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Posts Tagged ‘god’

Babies, Law Court Judgement and Christ

February 10, 2011 5 comments

It’s been a while since my last post, especially in English. I might make yet another post later on to answer “what’s up?”, but I’m posting for another reason now. I was notified by my friend Lisa Greer this morning about Greg Boyd’s latest post on “Baby Universalism and Reasonable Infanticide“, and I realized I have quite a few thoughts on this. So I wrote her a reply, which I realized would work out as a blog entry! It sort of assumes that you have read Boyd’s blog entry, however, so if there’s anything unclear, it might be a good idea to read it.

This is a question I’ve been wondering about for years, but no one else has brought it up, so Greg did what he usually does and asks the question no one else dares to ask. I’m totally with Greg on this. Any logically and morally inclined person who seriously believes in baby universalism should wander around murdering all the babies within reach, as well as forcing mothers into having abortions. It reminds me of an atheist I met once who said that if he was a Christian (as he understood them), he’d force people into accepting Christ by any means possible, damning himself if he had to (Rom 9:3). When you think about it, the notion that God gives a free pass only to those who don’t enter into adulthood makes our lives into nothing more than a cruel joke. It basically gives a thumbs up to all the teenagers who kill themselves: “Good idea, there’s absolutely no good reason to continue striving in this world!”

I understand and sympathize with the basic view of God and babies that makes one assume God would never condemn a baby who hasn’t started making conscious choices, but in the end, I think this scenario proves the absurdity of “Law Court Final Judgement“.

Most Western Christians assume that the final judgement is a scene where Humanity is standing before God, and those who have consciously signed the Jesus-contract in their earthly lifetime are magically Jesus-protected from God seeing their sin. Those who haven’t consciously signed the Jesus-contract in their earthly lifetime, however, won’t be prevented from God seeing their sins, and so God’s alarms will go off and he’ll throw them into eternal hellfire, regardless of anything those people might say when they get into heaven, because they are all radically morally totally depraved sinners who hate God anyways.

When Baby Universalism is connected to this view of the Final Judgement, babies are presumably either given a free Jesus-contract, or they simply commit no sin that the Father has to torment them for. I think both these alternatives are weird. In my view, (original) sin taints all of creation, and although it depends what kind of infirmities God is looking for, babies are not perfect. Free will also doesn’t “pop up” at the age of 11-12 in children, they start making choices independent from their instincts very early on.

If God made an “exception” in the law court system to babies below the arbitrary age of accountability, does that mean he gives exceptions to people who had a bad upbringing? People who started hanging out with the wrong people in their teens? People who got bullied in school? If we wants to keep any consistency here, we should just say that God should give an exception to everyone, and accept universalism. The other option within the law court system is to go the other way with election instead, and just change God’s character so that he enjoys sending people to Hell. That works too.

One major problem with the West is that we view sin so individually, and primarily juridically. Sin taints all of creation, and it is contagious like nothing else. Everyone is at one level guilty of sin, and yet everyone is at one level a victim of it as well. This is why we in the confession of sins say: “Through my sin I am guilty of more evil than I understand on my own”. This reality about the nature of sin makes it hard for me to see how Western Law Court Justice can ever be appropriately meted out. It’s so pervasive, and it doesn’t seem to be fixable by punishment.

Because of this, I am less inclined to believe God’s problem with sin is that his Divine Justice must be fulfilled by meting out Just Punishment to all those guilty, which in the end turned out to be redirected to Jesus/Himself. You’d think the Crucifixion would be a lot more intense if God needed to pour out all the punishment and wrath on the God-man on the cross. Especially when you consider that the cross, according to this view, was supposed to be the punishment for all humans replacing our punishment in eternal hellfire, due to sin against the eternal God (by finite beings…). You’d think the punishment due to Jesus (if comparable with eternal torment) in this view would be more like a billion nuclear bombs exploding and imploding on him over… well, eternity? That’s not to say Jesus did not experience things beyond what met the eye on the cross. He assumed all of humanity, and thus, without having sinned himself, “became a curse for us”, and “bore our sins”, so all the weight of our evil was upon him in those last moments.

This is something I will explore as I write my essay on the Atonement, by the way, but it is not that I deny all substitutionary or legal language for the Atonement, but I believe the introduction of Western Human standards of justice into God’s character is a large reason why people can’t see the beauty of God in Christ, when he takes upon Himself the Sin of the world. He took on our sins as something that is in ITSELF horrific. Sin is horrific and deadly, not God. The only reason God’s holiness is dangerous is because Holiness (wholeness) exists, and sin, distorted creation, ultimately doesn’t. It is not creation, but yet we cling to un-creation when facing God. No wonder it is dangerous to fall into the hands of the Living, Existing God like that. You can read what I’ve previously written on sin and salvation here. But there is nothing inherently scary in God’s character. God, in Jesus Christ, took on all of Sinful Humanity and lived it out (without sinning) to its logical consequence, death. When God had finished that, the Old Adam was brought to his end, and Jesus Christ destroyed sin, death and the Devil who had lived as a parasite on that fallen humanity, and rose victorious on the Third Day, creating a New Humanity in Him.

