Jesus and World Progress

From Facebook thread:

Gordon said:

But as a pastor why did [Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.] not say the hope of a secure and livable world lives in the hope of Jesus Christ and bringing the nations to the Cross?

William:

Even Jesus said somewhere “When I return shall I find faith” and “there will always be wars and rumors of war” and “the poor shall always be with you” (and if Jesus did not say all this then Paul said some of it.) This world was never meant to be “heaven on earth” otherwise Jesus would not have said “my kingdom is not of this world” and Revelation would not speak of “the heavens rolled up like a scroll.”

When Jesus said “no man comes unto me unless the Father draws him/her” I take that to mean that it is a very subjective thing between God and the individual. No one can “win souls” for Christ for the simple reason that God is perfectly capable of doing whatever He wants and can choose NOT to draw someone for reason that we shall never understand and it is not our business to understand. Jesus emphatically states that HAD he worked certain miracles in certain cities they would all have repented (but obviously for some reason Jesus chose NOT to.) And why is it that ten times God hardened Pharaoh’s heart yet God gave Saul “a NEW heart” and still Saul disappointed God.

I am not Roman Catholic but I have known literally thousands of RC laity and clergy in my life and not ONE has ever been an “in your face” type preaching at people or asking “are you saved.” I do not think anyone can know that he is “saved” otherwise why would Paul say “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” and similar other statements and what pray tell is the purpose of a “judgment day” if some people are guaranteed salvation because (as Charles Stanley and others suggest) they have muttered the “magic words” and once and for all gained “the eternal security” of salvation. I do find truth in statements like “the only problem with Christianity is Christians” and “the only problem with Christianity is that it has never been tried.” I once met a pastor of Protestant denomination, so I asked him if he is Baptist or Evangelical or Lutheran or some other denomination. He looked shocked and said “well I would hope I am Bible based.” I looked at him in shock and said “but consider all the denominations which consider themselves ‘Bible Based’ including the Pope, the head of the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.” He looked sheepish and acknowledged that I had a good point. If you really believe that God is all-wise and all-powerful then why do you seriously think that God needs you to give the gift of faith?

Mohandas Gandhi was mentor to Rev. Howard Thurman teaching him the principles of passive resistance and non-violent protest which in turn Rev. Thurman taught to Rev. Martin Luther King. Gandhi greatly admired Jesus’ Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount and lived out his life in an amazingly Christ-like fashion but is very clear to explain in his autobiography why after careful study of Christianity he rejected it as his personal religion. All this argues to the point that Christian ministry was not the direct source of everything that lead to success in the civil rights movement. Kurt Vonnegut smirked over the fact that Americans often clamor for monuments to Moses’ Ten Commandments but no one ever asks for a monument to Jesus’ beatitudes. And, to top it all off, the first occurrence in English of the phrase “human rights” is in Thoreau’s essay On Civil Disobedience and not from the writings of someone like Luther or Calvin or the Jesuits of the Counter-Reformation.

Both Moses and Jesus said “for the poor shall always be with you” and James said “pure religion is simply this; to comfort widows and orphans in their affliction and to remain unspotted from the world” but we are never told that war or poverty shall be eliminated. And II Peter, I think in Ch. 6, clearly states (paraphrased) “Paul has said some things which are difficult to understand and those who lack a foundation or education TWIST AND DISTORT them to their OWN DESTRUCTION as they do many other passages in the Bible.” Paul is very clear to be wary of Satan as an “angel of light” which can appear as a false Christ preaching a false doctrine, so it is not clear exactly WHO is a Christian, as Protestants so plainly acknowledge when they insinuate that Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox are not “real Christians” because they stress works rather than sola fides (by faith alone). Sure, everyone is anxious to count in the Catholics and Orthodox when they want to claim a world population of 1.3 billion “Christians”. Everyone is very eager to “cherry pick” verses and facts whenever it suits their agenda. Was the “good Samaritan” a Christian? Did the good Samaritan confess Jesus as the only means to salvation? These are difficult questions which many pastors will avoid like the plague because it overturns their street vendor apple cart theology.

