaning the (jewish) temples in Jerusalem, just before the passover. Could he not have easily set up his own temple, or church and make it a place of real worship, instead of a den of robbers? But what did he do? He went about cleaning the temple which was ALREADY there, accepting it as his Father’s house. (was it JUST because He was a jew Himself??) Does he not look at each one of us in a similar light; that we are the people of His Father? Does He not want to take us the way God send us, in the very religion He send us in, and clean us of the immorality and ungodliness that has crept into us? Or does He consider a child who’s born today in a, say hindu family, as a sinner already, by virtue of her birth which was predetermined by God Himself??

    if i have a friend, from a different religion, who has sincerely studied the teachings of Jesus and follows Him in his life, would Jesus still count him as a sinner because he does not belong to Christianity (please mind my words, not, a non believer in Christ)?

    When i am commanded to bring others to Jesus, am i being commanded to bring others to the Religion of Jesus? Or to bring others from the ungodly lives they are leading to the light of God, by FOLLOWING Jesus and his teachings?

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  8. Arindam, just so you know, you’re not tiring me out. 😉

    Sometimes life intervenes and sometimes I need more time to think about your questions, but I love interacting about the things I think are most important—spiritual matters.

    So to your questions.

      Did not Jesus want to change people in the very circumstances they were living in?

    Yes and no. He healed a lot of people, so He made changes in their circumstances, but He made no effort to change the political conditions they lived under.

      did he want people to come to him and follow his teachings, or to follow his religion?

    He wanted people to come to Him because He is the only way to God. He wanted people to follow Him, not just His teachings. He didn’t create a religion for people to follow. As God’s Son, He wanted to show others His Father. He made it clear that following external rules, even the Law if it was only followed externally, wasn’t enough. A person couldn’t have lustful thoughts and then claim to have kept the law because he didn’t engage in adultery physically. A person couldn’t hate someone and claim he was innocent when it came to “Thou shalt not kill.”

    Could anyone keep the Law the way Jesus said it needed to be kept? No. That was His point. He wanted to show people how far we fall short. If finding God depended on self-effort, we’d all be forever lost.

      did he want everyone to be converted to Christianity, or did he want to make better people from every religion? That is to say, did he not want to make a jew a better jew, and a muslim a better muslim, by practicing his teachings?

    Neither. He knew that He was giving Mankind a perfect standard—God’s own perfect, holy standard. Getting better isn’t good enough. In fact Scripture says our efforts, our righteousness, comes across like filthy rags. That was true for the Jews He talked to but also for the Samaritans and the Greeks and for all of us down through the ages, regardless of heritage or religious preference.

      We know he went about cleaning the (jewish) temples in Jerusalem, just before the passover. Could he not have easily set up his own temple, or church and make it a place of real worship, instead of a den of robbers? But what did he do? He went about cleaning the temple which was ALREADY there, accepting it as his Father’s house. (was it JUST because He was a jew Himself??)

    He cleansed the Jewish temple because God had chosen Abraham and his descendants to form a special relationship. They were His people, and He was to be their God. The point and purpose was to model before the watching world what God was like and what a relationship with Him looked like. But the Jews repeatedly blew it. They worshiped idols as well as God. And the first century AD version of blowing it was the priests trying to make money by taking advantage of the people who had traveled miles to worship. Instead of bringing their own livestock for the sacrifice, they could buy what was necessary there in the temple, but at jacked-up prices (sort of like airport prices for fast food).

    They were once again violating their agreement with God.

    In other words, Jesus wasn’t concerned that the priest do things properly. He wanted them to love God and because they chose God to be their God, they would act fairly. In cleaning out the cheats from the temple He showed again how far from Holy even the religious leaders were.

    And Muslims? This goes back to the verse I quoted before: “he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Being a better Muslim wouldn’t bring a person any closer to God. He’s still not believing in God’s Son who provides the missing piece for reconciliation with God.

      Does he not look at each one of us in a similar light; that we are the people of His Father? Does He not want to take us the way God send us, in the very religion He send us in, and clean us of the immorality and ungodliness that has crept into us? Or does He consider a child who’s born today in a, say hindu family, as a sinner already, by virtue of her birth which was predetermined by God Himself??

    We’re all sinners, no matter what culture, heritage, religion we were born in. I’m a sinner. My sister is a sinner. My best friend is a sinner. What makes a difference between me and a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, pagan, atheist, or anyone else is that my sin is paid for. Christ paid for it with His blood when He, the innocent one, was judged guilty. He stood in as the substitute to take what I deserved. The thing is, His work as substitute is available to everyone, but they who reject Him are guilty of that one thing—rejecting Him.

      if i have a friend, from a different religion, who has sincerely studied the teachings of Jesus and follows Him in his life, would Jesus still count him as a sinner because he does not belong to Christianity (please mind my words, not, a non believer in Christ)?