I think the view of sin within the Orthodox Church, which Greg Boyd seems to share, is more compatible with the loving character of God as perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ. God’s problem with sin is that it damages us and our relationship to Him, each other, ourselves and everything else. He wants to heal us, but we flee from Him, in fear that He will judge us and accuse us. Who is the accuser? Not God, but Satan. We have made God into Satan, by assuming that his greatest problem with us is his punitive anger against our sins. In reality, it seems the only reason He reminds us of our sins is to simultaneously ask “Will you stop holding on to that and give it to Me, please?”. All He asks is that we stop making our tormentors (Sin, Death and Satan) into our lords, and make Jesus Christ our Lord instead. Through choosing to return to Jesus Christ and taking part of His New Humanity through the Incarnation, we are given a new identity in Him as righteous and holy. We are then to put on Christ’s Humanity  and put off Adam’s humanity every day, so we may walk and continue the Life of Christ on Earth, by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Heb 2:14-18; Rom 13:14; 1 Cor 15:22,45)

Here is a wonderful passage fleshing out (pun not intended) the wonders of the Incarnation and its centrality to our salvation:

But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

-The Epistle to the Hebrews, 2:9-18

And also:

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

-The Epistle to the Romans, 6:4-13

From my understanding, in the Eastern view, the Final Judgement is about whether or not there is a sign of Divine Life inside of us, whether or not we take part of the Divine Energies that God wants to envelop us in. He gives them freely to all who seek His Face, and in the end, He will be all in all (1 Cor 15:28). When this happens, the love of God will envelop everything. Those who refuse to see the truth of who God is, however, will experience His love as torment and wrath. They will not experience it this way because God created it such, but because their lord Sin has become their guide to how to interpret everything they see, like Gríma Wormstongue in Lord of the Rings. Heaven and Hell are the same place: the loving prescence of God, but He will not force Himself into anyone’s mind.

So Hell is a reality in our minds, and a state of mind that I’m sure all of us have already tasted. That is not to say, however, that being freed from Hell is a mere decision and change of mind. It is a deadly mind virus and a parasite, and if we do not let the caretaker of our souls, Jesus, uproot it, it could take over our entire existence, and harden our hearts towards God. As for what God in his loving-kindness will ultimately do to those who end up in this situation, I don’t know. As I have previously written (in Swedish), although with a lot less clarity on the nature of Judgement, I think there is Biblical support for the view that all that is not in accordance with God will be as if it never existed. However, I am not certain of this view, and in the end, I can only look to Christ and know that He is Good.

As for the babies, then… I don’t believe our souls become inactive after death. I think we are either purified or hardened against God. As I have to assume there has to be some point in staying alive on Earth, I believe babies must be given the chance to choose beyond this life instead. But I think Boyd gave the answer to this question in his blog post and elsewhere. As I said before, in the end, I can only hope that God will be God in all situations. If I see Jesus, I see the Father, and Him who “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature” (Heb 1:3, verbatim).

Kyrie eleison! Lord, have mercy!

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Being freed from sin

September 5, 2010 1 comment

A few years ago, the gaming community “Pure Pwnage” was a huge part of my life, and it remains a part of my life that is dear to me. However, since mid-2008, I haven’t frequented it much, but I made a reply to a specific question I was asked by a “theistic satanist” on the boards. I wrote the reply, and thought I might post it here as well, in case anyone else would be interested in it 🙂

Out of interest why do you feel Jesus frees you? Is it the high amount of sins you’re not supposed to commit or have? The thought of having to go to church every Sunday?

Well, first of all, we have very different concepts of sin. According to today’s society, “sin” is basically synonymous with “fun”. This definition derives from various Puritan and policing movements that have claimed association with the teaching of Christ in various ways. The very original sin from which all other sin derives is the idea of taking the judging of good and evil into our own hands, and making ourselves gods. This mindset has driven and is still today driving people, perhaps especially religious people, to “police morality” from above, to force people into various standards of morality. This is not what Jesus did – He served people, and searched for the broken and rejected to heal them and restore them into the life they were meant to have – but only if they WANTED TO! This behaviour is supposed to be the model for the Church today, but unfortunately we’re not that great at following it as a whole…

So, I don’t deny that believers in Christ have, throughout the ages, done horrible things in the name of Christ, including murder, torture, lies and all other kinds of sin. I confess that *I* have done horrible things in the name of Christ throughout my life. Confessing such acts and turning away from it is part of following Christ.

Anyways, to get back to your question, I define sin differently from the common thought. I see sin as a disease, a black cancer on the creation that God made us to be. I might add that I do not think the first humans were absolutely perfect, as evolution shows. However, I do think the relationship to God that the first “life-breathed” Homo Sapiens had, was intact and whole, until they, however many, went their own way, collectively.

This is sin, to turn away from the source of Life Himself, and instead to rely on oneself. It’s not the image of an obsessive parent trying to micro-manage our lives, and then gets mad when we stay out past 9 pm or something. That’s not the sort of control or the kind of relationship God wants to have with us.

A better picture of God and Man is that of a father and a young son (or mother and daughter) out on a hike together, and walking in moderate distance from a deep ravine, when all of a sudden the son runs away, starts tumbling down the slope, hurting and bruising himself in various ways. The father cries out, tries to stretch out his hand, while the son refuses, instead deciding to jump further down. As this happens, the father climbs further down, all for the love of his son, who would never survive without the support of his father. It’s not about control, it’s about love.

