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Please explain something about Christianity

(303 Posts)
GoodyGoodyGumdrops Sat 26-Nov-16 11:45:12

Before I start, I just want to be quite clear that I'm not trying to be contentious or antagonistic. I'm a person of a different faith, who accepts the plurality of faiths, and wants to live in peace and understanding with others.

My question is about Jesus's death atoning for your sins. Does he not atone for all sins past and future, so that others can believe in him and also receive this atonement? In which case, why do you need to behave ethically?

cheapskatemum Sat 26-Nov-16 16:18:20

Practising Christians are exhorted to behave "ethically" as you put it, or as Jesus does, in several places in the Bible. The New Testament in particular can be seen as a kind of handbook for putting this into practice. It's also about being infilled by the Holy Spiit, so both wanting to obey the 1st 2 commandments (love God & love others - these inform all the others)) and feeling guilty if you don't.

SheepyFun Sat 26-Nov-16 16:42:28

Jesus death does atone for all sins, past and future. However a Christian's forgiveness was bought at huge cost (Jesus' death) even if the forgiveness is a free gift to us. Christian's try to behave ethically (we all fail to some degree) out of gratitude for what Jesus has done. As a (poor) comparison, our parents give us gifts because they love us. However if we accept the gifts but ignore our parents, that would be very ungrateful, and would damage our relationship with our parents. Does that help at all?

ValaMalDoran Sat 26-Nov-16 16:48:14

As a (poor) comparison, our parents give us gifts because they love us. However if we accept the gifts but ignore our parents, that would be very ungrateful, and would damage our relationship with our parents. Does that help at all?

I think this is a pretty good comparison. We also obey the commandments in the same way we would obey an instruction from our parents as kids. Sometimes we fail to behave but Gods forgiveness and grace is eternal (sadly unlike some earthly parents) and he picks us back up and helps us get back on track.

Mindtrope Sun 27-Nov-16 06:38:41

So human sacrifice is a good way of paying debts?
Does that sit happily with christians?

ButterfliesRfree Sun 27-Nov-16 07:05:49

I don't think it's that a Christian needs to behave ethically I think it's what they choose to do because they know and love God. The difference between Christianity and other religions or beliefs is that they believe and experience God alive today. Jesus died and was resurrected and lives in a Christian or believer, and is alive and present today. He's the same yesterday, today and forevermore. And because Hes alive, present, and transforming a believer He is also in a relationship with that person/Christian. They experience His nearness now, today. This cultivates a relationship which builds and grows and means Christians can become more and more like Jesus. And Jesus said "very truly" I can do nothing by myself I can only do what He sees His Father doing. The Christian too is a disciple of Jesus and does as Jesus does, and that which Father God does. This relationship between Christian and Jesus, Father God and holy spirit brings a change and transformation in a person that leads to changed behaviours or ethical type behaviours. It's not just because a Christian should do something ethically like in the old testament (that was under the law so to speak) it's a new covenant given to a Christian through Jesus blood on the cross and it's something Christians choose to do (not perfectly though for sure). So the believer effectively wants to more and more do what Jesus did. I think Christians can choose not to behave ethically but in the end if you walk with God you realize yeah nah I don't want to do it that way. I'm a child of God so I choose to behave like this instead (and more ethical behaviours emerge). Granted not all Christians understand that and some today still believe once a sinner always a sinner. However Jesus took all sin at the cross. Not saying a Christian doesn't sin but as a Christian they learn to repent when and if they recognize sin in their life. Effectively though a Christian is seen by God through the blood of Jesus. So He looks upon a Christian with unconditional love, and as a child of His. Hope that helps.
To mindtrope - it's not human sacrifice. Jesus was Gods son. He was with God, and He was God. God came as man to earth to die in the form of a human man to take away all sin. So one person, who was God, took the sin. So to answe you "no" human sacrifice is not expected or accepted as a Christian. Sacrifice from the Old Testament was Old Testament form and under the law and was an example of how life was (which got pretty crazy) before God decided "right I'm sending my Son to pay once and for all? for all this sin nonsense." And later Jesus said at the cross "it is finished". And it was.
**And I'm just adding this to explain as the OP asked and another person asked a question but I'm not here to debate. It's just my belief and my interpretation of Christianity and their behaviours as asked.

