Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Blog

I've joined forces with my daughter (NYCindividual) to start a new blog called Confab Remarks at Since I barely ever post on this blog, I will mainly be posting there from now on. I will still post here from time to time, but mainly on Confab Remarks. The new blog will include my comments on blog posts I read on other blogs as well as comments on articles I read. It's a place of discussion and a place to link with other blogs and to network. It's a place to post recommended articles. ETC.

Here's a Description:

Confab: A casual talk; confabulation. To engage in casual talk.

Remark: To say casually, as in making a comment. to note; perceive; observe. comment or mention. a casual or brief expression of thought or opinion.

Welcome to Confab Remarks!!! This blog is where I will post all the blogs I read and my comments on their posts. In a way, it's a tip page. In another way, it's a page for discussion. Please join me in the world of blogging!

Friday, August 03, 2007

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Question posted at
i know that in life you should have one religion and i was wondering…
if you say you are a christianthen what do you think it means to be a christian?

My response:
Christian isn’t something you be. Christian is something you become. The foundation of becoming is critical. I’d say that Christian is defined by Christ; that any other definition has no authority. What we know about Christ comes through the Bible. If you think you believe Christ, then you must believe the Bible because Christ believed the Bible. If you don’t believe the Bible, then you have no Christ to believe except a mythical one. That is, you can’t believe Christ if you have nothing of his to believe. Therefore, you have to decide: Will I believe the Bible, or won’t I? It’s an all-or-nothing proposition.

The reply from vballchik3575 is the only reply so far that comes close to answering your question, and it will do for a starting point. The faith of a child is sufficient for anybody, but becoming requires learning more about your God. That implies learning His perspective, and that causes the number of subjects to explode, but I’ll limit this to a few essentials.

The Bible begins by introducing a Creator with personhood — intelligence, will, emotion, etc. One of the perqs of being Creator is that everything you create is yours; and since God created all things under His own authority, He has absolute, life-and-death rights over all creation — including us. This Person consists of a single God who transcends time and space, mass and energy, yet somehow exists as what we, from within time and space, perceive as multiple Persons. It’s a mind-bender. As the Bible develops its revelation of spiritual things, we learn that there’s a central Father-figure, a Spirit, and a Son-to-be, all of whom claim to be the One God.

The foci of the revelation spell out the identity of the Son: Jesus, son of Mary (and step-son of Joseph) of Nazareth. God, we are told, inhabits the body of Jesus; and as a holy God, Jesus lived a holy, sinless life.

That’s as far as I can go without building the definition of Christian from another angle: That of mankind. Whether one believes in Adam, Eve, and the Garden of Eden as literal or figurative, it tells us that rather than bowing in total submission to God’s absolute authority, we all fall short, we all rebel. That is the entire meaning of the Ten Commandments. Yes, by keeping them, you can become more like God in a moral sense; but you can never achieve the absolute perfection required to enter the presence of an absolutely holy God. Not only do we fall short by doing wrong, but we also owe it to God to do every right thing that lies in our power to do. If we are indebted to God to do right, then we cannot offer anything that we do as payment for our failings. (If I bring you a cup of sugar that you loaned to me, I can hardly call it a gift to you, can I?) Therefore, the notion of weighing one’s good against one’s evil is misleading and irrelevant. In a hypothetical balance, our evil (and the good that we should have done, but didn’t) in the pan on the left will always outweigh the empty pan on the right.

All of the sacrifices of the Jewish temple system pointed to the terrible consequences of our failure. Even then, they were object lessons and a stopgap solution. The blood of bulls and goats (which ultimately also belong to God, not to us) just doesn’t cut it; indeed, they were symbols that pointed toward a greater sacrifice. That sacrifice was God’s Son; the righteous for the unrighteous; the holy for the defiled.

Now, I have to tag on two things that many churches corrupt. First, Christ, being God, could not be held by death. You have to believe in the resurrection because if there’s no resurrection of Christ from the dead, there can be no new life for us. Second, the gift has to be received as exactly that: a gift. To add other requirements such as church membership, keeping commandments, baptism, or any other thing than simply receiving the gift, then we insult the Giver and fail to receive the gift.