What Gandhi actually said in his autobiographical “Experiments in Truth” (written in English) is this (paraphrased) : “I often noticed British Christians doing terrible things, and when I questioned them about this they explained ‘Oh, we are constantly mystically washed in our baptismal waters and cleansed by the blood of Christ’s sacrificial atonement.” Gandhi then explains that his goal is not to simply ESCAPE the consequences of his evil deeds, but if at all possible extinguish evil at its source. Hence, Gandhi resembles Pelagius in his argument with Augustine. Some suggest that Augustine laid down the foundation for Luther’s reformation. The Roman Catholic church never began to question the soundness of Augustine’s writings until the Jesuits undertook the counter-Reformation. By the way, the Easter Orthodox have always rejected the notion of “original sin” and one place to find a clear justification for such a rejection is Ezekiel where he says that the sins of the fathers are not visited upon successive generations and (paraphrased) “If a man lives all of his life in righteousness but in his last days turns to inequity then all of his righteousness shall be counted for nothing; but if he lives his life in inequity but in his last days repents and turns to righteousness then all of his inequity shall be counted as nothing.”

I have always felt that the most righteous of all people are those atheists and agnostics who do what is good not for fear of some future punishment or out of desire for a future reward, but simply because it is the right thing to do even if no God exists.

Hans Kung in chapter 3 of “On Being Christian” points out that a few score years before Columbus set sail the Council of Florence flatly declared that there IS NO SALVATION outside the Roman Catholic Church and yet a few hundred years later at Vatican II in the 1960s a brief encyclical “Nostra Aetate” (Our Age) states that God has placed his salvific wisdom also in non-Christian scriptures.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nostra_Aetate

Epictetus writes in his “Meditations” (paraphrased) “When your child embarks upon a long and perilous journey you pray to Jove for their safe return. Yet, why not rather pray for the equanimity of spirit to deal calmly with any outcome auspicious or calamitous.”

These moral imperatives are not unique to any particular scripture or tradition but arise from the nature of life itself, as Kant makes clear in his ethical writings.

When Joseph’s brethren came to him in Egypt to ask his forgiveness he replied (paraphrased) “You intended evil [by selling me into slavery] but God has transformed your evil into good [in the sense that through a sequence of important events I am not in a position to save my kindred from famine.”

Yet Solomon writes “there are things which seemeth good unto a man but the end thereof is death.”

Clearly there is a veil before our understanding and we cannot recognize positive good. Yet the ancient rabbis Hillel and Shamai taught “do NOT do unto others that which you find hateful to yourself” which some Christians demean as “the silver rule” rather than “the golden rule.” Yet how many times throughout history have “Christians” justified their imperial aggression and conquest as some spiritual mandate and yet clearly they did more harm than good and acted out of greed and avarice rather than out of compassion and mercy. Prior to the invasion of the Philippines President McKinley knelt in prayer seeking guidance and found peace one he decided that it was his ‘mandate” and duty to bring wretched savages to the truth of Christ (and yet those savages had be devout Roman Catholics for hundreds of years under Spanish rule.)

++++

http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/896/Charity_St_Maximus_the_Confessor.html

For Jeremiah warns us: Do not say: “We are the Lord’s temple”. Neither should you say: “Faith alone in our Lord Jesus Christ can save me”. By itself faith accomplishes nothing. For even the devils believe and shudder.

THIS RAISES SERIOUS QUESTIONS REGARDING LUTHER’S SOLA FIDES.

IF one carefully reads the entire Philokalia one is struck by the total absence of anything resembling Reformation or post-Reformation piety.

Martin Luther himself pointed out that the Greek Orthodox had gotten along perfectly well without a Pope. Martin Luther based his entire doctrine on ONE VERSE in Habakkuk “for the just man shall live by HIS faith.” We only find the term “faith” TWICE in the entire Old Testament. Habakkuk is the SECOND occurrence. The first occurrence is IN THE NEGATIVE, “faith-lessness” in Deut. Ch. 32

32:20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children IN WHOM IS NO FAITH.

