Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What I don't know


The more I study the less I know... sadly that seems to be the way my earthly mind works.

So here is a summary of stuff I don't know... I will likely update this post as I discover more things I don't know with certainty.

I don't know which denomination has the best theology and doctrines

I have spent most Sundays in 'evangelical protestant churches'. However as I look at the different points of the protestant reformation, I can not say with certainty which side has the most correct answers. Both sides use scripture and logic to back their positions, but place greater emphasis in different places. I see some areas of concern in some Catholic doctrines. However I don't see any consensus in an evangelical systematic theology either. The holy scriptures were not written as a list of doctrines, maybe we are not supposed to create an airtight system of beliefs on all issues.

I don't know who all will be saved

I am not the final judge on this - thankfully God is! I will try not to be a judgmental Christian. I don't think the criteria will be based on which doctrines and statements of faith you agree with. It may have more to do with how we lived in relationship with God/Jesus/Holy Spirit and all His creation. But what about all the people who love God without understanding and loving Jesus? Or believe without following? Or follow without believing (if that is possible)? Or died as a child before they could really believe or follow? Or had the emotions of a child through some disability and could not understand? Or just believed and did the wrong things because that is what they were taught to do by their religious leaders? Or the ones who used to believe and follow, but then in their last months of life lost the passion and didn't end well? What about losing the passion for the last years of life? Or most of their adult life? I'm not qualified to be the judge. I'm OK leaving all this to God.

I don't know what to call the thing we do on Sunday morning

I believe I don't go to church, I am part of Christ's church. Should the word 'church' refer to an event, location, building or organization? I do value worshiping with others, and supporting others in their relationship with God, and we do this on Sunday mornings and throughout the week.

I don't know if the wicked are eternally punished in Hell

I don't know if the wicked are punished in Hell forever. Either way eternal life with Jesus is still the obvious choice. I'm just questioning if the doctrine of Hell, that most denominations support, is true to scripture. To be destroyed or perish may simply mean that those who do not choose life with Christ do not get to live eternally.

I don't know if the Bible has clear answers on all issues

The Bible gets used to give support for many topics. But does the Bible give clear answers on all issues? Should the Bible be used like a magic 8 ball to give answers on every topic? Many of these issues were not meant to be the central message of the gospel. We need to balance the fact that unity is essential, and loving everyone is essential, before we become dogmatic about any lesser issue.

I don't know why only 'church' leaders perform baptisms

Who was the great commission given to? To all Christ followers? Then who was instructed to baptize? Why do most Christ followers leave the great commission to the 'professionals'?

I don't know why some identify with John Calvin

There's some stuff about John Calvin that I think we should all want to distance ourselves from. However some people still call themselves "Calvanist" or "new Calvanist". What do they mean by that? If it means they are in agreement with some of the teachings of John Calvin that's likely OK (I have concerns with those beliefs too - but it's OK to have different beliefs than me, I don't have it all figured out either) . But why can't they just say they are follower's of Christ? Are there some teachings of Calvin that are different than the teachings of Christ? If they are the same, why the need for another label?

I don't understand Predestination

The way I see it, both Calvinists and non-Calvinists have points where they must admit they don't understand something. I am quick to admit I Don't Understand Predestination. I think this is safer than defending some of the conclusions further down their logic path.

I don't know if I've grown up allowing the Holy Spirit to teach me enough


Why so much emphasis in Christian circles on teaching each other all truths? Are we letting others replace the role of the Holy Spirit? Take a look at Hebrews 8:7-13 and some other passages.

I don't know if Jesus paid my debt

I can not find any passages in our Bible that describe a legal transaction in terms of Jesus paying a debt. I think there is a difference between paying a debt and paying a ransom. I also think the over-use of this language may help shape an unhealthy view of God. Same goes for the thinking in Penal Substitution.

I don't fully understand Christ message about poverty and wealth

Christ came preaching good news to the poor. But I don't fully understand what it was, and what my responsibilities are yet with this message.

I don't know if Christians should be religious

Did Jesus Come to Start a New Religion, or did He come to free us free us from religion and connect with us in new relational ways.