A Christian is someone who believes these foundational ideas, submits to them, and receives the gift. There are plenty of things that give evidence that the conversion was genuine and there are plenty of things to do (or not do) that coincide with becoming, moving toward the goal of being worthy of the name, Christian; but none of those things should be confused with the basics I’ve laid out that define the beginning of the process. And when you recognize the distance between fallen people and the Holy God, you know that it is quite a long process.

I’d like to know the reason for the question.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


On the note of my last question: What do you think is required of salvation? Personally, I think that salvation is aquired only when you accept Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior. It has nothing to do with baptism or good works. However, after you become a Christian, God does call you to be a servant. That can include works. They are what you do to show Christ to others. This ties into my last two conversations when it comes to interpreting the Bible. No, we don't have to interpet the Bible correctly to go to heaven, but does God want us to interpret the Bible? How do we do that? What if we are wrong, or someone else is wrong? There is a child-like faith that Jesus tells us we need to have. How do we keep that child like faith and interpret the Bible at the same time? There is the child like faith, but interpreting the Bible complicates things because so many arguments can be made. So, how do we simplifiy things? Where is the line drawn?

My Response:
I thought I would comment on your questions. I found your questions concerning Bible interpretation interesting. The question of Bible interpretation is going to be a big debate in the future because of post-modern thinking. The issue of the absoluteness of truth is essential in dealing with this question. I'm not sure if you are familiar or not with the different "hermeneutical" systems. (Systems of Bible interpretation) Alas, the bottom line is that there is only one accurate interpretation (God's original intended meaning) and we will spend our lives searching and being students of God's Word to obtain the fulness of that meaning. Furthermore, God's Word was meant to be interpreted literally and normative, that is within the context of the passages surrounding it. (Also known as a "dispensational" approach to Bible interpretation) I would disagree with you on interpretation not being necessary for salvation. How then do we really know what the "all" mean when Romans states that "all have sinned". If interp. is not necessary, how then do we understand the death of Christ being necessary for salvation? We cannot neglect interpretation. Interpretation and faith go hand in hand in the search for God's ultimate meaning to what He wrote. The biggest stumbling block in Bible interpretation is man's presuppositions that he brings to the table because of his sin nature. Good post though with good questions. I have a number of "deeper" thinking posts on my blog if you are interested. PJ Posted 3/1/2006 at 11:19 PM by PastorJames33 - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) By the way, I would agree with you as well on your concept of salvation is by faith alone. We are all sinners and we would ruin heaven if we went there apart from God's grace obtained through faith in the death of Christ. Posted 3/1/2006 at 11:20 PM by PastorJames33 - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) I see what you are saying about interpretation going hand in hand with salvation through Christ, and I do somewhat agree with you. There are other sources of learning about Christ, though. Aren't there other writers and historians who have confirmed the truth of the Bible? Plus there are evangelists telling people who have never read the Bible about Christ, so it seems like there are some who become Christians before reading the Bible. It is essential that you read the Bible, though, to grown in your relationship with Christ. In that essance they go hand in hand, but the original relationship starts when you accept Christ as Savior and Lord. What is your opinion on the original intent of the Bible? " accurate interpretation (God's original intended meaning) and we will spend our lives searching and being students of God's Word to obtain the fulness of that meaning. Furthermore, God's Word was meant to be interpreted literally and normative, that is within the context of the passages surrounding it." So how would you interpret the Bible literally in today's world? (For example, regarding women pastors.) Posted 3/1/2006 at 11:42 PM by christianopinions - delete "Hermeneutics" means the set of rules by which we interpret. Most people know the most common rule, that we need to take passages in their context. A common quote goes, "A text without a context is a pretext." The context can always affect the meaning of a passage. It's possible, however, to lift some verses out of their contexts without distorting their meanings. For example, the text following "I permit not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over a man," explains how it's a matter of the different strenghts and weaknesses of the two sexes, Eve having been deceived by Adam having sinned willingly. Since the reason given has to do with human nature and not with the practices or beliefs of Paul's culture, lifting the verse "out of its context" doesn't change it's meaning. At worst, it