Mindtrope Sun 27-Nov-16 07:12:19

If god is so benevolent why does he insist on the acceptance of that sacrifice in order to save the soul?

Why not simply save everyone, believers, non believers, people living in places who have never heard of christianity- no hope for them I guess?

Is god so vain?

ButterfliesRfree Sun 27-Nov-16 07:25:34

No God is not vain at all. God doesn't need to be vain.
God is sovereign. He created the earth and everything in it. Including people. He's not vain. God loves. And God gives all people a choice. You get to choose to believe that He is who He says He is, and that Hes as good as He is. Not everyone wants to believe He's real or that He is who He is. Take a look around though. The mountains and oceans didn't fall out the sky. And if creation isn't enough to convince you then ask Him to show Himself to you, because He will.
So we all have choice and we all have free will. A loving God wouldnt make everyone believe in Him or force them into something. God is love and He wants us to say "yes, I believe". He will show you if you ask. It's actually all way more simpler than we make out.

Mindtrope Sun 27-Nov-16 07:33:01

Creation?

God is genocidal maniac according to the bible.

"The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies." Nahum 1:2

Doesn't sound like a very nice guy. Allows millions to die in poverty. Who would choose that?

Mindtrope Sun 27-Nov-16 07:34:14

"And if creation isn't enough to convince you "

No the idea of creation is laughable.

clarinsgirl Sun 27-Nov-16 07:38:07

I think that someone who in the 21st century believes that God literally created the Earth in 7 days is far more mind blowing than the flawed logic to make the leap from crucifixion to a 'moral code'.

There are many different ways of understanding, or trying to understand the atonement. The early Christians spent years thinking and praying about who Jesus was which resulted in the Nicene creed which all mainstream churches hold to. The question of how Jesus' death atones for sin is one that finds a different answer in different denominations and different periods of history.

I'm not sure that atonement and ethics naturally follow from each other. As Christians one of the standards of behaviour is the commandment to love God and our neighbour as ourselves. Neither is easy.

Rockpebblestone Sun 27-Nov-16 08:11:59

If god is so benevolent why does he insist on the acceptance of that sacrifice in order to save the soul?

Mindtrope, sacrifice is a feature within human society, pretty much across the board. From what historians can ascertain, through archeology and ancient writing, sacrifice was prevalent within the majority Pagan societies too.

Even if you exclude religious sacrifice, what people perceive to be crimes, are punished, most often traditionally corporally and ultimately condemning people to death. People (at least a learned amount of them)believe this is the way to combat crime.

Christianity is quite revolutionary really, in that it seeks to combat the (evident) need within humanity for this sacrifice and condemnation. God, as Jesus, sacrificed Himself, forgave humanity for their crimes and offered redemption through believing in Christ and what He stood for. The only condition being is acceptance of this being enough to reform people, because otherwise people would still believe more sacrifice and condemnation is necessary (a strong elemental part of most societies).

Rockpebblestone Sun 27-Nov-16 08:12:51

Large not learned. Typo.

clarinsgirl Sun 27-Nov-16 08:23:14

Let's not pick and choose which the parts of bible we accept regarding moral code. The bible advocates blood sacrifice for atonement. Leviticus begins with a very long prescription of the sacrifices required for various misdeeds. Thankfully Christians ignore this (but do seem fixated in certain later verses of Leviticus).

Mindtrope Sun 27-Nov-16 08:32:07

The bible is such a good moral code.

The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. Deuteronomy 28:30-31,35

When a woman has a discharge, if her discharge in her body is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything also on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean, and everything on which she sits shall be unclean. Leviticus 15: 19-20

When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand. Deuteronomy 25:11-12

Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. Numbers 31:17-18

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. Ephesians 6:5 NLT

You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT

Whosoever … hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookback, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken … He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries. Leviticus 21:17-23 KJV

ThomasRichard Sun 27-Nov-16 08:36:27

I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so not a 'mainstream' Christian but I hope I have something to offer here. In the Book of Mormon, which is an account of Christians living in the Americas in the few hundred years before and after Christ, there's a scripture that says "...it is by grace that we are saved, after all that we can do". We believe that Adam and Eve's choice to eat the fruit in the garden of Eden means that humanity became subject to physical death, where the spirit is separated from the body. Jesus' Atonement overcame that for free: everyone will be resurrected into a perfect body, regardless of how they live on earth.