So why do I say that Jesus has freed me? Well, as I said, I define as sin all the things in my life that separates me from a true and real view of myself, from a loving and harmonic view of all others and most of all, the beautiful, living, colourful relationship with God I’m supposed to have. As for what particular actions exemplify sin, I’m have no reason to list – it’s the heart attitude that Jesus is most of all after (see Matthew 5), and then it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict believers of these things in their own lives. Only in close relationships between believers are we to “judge” or rather discern sin in each others lives, with love, and not with condemnation. But it is not my job as a Christian to point out to non-believers what I find to be sin.

But the attitudes that lie behind our actions are really the root of all evil. Egoism, hatred, judgement, desiring after things that aren’t mine to desire (be they people or things), and all other things of self-indulgence that only leads to further egocentrism. All these things, I abhor.

But my faith, trust, life, love in and for Jesus Christ as the one who defeated sin, death and suffering with his self-sacrificial love poured out by his death on the cross, has, is, and will continue to restore these broken relationships in my life. Being continually saved/healed from my sins, frees me to love others as Christ has loved me. And that is the ultimate expression of freedom that a human being can experience: to love others in the same ways and that Christ loved us. It’s a life project, but it is SO WORTH IT.

Categories: Theology Tags: , , , , ,

Jesus, Gud, Herren, YHWH = Allah?

January 5, 2010 11 comments

Jag hamnade i ett intressant samtal med Stefan Simonsson på ett Oas-nyårsläger för några dagar sedan. Vi hann aldrig avsluta samtalet, men frågan var huruvida islam har samma gud som kristendomen. Det här är en fråga jag har ställt mig själv många gånger tidigare, och jag blev rätt peppad på att tala mer om det. Sedan läste jag Dagen idag, och såg en artikel om att myndigheterna i Malaysia hade blivit irriterade över kristnas användande av namnet Allah om Gud i en av sina bibelöversättningar. Det tyckte jag var intressant, och slutligen såg jag längre ner på sidan att Micael på Hela Pingsten-bloggen hade skrivit en artikel om det. Egentligen föga förvånande, då han verkar kommentera typ en Dagenartikel om dagen, men det visade sig att han skrivit om mycket av det jag tänkt över. Men jag skulle vilja utveckla ämnet lite.

I skolan fick jag lära mig att det finns flera världsreligioner, och att kristendomen tillhör de abrahamitiska religionerna, eftersom alla tre vill spåra sitt ursprung tillbaka till Abraham. Dessutom menar man att dessa då skulle vara väldigt lika varandra, eftersom alla på ytan kan se väldigt liknande ut. I det svenska språket är detta den dominerande termen när man skall tala om karaktärer och begrepp som är gemensamt för någon av dessa religioner, även om det kanske främst är judendom och kristendom som berörs. Termen “Judeo-Christian” mycket vanligare i engelskan, även om “Abrahamic faiths” blir allt vanligare. Man kan fråga sig varför, säkert har makten att definiera språket i de länderna i större grad legat hos judar och kristna än hos muslimer, men det betyder inte att en term är sämre än den andra.

Jag återkommer egentligen hela tiden till denna fråga: Vad är meningen med att tala om dessa tre religioner på detta sätt? Det har naturligtvis en funktion att tala om de abrahamitiska religionerna om man skall gruppera religioner efter deras egna anspråk, som religionsvetenskapen gör. Men i det folkliga användandet av begreppet ligger uttrycket nära ett annat, som egentligen är fokuset för den här artikeln, nämligen “Vi har ju samma Gud!

Det finns många kristna som vill hävda att andra andemakter än Gud ligger bakom islam, och påpekar detta när de möter påståendet om huruvida islams och kristendomens gud är densamme. Detta kan mycket väl stämma, men det är inte vad jag har försökt förklara i den här artikeln.

Jag ser fyra huvudsakliga grupper människor som talar om att Allah och den kristna guden är densamme: sekulära/icke-troende, liberala troende med pluralistiska tendenser, troende som inte riktigt tänkt igenom vad de säger, samt muslimer själva.

Den sistnämnda gruppen har sedan sitt ursprung på 600-talet e.Kr. kännetecknats av en ambivalens gentemot andra religioner. Å ena sidan har man i sin kamp mot polyteismen i Arabien tänkt sig kristna och judar (“Bokens folk”) som bröder eller kusiner i sin tro. Dessutom har de väl insett att de hade setts som den mest arroganta religionen i världen om de hade totalt föraktat de religioner i vilken majoriteten av deras egen religions trossatser, etiska tankar och heliga profeter och människor uppkommit ur eller funnits i. Å andra sidan är ju islam i sin ursprungsform förhållandevis exklusivistisk, och innehåller tydlig polemik mot både judar och kristna. Kristna anklagas för att vara polyteister på grund av sin treenighetslära, och judar, av oklara anledningar (oftast främst av politiska och sociala anledningar, som så ofta i religionskonflikter), har anklagats för alla möjliga saker. Bland annat verkar Koranen själv visa flera exempel på att Allah straffar judarna genom att förvandla dem till apor och svin.