I don't know why the gospel of the kingdom isn't preached often


Jesus and His discipled frequently preached about the good news of the reign of God. What Gospel does you neighbor need to hear? I don't understand why we don't follow Jesus example on this. I've looked for the Gospel in the Gospels - and I'm not sure why it seems clear to me, but different for others. Are people not interested today in understanding the Secrets of the Kingdom?

I don't know a lot of other stuff.

I plan to post a few more under the what I don't understand label category. I'm humble about what I don't know - and proud of it. :)


... I've got a few other questions floating around in my head, but I shouldn't list them here until I do some further study. I'll be updating this page as I learn more (and likely understand less).

9 comments:

Steve said...

Johnathan,

Christ never answered the thief on the cross that mocked him with logic. It is called faith.

As far as the subject of Hell...Hades (Hell) is referred by Christ in the "Gospel" of Matthew over twenty times (my count).

Yes, the issue of Hell is one that everyone wants to forget about. Satan wants just that...and many follow His deception.

It is written that He (Lucifer) is unto a Lion. Seeking constantly who he may devour.

In fact Hell is simply an eternal existence that is separated from God. Fire? Perhaps so. Perhaps it is even worse. I personally believe it is beyond my comprehension of just how bad it really is.

It seems you understand the key. "It is for God to decide." But my friend it is called the Gospel. I compel you to understand the fact that Christ wants Johnathan to;

1. Repent...This means do your best to do good in your life and practice forgiveness and generosity to all without personal gain. DO I really need to explain this? You understand it.

2. Ask Him to be your representative and take your place of God's wrath upon your soul's decent to heaven (and the decision process that decides our eternal path).

3. Use faith logic for yourself, others will always argue with you even if you are dead on correct or absolutely mislead.

This is what Our Lord meant when He said "Let those that have ears hear, and those that have eyes see."

4. Try God. Ask Him to guide you. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Do not give up.

5. Never ever denounce the
forgiveness of sins by the act that Our Lord gave for all mankind. This (act of saying and believing that you don't agree with Christ's being the sacrifice for you personally) unfortunately is called the unforgivable sin and hence in Hebrews it spells out how one is eternally unforgiven by denying the Holy Spirit.

Those that can not use their mind for one reason or another is obviously a God decision. Not ours.

Johnathan it is called God's will. Who are we to counsel God? Were you there on the first day of creation, be it one day, or a thousand years? Boxing God in a corner produces a God of comfort.
This results in idol worship of a false God. You must learn the one part of "The Lord's Prayer" "Your (God's)will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." P.S. This alone dictates a balance effect. If there is a Heaven, then my friend, there is indeed a Hell. We know light. We also know dark. We know positive and wee also know negative. The signs of nature display the greatness of God.

Johnathan...It is mankind (humans) that pollute the truth and deceive the elect. Yes, logic is good. But logic can be tainted to it's lead by an over salted opinion of falsehood. Forget Calvin and all of that if you disagree. What John Calvin thought is irrelevant to man's soul and man's relationship to God. It was relevant to John Calvin. So be it.

Yes, mankind does have free will BUT God can intervene according to His decisions (be they right or wrong in our eyes.) Read about how Naomi talked God out of killing Moses...Hello? This is scriptural.

Is it not evident that the heart of God can be changed? It takes prayer. Prayer to a God that loves us all...not to some who want Him for their own. It does not work that way.

Continue to read Johnathan. Forget those that point to anyone other then The Lord Christ. One day in the eternal future I hope we may meet.

I am praying for you daily.

Steve Parker

Steve said...

I am so sorry about not correctly identifying Moses's wife as she was Zipporah. Naomi was on my mind from a friend that has a wife that has cancer.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Steve Parker for your post here. I just want to point out that this page was sort of a summary page of some of the things I had been questioning. Each point had some links to other articles that gave more detail to the issues.

So for example, I certainly do not feel I am blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This journey I'm on is taking me to a place where the role of the Holy Spirit is at the essence of what it means to follow Jesus. What I was questioning there was the wording often used that are not found in Scripture that may create a distorted image of God. I welcome you to read the link if you want to understand better what I'm taking issue with.

Same goes for the topic of Hell, what I said here was just a short summary of where I stand now that I have studied our Scriptures for myself. Click the links in the summary to get a fuller picture of where I stand on that issue.

I appreciate the feedback, and thanks for the prayers.

"Try God. Ask Him to guide you. Draw close to God and He will draw close to you. Do not give up." - will do

Thanks,
Gob Bless!