However, because we know right from wrong, we are also subject to spiritual death, which is a separation of our spirits from our Heavenly Father. To overcome that, we need to be doing our best to live a good life and keep the commandments that we have received, including receiving certain ordinances like baptism and making covenants with God. Because no one is capable of living a perfect life, we have access to the power of Jesus' Atonement when we repent i.e. recognise that we've done something wrong, confess it, put it right as much as we can, ask God and the person we've harmed (if there is one) for forgiveness and don't do it again. In this way, our life is a series of course corrections that bring us closer to God, with the mercy of the Atonement allowing us to be forgiven and filling the gap between us and God left by our imperfection.

The Atonement is eternal and so available to everyone, regardless of when they lived or whether they had the opportunity to hear about the Gospel in this life. We believe that people who die without receiving the Gospel are taught it in a life after death and have the opportunity to accept or reject it before the final judgment day. What these people do on earth is still very important because as a gift from God everyone knows right from wrong, but other requirements to overcome spiritual death like making covenants and receiving ordinances can be fulfilled after death.

Rockpebblestone Sun 27-Nov-16 08:38:17

clarins, a person cannot be a Christian and ignore Christ. Christ was the blood sacrifice which ended any need for any more blood sacrifices. Forgiveness and redemption are also emphasised. The NT is a central to Christian belief. So if you are talking about 'picking and choosing' this certainly cannot be ignored.

As I said in my earlier post, blood sacrifices are a predominant feature of the majority of societies, including Pagan societies. It is not exclusive to those described in the Bible. Christ fulfilled the need within humanity for this, so it no longer needed to happen.

GoodyGoodyGumdrops Sun 27-Nov-16 08:40:08

Thanks for your answers. I'm still not clear, but beginning to understand - the parental analogy makes sense.

Why do you need to be saved? Are being saved and atoning directly connected?

It is so frustrating when an attempt to learn and understand is deliberately derailed to prove an irrelevant point.

I wish atheists could accept plurality of faith, too. Many do, but the ones that don't have a lot more in common with anti-pluralist believers than they realise.

clarinsgirl Sun 27-Nov-16 08:49:21

I accept the plurality of faith. I believe that every individual has the right to their own beliefs. Plurality of faith also includes the right to no faith. But I object to the suggestion that any of the faiths have a basis in fact or logic. In my opinion your question is trying to establish a train of logic to something which clearly has no basis in logic. My comments were not aimed to derail your thread, rather to answer your question. You are looking for reason where there is none.

Rockpebblestone Sun 27-Nov-16 08:52:24

Why saved?

In this life -
Accepting atonement through Christ fulfils the need within humanity for blood sacrifice. Forgiveness makes revenge redundant. Loving Christ means that a person should want to emulate Him and in this way is transformative. So we can be saved from a human thirst for bloodshed.

In the next -
If you want to be with 'at one' with God, as in heaven, this involves being transformed to be like Him / agreeing with what He stands for. If there is serious disagreement you cannot be 'at one' - there would be a divergence.

Madhairday Sun 27-Nov-16 09:02:26

OP: I think that there is a basic shift in attitude and behaviour that occurs with acceptance of Christ's atoning work and belief in God through Christ. Basically, when a person believes this, it necessarily informs how they live their lives. It doesn't mean that they are suddenly perfect and never sin; far from it - just that there is a depth of intention to do good and to live as Christ modelled.

If a person says they can make this decision to follow Christ but it's fine, it won't change them or make them behave in any way different, especially if they maintain that they can just do whatever they like without thought of others or of God then they have not entered into any depth of meaningful decision.

The book of James is good to read on faith and works and how they are expected to go together. 'For faith without works is dead'. Jesus himself said we should love God and love others; that's the life expected of us and if we are not striving for that we are not living in the consequences of our decision to believe.