make one vulnerable to the accusation of lifting things out of context, which raises a new issue that detracts from the main point. Unfortunately, quoting the entire context would (a) make for a wordier reading that most people don't have patience for, and (b) require one to explain the context and how the context reinforces the plain sense of the verse -- which makes for even greater verbosity. Fewer people realize that different levels of context exist. The neighboring verses provide context, but so do the chapter (as the outline of the book would define it; I'm not referring to the chapter divisions in today's Bibles), the book, the set of books written by the same author, the testament, and the Bible as a whole. Even the culture and history at the time of writing can give context. I hope PJ returns and lists some more rules of interpretation. My pastor when I was in college did a series on hermeneutics for our Bible study, but I only remember a few... inspiration, enlightenment, first mention, complete mention, and of course, context. Posted 3/2/2006 at 3:25 AM by alphadogtucker - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) I believe that someone becomes a christian when they accept Jesus into thier heart, like you said. "For if you confess with your mouth Jesus is God, and believ ein your heart that he is risen from the dea, you will be saved" Works are simply the product of our salvation. If one has no works that point to salvation, the question is did they truly mean it when they became a chritian, which of course on ly they can figure out. If they truly are a christian but have no works, they are probrably already feeling guilty and in turmoil, for the loly spirit will convict them of thier wandering heart. Back to your other question, I believe that women shouldn't be preaachers because they need to submit to the man, and the man needs to be the spiritua head of the family and church. If a woman is Pastor, she becomes the sspiritual head. A pastor is responsible for everyone in the church - the pastor is in spiritual authority over all others in the church, including her husbad and ll the other men in the church. I'm a girl, and I lead devotions to youth girls and children. When I grow a little older, I will teach other adult women - but I will not be in the charge of Men's spirtula needs. I can talk to them, I can give testimonys to them, I can share my faith, but never in the position of pastor. Posted 3/2/2006 at 1:49 PM by ebaben - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) I posted on my site my response to her questions. . .I appreciated them greatly. I think that I will do a major post soon on rules for Bible interp. It's a hot topic today in greater Christendom. It all goes back to: "What is the meaning of is". Anyhow, look under my post on necromancy and spirits. Scroll down to the very bottom to see my response. Alphadog is right, context, context context! It's the key that opens the door to meaning! He is also right about people being lazy and not wanting to think through the verboseness (what a word!) of the greater context, however, it is necessary. Thanks, hope to hear from you all, PJ Posted 3/2/2006 at 3:41 PM by PastorJames33 - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) hey- thanks for the comment- yeah i just wanted to get some more discussion going even though there are already these discussions going on-like your site so i might as well anser some of these question.... about interpretating the scriptures, i like proverbs 2: especially 1-6 even though it's not super-specific basically-studying the scriptures is a good thing. Just be careful- I've heard somewhere that each scripture's interpretation needs to be in harmony with God's four main attributes (love, justice, wisdom, power), and in harmony with itself, every other scripture, the ransom, and the facts and purposes of the bible. I've also heard it's good to try to stufy with a group of people- but i can't recall what scripture that is. those are just some ideas... Posted 3/2/2006 at 4:35 PM by not_afraidto_fall - delete - block user Show us your Dunk Face at! (?) not_afraidto_fall what you said about interpretation needing to be in harmony with God's 4 main attributes makes sense. The question is how do we do that? PastorJames33 and ebaben and alphadogtucker I was wondering how you take things in context. What is literal versus not literal? Back to the women being pastors topic, there are those verses about women keeping in silence and not being allowed in the church. How do you interpret them? One woman I know says that there will always be one man to submit to no matter what you do: God. What do you think of that?

Anonymous response to my response:
In regards to salvation, I have a hard time believing that God would d**n anybody to hell for eternity. I think that this is possibly where purgatory would come into play, since it is a stage before going to heaven where one reflects upon his or her life and is purified before meeting their maker. I dunno . . . I guess I think that there's some good inside everyone, and that since God loves the sinner and hates the sin, maybe He washes away the sins of everyone (even those who have never believed) so that the good in them is all that's left when they reach the pearly gates. Hmmm . . . it's an interesting thought.

Go to for the rest of the debate. The site is full of spam now (so ignore the spam, it just came coming until I decided to leave the site alone) but the old conversations are still there.