Liksom de flesta religioner är alltså troende muslimer exklusivister eller inklusivister. De inklusivistiska tendenserna brukar betonas till icke-muslimer, framför allt i väst och i det som brukar kallas “euro-islam”, medan samma person i ett annat sammanhang väldigt tydligt kan göra tydligt exklusivistiska uttalanden. Jag kommer ihåg mitt besök i Nasaret, där några muslimer hade hängt upp en stor banderoll strax utanför Bebådelsekyrkan, vars budskap löd ungefär “Den som säger att Allah har en son hamnar i helvetet”.  Islam kan för övrigt liknas med Sovjetunionens kommunism i att den alltid velat spridas som en homogen kultur över hela världen, med gemensam tro (eller avsaknad av) och språk (arabiska eller ryska). Inklusivismen i islam må finnas där, men dess funktion verkar emellanåt fungera som ett knep för mission och försök att omvända kristna och judar till islam.

Så varför vill icke-muslimer hävda Islams släktskap med den judisk-kristna religiösa traditionen?

Även de största bibelminimalisterna håller med om att Tanakh/GT innehåller traditioner från tidigare än 1000 f.Kr, och många (främst troende) skulle dessutom säga 2000 f.Kr. eller tidigare. De återger en historisk period i ett specifikt geografiskt område (Israel), och följer Guds uppenbarelser till det folk Han har utvalt under en period av hundratals år. När sedan Jesus och de första kristna framträder i samma geografiska område, sker detta i en strikt judisk kontext, som sedan på grund av själv budskapet på ett naturligt sätt sprider sig utanför den.  Tyvärr kom de kristna senare att fjärma sig allt mer från sina hebreisk-judiska rötter. Likväl behölls både judarnas heliga skrifter och en mycket stor del av deras existerande teologi, praxis, språk och skrifttolkningstekniker. Både judar och kristna kan idag vara överens om detta, även om det alltid kommer att finnas de som gör sig till bittra motståndare till historien till förmån för de eventuella teologiska poänger man vill göra genom historierevision.

Islam däremot uppstod genom en människa, Muhammed, som påstod sig ha fått ta emot Koranen genom ängeln Gabriel,  som en hundraprocentligt korrekt kopia av en himmelsk s.k. “Urkoran”. Detta är i alla fall vad Koranen själv verka påstå i början på Sura 2. Man tänker sig alltså att Gud först gett perfekta uppenbarelser till Moses (Tawrat – Torah), David (Zabur – Psaltaren) och Jesus (Injil – Evangeliet), som sedan skulle ha korrumperats av de människor som fört det vidare. Däremot skulle Allah ha lovat att bevara Koranen för all framtid. Varför han inte valde att göra det med de tidigare lika perfekta uppenbarelserna är en bra fråga som jag inte hört ett svar på utom “Allah Akhbar”. Här kan man återigen fråga sig vad anledningen är till att Koranen så många gånger nämner dessa tidigare böcker när de ändå påstår att de egentligen inte har någon tillförlitlighet längre. Jag skulle tippa på att det återigen rör sig om ett knep för mission, då poängen att Koranen är mycket bättre är en direkt följd av detta med de tidigare “korrupta” men ursprungligen perfekta uppenbarelserna.

Islams faktiska relation till judendomen och kristendomen rent historiskt verkar enligt allt jag har hört vara ungefär såhär: Muhammed växte upp bland de polyteistiska arabiska stammarna runt Mecka, och följde med sin farbror på karavaner till Syrien och andra länder. Där kom han i kontakt med diverse former av både judendom och kristendom, och såg den enande funktion tron på en enda gud gav folk. Trots att han inte kunde läsa själv, fick han i senare ålder uppenbarelser där han mottog vad han trodde var ord från Allah. Sedan gick han runt och predikade detta budskap om en enda gud som skulle döma alla, och enade så småningom genom krig och pakter de arabiska stammarna under denna tro.

Kopplingen till judendom och kristendom blir alltså på de flesta sätt irrelevant, just därför att muslimer själva motsäger att judendom eller kristendom skulle ha någonting att tillföra som inte redan finns i islam, då Koranen är en “rättning” av det som funnits tidigare, samt den enda säkra och sanna uppenbarelsen från Gud till människor. Trots att de kallas Bokens folk och är mindre förhatliga än de som sysslar med polyteism (shirk), är det det arabiska språket som skall användas, den muslimska kulturen med sharia som är överlägsen och Mecca och Medina som är de viktigaste platserna. Att Jerusalem för muslimerna blev en helig plats att bygga moskéer och domer på, lär ju från början helt enkelt kommit ur ett försök att bevara det som judarna och de kristna hade försummat, Templet var ju på 600-talet bara en ruinhög på en stor platå. Men det som blir tydligt är just att Muhammed ursprungligen kom som en utomstående betraktare av de andra religionerna, för att sedan återkomma som en som tänkt sig att reformera dem utifrån. Han kom varken från en judisk eller kristen kontext, utan från en arabisk-hednisk kontext. De berättelser som faktiskt finns återgivna i Koranen (som visserligen inte främst är en historisk bok, utan en moralisk), verkar vara just en samling korta och ibland ganska förvirrade skildringar av berättelser från Bibeln, apokryfa skrifter ur både kristen och judisk tradition, samt av arabiska legender. Huruvida Muhammed någonsin hörde det riktiga  evangeliet är tveksamt, utan det mesta verkar vara ytliga beskrivningar av Jesus som profet och undergörare i en laglydnadsreligion.