The STRONG’S # for the Hebrew words for FAITH are 529 & 530 EMUWNAH which means trustworthiness in complying with a quid-pro-quo covenantal agreement (you do this; I do that) and NOT Paul’s use of faith as PISTIS.

Luther of his own free will took lifetime vows of celibacy which he could not endure. Scripture says “better NEVER TO VOW at all than to vow and not pay.” Luther could have finished his life among the Greeks and kept his vows of celibacy. What Habakkuk REALLY says in Septuagint is God speaking “the righteous compliant man shall live because of MY [God’s] faith-fulness to my covenant agreement BUT if he draws back my heart shall take no delight in him.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximus_the_Confessor

Maximus the Confessor c. 580 – 13 August 662
Maximus’s writings comprise 70% of the Philokalia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philokalia

The Philokalia (Gk. φιλοκαλία, “love of the beautiful”) is a collection of texts written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries by spiritual masters of the Eastern Orthodox hesychast tradition. They were originally written for the guidance and instruction of monks[1] in ‘the practice of the contemplative life’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Epistle_to_the_Thessalonians

The First Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, usually referred to simply as First Thessalonians and often written 1 Thessalonians, is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

The first letter to the Thessalonians was likely the first of Paul’s letters, probably written by the end of A.D. 52[1], making it, so far as is now known, the oldest existent Christian document (almost all scholars hold that the gospels were written over a decade later).

OBVIOUSLY THE EARLY YEARS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH HAD NO EPISTLES AND NO GOSPELS!

I found one essay by John Locke which addresses
John Locke wrote a letter addressing issues regarding the separation of church and state:

http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2008/04/28/islam-and-authority/

excerpt:
This argument of course was the key tenet in John Locke’s Letter on Toleration, and rests on the distinction between inner religious states and beliefs, on the one hand, and outer acts of compliance with the sovereign’s, or the state’s, demands, on the other. Why should the sovereign try to control his subjects’ beliefs when they are out of his control? It would be better, argued Locke, to focus on what matters: obedience and loyalty. Modern readers of Locke’s essay sometimes miss the caveats: religious belief of some sort is required for enforcing laws—for example, to ensure that a subject fears God sufficiently that he will tell the truth after taking an oath in court—and religion must not interfere with absolute obedience to the sovereign—for example, if one follows a Pope rather than a King. Locke’s Toleration is of inner conviction alone, and inner conviction of a Protestant sort.

end of excerpt

http://www.constitution.org/jl/tolerati.htm

excerpt:
It is ridiculous for any one to profess himself to be a Mahometan only in his religion, but in everything else a faithful subject to a Christian magistrate, whilst at the same time he acknowledges himself bound to yield blind obedience to the Mufti of Constantinople, who himself is entirely obedient to the Ottoman Emperor and frames the feigned oracles of that religion according to his pleasure. But this Mahometan living amongst Christians would yet more apparently renounce their government if he acknowledged the same person to be head of his Church who is the supreme magistrate in the state.

end of excerpt

I remember as a kid watching Kennedy on some program like “Meet The Press” explaining that he would not take orders from Rome. The joke at the time was “no other Catholic listens to the Pope so why should Kennedy?”

The Republicans could have had Romney but Americans are terrified of having a president who is a “Mormon” (they refer to themselves as LDS for “Latter Day Saint”).

Obama stated that he aligned himself with a denomination known for social activism. But lets face it! Anyone with political aspirations knows he or she has to pay some kind of lip service to
some form of Christianity.

Note: Jimmy Carter was the ONLY president to refuse to have Rev. Billy Graham at the White House for a “prayer breakfast.” Carter explained that Rev. Graham is a fine man but such religious activity is not appropriate in the White House.

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