In the Socratic spirit of “A Conversation with Religion,” I wanted to revisit the matter based on observations made over the past 20 years. I am a Social Observer. I naturally Analyze the information so as to Articulate what I’ve observed. And if necessary, I Disseminate the finished product. This process is always couched in The Laws of (Formal) Logic and my understanding of The Vision; God’s worldview. As I’ve said for years, upon Dissemination, I know that I can be aggravating (for I aggravate myself). But I desire only for us to THINK. And remember, I’m The Ass of The Body!
A Conversation with The Church
The Church: Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
Me: I don’t even know what that means. What do you mean by “accept,” and what is the meaning of “Lord” and “Savior?” And why do you ask ME this question? What about me leads you to believe that I have or haven’t done this thing?
The Church: You must accept Him as your Lord and Savior in order to be saved.
Me: “Saved” from what? And why do you ignore my previous questions? Are you programmed only for a certain narrative? Did you even listen to and hear my questions? Or is there a script that must be followed in your mind?
The Church: If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, all you have to do is pray The Sinners Prayer with me.
Me: [OK then, a script it is] “The Sinners Prayer?”
The Church: Yes! We can pray, and ask Jesus to come into your heart!
Me: What do you mean by “come into [my] heart?”
The Church: That’s how Jesus becomes your Lord and Savior! By living in your heart!
Me: How is that even possible? “Live in [my] heart?” What do you mean by “heart?”
The Church: I mean, when Jesus is in your heart you no longer desire the things that are not of God.
Me: Oh, so you mean a change of MIND. A transformation in the way one thinks results in a change of action. For example, positive thoughts effect positive actions, while negative thoughts invoke negative actions. Correct?
The Church: No, this is about Jesus. It is not about how you think.
Me: So, what does Paul mean, in Romans 12:2, when he says, “Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The Church: Oh! You know the Bible! Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
Me: [Oh yes, the script] Are you familiar with the Bible?
The Church: Yes! It’s Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth! Everything we need is in the Bible!
Me: [The word B.I.B.L.E. as an acrostic; clever, and meaningless] OK, what is your Biblical principle for the notion that one must “accept Jesus Christ as [his/her] Lord and Savior?” And this, by “praying The Sinners Prayer?”
The Church: …
Me: My apologies. Where does the Bible say that one must “Accept Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior?” Furthermore, where is there even a single mention of any sort of “Sinners Prayer?”
The Church: Well, the Bible doesn’t say either of those things. But it’s an easy way for someone to convert to Christianity.
Me: Wait, didn’t you just say the Bible has everything we need? Bygones… So, the purpose of “The Sinners Prayer,” thereby “accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior,” is to make converts? Of Christianity? In other words, the church? What of making converts of Christ? Is that a ruse, then?
The Church: You’re twisting everything I’m saying. I don’t understand the language you’re using. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
Me: [the Script, again…] So, if it is not in the text – the Scriptures; the Bible – then from where are you getting your information?
The Church: Oh! My church (and my pastor) has all the answers you need! God is there every Sunday!
Me: I would hope that God is there every Sunday; and everywhere every Sunday, and every other day of the week. So, do I have to be at YOUR church every Sunday in order to interact with God?
The Church: You have to go to church every Sunday to hear the Word of God, because Jesus lives in your heart as Lord and Savior.
Me: So, if it is NOT a Sunday, does God just sleep in a pew until next Sunday? Is God just waiting for all humanity to walk inside the four-walls of a building [called “Church”] on Sundays? On what Biblical Principle do you base this notion?
The Church: …
Me: And [while you’re searching off script for a reply], Why must I go to a building (called, “Church”)? What do you do with where Jesus said, “Wherever three or more are gathered, I am there among them?” Isn’t it true that the reason rests in the business of Church? You have to pay the pastor, and the other bills of the building, so you need “converts” on Sundays?
The Church: See! You’re twisting every thing I say again! You don’t think we need to go to church?
Me: I believe that all humanity is the church (whether we know it or not) and that we cannot possibly “go to church” when we ARE the Church. Anything more is simply a business; a conversion to a religion (at least), and (at worse) a worldview that is in competition with God and God’s worldview. All the while using Christ as an impaled icon.
The Church: Ok, what is YOUR biblical principle, then?
Me: Very good! I’m glad you asked! Paul states (in The Corinthian Correspondence, 1Cor. 15:20-22; and in The Letter to The Romans, 5:12-17; 6:1-14) that “In Adam, ALL have died. Likewise, In the Second Adam [i.e., Christ], ALL are made alive.” Listen carefully, now, this is off script: What has happened – The Christ Event; The Cross of Christ – is an act of God, not an action of our own based on whether we “accept” it or not. If God is dependent on us, then logically we have more power than God. Do you see the complete lack of logic here? Notice, also, that it says “ALL have died” and that “ALL will be MADE alive.”
Me: And, I also don’t narrow my thinking to an interpretation of the Scriptures. There are many interpretations of the texts, evidenced by the many different denominations of Christendom. I also use Logic (Reason), Experience, and (Ancient) Tradition to guide my interpretations of the Scriptures.
The Church: How do you know you’re right? Everything you’re saying sounds nothing like what my pastor says.
Me: I am free to be wrong. God does not sit outside of space/time clocking me to ensure I have all religion, dogma, and doctrine correct. Remember, this whole thing is based on The Christ Event. God has worked out God’s worldview. I’m simply attempting to walk it out – i.e., life. I use the (so-called) [Wesley] Quadrilateral (the four components above) to check my thinking. But I also communicate with the God whom I claim. Call it prayer if you wish, I just have a conversation, thinking through all of my observations. Is Jesus alive? Or is He dead and rotting in a crypt?
And concerning your pastor, the office is a conflict of interest. You’re commissioned to lead the people, but the business inevitably leads you back to paying the bills. You can’t have the people free and free thinking because you can’t control them. And you can’t get the “offerings,” the “gifts” to pay the bills.
The Church: So, you DO believe in Jesus?
Me: [Bless your heart, the script, again] I find The Cross of Christ believable. Logic supports this worldview. My Experience is of a Resurrected Christ, not of a dead religious leader from 2,000 years ago. Tradition (and History) shows that YOUR thinking about Christ is misguided, not mine. There were no buildings called “church” until the 4th century, when The Roman Catholic Church decide to replace the void left when the Roman Empire collapsed.
We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We have to think differently; change worldviews; learn (again) to be good, to be beneficial, to one another.
The Church: But the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Don’t we have to actively make converts, specifically of Christ?
Me: [Another clever platitude] Again, you [i.e., the organized church] are not converting anyone to anything, except to a dead religion and a certain cultural construct. I do not know in what condition the road to Hell is, or if there is even such a thing, but I do believe that God’s worldview is creation working out life as a community; beneficial to others, and not just to self. This, to me, is The Church!
Furthermore, your signs out front, are to alert the community of needs being met by God. They are not for your clever platitudes in a language that only “churched folks” know. Your sign can say, “All are welcome,” but those from outside the little clan know that isn’t true.
Your public conversations are not inclusive of “everyone,” and actually alienate anyone that might be looking for God and a change of thought. We don’t want to be like you, we just want our lives to be better and have meaning.
Am I free to think differently? Act differently? Am I free from cultural judgment if I’m not like you?
The Church: …