Men nog om det. Återigen till ursprungsfrågan: Har kristna och muslimer samma Gud?

Den frågan går inte riktigt att besvara med ett rakt ja eller nej. Frågan måste problematiseras något oerhört. För det första måste det definieras vad det innebär att “ha” en Gud. Det är inte min syn på min tro att jag “har” min Gud – det låter som ett arv från hedendomen då man hade husgudar och statyer inne i hemmet. Min Gud har mig, och jag vilar i hans hand. Jag bekänner den treenige Guden som min Herre, såsom Han är uppenbarad i Den Heliga Skrift, alltså Bibeln. Jag har dessutom en relation med Honom, genom Den Helige Ande som bor i mig, så att jag får vara i Kristus och Kristus i mig. Bägge dessa saker kan sedan sammanfattas i att jag tror på Gud, jag litar på Honom, hoppas på Honom och älskar Honom.

Med detta i åtanke vill jag alltså omformulera frågan till någonting som är meningsfullt. Jag bekänner inte samme Gud som en muslim gör.  Jag menar mig ha en helt annan typ av relation till Gud än en muslim normalt menar, då jag tror att Gud älskar mig såsom en fader älskar sitt barn och såsom en brudgum älskar sin brud. Jag har varken samma uppenbarelse eller grund för uppenbarelse som en muslim. Jag har inte heller samma typ av tro som en muslim, då jag menar att jag har fått en uppenbarelse av Jesus Kristus som genom nåd har frälst mig, medan en muslim förlitar sig helt på sina egna verk baserade en uppenbarelse av lag genom Koranen. Gud sände ängeln Gabriel till Maria för att bringa evangeliet om Gud  som blev människa, Jesus Kristus. Enligt Koranen sände Gud ängeln Gabriel för att ge oss en bok genom vilken vi skall kunna bli duktiga människor. Det är inte samma tro, inte samma fokus, och de verkar enligt mig inte peka på samma sorts Gud.

Samtidigt vill jag inte förringa de likheter som finns mellan islam och den judisk-kristna traditionen. Den längtan som Muhammed och muslimer efter honom kände till en tro på en enda Gud tror jag någonstans var helt autentisk. Likaså har muslimer en bra uppfattning om vad en sund moral är i många fall, dock inte alla. Muslimerna har en delvis sann och korrekt uppenbarelse om Gud, men den är inte fullständig, och i vissa fall tyvärr rent av falsk.  Så vitt jag har förstått Allah som han beskrivs i Koranen, går han närmast att liknas vid en sträng men rättvis härskare som ger människor enbart vad de förtjänar. Även om Allah eventuellt skulle ge någon nåd, har han inte vad jag har hört gett oss något löfte eller någon garant för det, utan det är bara ett hopp om att han kanske väljer att vara nådefull om han känner för det. Och där är gudsbilden annorlunda från Bibelns Gud – Han utger sig själv för att mänskligheten skulle ha liv, helt utan att ha förtjänat det. Detta återkommer såväl i GT som i NT. Hela GT är ett exempel på hur Gud tar ett ringa folk och älskar det utan att ha förtjänat det, för att sedan uppfylla sina löften mot det utan att de gensvarar. Hosea bok och texter som Jesaja 52 är utmärkta exempel på detta. Det Nya Testamentets berättelse om Jesus som dör för mänskligheten är naturligtvis ett ännu tydligare exempel på denna Guds oberoende kärlek till människan.

Till slut är alltså min fråga såhär: Vad är egentligen meningen med att säga att vi tror på samma Gud som muslimerna? Är det ett försök att säga att Gud uppenbarar sig på olika sätt i olika religioner, och att Gud därmed kan vara både lagisk och nådefull på samma gång? Det är ju pluralismens grundtanke, även om den inte brukar uttryckas så.  Eller är meningen med frågan att säga att Gud nog har någon sorts relation till muslimerna, trots deras begränsade uppenbarelse? Frågan är väl hur vi som kristna skulle kunna avgöra det… Ingen har någonsin sett Fadern (Joh 1:18), den som känner Jesus får lära känna Fadern (Joh 14:7), och ingen kommer till Fadern utom genom Jesus (Joh 14:6). Alltså är det bibliskt sett ytterst suspekt att säga att en religion som explicit förnekar Guds Son skulle kunna leda till någon relation till Fadern.

Alltså är mitt svar till slut såhär: Ja, muslimer tror att det finns en gud som har egenskaper som delvis liknar den kristne Gudens. Men kristna och muslimer tror inte på samma Gud. Det finns bara en Gud, och Han har lagt en längtan i alla människor efter Honom, som ekar genom hela skapelsen (Rom 1, Apg 17). Däremot räcker inte denna uppenbarelse för att uppnå relation och därmed rätt tro på Honom. Därför sände Gud en ny uppenbarelse genom sin Son Jesus Kristus (Rom 3:21-22). Utan den uppenbarelsen går det inte att på ett meningsfullt sätt säga att en människa har samma tro som en kristen.  Huruvida muslimers tillbedjan mottags av Gud kan jag inte svara på, i så fall tänker jag mig att hans svar oftast är tårar, då de förnekar hans Son, som kom till världen för att den skulle ha liv, och liv i överflöd!