    It’s not a matter of following some of Jesus’s teachings. When Jesus said no one comes to the Father but through Him, does your friend believe this? Or is s/he practicing another religion just in case? That’s what the Jews did in the Old Testament, at least some of the time. They would sacrifice to God and then they would sacrifice to their house idols. The truth is, Jesus either is the way (and no other way is then necessary) or He is not the way (and believing Him is not necessary).

      When i am commanded to bring others to Jesus, am i being commanded to bring others to the Religion of Jesus? Or to bring others from the ungodly lives they are leading to the light of God, by FOLLOWING Jesus and his teachings?

    I’d say we are commanded to bring others into relationship with God through Jesus. Think of Him as the middle man. Not just anyone can waltz up to Buckingham Palace in London and walk in to see the Queen. There’s an intermediary who has to okay you and check out your credentials and who knows what all else. When it comes to Christianity, Christ is the intermediary. We need to know Him and He will make the introduction for us to His Father.

    Doing religion, even Christianity, will not get us through the door to the throne room. Only knowing the Door. (That’s one of the word pictures Jesus used about Himself.)

    So a good Muslim is no closer to God than a “good Christian” who thinks that means to go to church on Sunday, give to the poor, pray before meals, or what have you. That latter person professes Christ but doesn’t know Him.

    Okay, loooooonng answers. But if you’re not weary of reading my answers, I’m game for more questions if you have them.

    Becky

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  9. Thanks again Becky. As a matter of fact, i go through your looooonng answers, not once, but quite a few no of times. So i guess i don’t think they are THAT long.

    Your answers have been really valuable to me; can’t thank you enough for that. But i promise to be back with fresh questions as soon as they arise in my mind.
    Till then, may God keep your blade (read pen) sharp..

    Arindam

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  10. It’s coming up on a year since we had this discussion, Arindam. Just wondering how you’re doing.

    Becky

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  11. Sorry for my hibernation. But you have seriously, and pleasantly, surprised me with your post.:) I’m doing pretty good. As u suggested, i have gone through the book of Genesis and some part of Exodus. But what has literally captured my heart are the words and the life of Christ in the NT. Never before have i seen Such a clear image of God!
    However my dislike for religions as such still continues unabated. I feel they are like prisons preventing the inmates from coming out and thinking freely. And if some poor soul tries that, he sure will know he has courted some trouble. I personally believe that every person should be given the chance to ‘know’ God, and not just get a, sort of ‘right’ handed down the generations; it’ll be SO much more meaningful then. And i’m Sure, anyone who comes to know Jesus, truly understand Him, will never leave Him for his own sake.
    As for me, i am not a christian, but i am, and will always be faithful to my savior, and Him Alone. Yes, i do get doubts at times, if i really will be welcome to Him (given my lack of baptism etc), or if He really meant it when He said, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven, that person is my brother and sister and mother”; but the peace and joy which fills me when i live my life the way He has advised me to, that alone makes me Want to stick to my rock and fortress.
    I do not know if i’ll ever meet Him in heaven when i die, but that really doesn’t bother me much. For something deep inside me tells me that if only i acknowledge God and live the life He as leased unto me doing His will, i need not worry about all that. That my Father in heaven will look at my heart and not at what the column ‘religion’ reads on my passport.
    I may be wrong, so please share your thoughts regarding this.
    Arindam

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  12. Arindam, thanks for coming back and for answering. I’ve taken far longer than I intended to respond.

    I find your love of the life of Christ heartening. He is a beautiful Savior.

    What you may not know is that there is much more about Him in the rest of the Bible, more pointedly so in the New Testament. I’ve been doing some work in the book of Colossians, for example, and found these wonderful verses in the first chapter:

    12b thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

    13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son [Jesus], 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

    15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20a and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross

    Notice a couple things: We have forgiveness of sins through Jesus; Jesus is God; He created all things; He is the head of the church; He has reconciled us to Himself.

    Arindam, this means we aren’t limited to admiring Jesus from afar. We actually can know Him and enter into a friendship with Him. It’s not a maybe. It’s a sure thing. Colossians goes on to say:

    21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23a if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard.

    Religion certainly doesn’t have the answers. God does and He’s made known what we need. It’s a matter of trusting Him, believing what He’s told us, and putting our lives in His hands.

    “Church” — the body of which Christ is the head — consists of all who have entered into this relationship with God. Religious institutions called churches will contain some who are the Church but also some who pretend or who are themselves fooled into believing they are part of the Church because of their self-efforts. But even we who are the true Church aren’t perfect, so here on earth there isn’t going to be a perfect body. We are in process.

    As much as I’d like to say, what matters is the sincerity of our hearts, I just don’t see that in the Bible. Time and again, I find our inability to please God, whether by our actions or by our thoughts or desires. That’s why Jesus offered Himself. He’s the only one who could because He had no sin of His own. So He could rescue us. He could redeem us, He could make peace with God on our behalf by the blood of His cross.

    All that’s required of me is to believe in the work that Jesus did — to put my life in His hands.

    So what are your thoughts about faith in what Jesus did on our behalf?

    Becky

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