Further Reflections on Spirit April 4, 2011Posted by Matt in Christian Beliefs, church.
Tags: Brahman, evil, Holy Spirit, indwelling spirit, love, qi, unforgivable sin
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Last week I wrote a piece about the concept of spirit and our discussion of it in that week’s Sunday morning class. In case you missed it and don’t want to click back on the link, we spoke of it as a universal spirit, indwelling in all of nature, a God-presence coursing through the very veins of creation. In its omnipresence and power, it may be compared to the Brahman of the Hindu religion or the qi of Chinese philosophy or even The Force.
Wednesday night our priest, Patrick, went further into this idea and took up the idea of the unforgivable sin – blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This whole concept has always been a bit mysterious to me because, really, what does it mean to “blaspheme the spirit” anyway? Do you have to say, “Hey spirit, screw you!” That just doesn’t make any sense.
Patrick explained it in this way: if the spirit inhabits all of mankind (or all of creation, for that matter), then blaspheming the spirit would be to point at a fellow human being and call them evil. This of course does not excuse evil actions, but it instead creates a distinction, one in which human beings are ultimately good, even made “in the image of God,” yet they have a tendency to misuse this divine power, to perpetrate acts that can only be described as evil. This evil takes many forms and can go far beyond the realm of depraved serial killers and their ilk, to one where even our inner prejudices and thoughts that we are better than others, is “unforgivable.” It was a profound idea and one that has stuck in my thoughts over the days since then.
So, then what hope is there for anyone if even our tendency to lock our car doors in certain neighborhoods or to look the other way when particular people pass by is “unforgivable?”
I think “unforgivable” is an unfortunate term to use in this instance because, in reality, nothing is truly unforgivable. In my eyes, this looks to be a piece of the hyperbole that Jesus was apt to use in order to make his point. You might compare it to his statement that calling someone a “fool” is a bad enough misstep to send one to eternal damnation. I mean, I seem to remember Jesus himself calling people foolish at times.
In the end, I think the best answer is to treat people, all people, as you want them to treat you. When we look at others as vessels for the divine, we do away with racism and bigotry and condemnation and instead find the joy inherent in life and love with our fellow humans.
Theological Tag February 22, 2007Posted by Matt in Uncategorized.
Tags: church, evil, Holy Spirit, Jesus, sin, theology
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Originally posted 2/22/07
Mac tagged me some time ago regarding a few questions from his Systematic Theology class and I figured that now is as good a time as any to answer them. The key is to answer these six questions in seven sentences or less.
1. What is the central message of the gospel?
The word “gospel” is an English translation of the Greek word ευαγγέλιον, which literally means “good message,” and that message is undoubtedly the immeasurable love of God. When God descended from His lofty home in the plane of eternal goodness that we know as heaven to serve us, mere mortals full of corruption and evil in our grimy little world caked thick with the muck of sin, it embodied that selfless love above all love. That’s it – love is what it’s all about.
2. What are the one or two most important questions for theologians to study?
Our world is one of sin and evil and darkness, where families are torn apart and children are murdered and thousands die beneath falling bombs for a supposed “greater good,” and it is within this context, one of darkness and destruction, that people look to the heavens and ask, “Why?” In a world slipping farther and farther into degradation, people want to know how a “good God” could allow such evil to happen. Canned answers won’t work any longer – people are looking for a good, thoughtful explanation (hint: the virtual dualism of modern Christianity just doesn’t jive any more).
3. What is the relationship of Jesus to the Father and to us?
Jesus is the human embodiment of the all-powerful Being, the ultimate reality that we know as God. Out of God’s boundless love, He came to earth in a human form – a form in which He lived, loved, worked, taught, and ultimately died at the hands of those He came to save. In His death, Jesus took the role of the sacrificial lamb – giving Himself, His body and His blood, for us, so that we might all have an eternal life with Him.
4. How does the Holy Spirit work today?
When man was created “in the image of God,” I believe that God endowed each of us with a small piece of His divine nature – a self awareness and an ability to choose our fate that other animals do not have. Humans, though, are terribly conceited and self-absorbed, and, because of that, we many times look past this great gift that has been bestowed on us by our Creator. The imbuing of the Holy Spirit on someone is the realization that God is the great Giver of this most wonderful gift.
5. How can we identify the “one true Church?”
The one true church is a state of mind and heart, identified by people who, through their love of God, love everyone unconditionally. Just as you know a tree by it’s fruit, you will know the “true church” by their radical love – for the poor, the sick, the enemies of America – and by their willingness to serve others, all others, regardless of the consequences.
6. What happens at Eschaton?
Everybody will find out that Tim LaHaye is full of it. (and not just a really, really bad writer)