Annihilationism, dubbel utgång och helvetesläran

January 3, 2010 7 comments

Jag började för några månader skriva en artikel om min syn på den dubbla utgången och framför allt då vad som händer med de som går förlorade. Jag har uppdaterat den under en längre tid, och kommer nog att fortsätta med det också. Det är ett ämne som är både väldigt impopulärt, känsligt och kontroversiellt inom den kristna kyrkan i väst, och liksom Clark H. Pinnock skriver i introduktionen i sin artikel i boken “Four Views on Hell”, behöver kyrkan ta tag i den här frågan på ett eller annat sätt för att inte förlora all trovärdighet.

Artikeln jag har skrivit och fortsätter att jobba på, är helt enkelt mitt försök att ta tag i den här frågan, utan att bortse från en enda bibeltext. Min syn får typ problem med en enda formulering i en enda vers i hela Bibeln (Upp 20:10), medan de flesta andra synerna i min mening får problem med både fler enskilda verser, men framför allt med hela den bibliska världsbilden och sammanhanget.

Jag har själv rört mig från en traditionell syn som barn, till en universalistisk hållning för några år sedan, till en allt djupare respekt för Guds dom och vrede över ondskan. Men på samma gång som min Gudsfruktan har blivit större, har min bild av Guds kärlek blivit större, och jag har därmed inte återvänt till den klassiska synen på förtappelsen. Den här artikeln är alltså ett försök att beskriva var jag står nu, vad jag kan se i Bibeln, hur min Gudsbild ser ut, samt vad jag tycker att problemen är i den traditionella synen. Den är långt ifrån perfekt, och jag skulle nog kunna skriva en bok om det hela en gång. Men jag publicerar den här nu för att jag vill få en dialog.

Jag försöker inte hävda mig själv som någon som vet bättre än åtminstone 1700 års kyrkotradition. Jag vill inte heller ses som någon som bara med sina känslor vill förmildra Guds straff och dom. Istället vill jag fråga teologer och folk omkring mig om ni inte också tänkt på de här frågorna kring både bilden av Gud samt de texter jag tar upp.

Här är länken:

Annihilationismen

Jag hoppas att ni läser allt, och kommentera gärna på något sätt, någonstans! Respons är det jag mest av allt vill ha – kritik, uppmuntran, förmaning… Vad du vill, men jag börjar bli trött på att skriva kontroversiella saker utan att folk verkar bry sig…

Guds frid!

Thoughts on the Last Day of the 1st Decade of the 2nd Millenium Anno Domini

December 31, 2009 4 comments

Here are some random thoughts I wrote down today. I hope they will make sense to some. I’m not sure I ended up where I wanted to, but I’ll leave them like this, and possibly I’ll work more with these later. Basically, I had this stream of thoughts which I felt I needed to put into some kind of medium. That sweet creative impulse should not be ignored when it is sparked or muted. I also had a conversation with Percival/Zooloo about refining my work – changing the format but not the message. It’s something I really do need to work on. But not during the last 5 hours of the decade.

Today I woke up to watch Loren Cunningham speak at Onething ’09 (see this video, about 2 hours in). I was at a New Year’s Camp in Kungälv organized by Credo/u-Oas for two days, but I got a flu of some sort while there… So I was in quarantine throughout the night and remained in a pretty restricted area there until 17.00 when my mother picked me up and drove me home. I’m fine now. But I’m probably going back on New Year’s Day (January 1st, 2010, i.e. tomorrow).

Anyways. I thought about quite a few things as I was watching the Onething webcast. I really appreciate Loren’s preaching/talk/exhortation, and I can definitely identify with his way of speaking. Mike Bickle, however, is someone I have a little more trouble connecting to. I mean, I do think he has a great message to the Body of Christ. I actually agree with 98% of what he says. However, as a Swede, I am sort of unused to that kind of communication. There’s a lot of… grandeur and hyperboles, which I recognize as Biblical but hard to understand in the Swedish culture. I hope Americans are better at getting his message 😛

Misty mentioned the “6,000 years of creation”, which does sort of offend reason in many ways… In one sense, I do admire Young Earth Creationists for their faith, but I do sometimes wonder if it may be misplaced faith is something that is not really the point the Bible was trying to make. I just hope Young Earth Creationism is not a doctrine IHOP encourages – I have not heard such statements beyond Misty’s words at two occasions, but I am still sort of worried.

While I am a fan of the Bible and believe it to be infallible in all matters of doctrine, I think Bibliolatry is too common in the “Evangelical” Church. There are, as usual, two extremes in the views of the Bible within the Body of Christ. There is on one side the Liberal Christianity, which places all authority on reason, the individual and the Spirit of the Age. However, on the other side are those who go beyond the actual point of the Bible, to emphasize the Bible to the point where it actually restricts God and His Church. The way I view it,  we should not teach anything which is contrary to Scripture.