Steve P said...

After further reading your bio I am indeed impressed with your past, your presence, and I realize (that in fact) I can not counsel you, as I am far, far, less a man.

No, I know you did not blaspheme The Spirit. I hope you understand that. I simply wanted to highlight that very grave issue. Yes I meant that. :)

Your stand. Hmmm, yes, I read the links that led to your opinion (one of which was on the Hades issue).

I do not see the example that denotes the lack of eternal existence with God. For example;

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Does this imply that all will go to be externally with God? regardless of their having asked Christ to be their intercessor before a Holy God?

Clearly it says the exact opposite.

The misled are unto sheep Jon. You see them all around our society. You have a pretty clear understanding of what God is implying here. Look at our society in which many have been murdered by a phrase called "Pro Choice." Would you not agree that the choice of murdering an innocent human being is a walk upon the easy path? It is these things that define the whole of others that build my personal stand.


Now then ,I have a lot of reading to do as I find your penmanship compelling and am intrigued with what you are saying. I see the questions. My first impression Jon is what I feel of myself. I have doubt. Yes, everyone does. But doubt halts the understanding of what I was saying about "the Lord's Prayer" The absolute key is as simplistic as a 3 year old in Sunday School.

"Thy Will be Done." Once learned by my human frailty has led me down a better path of understanding my doubt and finding my own answers. I am indeed a child. I am indeed an example of the impossibility of a perfect Christian. I look to God and I admit, there are times when I weep more for myself than I do for others. Hence, I am in the wrong at times. Still...I want God's will to be done in my life and in doing so God has;

1. Rescued me from myself.

2. Led me to pray for others.

3. Improved the thought of God's glory and just what kind of important issue that really is after all.

4. Boosted my thought of being thankful for every meal I eat and how I am blessed to have food.

5. Wanting Christ to help me and guide my path everyday.

May peace find both our paths as He leads us in faith,

Steve Parker

Jonathan said...

Thanks Steve Parker for taking a further look at my crazy thoughts.

I gotta disagree with here: "and I realize (that in fact) I can not counsel you, as I am far, far, less a man. "

Feel free to council me. I am not a greater man. I may sound stubborn about defending some of my positions, however I do not assume I have it all figured out. I'm pretty sure I've got a lot of it wrong... I just don't know which parts yet.

My reflection on a verse like this...

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

... why should we interpret parts of it figuratively and other parts literally. I think there are enough verses to support interpreting "leads to life" to mean get to live for eternity.... a literal interpretation. Shouldn't we also consider that destruction may mean a literal destruction. Why should we interpret it to mean something worse than a literal destruction?

I'm in agreement with you on seeking God's will. That's what becoming active in the kingdom of God is all about.

"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven."

May God reign in our lives now and into eternity. May His will be done in our lives and surroundings now just as it is done in heaven.

God bless!

Anonymous said...

Brother Jon,

I see you have a similar struggle with our loving Father putting people into the eternal firey pit, to burn ernally. Does that sound like someone who cares?

Let's put things into perspective. First, "death" means seperation. Physical death means seperation from the body. Spiritual death means seperation from the truth or God. And so on.

God is loving and He will honor a person's decision to be with Him or not be with Him. Those who have chosen to be with Him will do so in a place called Heaven. Those who have rejected God will be placed in a place called Hell or Hades or a few other names.

Isn't being seperated from God's love, comfort, encouragement, blessings for an eternity punishment enough?

But some want to go on and talk about burning for an eternity. Jesus described Hell like living in the Jerusalem garbage dump. Lots of fires to get rid of the crap, and likely lots of dust, dirt and disease. This is the end result of man's leadership in how to live one's life. This is what I believe to be the proper descriptor of what Hell will be like.

Brother Bill

Jonathan said...

Hi Brother Bill, Thanks for visiting my faith journey journal. It is comforting to know God is leading a few of us along some similar questions. God bless!

Sarah said...

Great list, have you updated lately? It would be interesting to see how it changed over time, don't you think? I share most if not all of these with you. The first sentence sums it up perfectly!

Jonathan said...

Thanks Sarah. Yes, I have updated this post a few times over the past 2 years. Maybe I should stop studying the Bible, the rate I'm going I soon won't know anything. :)