What it doesn't mean is that we never get it wrong - but it does mean a level of repentance when we do, not a mere shrug and oh, it's fine, Grace is free so I can do whatever I like.

Grace is free and wide and astounding and doesn't pick and choose on the deserving and undeserving so people can access it whenever they ask, and if they fall can stand again. Just as we as parents forgive our dc over and over and simply want to be in loving relationship with them, however much they rail and rebel against us.

Hello Mindtrope- yes there are plenty of difficult passages in the OT. It's a history book of thoughts written by a people developing understanding of who God is and what God requires. Many of the laws which seem outrageous were to do with having to maintain an absolute standard of cleanliness amidst the most desperate and basic of living arrangements. As with anything, it's impossible to look at such verses and interpret them without the context of everything. Easy to fish them out and say this is your genocidal God.

I've studied the OT in much depth and faced all these kinds of passages and yet remain convinced that God's character is pure love, because of Christ's actions in the world. That's what made the difference.

I know words aren't sufficient, though - I could pick out far more verses about God being loving and merciful, prioritising the widow, the orphan, the poor - because that's God's character. I struggle myself with the stuff you quote - who wouldn't?! - but my experience of God's character is utterly different, utterly good. Utter freedom.

GoodyGoodyGumdrops Sun 27-Nov-16 09:02:39

My comment was not aimed at you, Clarins. FWIW I agree with you regarding picking and choosing. The most religious people IMO are those that accept change, and that we have to constantly reinterpret according to our knowledge and the needs of society. After all, you can be gay and a committed Christian, or a cutting-edge scientist and a practicing Jew, etc.

I disagree with you regarding the ability to apply logic. Trying to understand our various scriptures develops logical and critical thinking. There's a difference between regurgitating words and developing ideas.

Wonderflonium Sun 27-Nov-16 09:05:46

Brought up Catholic here, so YMMV:-

Under the old agreements, you had to sacrifice animals to atone for sins. Jesus' death did away with all that.

The new agreement is this: if you sin, you have to regret it and apologise formally. If you don't, Jesus' sacrifice was in vain for you. The incentive to behave ethically is two-fold.

First, your love for Jesus makes you want to live up to his standards and not make his sacrifice useless.
Second, if you don't apologise properly for your sin and die, you are damned. Easier not to sin than to constantly have to keep going to confession.

They could see that this idea of getting forgiveness no matter what you did before was going to be a problem for some people, which is why Biblical Jesus has so many parables about how it would work (Prodigal Son, the Vineyard owner etc). The takeaway message from all of these is basically: yep, you don't have to act ethically your entire life, you just have to do the right thing at the end and you get the same rewards as everyone else. The people who were much better at not being sinners from the start have to suck it up and stop being so jealous that they don't get a better prize than the Johnny Come Latelies.

ThomasRichard Sun 27-Nov-16 09:12:36

Why do you need to be saved?

As I said earlier, Jesus' Atonement means that everyone, regardless of behaviour or belief, is saved from physical death. Before judgement day, everyone's spirits will be reunited with their body in a perfect, immortal form.

The next bit is where the good works come in. At the judgement day, everyone will be judged according to the choices they have made. Those who have done their best and accepted the Atonement have access to its grace and will also overcome spiritual death, enabling them to live in God's presence with their loved ones and have an eternal progression as they learn to be like God. Everyone else will go to other places where it's still nice but they're not in God's presence and their progression is limited. This isn't a punishment as such because God loves us and wants us to be happy, so he'll put us where we best fit. People who haven't lived in such a way as to be comfortable in God's presence would find it torture to be forced to live there, like being forced to stare into the sun and feel desperately guilty and inadequate. A very, very few people (talking a handful or two), who have accepted the Gospel and know without doubt that it is true and then deny it and work against it, are banished entirely to live with the devil and his followers in outer darkness. That's not something that a 'regular' person is in danger of; we're talking fallen prophets and the like who have had such solid experiences of God that there's no room for doubt but have actively chosen to work against Him.

So there are two deaths to be saved from: overcoming physical is a free gift, but then a person's choices determine where they go after that.

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