However, there are so-called “fundamentalists” (a term that should be positive) who teach that we should not do or say anything with regards to God or our lives that is not explicitly expressed in the Scriptures. This is, ironically, an incredibly low view of Scripture, as it implies that only the literal and direct meaning of Scripture is to be followed. The way the Jews and the Universal Church (until the last 2 centuries) has always viewed Scripture, is that it has both a direct and allegorical/symbolical meaning, and that while the literal meaning is primary, sometimes there *is* no literal meaning, for example in the case of many Psalms.  My point is that imagination is encouraged in the Bible,  and always has been among those who call it sacred. It’s amazing to think how these “fundamentalists” must view the reality of the writers of the Bible. I don’t think they were in a trance when they wrote most of it, and in a way, I don’t think true and holy writings are restricted to the Bible. I think there are still anointed and fully true/divine creations and things being said and written today, it is just that the Church is too split and divided to come together and recognize it as it. And considering all this division, agreeing on new Scripture would only hurt more than it edified. However, that does not mean that the Bible is somehow more magical than our reality. It is as true as when we hear that silent voice from God saying He loves us.

Oh well. The site that sparked this in me was this site: http://www.bible.ca/ It’s basically one in tens of thousands of English-speaking sites that claim to have “Bible-answers”. Most of them have very, very, bad layouts, usually because it’s one or maybe two or three people that are behind it. To me, a very good way of determining if you should doubt someone to have understood the “true, Biblical meaning” of subject X or Y, is when it turns out to be the thoughts of pretty much one dude. Another good way to determining if it’s true is when it’s done using cold logic and zero humility. Considering humility and broken-heartedness permeates the entire Bible, it’s a bit suspicious when people try to take other approaches than those to understand it.

What people think matters. I think we cannot ignore tradition, nor can we ignore human experience throughout history. We need to honour or predecessors much more than many in the West are doing right now. I am not Catholic, nor am I Orthodox, but I do think it is disrespectful when Protestants claim that all tradition is hogwash and to be ignored. I also think they need to remember that it was the ancestors of the apostles, not the Apostles themselves, who canonized the Scriptures. Before that, they were just letters. And yes, I know 2nd Peter calls some of those letters “scripture”, but ironically, if the author indeed is Peter, it can’t have included later works like the Gospel of John or Revelation. Sidetrack. What I’m getting at is that we would not have the Bible had it not been for tradition, it was thanks to people who put faith in the person the book spoke of, not the book itself, who canonized the Scriptures.  I belong to a Lutheran Church, and I’m learning how to identify myself as one. I want to honour my background and my tradition, although I cannot claim to think the Lutherans have got it all right. Nor have I got it all right.

God does, however,  have it all right. But I honestly do not think 100% correct doctrine among Mankind (until His 2nd Coming) is even that high on His agenda! I think we humans are too broken, too unsanctified and simply too limited to write down some kind of rational systematic theology on everything in the Universe.I am very Lutheran in this sense, as there are places I come to in my theological struggles that I simply cannot understand with my reason. I think the Orthodox have got a good idea of this with their concept of Mysteries – A truth that we cannot understand. I refuse to explain Biblical doctrine beyond what the Bible is explicit on. That is not to say we can’t talk about it, but almost all heresies are derived from trying to use logic to “fill in the gaps” and to let logic override revelation. Also, the focus needs to be on God and His love.

This takes me back to where I started, with Mike Bickle and Onething. I think Mike’s got it right on this point. The First Commandment, to love the Lord our God with all one’s heart, soul and mind (Matt 22:35-40), needs to be central to all of Christianity. A closeness to God, and an openness to His transforming love and power, should be at the absolute core of everything a Christian does. Everything, and I mean everything else, comes second. However, the fact that it comes second does not mean one is free to rationalize away other parts of the Law – because “if you love [Jesus], you will keep [His] commandments” (Joh 14:14). All of the Law, all the things He has ever required of His people, have been out of love.

The Law is a guide to Love. It is a cause for concern when the two do not mix, and usually the solution is neither “ignore it and continue, or you’re an apostate”, nor “let’s throw that doctrine out, it doesn’t fit with ‘my’ god”. Usually, there’s something wrong with how we read and interpret it, and I would say that those who say they are orthodox but do not radiate God’s love, probably do not have the First Commandment as their focus either. And in a way I understand them – I can’t claim to have it myself either. In fact, I should erase what I just wrote – no human can police another human being for not being pious enough… But at the same time, the pattern is all too obvious, when the fruits of the Spirit are not shown through some particular Christian ministry. All I can say is that in my own life, I have experienced an enormous change in my own ability to live out the SECOND commandment (love your neighbour as yourself) by coming back to the FIRST commandment. Emphasizing the second over the first, ironically has the opposite effect of the intended. I am getting more and more allergic to using the word “Liberal Christianity”. However, I believe what that loose term is trying to describe is any theology that puts other commandments, from God or from Men, before the First one. And that is why I am not a Liberal.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate

October 16, 2009 2 comments

The latest entry I made (in Swedish, no less), was made in July. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I am a person who is very concerned that my words are quality, not quantity. I do not always live up to that, but when it comes to things like my blog, I could never blog in the way others do. If I did, I would have to live my entire life thinking in terms of blog entries. Of course, that is indeed what many people do…

Regardless, I have thought many times when I have posted to my blog in the past year that the title and byline of the blog doesn’t really fit its content any more. It also doesn’t really justify my focus in life anymore. While the new title may seem a bit lame, I really can’t think of a good name. Feel free to come up with a good one, and I’ll think about it. Either way, the point is that “Gaming, Metal and ‘Existentialism'” isn’t the focus of my life anymore. I don’t even think I knew what the common meaning of “Existentialism” was when I made that byline 3 years ago. Right now, my heart, soul strength and mind are set on one thing: The Lord God Almighty! With Him as the real center of my life, it has changed and is radically changing my life on every level imaginable, and yet I see every day how many things I was made to do that I had been forsaking in favour of worthless or inferior desires, bonds and ideas. This does not mean I might not post about gaming or metal, but I am recognizing that the place of those things is in the service of my God!

So. I have been back in Johannelund, Uppsala, since August 19th, studying theology. It would take a lot of time to tell of all the things God has done with me and others here, but in short, it’s great! I have finished my Old Testament course, with very good grades.

The interpretation I wrote was apparently the best in the class, so it was quite an encouragement to hear. You see, my problem with school since I started “gymnasiet” (10th grade) and the IB, has been that I fail to see the real point in my writing. I feel like what I write has no real meaning to anyone else, except for some vague sense self-development gained by repetition of useless things. As such, I have only written maybe 4-5 things in the past 4 years that I have been proud of. When I started reading theology, I finally felt like I had genuinely important and useful things to say and add to enrichen people’s lives, and understanding of God. What can give greater joy? If you want to read my interpretation, it’s available here (Swedish). I won’t translate it, but here is a link to the same page run through Google Translate, if you really care, it gives you a good idea of what I did, at least 😛

Basically, in the past few months, God has begun using my gift to interpret, explain and teach – from the Bible and from life in general. It’s becoming clear that it is a form of serving others and the Lord that as valuable as healing, evangelism and prophesying. I say “as” important, because even if some may be more important than others, they all add to the whole of the Body of Christ.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
(1 Corinthians 12:14-27, English Standard Version)

I wanted to pretty much quote all of 1 Cor 12 and go into 13 as well here, but just read 1 Corinthians yourselves! It’s awesome! I love His Word, and I love His body, i.e. His beloved children! Thank you Lord for giving us all these different gifts and talents, that we may praise You with all that we have been given, for Your glory’s sake and that Your kingdom may be enlarged through us!

Reflections on Israel and more

June 4, 2009 Leave a comment

This blog post was written about 7 hours ago. There have been no edits until the line in the end, promise! Here goes:

I’m sitting here in Budapest Airport, listening to Misty Edwards while waiting for the gate to open. Johan just decided to try to get some more sleep, but as I found a power outlet, I decided I could take the opportunity to actually write an entry for the blog in ENGLISH. Yes, it’s been a while now. But I’ve wanted to wait for a time when I’ve actually had some thoughts to put forward.

So I’ve spent the past week in Israel, with Johan and Sarah. It’s the third time for me in Israel and Jerusalem, but this is the first time it’s been my trip. Wait, no, that’s not right. This is the first time it’s been entirely God’s trip. The first time it was my parents’ trip. The second time, it was Yael’s trip. This time, however, I was able to dedicate the whole thing to God.

And how God has led us through this trip! The miracle while checking in at Arlanda, when the woman behind the desk managed to fix the technical problem with printing our boarding passes ”miracle” was her words). How smoothly we found a sherut minibus to Jerusalem immediatly upon exiting the airport (some people have to wait several hours). The dreams Sarah had the second night of our visit, which all got their intepretation within the week. The way we’ve been lead to so many incredible meetings with people. The fact that we pulled off the rental car trip to the Gallilee despite every hope seemed to be gone. How we managed to be away from STI only during the day when a man was murdered right outside it. The protecting, mighty hand of God was noticable throughout the entire trip. Hallelujah!

I think it will take years for me to understand what God has done inside me during this trip, but what’s become clear is that it’s probably not my last trip to the country. I think God wanted to educate me, to support Sarah and Johan, to prepare me for coming things in my studies and walk with God, and many other things.

It was a great experience to meet people from the Messianic Jewish communities in Israel. It was also very interesting to see how Christian and Muslim Palestinians view the situation, and especially to see Islam ias it works n a position where it is a larger minority than it is in Sweden at the moment. Celebrating a Shabbat dinner made by Sarah was a really nice experience, as was going to an Ultra-Orthodox Synagogue in Mea She’arim later that night… I also got a closer look on the semi-idolatry practiced by both the Catholic and the Orthodox and indeed most of the noticable Christian groups in Jerusalem, and I noticed that the people who seem most secular are the Christians… A shame.

Photos of the entire trip are uploaded on Facebook, although I might put up a few here for those without Facebook…

Anyways, when I get back to Johannelund, I have about 2 days before I move out of my room and take the train back to Halmstad. I had some sort of hope of completing my Exegetical assignment before the deadline while in Israel, but that didn’t really happen, as God had other plans for me during that trip… I’ll see what happens with that. I got into Johannelund, so I am less concerned about that course now I suppose, but I will still try to finish it. When I get home, I will work for 5 weeks, including all of July and a week in August. Money is welcome.

Hmm… That’s about all I can muster to write at the moment. After having slept about 1,5 + 1,5 hours tonight and then walked through the streets of Budapest for like 3 hours, I am a bit exhausted… Boarding the plane in about an hour and a half.

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Okay, so now I’m home, great to be home. Ate some, talked to Ingrid and other people. Gonna shower and sleep, then clean my room tomorrow. Gaaaah.

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